Review: Best albums of July 2017

Written by: Paul Horsman

We’ve filtered the best music releases in July so you don’t have to. Highlights from our favourite ten albums can be heard here: The Void – July 2017 Highlights

Not got Spotify? Then be sure to check out these top three…

Japanese Breakfast – Soft Sounds from Another Planet

If you’re a fan of Lana Del Rey’s melancholic style but remain sceptical of her “Gangster Nancy Sinatra” facade, then try a taste of Japanese Breakfast… aka Little Big League’s Michelle Zauner.

Like Del Rey, Zauner owns a hypnotic drawl that drifts dreamily alongside spaced-out sounds. But rather than staying faithful to a one paced tempo, Zauner is freer in her musical approach. This is thrillingly evident in the opening trio of tracks on her second album, where she fleets from rough-around-the-edges-indie (Diving Woman) to lo-fi-chilled-out-bliss (Road Head) to saxophone-elevated-new-age-disco (Machinist). And as the album keeps on building, it manages to surprise while always staying true to its title.

There’s plenty to enjoy in the downbeat lyrics too. “I can’t get you off my mind, I can’t get you off in general” deadpans Boyish, while Till Death contemplates: “All our celebrities keep dying while the cruel men continue to win.” Soft Sounds from Another Planet might not be the perfect album, but there’s no questioning its heartfelt authenticity.

Mr Jukes – God First

If your weakness is a hotly tipped producer with an ear for current sounds and an eye for high-profile guest slots, then it’s likely Mura Masa is already your feel-good album of the year. However, if you couldn’t give a whistle about who’s delivering the soulful vibes (providing they just keep on coming with a large spoonful of funk) then you may wish to investigate Mr Jukes instead.

The moniker has been adopted by Bombay Bicycle Club’s Jack Steadman, who sidesteps any misconceptions that might come with an indie-band frontman musically experimenting in his cabin while cruising from Shanghai to Canada (yes, really).

Despite laying down a few vocals of his own, Steadman offers something you wouldn’t necessarily label a solo project. Guest vocalists aren’t the key ingredient, yet there’s a remarkable list of them nonetheless. BJ the Chicago Kid, Charles Bradley, Horace Andy, Lianne La Havas, De La Soul, Lalah Hathaway (yep, Donny’s daughter) and St Aloysius College Choir all lend a helping hand to make one hell of an impressive compilation album. Combined with the fact that God First is largely built from samples, you get the sense that this is more like a record collection born out of impeccable taste.

Sivu – Sweet Sweet Silent

And now for something different. It appears Cornish singer-songwriter James Page (aka Sivu) isn’t at all interested in making music for cool kids to dance to. He prefers deep diving into sonic darkness, echoing Mercury Rev in their heyday while reaching out to the eccentrics (and hay fever sufferers) who prefer spending summer days hibernating indoors.

The clue is in the song titles. LonesomeDrastic ChangeBlood Clots and Pheromones… this is far from Declan McKenna. Yet underneath the gloomy exterior are lullabies that strangely uplift. Submersible opens like a gothic hymn before subtly developing into a majestic mantra. Kin and Chrome must be a contender for the most stirring love song of the year. And to further prove that splendour can sometimes lurk in shade, Sweet Sweet Silent is every bit as pretty and peculiar as its name suggests.

The standout, however, is Flies. Beginning like an alien emerging from the shadows, it soon blossoms into a beast that sparkles in the light. Ghostly and inspiring; Sivu is the reluctant musical hero we weren’t at all expecting.

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Listen to more highlights from some of the best albums of 2017…

The Void Playlist – June 2017 Highlights
The Void Playlist – May 2017 Highlights

The Void Playlist – April 2017 Highlights

The Void Playlist – March 2017 Highlights
The Void Playlist – February 2017 Highlights
The Void Playlist – January 2017 Highlights

Author: Paul Horsman

Paul likes writing. And music. It’s unclear whether he likes sharing his suggestions with others or simply likes unleashing an ugly critic within… but we allow him to write about music on The Void.

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