Releases from January–February 2021
Great albums from around the world
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Find releases from 2020.
Also check out some of the great reissues of classic albums.
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Pre-sale of the week is Bright Magic by Public Service Broadcasting, out on 24 September.
Releases for 26 February 2021
We kick off a busy week of releases on 26 February with For Those That Wish To Exist, the ninth studio album from post-metalcore quintet Architects, which examines the part we are all playing in the world’s slow destruction and tackles the biggest questions facing the future of our planet. Named for the city that launched the original Alice Cooper group on the road to success 50 years ago, Detroit Stories is a modern-day homage to the toughest and craziest rock ’n’ roll scene there ever was, and the DVD and blu-ray include one of his latest shows, from The Olympia in Paris. In Ferneaux is divided into two long-form journeys on which Blanck Mass use field recordings to gather memories of being with now-distant others, haunted with the vestiges of voices, places, and sensations, building and releasing great aural tension. Lucy Spraggan is unrecognisable from the person of yesteryear, and Choices is aptly named, reflecting on sobriety, embracing a healthier lifestyle, and moving through a divorce to find solace in its wake. This is the vinyl reissue many PJ Harvey fans have long been waiting for! Her fifth studio album, Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea, has been lovingly remastered, and is accompanied by a collection of demos of every track. Lost Horizons’ new album, In Quiet Moments, is an even stronger successor to Ojalá with another distinguished cast of guest artists embellishing the core duo’s gorgeously free-flowing and loose-limbed blueprint. And A Winged Victory For The Sullen’s new album, Invisible Cities, is their stunning score to a critically acclaimed theatre production transformed into 45 minutes of breathtaking beauty, an incredibly emotive body of work.
Our release of the week is an album of our times. Newcastle’s Maxïmo Park return with Nature Always Wins: something of an examination, zeroing in on the notion of the self, identity as a band, that of humanity as a whole, and whether change is capable under the influence of time, perspective and environment, or if we are destined to be bound by our own genetics.
- An album of our times, Newcastle band Maxïmo Park return with their seventh record Nature Always Wins. The album arrives as something of an examination, zeroing in on the notion of the self, identity as a band, and that of humanity as a whole. The album’s title nods to the famous Nature vs Nurture debate. Discussing whether change is capable under the influence of time, perspective and environment, or if we are destined to be bound by our own genetics, it asks: “who are we, and who do we want to be, and do we have any control over it?”
- “I’m so happy we were able to make this album during lockdown, as it’s been a challenging time for everyone. After almost 4 years since Risk To Exist, we wanted to explore new musical territory (for us) without sacrificing our trademark melodic twists and heartfelt lyrics. As always, the passing of time looms large, although the songs contain more affection for the past than before, and there are occasional hints of the fractious, divided time that we live in.” – frontman Paul Smith.
- The single LP is pressed on clear turquoise vinyl. The deluxe 2-LP is pressed on 180g vinyl and housed in a gatefold sleeve with poster.
- England-based post-metalcore quintet Architects release their ninth studio album, For Those That Wish To Exist. The self-produced record arrives as the follow-up to the band’s critically acclaimed 2018 release Holy Hell, which took a look at the pain and despair that lay at the heart of losing a brother, bandmate, and best friend in Tom Searle, the group’s founding guitarist.
- On For Those That Wish To Exist, Architects examine the part we are all playing in the world’s slow destruction, and tackle the biggest questions facing the future of our planet. The record’s 15-tracks hang in a limbo between energising positivity that it is not too late to correct our collective course, and a paralysing negativity of defeatism; where hope and despondency are bed-fellows triggered daily by the simple act of existence. A reflection of human condition, For Those That Wish To Exist calls for all of us to rise to challenge established models and strive for a collective betterment.
- “This album was me looking at our inability to change to a way of life that would sustain the human race and save the planet,” summarises principal songwriter Dan Searle. “I wanted to look in the mirror and ask ourselves the question of what are going to do, as opposed to trying to point the finger at politicians. Change has to start on a personal level. The world has developed a culture of wanting someone else to deal with it, when we need to take our own responsibility. It has to start there.”
- Note: The LP is available on indie-shops exclusive Coke-bottle clear vinyl.
