Best Records of July 2019 Thom Yorke, Lingua Ignota, Polypores, Freddie Gibbs & Madlib
Last month Thom Yorke was probably worried about climate change (as are we) but other than the latest from Radiohead’s most anxious member, July 2019 saw the release of a number of albums that explore the power of the voice including a metal classicist, a Venezuelan party, and a righteous jazz choir.
Best albums this month
Thom Yorke - ANIMA
Thom Yorke... is at it again. Alongside the likes of Natasha Lyonne and the Stranger Things kids he’s sold his soul to a certain streaming giant. And for once, I’m not talking about Spotify (though you will find ANIMA there too). His third solo album accompanies some charmingly amateurish videos of the man himself scuttling around a psychedelic backdrop directed by his bezzie mate Paul Thomas Anderson. The music here is a little less silly than that, trading in that trademark Thom Yorke fidgety electronics, with the occasional moment of clear-eyes haunting beauty.
Jesca Hoop - STONECHILD
I like to think I’m capable of the occasional original thought, but sometimes it’s safer to go with the crowd. Which is to say, isn’t that album cover something huh? Haunting and uncanny and sinister… wait a minute, those words all describe the music on here too! STONECHILD shows off Jesca Hoop’s stark acoustic guitar playing, whether she’s plucking or strumming there’s a striking minimalism to it. Her songwriting is aided by the occasional bit of studio weirdness, ‘Red White and Black’ has her dueting with what sounds like her own reversed vocals. Spooky!
Uzeda - Quocumque Jeceris Stabit
Thirteen years! Thirteen years!! That’s how long Italy’s Uzeda kept us waiting for album number five Quocumque Jeceris Stabit. Let me tell you something that I’ve done in the last thirteen years; I moved to Leeds, I learnt to drive, and I got my dream job writing content for Norman Records. And Uzeda? Well they made an incredibly knotty punk album that has just as much bite as bark, all marshalled by a brilliant vocal performance from Giovanna Cacciola.
Freddie Gibbs & Madlib - Bandana
Before I get started on Freddie Gibbs and Madlib, can I just say I love Killer Mike (who features alongside Pusha T on ‘Palmolive’). One of artists that got this unashamed indie kid onto some hip-hop. Anyway. On their follow up to Piñata the duo double down on what is evidently one of the genres most fruitful collaborations. Madlib offers up a delicious selection of beats that are properly tangible, with those lovely chopped up vocal samples you expect from him. Gibbs meanwhile is firing on all cylinders, with a range of delightfully rhythmic flows.
Lingua Ignota - Caligula
Lingua Ignota is part of a set that produce what a dear friend referred to as “Trendy, Smart person metal”. Now he may have just been trying to flatter me (reader, I am very easily flattered) but he’s probably right. Lingua Ignota, the Body, Uniform and others, all make music that while definitely being metal, is happy to occasionally sit at its boundaries. Caligula features barely any guitars, instead relying on the sheer power and versatility of Kristin Hayter’s voice to inject the drama that is so central to the genre.
Betsayda Machado y la Parranda El Clavo - Loé Loá - Rural Recordings Under The Mango Tree
Loé Loá - Rural Recordings Under The Mango Tree also showcases the power of the voice but in a completely different way than Lingua Ignota. Where Caligula is a product of the sheer force of will of one exceptional musician, here we find 17 different singers coming together. A series of calls and responses, between a leader and the group, find a way of expressing joy amid turmoil, of love amid pain. These voices are accompanied by torrents of percussion, that have all the thrill of white water rafting.
Damon Locks / Black Monument Ensemble - Where Future Unfolds
I’d like to be even half as excited as our reviewer was when writing about Damon Locks and Black Monument Ensemble’s latest album but reading it again, that might be a bit of a challenge. Where Future Unfolds is completely worth the tone of that review. As a jazz album it would be brilliant even if it wasn’t filled with a full-throated choir singing blisteringly catchy and political hooks. But it is. And what an infectious accompaniment they provide to the lively improvisations and inventive and lithe drumming.
Prince - Originals
While no doubts combing his archives with the intent of a parent during nit season, Warner Records have managed to release a posthumous Prince album that doesn’t feel as gross as this thing often can. Originals collects a number of songs Prince wrote for other musicians, including Apollonia and the Family. On these demos, we see a slightly more restrained and accessible Prince, one that even yours truly, a complete Prince non-fan (and I’m not proud of it!), can get on board with.
Solange - When I Get Home
I was lucky enough to watch Solange perform live this summer, and it made one thing clear. She is one of the artists most confident in her vision today. The stage set up was asymmetric and beguiling, the dancing was stetson-wearing and abstract. And the music! Solange’s music sounds to my ears like a sort of ambient R&B, as interested in its texture as it is in its groove. A large part of this comes from her vocals, which are as multifaceted as Lingua Ignota’s, but also from the production. The bassy synth sounds particularly delight.
Pan Sonic & Charlemagne Palestine - Mort Aux Vaches
I can’t quite believe this is actually Charlie. For as long as I’ve been aware of the man with the largest collection of stuffed animals in the world I’ve known him as a hammerer of piano keys. Someone who, through sheer physical effort, can turn individual notes into a continuous drone. Here he takes the slightly easier route of producing drones with an organ. Accompanied by Pan Sonic’s horrid throbbing bass, Charlemagne Palestine conjures the image of walking into the world’s eeriest vampire castle. This is minimalism at its most rich and intense.
Félicia Atkinson - The Flower And The Vessel
ASMR fans rejoice! The prominence of the internet video sub-genre (look it up) has found its way into the world of music. Holly Herndon’s Platform and Perila’s Irer Dent prominently feature ASMR and so does Félicia Atkinson’s latest. To some the sensation is unsettling, but hearing it so masterfully used in music is at the very least interesting. Atkinson’s barely whispered vocals bring a strangely physical element to dripping wet ambient and musique concrete on The Flower And The Vessel, an album that shows a quiet voice can hit every bit as hard as a loud one.
Coming to a shelf near you this August
I hope you’ve all got some money saved up for August 16th because the music industry has decided to offload new records from Ride, the Murder Capital, Blanck Mass, Here Lies Man, Shura AND Loscil on us all. Oh wait, I’ve forgotten Sleater-Kinney, the Hold Steady, Friendly Fires, Oh Sees, Aidan Moffat & RM Hubbert, Uniform & The Body, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard AND Bobby Krlic.
Don’t believe the music industry would be so inconsiderate? See for yourself in our entirely considerate release schedule.