9 Albums You Have To Listen To This Month

Words: Music Reviews
Monday 14 August 2017
reading time: min, words

With Yazmin Lacey, Little Barrie, Jimi Mack and more...

Yazmin Lacey
Black Moon
EP (Running Circle)

Yazmin Lacey is relatively new to the scene, making her first appearances on Nottingham stages in 2014. Since then, she hasn’t half had her nose to the grind: bagging herself a spot on Gilles Peterson’s Future Bubblers scheme, radio play on 6Music and now, releasing this utter gem of an EP. The London-native-turned-Notts-head has got a right saucy tone to her vocals, pulling you in with closed eyes and bobbing head until you’re fully tucked in for the session. Title track Black Moon is sultry, with come-to-bed lexicon – “slide in between my thighs” – that cuts right to the chase, lacing the off-beat percussion before kicking into the refrain with fervour. A Mother Lost is a lesson in nose-scrunching, limb-rolling jazz, employing layered instrumentation with skill and ensnaring you with a sibilance that’s nothing short of sexy. The funkiest track on the collection is Still, with a clean display of Ms Lacey’s effortless vocals and high hats on lock. Credit where credit’s due to the band, too. Three Body Trio are deftly skilled musicians that breathe guts and vitality into the offering, firmly planting their feet across genres and delivering all with aplomb. Yazmin’s debut EP is poetry for a Sunday afternoon; a spliff in the evening sun; poached eggs before 10am. Keep tabs on this one, she’s on a roll. Lucy Manning

Charlie Ulyat
Do Not Forget Old Friends
Album (Self-released)

Some people might not know that before he became a recording artist, Leonard Cohen was a well-regarded poet and author, who released four collections of poetry and two full-length novels before he picked up the guitar. Now, Charlie Ulyat has released an album based on his poems, and it couldn't be further from the terrible X-Factor cover of Hallelujah, which is how most of the public have heard of Cohen. This is a collection of delicate, minimalist tracks, each one named after a line from Cohen's poems that all have a beautiful appreciation of space. Using nothing more than an electric guitar, Ulyat improvises each song, creating a lovely tribute to the dearly departed troubadour. There is a subtlety here that’s missing from so much modern music, and while there might not be much in terms of stylistic variety, it comes together as a genuinely different and interesting whole. Gav Squires

David J Newton
No Words
Album (Self-released)

What I like about this album is that it doesn’t overwhelm you because, as hinted at by its title, there are no words, so your mind can drift as the funky electro sounds guide the direction of your thoughts. You immediately drew me into the album: a range of instruments creating a repeated melody that warps the sense of time passing. This, combined with the whistling behind it, reminds of being in a car at night, driving into the darkness and the unknown, seeing other cars by their headlights passing by and city lights in the distance, much like the album artwork. January 1 is absolutely beautiful, with the piano as the main focus and other instruments joining in. It’s hopeful, high-pitched, emotional and tentative. I got the shivers; it’s hauntingly hopeful and delicate but could crash at any second. Overall, this album is powerful and beautiful, deep and yearning, and completely engrossing. Anushka Shah

Huw Costin
In A Nutshell
EP (Self-released)

You may recall Earth The Californian Love Dream: a heavy-rock band who had the patronage of the late great John Peel and a whiff of Motorhead about them. They burned out as quickly as they appeared and, since their implosion, their frontman Huw Costin has released a steady stream of well-received music under his own name, or as Torn Sail. His latest is a low-key affair available as CDRs at his show or online. Stripped-back and mellow, much of it is just Costin accompanied by his acoustic guitar; this is a masterclass in songwriting craftsmanship. The first three tracks are all originals and all equally stunning; Disconnected is fragile, finger-picked lament, while Costing displays his impressive set of pipes on the title track, ending on a cover of Springsteen’s State Trooper that takes the song into the realms of a trembling fever dream. He may no longer be fronting a rock band, but Huw Costin still knows how to get heavy. Paul Klotschkow

Jimi Mack
Familiar Horizons
EP (Self-released)

