Releases from March–April 2017
Great albums from around the world
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Releases for 28 April 2017
The new release schedule starts to pick up again after Record Store Day, and there are some beauties due for release on 28 April.
Gorillaz return with their fifth album, their first since 2011; Humanz explores deep house, hip-hop, funk and soul. Mark Lanegan’s new album Gargoyle features his 50-fathom-deep voice and was created in collaboration with UK musician Rob Marshall. John Mellencamp started off with the idea of writing an album of old-time religious country songs, and as the man says himself, ended up with lots of sad songs, hence Sad Clowns & Hillbillies. Guitarist Bo Madsen left Mew in 2015, but their latest, Visuals, firmly rebuts anyone’s fear of the group tailing off following his departure; it’s full of their trademark prog-pop and marks a triumphant return. Old Crow Medicine Show bring their unique take to a Dylan classic: recorded live in Nashville in 2016, 50 Years Of Blonde On Blonde is both a surprise and delight. Rock n Roll Consciousness is new and exhilarating departure for sonic adventurer Thurston Moore: serious, precocious and strangely accessible. Strength Of A Woman highlights Mary J Blige’s trademark literate R&B sound and shows her fierce, powerful yet soulful vocals remain undiminished.
Our album of the week is a real treat: Pleasure sees PJ Harvey channelled through a very Feist prism, and this results in a fine album that we reckon will sit in our 2017 Top Twenty come the end of the year.
When Feist came out with 2011’s Metals, her underrated follow-up to The Reminder, she made it clear that she was not interested in playing the sparkly, quirky pop singer seen in the ‘1234’ video for the rest of her days. Not every act wants to get bigger and brighter just because they can, and the slow-burning, salt-of-the-earth soulfulness of Metals was a statement of as much. Nearly six years later, Leslie Feist picks up where she left off with Pleasure, which takes the bluesy guitar stylings that defined various tracks on Metals and twists them more towards primal rock recalling PJ Harvey at her best. Throughout the album there is a lovely baroque echo in the instrumentation as a counterpoint to the warm, fuzzed-out riffs – a gentle reminder that this is Feist we’re talking about.
Those PJ Harvey vibes extend to the subject matter, too. Sensuality has always been central to what Feist sings about and how she sings, but here, she is more direct in her voice and in her words than perhaps ever before.
- Feist Pleasure CD £12.99 / LP £20.99
Gorillaz resumes its terrifically inventive career with its fifth album Humanz, the first since 2011. A virtual band represented by animated characters created by Jamie Hewlett, Gorillaz has grown well beyond that original concept and established itself as a loose affiliation of musicians rather than a set lineup. Under the guidance of Damon Albarn, who plays most of the instruments and had a hand in writing all of the songs, the ad-hoc group remains free to make any kind of music it can muster. On Humanz, Gorillaz explores deep house, hip-hop, funk and soul.
The deluxe 2-LP set comes on heavyweight black vinyl, housed in a cloth-bound, foil blocked 54-page hardback book of Gorillaz artwork by Jamie Hewlett.
- Gorillaz Humanz CD £11.99 / Deluxe CD £15.99 / 2-LP £25.99 / Deluxe 2-LP £69.99
There’s a singer with a voice 50 fathoms deep and the consistency of vitrified teak, who has been known to go to extremes in search of a song. Across continents, over oceans, through multiple time zones. From West Hollywood to … Tunbridge Wells. A long way, but Mark Lanegan knows the directions.
Early in 2016, Mark was at home in Los Angeles, working on some ideas for what might turn into his next album. He wasn’t too thrilled by what he was coming up with. Then he got an email from a friend, an English musician named Rob Marshall, thanking Mark for contributing to a new project he was putting together, Humanist. The pair first met in 2008, when Marshall’s former band Exit Calm supported Soulsavers, who Mark was singing with at the time. Now Rob was offering to write Mark some music to return the favour. “I was like, Hey man, I’m getting ready to make a record, if you’ve got anything?” Mark recalls. “Three days later he sent me 10 things… !”
- Mark Lanagan Gargoyle CD £13.99 / LP £20.99
Sad Clowns & Hillbillies was born out of John Mellencamp’s collaboration with Carlene Carter on Ghost Brothers Of Darkland County and Ithaca. He said through those two projects and their time on tour together that the two became “singing buddies.” Mellencamp gave insight into the genesis of the project when debuting ‘Easy Target’ during January 2017, saying: “It’s crazy the way it started – it was going to be a religious record. It started out like ‘Look, lets go back and do an old country religious record. We’ll try to write songs that sound like those songs, but they’ll be new.’ And then it just kept evolving and evolving and evolving, and the songs that she was bringing and the songs that I was bringing – they weren’t so religious. I write a lot of sad songs, so it’s like Sad Clowns & Hillbillies – that’s where it came from.”
- John Mellencamp Sad Clowns & Hillbillies CD £11.99 / LP £23.99
For some groups, the departure of a key member is a delayed death sentence. They become defined by their missing piece. When, earlier this year, prog-pop Danes Mew announced their first record since the departure of guitarist and founder member Bo Madsen in 2015, fears ran high among the fan community that the band might become yet another collective wandering the earth with a hole in its heart. However we can say with certainty that Visuals has a lot to offer following Madsen’s departure.
- Mew Visuals CD £12.99 / LP £19.99
Critically acclaimed, Grammy-Award winning country-roots ensemble Old Crow Medicine Show celebrate 50 years since the release of Bob Dylan’s iconic album Blonde On Blonde (which was recorded partly in Nashville) by releasing 50 Years Of Blonde On Blonde. The 14-track album was recorded live at the CMA Theater inside the historic Country Music Hall Of Fame in Nashville in May 2016.
- Old Crow Medicine Show 50 Years Of Blonde On Blonde CD £10.99 / LP £21.99
Thurston Moore, the founder of seminal US alternative rock experimentalists Sonic Youth and Paul, entered The Church Studios in London to record new songs with producer Paul Epworth, celebrated producer and co-writer of Adele, The Pop Group, Florence + The Machine, et al. This collaboration created a dynamic vibratory match with the realisation that they were both Leos, on the cusp of Cancer, born on 25 July. The session was mixed by Randall Dunn (Marissa Nadler, Sunn 0))), Earth, Boris) at Avast! Studios in Seattle.
