Releases from January–February 2017
Great albums from around the world
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Pre-sale of the week is Africa Speaks by Santana, out on 7 June.
Jade Bird | The Cranberries | Fat White Family | Catfish And The Bottlemen | Lamb | SOAK | Aldous Harding | Cage The Elephant | Josh Ritter | Marina | Peter Doherty & The Puta Madres | Rodrigo Y Gabriela | King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard | Loyle Carner | The Rolling Stones | The Quireboys | Alan Parsons | Craig Finn | Kevin Morby | Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes | The Felice Brothers | The Heavy | Thea Gilmore | Lewis Capaldi | Honeyblood | The National | The Wildhearts | Little Steven And The Disciples Of Soul | Joy Williams | Vampire Weekend | Black Mountain | Earth | Nils Lofgren | Morrissey | The Waterboys | Duff McKagan | Big Thief | Richard Hawley | Santana | Calexico / Iron & Wine | Chris Shiflett | Lloyd Cole
Releases for 24 February 2017
Our recommended releases for 24 February certainly bring the noise! The wonderfully named King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard release what they claim will be the first of five albums during 2017, blimey! Flying Microtonal Banana is a subtle shift from last year’s Nonagon Infinity. Sleeping Through The War is the boldest album to date from All Them Witches, and designed specifically to be played loud! The Brian Jonestown Massacre manage to make King Gizzard look like slackers by releasing their second album in 3 months, Don’t Get Lost, which is more of the shoegaze psychedelia for which they are rightly famed. Sick Scenes by Los Campesinos is a marvellous album full of the joy of just being in a band. Alt.country stalwarts Old 97’s have produced a fine record which is a worthy successor to their most popular album, 2014’s Most Messed Up. The first album in 4 years from Dirty Projectors, creatively called, well, Dirty Projectors, is a lovely blend of immediacy, lush production and thoughtful lyrics. The Mute Gods’s latest release, Tardigrades Will Inherit The Earth, certainly brings the prog power; we’ve no idea what it all means, but it sounds great!
Album of the week is Freedom Highway, the follow-up to Rhiannon Giddens’s debut solo release, Tomorrow Is My Turn. This new album is much more raw, far more personal and a delight to the ears.
- Freedom Highway, the follow-up from Grammy Award-winner and 2017 Grammy nominee Rhiannon Giddens to her highly praised debut album, Tomorrow Is My Turn, is an album more raw and personal than its predecessor. The day after the US election, Giddens wrote: “I am a daughter of the South; of the white working class, of the black working class; of the Democrat, and the Republican; of the gay, and the straight; and I can tell you one thing – we are far more alike than we are different. We cannot let hate divide us; we cannot let ignorance diminish us; we cannot let those whose greed fills their every waking hour take our country from us. They can’t take U.S. from us – unless we let them. I recorded this album with Bhi Bhiman, all-American singer-songwriter from St. Louis, whose parents are from Sri Lanka. America’s strength are her people, whether they came 4,000, 400, or 40 years ago, and we can’t leave anyone behind. Let’s walk down Freedom Highway together.”
- You heard right, King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard are will be releasing five new records in 2017! The first is Flying Microtonal Banana, recorded at the band’s own studio in Brunswick East, Melbourne, in the summer of 2016. Talking about the making of the album, Eric Moore of the band said: “Earlier this year we started experimenting with a custom microtonal guitar our friend Zak made for Stu. The guitar was modified to play in 24-TET tuning and could only be played with other microtonal instruments. We ended up giving everyone a budget of $200 to buy instruments and turn them microtonal.” The record features the modified electric guitars, basses, keyboards and harmonica as well as a Turkish horn called a zurna. Flying Microtonal Banana takes a subtle musical shift away from the frazzled freak-beat of its predecessor, last year’s Nonagon Infinity.
- Sleeping Through The War is the most bold and well-crafted record by quartet All Them Witches to date. The album’s creation marks the first time in the band’s history that a record was written before entering the studio. This process allowed for an alignment of their art, desire and time. Convening in Nashville for only six days after a year of relentlessly touring their debut, Dying Surfer Meets Their Maker, the band’s spirit coalesced in a rhythm of statement and melody that simply needs to be heard … repeatedly.
- With the guidance of Cobb and Spear, Sleeping Through The War captures the truest energy of the group, full-blast, fun and contemplative. The record was made with volume in mind: it’s meant to be played loud, cranked up and without reservation. Feel it live through your stereo system or listen to it speak in tongues through your headphones. The sounds are nothing without the songs and the songs are nothing without the lyrics. This record is a result of constant touring, world travel, overstimulated/divided humanity, and a learning of awareness and compassion.
