Our selection of the best new music across a range of genres from the week ending 6 November 2020.
Ólafur Arnald’s new album – some kind of peace – was born out of the mantra: “we can’t control anything that happens to us. All we can do is control how we react to what life gives us.” The album is about what it means to be alive, daring to be vulnerable and the importance of rituals. It is a personal journey told through Ólafur’s introspective music, against the backdrop of a chaotic world. All the collaborators on the album were key to Ólafur’s life during the making of the album, including British musician Bonobo, featured on the album’s luminous pulsing opener, Icelandic singer and multi-instrumentalist JFDR who Ólafur has admired for years, and his friend Josin, a German singer-songwriter. While Ólafur’s previous album, 2018’s re:member, was a technological triumph featuring his ground-breaking, patented, self-playing and semi-generative Stratus Pianos, the beautiful some kind of peace strips back the layers to reveal the human side and the intimate.
A Bag Of Eyes is Seamus Fogarty’s third album — a wholly different sonic prospect to 2017’s much-lauded The Curious Hand. Weary of the guitar, and seeking something darker than its predecessor, he chose to lean more heavily on synths and drum machines, and additionally, to self-produce. The album was recorded across London, Kent and East Sussex and features Fogarty’s partner Emma Smith, Meilyr Jones, long-time collaborators Leo Abrahams, Aram Zarikian & John Fogarty, as well as someone slightly more unexpected, an audience member recorded live at one of Seamus’ gigs in Dublin.
Decca Classics has just released Carnival, a very special collaboration between Academy Award-winning actor Olivia Colman, children’s author Michael Morpurgo and the seven “extraordinarily talented” (Classic FM) Kanneh-Mason siblings – Isata, Braimah, Sheku, Konya, Jeneba, Aminata and Mariatu. Recorded at London’s Abbey Road Studios, the release includes new poems written by War Horse author Morpurgo to accompany French composer Saint-Saëns’ beloved musical suite ‘Carnival of the Animals’. The poems are read by the author himself, joined by The Favourite actor Colman, and guest musicians complete the ensemble for the suite.
Australia’s favourite jangly guitar/paisley popsters Ups and Downs return with …Another Country. The five-track EP features covers of much-loved new wave and post punk tunes from the ’80s! They say the past is ‘another country’, and it is well worth revisiting as Ups and Downs lovingly reclaim alternative classics by XTC, Wire, The Passions and The Comsat Angels. One of the EP highlights is the band’s gorgeous take on The Korgis hit ‘Everybody’s Got To Learn Sometime’ (written by James Warren). They perfectly capture the swoon and melancholic sway of the song, treating it with a gentle strum and shimmer. The icing on the cake comes in the form of legendary Australian-expat Rick Springfield who contributes a beautiful and yearning psychedelic guitar solo that adds a classic Beatles-esque feel to the recording.
Melody Gardot has released Sunset in the Blue, her highly anticipated new album. Sunset in the Blue is Gardot’s first release since 2018’s Live in Europe. The new album, ambitiously created during the pandemic, is both timeless and necessary. An underlying theme of determination to create and evolve her craft has always been present in Gardot’s work, but never more so than during the production of Sunset in the Blue. True to her character, despite numerous obstacles, she has assembled a stunning new body of work that highlights an impressive list of collaborations in perhaps the most challenging moment for musicians, worldwide.
Part 1 of Lanks’ double-album Spirits is out now. Spirits is Lanks most extensive and ambitious body of work so far, crafted over the past two and a half years between Melbourne and New York. The record showcases Lanks’ talents as producer, multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and talent curator. Featuring more than fifteen feature artists & producers including Alice Ivy, Ry X, HWLS, Just a Gent, Yorke, and Fossa Beats, the record traverses indie-electro, soul, alternative-pop, driving beats and haunting ambience. Part one of the record features a different vocalist on every song and includes album focus track ‘Child feat Harvie’ (the side project of another well-known Australian artist). The second part of the album will be out on February 19 and sees Lanks himself shine as lead vocalist on each track.
It’s Sydney in the year 2020 and for the last two years The Finalists have been honing their sound beneath a Waterloo tin roof, in a Petersham attic, and down long polished corridors leading to a Marrickville practice room. The result is First, the musical amalgamation of singer/guitarist and songwriter Mark Tobin (Scarlet, Panic Syndrome, The Black Halo), guitarist Robert Young (The Wednesday Night, Semi Lemon Kola), bassist Chris Familton (Charlie Horse, Thorazine Shuffle) and drummer Matt Brown (Charlie Horse). With a sound that draws on the group’s collective music history playing in a number of bands in Sydney, Australia and Auckland, New Zealand, they’ve concocted a blend of jangly guitar-based indie rock, with elements of psych-rock, shoegaze and post-punk threading through their debut album.
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David Edwards is the editor of The Blurb and a contributor on film and television