Releases from January–February 2021
Great albums from around the world
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Find releases from 2020.
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Pre-sale of the week is Shore by Fleet Foxes, out on 5 February.
Steven Wilson | Goat Girl | Bicep | Bring Me The Horizon | James Yorkston And The Second Hand Orchestra | PJ Harvey | PJ Harvey | Steve Hackett | Dio | Lonely The Brave | The Besnard Lakes | Talking Heads | The Fall | Colemine Records Presents Brighter Days Ahead | Arlo Parks | Bob Marley | J Mascis | J Mascis | MSG (Michael Shenker Group) | Nils Frahm | The Dead South | Black Country, New Road | London Grammar | Mogwai | Julien Baker | Maxïmo Park | Foo Fighters | The Wedding Present | The Hold Steady | A Winged Victory For The Sullen | Fleet Foxes | P J Harvey | P J Harvey | John Carpenter | The Staves | Sun Ra | Alice Cooper | Lucy Spraggan | Pale Waves | Blanck Mass | Jane Weaver | Tom Grennan | Teenage Fanclub | William The Conqueror | Steve Earle | Arab Strap | Goldfrapp | Evanesence | Taylor Swift
Releases for 22 January 2021
We kick off the best of 22 January with Under A Mediterranean Sky, the first new acoustic solo album from legendary guitarist Steve Hackett since 2008, which melds the grandiosity of his recent solo electric records with a stunning breadth of approach to acoustic guitar, reminding us why Steve is such a revered and respected musician. The Wide, Wide River came into being through the friendship between James Yorkston and Karl-Jonas Winqvist of The Second Hand Orchestra, and is is Yorkston’s tenth album for Domino, not to mention his three albums as part of Yorkston/Thorne/Khan and his two books. The Hope List is brimming with Lonely The Brave’s trademark purity and passion, as well as a newfound sense of confidence that weaves its way through – a signal that the band aren’t just back, but back with renewed purpose and energy. Continuing to push their creative boundaries, even during lockdown, Bring Me The Horizon have created Post Human: Survival Horror, a body of work that is arguably one of their most exciting, diverse, intricate pieces of music to date, featuring Yungblud, Babymetal, Nova Twins and Amy Lee from Evanescence. And Brighter Days Ahead came about when Colemine Records had to close their shop in March. To keep things going during the pandemic, the label started releasing individual tracks from different artists on a weekly basis, and this album features the best of them.
Our release of the week is Belfast-born, London-based duo Bicep’s hotly anticipated second album, Isles, which expands on the artful energy of their 2018 debut, Bicep, while digging deeper into the sounds, experiences and emotions that have influenced their lives and work.
- Belfast-born, London-based duo Bicep’s hotly anticipated second album, Isles, was two years in the making and expands on the artful energy of their 2018 debut, Bicep, while digging deeper into the sounds, experiences and emotions that have influenced their lives and work. Bicep (Matt McBriar and Andy Ferguson) describe Isles as “a snapshot in time” of their work in this period, with the tracks designed to evolve in their different iterations from record to live show and beyond. “This is definitely the home listening version,” says Matt, “the live version will be much, much harder.”
- On the title: “We have strong mixed emotions, connected to growing up on an island,” they say, “wanting to leave, wanting to return.” For two natives of Belfast, any talk of islands, communities and identities will also have other, more domestic connotations, and has always been an aspect of their lives they’d been reluctant to talk about. “It’s always been an unquantifiable topic for us,” says Matt. “We’re not religious, but we’re from different religious backgrounds. There was always a lot of interest in us talking about those issues, but we always felt that one of the things we loved about dance music was that freedom it gave you to be released from talking about those things.”
- “You’d enter the club and it would be people from both sides of the tracks and they’d be hugging,” says Andy, referring to massively influential Belfast club Shine, where both cut their musical teeth. “And the following week, they’d be with their mates rioting. It felt like the safest place but, on paper, it should have been the most dangerous.” Musically, too, they find echoes of those days in their work. “It was like being smacked in the head with a hammer,” Matt says, of the tunes that defined that scene, and which find expression in Isles’ most raw and energetic corners.
