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The best songs of July 2023

The best songs of July 2023

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Nialler9’s favourite songs of the month, all in one place. See the Spotify playlist at the end of the piece.

Featuring Big Thief, Aluna, Denzel Curry, Kwengface, Sarah Crean, Munya, Joanna Sternberg, Earl Sweatshirt, Joy Anonymous, Mitksi, Vagabon, DJ Seinfeld, Confidence Man & more


1.

Big Thief

Vampire Empire

Big Thief marked a big US TV performance by playing a new song (which is so Big Thief), and the recording of that song ‘Vampire Empire’ was finally released in July.

‘Vampire Empire’ has had Youtube commenters in a spin since it was first aired (“im on the knees in the middle of walmart please drop this already” / “Literally the best songwriter since Elliott Smith died”), and it’s not had to hear why. This band, and this songwriter Adrianne Lenker are at a pinnacle of musicmaking, with lyrics about the exasperation of loving someone who doesn’t know what they want.

Well, I walked into your dagger for the last time
It’s like trying to start a fire with matches in the snow
Where you can’t seem to hold me, can’t seem to let me go
So I can’t find surrender, and I can’t keep control
You turn me inside out and then you want the outside in
You spin me all around, then you ask me not to spin
You say you want to be alone, and you want children
You wanna be with me, you wanna be with him

It features on a 7″ double-single ‘Vampire Empire’ / ‘Born For Loving You’ 7” out on 20th October on 4AD.

Recorded and produced by Dom Monks at Guissona, Spain’s Teatre de cal Eril Studio during a recent tour, the song addresses “the beautiful complexity of gender identity and breaking destructive internal cycles”.

For me, it’s about getting out of toxic internal patterns – leaving the empire of energy drains that obscure pure essence, learning about what healthy boundaries are, and finding the power to implement them for the possibility of giving and receiving (both inwardly and outwardly) unbroken and infinite Love.”

Adrianne Lenker

2.

Aluna, Tchami, Kareen Lomax

Running Blind

One of my personal contenders for song of the summer is from Aluna’s solo album MYCELiUM.

‘Running Blind’ is effervescent electronic pop with a thudding piano-house beat, just good vibes only.

3.

Kwengface x Joy Orbison x Overmono

Freedom 2

UK drill meets UK garage as Kwengface, Joy Orbison and Overmono bring some serious sub-bass heat on ‘Freedom 2’, a new take on the Zone 2 collective drill rapper’s original that dropped on his mixtape The Memoir, earlier this year.

‘Freedom 2’ is really club candy just in time for the end of the summer.

Joy Orbison and Overmono previously collaborated on ‘Blind Date’.

4.

Sarah Crean

Wasted Youth

Dublin singer-songwriter Sarah Crean has made some impressive strides since last year’s ‘2:00am’, which after we featured it went big on the US Spotify viral chart garnering over 4 million listens.

‘Wasted Youth’ arrived this week along with news that Crean is supporting Blackpink at BST in Hyde Park and Bombay Bicycle Club on their UK dates this year. It features on an Death By Laundry EP out on August 2nd through AWAL, along with recent single ‘What Do I Know?’.

“Wasted Youth is very much an ode to the ups and downs of my childhood/teen years. The song itself goes back and forth between acceptance and rejection of the fact while processing as the song progresses – almost like I’m trying to reach out to my younger self from my current state as an adult. I myself have (and always have had) a hard time forgiving people and letting things go and this song feels like an accurate representation of the fact that sometimes I’m ok with things from my past, other times I’m not.”

“The “Wasted Youth” video is an ode to healing my inner child. It focuses on the complex dealings of my older (and current) self witnessing my younger self in the midst of her youthful crises’ and trying my very best to help her through it. The video encapsulates both the process of my younger self still in the rawness of her experiences, alongside my current/older self re-living those experiences but this time with a lot more knowledge to bear.”

