New Releases for April 3, 2020
August Burns Red – Guardians CD/2xLP (Fearless)
August Burns Red has been upholding the artistic pillars of technical proficiency, airtight grooves, and thoughtful lyricism in the hard rock world for 17 years. The two time Grammy Award-nominated Pennsylvania quintet show no signs of slowing down with their eighth full length, Guardians. “Guardians is the culmination of a complete and total team effort,” says JB Brubaker. “It was the most time we’ve ever spent in the studio on one album.” Guardians remains true to August Burns Red’s heavy sound; 11 tracks that have a common theme of helping others. “The song ‘Defender’ is about having that person who can come in and take some punches for you, and be in your corner during hard times,” says Brent Rambler. “I am quite the comic book fan and I thought the lyrics could easily turn into an awesome animated short story – kind of like if the pages of a comic were to come to life.”
Sam Hunt – Southside CD (MCA Nashville)
“A propensity for songs that don’t drag on has long been a strong point for Sam Hunt and not one song on Southside lasts longer than 3:55 minutes long, and that’s the first song on the record. ‘Let It Down’ has a twangy, sing-a-long feel to it and while it doesn’t really say too much, it’ll work well in Sam’s live show and could very well become a radio hit with its programmed drums mixed with bluegrass harmonies and instrumentation. ‘Sinning With You’ was a digital preview track a little while back and while it really didn’t feel like something a modern radio station would play, it did show a different time and sound to Sam Hunt, the same thing which can be said about ‘Breaking Up Was Easy In The ‘90s’, a song which blends sounds of R&B, ‘90s country and 2020s production techniques to give me the sense of what could become another big hit for Hunt on the radio. Sam Hunt is a unique star in country music and in a world of sameness, it’s nice that he’s around making records like Southside.” – Roughstock
Logan Ledger – Logan Ledger CD/LP (Rounder)
Bay Area-bred singer/songwriter Logan Ledger sets most of his songs in lightless or shadowy spaces: the bottom of the ocean, the abandoned cells of Alcatraz, dreamless bedrooms, and desolate streets in the dead of night. Produced by 13-time Grammy Award-winner T Bone Burnett, the Nashville-based artist’s self-titled debut matches his moody noir lyricism with a darkly toned take on country music, a sound that’s stylistically wayward yet deeply grounded in classic songcraft. With Burnett playing guitar on more than half the tracks, the album finds Ledger backed by guitarist Marc Ribot (Tom Waits, Elvis Costello), drummer Jay Bellerose (Willie Nelson, Jackson Browne), and bassist Dennis Crouch (Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton) – the same band that played on Raising Sand by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, a Burnett-produced release that won Album of the Year at the 2009 Grammy Awards. Joined by guitarist/pedal steel player Russell Pahl (Kacey Musgraves, Tyler Childers), the band artfully threads in elements of acid rock and surf music and baroque ‘60s pop to forge a decidedly Californian sound. [Limited indie store exclusive vinyl pressing available.]
Dua Lipa – Future Nostalgia CD/LP (WB)
Global pop superstar Dua Lipa follows-up her Platinum-certified, Grammy Award-winning 2017 debut with her eagerly awaited second album, Future Nostalgia. Announcing a new era for the fast-rising English artist, it’s introduced by “Don’t Start Now”, an adrenaline fueled, feel good dancefloor anthem of positivity and self-empowerment, and the title track “Future Nostalgia”, a pure slice of ‘80s-influenced brilliance. “What I wanted to do with this album was to break out of my comfort zone and challenge myself to make music that felt like it could sit alongside some of my favorite classic pop songs, whilst still feeling fresh and uniquely mine,” Lipa explains. “I was inspired by so many artists on the new record from Gwen Stefani to Madonna to Moloko to Blondie and Outkast. Because of the time that I’d spent on the road touring with my band I wanted Future Nostalgia to have a lot more of a live element, but mixed together with modern electronic production. My sound has naturally matured a bit as I’ve grown up but I wanted to keep the same pop sensibility as I had on the first record. I wanted to make something that felt nostalgic but had something fresh and futuristic about it too.”