- With the whole concert culture being shut down due to Covid-19, Alice Cooper felt the need to share one of his latest shows with his fans as he cannot wait to get back on the road – better than ever. The DVD and Blu-ray will show the incredible live performance “A Paranormal Evening At The Olympia Paris” for the first time on video.
- Named for the city that launched the original Alice Cooper group on the road to success, Detroit Stories follows last year’s Breadcrumbs EP as a modern-day homage to the toughest and craziest rock ’n’ roll scene there ever was. 50 years after founding the band with fledgling producer Bob Ezrin in 1970, they gathered some legendary Detroit musicians in a Detroit studio to record Detroit Stories, a album that celebrates that spirit for a new era. If 2019’s Breadcrumbs EP laid down the trail to the city, Detroit Stories drives like a muscle car right down Woodward Ave. Discover Detroit Stories as they were meant to be told.
- Note: The limited edition LP is available on red vinyl.
- What is the utility of pain? Can it do anything but fester? In Ferneaux explores pain in motion, building audio-spatial chambers of experience and memory. Using an archive of field recordings from a decade of global travels, isolation gave Blanck Mass an opportunity to make connections in a moment when being together is impossible. The record is divided into two long-form journeys that gather the memories of being with now-distant others through the composition of a nostalgic travelogue. The journeys are haunted with the vestiges of voices, places, and sensations. These scenes alternate with the building up and releasing of great aural tension, intensities that emerge from the trauma of a personal grieving process which has perhaps embraced its rage moment.
- Note: The LP is available on magenta vinyl.
- It has been twelve months since singer-songwriter Lucy Spraggan chose to go sober, and life has changed a lot. In fact, the present day Lucy Spraggan is, in a multitude of ways, unrecognisable from the person of yesteryear. Control – both relinquishing it and taking it back – plus rediscovering oneself, is a recurring theme of the past year and Spraggan’s forthcoming album, Choices. Aptly named, the songs that comprise the collection offer insight and introspection that saw her let go of alcohol, embrace exercise and a healthier lifestyle, move onwards through a divorce and find solace in its wake. Needless to say, it may have been necessary, but it was by no means easy. In conclusion, “it’s really just been an enlightening thing.”
- P J Harvey Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea
- This is the vinyl reissue many PJ Harvey fans have long been waiting for!
- Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea LP £22.99
- Lost Horizons’ new album, In Quiet Moments, features a stellar array of musical guests including John Grant, C Duncan, Marissa Nadler, Porridge Radio, Penelope Isles, Karen Peris (the innocence mission), Tim Smith (Midlake), Ren Harvieu and many more.
- Simon Raymonde and Richie Thomas had both abstained from making music for 20 years until they united in 2017 as Lost Horizons and released a stunning debut album, Ojalá – the Spanish word for ‘hopefully’ or ‘God willing’. “These days, we need hope more than ever, for a better world.” Thomas said at the time. “And this album has given me a lot of hope. To reconnect with music … And the hope for another Lost Horizons record!”
- Thomas’ hopes had a mixed response. On the plus side, the new Lost Horizons album In Quiet Moments is an even stronger successor to Ojalá with another distinguished cast of guest singers and a handful of supporting instrumentalists embellishing the core duo’s gorgeously free-flowing and loose-limbed blueprint that one writer astutely labelled, “melancholy-delia.”
- Note: The LP is available on deluxe green/blue vinyl.
- A Winged Victory For The Sullen, the collaboration between Stars Of The Lid founder Adam Wiltzie and LA-based composer Dustin O’Halloran, are set to release new album Invisible Cities, the stunning score to the critically acclaimed theatre production directed by London Olympics ceremony video designer Leo Warner.
- Transformed into 45 minutes of breathtaking beauty, Invisible Cities opens with the numinous ‘So That The City Can Begin To Exist’, as Wiltzie and O’Halloran draw breath from distinctively enthralling and vastly expansive worlds. The ominous soundscapes of ‘The Dead Outnumber The Living’ contrast with the new beginnings that are presented in ‘Every Solstice & Equinox’, while the jagged and uneasy ‘Thirteenth Century Travelogue’ is one of tension and dread. Elsewhere, ‘The Divided City’ captivates and intrigues while ‘Only Strings and Their Supports Remain’ and ‘There Is One Of Which You Never Speak’ are bold roars for survival before the choral ambience of ‘Desires Are Already Memories’ and piercing drones of ‘Total Perspective Vortex’ bring down the curtain on a spectacular and incredibly emotive body of work.
