If it’s barbecue music you’re after, then look away now. If you’re intending to turn your garden into a hive of new music this summer, you’re in the right place. Here are our pick of the latest releases:
Isle of Wight quintet Plastic Mermaids really are something special. Fusing together drastically contrasting genres, the band manage to pull an infectious masterpiece out from amongst the chaos every single time. Having honed their sound over the last few years, they return this month with their debut full-length album, Suddenly Everyone Explodes, combining futuristic electronic sounds and experimental beats with an impressive series of pop-heavy melodies and echoes of late-nineties alt-rock. Single release ‘I Still Like Kelis’ blends anthemic garage rock with an undertone of space-infused synths. Stand-out track ‘Throwing Stones at the Moon’ takes the form of an electro-pop beauty scattered with waves of emotional energy, while ‘Aquarium Acid Trip’ incorporates atmospheric vibes and orchestral elements, offering an insight to the band’s mesmerising imagination. Kelly Ronaldson
Luke De-Sciscio – GOODBYE FOLK BOY
Vinyl Moon | 31st June
Over the last few years of his career, Bath-based singer-songwriter, Luke De-Sciscio has compiled a breathtaking and emotive discography. Yet, ever exceeding expectations, he returns this month with the dreamy and bittersweet, Goodbye Folk Boy – a touching record that glides easily into the top ranks of his musical portfolio. With every intricate melody refined to near-perfection, De-Sciscio’s passion remains at the core of all his creative endeavours, a crucial factor that weaves together the emotional intensity of ‘I’m A Dream Fighting Out Of A Man’. The musician’s distinct vocals float effortlessly throughout the record, complimenting the gentle, heart-warming tones of ‘Smaller Flames’ and ‘I May Never Fall In Love With Everyone’, while recent single and album highlight, ‘Winsome’, rivals Jeff Buckley and early Cat Stevens. Kelly Ronaldson
Indiana rapper Freddie Gibbs and California producer Madlib can still bring out the best in each other. These 16 tracks arrive five years after their prized debut album, Piñata, and feature cameos from Pusha T, Killer Mike, Anderson .Paak, Yasiin Bey, Black Thought and Assassin. But it’s the interplay between Freddie’s versatile rapping style and Madlib’s mind-boggling array of lush beats that wins the day. Steel meets sugar. With Freddie carrying the weight, he kicks off the album with a freestyle – and one track later he’s celebrating with his lines in the microwave. It’s powerful stuff. The unlikely combo of Killer Mike and Pusha T show up on the cash-loving ‘Palmolive’. Mike opts for a few trippy sing-song verses, while Push gobbles up all 16 bars with his gonzo Motel 6 tales. The mood turns more cerebral on ‘Education’ when Bey and Black Thought rap about empty schools and bulging prisons: “The puppeteer is playing you for spite/ And worldwide what we’re paying is the price”. Central themes of wealth and social mobility prevail. Yet this is largely an album about the visceral joys of hip hop, with Freddie’s potent shimmying a joy to behold. Geoff Cowart
It’s been an eon since Flying Lotus‘s last album; the dark, DMT-splashed You’re Dead!. Flamagra, pieced together in the five-year interval between records, is a lighter work but no less devious, bringing the dancefloor onto the astral plane. This is a constructed Odyssey, more firmly grounded in hip-hop and jazz than the previous psychedelia. FlyLo sounds content to let his identity wash in the bright lights of his star guests this time around, with his distinctive bass runs and texture running through Flamagra like a pillar. The weird and winding Tierra Whack and Denzel Curry – who pens part two of his own hit, ‘Black Balloons’ here – burn brightest, while David Lynch is aural set dressing, an indulgence of FlyLo’s avant garde filmmaker appetites. Grant Bailey
It feels difficult to discuss a Hayden Thorpe solo album and not mention what came before. The two entwining voices that became such a vital component of Wild Beasts’ signature sound has potential to be sorely missed on Diviner, but Thorpe handles duties admirably; his soaring falsetto both intimate and quietly devastating across its slight thirty-five minute running time. Most notably, it finds Thorpe undoubtedly at peace with the breakup of his band.
With most tracks piano-led, arranged around subtle electronic touches, the approach is simplistic and uncluttered, best demonstrated on brooding standout ‘Human Knot’. There’s still room for sumptuous closer ‘Impossible Object’, leaving the hairs on the back of the neck standing and the mind cleansed. Hayden, we’ve missed you. Lee Wakefield
Given the consistent string of slacker-pop earworms Dutch guitar outfit Pip Blom have churned out since 2016, you’d expect their debut full-length to deliver much of the same and then some. And it does just that.
