Releases from March–April 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 Exit Wounds by The Wallflowers, out on 9 July.
Releases for 16 and 23 April
Our picks for 16 and 23 April start with Flat White Moon from Field Music, who “want to make people feel good about things that we feel terrible about,” a statement which seems particularly fitting to this latest album. The Battle At Garden’s Gate introduces a new chapter from Greta Van Fleet, focused the internal and external battles we face, and informed by their experiences of different cultures while touring both some of the richest and the poorest places on earth. Rory Graham, aka Rag ’n’ Bone Man, returns three years after his ground-breaking, award-winning debut, Human, with Life By Misadventure, an incredible collection of emotional songs to touch us when we need it most that’s the perfect tonic for these times: an album of depth and soul, about growing up and moving forward. Here, at last, is Sweep It Into Space, the delayed fifth studio album by the reborn Dinosaur Jr, which brings some new elements to their signature sound and continues to expand their personal universe. Plastic Ono Band was the debut solo album by John Lennon, intended as a pair with Yoko’s album of the same name. The audio has been completely remixed from the original studio tapes, and shows that it is his voice that brings the biggest emotional impact of the album.
Our release of the week is Californian Soil, the highly anticipated third album from electro-pop heroes London Grammar, on which frontwoman Hannah Reid explores gaining possession of her own life in the midst of success and fame, and the challenge of retaining a vulnerable or feminine side in the face of misogyny.
- 16 April: Electro-pop heroes London Grammar release their highly anticipated third album, Californian Soil. Frontwoman Hannah Reid said of the project: “This record is about gaining possession of my own life. You imagine success will be amazing. Then you see it from the inside and ask, ‘Why am I not controlling this thing? Why am I not allowed to be in control of it? And does that connect, in any way to being a woman? If so, how can I do that differently?’
- “Misogyny is primitive, which is why it is so hard to change. But it is also fearful. It’s about rejecting the thing in yourself which is vulnerable or feminine. Yet everybody has that thing.”
- Note: the LP is available on indie shops exclusive blue vinyl.
- 23 April: “We want to make people feel good about things that we feel terrible about,” says David Brewis, who has co-led the band Field Music with his brother Peter since 2004. It’s a statement which seems particularly fitting to their latest album, Flat White Moon. Sporadic sessions for the album began in late 2019 at the pair’s studio in Sunderland, slotted between rehearsals and touring. The initial recordings pushed a looser performance aspect to the fore, inspired by some of their very first musical loves: Free, Fleetwood Mac, Led Zeppelin and The Beatles; old tapes and LPs pilfered from their parents’ shelves. But a balance between performance and construction has always been an essential part of Field Music.
- Note: The LP is available on indie-shops exclusive white vinyl.
- 16 April: The Battle At Garden’s Gate introduces a new chapter from Greta Van Fleet, focused on fighting for what you believe in, self-empowerment, freedom, as well as each individual’s internal and external battles. As drummer Danny explains: “We realised that while growing up, we had been shielded by a lot of things, we were unaware of a lot of things. And then we were thrown out into this huge world, and it was a bit of a culture shock at first.
- “We’ve seen how people live in different parts of the world,” added Sam, “and we’ve developed intrinsic respect for different cultures and people. We’ve gone from driving down a highway to a show and seeing endless miles of shantytowns in Sao Paulo, to playing some of the richest places on earth.”
- Added Jake: “The more we’ve seen – different cultures, people, and traditions – we’ve also seen a similarity between ourselves and these different cultures. It surprises me how similar we all are.”
- 23 April: Rory Graham, aka Rag ’n’ Bone Man, returns three years after his ground-breaking, award-winning debut, Human, with a renewed sense of purpose on a sparkling new album, full of heart and soul. Life By Misadventure is an incredible collection of emotional songs to touch us when we need it most.
