PLAYLIST: The Best Of July 2018

Welcome to the July 2018 edition of our monthly new music playlist, which is available to listen to and watch via YouTube. If you enjoy any of the songs featured here, we encourage you to support the artists by purchasing their music from your local record shop, or through online retailers.

Stream the playlist below and read a bit about each individual track further down the page. This edition features essential new music from the Manic Street Preachers, The Prodigy, The Orb, Idles, Orbital, Suede, Nine Inch Nails, The KVB, Menace Beach, Spiritualized, Parquet Courts, Mogwai, The Coral, Gorillaz, Jon Hopkins, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, Babybird, James Blake, Linda Guilala, Goldfrapp ft Dave Gahan, Muse, David Byrne, and White Denim.

 

Listen here:

 

Manic Street Preachers – People Give In

An uplifting statement of intent, breaking into a magnificently bright, anthemic chorus. The opening track from the trio’s solid ‘Resistance Is Futile’, an essential album that reminds us why the Manics have remained one of the UK’s biggest rock bands for so long. The new video for the track was directed by Kieran Evans.

 

Orbital – P.H.U.K.

The legendary duo Orbital deliver a techno masterclass with this superb new track. Thudding roboid beats lock into place with energising retro-futuristic synth bleeps, spelling out some sort of glow-stick-aided sonic SOS cry. Brilliantly structured, the track has also been going down very well in its live incarnation.  ‘P.H.U.K.’ is taken from the upcoming album ‘Monsters Exist’, out in September.

 

Mogwai – Donuts

A mesmerising, powerful piece of music from the ever-brilliant Mogwai. Following on from last year’s ‘Every Country’s Sun’, the Glasgow band are releasing ‘KIN: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack’, recorded for the upcoming sci-fi/crime drama starring Zoë Kravitz, James Franco, Dennis Quaid, and others. In a statement, Mogwai’s Stuart Braithwaite said, “We were really excited to be asked to record the original score for Jonathan and Josh Baker’s debut movie KIN. It was amazing to do a project that was so different from anything we’ve done before and see how our music fits in a totally different environment to how it’s been used before.”

KIN: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack is out August 31. As well as a number of EPs and nine studio albums, Mogwai have also composed the soundtracks ‘Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait’, the French TV series Les Revenants, the documentary ‘Atomic, Living in Dread and Promise’ and also co-wrote the score to Fisher Stevens’ 2016 documentary film about climate change ‘Before the Flood’.

 

The Orb – Doughnuts Forever

Blissful new music from The Orb, a dreamy summer soundtrack from their ambitious, eclectic new LP ‘No Sounds Are Out Of Bounds’. While much Orb material of recent years has been characterised by minimalism, their 15th studio album finds the electronic legends exploring a dynamic range of influences, moods and sonic possibilities. The record also sees the duo collaborating with a host of guests including Youth, Jah Wobble, Hollie Cook and Roger Eno.

“I wanted to try something with more musicians and more voices. More contributors essentially – similar to the conditions our first album ‘Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld’ were recorded in”, explains Alex Paterson. “Thomas and I made two streamlined, techno-style albums for Kompakt which I love, but this time I wanted a change to expand the palate, and to bring in other elements that will keep people guessing and keep them confused. This is a more English and less German sounding LP and it’s on an English label, although obviously the music comes from all over the globe and beyond, as do the musicians.”

The Orb will be celebrating their 30th anniversary by playing a six date UK tour this Autumn. The shows will feature a Greatest Hits set alongside tracks from the new album.

 

Nine Inch Nails – God Break Down The Door

Loving the industrial techno free-jazz sounds and heavy Bowie influence on this menacing offering from the terrific new Nine Inch Nails album ‘Bad Witch’.

 

Jon Hopkins – Everything Connected

An epic, sizzling hot techno odyssey, ‘Everything Connected’ is the magnificent centrepiece of the electronic musician’s fifth album ‘Singularity’. The record was inspired by the time Hopkins spent living in Los Angeles, practising meditation, and taking trips to the desert to find himself. Here is the single version of the track. The magnificent full length can be heard here: http://smarturl.it/ConnectedStrm

 

James Blake – Don’t Miss It

James Blake is one of those artists with the sort of distinctive vocal style that can either be alluring or grating, depending on your ear. Maybe that’s the reason I never really warmed to any of the previous material of his that I have heard. But the haunting beauty of ‘Don’t Miss It’ is something that’s too good for me to resist. Filled with claustrophobic sadness and watery piano that evokes the sense of drowning, this track was released just over a month ago back in May.

 

The Coral – Eyes Like Pearls

Lovely enchanting sounds from the Liverpool band’s forthcoming album ‘Move Through The Dawn’, out August 10. One of the best tracks this lot have ever produced.

