August’s been a busy month for music on both the festival circuit and with new music releases. Lady Gaga returned with ‘Applause’, pitted against Katy Perry’s come back with ‘Roar’, M.I.A kept the tracks coming from her upcoming album, loads of great bands played Reading & Leeds and V festival, including Eminem’s headline show. Notable albums were released by Franz Ferdinand, Drenge, King Krule, Money, Braids and Forest Swords.
Kendrick Lamar’s verse on ‘Control was the finest thing I heard. Not since Nicki Minaj’s guest verse on Kanye West’s ‘Monster’ has an artist been so extravagantly upstaged as Big Sean by K-Dot. He used the track as a platform to crown himself King of New York – he’s from California – which elicited all kinds of reaction. Bravado aside, there’s a new found ferociousness to his flow that I witnessed live at a festival in Helsinki earlier this month. His voice and attitude were tenacious, charismatic and electrifying. I can’t wait to see how he follows up 2012’s ‘Good Kid, M.A.A.D City’, the greatest hip-hop album across, yes, both coasts of the United States. Ante up.
Here, NME staff pick the best albums and tracks we’ve heard this month. Let us know your favourites in the comments below.
In which Drake channels his orange and comes on all R&B crooner with surprisingly effective results. Drake’s previous singing efforts have often needed to be saved by his superior rapping skills however, on ‘Hold On, We’re Going Home’, Drake plays it straight and details the moment he’s with a girl and the flashing lights in the club become the dimmed ones in his bedroom. It’s cheesy as hell and also sounds like it could have been produced by Dev Hynes (it wasn’t) but it’s also super addictive and suggests that new album ‘Nothing Was The Same’ might be even manage to be as memorable as its preposterous artwork.
King Krule’s haunting debut record ‘6 Feet Beneath The Moon’ stood out this month, particularly the moment, on ‘A Lizard State’ where be shakes himself out of his maudlin fug, adopts a Rat Pack swagger and starts making demands. An unmistakable new voice and a fitting soundtrack for the times.
Kevin EG Perry
I really rate this guy – I don’t know a huge deal about him apart from the fact he’s holed up on the couch of Chet ‘JR’ White (formerly of Girls) working on new tunes at the moment, and a whole bunch of the right people in the industry are going crazy about him. I wrote in Radar that this song reminds me of one of those lost John Lennon Dakota demos from the late 70s – stuff like ‘Real Love’, I guess. Maybe I rate it because of the beautiful piano line, maybe it’s the vocals, maybe it’s the fact it sounds like it’s recorded on a dictaphone, or maybe it’s simply because it showcases some seriously, seriously great songwriting?
“I sleep in late/Another day/Oh what a wonder/Oh what a waste,” sings Courtney Barnett, with the resignation of someone no longer surprised to watch every day slip into oblivion. But while the sentiment and the kind of smeary, insistently rhythmic guitar you’d usually associate with Kurt Vile may signal slackerdom, ‘Avant Gardener’ shows off a mind that’s racing at a hundred miles an hour – though her body’s having trouble keeping up. The young Australian sings of peeling herself out of bed on a sweaty 40 degree day to go and do some gardening, only for pulling up weeds to trigger an anaphylactic shock – “I’m breathin’ but I’m wheezin’/I think I’m emphysemin’/My throat feels like a funnel filled with Wheat Bix and kerosene” – that results in a hasty trip to hospital. She’s got a similarly brilliant knack for revealing wry details in seemingly shrugged-off, stream-of-consciousness lyrics as Eleanor Friedberger – or peeling back a few generations of references, Dylan. “The paramedic thinks I’m clever ‘cos I play guitar,” she sings, deadpan. “I think she’s clever ‘cos she stops people dyin’.”
Like his football-playing namesake Giggs has had more than a few chances. But you get the sense it’s really make or break time for the Peckham rapper. His second album ‘Let Em Ave It’, released on XL, never truly caught fire. Here his mellow drawl creeps across a rooftop of soulful horns and Hammond organ served up by Mark Ronson. It’s accompanied by a ‘Lockstock…’ looking video made by Amy Winehouse’s ex Reg Traviss. Is it Giggs’ time to burn through? Yes, yes, yes.
The sound of North London’s Wolf Alice baring their teeth and showing what they’re really made of, the first track from their forthcoming ‘Blush’ EP is a searing riot of snarling riffs and Ellie Rowsell sneering lines about a girl who’s “so so quiet, so so pretty/from the country, loves the city”. Heavier, darker and far more potent than anything else they’ve done so far, it’s a biting reminder that this is a band to ignore at your peril.