- Don’t Get Lost was recorded and produced at Anton Newcombe’s new Cobra Studio in Berlin between March and October 2016. Band members Ricky Maymi, Dan Allaire, Collin Hegna and Ryan Van Kriedt are joined on this, the Brian Jonestown Massacre’s 16th full-length release, by Emil Nikolaisen from the Norwegian band Serena-Maneesh and Pete Fraser (The Pogues, New Young Pony Club) on saxophone, plus vocal performances from Tim Burgess (Charlatans), Tess Parks and Shaun Rivers.
- There’s a new dynamic on this album, mixing the band’s familiar psychedelic shoegaze sound with more experimental twists – on some tracks you might hear Metal Box-era PiL, Primal Scream, or even Ornette Coleman.
- Sick Scenes exists as a release of pent-up aggression, a document of both personal and societal malaise. But it’s also a celebration by Los Campesinos of just getting to be a band again, of getting to play music with friends. Thematically the record is concerned with fumbling for personal relevance while trying to be a better person. Repressing anxiety and attempting to function while constantly maintaining the perfect two-beer buzz. It is set against a backdrop of non-league football, prescribed medication, and crumbling hometowns.
- When it became time for the Old 97’s to record the follow-up to the highest-charting album of their career, 2014’s Most Messed Up, producer Vance Powell brought up the idea of returning to Tornillo. “We knew instantly that it was the perfect move,” says Rhett Miller. The result is the eleven songs of Graveyard Whistling, the eleventh studio album from the Old 97’s. Knowing that he wanted to consider as many options as possible, Miller handed over a huge pile of songs to the band; they whittled his thirty selections down to eleven. “It grapples with spirituality and mortality,” Rhett says. “Our songs normally hide deeper meanings in the subtext, but they are more on the surface for this record.” The trick the Old 97’s have held on to is to take a song that may have a darker theme and present it as something to be screamed along to in a club. The emotional range and musical scope of Graveyard Whistling also benefits from the contributions of some remarkable co-writers including Brandi Carlile, Caitlin Rose, Nicole Atkins and Butch Walker.
- Dirty Projectors, the beloved, decade-plus-long recording pursuit of producer, multi-instrumentalist, and vocalist David Longstreth, announce their first album in four years – Dirty Projectors. After the critical success of 2009’s Bitte Orca and Swing Lo Magellan in 2012, Dirty Projectors calls for their most intimate and immediate work yet. Lush production, delicately nodding to Longstreth’s work on Solange’s A Seat At The Table, balances with to-the-point lyricism evidenced on the singles ‘Keep Your Name’ and ‘Little Bubble’.
- What in the world is a tardigrade? I had to look it up. But perhaps it’s better for Nick Beggs, founder, composer, and multi-instrumentalist of The Mute Gods, to explain the title of their new album, Tardigrades Will Inherit The Earth. “It refers to a water-dwelling, eight-legged micro-animal capable of living in extreme conditions. They’ve been found living on the outside of the international space station and inside nuclear reactors. If humanity continues down the path of extinction, they may well be the next dominant species.” Well, that’s one thing about prog artists: they like to let you know how clever or odd they can be. It’s prog – what did you expect!
Releases for 17 February 2017
Releases for 17 February cover a wide range of genres, all hitting our spot! Firstly, alt.country pioneers Son Volt release an album influenced and inspired by the blues, so Notes Of Blue represents something of a departure for them, and a mighty fine departure it is too. Please Be Mine is a debut album of rare maturity and presence from Molly Burch, which contains 10 songs of great beauty about love, loss and reconnecting. Highway Queen is the dazzling third album from Nikki Lane, and is an emotional tour de force, mixing potent lyrics, blues guitar and a vintage 60s country-pop swagger. Frontier Ruckus blend an unbearable lushness of sound with lyrics of uncompromising darkness on their fifth album, Enter The Kingdom, and it’s right up our street! Under The Stars is the fourth album from singer-songwriter Amy Macdonald, who continues to find new things to say. Dreadzone emerged from the ashes of Big Audio Dynamite and have been fusing dub and electronica ever since, and they have produced Dread Music for uncomfortable and unsure times. The Long Road Home is Asking Alexandria singer Danny Worsnop’s vastly different debut solo set, full of raw, real emotion, with songs about personal tragedy, featuring foot-stomping hoe-downs, bluesy rock ’n’ roll and atmospheric ballads.
Album of the week is Prisoner, in which Ryan Adams mixes the heartfelt anguish of the singer-songwriter with the brashness of a garage rocker. He is one of the pre-eminent singer-songwriters working today and each of his many albums contains something to treasure. Prisoner is no different.
