Our selection of the best new music across a range of genres from the week ending 13 August 2021.
Jade Bird’s sophomore album Different Kinds of Light is heavily influenced by the Americana/alt-rock music scene and the legendary RCA Studios in Nashville. That’s where Jade recorded the majority of Different Kinds of Light with powerhouse producer Dave Cobb (John Prine, Lady Gaga). Over the last 2 years, Jade has organically become part of a community of American songwriters and artists, and the likes of Jason Isbell, Sheryl Crow and Jade’s friend and collaborator, Brandi Carlile have all taken the British voice firmly under their wing.
In putting together their debut album Moral Outage, Magnetic Heads (a.k.a. Des Miller and Liam Judson) holed up in Judson’s Sonic Funhouse home studio in bushy Blackheath near the top of the Blue Mountains, determined to dust off some unfinished recordings from previous sessions in 2015, some demos and lyrics from as far back as 2009 and to bring new ideas into high-res. The results are a baroque blend of new wave and post-punk, cold wave and avant-pop via synths, guitars and exquisite production – a sonic aesthetic that Miller and his accomplice were adamant about. “We wanted a cold wave feel and a brutalist texture. It’s not a bombastic album. It’s very measured,” he proffers. Though live drums and bass do feature on some songs, the rest of Moral Outage was built from scratch, many with jutting electronic drums, chiselled like a senior’s cheekbones in a John Hughes flick from the ‘80s.
Paris, early twentieth century: in the space of three ballets, a previously unknown Russian composer revolutionised the music of his time. With The Firebird and Petrushka, respectively fairytale and folktale, and of course The Rite of Spring, a telluric invocation with its insanely innovative harmonies and rhythms, Stravinsky dynamised the Late Romantic orchestra, taking it to literally unheard-of places. Among the very first musicians to perform these works on the instruments that witnessed their birth, François-Xavier Roth and Les Siècles inaugurated a far-reaching rediscovery of these seminal pieces, giving today’s listeners an opportunity to appreciate to the full their audacity and their harsh, savage power.
Momenta is the third solo album by New York bassist Massimo Biolcati. As a sideman, Massimo has had the fortune of playing with a large number of incredible musicians from disparate situations and backgrounds. In recent years an idea emerged about a jazz fantasy football scenario of gathering different quartets from this great pool. What would it be to go into the studio with these bands with little to no rehearsal, and tackle a combination of originals and arrangements of standards and covers? Momenta is the realization of this idea and brings together music recorded through 2020 by several iterations of personnel led by Massimo.
Behind the clatter and clang of his band, behind the inexhaustible roll of melodies, behind the rhythms that seem to occupy three-dimensional space, Walter Benjamin lurks in the head of Media Jeweler’s Sam Farzin. In his classic 1935 essay “Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” the German critic observed that our understanding of our lives and our experience of reality is moderated by the dominant technologies, politics, events, and advertising messages of our day; we cannot see our way around them. These ideas provide the thematic scope of the band’s new album The Sublime Sculpture of Being Alive, which is out now on Fire Talk Records. Media Jeweler has managed to hone their knotty, rhythmic, and ultimately jubilant music into something strong enough to carry real emotional weight—to do justice to what it feels like to live in the world Benjamin describes.
South London-based multi-instrumentalist Lucinda Chua has released Antidotes, a special vinyl edition compilation of her two debut eponymously-titled solo EPs, via 4AD / Remote Control Records. Primarily using her voice, a cello and an array of effects units, Antidotes is a collection of ambient pop songs that are intimate, atmospheric and enchanting. A perfect introduction to Chua’s unique sonic vocabulary, the 8-track release includes recent Antidotes 2 singles ‘Until I Fall’ and ‘Torch Song’. If Antidotes 1 is Chua building the landscape and scenery for her music, Antidotes 2 is her living within it.
Ignorance, the new album by the The Weather Station, begins enigmatically; a hissing hi hat, a stuttering drum beat. A full minute passes before the entry of Tamara Lindeman’s voice, gentle, conversational, intoning; “I never believed in the robber”. A jagged music builds, with stabbing strings, saxophone, and several layers of percussion, and the song undulates through five minutes of growing tension, seesawing between just two chords. Once again, Toronto songwriter Tamara Lindeman has remade what The Weather Station sounds like; once again, she has used the occasion of a new record to create a new sonic landscape, tailor-made to express an emotional idea. Ignorance is sensuous, ravishing, as hi fi a record as Lindeman has ever made, breaking into pure pop at moments, at others a dense wilderness of notes; a deeply rhythmic, deeply painful record that feels more urgent, more clear than her work ever has.
David Edwards is the editor of The Blurb and a contributor on film and television