Rock n Roll Consciousness is a new and exhilarating chapter for Thurston Moore, and promises to be a creative highpoint for anyone interested in his legacy of avant-garde music and writing, as strong a statement as anything he has recorded these last three decades – serious and precocious and strangely accessible.
- Thurston Moore Rock n Roll Consciousness CD £10.99 / LP £20.99
Nine-time Grammy Award-winner, Golden Globe Award nominee and multi-platinum R&B legend Mary J Blige gifts us her 13th studio album, Strength Of A Woman. Featuring production by DJ Camper, Bam, Hit-Boy and Kaytranada, the highly anticipated release will feature collaborations with Kanye West, Quavo (of Migos), DJ Khaled and Missy Elliot, among others.
The album’s first single, ‘Love Yourself’, features vocals from Kanye West as well as production by DJ Camper. The single once again proves Blige to be at the top of her game, displaying the songstress’ signature R&B sound while delivering yet another powerful and soulful vocal performance. The album only confirms this.
- Mary J Blige Strength Of A Woman CD £10.99
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Releases for 21 April 2017
Even with Record Store Day the following day, there are some fine releases due out on 21 April. Here are some particularly worthy of attention.
Ray Davies’ Americana is his first solo album for nearly a decade. The album is a hymn to the importance of America to Ray throughout his life, and one of the UK’s greatest living songwriters has produced an album that describes how America has been both muse and tempest to him. Chris Shiflett is guitarist with the Foo Fighters, however his album West Coast Town is not what you might expect. The autobiographical songs penned by Chris are a paean to his beloved honky-tonk Bakersfield type country music. Texas’s new album, Jump On Board, is a stone pop belter for which the word ‘hooky’, if it existed, might well have been coined. Maxïmo Park’s sixth studio album, Risk To Exist, follows 2014’s Too Much Information; within it they stay true to their alt-indie roots and have produced an album to rival the Mercury Prize-nominated A Certain Trigger. Imelda May returns with a new sound on Life. Love. Flesh. Blood to create an album that is personal, bold and intimately autobiographical. And The Preservation Hall Jazz Band is an American institution, playing quintessential New Orleans jazz; So It Is is their second album of original compositions. This time PHJB have stirred the pot throughly and the album nods to soul, jazz and Afrobeat throughout.
Release of the week comes from the songwriters’ songwriter, Ron Sexsmith. The Last Rider is a fine addition to an important body of work. Recommended.
Storied songwriter Ron Sexsmith releases another album stuffed full of bittersweet vignettes. The Last Rider makes it abundantly clear why Ron is the songwriters’ songwriter; the 15 songs contained within this album will steal into your heart. A worthy release of the week.
- Ron Sexsmith Last Rider CD £12.99 / LP £19.99
Americana is the first solo studio album in nearly a decade from acclaimed singer-songwriter Ray Davies.
The 15-track collection of originals serves as a master-crafted return for one of the greatest songwriters of the past 50 years, and follows Davies’ 2013 memoir of the same name, using the book as both source material and creative catalyst. Davies enlisted The Jayhawks as backing band.
Americana was written, conceived and arranged by Davies, and co-produced with Guy Massey and John Jackson. The album is an autobiographical work, chronicling the inextricable role America has played in Davies’ life. From his earliest days touring the USA with the Kinks and his subsequent blacklisting by the American Musicians Union to his years playing stadiums and eventually settling in New York and New Orleans for a time, America has served as both muse and tempest to Davies.
- Ray Davies Americana CD £11.99 / LP £22.99
West Coast Town is the brand new solo album by Foo Fighters lead guitarist Chris Shiflett!
Alt-country songwriter, rock & roll guitarist, pop-punk pioneer – Shiflett has played multiple roles during his 20+ year career, fronting his own band one minute and serving as the Foo Fighters’ long-time guitarist the next. He turns a new corner with West Coast Town, an autobiographical solo album that finds him pulling triple-duty as singer, songwriter and bandleader. The album was inspired by the unique twang of California’s country tradition and the unique stomp of the Rolling Stones, and is his third solo album and follows the 2013 collection of honky-tonk covers, All Hat And No Cattle.
Although set in coastal California, the album creates its own geography: a place where dark lyrics rub shoulders with bright bursts of melody; where country music doesn’t just belong to American South; where the soft swoon of pedal steel makes way for sharply-worded lyrics; and where one of modern music’s biggest multi-taskers can combine his song-writing, singing and guitar-playing talents into one track list.
- Chris Shiflett West Coast Town CD £12.99
Texas are back with Jump On Board, a glorious new album from one of Britain’s best-loved bands. Texas have made an absolute pop classic, boasting the back-to-the-dance-floor first single ‘Let’s Work It Out’ and the stone cold smash hit ‘Tell That Girl’. Jump On Board is the first new Texas studio album since The Conversation in 2013, and was written and produced by Texas stalwarts Johnny McElhone and Sharleen Spiteri, in London and Glasgow.
“When music’s in your DNA, what’s gone in will come back out,” says Sharleen Spiteri. “‘Jump On Board’ has references of course, but it’s an up-front, modern-sounding record.”
- Texas Jump On Board CD £11.99 / LP £21.99
Risk To Exist is the 6th studio album from Newcastle alt-indie icons Maxïmo Park. The album follows up from the band’s 2014 offering Too Much Information, which reached number 7 in the UK Chart. The band have sold 600,000 albums in the UK during their 16-year career, including the Mercury-nominated A Certain Trigger.
- Maxïmo Park Risk To Exist CD £11.99 / LP £18.99
The music on So It Is, penned largely by Ben Jaffe and 84-year-old saxophonist Charlie Gabriel in collaboration with the entire Preservation Hall Jazz Band, stirs together a variety of influences like classic New Orleans cuisine. Longtime members Jaffe, Gabriel, Clint Maedgen and Ronell Johnson have been joined over the past 18 months by Walter Harris, Branden Lewis and Kyle Roussel, and the new blood has helped push the band into new musical territory.
