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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Belt

March 2024's music blogger roundtable

Bringing together music bloggers to discuss music highlights from March

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

5-9: Gemma and Phil, you were looking forward to Holly Humberstone's EP, work in progress. What did you make of it?

Holly Humberstone impressed on her latest EP, according to Gemma and Phil

Gemma: I really enjoyed the EP! While I will admit that ‘Dive’, the lead single, was the highlight for me overall, that didn’t mean that the rest of it disappointed me at all. I’m grateful that she released these tracks, which didn’t make it to the track list of her debut album, rather than leaving them as demos in the vault. More artists should do the same - why not?

Phil: I really liked the Holly Humberstone record. I thought it was a great idea of hers to release new material in this way rather than follow the 'deluxe' album approach, which I’m getting a bit tired of now! The songs were written a while ago and kind of resurrected, but it’s amazing how well they fit with her newer work and create a full story, while at the same time adding new insights.

5-9: Phil, you were also excited about releases by Hannah Grae and Lissy Taylor. What did you make of them?

Phil loved the mini-album by Hannah Grae

Phil: I love the Hannah Grae mini album. It’s powerful and draws a lot of loose ends together from her previous singles. Those singles really do sound better in context, and I was really happy with the new songs in there too.

The Lissy Taylor single is superb and I think her best yet. Enormously energetic, guitar-heavy and a sense of onwards and ever upwards.

5-9: Adam, how did the releases by The Klittens, Van Houten and neomi, which you were looking forward to in March, rank for you?

Adam keeps returning to The Klittens's latest EP (photo credit: Jade Sastropawiro)

Adam: All three exceeded expectations (thankfully!), with each of them probably reaching towards the top of my favourite albums/EPs and singles of 2024 so far. I would highly recommend people to check all of them out ASAP. Van Houten's album is perfect for when you wanna feel wrapped up in something, as it is so atmospheric. The Klittens' EP is equal parts catchy and emotive. Offering the best of both worlds of finding something to dance to, while also getting connected to the heavy song topics and general lyricism. If I had to recommend only one, it would be The Klittens. That's the release I keep returning to the most.

5-9: Sophie, Ride's latest album was your most anticipated in March. What did you make of it?

Ride's new album is on course to be in Sophie's best of 2024 (photo credit: Will Bonniker)

Sophie: I love it. They succeeded in releasing a quality album. All songs flow smoothly, there are no 'unnecessary fillers' on it. Pretty sure it will be on my favourite list this year, I think.

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

Girlfriend Material by Lauran Hibberd was Adam's favourite in March

Adam: The album I was most excited to hear was Lauran Hibberd's Girlfriend Material. Her debut wasn't the best, but it did come amongst sad times for Lauran, so that's fair enough. This one felt like a return to form, with a lot of great singles released (including 'i suck at grieving' - maybe the best song LH has written) and a much more consistent listen with tons of hooks throughout.

Other honourable mentions would be Adrianne Lenker's Bright Future and Real Farmer's Compare What's There.

Phil: That would be Lighthouse by Francis of Delirium! It’s a rich, beautiful, very emotive album. There are four songs of hers which I’ve been wanting to write about for a while, and now they’re collected, with others, in this really satisfying record. The production is great, particularly the drums, which I really appreciate. A top one of the year for me, and I’m working on a full blog post on it, too.

Sophie: Ride (as mentioned above) and I must mention Psymone Spine's Head Body Connector - highly recommended if you like electronic on your indie/psychedelic songs.

Gemma: I’ve got to say Psykos by Yung Lean and Bladed. The two have been close collaborators for over a decade now, but this is their first album together. For that reason, you might expect it to follow their typical sound, but it actually turned out very experimental and different to what they usually release. Since 2013, they’ve always been a step ahead of the game.

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

'Gears' by Divorce was one of Gemma's top tracks from March

Phil: 'Need Me Now' by Hannah Grae (see my blog post here:, 'Down Swinging' by Holly Humberstone and 'Same old eyes' by Amistat (and, uncharacteristically for me, I’ll even go as far as saying Amistat’s is my favourite of the month!).

Sophie: 'My Own God' by French band, You Said Strange, 'No Matter How' by San Francisco band, Torrey, and 'In Real Life' by Canadian act, ACTORS.

