July Release Round-Up - Articles - Soundblab

July Release Round-Up

by Rich Morris Rating: Release Date:

July was a good month for thinking outside the box, if music releases were anything to go by. In the mainstream, in pop, in r&b, hip hop and rock, surprises were to be found. Odd Future cohort Frank Ocean took a step unprecedented in hip hop/r&b when he came out as gay (sorta/kinda) online ahead of the release of his solo album, channel ORANGE. Some muttered that it was just a publicity stunt, but those people possibly don't realise how homophobic hip hop and the music industry still are. Nevertheless, the point remains that it gave his album one hell of a media boost, getting the attention of those who would otherwise pass it by or turn their noses up. Gratifyingly, reviews general focussed on the quality of the music and lyrics. The times are a-changing, indeed.

Elsewhere, Plan B, now a bona fide UK pop star, refused to take the easy road and release The Defamation of Strickland Banks Part II, or whatever, instead choosing to chronicle the violent, druggy underbelly of urban Britain. He also largely abandoned the accomplished soul singing of his second album for the rapid-fire rap of his almost-forgetten debut. Most reviews acknowledged the result was uneven, but it was also uncompromising, and when's the last time you could call a pop album that?

Meanwhile, the always uncompromising Mica Levi returned with her band The Shapes and their second album, Never, which proved to be another glorious mix of cacophonous noise and melodic smarts. Two of Liverpool's finest rockers teamed up deliver some psych-rock noise in the form of Mugstar; thrilling, sludgy noise was also on offer from Advaitic Songs from Om, and in a more refined form from Dirty Projectors with Swing Lo Magellan. And if it's forward-thinking, leftfield electronica you're looking for, look no further than the debut by Brixtonite Cooly G on Hyperdub, Playin' Me.

However, sometimes you just wanna let your hair down to something tried, tested and true, right? Summer Camp, The Gaslight Anthem and The View gave us plenty of what we knew we wanted and then some more just for good measure.

Here's what Soundblab had to say about July's key releases:

Frank Ocean - channel ORANGE

Dirty Projectors - Swing Lo Magellan

Micachu and the Shapes - Never

Plan B - Ill Manors

Summer Camp - Always

Cooly G - Playin' Me

The Gaslight Anthem - Handwritten

Om - Advaitic Songs

The View - Cheeky for a Reason

Mugstar - Ad Marginem

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