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Music Of The Month(s): The Best Albums And Tracks Of June And July 2023
Patrick Clarke , July 28th, 2023 10:33

In a rollover edition of our regular new music roundup, tQ staffers pick the finest albums and tracks released across June and July this year

Your latest music of the month roundup is actually a music of the months – due to our albums of the year so far chart going up earlier this month.

That means the list below is a bumper crop, and in this case bigger is most certainly better. What's telling to me is the way that it runs the gamut from one of the year's biggest alternative releases in PJ Harvey's new LP, to cult heroes like Oxbow, to small-label acts, and to completely self-released weirdness.

All of these picks, as well as all the other excellent music we've covered at tQ this month, will also be compiled into an hours-long playlist (also a bumper edition covering two months rather than one) exclusive to our subscribers. In addition, subscribers can enjoy exclusive music from some of the world's most forward-thinking artists, regular deep-dive essays, a monthly podcast, specially-curated 'Organic Intelligence' guides to under the radar international sub-genres, and more.

To sign up for all those benefits, and to help us keep bringing you the kind of music you're about to read about below, you can click here. And read on for the best of the best from June and July 2023.
Patrick Clarke


PJ Harvey – I Inside The Old Year Dying

I Inside The Old Year Dying manages to sound both mediaeval and futuristic, with big hollow kick drums booming underneath queasy loops and staticky textures, the tales of "milchi seeps heady in the meadows" ringing over boinging, squelching electronics. At a push, we might term this intelligent folk dance music. Or acid alehouse. Or… breakwheat? Field recordings (courtesy of Adam Bartlett) and strange, blustery frequencies also contribute to the mulch and oomska of the music (helped in no small part by PJ Harvey's creative partnership with Flood and John Parish, who provided production and additional instrumentation). The lived-in sogginess of this music seems to be a way of accessing hitherto-siloed wells of emotion and intensity. Thrumming thickets of rhythm in 'I Inside The Old I Dying' evoke perfectly the movement through the forest described in the lyrics, while on 'Prayer At The Gate', the audible rushes of breath are of equal importance to the accompanying pained vocalisations.
Will Ainsley – read the full review here

Oxbow – Love's Holiday

Love's Holiday begins rambunctiously enough to satisfy Oxbow's established demographic of heavy-cravers. 'Dead Ahead' has a distinctly Jesus Lizard flavour thanks to its spiky guitar sound, swinging rhythm and vocal wails that sit somewhere between distressed and hostile. The second track is similarly hefty, with its dramatic stop-start riff and complementary synth gurgle. The first big surprise arrives with 'Lovely Murk', a Slint-ish post-rock ballad on which Kristin Hayter (AKA Lingua Ignota) provides the kind of spiritual-sounding choral assistance that actually wouldn't feel out of place on something by Moby. On another song, Robinson is joined by Roger Joseph Manning Jr. Elsewhere, there's a 15-person choir.
JR Moores – read the full review here

Nandele & A-Tweed – Xigubo

Mozambique-based producer Nandele has a unique touch for creating kaleidoscopic beats which, though stemming from DAWs and sequencers, thoroughly transcend any gridded confines those tools might prescribe. On Xigubo, he teams up with Rome-based producer A-Tweed, in whom he's clearly found a kindred spirit, one who adds a ferocious, industrially warped edge. The tape's name references a traditional Mozambican warrior dance rooted in colonial resistance, and across these four tracks, influences from Mozambican and Zulu culture are welded into a ferocious juxtaposition of cascading electronics and stark minimal wave patterns.

It peaks on 'Machava''s ebullient electronics and pounding drums, a throbbing web of rhythms and timbre which reinforces sound's ability to unify, convey and propel even at its most disorientating. Xigubo is a lightning strike of sheer energy, an ecstatic vibration that rips through rigid shape and fixed structures.
Daryl Worthington – read the full review here

