New Releases for August 21, 2020
CDs + Vinyl:
Bright Eyes – Down In The Weeds, Where The World Once Was CD/2xLP (Dead Oceans)
As a title, as a thesis, Down In The Weeds, Where The World Once Was functions on a global, apocalyptic level of anxiety that looms throughout the record. But on a personal level, it speaks to rooting around in the dirt of one’s memories, trying to find the preciousness that’s overgrown and unrecognizable. For Conor Oberst, coming back to Bright Eyes was a bit of that. A symbol of simpler times, vaguely nostalgic. And even though it wasn’t actually possible to go back to the way things were, even though there wasn’t an easy happy ending, there was a new reality left to work with. The band’s first album since 2011’s The People’s Key, Down In The Weeds, Where The World Once Was is enormous, caught in the profound in-between of grief and clarity – one arm wrestling it’s demons, the other gripping the hand of love, in spite of it.
Bully – Sugaregg CD/LP+MP3 (Sub Pop)
Sugaregg roars from the speakers and jumpstarts both heart and mind. Like My Bloody Valentine after three double espressos, opener “Add It On” zooms heavenward within seconds, epitomizing band leader Alicia Bognanno’s newfound clarity of purpose, while the bass-driven melodies and propulsive beats of “Where To Start” and “Let You” are the musical equivalents of the sun piercing through a perpetually cloudy sky. A very old saying goes that no one saves us but ourselves. Recognizing and breaking free from the patterns impeding our forward progress can be transformative. Indeed, the third Bully album may not ever have come to fruition had Bognanno not navigated every kind of upheaval imaginable and completely overhauled her working process along the way. The artist admits that finding the proper treatment for bipolar 2 disorder radically altered her mindset, freeing her from a cycle of paranoia and insecurity about her work.
Erasure – The Neon CD/LP (Mute)
English synth/pop duo Erasure (featuring Andy Bell and Vince Clarke) deliver their eighteenth studio album. The Neon is a place that lives in the imagination that we – you and me – put in the real world. It could be a night club, a shop, a city, a cafe, a country, a bedroom, a restaurant, any place at all. The album offers warmth and a brilliant brightness in our strange, silent times. It connects us to our pasts and our futures as it glistens with hope. It creates beautiful places where our imaginations can roam, bringing us together, twinkling and beaming. The Neon puts you and me in the real world again, now and forever, lit up and alive. [Limited orange colored vinyl pressing also available.]
The Front Bottoms – In Sickness & In Flames CD/LP (Fueled By Ramen)
Celebrating life and purging angst, In Sickness & In Flames finds The Front Bottoms pushing forward with positive and creative energy. Featuring the celebrated singles “Camouflage”(which The Fader called “a celebration of sorts for a band perennially on the fringes of a major breakthrough”) and “Everyone Blooms” (which UPROXX placed the latter in their ‘Best New Indie Music’ round-up). The twelve-song collection was produced by Mike Sapone and follows the band’s acclaimed 2017 LP Going Grey. “Earlier this year, we made a new album and decided to name it In Sickness & In Flames,” the band explains. “When we were writing the album and settling on the title, it meant something completely different to us. We could have never imagined where the world would be just six months later. In true TFB style this album has developed into something of its own that we no longer control the narrative of.”
Future – High Off Life CD/2xLP (Epic)
The eighth studio album by the American rapper was executive produced by DJ Esco and features guest appearances by DaBaby, Drake, Lil Uzi Vert, Travis Scott, and Young Thug, among others.
Girl Friday – Androgynous Mary CD/LP (Hardly Art)
Burning deep in Girl Friday’s music is an unquenchable will to survive. The L.A.-based band doesn’t blunt the impact of the themes they work through in their ferocious, knotty rock songs, but they do not let the more harrowing aspects of being alive and young in the 21st century daunt them, either. Taking full advantage of the dystopian shades of post-punk and noise rock palettes on their arresting debut LP, Androgynous Mary, Girl Friday nevertheless suffuse their music with abundant optimism. The world is a hellscape, but the four of them are in it together. With bold, dramatic guitar lines and tightly wound vocal harmonies, Girl Friday – guitarist Vera Ellen, bassist Libby Hsieh, guitarist Sierra Scott, drummer Virginia Pettis – negotiate the stress and alienation that comes with being sidelined from normative society on Androgynous Mary.
Guided By Voices – Mirrored Aztec CD/LP (GBV Inc.)
