Releases from January–February 2016
Great albums from around the world
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Releases for 26 February 2016
There are some great releases coming out on 26 February. First, Emitt Rhodes returns with his first album for 40 years, and its a triumph! Look him up if you’re not familiar with his story. Bonnie Raitt releases Dig In Deep, which is a gutsy blues-rock follow-up to her Grammy-winning Slipstream, noisy Australian hard rockers Hands Like Houses offer up Dissonants, thrash legends Anthrax release For All Kings and, completing a triumvirate of the heavy stuff this week, Magnum offer the dynamic Sacred Blood “Divine” Lies. If you like a bit of blues rock, Supersonic Blues Machine’s West of Flushing, South of Frisco is for you; it features a truly stellar cast list of guitar greats. Mancunian alt-rockers The 1975 follow up their self-titled platinum seller with I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet Unaware Of It, an early contender for longest title of the year! Album of the week is Steve Mason’s Meet the Humans, which is chock-full of love, hope and joy, and you can’t get a better recommendation than that.
Meet The Humans is the third solo album from Steve Mason (The Beta Band) features the track ‘Planet Sizes’. Following from his ‘double political concept album’ Monkey Minds In The Devil’s Time, the new album is a move towards a more simple ethic, ‘where each song is a separate entity, where there is no great narrative running through it.’ Meet The Humans is shot through with a sense of renewal, and was written at home by Mason following his recent move to Brighton. It swings musically across dance, pop, folk, dub, and deep house influences. It’s a record which returns repeatedly to core themes, the possibility of others to redeem the self, the opportunity of change for the better in the individual, the joy of life and the world we inhabit, it’s arguably the most complete and direct of Steve’s long discography – eleven personal stories combined into one positive and proper whole, the sweep of the human condition written large and full of love and hope and joy.
- Steve Mason Meet The Humans CD £10.99 / LP £18.99
That the legendary Emitt Rhodes can come back 40 years after abandoning the spotlight is an astonishing triumph in itself. This is a man whose short solo career has influenced generations of artists. Emitt’s self-titled debut album in 1971, which he wrote, recorded and produced alone in his home studio, saw him dubbed the ‘one-man Beatles’.
Rainbow Ends tells the story of bitterness and hope. Rhodes’s ability to turn a phrase to a simple hook remains as strong as ever. Unlike some songwriters, Rhodes doesn’t layer his compositions excessively, but strips them down to bare essentials. Nothing here falls flat and each song reflects Emitt’s struggle. Rainbow Ends is certainly a grower.
- Emitt Rhodes Rainbow Ends CD £12.99 / LP £19.99
Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Bonnie Raitt releases her twentieth album, Dig In Deep, on her own independent label. Bonnie’s previous release, Slipstream, was one of the best-selling independent albums of 2012 and earned Bonnie a Grammy for Best Americana Album – her tenth career Grammy win. “The response to Slipstream was such a refreshing and unexpected boost,” says Raitt. “So going into this album, I had renewed energy.”
- Bonnie Raitt Dig In Deep CD £11.99 / 2-LP £17.99
Australian rock group Hands Like Houses’ brand new 12-track album, Dissonants, is a fiery production from beginning to end. The quintet have created a record that could be considered flawless given its blending of remarkable musicianship and crisp clean vocals.
While they may be compared to many other talents, Hands Like Houses have made a niche, creating a sound all their own. The group formed in 2008 and comprises Joel Tyrrell on bass, Matt Parkitny on drums, Alexander Pearson on guitar and backing vocals, Trenton Woodley as lead vocalist, pianist, programmer, and keyboardist, and Matt Cooper on guitar.
- Hands Like Houses Dissonants CD £10.99 / LP £14.99
Beginning in the Autumn of 2014, Anthrax – Charlie Benante (drums), Scott Ian (rhythm guitar), Frank Bello (bass), Joey Belladonna (vocals) and lead guitarist Jon Donais – took their time in the studio recording their 11th studio album, For All Kings. The band recorded some 20 original songs, almost twice as many as they had ever brought into the studio in the past. In terms of how the new music sounds, Bello says: “The thing about Anthrax … we have this heavy, thrashy music and Joey’s powerful and melodic vocals. I love heavy music, but I also love melody, so the challenge is to blend them together so they sound like Anthrax. I think we’ve done a really good job of that on the new album.” The album artwork is equally hard-hitting. Benante continues: “My idea for this one was to show this hall and these huge statues of these kings – who, of course, are us – and trying to tie in the last album cover with these creatures who are drawn into this room with our Anthrax ‘A’.” Nearly 35 years into their career, Anthrax are still spreading the disease.
In addition to the standard CD release, there is a limited edition 2-CD version, which includes bonus live EP.
- Anthrax For All Kings CD £10.99 / Limited 2-CD £12.99 / 2-LP £16.99
The ten numbers on the album present Magnum’s most rocking side. The epicentre of this soundquake features frontman Bob Catley’s charismatic voice along with Tony Clarkin’s awesome riff and lead guitar, which together provide the all-important substructure to the songs. Courtesy of Clarkin’s driving style, Sacred Blood “Divine” Lies counts without a doubt among the group’s most dynamic releases.
- Magnum Sacred Blood “Divine” Lies CD+DVD £14.99 / LP £20.99
Supersonic Blues Machine, formed by bassist and vocalist Fabrizio Grossi and drummer Kenny Aronoff with guitarist Lance Lopez, have just set out on their maiden voyage with West of Flushing, South of Frisco. In addition to the band’s already stellar line up, the release features guest performances by Billy Gibbons, Walter Trout, Warren Haynes, Robben Ford, Eric Gales and Chris Duarte, making this supergroup even more ‘super’.
West Of Flushing, South Of Frisco is an utter treat for those who crave great hard-driving blues-based rock and ear-frying guitar playing. The band’s core – Lopez, Grossi, and Aronoff – have nothing to prove. They could easily have carried the entire project themselves. The guest stars are just icing on an already very tasty cake.