Releases for 19 February 2021
Our winter warmers for 19 February start with Distractions, an album of subtle realignments and connections from Tindersticks: rich in texture and atmosphere, an album that resists easy summation but that is a rewarding listen. Open Door Policy is the eighth studio album from The Hold Steady, the follow-up to 2019’s Thrashing Thru The Passion, and finds the 6-piece line-up in peak form in what Craig Finn describes as “the best band we’ve ever been”. Locked Down And Stripped Back features home recordings of Wedding Present classics, along with two previously unreleased songs: ‘You’re Just A Habit That I’m Trying To Break’ and ‘We Should Be Together’ (a Sleeper cover, featuring Louise Wener on vocals). With each band member recording at home, the recording process was far from easy, but the result really works. Rock legends Whitesnake celebrate the blues sound that helped inspire the band’s multi-platinum career on The Blues Album, which features remixed and remastered versions of the group’s best blues-rock songs. And Jason Lytle of Grandaddy has recorded a solo piano-and-vocal version of the band’s classic 2000 album The Sophtware Slump; having identified three ideal instruments and studios, Covid happened, and he found himself recording in his apartment, just like 20 years before, trying once again to create magic among chaos.
Our release of the week is As The Love Continues from Mogwai, which will please old fans and gain new as it has something for everyone. Both transcendent and surprising, this new album shows that the Mog are still offering solace from the mundane, supplying the soundtrack to whatever movie you are making in your head.
- This new album will please old fans and gain new as it has something for everyone. Both transcendent and surprising, As The Love Continues shows that Mogwai are still offering solace from the mundane, supplying the soundtrack to whatever movie you are making in your head. The album was produced by Dave Fridmann (Mogwai, Mercury Rev, The Flaming Lips) and features guests Atticus Ross (Nine Inch Nails) and Colin Stetson (saxophonist who has collaborated with Bon Ivor, Arcade Fire). Recorded at Vada Studios, England by Tony Doogan (Grey Dogs, Mogwai, Belle & Sebastian) with Fridmann in full remote control from the US.
- The Deluxe CD box set features: gatefold CD, a bonus CD containing 5 demo tracks, and a photo booklet.
- The vinyl box set features: gatefold double standard weight red vinyl, gatefold CD, single standard-weight black EP vinyl containing 5 demo tracks, a photo booklet and download code.
- Note: The LP is available on yellow vinyl, exclusive to independent shops.
- Just before the end of 2020, a mere 12 months after the release of the celebrated No Treasure But Hope, Tindersticks surprised everyone by mentioning a new album to be released early in 2021.
- Singer Stuart Staples was already nurturing seeds for a different kind of Tindersticks album before lockdown halted their tour in early 2020. If 2019’s No Treasure But Hope saw the band rediscovering themselves as a unit, the follow-up reconfigures that unit so that everything familiar about Tindersticks sounds fresh again. Distractions is an album of subtle realignments and connections from a restless, intuitive band: rich in texture and atmosphere, it lives between its open spaces and details, always finding new ways to connect with a song.
- If it’s an album that resists easy summation, at least one thing is clear: though it isn’t untouched by the lockdown, Distractions is not ‘a lockdown album’. As Staples says, “I think the confinement provided an opportunity for something that was already happening. It is definitely a part of the album, but not a reaction to it.”
- Note: The LP is available on indies-exclusive dark blue vinyl.
- Open Door Policy is The Hold Steady’s eighth full-length studio album and the follow-up to 2019’s Thrashing Thru The Passion. Produced by Josh Kaufman (The National, Hiss Golden Messenger, Josh Ritter), this new release once again finds the 6-piece line-up in peak form in what Craig Finn describes as “the best band we’ve ever been”. The Hold Steady is: Bobby Drake (drums), Craig Finn (vocals), Tad Kubler (guitar, vocals), Franz Nicolay (keyboards), Galen Polivka (bass), and Steve Selvidge (guitar, vocals).
- Note: The LP is available on indie-shops exclusive peach vinyl.
