Hitting PLAY on Lesser Oceans feels like opening an envelope stuffed full with 10 Polaroids. Fences is Chris Mansfield – and his song portraits are powerful, beautifully melodic magnets, attracting the downtrodden, the disaffected, the depressed. He makes music for people who are looking for their next best friend to be a collection of intimate stories that spin in a circle of 12 inch black vinyl. This is music for people who simply love being fans of music – slacking anthems for aching souls that still aspire for the Glory of Pop. You’d never expect a guy with face tattoos to write songs so sweet… Or would you? Macklemore as well as a few dudes from Death Cab for Cutie guest.
Ruby The Hatchet Valley of the Snake Tee Pee Records
Philadelphia psychedelic doom bringers Ruby The Hatchet are one of heavy music's finest on-the-rise bands. The group's music fuses the sinister tactic of brainwash with blistering riffs and the rebellious mood of sorcery, re-imagining a different path for metal. Valley of the Snake is a six-song journey – a fantastical trek with huge, blistering tracks that journey over peaks and valleys and ditches and oceans before leaving you spinning. Seething and spitting, Ruby The Hatchet hammers behemoth waves of dogma and doom, merging precision and patience with a sinister foot-stomping, head-bobbing power. Heavy-handed and hypnotic in equal parts, Ruby The Hatchet creates the perfect shape shift between psych density and metal grandiosity. This hex is for you.
The Black Ryder The Door Behind The Door The Anti-Machine Machine
The Black Ryder began writing the songs that would appear on The Door Behind The Door not long after finishing their acclaimed debut Buy The Ticket, Take The Ride in 2009, eventually taking shape soon after the band left Australia to tour America in 2010. True to the group’s maverick m.o., The Door Behind The Door transforms The Black Ryder’s kaleidoscopic sound and vision into something even more vivid, uncompromising, and sublime, bringing in new textures and emotions that evolve as its nine-song cycle unfolds. Since the release of Buy The Ticket…The Black Ryder have toured & opened for Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Primal Scream, Brian Jonestown Massacre, The Black Angels, Broken Social Scene, The Charlatans, & The Raveonettes, so if you judge a band by the company that they keep then you can rest assured that The Door Behind The Door is a trip worth taking.
Ewert and the Two Dragons Circles Sire
Despite the impressive journey Ewert And The Two Dragons have already been on, there’s always somewhere new to go. While the four-piece band started playing covers in their native Estonia and have since become a worldwide draw thanks to smart, quirky pop songs and a slew of major awards, in order to make their newest album, Circles, the group went somewhere they’d never been before. “It was definitely a special process for us,” frontman Ewert Sundja explains. “Our previous two records were quickly recorded in a small Estonian town without any fancy equipment. This time we spent over a month in a studio in the U.S. - and that was a big thing.” Lyrically, Circles hones in on ageing and the proverbial circle of life. But have no fear: These ruminations of life are romantic rather than morbid. This is music for seizing the day.
Future Brown Future Brown Warp
Future Brown is the new project from longtime friends Fatima Al Qadiri, Asma Maroof and Daniel Pineda of Nguzunguzu, and J-Cush of Lit City Trax. Taking their name from a color that doesn’t exist in nature, Future Brown is steeped in diasporic sounds, forming their own signature takes on urban music. Working in unison on every studio production, their mutual love of global beats and vocalist-driven music forms a fabric derived from their myriad influences. The group’s self-titled debut brings forward a number of incarnations of contemporary club music – from the Chi-town auto-tuned warbling of Talkin Bandz, to Tink’s rhyming couplet flow on “Wanna Party.” In addition to Tink (a Chicago MC worth looking up), vocal turns come from Prince Rapid and reggaeton vocalist Timberlee all kill, but the victory of Future Brown is the production – this is cutting-edge club music presented by an unparalleled army of tastemakers.
Mohammed Fairouz Follow, Poet Decca Records
Composer Mohammed Fairouz’sFollow, Poet is the inaugural release for a new series of recordings titled “Return to Language,” which will explore the artful blending of words and music. Woven among the musical recordings on the album are readings of the W.H. Auden and Seamus Heaney by Pulitzer Prize-winning Irish poet Paul Muldoon and fragments of spoken word by Anwar Sadat and John F. Kennedy from one of his less-well-known speeches, including this: “When power leads man to toward arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the areas of man’s concerns, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of his existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses.” Indeed. Follow, Poet also marks therecording debuts for both mezzo-soprano Kate Lindsey and conductor Evan Rogister.