The song is produced by Sarah alongside Gabe Goodman (Del Water Gap, Maggie Rogers) and Adam O’

5.

Munya

Un Deux Trois

Not to be confused with MUNA, Munya is Montreal artist Josie Boivin whose slinky pop single ‘Un Deux Trois’ is a tribute to electronic music pioneer Giorgio Moroder.

It’s from an album Jardin, released October 13th via Luminelle.

“This song is a tribute to him and the music he’s inspired, like Daft Punk’s incredible ‘Giorgio by Moroder.’ When Daft Punk broke up after 28 years, I was devastated, because they were among my favorite artists. You can hear Moroder’s influence throughout Jardin, but this song is specifically for Daft Punk and all those who have loved Moroder’s music. He’s contributed so much to my career as an artist as he did theirs. Plus, the world needs more music like Daft Punk and Giorgio Moroder.”

6.

FIZZ

Close One

Fizz, the new band made up of friends Orla Gartland, dodie, Greta Isaac and Martin Luke Brown debuted with the psychedelic brash song ‘High In Brighton’.

‘Close One’ is a markedly more emotionally-driven song that sounds more like Fleetwood Mac in tone. Orla Gartland takes lead vocal on a song looking back at a past relationship.

“It was night time at the studio and Martin and Mat (drummer and honorary 5th member of FIZZ) were up late jamming in the way that only Martin and Mat can. The next morning they presented their idea to the group and ‘Close One’ began – it had something interesting, a different feeling to the other songs we had been collecting”.

A 12-track debut album called The Secret To Life is out on September 15th and the band play Dublin’s Vicar Street on September 27th.

 ‘Hell of a Ride’ also features.

7.

Joanna Sternberg

People Are Toys To You

Idiosyncratic folk is the order of the day on New York songwriter Joanna Sternberg’s second album I’ve Got Me. Their voice has drawn comparisons to Kimya Dawson, Joanna Newsom, Adrienne Lenker and Daniel Johnson.

The whole album is recommended so I’m singling out the charming simplicity of ‘People Are Toys To You.’

8.

Earl Sweatshirt

Making The Band (Danity Kane)

This short and sweet Earl tune dropped earlier in the year but is on streaming now so it’s a good excuse to include tbqhwy.

9.

Feeble Little Horse

Slide

Pittsburgh band Feeble Little Horse’s second album Girl With Fish on Saddle Creek is a fine understated lo-fi rock album that was recommended in our Discord (join Patreon to get access to it).

I dig the hazy noise-pop track ‘Slide’ from the record, that reminds me of a more rocking Lali Puna.

10.

The Streets

Troubled Waters

Mike Skinner has announced his first album from The Streets since 2011’s Computer and Blues, and it arrived with news of a feature film of the same name and a new single ‘Troubled Waters’.

The Darker The Shadow, The Brighter The Light is to be released on October 20th this year on 679 Recordings/Warner Music UK, along with a feature film to accompany it. Skinner has been working on the project for seven years.

‘Troubled Water’ is the project’s first single, a cut above the loosey singles released over the last number of years. It features euphoric synth stabs, a soulful vocal and skittering drum and bass pads.

11.

Mitski

Bug Like An Angel

Mitski  has announced her new album The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We, is out September 15th on Dead Oceans.

‘Bug Like an Angel’ is a stark return brandishing the artist’s trademark intensity, that feels like a suitable introductory track to an album that will feature a 17-piece choir on it, which can be heard here celestially underscoring Mitski’s voice and chugging acoustic guitar.

References for the record include Ennio Morricone’s Spaghetti Western, Carter Burwell’s tundra-filling Fargo soundtrack, Arthur Russell, Scott Walker, Igor Stravinsky, Caetano Veloso and Faron Young.

12.

Joy Anonymous

Joy (Head To The Sky)

As played by Fred Again… in Times Square, ‘Joy (Head To The Sky)’ is the latest in the Uk duo’s life-affirming electronic tracks with a soulful piano-house vibe.

