June came, football happened, Glastonbury squelched, we all moved on. Except the football, that lingered on into July. As ever, though, music delivered, and here's 10 things about June we're happy about. And we got through the whole intro without mentioning the EU.
1. Joel Fausto: A Special Friend
Portuguese musician Joel Fausto’s debut album produces this smoky, defiantly sinister wash of basement blues. Decidedly evil laughter surrounds the repeated lyric “I follow you” – this, along with Fausto’s thudding vocal, is low-lying and adds zero comfort. The result is a kind of lazy swing that lends a certain menace, as well as the feedback- strain of a live show.
2. Lake Ruth: The Inconsolable Jean-Claude
Lake Ruth, whose album Actual Entity was released by The Great Pop Supplement on June 24th, offer this serving of hazy, psychedelic, soft pop, punctuated by wandering melodies and prominent bass ostinatos. Expect quivering tremolo guitar lines, thin string backing and peripheral harpsichord stabs, and yet nothing as clichéd as such a list might suggest.
3. Blood Orange: Augustine
For songwriter Dev Hynes, 2016 may be “the” year. Third album Freetown Sound is already proving a hit with critics, and the soft, tragic soul of ‘Augustine’ will only enhance his reputation. Hard, uncompromising disco beats thump behind Hynes’ feather-light touch; it feels a fitting combination, with the lyrics "Cry and burst my deafness / while Trayvon falls asleep" proving more damning by the day, while the soothing chorus appears utterly pure and calming by comparison.
4. Garbage: Empty
Scratchy, messy, heavy, back with a bang. Garbage’s return is marked with inner despair and devotion. Shirley Manson cries "I’m so empty / you’re all I talk about" with passion, but also a degree of resignation. It’s naïve, angsty and everything a 90’s teenager wants to (secretly) jump about to in their bedroom – don’t worry, though, it’s still welcome in 2016.
5. BADBADNOTGOOD: Confessions Pt II (Feat. Colin Stetson)
Joined again by saxophonist Colin Stetson, Canadian jazz hip-hop masters BADBADNOTGOOD fly through many emotions and musical phases once more in ‘Confessions Pt II’. Mixes of adapting basslines, disco-infused melodies and avant garde sax solos build and build until the intensity is uncontrollable. It’s a mass of noise, with its bass theme almost becoming joyous in its repetition, an anthem of foreboding from the band that have supported many of hip hop’s recent greats.
6. Mitski: Your Best American Girl
The issue of belonging often comes to the fore in the music of New York-based, Japanese indie singer Mitski. "Your mother wouldn’t approve of how my mother raised me / but I do, I think I do" is at the centre of ‘Your Best American Girl’, a loud, simple lament, though it doesn’t start like that. In fact, the gradual increase in volume and energy appears to represent a kind of epiphany. Long may it continue.
7. The Strokes: Drag Queen
Like Garbage, The Strokes, or more accurately, Julian Casablancas, also seem to obsess or belong to another decade. ‘Drag Queen’ is a bristling, unashamed 80’s banger that was the clearest and punchiest number from the recent EP Future Present Past. Synths ahoy and with computerized drums in their arsenal, this track really does fire on all cylinders, with the Casablancas rasp in full flow.
8. Whitney: No Woman
The warm, slightly hungover sense of calm caused by Chicago sextet Whitney is one of truth and honesty. Similar to Foxygen’s ‘Coulda Been My Love’, ‘No Woman’ caresses delicate, free-flowing melodies over a warm string background and guitar lines that Mac De Marco could very well have been behind. It would have been just fine as a small piece of country soul, but the fact that it expands to something grander, bigger, adds a sense of greater ambition and excitement to Whitney.
9. Aphex Twin: CIRKLON3 [Колхозная mix]
After the previous surprise EP touched on more realistic percussive and piano material, Aphex Twin's first music video in over 10 years reveals a trip to somewhere more synthetic than before. Everything is definite and decidedly retro. Constant bleeps and bloops, and the presence of a 12 year old superfan in the music video shows Aphex Twin's embracing of the silly and juvenile once more.
10. Yasiin Bey: Dec 99th - Local Time
Yasiin Bey, fka Mos Def, shared 'Dec 99th - Local Time' on the Soundcloud page entitled A Country Called Earth, ahead of what could be his last musical project. Bass-dominated, the song moves from languorous rap to non-committal harmonies, before breaking out into song, with the ever-repeating lyric "Say you love it / no one will let you go". This laid-back, woozy electronic haze puts you in mind of an early Gorillaz album track - about as high a compliment as I can bestow.