Feeling the lockdown blues? Here are five albums to add to your quarantine playlist now, and in a few days:
Chicago Underground Quartet – Good Days
This one is for you jazzy folk – some truly spectacular trumpet playing by Rob Mazurek and percussion by Chad Taylor (pictured above, and the core of the quartet, or core-tet if you will…) The best part about listening to this album is that so much of the song structures are so completely all-over-the-place (in a fun jazzy way) that it almost makes the world we’re living in at the moment seem sane.
The first track on the Good Days album ’Orgasm’ is a kaleidoscope of jazz that is thoroughly enjoyable. ’Good Days (For Lee Anne)’ is slow, melodic, gorgeous, and has a guitar intro that Tom Misch wishes he made. ’Batida’ is my absolute favourite track from this album, that bass… god damn.
Basia Bulat – Are You In Love?
A gorgeously smoky and powerful voice sits beautifully on top of a choir or synth and strings in the title track of Basia Bulat’s new album, Are You In Love? The depth and beauty of her lyrics call to mind Florence and The Machine, paired with a voice that seems to blend Sinead O’Connor and Joni Mitchell. ’Your Girl‘ has all the jollity and jaunty bass-line of a Blondie track; you can almost feel the sun on your face in this song – it’s truly remarkable how much it sounds like summer. ’Fables’ is romantic, simple, and stunning.
Dua Lipa – Future Nostalgia
This album is so much fun, it’s genuinely impossible to listen to without moving along with the beats. Future Nostalgia has a definite Ting Tings influence, and who could resist a tune with the line “I know you ain’t used to a Female Alpha”? ’Boys Will Be Boys’ is the strongest track lyrically as an empowering synth-pop ballad protesting the sexist nonsense that women go through. The song opens with the lines “It’s second nature to walk home before the sun goes down/ And put your keys between your knuckles when there’s boys around/ Isn’t it funny how we laugh it off to hide our fear?”
That is just some truly excellent and relatable lyric writing. ’Pretty Please’ and ’Levitating’ have the sweet funk of a Mark Ronson track combined with Dua Lipa’s classic pop vibes. ’Don’t Start Now’ has been high in the charts (20 weeks in the top 10 to be precise) and has beautifully set the tone for the rest of this fantastic album.
Albums to look forward to:
Mystery Jets – A Billion Heartbeats (3rd April)
The first single from their new album, ‘Screwdriver’, is full of power and depth; calling to mind The Killers’ early work with a hooky looped guitar riff to pull you in from the start. ’History Has Its Eyes On You’ opens with a thunderously thumping bass-line layered underneath gentler vocals with quietly compelling lyrics like “Be who you needed/ Be who you needed when you were younger”. ’Wrong Side of the Tracks’ and ’Hospital Radio’ are equally dynamic tracks, and I can already tell I’ll have the full album on loop as soon as it comes out.
M. Ward – Migration Stories (3rd April)
The ‘Him’ half of ‘She & Him’, M. Ward is soon to release his first album since 2018. The Double bass intro in ’Heaven’s Nail and Hammer’ is bluesy, melancholic, and perfect music to dance to by yourself, glass of wine in hand, feeling like you’re at the end credits of a 60s movie.
It sounds oddly specific but once you listen to it you’ll see exactly what I mean. This album is the music that Quentin Tarantino and Greta Gerwig are sure to be salivating over to put in their next soundtrack, it’s feel-good and excellently crafted.
Images: Hreinn Gudlaugsson; Chicago Underground Quartet/Jaime Zuverza; Dua Lipa/Warner Records; Cavie78 (Wikipedia)