May 2021

May has been another month of fantastic musical output. With an array of outstanding records from artists both new and returning, we’ve had the tough task of narrowing it down to five.

Lou Barlow – Reason to Live

Secret Meeting says

Reason to Live, which can be loosely considered his fourth solo record, is marked by how true it feels to its creator. There is a cushion of contentment that props up the album that never veers into complacency, and through its many turns and deviations, Barlow proves that he is one of the best there is at knowing exactly what a track needs (or doesn’t need), to make it feel complete.  Whether that be the woozy west coast swirl of Privatize, or the comforting drag of Paws that feels like a familiar hand twirling you around the dancefloor. His lo-fi aesthetic remains firmly in place – with a battered acoustic guitar providing the spine of most songs, but each has its own unique nodules.

For more Lou Barlow, you can find our interview with the Dinosaur Jr and Sebadoh man here.

Mia Joy – Spirit Tamer

Secret Meeting says

Every time you think you have backed it into a corner, it appears over your shoulder in another guise. Yes, there are flashes of Cocteau Twins-alike brilliance. But now a musical artist who is also trained with painting and ceramics, the Chicago songwriter’s textural explorations are just one aspect that give Spirit Tamer its uniqueness. For every ‘straight (ish) pop’ moment like See Us, there are other sides to the record that are wordless, formless, melody less, or all three: see the false start of the opener/title track that offers a palette cleanser before the record even begins; the guitar led one and half minute interlude of Phone Home; and the Liz Harris influenced loops of Candle Prayer.

Fust – Evil Joy

Secret Meeting says

Aaron Dowdy sings of leaving. Whether departing his ranch or the fine planet herself, the subject is his new album’s chief exploration. For a people who arrived on horseback to make a home – both from the plunder of the gold rush and the native American homeland – it’s no wonder that leaving has become central to the lore of the plains. Another essential element of Evil Joy is the rich nature of melodrama that infuses all things country and Americana and, as a result, we’ll never know whether the album’s narrator did indeed act on their word.

Damien Jurado – The Monster Who Hated Pennsylvania

Secret Meeting says

On a record full of rich character voices, Damien Jurado continues to fill his notebooks with empathic musings – ‘Hello from the room where I’m selling my clothes,’ opener, Helena, announces itself. Like a character existing in a bedsit captured by the brushstrokes of Edward Hopper, across The Monster Who Hated Pennsylvania, Jurado’s first person narrator tells that the cynicism of day to day life doesn’t have to crush our dreams and aspirations – ‘The world is a liar, the stars are a must.’ 

Carter Tanton – Carter Tanton

Secret Meeting says

The beauty and intensity of this record belies its quiet nature, as Tanton’s words rage like wildfire. Devastating, but impossible to turn from, they char the ground while providing an opportunity for self reflection and regrowth. As he sings on Mirrors, ‘you say you feel so free then fall real fast / into troubled waters, a nagging past / and it drags you through the mud / but you can shine like gold,’ there is a pained acceptance of the toll a life spent looking back can take, coupled with the faintest glimmer of a brighter tomorrow.

Also check out Carter Tanton’s Sound & Vision feature here.

Once you have made your way through the albums above, we would point you towards our interviews with Gruff Rhys, discussing his excellent new solo album, Seeking New Gods. We also caught up with Roddy Woomble for a further look into his brilliant new record Lo! Soul. 

Plus, we also loved EPs this month – including Mr Ben and the Ben’s Melody Shed, and Blackaby’s Everything’s Delicious.

If you would like to see even more new music recommendations, follow our ever-evolving playlist here:

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