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Albums Of The Month: The Best Music Released This July
Patrick Clarke , July 27th, 2018 10:53

Cream yourself up, keep drinking plenty of fluids, and let this selection of the month's very best music cool you off

Illustration by Lisa Cradduck

tQ's regular reviews editor, the mighty Anna Wood, is on a well-deserved holiday this July. It means that I, lowly staff writer Paddy "Crisis" Clarke have been put in charge of the reviews section until she returns from her jaunt around Italy's finest bodies of water. This brief stint at the helm has hammered home the fact that Anna's job is both incredibly stressful and rewarding in the extreme. There has been a torrent of extraordinary music this month, from fantastic pop to ferocious metal, and a torrent of superb writing from this website's brilliant contributors to go along with it.

Keeping up amid the heatwave from an un-air-conditioned tQ towers has been a tricky endeavour, but with songs this brilliant it's well worth the (literal) sweat and (literal) tears. Below you'll find the best of the bunch, with words from me, John Doran, Tara Joshi, Bob Cluness, Anna Cafolla, Tom Bolton, Tristan Bath, Luke Turner, Christian Eede and Luke Cartledge.
Patrick Clarke

Albums of the Month

Nine Inch Nails - Bad Witch
(The Null Corporation/Capitol)

Bad Witch is the final part in NIN’s recent trilogy of ‘short’ releases. (Not The Actual Events and Add Violence are both EPs and this album doesn’t exactly hang around.) This is worth noting given that it comes from a band responsible for such statement-length LPs as The Downward Spiral and The Fragile. Apparently an entire third part was recorded but scrapped because full time NINers Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross just weren’t feeling it and wanted to record something rawer. What we have in its place (thankfully) isn’t some ‘back to basics’, middle-aged guy’s ‘punk’ statement but instead a collection of exciting songs benefiting from various revitalising strategies, helping make this one of the most satisfying albums to come out under the Nine Inch Nails banner. For example Reznor has picked up a saxophone - an instrument he hasn’t blown in anger in decades - for the songs ‘Play The Goddamned Part’ and ‘God Break Down The Door’; and after some clever stitching together by Ross, they’ve ended up hitting on something that is simultaneously genuinely belligerent in the power of its snot nosed assault, while being leagues more sophisticated than anything any of the remaining big hitters from the imperial period of American alternative rock are even attempting in 2018.
John Doran

Al-Namrood - Ten Years Of Resistance
(Shaytan)

Last year, I interviewed a number of metal bands from across the Middle East to learn about the realities of performing music that is often condemned as ‘Satanic’ in many parts of the region. Bands from Lebanon and Egypt have been imprisoned and even tortured for their work, but none stick out in terms of sheer bravery as Saudi Arabia’s Al-Namrood, who must remain entirely anonymous lest they be captured and likely beheaded for apostasy.

To mark their decade as a band, they have re-recorded a number of tracks from across their history for a new record, Ten Years Of Resistance. More than just an astounding story, Al-Namrood are astounding musicians; this is metal of the most ferocious intent, over which their leader known only as ‘Mephisto’ screams in Arabic with staggering power. This, and last year’s studio LP Enkar, are an absolute must.
Patrick Clarke

Pariah - Here From Where We Are
(Houndstooth)

Eight years on from his first releases - products of the 'post-dubstep' sound so prominent at the turn of the decade - and six years on from his last solo release, Pariah returns with a refreshed sound. Moving away from the kick drums of his work with Blawan as Karenn and the sugary melodies of those early R & S records, the London producer's debut album sees him move through various strains of ambient music, the album comprised of nine richly melodic beatless cuts that flow continuously from one track to the next. 'Log Jam' is a spritely, wide-eyed opener while 'Pith' and 'Seed Bank' following it are more understated. 'Linnaea', a particular highlight, builds slowly, its swirling synths and arpeggios growing brighter and more prominent with every loop. It's all too easy to make ambient music that quietly fades into the background, but Here From Where Are carries just the right number of flourishes to avoid such a fate.
Christian Eede

Gaika - Basic Volume
(Warp)

Gaika might open the album by describing being “naked and black in a white man’s world”, but by the end of Basic Volume it’s hard not to feel galvanised. This is a vital debut that captures a dark, uncertain time, but counters displacement - in all its forms - with grace, nerve, and a spine-tingling call to arms, and perhaps just as importantly, a call to dance.
Tara Joshi - read the full review here.

Proc Fiskal - Insula
(Hyperdub)

Despite the surfeit of sounds and samples in Powers’ productions, he’s made an album that can still breathe with moments of serenity amongst the freneticism, one that provides moments where the antagonistic, alienating sounds of modern life can be reworked to make something pleasing, even joyful to the ear.
Bob Cluness - read the full review here.

