Sometimes great music wins you over immediately and sometimes it takes a little time to work its magic. That’s why four times a year we’ll be asking our writers to share their favourite release of the last three months, whether it’s an album, an EP, a single, a book or a film about music.
Without Sam and Jen conferring, it appears that Donald Glover’s third musical foray is a firm favourite among the Now Then criterati. Akeem alerts us to the freshest noises coming out of grime, while Nat lets us know about a unique project aiming to combat the ‘alt right’ through music.
Blanck Mass – World Eater
Wagner’s too obvious as the soundtrack of the apocalypse, and R.E.M. too ironic. The new Blanck Mass album is about romance and about “the human race consuming itself.” The first track from the record, ‘Please’, is actually about both. As the sampled vocals vacillate between registers, the titular word sounds like it’s coming from both a spurned lover and a fire and brimstone preacher. Tom Baker
Childish Gambino – “Awaken, My Love!”
From smooth to choppy, all in an instant, Childish Gambino’s drastic transitions from song to song are as significant as his seismic shift in style from previous work. “Awaken, My Love!” features a bold injection of soul and pop into the musician’s hip hop roots. ‘Redbone’, a track with a most catchy riff, is deservedly receiving some significant radio airtime. Jen Martino
Forca – ‘Jack’
On ‘Jack’, Forca has enlisted elegant production from David Cutter, strong verses from Jae Mann and Darkos Strife and delivered the perfect hook to create one of the smoothest grime tracks of 2017 so far. ‘Jack’ is one of the most enjoyable tracks on Forca’s Deeper Meaning EP and proof that the MC has no intention of staying on the peripheries. Akeem Balogun
Childish Gambino – “Awaken, My Love!”
The end of 2016 had a few shining gems. It would be naive to ignore the brutal EP that Nine Inch Nails regaled us with, one of their harshest releases to date. But not all was screams and industrial corkers, as the groovy Childish Gambino joint “Awaken, My Love!” cemented Donald Glover as a man of many talents. Last but not least, winter sometimes requires pastoral moods, and Matt Pond PA’s Winter Lives wraps up 2016 in equal parts alt-country and introspective loveliness. Sam J. Valdés López
Visible Cloaks – Reassemblage
A myriad of virtual instruments from disparate cultures have been borrowed by Spencer Doran and Ryan Carlile to construct Reassemblage, a meditation on authenticity and digital rootlessness. Unlike the noisy anarchy of James Ferraro’s Far Side Virtual, the thought experiments of Visible Cloaks are calmly beautiful, occasionally even celestial. Sam Gregory
Our First 100 Days
Releasing a track a day for the first 100 days of the Trump shitshow, this ongoing project so far features the likes of PWR BTTM, Angel Olsen, Toro Y Moi, Tim & Eric’s Tim Heidecker and DRINKS. Get some new music, boost your optimism and support the climate, women’s rights, immigration and fairness. Nat Johnson
The Rolling Stones – Blue & Lonesome
Rock ‘n’ roll gods The Rolling Stones released an absolutely flawless album this year, almost 53 years after their self-titled debut. Blue & Lonesome approaches a blues sound, travelling back to the roots of the band. It’s by far one of my favourite Stones albums as it’s so easy to connect with and feel the emotions behind the covers. A top class album. Hannah Bellamy
A crowdfunding campaign has been launched to record a collaborative hip hop album between Sheff producer Tim Feben and 17-year-old Sudanese MC Rabby KizZy, who raps about his past as a child soldier and a refugee. bit.ly/2kOhe2o
Tramlines have announced their first wave of acts for July’s festival, with The Libertines, Metronomy, Omar Souleyman and Cate Le Bon sharing the bill with legendary Jamaican collective, Toots and the Maytals.
Yellow Arch Studios have announced they’ll now be selling their tickets through South Yorkshire charity Party For The People, who donate booking fees for events to a wide range of local and international good causes.
DINA are holding an Electronic Music Open Mic night on Friday 24 March. Turn up and sign up on the night. “Laptops, synths, drum machines, loop stations, groove boxes, sequences, samplers, iPads, modular synths, keyboards, analogue and digital devices of all kinds are welcome.”