Our selection of the best new music across a range of genres from the week ending 8 October 2021.
Singer, instrumentalist, and songwriter Karen Peris delivers ten compositions on her new album, A Song Is Way Above the Lawn. Written over a period of seven years, these songs make an especially melodic collection of beautifully rendered moments that will resonate with both children and adults. They offer a joy that is often poignant, thanks in part to Peris’ voice and poetry, and to the emotional, sometimes cinematic nature of the piano, central to the album’s sound. Her other instrumentation, chamber-like, with pump organ, accordion, and melodica, along with occasional nylon string and electric guitars, is spacious, allowing room for the listener’s own imagination. With the help of her husband Don Peris, who plays drum kit and upright bass, and their son and daughter, who contribute violin and viola to three songs, she has made a timeless album that has a rare and particular atmosphere of its own.
“one hand on the steering wheel the other sewing a garden” is the second album by Canadian songwriter Alexandra Levy, publicly known by the moniker Ada Lea. On one hand, it’s a collection of walking-paced, cathartic pop/folk songs, on the other it’s a book of heart-twisting, rear-view stories of city life. Ada Lea has followed up the creative, indie-rock songcraft of her debut what we say in private with surprising arrangements and new perspectives. The album is set in Montreal and each song exists as a dot on a personal history map of the city where Levy grew up.
Thirty remote recording sessions, 23 countries represented, 1 album. Open World with Chad Lefkowitz-Brown and the Global Big Band is out now. Despite the COVID pandemic, Lefkowitz-Brown was able to assemble more than 17 musicians from more than 17 different countries into one big band for an album paying tribute to some of the greats of jazz. And to add to the wonderment of his recording, each musician recorded their part(s) in isolation. Each was then mixed and mastered to perfection by Dave Darlington under Chad’s supervision.
Expressions of Interest is the debut LP from Melbourne/Naarm post-punk group screensaver, and it’s out now via Heavy Machinery Records / Upset The Rhythm. The album features 10 tracks paying homage to its era of inspiration (late 70s-mid 80s post-punk and new wave) with gripping vocals, dissonant guitar, melodic bass lines, washes of synths and motorik drumming. Engineered by Julian Cue alongside band member Chris Stephenson and recorded over multiple studio sessions between 2020-2021.
Geoff Kevin is the incredible coupling of two Sydney creatives, Geoff Towner and Kevin Purdy. They’ve both carved out influential and respected individual musical careers. Geoff with his many journeys into left-field rock and post-rock strategies, with ensembles including El Mopa and Decoder Ring in the 2000s and Kevin with his psych rock & folk meets cut and paste soundtrack visions (Purdy, Tooth) and numerous other projects dating back to the 1970s. Their collaboration has resulted in Avoidance, an album drenched in a warm melancholy. It’s a rich and powerful collaborative musical journey that that draws a line from CAN, Robert Wyatt and the Canterbury sound through to modern day sonic adventurers such as Grandaddy and Califone – all the while exploring the endless possibilities of composition and songcraft.
In their debut recording for harmonia mundi, the young viola prodigy Timothy Ridout and his musical accomplice Frank Dupree celebrate the power of love, with selections from Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet, performed in Borisovsky’s popular arrangement, and with their own transcription of Schumann’s Dichterliebe. The voice of the heart and the soul of candour, here the viola displays an astonishing range of emotions and expressive colours – from boisterous to tender or introspective in the Prokofiev excerpts, while also mirroring the myriad nuances of Heine’s poems in Schumann’s sublime musical love letter to his Clara.
Sydney’s Heather Shannon – best known as the keyboardist in the beloved art-pop band The Jezabels and now a composer – journeyed to remote Iceland to create a bold solo project: the atmospheric piano album Midnight Sun. Shannon’s rendering of her inner-self in flux is simultaneously personal and universal, with a cinematic aesthetic evoking the Arctic Circle’s polar days and bleakly beautiful Westfjords scenery.
Other reviews you might enjoy:
- New music round-up
- New music round-up (for w/e 11 June 2021)
- New music round-up (for w/e 23 July 2021)
David Edwards is the editor of The Blurb and a contributor on film and television