- Locked Down And Stripped Back features home recordings of Wedding Present classics, along with two previously unreleased songs: ‘You’re Just A Habit That I’m Trying To Break’ and ‘We Should Be Together’. The former is the first fruit of David Gedge’s songwriting partnership with Wedding Present guitarist Jon Stewart (of platinum-album-selling Sleeper fame). The latter was originally written (but never released) by Sleeper themselves, and this new Wedding Present version features Louise Wener on vocals. With each band member recording their parts at home under lock-down restrictions, the recording process was far from easy, but the end result illustrates splendidly how The Wedding Present have adapted to the impact of Covid-19.
- Note: The LP is available on indie-shops exclusive orange vinyl.
- Rock legends Whitesnake celebrate the blues sound that helped inspire the band’s multi-platinum career on a new collection that features remixed and remastered versions of the group’s best blues-rock songs. The Blues Album is the third and final release in the band’s Red, White and Blues trilogy, a series of compilations organised by musical themes that began earlier in 2020 with Love Songs (red) and The Rock Album (white).
- Note: The LP is available on ocean-blue vinyl.
- Last year Jason Lytle of Grandaddy decided to record a solo piano-and-vocal version of the band’s classic 2000 album The Sophtware Slump. That ageless record was made while he was red-eyed and running around a sweltering slipshod home studio in his boxers using some gear he planned to return as soon as he was done. For this new reconstruction, Lytle travelled around Los Angeles, sourcing studios and pianos like a master chef selecting ingredients from a farmers’ market. He identified three instruments and three studios that would suffice. Everything was in place. As with many best-laid plans, his were then scuttled by the pandemic. So, two decades after making a DIY masterpiece, Lytle found himself recording those songs once again sweating in his apartment, trying to create a controlled environment while surrounded by chaos.
Releases for 12 February 2021
The cream of 12 February’s crop starts with Tyron, a tale of two halves from slowthai exposing human complexity: side 1 re-introduces us to the classic hubris, machismo, and braggadocio typical of rap music, while side 2 brings honesty, as ultimately Ty wants listeners to know that “it’s OK to be yourself”. Who Am I? is the second album from indie-pop icons Pale Waves: led by the unabashedly huge lead single ‘Change’, it finds the Manchester band stepping up once more, fulfilling the promise of their widely lauded debut album and striding towards pop megastardom. In their extraordinarily accomplished discography, Django Django have constantly headed left where others have gone right, and their new album, Glowing In The Dark, heralds once again the beginning of a thrilling new era for the band. In case anyone needs reminding what a great band they were, The White Stripes release an essential career-spanning collection highlighting 26 peak performances; even in this era of streaming and playlists, a Greatest Hits compilation for The White Stripes is not only appropriate but absolutely necessary. Stage Fright was the third studio album by Canadian-American group The Band, and this 50th anniversary reissue presents the tracks in their originally intended order and in a fresh stereo mix by Bob Clearmountain, plus some previously unheard bonus tracks.
Our release of the week is OK Human from Weezer. 2020 was going to be the year of Van Weezer – the big-riff rock album Weezer made as an homage to the metal bands they loved growing up – until, thanks to the global pandemic, it suddenly wasn’t. The very different album OK Human emerged, and it’s a testament to the excellent, enduring melodies Cuomo has written since Weezer’s inception, and the ones he continues to write today.
- So 2020 was going to be the year of Van Weezer – the big riffs rock album Weezer made as an homage to the metal bands they loved growing up – until, thanks to the global pandemic, it suddenly wasn’t. The entire time, however, frontman Rivers Cuomo was busy at the piano, writing a very different album that referenced another vital musical touchstone of his youth: The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds.
- Throughout the summer of Covid-19, he and the band – along with a 38-piece orchestra – chipped away at masked recording sessions until the record was complete. The result is an album called OK Human – a cheeky nod to Radiohead’s technophobic future-trip OK Computer, but sounding nothing at all like that record. Taking the listener bit by bit through parts of Cuomo’s every day, it’s a Technicolor symphonic spree that meditates on how over-and-under-connected we all are, particularly in a year where we can see each other with greater ease, but actually can’t physically be near each other at all.
- OK Human is also packed to the brim with some of the best, most personal songs Cuomo has written in the last decade, all of which shine brighter and bolder with splashes of string and horn arrangements courtesy of album producer Jake Sinclair and arranger Rob Mathes. It’s hard to imagine any other band who came up in the alt haze of the 90s creating a simply perfect orchestral pop album, but that is exactly what Weezer’s done; OK Human is a testament to the excellent, enduring melodies Cuomo has written since Weezer’s inception, and the ones he continues to write today.