- Note: the deluxe 3-LP is available on transparent neon-orange vinyl.
- Under A Mediterranean Sky is the first new acoustic solo album from legendary guitarist Steve Hackett since 2008’s Tribute – a record that saw him tackling some of the beautiful classical pieces that his guitar idols had also put their hand to. This new album, however, takes inspiration from Steve’s extensive travels around the Mediterranean. “A lot of acoustic ideas had been forming over the years, and it felt like the perfect time to create this album,” notes Hackett; “a time to contemplate the places we’ve visited around the Mediterranean with the kind of music which evolved from the world of imagination.”
- Under The Mediterranean Sky lacks nothing of the grandiosity of Steve Hackett’s recent solo electric records, but it does give room to the stunning breadth of approach that he has to playing his acoustic guitar, reminding us once again why Steve is such a revered and respected musician.
- The Wide, Wide River came into being after the blossoming of a long-term friendship between James Yorkston and Karl-Jonas Winqvist, the Swedish music producer, leader and conductor of The Second Hand Orchestra.
- The Wide, Wide River is Yorkston’s tenth album for Domino, not to mention his three albums as part of Yorkston/Thorne/Khan and his two books. A prolific writer, Yorkston has worked with a wealth of talent over his two-decade career, including Four Tet, Alexis Taylor, KT Tunstall, Rustin Man, Simon Raymonde, Norma and Mike Waterson, Martin Carthy, Max Cooper, David Wrench and many others.
- Note: The LP is available on indie-shops exclusive green vinyl.
- Some things aren’t meant to be laid to rest. Instead, they dig deep into your heart, your blood, your bones, your soul. You never let go of them, and – sometimes – they never let go of you. Such is the case with Lonely The Brave. Building on the legacy that they built for themselves, the new material on The Hope List is brimming with the band’s trademark purity and passion, as well as a newfound sense of confidence that weaves its way through. It’s a signal that the band aren’t just back, but back with renewed purpose and energy. Some things aren’t meant to be laid to rest – and these songs prove wholeheartedly that Lonely The Brave are one of those things who, once they bury themselves inside you, are impossible to forget about.
- Continuing to push their creative boundaries, even during lockdown, Bring Me The Horizon have created Post Human: Survival Horror, a body of work that is arguably one of their most exciting, diverse, intricate pieces of music to date. The first two tracks from the EP – ‘Parasite Eve’ and the recent colossus ‘Obey’, featuring fellow Brit Yungblud – have received critical acclaim and amassed over 115 million audio and video streams combined to date. Other guests on the EP include Babymetal, Nova Twins and Amy Lee from Evanescence.
- From label owner Terry Cole: “It was on 16 March 2020 that we closed up our storefront as the reality of a worldwide pandemic began to spread across the Midwest. We had no idea how it was going to impact our shop, our label, or the artists we represent. We were all fortunate to have our family members stay safe and healthy; however, the livelihood of many of our friends and artists were drastically and immediately impacted. No tours, no live performances, record shops closed, pressing plants shut down, etc. And while the level of uncertainty was unnerving, from that uncertainty came the idea for Brighter Days Ahead. We knew we wanted to continue to release new music, but proceeding with our heavy 2020 release schedule as planned seemed ill advised. So the idea was to release individual tracks from many of our artists on a weekly basis and as a musical family, we could all help shine light on each individual artist weekly. Strength in numbers! So throughout the summer and into the fall, that’s what we did. We released several dozen tracks and the weekly announcements certainly garnered a strong sense of community for our artists and fans alike. We’re very proud to present Brighter Days Ahead: a compilation from our talented stable of artists on both our Colemine and Karma Chief imprints.”