Eartheater - Irisiri
(PAN)

Irisiri is an album that explores the concepts of femininity, technology and the how many non-conforming bodies end up falling between the cracks in the seemingly implacable poles of gender, sex and the human, all her songs display seemingly disparate contrasts of surrealist wordplay, with organic, fragile tones and cold, machinist grind, as she pieces and stitches them into idiosyncratic little monsters that at times bewilders, but ultimately beguiles you with their curiosity and playfulness.
Bob Cluness - read the full review here.

Lucy Railton - Paradise 94
(Modern Love)

Yes I know this album was released a couple of months ago but if tQ's writers and our reviews editor are so efficient at covering the albums I am most in love with this month it seems right and proper to celebrate something I missed at the time. Thanks to our contributor Jen Allan's takeover of BBC Radio 3s Late Junction earlier this week I caught 'To The End', a track off Lucy Railton's album Paradise 94, released a wee while back on Modern Love. Railton is best known as one of the UK's leading cellists and the founder of the esteemed experimental/classical night Kammer Klang, which is useful background information insofar as it gives a hint of where she's coming from. Yet that alone doesn't do justice to this tense and textured album, one of the richest I've heard from the sonic fringes this year. There's such presence throughout that it's the aural equivalent to running a finger through viscous melted tar, at ones discomforting but oddly satisfying. Made up of field and studio recordings, it seems to straddle the mechanical and organic - the steely panting regularity of opener 'Pinnevik', for instance, could be steam engine ormetal horse. 'To The End' sounds like the Radiophonic Workshop if they'd relocated from Maida Vail to a submarine and is followed by 'The Critical Rush', again nautical vibes of a sub-surface engine giving way to an anxious electronic chiming tone, ruminative noises doing their thing underneath. The peaceful organ of 'For J.R.' (a version of Bach's 'Erbarm Dich Mein, o Herre Gott') is offset by murmurs and scratching, as if you're listening to it from inside a coffin at your own funeral. It all ends with 11 minutes of spiralling whines and drones that I am fairly sure have just given me deskbound motion sickness. A fine achievement in an excellent, unusual record.
Luke Turner

Laura Cannell & André Bosman - Reckonings
(Brawl Records)

This is a work of pure expression, music that owes nothing to precedent and expectation and everything to musical openness and to immersion in the moment.
Tom Bolton - read the full review here.

Okzharp & Manthe Ribane - Closer Apart
(Hyperdub)

Okzharp & Manthe Ribane have swapped grit for soul, circumnavigating the dancefloor to beam their music straight from heart to heart, and positivity and sensitivity permeate every inch of this record.
Tristan Bath - read the full review here.

Alison Cotton - All Is Quiet At The Ancient Theatre
(Bloxham Tapes)

Although this is music feels irrevocably for the countryside, I'd really recommend listening to Alison Cotton's All Is Quiet At The Ancient Theatre on your walkman while standing in the middle of a busy city centre. The power of this music is simply awe-inspiring. When Alison Cotton plays, the world stands still. For much of this tape, she overlaps the heart-wrenching creak of her viola, interweaving improvised melodies into drones that evoke fog-laden landscapes, stretching out further than the eye can see. If Cotton's known for anything it'll be her (somewhat) Fairport-esque duo The Left Outsides, based around good old singer-songwriting and poppier song forms, but these improvised music-scapes are quite something else altogether. Her similarly delicate collaboration with Michael Tanner released by Reckno in 2016 hinted at this direction, stretching things far over dales, glens, and valleys, with a deeply British feeling form of damp rural zen. Tristan Bath

Let’s Eat Grandma - I’m All Ears
(Transgressive)

This is an album that burns with ferocious, unapologetic energy, delving into eras, sounds and experiences with two sets of feet first. As they assert at the album’s roaring height: “We got this.”
Anna Cafolla - read the full review here.

Miss Red - K.O.
(PRESSURE)

By tackling the mediocrity of a chart-topping genre head-on and infusing every track with genuine polemical anger, Miss Red and The Bug have created a record that is as thrilling as it is timely.
Luke Cartledge - read the full review here.

Tracks of the Month

Alexander Tucker - ‘Visiting Again’

William Doyle - ‘Millersdale’

Rian Treanor - 'Saturday Night'

Yves Tumour - ‘Noid’

John Grant - ‘Love Is Magic’

International Teachers Of Pop - ‘Age Of The Train’

Sophie - 'Immaterial'

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