Music Releases 09-23-22
“The whole point of this record was to share every emotion that I feel,” says The Soft Moon’s Luis Vasquez.“No two songs are the same. It’s about existing in the world as a human being and experiencing many emotions and experiences throughout life.”
And so hence the title Exister, a record rooted in the ecstatic joys and crippling lows that life can throw up and how just hanging on and existing is sometimes all we have. “Exister is my way of saying ‘I’m here, deal with it.’” Vasquez says.
Sonically, this expression is a vast, expansive and potent one. The opening ‘Sad Song’, which unfurls with a dense brooding atmosphere, Vasquez describes as almost a ballad, while tracks such as ‘The Pit’ capture the opposite end of the musical spectrum, exploding as a thundering piece of industrial techno complete with gut-churning levels of bass. ‘Monster’ - a song that follows a human metamorphosis into an unrecognizable and destructive being - seamlessly combines a deeply melodic, almost electro pop, vocal hook with a slow build atmospherics to create something equally beautiful and unsettling. ‘Become the Lies’ explores the devastating consequences of being lied to by your own family and is a post-punk stomper, merging charging basslines, pummelling drums and snaking guitars, all of which combine explosively. Elsewhere the album runs the gauntlet of everything from ambient to dark wave - features ferocious guest contributions from fish narcand Special Interest’s Alli Logoton ‘Him’ and ‘Unforgiven’ - all while retaining that distinct tone that unmistakably The Soft Moon.
If there was a living, breathing rock’n’roll meme, who else could it possibly be? And this meme won’t stand still.
46 years into his recording career, Billy Idol is still the ever-moving myth, the intellectual/feral internet-age bookworm/caveman of our dreams, finding modern language for the fiery, Eddie Cochran-meets-Ziggy Stardust rip’n’roar that he’s been making since he first stepped on stage. And that’s all on The Cage EP, out September 23rd on Dark Horse Records; four tracks that engage you like classic Idol, yet keep your eyebrows raised like that stuff you heard coming out of that teenagers’ car that just rolled down the street.
It’s funny; maybe the name really did define him. 46 years ago when everyone was sniffing the nihilistic glue and giving themselves snotty little punk rock names, it was supposed to be “Idle” – but someone wrote it wrong, and William Broad became Billy Idol instead. And that’s what he became: An idol. But this idol is not made of stone, and he’s certainly not stuck on a pedestal to be done, dusted, and dusty. Billy Idol insists on being today’s news, not just yesterday’s memory. He fire-breathes dreams and nightmares, he delivers clubland croon and Bolan-blessed cool, and he moves through the desert, sluices through the cities, speeds across oceans, hills, mesas, and time. And if you think Idol is Idle, you haven’t heard The Cage EP.
It’s been exactly one year since Billy Idol released his last EP, also on the George Harrison-founded Dark Horse Records – the rich and diverse Butch Walker-produced The Roadside, which had the effect of being both in your face and full of the uncertainty and darkness of the pandemic. But a lot has happened during that time. First and foremost, Billy Idol and Steve Stevens hit the road again, and that amazing energy infected their new work.
Billy Idol: “The last EP, we were kind of warming up to this. This EP is a lot more coming at you. Loads more guitar. And that’s a lot of fun. We were pretty fired up by the fact that we hadn’t played for a couple of years, and suddenly we were bursting on stage, and it kind of woke us up to what the next EP could be: That it could be a little more strum und drang, a little more coming at you, a little more rock’n’roll, a little more f*ck you! Well, a tiny bit of f*ck you, anyhow. The bottom line is we had a lot of fun doing it.”
“Cage,” the title cut of the EP, may be Billy and Steve’s most ferocious and flat-out punk rocker in decades. In fact, it may even make you think that the spiraling riffs, soaring melodies, and morse-code rhythms of Generation X have been transported into the 21st century.