Releases for 15 January 2021
Starting the new year as we mean to go on, here’s our selection from 15 January’s releases. It’s hard at times to believe that Drunk Tank Pink is by the same band who made 2018’s Songs Of Praise, such is the jump Shame have made from the riotous post-punk of their debut to the sprawling adventurism and twitching anxieties laid out here. The five songs on Kurt Vile’s Speed, Sound, Lonely KV EP were recorded and mixed in sporadic sessions over four years, and feature what KV has called “probably the single most special musical moment in my life”: a duet with the late John Prine on the songwriter’s well-loved tune, ‘How Lucky’. We Come from The Sun was composed by Cerys Matthews with Hidden Orchestra and features 10 UK poets: MA.MOYO, Raymond Antrobus, Lemn Sissay, Liz Berry, Anthony Anaxagorou, Adam Horovitz, Cia Mangat, Imtiaz Dharker, Kim Moore and Kayo Chingonyi, and follows the theme of genesis, birth, heritage, and a journey about to begin. Big Thief guitarist Buck Meek’s new solo album, Two Saviors, is a cathartic, naked confession of heartbreak, resiliency, and enchantment. The first word on the album, ‘pareidolia’ – recognising shapes where none were intended to exist, like searching for images in the clouds – serves as an apt guide through these new songs. At the beginning of the lockdown Jeff Tweedy started writing country songs to console himself, Love Is The King was recorded in April 2020, surrounded by an assemblage of treasured instruments and loved ones in a world that felt more and more alien by the day.
Our release of the week comes from Nottingham’s own Sleaford Mods, who continue to kick against the pricks with unrivalled bite and humour. Spare Ribs finds the duo charged with ire at the UK Government’s sense of entitlement, epitomised by its devil-may-care approach to the coronavirus crisis.
- Recorded in lockdown in a furious three-week studio blitz at JT Soar in July, Sleaford Mods – the polemical Jason Williamson and dexterous producer Andrew Fearn – kick against the pricks with unrivalled bite, railing against hypocrisy, inequality and apathy with their inimitable, scabrous sense of humour. And Spare Ribs, featuring Amy Taylor of Melbourne punks Amyl and the Sniffers and the British newcomer Billy Nomates, finds the duo charged with ire at the UK Government’s sense of entitlement, epitomised by its devil-may-care approach to the coronavirus crisis.
- Commenting on the new album Jason says, “Our lives are expendable under most governments, secondary under a system of monetary rule. We are stock if you like, parts on a shelf for the purposes of profit, discarded at any moment if fabricated or non-fabricated crisis threatens productivity. This is constant, obviously and notably in the current pandemic. The masses cannot be present in the minds of ill-fitting leaders, surely? Or else the realisation of their catastrophic management would cripple their minds. Much like the human body can still survive without a full set of ribs we are all ‘spare ribs’, preservation for capitalism, through ignorance and remote rule, available for parts.”
- Note: The LP is available on green vinyl, exclusive to independent shops.
- There are moments on Drunk Tank Pink where you almost have to reach for the sleeve to check this is the same band who made 2018’s Songs Of Praise. Such is the jump Shame have made from the riotous post-punk of their debut to the sprawling adventurism and twitching anxieties laid out here. The South London band’s blood-and-guts spirit, that wink and grin of devious charm, is still present – it’s just that it’s grown into something bigger, something deeper, more ambitious and unflinchingly honest.
- The genius of Drunk Tank Pink is how these lyrical themes dovetail with the music. Opener ‘Alphabet’ dissects the premise of performance over a siren call of nervous, jerking guitars, its chorus thrown out like a beer bottle across a mosh pit. Songs spin off and lurch into unexpected directions throughout here, be it the escalating aural panic attack of ‘March Day’ or the shapeshifting darkness of ‘Snow Day’. There’s a Berlin-era Bowie beauty to the lovelorn ‘Human For A Minute’, while closer ‘Station Wagon’ weaves from a downbeat mooch into a souring, soul- lifting climax in which Steen elevates himself beyond the clouds and into the heavens. Or at least that’s what it sounds like.