- Supersonic Blues Machine West Of Flushing, South Of Frisco CD £12.99 / 2-LP £20.99
After becoming undoubtedly one of the biggest groups to come out of the UK in recent years, Manchester’s The 1975 return with their new album, I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet Unaware Of It, which follows their 2014 platinum-selling self-titled debut album. Coming in at 17 tracks in length, the new album sees the band leaving the monochrome of their previous record behind, with newest tracks ‘Love Me’ and ‘UGH!’ showing a glimpse into their brilliant 80s-infused, proudly ostentatious, technicolour return.
- The 1975 I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet Unaware Of It CD £10.99 / 2-LP £24.99
Bowie At The Beeb is a four-disc 180g vinyl box set, previously released on CD in 2000. This is the debut of the best of David Bowie’s BBC radio sessions from 1968–72 on vinyl. The set comes in a box with a lift-off lid and features a full-colour 20-page booklet.
This vinyl version features ‘Oh! You Pretty Things’ from a ‘Sounds Of The 70s: Bob Harris’ session broadcast in September 1971, previously released only on the Japanese CD issue. This performance features just David and Mick Ronson as a duo.
Completely exclusive to the set, and therefore making its debut, is the once lost ‘The Supermen’ from a ‘Sounds Of The 70s: Andy Ferris’ session broadcast in March 1970 and performed by The Hype. This recording was only re-discovered during the research for the original CD set and remained unreleased until now.
- David Bowie Bowie at the Beeb 4-LP box set £64.99
David Bowie Vinyl reissues 1969–73 LP £20.99
David Bowie Vinyl reissues 1969–73 LP £20.99
David Bowie Vinyl reissues 1969–73 LP £20.99
David Bowie Vinyl reissues 1969–73 LP £20.99
David Bowie Vinyl reissues 1969–73 LP £20.99
- David Bowie Vinyl reissues 1969–73
- All the albums from David Bowie’s first five years as a major artist are being released on 26 February, available individually at £20.99.
- David Bowie Vinyl reissues 1969–73 LP £20.99
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Releases for 19 February 2016
First up for 19 February are The Fall with their latest: if you haven’t heard them, do try it. Wolfmother return with their third hard-rocking album. On a completely different note the legendary Mavis Staples releases a fine album called Livin’ on a High Note. For those of you whose memory goes back to Transvision Vamp, Wendy James offers us her second album, Price of the Ticket. Animal Collective return at last with Painting With, which has been perfectly described as dizzyingly upbeat and gloriously realised. Miranda Sykes & Rex Peterson’s The Watchmaker’s Wife delivers a reflective, powerful and moving collection of tales of love and loss. Submotion Orchestra realise the promise of their live performances with Colour Theory. Release of the week is Diana Jones Live In Concert, which manages to showcase both her astonishing voice and incandescent songwriting.
In the last decade, singer-songwriter Diana Jones has brought her unique and original style of Appalachian singing and songwriting to devoted audiences on concert stages from Nashville to Amsterdam. The 18 songs in this live performance form a career retrospective and reveals what many have known all along – that Diana Jones is one of the most mesmerising live performers on stage today.
- Diana Jones Live In Concert CD £11.99
Following the success of Sub Lingual Tablet, The Fall release the Wise Ol’ Man EP: a mixture of old and new material from the legendary Manchester band.
The Fall was formed in Manchester in 1976, and has existed in some form ever since, essentially built around founder and only constant member, Mark E. Smith. Initially associated with the punk movement of the late 1970s, the group’s music has gone through several stylistic changes over the years, characterised by an abrasive guitar-driven sound and frequent use of repetition, and is always underpinned by Smith’s distinctive vocals and often cryptic lyrics. As John Peel said of The Fall: “They are always different; they are always the same.”
Note: the CD is currently sold out. We will have it for sale when it becomes available again.
- The Fall Wise Ol’ Man 12" EP £16.99
The follow-up to 2009’s Cosmic Egg and 2014’s New Crown, the much-anticipated Victorious is an electrifying testament to the range and depth of songwriter/vocalist/guitarist Andrew Stockdale’s artistry. The songs, recorded at Henson Studios in Los Angeles with twice Grammy-winning producer Brendan O’Brien, are edgy, inventive and uncompromising and rank among Wolfmother’s best ever.
- Wolfmother Victorious CD £10.99 / LP £18.99
Livin’ on a High Note follows last year’s Your Good Fortune EP and features 12 songs penned specifically for gospel icon Mavis Staples by the likes of Nick Cave, Justin Vernon, M. Ward, tUnE-yArDs, Benjamin Booker, and The Head and the Heart. Livin’ on a High Note was produced by Ward, unlike Staples’ two previous full-lengths, 2013’s One True Vine and 2010’s You Are Not Alone, which were overseen by Jeff Tweedy.
- Mavis Staples Livin’ on a High Note CD £11.99 / LP £19.99
Wendy James’s sophomore solo album, Price of the Ticket, was recorded with Lenny Kaye (Patti Smith Group) on guitar, Glen Matlock (Sex Pistols) on bass and James Sclavunos (Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds) on drums. The CD comes in a lavish multi-fold digipack jacket, and contains the tracks from the vinyl album plus 4 bonus tracks, two pulled from these album sessions plus two tracks with James Williamson and Steve Mackay (Iggy and The Stooges), previously only available digitally. This CD is included with the LP package, which has a printed inner sleeve.
- Wendy James Price of the Ticket CD £11.99 / LP £29.99
Dizzyingly upbeat and gloriously realised, Animal Collective’s new album, Painting With, bounces and pops with an urgent, ecstatic energy, propelled by polyrhythmic beats and gurgling modular synth, with Noah Lennox and Dave Portner’s vocals gleefully falling in and out of syncopation and off-kilter harmony.
Working as a trio, Portner (Avey Tare), Lennox (Panda Bear) and Brian Weitz (Geologist) began trading demos in early 2015, pursuing a goal of what Portner calls “really short songs: no B.S., get in, get out material…” The three met up in Asheville during that spring and began exploring the songs together. Recording took place in the legendary EastWest Studios in Hollywood, home to sessions by The Beach Boys and Marvin Gaye. The album features contributions from John Cale and Colin Stetson, and was engineered by Sonny DiPerri. The result is warm and personal, kaleidoscopic and high definition, concerned with art (cubism, Dadaism, and the distorted way those artists viewed the world) and the human experience, and the meeting of both – creating something elemental, joyous, and unmistakably Animal Collective.
