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Music Of The Month: The Best Albums And Tracks Of August 2021
Patrick Clarke , August 27th, 2021 11:41

Here are the very best tracks and albums of August 2021, as selected by tQ staffers, from Bulbils to The Bug via Joy Orbison, Liars and more

I write the introduction to this year's Music Of The Month round-up on a train to beautiful Birkenhead for the long weekend. Friends of mine are putting on a music festival and I'm going to DJ some floor-clearing whimsy. Last weekend was Green Man, among the most enjoyable festivals I've ever attended. September's already looking packed with even more shows.

It's a strange headspace, however. On the one hand, live music is finally back and it feels totally euphoric. Last weekend would have been great whatever the circumstances, but after the last eighteen months it was an overwhelming release. On the other, there's a man coughing near me on this train and it's putting me really on edge. We are by no means out of the woods yet, and all the returning joys still feel fragile and impermanent. Amid this strange mix of guilt, uncertainty, joy and release, I'm trying my best to cling to the latter.

As ever, music helps no end amid all this strangeness; while full live shows are only just getting up and running, there has been no break in the constant stream of unbelievable albums and tracks. Below, you'll find a host of the very best released this August. We hope you find something you love as much as we have this last month.

Remember, that subscribers to tQ will also receive an hours-long playlist, compiling the below, as well as all the other brilliant new music we've covered on the site this August. Click here to subscribe.
Patrick Clarke


Liars - The Apple Drop

One of the many impressive things about The Apple Drop is that while it joins the dots between Liars past and present, it never feels like a straight-up retread of those early records. Instead, it suggests a fascinating future for Angus Andrew and a now presumably flexible line-up of co-conspirators. It's a beautiful, weird, heartfelt and uncanny album – exactly like the nine records that preceded it and also entirely unlike them.
Will Salmon – read the full review here

Clair - Earth Mothers
(Hot Gem / The Dark Outside)

A growing appreciation for the patterns hidden in nature helped shape Earth Mothers, the debut album from Clair, real name Clair Crawford. And listening to these seven tracks you constantly feel like it's grasping at something just on the edge of what’s recordable. The Glasgow based artist found solace and inspiration through time spent among the local wildlife, and the album comes across like an attempt to map the volatile interdependencies and relationships shaping our world, intricate compositions weaving through the mess and dirt to trace webs of connection. Opener 'Queen Bee' has insect buzzes and bird calls embed a lush counterpoint of keys and metallic chimes. 'Tiger Queen' sees growls, splutters and rattles backing a sweeping arrangement of organ and electronics, teetering between the mucky and the divine. Clair's tracks sift delicate layers into stunningly intricate sound worlds, as though she’s burrowing down to find new overlaps and entanglements. Instrumental and wildlife sounds slipping into each other as though trying to draw a map around something magical hidden in the earthy mundane.
Daryl Worthington – read the full review here

The Bug - Fire

In many ways it feels like a more direct sequel to 2008's London Zoo, described by at least one critic in unintentional Hulk-ian terms as "tense," "angry" and "ferocious, but always triumphant," adding that it "threatens to bust out your windows and rip holes in your speakers." Fire's ingredients are similar to those of London Zoo, but all the measurements have somehow been upped. The mutant basslines are deeper than a humpback anglerfish, and almost as ugly. The tracks are packed with apocalyptic rumbles, industrial clankery and sepulchral beats, decorated with inner-city sirens and other smog-ridden reverberations. Martin has stopped overthinking things, he has said, going with his instincts instead. By relaxing his self-confessed "maniacal control," he's letting the music breathe for itself and teem out more naturally.
JR Moores – read the full review here

Joy Orbison - still slipping vol. 1

still slipping vol. 1 bounces effortlessly from one style to another, from the intricate 2-step of 'swag w/ kav' to the melancholic house of 'better'. There's a nod to '80s post-punk on 'playground', and gloriously throaty verses from James Massiah and Goya Gumbani on 'swag w/ kav' and 'playground' respectively. Rather than a bold new direction, the mixtape feels like a peek behind the curtain, turning the dancefloor monolith into somebody we can all relate to, with Mum calling up to be sweet about something she doesn't quite understand. "Yeah, yeah. there's something in it that you can latch onto," she says about his new single. "It's got, well… it's not a melody… but it's got something you can almost hum to. No, no, I really liked it."
Liam Inscoe-Jones – read the full review here

Bulbils - Blue Forty
(Blue Tapes)

