This week: Northern Soul essentials, piano-pop ballads and a bikutsi prodigy

By in Features





Essential weekend listening.

This week’s rundown is by VF’s Becky Rogers, alongside contributors Emily Hill and James Hammond.

Laura Groves

Radio Red

(Bella Union)


Radio Red is the first full-length album Laura Groves has released under her own name. Following on from 2009’s eponymous Blue Roses, Radio Red deals with communication, mixed signals, chanced meetings and more with her studio overwatching two radio towers. Piano ballads turn into pop as ode to escapism “D 4 N” sees a feature from R&B hitmaker and producer Sampha and “Good Intention”’s vocal layers are driven forward by ‘90s laidback drum machine beats and sultry jazz additions. Radio Red is euphoric and tight in all aspects as Groves builds upon her folk foundations.–BR


Feu Follets

(FATi Records)


RAMZi aka Phoebé returns to their FATi Records imprint with a deliriously psychedelic downtempo dream–a collection of eight tracks under the guise of Feu Follets. The record features collaborations with the masterful DJ Python of Incensio and the mysterious CZ Wang who brought us the perfect “Just Off Wave” on Mood Hut back in 2019. Balancing the weird and wonderful, the full soundtrack has a liquid feel to it that perfectly encapsulates the summer energy and various terrain that RAMZi explores on her whimsical musical adventures.–EH

Wayne Shorter

Footprints Live!



Blending three performances from a 2001 European tour, Footprints Live! landed as Wayne Shorter’s first live release and an apt way to document his newly formed Footprints quartet. With Danilo Perez on piano, John Paticucci on bass and Brian Blade on drums, the quartet deftly reworks some staples of Shorter’s storied back catalogue including a couple of classics from Shorter’s time in the Miles Davis Quintet. A first vinyl edition and essential listening for Shorter fans.–JH

Various Artists

Eccentric Northern Soul

(Numero Group)


Numero Group’s latest compilation comes in the form of Eccentric Northern Soul, packed with 17 handpicked dancefloor fillers that pull from the spinning and kicking heyday. Itching to get your feet moving, Eccentric Northern Soul works as both an intro and a necessary collection for those in the know. From Syl Johnson’s string soars in “One Way Ticket To Nowhere” to the soulful heart of Barbara Stant’s “My Mind Holds On To Yesterday”, Eccentric Northern Soul brings together the finest tracks that the Motown-inspired genre has to offer.–BR





Three studio albums by the iconic Lush are set for reissue and release this August via cult label 4AD with the first in the trilogy being 1992 album Spooky. The group known for their bewitching shoegaze disbanded in the late 90s but they left a lasting impression and inspired a generation of artists to follow in their footsteps. Reissued directly from the original analogue tapes, it features production assistance from the Cocteau Twins’ Robin Guthrie whose influence is evident paired with the dynamic songwriting interplay between Emma Anderson & Miki Berenyi. The album is an influential beacon of light for a change of musical pace in a world consumed by Britpop.–EH

Gibraltar Drakus

Hommage a Zanzibar

(Awesome Tapes From Africa)


Awesome Tapes from Africa continue their focus on Cameroonian bikutsi music with this classic LP from Gibraltar Drakus. Released in 1989 with legendary Cameroonian producer Mystic Jim behind the decks, Hommage a Zanzibar found Drakus making good on his reputation as a bikutsi prodigy in a watershed year for the genre. Made up of the triplets, muted strings and propulsive nature of the bikutsi sound, Drakus’ voice leads the way on this musical hommage to his recently passed mentor Théodore Zanzibar Epeme.–JH

Khruangbin & Men I Trust

Live at RBC Echo Beach

(Dead Oceans)


Khruangbin and Men I Trust team up for the third instalment in Khruangbin’s live album series, Live at RBC Echo Beach. Recorded at the Toronto venue in August 2022, Live at RBC Echo Beach offers a perfect mix of Men I Trust’s delicate electro-pop landscapes and Khruangbin’s groove-laden psych-funk. Setting out to “commemorate the artists that performed with [them]”, Live At RBC Echo Beach also honours the magic of gigs especially after the pandemic as people could once again unify through song and dance. An idyllic recording of two bands that excel onstage.–BR