Amidst a global pandemic, it can be difficult to find enjoyment. The music world has ground to a halt, with gigs and festivals being rescheduled and throwing live music lovers’ plans out of the window. Even the releases of albums and singles have been pushed back, depriving the world of the new music it perhaps needs now more than ever.
But there are only so many live-streamed acoustic sets you can watch before you begin longing for something new.
Fortunately, the early stages of 2020 treated us to some excellent releases, and I have compiled a list of albums, EPs and singles to entertain you whilst you distance yourself from the world.
Put your headphones on, block that person on your Twitter feed who thinks everyone is overreacting, lock your door, and enjoy.
ALBUM: Gengahr – Sanctuary
A beautifully crafted and eclectic mix of songs, Sanctuary offers escapism in a ten-song record. The band toy with genre, leaning into funk, psychedelia and synth-pop whilst continuing to offer generous servings of their trademark psych-pop sound. ‘Atlas Please’ and ‘Heavenly Maybe’ offer groove aplenty, whilst ‘Never a Low’ is more subdued in sound yet stands out with an intro reminiscent of Massive Attack’s ‘Teardrop’ and an experimental main body.
ALBUM: Johnny Lloyd – Low Fidelity Vol. 2
Despite being more of a collection of creative experiments than an album, the second instalment of Lloyd’s demo project is certainly worth an hour and six minutes of your time. Comprised of unreleased demos and alternative takes on previously released tracks, the collection is an enthralling showcase of the former Tribes frontman’s raw talent. The repackaged ‘Running Wild’ is as upbeat as the original but packs more of a punch, and the self-scrutinising ‘Circus Master/Time Traveller’ is a hazy and thought-provoking highlight. Honesty has underpinned most of his solo releases, and Lloyd delivers his most blunt delivery of emotion in the haunting ‘Crash Site’. Fans of Tribes-esque rock anthems are also catered for, and to them I would recommend the raw and frantic ‘Playing The Clown’.
ALBUM: Orchards – Lovecore
Orchards tackle topics such as mental health, objectification and realities of the social media age in their debut album, making it an incredibly impactful and reflective record. Lucy Evers’ voice has the unique ability to lend itself to a variety of genres, allowing the album to flit from one to another. The blasts of indie-pop are still ever-present, yet ‘History’ has a sharp-edged rock sound and ‘Social Sobriety’ is a fascinating delve into spoken word.
EP: The Snuts – Mixtape EP
The West Lothian prodigies have cultivated a reputation as one of the UK’s most exciting young bands and have released their most mature efforts thus far on this EP. The band are fresh yet have a vintage rock sound, which is at its best on opening track ‘Fatboy Slim’. An ode to 90s dance subculture, it is a merge of dance and indie-rock that has proven to be a tried and tested formula for success for newcomers in recent years. ‘All Your Friends’ is funk-tinged rock perfection, but versatility is what makes the EP such an impressive release. ‘Boardwalk’ offers a glimpse into the band’s softer side, with frontman Jack Cochrane’s melodic vocals at their most raw and exposed for the slow and emotional number. ‘Coffee & Cigarettes’ is effortlessly catchy and strangely enough, would be at home in a bootleg American speakeasy from the prohibition era, demonstrating the variety of their influences. The EP is rounded off by ‘Don’t Forget It (Punk)’, a defiant and snarly anthem that is satisfyingly unrefined and carries the attitude of a band hellbent on domination.
SINGLE: Hotel Lux – Eddie’s Gaff
Frontman Lewis Duffin recalls futile-yet-fulfilling days and nights gone by on the band’s latest release, which further whets the appetite for their upcoming EP. Unimpressed and angry, Hotel Lux are at the forefront of the simmering punk movement but are far from tied to it, tearing the rule book up on several of the tracks within their discography. Tackling topics that most ignore, the band are unrelenting in their social commentary and ‘Eddie’s Gaff’ speaks directly to the disgruntled youth.
SINGLE: RATS – Dreams
Much more pleasant on the ears than their name would suggest, Liverpool exports RATS are certainly a band to keep an eye on. The four-piece describe their style as ‘scruffy, punchy, dirty indie rock’, yet their fourth single is a heartfelt and melodic number. Released in February, it has less grit than their previous offering yet is the most mature and honest, giving the limelight to Joe Maddocks’ vocals with slightly more subtle guitar and slowed-down interludes. Producing songs that are catchy yet have substance has proven to be difficult for so many upstarts that have emerged and faded, but RATS have perfected the formula.
SINGLE: Somebody’s Child – Love That Sound
Irish singer-songwriter Somebody’s Child released the single in January, and its uplifting, melodic tones provide the perfect antidote for the stream of negativity that we currently find ourselves being fed. Unashamedly honest, the infectious track is a deviation from his soulful brand of indie-rock, placing greater emphasis on the soul. Almost gospel-sounding in the chorus, it’s a feel-good anthem that is radio-friendly enough to reach out to the masses.
SINGLE: Sports Team – Here’s The Thing
Sometimes, society at a particular point in time needs a certain song. The latest offering from six-piece Sports Team is the deconstructing of society’s ills that the world needed to hear. They come out swinging, attacking blind patriotism, the demonisation of leisure and the destitute, and the functionality of the system in place. It’s fast, frenzied and a reassurance that you’re not the only one who is fed up with the world.
Image Credit:Liberator Music, Xtra Mile Recordings, Big Scary Monsters Recording Company, Parlophone,