Monthly Music Round-Up — July 2020

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With the end of last month, came the end of the first half of what has been quite an unorthodox year. But with things seemingly clearing up slowly day by day, we have had a stellar months worth of music to go along with it.

The month of July has seen many fantastic new releases, whether that be albums or singles. And this feels like a well-needed outcome, considering just how much of an emotional rollercoaster this month has been for me personally. Either way, I’m glad to say that I am concluding this month with a more positive mindset, and a whole bunch of amazing music to talk about.

So enough of me; let’s jump right into all of the albums, singles, and other tidbits that I have to share with you for July 2020.

1: Ranking Records I’ve Reviewed

#10 — Mike Shinoda — Dropped Frames, Vol. 1

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Going over this album was a weird ride. As I took the album at face-value upon my first listen, I was both confused, and a little disappointed regarding this album’s mostly instrumental nature. I simply felt that it neither felt like much of a Mike Shinoda album, or even an album at all.

I did, however, come to appreciate the album considerably more upon discovering the sentiment behind the project. This project had essentially been a compilation for all of the tracks that fans helped Shinoda to create, through his Twitch livestreams. Although, the point still stands that I feel that this would’ve been better received as a mixtape, instead of a studio album.

Read the full review here

#9 — Alfie Templeman — Happiness in Liquid Form

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A swift follow up to Templeman’s debut album, 2019’s Don’t Go Wasting Time, this new EP shows a slight sense of furtherment in the artist’s style-sculpting. In the Happiness in Liquid Form EP, the two seperate styles of Mac DeMarco style DIY indie and Two Door-esque electronic indie pop, fuse together for comfortably than any previous project. The only thing that hindered this EP’s prowess, however, were the few uninteresting tunes towards the end of the project.

Read the full review here

#8 — Bury Tomorrow — Cannibal

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Seen as 2018’s Black Flame was my gateway album into Southampton-based metalcore band Bury Tomorrow, I was anxious enough about a new release of theirs, that I ultimately skipped it until the full albums release. Cannibal takes a heavier and less melodic approach to the typical Bury Tomorrow formula, and I find this to neither be a worsening or an improvement; it is simply a change. And while I ultimately still prefer Black Flame by quite the margin, Cannibal is still a solid effort in its own right.

Read the full review here

#7 — Lynks Afrikka — Smash Hits (Vol.1)

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I had heard the name of Lynks Afrikka fluttering around for a fair while. I recall that I first knew about the gender-bending artist upon the release of their single “Str8 Acting”, which thankfully leads this debut EP of theirs.

Smash Hits Vol.1 is an immensely witty EP, especially in terms of its lyricisms, and made it a very unique kind of enjoyable. Some of the beats on this thing aren’t half bad either.

Read the full review here

#6 — The Streets — None Of Us Are Getting Out Of This Life Alive

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Mike Skinner’s infamous musical alias, The Streets, had made its triumphant return, in what is essentially the experience of an album, disguised as a mixtape. None Of Us Are Getting Out Of This Life Alive does a solid job of bridging the gap between classic and current, by adding a very interesting selection of featured artists to beats that do a great job of capturing that classic Streets feel. And while the duds feel more plentiful toward the end of the project, it is still both solidly enjoyable and memorable.

Read the full review here

#5 — Kansas — The Absence Of Presence

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The Absence of Presence will stands as the first Kansas album that I venture into, aside from their classic ones. And I must say, that credit is certainly due for just how expertly this album captures that classic epic rock feel, making it it sound just as badass as it seemed back in the glory days of 70's progressive rock. And while there are only a few tracks that fill very “run of the mill” in that sense, there is an equal measure of tracks that blew me away, particularly the album’s closer.

Read the full review here

#4 — IDK — IDK & FRIENDS 2 (Basketball County Soundtrack)

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One common theme that I noticed for July and music, is that it has seemingly become an incredible month for rap music. There are three consecutive projects that I feel are very deserving of praise. The first of which, is the newest mixtape from IDK.

Continuing on from 2018’s IDK & FRIENDS, this mixtape really does prove that less is more sometimes. There’s definitely an aura of being rough around the edges, but it really works in this projects favour, surprisingly enough.

Read the full review here

#3 — MIKE — Weight of the World

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I find abstract rap as a whole to be very hit-or-miss. A good example of this claim would be how much I enjoyed Earl Sweatshirt’s 2018 album Some Rap Songs, but was brutally disappointed by the FEET OF CLAY project.

