The first of this week’s late summer sizzlers is Race the Night, the eighth studio album from Ash, which comes 29 years, 18 hit singles, seven studio albums and an unfathomable number of tour dates since their appearance on the 1994 Crazed and Confused compilation. Race the Night is both a party with old friends and a message to leap into the present with arms wide open. Frontman Tim Wheeler comments: “Race the Night is the sound of the band revelling in the sheer joy of being a band after being separated by time and distance through the insanity of the early 2020s. Lyrically it’s all about seizing the crossroads moments in life with both hands. Take every chance as if it could be your last.”
The new, self-titled album from Grammy-winning duo Brothers Osborne features 11 new tracks including the current Top-20 hit ‘Nobody’s Nobody’. John Osborne of the band shared: “As musicians, we’re constantly evolving and pushing ourselves to new heights. On our fourth album we’ve teamed up with a new producer, Mike Elizondo, and embraced his approach to our sound and story. Our expectations were already high and he absolutely shattered them. It’s exciting to see where this journey will take us and we can’t wait to share this sound with everyone. Life and art are about growth and taking risks, and we’re ready to take on the challenge.”
Corinne Bailey Rae performed at the Black Artists Retreat at the Stoney Island Arts Bank in Chicago in 2017, and the subjects of Black Rainbows are drawn from encounters with objects in the Arts Bank. Taking us from the rock-hewn churches of Ethiopia to the journeys westward of black pioneers, from Miss New York Transit Queen 1957 to how the sunset appears from Harriet Jacobs’ loophole, Black Rainbows explores black femininity, spell work, inner space/outer space, time collapse and ancestors, the erasure of black childhood and music as a vessel for transcendence.
End, the enigmatic seventh album by Explosions In The Sky, was inspired by darkness but became a loud, dramatic, wild rumination on life and death. “Our starting point was the concept of an ending – death, or the end of a friendship or relationship,” says the band about the album. “Every song comes from a story, or an idea one of us has had that we’ve all expanded on and made its own world. Maybe it’s our nature, but we kept feeling that the album title was ultimately open to a lot more interpretation – the end of a thing or a time can mean a stop, but it can also mean a beginning, and what happens after one thing ends might pale in comparison to what it becomes next.” End is perhaps the ‘grandest’ Explosions in the Sky album – melding the quiet restraint and crushing feel of their early work with the sonic texturing and ornate experimentation of their more recent releases and their increasing catalogue of film and television scores, influenced by personal tastes stretching from classical to soul to experimental ambient music.
Mitski’s seventh album, The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We, feels like a profound act of witnessing America in all of its private sorrows and painful contradictions. The songs – sonically Mitski’s most expansive, epic, and wise yet – seem to be introducing wounds and then actively healing them. Here, love is time-travelling to bless our tender days, like the light from a distant star. The album is full of the ache of the grown-up, seemingly mundane heartbreaks and joys that are often unsung but feel enormous. It’s a tiny epic. Love is that inhospitable land, beckoning us and then rejecting us. To love this place – this earth, this America, this body – takes active work. It might be impossible. The best things are.
Our release of the week is Valley of Heart’s Delight, the second album from Margo Cilker, whose title refers to a place she can’t return: California’s Santa Clara Valley, as it was known before the orchards were paved over and became more famous for silicon than apricots. In this 11-song follow-up to 2021’s critically acclaimed Pohorylle, family and nature intertwine as guiding motifs, at once precious and endangered, beautiful and exhausting.
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