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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Belt

February 2024's music blogger roundtable

Bringing together music bloggers to discuss music highlights from February

Our assembled cast of music bloggers and broadcasters return to share their thoughts on February 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.

Andy Peterson is a music writer for Live4ever Media and runs the Voice of Unreason music blog. In his own words, he says: “I’ve been writing about music for various places on the internet since 2007. So many records, so little time.”

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.

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.

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.

5-9: How was February for you?

Phil: Full on! It’s been hard to keep up with all the releases to be honest; a mega month. There were some great albums and loads of brilliant single releases. January was also good, but February felt like the month where everyone just opened their floodgates and let out all the music that had built up over the winter. The winter is over. 

Adam: February was a pretty decent month for music. I wasn't anticipating any album in particular, but was pleasantly surprised by a couple of them. In terms of the blog, it felt good being fully settled back into the routine of publishing and trawling through the submissions. We get something like 100 emails a day, so it's nice that that number isn't feeling so daunting anymore! We're lucky to have people on board to help with reviews and photographing shows too.

Gemma: To be honest, it was great! My February playlist is much larger than my January one, so that goes to show just how much was released this month (and how much of it I’ve been enjoying).

Matthew: I didn’t think January could be rivalled, but February has been another fantastic month for new music output!

Soph: I had less time to listen to new releases but when I had, I did enjoy what I heard.

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

TANGK by IDLES was namechecked by half of our panel

Matthew: Oh, that’s a tough one! I was really enjoying Real Estate’s country-twinged, jangle pop new album Daniel. MGMT’s Loss of Life has been getting a lot of plays over the past week, while IDLES's new one (which I covered for HeadStuff) TANGK was their most interesting album yet, full of subtler, tender-filled moments, as well as their usual boisterousness. And finally, Declan McKenna’s What happened to the beach? was another I really enjoyed for its light psychedelia and sun-kissed Californian self indulgent vibe (as I referred to in my review for Clash).

Phil: I was going to beg for two choices, but I've decided to stick to one, and that's IDLES's fifth studio album, TANGK. It's an album based on love - described as an 'album of beauty and power' - but in a typical IDLES way, they explore the rough edges and real life, often painful, side of that ubiquitous emotion. I don't think all the critics have understood that point! The band have, though, and they've attempted to translate it into words and music here, producing some absolutely outstanding songs. In my blog review, I wrote: 'IDLES have melded affection and power; they've combined rebellion, disillusionment, pain, joy - all those emotions and more. And they've melted that all down, passed it through the refiner's fine to discover this core, love.'

Adam: There were a couple contenders for the top spot this month, so I will give shoutouts to Merryn Jeann's DOG BEACH, IDLES's TANGK and MGMT's Loss Of Life. I hadn't heard Merryn's music before and DOG BEACH was a mindless, genre-spanning listen that made for a great adventure. I felt like IDLES did a good job of building on their CRAWLER sound with TANGK, but there's still some way to improve on the slower, more melodic style, and MGMT's latest album saw them at their most introspective, which was interesting but perhaps a little one-note.

My absolute favourite, however, would be Lime Garden's One More Thing. I'm a sucker for music that's off-kilter and groovy, and this album had it in abundance. It is catchy, upbeat and sarcastic all at once, and I would recommend it to anyone.

Gemma: A slightly unexpected album from nothing,nowhere. was the highlight for me. He returned back to some of his emo-rap roots, which I felt were missing from his previous project, so it was right up my street. Honourable mentions go to Lime Garden and, of course, The Last Dinner Party.

Sophie: Gonna cheat a bit here - it was MADRA by Irish band, NewDad, technically released at the end of January.

Andy: Love to You, Mate by Colouring.

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

'Love Song' by Lime Garden was one of Adam's top tracks from February (photo credit: Jono White)

Adam: Lime Garden - 'Love Song', FEET - 'The Real Thing' and Joanie - 'Honeytrap'.

Andy: 'Dancing in Babylon' by MGMT ft. Christine and the Queens and 'Common Blue' by Warpaint.

Gemma: I’m going to continue the trend that I began in January by only picking songs that aren’t on albums that I’ve already mentioned for this question. This was very tricky to pick this month but I’ve got to go with ‘Top of the Pops’ by Vanity Fairy - it’s so upbeat and 80s-infused, it makes me want to dance every time I hear it. ‘Show & Tell’ by Bored At My Grandmas House is another one I’ve had on repeat - the guitars in it are infectious and have kept me coming back for more. Finally I’ve got to give a huge shoutout to ‘Dive’ by Holly Humberstone - it’s such a beautiful track and I feel like her vocals really shine on this one. I’m really looking forward to her new EP.

Phil: This question always kills me … but I’ve forced myself to narrow it down for you!

Ben Mark Smith - 'Afire': A song I was asked to review for Nottingham’s LeftLion magazine this month and one which has gradually worked itself deep into my head and heart ever since. It’s so emotive and very clever in terms of the story arc it traces.

