Our selection of the best new music across a range of genres from the week ending 1 October 2021.
As a lifelong fan of anime, Steven Ellison (better known as Flying Lotus) was struck by the lack of Black characters in the genre. So he decided to do something about it, signing on as an executive producer of Yasuke, a Netflix series from creator LeSean Thomas about a Black samurai in feudal Japan. Naturally, Flying Lotus scored the series too. An extension of the genre-free experiments of his solo catalogue, his soundtrack for the show doubles as an ambitious act of world-building. Produced under the kinds of deadlines that don’t normally apply to his sprawling albums, this one moves quickly through different moods and style.
The Music of “You Are Good” Vol. 1 is a new album from songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Carolyn Kendrick, inspired by the “feelings podcast about movies” You Are Good, hosted by Sarah Marshall and Alex Steed. Kendrick also serves as music director and producer of the podcast. In each episode, Sarah and Alex speak with a guest about a movie that has touched their lives in a thoughtful and poignant way. Guests and movies have included Mara Wilson (A Christmas Story), Sean Nelson of Harvey Danger (Dazed and Confused), Chris Gethard (Grosse Pointe Blank) and many more. You Are Good listeners – whose enthusiasm resulted in the creation of this album – will recognise Carolyn’s stunning and otherworldly re-imaginings of songs featured in the films discussed, such as her covers of “Spanish Ladies” (inspired by the Jaws episode) and Jackson Browne’s “These Days,” performed by Nico in The Royal Tenenbaums and taken to a completely new plane in Carolyn’s recording. Kendrick also composed original songs inspired by film, such as “Sweet Marissa,” written from the perspective of Matthew McConaughey’s character Wooderson from Dazed and Confused.
Drummer Joe Farnsworth celebrates the fortitude of New York City’s jazz community with City of Sounds featuring legendary pianist Kenny Barron and stellar bassist Peter Washington. Captured onstage at Smoke Jazz & Supper Club, the three are reunited from Farnsworth’s previous release, Time to Swing, which also included Wynton Marsalis in the line-up. Here, Farnsworth sticks to the classic piano trio, a format in which he’s thrived throughout his storied career including collaborations with McCoy Tyner, Cedar Walton, Harold Mabern, Hank Jones, David Hazeltine and ELEW, among many others. Still in masks, separated by plastic barriers, playing to an empty club for an audience of virtual listeners streaming the music live at home—none of these inconveniences are reflected in the incredible music. In fact, the trio plays with as much or more vigor, wit, and muscularity than if the place were packed, delivering a rollicking set that spans the stylistic spectrum.
New Zealand alternative folk artist, Reb Fountain’s 2021 record IRIS (available now) is the award-winning artist’s second release with Flying Nun Records. The perfect extension of her 2020 self-titled record, IRIS elevates Reb Fountain’s music to new heights. Reb effortlessly combines pop elements with her trademark noir folk-punk sound; weaving authentic and anthemic tunes that create an instant and indelible impression. Recorded at Sublime Studios with co-producers Dave Khan and Simon Gooding, IRIS is a reflection. On writing the album Reb said, “IRIS provided me an opportunity to speak my unspoken, to reflect what I have seen and experienced from within and to bear witness. These songs are a reminder of a map to a place we all know. They are a vision of our past, a memory of our future and high beam headlights whether you’re behind the wheel or staring down the barrel of their glare. They are a story of endless unrequited love and the hunt for tethering to a kindred spirit.”
Shep Pettibone was one of the most successful and celebrated remixers of the 1980s. The Shep Pettibone Master-Mixes Vol One Part Two (put now) features 16 classic tracks compiled and sequenced by Wayne Dickson (BBR/Groove Line Records). The physical record includes a foreword written by series curator and Dance music legend Arthur Baker, plus an essay written by Billboard Magazine dance columnist Bill Coleman which features quotes from the likes of John Taylor (Duran Duran), Andy Bell (Erasure), Gloria Estefan and Cyndi Lauper. A list of some of the biggest and most diverse artists of the 1980s appear on the album, including Lionel Richie, George Benson, Gloria Gaynor, Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam with Full Force, Sananda Maitreya, Five Star and Pointer Sisters.
Deeply scarred by the First World War and by the upheavals of the October Revolution in his homeland, composer Igor Stravinsky found, with the help of the Swiss author Ramuz, a subject that resonated perfectly with his era. In this music theatre piece inspired by an old Russian folktale, The Deserter and the Devil, the composer of The Rite of Spring explored new paths in the last months of the First World War, which would soon lead him to a very personal form of neo-classicism. With this English version, in which Dominique Horwitz plays all the spoken roles in masterly fashion, the musicians assembled by Isabelle Faust have taken up the challenge of performing on instruments contemporary with the premiere. As a result, the work reveals its true personality and its immensely original colours, keen and biting. It is coupled here with two unjustly neglected gems by its composer, to mark the fiftieth anniversary of his death.
Critically acclaimed producer/songwriter, Sarah Tudzin – a.k.a. illuminati hotties – has released her highly anticipated album Let Me Do One More, her most defiant and accomplished record to date. Let Me Do One More is released via Snack Shack Tracks in partnership with Hopeless Records. Let Me Do One More is the fully-realized creative vision of two years of ambition, heartache, uncertainty, redemption, and ultimately triumph. Sarah reflects, “I love these songs and they’re a part of me and I’m proud of them.”
David Edwards is the editor of The Blurb and a contributor on film and television