- Mixing the heartfelt angst of a singer/songwriter with the cocky brashness of a garage rocker, Ryan Adams is one of the few artists to emerge from the alt-country scene to achieve mainstream commercial success. The twelve tracks that make up Prisoner came to Adams over a prolific period stretching back as far as the week his 2014 self-titled album entered the US album chart at a career high of #4. During that run, Adams toured the world, recorded and released both his Live At Carnegie Hall collection and full-album cover of Taylor Swift’s 1989, and saw the aforementioned Ryan Adams garner two Grammy nominations – Best Rock Song for ‘Gimme Something Good’ and Best Rock Album.
- Note: The indies-only red vinyl LP version is now sold out – sorry!
- Seminal band Son Volt, led by the songwriting and vocals of Jay Farrar, are one of the most influential bands to have come out of the alt.country movement of the 1990s. The 10 songs on their new album, Notes Of Blue, are inspired by the spirit of the blues, but not the standard blues as most know it. The unique, haunting tunings of Mississippi Fred McDowell, Skip James and Nick Drake were all points of exploration for the new collection.
- Farrar possesses one of the most distinctive voices in roots, rock, country or any genre. He exudes a soulful longing combined with a wise-beyond-his-years command that is as arresting and compelling as ever. As a songwriter, Farrar’s depth and poetic penchant has been the foundation of a thoughtful, deep and intelligent body of work. Both attributes are on full display on Notes Of Blue, as he touches on themes of redemption and the common struggle, both of which are at the core of the blues.
- Please Be Mine is a debut album of rare maturity and presence, in which Molly Burch gifts us ten songs of great beauty about love, loss and reconnecting.
- Nikki Lane’s dazzling third album, Highway Queen, sees the young Nashville rebel emerge as one of country and rock’s most gifted songwriters. Produced by Lane and fellow singer-songwriter Jonathan Tyler, and recorded in Denton, Texas and Nashville, Tennessee, Highway Queen is an emotional tour-de-force. Blending potent lyrics, unbridled blues guitars and vintage Sixties country-pop swagger, Lane’s new music will resonate as easily with Black Keys and Lana Del Rey fans as those of Neil Young and Tom Petty.
- Enter The Kingdom, the fifth album from Frontier Ruckus and their most lush record to date, serves as an almost desperate invitation into the band’s most recurrent setting: the suburban American household. It is immediately apparent, however, that the emphasis this time is not so much on idyllic nostalgia but the very real and present tense disintegration of a personal kingdom once thought permanent. We are thrust into stained living rooms where dads search for work on Craigslist, car ports prowled by drunken ex-spouses returning with dubious motives, and megachurch rec rooms marked by lust and disrepair.
- Anna Burch’s harmonies once more add a crucial softness to songwriter and lead singer Matthew Milia’s rough emotional edges. David Jones’ jangly musical counterpoints combine with Zachary Nichols vast array of instrumentation and string arrangements to achieve Frontier Ruckus’ most sophisticated and deliberate sound yet. Recorded in Nashville with founding Wilco drummer Ken Coomer, Enter The Kingdom sees the band eloquently mixing their diverse influences of 60s folk rock and 90s power pop into a truly poignant, accessible tonic of sadness and sweetness.
- Good things come to those who wait … and that is certainly true of the fourth album from multiplatinum selling singer-songwriter Amy Macdonald. Eleven brand new songs written and recorded in the summer of 2016 adorn Under The Stars, an album which follows two sell-out ‘underplay’ shows in London and Glasgow in November 2016.
- The Deluxe CD version includes eight acoustic tracks, one of which is her superb take on the Bruce Springsteen song ‘I’m On Fire’.
- Electro-dub pioneers Dreadzone, formed from the ashes of Big Audio Dynamite, were championed by the late John Peel at the start of their two-decade-plus career. Their old-skool dread sound comes bubbling to the surface on Dread Times and it digs deeper into their dub and reggae influences whilst still managing to keep the beats fresh and the textures electronic. Conscious lyrics, social ills, matters of the heart and mind merge with a 21st-century dubwise flavour. Dread music for an unpredictable world, these are Dread Times.
- The debut solo set from Asking Alexandria’s Danny Worsnop delivers raw, real emotion, with songs about personal tragedy. Danny’s lust for life shines through The Long Road Home in his story-teller lyrics, and his famous vocals reach new heights. In foot-stomping hoe-downs, grooving bluesy rock ’n’ roll numbers and nostalgic atmospheric ballads, Worsnop displays a stunning singing voice merely hinted at in his previous bands. His recent personal tragedy is laid bare in album opener ‘Prozac’, and the listener is taken on a roller-coaster of emotions throughout the 12-song set.