- Animal Collective Painting With CD £10.99 / LP £18.99
The Watchmaker’s Wife, the brand new album from Miranda Sykes & Rex Preston, is – although not a parable of their personal lives – most certainly a reflective, powerful and moving collection of tales of love and loss: some are traditional songs delivered in a way that maintains the dignity of the old songs; some are original and with very modern arrangements; some are covers; all have a vibrant, immediate and edgy feel.
The pair didn’t set out to create an album with love and loss as a theme, but in the thick of it all, when they just sat back and let out what came naturally, that’s what they got. Rex for the first time showcases original songs alongside original material from Boo Hewerdine. Miranda and Rex are as dazzling as ever on their respective instruments – double bass and mandolin/bouzouki. The duo has kept things as honest as they dare to reflect their live performances. There are no guests; no four-part harmonies; no grand multi-tracked opuses; no bells and definitely no whistles. The songs shout very loudly for them-selves with only a smattering of sharp and contemporary production gloss.
The duo has a unique connection, which is a pleasure to watch when they share the stage together. Well known for the last 11 years as a central component of Show of Hands, Miranda has an exquisite and spine-tingling voice, whilst Rex, with his exuberant and flamboyant playing style, has built a reputation as one of the finest mandolin players in the UK. Their backgrounds, as well as skilful instrumentation and warm engaging vocals, have shaped their unique sound. This is the beginning of a whole new chapter for the dynamic duo.
- Miranda Sykes & Rex Preston The Watchmaker’s Wife CD £11.99
After the success of 2014’s Alium, Submotion Orchestra raise the bar yet again with their new album, Colour Theory. Renowned for their stunning live performances, for smoky jazz, skittering live percussion and swooping synths, the band have this time taken a conscious decision to focus their energy and attention on to their production, shaping a record of immense poise and epic scope, where attention to detail and shape has resulted in a new dynamism and contemporary sheen. As producer Dom Ruckspin puts it, “we wanted to go somewhere radically different.” While Colour Theory is indeed radically different, it also stays true to what made Submotion Orchestra so exciting to begin with.
- Submotion Orchestra Colour Theory CD £11.99 / LP £15.99
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Releases for 12 February 2016
There are some unusual and fine releases for 12 February: Freakwater’s Scheherazade is neither folk, bluegrass or blues but somehow a mix of all three; Rokia Traoré’s beautiful Né So (‘Home’) is a great introduction to world music if you haven’t yet dipped your toe in that water; Fay Hield has produced a captivating, compelling album in Old Adam, Gazpacho’s debut gets a welcome reissue from the home of prog, Kscope; the Tedeschi Trucks Band continue to plough their singular blues/soul/rock furrow to great effect. You may not have heard of The White Buffalo, but if you watch ‘Sons of Anarchy’, you know his music! Vince Gill also brings us the magnificently titled Down to My Last Bad Habit. Release of the week is Dying Surfer Meets His Maker by All Them Witches, which builds and builds into I don’t know what, except that I love it!
The third album from Nashville band All Them Witches is a keeper. Dying Surfer Meets His Maker starts with some lope-along, bluesy guitar rock that has a slow-building thread of intensity – and quickly escalates to the land of dark, blistering psychedelic metal. Drums pound and struggle to explode with primal strength, while the guitars reach out to those strange, zoned-out dark holes of the universe – realities only the bong-bowl rockers can find. Acoustic guitars and electric acid-licks reside here in perfect harmony. This is thoughtfully twisted rock’n’roll with a semi-raw honesty that explores and prods the echo-whispers of classic rockers, blues masters and drug-land pioneers – mixing it all into a chunky, soulful stew with a uniquely creative and primeval core of rock.
- All Them Witches Dying Surfer Meets His Maker CD £11.99 / LP £15.99
Scheherazade is Freakwater’s first album in over 10 years. Like the the heroine of Scheherazade’s ‘The Arabian Nights’, their longevity sometimes depends on leaving their audience hanging. It is a release of familiarity as much as it is one of change, one that is distinctly different, but which never loses sight of what it is that makes them Freakwater: it’s new blood from a familiar vein.
Anchored around the fragile and compelling harmonies of Janet Bean and Catherine Irwin and the subdued, oracular bass playing of Dave Gay, their utterly unique sound is distilled from many sources. There’s the elemental ache and loss in the soil and limestone of Kentucky, and the songs and struggles that passed over the Atlantic from the British Isles centuries ago. There’s the energy and freedom in the ratty punk clubs of Louisville and Chicago at a time when rules and formalities were meant to be ignored. At once bluegrass, blues, folk, and country, it is also none of them; Freakwater is not dealing in historical artefacts. Rather, it is a product of two voices intertwined with one another for over three decades, creating a sound that might be best summarized as Appalachian soul.
- Freakwater Scheherazade CD £11.99 / LP £14.99
Rokia Traoré’s sixth album, Né So (‘Home’), was produced by John Parish (PJ Harvey, Tracy Chapman), who also produced her 2013 record Beautiful Africa. The album features 10 original songs plus a cover of Billie Holiday’s ‘Strange Fruit’. Guest performances come from John Paul Jones, Toni Morrison, and Traoré’s label mate Devendra Banhart.
Traoré started by writing and composing the songs alone. She then rehearsed in Bamako and recorded in Brussels and Bristol with musicians from the entire West Africa region. “I didn’t want an all-Malian band. I need variety; I need a mix of cultures around me,” she said. “You could say that Mali is where my roots are – it is where I take refuge in times of doubt, and where I accept risks when I must. Bamako was the place where I felt I would be both free and supported.”
- Rokia Traoré Né So CD £11.99
Following the considerable success of The Full English album and touring band, which she assembled, singer Fay Hield releases her third solo album. Old Adam is a fresh and original exploration of how we use stories and music to understand what it means to be human, continuing Fay’s passionate and engaging exploration of the repertoire of the English tradition.
At times sparse and contemplative, at others, fired-up with a spirit lifting rhythm and plenty of rousing choruses, the music on Old Adam is both captivating and thought-provoking. It combines Fay’s gift for unearthing striking material with her distinctive and naturalistic delivery of it. These qualities have won her critical acclaim for her previous solo albums – Looking Glass (2010) and Orfeo (2012) – including several BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards and a nomination for Folk Singer of the Year.
