Our selection of the best new music across a range of genres from the week ending 14 January 2022.
Punch Brothers’ new album Hell on Church Street is the band’s re-imagining of, and homage to, the late bluegrass great Tony Rice’s landmark solo album Church Street Blues, featuring an inspired collection of songs by Bob Dylan, Gordon Lightfoot, Bill Monroe, and others. Recorded in November 2020, Hell on Church Street had been intended as both its own work of art and a gift to Rice, who died later that year. “After we got over the shock of losing our hero and friend,” Noam Pikelny says, “we realized what Tony had left with us was his music, his spirit, and his legacy.” “We spent a lot of time contemplating what happened when Church Street Blues hit our ears as a band,” Chris Thile says: “we held it out, we conversed with it, and now we’re handing it to you.”
Bonobo aka Simon Green has released his highly-anticipated new album Fragments today (Ninja Tune), which features Jamila Woods, Joji, Kadhja Bonet, Jordan Rakei, O’Flynn, and Miguel Atwood-Ferguson. After coming back from touring for two years, Green felt a sense of everything shifting and unraveling with the California wildfires and ongoing pandemic as he set out to make this new album. Born first out of fragments of ideas and experimentation in his Los Angeles studio in 2020 and 2021, the album ultimately was fused together in a burst of creativity fuelled by collaboration, Green’s solo adventures into the deserts of California and even his use of modular synths for the first time. Fragments is the sound of struggle and isolation, personally and collectively – and of a surging, joyous return. It is a reminder that out of struggle and disillusionment, creativity and hope can emerge at the most unexpected moments.
Soleá Morente has a reputation for being a chameleon, and now she’s taken a turn in a new direction that nobody was expecting with her new album, Aurora y Enrique. And she did it to talk about what she carries inside her, what we all wanted to know: what it’s like to grow up in a house with flamenco stars Aurora Carbonell and Enrique Morente. And after the strength of an album as powerful as “Lo Que Te Falta”, Soleá has prduced an intimate album, with references to shoegaze and dreampop, echoes of Mazzy Star and Beach House, and to top things off, for the first time, she’s written the lyrics and music of each and every song herself.
Smooth jazz has always seemed like a contradiction in terms. The idea that jazz, a musical gift to America from black people that includes revolutionary concepts of cooperative improvisation and trust, could have its edges beveled and the thrill of spontaneity muted and made “safe”, would be like taking the revolution out or revolutionary and just leaving the airy. Smooth FreeJazz is a creative display of this dichotomy by contrasting a smooth center with a fiery edge. Who better to lead the way than Dave Sewelson, one of the oldest members of New York’s Downtown Scene. Instead of music being a shag rug on the floor with the scent of air freshener, we see that it’s a dirt floor with a strong wind through the window.
Formed in New Jersey by guitarists Tom Malach and Danny Arakaki, Garcia Peoples took a few years to find their flying shape, solidifying into a lineup with Danny’s brother Cesar on drums and Derek Spaldo on bass by mid-2016. Ramping up their acceleration around the time of their 2018 Cosmic Cash debut on Beyond Beyond Is Beyond Records, they’ve blasted through residencies and new songs and sessions and collaborations, relocating to New York, picking up two new members in keyboardist/multi-instrumentalist Pat Gubler and bassist Andy Cush, and leaving a trail of live tapes in their wake. Their new album is titled Dodging Dues, and it’s available now.
Melbourne-based singer, songwriter and accomplished stage actor Grace Cummings has released her self-produced sophomore album Storm Queen, out now via Sugar Mountain Records. True to its title, Storm Queen is a body of work with its own unruly climate, governed only by the visceral quality of Cummings’ spellbinding and devastating vocal presence. The album release is accompanied by feature single and video ‘Raglan’.
The Italian violinist Marco Serino worked closely with Ennio Morricone for two decades, and appeared as soloist on his soundtracks from the year 2000 onwards. The composer completed these arrangements of music from his film-scores for violin and orchestra in the final year of his life, with Serino’s input. Serino’s new album Morricone: Cinema Suites for Violin and Orchestra (with Orchestra Haydn di Bolzano e Trento and Andrea Morricone), includes the Sergio Leone Suite (on themes from Once Upon a Time in America, Once Upon a Time in the West and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly) and the Giuseppe Tornatore Suite (on themes from The Legend of 1900, Malena and Cinema Paradiso).
Other reviews you might enjoy:
- New music round-up (for w/e 21 January 2022)
- New music round-up (for w/e 28 May 2021)
- New music round-up (for w/e 3 September 2021)
David Edwards is the editor of The Blurb and a contributor on film and television