Inspired by that journey and reinvigorated by the post-Katrina rebuilding of their beloved home city, PHJB are redefining what New Orleans music means in 2017 by tapping into a sonic continuum that stretches back to the city’s Afro-Cuban roots, through its common ancestry with the Afrobeat of Fela Kuti and the ‘fire music’ of Pharoah Sanders and John Coltrane, and forward to cutting-edge artists with whom the PHJB have shared festival stages from Coachella to Newport, including legends like Stevie Wonder, Elvis Costello and the Grateful Dead and modern giants like My Morning Jacket, Arcade Fire and the Black Keys.
Note: The release date and price of the LP are yet to be announced.
- The Preservation Hall Jazz Band So It Is CD £12.99 / LP t.b.a.
Imelda May has found a new groove, exploring blues, soul, gospel, folk, rock, acoustic, cinematic drama and explosive balladry. She is setting a new course with a collection of the boldest, most personal and intimately autobiographical songs she has ever written. This is the albums she’s always wanted to make. “I’ve called it Life. Love. Flesh. Blood. because that encompasses everything,” says Imelda. “It’s all in there: birth, sex, love, divorce and death. It’s the story of my life.”
- Imelda May Life. Love. Flesh. Blood. CD £11.99 / Deluxe CD £13.99 / LP £22.99
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Releases for 7 April 2017
We start the recommended releases for 7 April with The Far Field, full of the eerie synths and rolling bass lines that make Future Islands’ work so instantly recognisable. This follow-up to the massively successful Singles will further cement their reputation with all those in love with their song-craft. Imelda May returns with a new sound on Life. Love. Flesh. Blood to create an album that is personal, bold and intimately autobiographical. InFinite continues in the same hard-rocking vein for which Deep Purple have become justifiably famous. Mike Rutherford’s Genesis antidote Mike + The Mechanics return with a new batch of songs which are lifted by the gloriously rasping vocals of both Andrew Roachford and Tim Howar. Guided By Voices’ latest, August By Cake, is unbelievably the 100th(!) studio album released by songwriter Robert Pollard since 1986, putting many other supposedly prolific artists to shame. Golden Days, the second album from Brian May and Kerry Ellis, includes new arrangements of some of their favourite songs, some new songs penned by each of them, a tribute to Gary Moore and a couple of reinterpretations of songs essential to their live act. Canadian indie supergroup The New Pornographers’ new album Whiteout Conditions follows up 2014’s Brill Bruisers and is chock-full of great songs.
Our album of the week is Pure Comedy by the incomparable Father John Misty. Hear Misty, a.k.a. Josh Tillman, at the height of his powers as a lyricist and cultural observer. His critiques, bared humanity and gently warped songwriting are all here and – at 75 minutes – there’s a veritable ton of it. Highly recommended.
Lastly, if you’re quick, it’s not to late to let us know your Record Store Day wants-list. See the full list here.
Pure Comedy is the highly anticipated follow-up to Father John Misty’s internationally acclaimed album I Love You, Honeybear. Since 2012, Misty, aka Josh Tillman, has emerged unexpectedly as a singular – if not undeniably idiosyncratic – voice. His lyrics routinely defy the presumed polarities of wit and empathy, his live performances may perhaps be described best as “intimately berserk”, and in interviews he seems to occupy an infuriating line between canny and total fraud. Father John Misty has cultivated a rare space for himself in the musical landscape – that of a real enigma.
Pure Comedy sees Tillman at the height of these powers: as a lyricist, and equally so a cultural observer. at times bordering on freakishly prescient. His bent critiques, bared humanity and gently warped classic songwriting are all here in equal measure and – at 75 minutes – there’s a veritable ton of it. The album navigates themes of progress, technology, fame, the environment, politics, ageing, social media, human nature, human connection and his own role in it all with his usual candour, and in terms as timely as they are timeless.
- Father John Misty Pure Comedy CD £11.99 / 2-LP £27.99 / Deluxe 2-LP £45.99
- The CD version is housed in a digipak sleeve, in one of four different versions, and a 24-page lyric booklet.
- The standard vinyl version contains 2 black-vinyl LPs housed in a gatefold sleeve, in one of four different versions, plus a fold-out lyric poster and a download code.
- The deluxe vinyl version contains 2 coloured-vinyl LPs – one copper, one aluminium – housed in a die-cut sleeve in one of four alternative versions, a plastic O-card outer sleeve, a fold-out lyric poster, a special hologram tarot card and a download code.
Having honed their craft across three albums, it wasn’t until 2014’s Singles that Baltimore trio Future Islands really got people listening. An album of ’80s synth-pop gems found Future Islands with more entranced listeners than they ever imagined. Finding itself in the upper echelons of Top 10 lists of 2014 across the board, Singles became an instant classic.
The titanic endeavour of following such a release is one that the band have taken in their stride, creating an album that doesn’t try to compete with their previous success but instead gives the listener more of what they love. The Far Field is packed with the same eerie synth backdrops and rolling bass lines that make Future Islands’ music instantly recognisable. Perhaps something to do with the relative simplicity of their minimal but sturdy set up, each track is as hooky and endearing as the next.
- Future Islands The Far Field CD £11.99 / LP £19.99
Deep Purple is one of the most influential and most loved British rock bands of all time. Recently inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame, they have inspired and shaped the taste of generations of hard rock musicians and fans with milestone albums such as In Rock and Machine Head, both essential chapters in rock music history. Their live album Made In Japan is often referred as one of the best live albums of all time, if not the best. NOW What?!, released in 2013, brought Deep Purple back to the top of the charts worldwide. The tour that followed sold over a million tickets worldwide.
Ian Gillan, Roger Glover and Ian Paice have been part of the band since its ‘Mark II’ version, considered the absolute classic. The current line-up is completed by Don Airey (who has now recorded four albums with the band) and Steve Morse (who has been in the band for over 20 years and has played on six studio albums). With inFinite and the associated ‘The Long Goodbye’ tour, Deep Purple are approaching a turning point. Is the band about to write the final chapter of its career?