“Classic is what we were shooting for,” says co-producer Zakk Cervini.. It’s loud guitars and live drums yet treated in such a way that it can live alongside music being made today. I asked myself, ‘If Billy was a brand-new artist today, what would he be making?’ And that’s what we shot for. One of the goals Tommy and I had was to help Billy and Steve make songs that would just go crazy live. This time around, we were all thinking, shows are back, the world is opening up again, this is exciting, we want new material that just goes off live. High energy, kickass great rock songs. That’s what we shot for, and I think that’s what we got.”
From the first bass note within the driving drum beat you can tell something is different about the new record from Nikki Lane. The backbeat feels like a gutsy strut while the lead guitar feels like a revved up engine shifting gears. Denim & Diamonds comes out firing, spit shining the cowboy boots and tossing on a jean jacket. Produced by Joshua Homme (Queens of the Stone Age), Denim & Diamonds has the Highway Queen embracing a more rock-oriented sound while still maintaining the heartfelt outlaw country sound she has developed across her previous three releases. Denim & Diamonds still has the fuck-off flare of which Nikki has come to be known. Her stylized, story-telling lyrics are all there as well as her catchy country hooks. The outlaw country sound is now balanced out with a gritty guitar and a machine gun snare that echoes the sound of 70’s rock. Nikki Lane has made a record that sounds new and old. Familiar and surprising. She embraces where she has come from, (“First High”, “Born Tough”) the lessons learned along the way, (“Good Enough”, “Try Harder”) all while doing things her way, (“Denim & Diamonds”, “Black Widow”).
Daddy Yankee’s farewell album LEGENDADDY combines all the styles that have defined him in one single album. It contains 19 tracks and has the most superb guest list yet including Bad Bunny, Rauw Alejandro, Nile Rodgers, Becky G and more. He also collaborated with some of the industry’s hottest producers including Play-N-Skillz, Luny (Luny Tunes) and Tainy. LEGENDADDY stands out as his first album in ten years and his boldest, brightest, and biggest musical statement ever.
Four-time GRAMMY nominee, multi-platinum selling saxophonist Boney James’ new album Detour marks his 18th release as a leader. Following the success of his 2020 album Solid (#1 Billboard Contemporary Jazz Chart and #10 Billboard Top Albums), Boney’s new record showcases ten original tracks including “Coastin’” featuring iconic vocalist Lalah Hathaway. Also featured is trumpeter Dontae Winslow, known for his work with the West Coast Get Down.
Steve Bates is an artist and musician known for his work with post-rock ensemble Black Seas Ensemble, duos with Timothy Herzog and Sophie Trudeau of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, amongst others, as well as a series of digital-only sonic explorations on his own label, The Dim Coast.
All The Things That Happen is his first full-length album for Constellation. For this album, Bates pursued a more stripped down exploration of the noisier terrain of the cheap timbre and tonality of the much-loved Casio SK-1 keyboard sampler. These sounds were fed through a variety of electronics, effects, amps, cassettes recorders to shift into their current form heard on these tracks. Steve notes that all the tracks started off as ambient, “but I always kept reaching for more texture and noise.” Getting reacquainted with the Casio SK-1 was the initial focus on developing the music here. Processed and manipulated during the recording and mixing stages, these initial SK-1 sessions became the foundation of this body of music. Working within the rich world of experimental electronics, these tracks have a core melodicism to them and maybe even a melancholy, as distortion and overtones saturate and spray the music in various directions, while feeling whole and integrated as a body of sound.
Dan Álvarez de Toledo and Jordan Dunn-Pilz have a special bond. Growing up in Newburyport, Massachusetts, the two were fast and unshakable friends through sleepovers, school choir practices, and discovering formative bands, to the point that now, as roommates in Brooklyn, they finish each other’s sentences. This shared history and obvious love for each other are tangible in their songwriting project TOLEDO, named after the Spanish town and Álvarez’s familial namesake. Their music, which is full of seamless harmonies throughout, skirts the softer edges of indie rock and the darker fringes of pop with each song imbuing a heaping dose of vulnerability and emotional openness.
