Releases from July–August 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.
The hottest pre-sale releases
Pre-sale of the week is Blue Banisters by Lana Del Rey, out on 22 October.
Releases for 27 August 2021
Our summer scorchers for 27 August open with acclaimed songwriter and guitarist Steve Gunn, whose stunning new album Other You opens up his cosmic Americana to exciting new dimensions, encompassing elements of prog, jazz and contemporary classical music. CHVRCHES explore the topic of Screen Violence in three forms – violence on screen, by screens and through screens – and touch on feelings of loneliness, disillusionment, fear, heartbreak and regret, supported by Robert Smith on one track. If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power is a concept album by Halsey about the joys and horrors of pregnancy and childbirth, and is a means of reclaiming her autonomy, pride and strength in the face of the world’s demands. Lockdown internet sensation Toyah made Posh Pop while creating her famed ‘Sunday Lunch’ YouTube performances with Robert Fripp, and it’s a strong collection of infectious and affirmative pop songs. The Hill, The Light, The Ghost is a beautiful study of ghosts and memory, whose gestation began when Haiku Salut’s Sophie Barkerwood was given a Tascam field recorder, which started her capturing sonic ghosts in the world around her.
Our release of the week is How Long Do You Think It’s Gonna Last? by the ever-morphing Big Red Machine project of The National’s Aaron Dessner with Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon. Dessner has always sought to connect, celebrate and, most of all, process emotion and experience through music. This generous spirit and desire to push music forward has never been more deeply felt than on this remarkable album.
- The National’s Aaron Dessner has always sought to bring together musicians who share his impulse to connect, celebrate and, most of all, process emotion and experience through music. This generous spirit and desire to push music forward has never been more deeply felt than on How Long Do You Think It’s Gonna Last?, the second album from Big Red Machine, Dessner’s ever-morphing project with Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon.
- Note: The LP is available on red vinyl, exclusive to independent shops.
- Acclaimed songwriter and guitarist Steve Gunn returns this summer with stunning new album Other You, recorded in Los Angeles with Grammy Award-winning producer and engineer Rob Schnapf. Gunn sought to create an album that would push his melodic and compositional sensibilities to thrilling new heights, and the resulting tracks open up Gunn’s cosmic Americana to exciting new dimensions, encompassing elements of prog, jazz and contemporary classical music.
- Note: The LP is available on clear vinyl, exclusive to independent shops.
- Screen Violence, the highly anticipated fourth studio album from CHVRCHES, explores the topic in three main forms – violence on screen, violence by screens and violence through screens – and touches on feelings of loneliness, disillusionment, fear, heartbreak and regret. The track ‘How Not to Drown’ features one of the trio’s ultimate heroes, Cure frontman Robert Smith, whose signature voice melds perfectly with Lauren Mayberry’s, both supported by dark, piano-driven music.
- If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power is a concept album by Halsey about the joys and horrors of pregnancy and childbirth. “My body has belonged to the world in many different ways over the past few years, and this is my means of reclaiming my autonomy and establishing my pride and strength as a life force for my human being,” she explained. Halsey penned the songs on this career-defining album herself, and recorded it with Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, known for their work in Nine Inch Nails and as award-winning composers for film and television.
- Note: The LP is available on white vinyl, exclusive to independent shops.
- For the past year or more one of the most-watched YouTubers and internet sensations has been Toyah Willcox – more than 38 million people have watched Toyah’s ‘Sunday Lunch’ performances with Robert Fripp. At the same time as creating consistently unique online videos, Toyah made the album Posh Pop with her long-term songwriting partner Simon Darlow. It’s a strong collection of infectious and affirmative pop songs that are as joyous as they are reflective.
- Note: The LP is available on limited-edition space-grey vinyl.
- The Hill, The Light, The Ghost is a beautiful study of ghosts and memory, whose gestation began when Haiku Salut’s Sophie Barkerwood was given a Tascam field recorder. “I carried it around with me in case anything interesting happened. I guess I wanted to capture little pieces of the world in the same way we all take photographs,” explains Sophie. “It wasn’t immediately apparent that we would begin to use these sounds as the architecture for an album but as our writing process evolved the textures of these memories became a bank of inspiration.”
Releases for 20 August 2021
20 August’s super six starts with Lorde, who describes her new album, Solar Power, as “a celebration of the natural world, an attempt at immortalising the deep, transcendent feelings I have when I’m outdoors.” Inspired by such classic concept albums as Willie Nelson’s Red-Headed Stranger, The Ballad Of Dood & Juanita is Grammy-winning singer/songwriter Sturgill Simpson’s third album in twelve months, and his most ambitious project to date. Our touch of the heavy stuff comes from Deafheaven, who have abandoned their trademark clash of metallic abrasion and swirling grandeur with Infinite Granite – a bold leap forward and a gorgeous and invigorating album brimming with style and splendour. Year Of The Spider is an endlessly vivacious, ebullient, and clever album from Shannon And The Clams, the undisputed kings and queen of the Bay Area garage-punk scene. Finally, Chrissie Hynde and her Pretenders bandmate James Walbourne started playing around with the music of Bob Dylan to help get them through lockdown, sending parts to each other by text message, and Standing In The Doorway developed from there.
