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2024: The Year in Music So Far

By Callum Foulds

Despite only being three months into the year, 2024 is already promising to be a memorable year for music. Even though 2023 boasted releases from artists such as Lana Del Rey, Paramore, Nicki Minaj, and Mitski, just to name a few, this year has upcoming projects from the likes of Beyoncé, Ariana Grande, Kim Gordon, and even another from Taylor Swift. Being a music fan has never been better (or more exhausting, depending on your point of view), as a seemingly relentless stream of produce is constantly appearing before us everyday: it can't be helped but to marvel at the sheer speed music is brought to our ears these days. Here are some personal 2024 favourites that have caught my ear and helped me get through the tail end of winter.

'Lucky' by Erika de Casier

After two records of crystal clear, alternative garage and R&B inspired work, Erika de Casier returned this year with the single, 'Lucky' from her new album, Still. Existing somewhere between the avant-garde electronica of Björk and the slinky, gothic-house futurism of Kelela, 'Lucky' is a wonderfully ethereal offering. Punchy drums are scattered liberally throughout, whilst de Casier's voice is as sweetly understated as ever. Much like her contemporary, PinkPantheress, de Casier employs the current trend of utilising the nostalgic vibes of the late 90s and early 2000s to draw in listeners. What sets her apart however, is her commitment to doing something different with the genre. 'Lucky' deftly showcases this, using distorted bass and pummelling beats, producing a truly singular listening experience. If this track is just a taste of what lies within Still, I am confident that the rest of the record will soar just as high.

'mr useless' by Shygirl

Usually, I would say that Shygirl returned this year, but after releasing a debut album, an expanded version of the same record, an EP, embarked on a world tour - all within twelve months - before dropping yet another body of work just weeks ago, it is more than clear that she never went away. This latest drop comes in the form of ClubShy, an EP that sees Shygirl pay homage to her love of underground dance music: think the cheerful nostalgia of 'Better Off Alone' by Alice Deejay, mixed with the slick futurism of Lady Gaga's, 'Stupid Love'. The strongest example of this is, 'mr useless': a track that waits no time in getting to the heart of the era that made music like this so popular; the synths sound as if they're made out of plastic, and the vocals are velvety smooth. ClubShy, as a whole, is the perfect antidote to a winter that is sticking around a little too long, awaiting the flush of spring to release itself.

'BYE BYE' by Kim Gordon

If you enjoy the sustained grip of winter and could even do with a couple more months holed up inside, then 'BYE BYE' by Kim Gordon will allow you to, if not physically but metaphorically, remain inside the harsh shell of the season. The single from the upcoming LP, The Collective is utterly punishing. Fans of Gordon's previous record, No Home Record will be familiar with its more obtuse moments that are echoed here. Though the track may not be to everyone's taste, as is arguably one of the more esoteric selections on this list, I had to give it a mention. When artists have been working for 40 years, it is common to find them retreading highlights of their early career, focussing on old firm favourites, without embarking upon new ground. Gordon stands out in a crowd of veteran musicians, constantly pushing musical boundaries and releasing some of the most interesting work of her career. 'BYE BYE' is a great example of this; the pummelling soundscape sounding somewhere between the darker moments of Mitski, and the noisiest of Nine Inch Nails; the more I listen to it, the more excited I am, not only for the forthcoming album, but for what is next for Kim Gordon.

'Butterfly Net (feat. Weyes Blood)' by Caroline Polachek

As I write this, Desire, I Want To Turn Into You: Everasking Edition, the expanded version of my favourite album of last year, is just hours away from being released. It was the soundtrack to my year, and the surprise emergence of this version promises the same. On, 'Butterfly Net' Caroline Polachek's voice has never sounded so other-worldly, on a track that is relatively simple to most of her output. Weyes Blood, an equally ethereal singer-songwriter, with a voice possessing the power of Cass Elliot and the tone of Joni Mitchell, joins Polachek on this new arrangement of the song. The result is a spectacular display of harmony between the two singers, harking back to Björk's magnum opus; the modern classic, Vespertine. I welcome accusations of hyperbole: I cannot express enough the excitement I feel when hearing the work of artists like Polachek and Blood; perpetually inspiring and cementing their place as some of the most impressive musicians working today.

'Silver Thread Golden Needle' by A.G. Cook

Those not overly familiar with A.G. Cook's solo material, will likely have heard his production on other artists' work: Charli XCX, Hannah Diamond, Jónsi, Christine and the Queens, and Beyoncé have all benefitted from Cook's unique attack on pop music, producing some of these artists' most compelling work. Unsurprisingly, however, where he really shines is in his solo output. 'Silver Thread Golden Needle' displays to great effect his singular point of view: at just under ten minutes, the track goes from beats and synths that flicker and flutter like Christmas lights; before nosediving into harsh electronica, texturally bearing resemblance to gabber music; culminating with vocal samples stuttered over big 1980s-ballad style drums. I included, 'Silver Thread Golden Needle' in this list as a sort of summation for the other choices: it is ambitious, innovative, and striking; it is what I love about music, and an example of why I look forward to the beginning of a new year, to gain insight into the musical landscape ahead of us.


About the Writer:

Callum Foulds is a poet and recording artist based in Nottingham, England. They enjoy good food, scary movies and playing with their cat. They can often be found reading on the couch, or agonising over whatever creative venture they are currently embarking on. @cf_oulds

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