Our selection of the best new music across a range of genres from the week ending 31 July 2020.
Madeline Kenney bounds toward the unknown on her third album, Sucker’s Lunch. On the record, Kenney expands on the idea of what a love song could be – a little more cautious than exuberant, more nuanced than blazing devotion. Sonically, the album expands on Kenney’s earlier, guitar-driven sound – a definitive step forward from an artist adept at communicating universal sentiments in a voice unmistakably her own. To help realize her vision, Kenney once again enlisted Wye Oak’s Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack, previous collaborators and friends. Together, the trio carefully constructed the songs in a few compact sessions. Stack and Wasner’s rhythm section trace circles around Kenney’s off-kilter guitar, with verdant curls of synths, saxophone, and complex harmonies.
Alt-pop star E^ST has unveiled her debut album I’m Doing It. 2020 has been the year of E^ST; spearheaded by her rebound banger “Talk Deep” making it into the Hottest 100, she began releasing a streak of winning singles, including 60’s inspired ballad “Fresh Out of Love” and fast-paced quirky pop hit “Maybe It’s Me”. Her most recent single “I Wanna Be Here”, marked her biggest pop moment yet, showcasing her knack for melody and anthemic vocals. Fast becoming favourites with triple j and pop tastemakers around the world, including receiving praise from NME, TMRW Magazine and Clash Magazine, these singles have built high expectations for I’m Doing It.
New York-based trumpeter, composer and educator Charles Tolliver presents Connect, his first studio album in 13 years. Recorded to tape at RAK Studios last November by Tony Platt (Bob Marley, Abdullah Ibrahim), the line-up features top musicians from the New York jazz scene who have collectively played with the likes of Herbie Hancock, Nancy Wilson, and Chick Corea. Forming as the Charles Tolliver All Stars, the band includes Jesse Davis on alto saxophone, Keith Brown on piano, Buster Williams on double bass, and Lenny White on drums. The album also bridges together New York and London by featuring leading British saxophonist Binker Golding on two tracks, (Binker & Moses, Moses Boyd Exodus, Zara McFarlane).
On his new release Caravan Château, LA-based singer-songwriter Alex Izenberg creates a sophisticated world of his own. The beguiling 11-song collection reflects on the house of mirrors that is love. Izenberg crafts songs that are somehow understated but lavish; songs that map the vagaries of our own uncertain hearts.
After completing their cycle of Richard Strauss’ orchestral works, the Oslo Philharmonic and Vasily Petrenko explore a selection of folklore-inspired works by Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov on their latest release. In 1856, Rimsky-Korsakov enrolled as a naval cadet. But even before he left the naval academy, he knew he wanted to be a composer, not a seaman. His time there wasn’t wasted however, as it provided the composer with inspiration for the works on this recording, where the Spanish Capriccio, Op. 34 and the exotic tales of the Sultana in Scheherazade, Op. 35 meet the familiar sounds of the composer’s homeland in the Russian Easter Festival Overture, Op. 36. Vasily Petrenko is one of the most significant figures on the classical music scene today, and he has won numerous accolades for his recordings of the Russian repertoire, including two Gramophone Awards. With Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra he has recorded works of Shostakovich, Szymanowski, Strauss and Prokofiev, as well as a large cycle of orchestral works of Alexander Scriabin.
Becky and the Birds – the moniker of Swedish producer Thea Gustafsson – has released her new EP Trasslig. Featuring the singles “Do U Miss Me”, “Wondering” and “Paris”, Trasslig (Swedish for “entangled, messy, intricate”) celebrates the complexity of womanhood. Trasslig follows 2018’s self-released debut EP Becky And The Birds and showcases Gustafsson’s impressive soprano vocal range. Born in Örebro, Sweden, Gustafsson’s life has always been steeped in music, whether listening to traditional Swedish folk songs; following her father’s career as an accordionist or his passion for jazz and soul; her sister’s love of 90s R&B and hip-hop; or through her own experiences playing violin as a child and composing pieces for orchestras. A move to Stockholm in 2014 to attend Musikmakarna – a renowned music school in Sweden’s capital – exposed her to pop music for the very first time, coming face-to-face with music epitomised and made famous by the likes of Max Martin and Aviicii. Armed with skills in pop songcraft and production, Becky and the Birds came to life in 2016 in reaction to frustrating and fruitless encounters with male producers and songwriters.
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David Edwards is the editor of The Blurb and a contributor on film and television