5th March 2020

LGSM’s Album Roundup | February 2020

Some say that it’s this point in the year that drags the most. The excitement of the new year is over, coursework starts looming, and the summer sun feels like it’s another world away. However, one thing that certainly hasn’t slowed down over the last month is the influx of new music. With tracks coming from big name artists, as well as notable newcomers, it seems that there’s been a bombardment of new albums and singles, to the point that it can be hard to keep track. However, what remains clear is this month’s releases will have something to offer from any music fanatic. So, here at LGSM, we’ve rounded up some of our personal favourites, to ensure you don’t’ miss out on what we consider the best of this month’s new music.

Lily Blakeney-Edwards: Pizzagirl – ‘Cape Canaveral’

Source: Pizzagirl Youtube

Pizzagirl is known as a local legend around Liverpool. The charming young native, also known as Liam Brown, has consistently brought a level of relatability all with his synth-heavy, electronic-pop tracks, that make them all the more enjoyable. However, with his new single ‘Cape Canaveral’ released this month, it seems that Pizzagirl has embarked on a new path musically, and produced a track incorporates unexpected elements into the artists notable sound.

Released under Manchester label ‘Heist or Hit’, the track is billed as a ‘…a taut art-rock jam that builds into the soundtrack for an offbeat party scene.’ It’s a statement that rings true, as, from the catchy guitar solo and drum rhythms that runs throughout the track, to the slightly cheesy, but enjoyable chanting as the track fades out, the young artist seems to incorporate multiple elements of this newly-found alt-rock sound. However, the track still feels distinctly his, with Pizzagirl’s vocals, and ever-enjoyable lyrics coming through clearly, accompanied by familiar synth solos. The result of this mix of sounds? An upbeat, surprising track that you’ll have on repeat for hours. It proves that Pizzagirl’s status as a musical icon of Liverpool is one that’s deserved, and isn’t where his success will stop.

Kwesi Sekyi: Denzel Curry, Kenny Beats – ‘UNLOCKED EP’

Source: Denzel Curry VEVO

The Florida Rapper teams up with the sweetheart beatmaker of the new school to bring a short but satisfying hard departure from both their sounds. The off-kilter percussion and comic book cartoon samples that litter the project are reminiscent of another rapper/producer collab – MF DOOM and Madlib’s 2004 classic Madvillainy. But the similarities stop there – the former’s jazz influences and laid-back flows are replaced with aggressive, glitchy beats, and Curry’s gruff delivery – normally saved for the brash alt-trap instrumentals of his solo work – fits surprisingly well on the kooky boom-bap of DIET_ and Take_It_Back_v2, the latter the definite highlight of the EP. 

Unfinished song titles and jarring vocal samples create a scrappy DIY image, but beneath the rickety drums still lies an undeniable polish. The sparse bass guitar slaps of So.Incredible.pkg give a subtle funkiness, and the closing track ‘Cosmic’.m4a switches from a smooth, marbled beat to a gentle, soulful outro. Curry’s third EP and sixth major project is a frantically energetic listen that perhaps lacks some of the bravery in ideas that its aesthetic demands, but it ultimately sticks the landing and leaves a clean taste in the mouth for something that sounds so rough around the edges.

Saara Rasul: Blossoms – ‘Foolish Loving Spaces’

Source: BlossomsBand VEVO

The Stockport five piece are back with their eagerly awaited third album which shot straight to number one on the UK albums chart. Written in lead singers Tom Ogden’s childhood home, Foolish Loving Spaces appears to be a reflection of teenage, unrequited love. In a departure from their previous two albums, Foolish Loving Spaces, features a more retro, vintage vibe. Songs like “The Keeper” feature heavy piano work and a gospel choir, perfect to sing along with a cider on a summers day. Then there’s “Your Girlfriend” a perfect retro tune, reflecting on the woes of unrequited, puppy dog love. However, that’s not to say that the album isn’t reminiscent of their previous work, “Sunday is a friend of mine” and “Oh no (I think I’m in love) appears to be an amalgamation of retro with the previous backing-vocal based sound of the bands former albums.

Liam Greenwood: Avenged Sevenfold – ‘Diamonds in the Rough’

Source: Avenged Sevenfold VEVO

My pick for February is without a doubt Avenged Sevenfold’s newest album “Diamonds in the rough” a collection of previously unreleased songs that were only available through DVD. A must have for any hard-core a7x fan, has now officially been released to the world. The new collection features “Set Me Free”, a completely new single that continues the 5-piece band’s unmatched instrumental harmony. As well as covers of Iron Maiden’s “Flash of the Blade” and Pantera’s “Walk”. Avenged Sevenfold manage to reinvigorate their sound into the covers, arguably being produced to a higher level, however M Shadow’s usual pitch perfect voice fail to offer the same urgency delivered by Phil Anselmo of Pantera or Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden.