- Deep Purple InFinite CD £12.99 / CD + DVD £16.99 / LP + DVD £21.99
After a six-year hiatus, the songwriting zeal is just as strong in Mike Rutherford’s antidote to life in Genesis. Complete with joyously raspy vocals from Andrew Roachford and Tim Howar, Mike + The Mechanics have returned with Let Me Fly, an updated take on their 80s heyday.
- Mike + The Mechanics Let Me Fly CD £11.99 / LP £18.99
August By Cake is the one hundredth studio album that Guided By Voices’ Robert Pollard has released since 1986’s Forever Since Breakfast. This highly anticipated record includes the new line-up (returning GBV veterans Doug Gillard and Kevin March plus virgins Bobby Bare Jr and Mark Shue) that has been wowing audiences in clubs and festivals throughout 2016. It’s the most musically adept and versatile line-up Pollard has ever assembled. With thirty-two songs, August By Cake is also GBV’s first ever double album.
- Guided By Voices August By Cake CD £15.99 / 2-LP £29.99
Brian May and Kerry Ellis have announced the forthcoming release of a new much anticipated second studio album, Golden Days. The 13-track album, which includes two original compositions by May, including the title track, and three by May and Ellis, is to be released in the UK and Eire this April. The album also includes new rock arrangements of some of May and Ellis’s favourite songs of all time: a tribute to guitar virtuoso Gary Moore, two songs dedicated to their work on behalf of wild animals, and a couple of reinterpretations of songs which have already become essentials in their live act.
- Brian May + Kerry Ellis Golden Days CD £11.99
Canadian indie rock supergroup The New Pornographers release their 7th studio album, the follow up to 2014’s Brill Bruisers. Including luminaries such AC Newman and Neko Case, Whiteout Conditions is full of their trademark idiosyncratic songwriting. As Newman has said of the title track, ‘Whiteout Conditions’ is “essentially a song about depression. Going through a dark time and it takes you over and you’re trying to escape it. I wrote all those lyrics very quickly when I was in a bad place. I’m sort of amazed now when I listen back to it, how lucid I was. I wrote it pretty quickly, thinking I was going to go back and change it. But I went back and I decided I knew what I wanted to say in that song.”
- The New Pornographers Whiteout Conditions CD £10.99 / LP £24.99
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Releases for 31 March 2017
We start off our 8 lovely recommended releases for 31 March with Bob Dylan’s Triplicate, in which the master continues to mine the great American songbook to fine effect. Silver Eye, the follow-up to 2013’s Tales Of Us, is a blend of satisfyingly deep and dark electronica shot through with gorgeous melodies that could only be Goldfrapp. Keston Cobblers Club create a rich dynamic on Almost Home, with vocals threaded together beautifully and a real musical warmth produced by its folk sensibilities, lovely! In The Same Room is the first of a series of live studio recordings from Domino Records artists, this set from Julia Holter comprises newly arranged songs from 3 of her albums, and is both an essential purchase for anyone who witnessed her beguiling band on tour and the perfect intro to a fascinating artist. Rodney Crowell demonstrates again just what a perfect songwriter he is with the release of Close Ties, and as ever he effortlessly balances personal recollection, sophistication and musical reach. And Future Funk pioneers Jamiroquai return with their eighth studio album, Automaton – their first new music in 7 years.
Release of the week belongs to Let The Dancers Inherit The Party by the endlessly creative, surprising and downright fabulous British Sea Power, which in a right-thinking world would be in every home.
British Sea Power’s new album, Let The Dancers Inherit The Party, is billed as a “reset” for the listener.
“You know the feeling you get after jumping in the sea on a winter morning?” asks British Sea Power guitarist Martin Noble. “We hope the new album is invigorating like that. We hope it acts as a reset – clearing the head and letting you face whatever’s ahead.
“The album,” he continues, “was made to a background of politicians perfecting the art of unabashed lying – of social-media echo chambers, of click-bait and electronic Tonka Toys to keep us entertained and befuddled. All this can easily make the individual feel futile. But I think we’ve ended up addressing this confusion in an invigorating way, rather than imprisoning the listener in melancholy. Musically, it’s our most direct album and maybe the first one where we maintain a coherent mood from start to finish. Perhaps a little clarity isn’t a bad thing at this point. There wasn’t a plan to create an album with any particular subject matter but we’ve kind of ended up with a case of ‘think global, act local’ – an album where individuals are dealing with their domestic and personal lives against a background of uncontrollable international lunacy.”
Let The Dancers Inherit The Party follows 2013’s Machineries Of Joy, and was recorded in London, Sussex and on the Isle of Skye.
Track listing: ‘Intro’ / ‘Bad Bohemian’ / ‘International Space Station’ / ‘What You’re Doing’ / ‘The Voice Of Ivy Lee’ / ‘Keep On Trying (Sechs Freunde)’ / ‘Electrical Kittens’ / ‘Saint Jerome’ / ‘Praise For Whatever’ / ‘Want To Be Free’ / ‘Don’t Let The Sun Get In The Way’ / ‘Alone Piano’
- British Sea Power Let The Dancers Inherit The Party CD £11.99 / LP £19.99
Bob Dylan’s latest studio album, the three-disc Triplicate, features 30 brand-new recordings of classic American tunes and is the first triple-length set of Dylan’s illustrious career. With each disc individually titled and presented in a thematically arranged 10-song sequence, Triplicate showcases Dylan’s unique and much-lauded talents as a vocalist, arranger and bandleader on 30 compositions by some of music’s most influential songwriters. The album, produced by Jack Frost, is the 38th studio set from Bob Dylan and the first new recordings from the artist since Fallen Angels, which was released in early 2016.
For Triplicate, Dylan assembled his touring band in Hollywood’s Capitol Studios to record hand-chosen songs from an array of American songwriters including Charles Strouse and Lee Adams (‘Once Upon A Time’), Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler (‘Stormy Weather’), Harold Hupfield (‘As Time Goes By’) and Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh (‘The Best Is Yet To Come’). The titles of the individual discs are ’Til The Sun Goes Down, Devil Dolls and Comin’ Home Late.
