First out of this week’s box of delights is V, the first double album from Unknown Mortal Orchestra, the band led by Hawaiian-New Zealander singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer Ruban Nielson. Designed to play as one continuous movement and road-tested on dry California freeways, V is the definitive Unknown Mortal Orchestra car record. It’s also the fifth full-length album Nielson has released in twelve years. Across fourteen sunbleached songs – written solo or with his brother Kody – Ruban draws from the rich traditions of west-coast AOR, yacht rock, weirdo pop and Hawaiian hapa-haole music. Over a laid-back blend of singalong anthems and cinematic instrumentals, he evokes blue skies, afternoons spent lounging by hotel swimming pools and the alluring darkness that lurks below perfect, pristine surfaces. It’s a duality expressed in the dilapidated sunset blues and the salt-corroded soul Ruban explores.
Over the span of two decades, M83 (Anthony Gonzalez) has firmly established himself as an artist whose work transcends mere escapism in favour of full-on worldbuilding. For Gonzalez, Fantasy’s direction and aesthetic were immediately clear, and he altered his typical recording process to capture the exuberance of his dazzling live performances. “I wanted this record to be very impactful live,” he says. “The idea was to come back with something closer to the energy of Before The Dawn Heals Us. The combination of guitars and synths is always in my music, but it’s maybe more present on this new record than on the previous ones.” Gonzalez also sought to continue a trend that has become more prominent in his recent albums: “I wanted to be more present lyrically and vocally,” he states. “I thought if I could achieve that, this album will be more personal than those that came before.”
For the first time since their 2003 compilation Cool As, Inspiral Carpets release a newly remastered singles collection. The Complete Singles, which includes all of their biggest hits, features collaborations with Mark E. Smith and John Cooper Clarke. The 3-CD package also comes with a third disc of remixes, including a brand-new Go! Team 2023 remix of ‘This Is How It Feels’. The package features brand-new artwork and sleeve notes from band members past and present.
We don’t normally feature reissues in the newsletter, however this week there are two batches of notable reissues that we want to tell you about:
First, three of Beth Hart’s signature albums are being released on vinyl: 37 Days was produced like a live album and was recorded and mixed in that short time-frame, with a set of musicians who respected, trusted and loved each other; with War In My Mind, she serves herself up so raw, on a record that embraces her merits and flaws, channels her bittersweet head-space and spins gold from her demons; and on My California, she reflects on the sweetness of success and clinging to a bottle in the gutter: being betrayed by her own mind and the bliss of mental balance.
Second, the trilogy of Eels albums released in 2009 and 2010 also get a lovely reissue on vinyl: Hombre Lobo was written about desire – more blood and thorns rather than hearts and flowers – and keeps faith with the band’s established sonic template of downbeat pop shrouded in distortion; End Times is the sound of an artist growing older in uncertain times, an artist who has lost his great love while struggling with his faith in an increasingly hostile world teetering on self-destruction; and Tomorrow Morning, the final instalment, is the brightest and most overtly uplifting work of Eels’ career.
Our release of the week is Songs Of Surrender, which features 16 new acoustic and re-imagined recordings from the U2 catalogue, produced and compiled by The Edge, including classics such as ‘One’, ‘I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For’ and ‘Pride (In The Name Of Love)’. The Edge said of the project: “Music allows you to time travel, and we became curious to find out what it would be like to bring our early songs back with us to the present day and give them the benefit, or otherwise, of a 21st-century reimagining.” The special 4-LP collector’s edition includes: ‘With Or Without You’, ‘Beautiful Day’, ‘Where The Streets Have No Name’, ‘One’, ‘I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For’ and ‘Pride (In The Name Of Love)’, alongside fan favourites such as ‘Stories For Boys’, ‘Bad’ and ‘Desire’.
Click on an image to order your copy.