Album of the month: Genesis Owusu – “Smiling With No Teeth” – F***in’ great music!– I must admit I had never heard anything about this artist before and the only reason I listened to his new record came from the excellent Paste website recommendations. The cover is not the kind that makes anyone want to dig into it neither… but that would be one’s loss so good this album is. Born in Ghana and from Australia, Genesis Owusu has been producing a few tracks in the latest two years but nothing as good as found here. If you like to stay within one style of music, this record is definitely not for you. If your idea of music though is to go from one deathcore track to a soul song while playing a hip-hop number or again a funky one a la Prince, then you will be immensely rewarded!
Runner-up: Lana Del Rey – “Chemtrails Over The Country Club” – Pop Rock – Lana Del Rey‘s new release would probably be my record of the month any other time of the year and is a very close runner-up. I must confess again that I did not get what she was when she recorded her first albums and that I thought she was not the most authentic article…and that I was entirely wrong. The more she evolves in her musical career, the better her choices are. She is a very special human being and a very singular artist. I am quite sure this complex and ambitious record will be a grower and probably end up very high at the end of the year in this blog’s annual review. The beautiful black and white album cover should also get a specific mention.
Jane Weaver – “Flock” – Space Pop Rock – Another excellent opus from this English artist, equally influenced by 80’s pop and 70’s German repetitive music.
Ben Howard – “Collections From The Whiteout” – Ambient Pop – His best album so far with plenty of guests and a mood pretty similar with those great Brian Eno 70’s records.
Hedvig Mollestad Trio – “Ding Dong. You’re Dead” – Metal Jazz – The best of both worlds from this fantastic female Norwegian guitar player.
Genghis Tron – “Dream Weapon” – Shoegaze Metal – This American band is back after thirteen years of hiatus and the wait was worth it.
Lost Girls – “Menneskekollektivet” – Dreamy Pop – It looks this is my Norwegian month… This is Jenny Hval‘s new project, mixing drone music with an electronica attitude.
U.F.A of the month! : Noga Erez – “Kids” – Quite disappointing new effort from the usually interesting Israeli singer. She owes us something better than this unauthentic pop album.
Is February really the shortest month of the year? Not sure when one thinks about the number of records that were released..
Album of the month: Mush – “Lines Redacted” – Pop Rock – Mush are from Leeds and this new release is their second album after last year’s excellent “3D Routine” effort. In the grand tradition of other bands coming from this great city (like Gang Of Four or Scritti Politti for instance), their music could be described as weird post-punk or dissonant pop. Vocalist Dan Hyndman has a peculiar singing style but the way the band mix his sharp vocals with their ferocious playing makes them one of the most promising ones of our times. For those who like long and complex guitar-oriented songs a la Pavement, this band could well be your new favourite one.
Runner-up: Mogwai – “As The Love Continues” – Instrumental Rock – This is quite crazy to think that this is Mogwai‘s tenth studio album, not taking into account soundtracks they did from movies such a ‘Zidane‘ or TV series ‘Les Revenants‘ for instance. The more it goes, the better their music is and catching these fine Glaswegian musicians on stage is very much recommended if you can. I must also confess being a fan of the art covers of their albums, which means their music is even better enjoyed while getting the vinyl version
Black Country, New Road – “For The First Time” – Pop Rock – Excellent and much expected first album from this very young seven-member arty post punk UK band.
The Weather Station – “Ignorance” – Pop Rock – Fifth album from Canadian singer/songwriter Tamara Lindeman and her best so far.
Katy Kirby – “Cool Dry Place” – Pop Rock – Quite moving debut album from young solo Texan singer/songwriter.
Tindersticks – “Distractions” – Pop Rock – Like Mogwai, Tindersticks should not be taken for granted and each new release is another step towards greatness. This time, they covered a few songs, including “A Man Needs A Maid” from Neil Young.
Nick Cave & Warren Ellis – “Carnage” – Cavean Music – Is it another strong opus from these two great gentlemen or does it fall sometimes too close to self parody? I am not sure yet as this record needs a few other listens to decide for sure…
U.F.A of the month! : Mathieu Boogaerts – “En Anglais” – Fine idea on paper and I know this is kind of done on purpose but really, listening to such a French accent for almost thirty minutes is almost unbearable…
…and here we go for another year. I do not want to be on the pessimistic side but attendings gigs or festivals looks like a virtual thing right now. Fortunately for all of us music fans, artists keep on playing the game by releasing records. I must confess not remembering such a impressive month of January in terms of quality releases. Being in lockdown also means my personal consumption of vinyls and CD’s is quite high, as shown in the picture below!
As this is already the start of the fifth season of this series, I thought it would be good to add a few words:
I generally try to listen to as many month’s releases as I can in all genres, even if spontaneously I would not really listen to a few of these records. As George Michael would say: “listen without prejudice”.
Each month, the chosen one will be the album of the month; my main criteria being as always the way one record can move me. There is a runner-up and five other ‘almost-as-good’ records, making it a selection of seven records overall.
There is a new section starting in 2021 with the Unidentified Flying Album (U.F.A.) of the month, which will be either very bad…or very weird.
There are two Spotify playlists at the bottom of this post: a cumulative one for the on-going year with all seven records chosen each month and another one which includes all albums I listened to during the month. It is recommended to play them on shuffle mode obviously.
Album of the month: Goat Girl – “On All Fours” – Pop Rock – I must admit this was a very close call and I had difficulties this month in choosing between my favourite two. Goat Girl is a young South London band and this is their second album. They collectively faced tough moments with the disease of one of the girls and a line-up change but it probably made them stronger and more focused on their art. Their 2018 self-titled first album was very good and I had a great time catching them live at the 2019 edition of End Of The Road. Things are really speeding up though with this new release, either in terms of diversity or quality of the songs. One goes from a song very similar to what a band like The Pastels used to do and then ten minutes later you are on the disco track or in the middle of a very percussion-driven primitive number. Welcome back ladies!
Runner-up: Steven Wilson – “The Future Bites” – Pop Rock – A complete different album from his previous effort (which I recently reviewed), this new release may appear a bit deceptive at first. Steven Wilson indeed wanted to get a less ambitious sound, more focused on the songs than on the arrangements. What one does not get in terms of long guitar solos, one gets it back in the quality of the songs and the overall concept behind it all. You may recognize a few prestigious guests like Richard Barbieri (Japan) or Sir Elton John but they are all very discreet behind this album’s leader.
Sleaford Mods – “Spare Ribs” – British Rap – The older they get, the better they are. Iggy Pop‘s favourite so-called punk band’s new record has a couple of female guests and the overall mood is smoother…but do not worry, Jason Williamson has still plenty of things to say!
Shame – “Drunk Tank Pink” – Rock – Sophomore album from this young London band and a complete different one from their first 2018 effort “Songs of Praise“.
Rhye – “Home” – Pop – Canadian Mike Milosh is back with a beautiful and sensual album. For all Sade fans.
Arlo Parks – “Collapsed In Sunbeams” – Soul – Excellent debut album from this 20-year old London female singer with French, Nigerian and Chadian origins.,
The Besnard Lakes – “The Besnard Lakes Are The Last Of The Great Thunderstorm” – Pop Rock – Ambitious and great return of the Canadian band. If you like long tracks with a touch of Pink Floyd and prog rock, this is for you.
U.F.A of the month! : Therion – “Leviathan” – Symphonic Heavy Metal from Sweden? Well, count me out…