- Bob Dylan Triplicate 3-CD £20.99 / 3-LP £37.99 / Deluxe numbered 3-LP box set £48.99
Mental Illness is Aimee Mann’s first album in five years. The record follows 2012’s Charmer, which Rolling Stone proclaimed “shows off the more pop-oriented side to her usual acoustic tendencies.” With this follow-up, she returns to a more musically soft-spoken but still lyrically barbed approach. Mental Illness shows off Mann’s rich, incisive and wry melancholia in an almost all-acoustic format, with a ‘finger-picky’ style inspired by some of her favourite ’60s and ’70s folk-rock records, augmented by haunting strings.
On this eleven-track album, the Oscar-nominated, Grammy-winning singer remains a student of human behaviour, drawing not just on her own experiences to form the characters in the songs but tales told by friends.
- Aimee Mann Mental Illness CD £13.99 / LP £17.99
Goldfrapp follow up 2013’s Top 5 album Tales Of Us with the deep, dark and electronic musical palette of Silver Eye, their brand-new studio album, made with an eclectic collection of collaborators. John Congleton, Grammy-winning producer of St. Vincent, John Grant and Wild Beasts, electronic composer Bobby Krlic, aka The Haxan Cloak and mix engineer David Wrench (The XX, Caribou, fka Twigs) have helped create an album of stomping underground electronica, sensual ethereal melodies and metal machine pop, that is undeniably Goldfrapp. A passionate and increasingly in-demand photographer, Alison Goldfrapp directed the artwork and shot all the images for the album cover.
- Goldfrapp Silver Eye CD £11.99 / LP £21.99
Keston Cobblers Club have followed up on the gorgeous melodies and earnest lyricism that thrust their 2015 album Wildfire onto the radars of many music lovers with a brand new record, Almost Home. The album’s title track treats us to some simple songwriting tailored with intricate melody and a nostalgic sweetness that proves inescapable. The Keston Cobblers Club’s dynamic is a strong one; vocals thread together beautifully while the folk sensibilities aren’t headed for twee territory, instead conjuring a musical space of warmth and heartfelt richness.
- Keston Cobblers Club Almost Home CD £12.99 / LP £19.99
In The Same Room is the first release in Domino’s new ‘Documents’ series. The album is named after a song from Julia Holter’s 2012 album Ekstasis, and this new career-spanning collection is the fruit of two days recording by Julia and her tremendous band. Comprising fresh arrangements of songs from three of her previous studio releases (Tragedy, Loud City Song and 2015’s breakthrough, Have You In My Wilderness), Holter’s Domino Document is an essential release for anyone who has witnessed her brilliant, beguiling band on tour around the world in the last five years as well as the perfect introduction to a truly important and innovative young artist.
‘Documents’ is an irregular new series of live studio recordings designed to capture the ever-evolving arrangements of Domino’s artists and their bands in high fidelity. Taking its inspiration from classic BBC sessions, each ‘Documents’ release will be recorded in no more than a day or two at a world class studio in London.
- Julia Holter In The Same Room CD £12.99 / LP £19.99
Close Ties demonstrates Rodney Crowell’s strengths as a songwriter and illustrates how he has learned to balance personal recollection, literary sophistication, and his profound musical reach. This is at once his most intimate record and his most accessible, the product of years of understanding the ways songs can enter – and be entered by – life.
- Rodney Crowell Close Ties CD £11.99 / LP £19.99
Automaton is the 8th studio album global electronic soul-funk sensations Jamiroquai – the first release of new music from the band in seven years. Founded in 1992 by front man Jay Kay, the pioneers of ‘future funk’ have taken the world by storm, establishing themselves as one of the most successful popular acts on the planet.
- Jamiroquai Automaton CD £11.99 / LP £30.99
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Releases for 24 March 2017
The new release juggernaut rolls on with some mighty fine albums for 24 March! Southampton’s very own Creeper release their debut album this week, called Eternity In Your Arms, a varied and ambitious effort which is perfectly executed and succeeds admirably. I’ve seen Devon Sproule’s music described as North American music with weirdo roots, which perfectly encapsulates what she does; new album The Gold String is no different and all the better for it. You Had Me At Goodbye is a worthy successor to Samantha Crain’s very fine 2015 Under Branch & Thorn & Tree – just great! The Hold Steady’s Craig Finn continues on We All Want The Same Things to explore the themes of love and partnership in the modern world through some finely etched character studies – recommended. Brand New Day finds eclectic unit The Mavericks as inspired as ever, creating a one-of-a-kind sound that blends elements of rock, latin, folk, blues and country into a unified whole. Steve Hackett’s latest is intended as a wake-up call, a Night Siren if you will, during times of strife and division, and Steve’s signature virtuoso playing is accompanied by musicians from several countries. The Soul of Jamaica is just that; it celebrates the original acoustic style of reggae music and Inna De Yard includes a stellar cast of collaborators who helped record the album in just 4 days!
Release of the week is The Jesus And Mary Chain’s first studio album since 1998’s Munki, the aptly named Damage And Joy, which features the two Reid brothers doing what they do best!
The Jesus And Mary Chain, fronted by the Reid brothers, Jim and William, release their long awaited brand new studio album, Damage And Joy – their first album since Munki back in the summer of 1998. The new album includes the lead track ‘Amputation’ and a re-energised new version of ‘All Things Must Pass’, which previously featured in the TV show ‘Heroes’.
Note: The LP is on indies-only orange vinyl.
- Jesus And Mary Chain Damage And Joy CD £11.99 / LP £22.99
The defining moment on the long-awaited debut album from Southampton’s Creeper comes just over halfway through. ‘Room 309’ – a raging punk song and one of the heaviest tracks on Eternity In Your Arms – builds to a gentler, acoustic climax. Frontman Will Gould and keyboardist Hannah Greenwood’s voices blend harmoniously before giving way to the sound of a mass of chirping insects. This, in turn, introduces ‘Crickets’, an entirely acoustic track whose country-tinged sway is simultaneously a total surprise and the perfect antidote to what’s come before. That segue, and the song that follows, is a microcosm of the album: ambitious, yet perfectly executed.
