It’s time to look back at all the ace new music you missed in February 2017 because you were too busy composing screeching hot takes on the Oscars or figuring out if you can make money from malted cat hair.
Just me? Well it was a quiet month, which means I had plenty of time to sit through endless hours of new music in order to provide you – dear confused reader who came to this page by accident – with a handy musical digest.
Here you’ll find our favourite albums of the month, including February’s very best album courtesy of Vagabon. As well as new records from Sampha, Syd, Stormzy and two other artists whose names don’t begin with S (it’s H).
42 best tracks of January and February 2017
Yeah I know, I cheated and had to include January’s best new tracks too. I won’t go into the reasons why there aren’t separate January and February playlists, but I can assure you that by doing this, I have saved many lives but ask for little or no reward.
Best albums of February 2016
And now here are some full-lengths for you to explore when you do whatever it is you do when you listen to music. I dread to think.
Album of the MontH:
Vagabon – Infinite Worlds
Vagabon is the alias of Cameroon-born Laetitia Tamko, a New York based singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist whose second album, Infinite Worlds is an incredible blend of indie rock, genre experimentation and heart-shattering poetry. It moves through the alt-rock outrage of ‘Flawless’ (“I’m just a small fish / And you’re a shark that hates everything”) to the devastatingly plaintive ‘Alive and a Well’ with a singular creative fire. Thrilling indie guitars, straight from your favourite 90s rock album, crash against more ambient electronic moments and surprising electropop flourishes. Yet it all feels right and everything is held together by Tamko’s minimalist, yet powerfully introspective lyrics. This really is a faultless album.
Sampha – Process
Sampha’s debut full-length Process is a gorgeous, heart-wrecking album, drenched in melancholy. The sparing electronic production evokes contemporaries such as James Blake, Ghostpoet or SBTRKT (a long-time collaborator) but Sampha’s vocals bring oceans of warmth and vulnerability, buoying everything above the moroseness and achieving a propulsive optimism.
Syd – Fin
The Internet are one of the edgier and more interesting post-Channel Orange neo-soul acts and Syd is the heart and soul of the group. On the lead vocalist’s debut album, we find Syd exploring more accessible 90s R&B textures but without a trace of compromise. It’s all heartfelt lyrics, smooth as hell vocals and slinky rhythms. A perfect late-night album.
Homeshake – Fresh Air
Homeshake is the project of Montreal based Peter Sagar, who was previously part of Mac DeMarco’s touring band. Fresh Air however is less ramshackle indie-pop and more stripped down and sensual R&B grooves. Although there are loads of odd, wonky touches that keep things defiantly left-field and persuades you to carry on exploring with repeat listens.
Health – Disco3
Although the Health formula may be predictable, it’s never less than thrilling. On their last, long-delayed album Death Magic the irascible scamps explored a less abrasive palette and even experimented with coherent vocals. This shouldn’t be much of a surprise, as die-hard fans know their Disco series of remix albums have often been their most accessible. This third chapter contains reworkings by Purity Ring, Preoccupations and Vessel, as well as new tracks such as the captivating ‘Euphoria’.
Stormzy – Gang Signs & Prayer
If you’re already well versed in the ins and outs of the London grime scene, then you won’t need an introduction to the 23 year-old MC known as Stormzy. But if you first saw him on last weekend’s Sunday Brunch or hanging out with Bradley Walsh at the Brits, then prepare yourself for a powerfully introspective debut, far removed from the mainstream. Gangs Signs & Prayer is both a stark commentary and a vulnerable reflection on a young life already twice lived. It’s an assured debut and proves the future of grimes is in safe hands.
That’s your lot! See you next month. Which is technically tomorrow. So, see you tomorrow, I guess. Man, I am not good at goodbyes.