Testament – Titans Of Creation CD/2xLP (Nuclear Blast)
The time has arrived for Testament to unleash new thunder to the masses and reveal their thirteenth studio album: Titans Of Creation. Just as the elements of this planet thrive within all living creatures, each musician in Testament represents a necessary component of this latest musical endeavor. Still filled with a massive and unstoppable energy since their last release, Testament has taken their style to the next level and present an album that is loyal to the roots of traditional thrash metal while still bringing alluring, brilliant, and progressive ingredients to the table. Bass is showcased, new vocals are introduced, and as expected, the guitar work of Eric Peterson and Alex Skolnick is greatly complex and mesmerizing. Titans Of Creation has many moods and material contained within; all of which somehow tie into a common philosophy of creation and its necessary counterpart: destruction. [Limited indie store exclusive red colored vinyl pressing available.]
Tētēma – Necroscape CD/LP (Ipecac)
Necroscape is the second album from Mike Patton and Anthony Pateras’ modernist electro-acoustic rock proposition Tētēma. Joined by violinist Erkki Veltheim and drummer Will Guthrie in quartet formation, this record continues to employ the wayward orchestrations and arresting physicality of their 2014 debut Geocidal, yet is renewed by a melodic language which grounds its multi-colored twists and turns in hallucinatory lyricism. Where Geocidal was loosely based on futuristic post-colonial dystopias, it’s even cheerier successor is sculpted around isolation in the surveillance age; and although lofty/high-concept sounding, this is still an intensely fun and heavy listen. Necroscape synthesizes a lot of territory: odd-time rock, musique concrète, otherworld grooves, soul, industrial noise, microtonal psychoacoustics…seemingly strange bedfellows on paper, yet in the ears they surprisingly coalesce into 13 songs which playfully challenge our notions of sonic logic and make you move at the same time. In a nutshell, listening to Necroscape creates the weird sensation of exclaiming “of course!” and “wtf?” simultaneously.
Whitmer Thomas – Songs From The Golden One CD/LP (Hardly Art)
When asked to describe himself, Whitmer Thomas – comic, musician, skateboarder, infamous Blink182 fan – will tell you, “I’m always gonna be the one whose mom called him ‘the Golden One,’ right before she died.” This is where his debut HBO comedy special, The Golden One, finds Whitmer: age 30, investigating this sense (curse?) of destiny-as-identity. It’s been 13 years since he left Alabama for L.A., becoming a linchpin for L.A.’s young, independent comedy scene with Power Violence, the monthly show he hosted with friends. But he became haunted by the question: had he already peaked, just like his mom, singer in a local band with big ambitions that never made it out of the Flora-Bama Lounge in Gulf Shores? Rather than shy away from all that messy self-mythology, Whitmer tapped the source of it all through writing this one-man show featuring his own original music. Songs From The Golden One, a companion album of songs from the special, features Whitmer’s darkwave bangers, synthesizing relatable content: millennial anxieties, therapy-speak jokes, and the annals of his own childhood tragedies. It features ten cuts of borderline-John Maus cosplay with spasms of pop-punk absurdity.
Thundercat – It Is What It Is CD/LP (Brainfeeder)
It Is What It Is follows Thundercat’s game-changing third album Drunk (2017), a record that completed his transition from virtuoso bassist to bonafide star and cemented his reputation as a unique voice that transcends genre. Co-produced with Flying Lotus, it features musical contributions from Ty Dolla $ign, Childish Gambino, Lil B, Kamasi Washington, Steve Lacy, Steve Arrington, BADBADNOTGOOD, Louis Cole and Zack Fox. “This album is about love, loss, life and the ups and downs that come with that,” Stephen Lee Bruner says. “It’s a bit tongue-in-cheek, but at different points in life you come across places that you don’t necessarily understand… some things just aren’t meant to be understood.” The unruly bounce of new single “Black Qualls” is classic Thundercat, teaming up with Steve Lacy (The Internet) and funk icon Steve Arrington (Slave). It’s another example of Bruner’s desire to highlight the lineage of his music and pay his respects to the musicians who inspired him. Discovering Arrington’s output in his late teens, Bruner says he fell in love with his music immediately: “The tone of the bass, the way his stuff feels and moves, it resonated through my whole body.” [Limited colored vinyl and limited deluxe picture disc pressings are also available.]
