New releases for 14 June 2024

First up this week is Sea Girls who, since roaring onto the scene four short years ago, have cemented themselves a reputation as one of British indie’s most consistent and successful bands. Their immediacy and carefree attitude are the driving motivations of their superb new release, Midnight Butterflies, a record for fans of guitar music who are not afraid of big hooks and massive choruses. The result is their first album without compromise, reflecting the joy and energy they brought to the scene with their debut, Open Up Your Head, and with hit songs like ‘Call Me Out’ and ‘All I Want to Hear You Say’.

Rock ’n’ Roll Star! contains a wealth of material that charts David Bowie’s journey to the creation of the Ziggy Stardust character. Starting with early home demos, the collection moves through radio sessions and live performances to session recordings, outtakes and alternate versions from the recording of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. The LP half-speed master that accompanies the 5-CD + Blu-ray version features alternative takes and mixes including an alternative version of ‘Lady Stardust’, a previously unheard version of the deep-cut classic ‘Shadow Man’ and an up-tempo take of The Who’s ‘I Can’t Explain’, which he would later slow down and cover for the Pinups album.

For over 20 years, The Decemberists have been one of the most original, daring and thrilling American rock bands. Their distinctive brand of hyper-literate folk-rock set them apart from the start, since when they have released nine full-length albums that are unbound by genre and highly ambitious. Now the beloved indie band is back with their first new album in six years, As It Ever Was, So It Will Be Again – not only the longest Decemberists album to date (and their first intentional, proper double LP) but also their most empathetic and accessible, its 13 songs like semaphores of mutual recognition for our fraught times and faint hope.

Black Country Communion is a powerhouse supergroup fusing the incredible talents of Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Trapeze), blues-rock legend Joe Bonamassa, Jason Bonham (Led Zeppelin, Sammy Hagar and the Circle, Foreigner) and Derek Sherinian (Dream Theater, Sons of Apollo), whose brand of earth-shattering rock is heavily influenced by both classic British and American hard-rock and blues-rock music. The reputation they’ve cultivated over 15 years – not only as amazing songwriters but as a powerful live act – is exceeded only by dedication to their craft and a willingness to challenge each other to make the best music imaginable. Their latest album, V, is a worthy addition to the canon.

Isobel Campbell is no stranger to navigating turmoil. In 2020, she re-emerged after a decade of label trouble with There Is No Other, a gem of subtly questing psychedelic folk. Four years on, Campbell spreads her net wider on Bow to Love, a soft-spun yet sharp-edged set of reflections on modern crises that doesn’t stop at diagnosing the problems: it goes further to ask how we might progress from our tense, conflicted times.

Our release of the week is The Art of the Lie, the most opulent, cinematic and luxurious record yet from John Grant and one that confirms his status as a modern electronic auteur. Grant likens the musical flavours of the album to the sumptuous Vangelis soundtrack for Bladerunner, or to The Carpenters if John Carpenter were also a member. While undeniably a John Grant record, nestling humour into tragedy, bleeding anger into compassion, there is a musical ambition and nerve to The Art of the Lie which offsets its most political and personal moments.

John Grant - The Art of the LieSea Girls - Midnight ButterfliesDavid Bowie - Rock ’n’ Roll Star!The Decemberists - As It Ever Was, So It Will Be AgainBlack Country Communion - VIsobel Campbell - Bow to Love

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