May 2023's music blogger roundtable
Updated: May 31
Bringing together music bloggers to discuss music highlights from May
Our assembled cast of music bloggers and broadcasters return to share their thoughts on May 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.
Andrew Lambert is a freelance writer who can be found ranting and raving about all things music related on HeadStuff where he is Music Editor, or in print for Totally Dublin, The Thin Air and The GOO among others.
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: Released at the back end of March, there was much anticipation surrounding The National's First Two Pages of Frankenstein. Sophie and Andrew selected it as their most anticipated for the April roundtable, so what did you make of it?
Sophie: I enjoyed The National's new album. I saw different opinions about it due to the collaboration with major stars on it. For me, The National does not need these collaborations as I noticed that the songs I like the most are just their songs, not the collabs, but then I understand that for exposure to a wider audience, this might be a thing. 'New Order T-Shirt' should become a classic of theirs.
Andrew Lambert: I enjoyed it without being blown away – it’s a fairly low key effort by The National standards, but a classy one at that. The collabs on this album were slightly underwhelming given the names involved, but overall I feel Frankenstein... is a pleasant if somewhat perfunctory addition to the band’s discography.
5-9: And what about your other most anticipated releases in May?
Andy Peterson: [chose releases by Alison Goldfrapp, The Lemon Twigs and BC Camplight] Three very different records: the work of Brian Christinzio [as BC Camplight] is getting better with each release, Alison Goldfrapp’s solo debut was a banger fest and The Lemon Twigs finally escaped their own sense of twee. All well worth people’s time.
Sophie: Sumos released a very good indie pop debut album, Surfacing, which should please fans of bands like Belle and Sebastian and lovers of jangly guitars. It is available on bandcamp as digital copy or on vinyl.
5-9: Adam and Matthew, how was May for you?
Matthew's been diving back into AM
Adam Reeve: Music in May was brilliant. Lots of good albums and new singles to tease future releases. A nice mix of pop, rock and everything between.
Matthew McLister: I've been working on a couple of articles relating to Arctic Monkeys's classic record, AM, so have taken quite a deep dive into that again in its 10th year. The new album output hasn't been quite as strong as other months, so I've been slightly more nostalgic this month than usual. On the flip side, I'm finding myself constantly with 6Music on and increasingly Shazamming lots of the new songs they keep playing!
5-9: What's been the best album for you this month?
My Soft Machine is Matthew's and Andrew's best from May
Matthew: Arlo Parks's new one, My Soft Machine, has been my favourite. It's one I reviewed for Gigwise. I wasn't in the best mood when I put it on but, despite the lyrical themes of anxiety and toxic relationships, I came out the other end feeling more hopeful. The South London singer definitely gave us a record on par with her debut, Collapsed in Sunbeams.
Andrew: Collapsed In Sunbeams by Arlo Parks was an absolute staple of lockdown for me back in 2021 so I was really excited to hear My Soft Machine, and the results are delightful. Arlo expands her instrumental scope by exploring a soft rock sound over a super smooth forty minutes while retaining her ear for melody and wonderfully expressive lyricism. It’s the kind of album that grows better with each listen, and I can see myself coming back to it time and again through the rest of the year.
Adam: There were tons of great albums released but my favourite would probably be Sir Chloe's I Am the Dog. It's a proper haunting, moody listen but full of heavy riffs and massive moments that had me in awe the first time I listened to it.
Sophie: On a 'major' label, The Lemon Twigs with Everything Harmony. Although it is nothing new in terms of genre, this album just sounds like a classic album from the 70s or 60s.
On the underground scene, The Dream Machine released their debut album, Thank God! It's The Dream Machine..., at the end of April. The lyrics and the melodies are very well delivered, especially on 'Lola in the Morning' which I had on repeat this month.
Andy Peterson: Everything Harmony by The Lemon Twigs.
5-9: What's the best song you've heard this month?
