Now that summer has come to an end, I thought it would be a nice moment to take a quick pause and have a look back at some of the best new albums I’ve heard this year so far. In no particular order at all, below are six albums that I have had on repeat so far this year. Enjoy!
- Courtney Barnett – Tell Me How You Really Feel
The first album is Tell Me How You Really Feel by the wonderful Courtney Barnett, who is probably one of my favorite artists at the moment. This album was finally released three years after her debut album (Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit), and then a brief pause from her own music to release a brilliant collab album with Kurt Vile (Lotta Sea Lice). But I can tell you confidently it was definitely worth the wait.
This album features several appearances from Kelley and Kim Deal (from The Breeders), and it is a well thought out album from start to finish, with Barnett indeed telling us how she really feels. This album does have a much more mature feel compared to her earlier music, with fewer witty lyrics about mundane everyday events (which was a common feature in her earlier work). Overall, Courtney Barnett has delivered a fantastic album that I could listen to, and do listen to, over and over again.
- Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – Hope Downs
Having caught lots of attention from the release of their single French Press back in 2017, Australian band Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever released their first album, Hope Downs.
Hope Downs is an album full of jangly sounding guitar and witty lyrics that prove just how talented this five-piece Melbourne band are. All the songs on Hope Downs are wonderfully addictive, and the album feels fresh on every listen. With music sounding similar to Car Seat Headrest and King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, I think Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever are well on their way to becoming the next best indie rock band.
- Arctic Monkeys – Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino
After the astounding worldwide success from their previous album AM, Arctic Monkeys had a lot to live up to. Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino sees the band take a very different musical turn from the rock sound of AM, instead opting for a much more spacey and atmospheric sound. This album is a concept album, meaning it is all based on an idea or perception, and then follows this theme throughout. This album is set on an imagined moon in an area degraded by humans and their building of hotels and casinos (which is set near Turner’s imagined Sea of Tranquility).
There is so much to this album, and it is very focused around the lyrics and the subsequent storytelling. It is the kind of album where you will pick up something new on every listen, be it a subtle bassline or nonchalant harmony. Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino has confirmed that Arctic Monkeys are still as relevant as ever.
- Parquet Courts – Wide Awake!
Wide Awake! from Parquet courts is an upbeat and head-bopping album full of danceable punk rock music. With help from producer Danger Mouse, Parquet Courts have managed to create an album containing a collection of effortlessly cool songs, in particular the tracks Wide Awake, Total Football, and Almost Had to Start a Fight/In and Out of Patience. The band do take a more mellow turn on the song Before the Water Gets Too High, where they talk about changing global climates and a lack of state action, with singers A. Savage and Austin Brown singing remorsefully about ‘images of drenched survival’ and ‘tent villages waiting for the state to help’.
Despite the band being in their 30s, their music hasn’t aged with them, and they still have a very young sound which will especially appeal to their younger punk rock fans.
- Shame – Songs of Praise
The debut album Songs of Praise is full of energy, and is a great album from this young post-punk British band. Having come from the same south London area as the likes of Goat Girl and Fat White Family, Shame have proven on this album that they are just as talented as the rest of their peers.
Seeing as the band are famous for their boisterous and rowdy live shows, it is no surprise that this album is best heard live. This is a somewhat refreshing feeling, showing the band have really stayed true to what they do best, and that’s exactly why their fans love them.
- Father John Misty – God’s Favorite Customer
The fourth album from Josh Tillman (better known as Father John Misty) is unlike anything we have heard from him before. With his previous album Pure Comedy full of complexity and self-exploration, this album instead takes a completely different turn, showing Father John Misty at his most vulnerable. Full of ballads discussing his heartbreak and pain, it feels as if the ego of Father John Misty has fallen off his pedestal.
The melancholic feel in this album is clearly heard in the lyrics. For example, Father John Misty talks about begging for ‘somebody to stop this joyless joy ride’, and, in the track The Palace, he somberly sings the line ‘Last night I texted your iPhone, and said ‘I think I’m ready to come home’ / I’m in over my head, I’m in over my head…’ With the album being written in hotel rooms over two consecutive months, there is surprisingly so much to this beautifully simple record. This is definitely the most solemn and genuinely honest album we have ever heard from Father John Misty, and so worth a listen.