By Stuart Glossop

This column is being written at a time when Leeds Festival should have been taking place. Like every festival this summer it was postponed. Suddenly, the death knell for live music was enthusiastically peeled from every corner of the industry. However, the obituary for live music and live music venues is a mite premature and indeed may present an opportunity at last to consider who and what is important to the industry. No more treating the fans of like music as cattle and a cash cow. Moreover, there is also an opportunity to consider what we want from a “grassroots” venue. Some may go to the wall if these are small dingy places where the sound is so distorted to destroy any musical reputation then so be it. This would be a good thing for both fans and upcoming artists.

The lack of live music has also shown unequivocally just how important music is as part of the fabric of society and how it enriches life. The consequence of the past few month’s inaction in terms of playing live is the release of some startling wonderful music. Just in case you missed these here are some of the best that have been released in the last few months.

■ Seasick Steve. Image © Wikipedia Thesupermat

SEASICK STEVE had a long wait for his new album LOVE & PEACE to be released. Seasick presents a hypnotic, foot-stomping story of a life lived entirely on his own terms, “Just want to go my own way, try to get free”. It’s a reflection of self-reliance and self-belief, encouraging others to find it within themselves to, “Just be your own self, that’s all you got to do”. Yet for all its bluesy reflection, the album also erupts into a fiery garage-rock explosion. 

Taking much of the production reins herself, alongside long-time collaborators Ethan Johns and Dom Monks, ‘Song For Our Daughter’ is LAURA MARLING’s seventh solo album. The route to this exceptional new collection of songs began in the wake of touring Semper Femina, when Laura stepped away from both her record label and her management, and for the first time in many years found herself without any firm idea of her future.

■ Dream Wife. Image © Paul Hudson – www.flickr.com/photos/pahudson

London-based trio DREAM WIFE released their explosive new album So When You Gonna… a bold and emotional album but also showing for the first time a sweeter side of the band, with honey-sweet guitar beautifully complementing Rakel’s soaring vocals. 

■ Taylor Swift

Most of the things TAYLOR SWIFT had planned for the summer of 2020 didn’t end up happening but… there was something magical that did happen, the surprise release of her 8th studio album, Folklore. “Before this year I probably would’ve overthought when to release this music at the “perfect” time, but the times we’re living in keep reminding me that nothing is guaranteed,” said Taylor. “My gut was telling me that if you make something you love, you should just put it out into the world. That’s the side of uncertainty I can get on board with”.

■ HAIM

HAIM shared their new album along with long-time collaborators Grammy Award-winning producer Ariel Rechtshaid. The new album has all the components of an essential HAIM — all the yearning, all the embedded grooves, all the rip-roaring guitar. Women In Music Pt. III is the follow up to Haim’s sophomore album, Something To Tell You, which was released in July 2017. “a gleaming triumph of artisanal pop music.

■ Another Sky

Finally, since the release of their debut single in 2018, ANOTHER SKY has flawlessly merged hard-hitting, difficult topics with unparalleled cinematic sounds.  Catrin Vincent’s poetic rage has been titular in Another Sky’s story, grappling with the topics of toxic relationships, childhood trauma, systematic elitism, Brexit Britain, the rise of Donald Trump and much more. However, the band’s debut album is never didactic; it’s more of a personal diary, with a tentatively hopeful outlook. Another Sky’s debut album ‘I Slept On The Floor’, is the record that will soothe the lockdown blues. A more gorgeous, diverse and deliciously deceptive record you could not wish to hear, and they will be performing it LIVE in Leeds in November!

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