- Note: The LP is available on indie-shops exclusive splatter vinyl.
- Tyron is a tale of two halves exposing human complexity. Just as with the narrative of slowthai’s own life, there are always two sides to every story. Side one re-introduces us to the classic hubris, machismo, and braggadoccio typical of rap music. Side two takes what you thought you knew about slowthai and flips on its head. ‘Feel Away’ and ‘NHS’ go some way to dipping a toe inside the complexities of his mind, but delve deeper and you’ll be left with a clearer understanding of who he truly is. Honesty is paramount as ultimately Ty wants listeners to know that “it’s OK to be yourself”.
- Tyron was formed against the backdrop of an unforgiving climate where judgement, shaming and underdeveloped and simplistic conceptions of other people are fashionable. Instead of succumbing to such simplicity, Tyron presents an artist who is unabashedly complicated and willing to explore themes of loneliness, identity, self-acceptance, and the difficulties in becoming an individual. Unlike the political overtone of slowthai’s debut album, Nothing Great About Britain, which took listeners on a journey through slowthai’s turbulent upbringing and his stance on British life, Tyron is a melodic dive through the expansive landscape of his feelings. His ability to bear his imperfections and contradictions makes Tyron an album that is the antithesis of a culture of purity. A resistance to the rising tide of moral one-upmanship and the pervasive self-righteousness that blinds us to our own fallibility.
- Note: The LP is available on indies-exclusive clear double vinyl, including a bonus track.
- Who Am I? is the second album from indie-pop icons Pale Waves. Recorded in Los Angeles over early 2020 with Rich Costey (Muse, Biffy Clyro, Sigur R – s), and led by the unabashedly huge lead single ‘Change’, it finds the Manchester band stepping up once more, fulfilling the promise of their widely lauded debut album and striding towards pop megastardom.
- Note: The LP is available on indies-exclusive transparent green vinyl.
- Over the course of their extraordinarily accomplished discography to date, Django Django have constantly headed left where others have gone right. Described by the Guardian as “capable of making music that sounds close to perfection,” they are known for their genre defying eclectic sound and their new album, Glowing In The Dark, heralds once again the beginning of a thrilling new era for the band.
- Glowing In The Dark has a running theme of escape: from despair, from constraints, from small town life, and even, in dreams, from the Earth. The brilliant title track and new single, for instance, soars gloriously towards the stratosphere. A track built around a sample from one of Dave Maclean’s spoken word records then plushly upholstered with Moog synths and drum loops, it is accompanied by some eye strobing visuals from rapidly ascending NYC artist and illustrator Braulio Amado.
- Note: The LP is available on indie-shops exclusive glow-in-the-dark vinyl.
- In case anyone needs reminding what a great band they were, The White Stripes release the first-ever official anthology of their work. This is an essential career-spanning collection from the iconic rock duo, Jack and Meg White, highlighting 26 peak performances. From late-90s flashes of brilliance through early-2000s underground anthems, masterful MTV Moon Man moments, Grammy-grabbing greatness and worldwide stadium chants, the songs here are as wide-ranging as you can imagine. In an era of streaming where the idea of a ‘greatest hits’ album may seem irrelevant – that an act’s most streamed songs are considered their de facto ‘hits’ – we wholeheartedly believe that great bands deserve ‘greatest hits’ and that a large part of Third Man Records’ and The White Stripes’ successes have been built on zigging when the rest of the music business is zagging. Thus, for a great band with great fans, a Greatest Hits compilation for The White Stripes is not only appropriate but absolutely necessary.
- Stage Fright is the third studio album by Canadian-American group The Band, released on August 17, 1970. Engineered by Todd Rundgren and Glyn Johns, it features two of the group’s best-known songs, ‘The Shape I’m In’ and ‘Stage Fright’, both of which showcased inspired lead vocal performances (by Richard Manuel and Rick Danko, respectively) and became staples in the group’s live shows.
