Kimber – Jim White, Belle And Sebastian
Lindsay – Loma, Marlon Williams, U.S. Girls
Dario – Tal National, Laurie Anderson & Kronos Quarter
Paula – Laurie Anderson & Kronos Quarter, Shannon & The Clams
THIS WEEK’S NEW RELEASES
Laurie Anderson & Kronos Quartet – Landfall CD/2xLP (Nonesuch)
Inspired by Laurie Anderson’s experience of Hurricane Sandy, Landfall is the first collaboration between the iconic storyteller/musician and the groundbreaking Kronos Quartet. Landfall juxtaposes lush electronics and strings with Anderson’s powerful descriptions of loss, from water-logged pianos to disappearing animal species to Dutch karaoke bars.
Belle and Sebastian – How To Solve Our Human Problems CD/3×12” (Matador)
This CD release combines the tracks from three vinyl EPs. The How To Solve Our Human Problems EP project is the latest installment in a career that has always pursued a singular and delightful vision of what pop represents and what it can achieve, a career that has seen them triumph against the odds to win a Brit award, be one of the first bands to curate their own festival, and play at the London residence of the US ambassador. Belle and Sebastian’s new music has the timeless blend of joy and melancholy that has always characterized them. [Stand-alone vinyl pressing of Part 3 is also available this week.]
Born Ruffians – Uncle Duke & The Chief CD/LP+MP3 (Yep Rock)
Produced by Richard Swift (Foxygen, The Shins), Uncle, Duke & The Chief is a record less concerned with what sounds hip than what feels good. In the Ruffians case that meant shedding some of their artier influences (the Pixies, Talking Heads) and reconnecting with the sounds they first heard on their parent’s turntables as kids: Buddy Holly, The Everly Brothers, and pre-psychedelic Beatles. It’s about going back to the deepest, most satisfying itch to scratch, says lead singer Luke Lalonde. And in doing so, the album takes you back to a time when the Ruffians sounded less like a band and more like a gang, raising a wild ruckus and speaking in telepathic tongues. [Limited colored vinyl pressing also available.]
Brandi Carlile – By The Way, I Forgive You CD/LP (Atlantic)
Brandi Carlile’s highly anticipated new album was helmed by Grammy Award-winning producer Dave Cobb and acclaimed musician Shooter Jennings, and was recorded at Nashville’s historic RCA Studio A. By The Way, I Forgive You includes 10 new songs written by Carlile and longtime collaborators and bandmates Tim and Phil Hanseroth. Of their close relationship, Brandi comments, “The Twins and I have been in a band for so long now. And not just a band, we are literally a family. When you create art with twins, it becomes unclear when I end and where they begin.” In addition to Carlile (vocals, guitar, piano), Tim Hanseroth (vocals, bass), Phil Hanseroth (vocals, guitar), Cobb (guitar, percussion) and Jennings (piano, organ), the album features Chris Powell (drums), Josh Neumann (cello), John Mark Painter (French horn) as well as string arrangements and conducting by the late Paul Buckmaster (Elton John, The Rolling Stones).
Car Seat Headrest – Twin Fantasy CD/2xLP+MP3 (Matador)
Will Toledo always knew he would return to 2011’s Twin Fantasy. He never did complete the work. Not really. Never could square his grand ambitions against his mechanical limitations. Listen to his first attempt, recorded at nineteen on a cheap laptop, and you’ll hear what Brian Eno fondly calls “the sound of failure” – thrilling, extraordinary, and singularly compelling failure. Will’s first love, rendered in the vivid teenage viscera of stolen gin, bruised shins, and weird sex, was an event too momentous for the medium assigned to record it. Now Toledo releases a new version of Twin Fantasy on Matador Records. “It was never a finished work,” Will says, “and it wasn’t until last year that I figured out how to finish it.”
