July 2023's music blogger roundtable
Bringing together music bloggers to discuss music highlights from July
Our assembled cast of music bloggers and broadcasters return to share their thoughts on July 2023 in music.
Joining 5-9 editor, Andrew Belt, to answer the questions are:
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.
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.
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.”
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.
5-9: Andy declared last month that Blur and PJ Harvey were among his top picks for July - so, tough question, but which one came out on top?
Andy: PJ Harvey's construct was deliberately ambiguous, sometimes obtuse, sometimes beautiful. It almost feels shameful to say it but, in knowing who they are and what their audience wants from the most - and how far they can push them - Blur ran out winners, if that term means anything.
5-9: The Ballad of Darren was also Matthew's pick for July, so how's it been for you?
Matthew: I gave it a few listens when it came out, but its been a busy last seven days for myself with a house move and a trip away and haven’t had the chance to revisit it. Still, I was enjoying it without loving the album, if that makes sense? Certainly not as instant as Damon Albarn’s Gorillaz record which came out earlier this year, but one I reckon could be a grower.
5-9: And sticking with these two albums, Sophie also was looking forward to diving into I Inside the Old Year Dying. How have you found it so far?
Sophie: I enjoyed her new album. For me, it is the type of music to listen to when you want to relax but you are also looking for meaningful art in music. It is on my (ever-growing) list to buy. I really love the intimate atmosphere on this album.
5-9: Matthew, on the gig front, you went to TRSNMT Festival. How was it?
Matthew: A whole load of fun! I was lucky enough to cover the festival for Gigwise and get full weekend VIP access. Pulp on the Friday night were outstanding and, together with Kasabian on the Saturday, were the clear highlights. The number of drugged-up underagers was a constant annoyance for us and the rain killed the vibe a little on the Saturday. But overall I had a great time and it all flew by.
5-9: What's been the best album for you this month?
Alchemy by Disclosure is Matthew's favourite from July
Adam: July wasn’t a standout month for me albums-wise. There were a couple records I was excited for initially – Blur’s The Ballad of Darren and Disclosure’s Alchemy - but wasn’t blown away by them. I’d say the best was probably Carly Rae Jepsen’s The Loveliest Time. She has been on fire ever since releasing EMOTION and her latest record continues to prove this. It’s still poppy as anything but does dive into some darker styles to add a bit of edge to her sound, which you don’t typically expect from Carly. Would recommend!
Matthew: Disclosure’s new album, Alchemy, dropped out of the blue on Friday 14 July and felt like a back-to-basics electronic treat without collabs or samples.
Andy: The Ballad of Darren but running it very close was Julie Byrne's The Greater Wings.
Sophie: Released at the end of June, the debut album by Grian Chatten has been on repeat and, on the underground scene, my favourite was an album by a British band I've only discovered recently but have been in existence for more than 10 years. They are Firestations and the album is called Thick Terrain. I recommend it to lovers of psychedelic and indie pop. I especially love the song 'Travel Trouble', but the entire album is beautiful.
5-9: What's the best song you've heard this month?
Child Seat's 'Unrequited' is Sophie's favourite track from July
Sophie: Although I enjoyed many songs in July, there is one I only heard in July but which was released end of May this year. It is the single 'Unrequited' by American duo, Child Seat. This is a dreamy and cinematic song which is incredibly good. One I would see on repeat on commercial radios. The singer, Madeleine Mathews, has an amazing voice and Josiah Mazzaschi worked with artists such as the Jesus and the Mary Chain.
Andy: The splendid new change of direction from Yard Act with 'The Trench Coat Museum'.
Matthew: Anthony Szmierek’s ‘The Words to Auld Lang Syne’ and Blur’s ‘Barbaric’ take the title for me.
Adam: Balancing Act are known for releasing spooky post-punk songs but last week they released ‘Cheshire Smile’, which took things in a more accessible direction. It still harnesses their dark energy but adds in some groove to make it really strike the hips. The lyrics are also probably their most relatable and honest yet. They’ve released a lot of great singles so far this year, so I’m excited to hear what comes next from them.
5-9: What's the best gig you've been to this month?
A free taste of Arctic Monkeys was Sophie's best this month
Sophie: 30 minutes of Arctic Monkeys for free (as I was listening to it outside of the venue after work, close to the car park). It was not meant to happen but I enjoyed half an hour of their classic bangers.
Matthew: Pulp delivered a fantastic headline set on the Friday of TRNSMT with the Sheffield legends belting through hits and deep cuts from iconic ‘90s records A Different Class and His N Hers. Rarely a dull moment from Jarvis Cocker and co!
Adam: I didn’t attend any gigs sadly as July was jam packed with all sorts of other things. The closest was probably a busker on Carlisle high street who insisted on singing 'Wonderwall' over and over. That wasn’t the best I’ve seen.
5-9: What are you most looking forward to next month?
The upcoming album from The Hives is exciting Matthew and Adam for August
Matthew: After seeing The Hives's emphatic support set of Arctic Monkeys back in June, I’m really looking forward to their new album The Death of Randy Fitzsimmons, which arrives on 11 August. Jungle’s new one Volcano is out on the same the day and the funk-dance duo rarely disappoint!
Adam: There are a few releases I’m particularly excited for happening in August. The Hives are finally releasing a new album, which should return them back to the forefront of everyone’s minds. There are also new singles and EPs from Dutch Wine, Lunarca and BLOXX that will surely appear on many end-of-year lists this year.
Andy: August tends to be a weird month as many artists prefer to release music in September, but Art School Girlfriend, Mick Jenkins and Drab Majesty all look to have potential.
Sophie: I will be attending a music festival and will report back in one month's time.
Thanks for taking part in 5-9's July roundtable and look forward to catching up next month!
For Matthew: @matthewmclister on Twitter.
For a further deep dive into last month's music, listen to 5-9's Album of the Month podcast.