THE BEGINNING

While you were reading all the ‘A Moon Shaped Pool’ reviews a number of brilliant albums snuck out in May – these are the ones which deserve your attention.

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Let’s face it, Radiohead stole the majority of the headlines in May when they released their 9th album ‘A Moon Shaped Pool’. James Blake also delivered a new album with no run-up called ‘The Colour In Anything’, and Chance The Rapper’s latest mixtape has had plenty of airtime too. Those LPs may have hogged the limelight a little more than most, but it was a top month for new music. From the powerful protest record by our outspoken recent cover star Anohni through to ex-Long Blondes singer Kate Jackson‘s much-delayed solo debut, May 2016 kind of had it all.

Artist: Chris Cohen
Title: As If Apart
Label: Captured Tracks
What is it? The LA native has been a touring member of Haunted Graffiti and Cass McCombs’ band – on his own he delivers a brand of sunny, 70s, slightly psychedelic optimism.
L&Q says: ‘As If Apart’ is every bit as beguiling as Cohen’s debut, and no less accomplished – it builds on and refines what made 2012’s ‘Overgrown Path’ so good.
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Artist: Jessy Lanza
Title: Oh No
Label: Hyperdub
What is it? A second album from the Canadian vocalist. An album fit to grace any dancefloor.
L&Q says: The increased tempo here adds a welcome heft to Lanza’s slinky songs, leaving a record of confident statements in comparison to its predecessor’s whispers.
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Artist: Anohni
Title: Hopelessness
Label: Rough Trade
What is it? A new name, new sound and new-found passion for forthright protest. ‘Hopelessness’ was the latest release from the artist formerly known as Antony Hegarty, and it’s one of the most memorable of the year so far. Lyrically, it rages on politics, injustice and the destruction of the environment. The production from Hudson Mohawke and Oneohtrix Point Never sizzles and swerves, too.
L&Q says: While there can be no easy solutions to the issues raised, ‘Hopelessness’ isn’t as bleak as its title implies. Quite the contrary: Anohni’s passion proves as infectious as her melodies.
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Artist: Thomas Cohen
Title: Bloom Forever
Label: Stolen Recordings
What is it? Interviewed by us earlier in the year, Thomas Cohen said he wanted to make an album which was open and honest. The former S.C.U.M man is a born entertainer, but he’s also transparent. His debut solo album is entertaining and, in parts, heartbreakingly candid.
L&Q says: From jazzy six-minute opener ‘Honeymoon’ (replete with sax solo) through the painful ‘Country Home’ and cathartic closer ‘Mother Mary’, this is the album Cohen simply needed to make.
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Artist: Pantha Du Prince
Title: Triad
Label: Rough Trade
What is it? Conceptual German artist delivers a fourth solo album of artful soundscapes.
L&Q says: Collectively ‘The Triad’ is a chilly but ultimately approachable affair.
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Artist: Gold Panda
Title: Good Luck And Do Your Best
Label: City Slang
What is it? This was Derwin Panda sounding the most self-assured he’s ever been. Leaving his home turf of Essex behind (and Berlin where he lived for a time), he went to Japan. It was that experience, its spirituality and musicality, that he channeled in this album.
L&Q says: When the end result is as strong as this, luck doesn’t even come into it.
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Artist: Oliver Coates
Title: Upstepping
Label: Prah
What is it? Minimalist dance record from a classical cellist and collaborator with the likes of Anna Meredith.
L&Q says: He draws from a vast palette of sound, bringing order to chaos across eight arrangements, each uniquely complex, divergent and captivating.
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Artist: Kate Jackson
Title: British Road Movies
Label: Hoo Ha
What is it? It’s been eight years since The Long Blondes were forced to go their separate ways. Kate Jackson recorded a handful of songs with Suede’s Bernard Butler, then moved to Rome. It’s only now that the tracks have been completed and released as her debut solo album.
L&Q says: Good things come to those who wait – ‘British Road Movies’ is a ferocious skewering of the last decade of rank-and-file synthpop that’s largely comprised the British indie-pop scene since Jackson disappeared.
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Artist: Olga Bell
Title: Tempo
Label: One Little Indian
What is it? Her last album was a traditional Russian language folk record. This is not. During its making, Olga Bell lived in New York, flying solo at the city’s late-night clubs to soak up the ambience. The result is a warped, dance pop record.
L&Q says: It’s hard to deny that this is a clever, courageous album, deserving of a wide audience. Just follow Bell’s advice and let your body do the listening.
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Artist: Eagulls
Title: Ullages
Label: Partisan
What is it? A new, more melodic direction for the Leeds gang. Sure, it leans heavily on the sounds of The Cure and The Smiths, but does so with their own inimitable touches.
L&Q says: This is not an album lacking in bite or pace.
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