When we last heard from Guided By Voices, they had released an astonishing four albums in just over 12 months. Each has a distinctive creative identity: Zeppelin Over China is a meat-and-potatoes double album, Warp And Woof is a return to the band’s low-fidelity roots and under-two-minute earworms, Sweating The Plague is a slice of moody stadium rock, and Surrender Your Poppy Field is an unpredictable grab-bag of all of the above. After venturing through the tangled brambles of Plague And Poppy Field, here is a sunny summer reprieve; a relentless barrage of hooks, Mirrored Aztec is the latest stop on this runaway train. Like its immediate predecessors, Mirrored Aztec is both its own entity and unmistakably GBV. It’s also their most immediately welcoming and inviting offering in years; there’s nothing a fan of The Who, Big Star, or Wire, wouldn’t love here.
Incantation – Sect Of Vile Divinities CD/LP (Relapse)
Death metal pioneers Incantation return with their highly anticipated new album, Sect Of Vile Divinities. For over 30 years Incantation has consistently remained one of the underground’s most influential and respected artists in the genre. True to form, Sect Of Vile Divinities sees the legendary band adhering to the ways of the old school, unleashing twisted, mangled, and utterly disgusting death metal once again. A pitch-black mix of unrelenting death metal and imposing funeral doom, each track is a dirge dedicated to different ancient evils across various cultures.
Inter Arma – Sky Burial [Reissue/2016] LP (Relapse)
Inter Arma – Paradise Gallows [Reissue/2016] LP (Relapse)
Inter Arma is a sludge/black/death metal band from Richmond, Virginia.
The Killers – Imploding The Mirage CD (Island)
The Killers return with their highly anticipated sixth studio album. Following-up 2017’s Wonderful, Wonderful, Imploding The Mirage features a brilliant array of collaborators including, Lindsey Buckingham, k.d. lang, Weyes Blood, Adam Granduciel (War On Drugs), Blake Mills, and Lucius. The Killers describe Imploding The Mirage as “the light after the dark; the overcoming of sadness and moving into celebration. It’s a record about eternal love, perseverance through hard times, and the strength gained from friendships and familial bonds whilst weathering a storm.” [Vinyl edition TBD.]
The Lemon Twigs – Songs For The General Public CD/LP+MP3 (4AD)
The D’Addario brothers return with their third Lemon Twigs album, Songs For The General Public – written, recorded and produced by the D’Addarios at their home studio in Long Island, Sonora Studios in Los Angeles and Electric Lady in New York City. The prodigiously-talented sibling duo first emerged as The Lemon Twigs in 2016 with their debut LP Do Hollywood, whose show stopping melodies mined from every era of rock quickly earned fans in Elton John, Questlove, and Jack Antonoff. Go To School, the ambitious 15-track coming-of-age opus, followed in 2018 and solidified the band’s reputation for building grand walls of sound around an audacious concept.
The Mavericks – En Español CD/2xLP (Mono Mundo Recordings)
Mavericks change the game once again with the release of their first-ever Latin format album En Español. Produced by the band’s longtime creative partner Niko Bolas (Neil Young, Prince, Sheryl Crow) and Mavericks lead singer and principal songwriter Raul Malo, En Español features a compelling mix of standards and Spanish-language originals in signature Mavericks style. Includes special contributions from longtime collaborators, Grammy-winning keyboardist and arranger Alberto Salas and Tejano accordion legend Flaco Jiménez. [Limited indie store exclusive vinyl pressing also available.]
H.C. McEntire – Eno Axis CD/LP+MP3 (Merge)
“Early rise, start the fire, till the rows, pass the tithes.” So starts H.C. McEntire’s sophomore release, Eno Axis. It’s a set of directions delivered with assurance and authority, reaching the listener without pretension almost as a sermon or spell. McEntire has always had one foot planted in the traditional country gospel roots of her upbringing while boldly wrestling with its complications, creating an Americana sound of her own.
Tim McGraw – Here On Earth CD/2xLP (Big Machine)
McGraw describes Here On Earth as “a tapestry of life.”
Old 97’s – Twelfth CD/LP (ATO)
27 years in, Old 97’s still features its original lineup – Rhett Miller, guitarist Ken Bethea, bassist Murry Hammond, and drummer Philip Peeples – and Twelfth is a testament to the band’s staying power. The album’s cover image of former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach is both an homage to Miller’s childhood hero and a recognition that, in making their livings as musicians, the 97’s themselves have achieved their lifelong dreams. Loose and raw, the record is an ecstatic celebration of survival, a resounding ode to endurance and resilience from a veteran group that refuses to rest on their considerable laurels. While the resulting album boasts all the hallmarks of a classic Old 97’s record (sex and booze, laughter and tears, poetry and blasphemy), it also showcases a newfound perspective in its writing and craftsmanship, a maturity and appreciation that can only come with age and experience. Perhaps the band is growing up; maybe they’re just getting started. Either way, Old 97’s have never been happier to be alive.
