May has definitely been the best month for music this year. That is not to say that it’s all down from here. There is already a slew of releases that have been confirmed for the coming months that are well worth getting excited about.

I recommend twelve new releases and with one exception they were all brilliant. First out of the blocks was Flying Lotus with ‘Cosmogramma’, an exploration of jazz in an electronic context heavily influenced by his aunt Alice Coltrane’s spiritual albums of the late ’60s and early ’70s. Though I’ve yet to fully absorb the album, and it is one that will take a few plays before it properly sinks in, I’d say that it sees Flying Lotus finally live up to the hype that has surrounded him since signing to Warp in 2008.

Three very busy weeks followed, the first week saw releases by The Black Dog, Foals, Holy Fuck and Walls. The Black Dog’s ‘Music for Real Airports’ is an attempt to depict airports in a modern and more realistic setting compared to Eno’s original album, which painted a utopian airport.  I would go as far to say it trumps  ‘Music For Airports’ by some way. Foals have stepped it up a level with ‘Total Life Forever’.  I felt that their début ‘Antidotes’ was overrated and in some places overly repetitive. They have expanded and enhanced their sound while adding enough variation to keep everyone interested. Holy Fuck achieved a similar feat but more immediately impressive and though I loved the analogue murk that coated their previous albums after a short period of adjustment their new-found clarity is very welcome. You can read my live review of the band of top form here. Finally electronica duo Walls self titled début mixed synths that recalled Krautrock legends Tangerine Dream with modern beats with excellent results. Check the album out on the visually pleasing Kompact player here.

The following week was probably the biggest for much-anticipated releases. LCD Soundsystem kicked things off with ‘This Is Happening’ and though I admit to being a little disappointed with James Murphy’s latest effort, I think the reasons aren’t ones that should dissuade you from purchasing it. The album has disappointing moments because some of  the tracks are similar to previous ones and ‘You Wanted A Hit’ just doesn’t feel right.  Elesewhere Congo’s Konono No.1 delivered a superb follow-up  to their critically acclaimed début ‘Congotronics Vol.1’. ‘Assume Crash Position’ adds guitars, bass and a sublime feeling to their trademark abrasive likembe (thumb piano) sound.

Jamie Lidell’s emotional rollercoaster of an album, ‘Compass’, demonstrated he has lost none of his eclectic genre hopping after the relatively straightforward ‘Jim’ (2008). Made with fellow musical eccentric Beck on production and instrument duties the musical territory covered is as expansive as the range of emotions covered while managing to gel for the most part  and only falling when some of the more upbeat numbers (‘I Wanna Be Your Telephone’, ‘Enough’s Enough’) jar with album prevailing reflective mood.

The third week saw releases by techno queen Ellen Allien with ‘Dust’, noise manglers Crystal Castles second eponymous album and the long-awaited début from New York six piece Effi Briest with ‘Rhizomes’.  Allien shows a new level of maturity and accomplished pop nous, without sacrificing the techno trademarks established by her high watermarks ‘Berlinette’ and ‘Orchestra of Bubbles’ (with Apparat). Crystal Castles were the aforementioned singular disappointment and though they have progressed from the hit and miss sound of their début, many of the songs lacked that something extra to really draw me in. Lastly though I haven’t heard all the songs in full I’ve been impressed with Effi Briest and their combination of Krautrock and post-punk influences folded into a charming ramshackle mess of their own creation.

Spotify playlist (HTTP link, then Spotify link):

May 2010 playlist

May 2010 playlist

Recommended releases for June:

Diskjokke – ‘En Fin Tid’ 21st June (Smalltown Supersound)

Oneohtrix Point Never – ‘Returnal’ 21st June (Editions Mego)

Sleigh Bells – ‘Treats’  21st June (Mama & Pops/N.E.E.T.)

The Roots – ‘How I Got Over’ 21st June (Def Jam)

Tobacco – ‘Maniac Meat’ 28th June (Anticon)

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