- Fay Hield Old Adam CD £11.99
Formed in Oslo in 1996 by childhood friends Jon-Arne Vilbo and Thomas Andersen along with Jan-Henrik Ohme (later joined by Mikael Krømer, Lars Erik Asp and Kristian Torp), Gazpacho have honed their unique sound over a string of critically acclaimed albums and numerous tours, including several with long-time supporters Marillion. The CD comes in a digipak sleeve with a 20-page colour booklet with new artwork.
- Gazpacho Tick Tock CD £10.99 / LP £18.99
This is the third studio album by the 12-piece Tedeschi Trucks Band, formed when the bands of husband and wife Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi merged in 2010 with a mission of performing original songs. The lead track here, ‘Anyhow’ is a nice moody soul ballad that has a subdued start but builds slowly, with Susan’s vocals excellent as usual and Derek adding subtle slide guitar. More nice slide on the mid-tempo funk of both ‘Laugh About it’ and ‘Don’t Know What it Means’, the latter which features a nice catchy Stevie Wonder-esque chorus. So far, the songs are much like what the band has done previously, but ‘Right on Time’ is a real departure – very jazzy and very dramatic, featuring both Susan and Mike Mattison on vocals, with period-sounding brass and Derek on dobro. The title track is built around a tricky slide/organ figure, a bit prog-rock, with Susan’s soulful voice always pulling it back to reality.
- Tedeschi Trucks Band Let Me Get By CD £12.99 / 2-LP £24.99
Meet The White Buffalo, project of earthy, Oregon-born and Southern California-raised singer/songwriter Jake Smith, whose music is finally getting the attention it deserves, thanks in part to a number of his tracks being used in the hit show ‘Sons of Anarchy’. The Love & Death of Damnation follows on from Jake’s first ever UK show in 2015, which was sold out even after it had been upgraded to a larger venue. For fans of Black Stone Cherry, The Supersonic Blues Machine, The Temperance Movement.
- The White Buffalo The Love & Death of Damnation CD £11.99 / LP £15.99
Down to My Last Bad Habit marks Vince Gill’s first solo album since 2011’s Guitar Slinger. With 20 Grammy Awards to his credit, Gill has emerged as country music’s most eloquent and impassioned champion. He is both a world-class guitar picker and a wide-ranging songwriter whose compositions earned him entry into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2005 and the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2007.
- Vince Gill Down to My Last Bad Habit CD £12.99
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Releases for 5 February 2016
5 February sees the return of the indefatigable Cult with their latest, Hidden City. Elton John provides us with his 33rd – yes that’s right, 33rd – studio album, Wonderful, Crazy, Night. James Hunter has conjured up a compelling slice of old-school R&B in Hold On, Field Music return with their fifth album, and their first in 4 years, Commontime, GoGo Penguin deliver their usual eclectic mix of electronica done acoustically, which makes no sense until you listen to it. Bert Jansch’s much loved Avocet gets a welcome reissue in CD and vinyl formats, and local singer-songwriter Foxes releases her second full-length, All I Need. My release of the week is the wonderfully named The I Don’t Cares, comprising Paul Westerberg of Replacements fame and Juliana Hatfield, with some pretty damn sharp song writing on Wild Stab.
Paul Westerberg and Juliana Hatfield are The I Don’t Cares and they don’t care. It’s not a quite a ‘band’ but Westerberg and Hatfield sound fantastic working in collaboration. Wild Stab is a supremely enjoyable and impactful album, containing 12 great rock and roll songs full of life and enthusiasm, a few of which put Hatfield’s voice at the front. It all manages to fit immediately into Westerberg’s catalogue and still sound new. This is among his best post-Replacements work and might prove to be the best overall release of his career.
- The I Don’t Cares Wild Stab CD £11.99
When you’re an icon like British post-punk outfit The Cult, it’s safe to say that anything goes when releasing material well into the third decade of your existence.
Hidden City is effectively a 12-track sampler of hard rock, but not in the style that The Cult has become so associated with, although if you listen closely to the chorus of the opening track, ‘Dark Energy’, you can certainly hear hints of it. It’s those same hints that make the album worth a spin, if for nothing else than to find some otherworldly rhythms tucked amongst otherwise basic hard rock songs.
- The Cult Hidden City CD £10.99 / LP £19.99
Elton John is back with his 33rd – yep, 33rd! – studio album, Wonderful Crazy Night. The album features the infectious and upbeat lead single, ‘Looking Up’, and was co-produced by Elton and T-Bone Burnett and recorded at The Village in Los Angeles.
- Elton John Wonderful Crazy Night CD £10.99 / Deluxe CD £12.99 / LP £21.99
James Hunter has been on the scene for enough years to acquire plenty of feathers in his cap. Appearances on ‘Later with Jools Holland’, Billboard charts, Grammy nominations, and Van Morrison collaborations aside, he has earned an international reputation as a rhythm and blues troubadour for his command of the microphone both on stage and in studio. Hold On, however, is something far deeper than just another notch in his belt. It is truly an artist’s vision come to fruition.
- The James Hunter Six Hold On CD £11.99 / LP £12.99
Commontime is the first album of new songs from North East siblings Peter and David Brewis, a.k.a. Field Music, since Plumb in 2012 and their fifth album ‘proper’ since their debut in 2005.
After four years threading a way through one extra-curricular project after another, the space that Field Music vacated still appears to be empty and Field Music-shaped. No one else really does what Field Music do; the interweaving vocals, the rhythmic gear changes, the slightly off-chords, but with the sensibility that keeps them within touching distance of pop music.
- Field Music Commontime CD £10.99 / 2-LP £21.99
Man Made Object is the exciting new release from GoGo Penguin, a follow-up to their previous album, v2.0, which made its way onto the Mercury shortlist.
Although they’re an acoustic band, GoGo Penguin’s music draws from many areas of contemporary electronic music, one where you can hear arcade game bleeps, glitchy breakbeats, hypnotic Aphex-style melodies, grinding bass lines and a rumbling low-end. It has been described as ‘acoustic electronica’, which perfectly sums up the writing process.