On How It Ends, their debut album which is out September 23 via Grand Jury Music, the two dive into each other’s family histories and traumas as they navigate their own lives as twenty-something musicians. These tracks are striking for their blunt honesty but also for the way Álvarez and Dunn-Pilz’s real-life chemistry translates on record: the 12 songs are as tender as a warm hug and as clarifying as a needed reality check. This LP is the product of deep self-reflection and the necessary hard work that comes with any relationship.
Through the writing of these songs and the making of this music, I found my way back to the world around me – a way to reach nature and the people I love and care about. This record is a sensory exploration that allowed for a connection to a consciousness that I was searching for. Through the resonance of sound and a beaten up old piano I bought in Camden Market while living in a city I had no intention of staying in, I found acceptance and a way of healing.” Beth Orton describes Weather Alive, her most personal album to date, as “a collaboration with time – of someone struggling to make sense. And in that struggle, something beautiful got made.” For Orton, music re-emerged in the past several years as a tethering force, even when her own life felt more tumultuous than ever. After wrestling with mysterious health issues for years, she turned a major corner in 2014 when at long last she received a correct diagnosis and was able to begin managing her condition with medication. However, Orton found this newfound clarity almost as disempowering as the mystery of her inexplicable illness because it waylaid her sense of self, and when strange occurrences persisted, she was only able to process them through long periods of making music at the upright piano installed in a shed in her garden. These sessions in solitude turned into the eight-track Weather Alive, the first album Orton has self-produced in her 30-year career. The piano spoke to Orton, holding an emotional resonance she wasn’t able to explore with guitar. Indeed, the first notes of the album-opening title track usher the listener into an expansive, emotive and dream-like world of sound with little precedence in Orton’s prior work, and through the writing of these songs and the making of this music, Orton found her way back to the world around her. Orton’s close collaborators on Weather Alive include Tom Skinner (Sons of Kemet, The Smile) on drums and Tom Herbert on bass, with additional players adding nuance and color to the music: Shahzad Ismaily on guitar, drums, harmonica, bass and Moog, Sam Beste on vibraphone, Francine Perry on synths, and Alabaster dePlume on saxophone.
Divino Niño are no strangers to bold reinvention. When Camilo Medina and Javier Forero—friends whose bond dates back to their childhoods in Bogotá, Colombia—moved to Chicago and recruited guitarist Guillermo Rodriguez to form a band, they were psych-pop outsiders playing live shows with a drum machine. With the addition of drummer Pierce Codina, their 2019 breakthrough and debut LP for Winspear, Foam, solidified their place as local indie rock mainstays. Soon after, multi-instrumentalist Justin Vittori joined to round out their lineup. Once again, with their masterful, unpredictable, and eminently danceable new album, the band has done something radical: They totally upended the way they write songs, eschewing practice room jams for unrelentingly collaborative beats, implied grooves for immersive dance floor heaters, and mellow vibes for frenetic doses of reggaeton, electropop, and trap on their most adventurous and ambitious work to date. Welcome to the Last Spa on Earth.
Written and recorded over the past two years, Last Spa on Earth deals in release and catharsis: confronting your darkest moments and coming out better for it. The album artwork, done by Medina, a longstanding visual artist, depicts a dreamy, yet graffiti-tagged spa, void of physical bodies so listeners can envision themselves in this unique environment. It represents the yin and yang approach Divino Niño took while creating the album: the serenity of the spa and the chaos of the party. Ultimately, the band’s desire is to provide healing in the same way one feels after sweating, shivering, stretching, and resting at the spa against the backdrop of the world’s darkness. Last Spa on Earth is the cathartic product of Divino Niño letting go of their musical preconceptions, past traumas, and future anxieties to embrace change, chaos, and each other’s contributions both to these songs and to each other.
Troubadour, meaning an itinerant singer of songs, is a word that dates back centuries, and comes from the French verb “trouver,” which is to find. These musical wanderers would find and invent stories humorous and intellectual, romantic and earthy, performing them as they went from town to town. Troubadour is also the word that acclaimed musician-raconteur Todd Snider leans on to describe himself and his latest release, Live: Return of the Storyteller.