Our release of the week comes from that beguiling performer and songwriter Martha Wainwright, who makes a most welcome return with Love Will Be Reborn, her first new album in five years and the first since 2012’s acclaimed Come Home To Mama to feature so much original material.
- Martha Wainwright is beginning again. The beguiling performer and songwriter makes a most welcome return with Love Will Be Reborn. It’s her first new album in five years, since 2016’s Goodnight City, and the first since 2012’s acclaimed Come Home To Mama to feature so much original material.
- Lorde describes her new album, Solar Power, as “a celebration of the natural world, an attempt at immortalising the deep, transcendent feelings I have when I’m outdoors. In times of heartache, grief, deep love, or confusion, I look to the natural world for answers. I’ve learnt to breathe out, and tune in. This is what came through.”
- Note: This album is being released on LP and high-def download only – there is no CD version.
- Inspired by such classic concept albums as Willie Nelson’s Red-Headed Stranger, The Ballad Of Dood & Juanita is Grammy-winning singer/songwriter Sturgill Simpson’s third album in twelve months, and his most ambitious project to date.
- Over the course of their first ten years, Deafheaven tempered harmonic rage with tormented beauty, their music a hybrid of black metal’s malice and shoegaze’s sublime wall-of-sound. But they are no longer toying with pitting metallic abrasion against swirling grandeur. Quite the opposite: their fifth album, Infinite Granite, is a bold and brave leap forward, a gorgeous and invigorating album brimming with style and splendour.
- Shannon And The Clams, fronted by Shannon Shaw and Cody Blanchard, wrote and recorded Year Of The Spider with Grammy award-winning producer Dan Auerbach at his legendary Easy Eye Sound studio in Nashville during the past year. It is an endlessly vivacious, ebullient, and clever album from the kings and queen of the Bay Area garage-punk scene.
- Chrissie Hynde and her Pretenders bandmate James Walbourne started playing around with the music of Bob Dylan to help get them through lockdown. The Dylan songs on Standing In The Doorway were recorded almost entirely by text message: James would record an initial idea on his phone and send it off to Chrissie to add her vocal, and the album developed from there.
Releases for 30 July 2021
With temperatures soaring out there, we’ve got some beautifully cool new music for 30 July. Up first is Stand For Myself, the anthemic new album from Yola, a sophisticated and diverse sonic mix of symphonic soul and classic pop with nuanced lyrics about black feminine strength, collective awakening and loving connection – for Yola, living is more than merely surviving. 2020 was not quite what Jay Farrar had hoped for the 25th anniversary of Son Volt, who were forced into lockdown rather than out on a triumphant tour. Farrar’s ‘reverie’ during that time became Electro Melodier, a unique blend of folk, country, blues, soul and rock featuring social protest songs and personal reflections, an album that asks questions rather than demanding answers. John Murry’s third album, The Stars Are God’s Bullet Holes, is full of startling imagery and insinuating melodies, of cold moonlight and searing heat, and it penetrates you to the very heart, searing with its burning honesty, its unsparing intimacy and its twisted beauty. Animal – a word thrown into a lyric simply to match a rhythm – captured the essence of LUMP, a product of Brit Award-winning Laura Marling and Mercury Prize-winning Mike Lindsay: a sense of hedonism, of desires running wild, of instincts, and the world turned upside down. Through LUMP we find our inner animal. On Private Space, their third album, Durand Jones & The Indications find a previously untapped vibe informed by synthy modern soul and disco beats, and the 10 tracks are both an escapist fantasy and a much-needed resilience and regrouping after a tumultuous year. Private Space is arriving at just the right time.
Our release of the week can only be Billie Eilish’s highly anticipated 16-track second studio album, Happier Than Ever, which continues where her multi-Grammy Award-winning, record-breaking debut album When We All Go To Sleep, Where Do We Go? left off. Happier Than Ever was written entirely by 19-year-old Billie and produced by her brother Finneas in Los Angeles.
- Billie Eilish’s highly anticipated 16-track second studio album, Happier Than Ever, continues where her multi-Grammy Award-winning, record-breaking debut album When We All Go To Sleep, Where Do We Go? left off. Happier Than Ever features no outside songwriters or producers, and was written by 19-year-old Billie and her brother Finneas, who produced the album in Los Angeles.
- Stand For Myself is the anthemic new album from Yola. Produced by Dan Auerbach, the record is a timeless masterpiece marking an idiosyncratic sonic shift: a sophisticated and diverse sonic mix of symphonic soul and classic pop, tracing an expansive musical thread to Yola’s most eclectic musical inspirations.
- Yola’s inimitable vocals share nuanced stories of alliance, black feminine strength through vulnerability, collective awakening and loving connection from the sexual to the social. Yola declares that it is only when we stand for ourselves, and acknowledge our complexity, that we can be truly alive. For Yola, living is more than merely surviving.
