SCM Music’s album picks: July to September – Currents, Witches and Me
CONTINUING the trend of the previous months, this third quarter of 2015 has been excellent for albums. We’ve seen returns by the likes of Disclosure, The Dead Weather and Tame Impala, debuts from some incredible bands and solo artists, as well some experimental albums you may not have seen coming. Prepare to delve into our final quarterly review before the big end of year countdown in December.
Tame Impala – Currents
Kevin Parker and Co. had a lot to live up to following 2012’s Lonerism. But Currents takes the project down their own direction, instead of adhering to what the audience may have wanted. The result is sparkling pop music doused in funky bass lines and plenty of synthesizer. Currents is revealing at times, and shameless at others. It’s an album that does what it wants, when it wants, with songs like ‘The Less I Know the Better’ and ‘Let It Happen’ exhibiting just how fluid a band like Tame Impala can be.
Dr. Dre – Compton
Yes, it finally happened. 16 years after 2001, Dre finally dropped his long-awaited final third album. After starting work on Straight Outta Compton and scrapping Detox, the rapper/producer/businessman created his album soaked in nostalgia yet ever relevant. Featuring some great appearances from Kendrick Lamar, Ice Cube, The Game and many, many others, Compton is immersive and often abrasive, yet always interesting. A far from a bad way to round off a trilogy.
Unfortunately it’s very tricky to find a decent video for this, but take my word for it, it’s good!
Foals – What Went Down
Credited as their ‘heaviest album to date’, Foals pulled out the stops on their fourth studio album, creating something that’s both melodic yet intense. The title tracks doesn’t hold back plunging the listener into some serious alt-rock riffs, with trademark Foals angst. Tracks like ‘Night Swimmers’ and ‘Albatross’ take things down a tad, but keep a tight grip on the listeners, with Yannis Philippakis’ howling vocals providing extra atmosphere to the already vibrant tracks.
Gwenno – Y Dydd Olaf
Former-Pipette Gwenno Saunder’s cemented herself as a solo artist with this formidable debut. Sung almost entirely in Welsh, Y Dydd Olaf brings the subjects of science fiction and modern day politics to the table. It’s an album with sounds ranging from alternative rock to dream pop to somewhere in between. Gwenno’s voice combines magically with her music, creating an ethereal atmosphere that will send the listener to another world. Easily one of the best debut albums of the year, this is an album everyone should listen to, Welsh speaking or not.
Sexwitch – Sexwitch
The new project of Natasha Khan aka Bat for Lashes and psychedelic band Toy, Sexwitch is a short album, but leaves a lasting impression. Produced by Dan Carey, Sexwitch consists of six re-interpretations of folk and psychedelic songs from the 70’s, originating from the likes of Morocco, Iran and the U.S.A. The result see’s some of Khan’s most impressive vocal work to date, as well as some wondrous rhythms that are fantastic for moving your body to. Without a shadow of doubt, give this album a listen, you won’t regret it.
Julia Holter – Have You In My Wilderness
On the other end of the scale, we have Julia Holter’s fourth solo album, Have You In My Wilderness. A wonderfully serene album, HYIMW brings forth some of the best baroque and art pop of the year so far, with songs such as ‘Betsy On The Roof’ and ‘Lucette Stranded On The Island’ stretching to six minutes in length to encapsulate the slow, steady pace. Then there are songs like ‘Everytime Boots’ which move at a faster pace but somehow maintain Holter’s ambient sensibilities. Not an album for those who like their music loud and fast, rather for people who love depth and layered songs.
Ryan Adams – 1989
An unlikely concept, 1989 see’s Ryan Adams cover Taylor Swift’s latest album in it’s entirety. Putting a fantastic Americana spin on some already notable pop songs, Adams manages to retain some of the keys melodies from the album, while at the same time making them seem like entirely new songs. His cover of ‘Blank Space’, for example, is heart wrenching, with almost whispered vocals accompanied by a lone guitar and strings. ‘Style’ on the other hand is a rockin’ piece that has to be one of the best songs on the album. 1989 is a great interpretation of one of the biggest singers on the planet, and well worth a listen.
Beach House – Depression Cherry
With the release of their second album this year just around the corner, it only seems right to look back at their first. Beach House have created another dream pop soundscape with Depression Cherry. ‘Space Song’, ‘Levitation’ and ‘Days of Candy’ prove that the band are still able to create something majestic, while ‘PPP’ showcases some new experimental aspects to the band, such as spoken word lyrics. A must buy for any Beach House or dream pop fan.
Empress of – Me
Combine a wonderful voice with some great hip-hop beats and you’ll find yourself listening to Empress of’s debut album: Me. 10 three and a half minute pop songs packed into one album makes for an easy listen as well as an enjoyable one. See ‘How Do You Do It’ and ‘To Get By’ for just a couple of examples of how easily it is for Empress of to get stuck in your head. Spanning only 34 minutes though, Me leaves the listener begging more; here’s hoping a sophomore album follows soon.
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