With the roaring success of Glastonbury still ringing in our ears, it’s time to look back and consider the greatest additions that June had to offer to the musical tapestry of history. Probably one of the strongest months so far this year, it would be easy to say there were no “standout” albums in June, but I simply see that as the quality of all contributions being so significantly high. As per usual, you’ll find my “Best of June” playlist at the bottom of the page.

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  1. Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest – Bill Callahan

A beautifully abstract piece of musical storytelling. Bill Callahan drives us through a rural tale of obscurity, zigging every time we expect him to zag, all the while keeping us on track with beautifully simple melodies; smooth, unwavering vocals and lyrics that make you almost laugh and cry simultaneously.

Standout Track: Morning is My Godmother

  1. Keepsake – Hatchie

A blistering debut from the Brisbane-born singer-songwriter. Power-pop at its best, Keepsake feels both delightfully familiar and refreshingly new at the same time, making every listen a pleasurable experience. Hatchie layers traditional pop melodies with synthesizers with apparent ease, but still manages to keep adrift of the boring mass-produced pop sounds. A heart-warming coming-of-age album, and for a first foray into solo music, a resounding success.

Standout Track: Obsessed

  1. Doom Days – Bastille

The third album from Bastille brings a lot of what we expected, stripped transcendent synths rolling over slow rhythmic heartbeat drums with lead singer Dan Smith running all over the top with both flair and control. It also brings a lot of lyrical sensitivity, a welcome dash of electronica and a slower set of tracks than previous efforts. Bastille back at their best, and ready to set the festival season alight.

Standout Track: Doom Days

  1. Late Night Feelings – Mark Ronson

Featuring a plethora of ridiculously talented female artists, Late Night Feelings exudes groove. Fantastically produced by Mark Ronson, each unique track highlights both his incredible talent for making music and the insane levels of ability of whoever is featuring on it. Almost every song would make a welcome addition to most DJ sets, yet a peak beneath the top layer shows the sensitivity behind the lyrics, revealing sorrow, loneliness and a longing for love.

Standout Track: Nothing Breaks Like A Heart (feat. Miley Cyrus)

  1. Inner Monologue (Part 2) – Julia Michaels

Julia Michaels continues her prolific songwriting career by adding a very strong album to her own growing personal repertoire. Michaels has a unique lyrical style that resonates incredibly clearly, especially with a younger audience, mainly because of her subject matter (typically relationships, friendships and mental health). Not only are these topics very relatable, but the rawness and openness of the lyrics have a powerful effect on the listener. Combine this with a beautiful singing voice, and you find one of the most underrated singer-songwriters of this generation.

Standout Track: Shouldn’t Have Said It

  1. Bandana – Freddie Gibbs and Madlib

A phenomenal collaborative effort that stays true to the pure hip-hop roots and packs a mega-punch through its lyrical strength. You’ll find no unnecessary varnish or dazzle, but arguably that makes the album more powerful, and hearing the rawness openly on display makes you feel a genuine connection that most albums strive for, without ever really achieving.

Standout Track: Freestyle S**t

  1. A Bath Full Of Ecstasy – Hot Chip

A Bath Full Of Ecstasy is the type of album to listen to at 4 am in someone else’s living room with a faded 3 colour light machine half-heartedly spinning in the corner, on a come down from a long night of overpriced drinks and bad dancing. The seventh outing from Hot Chip is just as electronically exciting, musically mesmerising and lyrically loveable as anything they’ve produced yet, and if nothing else magnificently displays their longevity in this unforgiving and relentless music industry.

Standout Track: Bath Full Of Ecstasy

  1. Help Us Stranger – The Raconteurs

Seven months ago, The Raconteurs delivered a slice of what was to come from their third outing, in the singles Now That You’re Gone and Sunday Driver (review here). I waxed lyrical over the songs and held my breath for the full album. Well, here it is. A simply magnificent return to the scene from the Nashville rockers that delivers on nearly ten years of anticipation. Jack White’s thick, fuzzy guitar riffs weave throughout each track like a master tailor sewing the fabric of music itself, but to say this is a “one-man effort” would be an insult. The collaborative skills and passion of White, Benson, Keeler and Lawrence are what truly makes this album such a pleasure to experience.

Standout Track: Only Child

  1. Let’s Rock – The Black Keys

Following a four-year hiatus to focus on different projects, The Black Keys triumphantly return to the fray with their ninth studio album; the appropriately named “Let’s Rock”. The time off has certainly paid dividends, considering that Lo/Hi, the first single released from the album, was the group’s first to make it to No.1 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Chart (a travesty considering songs such as Lonely Boy and Gold on the Ceiling). The signature groovy-rock vibe makes a very welcome return, and both Auerbach and Carney’s skill and experience shine brightly throughout a phenomenally classy and well-rounded album.

Standout Track: Get Yourself Together

  1. A Different Kind Of Human (Step II) – Aurora

A mind-bending auditory experience, Aurora has mastered her trademark “weirdness” into a musical masterpiece. Firmly placing the spotlight on her own uniqueness, A Different Kind Of Human (Part II) stands alone, far from the rest of the musical crowd, undefinable by genre, unexplainable by words. With powerful lyrics that encapsulate the human experience and elucidate Aurora’s personal considerations regarding humanity (I myself cannot wait to board the mothership to take me higher), each song has an anthemic level of awe and majesty surrounding it. A true work of genius from the mistress of outsiders and misfit toys.

Standout Track: A Different Kind Of Human

Shortlist

  • Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest – Bill Callahan
  • Keepsake – Hatchie
  • Doom Days – Bastille
  • Late Night Feelings – Mark Ronson
  • Inner Monologue Part 2 – Julia Michaels
  • Bandana – Freddie Gibbs and Madlib
  • A Bath Full Of Ecstasy – Hot Chip
  • Help Us Stranger – The Raconteurs
  • Let’s Rock – The Black Keys
  • A Different Kind Of Human (Part II) – Aurora
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