Zaumne – Parfum

Parfum is the latest in a string of spellbinding experimental and ambient music releases put out by Zaumne, the solo project of Polish sound artist Mateusz Olszewski, in recent years. Folding elements of dream pop and musique concréte into his ever-enchanting sound world, Olszewski's eerie, whispered vocals waft throughout the album, as on past records such as 2021's Dreams Of Teeth Falling Out and Élévation, while he also invites Australian artist YL Hooi to contribute her gossamer sweet, reverb-heavy vocals to the curiously alluring second cut 'Sorciéres'. 'Nymphes' is also a highlight, with its gorgeous blend of wind chimes, lapping waves and piercing melodies. Sferic's output since its founding in 2017 has continually explored the outer reaches of ambient music – decidedly standing in opposition to the shallow new age trend that dogged the genre for a number of years – with excellent records from the likes of Jake Muir, Space Afrika and Perila, and Zaumne's debut for the label builds beautifully on that rich run of form.
Christian Eede

Jellyskin – In Brine
(Wrong Speed)

Jellyskin's debut album is an electro-experimental, futurist elegy for all things aquatic. Across nine tracks, it flits between glacial goth pop ('Marmalade') and abrasive techno ('Bringer Of Brine'), much like the variable nature of the ocean itself. Coastal imagery pervades, but not quite in the balmy, sunlit way you'd expect. Instead, it's sullen blue-black and abyssal. Imagine, if you will, Broadcast doing a techno banger about a solitary whale and you’re halfway there.
Hayley Scott – read the full review here

One More Grain – Modern Music

A fever-dream slice of very British avant-rock from the recently reinvigorated One More Grain, Modern Music is a scattered, joyous affair of weirdo tropes and colloquial, stern monologues. Strange in the same way lots of similar things are strange, the album throws up the classic 'British man has a bit of a rant' against a backdrop of jousting brass and off-kilter percussion, short trills of a clarinet, or other wind instrument adding colour if not structure. It's a fairly beguiling sound world, borrowing from the songbook of madness, with the jazz-lite instrumentation sitting in contrast to the plethora of samples and drum machines that float around beside them.
Daniel Hignell – read the full review here

Tim Arnold – Super Connected

Tim Arnold's Super Connected is at once ambitious – it is a concept album about the insidious rise of big tech, told via songs that hop from slick Prince-ish funk ('You Like My Pictures') and tender balladeering ('Start A Conversation') to orchestral sweeps ('Start With The Sound') and moody guitar chug ('The Complete Solution') – and intensely personal – Arnold finds parallels between tech's impact on our mental health and his relationship to his own as well as an unexpected recent diagnosis of autism. Employing horns, strings, segments of spoken word from none other than Stephen Fry, and a choir assembled on Zoom during lockdown, its instrumental breadth is considerable, while as a lyricist Arnold is by turns funny, frank and fraught. His ambitions, it's clear, are quite large, but it's the charm and personality he laces through the record that's the real stroke of genius here.
Patrick Clarke

Me Lost Me – RPG
(Upset The Rhythm)

As its title hints, the new album from Jayne Dent's Me Lost Me project explores storytelling and world building in video games, transposing ancient and modern by interweaving folk traditions and futurism. Inhabiting, imagining. Different worlds, other identities. At the surface level this reflects the twisting together of her sweet folk voice and processed electronic sound but we aren't here for simple binaries; RPG wriggles with ideas, pushing against the porous border between everyday life and the mythological spaces of gaming and folklore.
Jared Dix – read the full review here

Arthur Russell – Picture Of Bunny Rabbit

Picture Of Bunny Rabbit may not be an obvious revelation for those already familiar with Arthur Russell's 1986 album World Of Echo, but it's as if this singular, unfathomable place has become more vast, or perhaps that new depths have been uncovered. Mere moments into 'Fuzzbuster #10' and we're back there, all cello scrapes, pulsing keys and aching wail, while the picked guitar notes on 'Fuzzbuster #6' and 'Fuzzbuster #9' add a gently unfamiliar element to the equation, like a private communion being made with The Durutti Column's Vini Reilly. It might seem odd that Russell's most radical period is so bone-bare, with such slight embellishments, but he's clearly working at some kind of foundational level, blurring the distinction between confessional song, Buddhist mantra, and minimalist exploration, right down at the roots. Watch him perform this material and you see a man enraptured, caught in the quiet intensity of a trance.
Eden Tizard – read the full review here

Guided By Voices – Welshpool Frillies
(Guided By Voices Inc)

