With more 9’s than an ambulance directory, here are the best albums from May 2018

Only the good stuff

As possible as it may seem at the Loud And Quiet offices, it wasn’t just May 2018‘s stunning weather that put our reviewers in a good mood – there are more 9’s in this month’s list than an emergency services switchboard. We saw the return of old favourites (Beach House, Parquet Courts), the latest act from the man of many acts (Daniel Blumberg), and – after the UK music press collectively plotzed at Kamasi Washington’s ecstatic European tour – remembered how great jazz is (Joe Armon-Jones). In addition, there’s plenty of thumping electronic music – loud and industrial (AJA) or otherwise (DJ Koze, Soccer96) – if none of the above is of interest. So do what I do – play all of these albums, preferably all at once and at high volume, and stick on a repeat of the Royal Wedding, for a really psychedelic experience.

Artist: Daniel Blumberg
Title: Minus
Label: Mute
What is it? Ex-Cajun Dance Party/ex-Yuck/ex-Hebronix/ex-Oupa man of perennial angst Daniel Blumberg returns with a record of potential wide appeal – whether he likes it or not.
L&Q says: “These are the outpourings of a unique mind, grafted to the songs of a gifted songwriter. ‘Minus’ is a magnificent piece of skewed beauty.”
Read Chris Watkeys’ full review

Artist: Jon Hopkins
Title: Singularity
Label: Domino
What is it? The English producer remerges from the desert having figured out the oneness of things.
L&Q says: “These tracks are essentially Hopkins’ field notes from a higher state; points plotted on an arc that are propelled by singular intensities but co-exist as one universal thrum.”
Read Reef Younis’ full review

Artist: Beach House
Title: 7
Label: Bella Union
What is it? Baltimore sleepyheads take cues from today’s post-shoegaze and do one better.
L&Q says: “These wider influences are enough to incrementally develop the band’s immersive sound, with the listener becoming enveloped in its rolling waves of blissful melancholia.”
Read Susan Darlington’s full review

Artist: DJ Koze
Title: Knock Knock
Label: Pampa
What is it? Less-than-typical producer Stefan Kozalla makes a less-than-typical dance album.
L&Q says: “Just as on his last full-length (2013’s ‘Amygdala’), he’s unafraid to slow the tempo, to get romantic, to get downright silly – and to explore R&B, funk and hip-hop production as much as his techno roots.”
Read Stephen Butchard’s full review

Artist: Joe Armon-Jones
Title: Starting Today
Label: Brownswood
What is it? The virtuosic keyboardist’s sprawling debut showcases some of the best jazz-funk coming from London today.
L&Q says: “Thankfully, there’s a lot to dig into on ‘Starting Today’, a project where Armon-Jones feels more like a leader of a diverse collective than a flashy part.”
Read Stephen Butchard’s full review

Artist: Ryley Walker
Title: Deafman Glance
Label: Dead Oceans
What is it? Chicagoan balladeer ditches the troubadour schtick for a wider musical gene pool.
L&Q says: “Walker finds space for some of his broadest melodies yet, and the resulting effect – earworms slathered with dirt and abstraction, or smudged by painterly marks – leaves ‘Deafman Glance’ as the natural successor to Wilco’s 2002 masterpiece ‘Yankee Hotel Foxtrot’.”
Read Sam Walton’s full review

Artist: AJA
Title: AJA
Label: Opal Tapes
What is it? Renaissance figure of New Weird Britain Aja Ireland channels her intensity into the purely sonic.
L&Q says: “The vastness of the project can, at times, be almost overwhelming. The first half ‘XLR’ serves as an outlier within the track list. Not only is it more restrained than the rest of the album, but in being so sheds light on Aja’s skill as a traditionally talented vocalist – as well as being confrontational, Aja’s presence is always somewhere between foreboding and alluring.”
Read Aimee Armstrong’s full review

Artist: Parquet Courts
Title: Wide Awake
Label: Rough Trade
What is it? Post-slacker rock smart-asses keep it real with a surprisingly mature sixth outing.
L&Q says: “[A. Savage] skewers each target with a canny venom, and no-one escapes unscathed; even his own, ineffectual protestations are served up with disdain.”
Read Derek Robertson’s full review

Artist: Courtney Barnett
Title: Tell Me How You Really Feel
Label: Marathon
What is it? Her ascension to indie rock royalty has only bolstered the talent of the Aussie songwriter.
L&Q says: “There’s idiosyncratic flourishes at every turn, from quoting Carrie Fisher via Meryl Streep within the album’s first four lines to following the record’s two most furious punk outbursts with a song called ‘Crippling Self Doubt and a General Lack of Self Confidence’.”
Read Joe Goggins’ full review

Artist: Caroline Rose
Title: Loner
Label: New West
What is it? New York singer-songwriter pierces challenging subjects with a caustic wit.
L&Q says: “Yet despite the heavy subject matters this is an unashamedly pop record, taking on the attitude of Le Tigre and the pop-dance of Katy Perry.”
Read Susan Darlington’s full review

Artist: TT
Title: LoveLaws
Label: Caroline
What is it? Warpaint’s Theresa Wayman steps into the spotlight with romantic songs for an unromantic age.
L&Q says: “When creativity is such an effective vehicle for introspection and freeing anxieties, TT has released the perfect antidote to years of bottling everything up.”
Read Tristan Gatward’s full review, and listen to Sweet 16 with Theresa Wayman

Artist: Wax Chattels
Title: Wax Chattels
Label: Captured Tracks
What is it? Auckland, New Zealand trio excel with guitar-less guitar music.
L&Q says: “For a three-piece, they cover a lot of ground. Reverb-heavy bass allows the band to make phantomic fuzz-rock on ‘Shrinkage’ while a juttering synth turns a track like ‘NRG’ into a Liars-esque post-punk thunderstorm.”
Read Cal Cashin’s full review, and Dafydd Jenkins’ interview

Artist: Soccer96
Title: Rewind
Label: Slowfoot
What is it? There’s more than meets the ear to Dan Leavers and Max Hallett’s pre-digital retroism.
L&Q says: “Traversing musical terrain as diverse as the sounds of Boards of Canada, Mount Kimbie, Roots Manuva and Squarepusher at his jazziest, this is a wonderfully varied collection that feels like something genuinely new.”
Read David Zammitt’s full review

Artist: Lithics
Title: Mating Surfaces
Label: Kill Rock Stars
What is it? Portland, Oregon’s pin-sharp practitioners will make you forget the post-punk revival minefield of the mid-2000s.
L&Q says: “From fist-clenched opener ‘Excuse Generator’ to breakneck closing blitz ‘Dancing Guy’, it’s an unfurling tapestry of interlocking DIY minimalist art-punk where precision and abandon prove uniquely compatible.”
Read Brian Coney’s full review

Artist: LICE
Title: It All Worked Out Great Vol. 1 & 2
Label: Balley Records
What is it? There’s no shortage of apathy and anger from post-Brexit guitar bands, but LICE prove to be among this island’s most deranged.
L&Q says: “Musically, the band sound in constant conflict, and that’s before you even hear the manic drawl of frontman Alastair Shuttleworth, perhaps the most exciting component of this group.”
Read Cal Cashin’s full review