- This 50th anniversary reissue presents the tracks in a different running order – apparently the originally intended order – in a fresh stereo mix by Bob Clearmountain. Alternate mixes of ‘Strawberry Wine’ and ‘Sleeping’ are issued for the first time and also included are seven unearthed ‘field recordings’. These Calgary Hotel Recordings from 1970 offer a fun and loose, impromptu late-night hotel jam session between Robbie Robertson, Rick Danko and Richard Manuel of several Stage Fright songs recorded while the album was in the mixing stage.
- The 2-CD version includes a full and previously unreleased concert, Live at the Royal Albert Hall, June 1971, captures the group in the midst of their European tour.
- The limited-edition box set includes:
- the album on LP and CD;
- the full concert CD;
- a blu-ray with a brand-new Bob Clearmountain 5.1 surround sound-mix, as well as a hi-res stereo mix of the album, bonus tracks and the live show;
- and an exclusive reproduction of the Spanish pressing of The Band’s 1971 7" vinyl single ‘Time To Kill’ (backed with ‘The Shape I’m In’) in their new stereo mixes;
- a photo booklet with new notes by Robbie Robertson and touring photographer John Scheele;
- a reprinting of the original Los Angeles Times album review by critic Robert Hilburn;
- three lithographs; and more.
Releases for 5 February 2021
Our pick of the bunch for 5 February starts with Shore, a celebration of life in the face of death honouring Fleet Foxes’ lost musical heroes – from David Berman to John Prine to Judee Sill to Bill Withers – recorded in New York, Paris and LA. Recorded by Black Country, New Road during the early part of this year and then finished at the end of the first lock-down, For The First Time is clearly the work of a group who have no interest in repetition, one-note approaches or letting creative stagnation set in: a sonic time capsule that somehow manages to bottle the past, present and future. Good Woman, the first new album in six years from The Staves, was written and recorded in a time of tremendous turmoil and change for the band, with relationships ending, the death of their mother and the birth of a child, and it’s a testament to the strength of women; to sisters, mothers, and daughters; to love, loss, and change; and to trying to be a good woman. Sun Ra’s blistering wild ride from 1983, A Fireside Chat With Lucifer, features the renowned expletive-filled repartee ‘Nuclear War’ and the sprawling, suite-like 20-minute title track and offers a wide stylistic array throughout. This is the first ever reissue of this iconic album! Much has changed in the musical life of renowned composer and director John Carpenter since 2016’s Lost Themes II: he went on his first-ever concert tour, then re-recorded many of his classic film themes for 2017’s Anthology. Now, he returns with his first album of non-soundtrack music in nearly five years, Lost Themes III: Alive After Death.
Our release of the week is Medicine At Midnight, the new album from Foo Fighters – Dave Grohl, Taylor Hawkins, Nate Mendel, Chris Shiflett, Pat Smear and Rami Jaffee – which packs nine new songs including the smouldering single ‘Shame Shame’ into a tight-ass 37 minutes. It was produced by Greg Kurstin and Foo Fighters.
- Medicine At Midnight is the new album from Foo Fighters, and packs nine new songs into a tight-ass 37 minutes. This collection includes the smouldering new single ‘Shame Shame’. Medicine At Midnight is the band’s 10th album, and was produced by Greg Kurstin and Foo Fighters. Foo Fighters are Dave Grohl, Taylor Hawkins, Nate Mendel, Chris Shiflett, Pat Smear, and Rami Jaffee.
- Tracklist: Making a Fire / Shame Shame / Cloudspotter / Waiting on a War / Medicine at Midnight / No Son of Mine / Holding Poison / Chasing Birds / Love Dies Young
- Note: The LP is available on blue vinyl, exclusive to record shops.
- Shore is a celebration of life in the face of death, honouring Fleet Foxes’ lost musical heroes, from David Berman to John Prine to Judee Sill to Bill Withers. It’s an object levitating between the magnetic fields of the past and the future. The album was recorded in upstate New York at Aaron Dessner’s Long Pond Studio, in Paris at Studios St. Germain, in Los Angeles at the legendary Vox, in Long Island City at Diamond Mine, and New York City’s Electric Lady.
- Note: The LP is available on indies-exclusive crystal-clear vinyl.
