THIS WEEKS ESSENTIAL NEW RELEASES Friday 12th May 2017

Posted: May 12, 2017 in MUSIC
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Love Is Love was written and recorded in the two months immediately following the election, but it’s not a record borne entirely of angry, knee-jerk reaction to what America is becoming. Instead, it’s a meditation on love, and on what life means now. Taking cues from last year’s City Sun Eater In The River Of Light, it feels very much like a record made from living, shoulder to shoulder, in a major city: weaving psychedelic swirls of guitar between languid horns reminiscent of the best Ethiopian jazz—Love is Love is a distinctly New York record. It is a document of protest in uncertain times and an open-hearted rejection of cynicism in favor of emotional honesty. It is bright, and then, unexpectedly, a little dark sometimes too.

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“Wisdom comes with age, so it’s no surprise that Woods have grown more sage in the twelve years since they formed, expanding from sylvan drum circles into increasingly elaborate, transcendent psychedelia.” – Pitchfork.

 

There will be parts of life where we will watch as events unfold and we will feel helpless. We will not be sure of the future. On good days, we’ll have each other. On the bad ones, we’ll turn to the art that helps us feel something. Love is Love is a document of the new world we live in, proof that light can come from despair and hope is still possible. We just need a little help remembering it exists.” –

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“I wasn’t planning on making a record,” says Juliana Hatfield, of her new “Pussycat” album. In fact, she thought her songwriting career was on hiatus, and that she had nothing left to say in song form; that she had finally said it all after two decades as a recording artist. But then the presidential election happened. “All of these songs just started pouring out of me. And I felt an urgency to record them, to get them down, and get them out there.” She booked some time at Q Division studios in Somerville, Massachusetts near her home in Cambridge and went in with a drummer (Pete Caldes), an engineer (Pat DiCenso) and fourteen brand-new songs.

Hatfield produced and played every instrument other than drums—bass, keyboards, guitars, vocals. From start to finish—recording through mixing—the whole thing took a total of just twelve and a half days to complete.“It was a blur. It was cathartic,” says Hatfield. “I almost don’t even understand what happened in there, or how it came together so smoothly, so quickly. I was there, directing it all, managing it, getting it all done, but I was being swept along by some force that was driving me. The songs had a will, they forced themselves on me, or out of me, and I did what they told me to do. Even my hands—it felt like they were not my hands. I played bass differently– looser, more confident, better.” Pussycat comes on the heels of last year’s Hatfield collaboration with Paul Westerberg, the I Don’t Cares’ Wild Stab album, and before that, 2015’s Juliana Hatfield Three (My Sister, Spin The Bottle) reunion/reformation album, Whatever, My Love. “I’ve always been prolific and productive and I have a good solid work ethic but this one happened so fast, I didn’t have time to think or plan,” says Hatfield. “I just went with it, rode the wave. And now it is out of my hands. It feels a little scary.” Pussycat is being released into a very tense, divided and inflamed America. The songs are reflective of that atmosphere—angry (When You’re A Star), defiant (Touch You Again), disgusted (Rhinoceros), but also funny (Short-Fingered Man), reflective (Wonder Why), righteous (Heartless) and even hopeful (Impossible Song, with its chorus of ‘What if we tried to get along/and sing an impossible song’).

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Eighteen months on from debut album, The Fire Inside comes Time Is A Riddle, the second album Luke Sital-Singh was determined to make solely on his terms. No interference, no scheduling issues, nor elaborate musicianship, nothing big or brittle. Just care, and effort, and time well spent – values he shares with the Slow Movement to which he subscribes, and with the crafts people up and down the country with whom the musician has some special projects planned. It’s a lovely record of self-written songs, a crafted distillation of the ideas and tastes that have been percolating through Sital-Singh since he was a teenager in suburban southwest London.

Having written a brace of songs – simple songs that moved him – Sital-Singh followed his long-held artist’s dream: he escaped to a remote studio, Attica Audio, in Donegal, with nothing on his mind other than making the record of his life. The studio’s owner, producer Tommy McLaughlin (a member of Villagers’ touring band, who Sital-Singh has opened for) pulled together a small group of musicians. Well-used to playing together, the band slotted together effortlessly for a series of recordings over ten days. Time Is A Riddle is a record where you can smell the graft, see the joins and hear the sweat on the frets – and the occasional live-recording misstep. It’s that real. Luke Sital-Singh wouldn’t have it any other way.

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On PWR BTTM’s new album Pageant, glammed and glittered duo Ben Hopkins and Liv Bruce tackle their diary-like explorations of life, identity and existential crises head-on. Pageant is a vital exploration of self that’s hot with friction, angst and hope, both hilarious and heart wrenching.

