Releases from November–December 2020
Great albums from around the world
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Also check out some of the great reissues of classic albums.
Special pre-sale offers
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Pre-sale of the week is In These Silent Days by Brandi Carlile, out on 1 October.
Releases for 11 December 2020
We kick off our final batch of recommendations for 2020 with the appropriately titled Little Bastards, an extraordinary career-spanning collection of B-sides and rarities from The Kills dating back to the band’s first singles. Sturgill Simpson, one of the most daring and acclaimed artists of our time, who has worked across genres and styles, returns to the music of his native Kentucky with his first bluegrass project, Cuttin’ Grass Vol. 1 (The Butcher Shoppe Sessions) – a mixtape for the fans. Kamasi Washington composed and produced the Emmy-nominated original score for Becoming, a powerful musical backdrop to this intimate glimpse into the life of Michelle Obama that is tighter in structure than his previous albums. What To Look For In Summer features twenty-two live performances featuring songs from across Belle And Sebastian’s 25-year career recorded at the height of their power during their 2019 tour, including tracks performed on the band’s own Mediterranean cruise, ‘The Boaty Weekender’. And, last but not least, LA-based alternative rock supergroup Puscifer, consisting of former Tool and A Perfect Circle member Maynard James Keenan alongside Carina Round, Mat Mitchell, Jeff Friedl, Mahsa Zargaran and Paul Barker, bring us their latest offering, Existential Reckoning.
Our album of the week is McCartney III (out 18 Dec), released 50 years since Paul McCartney’s self-titled first solo album. This third in a trilogy of classics was uniquely “Made in Rockdown”, mostly built from live takes of Paul on vocals and guitar or piano. Before long an eclectic collection of spontaneous songs coalesced into a stripped-back, self-produced and quite literally solo work marking the opening of a new decade, in the tradition of 1970’s McCartney and 1980’s McCartney II.
- 2020 marks 50 years since Paul McCartney released his self-titled first solo album. Featuring Paul playing every instrument and writing and recording every song, the effortless charms of 1970’s McCartney have only grown in stature and influence over time. The chart-topping album would signify not only a creative rebirth for Paul, but also as a template for generations of indie and lo-fi musicians seeking to emulate its warm homespun vibe and timeless tunes including ‘Maybe I’m Amazed’, ‘Every Night’ and ‘The Lovely Linda’.
- Today Paul announces the third album in a trilogy of classics, McCartney III. Paul’s eighteenth solo studio album follows 2018’s Egypt Station, and has been uniquely “Made in Rockdown”.
- Paul hadn’t planned to release an album in 2020, but in the isolation of lockdown he soon found himself fleshing out some existing musical sketches and creating new ones. Before long an eclectic collection of spontaneous songs would become McCartney III: a stripped back, self-produced and quite literally solo work marking the opening of a new decade, in the tradition of 1970’s McCartney and 1980’s McCartney II.
- Recorded earlier this year in Sussex, McCartney III is mostly built from live takes of Paul on vocals and guitar or piano, with his bass playing, drumming, etc. overdubbed atop that foundation. The process first sparked when Paul returned to an unreleased track from the early ’90s, ‘When Winter Comes’ (co-produced by George Martin). Paul crafted a new passage for the song, giving rise to album opener ‘Long Tailed Winter Bird’ – while ‘When Winter Comes’, featuring its new 2020 intro ‘Winter Bird’, became the new album’s grand finale.
- Speaking about the new album, Paul said: “I was living lockdown life on my farm with my family and I would go to my studio every day. I had to do a little bit of work on some film music and that turned into the opening track and then when it was done I thought what will I do next? I had some stuff I’d worked on over the years but sometimes time would run out and it would be left half-finished so I started thinking about what I had. Each day I’d start recording with the instrument I wrote the song on and then gradually layer it all up, it was a lot of fun. It was about making music for yourself rather than making music that has to do a job. So, I just did stuff I fancied doing. I had no idea this would end up as an album.”
- McCartney III’s vast and intimate range of modes and moods, from soul searching to wistful, from playful to raucous and all points between – captured with some of the same gear from Paul’s Rude Studio used as far back as 1971 Wings sessions. And Paul’s array of vintage instruments he played on the new album have an even more storied history, including Bill Black of Elvis Presley’s original trio’s double bass alongside Paul’s own iconic Hofner violin bass, and a mellotron from Abbey Road Studios used on Beatles recordings, to name but a few.
- Note: the LP is available on numbered white vinyl, exclusive to indie shops.
- Note: Release date: 18 December.
- The Kills have compiled an extraordinary career-spanning collection of B-sides and rarities entitled, appropriately, Little Bastards. The songs date back from the band’s first singles between 2002 and 2009. All of the material has been newly remastered, and marks the first ever vinyl pressing for some of these tracks.
- The compilation includes the unreleased and never-before-heard demo ‘Raise Me’ from the 2008–09 Midnight Boom era. Other highlights include ‘I Call It Art’ from the Monsieur Gainsbourg Revisited covers compilation, the brilliant Midnight Boom digital bonus track ‘Night Train’, a blistering performance of ‘Love Is A Deserter’ from an XFM radio session and a handful of classic American roots songs performed with the kind of bruising delivery they’re famous for: Howlin’ Wolfs’ ‘Forty Four’, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ ‘I Put A Spell on You’ and Dock Boggs’ ‘Sugar Baby’.