Dylan - 'The Alibi': Perhaps a perfect example of a mid-'20s pop-rock song, taking key elements from Taylor Swift’s songwriting handbook and adding honest twists of Dylan’s own (UK) style. What a banger!

Francis of Delirium - 'Give It Back To Me': This is broad and sweeping, slow building, sincere and deep. It’s a hugely emotional and emotive, lovelorn song of absolute commitment. Francis’s voice is so real and engaged, and just pushes and lifts more and more during the last minute, only giving way for a heroic lead guitar motif and a soft landing.

Matthew: February saw the return of New York baroque-pop band, Vampire Weekend, and the lovely, reflective new single ‘Capricorn’, Brooklyn band DIIV delivered the excellently heavy ‘Brown Paper Bag’, while I couldn’t stop listening to ‘Endless June’ by Dunfermline shoegaze band, Sunstinger.

Sophie: 'Tell me about it' by Whitelands ft. Deary; 'Roy' by IDLES and 'S o f t e r' by Virgins.

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?

Bram Bancroft was one of three artists she saw at soon-to-be-closed venue, The Chameleon in Nottingham

Gemma: I saw a trio of Nottingham artists (Victory Lap, Davoli and Bram Bancroft) at The Chameleon midway through the month and they were all excellent. It was somewhat bittersweet knowing that the venue will be closing at the end of March but I’m trying to make the most of it while it’s still open.

Sophie: Ghost Woman - a psych/garage rock band.

Matthew: I saw The Libertines for the first time in the small Oran Mor venue a couple of weeks ago and it was amongst the most crazy gigs I’ve been! The whole place was bouncing from start to finish. A sweat-filled evening, transporting us back to the early '00s.

Phil: My gig-going began warming up again in February. The highlight was probably Baby Queen in London, one of the special BRITs Week events for War Child; she was supported by the outrageously energetic, Lynks. I did a full write-up on my blog, but, in summary, it seemed to catch her at a high-point. It wasn't a neat, pinpoint accurate type of gig, but instead it presented BQ in all her full honesty and positive energy, giving off a slightly messy chaotic vibe. This chimed just right with her music and lyrics. I also really enjoy hearing pop music like this played live, with full-fat, organic guitars and drums. With the BQ gig, that really pushed some of the songs to a new level. Really fun and satisfying.

Adam: I only went to one gig and it was to see The 1975 at London's o2 Arena. I was never the biggest fan of them, but their last album - Being Funny In A Foreign Language - stripped things back and offered nothing but hits, which I really enjoyed. The gig was great. They went all out on the set design and almost made it feel like a theatre show than an actual gig. One moment that was odd was probably seeing Matty Healy have a showdown with a naked model of himself on a separate stage. I'm still not sure why they had his knob on show, but hey - that's art.

5-9: What are you most looking forward to in March?

Where's My Utopia? by Yard Act is one album Andy and Matthew are looking forward to in March (photo credit: Phoebe Fox)

Andy: I'm looking forward to the 35th anniversary edition of 3 Feet High and Rising by De La Soul, Yard Act's new record and Waxahatchee's Tiger Blood.

Matthew: Looking forward to taking a deep dive into Yard Act’s sophomore album, Where’s My Utopia? as I’m seeing them play in Glasgow later on in the month!

New releases from The Libertines, Gossip and Ride are also on my radar.

Sophie: The new album by Ride.

Adam: There are a few releases I'm looking forward to. The Klittens' new EP, butter, is going to be great, Van Houten will be releasing their debut album, The Tallest Room, and néomí will be releasing a new single too. Her last single 'somebody's daughter' was the first review of the year on the blog, and it kinda set the standard for us, so we're looking looking to hearing how she follows it up with 'someone new'.

Gemma: The Holly Humberstone EP that I have already mentioned in one of my previous answers is the main release I’m looking forward to. No specific full-length albums come to mind right now - I’m sure there will be many that perhaps I just don’t know about yet - but I’m mainly just looking forward to discovering new artists and new music. So far, 2024 has been a year of me finding some really cool new, up-and-coming artists, so I just hope this continues!

Phil: Holly Humberstone’s new EP (Work in progress), so soon after her debut album - it's going to be an exciting and liberating new episode. I'm really excited that I'm going to be interviewing her very soon, too. Also, there'll be an EP from the awesome Welsh alt-pop/rock rising star Hannah Grae; then there’s new music from Lissy Taylor, and an album (Lighthouse) from Francis of Delirium, who’s perhaps the artist I’m currently most obsessed with!

Thanks for taking part in 5-9's February 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 Matthew: @matthewmclister on X.

For Gemma: @gemcockrell on X.

For Andy: @ArcticReviews on X and @vormusicblog on Instagram.

For Adam: @adamsoundsgood and @deadgoodblog on X.

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

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


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