Pageant is ferociously emotional, with passionate narratives set to cutting rock and roll anthems. The album builds upon PWR BTTM’s sensational debut Ugly Cherries with a further refined song craft and sonic flourishes including horns, flutes, keyboard and even an impromptu choir. The result is thirteen original songs that burst with laughter, tears and triumph. Pageant was produced by Christopher Daly and Cameron West, and was recorded primarily in the top floor of a furniture factory in Geneva, New York. Ben Hopkins takes his guitar playing and vocal fierceness to new heights, and with newfound openness. The duo swap instruments on the record and live, constantly alternating between Hopkins’ finger-picking solos and Liv Bruce’s tremendous drumming.

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Hazel English is a 25-year-old Oakland-based artist who makes beautifully blurry indie-pop music powered by transcendent melodies and caked in layers of Californian sunshine and redolent reverb. She finds herself something of a scene queen amidst the burgeoning jangling happenings of the Bay Area, which count the likes of her producer Jackson Philips aka Day Wave amongst it ranks, as well as kindred spirits like Craft Spells and Hot Flash Heat Wave, to name but a few. Despite the fun being had locally, Hazel describes her music as, “Transportive. It makes you feel like you’re in a different place”. A very literal example is the title track, which charters the bittersweet abandon of her runaway journey from her native Australia to her new adopted home in an near-cinematic narrative. She’s drawn comparisons to everyone from Alvvays and Pains Of Being Pure At Heart to touring partners Ride, while her soaring, hypnotic, vocal arrangements have been likened to everyone from Grimes to Diiv.

2LP – Double LP on Pastel Pink and Pastel Blue Vinyl.

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Manic Street Preachers’ eighth studio album Send Away The Tigers celebrates its tenth anniversary in May and to mark the occasion a 10 Year Collectors’ Edition of the album packed with unheard music, unseen footage and artwork from the band’s own archive is released.

3CD – 2CD / DVD folio book featuring the original album remastered by James Dean Bradfield, a second disc of b-sides and rarities and a DVD including the band’s full 2007 Glastonbury performance plus previously unseen rehearsal footage, an album track-by-track and promo videos. This comes packaged with a beautiful folio book of artwork and handwritten lyric sheets from Nicky Wire’s personal archive alongside photos and liner notes.

2LP – Double gatefold heavyweight vinyl, featuring a remastered edition of the album alongside demos recorded at Faster Studios and at the band’s homes. The vinyl release includes download codes for the album and demos.

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2017, marks the 40th anniversary of Paul Weller’s first album, In The City, which he released with The Jam in May 1977. For most artists such a landmark would be greeted with extensive retrospective celebrations: lavish reissues and all that jazz. But Paul Weller is not like most artists, instead releasing a new studio album, because releasing new albums is what Paul Weller does. Always moving forwards, almost clinically averse to nostalgia or checking his progress in the rear-view mirror. And so, continuing his never-ending creative peak, Paul Weller releases his eagerly awaited 13th studio album A Kind Revolution on Parlophone Records.

Weller started work on A Kind Revolution immediately after finishing 2015’s Saturns Pattern, first tickling out the funky strut of New York and the beautiful slow-mo gospel of The Cranes Are Back – a song that ties in the changing face of London with the power of nature. The album’s title is taken from a line in the aforementioned song. Musicians on the album feature most of the touring band faithful with Andy Crofts and Ben Gordelier being the top mainstays. Steve Cradock and Steve Pilgrim also feature on several tracks. Opening track Woo Sé Mama sees legendary soul singers PP Arnold and Madeleine Bell supply their distinctive vocal skills while the exceedingly funky One Tear features the unmistakable voice of the one and only Boy George. Paul even managed to lure Robert Wyatt out of retirement to sing and play trumpet on She Moves With The Fayre. Finally, and once again, The Strypes’ guitarist Josh McClorey has been drafted in to add his magic to 3 tracks.

A Kind Revolution features ten absolute classic modern Paul Weller songs. By “modern Paul Weller songs” we mean, instantly recognisable but in no way predictable. He doesn’t make a “kind of” album, he fits together all his influences – rock, R&B, soul, jazz, funk, folk…whatever – and builds a song from them, delivering something that drifts through genres un-selfconsciously and at ease. Two great examples of this are two of the most reflective, contemplative songs, Long Long Road and Hopper, which in lesser hands might have been delivered as ballads, but Weller adds so much texture and colour to each that they defy categorisation. With great age comes great wisdom. Written and recorded at de facto HQ, Black Barn Studios in Surrey, A Kind Revolution was produced and arranged by Jan ‘Stan’ Kybert and Paul himself.

CD – 10-track album in Gatefold card wallet with lyric booklet.

3CD – 8-panel fold-out card wallet containing the original 10-track album A Kind Revolution, plus a bonus CD featuring instrumental versions of A Kind Revolution and a third CD with remixes / alternate versions of A Kind Revolution tracks and another brand new track, Alpha. Also includes a booklet containing album lyrics.