“I think my first thought with this record was I wanted to remind people really quickly that I'm a troubadour,” says Snider. “Playing live is the only chance for me to show, 'This is what I really do.' I've never thought of myself as a recording artist. I'm someone who gets over by traveling around, telling stories, making up new songs and singing them alone on stage.”
Before he even made his professional debut with Songs For The Daily Planet in 1994, Snider already knew that he wanted to be part of this time-honored tradition. “I like the romantic notion of drifting around and laughing your way through life,” he says. “Like Jim Croce or Mark Twain. I felt like I was half-doing that anyway. When I was 19, I was a real drifter and a sofa circuit person. Then when I first saw Jerry Jeff Walker and John Prine play, I became obsessed. I followed them both around like The Grateful Dead. I saw that the difference between a free spirit and a freeloader was three chords.
“And as soon as I figured that out, I knew that it would help me as a person who didn't have a plan. Just to be a busker. I didn't want to sign up for normal life. I wanted to do another thing, and then it turned into a real gig. I was really surprised. It's still funny to be getting away with it.”
That speaks to Snider's modesty about his singular talent and deep catalog of songs of every emotional stripe. Rolling Stone has called him “America's sharpest musical storyteller” while the New York Times described him as “a wryly quotable phrasemaker and worthy antagonist.” Live: Return of the Storyteller – his third live album and nineteenth overall - plays like a masterclass by one man with a guitar and a freewheeling imagination. Threading his husky-voiced phrasing through a likable cosmic cowboy manner, he invites you on a tour of tunes humorous (“Big Finish,” and the have-meets- have-not “In Between Jobs”), Proustian (“Play a Train Song,” “Too Soon To Tell,” and the lump-in-the-throat snapshot of John Prine on “Handsome John”) and heart-worn (“Like a Force of Nature,” “The Very Last Time,” “Roman Candles”). As the fifteen-song set unfolds, you can feel a tangible bond building between Snider and his fans.
But the songs are only half of what makes the connection so compelling.
Acting as palate cleansers and putty, the stories between numbers offer colorful glimpses into Snider's interior life. Whether he's talking about being mistaken for a homeless guy in a nice hotel, searching for a song in the woods while tripping or the poetry of one of his heroes dying on stage, his spoken interludes are delivered with both meandering charm and deadly comic timing.
Snider credits an unlikely source of inspiration for both. “The comedian Richard Lewis is a friend and a mentor, and we talk almost every day,” Snider says. “We met about six or seven years ago through a drummer who's a mutual friend, and really hit it off. I feel like since I've known him, my storytelling has evolved. I don't know that I've gotten better, but a lot of the ways I approach my shows is from learning things from Richard. Especially this idea of being able to go on and on without just going on and on. To ramble without getting boring.”
Snider is also mindful about not repeating himself when he's returning to a familiar venue, which can add a tightrope quality to his performances. “On this record, when I left Nashville, I didn't know what I was going to say,” he admits. “I just knew that it couldn't be the same shit that I've said. I was going to have to have some new stories to tell. That's how it's been for years. Then one night, I'll get up there and open my mouth and something new comes out. And then I'll just keep telling it and refining it. It happens under pressure.”
The timing of Live: Return of the Storyteller's release has extra resonance in our post-pandemic era. Snider says, “I'm glad I recorded the tour last year, because that was the sound of the country getting to see live music again. It was unique and it won't happen again. Everyone just hugs at the start of a concert - you can tell that they're glad to see each other, and then they get more excited than they used to be about just being out and seeing music. I'm sure that it will go back to normal, but it hasn't yet.”
While the album captures what Snider laughingly calls his “second tour - because I went out on the road in '94 and never went home until the pandemic” - it acts as both a summing up of a thirty-year career and a look ahead.
