New releases for 13 October 2023

The first of this week’s windfall wonders is Zuma 85, which signals the start of a new era for Allah-Las, with the band reinventing itself in defiance of algorithmic categorisation and robotic sterility. Recorded in the midst of the shift from the old world to whatever branch of reality we’re on now, it’s a return, too, being released on their own label, Calico Discos, which released early defining statements such as Allah-Las (2012) and Worship the Sun (2014).

Speaking about Identity, his new album, Nitin Sawhney says: “The world is littered with opinions of people trying to tell us who we are. People get so vociferous in pushing their judgement and definitions of others that they often forget our common humanity. We’re all human. We all matter … and, as long as you’re not harming anyone else, the only opinion that counts in defining who you are is your own. With this album, I’m inviting some of my favourite international friends and artists into a celebration of their own identities in a single place of sonic safety and honesty.

The Skies, They Shift Like Chords contains a dozen tracks that express nostalgia for something lost while projecting a sense of something timeless, like the renewal of the seasons or the rise and fall of the breath. Composer-pianist Roger Eno builds here on the soundworld of The Turning Year, his debut solo album for Deutsche Gramophon, adding layers of instrumental and electronic colours and including a song for his eldest daughter, the artist, vocalist and image maker Cecily Eno. This album connects with universal feelings for place and home. It also reflects the particular roots of Eno’s music in rural eastern England, a landscape shaped by centuries of agriculture and marked in recent decades by dwindling biodiversity and troubling ecological change.

Are We There Yet? is the ninth studio album from Rick Astley, and the third in a row that Astley has written, recorded, played and produced himself at his home studio in London. Featuring the single ‘Dippin My Feet’, an invigorating twist on his signature stye, Are We There Yet? is the sound of Rick reflecting and building upon the experiences he’s gone through since the release of 2018’s Beautiful Life.

The music Ella Williams makes as Squirrel Flower has always been a product of the environments it’s written in, born out of the same world it so vividly holds a mirror to. And her magnetic new album, Tomorrow’s Fire, is no exception. Along the shores of Lake Michigan sits Indiana Dunes, a protected expanse of shoreline recently designated a National Park. When Williams first visited the Dunes, she was awed by the juxtaposition of its natural splendour within the surrounding industrial corridor of Northwest Indiana. “Every time I go there, it changes my life,” she says, without a hint of hyperbole. “You stand in the marshlands and to your left is a steel factory belching fire and to your right is a nuclear power plant.” Across the water, Chicago waits, its glistening towers made possible by the same steel forged here.

Our release of the week is the rest, the new four-track EP from boygenius (Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus). The record builds upon the themes of friendship and queer joy established in their debut full-length and continues to showcase the band’s songwriting prowess and intimate cohesion as a unit.

boygenius - the restAllah-Las - Zuma 85Nitin Sawhney - IdentityRoger Eno - The Skies, They Shift Like ChordsRick Astley - Are We There Yet?Squirrel Flower - Tomorrow’s Fire

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