New releases for 24 May 2024

The first of this week’s smashers comes from John Peel favourites Billy Mahonie, a band formed in the first wave of British post-rock in the late ’90s alongside the likes of Mogwai, who return with Field of Heads, the first new music from their original line-up in some twenty-four years. Billy Mahonie always crafted their intricate music with memorable hooks and melodies and performed it with energy and gusto, and their 1999 debut album The Big Dig is considered a classic of the post-rock genre. Theirs was not an aimless, meandering sound; instead, the songs and attitude were rooted in punk rock, and still are. Billy Mahonie put the rock into post-rock.

You called yourself broken, but that’s just what people are, that’s how the light gets in,” sings Bess Atwell in the opening moments of Light Sleeper, before gentle hums of strings and shuffling snares make way for the Brighton-based singer-songwriter’s voice at full pelt, singing with a new-found rawness. “Light Sleeper is about the willingness to feel,” she explains. “Somewhere along the line I had become very afraid of feeling.” A huge part of this exploratory new era was Aaron Dessner of The National, who produced the album. His isolated cabin studio Long Pond, in Hudson Valley, New York, was once Bess’s desktop background, never imagining she would end up star-gazing on its veranda and noodling away on the same instruments used by her heroes, not to mention a certain world-conquering pop star …

Timeless. Explosive. Romantic. Inspiring. How else to characterize Blue Electric Light, the 12th studio album by Lenny Kravitz? Kravitz’s mastery of deep-soul rock’n’roll is a long-established fact. As a relentless creative force – musician, writer, producer, actor, author, designer – he continues to be a global dynamic presence throughout music, art and culture. Blue Electric Light is an impassioned suite of songs that broadens this distinction and is the latest contribution of a man whose music – not to mention his singular style – continues to inspire millions all over the world. On the album, Kravitz’s talents as a writer, producer and multi-instrumentalist resonate as he wrote and played most of the instruments himself, with longtime guitarist Craig Ross.

Frog in Boiling Water, the fourth album by DIIV (pronounced Dive), is a collection of snapshots that explores the brutal realities of end-stage capitalism and overwhelming technological advance. Across 10 dark and dazzling tracks, produced by Chris Coady, DIIV documents the collapse from various angles with unusual sensitivity and depth of purpose while expanding their grand, hypnotic shoegaze to create a transportive, sensual work of hope, beauty and renewal.

After George Orwell’s widow refused David Bowie the right to use ‘1984’ as the title of his forthcoming album, he instead used the novel as a conceptual blueprint for what became Diamond Dogs. Accompanied only by keyboardist Mike Garson, bassist Herbie Flowers and drummers Aynsley Dunbar and Tony Newman, Bowie played guitar, sax, Moog and mellotron in addition to his contributions as vocalist, composer, arranger and producer of the album. With the Orwellian themes as a loose backdrop, Diamond Dogs has much of the apocalyptic sense of future-shock that informed Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. This classic album has been half-speed remastered for its 40th anniversary.

Our release of the week is a future classic. In the ever-evolving landscape of contemporary music, few artists possess the enduring influence and innovative spirit of Paul Weller. A recording career that began in 1977 now reaches the release of his 17th solo album, his 28th in total. Weller has always demonstrated an unwavering commitment to pushing artistic boundaries while staying true to his roots. 66 promises to be no exception, offering a captivating journey through his continuing musical evolution. This is quite a reflective and inward-thinking album that pulls back the camera lens and shines a light on the way Weller’s creativity interacts with his wider world. Continually finding new ways to alchemise the miracle of living and the meaning of it all, he draws on.

Paul Weller - 66Billy Mahonie - Field of HeadsBess Atwell - Light SleeperLenny Kravitz - Blue Electric LightDIIV - Frog in Boiling WaterDavid Bowie - Diamond Dogs (50th Anniversary)

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