Releases for 10 February 2017
The new releases for 10 February are a particularly pert bunch. Kicking us off are The Sadies, a band whose fans cling to them like a dark secret, but with Northern Passages the time has come for their wild acid-folk-country-punk trip to find a lot more friends. As a result of the political, humanitarian and military situation in the Saharan region, Tinariwen had to record the 12 songs that make up Elwan a long way from home, and they have managed to capture emotion more vividly on this record than ever before. Amber Run have packed moments of expansive beauty and full-blooded raw emotion into the songs on For A Moment, I Was Lost. Thievery Corporation’s The Temple Of I & I is an innovative mix of electronica infused with dub rhythms rooted in Jamaican culture. Rag’n’Bone Man’s debut, Human, showcases his huge voice to great effect. Thunder have been going for nearly 30 years, but tired they ain’t, and Rip It Up is a fierce rocker of an album, lovely! Blackfield return to the sound that made them one of the more exciting of the prog acts with V – a high for Steven Wilson and Avi Geffen.
Release of the week is Bobby Fuller Died For Your Sins from the mighty Chuck Prophet. Chuck describes this as California Noir, such a good description that we’re going with that!
- Chuck Prophet describes his new disc, Bobby Fuller Died For Your Sins, as California Noir. “The state has always represented the Golden Dream, and it’s the tension between romance and reality that lurks underneath the surface in all noir films and paperbacks, and that connects these songs. Doomed love, inconsolable loneliness, rags to riches to rags again, and fast-paced violence are always on the menu on the West Coast.”
- The album features ‘A Bad Year For Rock And Roll’, an ode to all of the great artists we lost in 2016, and a bunch of other Chuck Prophet soon-to-be classics.
- Recorded in the basement of Dallas and Travis’ parents’ home north of Toronto over the winter of 2015, the familiar surroundings and lack of distractions resulted in a consistent feel to Northern Passages, despite the eclecticism at the heart of The Sadies’ sound. The psych-folk flourishes on tracks such as ‘Riverview Fog’ are no mere homage; this is the sound of our inscrutable world, and how we manage to survive in it. Kurt Vile appears on ‘Easy (Like Walking)’.
- The Sadies are a band that fans cling to like a closely guarded secret, with each new release fulfilling the promise to reach further, for all of our sakes, not just their own. With Northern Passages, the time has come to make room for more on this wild acid-folk-country-punk trip, and trust me, we’ll be better off because of it.
- The new album by Tinariwen could well have been called ‘Exile On Main Street’ if that title hadn’t already been taken. While Tinariwen were busy criss-crossing the globe on their recent triumphant tours, the frontiers that encircle their desert home were closing down, forcing them to record this, their eighth album, in exile. Over the past five years, their beloved home – a Saharan mountain range that straddles the border between north-eastern Mali and southern Algeria – has, in effect, been transformed into a conflict zone. Even though the 12 songs on this new record evoke those cherished deserts of home, they were recorded a long way from them. As a result of this separation, at a time when the political, military and humanitarian situation in the region has never been so critical, the feelings and the emotions that the band managed to capture on record have never been so vivid.
- Amber Run’s sophomore album, For A Moment, I Was Lost, is a 12-track chronicle of the interval since their debut, packed with moments of expansive beauty and full-blooded raw emotion. “We have always believed in evolution as a band. Not reinvention so much as taking what’s already there and making it better. As students in Nottingham, we would sit and say: ‘We’ll be the band we want to be by the fourth album.’ Somewhere along the way, we forgot that evolution takes time. We forgot that any new experience has a learning curve. … The new album trims the fat from our previous music, and gets down to the bare bones of the songs. We’re songwriters, and where 5AM was a collection of songs written in our youth, these new songs are, for us, a timely response to more recent experiences.”
- “The innovation, spirit and power of Jamaican music is a constant source of creative manna for us,” explains Eric Hilton of DC-based electronic band Thievery Corporation about their new album “On the musical map, Jamaica is an entire continent. Frankly, we could have spent a year there, soaking up the vibes in the air and the strength and resilience resonating from the people. And for us, the only way to connect with this rich source of inspiration was to work in that environment – to feel the pulse of the place.”
- Infused with the culture and rhythm of Jamaica, The Temple Of I & I is an extension of the dub ethos and aesthetic that they’ve harboured since their debut EP, Sounds From The Thievery Hi-Fi, and is rife with the inspired sounds of the island.
- Human is the eagerly-anticipated debut album from the massive voice of the Rag’n’Bone Man. If you haven’t yet heard the single of the same name, then you must have been in outer space for the last four months!