M. Ward – Migration Stories CD/LP (ANTI-)
For his tenth album M. Ward journeyed to Quebec, Canada to work with Arcade Fire’s Tim Kingsbury, Richard Reed Parry, producer/mixer Craig Silvey (Arcade Fire, Arctic Monkeys, Florence and The Machine) and Teddy Impakt. Together they recorded a collection of 11 songs inspired by stories of human migration. Languid, hazy and often dream-like in narrative, these songs have their origins in pictures from newspaper and television reports, stories told by friends and tales from Ward’s own family history. At Arcade Fire’s Montreal studios the assembled talents recorded what he describes as “11 largely instrumental ballads – a sci-fi fast forward to a more silent night many generations from here to a maybe-era where movement is free again.” M. Ward’s music has always felt intricate, intimate and other worldly. With Migration Stories he breathes beautiful life into vignettes of human flight, blurring the lines between reality and fantasy as it reckons with a world that feels more divided than ever before, even as its inhabitants grow more inextricably linked by the day. With a rich, emotive croon – which Uncut Magazine once likened to “honey drizzled onto a dry creek bed” – he conveys a huge depth of emotion, captured in the studio, almost entirely on the very first take.
Worriers – You Or Someone You Know CD/LP (6131)
Worriers’ new album You Or Someone You Know is an ambitious rock record that dares to push the genre forward. On the album, songwriter Lauren Denitzio addresses themes of reconstructing and reexamining relationships as they relate to the current zeitgeist. “I thought a lot about how the state of the world makes any sort of partnership stressful. The album is partially autobiographical but it’s also addressing more universal questions that people have to ask these days. Do we have kids? Do we move to a place that could be underwater in 20 years? How does having no idea how you’ll ever retire affect planning your future?” Sonically, the new album does an incredible job of reflecting these anxieties. The result is a rock epic for these times, imbued with heart that is felt throughout. [Limited colored vinyl pressing also available.]
Yves Tumor – Heaven To A Tortured Mind CD/2xLP+MP3 (Warp)
2018’s Safe In The Hands Of Love marked the vanguard arrival of Yves Tumor. Unclassified and unannounced, the release received widespread acclaim and cemented itself as a landmark in the hallowed Warp catalog. The experimentalist voiced a new generation, creating a surreal pop stratosphere for outsiders and the masses alike. Heaven To A Tortured Mind is the next step in that searing trajectory. A mindfully crafted studio album, gracefully blending genre into alternative bliss. Effortless and inspired, Heaven To A Tortured Mind is an album for lovers, losers and the unconcerned. [Limited colored vinyl pressing also available.]
All Time Low – Wake Up, Sunshine CD/LP (Fueled By Ramen)
All Time Low went back to the basics (and the basement) for Wake Up, Sunshine. Throughout 2019, the four musicians – Alex Gaskarth [vocals, guitar], Jack Barakat [guitar, vocals], Zack Merrick [bass, vocals], and Rian Dawson [drums] – congregated together in Nashville at Rian’s studio and at a Palm Springs rental house. Face-to-face, they wrote and recorded the 15-song affair joined by co-writer, producer, and collaborator Zakk Cervini.
Robbie Basho – Songs Of The Great Mystery – The Lost Vanguard Sessions CD/2xLP (Real Gone Music)
Archive release. Robbie Basho was one of the big three American acoustic guitar innovators, John Fahey and Leo Kottke being the other two. Basho was the least commercially successful of the three, but his influence and reputation has steadily grown since his untimely death in 1986 at the age of 45. [Limited clear vinyl pressing also available.]
Born Ruffians – Juice CD/LP+MP3 (Yep Roc)
Critically acclaimed indie rock mainstays Born Ruffians return with their sixth studio album. Juice finds the band moving into a more confident and polished direction, bringing to mind 1970s songwriting prowess with layered, and mature production sensibilities. The album was produced by Graham Walsh, known for his work with Alvvays, !!! (Chk Chk Chk), and Holy F*ck. [Limited yellow colored vinyl pressing also available.]
