CDs + Vinyl:
Fiona Apple – Fetch The Bolt Cutters CD/2xLP (Epic)
Grammy-winning singer-songwriter and alt-rock icon Fiona Apple returns with her first album in nearly eight years. Following up 2012’s The Idler Wheel, the raw and percussion-heavy Fetch The Bolt Cutters has earned instant acclaim as one of the best records of the 2020 and some of the finest work of her career. It takes its name from a line in the British police procedural The Fall spoken by star Gillian Anderson, but Apple explains that, “Really, what it’s about is not being afraid to speak.” She produced the adventurous 13-track collection herself and recorded it at her Venice Beach, CA home studio with drummer Amy Aileen Wood, bassist Sebastian Steinberg, guitarist Davíd Garza and Cara Delevingne singing harmonies. Biting yet buoyant, Fiona’s elastic turns of phrase are supported by intoxicating melodic hooks throughout with visceral tracks like “I Want You to Love Me”, “Shameika” and “Fetch The Bolt Cutters” serving as standouts. “Fetch The Bolt Cutters is a strange and exceptional record, even within the context of an uncommon career…whimsical and hardcore at the same time…” – The Guardian
Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers – Just Coolin’ CD/LP (Blue Note)
A never-before-released studio date by Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers recorded at Rudy Van Gelder’s Hackensack, New Jersey studio on March 8, 1959, and featuring the legendary drummer – whose centennial was celebrated in 2019 – along with trumpeter Lee Morgan, tenor saxophonist Hank Mobley, pianist Bobby Timmons, and bassist Jymie Merritt. The six-song set includes two previously unissued compositions: “Quick Trick” and “Jimerick”. “In 2020, it’s great to find more Morgan, Mobley and Timmons in their prime,” writes Bob Blumenthal in the liner notes for Just Coolin’. “The music had clearly settled in during the month that separated studio and live versions, but the fire of these six tracks has an appeal of its own.”
Bush – The Kingdom CD (BMG)
The Kingdom features some of the most potent songwriting of Gavin Rossdale’s career, highlighted by the pummeling “Flowers On A Grave”, as well as the noise hurricane “Quicksand”, which finds him showcasing a vulnerability like rarely before. And then there’s “Undone”, a heart-wrenching ballad written in a burst of inspiration that he describes as very pure and untainted. In many ways, with Bush’s new album, Rossdale is creating the type of music – and the world – he hopes to see.
Grayson Capps – South Front Street CD/2xLP (The Royal Potato Family)
Grayson Capps’ South Front Street is a 16-song retrospective of the acclaimed South Alabama singer-songwriter’s career, compiled by his wife and longtime musical foil, Grammy Award-winning producer/engineer, Trina Shoemaker.
The Chicks – Gaslighter CD/LP (Columbia)
“The last time the Dixie Chicks reinvented themselves, it was hard to know what would come next. On their most recent album, 2006’s Taking The Long Way, the country trio wrote about being spurned by their industry, faced with uncertainty at the point when most bands on their level are finding career equilibrium. “Our last album was the most personal and autobiographical we’ve ever been,” Maines said in 2019. “And then this one is 10 times that.” She was talking about Gaslighter, the group’s long-awaited comeback record. Like so many of their best songs, from “Goodbye Earl” to “Truth No. 2,” the title track gets to the heart of matters by getting personal. Its references to broken promises and Hollywood homes suggest that Maines is addressing her recent divorce from an actor husband, but its larger points speak to the same belief that has driven the group’s work from the beginning. With its buoyant rhythm and singalong chorus, “Gaslighter” merges the open-road optimism of their early records with the sharper power-pop of Taking The Long Way. Other than their vocal harmonies—still radiant and seamless, like different strings on the same instrument—banjo player Emily Strayer and fiddle player Martie Maguire accompany Maines in subtle ways, weaving the confrontational verses into the rallying cry of a chorus. The songcraft is so compact, and their trademark sound so welcome and familiar, that its message of empowerment comes across equally jubilant and defiant.” – Pitchfork
Samantha Crain – A Small Death CD/LP (Ramseur)
Crain has written an album beautifully composed and arranged, her voice sounding stronger than ever, and proving more so that she’s a brilliant songwriter who deserves to be valued, appreciated, and recognized.
S.G. Goodman – Old Time Feeling CD/LP (Verve Forecast)
S.G. Goodman was raised in Western Kentucky on the Mississippi River Delta in a strict church going family of row crop farmers. Her debut solo album, co-produced with fellow Kentuckian Jim James, showcases S.G.’s otherworldly voice, which soars above a sonic blend of gritty guitars, bottomland grooves and plaintive balladry.
