What We’re Listening To: September 2020

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Another month gone by means another round of what we’re listening to. What a month it’s been! We started the new semester of uni, COVID is on the rise, Wales went into lockdown, there was a presidential debate; it’s been a busy time. We’ve also all been listening to some great tunes this past month, so sit back, relax, and have a listen. Remember everyone, wear your masks, socially distance, wash your hands and stay safe!

ALBUM: Ava Max – Heaven and Hell

Ava Max has always been one of those artists on the radio I never really paid much attention to. Her songs are great, the beats a staple for driving music and rush hour tunes found everywhere, but I never went out of my way to go and listen in my free time. But September 2020 saw her debut album Heaven and Hell release, and it has completely changed my mood towards her. More than once this month I’ve found myself listening to her famous singles like “Kings and Queens” or newer pieces like “Rumors” which debuted with the album.

The album peaked at #2 on the UK Album’s Chart, and it’s something well-deserved, especially if it’s been able to turn me from casual listener to quite a big fan of Ava Max’s work!

Louise Chase

Heaven and Hell is available to listen to now via Atlantic Records. Check out ‘Kings & Queens’ down below.

ALBUM: Placebo – A Place For Us To Dream

I found it way too hard to pick a single Placebo song that I’ve been obsessed with the last month, so instead I’m going to share my love of their compilation album, A Place For Us To DreamPlacebo have been going strong for over 20 years now; an English rock, glam and punk band, known for their androgynous appearance, lyrics that openly and honestly discuss sex, mental health, drug use, and gender, and lead singer Brian Molko’s distinctive voice and guitar tuneage, they were and still are a key part of the British rock scene.  A Place For Us To Dream is a celebration of their long and successful career, and contains some of their best tracks in it’s double LP length. From ‘Meds’ to ‘Slave to the Wage’ to ‘Bruise Pristine’ to ‘This Picture’ to ’36 Degrees’ to ‘Special Needs’, even a collaboration with the late great David Bowie on ‘Without You I’m Nothing’, just a name of few of the brilliant tunes, it’s an essential listen for any fan of British Alt-Rock.

Alice Fortt

A Place For Us To Dream is available to listen to now via Elevator Lady Ltd. Check out ‘This Picture’ down below.

SONG: Dua Lipa – ‘Pretty Please’

Despite Future Nostalgia going live on March 27th (which seems years ago) I’ve only just started listening to the 80s dance inspired album, which is hoardes of pulse-raising tunes one after the other. The track thats been constantly on repeat the past month is ‘Pretty Please’ which starts with a mellow beat and Dua vocalising in her sultry low-notes that’s become a trademark in her music. The song soon picks up with steamy tasty tones and seductive lyrics that beg for sweet relief and the tension ‘that kind thats fun’. In the Club release of her ‘Future Nostalgia’ The Blessed Madonna has got her hands on the track and morphed it into a fun fast paced record, which somehow has heightened the feel good vibe. Written alongside Julia Michaels the song was a last minute record for the album but has for sure earned its place amongst the tracklist, it’s a song with alluring, luscious undertones and groovy party beats.

Olivia Dellar

‘Pretty Please’ is available to listen to now via Warner Records UK.

ALBUM: Michael Kiwanuka – KIWANUKA

When Michael Kiwanuka took home the Hyundai Mercury Prize 2020, I was ashamed to admit I had never heard of him. Caught up in all my anger for Rina Sawayama’s snubbing during the nominations, when KIWANUKA took home the prize, I decided it was high time to give the album a chance and finally listen to it. Simply put, I had missed a complete masterpiece of an album, and it quickly prompted me to explore Michael Kiwanuka’s whole discography. To speak truthfully, I listened to him non-stop and it’s been musically captivating from start to finish and it’s fair to say I haven’t stopped listening to him since I discovered him.

From its punchy tracks like ‘You Ain’t The Problem’ and ‘Rolling’ to my personal favourite sadder songs like ‘Solid Ground’ and ‘Piano Joint (The Kind of Love)’, KIWANUKA is a journey through music and emotions, and it’s not hard to see why the album deserved all the praise it received. Simply, it often transcends the idea of “music” and steeps itself delicately in a variety of themes that makes it an unrivalled album from 2019. My only wish is I had discovered Kiwanuka a little sooner.

Sam Pegg

KIWANUKA is available to listen to now via Polydor. Check out ‘You Ain’t The Problem’ down below.

ALBUM: Everything Everything – RE-ANIMATOR

The follow-up to a ludicrously good trilogy of albums between 2013 and 2017, Everything Everything‘s latest offering is a great slice of oddball alternative. While this new record doesn’t consistently feature the bustling sonics of 2015’s Get To Heaven, nor the bleak and nasty edge of 2017’s A Fever DreamRE-ANIMATOR does see Manchester’s unsung art-pop heroes reinvent themselves as more rough-around-the-edges and jaggy than they’ve sounded since their debut Man Alive. Frequently gone is the ultra-sheen and professionalism (relatively speaking) of previous efforts, replaced with a sonic aesthetic that is boxy and bristly, yet clean and occasionally blissful. It usually works and appropriately channels the “live sound” the band spoke of wanting to achieve with this release. Particular highlights are the delicious snare sound and soaring bridge section of pure Radiohead-worship ‘Moonlight,’ the squawky fuzz of ‘Lord of the Trapdoor’s climactic guitars, and the shameless chorus of ‘Violent Sun,’ a tune which sounds like the band’s own attempt at britpop, or a Killers hook.

Harry Geeves

RE-ANIMATOR is available to listen to now via AWAL Recordings. Check out ‘Moonlight’ down below.

SONG: Alfie Templeman – ‘Obvious Guy’

This song always gives me major MIKA vibes and I can never quite work out why, but with its fun pop tone and synthesized background notes it’s hard to not love Alfie Templeman‘s exciting single ‘Obvious Guy’. Its repetitive, dance-esque nature is what makes it one of the best cures for the post-summer blues we’re all experiencing now as the days get darker earlier and feel shorter and shorter by the week. Templeman’s voice is one that works so well with the sound of disco and ‘Obvious Guy’ knows just how to keep you feeling upbeat making it one of the tracks I’ve had on loop since its release three months ago. I’m just holding onto the summer basically…

Katie Evans

‘Obvious Guy’ is available to listen to now via AWAL Recordings.

ALBUM: Fleet Foxes – Shore

Fleet Foxes are well-known for their ability to make music that makes you feel like you’re floating. Their newest album Shore was released in September, and it’s exactly what we need this year.

As 2020 has provided more stress and anxiety than anyone expected, Shore is the perfect stress-reliever. It begins with ‘Wading In Waist-High Water’ which is the perfect listen for a September evening. It’s hard not to fall into the gorgeous autumnal vibes when the lyrics start “Summer all over / Blame it on timing / Weakening August water / Loose-eyed in morning”.

The songs from Shore which have captured my attention most are definitely ‘Can I Believe You’ and ‘Maestranza’. The latter of these is perfect to play at the loudest volume as lead singer Robin Pecknold demonstrates his powerful vocals, whilst ‘Can I Believe You’ is the catchiest of all songs from Shore. After listening, it’s impossible to not have the chorus stuck in your head.

Shore makes for the absolute perfect autumnal listening. Ranging from gorgeous to haunting, Fleet Foxes tick all the boxes here.

Georgie Holmes

Shore is available to listen to now via Anti. Check out  ‘Maestranza’ down below.

Wanna listen to our top tracks of the month? Check out our handy ‘What We’re Listening To’ playlist down below!

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