I’m With Her – See You Around CD/LP (Rounder)
I’m With Her, the band of Sara Watkins, Sarah Jarosz, and Aoife O’Donovan, offer up their collaborative full-length debut. Co-produced by Ethan Johns (Ryan Adams, Laura Marling, Paul McCartney) and the band and recorded at Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios in Bath, England – See You Around is a warmly textured, yet stripped down twelve track affair filled with fine-spun narratives, breathtaking harmonies, and layers of lush guitar tones. The album is comprised of 11 originals, penned by the band in Los Angeles and Vermont, plus the never before released Gillian Welch-penned “Hundred Miles.” With each member playing guitar and handling various aspects of the instrumentation – including fiddle and ukulele for Watkins, mandolin and banjo for Jarosz, piano and synth for O’Donovan – the band cut most of the album live, performing just a few feet away from each other in the tracking room. All through See You Around, I’m With Her exhibits a refined musicality that reflects their deep musical roots.
Loma – Loma CD/LP+MP3 (Sub Pop)
New band featuring Jonathan Meiburg (from Shearwater). Loma’s enigmatic debut feels beautifully adrift in time and space. It’s an album that takes you to a place you’ve never been, with a rare confidence in the strength of its own vision. Though it was recorded off a dirt road in rural Texas, there’s no hint of country here: Loma create a hypnotic world of their own, where rustling leaves, fuzzed-out bass, panting dogs, prepared pianos, and a wilderness of percussion form a backdrop for Emily Cross’ translucent voice. She is a steady, clear-eyed presence throughout, she’s a fearless ally, swimming calmly with you against a powerful undertow. There’s something here for lovers of Nina Nastasia or Broadcast, but also Linda Thompson, or The Silver Apples – even early Pink Floyd. But most of all, this arresting and mysterious album marks the arrival of a band whose first steps already feel timeless.
Ought – Room Inside The World CD/LP+MP3 (Merge)
On Room Inside The World – Ought’s third album – growing up doesn’t mean mellowing out so much as it means learning to pay attention, listening carefully and openly, staying somewhere long enough to really understand where you are. Recorded at Rare Book Room in Brooklyn with producer Nicolas Vernhes (Deerhunter, Animal Collective, Silver Jews), Room Inside The World explores themes that have always concerned the band – identity, connection, survival in a precarious world – but with a bolder, more nuanced sound palette. Vibraphone, justly intonated synthesizers, drum machines, and a 70-piece choir suffuse the precise post-punk breakdowns that spangled Ought’s first two albums, giving rise to an emotional complexity that pushes their characteristically taut sound to greater depths. Together, they constructed a (digital) moodboard to set their intentions: Brian Eno and Stereolab synths, the Mekons’ 1985 album Fear and Whiskey, and Gerhard Richter and Kenneth Anger’s sexy, fluorescent hyperreal all made it into the melting pot. “The process of everybody wading into each other’s subconscious was really excellent,” says frontman, guitarist, and lyricist Tim Darcy. Holed up in their rehearsal building, an industrial rock block (and sock factory) overlooking the Trans-Canada Highway, the band strove for greater detail and specificity than before while remaining true to the collaborative, intuitive writing process that yielded their earlier work.
Pianos Become The Teeth – Wait For Love CD/LP+MP3 (Epitaph)
The Baltimore indie post-hardcore band release their new album. Produced and engineered by Will Yip, Wait For Love shows the band reconciling their aggressive past with the atmospheric turns of Keep You. The album eschews stylistic traps in order to focus on songwriting and feels like a full-realization of what the band have hinted at in the past.
Richard Russell – Everything Is Recorded CD/LP (XL)
Everything Is Recorded is the full-length debut solo album from record producer and XL Recordings co-founder Richard Russell featuring vocal contributions from Sampha, Giggs, Ibeyi, Obongjayar, Infinite and Wiki & Syd plus instrumental contributions from Kamasi Washington, Damon Albarn, Rachel Zeffira, Peter Gabriel and Owen Pallett. The 12-track collection follows up the accomplished Close But Not Quite EP and is ushered in by the raw and emotional lead single “Show Love” with R&B singers Syd and Sampha.
Senses Fail – If There Is Light It Will Find You CD/LP (Pure Noise)
The seventh full-length album from the New Jersey-based post hardcore band.
