With the summer there came a noticeable lull in noteworthy music releases, forcing critics to dig deep for something to talk about. In hindsight, the summer lull was an indicator of big things to come in the world of music. That thing was the month of September.
With fresh offerings from the Arctic Monkeys, Motorhead, Avicii, Placebo, Kings of Leon, Justin Timberlake and New Zealand pop sensation Lorde, September proved a monstrous month in music. Factor in a new group of quickly rising artists trying to leave their mark on the industry, and September might just end up as the best month for music in 2013.
Bastille – “Bad Blood”
A timid Londoner with a piano and a loop pedal, Dan Smith spun a passion for Regina Spektor lyrics and David Lynch films into a bizarre hybrid of a solo project. But an aversion to the limelight compelled Smith to shaft his solo career and collaborate with Kyle Simmons, Will Farquarson and Chris Wood, all of whom contribute various aspects to the synth infused sound that is Bastille. The result is a sound so different from Smith’s early recordings it is hard to imagine the same person is behind both projects, if not for his distinctly expansive vocal range.
The group’s debut album, “Bad Blood,” topped the British charts before finally hitting American music stands Sept. 3. With cuts like “Things We Lost in the Fire,” and the chart-topping single “Pompeii,” destruction is the only thing that ironically holds this record together. But with grandiose vocal harmonies and hooks that force an entire audience to belt along, “Bad Blood” never made tragedy sound so good.
The 1975 – “The 1975”
Manchester alt-rockers The 1975 built quite a following over the last year, releasing a string of four EP’s before finally dropping their self-titled debut album Sept. 3 on Vagrant Records. The album’s lead single, “Sex,” a poppy testament to young lust, spurred the band to the top of the United Kingdom’s albums chart. The rest of the eagerly anticipated LP bounces from synth-heavy rock to straight electro pop, as this new group explores its musical limits. The result is a polished record with a few potentially infectious singles, but a lot of experimental filler to go along with it, filler probably more suited to one of the band’s four prior EPs.
The Orwells – “Who Needs You” (EP)
For a group of Elmhurst, Ill., kids fresh out of high school, band the Orwells can sure channel the garage rock of yesterday. Their new EP, “Who Needs You,” released Sept. 10 on National Anthem, makes audiences want to dance and protest all at the same time. Even though the Orwells are undoubtedly a throwback, “Who Needs You” shows the band’s willingness to build on an old sound with songs written in the style of the Misfits and Black Lips. If they are turning out anthems before wrapping up their teenage years, the Orwells’ potential after some maturing is limitless.
Chvrches – “The Bones of What You Believe”
Glasgow synth pop group Chvrches, pronounced “churches,” rode a wave of brilliantly catchy pop tunes to the Sept. 23 release of their debut album, “The Bones of What You Believe,” on Glassnote. The final product is a collage of synthetic instrumentation and energetic hooks sung through Lauren Mayberry’s bell-like, reverberant vocals. Mayberry has a knack for making anything sound a little more appealing than it ought to be, as evidenced by the cut “Gun,” wherein Mayberry, as cheerily as possible, delights in issuing a call to violence. From start to finish, “The Bones of What You Believe” is a work of clear, masterful production, where no track feels underdeveloped.
Haim – “Days Are Gone”
Despite growing up in the San Fernando Valley, sisters Este, Danielle and Alana Haim have garnered most of their recognition to date in the United Kingdom, already participating in two U.K. tours without releasing a full length album. The pop group’s anticipated debut album, “Days Are Gone,” released Sept. 30 on Columbia Records, builds itself on a steady stream of radio-friendly numbers that scream, “Quit sulking and dance already.” A seemingly endless supply of funky bass lines and irresistible hooks, “Days Are Gone” is the perfect soundtrack for any unabashed disco fan, and the perfect way to round out a whirlwind month of music releases.
Des Delgadillo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.