- The album has been recorded purposefully like a live album – the sound is real and 100% human. Long time collaborators Ben Jackson-Cook (keys, co-songwriter and co-producer of the album), Bill Banwell (bass, and co-songwriter) and Desri Ramus (backing vocals) are joined by drummer Daru Jones (Lazaretto-Jack White) and guitarist Wendy Melvoin, who joined Prince’s Revolution at the age of 19. Together these musicians have made an album full of joy and immediacy, something all too rare these days of autotune and countless overdubs. One song was even recorded in Rag ’n’ Bone Man’s garage.
- “We had quite a time to live with the songs this time around,” Graham explains. “Too often, how I’d done things before, was that we’d written a song and I had to sing it the same day, and that was the version we’d use on the album. This way, it was far easier to get real emotion into the music.”
- Life By Misadventure is the perfect tonic for these times: an album of depth and soul, about growing up and moving forward. Enjoy the trip.
- Note: the LP is available on red vinyl, exclusive to record shops.
- 23 April: Here it is, at last – Sweep It Into Space, the fifth new studio album by Dinosaur Jr during the 13th year of their rebirth. Originally scheduled for issue in mid 2020, this record’s temporal trajectory was thwarted by the coming of the Plague. But it would take more than a mere Plague to tamp down the exquisite fury of this trio when they are fully dialled-in. And Sweep It Into Space is a masterpiece of zoned dialling. Recorded, as usual, at Amherst’s Biquiteen, the sessions for Sweep It Into Space began in the late Autumn of 2019, following a West Coast/ South East tour. The only extra musician used this time was Kurt Vile. Indeed, Sweep It Into Space is a very cool album. As is typical, Lou Barlow writes and sings two of the album’s dozen tunes and Murph’s pure-Flinstonian drumming drives the record like a go cart from Hell. Lou’s songs here are as elegant as always. But there are very few moments where you wouldn’t know you were hearing Dinosaur Jr in blindfolded needle drop. They have a signature sound as sure as the Stooges or Sonic Youth or Discharge ever did. They continue to expand their personal universe with Sweep It Into Space, without ever losing their central core.
- Note: the LP is available on indie-shops exclusive purple vinyl (opaque or transparent), and a bonus 4-track live CD will come with LP pre-orders!
- 23 April: Plastic Ono Band was the debut solo album by John Lennon, released on 11 December 1970. John and Yoko had started writing and demoing at Abbey Road (EMI Studios) in the summer, with recording sessions taking place during September/October.
- Released on the same day was Yoko Ono’s Plastic Ono Band album, the couple regarding the release as a pair of albums rather than two entirely separate projects, albeit of course it not achieving the same sort of coverage or chart success as John’s.
- Coming as this does hot on the heels of last year’s much loved and well-reviewed Gimme Some Truth and Imagine reissues, the audio has been completely remixed from the original studio tapes as part of the ongoing John Lennon Ultimate Mix series. The aim for this mix process is to achieve three things: to remain faithful and respectful to the original recordings; to ensure that the sound is sonically clearer overall and to increase the clarity of John’s vocals. As Yoko says, “it’s about John,” and this new mix shows that it is his voice that brings the biggest emotional impact of the album.
- This multi-format super-deluxe box includes:
- The new Ultimate Mix on one CD, plus 5 further CD discs, each focusing on different aspects, including: original outtakes, demos, Elements Mixes (focusing on individual aspects of the songs to reveal unheard elements), Evolution Mixes (the story of each song from demo to complete recording), Raw Mixes (unadorned studio takes that place you inside the room almost sitting alongside the band) and a further disc of studio jams.
- There are two Blu-ray Audio discs that feature hi-res stereo (192/24) versions of all the above as well as surround mixes in both 5.1 and Dolby Atmos.
- A 130-page book featuring many exclusive and new photos, track-by-track notes in the words of John and Yoko, lots of tape boxes and a full breakdown and descriptions of the audio content.
- Further material only available on BD includes the Yoko Ono Band/Plastic Ono Band Live Sessions from the original recording sessions and featuring Ringo Starr and Klaus Voorman.
