As the year hits the halfway mark, in the latest issue of Music Week we round up a selection of the biggest names in the business to ask one question: What are the best albums of the past six months? Music Week's staff have already answered this tough question. Now it's time to find out what everyone else had to say...
Caroline Simionescu-Marin, A&R manager, XL Recordings
Jay Z - 4:44
"This is my favourite album so far this year. Jay opens himself up for the very first time; sharing his vulnerabilities, mistakes and giving some serious life lessons for the first time. It's just amazing."
Dipesh Parmar, MD, Ministry Of Sound Recordings
J Hus - Common Sense
“This album is bang on trend and hugely diverse. It feels like J Hus is on the cusp of greatness”
Jane Third, UK SVP of A&R and marketing, Because Music
Kendrick Lamar - DAMN
"I think I can keep this brief as it’s not an original choice, but Kendrick is really THE artist of his generation."
Zena White, MD, Partisan / Knitting Factory
Thundercat - Drunk
“Probably the only album that my entire office has loved since Tame Impala’s Innerspeaker. Its R&B-jazz-funk sketches are brave, weird piss-takes on life that are somehow able to be taken very seriously. It’s like Prince and George Clinton getting high with Conan Mockasin and it makes me feel good in almost any setting.”
Andy Varley, president, Insanity Records
Stormzy - Gang Signs & Prayer
“On this tune [and the album it’s taken from], Stormzy proved he has become a bona fide global superstar and a formidable songwriting talent.”
Julie Weir, label head, Music For Nations
Lower Than Atlantis - Safe In Sound
“I met Mike Duce in a pub a long time ago as a bundle of chaos, and it has been a privilege to see him grow into the considered and engaging frontman that he is now. Add in phenomenal songwriting talent, amazing lyrics and I would say he’s the millennial Morrissey. The band management, the marketing campaign around the record, its chart position and the fantastic show at London’s O2 Academy Brixton just go to show the amount of warmth, love and great feeling towards this band. It’s great to see a young UK act who really have been slogging their guts out on the live circuit and earning their stripes in clubs, getting the success and reception they deserve. Success stories are rarer than ever and this really is one. The boys done good.”
Catherine McGrath (artist)
Lady Antebellum - Heartbreak
“I love this album. Think About You and Big Love In A Small Town are amazing. I love Lady A's country pop sound that they've kept over the years and they've managed to keep their sound but make something that still stands apart from their other albums. They also have the perfect balance of upbeat songs and the emotional sad kind that I love. Amazing lyrics and melodies and harmonies. You just need to hear it.”
Jamie Oborne, founder, All On Red/Dirty Hit
Kendrick Lamar - Damn
“I love that it’s a progressive, hip-hop record that’s smashing stereotypes about what a hip-hop record can and can’t be. He’s made a really important album. It absolutely blew my mind.”
Becky Blomfield, Milk Teeth
Charly Bliss - Guppy
“Her voice is just incredible, and I love her writing style… and the guitar! It’s just one of those records that makes you think, I wish I’d written that!”
Nitin Sawhney, Artist
Royal Blood - How Did We Get So Dark?
“A great comeback on this second album. I’m really into how two musicians can create such an epic, high-octane sound with just drums, bass and voice. These are some of the most visceral and stripped back riff earworms since The White Stripes’ Seven Nation Army. A white knuckle ride.”
Tasha Demi, product manager, Polydor Records
Kendrick Lamar – Damn
"Kendrick is King. That’s all that needs to be said. He delivers time and time again. Everything about this album is incredible. The visuals. The marketing. The amount it sold was insane?! It’s been on repeat ever since it dropped."