This week I’ve happened to run afoul of highly-dedicated fans of both Lady Gaga and Kanye West on Twitter. I just happen to think that some of those big artists are more about hype and money than about art, and some fans take that personally I guess. That said, I don’t think much of Lady Gaga tweeting that “fame is prison” or Kanye spouting ignorant political statements for attention while proudly being off his meds. I think there are plenty of artists that don’t get the attention they deserve. It’s why you will from time to time see a big popstar included here, but only if I think highly of the music. This edition includes new singles from Michael Kiwanuka, Broken Bells, Julien Baker, Sudan Archives, Steve Mason, Wolf Parade, and Steve Gunn, a new collaboration from Sera Cahoone and Tomo Nakayama, and new albums from Neil Young, Joseph Arthur and Son Volt.
She’s been releasing some of my favorite music of the past couple years, so let’s talk Sudan Archives. We’re finally about to get her first full-length album after a pair of fantastic EPs from violinist and vocalist, Brittney Parks. Her Avant-garde violin playing, R&B groove, beautifully layered loops, and subtle yet powerful messaging give us a catchy and accessible sound with plenty of rewards to repeated listening. It’s complex and layered while still sounding sparse and open. I first heard “Wake Up” on the radio, and I found myself listing to her self-titled debut EP on repeat. In her singles and EP’s, every single track has been excellent, and if she can do this in the full album format then this will be among the best of the year without a doubt. If you aren’t familiar, then I highly recommend listening to Sudan Archives (2017), and Sink (2018). The new album, Athena, is out November 1st.
Neil Young has reunited with Crazy Horse after a 7-year break. It’s all got the the feel that you want and expect from a Neil Young & Crazy Horse record, but this is a group that you would never make a something for the feel-good nostalgia of it. Young is still very presen-minded and in-touch in his writing. In the band’s typical raw sound, the record blasts an impassioned environmentalist message directly and unapologetically. Neil and Crazy Horse remain consistent in their desire for a real and raw sound. You won’t find the auto-tune or polished production here. This record sounds like it would if they played it live. There’s a balance here that maybe goes under-appreciated. Keeping that missed note on a solo or that bit where the background vocals were out of sync rather than re-recording another take, but also not making a record that sounds like a jumbled mess. There are fine lines to walk, and some will find that truthful sound a bit uncomfortable. Perhaps it’s for those who appreciate that little crackle of an old record. Personally, I think they balance pretty well on that tightrope as they maybe lean a bit one way or the other at different points.
Some particular favorites of mine this edition include L’Orange & Jeremiah Jae, Sudan Archives, Sera Cahoone & Tomo Nakayama, Son Volt, and Steve Gunn.
Michael Kiwanuka – You Ain’t The Problem
Broken Bells – Good Luck
Steve Mason – Like a Ripple
Julien Baker – Tokyo
Lucy Dacus – Dancing in the Dark
Son Volt – Broadsides
Steve Gunn – Be Still Moon
Low Roar – Darkest Hour
Jesca Hoop – Outside of Eden (feat. Kate Stables & Justis)
Buscabullo – Vamona
Renata Flores – Qam Hina
Sara Hebe – Urgente
L’Orange, Jeremiah Jae – Clay Pigeons (feat. billy woods)
Kim Gordon – Paprika Pony
Sufjan Stevens, Timo Andres – IV
Sudan Archives – Glorious
Beck – Uneventful Days
Of Monsters and Men – Vulture, Vulture
Wolf Parade – Against the Day
Joseph Arthur – I’ll Be Around
Sera Cahoone, Tomo Nakayama – Crows
Neil Young & Crazy Horse – She Showed Me Love