GBV have always had an ear for a hook, no matter how odd or off-kilter. This is epitomised here in the infectious refrain of Welshpool Frillies’ opening track – “Meet the star, his plectrum strums are universal” – which, alongside a chonky riff and a rollicking bassline, will worm its way into your cranium and set up camp. Conversely, whilst still locking into a groove or two, GBV tend to ditch out of jams early, avoiding the pitfalls of a band outstaying their welcome with indulgent noodling.
Jon Buckland – read the full review here

Natural Wonder Beauty Concept – Natural Wonder Beauty Concept
(Mexican Summer)

The respective solo output of Ana Roxanne and DJ Python, who together make up Natural Wonder Beauty Concept, has more often than not revelled in a less is more approach, and this propensity for the understated carries over to their self-titled debut album as a duo. Recorded over an extended period after the two met and became friends in New York City against the backdrop of COVID-19 lockdowns and uncertainty, a sense of tranquility runs through the record. It borrows elements of each artist's solo work, bringing together Roxanne's amorphous, charming slant on ambient music and Python's low-slung 'deep reggaeton' experiments. The resulting combination, though, is even greater than the sum of its parts as it also veers between synth pop ('Young Adult Fiction'), emo-rap ('III') and jungle ('Natural Wonder Beauty Concept') at various points, while Roxanne's voice soars on the stripped-back, knockout closer 'World Freehand Circle Drawing'. These kinds of collaborations of two artists from similar, but also quite different, sound worlds can all too often feel forced, but such is the brilliance of Roxanne and Python's union on Natural Wonder Beauty Concept that one hopes this isn't all we hear from them together on record.
Christian Eede

Half Japanese – Jump Into Love

Half Japanese's last album, 2020's Crazy Hearts, was especially strong. A mix of emotionally darker hued material alongside Jad Fair's renowned, almost mystical-grade optimism, it concluded with the beautiful and hopeful 'Let It Show'. Jump Into Love hits similar heights but takes some alternate routes getting there, and notably chooses to end on a different emotional vibe entirely.

As well as providing a relative ease of access to methods of creativity, one aspect of the DIY scene that always appealed was its collage-like attitude towards genre. Jump Into Love incorporates a broader palette of elements than its predecessor, adding elements of jazz, overblown MC5-style amp abuse, folk and krautrock chug, whilst retaining an irrepressible ebullience that at times even recalls the baggy transcendental jams of early Happy Mondays.
Sean Kitching – read the full review here

Caterina Barbieri – Myuthafoo

Myuthafoo is an album that fizzes. Every sound buzzes with its own highly carbonated energy. Like laser beams intersecting in the night sky, the edges of melodic lines fray into the silence around them, shimmering with invisible energies out into the cosmos. But for all its gleaming electronic sheen, the latest album from Caterina Barbieri is in many ways a deeply classical – even baroque – record. Those shimmering, razor-sharp lines of sound could well be the hi-tech lighting rig of a forest rave or the light of God beaming down upon the bowed head of the virgin Mary in Carlo Crivelli's fifteenth-century altarpiece, The Annunciation, with Saint Emidius.
Robert Barry – read the full review here

Emergence Collective – Fly Tower
(Redundant Span)

Instigated in Sheffield by Juliana Day, Rob Bentall, Tim Knowles and Zebedee Budworth, Emergence Collective has a revolving lineup of thirty musicians, their music improvised and played largely unamplified with a key to start in the only instruction. An ongoing practice of shared exploration rather than a fixed ensemble, that open-endedness shapes their recorded work. Fly Tower is named after the site where it was captured, a four-storey high room used to hoist scenery at the Abbeydale Picture House in Sheffield.

Across these three tracks, saxophones and guitars weave through hammered dulcimer and nyckelharpa – a bowed and keyed fiddle. Dislodged from time, fragments of older and folkier traditions seep into contemporary ones in their compositions with seamless grace, ornate patterns ambling through the reverberant space they're enclosed in. Their music echoes The Necks in terms of pace and elegance. Though working in more undulating and fluid forms than the Australian trio, Emergence Collective's swirls and eddies are equally unhurried, meandering into the air on their own time.
Daryl Worthington

Jessy Lanza – Love Hallucination

Inspired by a move from Ontario to LA, Jessy Lanza's new record captures the excitement of diving into change. On Love Hallucination, she's still crafting gleeful and dreamlike club music, but there's a newfound brashness as she steps out of the shadows. The bones of the record began as a collection of songs she wrote for other people. That freedom allowed her to try on more gutsy lyrics and choruses. In the end, she decided to keep them for herself. It results in a breezy, sensual album that's as funny and self-deprecating as it is flirty or freaky.
Skye Butchard – read the full review here


