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Music: Ten Mid-Year Albums You May Not Yet Have Heard

By Callum Foulds

Too often I find that mid-year lists comprise of the same fifty-or-so albums. Of these albums; everyone has either listened, or has made a mental note to listen later. I thought I would offer some variation to this, and talk about some records that I feel have been left out. Here are my personal picks of what I have enjoyed thus far in the year.

Orbweaving by Midwife & Vyya Melinkolya

Orbweaving by Midwife & Vyya Melinkolya  (album cover)
Photo: 'Orbweaving' album cover by Midwife & Vyya Melinkolya

This record peaked my attention back in June when the song, NMP showed up on my Spotify Recommended. It’s beautiful and gloomy, and I often find myself listening to it when reading, as it’s tilt into a sort of ambient-metal lends itself to moments of reflection. Lyrically, there are hints of nursery rhymes and poetic rhythm. For evenings spent inside, wrapped up in a big book, I would highly recommend this wonderful record.

Songs to listen to:

  • Miss America

  • NMP

  • Plague

ULTRAKUNST by Brutalismus 3000

Ultrakunst by Brutalismus 3000, Album cover with two people dancing
Photo: 'Ultrakunst' album cover by Brutalismus 3000

A slight departure from the gothic of Midwife; Brutalismus 3000’s debut deliciously indulges into the world of gabber beats and hardcore techno, and absolutely thunders its way through forty-minutes. I have a soft-spot for European dance music; so when this album came out on my birthday back in April, it basically guaranteed me a great year. ULTRAKUNST definitely isn’t for the faint of heart, but if you can give yourself over to the relentlessly euphoric, Berghain club-night Brutalismus 3000 are offering, I reassure you’ll be dancing till the sun sets over 2023.

Songs to listen to:

  • GR3Y

  • CRY B3B3


Spandrel? by Evita Manji

Spandrel? by Evita Manji, Album Cover. Dark haired, pale woman dressed in frills with a device with black tubes  attached to her head.
Photo: 'Spandrel?' album cover by Evita Manji

Spandrel? was an album I had an interesting relationship with. I was not a fan at first listen, but has since become something I cannot keep from returning to. Despite bearing obvious similarities to artists such as Arca and Caroline Polachek, Manji has created something unique and utterly enthralling. It buzzes and twitches and pivots between hard dance tracks and ambient vocal studies. I’m sure I will perpetually alter my opinion on this album, but I had to include it here. If you want to live like you’re in a sci-fi movie, Spandrel? may be a hit this year.

Songs to listen to:

  • Closer to Midnight

  • Body/Prison

  • The Lungs of a Burning Body

Midnight Society by Fog Lake

Photo: 'Midnight Society' album cover by Fog Lake - dolls staring into the side
Photo: 'Midnight Society' album cover by Fog Lake

Aaron Powell has been haunting the Lo-Fi music scene as, Fog Lake for just over a decade, and his recent offering continues his reputation as one of the best to do it. Those who are familiar with Powell’s music will understand when I say that there is a particular addictive element to his dusty lilt of a voice. It barely breaks through the ghostly waltz of the music, but it is just this that fans argue should bolster Fog Lake to the forefront of indie. Midnight Society is a record to get you through the last months of summer; as the nights become longer and sunsets burn, Fog Lake holds your hand through the dying light.

Songs to listen to:

  • Bandaid Heart

  • Pedestal

  • Die in Love

Raven by Kelela

A person's head peeking up from water (all black)
Photo: 'Raven' album cover by Kelela

Kelela’s return was a call for celebration in my house. Although a relatively well-known name, I have included this album here as I absolutely believe it did not receive it’s flowers upon release. Similar to the Midwife record, Raven transports the listener to the bottom of a swimming pool on a blisteringly hot summer night. It’s sexy and it’s fun. It is also meticulously produced and her vocal performance never ceases to astonish. I would highly recommend if you’re into sweaty, late night dances through the city, slithering into the night.

Songs to listen to:

  • Happy Ending

  • Contact

  • Bruises

the record by boygenius

three hands reaching for the sky
Photo: 'the record' album cover by boygenius

the record is another album I just have to mention. The ever expanding empire of Phoebe Bridgers, Julian Baker and Lucy Dacus finally fell to its knees in joy when boygenius’ debut was announced. Despite it being filled to the brim with each individual members’ indie tropes (Bridgers’ gloomy breathlessness; Baker’s emo shredding; Dacus’ gut-wrenching hooks), the record still achieved new breathtakingly glorious moments. I was tentative to listen to this album at all; being a superfan of Bridgers myself, I don’t think I could handle any slither of disappointment. Thankfully, I had nothing to fear; the record lives up to its gargantuan hype, as a display of the crafts of some of the best songwriters in the world right now.