Chuck Prophet – The Land That Time Forgot CD/LP (Yep Roc)
Prophet is a rock and roll star in a country that has forgotten that it needs rock and roll stars. America turns its popular musicians into celebrities (as if that’s what we need more of). Meanwhile, the true grit, write it like you live it and live it ’til it kills you musical artist exists in obscurity, kicking ass and taking names in small clubs every night while sweating blood over making records. Thankfully, we live in the same timeline as Chuck Prophet. Written mostly with longtime co-conspirator Kurt Lipschutz, The Land That Time Forgot finds the musician stepping out of his comfort zone (“two guitars, bass, and drums”). There’s a kind of folkish inevitability to it, lots of acoustic instruments, on top of the each other and side by side. But as much as folk music is the soil all music grows from, it never hurts to have a boiler room. So, there’s always a rhythm section shuffling under your feet here.
Jeff Rosenstock – No Dream CD/LP+MP3 (Polyvinyl)
The fourth full-length from Jeff Rosenstock comes at a time of unparalleled chaos and confusion, division and despair, the depths of which would have been impossible to predict when much of it was being written over the course of the last few years. And yet the record feels prescient, unexpectedly and uniquely suited for this moment. After building a devoted cult following with the acerbic ska-punk of the Arrogant Sons Of Bitches, the DIY heroics of Bomb The Music Industry!, and three increasingly celebrated solo albums, No Dream arrives with an entirely new set of expectations in an entirely new era. [Limited sea foam colored vinyl pressing also available.]
Troye Sivan – In A Dream CDEP (Capitol)
Sivan recorded five of the concept EP’s six songs with producer Oscar Görres (The Weeknd, MARINA, Tove Lo) between Stockholm and Los Angeles, just prior to the pandemic lockdown. “This small collection…explores an emotional rollercoaster period in my life when the feelings and thoughts were most shockingly fresh,” Sivan says. “Revisiting these songs and moments is tough, but I’m proud of this music and excited to have it out in the world.” Featuring leadoff hit “Take Yourself Home” plus new single “Easy”, an infectious plea to set a relationship back on course. The New York Times hailed “Take Yourself Home” as an “understatedly lush quasi-soul thumper.” Paper said, “It’s perhaps the first great song to come out of our collective apocalyptic state of mind during the COVID-19 outbreak.”
The Waterboys – Good Luck, Seeker CD/2xCD/LP (Cooking Vinyl)
The Waterboys, one of the most creative, loved and literate bands of the last four decades, return with their fourteenth studio album, Good Luck, Seeker, ushered in by the seven-minute mash-up manifesto “My Wanderings In The Weary Land”. Comprising dramatic spoken-word over wild, relentless genre-busting music, “My Wanderings In The Weary Land” might just be the greatest rock ‘n’ roll record ever made – and one that is darkly appropriate for our weird, wired times. Is it psychedelic soul? Is it trance? Is it punk? Whatever it is, it’s the first taste of the surefire Good Luck, Seeker. [Deluxe CD edition adds a bonus CD of alternate and instrumental versions.]
John Denver – Country Roads: Live In England 1986 DVD (Eagle Rock Entertainment)
This concert was filmed at the NEC in Birmingham in 1986 and sees John Denver in top form delivering his finest songs with all his characteristic charm and good humor. Among the many highlights are “Annie’s Song”, “Rocky Mountain High”, “Take Me Home, Country Roads” and many others.
Bassnectar – Into The Sun [Reissue/2015] 2xLP (ATO)
Double red and white colored vinyl pressing of Bassnectar’s ninth studio album.
PJ Harvey – Rid Of Me [Reissue/1993] LP (Island)
PJ Harvey – 4-Track Demos [Reissue/1993] LP (Island)
Vinyl reissues of PJ Harvey’s first major label album (her second overall) and the accompanying album of demos – both released in the same year (1993). Rid Of Me features the singles “50ft Queenie” and “Man-Size”.
Damien Jurado – What’s New, Tomboy? LP (Mama Bird)
Recently released on CD – now available on vinyl. New release from the Seattle-based indie-folk veteran. What’s New, Tomboy? finds Jurado stepping back into a more fleshed out sound with his voice and the rhythm section at the fore.
X – Alphabetland LP (Fat Possum)
Recently released on CD – now available on vinyl. Alphabetland is the eighth studio album by legendary American punk rock band. It is their first studio release in 27 years and the first with their original line-up in the past 35 years.
Valkyrie – Shadows LP (Relapse)
Propelled by the stunning guitar heroics of brothers Pete and Jake Adams, Virginia’s Valkyrie return with their third full-length, Shadows. Jam packed with harmonized leads, rich solos and melodic, blues-based riffs, Valkyrie sound like the perfect blend of American style doom rock bands like Pentagram or Spirit Caravan and classic hard rock like Thin Lizzy, Wishbone Ash, and Deep Purple.