- 2020 was not quite what Jay Farrar had hoped for the 25th anniversary of Son Volt, the band he started in 1995 after leaving the seminal group Uncle Tupelo, whose album No Depression helped define the alt.country and Americana genre. The group had just finished an Outlaw Country Cruise when the pandemic hit and sent them into their homes on lockdown. Instead of a triumphant tour marking the illustrious landmark, the band was forced indoors by the pandemic, and Farrar’s ‘reverie’ during that time formed the basis for Electro Melodier, Son Volt’s 10th studio album – and third for influential Nashville indie Thirty Tigers.
- The title, taken from the names of two vintage amplifiers from the late ’40s and early ’50s, also describes the disc’s unique blend of folk, country, blues, soul and rock – an electric troubadour with melodies that hit and stick. Social protest songs like ‘Living In The U.S.A.’ and ‘The Globe’ – the former about the promises of a nation gone wrong, the latter referencing the street protests accompanying the Black Lives Matter movement – exist side by side with odes to long-term relationships (specifically his 25-year marriage) in ‘Diamonds And Cigarettes’ and ‘Lucky Ones’. Once again accompanied by the current Son Volt line-up – keyboardist/steel guitarist Mark Spencer, bassist Andrew Duplantis, guitarist Chris Frame and drummer Mark Patterson – Farrar takes a slight turn from 2019’s politically pointed Union to a series of songs that asks questions rather than demanding answers.
- John Murry’s third album is starlit and wondrous, like being wrapped in the softest black velvet. It’s an album of startling imagery and insinuating melodies, of cold moonlight and searing heat. It’s a record that penetrates you to the very heart, searing with its burning honesty, its unsparing intimacy and its twisted beauty.
- The Stars Are God’s Bullet Holes is not an album for an ordinary world, because it’s not an ordinary album. It’s an album to dive deep into and submerge yourself in, and to emerge from aware that this world is a remarkable place, and that John Murry is a remarkable artist.
- Animal was a word Laura Marling threw into a lyric simply to match a rhythm. But it seemed to capture the mood of the new record, and of LUMP – a product of Brit Award-winning Marling and Mercury Prize-winning Mike Lindsay – as a whole. “There’s a little bit of a theme of hedonism on the album, of desires running wild,” she says. “And also it fed into the idea we had from the start of thinking of LUMP as a kind of representation of instincts, and the world turned upside down.” It is something childlike and grotesque and filled with possibility, they say. “We created LUMP as a sort of persona and an idea and a creature,” says Mike Lindsay. “Through LUMP we find our inner animal, and through that animal we travel into a parallel universe.”
- On Private Space, their third album, Durand Jones & The Indications find a previously untapped vibe at the heart of the band. Pushing beyond the boundaries of the funk and soul found on their previous releases, Private Space unlocks the door to a wider range of sounds and launches boldly into a world of synthy modern soul and disco beats dotted with strings. It’s an organic, timeless record that’s as fresh as clean kicks and as familiar as your favourite well-worn LP.
- Developed by the band members after they were kept apart for much of the year, Private Space is creatively explosive and delights in upending expectations. Its 10 tracks are both an escapist fantasy and a much-needed regrouping after a tumultuous 2020. Throughout, The Indications highlight a collective resilience – as well as the power of a good song to be a light in the darkness. Durand Jones & The Indications have long provided the soulful soundtrack for such deep thoughts, both on stage and on your turntable. But as the world slowly resets from the chaos of the past year, Private Space is arriving at just the right time.
Releases for 23 July 2021
Our six of the best for 23 July starts with Gold-Diggers Sound, a soulful new R&B collection from Leon Bridges birthed from extended late nights at the Los Angeles studio of the same name where he lived, worked, and drank over the course of two years. Triage finds Rodney Crowell looking inwards for answers on what he has called his most personal record yet, contending with political and environmental themes from a place of healing, love and solution, and it’s released at the perfect time. In 2020, 4AD turned 40. Never one to be on time for a party, the label is commemorating that landmark a year later with the release of Bills & Aches & Blues, in which 18 of its current artists cover a song each of their choosing from 4AD’s past: a creative experiment rooted in the spirit of collaboration and a snapshot of 4AD four decades after its inception. Mudhoney’s classic 1991 album Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge, released just before Nirvana’s Nevermind and considered a landmark of the grunge era, has been remastered and expanded with rare and previously unreleased tracks and liner notes by band biographer Keith Cameron. Stone Temple Pilots embraced experimentation and open-mindedness to record the band’s third album, 1996’s Tiny Music… Songs From The Vatican Gift Shop, released 25 years ago and now getting the deluxe treatment with bonus tracks, and the super-deluxe edition includes an exclusive live concert from 1997.
Our release of the week comes from Jackson Browne, who – nearly five decades after his debut album – combines that record’s soulful intimacy with a power and wisdom gained from a life pursuing positive change on his latest, Downhill From Everywhere.
- Nearly five decades since his debut album, the songs on Jackson Browne’s latest album, Downhill From Everywhere, sustain the soulful intimacy of his first release, combined with a power and wisdom gained from a life pursuing positive change.
