The Essential Six - June 2020
I was happily having a break from writing stuff about music, but then I heard a load of good music so I thought I'd pop them in a list and send them into the ether. Here are the 6 best things I listened to in June:
Nnamdi - Black Plight
A stunning EP from Chicago based virtuoso Nnamdi, Black Plight pulls no punches with its message. It's also a complete departure from his last album (the eccentric, soulful and generally more electronic leaning BRAT) and sees Nnamdi fully immersed in a math rock, almost metal world, playing all of the instruments himself. The words, the music, the song titles ("Rage", "My Life", "Heartless") and the artwork are all very real expressions of the fear, anger and injustice of recent world events and the proceeds of this EP have been distributed to local BLM campaigns.
Nadine Shah - Kitchen Sink (Infectious)
Kitchen Sink is Nadine Shah's highlyahighly fourth album, and a follow up to 2017's Mercury nominated Holiday Destination. This is surely the darkest collection of radio-friendly bangers you'll hear in 2020, Shah looks at society's various inequalities with a fresh pair of eyes and a dry wit which sets her music apart from many of her contemporaries. This probably won't surprise anyone who's been following Shah's career over the past decade. Musically speaking, Shah has hit another level of creativity, there's odd rhythms, eccentric structures and instruments that are all but undetectable. Highlights include "Trad" which would feel nicely at home on Radiohead's In Rainbows and "Kitchen Sink" with its pared-down rhythm section and unexpected guitar interjections. Tough to follow up an album as revered and successful as Holiday Destination but with Kitchen Sink, Nadine Shah has only gone and surpassed it.
bdrmm - Bedroom (Sonic Cathedral)
They've drip fed us bits and pieces from this album over the past few months but i don't think anyone will be quite prepared for just how epic this debut LP is. The Hull five-piece seems to have arrived fully formed with a dense, melodic and at times - dare i say it? - joyful album (n.b. at other times, not so much). The record clearly touches base with the shoe-gaze greats of the past, but also nods heavily towards the echoey, epic and altogether more chart friendly sound of The Cure. Previous singles "A Reason To Celebrate" and "Happy" fit into place nicely alongside equally great new tracks like mighty, cunching (and then totally delicate) "If..." and the jangly, motorik opener "Momo". I think this album has already garnered the band a load of rave reviews, and I can only really add to that chorus of approval.
J. Zunz - Y (Rocket Recordings)
J. Zunz is the solo moniker of Lorena Quintanilla from Mexican duo Lorelle Meets the Obsolete, who has just announced the details of her second solo album Hibiscus (a follow up to 2017's Silente). "Y" is the first preview of the new record and sees Quintanilla moving away from the psychedelic drone of her main band and focusing on a darker, more ambient sound. "Y" starts off slow and sedate and gradually becomes more unsettling. If this was soundtrack music (which it could well be) the action would have shifted from home comforts to a post-apocalypse wasteland by the end of the song, not bad for a sub four minute track.
Mera Bhai - Jama El F'na (Moshi Moshi)
Another solo venture from a Crackle Feedback favourite, this is a brand new track from Flamingods' Karthik Poduval and it's an absolute gem. Poduval has lived in the UK, Italy, Albania, Saudi Arabia, Dubai and Nigeria so it's no surprise that this track has the usual dizzying array of world music influences. However, unlike Flamingods psych-rock fusion, this project sees Poduval work them into a slice of dancefloor filling electro mayhem. This track is the latest in a long line of submissions to Moshi Moshi's excellent 0800 quarantine project. You can check them all out here.
Megadead - Screams, Banging, etc.
Megadead is the new moniker for Benjamin Shaw, a Melbourne based musician who's been putting out quality lo-fi music for years now. As he puts it in his typically self-deprecating manner "same old shite, just under a new umbrella". The truth is that this is probably Shaw's most engaging and entertaining collection yet. The EP sees the DIY master ditching vocals altogether in favour of spoken word samples to create an odd-pop gem, rich in Prince style synth stabs, music box melody, erratic sax and block rockin' beats. Lovely stuff.