- Rip It Up comes nearly three decades into Thunder’s career and, while after 27 years a band’s creative flames might be expected to have had been extinguished, Thunder have arrived with a bulging bag of tunes, a notebook of great lyrics, a jerry can of petrol and a match. There are rockers like the incendiary title track, rip-snorters like ‘She Likes The Cocaine’, and songs like ‘Right From The Start’ that take the pace down but turn the intensity up. While the album closes out with the stylish blues-tinged melancholia of ‘There’s Always A Loser’, it’s clear that the band have continued with their winning ways. After a summer of great gigs including killer performances at Ramblin’ Man and Steelhouse Festival, the quintet know what works and how to pace a set of songs.
- Blackfield is the collaboration between Israeli songwriter and musician Aviv Geffen and British musician and producer Steven Wilson. V sees a return to the full partnership that made the first two albums such firm favourites with fans, hinted at by the reprisal of the medicine bottle from their first album in the artwork.
- The pair makes for a formidable musical force: Geffen has worked with legendary producers Tony Visconti and Trevor Horn, has played live with U2 and Placebo, and is currently a judge on the Israeli TV show ‘The Voice’; Wilson, after a long tenure as the leader of the hugely influential band Porcupine Tree, has since embarked on a highly successful solo career.
Releases for 3 February 2017
There’s a great batch of new releases for 3 February. First up is Elbow with their seventh studio album, following 2014’s The Take Off And Landing Of Everything. Little Fictions features Elbow’s trademark songcraft, on a theme of the fictions we all tell ourselves on a daily basis to get along. Eliza Carthy & The Wayward Band release a peach of an album, Big Machine, which challenges and transcends traditional music in a way that is both adventurous and accomplished. UK rockers Lower Than Atlantis tackle some serious topics on their fifth studio album, using their trademark soaring rock. The rather marvellous Julian Cope returns with an album of drinking songs, a great concept in itself; I’ve seen this album described as 40 minutes of Gnostic drunkenness, a description so perfect I’m not going to attempt to better it! Black Star Riders provide this week’s slice of heavy rock: Ricky Warwick and ex-Thin Lizzy guitarists Scott Gorham and Damon Johnson have produced an album of invigorating freshness. After The Party is full of stadium-sized riffs and gargantuan choruses from The Menzingers that tell us that even in these times, all is not lost. Finally, Robert Vincent will be a new name to many, but not for long – this Liverpudlian singer-songwriter is a regular on Bob Harris’s Americana radio show for very good reason.
Album of the week is from south London’s unlikely bluesman Duke Garwood, who says that he makes beautiful music as a counterpoint to the modern world. Well, Garden Of Ashes does just that.
- On his new album, south London’s unlikely bluesman Duke Garwood has found the perfect place for us all, and says it’s time to meet in the Garden Of Ashes. “I am an angry man; so angry I burn myself. So angry I heat up the air around me. This is the nuclear fuel I use to make music,” tells Duke. “In a world so full of pain and madness we need to be better than ever; to evolve not devolve. To become masters of our fate and stop listening to the snake talkers who would steal our last breath. It’s time to go Elvis and shoot the cursed TV.”
- For an artist who claims to be angry, there’s a lot of love to be heard in Duke’s music and in the face of impeding Armageddon, just as Nick Cave claims in his film ‘One More Time With Feeling’, the only way to fight anguish is with positivity. On Garden Of Ashes, that’s precisely the message. “I make beautiful music, because we don’t need angry music right now. Everyone can turn on the TV and see the horror show, they don’t need to hear it coming out the stereo. I’m trying to distil this frustrating feeling we all have right now into something more focused.”
- Elbow return with new album Little Fictions. The follow-up to 2014’s The Take Off And Landing Of Everything is described as a ‘band album’, with Mark Potter (guitars/vocals) adding that it’s “the sound of four people who love what they do and each other.”
- Little Fictions, Elbow’s seventh studio LP, is the first without original drummer Richard Jupp. It was recorded in Salford’s Blueprint studios, the attic of frontman Guy Garvey, and Scotland. It features collaborations with The Hallé Orchestra’s string section, the Hallé Ancoats Community Choir, drummer Alex Reeves, and members of the London Contemporary Voices ensemble.
- Eliza Carthy & The Wayward Band love playing together so much it seemed natural and inevitable, as well as characteristically ambitious, that this 12-piece would set about recording an album. Early in 2016 they did just that. Big Machine is the result. The material represents a healthy slice of everything good that is happening in traditional music now, across a sparkling spectrum of sound. Big Machine is one of Eliza Carthy’s most adventurous and accomplished works to date – and given that Eliza is the most passionate and ground breaking English traditional singer of her generation, Big Machine is an album you really won’t want to miss.