Gemma: My first pick is ‘Not Like The Rest’ by Girlband. It’s the Nottingham-based band’s first single, and it’s great to finally see them establishing a presence on streaming services. Anyone who has seen them live will know how great they are. The fact that they were selling out headline gigs without any released music was impressive and I think they’re going to continue to reach new audiences.

My next pick is ‘Can I Make You Jealous?’ by ELIO. Emerging in lockdown in 2020, when hyperpop sounds were at the forefront, this track sees ELIO drifting more towards emotive, noughties-inspired pop. The guitars make me feel nostalgic, despite the song having only been released this month, and her vocals are vulnerable and gentle while also simultaneously being powerful and captivating.

My final pick is by another Nottingham artist, Divorce. Their latest single ‘Gears’ follows on from what they did on the Heady Metal EP, a sound which I am nowhere near bored of yet. Their two vocalists, Tiger and Felix, continue to complement one another on this track, and it’s no surprise that they’ve had some massive support slots this month, including the likes of Everything Everything and The Vaccines.

Adam: 'Mango' by Soran is a hit and has dominated my ears for the last month or so. It is groovy, hooky, a little bit weird, but so good. Shout out to St. Vincent's 'Broken Man' too - I've enjoyed all the singles heard from her upcoming album so far. Another favourite was VENUS GRRRLS' 'Bloodsick', which sounds as heavy and nasty as its title!

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?

DIIV provided Sophie with her best live moment from March

Sophie: Seeing DIIV, although some people said they had less energy than usual but I did not feel that, being a first time.

Gemma: I went to a very unique gig this month, taking place at Nottingham’s new Central Library. It was headlined by ROB.GREEN, with support from Jayahadadream. Both artists are phenomenal and deserve much larger audiences, but in this case, the intimacy of the show really was something special. The crowd were quiet and respectful, which was necessary for this sit-down affair to work to its full potential. It’s impossible not to be attentive when these two artists are performing - they are captivating, both in terms of their stage presence, their messages, and their voices.

Phil: My gig-going continued to be a bit slow in March (although this month is a lot busier), so there aren't many to choose from. At the risk of sounding like a very broken record, I think the best was Holly Humberstone at the Academy in Leicester. She was clearly very much more confident, rising a real wave of support and positive energy from her fans and her band, who have now become really solid. She seemed more free to relax, interact and just enjoy herself, while remaining true to her honest core.

Adam: I uh, didn't go to any gigs sadly...

5-9: What's the most exciting thing happening in April?

Record Store Day is Gemma's most eagerly anticipated music moment this month

Gemma: It’s got to be Record Store Day! There are events going on up and down the country, the closest one to me being at Rough Trade Nottingham, with a brilliant full day line up. It’s like a mini festival! It’s a special day every year, and a great opportunity to celebrate and support your local, independent record store. Not that most of us music fans need an excuse to do that - but it’s nice to have one! It brings fans, artists, and record stores together in such a beautiful way each year. I highly recommend you look into events which are happening near you and get involved.

Adam: I put out a banging tweet inviting artists to join our Peeled Back series on Dead Good. It's a new feature that blends an interview and review together, putting more of a spotlight on a particular release than a standard review, and tons of people got involved. It was great. Those moments often act as reminders as to why I do music blogging as a hobby, as it definitely brings back that initial excitement I had when first getting into music.

In terms of releases, I am looking forward to hearing the new EPs from Swim School and Moonpools, and all of the extra music all those artists threw my way!

Phil: Live music wise, I suspect it will be SPRINTS who I’m seeing at The Bodega this weekend (at the time of writing). Genuinely really excited about that as their January album is still my number one of the year so far.

Am I allowed to mention Taylor Swift...?! Seriously, I think her new album is going to be a big moment - it may be one of her most scrutinised yet. Everyone's going to have an opinion on it, and it's very hard to predict which way it's going to go musically (although I have some thoughts). Will she sell out? Will she return to an earlier era? Will she play it safe? I am looking forward to finding out.

Sophie: Realizing that Arab Strap is releasing a new album next month and listening to their single 'Strawberry Moon'.

Thanks for taking part in 5-9's March 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 a further deep dive into last month's music, look out for the upcoming Album of the Month podcast episode for March 2024.


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