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The 20 best songs of January

The 20 best songs of January

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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 Burial, NewDad, Youth Lagoon, Romare, Bootie Grove, The Last Dinner Party, Sprints, Marika Hackman, Bullion, The Smile, Pillow Queens, Joy Orbison, Plus One, Sheer Mag.


1.

Burial

Boy Sent From Above

The first release from Burial on XL Recordings is a plundering of nostalgic rave sounds, refracted through the idiosyncratic producer’s trademark sonic touches.

Both tracks, ‘Dreamfear’ and ‘Boy Sent From Above’ clock in around the 13 minute mark and feel like a continuation of his work in the last 10 years, an occasional addendum to his world-building drawing on video game and R&B samples.

If ‘Dreamfear’ is the frantic high-BPM break guzzler, the latter’s ravey synth line and stabs bring a pop euphoria to Burial’s work that is rare and notable. By the time the synths in question kick in at 4 minutes 20 seconds, there’s been spray can rattles, meandering starts, burning ember and crackle sound effects, and a vocal that a Redditor suggests come from a cover of Monica’s ‘Angel Of Mine’ posted on Youtube 13 years ago, along with a vocal adlib from Destiny’s Child’s ‘Say My Name’ (more obviously heard as central to the Cyril Hahn remix). The track even has its own nostalgic rave outro switchup.

2.

Youth Lagoon

Football

Trevor Powers follows up last year’s Heaven Is A Junkyard, with a once-off single on 7″ on Fat Possum, with the album’s co-producer Rodaidh McDonald on the boards.

“‘Football’ is really a celebration of failure. Society has a terrible habit of only recognising achievement while glossing over the greatness in the shadows. We’re so distracted trying to earn love, worth and value that we forget it’s something we inherently already have. I wanted to play with this idea through the lens of sports ‘cuz, in a lot of ways, sports are the truest religion.”

3.

NewDad

Sickly Sweet

From the smart, confident and superbly-produced (by Chris Ryan and and mixed by Alan Moulder) debut album Madra from London-based Galway band NewDad, ‘Sickly Sweet’ draws from the darker edge of Irish shoegaze bands of recent years (Just Mustard come to mind), the classic indie vocal style of Julie Dawson, and a bit of grunge to boot.

NewDad are another fine Irish band with a fine debut album to get excited about.

4.

Romare

Discotheque

Romare is channelling a Daphni-style mechanical dance on his first track of 2024, bringing insistent rhythm, soul vocal samples, motor sounds and evocative understated melody to a track I can’t wait to play at Lumo this Saturday.

 

5.

Joy Orbison

flight fm

Joy Orbison has released a few minimal maximal club bangers lately, and ‘Flight FM’ is another of those tracks that takes over the brain’s flux capacitor. Big fun.

6.

Fabiana Palladino

Stay With Me Through The Night

The Jai Paul collaborator and live band member is releasing her self-titled Fabiana Palladino album, and has announced some gigs too including a Dublin gig on May 29th in the Workman’s Cellar.

‘Stay With Me Through The Night’ was the first song to be written for the record and has a video co-directed by Fabiana Palladino and Josh Renaut, and shot by Buster Grey-Jung – that showcases the beautiful intimacy of Palladino in situ at the piano where the whole album started.

Originally posted.

7.

English Teacher

Albert Road

I’ve loved everything from Leeds indie band English Teacher so good news then that the band’s debut album This Could Be Texas is out April 12th via Island Records.

‘Albert Road’ was released today, a curtain-closer of a track, a track about intolerant people emboldened post-Brexit  and singer/ lyricist Lily Fontaine’s mixed raced upbringing in a small town:

“When people ask where I’m from I usually say I’m mixed race: half Yorkshire, half Lancashire. It allows me to divert with comedy from the potential connotations of that question, which change wildly depending on who’s asking it. One end of Albert Road in Colne [her hometown] is cold, underfunded and uninspiring; the other is warm at night with live music. It sums up how I look back on the place I lived for 19 years.”

“But don’t take their prejudice to heart
They hate everyone
The world around them never showed
How loving can be fun.”

The band announced a load of European and UK dates including Dublin and Belfast.

8.

The Last Dinner Party

Caesar on a TV Screen

The UK band of the moment, crowned the winner of BBC’s Sound Of 2024, the five-piece band build upon their classic pop ABBA-influenced sound that they established last year with singles like ‘Nothing Matters’ with a theatre-infused track and video from their forthcoming debut album Prelude To Ecstasy.

The album is a solid dependable and fun debut with tracks that nod to a histrionic theatrical classic pop vibe.


9.

Bootie Grove

Always A Kid

French producer Bootie Grove comes through with one of those instrumental dance tracks I love, the kind that radiates through the speakers with a cascading positivity.

10.

Marika Hackman

No Caffeine

Originally released in September, ‘No Caffeine’ got a renewed focus in the last month as part of the album experience of English singer-songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist’s fourth record Big Sigh.

While the sound of the song and production are gently comforting, the song has a darker meaning beneath the surface, in that it’s a list of things to do in an attempt to avoid a panic attack and the relentlessness of anxiety, while imagining the perspective of a toxic relationship.