Shannon & The Clams – Onion CD/LP (Nonesuch)
Oakland-based, indie garage punk quartet Shannon & The Clams, known for a diverse sound that incorporates elements of doo-wop, early rock & roll, classic R&B, garage psych, and surf rock as influences, releases their fifth album, Onion, this time working with producer Dan Auerbach and Easy Eye Sound. The song “Backstreets” is guitarist Cody Blanchard response to the Ghost Ship fire, and particularly the issues of artist housing and being forced to make your own way in a society that is not arranged to accommodate artists. Album closer “Don’t Close Your Eyes” is Shannon’s response, an inspirational ballad urging those suffering through loss to not give up in the midst of tragedy. “It’s Gonna Go Away,” is the album’s biggest stylistic departure, mixing elements of soul, disco, R&B, psychedelia, the Zombies, chanting and baroque while opener “The Boy” is quintessential Clams, a heavily’ 60s rock inspired track with a mournful hook.
Superchunk – What A Time To Be Alive CD/LP+MP3 (Merge)
After the shocking, and for many, demoralizing result of the 2016 election, “I didn’t buy the silver lining some were promoting that ‘well, at least art and music will be great now!’,” says Superchunk co-founder and frontman Mac McCaughan. “Obviously, any sane person would gladly trade four to eight years of terrible music for not having our country dismantled to satisfy the whims of a vengeful child and his enablers.” What A Time To Be Alive is Superchunk’s first album in over four years. It features more guest backing vocalists than any previous Superchunk album, including Sabrina Ellis (A Giant Dog, Sweet Spirit), Katie Crutchfield (Waxahatchee), Stephin Merritt (The Magnetic Fields), Skylar Gudasz, and David Bazan. It’s a record, says Mac, “about a pretty dire and depressing situation but hopefully not a record that is dire and depressing to listen to.” Indeed, like so much of Superchunk’s music in the band’s nearly three decades together, the songs on What A Time to Be Alive meet rage and anxiety head-on with the catharsis and exhilaration of loud punk fire and vulnerable pop energy. Like 2013’s I Hate Music, which focused on death, loss, and the role of music in an aging life, the new record brings spirit to the frontlines of pain – it’s as defiant as it is despairing, as much a call to arms as a throwing up of hands.
Tal National – Tantabara CD/LP (Fat Cat)
Tantabara is the latest installment of Tal National’s attempt to make a global audience dance. The album was recorded in their hometown of Niamey, Niger, again with Chicago engineer Jamie Carter at the controls. The band have always carved a huge sound out of limited resources, which means using a remote recording rig in a dusty makeshift studio and working with minimal recording equipment and musical instruments on the verge of disrepair. This all adds to the band’s communal spirit, though, and opening their home up as a studio means that everybody gets to be involved in the process. Over the 8 tracks on Tantabara, there are 8 different vocalists – 7 of whom are full time members of the band.
Robert Earl Thomas – Another Age CD/LP (Captured Tracks)
There are a million songs dressed in white t-shirts and American denim, songs that drift through open spaces in some busted sedan, over lost highways that become tributaries to eventual static, crawling traffic and stifling density. There are a million more songs about being wild and green in the cities and outside them: a song about love for every person on this earth. Another Age, the debut album from Robert Earl Thomas (WIDOWSPEAK!), avoids inhabiting these clichés even as it embraces their personal influence: this is an album about small moments with big emotional footprints, told humbly and honestly. There are stylistic nods to Bruce Springsteen and Dire Straits, Arthur Russell’s more folk-leaning output, and the various collaborations of Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne.
U.S. Girls – In A Poem Unlimited CD/LP+MP3 (4AD)
Meg Remy’s second release for 4AD, In A Poem Unlimited, was tracked in collaboration with Toronto-based instrumental collective the Cosmic Range, and features arrangements by long-time contributors Maxmilian Turnbull and Louis Percival. The dizzying buffet of live grooves represent an inversion of the dusty, sample-based minimal textures of Half Free, Remy’s euphoric 4AD debut.
Jim White – Waffles, Triangles & Jesus CD/2xLP (Joyful Noise)
Released in 2017 as import-only – now available stateside. Jim White gets around. When he’s not releasing his own critically acclaimed solo albums he splits his time producing records for other songwriters, exhibiting his visual art in galleries and museums across the US and Europe and publishing award winning fiction. His sixth solo studio album, the bizarrely titled Waffles, Triangles & Jesus, is a mind-bending joy ride of sonic influences featuring a bevy of his hometown Athens’ roots musicians, plus west coast indie darlings Dead Rock West, and rock and roll maverick Holly Golightly.