- “On the surface, it’s about living in L.A.,” Browne said in a press release. “But it’s really a metaphor for life itself. I adore this city, but I’ve been trying to leave since around the time I finished my first album. You can love and appreciate and depend on a life as you know it, but deep down you may also long for something else, even if you don’t know what it is.”
- Nevertheless, Browne stuck close to home for the album. “Lately, I find that much of the writing process takes place in the studio,” he noted. “The music is informed by the way that everyone interacts with it in the room, and there’s this journey of exploring and cutting and recutting that can lead you to places you never would have ended up at on your own.”
- Gold-Diggers Sound is the new album from Leon Bridges. This R&B collection is birthed from extended late nights at the Los Angeles studio of the same name, and it celebrates Leon’s immersive experience of creating music in the same East Hollywood room where he lived, worked, and drank over the course of two years. The soulful collaboration between Leon as an artist and the space itself was so encompassing that he chose to name the album after the soon-to-be legendary complex.
- Triage offers a rare look inside the songwriter. This album finds Rodney Crowell looking inwards for answers, resulting in what he has called his most personal record yet. This new collection of songs was written during the great political, environmental and economic upheaval of recent years. The noise of that chaos encouraged Crowell to look inward for solace and answers. The result is this series of songs that contends with these themes but approaches them from a place of healing, love and solution. That they are being released while we find ourselves walking through a global pandemic is a gift of perfect timing.
- In 2020, 4AD turned 40. Never one to be on time for a party, the label is commemorating that landmark a year later with the release of Bills & Aches & Blues, in which 18 of its current artists cover a song each of their choosing from 4AD’s past: a creative experiment rooted in the spirit of collaboration and a snapshot of 4AD 41 years after its inception.
- The 18 recordings herein contain fascinating connections between artist and track. The earliest song chosen (by U.S. Girls) is The Birthday Party’s ‘Junkyard’, from 1981; the most recent are the two Grimes covers (‘Genesis’ and ‘Oblivion’, respectively by Spencer. and Dry Cleaning) from 2012. Suitably, for the one band that bridges 4AD past and present, The Breeders are all over Bills & Aches & Blues. They’re covered three times – ‘Cannonball’ by Tune-Yards, ‘Mountain Battles’ by Bradford Cox of Deerhunter and ‘Off You’ by Big Thief, whilst The Breeders cover ‘The Dirt Eaters’ by their ‘90s contemporaries His Name Is Alive.
- Bills & Aches & Blues is named, arguably (as Elizabeth Fraser never published the lyrics) after the opening line of Cocteau Twins ‘Cherry-Coloured Funk’. Perhaps too unique and uncoverable in their own right, their legendary take on Tim Buckley’s ‘Song To The Siren’, under the name This Mortal Coil (along with Buckley’s pre-Starsailor acoustic version) informs SOHN’s cover.
- Tracklisting: Tkay Maidza: ‘Where Is My Mind?’ (Pixies) / U.S. Girls: ‘Junkyard’ (The Birthday Party) / Aldous Harding: ‘Revival’ (Deerhunter) / The Breeders: ‘Dirt Eaters’ (His Name Is Alive) / Maria Somerville: ‘Seabird’ (Air Miami) / Tune-Yards: ‘Cannonball’ (The Breeders) / Spencer: ‘Genesis’ (Grimes) / Helado Negro: ‘Futurism’ (Deerhunter) / Efterklang: ‘Postal’ (Piano Magic) / Bing & Ruth: ‘Gigantic’ (Pixies) / Future Islands: ‘The Moon Is Blue’ (Colourbox) / Jenny Hval: ‘Sunbathing’ (Lush) / Dry Cleaning: ‘Oblivion’ (Grimes) / Bradford Cox: ‘Mountain Battles’ (The Breeders) / SOHN: ‘Song To The Siren’ (Tim Buckley) / Becky And The Birds: ‘The Wolves Act I and II’ (Bon Iver) / Ex:Re: ‘Misery Is a Butterfly’ (Blonde Redhead) / Big Thief: ‘Off You’ (The Breeders).
- Mudhoney’s classic 1991 album Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge, considered a landmark of the grunge era, has been remastered and expanded with rare and previously unreleased tracks. By going back to basics with Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge, Mudhoney flipped conventional wisdom. Not for the first time – or the last – they would be vindicated. A month after release in July 1991, the album entered the UK album chart at Number 34 – five weeks before Nirvana’s Nevermind entered at 36 – and went on to sell 75,000 copies worldwide. A more meaningful measure of success, however, lay in its revitalisation of the band, casting a touchstone for the future. The record is a major chapter in Mudhoney’s ongoing story, the moral of which has to be: when in doubt, fudge it. This deluxe reissue includes extensive liner notes by band biographer Keith Cameron.