- Recorded by Black Country, New Road with Andy Savours (My Bloody Valentine) during the early part of this year and then finished at the end of the nationwide lock-down, For The First Time is the perfect capturing of a new band and all the energy, ferocity and explosive charge that comes with that whilst also clearly the work of a group who have no interest in repetition, one-note approaches or letting creative stagnation set in. Featuring six new songs including reinterpretations of early tracks ‘Sunglasses’ and ‘Athens, France’, For The First Time is a sonic time capsule that somehow manages to bottle the past, the present and the future.
- “We wanted it to sound exactly how we love to sound live,” says saxophonist Lewis Evans. “This is basically representative of our first 18 months,” continues frontman Isaac Wood.
- Indeed the band found they had to stop themselves running too far ahead in order to document this album in a way that felt as truthful as possible.
- “We see this as being a stop in the road,” explains Isaac. “I’ve always been interested in a really honest portrayal of what a band is and what they’ve been working on. I think it’s really nice if people can see an artist like: this was them in the early days, this was their next phase and that they’re quite clear and honest about genuine progression as people and musicians.”
- Note: The LP is available on white vinyl, exclusive to independent shops.
- Good Woman, the first new album in six years from The Staves – sisters Emily, Jessica and Camilla Staveley-Taylor – was written and recorded in a time of tremendous turmoil and change for the band, between the ending of relationships, the death of their beloved mother, and the birth of Emily’s first child. Produced by John Congleton, the album is a testament to the strength of women; to sisters, mothers, and daughters; to love, loss, and change; and to trying to be a good woman.
- The band explains: “When we think about making this album we think about moments and snapshots of all the different contexts we were in as it was made. Living in each other’s pockets and then living with oceans between us. We think of homesickness and family. Of being an outsider. Of endless notebooks and scraps of paper. We think of love. Big, big love. Our Mum. Our Dad. Our friends. And of loss. Death and birth. Womanhood, motherhood. Sisterhood. And coming home.”
- An f-bomb-saturated hip-hop call and response club cut … from Sun Ra?! While the most renowned track in this omniversal opus is the atomic expletive-filled repartee ‘Nuclear War,’ there is so much more to this dark mysterious journey through the mind of Sun Ra. The sprawling, suite-like 20-minute title track sustains a lyrical edge in spite of an open framework and textures, which encourage sonorities to surface and emerge from the band as if there was no human intention behind them. In opposition to ‘Nuclear War,’ Ra’s organ playing here was built less on bombast and sonic terror than it is on whispers, stutters, shivers, and swells. A Fireside Chat With Lucifer offers a wide stylistic array, as was the artist’s intent, reflecting his eclectic, seemingly irreconcilable approach to compositional extremes. With Sun Ra you get everything... except predictability. This is the first ever reissue of this iconic album!
- Much has changed in the musical life of renowned composer and director John Carpenter since 2016’s Lost Themes II. Following the release of that album, he went on his first-ever concert tour, performing material from the Lost Themes albums as well as music from his classic film scores. He re-recorded many of those classic movie themes for 2017’s Anthology, working alongside son Cody Carpenter and godson Daniel Davies. The following year, he was asked to executive produce and compose the music for the new Halloween movie directed by David Gordon Green, which promptly became the highest-grossing instalment in the series. Now, he returns with his first album of non-soundtrack music in nearly five years, Lost Themes III: Alive After Death.
- Note: The LP is available on limited-edition red vinyl.
Releases for 29 January 2021
We kick off our pick of 29 January’s releases with On All Fours, on which Goat Girl move from the confrontational lyricism of their debut to more mature perspectives towards the world’s injustices and social prejudices, using the music to explore global, humanitarian, environmental and mindful wellbeing. PJ Harvey’s 1998 fourth studio album, Is This Desire?, featuring the singles ‘A Perfect Day Elise’ and ‘The Wind’, is lovingly reissued with an accompanying collection of unreleased demos of every track written for the album. Nearly five years after their last lightning-tinted volley, magisterial Montreal psych-rock band The Besnard Lakes have sworn off compromise and completed The Besnard Lakes Are The Last Of The Great Thunderstorm Warnings, a searing, 72-minute suite about the darkness of dying and the light on the other side. Twenty-year-old London-based musician and poet Arlo Parks has been very steadily climbing the ranks as an artist to watch, and her debut album, Collapsed In Sunbeams, is a series of vignettes and intimate portraits that feels both universal and hyper-specific. One of the world’s most sought-after live acts in one of the worlds’s most iconic venues: in December 2018, Nils Frahm performed at the legendary Funkhaus Berlin at the end of a year-long tour, and that magic is captured in Tripping With Nils Frahm.