- Creeper Eternity In Your Arms CD £11.99 / LP £23.99
Devon Sproule plays North American music with weirdo roots. Recorded in three different Canadian provinces – Yukon, Ontario, and Nova Scotia – The Gold String is about the relief you feel when you stop needing to set yourself apart in the world. Devon’s quirky affectations bring to mind Björk, and her forays into the dark recall Michelle Shocked. Devon Sproule is a Canadian-American musician living in rural Virginia, raised on eco-villages near Kingston, Ontario and Louisa, Virginia. The 34-year-old, in addition to being a musician, is a high school drop-out, a birder, doula, and a student of Deaf culture and sign language.
- Devon Sproule The Gold String CD £12.99 / LP £17.99
You Had Me At Goodbye is the fifth album from Samantha Crain, following 2015’s Under Branch & Thorn & Tree. The new album was written over 4 months at the back end of winter while Samantha was at home in Norman, Oklahoma, working shifts at a pizza place to save up money for touring, recording and paying bills. So much for a rock’n’roll lifestyle!
- Samantha Crain You Had Me At Goodbye CD £12.99 / LP £18.99
We All Want The Same Things sees Craig Finn exploring themes of love and partnership in the modern world, expressed as ever via finely etched character studies, black humour, and craftily arranged rock’n’roll. “We named this collection We All Want The Same Things after a line in the song ‘God In Chicago,’” Finn says. “It seems like a bit of dark humour in these turbulent political times, but it also rings true: no matter our differences we all have some very basic wants and needs that line up with each other. The characters in these songs are normal people trying to help themselves, trying to move forward, and in some cases trying just to survive. All the while they are negotiating what space the others in their lives can occupy.”
- Craig Finn We All Want The Same Things CD £11.99 / LP £18.99
Celebrated, Grammy Award-winning band The Mavericks release Brand New Day, their first independent studio album, on their own label, Mono Mundo Recordings, after years on major labels. Brand New Day finds the eclectic unit as inspired, passionate and commanding as ever. The Mavericks created a one-of-a-kind sound that seamlessly blended elements of rock, Latino, folk, blues, country and more.
- The Mavericks Brand New Day CD £11.99 / LP £17.99
Guitar virtuoso and rock legend Steve Hackett presents his new studio album, The Night Siren. As the title implies, the album is a wake-up call … the warning of a siren sounding in this era of strife and division. The Night Siren showcases Steve’s incredible guitar playing as strongly as ever, and features the playing of musicians from several different countries whom Steve invited to join him in celebrating multicultural diversity and unity. This includes singers from both Israel and Palestine who actively campaign to bring Jewish and Arabic people together. There are also instrumentals from the USA and Iraq and a multiplicity of sounds, including the exotic strains of Indian sitar and Middle Eastern tar and oud, the ethnic beauty of the Peruvian charango and the haunting Celtic uilleann pipes.
- Steve Hackett The Night Siren CD £12.99 / Deluxe CD £17.99 / LP £19.99
Inna De Yard bring to life the unique and original passion of singing with acoustic reggae music. Several iconic figures from Bob Marley’s island and spirited young musicians are gathered on the terrace of a house in the hills of Kingston to bring the essence of their musical culture, The Soul Of Jamaica, to life.
The musicians are united in the same place, and united in time, because they have recorded an original album in just four days. They are: Ken Boothe, Cedric Myton from The Congos, Lloyd Parks, Derajah, Var, Kiddus I, Steve Newland, Bo Pee, Kush and Winston McAnuff. You’ve never heard a Jamaican sound like this before.
- Inna De Yard The Soul Of Jamaica CD £14.99 / LP £21.99
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Releases for 17 March 2017
17 March brings some great new releases our way. First up is Gary Clark Jr, an incendiary guitarist who mixes blues and soul to great effect; Live In North America 2016 really showcases his extraordinary live show. Conor Oberst brings us Salutations, a full-band rework of last year’s astonishing Ruminations plus an extra 10 songs – and surprisingly, given how sparse and intimate the original songs were, rather than disappear under the weight of the the band treatment they really unfold and grow into very different compositions. Real Estate have long been respected for their deft lyrical hand and gorgeous melodies, and In Mind builds on the band’s reputation for creating perfect songs and carries Martin Courtney further into the pantheon of great songwriters. In Memories Of Another Future, Louisa Roach a.k.a. She Drew A Gun offers up chugged guitars and a laid-back percussive tempo thats glides effortlessly through blues-tinged and soulful offerings, lovely! Veteran indie greats Spoon return with their ninth album, Hot Thoughts, a beguiling mix of dad rock, disco, funk and indie, and a solid and most importantly groovy return for Spoon.
Release of the week is Depeche Mode’s follow-up to 2014’s monster Delta Machine; the new album, Spirit, is full of great energy and some fabulous hooks.
Spirit marks Depeche Mode’s first collaboration with producer James Ford of Simian Mobile Disco and serves as the follow-up to the band’s blockbuster 2013 album Delta Machine, which debuted at #1 in 12 countries. The album has already garnered critical acclaim in early previews, with Q Magazine calling Spirit “the most energized Depeche Mode album in years.”
- Depeche Mode Spirit CD £11.99 / Deluxe CD 16.99 / LP £23.99
Live In North America 2016 contains all new and unreleased live performances from celebrated bluesman Gary Clark Jr’s 2016 tour, including a guest appearance from Leon Bridges. Much like the great blues, jazz and soul legends of the past, these recordings are lightning in a bottle – historical moments in time for an artist who is constantly morphing and one of the truly great improvisers of his generation and our time.
- Gary Clark Jr North America Live 2016 CD £13.99 / LP £18.99
Salutations is a surprise. After Ruminations came out last year, the news that a second album, with full-band arrangements of those same 10 songs plus seven more, would be released this year was an unexpected bonus. Featuring the contributions of The Felice Brothers and Jim Keltner, it promised a new treatment of some of Conor Oberst’s most raw compositions. The result is a fulsome new release, markedly different from its 2016 cousin. Instead of relying solely on piano, acoustic guitar, and harmonica, Oberst and company employ accordions, organs, strings (of both the orchestral and fiddle varieties), and ethereal sound collage elements to build up these tracks and give them a unique character.
