Seasonal Music Round-Up — Spring / Summer 2021

It’s that time of the year again; the second quarter of the year has been and gone. This not only means that 2021 is already half over, but also that I am now ready to share my second round-up of the year.

While the year 2020 saw me commence monthly round-ups, I thought that making it seasonal instead would be a more unique way of doing things. This is the follow-up to my Winter / Spring Round-Up, which covered my favourite music spanning from January to March 2021, so be sure to click here if you missed it.

The months of April, May and June will be covered in this article here. It has been a pretty big rollercoaster of a month, with many downers and uppers. But as things are going generally, the second half of this year should hopefully be more promising as a result. I have been fortunate enough to finally find full-time work once more, which means I have to be stricter in regards to time. Nevertheless, this true labour of love will continue.

This segment of the year is arguably the most important of all. It’s the projects released at this time of year that typically have a huge impact on the rest of the year, thanks to them giving us good vibes in the lead-up to summer.

So without further ado, let’s go over the best bits of this season, starting with the top ten albums.

Top 10 Favourite Records of the Season

Armand Hammer & The Alchemist — Haram

Discovered by myself at the very start of the season, Haram not only serves as yet another showcase of The Alchemist’s incredible talent as a producer, thanks to the balanced blend of gorgeous and unnerving beats, but also a chance for me to experience the insane level of chemistry between billy woods and Elucid, as they once again join forces under the Armand Hammer moniker.

Listen on Spotify | Listen on Apple Music

BROCKHAMPTON — ROADRUNNER: NEW LIGHT, NEW MACHINE

Since the conclusive edition to their triad of SATURATION projects in 2017, the dynamic energy that the BROCKHAMPTON boyband undeniably championed seemed to be diluting slightly with each following release, in favour of a more accessible sound. Somehow, they managed to achieve both of these qualities with the amazing new chapter in their discography.

Listen on Spotify | Listen on Apple Music

Blue Lab Beats, Kaidi & NK-OK — The Sounds of Afrotronica

While feeling very reminiscent of what was my favourite album of 2019; The Comet Is Coming’s Trust In The Lifeforce Of The Deep Mystery, this new effort from Blue Lab Beats, Kaidi & NK-OK injects elements of afrobeat into the dynamic Jazztronica formula, to create something that feels truly unique. I absolutely adored the funk and vibrance that these artists jam-packed into this awesome project.

Listen on Spotify | Listen on Apple Music

Gojira — Fortitude

Thanks to their incredible teaser tracks earlier this year, the release of Gojira’s latest effort was one that I ended up highly anticipating. Fortunately, the metal band did not disappoint. With the same primal feel that made their previous album Magma so intriguing, but a sharper focus on hitting as hard as they can, Fortitude stands as an awe-inspiring and explosive album.

Listen on Spotify | Listen on Apple Music

Alfie Templeman — Forever Isn’t Long Enough

What better way to kick off the true lead-up to summer, than with an album from someone who had already started championing summer vibes with his 2020 EP. Aside from that, Forever Isn’t Long Enough also sees Alfie Templeman at his absolute best. An album that oozes this much confidence and warm energy obviously rubbed off on me the right way.

Listen on Spotify | Listen on Apple Music

J. Cole — The Off-Season

Admittedly, I was quite late to the party, when it came to fully experiencing a J. Cole project. However, The Off-Season proves that the rapper still hasn’t lost any of that edge. And within a narrative that frequently reflects upon that very idea, the overall presence feels very powerful, and very special. There’s a great range of versatile tunes, reminiscent of other hip-hop legends.

Listen on Spotify | Listen on Apple Music

Gary Numan — Intruder

After the aesthetic uniqueness of Savage (Songs from a Broken World), It was great to see it stick around, and given a darker coat of paint, on Gary Numan’s latest effort. The entirety of Intruder seems to remain incredibly consistent with its intensely sinister feel, and it really drove that sense of engagement forward. In-fact, I feel it may be one of the most engaging records this season.