As for Avenged Sevenfold’s own songs, “Demons”, the first track, offers their distinct sound they have developed over their career, with Synyster Gates and The Rev offering their best effort not just on this song, but throughout. Each member plays off each other, resulting in chaotic melody that create Sevenfold’s sound. The song “Tension” is a personal favourite of mine, as Johnny Christ on bass is given freedom to take centre stage in what can only be described as ‘dirty bass playing’. It complements the vocals as well as the double-bass pedal drumming so frequent in their songs. Although I have heard most of the songs before from the DVD release, the remastered “Diamonds In The Rough” has me playing them non-stop once again. With a second remastered DVD-to-album release coming on March 6th, there will be plenty of new Avenged Sevenfold to dig in to.

Imogen Baker: The Strokes – ‘Bad Decisions

Source: The Strokes VEVO

The Strokes’ latest single, ‘Bad Decisions’, offers a nostalgic nod to both the music of the 1980s and their debut album Is This It (2001). The single, released at a Bernie Sanders rally in New Hampshire, is the second single released this year for their new album The New Abnormal. The band confirmed their newest album via Instagram:

‘Yes it’s true. We have a new record, it’s called The New Abnormal and it will be out April 10th. You can pre-order, pre-save or pre-add it as this is the world we live in.’

It will be the first LP from the band since 2013’s Comedown Machine

The guitar riff to the song is reminiscent of Modern English’s ‘I Melt With You’ or early New Order, with a chorus melody that is similar to Generation X’s ‘Dancing With Myself’ – so comparable, in fact, that the band offer writing credits to Billy Idol and Tony James. You would think that the music video would somehow reflect the single’s ‘80s new wave nods, yet instead the official music video for the single (directed by Andrew Donoho) offers a throwback to the ‘70s – cheap effects, grain footage, seventies décor – in the style of an old infomercial, sardonically advertising clones of The Strokes: ‘The hottest band… just one push away!’ 

The single demonstrates The Strokes’ continuation of their distinctive sound whilst also illustrating a nostalgic throwback to both the 1980s, with the song itself, and the 1970s within the video. 

The Psychedelic Furs – ‘Don’t Believe

Source: The Psychedelic Furs VEVO

The Psychedelic Furs have announced their first album in 29 years, an LP called Made of Rain. The post-punk band, best known for their 1980’s singles ‘Pretty In Pink’, ‘Love My Way’ and ‘The Ghost In You’, released their first single for the new album, ‘Don’t Believe.’ 

The single ‘Don’t Believe’ still maintains the band’s sound, complete with the use of saxophone, dark guitar sound and Richard Butler’s unchanging vocals. The Furs have influenced many post-punk bands over the years (The Horrors, Editors, She Wants Revenge have all cited the band as influences, among others), and now have returned to define their resonance within the modern scene, as well as maintaining their 1980s legacy. To shuffle the band’s discography, this new single would not seem out of place with the band’s 1980’s classics. 

Daniel Marx: Sierra Hull – ’25 Trips’

Source: Sierra Hull VEVO

Singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and mandolin genius Sierra Hull is a musician whose work I’ve been circling around for quite some time now. Despite being one of the most accomplished, exciting mandolin players alive, her country-heavy vocal and songwriting style has always been a little incongruous with her adventurous instrumental work. With her fourth album ’25 Trips’, however, Hull seems to have found the perfect balance of poppy writing and production set against hair-raising, utterly contemporary instrumentals.

This change seems to have come about through the building of a much bigger sound, whether that’s through the use of synths and electric instruments, or through working with a huge range of collaborators, from genius fiddle players Stuart Duncan and Alex Hargreaves, to Wood Brothers drummer Jano Rix. Rix’s drumming is a particularly brilliant addition on the album’s title track where the percussion adds serious bite to Hull’s insanely rhythmic mandolin work.

The songwriting on 25 Trips carries a confidence that Hull’s previous work sorely needed. Her last album, Weighted Mind, was the album of a musician in her early 20s in the midst of existential crisis. Four years later, Hull is more experienced, self-assured and seems to have really found her creative voice. 25 Trips is a varied, but stylistically unified collection of well-written progressive-bluegrass jams.

Mila Vasey: Billie Eilish and Finneas – ‘No Time to Die’

Source: Billie Ellish VEVO

Following a history-making Grammys, Billie Eilish became the 25th artist to write and record a theme song for the acclaimed James Bond franchise. Despite only taking three days to write, ‘No Time to Die’ perfectly fuses Eilish’s contemporary style with the powerful melody that typically underpins a Bond song.

In comparison with Eilish’s latest album, her Bond theme is of a less ‘alternative’ music style. Interestingly, No Time to Die is actually more reminiscent of the nature of her first album, ‘don’t smile at me.’ However, this record is still very impressive. Eilish and her brother, Finneas O’Connell, brought a fresh approach to the Bond theme, resulting in a powerful song with a little more edge than their predecessors. Although the 93rd Oscars are the best part of a year away, I expect to see ‘No Time to Die’ amongst the nominations for ‘Best Original Song.’ Having already ticked off the big Grammy awards, could an Oscar be next on the cards for the talented siblings?