The best and the rest of May covered including St Vincent, The Coral, Black Keys and many more.
It's that time of the month again already, and I've got a ton of album reviews to get through as always. There's St Vincent, The Coral and Black Keys in our featured reviews this month before I take a look at loads more good stuff in GOODGOODNOTBAD before finishing off with the E/O May Mix and what to keep an eye out for this June. There's ten albums covered below so let's get into it!
May Album Reviews
Delta Kream - The Black Keys
Weezer aren't the only band offering up tribute to their idols this month as Black Keys pay homage to the Mississippi Hill Blues that originally shaped the band on Delta Kream. Recorded in "about ten hours" over two afternoons in Dan Auberach's house, Delta Kream is a sumptuous collection of lazy Southern blues jams that faithfully honours Junior Kimbrough, R.L Burnside and other legendary blues figures with reverence and warmth.
Ironically, these covers actually display a side of dirty authenticity virtually unheard in the band's own work these days - so much so that you may find yourself pausing to wonder if Auberach and the band are capable of capitalizing on these adaptations and writing an original album as faithful to their Deep Southern influences.
If they can, we could be listening to a much more interesting version of Black Keys down the road.
6.0 / C
Best Tracks: 'Crawling Kingsnake'/'Going Down South'
Coral Island - The Coral
What a wonderful surprise it is to hear The Coral craft an album as charming, warm and effortlessly catchy as Coral Island in 2021. The Britpop veterans' tenth studio album is a carnival of 60s Merseybeat and jangle pop just bursting with the kind of classic harmony laden melodies that led the British Invasion once upon a time. James Skelly and his cohorts dream up a delightfully psychedelic concept, brought to life by some of the band's best ever songwriting across a double album comprising 24 tracks that somehow breezes by in just under an hour, and warrants many repeat listens thanks to the endlessly addictive skiffle of these Zombies and Kinks inspired numbers. The result is a sheer joy to behold - twenty five years into their existence, The Coral deliver their magnum opus.
8.0 / B+
Best Tracks: 'Vacancy'/'My Best Friend'/'Take Me Back To The Summertime'
Daddy's Home - St. Vincent
After distinguishing herself as one of the most acclaimed and engrossing alternative artists of the past decade and change, the chameleonic Annie Clark returns with a brand new sound for a fresh era of St. Vincent on Daddy's Home. Clark reinvents herself once again on her sixth studio album as we find our protagonist down and out in New York on a record that vividly snapshots the smoke and glamour of mid seventies Manhattan while immaculately recapturing the psychedelic sound of its era. Channeling the iconic figures of its time in Bowie, Reed and Prince, Clark and production wizard Jack Antonoff execute a dazzling blend of funk, soul and jazz to paint a fluorescent portrait of 1970's NY, all subtly wrapped in a light electronic package that will just about remind you that you're listening to a record in 2021.
Crucially, the sound never comes across as a flat imitation of the legends it emulates thanks to a wonderfully rich band performance throughout which is perfectly complimented by the call and response choir Clark solely inhabits, lending Daddy's Home a delightful sense of improvisation and in its best moments evoking imagery of its singer performing to an audience of like minded hipsters in a dingy dive bar buried in the heart and soul of downtown Manhattan.
Thematically, Daddy's Home offers the most introspective and personal record of St. Vincent's career to date, as Clark grapples with her father's 2019 prison release and subsequent return home. It's a rare, fascinating glimpse into the mind of a famously reclusive personality, and it immediately sets aside Daddy's Home as a special record in St. Vincent's catalogue for it's candid and witty lyrical content, as well as the aforementioned musical palette it explores and a consistently outstanding vocal performance from start to finish.
It's another major success for St. Vincent as Annie Clark effortlessly transforms once more while delivering another unique entry into an already vastly impressive discography. Don't miss it.
8.5 / A-
Best Tracks: 'Pay Your Way In Pain'/'The Melting Of The Sun'/'Down'/'...At The Holiday Party'
You know how this works by now, GOODGOODNOTBAD is where I get to give you some extra quick takes on stuff I've been listening to this month that hasn't gotten the full review treatment! This is my way of including some more quickfire recommendations for all of you that are well worth checking out.
These albums can either be: Very Good, Good, Not Bad or BAD. So with that being said, what else is out there this month and what's good?
Song Of The Lark and Other Far Memories is really just an excuse to relisten to Angel Olsen's All Mirrors 2019-2021 era, but since both albums compiled in this collection are two of the best records of their respective years (All Mirrors in 2019 and Whole New Mess from last summer), it's an extremely worthwhile journey to retake and get lost in all over again. In fact, if Olsen wants to just continue making alternate versions of All Mirrors for another couple of years, I'm all for it.
Lord Huron are in fine form on Long Lost, taking listeners on a cinematic road trip through the Western American desert with a sultry blend of country, folk and baroque rock on their fourth studio album. The evocative outlaw imagery developed throughout these sixteen tracks bestows a vaguely hallucinatory quality upon the hour as a whole, with its distinct Mariachi indebted compositions resulting in Ben Schneider & co's most lavish instrumental work to date. If it weren't for the baffling if faintly pleasant indulgence of its fourteen(!) minute ambient synth outro, Long Lost would be in the conversation for album of the month.