LP – On heavyweight black vinyl, housed in a Gatefold sleeve with lyric booklet, art print and a download card with access to MP3s of the 10-track album.

10″ – Deluxe rigid board box set with lift-off lid containing A Kind Revolution pressed up on 5 x pieces of 10” black vinyl with individual artwork. Includes 10” art print, lyric booklet and download card to access MP3s of all 29 tracks from Deluxe formats of the album.

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Limited to 500 Copies on Seafoam Green Vinyl with Vaughan Oliver and Chris Bigg’s artwork beautifully repurposed in a shiny gold mirror board sleeve. Ask Me Tomorrow has been unavailable on vinyl since its release on 4AD in October, 1995 and original copies now change hands for three-figure sums. The reissue is timely as it follows the recent announcement of Slowdive’s fourth album, and this could well have been that record, but after being dropped by Creation following the release of Pygmalion, the band – reduced to a three-piece of Neil Halstead, Rachel Goswell and Ian McCutcheon – rechristened themselves Mojave 3 and experimented with stripped-down, acoustic songs more in thrall to Leonard Cohen than LFO. As a result, Ask Me Tomorrow is essentially Slowdive Unplugged; a special record, with a unique, hushed grandeur all of its own. For fans of Nick Drake, Townes Van Zandt and Gram Parsons.

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Girlpool made their mark with a spare, simple sound – two guitars and two voices, with absolutely nothing else accompanying them. It was an original, intimate sound, and it made the two sound like they were united against the rest of the world. But on their new album, Powerplant, they’re trying something else. They’re playing with a full band. Over 10 days in August 2016, Girlpool holed up at Los Angeles’ comp-ny studios to record and mix Powerplant with Drew Fischer. For the first time, Harmony and Cleo were joined by a third performer, drummer Miles Wintner, a friend who easily meshed with the tightknit duo. The 12 tracks that compose Powerplant grow and burn with greater fire than the duo have possessed heretofore. Both bandmates were heavily inspired by Elliott Smith, the Cranberries, the Cocteau Twins, Brian Eno, Arthur Russell, and Graham Nash; the influence of each appear in the record’s deliberate and intricate guitar work (Fast Dust, She Goes By) as well as its embrace of dissonant noise (Corner Store, Soup). Perhaps what really makes Powerplant a home run is that Girlpool understand exactly how to use their incisive lyrics, soft textures, hushed harmonies, and soaring hooks for maximum emotional impact. In these moments, when Harmony and Cleo’s voices join together to deliver transcendent transmissions straight from their hearts, Girlpool become a league of their own.

LP+ – Translucent red vinyl with Download – 300 copies.

LP – Black Vinyl with Download.

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Nomad stands as Martha Tilston’s most compelling work to date, an album full of experimentation and impulse. Across the album, musical arrangements realm from the pinhead intimacy of acoustic guitar and voice to the expansive electric guitar, slide guitar, rolling beats, deep bass, banjo and string arrangements. There are subtle undertones of old country music flittering throughout, suggestions of rock and pop and a good dose of stripped back acoustic cinema for the listener to submerge in. Recorded in Cornwall, Martha and her frequent collaborators Matt Tweed, Nick Marshall and Tim Cotterell, amongst other new faces, would pick up instruments in the late hours and the outcome of these sessions arising from spontaneity, experimentation and maturing songwriting was to become Nomad. Martha Tilston has grown up immersed in music from a young age. Her singer-songwriter father Steve Tilston and the late Maggie Boyle (step-mother) were obvious influences, with their musician friends Bert Jansch, John Rebourn and John Martyn often gathering and singing in the family kitchen.

Martha’s own musical journey has taken her from the Acoustic Stage at Glastonbury to touring the far reaches of the globe. Originally one-half of folk duo Mouse (alongside Nick Marshall), Martha often shared the stage with the likes of Kate Tempest and Damien Rice before earning a nomination from the BBC for best newcomer and featuring on the Zero 7 album, Yeah Ghost.

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Concord release Thank You Friends: Big Star’s Third Live…and more celebrating the musical legacy of one of rock’s most influential bands – Big Star– and their legendary Third album. Experience this classic of late ’70s power pop through the prism of a collective of immensely talented fans, including members of Wilco, R.E.M., Yo La Tengo, and, of course, Big Star. Following the untimely death of Alex Chilton two days ahead of Big Star’s SXSW performance in 2010, famous friends and fans came from far and wide to play the gig in his honour. Much of that spontaneous ensemble, along with other musical titans, assembled at Glendale, CA’s Alex Theatre in April 2016 to record and film an epic performance.

2CD – Stand Alone Double CD.

3CD – Double CD and DVD Version.

3CD+ – Double CD and Blu-Ray Version

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