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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Belt

April 2024's music blogger roundtable

Updated: 3 days ago

Bringing together music bloggers to discuss music highlights from April

Our assembled cast of music bloggers and broadcasters return to share their thoughts on April 2024 in music.

Joining 5-9 editor, Andrew Belt, to answer the questions are:

Gemma Cockrell is a PR account executive and freelance journalist based in Nottingham. You’re most likely to find her listening to live music in one of Nottingham’s brilliant music venues or speaking about motorsport on her podcast, Down To The Tyre.

Adam Reeve is an editor/writer + other things-er for various places over many years. Currently for Dead Good Music - a music blog that pairs music and oranges together like you wouldn't believe.

Phil Taylor (aka Music Observer) lives in the East Midlands and spends a disproportionate amount of his time listening to music, attending gigs and wearing band T-shirts.

Phil is obsessed with music of all genres, with a leaning towards alt-pop, folk, indie rock and post-punk. He started his blog in 2021 as a way of sharing his feelings about good music; it quickly grew into a fully fledged venture with a focus on new releases as well as live reviews and interviews. He now writes for other publications including LeftLion, The Songbird and Music in Leicester.

Sophie (otherwise known as Purpl Mac) who is a new music fan lover from Belgium.

She likes to support new indie & alternative music bands by featuring them on her show/podcast, playlists and on social media.

She is also a lover of music on vinyl growing her collection of physical copies and digital copies on bandcamp.

Matthew McLister is a freelance writer and music fan based in Glasgow with a degree in History (University of Glasgow). Passionate about new guitar music and indie bands, he writes features for Gigwise and HeadStuff Media. During lockdown he launched the Blinded by the Floodlights indie website and has even produced his own podcast. By day, he works in Corporate Communications.

Xenia Evans is the founder of WHAT A TUNE.

She is a former A&R manager, with a background in music PR, editorial, publishing and synch licensing. Xenia is currently part of the team at This Is Music, a management agency which represents some of the biggest names in electronic music.

WHAT A TUNE was started with the ambition of introducing new audiences to the rich world of non-English language music, be it Mexican folk, French hip hop, or Mongolian heavy metal.

5-9: Matthew, Xenia, Sophie, how was April music-wise for you?

Justice's latest album was just one record devoured by Matthew this month (photo credit: André Chémétoff)

Matthew: Probably the busiest month yet for new music, particularly album wise. Too many releases meant it was a hard to keep up with all the new records, but we had new music from from Vampire Weekend, Black Keys, English Teacher, Porij, The Libertines, girl in red, gossip, Khruangbin, Justice and Bob Vylan all getting devoured!

Xenia: I was away for the first part of the year in Southeast Asia (part WHAT A TUNE research trip, part holiday), so I'm still very much in that musical headspace. I've been listening to a lot of V-Pop, Thai Country music and Cambodian Rock 'n' Roll (see more on this in a later answer). Work has been busy since I've been back, with lots of new music releases from our clients and prepping for upcoming shows and festivals.

Sophie: I enjoyed new music releases mostly by underground bands.

5-9: Phil, you were looking forward to seeing SPRINTS at The Bodega in April. How was it?

SPRINTS were 'superb' at Nottingham's The Bodega last month, according to Phil

Phil: That gig was honestly superb - sure to be a highlight of the year for me. It was one of those where, when the lights finally come up at the end, there’s an almost palpable sense of shared emotion. You can tell by the looks on people’s faces that we’re all feeling the same way, and almost shellshocked by what we’ve been through.

The support, Venus Grrrls, were very good, and a perfect lead into the main act. SPRINTS were just so powerful, energised, outspoken, honest … The set list was very well curated and started as I really hoped it would with the long, thrilling build of 'Ticking'; it then continued in a nice arc, with subtle rises and falls, but staying generally loud and a little bit frenetic. In summary, I was really impressed and would willingly relive it at the drop of a hat!

5-9: Sticking with you, Phil, in terms of releases, Taylor's new record was exciting you last month. We shared a disappointed review by an anonymous Swiftie on the site this month. As a non-anonymous Swiftie(!), did you agree with them or did you enjoy the album?

Phil was in agreement with our disgruntled Swiftie when it came to The Tortured Poets Department

Phil: I thought that was a great review, probably the best I’ve read, and I largely agree with them! I did a complete listen through of all 31 tracks and wrote a reaction post as I went along. I was getting quite into it for the first few tracks, but I definitely hit a wall as it went on and I felt like the second part was just way too much. Apart from a few exceptions, there was a lot of filler. Some rigorous editing was needed! Also, I just couldn’t get past some of the lyrics… So, all in all, it felt like a bit of a wasted opportunity. If Taylor had just focused in on quality and not felt the need to prove she works hard (we know that already) then this could have been a real winner.

5-9: Adam, you were looking forward to April EP releases by Swim School and Moonpools. What did you make of them?

'Quite cool': Adam enjoyed the latest EP by Swim School

Adam: I was excited to hear both and they both exceeded expectations. The Swim School EP was more of a mixtape, featuring live versions of existing songs and covers as well as new material. It was quite cool because it gave an insight into what their influences are, and what they were listening to at that time. Certainly a lot different to a standard EP, and something I hope they (and other bands) continue to release in future.

Moonpools absolutely smashed it with Hide and Seek. It was a glorious dive into a shoegaze-y sound that could envelop anything nearby. It’s one of those EPs that don’t feel like its length. Often surprising me when the first track would loop back around again.

5-9: What was the best album for you in April?

North American Martyrs by Funeral Lakes was Sophie's favourite in April

Sophie: North American Martyrs by Canadian band, Funeral Lakes. It's an album about Canadian history. This duo has an incredible work ethic. Loving the music and how they support causes they believe in.