'Emotion Sickness' by Queens of the Stone Age has been on repeat for Adam
Adam: 'Emotion Sickness' by Queens of the Stone Age. Heavy, sleazy, groovy, nasty - it's everything you could want, especially after six years of waiting for new material!
Andy: 'Money' by The Lottery Winners featuring Shaun Ryder.
Matthew: It would be hard to just pick one! Bleach Lab's new single 'All Night' has been on heavy rotation for me, as has Grian Chatten's 'Fairlies', The Lemon Twigs's 'When Winter Comes Around' and Sparks's 'Nothing is as good as they say it is'. I also have a lot of time for Romy's 'Enjoy Your Life' too - can't beat a wee dancefloor banger!
Sophie: 'Echoes' by Australian indie rock duo, Salarymen. I'd also like to give a mention to Ella Tobin (indie folk infused-pop) and her second single release, 'Wanna Go Home'. Really love her lush voice on this song.
Andrew: The announcement of a ninth studio album by Blur was cause for celebration enough, but especially so after hearing ‘The Narcissist’, a lead single with a classic [Graham] Coxon riff that will have fans dreaming of another classic record from the Britpop legends when we hear The Ballad Of Darren in July.
I’m seeing them in June too so here’s hoping I get a sneak preview of some new tunes in Malahide Castle – will report back next month!
5-9: What's the best gig you've been to this month?
Las Robertas - Sophie's pick this month - playing in Paris
Sophie: Was by Costa Rican psychedelic/dream pop/garage rock band Las Robertas in Supersonic, Paris. All band members delivered an excellent performance including of course the frontwoman, Mercedes Oller. Their latest album released this year is their best work so far.
Andrew: Without a doubt, it was finally witnessing The Boss in all his glory as Springsteen came to town and rocked the RDS in Dublin this past month.
Truly, a bucket list moment ticked off for me – it was everything I had hoped for and more.
Andy: Scowl, though I am squeezing in Interpol in as well.
Adam: Sadly, I didn't go to any gigs in May but I'm still feeling the effects of Black Honey in April!
Matthew: A quiet month for me. I was desperate to see Alvvays at Glasgow's SWG3 but left it too late to get tickets and the same applied for Springsteen at Murrayfield - a last-minute scramble to get tickets was unsuccessful!
5-9: What are you most looking forward to next month?
Dream Wife's Social Lubrication is a June release picked by Andrew, Matthew and Andy
Andy: June looks packed with great stuff, with the mighty Protomartyr, Dream Wife, Gengahr, bdrmm and Grian Chatten all putting new material out.
Andrew: On the home front, Supernumeracies by Ezra Williams is a debut album that I’m really looking forward to, while another solo record that is sure to be intriguing is Grian Chatten of Fontaines - the frontman drops Chaos For The Fly at the end of the month.
Elsewhere I’m mainly hyped to hear the second album by Dream Wife among other releases across the pond.
Sophie: Lost Under Heaven (including the previous frontman of Wu Lyf), a Manchester art rock duo, are releasing their new album, exclusively self-produced and also funded by their Patreon (included myself). A 100% DIY band with a strong work ethic who do things their own way.
Matthew: The return of the Arctic Monkeys! I have tickets to see them at Bellahouston Park at the end of the month. With it being the same weekend they headline Glastonbury, they'll be the talk of the music world and will undoubtedly smash it - they do so every time they hit the road.
Album-wise, looking forward to releases by Dream Wife, Django Django, Noel Gallagher, Queens of the Stone Age and, dare I say it, The View.
Adam: There are a lot of exciting things happening in June. I'm seeing Harry Styles and Arctic Monkeys. I'm also turning 30 but the most exciting would have to be Queens of the Stone Age's new album. I have genuinely booked a day off work so I can listen to it all day.
Thanks for taking part in 5-9's first monthly roundtable and look forward to catching up next month!
For Matthew: @matthewmclister on Twitter.
For a further deep dive into last month's music, keep an eye out for 5-9's Album of the Month podcast coming out in early May.