- Safe In Sound is Lower Than Atlantis’s fifth studio album and follows on from the band’s most successful record to date. Safe In Sound cements Lower Than Atlantis in the top tiers of UK rock music.
- “Everything we achieved with the self titled completely surpassed our expectations and now it’s time to make an album that can really take us to the next level.” says frontman Mike Duce. “This album tackles concepts such as depression, rejection, being in love and monetary worries to name a few so there’s definitely something in there that most people can relate to.”
- The Archdrude is back with 40 minutes of Gnostic inebriation. Welcome to 2017 and the age of Donald Trump. And welcome to Julian Cope’s long-anticipated album of drinking songs, aptly entitled Drunken Songs. The record contains 6 winter warmers to enliven the dark sunless days, 6 tales of belligerent alcoholerated drunkenness as it plays out in tableaux across the British Isles.
- ‘As The Beer Flows Over Me’ was the catalyst for this entire project. Written by Cope for his own funeral, the song celebrates our own northern latitudes, and beseeches listeners to diss the southern lands of the grape in favour of beer, beer and lager beer. ‘Liver Big As Hartlepool’ celebrates Cope’s adopted city through the metaphysical lens. ‘On The Road To Tralee’ concludes the album with 20 drunken miles of bad memories, quaint observations and rustic incidentals. Expect Cope’s usual massed ranks of Mellotron 400, alongside all manner of humorous and poignant commentaries – a perfect respite from these Trumped-up troubled times.
- There’s a beautiful purity to the finest rock ’n’ roll, a thrilling simplicity in striking an over-amplified guitar chord, a transcendent joy in getting high on just volume, adrenaline and a backbeat. Black Star Riders, lifers in an industry less secure than a secret in a soap opera, understand this, which is why Heavy Fire sounds so fresh, exhilarating and alive.
- Recorded with producer Nick Raskulinecz (Foo Fighters, Deftones, Rush) at Rock Falcon Studio in Franklin, Tennessee, the follow up to BSR’s acclaimed 2015 release The Killer Instinct finds the quintet – frontman Ricky Warwick, guitarists Scott Gorham and Damon Johnson, bassist Robbie Crane and drummer Jimmy DeGrasso – in electric form, crashing through 10 tracks of swaggering, life-affirming hard rock with a shared passion and power both irresistible and inspiring.
- Stadium-sized drum fills. Strident guitar chords. Gargantuan riffs. With one simple refrain The Menzingers tear through the fanfare and cut straight to the heart of what we’re all chasing.
- “Oh yeah, oh yeah, everything is terrible,” Gregg Barnett proclaims on the After The Party’s opening track. If we were to pause and think on the state of affairs we currently find ourselves surrounded by, it might be hard to disagree – but this isn’t a record to wallow in the negative. Instead, delivering the line with a tongue-in-cheek sense of melodrama, it reflects on the world around us and becomes a spark of motivation for something new.
- Robert Vincent is an award-winning singer-songwriter from Liverpool. I’ll Make The Most Of My Sins is the follow-up to his acclaimed debut, Life in Easy Steps. His new album questions sin within us all, every song a situation in which sin is either a help or a hindrance – one person’s sin can be another person’s way of life at times.
- Robert recently won the ‘Emerging Artist’ UK Americana Music Award after being personally selected by Bob Harris.
Releases for 27 January 2017
We have 6 great new releases for 27 January. Sleater-Kinney kick us off with Live In Paris, an incendiary show from their tour to promote the fantastic No Cities To Love. Tift Merritt follows up Travelling Alone with Stitch Of The World, a fine album full of thoughtful, reflective songs. Ty Segall’s first release of 2017, a self-titled album, features both his trademark blistering guitar work and some fluid and incentive acoustic playing. Deaf Havana release 3 years of frustration into monstrous riffs, witty lyrics and a great melodic sense, and the result is All These Countless Nights – a proper rock album. Bluegrass mandolinist Chris Thile, most famous for playing with The Punch Brothers, and one of jazz’s most influential pianists, Brad Mehldau, make an unlikely combination, but their collection of standards and originals fizzes with a creative energy that demands you listen.
Release of the week is Hey Mr Ferryman, in which one of America’s premier lyricists, Mark Eitzel, continues to burnish his legend. Once the recipient of Rolling Stone’s Songwriter of the Year, this latest solo album – his 10th – shows just why that accolade was awarded.
- Hey Mr Ferryman is Mark Eitzel’s tenth solo album, his first in three years, and the first full studio album recorded entirely in London. It was made at 355 Studios with Mercury Prize winner Bernard Butler (Suede, McAlmont & Butler). Butler produced and played all of the electric guitar, bass, and keyboard parts on the album.