Songs to listen to:

  • Cool About It

  • Not Strong Enough

  • Revolution 0

Desire, I Want to Turn Into You by Caroline Polachek

Desire, I Want to Turn Into You by Caroline Polachek, woman crawling on subway floor
Photo: 'Desire, I Want to Turn Into You' album cover by Caroline Polachek

I debated including this album in my list. Caroline Polachek’s sophomore release has been on constant repeat in my headphones since its release back in February; it has become a staple when my partner and I want a singalong, and has been responsible for many sore throats. Safe-to-say, Desire, I want to turn into you has entered my very being, of which there are very good reasons for this: the songs are crafted exceptionally well and perfectly showcase Polachek’s impossibly elastic voice; the production is gorgeous; the way Polachek references herself throughout the record is completely addictive to notice; and I am still unearthing secrets with every listen. This album sounds like daybreak in a bustling city; it’s electric and awe-inspiring.

Songs to listen to:

  • Pretty In Possible

  • Butterfly Net

  • Smoke

Celest by Doon Kanda

Photo: 'Celest' album cover by Doon Kanda. Two alien creatures sitting on a black fixture
Photo: 'Celest' album cover by Doon Kanda

Perhaps a wild-card on this list, Celest by Doon Kanda has come to me more recently. I was searching for an album to deter my insomnia and came across this magical release. I have been a fan of Doon Kanda’s work for many years, as a visual artist and notable collaborator, but this record somehow fell below my gaze. Owing just as much to classical as electronic music, I find this album best listened to in the dead of night; where things are more mysterious and lights are more piercing. One of the more unique albums I have listened to this year, Celest reimagines what ambient and electronic music can sound like.

Songs to listen to:

  • Bicycle

  • Moon

  • Innocent

Heartbreak Rules by Horse Jumper of Love

Heartbreak Rules by Horse Jumper of Love. Drawing of two men, two buildings, one sun, two palm trees, a pile of cash and an angel
Photo: 'Heartbreak Rules' album cover by Horse Jumper of Love

Slowcore music has slowly taken over my life this year. I have been captivated by muffled drums; glacial rhythms; and arresting moments of beauty, afforded only to those who slow down. Despite this, Heartbreak Rules is arguably Horse Jumper of Love’s most upbeat album; and I say this whenever they drop a new album, but this one is my favourite. It manages to be referential to the gods of slowcore, i.e. Duster and Codeine, whilst not sounding like anything else the genre has produced. This kind of music may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I thought I would include it here as I get very excited about this band!

Songs to listen to:

  • A Tune Drifts Out the Window

  • Spirit of the Guitar

  • Pendulum

The Worm by HMLTD

The Worm by HMLTD. A knight slays a giant worm monster.
Photo: 'The Worm' album cover by HMLTD

The Worm is the fictional tale of a worm devouring medieval England. I have been a fan of HMLTD since their initial release in 2016; however, no amount of familiarity could have prepared me for their sophomore record. The band has always been highly conceptual, but The Worm stretches concepts into uncannily tactile realities. I find myself totally engrossed by the sheer epic of HMLTD’s capabilities as artists. It reminds me of what music can be. At points, The Worm is utterly mad; at other points it is subtle and considered. I doubt that I have succeeded in describing the sheer brilliance of this record, but I hope I have inspired you to take a listen, and have a go at wrapping your heads around this magnificent band.

Songs to listen to:

  • Wyrmlands

  • Saddest Worm Ever

  • Past Life (Sinnerman’s Song).

I hope I have offered a somewhat alternative look at the music so far of 2023. It could be argued that we are often told what music to enjoy and talk about, and it’s very easy to get caught up in it. I am very guilty of this, but in doing so I have discovered artists that have become favourites of mine. I hope that this list has introduced you to something new, or leads you on to other music. Writing about music for the last couple of years has taught me that discovering new music can be as fun and as equally rewarding as listening to your favourite songs time and time again.

Check out this playlist containing the songs mentioned here:


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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