11.

Future Islands

Say Goodbye

‘Say Goodbye’ is pure Future Islands, the Baltimore band’s classic synth-pop sound 101, no bad thing. It’s from their new album People Who Aren’t There Anymore.

12.

Bullion, Carly Rae Jepsen

Rare

Bullion steps out behind the boards for an album due in April 26th on Ghostly International, with his songwriting hat on, as opposed to his established production rep.

‘Rare’ featuring Carly Rae Jepsen is a Blood Orange-esque soft pop glow, and one of three songs on the record with a guest, alongside Panda Bear and Charlotte Adigery.  

‘Rare’, came out of Jepsen’s recent album recording in Toronto..

 “I’ve been a fan of Bullion from the first listen. His music just sends me some place good every time. We started writing together over zoom sessions in lock down and then met in real life in Toronto, London and LA. When I first reached out to him, I said “it would be fun to see how your world of music and mine could play together” and it’s been one of the coolest discoveries. To be featured on Rare is such a sweet start to 2024. And as a fan still, I’m really looking forward to this whole album”.

Carly Rae Jepsen
13.

Sprints

Shaking Their Hands

One of the more introspective songs on the debut album from the Dublin garage punk band’s debut album Letter To Self, which was released on City Slang, ‘Shaking Their Hands’ is a song waiting to clock off, and shows a band working their sound in subtle ways that still rises to a roar.

14.

Pillow Queens

Gone

Pillow Queens have announced that their third album is Name Your Sorrow is out April 19th.

Here’s their new single ‘Gone’, following on from ‘Suffer’ recently – you can hear the marked difference in their craft from their previous releases now.

The band says, “‘Gone’” is a song that looks into the vapid nature of brief romantic encounters and the hyperbole that can become so monotonous, it makes you jaded.” The track came about at the end of a jam session during a songwriting retreat in The Burren.

Lead vocalist, guitarist and bassist Pamela Connolly adds, “Lines like, ‘I was in your top five things to do’ convey a lack of self-worth that’s tackled throughout the album. It’s a song that showcases a vulnerability that allows for no silver linings – it’s the reality of how someone is feeling in the moment.”

Pillow Queens are announced for Iveagh Gardens in Dublin Saturday July 13th 2024.

15.

The Smile

Read The Room

If you’re pondering the question about whether Radiohead will ever return to a band releasing music together, the fact that The Smile exists and is making a lot of similar music to Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood’s old band (with a different style of drummer in Tom Skinner), then it wouldn’t be hard to conclude that this is the newest iteration of Radiohead with less weight on their shoulders.

The Smile for Dublin 3Arena show & European tour


16.

R.A.P. Ferreira & Fumitake Tamura

bending corners (sittin sidewayz revisited)

Nashville MC R.A.P. Ferreira has collaborated with Japanese producer Fumitake Tamura, on a full-length release the First Fist to Make Contact When We Dap.

The album came about when founder of Low End Theory Daddy Kev invited Ferreira to a trip to Japan, where Kev was putting on his beat night Scenario.

Ferreira and Tamura aka Bun worked together remotely five years ago but this was there first IRL creative meet.

I wanted to make a work with Bun that highlights the trust of the rapper/producer relationship. Tamura’s compositions pushed me like nothing yet has; his conception of what my sound could be left me needing to actualize it. I followed blindly and excitedly. We worked with diligence through the year.

This album, more than any other I’ve made, encapsulates my vision of rap music. It is free. It is international. It is beloved. It is sharp and silly. It presents one way and participates another. It flexes and is flexible. There is study and there is the mystical. Slices and crumbs. It’s something my whole family listened to and enjoyed first. Thank you for working with me, Bun.”

 

17.

Anwar Highsign, Arckatron, Castle

Kids Don’t Feel

Philadelphia MC/producer Anwar HighSign and LA-based producer/composer Arckatron collab on this headnodding rap cut (with rapper Castle), discovered via Marc Weidenbaum’s This Week in Sound Substack.

That bassline dragging on the floor of the track is sticky like frost ice.

18.

Plus One

Wonder

London-based Dubliner Matt Finnegan drops a garage-leaning dancefloor relese on First Second label.

While ‘Llamada Romantica’ closed out Ben UFO’s most recent Lot Radio appearance in New York, ‘Wonder’ is more my style – pitched-up vocal and plinked synth notes with a bubble of melody and crisp bass beats.

19.

Jamie xx

It’s So Good

After last year’s quiet release year that amounted to Jamie xx live headline shows at festivals like All Together Now, and 2022 singles ‘Kill Dem and ‘Let’s Do It Again’, Jamie xx has shared his new song ‘It’s So Good’, a taut dancefloor cut that soundtracks the new Coco Crush advert by Chanel.

20.

Sheer Mag

Moonstruck

‘Moonstruck’ is the sound of garage rock meets Jackson 5-style vocals, from the always reliable Philadelphia throwback power-garage-pop rockers Sheer Mag.

The song is from their upcoming album Playing Favorites out on Third Man Records on March 1st.



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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