- Hey Mr Ferryman features the vivid melodies long associated with Eitzel’s former band American Music Club as well as Butler’s distinctive guitar that serves to complement Eitzel’s expressive vocals. Of that voice, Pitchfork once wrote: “If Leonard Cohen’s voice is a story about the passage of time and Levon Helm’s is a story about losing what is most precious to you, Eitzel’s is about the circuitous roads we take in search of ourselves.”
- Mark Eitzel has released over 15 albums of original material with American Music Club and as a solo artist. The Guardian has called him “America’s greatest living lyricist,” and Rolling Stone once gave him their Songwriter of the Year award.
- Live In Paris is the first official record of Sleater-Kinney’s famously blistering stage performances. The thirteen-track album, which features Carrie Brownstein, Corin Tucker, Janet Weiss, and touring member Katie Harkin, was captured on 20 March 2015 at the Paris’s historic La Cigale venue, during the band’s sold-out, international tour in support of their acclaimed eighth album, 2015’s No Cities To Love.
- Live In Paris includes songs from nearly every Sleater-Kinney album, including No Cities To Love, The Woods, One Beat, The Hot Rock, Dig Me Out, and Call The Doctor.
- Tift Merritt’s sixth studio album, Stitch Of The World, was written on a friend’s farm in Marfa, Texas, at Merritt’s California cabin, and in New York City in the wake of several major changes in her life. The album was recorded in Los Angeles while Merritt was six months pregnant, after which she relocated to her hometown of Raleigh, North Carolina.
- The time since the release of Traveling Alone has also found Merritt recording and touring with Andrew Bird in his Hands of Glory, MC Taylor’s Hiss Golden Messenger and classical pianist Simone Dinnerstein. Merritt work-shopped the songs on Stitch Of The World with longtime friend Sam Beam of Iron & Wine after bumping into him in an airport.
- The new self-titled record from Ty Segall – following Emotional Mugger, Manipulator, Sleeper, Twins, Goodbye Bread, Melted, Lemons, and the first self-titled album that started it up in the now-distant year 2008 – is a clean flow, a wash of transparency falling into a world that needs to see a few things through clearly, to their logical end. Ty Segall has got some of the most lobe-blasting neck-work since the Ty Segall Band’s Slaughterhouse (from the long, hot summer of 2012), but it also features a steep flight of fluent acoustic settings, as Ty’s new songs range around in their search for freedom without exorcism, flying the dark colours high up the pole in an act of simple self-reclamation.
- All These Countless Nights is the sound of a band channelling three years of frustration into the biggest, boldest statement of their career so far. It takes all of Deaf Havana’s traditional qualities – soaring melodies, witty lyrics, an uncanny ability to make an emotional connection with rock’s heartland audience – and bolts on a riff so monstrous you can already hear this summer’s festival crowds going crazy for it. 2013’s brilliant Old Souls album had successfully catapulted the band into the UK rock big league. It crashed into the Top 10 of the Albums Chart, earned rave reviews for its bravura songwriting and saw the band sell out ever bigger venues, appear higher up the bill at festivals and even support their hero, Bruce Springsteen.
- Chris Thile & Brad Mehldau come from very different worlds: Chris Thile is one of the foremost progressive bluegrass mandolinists, while Brad Mehldau is one of the most influential jazz pianists of the past 20 years.
- On a mix of standards and originals the two play with and against each other to thrilling effect.
Releases for 20 January 2017
20 January brings us some mighty fine new releases to kick off the year. First up, alt-country godfather Alejandro Escovedo offers us his 12th and definitive studio work, Burn Something Beautiful. The imaginatively titled 3 is a fiery offering from supremely creative rap duo Run The Jewels, and we will have an indies-only gold vinyl version with RTJ pendant in stock on release day! Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes follow up the lauded Blossom with Modern Ruin, an invigorating blast of good old-fashioned guitar noise, lovely! and we’ll have the indies-only crystal-clear vinyl version in stock. In the next notable release for this week, Mike Oldfield brings a complete change of pace with Return To Ommadawn, which does exactly what it says on the tin! Multi-platinum-selling US alt-rock superstars AFI release their 10th studio album, self-titled but known as The Blood Album. Michael Chapman gives us a late career masterwork featuring new songs and radical re-interpretations of classics; 50 was an album we thought we might not see, but here it is, and it’s a belter! Epoch completes the trilogy begun by Tycho in 2011 with Dive, followed by 2014’s Awake.
Our album of the week is the first one this year that has genuinely excited us. Honest Life is a winner: real songs sung about real people sung by a real talent, Courtney Marie Andrews – after all, if Ryan Adams says she’s a phenomenal songwriter, who are we to disagree!