Our release of the week is The Future Bites, an exploration by Steven Wilson of how the human brain has evolved in the internet era: an online portal to a world of high-concept design, custom-built for the ultra-modern consumer, placing the listener in a world of 21st-century addictions. From out-of-control retail therapy, manipulative social media and the loss of individuality, The Future Bites is less a bleak vision of an approaching dystopia than a curious reading of the here and now.
- The Future Bites is an exploration of how the human brain has evolved in the internet era. Steven Wilson’s phenomenal sixth solo album is an online portal to a world of high-concept design, custom-built for the ultra-modern consumer. Where 2017’s To The Bone confronted the emerging global issues of post truth and fake news, The Future Bites places the listener in a world of 21st-century addictions. From out-of-control retail therapy, manipulative social media and the loss of individuality, The Future Bites is less a bleak vision of an approaching dystopia than a curious reading of the here and now.
- Note: The LP is available on indies-only coloured vinyl.
- Goat Girl’s new album, On All Fours, was produced by Dan Carey (Kate Tempest, Black Midi & Franz Ferdinand) in South London in early 2020. This new record sees the band veer away from the confrontational lyricism of their debut, and indicates Goat Girl’s maturing perspectives in discussing the world’s injustices and social prejudices, using the music to explore global, humanitarian, environmental and mindful wellbeing.
- Throughout On All Fours, Goat Girl’s frequent use of sci-fi synthesisers, off-beat chord progressions, analogue drum machines, diverse vocal styles and distinct, gritty guitars fuse a musical language that expresses both former characteristics and newer developments of the band’s sound and vision.
- Note: The LP is available on indie-shops exclusive translucent pink vinyl.
- The Besnard Lakes have passed through death and they’re here to tell the tale. Nearly five years after their last lightning-tinted volley, the magisterial Montreal psych-rock band have sworn off compromise, split with their long-standing label, and completed a searing, 72-minute suite about the darkness of dying and the light on the other side. The Besnard Lakes Are The Last Of The Great Thunderstorm Warnings is the group’s sixth album and the first in more than 15 years to be released away from a certain midwestern American indie record company.
- Twenty-year-old London-based musician and poet Arlo Parks has been very steadily climbing the ranks as an artist to watch since the release of her confessional debut single ‘Cola’ in 2018. Arlo has received praise from artists such as Billie Eilish, Wyclef Jean, Clairo, Florence Welsh and Phoebe Bridgers during the past year while growing her fan base exponentially. Arlo’s debut album, Collapsed In Sunbeams, is “a series of vignettes and intimate portraits surrounding my adolescence and the people that shaped it. It is rooted in storytelling and nostalgia – I want it to feel both universal and hyper specific.” On a personal level, Parks struggled with her identity growing up; a self- confessed tom-boy who was super sensitive and “uncool”, she says it was like “I’m a black kid who can’t dance for shit, listens to emo music and currently has a crush on some girl in my Spanish class.” By the time she reached 17, she shaved her head, figured out she was bisexual and wrote/produced an album’s worth of material.
- A legendary artist at a legendary location: Tripping With Nils Frahm captures one of the world’s most sought-after live acts performing at one of Berlin’s most iconic buildings. When Nils Frahm kicked off his world tour at Funkhaus Berlin in January 2018 to bring his highly acclaimed studio album All Melody to the stage, an ambitious journey was just beginning: over the next two years, Frahm played more than 180 sold-out performances, including the Sydney Opera House, LA’s Disney Hall, the Barbican in London, Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie, and several big festival stages around the globe. Yet the stunning setting of Funkhaus Berlin, renowned for its vintage grandeur and outstanding acoustics, and also home to Frahm’s magnificent studio where All Melody was recorded, had occupied a unique place in the artist’s heart. In December 2018, when Nils Frahm eventually returned to Funkhaus Berlin to host another set of four shows, tickets sold out within hours. Frahm’s friend and film director Benoit Toulemonde – a collaborator since 2011 – captured the concerts on film, only using handheld cameras and employing techniques he had mastered for the famous concert series La Blogotèque, which featured some of the world’s most popular artists.
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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