- Stone Temple Pilots embraced experimentation and open-mindedness to record the band’s third album, 1996’s Tiny Music… Songs From The Vatican Gift Shop. Released 25 years ago, the album is a pitch-perfect amalgamation of the band members’ musical personalities, yielding three US #1 hits – ‘Big Bang Baby’, ‘Lady Picture Show’ and ‘Trippin’ On A Hole In A Paper Heart’.
- Along with a newly remastered version of the original album on both CD and 180g black vinyl, the super-deluxe edition features 15 unreleased tracks that pull back the curtain on the creative process. Those include early versions of nearly every song on the album with nascent incarnations of ‘Tumble In The Rough’, ‘Pop’s Love Suicide’ and ‘Seven Caged Tigers’. The selections also feature an alternate take for ‘Big Bang Baby’, and a percussion mix of ‘Trippin’ On A Hole In A Paper Heart’. There’s also instrumentals for ‘Ride The Cliché’ and ‘Adhesive’, plus the unreleased ‘Kretz’s Acoustic Song’.
- An exclusive feature of the super-deluxe edition is a previously unreleased live recording of the band’s concert in Panama City Beach, Florida on 14 March 1997. STP is dialled in from start to finish, delivering blistering takes of songs from the new album (‘Tumble In The Rough’ and ‘Big Bang Baby’), as well as hits from their earlier records (‘Vasoline’, ‘Plush’ and ‘Interstate Love Song’).
Releases for 16 July 2021
Our star picks for 16 July start with Stephen Fretwell, who returns after an absence of 13 years with Busy Guy, which explores fatherhood, grief and rebirth with Fretwell’s trademark eloquence and wit and was recorded in a single two-hour session. Love Drips And Gathers (23 July) from Piroshka (ex-members of Lush, Moose, Elastica and Modern English) moves away from their debut’s forceful, driving garage songs and dream-pop epics to a subtler, more ethereal sound, while still revelling in energy and drama. 20 years since it kicked open prog’s ornate doors and fed death metal through the cosmic kaleidoscope, Opeth’s magnum opus, Blackwater Park, gets a much-deserved deluxe reissue, and it remains a must for hardcore fans and casual listeners alike. After more than five decades as a peerless improvisational guitarist, John McLaughlin reflects on both the perils and potential of this challenging moment with Liberation Time, characterised by both joy and reflection and harnessing his frustrations and redirecting that energy. Spandau Ballet songwriter and Saucerful Of Secrets guitarist/vocalist Gary Kemp releases his the second solo album, In Solo, focused on two dominant themes: the paradox of solitude in an urban landscape, and his growing obsession with life seen through a rear-view mirror and how the past infects our present.
Our release of the week comes from award-winning and platinum-selling, chart-topping artist Tom Odell, who returns with, Monsters, alchemising his emotional struggles of the past few years with a more electronic bedroom-pop sound and pulling off pop’s greatest trick: hiding sadness in catchy melodies. In this strangest of times this is the start of chapter two in Odell’s ongoing musical journey.
- Brit and Ivor Novello award-winning songwriter and platinum-selling, chart-topping artist Tom Odell returns with his fourth album, Monsters. After a dark period of mental health stalked most of his 2018 and 19, Odell slowly but surely alchemised that experience into a new album. He also realised his broader lyrical horizons needed to be matched by a musical expansion, and a lot of the songs on the album lean into a more electronic bedroom-pop sound in a move underpinned by both necessity and a desire to explore. And while his new music is at times heavy, there’s a lightness of touch that means Odell is able to pull off pop’s greatest trick: hiding sadness in catchy melodies. In this strangest of times this new music represents the start of chapter two in Odell’s ongoing musical journey.
- After an absence of 13 years Stephen Fretwell releases his long-awaited third album, Busy Guy. Described by Fretwell as “a song cycle of sorts”, the album examines the seasons of a life, exploring fatherhood, grief and rebirth with Fretwell’s trademark eloquence and wit. Busy Guy was produced by Fretwell’s close friend and Speedy Wunderground label boss, Dan Carey. They recorded the whole thing one hot July afternoon in just two hours. “I was so fired up, I just rattled off the songs,” Fretwell says. “I assumed it was the run-through, but Dan said he thought we’d got it.” The next day, Carey assembled “a palate of sound” involving keyboards and an electric guitar. “Dan said, ‘I’m just going to react to the songs over the next few hours’, and that’s the finished record, besides some cello.” The album title was also Carey’s idea. Fretwell explains: “Years ago, Dan asked why I always carried a copy of The Guardian, a notebook and a pen when all I did was go to the pub. I said: if you go to the pub at 11am with a newspaper, a notebook and pen, you look like a busy guy rather than a pisshead. It became a joke between us. The joke too is that I didn’t do any music for years.”
- 23 July: Love Drips And Gathers builds on Piroshka’s acclaimed 2018 debut album Brickbat and the reputations of former members of Lush, Moose, Elastica and Modern English. The four members have distinct musical identities but also overlapping histories – a combination that might have unsettled, or even overwhelmed, some bands. But in their case, the bond only got stronger. Where Brickbat explored social and political divisions by way of what MOJO described as “forceful, driving garage songs and dream-pop epics”, Love Drips And Gathers follows a more introspective line – the ties that bind us, as lovers, parents, children, friends – to a suitably subtler, more ethereal sound, while still revelling in energy and drama.