- This is the first new release of 2017 we’ve got genuinely excited about. After a decade spent touring and playing for other artists, Courtney Marie Andrews has realised her desire for a place to come home to. She found that in a small rural town deep in the forests of Washington. There, she posted up at a local bar, slinging drinks, basking in the simplicity and reflection it allowed. She has emerged with a new fire on Honest Life, melding indie-folk and Americana with a rebellious country flavour reminiscent of her Southwestern roots.
- Honest Life is the culmination of Andrews’ life on the road, absorbing the stories, traditions and heartbreaks along the way. The songs on the album touch on personal coming-of-age stories, the stunning beauty of resiliency), take-no-shit self-determination anthems, and thoughts on how to accept emotions like loneliness and vulnerability in your life. Andrews’ heart-wrenching songwriting and crystal-clear vocal style are as captivating as they are invigorating. It’s no wonder Ryan Adams called Andrews a phenomenal songwriter.
- Burn Something Beautiful is the twelfth solo studio album by renowned songwriter and singer Alejandro Escovedo, and his most definitive album to date.
- In a trailblazing career that began with famed San Franciscan punk innovators The Nuns, through Austin-based alt-country rock pioneers Rank and File, cult Texas band True Believers, countless all-star collaborations and tribute album appearances and finally a series of beloved solo albums beginning with 1992’s acclaimed Gravity, Escovedo has earned a surplus of distinctions: No Depression magazine’s Artist of the Decade Award in 1998 and the Americana Music Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Performing in 2006, just to name two.
- Run The Jewels, the firebrand rap duo of El-P and Killer Mike, have announced their hugely anticipated third album, RTJ3.
- The new album is first and foremost about the explosion of creativity born from the unique collaboration between Mike and El, a partnership turned friendship that has pushed both rappers to new heights in their storied careers.
- In the two year span between albums, Run The Jewels have transformed from underground stalwarts to a global rap juggernaut, spawning an international art movement, a radio show, several Marvel comic cover variants, characters in a video game (Gears of War 4), their own Virtual Reality initiative (VRTJ), and multiple awards and accolades including Pitchfork’s 2014 album of the year, NME’s Best Festival Band and Best International Band and more.
- The indies-only limited LP is pressed on gold vinyl and includes a gold chain logo pendant!
- Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes follow up Blossom with Modern Ruin, which sees Frank and his band continue on down their chosen path of noisy guitar plus catchy songs equals cult status and much fun!
- Don’t miss out on the lovely indies-only crystal-clear vinyl version.
- Ommadawn, Mike Oldfield’s third album, was released in 1975, and remains one of his favourite of all his releases. Connecting with his Irish roots, the original 40-minute suite has long been much-loved by his fans.
- In Return To Ommadawn, Mike has crafted two suites of music that incorporate the past and the present, recording with acoustic, analogue and faithful reproductions of 1970s instruments all together in sweet harmony. For the first time in many years, Mike has played every instrument (22 in total) on the recording himself, and in a nod to its 42-year old predecessor, crafted new vocal sounds and effects from the original Ommadawn. With its fabulous fantasy gatefold illustration by Rupert Lloyd-Smee, who designed the sleeve for Mike’s critically-acclaimed The 1984 Suite, for an artist truly synonymous with progressive rock, it all marks a return home. A Return To Ommadawn.
- Multi-platinum-selling alt-rock band AFI release their highly anticipated new album, AFI (The Blood Album). This is the band’s tenth full-length studio album.
- Since the release of 1995’s debut album, Answer That And Stay Fashionable, AFI have garnered worldwide critical acclaim and amassed a fiercely loyal global following. AFI are supporting Deftones on their UK tour in May and will be headlining Download Festival in June.
- A master guitarist and songwriter and the godfather of experimental rock guitar. After five decades of recording and touring, veteran British songwriter and guitar sage Michael Chapman has finally made what he calls his “American record”, and the aptly titled 50 now stands as his late career masterwork, a moving legacy statement by a legend. Chapman tears into both bold renderings of new songs and radical reinterpretations of material from his revered catalogue.
- The deluxe LP package includes tip-on jacket, printed inner sleeve, lyrics, and download card with two bonus tracks; the CD features a gatefold jacket, lyrics, and two non-LP bonus tracks.
- Epoch is the final album in the trilogy beginning with 2011’s Dive, then 2014’s Awake. This period between Dive and Epoch marks a significant maturation for Scott Hansen’s continually expanding project, one that has taken him from a solo performer and bedroom artist to fronting a live 4-piece band on large stages across the world.
- Epoch hones the sonic aesthetic of Dive and, while drawing on the kinetic energy of Awake, it explores darker themes and new musical territory.
Other releases for 2017
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