- Conor Oberst Salutations CD £12.99 / LP £22.99
In Mind, the fourth full-length record from Real Estate, is a portrait of a mature band at the height of its power. Long respected for their deft lyrical hand and gorgeous melodies, the band’s reputation for crafting perfect songs is enhanced by In Mind, which carries Real Estate even higher into the pantheon of great songwriters. On the new record, the band fine-tunes the winsome songwriting and profound earnestness that made previous albums – 2009’s Real Estate, 2011’s Days and 2014’s Atlas – so beloved, and pushes their songs in a variety of compelling new directions. In Mind was written primarily by guitarist and vocalist Martin Courtney.
- Real Estate In Mind CD £11.99 / LP £19.99
Memories Of Another Future draws lyrical inspiration from the real-life experiences of Louisa Roach (aka She Drew The Gun), whilst the chugged guitars and a laid-back percussive tempo glide effortlessly through a chorus of glacial, blues-tinged, soulful, sublime offerings. Self-scrutiny and drunken reflection are just a few of the threads and myriad intertwining themes within Memories Of Another Future’s rich tapestry.
- She Drew the Gun Memories Of Another Future CD £11.99 / LP £18.99
On their ninth album, veteran indie greats Spoon show they’re as musically restless as ever, even when exploring the well-travelled genres they venture into on Hot Thoughts. They push their sound into dirty funk, disco-rock, indie and, most comfortably, dad rock.
It’s the latter genre that provides some of the album’s highlights, especially the jaunty piano-led grooves of ‘Do I Have to Talk You Into It’, the Wilco-esque ‘Tear It Down’ and the ’70s-soaked melancholia of ‘I Ain’t the One’. But it’s not all slippers and whisky: the band also confidently turn their hands to some effortlessly cool danceable numbers. This is undoubtedly a solid, groovy return for Spoon.
- Spoon Hot Thoughts CD £11.99 / LP £19.99
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Releases for 10 March 2017
There’s a cracking batch of new releases for 10 March. The Navigator by Hurray For The Riff Raff is the cinematic tale of a wandering soul and can be read as a kind of concept album, which in this case is a good thing! The Shins’ first album for 5 years, Heartworms, is a delight full of vivid and infectious melodies, lovely! The second album from Circa Waves is full of indie jingle-jangle and bright energy. At the other end of the musical career scale, Fairport Convention celebrate 50 years of being a band with 50:50@50, half studio and half live, with guest vocals from Robert Plant, among others. 50 Song Memorial contains one song from each year of The Magnetic Fields creator Stephen Merritt’s life spread across 5 discs, and is shot through with whimsy, sorrow, absurdity and romance. Ha Ha Tonka’s latest, Heart-Shaped Mountain, is chock-full of their trademark vocal harmonies, jangly Southern revelry and crunchy hooks, just great! Marc Almond’s Hits And Pieces is, as the title suggests, a best-of plus, a 2-CD evocation of one of the most distinctive singers and songwriters in Britain.
Our album of the week is Semper Femina, which represents a soaring career high for the monstrously talented Hampshire-born singer-songwriter Laura Marling. Her fierce intelligence pours out of this album, which is as keen, beautiful and unparalleled a take on womanhood as it’s possible to imagine.
Semper Femina is Laura Marling’s sixth album – an intimate, devoted exploration of femininity and female relationships, and among her finest work to date. Written largely on the tour that followed 2015’s Short Movie and recorded in Los Angeles with production from Blake Mills, it is at once a distinctive and musically compelling collection of songs, run through with Marling’s fierce intelligence; a keen, beautiful and unparalleled take on womanhood.
- Laura Marling Semper Femina CD £11.99 / 2-LP £26.99
On Hurray For The Riff Raff’s new album, Alynda Segarra tells an interwoven, cinematic story of a wandering soul at a crossroads of identity and ancestral weight. The Navigator is a thrilling call to arms that could not come at a more crucial time. It also finds Hurray For The Riff Raff at its own musical intersection, delving deep into the worlds of Latin rhythms, searing rock, and incisive ballads.
The Navigator was produced by Paul Butler (Michael Kiwanuka, St. Paul And The Broken Bones, Devendra Banhart) The album features percussionists Juan-Carlos Chaurand, Gregory Rogove (Rodrigo Amarante), a trio of Bomba drummers, and Doo Wop singers from New Jersey.
- Hurray For The Riff Raff The Navigator CD £12.99 / LP £20.99
Heartworms is The Shins’ first album in 5 years, since the lauded Port Of Morrow. Expect guitars and hooks a-plenty, married to incisive lyrics and vivid and infectious melodies. Lovely!
- The Shins Heartworms CD £12.99 / LP £18.99
Different Creatures is the follow-up to Circa Waves’ Top 10 debut, Young Chasers. The deluxe CD + DVD edition of the album comes with the standard album as disc one (including the single ‘Wake Up’) plus a second disc featuring a video recording of the band’s sold-out Brixton Academy show from October 2015.
- Circa Waves Different Creatures CD £10.99 / CD + DVD £12.99 / LP £19.99
Fairport Convention, the UK’s most influential folk-rock band, celebrates its 50th anniversary with 50:50@50. Half the fourteen tracks were recorded at recent concerts and half in the studio. With nine compositions by members of Fairport, the album presents a mix of brand new songs and favourites from Fairport’s repertoire. Two tracks feature guest lead vocals: one from Robert Plant and one from Pentangle’s Jacqui McShee.
- Fairport Convention 50:50@50 CD £10.99 / LP £22.99
In 1999, Stephin Merritt’s band The Magnetic Fields released its breakthrough album: 69 Love Songs, which, as you may have guessed, comprised 69 songs about love. On this new record, Merritt commemorates the first 50 years of his life with a song for every year. Through this 50 Song Memoir, Merritt weaves a surreal tale of absurdity, whimsy, sorrow and romance.
- The Magnetic Fields 50 Song Memoir 5-CD £25.99 / 5-LP £84.99
Over their history, Ha Ha Tonka have recorded four critically acclaimed albums and toured the world. Through it all, these Ozarks natives have made friends, found love, started families, and grown and matured together. Heart-Shaped Mountain is a reflection of that development and maturity. Once aptly summed as “indie-Americana, where Alabama meets Arcade Fire,” Ha Ha Tonka has expanded their sonic palette, unveiling balanced, sublime, pop radio-accessible heights and an emotionally broader, post-punk song-writing range, à la Apache Relay or a less enigmatic Jonsi, while keeping their trademark harmonising vocals, jangly Southern revelry and crunchy hooks fully intact. At its core, Heart-Shaped Mountain is an album about love and growth. At a time when divisiveness fills the headlines, Ha Ha Tonka is fighting the good fight, building narrative-tributes to friends and loved ones, memories past and prospects of the future.
