Birmingham's prince of indie, Sam Lambeth, takes a look at the songs that defined June 2017.
1). Arcade Fire – ‘Everything Now’
After 2013’s Reflektor failed to live up to the admittedly lofty heights of The Suburbs, Canadian troupe Arcade Fire seemed poised for an Indian Summer. ‘Everything Now’ mixes Abba-induced grandeur with a sleepy, but summery, acoustic motif that’s on a par with Win Butler’s best.
2). Queens of the Stone Age – ‘Like You Used To’
Josh Homme and co enlisted Mark Ronson to produce new record Villains, and his pop-tinged DNA is sprinkled throughout this lead single, a strutting slab of scuzzy blues-rock that’s in much lighter territory than the oblique wonder of 2013’s …Like Clockwork.
3). The Cribs – ‘In Your Palace’
Fresh from touring the tenth anniversary of Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever, the Jarman triumvirate released a pair of one-off singles. ‘In Your Palace’ is the choice pick, a snarling beast of punk-infused rock that has a slamming chorus and angsty vocals.
4). Wolf Alice – ‘Yuk Foo’
The acid-tongued spoonerism is not the only smart thing about Wolf Alice’s return. Delightfully foul-mouthed, ‘Yuk Foo’ is a frenzied blast of detuned fuzz, ominous guitar twinkles and Ellie Rowsell’s lo-fi rants about not giving a shit. It bodes well for the new LP.
5). Liam Gallagher – ‘Wall of Glass’
The prodigal son returns. While his previous songwriting efforts have left a lot to be desired, ‘Wall of Glass’ shows clear signs of progression. Rollicking walls of guitars do battle with a splitting harmonica before Gallagher’s unmistakeable growl comes into play.
6). Carly Rae Jepsen – ‘Cut to the Feeling’
Carly Rae is like the kid next door who’s doing slightly better than you. She may never reach the stratospheric reaches of her peers (think Taylor Swift), but her cultdom allows her to cut these sun-kissed, disco-tinged anthems perfect for an open highway.
7). The Horrors – ‘Machine’
‘Machine’ is suitably mechanical, robotic beats a la Primal Scream matched with brooding basslines and Faris Badwan’s eerily distant, distorted vocals. More bruised and battered than what has come before, ‘Machine’ is a refreshing, call-to-arms return for the ever-changing Londoners.
8). Cigarettes After Sex – ‘Each Time You Fall In Love’
It’s hard to pick one song to totally typify Cigarettes After Sex’s self-titled debut, such is the similarities between them all. But that’s by no means a bad thing – CAS soothes and soars, a wave rolling over the shore that’s replete with chorus-inflected contemplation and aching vocals.
9). Alvvays – ‘In Undertow’
Long-awaited return from the Canadian dream pop merchants. After the jangly magnificence of their debut album, ‘In Undertow’ is another throbbing lament to lost love, buoyed by a lilting keyboard and a bedrock of grungy goodness straight from Howdy!-era Teenage Fanclub.
10). Broken Social Scene – ‘Halfway Home’
Canada has produced a raft of strong songs this summer, and Broken Social Scene’s new record Hug of Thunder is set to add to this Canuck canon. ‘Halfway Home’ is a gorgeous, atmospheric piece of soaring vocals, pulsating bass and erratic drum work.
11). Kane Strang – ‘Not Quite’
Two Hearts and No Brain is a moody diary set to lo-fi delights, but on ‘Not Quite’, Kane Strang is able to create an aura of happiness within the gloom. Built on chugging guitars, thrashing cymbals and Strang’s deep howl, it’s music for boys with tear-stained lecture notes.
12). Marika Hackman – ‘Violet’
Marika Hackman continues to do wonders with just a guitar and a wry wit. ‘Violet’ is no exception, bluesy guitar chords blanketed by Hackman’s unique cry, continuing to blind to a glorious crescendo.
13). The Killers – ‘The Man’
The Killers return every so often like a former regular cast member making their contractual appearances. But ‘The Man’ doesn’t feel like Brandon Flowers phoning it in – despite the beat sounding like Backstreet Boys, this is The Killers at their bombastic best.
14). Ride – ‘Cali’
Weather Diaries certainly did no harm to Ride’s legacy, and the shoegaze merchants created a wonderful soundscape with ‘Cali’, a six-minute rocker built on downbeat, strident guitar arpeggios and Mark Gardener’s haunting coda of “summer is gone.”
15). Cage the Elephant – ‘Whole Wide World’
Cage the Elephant’s clout continues to rise, and their new compilation Unpeeled sees them redecorate and renovate their back catalogue. ‘Whole Wide World’ is a shimmering, 60s-inflected stomper.