Our selection of the best new music across a range of genres from the week ending 18 September 2020.
John Coltrane’s Giant Steps – the influential jazz saxophonist’s first album with Atlantic Records – continues to astound and inspire listeners 60 years after its release. Consistently lauded in music histories, Giant Steps was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2001 and went gold in 2018. To celebrate this seminal album’s six-decade anniversary, Rhino has remastered Giant Steps and all 28 of its surviving sessions outtakes for two new collections. Giant Steps: 60th Anniversary Deluxe Edition is out now as a 180-gram double-LP set and as a double-CD set. Both versions include the newly remastered version of the original album plus eight alternate takes. The recordings come packaged in a replica of the original sleeve and labels used for the album’s first stereo pressing, and the packages, each with a booklet, include photos, never-before-seen images of Atlantic Records ephemera, original liner notes, and new liner notes written by Grammy-winning music historian, Ashley Kahn.
Three-time Grammy winner Sarah Jarosz has released her first new album in four years, World On The Ground. The collection – produced by John Leventhal (Rosanne Cash, Elvis Costello) and recorded in his Manhattan home studio – follows Jarosz’s 2016 release Undercurrent. World On The Ground is a collection of stories both real and imagined exploring the tension and inertia of small-town living. Jarosz, a native of Wimberley, TX (pop. 2,626) and current NYC resident, explores the desire for escape set against the ease of staying put. The album is populated by sensitive souls, aimless wanderers, and back-porch daydreamers. Their stories are illuminated by the album’s spacious yet intricate arrangements and Jarosz’s captivating voice and richly detailed songwriting. With the scope of a novel and a sound inspired by classic Texas songwriting, World On The Groundpaints a portrait that exists outside of time.
This week saw the release of the much-anticipated debut album from Californian – Melbournian artist El Tee, Everything Is Fine. El Tee – the moniker of Lauren Tarver – is an honest and vulnerable songwriter. She demands attention as she marries her dark-mood lyrics with a blanket of sonic warmth and intimacy – an unassuming pair that sits comfortably between the ebbs and flows of energy in her songs. Her debut is available digitally and on limited edition rose-coloured vinyl through an exclusive partnership with VNYL.
Lang Lang has realised a lifelong dream by recording Johann Sebastian Bach’s monumental keyboard work, the Goldberg Variations, often described as “a musical Everest”. The deluxe edition release features two complementary performances given by the pianist: the first recorded in a single take in concert at the Thomaskirche in Leipzig, Bach’s workplace for almost 30 years and site of his grave; and the second made soon after in the seclusion of the studio. The result is a world-first simultaneous live and studio album release. “I’m now 38 and, while that’s not old, I think the time was right for a new stage in my artistic development,” comments Lang Lang. “I’ve moved into new terrain with the Goldberg Variations and really immersed myself fully in this project. My goal as an artist is to keep becoming more self-aware and more knowledgeable, as well as to keep offering inspiration to others. It’s an ongoing process, but this project has taken me a little further along the path.”
Mildlife have shared their long-awaited second album, Automatic, out now digitally on Inertia Music, with physical copies landing in stores from 25 September. The new record is six tracks of cosmic jams, purpose built by the Melbourne multi-instrumentalists to fill dancefloors – even if that means cutting a rug in the living room, for now. With Automatic, the band have made a step-change from their debut Phase. It’s more disciplined, directional and arguably more danceable. As on Phase, they are unafraid to let a track luxuriate in length. In the years since the release of Phase, Mildlife sold out their debut national headlining tour, which was immediately followed by a ten date tour of the UK and Europe and culminated in a euphoric homecoming set at Meredith Music Festival. They’ve supported the likes of Stereolab, King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard, and Harvey Sutherland.
After five years The Apartments return with their seventh studio album In And Out Of The Light. Recorded in the summer of 2019, you could be forgiven for thinking the songs were written in response to the turmoil of 2020. On In And Out Of The Light, Peter Milton Walsh does what he does best, impressionistic storytelling that speaks to universal feelings and situations. The songs follow a set of characters who, in the aftermath of loss or simply the changes that turn up in everyone’s lives, have gone looking for some other way to live—and found it. Stories with the texture of this experience float through the intimate, reflective songs on the album. Here are eight tracks to get lost in—for a day, for a week, for a lifetime.
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David Edwards is the editor of The Blurb and a contributor on film and television