Music Releases 04-22-22
2020's A Hero's Death saw Fontaines D.C. land a #2 album in the UK, receive nominations at the GRAMMYs, BRITs and Ivor Novello Awards, and sell out London's iconic Alexandra Palace. Now the band return with their third record in as many years: Skinty Fia. Used colloquially as an expletive, the title roughly translates from the Irish language into English as 'the damnation of the deer'; the spelling crassly anglicized, and its meaning diluted through generations. Part bittersweet romance, part darkly political triumph - the songs ultimately form a long-distance love letter, one that laments an increasingly privatized culture in danger of going the way of the extinct Irish giant deer.
Joshua Hedley is “a singing professor of country & western,” he declares on his raucous and witty new album, Neon Blue. It might sound like a punchline, but it’s not. An ace fiddle player, a sharp guitarist, and a singer with a granite twang, he’s devoted his entire life to the study of this genre. Ask him about it and he’ll explain: “When all my friends went off to college, I went to Nashville. I was 19 years old playing honkytonks and getting an education.” His 2018 debut, Mr. Jukebox, showcased his deep knowledge of country’s history, in particular the beery ballads of the 1950s and ‘60s. His mentors were George Jones, Ray Price, and Glen Campbell, but his most remarkable accomplishment was putting his own spin on their style.
Neon Blue, on the other hand, examines a very different, often forsaken era: the early 1990s. “The last bastion of country music,” says the professor, “was the early 1990s, roughly 1989 and 1996. You could turn on the radio and immediately know you’re hearing a country song. You could still hear steel guitar and fiddle. But there was a hard fork around 1996 or ’97, when country veered off into pop territory. Neon Blue asks, What if that fork had never happened? What if country kept on sounding like country?”
That era may have been dismissed by traditionalists at the time as slick or overproduced, but Hedley finds something exciting in that old hat-act sound, and Neon Blue plays up the excitement of bigger-than-life choruses, the relatable emotions of those sad-eyed ballads, and the inventiveness of the lively production. “The sound is modern,” he says, “but it’s still discernibly country.”
Gifts From The Holy Ghost, Dorothy Martin’s third studio album as frontwoman for the pseudonymous rock band Dorothy, is the album she’s always wanted to make. Born from a sense of diving urgency, it’s their most bombastic rock n’ roll work yet. While their debut album was made on a combination of whiskey and heartbreak, Gifts was built on sobriety, health, and spiritualism, in a way that reverses the clichéd “good girl gone bad” narrative. It features the Top 40 Rock track, “Rest in Peace.”
Nearly sixty years after they first played together, Ry Cooder and Taj Mahal, longtime friends and collaborators, reunite with an album of music from two Piedmont blues masters who have inspired them all their lives: GET ON BOARD: THE SONGS OF SONNY TERRY & BROWNIE MCGHEE.
With Taj Mahal on vocals, harmonica, guitar, and piano and Cooder on vocals, guitar, mandolin, and banjo-joined by Joachim Cooder on drums and bass-the duo recorded eleven songs drawn from recordings and live performances by Terry and McGhee, who they both first heard as teenagers in California.
TAJ MAHAL & RY COODER - GET ON BOARD
Vinyl: $26.99 Buy
On Paint This Town, Old Crow Medicine Show offer a riveting glimpse into American mythology and the wildly colorful characters who populate it. Co-produced by OCMS and Matt Ross-Spang the album pays homage to everyone from Elvis Presley to Eudora Welty while shedding a bright light on the darker aspects of the country’s legacy. Fueled by Old Crow's freewheeling collision of Americana, old-time music, folk, and rock & roll, Paint This Town turns razor-sharp commentary into rapturous sing-alongs.
