The 10 Best Albums You May Have Missed in June 2020
Our latest celebration of records that might have slipped under your radar in the past month.
Even though this is a selection of records released in June which you might not have clocked first time around, there are still some pretty big names in the mix.
Orlando Weeks was in the biggest indie bands in the country only a couple of years ago, Pinch is an underground legend, Mike Kinsella is the crown prince of emo and John Frusciante is John Frusciante. Still, their releases and the six others below have flown slightly under the radar these past few weeks - a testament to the sheer volume of quality albums that have emerged of late. Allow us a couple of minutes to throw some shine to these ten.
79rs Gang - Expect The Unexpected
Even if you skip the artwork, you can tell after about ten seconds of ‘Expect The Unexpected’ that 79rs Gang hail from New Orleans. From the percussion which rattles and rolls all over the duo’s second LP to the blues-soaked inflections of Big Chief Romeo and Big Chief Jermaine, this is an album which has the city’s storied musical legacy in its bones. However, the real triumph of ‘Expect The Unexpected’ is the manner in which 79rs Gang develop these old sounds, adding modern production tricks and danceable influences to create tunes at once effervescent and thoughtful.
Pinch - Reality Tunnels
‘Reality Tunnels’ when you're having fun. And Pinch does sound like he had fun when he made ‘Reality Tunnels’ - at least, he had his sort of fun. Pinch’s sound has always had that same darkness to it which runs through so much music in the hardcore continuum since he first emerged back in the dubstep era, so ‘fun’ in this instance doesn't mean joyous melodies and sun-kissed pop - more brooding atmospherics and hard-hitting beats, actually. Still, the sense artistic freedom to ‘Reality Tunnels’ is undeniable, particularly when you consider how aesthetically adventurous Pinch’s production is these days.
Kate NV - Room For The Moon
Kate NV’s ‘Room For The Moon’ marks a half-century of releases for the Dinked Editions project, something which is a cause for celebration in itself. However, the fact that this album is one of the very best records in that fifty only adds to the delight. The Moscow-based Kate NV turns in a thrillingly unusual set of songs here which blend the cinematic post-rock sensibilities of Vanishing Twin and Stereolab with an artsy pop nous derived from Talk Talk.
Trickfinger - She Smiles Because She Presses The Button
John Frusciante’s musical questing brings him to a new set of electronic innovations under the name of Trickfinger. ‘She Smiles Because She Presses The Button’, the project’s third LP, manages to maintain a sense of playfulness throughout - no mean feat considering the amount of IDM records which have fallen into self-seriousness down the years. From ‘Brise’s quicksilver rhythms to the almost loungey loaf of ‘Plane’, Frusicante handles ‘She Smiles Because She Presses The Button’ with delightful levity.
Becca Mancari - The Greatest Part
Becca Mancari’s songs don't hang around too long. Apart from a couple of entries towards the end of her sophomore LP ‘The Greatest Part’, the Nashville singer-songwriter brings every track here in under three minutes. It is no easy feat to write brief songs which also say everything you want them to say, but time and again here Mancari does just that. Over the sort of indie-fied Americana instrumentals which have served Waxahatchee so well down the years, Mancari makes her points and gets out ahead, leaving you wanting more and reaching for the replay button.
Jockstrap - Wicked City
In terms of pure stylistic invention, Jockstrap’s ‘Wicked City’ was probably the boldest statement made by any musical act in June. Not since the emergence of JPEGMAFIA have we come across a sonic aesthetic so garbled and bastardised, and even then Peggy can’t hold a candle to Jockstrap in terms of melody. ‘Wicked City’ mulches up so many different styles across its five tracks that it’s pretty much impossible to place. Let’s just call it the future sound of pop.
Owen - The Avalanche
You’ve got to hand it to Mike Kinsella. Dude can do a good music. The American Football chap dazzles once again on ‘The Avalanche’, his latest LP as Owen. Like the project’s previous records, ‘The Avalanche’ is a set of ruminative and quavering chamber-emo which reimagines the best of Neutral Milk Hotel in a more intimate and personal manner. It is impeccably crafted, beautifully realised and often very moving.
Nídia - Nídia
Nídia’s excellent 2020 continues with an eponymous EP that emerges mere weeks after her impressive full-length ‘Não Fales Nela Que A Mentes’. Whereas that LP saw Nídia expanding her sonic palette and slowing down her tempos, these four tracks are strictly for the club. The Batida and Kuduro styles which the Príncipe label have brought to the forefront of the European clubsphere in recent years are both driving forces once again here, but there is also a slightly more cavernous feel to the production which draws from big-room techno and trance.
Orlando Weeks - A Quickening
Orlando Weeks is no longer the fresh-faced, slightly awkward young man he was when he first came on the scene as part of The Maccabees. As his debut solo LP ‘A Quickening’ attests, Weeks has grown up plenty over the past few years, both in his personal life - these songs are primarily concerned with the birth of his first child - and musically. Gone is his former band’s spry indie, replaced here by an ornate and textured sophisti-pop style which will appeal to fans of Peter Gabriel, Prefab Sprout and Westerman.
Wiki - OOFIE
After waiting an age, we finally got copies of Wiki’s 2019 LP ‘Oofie’ in on wax this month. The NYC MC is one of rap’s perennially underrated figures. Since wowing as a teenager in the much-missed Ratking, Wiki has managed to streamline his street-level musings into a style which softens the braggadocio of his East Coast forebears with pathos, wit and heart. The esteem in which Wiki is held by his peers is borne out in ‘Oofie’s credits - Micachu, Lil Ugly Mane and former Ratking pal Sporting Life all contribute beats while Denzel Curry, Your Old Droog and Princess Nokia crop up with verses.