- GoGo Penguin Man Made Object CD £12.99 / LP £24.99
Bert Jansch was often quoted as saying ‘I’m not playing for anyone, just myself’ and this feels no more apparent than on 1979’s Avocet, his beautifully meditative paean to British birds, now remastered for this re-issue by Brian Pyle from original tapes. It is this album which is often singled out by fans of Jansch as his best work. The freedoms of a post-Pentangle career are much in evidence; folk rock and even trad folk give way to music that is not only without lyrical accompaniment but really quite orchestral, classical even, in its composition.
The CD version is packaged in a deluxe bookback edition, comprising all the illustrations and notes over 24 pages. The vinyl edition comes with 6 high-quality lithograph art prints by UK illustrator Hannah Alice, representing each of the birds on the album, held in a heavy board die-cut gatefold sleeve. This unique packaging is fully interactive: the cover image is interchangeable with any of the prints, though each one is perfectly framable too.
The vinyl is limited to 1000 copies worldwide.
- Bert Jansch Avocet CD £12.99 / LP £28.99
Southampton-based singer/songwriter Louisa Rose Allen, a.k.a. Foxes, releases her second album, All I Need. Allen describes her music as experimental pop, which is as good a description as any. She cites influences such as Björk, Kate Bush and Patti Smith.
- Foxes All I Need CD £11.99
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Releases for 29 January 2016
Among the new releases for 29 January are: The Essential Gretchen Peters, a beguiling mixture of her best for the uninitiated and rarities for the fans; iconic prog band Dream Theater’s 2-CD / 4-LP set The Astonishing – that most prog of things, a concept album; and psych darlings Night Beats’ fuzz- and reverb-laden latest, Who Sold My Generation. Runrig’s final album, The Story, is worth a listen; Turin Brakes return with Lost Property, which sounds as you would expect it to; Southampton quintet Bury Tomorrow’s new album Earthbound will cement their burgeoning metal rep; and Thunder bring a 2-CD + DVD set documenting the story of Wonder Days that delivers as only Thunder can.
Release of the week is Bloc Party’s Hymns, a worthwhile departure from their previous sound.
Hymns is a rebirth for Bloc Party. After 16 years as a band, countless world tours and awards and four studio albums, Kele Okereke and Russell Lissack are taking it back to where it all began.
“Bloc Party started with just Kele and I, and we used to write the songs together, and we found other people and grew from that. It feels like that’s happened again,” says Russell. They started writing together, just the two of them, in 2014, and were joined at various stages by the two new members who have made Bloc Party a four-piece again: bassist Justin Harris, whom the band met in his previous guise as part of the Portland indie rock band Menomena, and drummer Louise Bartle, a 21-year-old that the pair discovered on YouTube, and who “blew us away. It’s good to have someone bringing that energy of doing it for the first time. It’s made us all excited about going forward.”
As the title suggests, the fifth Bloc Party record is about faith and devotion, but it is not, Kele insists, a religious epiphany. “I grew up in a religious house so I’m fully aware of the imagery, but I’m not Christian. It’s not something I subscribe to.” The result is a record that sounds like a band growing and changing, pushing new sounds via new approaches, and resulting in more free, less constricted Bloc Party. Hymns marks a departure for the band sonically, too, with Kele and Russell trying sounds and approaches that they have never previously explored.
- Bloc Party Hymns CD £10.99 / LP £19.99
The Essential Gretchen Peters is a double album which includes a retrospective of Peters’ best work chosen from a 20-year recording career, plus rarities never before released. Disc 1 features a hand-picked selection of tracks from past releases, plus brand new recordings of two of Peters’ best loved songs: ‘On A Bus To St. Cloud’ and ‘When You Love Someone’, here performed as a duet with co-writer Bryan Adams. Disc 2 contains rare tracks, many never before released, which illuminate Peters’ songwriting and recording journey since 1996, and will delight both the completist and the diehard fan.
Just a few of the highlights on Disc 2 are: the early work tape for her song ‘Five Minutes’; a live, full band version of ‘Woman On The Wheel’; an unreleased performance of the Ben Bullington song ‘Ring Around The Moon’, performed by Peters and husband/coproducer/pianist Barry Walsh; and an unreleased work tape of ‘Blackbirds’, sung as a duet by cowriter Ben Glover.
With liner notes written by esteemed rock critic and Bruce Springsteen biographer Dave Marsh, The Essential Gretchen Peters is just that – an essential piece of work from a fearless and creative singer-songwriter.
- Gretchen Peters Essential CD £12.99
Dream Theater, one of the most prolific and iconic progressive rock bands of the last thirty years, are set to release their eagerly awaited double concept album, The Astonishing. Consisting of 34 tracks spread across 2 acts (coming in at more than 2 hours of music), woven around an absorbing story written by Petrucci, The Astonishing is available as a standard 2-CD set and 4-LP vinyl box set.
The Astonishing paints a tale of a retro-futurist post-apocalyptic dystopia ruled by medieval-style feudalism. It’s a place aching for a Chosen One to rise above the noise and defeat an Empire defined by the endless drone of noise machines and the illusion of safety in bland conformity.
The 4-LP box set will be released on 19 February.
- Dream Theater The Astonishing 2-CD £12.99 / 4-LP box set £59.99
The psychedelic distortion of Night Beats evokes, as always, a ’60s nostalgia in their latest instalment, Who Sold My Generation, with hazy reverb, filthy rhythms and spiralling guitars that would go well with a side order of napalm and cheers of youthful revolution.
Grunge and sonic experimentation run rife all over the minimal production, with live instruments recorded as if from a distance, proving that there’s still room in our hearts for good old-fashioned instruments. Strange, outer-world guitar zips pull the listener into a hallucinogenic aural space situated somewhere between 1965 and 2016.
- Night Beats Who Sold My Generation CD £10.99 / LP £19.99
Runrig release their 14th and final studio recording, entitled The Story. Packaged in book format with a 32-page booklet, the 11-track album brings the curtain down on a remarkable and unique recording career. Having celebrated their 40th anniversary two years ago, the band took the decision to embark on one final creative journey into the studio. The result, one year later, is an album of emotional resonance and reflection, placing at the heart a narrative that is very much that of the band itself.
