Best Records of June 2019 Equiknoxx, Bruce Springsteen, Ellen Arkbro, Mort Garson
It was Father’s Day in June, so what better to get through the dad month than some dad music? Kevin Martin and Bill Callahan both explore the anxieties of parenthood, while Bruce Springsteen is a bit more interested in being embarrassing to your kids. We even enjoyed music by some actual children, from buzz bands’ black midi.
Equiknoxx - Eternal Children
Watching Equiknoxx DJing is a joyous experience. They’re so playful and likeable and just flat out fun. This had previously been toned down on record, opting for gently psychedelic dancehall productions engineered to within an inch of their lives. With Eternal Children they’ve created something a bit more accessible, and a bit more poppy. Most significantly though, they’ve brought their MCs into the fold, meaning there's more people to have fun with.
black midi - Schlagenheim
It’s very easy to be cynical about black midi (all lower case, please). They attended Brit School and seem to have the entire weight of London’s music institutions behind them. And while I wouldn’t begrudge you for not being able to look passed all that, it would mean you were missing one of the best math rock albums released this year. And yes, I do mean math rock. For all their triumphs, by far the greatest is actually getting people to listen to the perennially uncool genre. There’s an ArcTanGent headliner slot in their future if they want it.
Mort Garson - Mother Earth's Plantasia
Some music is so quaint and charming that it would take an actual monster to turn their nose up at it. In 1976 Mort Garson composed an album to help plants grow, and yeah, it’s obviously nonsense, but the idea of sharing some music with that calathea on your coffee table (instead of uh… killing it), is almost unbearably sweet. The tracks are chunky little synth jams that have a genuine sense of vitality about them. I’m sitting up straighter already.
Vanishing Twin - The Age of Immunology
This album that had me writing that it featured “the most vital flute interventions I've heard in years”. Vanishing Twin’s second album is a warm thing, almost as warm as the Croatian island they recorded part of it on. It’s full of loose and liberated psychedelic pop that is drifts carelessly from shore to shore. From jazz to pop, from exotica to full blown psychedelica.
Kevin Richard Martin - Sirens
I’m not a parent, but even the thought of going through what Kevin Richard Martin went through when his child was sick at birth fills me with anxiety. Martin (who you likely know as the Bug), documented this experience on Sirens, his first release under his own name. Martin is well practiced with using drone, but they’ve never been as visceral or intense. One word that’s been used to describe his music before is dread. It’s never been more apt.
Bill Callahan - Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest
Another album about fatherhood here from ‘chill’ Bill Callahan. Unlike Martin, Callahan’s parental anxieties are smaller, but no less well communicated. His trademark steady, sonorous and rambling singing style makes him a remarkably sturdy rock to sing about this subject. He’s joined by acoustic bass and slide guitar, creating a mood of pastoral bliss. I hope Martin’s experience of parenthood becomes more like Callahan’s.
Bruce Springsteen - Western Stars
Maybe the only thing you need to know about the person writing this is that they play guitar in a Bruce Springsteen tribute act (jury’s still out on a name: the Boss Baby or You’re Not the Boss of Me Now?). Though I’ve always preferred the Boss’s brasher stuff, I do like what he’s doing on Western Stars. It’s ridiculously cheesy, particularly the almost obscene ‘There Goes My Miracle’. But I suppose that’s what you get when you trade in the E-Street Band for an orchestra.
Justin Hopper & Sharron Kraus with the Belbury Poly - Chanctonbury Rings
I like to go walking in the countryside, it’s probably the one thing I wish I did more. The countryside is weird and uncanny and of course magical. Justin Hopper and Sharron Kraus understand this better than most. Chanctonbury Rings acts as something of an audio guide to a part of West Sussex, offering us a glimpse of what it is and what it was. Hopper’s spoken word is dry and funny, and finds a wonderful foil in Kraus’s creepy and atmospheric folk music.
Sisso - Mateso
There’s a degree of inevitability whenever Nyege Nyege Tapes release anything. It’s inevitable that I’ll love it, that I’ll want to dance to it, and while listening to it at my desk I’ll get a bit over excited. Sisso’s Mateso is no different. His Singeli beats regularly ascend to the sanctified ground that is above 200BPM. They’re knotty little loops, the kind that remain inexplicably listenable (and maybe more importantly, euphoric) for as long as they run.
Ellen Arkbro - Chords
What Ellen Arkbro lacks in naming she more than makes up for in… Actually wait a minute. I’m not going to lie to you, ‘For Organ’ and ‘For Guitar’ are probably the perfect names for Arkbro’s compositions given how bracingly minimal they are. Hers is a music of such compositional rigour that I will never understand what exactly is going on. But they are deeply expressive, to the point of maybe even being moving.
His Name Is Alive - All The Mirrors In The House (Home Recordings 1979 - 1986)
The ascendance of Coco Gauff has had a lot of people wondering what they were doing when they were 15. Well His Name Is Alive, real name Warren Defever, may not have been at Wimbledon, but he was making ambient experiments that would make Brian Eno blush. Defever would take home recordings of the weather and the things his neighbours were up to, and manipulate them. The result is uncommonly intimate, and almost familiar.
Coming to a shelf near you this July
Thom Yorke finds himself in the upside down. Solange has no famous relatives, why do you ask? Kaiser Chiefs are definitely from Yorkshire. Freddie Gibbs & Madlib go incognito. And there is a band called Bongzilla.
Make your own “coming to a shelf near you” with the help of our release schedule.