Anna Burch – If You’re Dreaming CD/LP+MP3 (Polyvinyl)
When Anna Burch introduced herself on her 2018 debut Quit The Curse, it was with a concentrated wash of energetic, serotonin-boosting pop. Two years later, Burch’s follow up If You’re Dreaming takes us down a different path than its predecessor, shedding some nervous energy in favor of a deeper exploration of an internal world. [Limited half-black/half-cream colored vinyl pressing also available.]
Kurt Elling – Secrets Are The Best Stories CD/LP (Edition)
Secrets Are The Best Stories is the new album from acclaimed vocalist and Grammy-winning artist Kurt Elling featuring renowned pianist Danilo Pérez. This vibrant and adventurous album not only marks a vital new collaboration between two of the greats in the music but is an album that confirms Kurt Elling as the male vocalist of his generation – one who has the presence, the message and the artistic vision to stand out from the rest.
Steve Goodman – Live ’69 CD (Omnivore Recordings)
Live archive release. Before Steve Goodman landed a record deal in 1971, and a few years before his classic City Of New Orleans became a modern folk standard, he was already a seasoned live performer throughout his hometown of Chicago and surrounding areas. His brilliant songwriting and musicianship, coupled with his engaging on-stage personality and distinctive performance style, made him a favorite of anyone who caught a live show.
Riley Green – Different ‘Round Here CD (Big Machine)
Born in Jacksonville, Alabama, Riley Green was raised on the sounds of old traditional country, bluegrass and southern gospel music. With a mixture of outlaw-rebellion and respect for tradition, Riley has been named one of Rolling Stone Country’s Artists You Need to Know. Different ‘Round Here is his debut album.
Purity Ring – Womb CD/LP+MP3 (4AD)
Womb is Purity Ring’s long-awaited third album, following the much-loved and extremely influential Shrines (2012) and Another Eternity (2015). The five-year gap between albums has only served to distill the gorgeous and ethereal future pop for which the band is known.
San Fermin – Cormorant I & II CD/2xLP (Mastwerworks)
Released last week on vinyl – now available on CD. Following the critically acclaimed release of The Cormorant I, Brooklyn-based art pop project San Fermin deliver The Cormorant I & II, the second and final installment in their latest dual-part album. The band returns with eight new tracks that encompass the full scope of The Cormorant story. The resulting 16-track collection completes the narrative set out by The Cormorant I, expanding on bandleader Ellis Ludwig-Leone’s questions of identity, growth and its ever-changing variations.
Nina Simone – Fodder On My Wings [Reissue/1982] CD/LP (Verve)
Recorded in 1982, after moving to Paris, Fodder On My Wings was one of Nina Simone’s favorite and most obscure albums. Released under a small French label and only sporadically available since then, this is the original album version making a long overdue appearance. Expanded with three bonus tracks. Fodder On My Wings is an essential Simone album, which came at a time when Simone was rejuvenated by her surroundings and by the African musicians she met in her newly adopted France.
Spoon – Telefono/Soft Effects CD (Matador)
Spoon – Telefono [Reissue/1996] LP+MP3 (Matador)
Spoon – Soft Effects [Reissue/1997] LP+MP3 (Matador)
Out of print for nearly five years, Telephono and Soft Effects have been remastered and combined on one specially priced deluxe package with an added. With amped-up acoustic guitars, jumpy song structures, and a punk attitude, Telephono (1996) was the shot across the bow from Austin’s fledgling rock heroes. The follow-up, Soft Effects (1997), features five of Spoon’s strongest songs and marks a leap forward in the band’s repertoire, signaling the great things to come on subsequent Spoon albums. [Stand-alone vinyl reissues also available.]
Thievery Corporation – Symphonik CD/2xLP (Eighteenth Street Lounge)
Thievery Corporation, the brainchild of acclaimed artists Eric Hilton and Rob Garza, return with the brand new album, Symphonik. Hilton & Garza, in association with Mason Bate’s KC Jukebox, played a historic concert on May 15, 2017 accompanied by the orchestra at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. The show saw Thievery Corporation’s live show staples reimagined with orchestral arrangements commissioned from some of today’s leading young classical composers. To honor this show and inspiration it provided, Thievery Corporation have created a full album to commemorate the now-legendary concert.