Boat bursts open with sharp single, ‘Daddy Issues’, and like a reliable employee delivers big chorus after big chorus. Even on tracks like ‘Say It’, whose opening verse has a restrained Whitest Boy Alive feel, a catchy chorus is not far behind the sedate opening guitars.
It’s a standard that never lets up. From ‘Tired’ to ‘Bedhead’ to ‘Tinfoil’, Pip Blom takes nice verses and morphs them into mean choruses, as playfully as blowing bubbles in milkshake. “I think I’m hard to please,” Blom repeats on jerky banger ‘Don’t Make It Difficult’. With tracks as consistently strong as they are on Boat, this perfectionism can only be a good thing. Hassan Anderson
Wasuremono made Are You OK? in a shed. Sheds are often receptacles for cobwebbed crap. Mine has an underused Flymo, a dead bicycle and half a bag of compost in it. Sheds often house incurable tinkerers, as you could describe Will Southward, lead singer/guitarist/songwriter/producer /mixer of Wasuremono.
The technical capacity of the average shed extends to a plug socket, a light switch and, just maybe, a digital radio. Wasuremono’s shed, is brim-full of eclectic instruments and classic analogue technology. Their shed has spawned a masterwork that sounds like the liveliest mix of Vampire Weekend, Belle and Sebastian and Groove Armada. The only significant thing to come out of my shed in recent memory had eight legs and scared the shit out of my wife. Jon Kean
Over the course of their previous two EPs, Crumb have carved out a particularly special space of solace with their gloriously dreamy sound. On Jinx, their debut full-length release, the Brooklyn-based four-piece expands this into even more hypnotic, enchanting realms as they saunter through a harmoniously hazy array of glistening guitar melodies, fuzzy drum beats and ethereal, tender vocals courtesy of singer Lila Ramani.
There’s a distinct feeling of nostalgia that permeates the record, as if transporting you away to a distant, sun-drenched memory or a slightly surreal, kaleidoscopic daydream. Floating between swelling psych-rock and sprawling jazz, Crumb’s soundscapes across these tracks offer a perfect, transcendental escapism from the outside world that you won’t want to leave. Kezia Cochrane
“You know I used to share a tailor with David Bruce Banner – that’s The Hulk”, sings Bill Callahan on ‘The Ballad of the Hulk’. His new album is full of lines like that; ones that wouldn’t have occurred to any other lyricist, bizarre non-sequiturs imbued with enough gravitas to make you reconsider your whole life.
Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest is a 20-song indie-folk epic that finds Callahan not expanding his sound but significantly reigning it in. A record that sounds like it’s being whispered to you on a long walk, it’s both a lot to take in, and roughly two hours too short. In all honesty, I don’t really know what to make of it, but I’m relishing the years it’ll take to decipher. Thomas Hannan
Cocteau Twins disciples’ ears pricked up when Hatchie appeared two years ago equipped with A+ dream pop songs. Singer/bassist Harriette Pilbeam may well echo the cult band’s ticks (Twins’ guitarist Robin Guthrie even remixed one of her songs, ‘Sure’) but Hatchie’s creations are sweeter overall. On Keepsake, the Brisbane artist retains the twinkling tones of her near-faultless Sugar & Spice EP but at points quarries deeper for trudging beats and lurching guitars. Album highlight ‘Unwanted Guest’, a track that recalls the snarl of David Bowie’s ‘Fame’, somehow unites funk-rock, industrial and shoegaze elements without sounding terrible. While Pilbeam can sometimes become too reliant on rehashing similar, gauzy three-chord progressions (‘Not That Kind’, ‘Keep’) songs such as lovelorn, washed-out dance track ‘Stay With Me’ renew the faith. Charlotte Krol
Bedouine’s second album is a stunning work of floral folk-pop which builds on the promise of its predecessor. A self-professed killjoy, Azniv Korkejian nonetheless has an uncanny knack for charming springtime melody which blossoms above intricate instrumentation throughout. ‘One More Time’ is classic, romantic songwriting, while ‘Dizzy’ – complete with strings, funk-tinged rhythm and gently crunching guitar solo – shows-off an atmospheric, filmic quality to Korkejian’s work. By combining this simplicity of acoustic artistry with Spacebomb orchestration – see Natalie Prass’ debut cut from the same label – Bedouine is able to create the beautiful world of Bird Songs of a Killjoy. Far more bird song than killjoy, this record is an elegant, eloquent and blissful achievement from an artist of the highest quality. George O’Brien