- From the womb to the clouds (sort of), Shame are currently very much in the pink.
- Note: The LP is available on indie-shops exclusive pink galaxy vinyl with a signed insert.
- Kurt Vile’s Speed, Sound, Lonely KV EP was recorded and mixed in sporadic sessions that spanned four years at The Butcher Shoppe studio in Nashville, Tennessee. It includes five songs – covers of John Prine and “Cowboy” Jack Clement as well as two originals – and was recorded alongside a cast of local heavies like Bobby Wood, Dave Roe, and Kenny Malone with Dan Auerbach (The Black Keys) and Matt Sweeney (Chavez, Superwolf) tossed into the mix as well.
- Most importantly, it features what KV has called “Probably the single most special musical moment in my life” – a duet with the late John Prine on the songwriter’s well-loved tune, ‘How Lucky’. “The truth is John was my hero for a long time when he came into The Butcher Shoppe to recut one of his deepest classics with me. And, man, I was floating and flying and I couldn’t hear anything he told me while he was there till after he was gone for the night,” notes Vile in a personal statement that accompanies the record. “A couple nights later we were playing ‘How Lucky’ together again; this time onstage at the Grand Ole Opry on New Year’s Eve at the turn of 2020. Nothing like seeing John and his band of musical brothers and family and friends playing into the new decade in front of an adoring audience on that stage in Nashville, TN... and, yup, that’s just how lucky we all got that night.”
- We Come from The Sun was composed by Cerys Matthews with Hidden Orchestra and features 10 UK poets: MA.MOYO, Raymond Antrobus, Lemn Sissay, Liz Berry, Anthony Anaxagorou, Adam Horovitz, Cia Mangat, Imtiaz Dharker, Kim Moore and Kayo Chingonyi. In February 2020 Abbey Road studios welcomed each of the 10 poets to record pieces from their collections. Then lockdown hit… But, remotely and with the help of field recordists and musicians around the world, Cerys and Joe Acheson (Hidden Orchestra) created a sound journey for these poems with the theme of genesis, birth, heritage, and a journey about to begin.
- “We are living in extraordinary times, I wanted to respond but had the urge to offer more than one voice, more than one perspective. Not an echo chamber.” – Cerys Matthews.
- Big Thief’s Buck Meek announces his new solo album, Two Saviors. While his last album, 2018’s Buck Meek, is a yarn of blue-collar fairy tales and character driven narratives, Two Saviors emerges as a cathartic, naked confession of heartbreak, resiliency, and enchantment. The first word on Two Saviors is ‘pareidolia’, a word about recognising shapes where none were intended to exist – like searching for images in the clouds. It’s an uncommon word, with a beautiful sound, and serves as an apt guide through these new songs of Buck’s, which are themselves uncommon and beautiful, and which invite a deep, cloud-gaze state of attention.
- Note: The LP is available on indie-shops exclusive clear smoke translucent vinyl.
- It was inside Jeff Tweedy’s second home, The Loft in Chicago, that Love Is The King was recorded in April 2020, surrounded by an assemblage of treasured instruments and loved ones in a world that felt more and more alien by the day.
- This “beautifully honest ode to love and hope” is the follow-up to 2018’s Warm and 2019’s Warmer, and comes on the heels of Tweedy’s second book, How To Write One Song, out on 13 October. “At the beginning of the lockdown I started writing country songs to console myself. Folk and country type forms being the shapes that come most easily to me in a comforting way. ‘Guess Again’ is a good example of the success I was having at pushing the world away, counting my blessings – taking stock in my good fortune to have love in my life,” comments Tweedy. “A few weeks later things began to sound like ‘Love Is The King’ – a little more frayed around the edges with a lot more fear creeping in. Still hopeful but definitely discovering the limits of my own ability to self soothe.”
- Note: The LP is available on limited-edition clear vinyl.
Other releases for 2021
Find releases from 2020.
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