Chris Potter Imaginary Cities ECM Records
Imaginary Cities is the recording premiere of saxophonist Chris Potter’s new Underground Orchestra. At the core of this larger ensemble is the personnel of his long-established Underground quartet – with Adam Rogers, Craig Taborn and Nate Smith – now joined by two bassists, a string quartet, and Potter’s old comrade from Dave Holland Quintet days, vibes and marimba man Steve Nelson. The title composition is a suite, panoramic in its reach, with movements subtitled “Compassion”, “Dualities”, “Disintegration” and “Rebuilding”. The scope of the work, and its contrasting moods and thematic development, inspire some of Potter’s finest playing. Four further pieces – “Lament”, “Firefly”, “Sky” and “Shadow Self” – extend the feeling of the suite, successfully combining both tightly written material and very open areas involving all members of the orchestra.
Elle King Love Stuff RCA Records
Frank and fearless, tender and rowdy, Elle King’s debut album, Love Stuffmarks the true arrival of the young singer/songwriter/guitarist/banjoist as a pop force to be reckoned with. Raised in rural Ohio, King pinpoints the day her life changed to her ninth birthday, when her stepdad gave her the first album by hard-rocker girls the Donnas. “I wanted to play rock and roll and be a girl and do it,” she says. “I started listening to the Runaways and Blondie—all the rad chicks.” She recorded Love Stuff with such remarkable producers as Jeff Bhasker (Fun., Kanye West), Eg White (Adele, Sam Smith), and Jacknife Lee (R.E.M., U2), and guest musicians including Mark Ronson and Patrick Carney of the Black Keys. Love Stuff displays King’s grounding in rock, blues, country, and pop styles, and a sweeping emotional road map—the stomp of “Where the Devil Don’t Go,” the sexy sweetness of “Make You Smile,” the swagger of “America’s Sweetheart.”
War on Women War on Women Bridge 9 Records
War On Women formed in 2010 by several veterans of the Baltimore rock scene, including members of AVEC and Liars Academy. Describing their sound as "thrash rock meets riot grrrl", War On Women write songs too inventive and too loud to be overshadowed by their equally powerful messages. The band's furious live sets capture all of the brevity and intensity of hardcore punk with another level of lyrical and musical sophistication -- Against Me!'s Laura Jane Grace has even sung the band’s praises, calling them "heavy enough to feel like an injection of lead into the backbone.” War On Women’s self-titled debut – recorded by the legendary J. Robbins – showcases a natural progression for the band: It may be a little more polished, bit they sound as blistering as ever. Join up.
Elvis Perkins I Aubade Mir Image Reproduction
I Aubade, the new album from Elvis Perkins, comes as something of a departure from his previous releases. Whereas Ash Wednesday (2007) would not have been itself without the guidance of friend and producer Ethan Gold, and the eponymous Elvis Perkins in Dearland and subsequent Doomsday EP (2009) were group efforts, I Aubade was on the whole an autonomous project. 'I had the impulse to hear what would happen if left to and with my own devices', says Perkins. 'Not surprisingly this is the thing that sounds the most, to me, like myself.' That said: A number of musicians, including Nick Kinsey and Wyndham Boylan-Garnett of Dearland, drummer Otto Hauser and multi-instrumentalist Frank Fairfield contributed to the album. Singer Cornelia Livingston is featured on several tracks and long time collaborator Becky Stark of Lavender Diamond makes an appearance as well.
Vijay Iyer Trio Break Stuff ECM Records
Break Stuff is what happens after formal elements have been addressed. Vijay Iyer calls the break “a span of time in which to act. It’s the basis for breakdowns, breakbeats, and break dancing... it can be the moment when everything comes to life.” A number of the pieces here are breakdowns of other Iyer constructions, and the trio energetically recasts everything it touches: “Hood” is a tribute to Detroit techno pioneer Robert Hood. On “Work”, Vijay pays homage to his “number one hero”, Thelonious Monk. “Countdown” reconsiders the classic John Coltrane tune inside a rhythmic framework inspired by West African music. “Mystery Woman” is driven by compound pulses that owe a debt to South Indian drumming. Fast moving and quick-witted, the group has developed a strong musical identity of its own, with an emphasis on what Iyer calls “co-constructing”, exploring all the dynamics of playing together while making space for each player’s energizing solos.
Ólafur Arnalds Broadchurch Mercury Classics
A vital element in the success of record-breaking 2013 British drama Broadchurch was the hauntingly beautiful, BAFTA Award-winning score by the young Icelandic composer Ólafur Arnalds. In addition to scooping three BAFTA Awards (including Best Drama Series), it won another BAFTA Craft Award for Arnalds emotionally powerful and austere soundscapes. It is fitting that the score should be praised as highly as Broadchurch as a whole. The mysterious and melancholy atmosphere of the show had Arnalds music in its creative DNA from the very beginning: Author Chris Chibnall was a long-term fan of Ólafur Arnalds albums, which combine contemporary classical influences, avant-garde electronics, and evocative ambient sounds. Arnalds’ music was Chibnall’s soundtrack for writing the script, so it was a given to include it in the show itself. Check it out!