Releases for 26 March to 9 April
Our picks from releases between 26 March and 9 April start with New Long Leg (2 Apr), the debut studio album from Dry Cleaning, which is thrillingly ambitious and complex, with Florence Shaw’s spoken vocals tightly intertwined with the band’s restless instrumentals. The Bitter Truth (26 Mar) is an epic, guitar-driven collection from Evanescence – a welcome a return-to-force after ten years, and one hell of a rock album – that’s inspired by the (often-bitter) realities of the 21st Century and our world. This Is Really Going To Hurt (9 Apr) is the latest from local band Flyte: a lucid documentation of lead singer Will Taylor’s formative breakup that follows the ending of a relationship through the stages of grief and acceptance. The title is evocative of knowing the decision you are about to make will change your life forever. New Direction (9 Apr) was the first album – oft-bootlegged, with original copies commanding princely sums – released by the most sought-after label, bar none, among jazz collectors! And since keyboardist Gene Russell was at the artistic helm of Black Jazz, it was only natural that the label’s debut record featured Russell himself. Amazônia (9 Apr) is an audio-visual project by Jean-Michel Jarre with renowned award winning photographer Sebastiao Salgado about the Amazonian forest, with 52 min of brand-new music composed by Jarre especially to accompany the photos in the exhibition.
Our release of the week comes from the inimitable Godspeed You! Black Emperor (2 Apr), who return with another soundtrack for our times. As the heretical anarcho-punk spirit of the title implies, G_d’s Pee AT STATE’S END! features some particularly raw power, spittle and grit across two riveting 20-minute side-length trajectories of noise-drenched widescreen post-rock. Twenty-five years on, this new album is as vital, stirring, timely and implacable as any in Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s storied discography.
- 2 April: The inimitable Godspeed You! Black Emperor returns with another soundtrack for our times. As the heretical anarcho-punk spirit of the title implies, G_d’s Pee AT STATE’S END! features some particularly raw power, spittle and grit across two riveting 20-minute side-length trajectories of noise-drenched widescreen post-rock: inexorable chug blossoms into blown-out twang, as some of the band’s most soaring, searing melodies ricochet and converge amidst violin and bassline counterpoint. Field recordings and roiling semi-improvised passages frame these fervent epics, and two shorter self-contained 6-minute pieces find the band at its most devastatingly beautiful, haunting and elegiac. Poignant atmospherics, noise-drenched orchestration, drone, hypnotic swingtime crescendos, inexorably-layered towers of distorted clarion sound: STATE’S END encapsulates every beloved facet of the band. Twenty-five years on, this new album is as vital, stirring, timely and implacable as any in Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s storied discography.
- 2 April: Dry Cleaning’s debut studio album, New Long Leg, follows their thrillingly taut 2019 EPs Boundary Road Snacks And Drinks and Sweet Princess. The album is more ambitious and complex, with Florence Shaw’s spoken vocals tightly intertwined with the band’s restless instrumentals. With lyrics preoccupied by themes like dissociation, escapism, daydreaming, complicated feelings of love, anger, revenge, anxiety, the kitchen, lethargy, forgetfulness, and survival, Shaw says, “the title is ambiguous; a new long leg could be an expensive present or a growth or a table repair.”
- Dry Cleaning was formed by friends Tom Dowse, Nick Buxton and Lewis Maynard after a karaoke party in 2017 inspired a collaboration. They wrote instrumentally to begin with until six months later Florence Shaw, a visual artist, university lecturer and picture researcher by day – with no prior musical experience – turned up to a band rehearsal armed with reams of her own collected writing and a copy of Michael Bernard Loggins’ Fears Of Your Life to read out over the music. Before long she was the group’s front-person, contributing words of her own, and serving as the perfect foil to the band’s music.
- Note: The LP is available on indie shops exclusive yellow vinyl.