Bonnie Raitt is a singer, songwriter and guitarist whose unique style blends blues, R&B, rock, and pop. After 20 years as a cult favorite, she broke through to the top in the early 90s with her GRAMMY-award winning albums, Nick of Time and Luck of the Draw, which featured hits, “Something to Talk About” and “I Can’t Make You Love Me” among others. Raitt’s widely acclaimed 2012 independent release Slipstream sold over a quarter-million copies, making it one of the top selling independent albums, and earned Raitt her 10th Grammy Award (Best Americana Album). In February 2016, Raitt released her highly anticipated 20th album, Dig In Deep (Redwing Records). On tour for much of 2017-2019, Raitt and her band performed in Australia, New Zealand, and Canada before touring as support for James Taylor in stadiums and arenas across the U.S., United Kingdom and Europe. As known for her lifelong commitment to social activism as she is for her music, Raitt has long been involved with the environmental movement and continues to work on safe energy issues, environmental protection, social justice, human rights, and blues/music education.
Christian Lee Hutson starts his new album Quitters with a laugh. In this follow up to his ANTI Records debut, Beginners, Hutson moves away from a focus on growing up to the dread and complications of growing older. Written under lock down, the laugh that announces Quitters is the kind you’ll find at the end of John Huston films, one of resignation and release, and somehow a cosmic laugh that says “California,” a place where lonely people gather together like birds.
The song “Rubberneckers” follows the story a romance from beginning to breakup, with backing vocals by Phoebe Bridges, who returns as producer along with Conor Oberst. Quitters is a departure from the digital recording of his debut. Hutson shares, “With this record, Phoebe and Conor had an idea that it would be fun to make it to tape. Phoebe is my best friend and making Beginners with her was so comfortable and easy. So I wanted to work with her again and Conor is someone who I really respect as a lyricist.”
If every great record is a world, then this is Christian Lee Hutson’s world. It’s one filled with the fuzzy haze of a dream, and the half-remembered moments of a forgotten life. It’s a record brave enough to say, In the good old days, when times were bad. But beyond the songs, it is this voice. The voice of someone who was alive in 2021 and recorded a group of songs with his friends for us to hear.
Esteemed hip-hop artist Vince Staples follows up his intimate self-titled album with RAMONA PARK BROKE MY HEART. “There’s a direct correlation,” Staples says of the two records. “They were kind of created at the same time. I was in a similar state of mind. This album will make even more sense if you heard the previous one, but this one has more answers.” Long Beach’s Ramona Park neighborhood is dear to Vince’s heart. “It’s symbolic of home,” he says of why he dedicated the album to it.
S. Carey is the moniker of Eau Claire, Wisconsin-based multiinstrumentalist, songwriter, and producer Sean Carey. Over the past decade, Carey has fostered his flourishing solo career via themes of nature and sustainability, songwriting built from jazz beginnings, and heartfelt, emotive lyricism. His latest and fourth album, Break Me Open, is best described in his own words:
In Break Me Open, I confronted darkness, I wrote about fear, I looked at love from different angles, I left it all out on the field. These past couple years have been the hardest of my life: full of grief, loss, and change. I feel like I had two choices. I could run from life, turn away, grow cold, resort to drugs, run and keep running. Or, I could give myself a deep look within. I could dig deep where the pain lives, where fear is festering, to try shed a new skin and come back a better person. Everyone is so far from perfect.This is not a “divorce” album. And while going through that has shook me to my core, leaving me at times, wondering who I am, and where to go, this record is bigger. It’s about love - past, present, and future. It’s about fatherhood - the overwhelming feeling of deep love for my kids and the melancholy of watching them grow up right before my eyes. It’s about accepting my faults and wrongdoings, exposing myself, and trying to know myself better than I did the day before. But above the darkness, it’s a message of hope, honesty, and growth. It’s a call to be vulnerable: Break Me Open.
Giving the World Away, the sophomore album from Hatchie, is the truest introduction to the songwriter/bassist at the helm of the project, Harriette Pilbeam. Produced by Jorge Elbrecht, Giving the World Away is Hatchie’s most thunderous, sprawling work yet. Featuring input from longtime Hatchie collaborator Joe Agius, it takes the celestial, shimmering shoegaze and pop sensibilities of her earlier releases, but with the volume knob cranked up tenfold. Built out with percussion from Beach House drummer James Barone, it’s synthed-out, sonic opulence, a more structured and ornate musicality with traces of ‘90s trip-hop and acid house influences.