- Opeth’s magnum opus, Blackwater Park, gets a much-deserved and open-armed celebration for its 20th anniversary. Two decades on it is still a breathtaking piece of work, dense with extraordinary melodic moments, spine-tingling atmospherics and agile but crushing heaviness. The release of this record kicked open prog’s ornate doors, fed death metal through the cosmic kaleidoscope and introduced a generation of music nerds to a world of limitless musical possibilities.
- The LP reissue comes lovingly pressed onto heavyweight, audiophile-approved vinyl, with a variety of deluxe finishes and housed in a gatefold artwork sleeve, with updated liner notes and acknowledgements. The deluxe CD is packaged in a hardcase and comes furnished with an updated artwork booklet complete with new liner notes, never-seen-before memories from the band and exclusive content provided by the Opeth fanbase. It remains a must for Opeth enthusiasts and casual listeners alike.
- For more than five decades, John McLaughlin has deployed his peerless guitar technique, compositional gifts and imagination in service of a deeply personal higher calling, forging a vast legacy unmatched in improvised music. Now as the world reels from the toll of the ongoing viral-induced global lockdown, McLaughlin reflects on both the perils and potential of this challenging moment with Liberation Time. Characterised by both joy and reflection, Liberation Time finds McLaughlin harnessing his frustrations and redirecting that energy.
- In Solo is the second solo album by Spandau Ballet songwriter and Saucerful Of Secrets guitarist and co-lead vocalist Gary Kemp. As the songwriter and guitarist in one of the most iconic bands of the ’80s, Gary became one of the most commercially successful writers of the decade. Twenty-five years on from his solo debut, Little Bruises, Gary has written and produced an album that focuses on two dominant themes: the paradox of solitude in an urban landscape, and his growing obsession with life seen through a rear-view mirror and how the past infects our present.
- In Solo was written primarily on piano and guitar and programmed in Gary’s studio in London; he then brought in his trusted friend and long-time collaborator Toby Chapman for further programming, more refined keyboard parts and help with the overall production. From there, the duo moved into the legendary RAK Studios in Maida Vale for much of the heavyweight recording interspersed with some loud days at Metropolis in Chiswick.
Releases for 9 July 2021
We start our round-up of the best new releases with a look ahead to 16 July and Sob Rock, the eighth full-length studio album from multiple-Grammy winner John Mayer, recorded mostly during the global pandemic and produced by Mayer with Don Was. Kicking off 9 July’s goodies is It Won’t Always Be Like This, a record that sees Inhaler turn their early promise into something special, an album teeming with expansive indie-rock grooves and soaring anthems. Rock’n’roll is often hard to define, but you know it when you hear it – and you always hear it with The Wallflowers, who have been one of rock’s most dynamic and purposeful bands for 30 years, and who now return after nine long years with Exit Wounds. To close, we’ve got two classics getting the re-issue treatment for their 20th anniversaries: first, Turin Brakes’ critically acclaimed debut album The Optimist comes as a deluxe package with a bonus disc of demos from the original sessions and fresh artwork; second, the Muse classic Origin Of Symmetry has been freshly mixed to provide a renewed clarity, bringing out previously buried details and unveiling every facet of the album’s intricate production alongside a new-found warmth.
Our release of the week is Southern Soul, the second volume of Lu’s Jukebox – a six-volume series, each offering a themed set of songs by other artists curated by the multi-Grammy award winner Lucinda Williams – which aired as online shows in late 2020 with a portion of ticket sales benefiting independent music venues struggling to get by through the pandemic – venues that remain close to Williams’s artistic heart.
- Southern Soul is the second volume of Lu’s Jukebox, a six-volume series of mostly full-band performances recorded live at Ray Kennedy’s Room & Board Studio in Nashville, Tennessee. Each volume features a themed set of songs by other artists curated by the multi-Grammy award winner Lucinda Williams.
- The series aired as ticketed online shows in late 2020 with a portion of ticket sales benefiting independent music venues struggling to get by through the pandemic. Like thousands of artists, Williams cut her teeth and developed her craft by playing in small, medium and large clubs throughout the United States and the world. These venues are vital to the development of artists and their music. Williams has never forgotten her roots, and often performs special shows in some of her favourite halls.
- 16 July: Sob Rock is the eighth full-length studio album from John Mayer. Most of the album was recorded during the global pandemic of 2020–21, and was produced by Mayer with Don Was. John Mayer emerged in 2001 has sold over 20 million albums worldwide, including three #1 entries on the Billboard Top 200 with the triple-platinum Heavier Things in 2003, the double-platinum Battle Studies in 2009 and the gold-certified Born And Raised in 2012. His 2017 album, The Search For Everything, debuted at #2 on the Billboard Top 200, and has also been certified gold. Additionally, he has earned 7 Grammy Awards.