Eli Goulding – Brightest Blue CD/2xLP (Interscope)
Ellie Goulding’s highly anticipated fourth studio album release, Brightest Blue, is split into two sides to showcase both her artistic depth and commercial success – lead by platinum singles “Close To Me” and “Hate Me”.
Jimmy Heath – Love Letter CD/LP (Verve)
One month before the magisterial tenor saxophonist-composer Jimmy Heath died on January 19, 2020 at 93, he put the finishing touches on the final album of his luminous 76-year career as a professional jazz musician. Titled Love Letter, it’s a posthumous masterpiece, the first occasion on which Heath – a well-established master practitioner of the ballad genre – presents an all-ballads recital. Propelling the flow is a multi-generational all-star unit, including NEA Jazz Master pianist Kenny Barron, poll-winning guitarist Russell Malone, soulful vibraphone veteran Monte Croft, New York first-call bassist David Wong, and all-world drummer Lewis Nash. Augmenting the group on separate tracks are 21st century vocal superstars Gregory Porter and Cécile McLorin Salvant, and trumpet icon Wynton Marsalis. Love Letter includes Heath’s elegant arrangements of three less traveled originals culled from his enormous corpus.
Jarv Is… – Beyond The Pale CD/LP (Rough Trade)
Beyond The Pale is the debut album from Jarv Is…, featuring Jarvis Cocker (vocals, guitar, percussion), Serafina Steer (harp, keyboards, vocals), Emma Smith (violin, guitar vocals), Andrew McKinney (bass, vocals), Jason Buckle (synthesizer and electronic treatments) and Adam Betts (drums, percussion, vocals). This is the first original music from Jarvis Cocker since his 2009 album Further Complications. Jarv Is… formed to play a show at the Sigur Ros’s Norður og Niður festival in Iceland at the very end of 2017, conceived as a way of writing songs in collaboration with an audience. As the material they were playing was in a state of flux the band decided to record their live shows so that they could monitor how the songs were developing. After an appearance at the Desert Daze festival in California, Geoff Barrow (Portishead, Beak>) suggested that these recordings could be used as the basis for Beyond The Pale.
Kansas – The Absence Of Presence CD/CD+Blu-ray/2xLP (Inside Out Music)
Legendary progressive rock band Kansas follow-up 2016’s The Prelude Implicit with the new release The Absence Of Presence. Featuring nine new originals produced by Zak Rizvi, Phil Ehart and Richard Williams, Kansas’ signature sound is unmistakable throughout. The album showcases Ronnie Platt’s towering vocals, David Ragsdale’s searing violin, Tom Brislin’s dazzling keyboards, Williams and Rizvi’s electrifying guitar riffs, Ehart’s powerful drums, and Billy Greer’s rocking bass. “We are really proud of the album” comments Rizvi. “Making a new Kansas album sets a very high musical standard that is expected from our fans. From rockers, to progressive epics, to ballads, there is something on this recording for everybody.”
Lianne La Havas – Lianne La Havas CD/LP (Nonesuch)
British singer/songwriter/guitarist Lianne La Havas returns with her self-titled third album, her first since 2015’s Grammy-nominated Blood. The ten songs – nine originals plus a cover of Radiohead’s “Weird Fishes” – span the arc of a love affair, one that brought growth and newfound confidence. “This is my first completely self-produced album with my own band. I got my own way with everything – all the decisions that you hear on this album were mine,” Lianne says. “I’m a woman now, so I’m less shy and timid about saying certain things. And there’s no right or wrong when it’s your record, so I was very much embracing that fact, as well. I’ve tapped into the best and worst parts of me and while I didn’t expect this to be the direction of my new music, it’s my reality and it’s driven by emotion. I dare say that this is the closest I’ve gotten to a pure expression so far. If you’d never heard me before, I’d be happy to say, ‘This is me. This is who I am.'”
The Lawrence Arms – Skeleton Coast CD/LP (Epitaph)
Chicago bred trio The Lawrence Arms return with their first album in six years. Skeleton Coast contains the elements of the band’s sound that fans have come to love for the past two decades but re-contextualizes them in a way that somehow sounds perfectly aligned with this strange time in our collective history. Although it was written and recorded before the Coronavirus pandemic upended the world, the band’s seventh studio album sounds eerily prescient as it imagines an apocalyptic future where coyotes croon and wolf packs roam free.
Lettuce – Resonate CD/2xLP (Round Hill Music)
Resonate comes on the heels of Lettuce’s 2019 Grammy-nominated album Elevate. “Resonate is a definite continuation of the vibe of Elevate,” said the band via a press release. “There’s brand-new tracks on it along with some stuff that we’ve only played live at shows. When listening to Resonate, we hope you can feel the groove, be moved to dance and allow it to shine a bright, positive light on any lingering negative vibes.”
