New music round-up (for w/e 21 October 2022)

Our selection of the best new music across a range of genres from the week ending 21 October 2022.

An uncanny ability to treat their music, and the presentation of it, with great care while not seeming to take themselves terribly seriously sets Canadian indie-rock veterans Sloan apart. From the band’s earliest home studio recordings that married their pop smarts with fizzy, fuzzed out guitars that sat somewhere to the left of the shoegaze and grunge movements of the day, to the chaotic yet charismatic energy they brought to the earliest live shows in their home town of Halifax, Nova Scotia, the quartet – bassist and vocalist Chris Murphy, guitarists/vocalists Jay Ferguson and Patrick Pentland, and drummer/vocalist Andrew Scott – possessed a rare chemistry from the start. In 2022, some 30 years on from when it all began with Smear, the band have released their 13th full-length album Steady. The tale is – thankfully – far from over.


Few songwriters are able to pinpoint difficult emotions and address them with such devastating clarity and disarming humor quite like Field Medic. The long-running musical project of Los Angeles-based musician Kevin Patrick Sullivan, he makes music that’s so startlingly honest that it can cut the tension in any room. He’s excelled at self-reflection and making deceptively simple folk songs about loneliness, sobriety, and growing up. But for his latest LP, *grow your hair long if you’re wanting to see something you can change*, (out now via Run For Cover) Sullivan decided to completely reinvent his approach to recording. The result is his most ambitious, fully-formed, and emotionally resonant collection of tracks yet.


Giacomo Smith’s critically acclaimed outfit Kansas Smitty’s embark on a new chapter with a twist on their sound; modern jazz, African rhythms and classic cinema sculpt We’re Not In Kansas Anymore. As the title suggests, We’re Not In Kansas Anymore is the beginning of a new dawn for Kansas Smitty’s. Their fifth studio album marks a progression from their swing led palette, instead pulling inspiration from modern jazz, African rhythms and classic cinema. Kansas Smitty’s continues to be the primary outlet for bandleader, alto-saxophonist and clarinetist Giacomo Smith, a musician and producer whose tireless creativity continues to lift his reputation, recently producing albums for both Jamie Cullum and rising star Jas Kayser.


Mansur is the newly initiated project by Jason Kohnen (ex-The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble) joined by Dimitry El-Demerdashi (ex-Phurpa) and introducing Martina Horváth on vocals. The sound of MANSUR navigates between the waters of musical fantasy and reality – it morphs and blends traditional instrumentation with modern day electronica. After the debut record “Temple”, the debut full length Karma and the live improv recording Minotaurus, Mansur returns with the fourth record Oscuras Flores. The title (meaning Dark Flowers) is derived from a Federico Garcia Lorca poem, and conceptually inspired by the works of Vandana Shiva, Oscuras Flores is a musical testimony for a return to organic and a healthier symbiosis with our planet. A hommage to the natural seeds of life, Mother Nature and planet Earth


Following recordings of Messiaen and Tchaikovsky, Paavo Järvi and the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich turned their attention to the music of John Adams this Spring, in celebration of the composer’s 75th birthday. They were joined by John Adams himself, whose presence and involvement in the project, gave the performances a special “infectious enthusiasm”. The new album presents work from Adams’ various creative periods and with a variety of autobiographical or typically American references. Tromba Lontana (1986) is a fanfare written in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of Texas’s declaration of independence from Mexico; Lollapaolooza (1995) was a birthday present to Simon Rattle; Slonimsky’s Earbox (1996) a tribute to his friend, the Russian-American composer, critic and musicologist Nicolas Slonimsky; and My Father knew Charles Ives (2003) is a musical autobiography and homage to the early 20th-century American composer, who has been one of Adams’s major musical influences.


Earth Room is a new band making music in the spirit of electric-era Miles Davis, classic German space rock, and the “fourth world” studio experiments of Jon Hassell. The band is composed of three veterans of adventurous music in NYC: Robbie Lee on woodwinds and electronics, John Thayer on percussion and synthesizers, and Ezra Feinberg on acoustic and electric guitars. Initially created for a live set served up to an audience reclining on beanbag chairs in Bushwick, their self-titled debut Earth Room exists at the borderlands of improvised music, ambient/drone, and kosmische, with synth drones and free jazz percussion rubbing elbows with Krautrock grooves and Robbie Lee’s resonant woodwinds. It’s six tracks of celestial improvisation that make for a very heavy and excellent record for those who like to lurk in these genre spaces.


Recorded in locations around the world over the pandemic era, SHUFFLEMANIA! offers up ten gloriously ingenious new Robyn Hitchcock songs in just under 40 minutes – a “proper pop album” as nature intended. Songs like “Midnight Tram To Nowhere” and the optimistic, album-closing “One Day (It’s Being Scheduled)” are state-of-the-art Hitchcock, manifesting his signature wit, miraculous gift for melodic craftsmanship, and striking humanity in a world gone mad.


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