Read about our 5 favourite new music releases for the month of June, this time all from North America, as well as the return of our ‘in case you missed it’ feature showcasing a tragically recently departed Frenchman. Listen to the tracks at the end of the post or download or stream these songs this month…
From album: Young Enough
On their 2017 debut Guppy, Brooklyn 4-piece Charly Bliss came out of the blocks firing. Frontwoman Eva Hendrick’s chipmunk-like vocals rode atop a quick-fire power-punk backing. All snarky lyrics and spit and anger. On latest album Young Enough many of these elements remain largely intact, albeit Hendricks sounds less like a Saturday morning TV animated character. Both the sound and lyrical content has matured and the rough edges worn off. And it suits them. With every song a potential hit, lead single Capacity is still the standout with Hendricks bragging about her ability to absorb whatever gets thrown at her.
(Also download or stream from the album: Camera, Blown To Bits, Young Enough)
From album: I Am Easy To Find
After 6 albums of near-perfect American indie rock, in 2017 The National needed to turn elsewhere and brought us the experimental deviation that was Sleep Well Beast (reviewed in our October 2017 column). So now where to? I Am Easy To Find returns to the melodic mid-tempo fare of before, but with one significant twist; on almost every one of the 16 tracks on offer here, Matt Berninger is accompanied by a female vocalist. On certain tracks the guest even takes charge completely. With the angsty lyrics and Berninger’s deep baritone, this is still quite obviously a National album. But using filmmaker Mike Mills as the album’s producer was a master stroke. Gone are the typical bold instrumental flourishes and in comes a minimalist, stripped back sound, pushing the vocals (both female and male) to the fore. Rylan is the track closest to their earlier work, and the fact that it’s pushed so far into the track list shows us where these guys really want to go. Genius.
(Also download or stream from the album: Light Years, I Am Easy To Find, You Had Your Soul With You)
Tyler, the Creator
From album: Igor
And speaking of genius…
California’s Tyler Gregory Okanma is one of those guys who just cannot sit still. He is variously a rapper, singer, songwriter, record producer, music video director, and fashion designer. In the former categories he performs as Tyler, The Creator and Igor is his 6th outing in 10 years. Prolific doesn’t begin to describe this guy. Igor is probably his most complete release to date and it’s worth listening to end-to-end to get a sense of the variability on offer. Sometimes rapping, often singing, there’s sweaty shouty stuff adjacent blissed out sunny tunes to be found within. Strangely, Earfquake is the only single released to date and it’s where Tyler gets all soft and romantic despite a bass beat that could bounce a heavy truck around from 50 meters.
(Also download or stream from the album: Gone Gone/Thank You, I Think, Are We Still Friends?)
From album: Radiant Dawn
In the age of Trump and technology overload, dystopia is making a comeback in popular culture. Even the latest Avengers movies have way less laughs in them. And so it is with Operators. Canada’s Dan Boeckner is also a leading member of two other bands; the highly feted Wolf Parade and lesser known punk outfit Handsome Furs. But Operators is where he parks all of his existential concerns. Radiant Dawn is only the second album release of this incarnation following 2016’s Blue Wave. While that album was maximalist pop at its most edgy, Radiant Dawn sees Boeckner and co layering deep bass over motoric driving beats. This gives his deep and sonorous voice the opportunity to stretch along his tales of anxiety. Danceable yes, but probably saved for moments in your dark bedroom alone after taking your downer of choice.
(Also download or stream from the album: I Feel Emotion, Days, In Moderan)
From album: U.F.O.F.
Adrianne Lenker, the close-cropped lead singer of Big Thief, took a break from the band last year to release her solo album Abysskiss. The break did them good. Lenker was born in Indianapolis into a religious cult. Home-schooled, she released her first material at age 13. Now still only 26, she’s always had a much older head on her shoulders. U.F.O.F. (short for UFO friend) is the band’s third album. Their soft folk-rock core remains intact but the tunes have improved and become more melodic. Though still some distance from being considered radio friendly, the songs nonetheless reveal increased hummability, especially the 3 singles (Century, UFOF and Cattails). It’s Lenker’s phrasing that sets the band so far above any peers they may have though. Mystical, dreamlike and exquisite.
(Also download or stream from the album: UFOF, Cattails, Betsy)
In case you missed it…
Song: Cassius 1999
From album: 1999 (from 1999)
On 19 June Phillipe Zdar (real name Phillipe Cerboneschi) died when he accidentally fell 19 stories from a Parisian apartment building. He was 52. He was also one half of French dance production duo Cassius together with Boombass (real name Hubert Blanc-Francard). 2 days later, on 21 June, Cassius released their fifth album Dreems. They had also just finished production duties on the latest album by Hot Chip, A Bath Full Of Ecstasy. Both of these albums will feature in next month’s music review on Equilibrio.
Cassius are something of French dance music royalty. They kicked off their career mainly producing and remixing music for other acts such as MC Solaar, Etienne de Crécy and Air as part of the emerging Parisian dance scene of the 90s. They also released some of their own original material under the banner La Funk Mob. In 1999 they released their first album as Cassius (simply titled 1999) using an animated mock superhero loosely based on DC Comics’ Deadman to represent them visually. Cassius 1999 was the lead single. Intelligent and sleek, both the track and album were sample-heavy rather than the latter-day dance music approach of employing a pack of collaborators.
On the back of the success and critical appreciation of 1999, Cassius became much in demand by other artists, producing some of the stronger releases by Phoenix, Two Door Cinema Club, OneRepublic and Frank Ferdinand. Sadly they are no more.
(Also download or stream from the album: Feeling For You, Foxxy, La Mouche)
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 grey Apple Music icon.
See more of our music review here.