Our selection of the best new music across a range of genres from the week ending 8 January 2021.
Two years ago, what Henrik Appel intended as a side project ended up becoming a full-scale reinvention. After years spent establishing himself as one of the key figures of Stockholm’s punk underground – cutting his teeth on bass with Martin Savage Gang and fronting his own outfit, Lion’s Den – he released his first solo record, Burning Bodies, in 2018. His new album, Humanity, plays like a paean not just to Appel’s wide range of sonic influences, but to the breadth of his ideas as an artist. This is a record on which every side of him finds a way to coexist with the others; the breezy pop punk of the title track sits comfortably next to achingly pretty acoustic slow-burners like “Mrs. Spaceman”, whilst the moody slacker rock of opener “Brain” gives way, as the album progresses, to the likes of the woozy, atmospheric “I Need You” and the quietly reflective “I Want to Lie”, the latter of which works as Humanity’s thematic and musical centrepiece.
This is not nostalgia, but it does take the listener to a different time and a different place. Trevor Beld Jimenez brings the past to today on his debut solo album, I Like It Here. The record conjures images of the past and those sweet and simple pleasures we once all took for granted. The scratchy, soothing white noise between stations as you turn the dial on the radio in your dad’s Trans Am. The taste of sea salt on your lips, wrapped in a blanket, happily fatigued after a long day catching waves. The sun setting over a hill as you sit, huddled with your family, admiring the view below. The feeling of finally landing a trick on a skateboard on the ramp in your backyard. For others, it is that daydream of having experienced all of this and more.
Renowned bassist Cleveland Eaton recorded Plenty Good Eaton in 1975, right after he left Ramsey Lewis’ band. He recorded a grand total of 17 (!) different albums with Lewis for such labels as Argo, Cadet and Columbia, including the hit records Wade in the Water, Another Voyage, and Sun Goddess. Then, starting in 1980, Eaton spent a dozen years with Count Basie’s band. If you can imagine some blend of Lewis’ soul-funk with Basie’s hard-driving swing, you might just begin to grasp what’s on the menu of Plenty Good Eaton. Now, following Eaton’s passing in July 2020, Real Gone Music are re-issuing the record for a new generation to discover. As an added touch, the album graphics actually present the credits and songs as if they were menu entrees.
Six studio albums, four original motion picture scores, and a plethora of side projects… Sebastien Tellier writes with every breath, composes melodies to the whim of his obsessions like his musical peers Robert Wyatt, Todd Rundgren or Ariel Pink. Since Sessions (2006), the first time he covered his own repertoire, Sebastien experienced an international success with Sexuality, and released My God Is Blue and L’Aventura. He delved into the bustle of his new role as a father with Domesticated. His new album Simple Mind is a lush though minimalist resume of some of his most beautiful compositions ; a classic live-recorded album where old and more recent songs will find a confined listener caught in a wave of domestic bliss.
The seventeen string quartets of Mieczyslaw Weinberg span nearly half a century, from his student days in Warsaw to the end of his career in Moscow, and show his development as a composer more clearly than his work in any other genre. The Second Quartet, composed in 1939 – 40 whilst studying in Minsk, was dedicated to his mother and sister, who he would later learn had not survived the German invasion of Poland. Quartet No. 5, of 1945, was the first in which he added titles to each movement, and reflects the influence of Shostakovich over the young composer. The final quartet in this programme – No. 8 – was written in 1959 and dedicated to the Borodin Quartet. For many years the best-known of Weinberg’s quartets in the west, this single-movement work is divided into three sections with a coda. The Arcadia Quartet are passionate advocates for these quartets, writing: “[Weinberg’s] music is like a glow of light surrounded by the darkness of the unknown, and it quickly became a goal of ours to attempt to dilute these shadows. With every recording and every live performance of his music, we intend to shine some light on this wide ranging, profound phenomenon, which has remained overlooked for so long, and we hope that, with time, Mieczyslaw Weinberg will take his rightful place in the history of music.”
Other reviews you might enjoy:
- New music round-up
- Spencer Sings the Hits (Jon Spencer) – music review
- Hate for Sale (Pretenders) – music review
David Edwards is the editor of The Blurb and a contributor on film and television