Listen on Spotify | Listen on Apple Music

St. Vincent — Daddy’s Home

After missing the party with the Masseduction hype train, I thought it best to give St. Vincent’s following project some love. And fair to say, I am certainly glad I made that decision. The whole project definitely had that artistic integrity enlacing the whole thing, and it really made clear to me just how multi-talented and versatile this artist is.

Listen on Spotify | Listen on Apple Music

MIKE — Disco!

This project certainly grew on me quite quickly. While MIKE’s 2020 album weight of the world had the versatility, Disco! still carries a good deal of that versatility, while tying it to a retro disco-like aesthetic. I could really appreciate how vibrant the atmosphere was, on what is another example of MIKE’s masterful abstraction and remarkably fluid flow.

Listen on Spotify | Listen on Apple Music

Tyler, The Creator — CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST

Was there any doubt that this was going to be on here? Not only is CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST undeniably another bullseye project from Tyler, but also stands importantly as one that celebrates the rappers career, his upbringing, and his unique personality all at once. It is truly a vanity project at heart, but one that I can proudly get behind, and have immense fun as a result.

Listen on Spotify | Listen on Apple Music

Top 30 Tracks of the Season

Armand Hammer & The Alchemist — Black Sunlight

Tkay Maidza — Syrup

BROCKHAMPTON — DON’T SHOOT UP THE PARTY

Raf Rundell — Turning Tides

Years & Years — Starstruck

VUKOVI — KILL IT

Dua Saleh — signs

Little Simz — Introvert

Blue Lab Beats, Kaidi & NK-OK — Não Tem Nada Não

Frank Cater & The Rattlesnakes & Joe Talbot — My Town

Royal Blood — Boilermaker

Gojira — Sphinx

Billie Eilish — Your Power

Alfie Templeman — Wait, I Lied

Xiu Xiu — Killing Distance

Horsey & King Krule — Seahorse

Sons Of Kemet — Hustle

J. Cole — a p p l y i n g . p r e s s u r e

Lil Nas X — SUN GOES DOWN

Gary Numan — Saints and Liars

St. Vincent — Down And Out Downtown

IDK — Peloton

black midi — Chondromalacia Patella

Yves Tumor — Jackie

ToyQueens — WINE.

YONAKA — Raise Your Glass

KSI — Holiday

Mykki Blanco & Blood Orange — It’s Not my Choice

Tyler, The Creator, Lil Uzi Vert & Pharell Williams — JUGGERNAUT

Backxwash & Michael Go — BURN TO ASHES

Listen to the full playlist of all of my favourite tracks of April, May, and June below.

My Favourite EP of the Season

Half Moon Run — Inwards & Onwards

While there was a slight shortage of EP reviews from myself this season, the month of June finally manage to bring us a few great ones. The best of these in my opinion, was an EP that allowed me to reconnect with the indie folk-rock group I listened to for a while, known as Half Moon Run. And honestly, what I had loved about their music originally, has definitely stuck around on Inwards & Onwards.

Music Video of the Season

Tyler, The Creator — CORSO

Whenever Tyler, The Creator comes through with a new album cycle, it’s not only the music we have to look forward to. We also have all the amazing, quirky, and funny music videos too. As the most recent, and first “complete” music video of Tyler’s newest cycle, the video for “CORSO” felt like the most fitting pick. Playing out much like a Quentin Tarantino film, this video had my attention from start to finish.

Album Cover of the Season

Armand Hammer & The Alchemist — Haram

I took it upon myself to actually pixelate the album cover myself, as a way to censor the sensitive content. But needless to say, that really says a lot about how striking this cover art for Haram truly is. Featuring, to put it bluntly, two severed pig heads, the imagery could be linked to the injustices with policing that the record carries as one of its themes. However, it also stands as a striking juxtaposition to some of that album’s more gorgeous tracks.

And that conclude the first of four seasonal round-ups, and furthermore, the first half of 2021. Keep your eyes peeled for the next round-up, arriving at the end of September.

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