The album was produced by the band’s youngest member, keyboard player Brian Hurren. From the outset, Brian expressed a strong desire to drive the production on this project, bringing exceptional musical and audio skills along with a unique perspective on the historic sound of the band. He has produced an outstanding album of rare beauty, both celebratory and nostalgic, with a sound palette that ranges from the contemporary, to some of the sonic milestones that are so ubiquitous to Runrig’s past. This is a hugely significant album for the band. It’s an album that wears its heart firmly on its sleeve.
- Runrig The Story CD £12.99
Almost six years since Turin Brakes’ last album, they have maintained their equilibrium and sense of creative balance. Lost Property confirms that their best work is far from behind them, as they continue steadily and methodically to build up a body of work which is comparable to the very best folk-rock acts of the last twenty years.
Lost Property may very well be the most satisfying of Turin Brakes’ career. There’s certainly no shortage of great tunes, with the first third of the album drawing you in and reminding you exactly why you like this band so much and preparing us for ‘Rome’, a song with an irresistible guitar hook and chorus which is destined to become a live favourite, as well as an undeniably commercial edge which Turin Brakes have used to good effect throughout their career on songs like ‘Underdog (Save Me)’, ‘Painkiller’, and the aforementioned ‘Sea Change’.
You may not see them again for a few years, but you know when you do, they’ll make you smile.
- Turin Brakes Lost Property CD £10.99 / LP £17.99
At a time when modern metal is so slavishly led by whatever fashion carousel is popular this week, rare are the bands who find success on their own, gimmick-free terms. A decade into their career, Southampton quintet Bury Tomorrow are, by whatever yardstick you want to measure it, one such band. They have hauled themselves into a position as one of the UK’s premiere purveyors of mosh by the sheer force of their own will.
With notable influences ranging from Unearth and Darkest Hour to the apoplectic fury of Terror and Madball, Earthbound is one album that will get the pit spinning with consummate ease. But while fans of the heavy stuff will find plenty to grasp onto here, it’s the now trademark interplay between Dani and guitarist and clean vocalist Jason Cameron which sets Earthbound apart. One listen to the sky-scraping euphoria of ‘Last Light’ or the call-to-arms swagger of the title track will tell you that Dani isn’t lying: these are monstrous anthems from a band who are coming of age as a truly astonishing musical force.
- Bury Tomorrow Earthbound CD £11.99 / LP £12.99
The three-disc set All You Can Eat documents the story of Wonder Days, Thunder’s first studio album for 6 years, and includes a live album, a live in-the-studio session, and a documentary film.
CD1: Starter – The RAK Session. The session took place at the famous RAK Studio 1 on 4 and 5 November 2014, the two days preceding the band’s show at Brooklyn Bowl in the O2 in London. The band set up in the studio to record 100% live, and as quickly as possible. They played fourteen songs one after another, with no breaks, no stops, overdubs or fix-ups. The end result is astonishing.
CD2: Main Course – Live At The Brooklyn Bowl. The Brooklyn Bowl show on 6 November 2014 was offered free to fans, in association with Classic Rock magazine. Fans applied online in their thousands for the chance to hear the band play brand new songs from Wonder Days, three months ahead of the release, alongside Thunder classics, and some never-before-played covers. The rules were pretty simple: no cameras, no video, no social media updates, just word-of-mouth. Thunder fans duly obliged, and the evening was stunning. The show was captured in audio and video, and eight of the songs were given away on the cover of Classic Rock in January 2015. The rest have stayed in the filing cabinet, until now.
DVD: Dessert – The Wonder Days Film. A documentary made by Tim Sidwell (‘Celebrating Jon Lord’), this film details the story behind the making of Wonder Days, and features extensive band interviews, along with studio footage from the Wonder Days session, clips from the live session at RAK Studio 1, the Brooklyn Bowl live show, the triumphant March 2015 UK shows, and the Loud Park show, filmed for TV in Tokyo (Oct 2014). 60 minutes of pure Thunder fan joy. All you can eat … and more!
- Thunder All You Can Eat 2-CD+DVD £14.99
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Releases for 22 January 2016
There is a fine batch of releases due 22 January and it was tough to pick out the best. Dystopia, the new album from thrashmeisters Megadeth, is main man Dave Mustaine’s view of civilization. Fat White Family’s Songs For Our Mothers is described perfectly as an invitation, sent by misery, to dance to the beat of human hatred! Aoife O’Donavan’s In the Magic Hour is a aching exploration of memory and mortality. Night Thoughts is the first time that Suede have used a full string section, and it perfectly suits their mix of grandiose ballads and rock songs. We have a special pre-release price on Shearwater’s new album, Jet Plane and Oxbow. The Waiting Room is the most ambitious, diverse and elaborate album you’ll have heard from Tindersticks. The second album from Savages arrives displaying songwriting maturity mixed with their debut’s fury, Steven Wilson’s 4 ½ is a ambitious effort for an ‘interim’ album. However our album of the week is Lucinda Williams’ Ghost of Highway 20, an astonishing elegiac piece of work that will carry you away to the deep South on first listen, give it a try!
There is a common thread running through the songs on The Ghosts of Highway 20, uniting them under one collective theme, as the haunting title track illustrates. Twelve of the 14 songs were inspired by various periods and experiences throughout Lucinda Williams’ life, all of which tie into Highway 20, which runs in part from Georgia to Texas. Whether it is cities she has resided in (Atlanta and Macon, Georgia), has family ties to (Shreveport and Monroe, Louisiana) or previously written about (Jackson, Louisiana or Vicksburg, Mississippi), Williams’ personal experiences and connections to these areas inform the narratives as songs and stories inspired by people, place and time. Revered guitarists Bill Frisell and Greg Leisz provide incredible sonic textures and ethereal tones, which enhance Williams’ brilliant writing and wise and weathered vocals.