“I always think that being a recording artist isn't something that I've thrived at,” he says. “I have fun with it and try all different kinds of music and try to learn more and more, but the only reason I get to do it is because of the main thing I do - which is travel around by myself and sing and tell stories. That thing works. Since I was twenty, that thing has worked. People come to see me do it and I love to do it.”
Sunny Sweeney, a genre-bending songwriting spitfire who has spent equal time in the rich musical traditions of Texas and Tennessee, returns with 'Married Alone', the celebrated singer-songwriter’s fifth studio album and the follow-up to 2017’s critically acclaimed 'Trophy'. Co-produced by beloved Texas musician and larger-than-life personality Paul Cauthen and the Texas Gentlemen’s multi-hyphenate Beau Bedford, Married Alone is Sweeney’s finest work yet, bringing together confessional songwriting, image-rich narratives and no shortage of sonic surprises for a loosely conceptual album about loss and healing.
"Before I made this album, I did two things I’d never done before. I saw Stevie Nicks in concert with Fleetwood Mac, and I toured with Bob Seger. While Waylon and Loretta are tattooed on my heart and I’m deep-rooted in fiddle, steel, and twangy telecaster, this time, I channelled my deep love for rock icons Stevie, Tom Petty, Neil Young and Bob Seger in a way I never have before. I married ethereal rock vibes with the grit of a country lyric. Paul Cauthen took the helm as producer and brought in the stellar Beau Bedford and Jeff Saenz to complete the trifecta to get the sound we were going for. The majority of the album was recorded at Modern Electric Sound Recorders in Dallas, TX and features some of the band members I play with every night on tour. I want my fans to be able to take home that live experience, the guitar tones, fiddle solos - I leave everything on the stage each night and I want people to feel that in this recording."
Vinyl: $34.98 Buy
Iron Fist is repositioned as a vital snapshot of Motörhead at a crucial period when they found themselves caught in the tornado ignited by success and, in true Motörhead style, careered into their next phase at such velocity it transcended logic or reason to become this trio’s final kamikaze joyride. Forty years later, with fall-out long dissipated and a proper mastering job that avoided it at the time, Iron Fist sounds like prime Motörhead with the gloves and seat-belts off. For sheer velocity, it could be fastest of them all, the ferocious title track earning such an accolade in Kerrang! in its tribute spread to Lemmy after he passed away. By 1982, punk had been and gone, the new wave of heavy metal sounded squeaky and cliched next to its grubby godfathers and, while still trouncing all opposition, Motörhead retained that essential ability to laugh at everything, including themselves as they made lightning raids on every sense and orifice with everything cranked to overload. This is the limited edition black & blue swirl vinyl single LP of the album
On Internal Radio, the new album by Eerie Wanda, visual artist and musician Marina Tadic welcomes you to her inner world. Guided by intuition, Tadic’s songs use haunting, ethereal space, growing whole universes from the seeds of ideas. Internal Radio documents Tadic becoming the artist she wants to be, working through some things, and even exorcizing a few demons. The result is the most realized Eerie Wanda album yet, building on the project’s guitar pop past for a more experimental, other-worldly, serious grown-up affair that ventures into sensitive, emotional territory.
Ali Farka Touré trekked the world, bringing his beloved Malian music to the masses. Dubbed “the African John Lee Hooker,” one could hear strong connections between the two; both employed a bluesy style of play with gritty textures that elicit calm and fury in equal measure. While the influence of Black blues music prevailed, Touré created a West African blend of 'desert blues' that garnered Grammy awards and widespread reverence.
Though he transcended in 2006, Ali’s musical legacy lives on through his son, Vieux aka “the Hendrix of the Sahara,” an accomplished guitarist and champion of Malian music in his own right. On Ali, his collaborative album with Khruangbin, Vieux pays homage to his father by recreating some of his most resonant work, putting new twists on it while maintaining the original’s integrity. The result is a rightful ode to a legend.
Ali isn’t just a greatest hits compilation. It’s a lullaby, a remembrance of Ali's life through known highlights and B-sides from his catalog. It is a testament to what happens when creativity is approached through open arms and open hearts. “To me, music is magic, it is spontaneous, it is the energy between people,” Vieux says. “I think Khruangbin understands this very well.”
