With temperatures soaring out there, we’ve got some beautifully cool new music for you this week. Stand For Myself is the anthemic new album from Yola. Produced by Dan Auerbach, the record is a timeless masterpiece marking an idiosyncratic sonic shift: a sophisticated and diverse sonic mix of symphonic soul and classic pop, tracing an expansive musical thread to Yola’s most eclectic musical inspirations. Yola’s inimitable vocals share nuanced stories of alliance, black feminine strength through vulnerability, collective awakening and loving connection from the sexual to the social. Yola declares that it is only when we stand for ourselves, and acknowledge our complexity, that we can be truly alive. For Yola, living is more than merely surviving.
2020 was not quite what Jay Farrar had hoped for the 25th anniversary of Son Volt, the band he started in 1995 after leaving the seminal group Uncle Tupelo, whose album No Depression helped define the alt.country and Americana genre. The group had just finished an Outlaw Country Cruise when the pandemic hit and sent them into their homes on lockdown. Instead of a triumphant tour marking the illustrious landmark, the band was forced indoors by the pandemic, and Farrar’s ‘reverie’ during that time formed the basis for Electro Melodier, Son Volt’s 10th studio album. The title, taken from the names of two vintage amplifiers from the late ’40s and early ’50s, also describes the disc’s unique blend of folk, country, blues, soul and rock – an electric troubadour with melodies that hit and stick. Social protest songs focusing on the promises of a nation gone wrong or the street protests accompanying the Black Lives Matter movement sit alongside odes to long-term relationships (specifically his 25-year marriage), and this is an album that asks questions rather than demanding answers.
John Murry’s third album is starlit and wondrous, like being wrapped in the softest black velvet. It’s an album of startling imagery and insinuating melodies, of cold moonlight and searing heat. It’s a record that penetrates you to the very heart, searing with its burning honesty, its unsparing intimacy and its twisted beauty. The Stars Are God’s Bullet Holes is not an album for an ordinary world, because it’s not an ordinary album. It’s an album to dive deep into and submerge yourself in, and to emerge from aware that this world is a remarkable place, and that John Murry is a remarkable artist.
Animal was a word Laura Marling threw into a lyric simply to match a rhythm. But it seemed to capture the mood of the new record, and of LUMP – a product of Brit Award-winning Marling and Mercury Prize-winning Mike Lindsay – as a whole. “There’s a little bit of a theme of hedonism on the album, of desires running wild,” she says. “And also it fed into the idea we had from the start of thinking of LUMP as a kind of representation of instincts, and the world turned upside down.” It is something childlike and grotesque and filled with possibility, they say. “We created LUMP as a sort of persona and an idea and a creature,” says Mike Lindsay. “Through LUMP we find our inner animal, and through that animal we travel into a parallel universe.”
On Private Space, their third album, Durand Jones & The Indications find a previously untapped vibe at the heart of the band. Pushing beyond the boundaries of the funk and soul found on their previous releases, Private Space unlocks the door to a wider range of sounds and launches boldly into a world of synthy modern soul and disco beats dotted with strings. It’s an organic, timeless record that’s as fresh as clean kicks and as familiar as your favourite well-worn LP. Developed by the band members after they were kept apart for much of the year, Private Space is creatively explosive and delights in upending expectations. Its 10 tracks are both an escapist fantasy and a much-needed regrouping after a tumultuous year. Throughout, The Indications highlight a collective resilience – as well as the power of a good song to be a light in the darkness. Durand Jones & The Indications have long provided the soulful soundtrack for such deep thoughts, both on stage and on your turntable. But as the world slowly resets from the chaos of the past year, Private Space is arriving at just the right time.
Our release of the week can only be Billie Eilish’s highly anticipated 16-track second studio album, Happier Than Ever, which continues where her multi-Grammy Award-winning, record-breaking debut album When We All Go To Sleep, Where Do We Go? left off. Happier Than Ever features no outside songwriters or producers, and was written by 19-year-old Billie and her brother Finneas, who produced the album in Los Angeles.
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