Here’s our last batch of recommended releases for 2023, due out in the next couple of weeks. In 2022, Nick Cave and Warren Ellis returned to their native Australia for 16 shows, taking their acclaimed 2021 album Carnage on the road, along with songs from the Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds catalogue. Three performances at the Sydney Opera House on 16, 17 and 18 December were the climactic shows of an emotional trip, captured on their luminous new live album, Australian Carnage (out 1 December).
Khruangbin’s series of live LPs traces just one small slice of the band’s flight plan through the years: it’s a taste of some of their most beloved cities, stages and nights. Across five releases, this series ignites both sides of Khruangbin’s magic: the warm, prismatic feeling of their albums and the bewitching energy of their performances. Closing out this collection, Live at Sydney Opera House (out 1 December) is a double LP of front-to-back Khruangbin.
The Shack story is one of music’s greatest legends. It incorporates hardship, bereavement and chaotic misadventure, but above all it tells the tale of beautiful music triumphing over trouble and tragedy. Here’s Tom with the Weather (out 1 December) boasts a majestic and fresh form. These are magical songs, psychedelic folk songs of the finest Head vintage: sleepy-eyed, wistful and mystical, yet crafted with a cunning and acute dexterity beyond just about anybody else you can think of. The two profoundly Liverpudlian brothers Mick and John Head have made several brilliant albums together, but Tom showcases John’s slow, shy emergence as a songwriter to challenge his brother, toasting Mick’s confirmation as the most unrecognised genius of his or any other generation.
Before and After (out 8 December) contains some of Neil Young’s personal favourites from his playbook, which he performs mostly alone on a solo acoustic journey into his music history. The songs blend into each other and morph with mesmerising clarity into a continuous flow of music, creating a pure and intimate 48-minute listening experience. The 13-track album spans Neil’s career, from his early Buffalo Springfield contribution ‘Burned’ (1966) to the recent ‘Don’t Forget Love’ (2021), and includes the previously unreleased song ‘If You Got Love’.
At the beginning of February 2021, Hania Rani was invited by the Berlinale Film Festival to record a live set as part of the EFM sessions that is now documented in Live from Studio S2 (out 8 December). Studio S2 is one of the recording studios inside the Polish Radio building in Warsaw and used primarily for recording classical and film music. There is a kind of intimacy when playing the piano in this huge venue. Rani has rearranged some of her favourite songs for this set, starting with ‘Hawaii Oslo’, which is built on a piano loop, followed by ‘Glass’ with a new intro and outro and closing with ‘Leaving’ and ‘Buka’ – this time accompanied with new layers which change the mood and rhythmic pattern of both songs.
Our release of the week was more than 20 years in the making. i/o (out 1 December) is the first album of new material from Peter Gabriel since 2002’s Up. Over the course of this year, Peter has released a new song from the album on the occasion of each full moon. Being revealed roughly every four weeks, each track has been allowed to find its own time and space, to enjoy its own orbit. “It’s a little like getting a Lego piece each month,” Peter explains. Now it’s time to stand back and admire the final, completed creation. And what a creation: 12 tracks of grace, gravity and great beauty that provide welcome confirmation not only of Peter’s ongoing ability to write stop-you-in-your-tracks songs but also of that thrilling voice, still perfectly, delightfully intact. Throughout the album the intelligent and thoughtful – often thought-provoking – songs tackle life and the universe. The 12 tracks have been mixed in two different versions: the ‘Bright-Side’ and ‘Dark-Side’ mixes, available together on the double-CD package or separately on the double-LP versions.
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