- 26 March: The Bitter Truth is an epic, guitar-driven collection from Evanescence that’s inspired by the (often-bitter) realities of the 21st Century and our world. The band’s first original LP in ten years is a return-to-force – and one hell of a rock album. Lead single ‘Yeah Right’ is heavy and playful, its industrial groove combining with Amy Lee’s biting lyrics that reveal a self-cynical view of the band’s experience so far in the music industry.
- The already-released songs have received early accolades from Elle, Billboard, SPIN, American Songwriter, and more, and showcase the “ferocious and hymnal” (The New York Times) sound that made Evanescence a household name, as well as the drama and powerhouse vocals that made Amy Lee “one of rock’s definitive voices” (Rolling Stone).
- 9 March: This Is Really Going To Hurt is the latest from local band Flyte. Recorded in LA last year with collaborators Justin Raisen (Angel Olsen, Yves Tumor), Andrew Sarlo (Big Thief, Bon Iver) and mixing engineer Ali Chant (Aldous Harding), the record is a lucid documentation of lead singer Will Taylor’s formative breakup, and follows the ending of a relationship through the stages of grief and acceptance. The title is evocative of knowing the decision you are about to make will change your life forever.
- Note: The LP is available on blue vinyl, exclusive to record shops.
- 9 April: New Direction was the first album released by the most sought-after label, bar none, among jazz collectors! And since keyboardist Gene Russell was at the artistic helm of Black Jazz, it was only natural that the label’s debut record featured Russell himself, with the fitting title New Direction.
- Oft-bootlegged, with original copies commanding princely sums, New Direction, while a fairly straight-ahead piano trio outing, sets the tone for the entire label with its modal and soul jazz flourishes, and features such sidemen as double bassist Henry “The Skipper” Franklin and drummer Steve Clover.
- 9 April: Amazônia is an audio-visual project by Jean-Michel Jarre with renowned award winning photographer Sebastiao Salgado about the Amazonian forest. The exhibition is commissioned for the Philharmonic Paris, starting there on 7 April, with 52 min of brand-new music composed by Jarre especially to accompany the photos. The exhibition will then travel in other cities across the globe, including Rome, Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and London.
Releases for 5 March 2021
Our pick of 5 March’s new releases starts with William The Conqueror, whose new album, Maverick Thinker, fizzes with slinky, swampy, razor-sharp, blues-drenched, guitar-thrashed alt.rock songs heavy with heart and soul, and it should open new doors for them. Arab Strap’s latest, As Days Get Dark, is “about hopelessness and darkness, but in a fun way,” according to frontman Aidan Moffatt, and it’ll appeal to long-time fans and pick up new ones who weren’t ready for Arab Strap first time round! Evering Road, named after the East London street on which Tom Grennan lived with his then-girlfriend, marks a bold and exciting new chapter for him, shot through with raw emotion and searing honesty, a hub of love, heartbreak and redemption. Flock is the record that Jane Weaver always wanted to make, and features an untested new fusion of seemingly unrelated compounds fused into an eco-friendly hum; pop music for post-new-normal times. Legendary jazz guitarist and composer Pat Metheny surprises us once again on his latest album, Road To The Sun, with his seemingly endless ability to harvest new vistas while retaining the instantly recognisable Metheny sound.
Our release of the week is Topaz, the latest from Israel Nash. He’s thought a lot over the last several years about music – not only how to make it but why, and Topaz is what happened when he found his answers: recorded mostly on his own, both taking his time and relishing his newfound access to immediacy, punching the red button moments after an idea hit.
- “Music can be the space where people think – even just for a few minutes,” says Israel Nash. “The space is not about changing their lives or political views or their party ticket. It’s about creating something that prompts reflection in a moment – and those reflections have other chain reactions.” Nash is sitting outside in the sun, thinking. It’s something he does often, looking out over endless Texas hills that surround his family’s rural home. He’s thought a lot over the last several years about music – not only how to make it, but why.