Gemma: Cold Visions by Bladee is probably my most listened album of the month. It’s 30 songs long - when Taylor did it I rolled my eyes, but when Bladee did it, I didn’t complain one bit. And that’s rare coming from me - I think 10-12 songs is the ideal album length!

Adam: There were quite a few contenders, but I’d have to give it to Porij and their debut album, Teething. They have a sound that could easily translate to a mainstream audience, but they pack it with little intricacies that keeps it original. It’s great.

Matthew: Too hard pick just one but I’ll go for The Libertines - All Quiet On The Eastern Esplanade and Vampire Weekend’s Only God Above Us. Loved both those comebacks albums!

Phil: English Teacher - This Could Be Texas. it’s bold and beautiful and just has that quality of being a bit different. Although it may not be 100% bangers, the atmosphere is so consistent despite the eclecticism. I really admire what the band have been doing and how they’ve built and matured.

Xenia: In my view, Argentine rapper, Soui Uno, is one of the most exciting new faces on the Latin music scene and she's been selected by Spotify for their Al Sur RADAR programme for emerging artists. She released her second album, NOS CRUZAS EN EL POGO, on April 19, featuring fire collaborations with many fellow rappers and beat-makers. I'm excited to see what this year brings for her.

5-9: What's the best song/s you've heard this month?

'Accelerate' by Molly Payton was one of Gemma's top tracks from April

Gemma: ‘twenny one (happy birthday)’ by EMiDORA, ‘Accelerate’ by Molly Payton and ‘Oil & Water’ by PVRIS.

Phil: Lizzie Esau - 'Wait too late': powerful and imaginative; philiine - 'green': tender, vivid, fragile; and Chappell Roan - 'Good luck babe': quirky, fun, no holds barred.

Xenia: The Cambodian Vintage Music Archive are releasing re-masters of tracks by iconic Cambodian singers from the 1950s and 60s. This era is widely considered Cambodia's musical 'golden age', think Khmer classical traditions meets French Yé Yé pop, and American rock and soul. I love this latest re-release of a track by Sinn Sisamouth (Cambodia's answer to Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra) and this from Ros Serey Sothea. Read and listen to more in my recent article here.

For something a bit more up to date, I would recommend checking out French singer ELOI. The new face of French hyper-pop, she just released her new single 'Comme Un Animal (Like An Animal)'.

Matthew: Fat Dog - 'Running', Fontaines D.C. - 'Starburster' and Lambrini Girls - 'Body of Mine'.

Sophie: 'Rescue' by US alternative rock band The Asteroid No.4; 'Nearly Daffodils' by English Teacher; and 'Ladybird song' by dream pop/shoegaze band Cruush.

Adam: Porij – 'You Should Know Me', St. Vincent – 'Broken Man' and Fontaines D.C. - 'Starburster'.

We've now collated the monthly song picks into one, easy-to-find playlist, which also includes picks by 5-9 editor, Andrew Belt, and 5-9 Album of the Month hosts, Karl Blakesley and Kiley Larsen. Listen below:

5-9: What's the best gig you've been to this month?

JD. REID's new club night was Xenia's favourite live moment from April

Xenia: JD. REID launched his BABY GRAVY club night at Carpet Shop, Peckham at the start of April. It was a sold out show, and such a good vibe.

Gemma: Jerub’s hometown gig at The Bodega with Alfie Sharp really was something special. The crowd was respectful yet enthusiastic, and it was clear that the show meant a lot to Jerub - I can’t think of anyone more deserving. It was an amazing night!


Sophie: None, looking forward to The KVB and Slowdive in May.

5-9: We're approaching festival season. What fests are you looking forward to this year?

Dua Lipa headlining Glastonbury is exciting Adam (photo source)

Adam: There are a lot of festivals of all sizes boasting some impressive lineups this year, but I’ve gotta be a little bit basic and say I’m most excited for Glastonbury. It is the biggest festival in the world, and its lineup has reasons to be excited throughout. Dua Lipa headlining should be good, and even seeing the likes of IDLES, LCD Soundsystem and PJ Harvey on there should make for some memorable moments.

Matthew: Options are a bit limited with it being my wedding year but thinking of going to Trnsmt this year (as a reviewer). A bit of a mixed line up but with The Vaccines, the Last dinner party, Declan McKenna, Wunderhorse, Pastel, and Chase & Status, there’s plenty worth seeing. And of course, the bold Liam Gallagher.

Sophie: Nothing decided yet. I think I'll go to smaller venues. Last year I went to Rock en Seine in Paris. Although I did like seeing the bands, I did not like the almost 'amusement park' feel of the festival. I might be getting old :-)

Gemma: The festival I’m looking forward to the most this year is Radfest in Radcliffe on Trent. I’m on the organising committee for it so I might be a bit biased, but it’s community-based and family-friendly, with a great line-up of local Nottingham musicians. It’s all organised by volunteers from the village, it really is something special.

Xenia: I'm going to Wide Awake Festival in a few weeks. I work a lot with electronic music artists and producers, which I love but it's also always fun to see some bands for a change.

Thanks for taking part in 5-9's April roundtable! Look forward to catching up next month!

To keep up to date with Sophie's shows, podcasts and more follow her on X - @macaronpurpl - or on Instagram - @purplemacpodcast.

For Gemma: @gemcockrell on X.

For Adam: @adamsoundsgood and @deadgoodblog on X.

For Phil: @MusicObserver1 on X and @music_observed on Instagram.

For Matthew: @matthewmclister on X.

For Xenia: @whatatuneblog on Instagram, on Facebook and Spotify.

For a further deep dive into last month's music, look out for the upcoming Album of the Month podcast episode for April 2024.


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