New music round-up (for w/e 23 February 2024)

Our selection of the best new music across a range of genres from the week ending 23 February 2024.

For folk singer Willi Carlisle, singing is healing. And by singing together, he believes we can begin to reckon with the inevitability of human suffering and grow in love. On his latest album, Critterland, Carlisle invites audiences to join him: “If we allow ourselves to sing together, there’s a release of sadness, maybe even a communal one. And so for me personally, singing, like the literal act of thinking through suffering, is really freeing,” he says.


When bassist Mike Richmond utters the magic line “Spot on!” at the ending of the recording of track 5 of this album, the album title was decided – you can actually hear it on the disc. Spot On is Andy LaVerne’s 36th outing as leader on SteepleChase. Their collaboration goes back to 1977 when he was touring Europe with Stan Getz. Since then he has been presenting uniquely creative albums. This release starts with a homage to McCoy Tyner and ends with one to Chick Corea.


Laetitia Sadier issues a call to the traumatized civilizations of Earth: we’re urged to finally evolve past our countless millennia of suffering and alienation. Her songs on the new album Rooting for Love score the complexities and harmonies within this directive: organ, guitar, bass, synth, trombone, vibraphone, live and programmed drums, and a vocal assembly of men and women billed as The Choir, working intricate chord/tempo/and dynamic changes, as Laetitia’s empathic presence leads the way.


Fire! have always been about finding the essence by getting to the core of the music. Their 8th album, Testament, sees the trio – for the first time on record – stripped down to the bare-bones essentials; with no flutes, no electronics, no guests and no extras, recorded live in the studio to analogue tape – the Steve Albini way – with the master himself at the controls in Electrical Audio in Chicago. Thus, this album stands as a true testament to the group´s expressive power and glowing intimacy.


The new album Still is classic Erika de Casier. Her idiosyncratic mix of luxuriant electronica and moonlit R&B drilled further into that one-of-a-kind sound here. Her songwriting is as masterful and universal as ever, and her proficiency as a producer heightened as she produces other voices (They Hate Change, Shygirl, Blood Orange) for the first time. She also invites new collaborators, working with live musicians in addition to samples. N, co-producer of Essentials and Sensational, returns here, but added to the fold are Jonathan Jull Ludvigsen, Carl Emil Johansen, Niels Kirk, Christian Rhode Lindinger, Nick León, Kirsten Nyhus Janssen and Tobias Sachse, adding live drums, synths, guitar, bass and more.


The Australian Romantic & Classical Orchestra reinvigorates two of Mozart’s best-known works in its brand-new recording Heavenly Mozart with conductor Rachael Beesley and fortepiano soloist Neal Peres Da Costa. They’re two of Mozart’s most familiar works – the Jupiter Symphony No.41 and Piano Concerto No.23. Hear ARCO re-illuminate this music with a historically informed performance that’s closer than ever to how Mozart himself heard it.


Corb Lund returns with El Viejo, out now via New West Records. The 11-track set was produced by Lund and recorded entirely in his living room with his band The Hurtin’ Albertans. El Viejo is Lund’s first album of original material since 2020’s critically acclaimed Agricultural Tragic. Gathering around his living room, Lund & Co. tapped into his most cherished musical influences of acoustic tone and lyrical aptitude. There is a common theme — possibly even a character thread — of the gambler, the outlaw who roams from place-to-place with no direction home.

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