Top 5 records out this August

Eva Mackevic 5 August 2021

We take a look at some of the best records out this month, spanning country, noise-rock, contemporary classical and more... 

Album of the month: House of Lull. House of When by Alexis Marshall

“I’ve always hated going to Guitar Centre on tour. However, I love Home Depot. To shop for all my instruments at Home Depot was perfect for me,” says Marshall Alexis. And judging by the sound of his first-ever solo album, he must have burned through the hardware store’s entire catalogue.

A cacophony of scrap metal and construction materials, House of Lull harkens back to the noise of early industrial bands such as Cabaret Voltaire or Einstürzende Neubauten—abrasive, uncompromising, destructive. And that’s just the music accompaniment. At the centre of this high-pressure, metallic chaos are Marshall’s anguished howls of heathenry: screaming into the microphone about the psychological turmoil of youth and nostalgia for lost innocence, he sounds like a spoken word poet at The Last Judgement—with scenes of torture and mutilation unravelling in front of the stage.

Having made his bones as the vocalist of the cult noise-rock band, Daughters, Marshall tackles timeless topics with a voice that pulsates with raw emotion and yet displays great control and an awareness of its own limitations. A white-knuckle harangue-cum-confessional, House of Lull is not for the faint of heart—it cuts like shrapnel and mercilessly slashes at the very fabric of existence, yet it’s a truly original and affecting testament to what a man with a few padlocks and something to say can do.

Out now on Sargent House

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Change by Anika

A slightly more mellow but just as emotionally charged record also out this month is from the Berlin-based British expat, Anika. Her latest offering is a gorgeously recorded, lyrical musing on justice, belonging and the current state of the world, inspired by—you’ve guessed it—the pandemic.

A former political journalist, Anika delivers her thoughts and feelings with a sober, objective perspective, and equally cool, detached vocals to match. The music is bold and theatrical, embroidered with imaginative drum patterns and over-the-top synths. Perfect for fans of Nico, Aldous Harding and maybe even a bit of Marlene Dietrich.

Out now on Sacred Bones / Invada

The Cry of the Heart by Connie Smith

“People ask me, ‘What is country music,’” says Smith. “I say, ‘To me, country music is the cry of the heart.’ We all have these experiences in our hearts and I’m trying to identify and communicate with people so they know they’re not alone.”

The 54th album from the country legend is exactly what it says on the tin: a heartfelt, honest and down-to-earth collection of songs about life, love and heartbreak. Defined by knowing, witty lyrics, the punchy strokes of the steel guitar and Smith’s inimitable, twangy vocals, it’s a record full of joy and sincerity, underpinned with fastidious harmonies and catchy riffs.

Kicking off with the show-stopping ballad “A Million And One”, the record will have you pushing the repeat button till your fingers bleed.

Out on August 20 on Fat Possum Records

Infinity by VOCES8

A beautiful record for contemporary classical music connoisseurs, featuring both brand new works and covers, Infinity is the latest offering from the revered vocal group, VOCES8. Featuring music by such acclaimed composers as Jóhann Jóhannsson and Hildur Guðnadóttir, it’s an eclectic collection of songs that brings together the worlds of film, game as well as alternative and contemporary classical music.

A soothing, contemplative record, Infinity is perfect for a quiet night in after a tumultuous day, or for when you just need to pause and get your bearings in a moment of chaos. Our favourite track of the record is the serene “Scene Suspended”—a reworking of the celebrated electronic musician and composer Jon Hopkins’ 2020 composition. Start with that, and let it guide you through the magical world of vocal music.

Out on August 27 on Decca Classics

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The Turning Centre of a Still World by Jason Sharp

For a bit of cosmic otherworldliness, dive into the atmospheric third album of saxophonist and electroacoustic composer, Jason Sharp. You could fill a book with the thoughts and feelings that this powerful record conjures up; there’s sadness, hope, excitement, retrospection, anxiety—it’s one of those wonderfully expressive albums that invite you to project whatever it is you’re processing internally onto its canvas.

The music is a stirring marriage of saxophone and electronics with an unusual secret ingredient: Sharp’s own pulse. Patched through a heart monitor and routed to signal paths that trigger synthesizers and samplers, it’s an integral constant of this mystifying record, lending it a perfect mixture of groundedness and fragility. 

Out on August 27 on Constellation Records

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