But back to MIKE, an artists who has piqued my interest for a short while, and I find Weight of the World to be a complete hit. The flow of the entire album just runs so smoothly, to the point where it feels like a truly memorable, expression-fuelled, and artistic musical masterpiece.

Read the full review here

#2 — Blu & Exile — Miles

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And speaking of musical masterpieces, we have the absolute cream of the crop when it comes to the insanely good rap catalogue of July 2020. Miles is an over 90 minute, and 20 track experience, which comes as a result of another collaborative effort between wordsmith Blu, and producer Exile.

This album is a more-than-generous helping of nothing less than pure blues rap magic. But more importantly than being an incredible jazzy rap piece, it also touches upon some very important topics of race, class, economic struggle, and the heroes that help you carry on. Miles is truly one to remember.

Read the full review here

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#1 — Protomartyr — Ultimate Success Today

Going into this project, I reckoned that I would find it okay at best. What fuelled this feeling were in unison the fact that I had not listened to Protomartyr prior, and that the typical type of noise rock doesn’t suit my musical palette all to well.

But the sheer level of expertise and care that went into this album’s gripping narrative of toxic modernity, diverse range of moods, and not one bad track in sight, simply cannot be denied. It most certainly blows every other rock album released in 2020 up to this point out of the water, and is most certainly my most played album of July 2020.

Read the full review here

2: The Top 20 Tracks Of The Month

There were dozens of fantastic solitary singles as well, and I will be covering my 20 favourites right about now.

#20 — Kanye West & Travis Scott — Wash Us In The Blood (feat. Travis Scott)

#19 — Lynks Afrikka — Rise + Shine

#18 — James Blake — Are You Even Real

#17 — Alfie Templeman — Maybe This Is Time

#16 — Ty Dolla $ign — Ego Death (feat. Kanye West, FKA twigs, serpentwithfeet, and Skrillex)

#15— All Them Witches — The Children of Coyote Woman

#14 — Bury Tomorrow — Voice & Truth

#13 — Nathan Dawe — Lighter (feat.KSI)

#12 — Mike Shinoda — Open Door

#11 — The Streets — None Of Us Are Getting Out Of This Life Alive (feat. IDLES)

#10 — YUNGBLUD — Strawberry Lipstick

#9 — MIKE — Delicate

#8 — Disclosure — My High (feat. slowthai)

#7 — IDK — 495 (feat. Rico Nasty, YungManny, Big Flock, Big JAM, and Weensey)

#6 — Talkslow — Feline

#5 — p-rallel & Greentea Peng — soulboy

#4 — Blu & Exile — The Feeling (feat. Jacinto Rhines)

#3 — Protomartyr — Modern Business Hymns

#2 — Kansas — The Song The River Sang

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#1 — Gorillaz — Pac-Man (feat. Schoolboy Q)

It is safe to say that the Song Machine series was the saving grace for Gorillaz, who were seemingly struggling to recapture their classic aesthetic in recent years prior. This project has (for the most part) been tune, after tune, after tune. And while I was anxious that the most recent two Gorillaz tracks prior to this one spelled out that Gorillaz had expended their appeal, they bounced back hard, with what is probably my favourite track of their series so far.

For starters, this track feels insanely Plastic Beach-like in its mixture of dreamy and sharp production. And finally, Schoolboy Q’s brilliant feature just absolutely seal the deal for this track. I can’t get enough of just how catchy this banger is.

3: Music Video Of The Month

deadmaus & The Neptunes — Pomegranate

Besides, it was through the music video, that I managed to discover “Pomegranate”, which is now amongst my favourite songs of the year.

Equally to this tracks colourful atmosphere, the video is equally so, and is an exciting and attention-gripping adventure from start to finish.

Created by Nick Denboer

4: Album Cover Of The Month

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Protomartyr — Ultimate Success Today

5: Albums I Nearly Reviewed

DMA’S — THE GLOW

Lianne La Havas — Self-titled

Logic — No Pressure

Oliver Tree — Ugly Is Beautiful

And that wraps up the month of July. It truly has been a month that has brough many amazing albums to the table. Let’s hope that August follows through nicely. And as always, I’ll be here to round that month up too.

My articles mainly revolve around music reviews and analysis. A bit like Anthony Fantano, but just a decade behind.

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