Our picks for 16 and 23 April start with Flat White Moon from Field Music. “We want to make people feel good about things that we feel terrible about,” says David Brewis, who has co-led the band with his brother Peter since 2004. It’s a statement which seems particularly fitting to this latest album. Sporadic sessions for the album began in late 2019 at the pair’s studio in Sunderland, slotted between rehearsals and touring. The initial recordings pushed a looser performance aspect to the fore, inspired by some of their very first musical loves: Free, Fleetwood Mac, Led Zeppelin and The Beatles; old tapes and LPs pilfered from their parents’ shelves. But a balance between performance and construction has always been an essential part of Field Music.
The Battle At Garden’s Gate introduces a new chapter from Greta Van Fleet, focused on fighting for what you believe in, self-empowerment, freedom, as well as each individual’s internal and external battles. As drummer Danny explains: “We realised that while growing up, we had been shielded by a lot of things, we were unaware of a lot of things. And then we were thrown out into this huge world, and it was a bit of a culture shock at first. “We’ve seen how people live in different parts of the world,” added Sam, “and we’ve developed intrinsic respect for different cultures and people. We’ve gone from driving down a highway to a show and seeing endless miles of shantytowns in Sao Paulo, to playing some of the richest places on earth.” Added Jake: “The more we’ve seen – different cultures, people, and traditions – we’ve also seen a similarity between ourselves and these different cultures. It surprises me how similar we all are.”
Rory Graham, aka Rag ’n’ Bone Man, returns three years after his ground-breaking, award-winning debut, Human, with a renewed sense of purpose on a sparkling new album, full of heart and soul. Life By Misadventure is an incredible collection of emotional songs to touch us when we need it most. The album has been recorded purposefully like a live album – the sound is real and 100% human. Long time collaborators Ben Jackson-Cook (keys, co-songwriter and co-producer of the album), Bill Banwell (bass, and co-songwriter) and Desri Ramus (backing vocals) are joined by drummer Daru Jones (Lazaretto-Jack White) and guitarist Wendy Melvoin, who joined Prince’s Revolution at the age of 19. Together these musicians have made an album full of joy and immediacy, something all too rare these days of autotune and countless overdubs. One song was even recorded in Rag ’n’ Bone Man’s garage. “We had quite a time to live with the songs this time around,” Graham explains. “Too often, how I’d done things before, was that we’d written a song and I had to sing it the same day, and that was the version we’d use on the album. This way, it was far easier to get real emotion into the music.” Life By Misadventure is the perfect tonic for these times: an album of depth and soul, about growing up and moving forward. Enjoy the trip.
Here it is, at last – Sweep It Into Space, the fifth new studio album by Dinosaur Jr during the 13th year of their rebirth. Originally scheduled for issue in mid 2020, this record’s temporal trajectory was thwarted by the coming of the Plague. But it would take more than a mere Plague to tamp down the exquisite fury of this trio when they are fully dialled-in. And Sweep It Into Space is a masterpiece of zoned dialling. Recorded, as usual, at Amherst’s Biquiteen, the sessions for Sweep It Into Space began in the late Autumn of 2019, following a West Coast/ South East tour. The only extra musician used this time was Kurt Vile. Indeed, Sweep It Into Space is a very cool album. As is typical, Lou Barlow writes and sings two of the album’s dozen tunes and Murph’s pure-Flinstonian drumming drives the record like a go cart from Hell. Lou’s songs here are as elegant as always. But there are very few moments where you wouldn’t know you were hearing Dinosaur Jr in blindfolded needle drop. They have a signature sound as sure as the Stooges or Sonic Youth or Discharge ever did. They continue to expand their personal universe with Sweep It Into Space, without ever losing their central core.
Plastic Ono Band was the debut solo album by John Lennon, released on 11 December 1970. John and Yoko had started writing and demoing at Abbey Road (EMI Studios) in the summer, with recording sessions taking place during September/October. Released on the same day was Yoko Ono’s Plastic Ono Band album, the couple regarding the release as a pair of albums rather than two entirely separate projects, albeit of course it not achieving the same sort of coverage or chart success as John’s. Coming as this does hot on the heels of last year’s much loved and well-reviewed Gimme Some Truth and Imagine reissues, the audio has been completely remixed from the original studio tapes as part of the ongoing John Lennon Ultimate Mix series. The aim for this mix process is to achieve three things: to remain faithful and respectful to the original recordings; to ensure that the sound is sonically clearer overall and to increase the clarity of John’s vocals. As Yoko says, “it’s about John,” and this new mix shows that it is his voice that brings the biggest emotional impact of the album.
Our release of the week is Californian Soil, the highly anticipated third album from electro-pop heroes London Grammar. Frontwoman Hannah Reid said of the project: “This record is about gaining possession of my own life. You imagine success will be amazing. Then you see it from the inside and ask, ‘Why am I not controlling this thing? Why am I not allowed to be in control of it? And does that connect, in any way to being a woman? If so, how can I do that differently?’ Misogyny is primitive, which is why it is so hard to change. But it is also fearful. It’s about rejecting the thing in yourself which is vulnerable or feminine. Yet everybody has that thing.”
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