The Pretenders – Hate For Sale CD/LP (BMG)
Following up 2016’s acclaimed Alone, Hate For Sale is the Pretender’s first album to be recorded with the now long-standing touring line-up of the group. Produced by the revered Stephen Street (The Smiths, Blur) Hate For Sale is the Pretenders’ eleventh studio album overall and the first to be written collaboratively by Chrissie Hynde and electrifyingly dynamic guitarist James Walbourne. “I wanted to write with him since day one,” says Chrissie. “James is especially sought after and has recorded with Jerry Lee Lewis, Dave Gahan, and The Rails, to name but a few.” And on the single “The Buzz”, she adds, “I think we all know that love affairs can take on the characteristics of drug addiction. It’s about that.”
Protomartyr – Ultimate Success Today CD/LP+MP3 (Domino)
A sting in the summer blossom, Ultimate Success Today is Protomartyr’s fifth full-length album. Following the release of Relatives In Descent, the band’s critically acclaimed headlong dive into the morass of American life in 2017, Ultimate Success Today continues to further expand the possibilities of what a Protomartyr album can sound like. The album was recorded at Dreamland Recording Studios, a late 19th century church, in upstate New York and co-produced by the band and David Tolomei (Dirty Projectors, Beach House) with mixing by Tolomei. Featured guest musicians on the album include Nandi Rose (vocals), jazz legend Jemeel Moondoc (alto sax), Izaak Mills (bass clarinet, sax, flute), and Fred Lonberg-Holm (cello).
The Texas Gentlemen – Floor It!!! CD/LP+MP3 (New West)
Pop on Floor It!!!, the new and second full-length effort from the Texas Gentlemen, and prepare your eardrums to be hit with everything from woozy, brass-fueled Dixieland-style jazz (“Veal Cutlass”), to slinky, chicken-scratch country funk (“Bare Maximum”) to lushly orchestrated pop-soul balladry (“Ain’t Nothin’ New”) – and that’s all in just the first 10 minutes of play time.
Too Slim and The Taildraggers – Remedy CD (Vizz Tone)
Too Slim is a monster guitarist and unabashed blues-rocker. This hard driving album is the follow up to the band’s acclaimed High Desert Heat, which was nominated for a 2019 Blues Music Award in the Blues Rock Album category.
The Allman Betts Band – Down To The River LP (BMG)
Limited double clear vinyl LP pressing of the Allman Betts Band’s 2019 debut album. Led by Devon Allman, son of founding Allman Brothers Band keyboardist and singer, Gregg Allman, and Duane Betts, son of founding Allman Brothers Band guitarist and singer, Dickey Betts, Down To The River was recorded at the famed Muscle Shoals Sound Studios with producer Matt Ross-Spang (Jason Isbell, Margo Price, John Prine and Elvis Presley). The beginning of the partnership between Devon Allman and Duane Betts goes back to the Gregg Allman tribute show at the Fillmore in San Francisco. It was time, in that historic venue, to pass the spirit to the next generation. It was time to take all the lessons of the past, all their collective experiences, and make something new.
Bob Dylan – Rough And Rowdy Ways LP+MP3 (Columbia)
Recently released on CD – now available on vinyl. Rough And Rowdy Ways is Bob Dylan’s first album of original material in eight years and his first since becoming the only songwriter to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature, in 2016. Its 10 tracks include the three new songs released this spring: the album’s lead-off track, “I Contain Multitudes”, the nearly 17-minute epic “Murder Most Foul”, and “False Prophet”. (Sold out at this time, more copies expected Monday 7/20)
Fall Out Boy – Believers Never Die [Reissue/2009] 2xLP (Island)
Vinyl reissue of the first greatest hits album by the alt-rock band. Believers Never Die contains all the songs the band had released as singles to that point in their career, in chronological order, as well as two new songs and two rarities that debuted as a part of the original collection.
Marvin Gaye – Every Great Motown Hit Of Marvin Gaye: 15 Spectacular Performances [Reissue/1983] LP (Motown)
Marvin Gaye – His Classic Duets LP (Motown)
Every Great Hit Of Marvin Gaye: 15 Spectacular Performances is a platinum-selling 1983 compilation which covers Marvin Gaye’s career, from his key 1960s hits through the multi-chart # 1, “Got To Give It Up”. His Classic Duets is an update of Marvin Gaye’s 1970 collection Marvin Gaye & His Girls. The vinyl album sleeve (cover and back) artwork is based on the original. 14-tracks featuring duets with Tammi Terrell, Mary Wells, Kim Weston and Diana Ross.
The Go-Go’s – Beauty And The Beat [Reissue/1981] LP (Capitol)
Vinyl reissue of the debut album by the California new wave bands. Beauty And The Beat was preceded by the single and signature song “We Got the Beat”. It also includes the hit single “Our Lips Are Sealed”.