The Hot Sardines The Hot Sardines Decca Records
Bandleader Evan Bibs Palazzo and lead singer Miz Elizabeth combine with the musical powerhouse of Sardine, as well as their very own tap dancer, to play hot jazz the old fashioned way: With a little glamour, a little grit, and a lot of passion. The Hot Sardines have a distinctive recipe for making musical magic: Take a blustery brass lineup, layer it over a rhythm section led by a stride-piano virtuoso in the Fats Waller vein, and tie it all together with a one-of-the-boys front-woman who sings in both English and French with a voice from another era. The Hot Sardines’ sound fuses musical influences from New York, Paris, and New Orleans that were nurtured from the Prohibition era through the Great Depression, WWII and beyond.
Young Buffalo Houses Votiv
There's nothing typical about the Oxford, Mississippi-based rock act Young Buffalo or the story behind their debut album, House – an 11-track album produced by Dave Schiffman (Haim, Weezer) that establishes the five-piece act as a band that’s as unique as the town (home to grand eccentrics like William Faulkner, Larry Brown, and Barry Hannah) where they were conceived. From the shimmering pop of "No Idea" to harmony-rich anthems like "Black Eye" and breezy energy of "Old Soul," the songs on House see Young Buffalo embracing their pop roots while expanding the arrangements. They fill out the instrumentation with singing synth lines and unique syncopation that propel these songs into uncharted territory – a stark contrast to lyrics inspired by real life heartbreak while still remaining ambiguous enough for listeners to draw their own meanings. House deftly rides the line between straight ahead pop music and tastefully weird indie rock.
Since breaking up Oasis, Noel Gallagher – the band’s chief songwriter – has hardly been idle. He has loads of songs. Always. So, thankfully, it didn’t take him long to get back in the game with Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – which is not a new band, mind you, but a tossed off name for his endless font of songs. Don’t ask him what it means: As with all things Noel he can’t be arsed to give you a deeper meaning. And, really, there’s probably not one there. He may have a mouth, but Gallagher has no desire to make his difficult with his art – he makes music for the people. In one sense, that’s a shame: Noel really shines outside of a big rock context. Though Liam really drove the Oasis attitude Noel’s voice always had more range and emotional resonance… So it’s a shame that a Chemical Brothers-produced Oasis album never materialized – same with his now sacked collaboration with Future Sound of London. That said, no one does populism quite like Gallagher and his second solo album, Chasing Yesterday, is a solid collection of driving tunes couched in swelling string arrangements, fuzzy bass, and sense of purpose – but not lyrically. He’s not an artist. He’s a rock star. And don't forget it. Also available on VINYL!
Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds - Chasing Yesterday Sour Mash Records
After sixty-five fortnights, Purity Ring has returned with their second album Another Eternity. The pair ventured home to the frozen industrial landscapes of their birthplace Edmonton, Alberta to document much of what was to become the album. For the first time, vocalist Megan James and producer Corin Roddick were able to create a record in the same room. On Another Eternity, Purity Ring trades the gorgeously claustrophobic atmospheres of the critically acclaimed Shrines for wide-open, muscular vistas of sound and luminous, up-front vocals. Crafting a lyrical universe of “sweat and dreams” populated by seacastles, rattling spines, and weeping drawers, Megan James wields concrete imagery and metaphor with increasingly direct, startling resonance. Corin Roddick's gifts for evocative melody remain intact, but his drum work and use of space have been completely re-forged: immaculately built and focused in service of the song. Though they are now working at a higher resolution, Purity Ring remains hands-on with every aspect of their project, producing and recording Another Eternity entirely themselves. This is Pure Pop for Emo Kids. For realz: These guys are gonna be huge.
Purity Ring - Another Eternity 4AD
James McMurtry is the Texas answer to Lou Reed. He spins stories with a poet's pen ('Long Island Shores') and a painter's precision ('She Loves Me'). Proof: The acclaimed songwriter's new Complicated Game. McMurtry's first collection in six years spotlights a craftsman in absolutely peak form as he turns from political toward personal ('These Things I've Come to Know, You Got to Me'). 'The lyrical theme is mostly about relationships', McMurtry says. 'It's also a little about the big old world verses the poor little farmer or fisherman. I never make a conscious decision about what to write about.' Produced by CC Adcock and Mike Napolitano, Complicated Game delivers McMurtry's trademark story songs time and again ('Copper Canteen', 'Deaver's Crossing'). However, the record brings a new (and certainly no less energetic) sonic approach. First, recall blistering beats and gnashing guitars from his magnum opus Just Us Kids (2008). Now, unplug. 'The label head wanted more acoustic,' McMurtry explains. 'We built everything as we went so we ended up with more acoustic guitar as we went. We just played whatever sounded right for a given song, but we weren't necessarily saying this is an acoustic record.'
James McMurtry - Complicated Game Complicated Game
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