Wild Beasts – Last Night All My Dreams Came CD/2xLP+MP3 (Domino)
Wild Beasts will play their final ever shows in February of 2018, and Domino bids the band a bittersweet farewell with Last Night All My Dreams Came True – a live studio album/career-spanning collection which features songs from each of Wild Beasts’ studio efforts with an emphasis on Boy King. Looking back on Wild Beasts’ back catalog and the themes they tackled, there is a sense of prescience – toxic masculinity, gender fluidity, the conflicts surrounding class, politics and art were no bandwagon jumps, often becoming hot topics in the media several years after they’d been eloquently dealt with on record.
Marlon Williams – Make Way For Love CD/LP+MP3 (Dead Oceans)
Known for his effortlessly distinctive voice, Make Way For Love marks New Zealand singer/songwriter Marlon Williams’ exponential growth as an artist. Throughout 11 originals, he explores new musical terrain and reveals himself in an unprecedented way in the wake of a fractured relationship. While Make Way For Love draws on Marlon’s own story, it captures the vagaries of relationships we’ve all been through: the bliss (opener “Come To Me”); ache (“Love Is a Terrible Thing”); nagging questions (“Can I Call You”); and bitterness (“The Fire Of Love”, whose lyrics Williams says he “agonized over” more than any). [Limited white colored vinyl pressing also available.]
Windhand / Satan’s Satyrs – Satan’s Satyrs / Windhand [Split] CD/LP (Relapse)
Two of Virginia’s finest heavy bands team up for an amp-worshipping, acid trip from hell. Includes two brand new songs of smoldering gloom and grief from Windhand paired with three tracks of devilish, fuzz-drenched metal/punk from Satan’s Satyrs. [Limited gold colored vinyl pressing also available.]
Belle and Sebastian – How To Solve Our Human Problems (Part 3) 12” (Matador)
How To Solve Our Human Problems EP project is the latest installment in a career that has always pursued a singular and delightful vision of what pop represents and what it can achieve, a career that has seen them triumph against the odds to win a Brit award, be one of the first bands to curate their own festival, and play at the London residence of the US ambassador. Belle and Sebastian’s new music has the timeless blend of joy and melancholy that has always characterized them. [CD and vinyl box set collecting all three volumes also available this week.]
Mark Kozelek and Sean Yeaton – Yellow Kitchen LP (Caldo Verde)
Yellow Kitchen is the collaborative release from Sean Yeaton of Parquet Courts and Mark Kozelek of Sun Kil Moon and Red House Painters who first met at a Dutch music festival. The six-track collection marks Kozelek’s fourth full-length effort of 2017 alone, and was recorded in December 2016 through May 2017 between Pennsylvania and California. It includes guest appearances by Will Oldham (aka Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy), Holly Throsby, Steve Shelley (Sonic Youth), and Jim White (The Dirty Three).
Kendrick Lamar – Damn: Collector’s Edition 2xLP (Aftermath)
Collectors double clear vinyl LP pressing with the track list reversed.
NEXT WEEK’S NEW RELEASES
GORD DOWNIE – Battle Of The Nudes CD/LP
VANCE JOY – Nation Of Two CD
KING GIZZARD & THE LIZARD WIZARD – Polygondwanaland CD/LP
S CAREY – Hundred Acres CD/LP
FEVER RAY – Plunge CD/LP
LEGEND OF SEGULLMEN – Self-Titled CD
LOW ANTHEM – Salt Doll Went To Measure The Depths Of The Sea CD/LP
HOLLY MIRANDA – Mutual Horse CD/LP
SCREAMING FEMALES – All At Once CD/2LP/3LP
COURTNEY MARIE ANDREWS – Non Ones Slate Is Clean CD/LP
GRANT LEE PHILLIPS – Widdershins CD/LP
MONOCHROME SET – Maisie world LP
MOUSE ON MARS – Idiology LP reissue