Jimi Mack’s EP paints a natural environment: light shining through trees in a woodland clearing with water flowing nearby. All four songs have a unique, celestial quality. Familiar Horizons is wistful and bluesy with a soaring and crashing melody, sudden bursts of volume and repeated, dissonant sounds, alluding to rolling waves crashing onto an abandoned shoreline. Salao has an ethereal quality, with imagery of being deep underwater, everything muted. There’s a sudden surge towards the surface, breaking through with joyful, layered sounds, until the track fades to just one man and his guitar. Remedy has instruments clashing and tumbling over each other, but somehow it all fits: cheerful and victorious, but still not quite human. EP closer, Green Rain, is fast paced and rhythmic with sudden volume increases, and with them, sudden elation. This collection is pure fantasy. It’s not a casual listen, but one that brings a sense of wistfulness and loneliness. Anushka Shah

Juga-Naut x Micall Parknsun
Six Bricks EP
EP (Self-released)

We start with rapid, dynamic synths that act as city busybodies rushing among the skyscrapers. To navigate us through the crowd, Juga-Naut and Micall Parknsun punctuate the hectic opening track 40 Acres with raised fists and braggadocio bars that don’t ask for forgiveness. With Taskforce-esque vocal stabs towards the end of the track, we find ourselves in the depths of a woozy darkness, until flowing into a more optimistic Gametime: a playful shoulder knock and fist bump before a lads’ kickabout. Cappo and Vandal Savage join Jugz to make up VVV on Gaudi-Gang, and suddenly we’re looking up at the falling comets. It’s old, painful memories mixed with hopeful ponders in Build a Bridge, and Know Your Worth showcases Jugz’ rich, rhythmic vocab texture as the fire it is. Final track The Juice is a real hoods-up merker, Tommy Nova in tow with his U.S. twang, and Scorz playful in his tale telling. A beasting EP. Bridie Squires

Little Barrie
Death Express
Album (Non Delux)

If you’re anything like me, you’ll have been vaguely aware of Little Barrie for ages. The band was formed in Nottingham nearly twenty years ago, and main man Barrie Cadogan has worked with the likes of Morrissey, Primal Scream and Paul Weller. Recently, the band have been responsible for the outstanding opening theme to Breaking Bad spin-off, Better Call Saul. That theme – available in extended form here as a bonus track – is barely fourteen seconds long, but such is its appeal that there’s a ten-hour loop available on YouTube that currently has over 132,000 views and a top comment that says “Can you make it longer?” Actually, it’s a pretty good introduction to the band, awash with laid-back, bluesy surf guitar and loose-limbed bass. Throw in Cadogan’s soulful vocals alongside his outstanding guitar work and you’ve got yourself a winning formula. My advice: stick it on repeat, relax and enjoy. Tim Sorrell

Verbal Warning
No Half Measures
Album (Self-released)

Verbal Warning’s new album No Half Measures is an anthem of rebellion against the tedium of the everyday. After originally forming way back in the early eighties, the group's comeback pays a not-so-subtle homage to the punk style of the time, as well as a clear nod to the golden age of rock. The classic mix of drums, guitar, bass and vocals form a timeless feel, joining together both slow strumming and heavier, more chaotic sounds. The collection is angsty, with a focus on seemingly dull and relatable themes like saving cash, quitting your job and watching TV, alongside random segments like “chips are part of my five-a-day.” Because of this, the tracks end up as a weird combination of old-school style and current pop culture. Listen out for the track dedicated solely to the hate of Piers Morgan. Elizabeth O'Riordan

Album (My Hart Canyon)

After initially being drawn to the psychedelic album cover, I soon discovered that if you’re looking for feel-good tunes this summer, Wolf Club are the band for you. Combining upbeat synth-pop and heavy electronic beats, the overall vibe is breezy and light. With a simple formula of fun sounds, repetitive pace rhythms and a sweet back and forth of male and female vocals, it’s the perfect accompaniment to a day in the sun. Reminiscent of the soundtrack to a classic teen movie, the eleven-track collection paints a picture of California girls riding in an open-top convertible. Overall, the album – including standouts like The Stars Behind Me, Highway Romance and Sunset Drive – is sugary and romantic in places, but still lively enough to play at a festival. Whack it on in the car for the perfect road-trip playlist. Elizabeth O'Riordan

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