- What is the endgame for Nash, a critically acclaimed rock-and-roll groovesman, personally? Nash’s magnificent new album, Topaz, is what happened when he found his answers. Nash recorded the album over the course of about a year in the Quonset hut studio he built about 600 feet from his house in the Texas Hill Country. While musician friends from nearby Austin contributed to the project, Topaz marks the first album Nash has recorded mostly on his own, both taking his time and relishing his newfound access to immediacy, punching the red button moments after an idea hit. “It’s allowed me to capture sounds and ideas, to really get stuff out of my head and into the world so quickly,” Nash says.
- Note: The LP is available on indie-shops exclusive coloured vinyl.
- William The Conqueror have paid their dues. Like the sportsman cutting chipped teeth in the lower leagues before shooting to the very top, this band have lugged all the amps, placated the in-house sound guy for an easier life, their nails dirty, their hair unkempt. Enough.
- Except it’s never enough, because despite the slinky, swampy, razor-sharp, blues-drenched, guitar-thrashed alt.rock songs that form new album Maverick Thinker and suggest that the door is opening for bigger rooms and broader audiences, it’s those sticky basement-bar stages where the songs have always shed a skin and come alive. The record put the three-piece behind the glass at Sound City Studios in LA, treading the same carpet as the likes of Nirvana, Johnny Cash, Neil Young, and Fleetwood Mac, and they might well have inhaled the spirit of them all.
- William The Conqueror’s protagonist is Ruarri Joseph, a man who knows his way around a melody and a verse. Joseph’s wryness suggests life just ain’t plain sailin’, and he fizzes that sigh and lament into something that breathes heavy with heart and with soul.
- Note: The LP is available on indie-shops exclusive grey vinyl.
- “It’s about hopelessness and darkness,” says Aidan Moffat. “But in a fun way.” The Arab Strap frontman is speaking about As Days Get Dark, the band’s 7th studio album and their first since 2005’s The Last Romance. The band’s exciting return saw the much-lauded single ‘The Turning of Our Bones’ achieve Record of the Week on Jo Whiley’s BBC Radio 2 show and hit the B-list on BBC 6Music. The new album will appeal to long-time fans and pick up new ones who weren’t ready for Arab Strap first time round!
- Note: The LP is available on indie-shops exclusive two-tone vinyl.
- Evering Road marks a bold and exciting new chapter for Tom Grennan, blasting back with an album shot through with raw emotion and searing honesty. Named after the East London street on which Tom lived with his then-girlfriend, it’s a hub of love, heartbreak and redemption. The album features the single ‘This Is The Place’, the soulful, introspective ‘Oh Please’ and ‘Amen’, a gospel-inspired awakening as Tom roars, ‘I don’t go to church, but Amen!’
- Note: The LP is available on transparent blue vinyl, exclusive to record shops.
- Flock is the record that Jane Weaver always wanted to make – the most genuine version of herself, complete with unpretentious day-glo pop sensibilities, wit, kindness, humour and glamour. A consciously positive vision for negative times, a brooding and ethereal creation. The album features an untested new fusion of seemingly unrelated compounds fused into an eco-friendly hum; pop music for post-new-normal times. Created from elements that should never date, this is pop music reinvented. Still prevalent are the cosmic sounds, but Flock is a natural rebellion against her recent releases which sees her move decisively away from conceptual roots in favour of writing pop music, albeit pop produced on a complicated diet of bygone Lebanese torch songs, 1980s Russian aerobics records and Australian punk.
- Note: The LP is available on indie-shops exclusive cream vinyl.
- Guitarist and composer Pat Metheny has won 20 Grammy Awards in 12 different categories including Best Rock Instrumental, Best Contemporary Jazz Recording, Best Jazz Instrumental Solo, Best Instrumental Composition. The Pat Metheny Group won an unprecedented seven consecutive Grammies for seven consecutive albums.
- On his latest album, Road To The Sun, Pat Metheny surprises us once again with his seemingly endless ability to harvest new vistas while retaining the instantly recognisable Metheny sound.
- Note: The LP will be released on 15 May.
Other releases for 2021
Find releases from 2020.
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