The genesis of the album dates back to 2019, when Khruangbin, coming off their breakthrough album Con Todo el Mundo, was beginning to play to bigger crowds. The record was finished in 2021, as a global pandemic shuttered businesses and forced us to take stock of what Earth was becoming. Indirectly, Ali captures this as a moment of peace within a raging storm, a conversation between past and present without allegiance to suffering. Now, given Khruangbin’s reach as a unit with legions of fans (including the likes of Jay-Z and Paul McCartney), they’re poised to bring Malian music to broader groups of listeners.
Vinyl: $199.98 Buy
THE KINKS, Muswell Hillbillies & Everybody’s In Show-Biz – Everybody’s a Star deluxe 6LP, 4CD box set is being released through BMG on September 9, 2022 in celebration of the 50th Anniversary. The box set combines two of THE KINKS’ classic 1970’s albums - Muswell Hillbillies, the album the band toured in America; and helped define them as a rock band in the U.S.. And Everybody’s In Show-Biz – Everybody’s a Star; the album that was written in reflection of the tour. Packaged inside a newly designed two-part box, this deluxe set includes remastered audio from the original Muswell Hillbillies & Everybody’s In Show-Biz, pressed across 5 color vinyl and 4 CD’s. Also includes a bonus heavyweight black vinyl of 11 new Ray Davies remixes and a Blu-Ray video of “Ray Davies 1971 Home Movie”. Also included in the release is a “London Roots Map” of all the Kinks landmarks, x6 glossy photos, a Kinks Pin-Badge and 52pp hardback book including rare and unseen band photos and quotes.
Vinyl: $45.99 Buy
ABBA’s all-time best-selling album is now available as a limited-edition Picture Disc 2 LP for the very first time, featuring 19 timeless hits such as “Dancing Queen” and “Mamma Mia.” Pressed on 180-gram heavyweight vinyl which features classic ABBA graphics on the design, the discs are housed in a die-cut gatefold sleeve.
Searching In Grenoble: The 1978 Solo Piano Concert is a previously unissued recording of jazz icon Mal Waldron's mesmerizing performance at the "Five Days of Jazz" series in Grenoble, France on March 23, 1978. Waldron was Billie Holiday's final accompanist, played with John Coltrane, Charles Mingus and Jackie McLean, and recorded dozens of solo albums before his passing in 2002. The beautifully designed, deluxe 2-CD set includes photos, an extensive 24-page booklet, essays and interviews.
Nonesuch Records releases Pulitzer Prize and Grammy Award–winning composer Caroline Shaw’s Evergreen, performed by Shaw and Attacca Quartet, on September 9, 2022. Evergreen is five original works by Shaw: two suites written for string quartet—Three Essays and The Evergreen—two pieces written for string quartet and voice, and one piece written solely for string quartet. It also includes an interpretation of a twelfth century French poem, which the Quartet performs with Shaw on vocals.
Following 2019’s Orange, which featured six of Shaw’s pieces for string quartet and earned Attacca Quartet a Grammy Award for Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance, Evergreen was built around the titular four-song suite, first performed by the Viano String Quartet in 2021. Shaw describes the work as an offering to one particular tree in an evergreen forest on Swiikw (Galiano Island), off the west coast of Canada. The album also includes Three Essays, a suite written for and premiered by Calidore String Quartet that addresses language’s power to stir emotion and spread information and ideas through written, spoken, and digital forms; And So, a piece composed for the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale and mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter as part of Shaw’s Is a Rose trilogy; Blueprint, a work originally composed for the Aizuri Quartet and relating closely to an early string quartet by Beethoven; Other Song, a piece written for the National Symphony Orchestra and originally released on Shaw's 2021 solo vocal debut, Let the Soil Play Its Simple Part; and an interpretation of Cant voi l’aube, a poem by twelfth century trouvère, Gace Brulé.