Retrospective is our monthly column looking at music of the past; we bathe in the nostalgic sounds of July at various points over the past century, highlighting what we believe shouldn't be forgotten and giving you a reminder of noises from days gone by.


July 2012 was a big month for music, with albums from Nas, Matisyahu, Purity Ring and Passion Pit all hitting the shelves. However, none released that month - nor indeed that year - would even skirt the calibre of Frank Ocean's almost flawless debut LP, Channel Orange. His neo-soul long-player almost unanimously won over hearts and minds worldwide, and it ascended to the top spot for many end of year lists and was nominated for numerous Grammys. Although often associated with Tyler, The Creator's OFWGKTA posse, Ocean proved that he is a star in his own right, ably meshing psychedelia, pop, soul, R&B and electronica fragments together to craft something wholly unforgettable.

2008 saw the debut release from Black Kids drop via Almost Gold. The Floridian indie-poppers unfurled their first album, Partie Traumatic, after a slew of well-received singles and a critically acclaimed EP (The Wizard Of Ahhhs). It featured stomping anthem 'I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You', which could be heard almost everywhere at the time of release, rapidly rising to number 11 in the UK Top 40. Even now it's an almost guaranteed tune to launch flailing limbs and incite carousing carnage with shimmering reverb-laced guitars, '80s new wave synth hooks and enormous singalong lines: "You are the girl that I've been dreaming of ever since I was a little girl!"

In 2003, The Darkness opened up a whole can of worms and drug troubles with their pop-rock debut Permission To Land, featuring school disco classic 'I Believe In A Thing Called Love'. In other news during that balmy July, Thrice, Sufjan Stevens and The Appleseed Cast all released lauded records, as did a burgeoning Patrick Wolf. Wolf's debut was welcomed with open arms, scoring plaudits for its original take on folk and pop and exploring dark, mature themes such as gender dysphoria. The record was a riotous trainwreck; full of fractured electronica/hip-hop beats, obscure folk instrumentation and massive pop choruses, it was well worth rubbernecking to glimpse. It was the release that brought Wolf to a wider audience and demonstrating his rare ability for frank, melodic storytelling.

Twenty years ago saw the advent of a vital piece of alt. rock history: Smashing Pumpkins' second LP, Siamese Dream. It was a record that garnered 10/10s almost across the board (even Pitchfork gave it a 10/10), and birthed hits such as 'Today', 'Cherub Rock' and 'Disarm'. Also in July '93, we had the second effort from west-coast/Latin hip-hop titans, Cypress Hill, entitled Black Sunday. The rap collective are pretty explicit when it comes to their fondness for the green stuff, with tracks like 'Insane In The Brain', 'Legalize It', 'Hits From The Bong' and 'I Wanna Get High' keeping intentions above-board. Cypress Hill were congratulated upon the album's release for their infectious basslines, curt percussion and mesmerising storytelling, and they've gone on to leave a legacy still inspiring west-coast rappers to this day.

Back in the misty halcyon days of 1963, Roy Orbison unleashed In Dreams, his fourth album, featuring the iconic song of the same name. Regarded as one of the most talented vocalists and pop/rock'n'roll artists ever, Orbison has left an indelible mark, spawning countless imitators and tearing many more hearts asunder with his sensitive sounds, a contrast to the out-and-out virility of his contemporaries. 'In Dreams' has been labelled many times as one the most important songs of the 20th century, and it's not hard to see why. Orbison's delicate, slightly mournful tone is magnetic, the violins swoon like vaudevillian damsels and skittish country percussion keeps a sturdy frame for his quasi-lament.

On July 18th 1953, the tide of change rolled in. Elvis Presley recorded his first tracks at Sun Record Company, going on to become the most pivotal figure in modern music, if not modern culture in general. He was a controversial figure at the time, with sexualised pelvic movements and an appeal that traversed both sides of the Civil Rights movement, though his antics are pretty tame by today's standards. Perhaps the most famous man in living memory, Presley's influence is still felt today - after all, he spearheaded rock'n'roll, the impetus for contemporary pop and every one of the biggest names of the past half-century.