Laurel Halo – 'Belleville'

The lead piece from Laurel Halo's forthcoming album, Atlas, is a simple but bewitching piano ballad that she recorded in one take back in 2021. Complete with vocal intonations from Coby Sey, it's a fitting introduction to the part-ambient, part-jazz collage structure of the LP.
Christian Eede

Teeth Of The Sea – 'Megafragma'

When you're in a band with such an immense reputation for gargantuan, synapse-scrambling noise, how else do you mark your return but with a nine minute slab of multi-dimensional acid rave? 'Megafragma' is Teeth Of The Sea at their absolute best.
Patrick Clarke

L'Rain – 'New Year's UnResolution'

L'Rain's first new material since 2021's Fatigue LP is a slinky, sultry pop song dredged from the very bottom of the ocean, so wet you could drink it through a straw.
Robert Barry

Olof Dreijer – 'Rosa Rugosa'

Stepping out for his debut on the ever-brilliant Hessle Audio, The Knife's Olof Dreijer revisits the dazzling, dayglo synth melodies of his '00s club material as Oni Ayhun on 'Rosa Rugosa', combining them with a simple but effective kuduro-inflected drum track.
Christian Eede

Creep Show – 'Bungalow'

'Bungalow' oozes West Hollywood noir, palm trees and David Lynch. "Streamlined silhouette, traces of cologne and smoke," croons John Grant in a strange reverie where Dean Martin meets Dean Blunt, though the song takes a sinister turn while the music maintains its protective shell.
Jeremy Allen

OXN – 'Love Henry'

A supergroup of sorts consisting of Lankum vocalist Radie Peat, Katie Kim, John "Spud" Murphy and Elly Myler of Percolator, ØXN's debut single toes the line between beauty and horror with absolute brilliance, becoming greater than the sum of its considerably talented parts.
Patrick Clarke

Metrist – 'Bputch'

Replete with Metrist's distinctively meticulous sound design quirks and garbled vocal samples, 'Bputch' is an apocalyptic, foghorn-fuelled banger that will do serious damage on club and festival dance floors through the summer.
Christian Eede

NewJeans (뉴진스) – 'New Jeans'

Currently K-pop's most cartoonishly weird proposition, NewJeans now have their own 'Hey Hey We're The Monkees' and it's just as giddy and dreamily effervescent as you might imagine.
Robert Barry

Rachael Lavelle – 'Let Me Unlock Your Full Potential'

Taken from the Dublin musician's forthcoming record Big Dreams, 'Let Me Unlock Your Full Potential' is a mesmerising, inventive, synth-led piece of beauty; a treatise on the possibilities that can come when you kill all that doesn't serve you.
Siobhán Kane

Burial – 'Unknown Summer'

If I'm being perhaps too honest, Burial's extended forays into formless ambient music in recent years have all too frequently been fairly forgettable to my ears, but in 'Unknown Summer', part of a split EP with Kode9 for fabric Originals, he's made one of his most conventional tracks in some time. Sure, the stop-start beatless passages of haunting clicks and pops, and disembodied vocal samples, are still there, but they serve an additionally serene purpose amid the blunted drums and distant, melancholic synths that form the bulk of the track's near-10-minute runtime and have long made Burial's music so beguiling going back to the mid-'00s.
Christian Eede

The Motor Show – 'Financial Times'

The latest from fast rising faux-American psychobilly sleaze slingers The Motor Show dials back a bit on the manic cowboy energy that's present elsewhere in their nascent discography in favour of a moody lament for pecuniary peril and a delicious, looping riff with shades of Country Teasers. Originally released back in April, newly released visuals finds them trapped in the purgatory of a provincial talent show, the judges looking on ominously as they swig from glasses of milk.
Patrick Clarke

hoodie x james K – 'Scorpio'

hoodie, the illusive duo of 3XL label affiliates Special Guest DJ and Exael, enlist New York-based producer james K to contribute bewitching vocals on this shoegaze-indebted trip-hop stunner released by UK label AD 93.
Christian Eede