Our selection of the best new music across a range of genres from the week ending 19 June 2020.
Fronted by Brent DeBoer of The Dandy Warhols (US) and boasting Aussie indie rock queen Courtney Barnett and her bandmates as former members, Immigrant Union are a local band with international rock royalty heritage. With their unique Australian-American psychedelic/folk/country sound, Immigrant Union have supported Noel Gallagher and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and toured their own headline shows. Their third album JUDAS features relative newcomers Ben Street (bass) and Paddy McGrath-Lester (drums) who join founding members Brent DeBoer, Bob Harrow and Peter Lubulwa for the first time following the Barnett-trio’s departure of ‘13. Recorded in Melbourne and mixed in Portland, Oregon, JUDAS combines Immigrant Union’s signature Americana elements with rock to present their most explorative sound yet.
Michael Olatuja’s album Lagos Pepper Soup is a fresh and innovative take on the long cross-continental dialogue between Black American jazz and West African popular music. Lagos Pepper Soup is an ambitious work of African diasporic jazz, reflecting Olatjua’s own experience – he was born in London, raised in Lagos, and based in New York. Olatuja’s bass playing throughout the album is vibrant and endlessly creative. Coupled with his compositional skill and performances from an impressive list of guest vocalists and instrumentalists, Lagos Pepper Soup is a bold and colorful release that comfortably holds space for a rich musical exchange between American jazz and the music of the African continent.
April 25th, 2020: An Evening of Songs Performed at Home is a live recording from Aoife O’Donovan’s home in New York. The show was originally streamed live on April 25, 2020 and raised just over $10,200 for CHiPS, a soup kitchen and young mother shelter in Brooklyn. Now the record is available to the public. It features Aoife O’Donovan on guitar and vocals, Colin Jacobsen on violin, and Eric Jacobsen on cello. The record includes several of O’Donovan’s originals as well as some surprising additions.
Owen is the solo project of Mike Kinsella. As a departure from over a decade of work playing in a variety of bands – Cap’n Jazz, American Football, Owls and Their / They’re / There to name a few – Owen became Kinsella’s way of finally exercising complete creative control over all aspects of a project, including songwriting, recording, and overall artistic direction. With new album The Avalanche, he delivers a set of Owen songs that are the most straightforward and unguarded the project has ever been. The Avalanche takes on a new refinement, with spacious musical landscapes making room for devastating lyrics that return to themes of an unravelling marriage and big endings. On previous albums, sarcasm and wry humor would dull the sting of heavier lyrics. It’s a guided walk through one of life’s more difficult chapters, resulting in nine of the best Owen songs ever penned and an album that’s as heartbreaking as it is magnificent.
Star violinist Arabella Steinbacher presents Antonio Vivaldi’s world-famous Four Seasons alongside Astor Piazzolla’s Cuatro estaciones porteñas, creating a lively combination of baroque and tango. The enormous popularity of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons tends to overshadow the original and ground-breaking nature of these violin concertos. Coupling them with Piazzolla’s tango-inspired Four Seasons of Buenos Aires makes both pieces sound fresher than ever before, thanks to Steinbacher’s personal engagement with the repertoire and the inspired accompaniment of the Münchener Kammerorchester. Piazzolla’s music is performed here in a new arrangement for violin and string orchestra by Peter von Wienhardt, who provided Strauss song arrangements on Steinbacher’s previous album Aber der Richtige (2018).
Panic/Desire is the third full length album from Melbourne electronic artist Simona Castricum — an allegory about gender non-conformity lived in the spaces between urban and digital realms. Simona Castricum has evolved into one of Melbourne’s unique underground electronic artists, DJs and producers of synthwave and techno-pop. Hers is inspired by gender and sexual nonconformity, relationships with architecture and dreamy futures of transgender cities between URL and IRL spaces. Simona’s iconic live performances are cardio-electronic percussive expressions in rubberism, smoke haze and laser beams, shared catharsis, and self-confrontation.
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David Edwards is the editor of The Blurb and a contributor on film and television