SCM Music’s Album Picks: July to September – Paraffin, Joy and Sweeteners

WOW, HAVE we really got to that time of year again?

Yes, it’s the final act of our quarterly round-ups before we hit the big of year list come December! Hold on to your hats, it’s a big one…

The Best

Armand HammerParaffin

The third album from the Hip Hop group, Paraffin keeps it simple with some straight forward beats and witty lyrics delivered in a deadpan bass tones of Billy Woods and Elucid. It’s a remarkably effective and striking affair. The lyrics are hard hitting and memorable, intertwining Pop Culture with social issues, with Armand Hammer delivering perhaps their finest album to date with Paraffin. If you’re new to the band, this is a good starting point, while long time fans will find this album gratifying.

Blood OrangeNegro Swan

Negro Swan seems to be as much of an Art piece as it is musical album. The beautiful, serene vocal harmonies couple with the lush instrumentation show some of Dev Hynes’ best instrumentals to date. The over arching themes of individuality and identity are expressed through great lyrics and spoken word interludes that tie the project together. The fusions of Funk, RnB and Pop make Negro Swan the best Blood Orange record as well one of the best records of 2018.


Following the joyous and exciting Saturation Trilogy, iridescence is a dark, personal and mature record from the best boy band since One Direction. With the departure of Ameer Vann after sexual misconduct allegations, there’s a shift in tone on this new record, but the band embrace this and create something shows a development in sound. This more brooding vibe is counteracted by some uplifting moments, both lyrically and musically. But most importantly, iridescence shows that the band have a lot more offer in the future.

Denzel CurryTA13OO

With a vibe that pulls deeply from Danny Brown’s Atrocity Exhibition and mixed with Brockhampton’s Saturation, Denzel Curry’s TA13OO is a breakout release for the Florida rapper. His voice is harsh yet soulful, and when his lyrics are presented to us as some sort of dark beauty. Then of course you have straight bangers such as ‘Black Balloons’ which show some of the funkier, more radio friendly elements of the record. Easily one of the best Hip Hop records this year, it’s no wonder this album has received university acclaim.

Ariana GrandeSweetener

Sweetener is easily Ariana Grande’s best record to date. With tracks such as ‘Blazed’, ‘The Light is Coming’, ‘God is a Woman’ and ‘No Tears Left to Cry’ featuring on this track listing, Grande has already given us some of the best Pop music of the year. But with the continuing influence of Pharrell, the deeper cuts on this record also, for the most part, totally bang. Sweetener is the kind of album that might even touch even the most stubborn of Pop haters, and should not be missed.

HMS MorrisInspirational Talks

Reaching from Art Pop to Post Punk to Weirdo Folk, if Inspirational Talks does anything, it shows how far HMS Morris can twist and turn their sound. While the power force of their sound is spearheaded by the vocals of Heledd Watkins, it’s the entire band who bring a colourful palette of songs to this new record. Tracks like ‘Mother’ and ‘Phenomenal Impossible’ show that the group are no stranger to a hook, while ‘Morbid Mind’ brings some psychedelic spoken word to the mix.

IdlesJoy as an Act of Resistance

It seemed impossible for Idles to top their 2017 debut Brutalism, but Joy as an Act of Resistance may just do that. Joy is a more accessible album than their debut, with more hooks, catchy riffs and production that sounds less abrasive, but still exhibits the brute power of Idles with some very socially charged lyrics. All of this makes Idles one of the best bands in the UK right now. When people spoke of “Punk getting good again” after Trump and Brexit, they probably meant something like this.

Kathryn JosephFrom When I Wake the Want Is

If Brian Eno’s Music for Airports and Kate Bush’s Hounds of Love had a baby, it would be this album. If that’s not enough to grab your interest, throw Kathryn Joseph’s warbling, passionate vocals and you may just be on to a winner. An inspiring and often beautiful listen, From When I Wake the Want Is is a worthy successor to it’s Scottish Album of the Year winning predecessor. A must for those of Indie Folk and Ambient music.

The Lemon TwigsGo to School

The Lemon Twigs evoke The Beach Boys, Pink Floyd and The Who on their new record, modernising classic Rock Opera traits to create a mesmerising second record. While their debut felt off-kilter for the sake of it, Go to School ties the Lemon Twig’s weirdness into an odd fable that it’s hard not to get swept up into. Fans of the classics will enjoy this record, but this album will surely find an audience in those dedicated to the Indie/Alt Rock festival scene. Music snobs, do not let this thing pass you by!!

LowDouble Negative

Having previously created downbeat and brooding Folk numbers, Low’s twelfth studio effort reaches new levels of exhaustion and depression. Double Negative may as well soundtrack the apocalypse; the heavy, heavy sounds that feature all over this record evoke the sounds of a world post-Nuclear holocaust. It is a harrowingly beautiful listen. One that will chill you to the bone but leave you awestruck. If you’ve gone this long and not heard Low, this album will certainly be an eye opener for you.

MetricArt of Doubt

After Emily Haines’ magnificent solo record last year, Metric seem to be reinvigorated. Art of Doubt is by far their best record since 2009’s Fantasies, and shows the band doing what they do best: producing stellar Alternative Rock. In a decade that has seen few and far between good Rock records, tracks such as ‘Dark Saturday’ harkens in one of the more enjoyable, straightforward and well written albums in this genre. Well worth a listen, especially for long-terms fans of the band.

Marissa Nadler –  For My Crimes

As always, Marissa Nadler puts together another tender release exhibiting her truly splendid vocals. For My Crimes may not be her most groundbreaking release, but still holds it’s own as a set of moving songs. ‘I Can’t Listen to Gene Clark Anymore’, ‘Blue Vapor’ and ‘All Out Catastrophes’ are three of the best examples of Nadler giving her trademark touching performances. If you’re a big Marissa Nadler fan, this record is not to be missed, but is perhaps meant for long time fans.


Devotion is an album cut from the same cloth that bore Sampha, FKA Twigs, James Blake and so many other minimalist, electronica English artists. That’s not to say that this album blends into the scene; it very much stands on it’s own feet. Tirzah’s muted yet evocative vocals float over melancholic beats and pretty vocal loops. It’s soulful, passionate, but not indulgent, and will definitely find a fan base in those who enjoy their music chilled.


Honourable Mentions:

BC CamplightDeportation Blues, Christine & the QueensChris, Haiku SalutThere is No ElsewhereThe Joy FormidableAAARTH, Karen MeatYou’re An Ugly Person, Menace BeachBlack Rainbow Sound, Cornelia MurrLake Tear of the Clouds, NonameRoom 25, Oh SeesSmote Reverser, Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs PigsKing of Cowards, St. Paul & the Broken BonesYoung Sick Camilla.


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