- Ha Ha Tonka Heart-Shaped Mountain CD £12.99 / LP £17.99
The first comprehensive Marc Almond singles collection since 1991’s Memorabilia gathers together hits from his solo years and as time spent with Marc And The Mambas and Soft Cell. It includes such landmarks as the era-defining ‘Tainted Love’, and ‘Say Hello Wave Goodbye’, Marc’s definitive cover versions of ‘Jacky’ and ‘The Days Of Pearly Spencer’ and smash hit collaborations with Bronski Beat (‘I Feel Love’) and Gene Pitney (‘Something’s Gotten Hold Of My Heart’). Hits And Pieces also includes the brand-new single ‘A Kind Of Love’ and a previously unreleased version of ‘Tainted Love’, recorded with Jools Holland And The Rhythm & Blues Orchestra.
- Marc Almond Hits And Pieces – The Best Of CD £12.99
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Releases for 3 March 2017
We have 6 recommended releases for 3 March to give you all. Iggy Pop has described Sleaford Mods as “undoubtedly, absolutely, definitely, the world’s greatest rock’n’roll band”, so give their latest, English Tapas, a try, it’s great! Ed Sheeran returns with ÷ (Divide), which may just find him in his finest form to date. It doesn’t take too long to realise that, while all the things that made Temples special the first time around remain intact, their new album, Volcano, is both beefier and more melodic with a balance I’ve seen described as “nice and queasy”! Nadia Reid returns with Preservation, another album full of witty, thoughtful and heartfelt lyricism blended with a songwriter’s ear for an engaging melody. Holly Macve’s much-anticipated debut album, Golden Eagle, is full of spellbinding country and western ballads and devastating emotional delivery, and is one of the most remarkably assured debuts of this or any other year, especially as she’s only 21!
Album of the week is Last Place, the return of Grandaddy after more than 10 years away. Jason Lyttle has delivered an album that is wry, poignant and always immensely listenable.
Produced by the band’s Jason Lytle, Last Place is wry, humane, poignant, fantastical, and very beautiful; a panoramic representation of everything that has always made Grandaddy so well-loved.
After Grandaddy broke up in 2006, the band’s frontman Jason Lytle relocated to Montana, where he made two solo albums and reconnected with the natural world around him. Eventually though, life uprooted him again, taking him to Portland, Oregon until he eventually returned to his former home of Modesto. This return to California was practical (he needed to be near his bandmates) but also appropriate: he had started writing songs that he felt would be fitting for another Grandaddy album. He needed to let the ideas flow until he found the perfect chemistry for what is now Last Place.
- Grandaddy Last Place CD £12.99 / LP £18.99
Iggy Pop has described Sleaford Mods as “undoubtedly, absolutely, definitely, the world’s greatest rock’n’roll band”. Which is some claim. As with all great punk bands, however, Sleaford Mods demonstrate with English Tapas their ability to sound both defiantly unevolved and musically literate. A torrent of words pours forth from Jason Williamson over a spare backbeat created by Andrew Fearn. This is an angry and fearful record which some how fits with right now.
- Sleaford Mods English Tapas CD £11.99 / LP £17.99
÷ (Divide) sees 25-year-old Suffolk native Ed Sheeran in his finest form yet. The genre-defying album is the result of an artist who constantly pushes himself in new directions, uncovering fresh musical ground using a seemingly limitless musical vocabulary.
Drawing inspiration from a host of personal experiences and subjects, Ed takes you through a hugely personal journey, reflecting on past relationships, family memories, his musical career or his time off travelling the world in 2016. Musically, ÷ is an array of beautifully orchestrated and emotive ballads, impassioned raps laid over hip hop beats, timeless acoustic guitar masterpieces and innovative, idiosyncratic pop music.
- Ed Sheeran ÷ (Divide) CD £11.99 / Deluxe CD £13.99 / LP £21.99
It doesn’t take too long with Volcano to realise that, while all the things that made Temples special the first time around remain intact, a noticeable evolution has taken place. It’s there from the outset: the beefed-up beats of ‘Certainty’ reveal an expanded sonic firmament, one in which bright synth hooks and insistent choruses circle around each other over chord sequences that strike just the right balance between nice and queasy.
“If there’s a sense of scale,” says lead singer James Bagshaw, “it was really just a result of implementing a load of things that we didn’t know about the first time around.” Co-founding member and bassist Thomas Walmsley describes a record in which “we discovered a lot as we went along, and the excitement at having done so radiates.”
- Temples Volcano CD £12.99 / LP £18.99
Rather than growth in its most typical sense of any artist finding their way in the world, Preservation marks a natural passing of time – what you pick up along the way is a bonus. “Making music feels like a very natural expression for me,” says Nadia Reid – “to record songs and mark time a little. Just like a painter needs to paint pictures.” Sometimes those home comforts can be found a little closer than you might think. Eagerly anticipated follow up to the 2015 debut Listen To Formation Look For The Signs, which garnered glowing reviews across the board.
- Nadia Reid Preservation CD £13.99 / LP £19.99
Holly Macve’s much-anticipated debut album, Golden Eagle, is here! With its spellbinding country and western ballads and devastating emotional delivery, the album is one of the most remarkably assured debuts of this or any other year, especially given Holly’s only 21 years old./li>
The bulk of Golden Eagle was recorded in Newcastle at the home studio of producer Paul Gregory (of Bella Union label-mates Lanterns On The Lake), with extra recording in Brighton and London with her first touring band and Macve performing on acoustic guitar and piano. Yet Golden Eagle remains beautifully spare and delicate, putting Holly’s goosebump-raising voice centre stage, beautifully controlled yet riven with feeling.
- Holly Macve Golden Eagle CD £10.99 / LP £19.99
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Other releases for 2017
Find releases from 2018 | 2016.