- Lucinda Williams The Ghosts of Highway 20 CD £11.99 / LP £22.99
Four-time Grammy nominee, multi-instrumentalist and producer Steven Wilson follows up his acclaimed Hand. Cannot. Erase. with a new interim album, 4 ½. Produced and mixed by Steven Wilson, 4 ½ features a stellar group of musicians contributing to the LP, including Adam Holzman (keyboards), Nick Beggs (bass), Guthrie Govan (guitar), Dave Kilminster (guitar), Marco Minnemann (drums), Chad Wackerman (drums), Craig Blundell (drums), and Theo Travis. 4 ½ includes a new interpretation, with Steven’s current touring band, of the Porcupine Tree track ‘Don’t Hate Me’. The new version is a duet with Ninet Tayeb, who also featured on Hand. Cannot. Erase.
- Steven Wilson 4 ½ CD £11.99 / LP £19.99
Savages’ second album, Adore Life, was recorded in RAK Studios, London in April 2015. They say of Adore Life: “It’s about change and the power to change. It’s about metamorphosis and evolution. It’s about sticking to your guns and toughing it out. It’s about now, not tomorrow. It’s about self-doubt and inaction. It’s about you. It’s about me. It’s about the choices we make. It’s about finding the poetry and avoiding the cliché. It’s about showing weakness to be strong. It’s about digging through your dirt to look for diamonds. It’s about claiming your right to think unacceptable thoughts.”
Johnny Hostile was the producer and Richard Woodcraft the engineer. All songs were written and played by Savages – Ayşe Hassan (bass), Fay Milton (drums), Gemma Thompson (guitar), Jehnny Beth (vocals). Lyrics by Jehnny Beth.
- Savages Adore Life CD £10.99 / LP £19.99
Tindersticks release their new album, The Waiting Room, a milestone not just numerically, but musically and creatively. Their first studio album since 2012’s The Something Rain is the most ambitious, diverse and elaborate album you’ll have heard from Tindersticks in recent years. Two decades into their musical voyage, Tindersticks – established masters of restraint and poetic emotion – are a band now confidently making the best songs of their career. The Waiting Room breathes gravity and features guest appearances by Jehnny Beth of Savages and a particularly poignant duet with long time friend of Stuart Staples, Lhasa De Sela. Not just an album but also an elaborate collaborative artistic project, each track is accompanied by a short film, each one a visual interpretation by its own director. Christoph Girardet, Pierre Vinour, Claire Denis, Rosie Pedlow and Joe King, Gregorio Graziosi, Richard Dumas and Gabriel Sanna.
- Tindersticks The Waiting Room CD+DVD £13.99 / LP £20.99
Fat White Family have have said of their second album, Songs For Our Mothers, “While our first LP might be considered an assault, a spasmodic outpouring of disdain generated by the utter tedium of life when it is found unliveable, Songs For Our Mothers is an invitation. It is an invitation, sent by misery, to dance to the beat of human hatred. In it we ask that you take us gently by the hand as we lead you on a journey, a journey that leads us from the blinding white heat of a midday Mediterranean shore, to the embattled boudoir of Ike and Tina Turner, from the clotted grey droll of Dr Harold Shipman’s waiting room, to the final hours of the Third Reich in the Berlin bunker. It is as much a catalogue of our obsessions as it is a sensual odyssey; sex, drugs, politics, death, the Northern Irish A-lister Sam Neil, it’s all here, all that’s left to do now is breathe it in.”
- Fat White Family Songs For Our Mothers CD £12.99 / LP £19.99
Aoife O’Donovan’s sophomore album, In the Magic Hour, is a 10-song album full of the singer’s honeyed vocals mixed with gauzy, frictionless sounds: splashing cymbals, airy harmonies, the leisurely baritone musings of an electric guitar. Written in the wake of O’Donovan’s grandfather’s death, In the Magic Hour is her most introspective effort yet, an aching exploration of memory and mortality. For a decade, O’Donovan wielded her instrument with tensile strength as the captivating lead singer of the Boston-based progressive string band Crooked Still.
- Aoife O’Donovan In the Magic Hour CD £11.99 / LP £19.99
While they haven’t dropped their Brit Pop roots entirely, Night Thoughts finds Suede finding inspiration and defining traits from elsewhere. This new album is an outstanding success, both the grandiose ballads and rock tracks benefit hugely from the addition, in a first for Suede, of a full string orchestra to the mix. Sounding as though it was designed for a film, Night Thoughts nonetheless stands on its own two feet with all the old Suede assurance.
- Suede Night Thoughts CD £11.99 / LP £18.99
The overlords of thrash return with a new album based on founder member Dave Mustaine’s view of crumbling civilisation.
Dystopia is the first Megadeth album to feature two new members, following the 2014 departures of lead guitarist Chris Broderick and drummer Shawn Drover. Guitarist Kiko Loureiro, who previously played with the power-metal group Angra, joined the fold earlier this year, playing alongside frontman and producer Dave Mustaine and bassist David Ellefson. Lamb of God producer Josh Wilbur engineered Dystopia in Nashville.
- Megadeth Dystopia CD £10.99 / LP £19.99
Shearwater’s new full-length studio album, Jet Plane And Oxbow, which features the highlights ‘Quiet Americans’ and ‘Only Child’, was produced by Danny Reisch at studios in Austin and Los Angeles, and mastered by Greg Calbi at Sterling Sound.
This is definitely Shearwater’s biggest and loudest record – it’s easy to imagine these songs roaring from the stage – but it’s also their most detailed and intricate one. Front man Jonathan Meiburg and producer/engineer Reisch spent two years crafting Jet Plane And Oxbow with help from drummer Cully Symington, longtime Shearwater associates Howard Draper and Lucas Oswald, and tour-mates Jesca Hoop, Abram Shook and Jenn Wasner.
- Shearwater Jet Plane And Oxbow CD £11.99 / LP £21.99
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Releases for 15 January 2016
15 January brings a new album from the hardest-working man in show-business, Paul Carrack, and a fine new release from bewilderingly talented multi-instrumentalists Show of Hands. All Them Witches’s bluesy Southern swagger on Lightning at the Door is reminiscent of The Temperance Movement. Luxury Soul 2016 is a great way to introduce yourself to the best of new soul across three CDs, all for the price of one. Both John Moreland and Sam Outlaw grace us with two fine singer-songwriter albums firmly rooted in the Americana tradition. Baaba Maal’s latest is an exciting mix of Senalagese rhythms and electronic music. My album of the week is, however, Dylan LeBlanc’s Cautionary Tale, which resists pigeon-holing into a genre but deserves a listen from music lovers.