“We started this tune with our friends Barney and Fred in the basement of Imogen Heap’s house. Barney had this sample of ‘Optimistic’ By Sounds Of Blackness and we took it from there. We started playing it out in different forms over the past year and it quickly became the Joy Anonymous anthem.

See Also
Best of June 2024

13.

CMAT, John Grant

Where Are Your Kids Tonight

Following on from recent singles ‘Have Fun!’ and ‘Whatever’s Inconvenient’, ‘Where Are Your Kids Tonight’ is a duet from the pairing of CMAT and John Grant, which started when CMAT says she has realised “I had turned into my mother.”

“It’s kind of inspired by this image i had of entering a waterfall-like portal from an Irish kids’ show called ‘Foreign Exchange’ where I’m looking at 1988 and 2023 at the exact same time every time I look at myself in the mirror. To quote a TikTok comment I saw recently: ‘The human experience is absolutely fucking wild.’”

John Grant was top of the CMAT’s wishlist for the song…

14.

SX2, Pat Lagoon

Steady Up

A Waterford original as the dance duo SX2 link up with Pat Lagoon on ‘Steady Up’, a bouncing dance banger that was originally aired last summer but found its way onto an official release on Moscoman’s respected Disco Halal label.

An EP is to follow.

I played the tune last summer at my EP Festival late night set.

15.

Spooklet

Ah Shit

Hannah Worrall of the band Toygirl‘s new electronic project Spooklet‘s third single ‘Ah Shit’, a bass-buzzing skittering production with spoken lyrics by Worrall, who talks up the narrator as an independent sexual being, before the preoccupation with an unrequited attraction takes over, as the cycle becomes addictive.

Spooklet on Insta.

16.

Jay Rock, Anderson .Paak, Latto

Too Fast (Pull Over)

A surprising steel-pan pop rap banger from Jay Rock?

Latto and Anderson .Paak go wild on this one, which features the unmistakable production of DJ Mustard.

17.

Skeleten

Territory Day

Sydney artist Skeleten released an album in July called Under Utopia, and I’m digging the Four-Tet meets Junior Boys feel of the single ‘Territory Day’.

Russell Fitzgibbon AKA Skeleten creates all the music, artwork, visuals, and music videos.

18.

DJ Seinfeld & Confidence Man

Now U Do 

Confidence Man continue their collab series after a track with Daniel Avery with this bouncy dance number from their new era.

19.

Denzel Curry, Juicy J

Blood On My Nikez

Denzel Curry enlists none other than Three 6 Mafia Southern rap legend Juicy J for the loosey ‘Blood On My Nikez’ on a big tight-rope-walking tune.

20.

Vagabon

Do Your Worst

Lætitia Tamko aka Vagabon’s ‘Do Your Worst’ from the forthcoming album Sorry I Haven’t Called out September 15th, an album informed by grief after her best friend died in 2021, which gave Tamko a previously-unfelt clarity, which prompted Tamko to move to a small town north of Hamburg to process and work.

‘Do Your Worst’ was produced by Tamko, Rostam and Teo Halm. Hear also ‘Carpenter’ and ‘Can I Talk My Sh*t?’

“I was nestled in the German countryside when Teo Halm, who co-produced this with me, and I were experimenting in my home studio late into the night, I was listening to a lot of club music and I set out to make an instrumental that drew from the music you’d hear at an underground club in Germany or the UK yet still lived in the Vagabon musical lexicon. A year later, when I returned to the US, I got Rostam involved and he had a great idea of adding a layer of live drums on top of the breakbeat from my Germany session.”



Every week, the Nialler9 Spotify Weekly Playlist is updated with new music, and in this corner, we share the playlist and highlight some some select songs from the list below.

Want access to the archived weekly playlists too? Support Nialler9 on Patreon.

See the homepage for all Spotify playlists: New Music | Irish | Monthly



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