Welcome back to Violet Music Digest – your monthly roundup of music news and reviews.
JULY! The sun shone brightly, people sweltered, and then complained incessantly about it. It’s been a glorious month, especially for those of us who hide indoors year round and obsess over things which have happened. Such as…
#1 – Blood Shed.
Things got off to an optimistic start on the 2th with the release of Rook’s Shed Blood. Optimistic in the sense that we were presented with an astonishing work of art. Tonal and thematically it’s a devastating wave of trauma and rage; carried by some of the strongest digital production heard in years.
Normally I’m shy about including things I’ve already covered – but Shed Blood is superb and I cannot recommend it highly enough.
#2 – Does Matter.
Three days later, there was the announcement of Chris – the forthcoming sophomore album from Héloïse Letissier (aka Christine and The Queens, or the Frenchest woman alive).
Like her stunning debut, it’ll be available in both French and a real language; as is latest single “Doesn’t Matter.” It’s a minimalist, pulsating little gem about questioning faith; which Letissier describes as a ‘crisis song.’ It’s also further proof – if proof were needed – of why she’s so fucking great.
#3 – There’s No Crying Wolves Now.
The Ministry of Sound releases an average of 400 compilations a week, and what’s amazing is how consistently great they are. Even more amazing is that one of the most recent (and best) is tied to reality TV guff-o-rama Love Island. It’s 3 CDs of quality EDM, but I bring it up because it introduced me to one of my favourite songs of the year so far.
Let’s gloss over the fact that the song was originally released in February.
The improbably named Camelphat’s remix of Ibiza born singer/songwriter Au/Ra’s “Panic Room” takes an affecting song about fear and anxiety, and turns into a live wire vortex with an exquisite drop. It pulls the neat trick of making you want to dance with abandon; despite your paranoid certainty that you’re going to be eaten by demons.
#4 – Policeman Enters The Game.
The World Cup in Russia was premium grade ball-kicking, married to dramatic giant-killing and the joyous revelation that England don’t have to be shit.
International sporting events are often seen as carnivals of global unity and celebration. Unfortunately this one went some ways in glossing over the bastard stretch marks of the host nation.
Helpfully members of feminist protest punk collective Pussy Riot jogged our memories by invading the pitch during the final between Croatia and France. In a pre-recorded statement, members of the group declared that the Russian governments’ suppression of opposition, free speech and its mistreatment of prisoners were among their motivations.
The act itself seemed to be over in the blink of an eye, but it has reinvigorated popular opposition to Vladimir Putin’s mafia state. It was also followed by a raft of new material including “Track About Good Cop” and the seizure inducing “КОШМАРЫ/NIGHTMARES.”
As of July 31st, the participants in the protest have served 15 days in custody, been released; but are potentially facing additional jail time. Pussy Riot have also turned much of their attention to the imprisonment of 18 year old Anya Pavlikova. All tolled, the collective deserves enormous praise and continued support for their efforts.
#5 – Call It How You Hear It.
If Pussy Riot represented music at its most vital; then the release of Now That’s What I Call Music 100 represented its potential for mediocrity. True, no one expects the Now series to provide penetrating socio-political commentary; but surely such a milestone deserves more than this? A single disc of recent hits…fine. That’s the series’ bread and butter. But disc two, (despite some quality inclusions); feels pretty flaccid as a representation of 35 years worth of hits.
It is worth noting that Now 1 has been re-issued, which was a pretty decent move. Unfortunately UB40 are well represented on both releases – something which is just unacceptable, if not morally repugnant.
#6 – Eilish Lessons.
Rook went for the throat at the start of the month. Billie Eilish went for something more subtle (though still intimidating) with “you should see me in a crown” towards the end. Opening with the sound of sharpening knives; it slips into a vein of patient malevolence. In an interview with Annie Mac, she described how the song was inspired by an episode of Sherlock – specifically quoting Jim Moriarty.
The song oozes a sinister cool; with Eilish revelling in her persona as a calculating, self-assured mastermind. ‘Bite my tongue, bide my time/Wearing a warning sign/Wait ‘til the world is mine.’ Yep, that’s about the size of it.
So that was July. I want to thank everyone who’s stuck with me despite the change of format for these monthly reviews (which I explain in this video). As ever if you have anything you think is worth spotlighting over the coming weeks – hit me up in the comments below or on Twitter. Have a great one.