The second edition of our new album recommendations column features a slew of 2017 releases, plus a hark back to one of the albums of 2014. This week, we hear from the likes of Lauren Ziegler, Caleb Sweeting, Gemma Bastiani, Bridget Hustwaite and Tobias Handke as they give us their thoughts on some of their faves…
PRIESTS – Nothing Feels Natural (2017)
by Lauren Ziegler
I’ve been getting back to my rock roots lately, revisiting the punk and grunge bands that defined my teen years, trying to take in the newer schools of each at the same time. While I often find it harder to connect to new punk than most other genres, I immediately took to Priests’ killer debut album Nothing Feels Natural. Across 33 minutes, the DC-based four-piece have produced a powerful, dynamic, politically and socially reflective album that pushes the listener through ten remarkably varied tracks, bringing the animated ferocity of bands like Bikini Kill and Sleater-Kinney to the refinery and cleanliness of 2017.
From the fluttering saxophones of opener “Appropriate”, to the pointedly dark “Nicki”, the ominous string-led “Interlude”, the manically surreal “Puff” and delicately uncertain closer “Suck”, this is a refreshingly, wide-eyed, engaging debut that pretty much singlehandedly reminded me of how much punk still has to offer today.
JIDENNA – The Chief (2017)
by Tobias Handke
As someone who listens to way too much hip-hop, there is a stack of great new releases I could recommend, but one that really stands out is Jidenna’s long awaited debut The Chief. Arriving almost two years after dropping breakthrough single, “Classic Man,” The Chief delivers on all fronts. Inspired by his Nigerian heritage, Jidenna brings together traditional African rhythms, Western instrumentation and American hip-hop production across 14 compelling and diverse tracks.
The record has everything from hard-hitting New York rap (“Long Live The Chief,” “2 Points”), Kid Cudi-esque anthems (“Some Kind Of Way”) and hazy R&B bangers (“Trampoline”), with Jidenna’s soulful croon at the forefront. As a fan of lyricism Jidenna doesn’t disappoint, exploring his Nigerian roots, childhood and racism with solid bars, along with obligatory cuts about relationships and the price of fame. Released by Janelle Monae’s Wonderland Records, The Chief doesn’t look like being a massive commercial success, but is an engaging listen from a talented individual deserving of your attention.
BOMBAY BICYCLE CLUB – So Long, See You Tomorrow (2014)
by Gemma Bastiani
What ended up being Bombay Bicycle Club’s final album before going on an indefinite hiatus, So Long, See You Tomorrow still holds its own some three years later. Singles “Carry Me” and “Luna” are obvious standouts on the record, but tracks like “Whenever, Whenever”, “Feel” and “It’s Alright Now” kept the signature Bombay Bicycle Club sound alive. More importantly, the arc and construction of this record as a whole is one of the best I’ve seen, especially closing with the album’s namesake.
A.B. ORIGINAL – Reclaim Australia (2017)
by Caleb Sweeting
For too long I’ve listened to Aussie hip hop as a motivational tool for myself – to pump myself up for something or to listen to while I sink beers with my mates. I had never been moved by Australian hip hop, like say the Americans had to acts like NWA – hip hop here didn’t have a message that represented something deeper. That was until already respected rappers Briggs and Trials came out and said they were collaborating and creating a new act called A.B. Original. Their debut album taught me the shit they didn’t tell you in high school, Reclaim Australia is a hip hop history lesson in this country’s dark past. It’s the first hip hop release to make me question things like WHY do we celebrate ‘days made of misery’ like Jan 26? If you live in Australia and you haven’t listened to this album yet, man, you NEED to.
BEN HOWARD – I Forget Where We Were
by Bridget Hustwaite
If you want a record that will well and truly f&*k you up, look no further than Ben Howard’s second LP, I Forget Where We Were. Released in 2014, the British singer-songwriter decided to leave behind the sweet acoustics that reaped such success through his 2011 debut Every Kingdom, and take listeners on an intense journey of reflection and heartbreak. Across 10 tracks, Howard sings of defeat and disappoint, channelling his remorse through the build of sparse, echoing guitar and scattering percussion into raging jams.
I personally cannot think of an album with such an emotional pull and I don’t know what exactly Howard has experienced in between records but it must have been something heavy, you just don’t pull this stuff out of nowhere! I Forget Where We Were is dark, it’s deep and still gives me goose-bumps, nearly 3 years on.