Best Albums of June 2020
Featuring Phoebe Bridgers, Neil Young, Hinds, Khruangbin and more...
Summer has arrived. Granted, it's not quite the same as it was before, but at the moment let's just take what we can get eh?
Break out the barbecue. Crack open a beer. Search online for face masks which don't seem expressly designed to raise your body temperature as much as possible. And get your ears around some of the records listed below - all of which all of which, in their own ways, are primed for Summer listening. From rapidly-rising new voices to returning favourites, here are the biggest and best albums which came out in June.
DJ Python - Mas Amable
Calling yourself DJ Python implies that your music will arrive with a hiss and a sting, but there’s really nothing venomous about the New York-based producer’s ‘Mas Amable’ LP. Indeed, this is one of the prettiest things you’ll hear all year, a beautifully meditative collection of textures set to a gently insistent club pulse. ‘Mas Amable’ is a collection of “deep reggaeton” to luxuriate in, drink in hand, as the sun dips over the horizon.
Khruangbin - Mordechai
‘Mordechai’ is Khruangbin, but not as you know it. While the Texan trio’s core style here remains a sonorous blend of psychedelic rock and dub, the band lively up their sound on this new LP with a couple of choice moves. Not only do they lock into a lightly funky, disco-inflected mode on tracks such as ‘So We Won’t Forget’ and ‘Time (You And I)’, but the increased prominence of vocals here gives a ‘Mordechai’ a poppiness and immediacy that was absent from some of Khruangbin’s previous records. File ‘Mordechai’ next to The Orielles and Tame Impala.
Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever - Sideways to New Italy
You'll have to imagine how much fun it would have been catching Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever at a late-afternoon festival slot this Summer. Like their breakout 2018 LP ‘Hope Downs’, the Aussie group’s new album ‘Sideways To New Italy’ is full of stirring, sun-kissed indie jangles which sound like a more giddy version of Real Estate’s best work. We look forward to enjoying these songs crammed up tightly next to strangers, in a field, overpriced Tuborg in hand, one day in the future.
HAIM - Women In Music Pt. III
The Family Haim find strength in numbers once more on their third studio LP ‘Women In Music Pt. III’. We don’t say that flippantly - the three sisters have had it rough, what with Alana ‘Baby’ Haim losing a close friend, Este Haim struggling with diabetes, and Danielle Haim developing depression in the years after her partner was diagnosed with testicular cancer back in 2015. ‘Women In Music Pt. III’ doesn’t nullify those pains, but rather faces up to them, absorbing and channelling the experiences to give additional emotional heft to the band’s typically melodious brand of soft-rock.
Polypores - Azure
With life growing more unreal by the day at the moment, we all need to find ways to centre ourselves. If you’re looking for something to help you let go of it all for a bit, might I suggest tuning in to Polypores’ ‘Azure’? The artist born Stephen James Buckley has made a delightful and dreamy record here, one in which new age and ambient textures lap up against the very softest edges of Krautrock. Fans of Enos both Brian and Roger will already be intimate with the sonic terrain trodden by ‘Azure’.
Sonic Boom - All Things Being Equal
Boom! Haha, gotcha. That said, when you haven’t released an album for thirty years, why wouldn’t you come back with a bang? Sonic Boom is, of course, Pete Kember from Spacemen 3, so he can take as long as he wants when making his music, but it’s good to see that all the time away hasn’t dulled the fires of the Sonic Boom project. Indeed, while Kember might have spruced up his sound a little with some electronics and drones, you wouldn’t necessarily think such a long time had passed between 1990’s ‘Spectrum’ and 2020’s ‘All Things Being Equal’ if you listened to them side by side.
Phoebe Bridgers - Punisher
It felt like Phoebe Bridgers’ ‘Punisher’ was everywhere you looked this past month. Press were raving about it, each day brought a new Bridgers video to YouTube, and fans gushed about the album on social media. ‘Punisher’, the second LP from the Californian singer-songwriter, warrants the attention. This record blends emo, grunge, folk and dream-pop, and Bridgers is a captivating confidant throughout. The influence of Mitski and Bright Eyes, the latter of whom collaborates with Bridgers as part of Better Oblivion Community Centre, is clear.
Nihiloxica - Kaloli
Nihiloxica came to attention through their work with Nyege Nyege Tapes, the Kampala-based record label which has delivered some of the most exciting rhythm tracks, club rap and electronic music of recent memory. In comparison to the whirlwind productions of, say, NNT’s ‘Sounds Of Sisso’ compilation, Nihiloxica’s blend of Bugandan massed-percussion polyrhythms and technoid synth work is somewhat earthier. On ‘Kaloli’, the group’s debut LP which came out a few weeks ago via Crammed Discs, Nihiloxica develop this style into something invigorating yet brooding, supple yet muscular.
Hinds - The Prettiest Curse
*U2 voice* woahhhh, ‘The Prettiest Curse’! Fortunately, bar titular similarities there’s not much common ground between Bono & the boys and Madrid’s Hinds. The latter’s third LP draws largely from the fuzzier end of the 90s alternative rock sphere - The Lemonheads, Sonic Youth, even a little Brian Jonestown Massacre. Like the best work from those groups, ‘The Prettiest Curse’ makes sure that some pretty sweet melody bombs cut through on every track, and the fact that Hinds play with so much exuberance and energy makes ‘The Prettiest Curse’ a very hard album to resist.
Neil Young - Homegrown
‘Homegrown’ isn’t a big deal because it’s a new Neil Young album - the Canadian veteran has kept up a pretty regular release schedule throughout his long and storied career. No, ‘Homegrown’ is a big deal because it’s a new *golden-age* Neil Young album. Fans would have been forgiven for thinking that this record, which has sat on the shelf since the mid-70s, might never come to light. Now, finally, it has. These songs were taped when Young was arguably at his creative zenith - ‘Tonight’s The Night’ and ‘On The Beach’ are both in the immediate orbit of ‘Homegrown’s recording. It also includes a song called ‘We Don't Smoke It No More’, which is funny.