Our selection of the best new music across a range of genres from the week ending 10 September 2021.
If you could call out to your country, what would you say? When Eric Bibb embarked on the title song that would galvanize his latest album, Dear America, the songwriter found himself unpacking a seven-decade relationship with a partner of dramatic extremes. Bibb has known many different Americas, the good, the bad and the ugly. Born in New York City on August 16th, 1951, the thunderbolt of the Sixties folk revival remains an era so alive in the 69-year-old’s memory. Yet just as vivid are the dark societal flashpoints of the last year, when protesters highlighted the open wound of US race relations while a bitter Presidential election scrawled jagged battlelines. “This album is a love letter,” Bibb explains of the record’s root concept, “because America, for all of its associations with pain and its bloody history, has always been a place of incredible hope and optimism. You see young people now and it’s amazing, with the whole Black Lives Matter movement. All of those things let me know that there is a kind of reverberation from that Sixties energy. You can’t keep a good thing down.”
Bauhaus, L’Appartamento firmly establishes Julia Bardo’s musical adventurousness and prowess, and marks a cathartic and self-affirming moment for an artist who found her voice by realizing it’s been there all along. Each track on the album opens a new door. In the resonant and memorable opener “The Most,” Bardo is bold in her declaration of romance and devotion. As Bardo explains: “Bauhaus, L’Appartamento is about loneliness, solitude, separation…but also unconditional love.”
In their widely-anticipated second album Age of Reason, international group SCOPES (Matt Chalk, Tony Tixier, Tom Berkmann & Mathias Ruppnig) pens a provokingly personal and philosophical reflection on the pressing matters of the time, when the whole world seems to be turned upside down. For SCOPES, this ‘age’ draws upon an intimate array of emotions and implores the listener to challenge their own associations and open their imagination. Since their critically-acclaimed eponymous debut in 2018, the quartet’s distinctive envelope-pushing sound has evolved and further converged into an entity that continues to pursue exciting and uncharted musical realms.
There are many great contemporary composers of our time but few write music that we can relate to so easily and closely as Nikolai Kapustin. His exquisite use of techniques and musical languages of classical and jazz ensures that his music appeals to a wide range of listeners. To those who love classical music but know little about jazz it does not sound too unfamiliar and vice versa. Indeed, it gives great pleasure to even the most untrained ears of either genre of music. The Korean pianist Yeol Eum Son has long been a champion of the composer and became friends with him. This album is therefore a personal and affectionate tribute to this unique genius and a wonderful introduction to his music.
Jack Ladder & The Dreamlanders have shared their sixth full-length studio album Hijack!, out now via Endless Recordings. Following the recent ten year anniversary and re-issue of seminal and critically acclaimed release Hurtsville, Hijack! is Jack Ladder’s most direct, honest and ambitious work to date. Despite the deeply personal lyrical content demonstrated on Hijack!, listeners will find solace in the album and its poignant simplicity, reflective of Ladder’s writing style. Hijack! was co-produced by Ladder and long-term collaborator and band mate Laurence Pike (PVT, Liars), and sees the return of other Dreamlanders, Donny Benét and Kirin J Callinan, as well as celestial string arrangements by Sam Lipman.
The Band Camino have dropped their much anticipated self-titled debut album via dblblk/Elektra Records. The long-awaited album showcases the pop-rock trio’s electrifying guitar-driven sound, first introduced on their anthemic EP tryhard in 2019, which spawned fan favorites “Daphne Blue” and “See Through.” Since relocating from Memphis to Nashville in 2018, the band (singers/guitarists Jeffery Jordan and Spencer Stewart, and drummer Garrison Burgess) has been honing their signature ‘Band Camino’ sound, carving a name for themselves at the crossroads of pop and rock music. With irrefutable musical chemistry, captivating lyricism, and a resounding authenticity, the trio comes together on The Band Camino in a way that’s sonically larger than life.
Focusing on their craft, staying out of the fray, and holding fast their faith to find new ways to express the discord and delight of being alive, to turn the duality of existence into hymns we can share, Low present Hey What. These ten pieces—each built around their own instantaneous, undeniable hook—are turbocharged by the vivid textures that surround them. The ineffable, familiar harmonies of Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker break through the chaos like a life raft. Layers of distorted sound accrete with each new verse – building, breaking, colossal then restrained, a solemn vow only whispered. There will be time to unravel and attribute meaning to the music and art of these times, but the creative moment looks forward, with teeth.
Other reviews you might enjoy:
- New music round-up (for w/e 3 September 2021)
- New music round-up (for w/e 23 July 2021)
- New music round-up (for w/e 27 August 2021)
David Edwards is the editor of The Blurb and a contributor on film and television