April is the cruellest month? Screw that. It felt as if February's brutal and relentless cold would never end. But there was one things to keep humankind from existential despair: a huge period for new music.
It's hard to pick out which event was the most exciting. My Bloody Valentine returned with their first album in over 20 years. The David Bowie comeback continued with a new song and today's album stream. Kraftwerk played their discography of shows at the Tate Modern. Not forgetting the NME Awards where Johnny Marr and Ronnie Wood made history playing 'How Soon Is Now?' and the NME Awards Tour. Anyway, here's a selection.
When Kevin Shields said his band would put out a new album "any day now" at the end of January, we didn't believe him. It had been 22 years since the release of 'Loveless' and rumours of recording over the decades came to nothing. We were wrong. Barry Nicolson gave the album 8/10, writing:
It does sound like something that’s taken a ridiculously long time to make: the whole experience is like listening to a time-lapse photograph of the inside of Kevin Shields’ head
'Amok', one of the most anticipated albums of the year, lived up to expectations. Thom Yorke's project with Nigel Godrich, Flea, Joey Waronker and Mauro Refosco have written a masterful album that blurs the line between live and electronic. "The easy chemistry between everyone on ‘Amok’ means that more often than not the record is beautiful," read Dan Martin's review.
When Karen O said the fourth YYYs album would be 'uplifting and cheerful', it sounded a bit out of sorts. The reggae influence didn't exactly inspire confidence. 'Sacrilege' put paid to any fears. It's brilliant, and, according to Rhian Daly's review, "takes the band to their most spiritual and unexpected climax ever".
NME.com Assitant Editor Kevin Perry's particularly into the 15th studio album from Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds. He explains why:
Nick Cave's new album closer and title track 'Push The Sky Away' is as sentimental about music as Cave is ever likely to get - "and some people say it's just rock'n'roll, but it gets you right down to your soul" - but clear-headed about life, work and how humans struggle and strive to fill their days
NME.com Editor Luke Lewis chooses Hurts' 'Home':
The last track on 'Exile' is the massively overblown, bombastic and chill-inducing ballad I always hoped they'd write
Assistant Reviews Editor Siân Rowe's made a handy Soundcloud mix of the music getting her going this month and explains why she's into them:
My music taste is different at different times of the year. Maybe it's Valentines, maybe it's the cold but at this point in winter I'm usually listening to a lot of slower songs. The Banks track (out on the Good Years label soon) on my mix is a perfect example. It's slick as and a whole mess of emotions. It's also got James Blake, Laura Welsh, new producer Kirk Spencer and Pure X, DJ Rashad, Remy Banks Sasha Go Hard
My music taste is different at different times of the year. Maybe it's Valentines, maybe it's the cold but at this point in winter I'm usually listening to a lot of slower songs. This Banks track (out on the Good Years label soon) is a perfect example. It's slick as and a whole mess of emotions. My hour long mix contains that. James Blake, Laura Welsh, new producer Kirk Spencer and Pure X plus some thing to get going to; DJ Rashad, Sasha Go Hard and Remy Banks.
From the sound of 'Retrograde' the answer's a resounding yes. "More R Kelly than blubstep', reviewed Siân Rowe. It's a soulful number showcasing Blake's extraordinary vocal chords, sonic inventiveness and skill at song-writing. His show at the ICA in London blew my mind and the new material more than stood up next to his new stuff.
Palma Violets, winner of the NME Award 2013 for Best New Band, released their debut full of scuzz and raw charm. "You’re struck by the strength of the songs, and the roguish, self-assured charm with which they’re delivered," wrote reviewer Barry Nicolson. Watch a video of the band at the NME Awards below.
We've also been enjoying Girls Names, Le1F, Kilo Kish, Foals, Justin Timberlake, Tyler, The Creator, and 'White Noise' from Disclosure and Aluna from AlunaGeorge. Listen to some of our top picks in a Spotify playlist below.