- Inhaler’s debut album, It Won’t Always Be Like This, is a record that sees Elijah Hewson, Josh Jenkinson, Robert Keating and Ryan McMahon turn their early promise into something special, an album teeming with expansive indie-rock grooves and soaring anthems.
- The album includes the single ‘Cheer Up Baby’ – a swooping, epic singalong – alongside newly recorded versions of early fan favourites ‘My Honest Face’ and title track ‘It Won’t Always Be Like This’.
- Rock ‘n’ roll is often hard to define, or even to find, in these fractured musical times. But to paraphrase an old saying, you know it when you hear it. And you always hear it with The Wallflowers. For the past 30 years, the Jakob Dylan-led act has stood as one of rock’s most dynamic and purposeful bands – a unit dedicated to and continually honing a sound that meshes timeless songwriting and storytelling with a hard-hitting and decidedly modern musical attack. That signature style has been present through the decades, baked into the grooves of smash hits like 1996’s Bringing Down the Horse as well as more recent and exploratory fare like 2012’s Glad All Over.
- Even so, in recent years, Dylan – the Wallflowers’ founding singer, songwriter and guitarist – has repeatedly stepped outside of his band, first with a pair of more acoustic and rootsy records, 2008’s Seeing Things and 2010’s Women + Country, and then with the 2018 film Echo in the Canyon and the accompanying soundtrack, which saw him collaborate with a host of artists classic and contemporary, from Neil Young and Eric Clapton to Beck and Fiona Apple.
- But while it’s been nine long years since we’ve heard from the group with whom he first made his mark, the Wallflowers are silent no more. And Dylan always knew they’d return. “The Wallflowers is much of my life’s work,” he says simply.
- Plus, he adds with a laugh, “It’s pretty hard to get a good band name, so if you have one, keep it.”
- Turin Brakes’ critically acclaimed debut album The Optimist gets the re-issue treatment to celebrate its 20th anniversary.
- The ground-breaking long-player, originally released in 2001 and out of print on vinyl for many years, features classic tracks such as ‘Underdog (Save Me)’, ‘The Door’ and ‘Feeling Oblivion’.
- The Optimist will be re-released on deluxe 2-LP and 2-CD with a bonus album of demos from the original sessions and fresh artwork.
- As Origin Of Symmetry’s 20th anniversary approached, Muse asked the Grammy-winning producer Rich Costey, who has produced or mixed material on almost every subsequent record, to revisit the original recordings. Whereas most remix albums aim to radically rework the material, or to switch to an entirely different genre, the band and Costey wanted to provide a renewed clarity with a more open, dynamic and less crushed sound. This highlights parts and ideas previously buried or muted on the original mixes, like a harpsichord on ‘Micro Cuts’ and Abbey Road-recorded strings on ‘Citizen Erased’, ‘Megalomania’ and ’Space Dementia’.
- And that’s precisely what has been achieved. From the visceral opening riff of ‘New Born’ to the cinematic melancholy of the closing ‘Megalomania’ via the staggering scope of fan favourite ‘Citizen Erased’, the remix unveils every facet of the album’s intricate production alongside a new-found warmth. It further benefits from mastering courtesy of Alex Wharton at Abbey Road Studios.
Releases for 2 July 2021
First of a strong list for 2 July is Pink Noise, on which the critically acclaimed Laura Mvula shows the progression of an artist come into her own on her her most ambitious record to date, blending neo-soul with art-pop, bombastic funk and indietronica with electro-pop, and sounding rejuvenated while still feeling completely and uniquely Laura. The Locket is the coming together of two masters of their craft to create something hopeful in a time of unrest: Bombay Bicycle Club frontman Jack Steadman aka Mr Jukes with East London’s Barney Artist, whose music takes the vibrance of jazz-infused hip-hop but with a London feel. It’s a reminder to focus on positivity in the face of adversity; a celebration of music, unity and looking ahead; and it couldn’t have come at a better time. On Get Up Sequences Part One, Ian, Ninja, Nia, Simone, Sam and Adam, aka The Go! Team, have created a musical world distinctly of their own making, where Ennio Morricone meets the Monkees armed with flutes, glockenspiels, steel drums and a badass analogue attitude. We’re talking widescreen, four-track, channel-hopping sounds that are instantly recognisable. Yellow, the debut album by Emma-Jean Thackray, feels exactly like the sort of thing we’ve been longing for over the past 12 months: a transcendent shared human experience. Touching on ’70s jazz fusion, P-funk, the cosmic invocations of Sun Ra and Alice Coltrane and the gorgeous orchestration of the Beach Boys, it’s a psychedelic trip that takes you through an intense experience and sets you down on the other side transformed. Snapped Ankles return to the forest, but it’s not as they left it: trees planted in neat rows; a well-ordered monoculture with access roads and heavy machinery; the smell of green-washed money in the air. All is not well in the face of progress. Welcome to the Forest Of Your Problems.
