New music round-up

Our selection of the best new music across a range of genres from the week ending 23 October 2020.

Big Thief’s Adrianne Lenker has released two new albums, songs and instrumentals, out now through 4AD. songs and instrumentals are two distinct collections, both written and recorded in April after Big Thief’s March tour was abruptly cut short due to coronavirus. After returning to the US from Europe, Lenker decamped to a one room cabin in the mountains . “I grew really connected to the space itself,” says Lenker. “The one room cabin felt like the inside of an acoustic guitar — it was such a joy to hear the notes reverberate in the space.”


The Magik Markers are an American noise rock band. The members, Elisa Ambrogio, Pete Nolan and Leah Quimby started the band in their basement in 2001; and gained wider recognition after opening for Sonic Youth on their American tour in 2004. Now here we are in 2020, exploding like a dream. On their new album – 2020 – they process today’s numbed nation, and consider mysteries of growing up and being older (like a memory of the future from your youth – not how you expected, but still your life). Magik Markers rub on their roots, art-noise jamming their way into non-linear song-sense and raw, beautiful music all at once.


Simone Dinnerstein’s new album A Character of Quiet featuring music by Philip Glass & Franz Schubert. Known internationally for her concerts and recordings (among others her widely celebrated recording of the Goldberg Variations), Simone Dinnerstein was also the pianist for whom Philip Glass composed his Piano Concerto No.3 in 2017 which was released the following year by OMM on the album Circles – Piano Concertos by Bach and Glass. The new recording features three Glass etudes (Nos. 2, 6 and 16) alongside Schubert’s Piano Sonata No. 21 in B flat major (D960).


Sam Amidon’s self-titled album is out now digitally and on CD via Nonesuch Records. The new album, which Amidon considers the fullest realization to date of his artistic vision, comprises his radical reworkings of nine mostly traditional folk songs, performed with his band of longtime friends and collaborators. Amidon produced the record, applying the sonic universe of his 2017 The Following Mountain to these beloved tunes, many of which he first learned as a child. “Pretty Polly,” for example, was one of the first traditional tunes he learned to play, and “Time Has Made a Change” is a song that his parents—singers who were on the 1977 Nonesuch recording Rivers of Delight with the Word of Mouth Chorus—sang around the house when he was young.


Joel Ross nurtures his artistry in a continuum. The vibraphonist-composer lets melodies inform improvisation, and collective spontaneity inspire written composition. “I don’t believe in coming into anything with expectations,” he says. “As musicians, we’re just expressing ourselves.” In 2019, the Brooklyn-based artist of out Chicago issued his Blue Note debut KingMaker to peer acknowledgment and wide critical acclaim. An introduction to his longstanding outfit Good Vibes, the album received nods from The New York Times’ Best Jazz of 2019, NPR Music’s Jazz Critics Poll and Rolling Stone’s 2019 Jazz Listener’s Guide. Now, expanding the breadth of his expression with his second release Who Are You?, the young artist has actualized his sound. Who Are You? features familiar Good Vibes associates Jeremy Corren on piano, Immanuel Wilkins on alto saxophone and Jeremy Dutton on drums, and introduces their newest collaborator, Kanoa Mendenhall on bass.


On the cover of Emily Brown’s A Fish Of Earth an assortment of fruit lies scattered at the songwriter-poet’s feet. A solitary grapefruit husk lies off to the side, a corner of the unhemmed scarlet drapery drags in the dirt, five candles stand crooked and unlit as the sun descends. Like a painting from the Dutch Golden Age, the image juxtaposes still life and movement, as Brown sits patiently in the center, sporting a Mona-Lisa frown, unconcerned with the tangled array. Where her last album, 2018’s Bee Eater, was a pristine arrangement of lyrical chamber pop and film-grain flourishes, A Fish Of Earth leaves the edges wild. An untamable bramble of orchestration and vivid lyricism, A Fish of Earth (out October 23 on Song Club Records) is a love letter to the romantic sublime, honoring all that is wild, unmolded, resisting outside influence.

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