This really does capture something of our shared experience, the alarming isolation of our friends – or ourselves – the loss of family time, young dads separated from newborns, childless couples losing their patience with broken parents because it's fucking hard for them too, the denial, the hypocrisy, the utter cruelty of how we have sometimes treated each other. But then the kindness, the community spirit, the support through grief, the gifted work-time gin and tonics on middle-class balconies. All this while we watch despots, thieves, liars, and corrupt officials thrash around their fiscal woes across the globe. We compare everything that disgruntles us with Nazism from both sides of the political spectrum. The project of Woke was turned into a pejorative so fast that all discourse descends immediately into online bickering and omnidirectional calls for cancellation. Oh, and sourdough. It has been, and remains a deeply troubling time, where we see the worst and the best in ourselves.
Johnny Lamb – read the full review here

Jana Rush - Painful Enlightenment
(Planet Mu)

Following last month's masterpiece by DJ Manny, Planet Mu delivers yet another album that boldly expands on the tradition of footwork and goes down the rabbit hole into uncharted sonic territory. The second LP by veteran Chicago DJ/producer Jana Rush is a deeply intimate and self-revealing affair. Reflecting on her struggles with the darkest thoughts, Rush opted for a singer-songwriter approach to experimental electronic music as a source of spiritual cleansing that helped her go through the lowest points of her life. You don't often come across this level of sincerity in dance music these days, which makes Painful Enlightenment even more special. The vibe is mostly sombre, even fear-inducing at times, but there are also brief moments of joy interspersed through the record, for example in the beautifully tense 'G-Spot' – with its particularly passionate samples – and the more straightforward hip-shaker 'Disturbed'.
Jaša Bużinel – read the full review here

Mega Bog - Life, And Another
(Paradise Of Bachelors)

For longstanding Mega Bog fans, Life, And Another immediately stands out as one of Erin Birgy's finest records from start to finish. There's a maturation to the stylistic choices and general trajectory of the instrumentation. Each listen reveals something more, be it an interesting sonic texture or a lyric that stops you in your tracks. In this regard, it is perhaps the record in Mega Bog's oeuvre that is most rewarding and inviting. Birgy, along with co-producer and Big Thief percussionist James Krivchenia, brings the listener into a world where there is no straight-forward route to follow, nor can you ever fully settle into the surroundings comfortably. One of the most exciting recurring motifs across the record is the stark chops and changes between (and within) arrangements.
Zara Hedderman – read the full review here


UNiiQU3 - 'Microdosing'

New Jersey's UNiiQU3 brings the anthem of the summer that never happened. Subperceptual the drugs may be but this house is hyperthrilling.
John Doran

Circuit Des Yeux - Dogma'

Newly signed to Matador, Haley Fohr's welcome return as Circuit Des Yeux comes in the form of 'Dogma' – a driving bassline and swirls of psychedelic noise backing those unmistakeable, unbelievable vocals.
Patrick Clarke

Katy B - Under My Skin'

After five years out, Katy B returns in a far more reflective mood than the hits of a decade ago that she first broke through with. Over an instrumental that channels R&B and Afrobeats, the Peckham singer's vocal teeters between the dejected sting of recent heartbreak and a conclusive sense of, in her own words, "hope, perseverance and self worth."
Christian Eede

Audiobooks - 'LaLaLa It's The Good Life'

Audiobooks' debut album Now! (In A Minute) was one of the most brilliantly bonkers records of 2018. New single 'LaLaLa It's The Good Life' shows they're only getting weirder as they prepare for its follow-up Astro-Tough, delivering a delightfully feral pumping wonk-pop banger of the absolute highest order.
Patrick Clarke

Irreversible Entanglements - 'Open The Gates'

At this point, Moor Mother's status as one of the most vital writers and vocalists of her generation is assured, but this new cut with her free jazz collective (from a new LP of the same name due November) feels particularly special – a cosmic, potent blast, unbelievably powerful and less than three minutes long.
Patrick Clarke

aya - 'Emley Lights Us More (feat. Iceboy Violet)'

'Emley Lights Us More', featuring vocals from Manchester artist Iceboy Violet and aya herself, is a dramatic change of pace and tone for the latter, getting people ready for the dramatic change of pace and tone of her debut album for Hyperdub, im hole. It's due on October 22, complete with a book of writing and photographs, designed with Oliver Van Der Lugt (Air Max ’97), which should tell you something about how seriously she's taking this next phase.
John Doran


DECIUS continue to knock out sleazy acid slow burners at an alarming rate. 'U INSTEAD OF THOUGHT''s video features Fat White Family's Lias in full Geisha regalia, which he apparently wore while servicing the carrot based needs of a Lib Dem MP at the end of the '90s. The full truth will no doubt be revealed in Adelle Stripe's forthcoming The Whitest Boys On The Beach book, due early next year.
John Doran