 

Idles – Danny Nedelko

The punk rock anthem of the year so far. A raucous rallying cry, and a call for unity from the Bristol hardcore post-punks Idles. It can be found on the band’s upcoming second album ‘Joy As An Act Of Resistance’, which as well as being brilliantly titled, also promises to be excellent judging by what has been heard so far. After ther album’s release on August 31, plus a number of festival dates and American shows, the band embark on a UK tour later this year throughout October. Dates can be found at https://www.idlesband.com/

 

Linda Guilala – Mucho Mejor

Some psychedelic-flavoured shoegaze melodies from the Spanish band Linda Guilala. ‘Mucho Mejor’ follows their second album which was released a couple of years ago in 2016. The single is available digitally from the Elefant Records Bandcamp page.

 

Muse – Something Human

Muse have unveiled a brand new single entitled ‘Something Human’, taken from their forthcoming new album which is due in November. On first listen, it takes a little while to take shape, but by the second verse it starts to sink in nicely. Best listened to minus its flashy futuristic video…

 

The Prodigy – Need Some1

The Prodigy returned this month with the release of a brand new track. ‘Need Some1’ immediately goes off like an atomic bomb, kicking up an alarming state of panic. Its taken from their upcoming seventh studio album ‘No Tourists’, which is out November 2.

 

Suede – Don’t Be Afraid If Nobody Loves You

With a distinct swagger recalling their early work, Suede’s new single ‘Don’t Be Afraid If Nobody Loves You’ is the second taste of their forthcoming LP ‘The Blue Hour’, released September 21.

 

Parquet Courts – Total Football

Don’t be fooled by the title. It’s technically not about football. This infectious post-punk cracker is named after an old football tactic based on the theory that “no one part is bigger than the sum of the team.” Here, the band deliver a message calling all sectors of society, composed of artists, teachers, blue-collar workers, and many more, to fight against oppressive figures and threatening cults of personality, much like promoting team-oriented football strategies that emphasize teamwork over individual play. It can be found on their brilliant album ‘Wide Awake!’, and is also available as a very special limited edition 7″ single with artwork based on the old Panini football sticker albums.

Andrew Savage from the group says: “The lyrics take the form of a manifesto, which is fitting for the first song on this album I think. Bold and declarative.” Parquet Courts are one of the greatest lyrical bands around, heavily influenced by the genius of Mark E Smith.

 

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – Talking Straight

One of the best new bands of recent years, and one who I discovered a few weeks ago on Steve Lamacq’s excellent afternoon show on BBC 6Music. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever are a five-piece indie band from Australia whose debut album ‘Hope Downs’ was released last month on the Sub Pop label. Featuring lots of crisp jangly guitars and a lively pace, the majorly catchy ‘Talkin Straight’ is one of the LP’s highlights..

 

Spiritualized – I’m Your Man

Jason Pierce and his band Spiritualized return with their first new album since 2012. ‘And Nothing Hurt’ will be released in September, and the first single from it is the uplifting, typically grand ballad ‘I’m Your Man’, where Beatles vibes and Stax horns combine harmoniously. The album was conceived and recorded almost entirely by Pierce, AKA J. Spaceman – in an upstairs room in his east London home.

“Making this record on my own sent me more mad than anything I’ve done before. We’d been playing these big shows and I really wanted to capture that sound we were making but, without the funds to do, I had to find a way to work within the constraints of what money I had. So I bought a laptop and made it all in a little room in my house. The biggest thing for me was to try to make it sound like a studio session. But I was new to it all, I didn’t have all the short cuts people use as when they’re making records – I just sat there for weeks… for months… moving every level up bit by bit just to try to get the sounds right.”

“With a bit of trial and lot of error, I found ways of doing something that’s quite simple if you’ve got the resources. I spent two weeks listening to classical records and strumming the chord that I wanted on my guitar. When I found something to match what i wanted, I’d sample that bit and go for the next chord and try to match that. It took weeks, trying to put together and layer convincing string sounds. But, if I’m honest, all I wanted was for someone to come and play the part and bring their own thing to the record.”

On recent comments regarding this possibly being the final Spiritualized album, Pierce said “I was quite sincere about that and I still feel like it might be the case. It was such hard work. I found myself going crazy for so long. It’s not like there’s no coming back, I’m fine now… it’s just such a hard thing to do, to make a record like this on your own. It’s almost as if, if I’m not pushing myself to point of madness, it’s not going to be right. And I know it’s going to be like that every time. What’s the definition of madness? Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. I kind of do that. I think the biggest goal is to make something that’s worthy of all that time and effort. And the more time and effort, the bigger the goal. I knew I had to make something that was good enough that it should be made. And a massive positive about making the record is that we get to play it live. That’s always the most joyous thing; everyone gets to contribute to the sound, this amazing thing that seems to come right through the roof.”

