New releases for 2 June 2023

The first of this week’s peaches to be unpeeled is Such Ferocious Beauty, which is vintage Cowboy Junkies and another dimension from the lo-fi Canadian band that comprises … well, family. A tangle of sonic textures, the album is a rumination on ageing, losing parents, facing mortality and creating space for one’s life in the midst of the ruin that comes from merely living. “Mike has never shied away from the darker, harder and sometimes uglier realities of our human condition,” Margo Timmins explains of the band’s singular focus, “nor has he shied from its beauty. Thankfully, with one comes the other.

Shadow Kingdom presents Bob Dylan performing revelatory 21st-century versions of songs from his storied back catalogue, including fan favourites like ‘Forever Young’ and ‘It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue’, plus deep catalogue gems such as ‘Queen Jane Approximately’ and ‘The Wicked Messenger’. Originally reinterpreted for an exclusive streaming film event, which aired in July 2021, Shadow Kingdom will now be available on vinyl and CD for the first time. The album’s set list includes 13 original songs hand-picked by Dylan for his Shadow Kingdom performance.

I Thought I Was Better Than You marks a new era for Baxter Dury, and with this new era comes a new character: ‘Faux-confrontational’, Baxter calls him. Here, not only is he recounting his childhood, he’s also reckoning with it. Instead of just swinging blindfolded at his past with a baseball bat, he talks openly about the toxic cocktail of being born into unfortunately fortunate circumstances, with a famous surname but no structure or sense of responsibility with which to reap its rewards. “Really, it’s about being trapped in an awkward place between something you’re actually quite good at and somebody else’s success.” That ‘somebody else’ being his dad, Ian Dury. As one of the album centrepieces – ‘Shadow’ – agonisingly puts it: “But no one will get over that you’re someone’s son / Even though you want to be like Frank Ocean / But you don’t sound like him, you sound just like Ian.

Including the singles ‘Pretty Boy’ and ‘Easy Now’ plus an album version of the demo ‘We’re Gonna Get There in the End’, Council Skies – the fourth album from Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – is yet another songwriting masterpiece. The deluxe 2-CD edition features a bonus disc including previously unreleased live sessions, instrumentals, and remixes from The Cure’s Robert Smith, Pet Shop Boys, and David Holmes, while the vinyl’s bonus 7″ includes the demo ‘We’re Gonna Get There In The End’ and an acoustic version of the single ‘Pretty Boy’.

Twice Grammy-nominated band Rival Sons bring us their anxiously awaited new full-length album, Darkfighter, produced by long-time collaborator Dave Cobb. Vocalist Jay Buchanan shares: “You live your life knowing that the sword of Damocles is hanging over your head by a thread. You’re fully aware of the impermanence of your existence, but you can’t think about it all the time. I used to work in a mortuary as a service advisor for a few years, driving and opening the hearses. I’d attend three funerals per day. Sometimes, they would be filled over capacity. Other times, it would just be me, a priest, and a hole in the ground. It doesn’t matter who you are; the great equaliser is coming. I was thinking of this because the music sounded like pursuit.

Our release of the week is But Here We Are. This is in nearly equal measure the eleventh Foo Fighters album and the first chapter of the band’s new life. Sonically channelling the naiveté of their 1995 debut while informed by decades of maturity and depth, But Here We Are is the sound of brothers finding refuge in the music that brought them together in the first place 28 years ago, a process that was as therapeutic as it was about a continuation of life.

Foo Fighters - But Here We AreCowboy Junkies - Such Ferocious BeautyBob Dylan - Shadow KingdomBaxter Dury - I Thought I Was Better Than YouNoel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds - Council SkiesRival Sons - Darkfighter

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