Billed by Jorja Smith as a "waiting room" for her sophomore album, Be Right Back is an eight track collection that provides a solid mix of trip-hop, hip-hop and R&B beats for the young West Midlands singer to flex her impressive vocals chops atop. With the exception of an excellent set of singles, it's never quite as engaging as Smith's debut. Maybe she's holding back her A game for that eventual second record.
Philadelphia punks Mannequin Pussy veer wildly between nasty and nice on the Perfect EP, contrasting the sweet alt rock melodies of 'Control', 'To Lose You' and 'Darling' with more familiar waves of hardcore on 'Pigs is Pigs' and a blistering title track. It's a concise, well balanced set from the rock trio that leaves you wanting more.
Crumb's free form mingling of slacker rock, dream pop and hazy trip-hop will likely lure you in on Ice Melt, the Brooklyn based quartet's enticing sophomore effort. Frontwoman Lila Ramiani's ghostly vocals drift around the chillout jazz soundscapes built by Bri Aronow while Jonathan Gilead's distinctive percussion tastefully compliments these ten tracks all the way through a wavy half hour.
Danish post-hardcore stalwarts Iceage return on their bombastic fifth album Seek Shelter, offering up a wave of noise and wall of guitars that's strangely reminiscent of Britpop stars Blur, Oasis and even Bends-era Radiohead. As such, it's the most accessible record in the band's catalogue, if also the least complex. There's still a grandiose helping of post-punk and post-rock to be found among these nine tracks though, so it's hard to complain too much.
The Sky Is Bleeding is the most instrospective work of Biig Piig AKA Jessica Smyth's blossoming career to date. A fluid six track set that slickly blends DIY and bedroom production elements with Smyth's atmospheric vocals. It's the most cohesive and complete statement yet from the Irish songwriter (born in Cork, raised in Spain, now living in London). Leaving on final note of lo-fi indie rock bliss with 'American Beauty', you get the feeling that there are bigger things ahead of Smyth in the not too distant future.
Check out these seven releases ranked below and let me know whether you thought they were good, bad or indifferent:
Angel Olsen - Song Of The Lark and Other Far Memories
Lord Huron - Long Lost
Biig Piig - The Sky Is Bleeding
Iceage - Seek Shelter
Mannequin Pussy - Perfect EP
Crumb - Ice Melt
Jorja Smith - Be Right Back
Either/Or's May 2021 Mix
52 of the best tracks of May, curated by yours truly for your aural pleasure.
St. Vincent - Down
Durand Jones & The Indications, Aaron Frazer - Witchoo
Twin Shadow - Get Closer
Pond - America's Cup
Jessie Ware - Please
Hot Chip, Jarvis Cocker, Myd - Straight To The Morning (Myd Remix)
Elton John, Years & Years - It's a sin
Olivia Rodrigo - good 4 u
The Marías - Hush
Still Woozy - Kenny
Japanese Breakfast - Savage Good Boy
Maria Kelly - eight hours
Biig Piig - American Beauty
Fya Fox - SUNSET
Oneohtrix Point Never, ROSALÍA - Nothing's Special
A.G Cook - Xcxoplex (feat. Charli XCX)
LUMP - Animal
Crumb - Gone
Lucy Dacus - VBS
The Coral - Vacancy
Lord Huron - I Lied (with Alison Ponthier)
Saige - What Should I Write
Wolf Alice - No Hard Feelings
Rostam - From The Back of a Cab
Modest Mouse - We Are Between
The Black Keys - Going Down South
Weezer - I Need Some of That
Iceage - Love Kills Slowly
black midi - Chondromalacia Patella
Mannequin Pussy - Perfect
HEALTH, Nine Inch Nails - Isn't Everyone
Tony Allen, Danny Brown - Deer In Headlights
Little Simz, Cleo Sol - Woman
Jorja Smith - Bussdown (feat. Shaybo)
Nicki Minaj - Seeing Green (with Drake & Lil Wayne)
Lil Nas X - SUN GOES DOWN
Charli XCX, The 1975, No Rome, A.G Cook - Spinning (A.G Cook Remix)
James Vincent McMorrow - Paradise
Bleachers - Stop Making This Hurt
Hiatus Kaiyote - Red Room
Kevin Morby - Dumcane
Kings of Convenience - Rocky Trail
Soccer Mommy - Wide Open Spaces
How I Became A Wave - Fading Out
Shannon Lay - Rare to Wake
Lana Del Rey - Text Book
Sharon Van Etten, Angel Olsen - Like I Used To
Garbage - No Gods No Masters
Graham Davy - Fear
Bombay Bicycle Club, Flyte - Terrapin Station
DOPE LEMON - Rose Pink Cadillac
Was Man - The Zodiac Speaking
June's Most Anticipated Releases
Japanese Breakfast - Jubilee
Rostam - Changeophobia
Wolf Alice - Blue Weekend
Garbage - No Gods No Masters
Sleater Kinney - Path Of Wellness
Kings Of Convinience - Peace Or Love
Rejjie Snow - Relax
Kojaque - Town's Dead
Lucy Dacus - Home Video
Modest Mouse - The Golden Casket
04/07 Lana Del Rey - Blue Banisters