Pilbeam initially intended for these songs to go in a higher-energy direction. She had the distinct vision of a Hatchie show turned dance party, inviting more movement and vibrancy into her live shows. But then, between Covid and the lockdowns in Australia, Pilbeam retreated more into herself, and that introspection and self-discovery served as the true inspiration for the record. Again and again across Giving the World Away, she returns to that same theme of dismantling internalized shame and finding gratitude and steadiness, and finally being able to trust herself.
Giving the World Away is an album about self-confidence, about the strange time in young adulthood where you begin to finally be able to see yourself clearly. Incisive and probing, Giving the World Away is the clearest look at Pilbeam yet, and a relic of the power and bravery that spring forth from embracing vulnerability and putting your heart on the line.
Formed in South London in the mid-1980s, Loop blazed a trail with their potent mix of motorik beats and heavy guitar riffs, recording a trio of brilliant albums that set the indie charts alight before imploding in 1990 after the release of album number three, A Gilded Eternity. They were post-psychedelic, pre-shoegaze figureheads in a world of anodyne pop jangle and baggy rhythms.
Today, Loop stand as innovators in a musical world that has embraced and followed their defiantly individual sound – there are hundreds of contemporary neo-psych artists out there who arguably would not exist without Loop’s pioneering music. Loop has returned, with music that continues to evolve and grow in the most startling of ways on Sonancy.
Jeanines' 2019 self-titled debut was an indiepop tour-de-force that drew from a deep set of DIY pop influences, garnering attention from well beyond the international pop underground. Now they're back with "Don't Wait For A Sign," and it's a real gem. With the band now divided geographically and touched by the isolation and uncertainty of the pandemic, Jeanines' new album is deeper and a bit darker than their debut. The folk influences feel more pronounced, at times recalling early Fairport Convention or Vashti Bunyan as much as indiepop touchstones like Dear Nora, The Aislers Set, and the many bands of Pam Berry. The thirteen songs on "Don't Wait For A Sign" show a band in total mastery of their idiom'a brilliantly compelling blend of timeless influences illuminated by distinctive songwriting and sharp lyrics. The arrangements are always on point, full of interesting transitions and modulations but never fussy or in the way of the songs themselves. Alicia Jeanine's vocals really take flight here, richer and more confident, and often layered in harmony. Second albums can be tricky, but but with "Don't Wait For A Sign' Jeanines ably manage to build on their terrific debut with well-honed songwriting, singular melodies, and unerringly sympathetic production.
The White Buffalo is Jake Smith: singer/songwriter, guitarist, teller of stores; an artist whose voice (an emotive timber-shakin' baritone) seems directly linked to a greater truth; an artist who will not be swayed by fashion or restricted by genre. On The Widow's Walk is a loosely linked collection of dark thrills produced by Shooter Jennings. Deluxe Edition contains 4 bonus tracks, including 3 live studio session tracks and "Guiding Light" which is available physically for the first time.
Vinyl: $34.99 Buy
Spiritualized will release "Everything Was Beautiful" via Fat Possum on 2/25/22. It is the ninth studio album from Spiritualized and it comes 30 years after the debut album. This is the follow up to 2018's "And Nothing Hurt". Jason Pierce performs 16 different instruments across the album. It is recorded at 11 different studios and includes more than 30 musicians across the album. There will be an indie exclusive Pink vinyl inserted into a gold foil sleeve, housed in a high gloss UV Jacket that includes a removable pill box with braille inlay. Some assembly required. Designed by Farrow Design.
Available for the first time on vinyl, this release combines Thomas' neo-classical / composition EPs 'Quiet City' and 'How Queer' ahead of his first official film score due later in 2022. 'How Queer' features his theme for the BBC America syndicated 'Queers' series starring Russel Tovey, Alan Cumming and Ben Whishaw. 'Quiet City' lives as a calmer sister record to his #1 UK Dance Album 'Fun City', produced as NYC was in its first round of COVID lockdowns.