There we are again, back for another round. I don’t know how you are doing, but I am trying to focus on the positive things in life. The fact that it is summer does really help. I mean, a bit of sunshine can really brighten up your day, doesn’t it?
Summer record of the year?
Every summer I have this one record that gets a lot of spins. Usually it has a certain summer vibe. To me that means something that cheers me up, that is relaxing. So usually that is not a rough and dark metal album. What am I talking about? Let’s see. Last year I would say ESC Life delivered the goods. The year before that it was Rotterdam Ska Jazz Orchestra and the year before that Travoltas last record was undeniably my favorite.
This year there is some competition between the recent Giant Eagles record, Second Landing, and the latest Sun-0-Bathers EP, Floater. Giant Eagles are a Dutch band spicing up their Ramones-core with some synths. The end result is catchy and recognizable sunny music. Perhaps even more sunny is the new EP by Dutch skate-punkers Sun-0-Bathers. What they do is not innovative in any way, but it oozes fun. The competition is fierce, I can tell you!
There is extra competition from two bands that were late discoveries, really -- two bands that I have no idea why I slept on their music so long. Last year I discovered Jaya The Cat, who’s sunny reggae infused ska-punk is extremely relaxed and sunny. I spin their records at least once a month. They got company from Russkaja somewhere this year. My girlfriend calls it Eurovision-core. This should tell you their sound is in no way comparable with Jaya The Cat, but it ticks the same fun and positive boxes for me. Both are bands I know will stick with me for a while.
I am also listening to a lot of French music lately. That is a broad description, so allow me to enlighten you. Before we go into that, let’s talk about my reason for listening to this music. I was set on going for a short weekend trip to Paris and somewhere in spring I had a gite booked. Both trips were cancelled (you can guess why, yes?). We were planning on a another trip this autumn and we are not sure if we should or should not go. We’ll see. Anyway, to still get that holiday feeling I need I don my marinière (striped sweater), eat some French cheese and listen to French music.
So, what should you listen to get the right vibe? Let’s start with a couple of cool punk records. The first recommendation is a bit older, but still gold! Short Days released a couple of EPs and one full-length album. This album is already three years old. Time flies. I do hope for something new from this band. Their brand of short, catchy hardcore punk songs is right up my alley.
Another band you should take notice of is Faux Départ. They released their third album Vie Ordinaire earlier this year. I learned about their existence through their previous album, Au Pied Du Mur. Their catchy old school punk sounds like it could have been written in the early ‘80s, but has a very much updated production. I was so excited to hear more material from this band. Until this day I have not found the time to properly review Vie Ordinaire -- perhaps this will make up for that. I need to listen to this album some more, but I am pretty sure it will secure a high spot in my yearlist.
Once upon a time, no one looked to France for their metal. How the times have changed. There are some very interesting things happening in France, especially in the black metal scene. Two recent releases demand your attention. Example A is Regarde Les Hommes Tomber. Their third album Ascension was launched earlier this year. Their black metal spiced up with post-black and a touch of sludge hits almost all the sweet spots. I would love for them to produce their records a bit less loud. Other than that, the rage and hatred channeled through their music is truly something.
Another band that you should check is Creature. This one man black metal band fuses its sound with something completely different: baroque, classical music. This combination is a bit hit-or-miss. On Ex Cathedra, Creature has hit at least a couple of homeruns. Not every song is an absolute winner, but the middle part of the record sure is. I have a hard time describing what is happening on Ex Cathedra; I can only suggest you give it a spin. At the very least you can check the artwork it comes with. That is slightly less spectacular than the music, but still wows me every time.
There is something special about French pop music. I can’t pinpoint what it is exactly, but it has a vibe I have yet not found anywhere else. Again, I will limit myself to two releases, but be sure there’s more where this came from.
First up is Angèle. I recently got her album Brol La Suite, which is basically her 2018 album Brol, but with a couple extra tracks. What first struck me are the videos that accompany the release. “La Thune” and “Tout Oublier” come to mind. Those tunes stuck with me, so I ended up buying the record, only to find that the other tracks are a match for these sticky tunes.
My last recommendation is something special. Well, for me at least. I don’t exactly follow the French pop scene closely, so basically every release is a surprise for me. Including this one by one of my favorite French singers, Hoshi. Sommeil Levant is her second album. It is slightly more poppy than her debut, which in this case means the drums are replaced by beats. This hurts me slightly, but still… this is Hoshi. She has the kind of voice and charisma that she could pull off reading a phone book and still sound great. So I am sold, no matter what.
Still at home
I hope you enjoyed this virtual roadtrip. I know I did. Even though we are still at home. Speaking of home, I can share that Dauthuz -- a Dutch death metal band you all should check out -- is set to release new material soon(ish). I have heard a few snippets and it sounds amazing. A step up from their already solid debut. Keep an eye out for that record to drop, folks! I hope I’ll see you next time!