April was a strange month – after writing about the magnificent Phoebe Bridgers Coachella performance, this author experienced awesomeness withdrawal and retreated into other projects and lazy Easter binge-watching, with most ideas for articles for this website sadly getting discarded, again due to lack of time. April ended up as the month with only one music news post, but it was also the one in we spent our free time listening to about a year’s worth of music, all reflected in our final playlist.
Those discarded ideas – a review for Angèle’s “Brol” album, a “Sounds of Tokyo” spotlight, an introduction to shoegaze, a spotlight on Raye and Lisel, are all to be found in the final playlist in the form of takeovers – you will be able to tell that there’s a greater focus on these respective artists and currents when you run into them, so maybe all is not lost.
If anything, April reminded us once more than when it comes to music, there are major and minor obsessions. Our collected playlist for the month might feature some rain.
You can listen to all 186 songs [EDIT: we’ve added a few more that got lost] above or by clicking on the previous link, and coming up is the retrospective for the past month, making up for the lack of news:
Best Song: Let’s Eat Grandma – Hall Of Mirrors/Insect Loop
We’re nothing if not consistent in our choices, so after “Happy New Year” and “Levitation” each won their respective months, how could our two other favorite songs from the band’s newly launched album “Two Ribbons” not do the same? “Hall Of Mirrors” and “Insect Loop” feel like two sides of the same coin. The incredible synth work, coupled with the vocal delivery make these two into instant LEG classics, and the play button for “Hall Of Mirrors” is one of the most irresistible things on the whole Internet right now.
Best Album Release : Real Lies – Lad Ash
Real Lies is a British band which leans into a ’90s rave aesthetic coupled with a sublime spoken word delivery in order to create masterpiece after masterpiece. They first came into our attention way back in 2014 with their single “North Circular“, and last year, “Late Arcades” was one of our top 10 singles. Fans of The Streets, Kae Tempest and Britpop will find much to love on their latest album “Lad Ash”, which features plenty of moments that simply leave one speechless.
Biggest March Surprise – Coachella/ Hyd – Interior (Magma)
The Coachella festival returned in 2022 bigger and better, after years of physical absence. Watching Coachella streams became our favorite pastime over the two weekends, and alongside that Phoebe Bridgers performance, there were many other artists who killed it, like Maggie Rogers, Santan Dave, beabadobee, Rina Sawayama, Princess Nokia, Flume, Caroline Polachek and The Regrettes. The non-rock acts often brought their A-game (and a live band), providing the best ever versions for many of their songs, and there were also secret appearances (such as Hayley Williams performing together with Billie Eilish, or Raye performing “Waterfall” with Disclosure).
Meanwhile, “what are we watching?” and “subreal” are perfect Youtube comment descriptions for Hayden Dunham’s (Hyd) surprise performance, one which breathes new life into the old philosophical allegory of the cave in true PC Music style.
Best Artist We Discovered In April – Genie High/ tricot
Again, consistency. Our best March discovery was Haru Nemuri, also a breakout Japanese artist. Genie High might have started out as a joke between some of Japan’s best known comedians and composers, but their music is extremely complex and catchy. Meanwhile, tricot’s brand of math-rock is simply irresistible, the best we’ve heard in years (and we find that math-rock is rarely described in those words). The link between these two projects is musician Ikkyu Nakajima, who performs with both bands.
Best April Music-Related Movie: Everything Everywhere All At Once/Dancing On Glass
We haven’t actually seen Everything Everywhere All At Once yet, but it’s been the most talked-about film in April, and for good reason – at least when it comes to music. Being hailed as the new Matrix, EEAAO features a soundtrack by Son Lux comprised of no less than fifty songs (with names which might constitute spoilers, if you care about that). This OST is simply astonishing, and the film promises two hours of non-stop action/sci-fi shenanigans scored by one of the world’s top electronica bands. What could be better?
Meanwhile, Dancing on Glass (La Ninas de Cristal) will appeal to fans of modern dance and complex dramas. It’s an act of pure cinema, although not without its stumbles. The rough first half hour which made us question more and more whether this was a Birds of Paradise remake (you should definitely check that movie out if you love this) gives way to a magical realist response to Aronofsky’s Black Swan. Playing with homunculus and puppet-master imagery, Dancing is a nuanced fairytale, with a pure fairytale ending, in which it is left to the viewer to judge the “evil” influence on the dancers.
Best April Tv Show – Killing Eve, series 4
Farewell Killing Eve! back in 2018, we instantly fell in love with the tone of this show based on its stellar, darkly funny first episode. Villanelle is simply one of the best characters in tv, and the balance of humor and gut-wrenching twists in the show make it a singular experience. Four years later, the final episode felt like the punchline to one of the most elaborate, morbid, mischievous 8-episode jokes ever told on TV.
