Whether it’s the end of the long northern hemisphere summer, the end of the short southern hemisphere winter, or the desire of artists and/or their record labels to get current year releases out the door, the third quarter of the year always seems to produce a raft of great new music. So much so that there’s no room this month for an oldie. Instead, we have 7 great new offerings from a very diverse bunch of artists. Enjoy.
Listen to the tracks at the end of the post or download or stream these songs this month…
Song: I’m Not Where You Are
From album: Any Human Friend
Calling Marika Hackman’s music saucy would be a substantial understatement. A Google lyrics search on songs like Hand Solo and All Night will most likely crack your screen. And there she is on the album cover, naked but for a pair of male Y-fronts and a baby pot-belly pig. There’s a bunch of NSFW content in her videos too. But she’s much more than just a producer of b-grade soft porn fare. This is super-smart and very modern pop music and hers is the voice of a sexually diverse new audience. Provocative in all senses of the word then.
(Also download or stream from the album: Blow, Hand Solo, The One)
Song: Lack Of Love
From album: Inflorescent
In the late noughties England’s Friendly Fires released 2 albums to critical acclaim and a reasonable degree of commercial success, and then seemingly disappeared. But now, after an 8 year hiatus, they’re back. They seem to have spent the lost years clubbing. Their brand of alt-rock always had an electro-dance leaning, but now they’ve ditched the guitars altogether in favour of a 70s/80s disco sheen. Almost every track here is a potential floor-filler, with killer beats, cool drops and even cheesy synthesized sax fills. The lyrical content too has switched from nonsense math-rock fare to club-appropriate phases of love (needing, getting, losing). The album’s centrepiece (and best single) is Lack Of Love. Driven by a squelchy fretless bass that gradually morphs into a distinctly more electronic variant, it’s simply fantastic.
(Also download or stream from the album: Heaven Let Me In, Can’t Wait Forever, Run The Wild Flowers)
From album: African Giant
Nigeria’s Damini Ebunoluwa Ogulu is Burna Boy. In 2012 he released the smash hit Like To Party and things exploded for him. Not one to accept the ‘world music’ tag, he has controversially rejected a number of global events due to an unacceptably low billing in the artist list. He has also been engaged in a recent low-key Twitter spat with South Africa’s AKA on the topic of xenophobia. Politics and ego aside, Ogulu has matured to the point of now producing some fantastic fare. Latest album African Giant (not a shy and retiring title either mind) is a mammoth 19 tracks long. The style of the music on offer meanders widely, but generally there is a smooth sheen to everything. Skilfully melding global soul and hip hop styles with local Afrobeat and jazz, this is crossover at its best and most interesting. Burna Boy’s soothing voice pulls everything together, especially on the superb Destiny.
(Also download or stream from the album: African Giant, Anybody, Gum Body)
Song: The Future Is Here
From album: The Centre Won’t Hold
American alt-rock darlings Sleater-Kinney have thankfully returned. The all-woman 3-piece took a 4-year break after 2015’s No Cities To Love before releasing latest release, this year’s The Centre Won’t Hold. St Vincent (Annie Clark) was brought along for the ride as producer. While she brings her crisp chops along with her, refining the Sleater-Kinney style somewhat, this is no St Vincent replica. Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker’s raucous, angry tunes remain very much still intact. The Future Is Here, for instance, is not the celebration of modern life that its title suggests. More a warning of how our devices have taken us over to the point of isolation and abject loneliness.
(Also download or stream from the album: Reach Out, Hurry On Home, Can I Go On)
De La Noche
From album: Blue Days, Black Nights
These days just about every previous musical style seems to be fair game for a comeback. In the case of De La Noche, even the much-maligned yacht-jazz of 80s fops Shakatak is up for a re-assessment. Moreover, lead singer Ivan Howard’s vocal style is not a million miles away from Bryan Ferry on the 1982 Roxy Music album Avalon. The band’s name means ‘Of The Night’ in Spanish. To make the point even more bluntly, the album’s title neatly splits the principal colour of the 24-hour day into its 2 key segments. Then the album cover features some sort of stylized supernova. All terribly cool, elegant and sophisticated, but thoroughly enjoyable late night stuff.
(Also download or stream from the album: Lush, Dreams, Spooky)
Song: If You Want It
From album: Anak Ko
Jay Som is the stage name of Melina Mae Duterte, a Californian born to immigrant Filipino parents. She started writing and recording at age 12, which may explain her distinct preference for working alone; Duterte plays all of the backing instruments to her songs and records and engineers her releases from her own bedroom. The result is a hazy and beautiful form of dream pop. The title of 3rd album Anak Ko means ‘my child’ in the native Tagalog language of her family. One gets the sense this is less a reference to Duterte’s own potential offspring and more about the inclusive feeling of being part of a greater, embracing family. This balance of individuality and community flows through the entire record
(Also download or stream from the album: Tenderness, Superbike, Nighttime Drive)
Song: In Your Arms
From album: To Myself
Every so often a new voice arrives on the scene that is so stunningly original that it stops you dead in your tracks. Baby Rose may be only 24, but she blasts into consciousness as this generation’s Nina Simone or Tracy Chapman. Sonorous and deep, hers is a timeless soul voice, but one which is still able to confront very current issues. It’s almost impossible to fathom that a tone and vocal texture like this can be produced from such a small frame. Rose is poised to be this year’s breakout new star of the R&B world. She certainly deserves it.
(Also download or stream from the album: Show You, Borderline, All To Myself)
LISTEN TO OUR PLAYLIST
You can listen to previews of each track by clicking on the icons next to the song titles below.
If you have iTunes and an Apple Music account, you can listen to the full songs and add the playlist to your library. Simply click on the Apple Music icon.
See more music reviews here.