- Note: The LP is available on indie-shops exclusive yellow vinyl.
- Since breaking through in 2014 with his Grammy-nominated Metamodern Sounds In Country Music album, Sturgill Simpson has established himself as one of the most daring and most acclaimed artists of our time. His music stretches across genres and styles, from the psychedelic soul of 2016’s A Sailor’s Guide To Earth (Grammy-nominated for Album of the Year and winner for Best Country Album) to the fuzzed-out rock attack of Sound & Fury in 2019. Now Simpson returns to the music of his native Kentucky with his first bluegrass project, Cuttin’ Grass Vol. 1 (The Butcher Shoppe Sessions). The album, which he calls “a mixtape for the fans”, was dreamed up while he was recovering from Covid, and sees him reimagining songs from across his catalogue backed by some of Nashville’s finest acoustic virtuosos.
- Kamasi Washington composed and produced the Emmy-nominated original score for Becoming, an intimate glimpse into the life of Michelle Obama. Produced by Netflix Originals, Becoming documented a moment of profound change for the former First Lady, not only for her personally but for the country she and her husband served for eight impactful years in the White House. Washington, who joined the project in its embryonic stages, provides a powerful musical backdrop.
- Note: the gold vinyl LP is exclusive to indie shops.
- What To Look For In Summer features twenty-two live performances featuring songs from across Belle And Sebastian’s 25-year career. The recordings showcase the Scottish septet at the height of their power during their 2019 tour, including tracks performed on the band’s own Mediterranean cruise, ‘The Boaty Weekender’.
- Born somewhere in the Arizona desert, Puscifer is an electro-rock band, multimedia experience, travelling circus and alien-abduction survivors. An alternative rock supergroup from Los Angeles, the band consists of former Tool and A Perfect Circle member Maynard James Keenan alongside touring band members: currently, Carina Round, Mat Mitchell, Jeff Friedl, Mahsa Zargaran and Paul Barker. Formed in 1995 under the name Umlaut, the band’s debut EP, Don’t Shoot the Messenger, came out in 2007, followed by their debut album, “V” Is for Vagina, later the same year. This was followed by Conditions Of My Parole in 2011 and Money Shot in 2015.
- Note: the LP is available on indie shops exclusive clear vinyl (300 for UK).
Releases for 4 December 2020
Our pick of 4 December’s new albums starts with Don’t Let The Devil Take Another Day, a 21-track collection from Stereophonics’ frontman Kelly Jones featuring reinterpretations and re-workings of 18 classics and deep cuts from Stereophonics and from Kelly’s 2007 solo album Only The Names Have Been Changed. Calexico are back with Seasonal Shift, a celebration of the seasonal traditions observed in Tucson around this time of year, such as Dia de Los Muertos and The All Souls Procession. Odin’s Raven Magic is an orchestral collaboration, based on a medieval epic poem, between Sigur Rós and others that premiered 18 years ago at the Barbican Centre and is now finally being released. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard’s sixteenth album, K.G., was composed and recorded remotely in lock-down, and is a pure distillation of the King Gizzard sound, contorting it into new shapes via defiantly non-western rock scales. Another artist who got creative in lock-down is The Pineapple Thief frontman Bruce Soord, whose The Soord Sessions Volume 4 is the last of a hugely successful series of live-streamed solo acoustic performances.
Our release of the week is Arctic Monkeys – Live At The Royal Albert Hall, which was recorded at the start of the band’s ‘Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino’ tour and features 20 of the band’s finest moments to date. All proceeds from the album will go to War Child to help fill the £2 million deficit they are facing in 2021 caused by the devastating impact of Covid-19.
- Note: All proceeds from the album will go to War Child to help fill the £2 million deficit they are facing in 2021 caused by the devastating impact of Covid-19 on their fundraising. These funds are urgently needed to support those who are worst hit by the virus.
- “On June 7, 2018 we played a very special show at London’s Royal Albert Hall. All the proceeds from that memorable night were donated to War Child in support of the vital work they do protecting, educating, and rehabilitating children who have experienced the trauma of conflict and the horror of war. The situation that was bad in 2018 is now desperate and those children and their families need our help more than ever. To enable War Child to reduce their funding deficit and continue their valuable work, we are happy to be able to release a live album, recorded that evening at The Royal Albert Hall. All proceeds will go direct to the charity. We thank all our fans in advance for their support of this release and in turn for their support of War Child.” – Arctic Monkeys.
- Recorded at the start of the band’s ‘Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino’ tour, Arctic Monkeys – Live At The Royal Albert Hall features 20 of the band’s finest moments to date.
- Tracklisting: 1. Four Out Of Five / 2. Brianstorm / 3. Crying Lightning / 4. Do I Wanna Know? / 5. Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High? / 6. 505 / 7. One Point Perspective / 8. Do Me A Favour / 9. Cornerstone / 10. Knee Socks / 11. Arabella / 12. Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino / 13. She Looks Like Fun / 14. From The Ritz To The Rubble / 15. Pretty Visitors / 16. Don’t Sit Down ’Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair / 17. I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor / 18. Star Treatment / 19. The View From The Afternoon / 20. R U Mine?