It only seems like two seconds ago we compiled our favourite music from January to kick off our music discovery blog series… and here we are. February. Let’s not deliberate any further and delve straight into some of our favourite releases from February 2018.
The Wonder Years – "Sister Cities"
The latest single from (arguably) the modern day pop-punk kings The Wonder Years marks another step toward the Philadelphia bands maturity, which is highly welcomed when you look back at their last full-length LP from 2015 No Closer to Heaven. Fear not veteran fans, as Dan ‘Soupy’ Campbells cathartic and powerful vocals are still here, accompanied by driving guitars and pounding drums. This single however marks a darker, braver and more emotional departure from previous works but if it’s anything to go by, we’re excited to hear more. Will their album of the same name make it onto one of our future lists? We’ll find out in April…
Rhye - Blood
Finding love is a pursuit that evolves beautifully and painfully. Both of those emotions are expressed in Rhye's music. Their debut album, Woman, captured the hearts of many with its lush instrumentation, built with horns, strings, woodwinds, and funky bass lines; patient tempos; and vocalist Milosh's sweet falsetto and sensual lyrics. Their sophomore album, Blood, brings these elements back with more upbeat and danceable textures. Milosh doesn't hide anything when reflecting on his romantic life-- he sings about the sighs cried in his most intimate moments and fear when uncertainty settles in. You can feel his passion bleeding through every moment, which makes real love feel that much more attainable.
Ought - Room Inside the World
The post-punk genre is fueled by a dark and introspective aggression. Ought provided refreshing and clever energy to that concept with their first two albums, but Room Inside the World is a complete reinvention of their identity. The album vibes at a slower pace but still contains the adventurous song structures and intricate instrumentation that allowed their previous work to blossom. Vocalist Tim Darcy stands at the forefront of this daring evolution. He drops his spoken staccato, for the most part, and expands the finesse of his vocal abilities. His clever observations of the world are sung in a more baroque style and explore a greater range.
Everything is Recorded - Everything Is Recorded by Richard Russell
Major record label kingpins must have an innovative edge in order to release music that captures the hearts of listeners, but there aren't too many that release their own material. Ivo Watts-Russell, the founder of 4AD Records, proved to be an exception to the rule with his project The Mortal Coil, which featured a cast of different vocalists over his dream pop creations. Richard Russell, co-owner of XL Records, continues that progression and applies his trippy dance beats to build Everything is Recorded. His debut album under the moniker features appearances by exciting up-and-comers and legendary collaborators, including Sampha, Syd, Damon Albarn, Kamasi Washington, Peter Gabriel, and more. The result is an exploratory R&B project coated in dark beats and provocative sampling that sets an exciting stage for his collaborators' vocals to shine.
Various Artists- Black Panther: The Album
While most film soundtracks feature original contributions from popular artists, it's rare that one is conceptualized and released as an official album. Kendrick Lamar and Top Dawg Entertainment revamp that mentality with Black Panther: The Album. The project only extends Lamar's hot streak and explores exciting territory that challenges his own artistry and the hip-hop and pop genres. He makes his mark on almost every track, as if he were conducting a hip-hop orchestra. His baton conducts TDE collaborators (ScHoolBoy Q, Jay Rock, Zacari, Ab-Soul and SZA) and featured artists who are breaking ground in their prospective genres, including Anderson .Paak, James Blake, and Vince Staples. Highlight "Paramedic!" fashions a relatively new artist, SOB X RBE, and gives them an epic platform to persevere in the music industry. Just when you think Lamar couldn't become more popular, he proves everyone wrong.
Ezra Furman – Transangelic Exodus
Ezra Furman’s latest record is, in his own words, “not a concept record, but almost a novel, or a cluster of stories on a theme, a combination of fiction and a half-true memoir […] A queer outlaw saga.” Lyrically and musically, Transangelic Exodus is powerful and raw, telling the story of Furman and lover on the run from an oppressive government. The record draws inspiration from the old – with moments that could have been cribbed from the likes of Springsteen, Lou Reed or the Who – and pairs it with the new. The result is a defiant response to an exclusionist political landscape that could be an early contender for album of the year.
Hookworms - Microshift
Yorkshire determination absolutely smashes the notion of ‘difficult third album’ as the Leeds lads in Hookworms have put together a psychedelic post-punk treat in Microshift. Relying less on fuzzy guitars, their emphasis on synth wizardry positions them in a more dance-rock direction which truly works wonders. The electronic characteristics ensure the album is an intriguing listen from front to back, whilst the heavy lyrical content gives you plenty to plunder yourself in. We’re calling it now- this one could easily be an album of the year.
Have we missed any out? Make sure you let us know in the comments below.