Our selection of the best new music across a range of genres from the week ending 23 July 2021.
The Old Fabled River represents a meeting of minds and cultures well-suited to Alasdair Roberts’ syncretic fervor. Responding to the invitation of Norwegian fiddler Hans Kjorstad, he found a group of musicians well-versed in folk, jazz and free-playing. Their diverse musics deeply inform this collection of Roberts’ originals and Scottish and Norwegian traditional song.
British seven-piece Snazzback bring the sound of re-opened dancefloors, of communal release, and of the joyful sound of dancing outside in the sunshine to live music. Their second album ‘In The Place’ overflows with deep grooves and loose, lolloping rhythms that tease and play, sometimes languid and carefree, other times energy spiralling upwards – and taking the listener with them, each and every time. Their music is soaked in great black American dancefloor music, whether that’s the sound we call ‘jazz’ or hip hop. They also bring other flavours – interlocking Afro-Latin rhythms, electronica and hypnotic rock, all marinated in Bristol’s long musical histories.
Following the release of two singles, Sydney band Infinity Broke have released their brand new album Your Dream My Jail via Come To The Dark Side Luke Music/MGM. Your Dream My Jail continues leader Jamie Hutchings’ endless exploration of rhythm, melody and dissonance in song – an embrace of the brutal and beautiful. From the fractured unease of first single and album opener ‘Death of a Tourist’ it’s clear the listener is in for a turbulent and fascinating ride.
Violinist Pekka Kuusisto and the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra present First Light, the first fruit of Kuusisto’s tenure as the ensemble’s Artistic Director, on which two eminent New York composers are cast in a Nordic light. The album offers the world premiere recording of Nico Muhly’s Shrink (Concerto for Violin and Strings), a unique, remotely-recorded rendition of Philip Glass’ The Orchard by Kuusisto and Muhly, and Kuusisto’s new string orchestra arrangement of Glass’ “Mishima” String Quartet No. 3.
Alias, which follows Sleep Waker’s 2017 debut EP Lost In Dreams and the 2018 full-length Don’t Look at the Moon, is the sort of album that asks listeners to examine who we are, how we quantify our reality, and what it means to be alive. Although rooted in many of the same conceptual themes and ideas that gave the band their successful start in 2017, this time they’re diving even deeper. This time, it’s not just conceptual exploration. This time, it’s personal. The band draws inspiration from the dream-like surrealism of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks series, and futuristic sci-fi movies The Matrix, Blade Runner, Ghost In The Shell and Japanese sci-fi anime series Cowboy Bebop.
With her 2017 debut Shame, Americana songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Rachel Baiman emerged as a fearless voice of the American female experience. On her new full-length album Cycles, Baiman has found a grittier musical medium, employing a majority-female team to create hard-hitting songs, trading in pretty for penetrating. Cycles is a collection of songs encompassing the many ways that we destroy and rebuild as people, as families, and as a country. Songs about the cycle of life inspired by the birth of a nephew and the loss of a grandmother, songs about the internal mental cycles of ambition and self-doubt that we all experience, the cycle of progress and regression in our country’s political journey, and the cycles of growth and reinvention that relationships take on. At times heartbreaking, at times celebratory, the album is a reflection of a lot of life experienced in a relatively short amount of time, a desire to hold fast to the people we love in the wake of so much uncertainty, and an exploration of the immense and unique strength of women in the face of adversity.
Sporting a mane of curly locks, a hilarious sense of humour and a lilting Irish brogue, Shiny Joe Ryan is a wonderous enigma. The Pond multi-instrumentalist has released his second studio album Shiny’s Democracy via Spinning Top Records. It’s been a seven-year wait since the release of his debut solo album The Cosmic Microwave Background in 2014. His musical offerings are as unique as he is – a mix of genres encompassing country, pop and rock, all mangled and mashed into something new, strange and tender. Joe finally found the time to record this new offering between touring as a crew member for Tame Impala and performing with Pond. He wrote and recorded this second album at Tunafish Studios with his band The Sky Dolphins in Western Australia and as well as mixing it himself along with his Pond bandmates, Jay Watson and James Ireland, it was also carefully mastered by fellow WA musical alumni, Kevin Parker.
Other reviews you might enjoy:
- New music round-up
- New music round-up (for w/e 7 January 2022)
- New music round-up (for w/e 6 August 2021)
David Edwards is the editor of The Blurb and a contributor on film and television