Our release of the week is the stunning debut solo-project collaboration from Primal Scream frontman Bobby Gillespie and Savages frontwoman Jehnny Beth, which explores the loss, miscommunication and emotional inarticulacy of a relationship breaking down in the best tradition of country-soul classics such as Grievous Angel and We Go Together. There is no sweetening of the pill, but it does achieve what should be the goal of all good art: to make us feel less alone.
- Primal Scream frontman Bobby Gillespie and Savages frontwoman Jehnny Beth present this stunning debut solo-project collaboration – exploring the loss, miscommunication and emotional inarticulacy that a married couple experience as they realise that their relationship is breaking down.
- Utopian Ashes draws on the tradition of country-soul classics, such as Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris’s Grievous Angel and George Jones and Tammy Wynette’s We Go Together, to deal with the heavy realities of love turning sour. It’s an album for people who have dealt with the inevitable sadness that comes with age and acknowledged the realities of life. There is no sweetening of the pill, but it does achieve what should be the goal of all good art: to make us feel less alone. And while it’s not autobiographical, it channels heartfelt truth from the songwriters’ own experiences.
- In addition to Bobby Gillespie and Jehnny Beth, the album features Johnny Hostile (bass) alongside Primal Scream trio Andrew Innes (guitar), Martin Duffy (piano) and Darrin Mooney (drums).
- Laura Mvula’s new album, Pink Noise, explores a previously uncharted side of this critically acclaimed artist. As triumphant as ever, the album is a battle cry and stark reminder of her sheer talent. This is Laura in a new-found light – still reflecting her distinctive signature sound but showing the progression of an artist who has come into her own.
- Contrasting confessional lyricism with compelling and infectious synth-pop, Pink Noise feels completely and uniquely Laura. Her artistic prowess knows no limits – take the neo-soul meets art-pop of ‘Remedy’ for example, or the darker, pulsating ‘Conditional’ that injects bombastic funk into indietronica. She sounds rejuvenated too, especially on electro-pop stunners ‘Magical’ and ‘Before The Dawn’. This is Laura Mvula at her most ambitious to date, leaving no stone left unturned in this cosmic new realm.
- The Locket is the coming together of two masters of their craft to create something hopeful in a time of unrest. Its title track refers to memories of happier times: “We fill a locket with memories we protect, and don’t forget to keep it round your neck.” It’s a reminder to focus on positivity in the face of adversity; a collaborative project designed to be enjoyed together; a celebration of music, unity and looking ahead. And it couldn’t have come at a better time.
- During a period of prolonged inactivity for Bombay Bicycle Club, frontman Jack Steadman scratched an itch to do something by himself. He went by the moniker of Mr Jukes and released an album, God First, in 2017. We say ‘by himself’ but it was very much an open-door policy, resulting in a collaborative record that brought contributions by legends such as Charles Bradley, De La Soul, Horace Andy, Lianne La Havas, BJ The Chicago Kid and Lalah Hathaway. This latest project also features Barney Artist, who Jack had quite simply stumbled upon on a Spotify playlist and never forgotten.
- Barney’s music takes the vibrance of jazz-infused hip-hop but with a London feel. Growing up in Forest Gate, East London, Barney balances conscious themes with old-school grooves to create something instantly likeable – like the artist himself: a larger-than-life presence, fun to be around and a searing, peerless talent too. A collaborator by nature, Barney grew up around Tiana Major9 and Jay Prince and has made music with Tom Misch, Loyle Carner, Alfa Mist and Jordan Rakei.
- On Get Up Sequences Part One, Ian, Ninja, Nia, Simone, Sam and Adam, aka The Go! Team, have created a musical world distinctly of their own making. It’s a place where routine is outlawed and perfection is the enemy; where Ennio Morricone meets the Monkees armed with flutes, glockenspiels, steel drums and a badass analogue attitude. We’re talking widescreen, four-track, channel-hopping sounds that are instantly recognisable.
- Emma-Jean Thackray Yellow  SOLD OUT
- Yellow, the debut album by Emma-Jean Thackray, feels exactly like the sort of thing we’ve been longing for over the past 12 months: a transcendent shared human experience. Across its 49 minutes, Yellow draws glowing lines between ’70s jazz fusion and P-funk, the cosmic invocations of Sun Ra and Alice Coltrane, and the gorgeous orchestration of the Beach Boys.
- “I wanted the whole thing to sound like a psychedelic trip,” explains Thackray. “You put on the first track, it takes you through this intense experience for almost an hour, and then you emerge on the other side transformed.” The result is an album that speaks the language of positivity, as rich lyrically as it is musically. You might best understand what Thackray does through reference to auteur figures like Brian Wilson or Madlib, who straddle instrumentation, arrangement and production in order to bring the sound in their head to fruition.
- Snapped Ankles return to the forest, but it’s not as they left it: trees planted in neat rows; a well-ordered monoculture with access roads and heavy machinery; the smell of green-washed money in the air. There’s no sign of the ancient woodland they emerged from on debut album Come Play The Trees, and it’s far cry from the gentrified East London they found themselves hawking on Stunning Luxury. All is not well in the face of progress. Welcome to the Forest Of Your Problems.
Other releases for 2021
Find releases from 2020.
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