Did you hear? Apparently Daft Punk released a new album last month. As good as it was, it turns out there was plenty of other great music released throughout May 2013. So I present another monthly review highlighting not only the major releases of the past month, but also hopefully some of the hidden gems that may have slipped under the radar:
From: More Light
Okay, so I may have rolled my eyes a little when I saw the title of this song. They may have rolled even further when Bobby Gillespie started singing about “television propaganda” and “the total subjugation of the rock ‘n’ roll nation” – concepts that feel a little out of date in 2013. But truth is, this is a monster of a song and the rest of the album became a surprise favourite from May.
From: Silence Yourself
London post-punk band Savages have delivered perhaps the boldest debut album of the year so far with Silence Yourself. For some reason the vocals feel just a little disconnected from the rest of the music to me, which is a shame because singer Jehnny Beth has such an amazing presence, but it doesn’t distract too much from this punchy, and at times very catchy, set of songs.
Genre: Indie Rock
It might not be a popular opinion, but Deerhunter’s previous album Halcyon Digest is one of my favourite albums of the last few years. On first listen, these new songs sound far removed from the lush productions on that album. Strip away the fuzz that pervades most of Monomania though and they don’t actually sound all that different, even if they’re not quite as consistent.
“Across the Tappan Zee”
From: My Garden State
Genre: American Primitivism
American Primitivism is an interesting subgenre often characterised by its tendency to take a very traditional fingerstyle approach to composition on quite relaxed, meandering journeys. Glenn Jones very much subscribes to this school of thought, as highlighted on this banjo duet with its circular melodies gently chasing each other around to an unassuming close.
From: Once I Was An Eagle
Genre: Contemporary Folk
Now onto her fourth album at only 23, British songstress Laura Marling has released another collection of songs far more mature than her age would suggest. What I find most interesting about Marling though is that while she is undoubtedly a brilliant singer and an amazing songwriter, she is also the most consistently interesting guitarists of the contemporary singer/songwriters.
Bob James and David Sanborn
From: Quartette Humaine
Jazz and I have always had a difficult relationship. After surrendering myself to the genre upon discovering the classics, my interest quickly waned when things started to sound very samey. I was mildly surprised then to find myself genuinely enjoying this album. With its equal focus on melody and rhythm, there’s a lot to like here even for those less acquainted with jazz.
“Out of Mind”
From: She Beats
Genre: Psychedelic Rock
It’s always good to see local bands doing well, so I was pleased to see Melbourne band Beaches receiving plenty positive reviews for their newest album She Beats. A heady mix of psych-rock and shoegaze, it’s still a shame that it is unlikely to receive as much exposure as it probably deserves, particularly compared to the other all-female band Savages featured on this month’s list.
From: Random Access Memories
The hype machine, perhaps fuelled by some relentless marketing, was in full force during the lead up to the release of Daft Punk’s first new album in eight years. Although I grow tired of their Sad Roboto vocoder-shtick that seems to feature on nearly every second song, the music itself is consistently great in this love letter to the classic funk and disco music of the 70s and 80s.
Eight songs is of course just a small sample of the notable new music released over the last month. Vampire Weekend’s Modern Vampires of the City and The National’s Trouble Will Find Me were perhaps the major omissions of the list above, which are both at least worth a listen. Chiptune/rock band Anamanaguchi could have been onto something special with Endless Fantasy, if only it wasn’t so overlong. Finally, Mr. Music (i.e. Hugh Laurie) followed up his 2011 bluesy tribute to New Orleans with the similarly themed Didn’t It Rain. Soupy Twist!
June should also be another promising month of new music. The new Queens of the Stoneage album …Like Clockwork has just been released, but there are plenty of other albums to look forward to in the coming weeks:
- Boards of Canada’s Tomorrow’s Harvest (7 June)
- Black Sabbath’s 13 (11 June)
- Austra’s Olympia (18 June)
- Sigur Rós’ Kveikur (18 June)
- Kanye West’s Yeezus (18 June)