“Morning in America” - Durand Jones & The Indications, American Love Call
Released March 1, 2019
You’d be forgiven if you thought American Love Call was a long lost soul record from the early 70’s, uncovered, dusted off, and given new life through the transformative sharing powers of the internet. In fact, the album is a collection of brand new songs that take their sonic inspiration from sounds of the past while speaking the truth of what it means to be American today. Drummer Aaron Frazer highlights this point, saying, “We’re in a time when so many in this country romanticize the past – wishing to return to a place of simplicity and former glory. But the reality of our history can be disillusioning,” Frazer explains. “For so many in America, the past represents violence, oppression, fear and colonialism. As America grows more diverse, we have the opportunity to form the strong, interwoven tapestry that we’ve long claimed.”
“UFOF” - Big Thief, U.F.O.F.
Arrives May 3, 2019
Following their phenomenal 2017 album Capacity, Big Thief is gearing up to release their highly-anticipated third album U.F.O.F. on May 3. Along with the announcement came the release of the first single “UFOF.” Primary songwriter Adrienne Lenker has an extraordinary ability to fill their songs with so many vocal hooks that after several listens to “UFOF” it is difficult to pinpoint where one melodic idea ends and another begins. It has a natural flow to it that is reinforced by the delicate and responsive guitar playing by Buck Meek. Lenker’s lyrics are poetry, too. “To my UFO friend goodbye, goodbye / Like a seed in the wind / She’s taken root up in the sky see her flickering.”
“From the Other Side of the World” - Daniel Thorne, Lines of Sight
Released March 15, 2019
Liverpool-based avant-garde composer and saxophonist Daniel Thorne has released his debut solo album Lines of Sight on the London label Erased Tapes. The work comes on the heels of his collaboration with acclaimed synthesizer player Luke Abbot. Previously, Thorne had been artistic director at the collaboration-focused group Immix Ensemble where he co-wrote the 2016 experimental album Transition with the electronic musician Vessel. Fans of Brian Eno’s ambient albums like Reflection will appreciate the long, shifting chords of horns on the track “From the Other Side of the World.” Elsewhere on the record, Thorne explores fuzzy horn tones within the confines of an arpeggiating synthesizer.
“Stay Flo” - Solange, When I Get Home
Released March 1, 2019
When I Get Home is Solange Knowles’ first album since 2016’s critically-acclaimed A Seat at the Table and her fourth overall. The record is a tribute to her hometown of Houston, Texas and features a number of big name musicians including Pharrell, John Key, Tyler the Creator, Earl Sweatshirt, John Carrol Kirby, Metro Boomin, Panda Bear, and Dev Hynes among others. In addition to the music, Solange has put out a 33-minute accompanying video that takes viewers on a journey through Houston’s Third Ward where she grew up. On “Stay Flo,” Solange sings of home over a three-note keyboard loop.
“Bird” - Bedouine, Bird Songs of a Killjoy
Arrives May 31, 2019
Nearly two short years ago, in the summer of 2017, Azniv Korkejian was largely unknown. Things changed, and not necessarily on purpose, when her debut self-titled album came out under the name Bedouine. Through a series of unplanned events, Korkejian found herself recording her songs with producer Gus Seyffert, who also works with the likes of Beck and Norah Jones. While the record wasn’t anticipated to be that much of a success outside of LA, it went on to garner acclaim among leading music critics. Now, Azniv is set to release her follow-up, Bird Songs of a Killjoy. Speaking of the album she says “All I can do is make sure I’m doing my best, putting my best foot forward, and honoring my emotional experience, but what it does in the end can’t matter as much.”
“Halo Light” - Buck Meek
Released February 19, 2019
Buck Meek, the lead guitarist of Big Thief, put out his full-length debut last year to critical acclaim. Recently, the prolific musician headed out on tour with Jeff Tweedy of Wilco and marked the occasion with a new single, “Halo Light.” The song is all soft acoustic plucks and laid back drumming with Meek’s voice rolling over the chords with a gentle Texas twang. Like the songs on his album Buck Meek, “Halo Light” is dense with fleeting scenes of nature, lasting just long enough to place your finger on them before drifting away.
“All I Need” - Townes Van Zandt, Sky Blue
Fat Possum Records
Released March 7, 2019
Legendary Texas country folk musician Townes Van Zandt would have been 75 years old on March 7 of this year. To celebrate the man, his family has gathered a collection of songs that Townes had made in early 1973 with his friend Bill Hedgepeth. The collection offers listeners an intimate glimpse into Townes’ songs in a stripped-down format, including some of his most well-known songs, “Pancho & Lefty” and “Rex’s Blues.” Also included are a couple of his songs that have never been publicly released. One of these, “All I Need” is a slow country ballad wherein Townes considers the real meaning of freedom.
“Body” - Julia Jacklin, Crushing
Released February 22, 2019
Australian songwriter Julia Jacklin had been on the road off and on for two years promoting her debut record, Don’t Let the Kids Win. The traveling took a toll on Jacklin, and she began to feel that her mind and her body were being split apart. “For a long time I felt like my head was full of fear and my body was just this functional thing that carried me from point A to B, and writing these songs was like rejoining the two.” On opening track “Body,” she explores the rawness of a breakup and the anguish that come with wondering how former lovers could cause pain long after they are gone.
“Nobody” - Mac Demarco, Here Comes the Cowboy
Mac's Record Label
Arrives May 10, 2019
College radio legend Mac Demarco is back with a new track called “Nobody.” The song comes with the announcement of a new album that will arrive in May called Here Comes the Cowboy. Demarco has also created his own record label, fittingly called Mac’s Record Label. “Nobody” closely resembles the slower acoustic ballads found throughout his previous album This Old Dog. A major feature of the track, apart from Mac’s signature chilled out vocal delivery, is a wheezy and muted synthesizer pad that blends the other various elements together. To promote the album, Demarco will tour Europe and America extensively.
“Nothing Sacred/All Things Wild” - Kevin Morby, Oh My God
Arrives April 26, 2019
At the suggestion of his producer Sam Cohen, Kevin Morby eschewed his typical approach to recording and, in doing so, discovered a new path forward for realizing the songs on his new album Oh My God. Instead of playing acoustic guitar and singing through his song “Nothing Sacred/All Things Wild” in the fashion that it was written, Morby put his guitar down and just sang while Cohen played a muted organ. Of the album, Morby says “This one feels full circle, my most realized record yet. It’s one of those marks of a life: this is why I slept on floors for seven years. I’ve now gotten the keys to my own little kingdom, and I’m devoting so much of my life to music that I just want to keep it interesting.”
Listen to a new track from Growing Upward, the sixth studio album from social activists and global-music fusionists Rupa and the April Fishes. Drawing from the frontwoman’s own experiences over the last seven years as a doctor and activist, the band’s latest album is a musical response to the rebirth of global fascism, ongoing American racism, and the dire ecological circumstances we all face due to climate change. Their music is defiantly difficult to categorize, but will energize and engage both your mind and your soul.
This sampler was compiled and written by Ben Sauder, who makes music as No Magic. His new album, In Cocoon, is out now on French Exit Records.