The finale WAS an extremely controversial one: fans spammed the imdb website with angry, 1-star reviews and the writers were accused of resorting to the tiresome “burying your gays” trope. However, the tone – arguably what has been the best thing about the show all along – still makes series four watchable.
This last series is a rollercoaster of emotions, and episode five is a backdoor-pilot for a Carolyn spin-off. We can’t wait to see Imogen Daines reprising her role as a younger version of the chessmaster spy if that will come to happen (hopefully in a black&white, ’70s Berlin backdrop). Listening to “Bite Marks” by The Mistys, one of the standout songs in episode eight, is a surreal and painful experience in light of what happens at the end. That doesn’t mean you might not let out a final nervous laugh and experience a degree of loss after realizing there’s no more Killing Eve to brighten up your weekends.
Best Video Art-Related Treasure Trove: Daata
We might not have a favorite visual art piece for April, but that doesn’t mean that, after careful consideration, we can’t recommend a website we previously talked about. Daata is a website that allows one, for the meager sum of 10$ per month, to access/stream digital art without owning it. It gives you access to galleries across the world. You still get to support the artists, but you don’t own anything.
NFTs, to us, although relying on a valuable underlying technology, are unrealistic and offer false promises right now. The immediate future of digital art might lie in the Daata method: stream it, under a cheap enough subscription which encourages a lot of people to apply. The artists benefit, the gallery/streamer benefits, and for those wishing to buy the art, they can still do so.
Daata focuses on video art, and as an intro, we can recommend Sabrina Ratte’s Undream if you’re looking to start with something trippy. Undream “depicts an imagined future where utopia and dystopia collapse, inspired by the photomontages of Superstudio – a major force in the Radical architecture and design movement of the late 1960s. Undream leads the viewer through an isolated landscape, overhung by a monumental structure. The architecture morphs between impossible surfaces and underlying order, interfering with the landscape as it undulates in and out of existence.“
If you’re looking for something more dark, there’s The City of Dionysus by Wang Haiyang, “chronicling real unsettling events of a found corpse narrated by a voice-over and blends them with a group of animated watercolor drawings exploring the chaotic associations between sexuality, social disorder, and spiritual intoxication“
Best Performance Art: Sakurazaka46 – Nagaderama
We usually reserve this section for interpretive dance, and perhaps quite atypical for a Japanese idol group, there is a lot of that in Sakurazaka46’s music video for “Nagaderama”, coupled with the ferocity and magnitude of a supergroup performance, colorful visuals and a true sense of joy. It’s no wonder that Sakurazaka46 has a dedicated fanbase and that the group even has a “Getting started” guide.
Best Live Performance: Nilüfer Yanya live at Radio Nova / Little Dragon Brodie Sessions
We’ve seen a lot of live concerts in April, but two stood out in particular:
Listening to Nilufer Yanya for the first time can be a mindblowing experience, and the multifaceted artist just lets loose with an electric guitar in her Radio Nova performance, accompanied by Jazzi Bobbi’s superb sax solos, which make singles like “The Dealer” stand out even more.
And since we’re talking jazz, Swedish band Little Dragon dropped a 15-minute set for Brodie Sessions, which includes Yukimi Nagano & bandmates launching into an unforgettable version of their hit “Ritual Union”, together with insane keyboard solos and supreme drumming.
Best April Shower: Flume & Caroline Polachek – Sirens
Flume upped his game with a stellar string of recent releases, and his collaboration with Caroline Polachek brings the best of both worlds. Accompanied by a video depicting a slow motion fall, rescue and rise, “Sirens” is simply an unforgettable experience from two electronic music masters.
Best Music Video : Ava Max – Maybe You’re The Problem
Ava Max was always on our radar because of her infectious brand of pop, and in April we’ve listened to both versions of her Tiesto collaboration, “The Motto”. “Maybe You’re The Problem” is our favorite April video, not because it comments on a toxic relationship, but because it features superb cinematography and makes use of ’80s videogame aesthetics (and also the respective cliches). “The Motto” was actually co-written by Claudia Valentina, and it would be great to hear the two artists collaborate again in the future.
Best (Or Just The Catchiest) Non-April Songs: Angele – Demons/ beabadobee – She Plays Bass/ Sunflower Bean – Easier Said/
So many earworms, so little time. We’ve reduced our selections to three and we just can’t decide between Angele’s confident electronic pop production and colorful visuals, beabadobee’s iconic, spaced-out anthem or the catchy nostalgic riffs of Sunflower Bean’s best single.
Featured image is “BEHIND RED UMBRELLA” by Eva Czarniecka