Dylan LeBlanc knows that second chances don’t come around often. But then, neither do voices like his. Overwhelmed by the speed at which his gift took him from Applebee’s server to ‘the new Neil Young’ in a matter of months, he walked away from a major label deal after releasing two critically acclaimed albums, and slipped into a blur of booze and self-doubt. Exhausted and damaged at just 23 years old, Dylan came home to Muscle Shoals, Alabama to write a new life for himself. In between moments of clarity and a few familiar falls, he also wrote a new album, Cautionary Tale: a collection of shimmering, arresting songs with the same haunting vocals, now with a sharpened edge honed by a hastened maturity.
- Dylan LeBlanc Cautionary Tale CD £10.99 / LP £17.99
Paul Carrack, the hugely respected singer-songwriter who is the voice of many of the landmark British pop songs of the past 40 years, unveils a stunning new album, Soul Shadows. This new set comprises some of the best songwriting of Carrack’s entire career, plus one lovingly-chosen remake: ‘Share Your Love With Me’, the Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland gem that was also a major R&B hit for Aretha Franklin. As a solo artist, Carrack continues to enhance an illustrious catalogue that stretches back to 1980.
- Paul Carrack Soul Shadows CD £11.99
Steve Knightley and Phil Beer are recognised as, respectively, one of the UK’s best singer-songwriters and one of its finest multi-instrumentalists. Now the Devon duo’s landmark release The Long Way Home sees them returning to their musical roots, firing the ignition on a 12-track album that has ‘England’ running through it like letters through a stick of rock. Travelling full circle to the songs and tunes that inspired them to start playing as a duo back in 1991, it revisits all the classic ingredients of traditional folk themes – songs of war, exile, seafaring and loves lost and found. This is music from the heart and history of England. From the haunting to the heart-breaking, the nautical to the rural, it distils influences old and new but always with that unmistakable Show of Hands sound.
- Show of Hands The Long Way Home CD £11.99
The focus on Luxury Soul 2016 is on the quality of new music from independent and unsigned soul artists from across the UK, Europe, USA, Canada and Australia. Expansion Records encourage you to listen to this music and discover more from these artists. Benefit from the great value too with three CDs of amazing music from the price of one and enjoy revival music too from artists including Kashif.
- Various Artists Luxury Soul 2016 3-CD £12.99
Baaba Maal, the Senegalese master-musician and cultural warrior, has an electrifying new sound and exhilarating studio album. The Traveller, Maal’s eleventh album was recorded in London and Senegal and is a mixture of African roots and cutting-edge Western electro elements. “I am so inspired by The Traveller,” says Baaba Maal. “I feel we have achieved a perfect blend of sensibilities drawn not only from Africa and Europe but from all over the globe: I feel The Traveller defines how the planet looks at this time from the point-of-view of Senegal, Africa’s most westerly country. And despite problems in many places, that view is extremely positive and inspiring.”
- Baaba Maal The Traveller CD £10.99 / LP £16.99
Sam Outlaw is a young singer/songwriter living in Los Angeles. His new album, Angeleno, is a collection of pedal steel-drenched instant country classics, rooted in West Coast cool and Southern California country rock. Outlaw (his mother’s maiden name) is leading the charge in SoCal’s revived country scene, and in fact enlisted LA roots royalty Ry Cooder and his son Joachim Cooder to produce and play on the album. Recording in Megawatt Studios in Los Angeles, with a band that included Bo Koster (My Morning Jacket), Taylor Goldsmith (Dawes), Gabe Witcher (Punch Brothers) and Chuy Guzman (Linda Ronstadt), Outlaw heard the album he always dreamed of coming to life. “Ninety percent of what you’re hearing is still the five of us in a room performing a song,” he says. “Ry plays on every song, electric and acoustic on the basics. And then all the overdubs he did were just insanely beautiful. He was able to make magic happen on every track.”
- Sam Outlaw Angeleno CD £11.99 / LP £16.99
With the release of his highly anticipated third solo album, High on Tulsa Heat, John Moreland offers another round of the lyrics-first, gorgeously plaintive songs that have earned him devoted listeners across the world. Produced by Moreland, the 10-song collection features a strong cast of players, including Jesse Aycock (Hard Working Americans, Secret Sisters), John Calvin Abney (Samantha Crain, The Damn Quails), Jared Tyler (Malcolm Holcombe), Chris Foster, and Kierston White. The 10 songs on High On Tulsa Heat explore themes of self-reflection, broken faith, love, failure and success.
- John Moreland High on Tulsa Heat CD £12.99 /LP £16.99
In each buildup and breakdown, every riff and groove of Nashville band All Them Witches, there is a story. The rockers’ narratives are often unspoken, sourcing musical touchstones from across the States, offering an almost cinematic experience wrapped up in their propulsive rhythms and subtly funky anthems. Heavy, heady and hypnotic, All Them Witches concoct a powerful and potent psychedelic sound that fuses bluesy soul, Southern swagger and thunderous hard rock.
- All Them Witches Lightning at the Door CD £11.99 / LP £16.99
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Releases for 8 January 2016
While the normal release cycle hasn’t yet kicked back into action since Christmas, 8 January sees the release of David Bowie’s latest album, ★ (‘Blackstar’), released to coincide with David’s 69th birthday. And we’re offering it at a special reduced price before the release date, so get your order in now!
★ (pronounced ‘Blackstar’) is David Bowie’s 28th studio album and his first since stunning the world in 2013 with the critically acclaimed The Next Day. The release date for ★ coincides with David’s 69th birthday.
The album’s title track is the first single, and is accompanied by a short film by the acclaimed director Johan Renck. Music from the ‘★’ single has been featured in the opening title credits and trailers for the new TV series The Last Panthers. The series, also directed by Johan Renck, began airing across Europe in late-October, 2015, and will premiere in the U.S. on SundanceTV in Spring, 2016.
The album is available on CD and in a stunning die-cut vinyl LP package – a video of the vinyl LP can be seen here.
- David Bowie ★ (Blackstar) CD £11.99 / LP £24.99
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Other releases for 2016
Find releases from 2017 | 2015.