2020 may be a trash fire, but it's also produced some of the best music we've heard in a long, long time.
Seriously: virtually every genre is on fire right now, and the past four weeks have been the perfect example of that.
Looking back over our posted reviews, Clash was able to find glowing recommendations that focussed on everything from Montreal post-punk through to South London neo-soul, ranging from Bob Dylan's soaring comeback to ChloexHalle's sublime R&B vision.
Finessing this down to a comprehensible list is a task in itself, and some of what we've left out could well appear on our Albums Of The Year list further down the line.
Here's the best albums June had to offer...
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Darkstar - 'Civic Jams' // REVIEW
Challenging but retaining a commitment to melodic candor, ‘Civic Jams’ is an exploration of space in both the aural and personal sense. A record informed by libraries, playgrounds, and other civic spaces, it aims for openness while at the same time reflecting the inhibitions and pressures that linger on our shoulders by reactionary authority. Daring and beautiful, ‘Civic Jams’ lays claim to a singular location within British music.
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Khruangbin - 'Moredechai' // REVIEW
Speckled with cultural transfusion, Khruangbin’s funk is global in its pursuit, but intensely refined. There’s little more than three musicians at work at any one time, meaning that highlights such as ‘So We Won’t Forget’ billow from speaker to speaker like smoke across a late night rooftop. It’s wonderfully suggestive, the restrained palette somehow suggesting entire worlds in the merest melodic flourish.
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Jessie Ware - 'What's Your Pleasure?' // REVIEW
It is a beautiful, enigmatic, joyous, sultry, utterly fabulous and insanely-inventive album that delivers above and beyond its expectations, quite a feat for a record conceived by one of the best British artists around at the moment. - - -
HAIM - 'Women In Music Pt. III' // REVIEW
With an album of this size, downfalls are typically inevitable; that one song that doesn’t hit the mark or a chorus that doesn’t strike a chord. But here, HAIM have given us the world on a silver platter, and in times like these, it’s the perfect antidote to normality.
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Nadine Shah - 'Kitchen Sink' // REVIEW
The 11 tracks on ‘Kitchen Sink’ each take on an internal perspective of an entirely different life, made vivid through detailed instrumentation – and describing them in words is only scratching the surface. The very idea of a ‘kitchen sink drama’ is to reflect real life and offer some kind of understanding for the personalities within them. That’s exactly what Nadine Shah’s new album does, and the only way to earn that empathy for all the women she portrays is to invest some time in listening to it.
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Bananagun - 'The True Story Of Bananagun' // REVIEW
Ending with the perfumed one-two of ‘Modern Day Problems’ and ‘Taking The Present For Granted’, this Melbourne group sound like a band out of time, slipping and sliding between countries and generations. Vivid, colourful, and distinct, 21st century ennui has scarcely sounded so intoxicating.
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Teyana Taylor - 'The Album' // REVIEW
It’s clear from the first listen that this album serves as Teyana’s most personal steady project yet. Teyana has been marching to the beat of her drum since her introduction to the world back in 2006, and she’s kept her foot on our necks ever since. This album is Black Woman Magic at its finest, and it’s become even more apparent since 'K.T.S.E.' that she has left the tutu and the cotton candy from 'My Super Sweet Sixteen' in her past.
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Phoebe Bridgers - 'Punisher' // REVIEW
‘Punisher’ is an immense album tackling the ugly and absurd sides to life with beauty, humour and self-awareness. It’s a unique reporting style and a key statement.
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Bob Dylan - 'Rough And Rowdy Ways' // REVIEW
It’s easy to understate the vitality on display here, but ‘Rough And Rowdy Ways’ feels like the work of a much younger artist. Don’t forget: Dylan is now 79 years old, and while this is his first original album in eight years, he’s also released three LPs in that time delving into the American Songbook, while also picking up the Nobel Prize For Literature in 2016.
And that’s before we touch on his touring commitments – the man is a force of nature, the lyrical equivalent to any of the Old Testament allusions he is so fond of dipping into.
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ChloexHalle - 'The Ungodly Hour' // REVIEW
'The Ungodly Hour' serves as the spiritual companion piece to their debut. It’s not a full-bore masterwork: the first half of the record packs a stronger punch than the latter. But it’s a more cohesive, complete listen as a result of tighter sequencing. The Ungodly Hour is a soothing salve for a world on fire. It’s an avowal of sisterhood and sorority, a projection of a generation of young black women galvanized by a collective willingness to enact efficacious change in the face of adversity.
Chloe x Halle are the prototypal embodiment of the “black girl magic” hashtag - never more prescient in a time when we need figures to aspire to.
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