Our selection of the best new music across a range of genres from the week ending 4 December 2020.
Australian icon Mia Dyson is reissuing her ARIA Award-winning 2005 album Parking Lots on vinyl, celebrating the 15-year milestone release with an additional Parking Lots (Revisited) EP and 2021 East Coast Tour. Heading back into the studio in 2020 to revisit five songs from the album, Mia’s Parking Lots (Revisited) EP sheds new light on a selection of her favourite cuts from the record. From beloved single ‘Roll Me Out’ to the stunning homage of motherly love on ‘Rivers Wide’, and the simple yet captivating title track to the empowering ‘Choose’ and heartbreaking ‘I Meant Something To You Once’, the EP captures the sheer musical mastery of an artist who continues to redefine the blues and roots genre, 15 years on, with the rest of her expansive career still to come.
Calexico have released their first holiday album Seasonal Shift via Spunk Records. Less of a Christmas album and more of a cross cultural seasonal celebration, the themes of Seasonal Shift are based around that familiar end of year feeling of reflection, of ceremony and of recognition of the year gone by and changes it brought for better and for worse. Seasonal Shift contains a few cover songs, including classics by John Lennon and Tom Petty, a few special guests, and a whole lot of good will. It’s heartfelt but fun, and earnest but celebratory. It features Calexico in an assortment of guises, referencing Portuguese fado and old Mexican folk songs, from the stripped back two-man skeleton to the full party of international collaborators, including artists like Bombino, Gaby Moreno, Gisela João, Nick Urata (DeVotchKa) and Camilo Lara.
Formed in 2009 and based in Copenhagen, Girls in Airports are an award-winning Danish band. Their captivating soundscape crosses musical genres and geographical borders. They combine jazz, indie and urban folk into a unique expression of heart stirring melody-laden elegiac hooks and dance-friendly globally-influenced rhythms. Their new album, Dive, is out now on Mawi Music / Sony Music.
Half Japanese return with another thrilling ride into unknown charters encountering beasts, celebrities, and menaces. Purveyors of noise and indie rock for over four decades, Half Japanese have inspired generations of fans from musicians and critics alike. Now the band have released their 19th studio album Crazy Hearts (Fire Records). The record continues with their detuned, outsider pop capturing you in the way that only founder Jad Fair ever can.
Young Egyptian soprano Fatma Said has been praised for the luminosity and rich colours of her voice. Now she makes her recording debut for Warner Classics with El Nour. Her enticing and absorbing recital programme crosses cultures, combining art songs by French, Spanish and Egyptian composers with Egyptian folk songs and popular songs from the Middle East. As she explains, “‘El Nour’ in Arabic means ‘the light’, and this album sheds light on how music that has been interpreted many times can be perceived in a different light. The idea is to connect three cultures – Arabic, French and Spanish – and to show how much, despite cultural, geographical and historical differences, they have in common when it comes to music”.
Robbie Basho (1940-1986) is widely regarded as one of the progenitors of what’s commonly known today as American Primitive guitar. Growing up in Maryland alongside neo-traditional guitar explorers John Fahey and Max Ochs, Basho’s path would take a decidedly different turn, bringing Hindi, Indian, Japanese and Native American musical traditions into his work. His albums for Takoma and Vanguard have left an indelible trail of influence across generations of musicians, from William Ackerman and Pete Townshend to Ben Chasny and William Tyler. By arrangement with Basho’s Estate and the original custodians of the tapes, Tompkins Square has released Song of the Avatars : The Lost Master Tapes, a 5 CD set of previously unreleased material. The set includes notes by Barker, Henry Kaiser, Steffen Basho-Junghans, Glenn Jones and Richard Osborn, as well as many unseen photographs.
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David Edwards is the editor of The Blurb and a contributor on film and television