 

Babybird – ‘I Am Not Here’ (Demo Version)

Stream: ‘I Am Not Here’ (Demo Version)

One of the music world’s best-kept secrets is the fact that Stephen Jones is making Babybird records again. After the lo-fi bedroom recordings of the early days, the hit singles of the mid-late 90s, and a brief return in 2010, Jones laid Babybird to rest in 2012, frustrated with the name constantly being associated with misunderstood 1996 smash hit ‘You’re Gorgeous’. He then became one of the most prolific musicians around, releasing (quite literally) hundreds of albums on Bandcamp under a range of different aliases.

But it’s hard enough to be heard above all the noise and endless choice that characterises the music scene in this day and age. So the Babybird name has been reprised to give his songs the wings (no pun intended) that they deserve. It’s also led to a live return, Jones and his band undertaking a series of raw, defiant gigs just months after he had suffered a heart attack. Babybird has also just announced a December UK tour, with shows in London, Bedford and Leeds.

And the new material keeps on coming: the latest Babybird release is a double album titled ‘Selfies Inside The Coffin’, although many of you reading this may never get to hear it. Jones released the songs in demo form on his Bandcamp site before 50 limited edition CD copies of the album were pre-sold before the album itself was even completed.

If this is just the demo of ‘I Am Not Here’, then just imagine what the finished article will sound like. Beginning as a weird, unsettling spoken word soundscape, it soon grows into a cascade of dreamy chords, progressive loops and echoes of the sprawling atmospheric power that was put to such great effect on Jones’ little-known 2014 album ‘Ambition Expired’. This can be heard along with some other very promising recordings on Part 1 of the SITC demo sampler, available to listen to and download (name your price) HERE.

Another one to add to the growing list of great Babybird tracks.

 

The KVB – Above Us

A delicious helping of lysergic machine music from The KVB. If the Jesus And Mary Chain were signed to Mute Records in the 1980s, they might have sounded a bit like this. The pulsating ‘Above Us’ is out now on Invada Records, a label with a reputation for releasing brilliant, extraordinary music. The KVB are on tour in the UK this October in support of their forthcoming album ‘Only Now Forever’, and dates can be found HERE.

 

Menace Beach ft Brix Smith – Black Rainbow Sound

The Leeds-based Menace Beach are back with a new album next month. ‘Black Rainbow Sound’ is the vividly energetic title track from it, a propulsive helping of Krautrock-infused psychedelica that features the guest vocals of former Fall member Brix Smith-Start, now fronting Brix And The Extricated.

The band explain: “The synchronicity of the universe just forced us and Brix together. The very day l finished reading her biography she played us on her BBC 6Music show along with a wonderfully out-there monologue of how the song made her feel. I said thanks, we got chatting and it went from there. She’s a burning comet of positive energy”.

 

Goldfrapp ft Dave Gahan – Ocean

Depeche Mode legend Dave Gahan adds some foreboding power to this fine new version of Goldfrapp’s ‘Ocean’. The song was originally on their 2017 album ‘Silver Eye’. “Working with Dave Gahan on the new version of ‘Ocean’ has been a real honour for us as a band,” the group said in a statement. “We’re thrilled to finally share this collaboration with the world.”

 

White Denim – Magazin

Instant, melodic and inviting, this new track from Texas indie combo White Denim is taken from their upcoming eighth album Performance, released on August 24. The video was produced, edited and animated by Jonny Sanders.

 

David Byrne – Gasoline And Dirty Sheets

‘Gasoline And Dirty Sheets’ is from David Byrne’s recent album ‘American Utopia’, which is his 11th solo LP. Occasionally I can detect hints of the Eels in this track, flavours of Tom Waits, and a big helping of that Byrne/Talking Heads vibe where you can’t quite put your finger on what mood it conjures up, or what style you would categorise it as. Byrne will be touring the UK in October.

 

Gorillaz – Magic City

The new Gorillaz album ‘The Now Now’ was released at the end of last month, a set of songs that provide a noticeable contrast to last year’s ‘Humanz’. Whereas that album and its predecessors were often very busy in terms of arrangements and full of guest vocalists, ‘The Now Now’ relies more on the masterful songwriting skills of Damon Albarn, and his production methods. Resilient genius Albarn has always excelled at creating yearning, beautifully sad melodies, and ‘Magic City’ is another classic, enveloping the listener in a stunning atmosphere of space-age melancholy.

‘The Now Now’ is a dark, sad and alluring record that I recommend as a soundtrack for late summer nights.

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