“No One Seems to Know” - Neil Young, Songs for Judy
Released November 30, 2018
Shakey Pictures Records
Neil Young has been one of the most prolific artists of the past 50 years and he has shown no sign of slowing down anytime soon. In the past three years alone, Young has released six albums. Some feature his latest band, The Promise of the Real, one is a soundtrack to a movie he made with his new wife, actress Daryl Hannah, and a few feature never-before-released recordings from the 70’s. The latest offering, Songs for Judy, is comprised of live material from his November 1976 solo tour. Among the album highlights is the previously unreleased piano ballad “No One Seems to Know,” which sounds like it could be a sibling song to “After the Gold Rush.”
“Don’t Want to Say Good-bye” - Cut Worms, Hollow Ground
Released May 4, 2018
Cut Worms is the project of Brooklyn-based Max Clarke. After years of working as a graphic designer, Clarke decided to give music a serious go. The debut full-length album from Cut Worms, Hollow Ground, maintains a late 50’s/early 60’s relaxed pop vibe reminiscent of the Everly Brothers. While the lyrical themes come off as simplistic and naive on first listen, the aesthetic they create pairs well with the tightly constructed pop melodies and instrumentation. Standout tracks include “Don’t Want to Say Good-bye,” Like Going Down Sideways,” “Cash for Gold,” and the psychedelic, saloon piano album closer “Mad About You.”
“terminal paradise” - Adrianne Lenker, abysskiss
Released October 5, 2018
The last few years have been a whirlwind for Adrianne Lenker. Big Thief, the band she fronts, have catapulted into the heights of the international independent music scene since the release of their 2016 debut album Masterpiece. The next year the band put out the astonishingly beautiful Capacity. Over the course of touring those albums, Lenker documented her experiences by writing even more songs. These are the ones found on the impeccable abysskiss. With Big Thief, the sounds get big and loud, but with her solo album Lenker stays mostly light and feathery on acoustic guitar and piano. Not enough can be said about Lenker’s songwriting to convey her inspired ability. One must just go and listen to it.
“Cantaloupe Island” - Jeff Goldblum & The Mildred Snitzer Orchestra,The Capitol Studios Sessions
Released November 9, 2018
Everyone’s favorite chaostitian, Jeff Goldblum, is often charming and strangely sophisticated on screen. This everybody knows. But what is less known about the man is that he exhibits those same qualities behind the jazz piano. On his debut album, The Capitol Studio Sessions, Mr. Goldblum and The Mildred Snitzer Orchestra stroll through 13 cocktail party jazz songs in a live club setting. Featured guest performers include Imelda May, Haley Reinhart, Till Bronner, and comedian Sarah Silverman. The Herbie Hancock penned “Cantaloupe Island,” one of the album’s two singles, leads off the album and can be listened to here.
“Find Me” - Porches, The House
Released January 19, 2018
Aaron Maine weaves electronic dance club beats and poppy synthesizer leads together with heartfelt vocals on his latest Porches release, The House. First impressions of the album might leave uninitiated listeners a bit perplexed, as most of the songs are made up of several melodic layers that don’t immediately seem to gel together. One such instance is on the track “Leave The House.” Maine establishes a vocal melody that is simple enough, but then an additional and entirely separate vocal melody is added on top of it. While this kind of stylistic choice might not intrigue everybody, it’s moments like these that make The House an increasingly rewarding,album with each listen.
“Take the Doggie” - Shy Boys, Bell House
Released August 3, 2018
On their second full-length album, Bell House, Kansas City-based Shy Boys deliver a short but very sweet collection of songs. Fronted by brothers Colin and Kyle Rausch, the band stands out for their tight, often-falsetto, vocal harmonies and their clean and simple guitar lines. On “Miracle Gro,” the band channels The Beach Boys with a four-part harmony backed up only by steady handclaps. Lyrical themes tend to focus on day-to-day activities, like getting a snack or taking a walk. On the lead single “Take the Doggie,” Colin sings about a neighbor’s dog who looks underfed and considers taking the dog to give it a better life.
“Wild Life” - Paul McCartney & Wings, Wild Life (Archive Collection)
Released December 7, 2018
On the heels of his second solo album, Ram, Paul McCartney was looking for a permanent band to make music with. He found that band in session drummer Denny Seiwell, guitarist Denny Laine of The Moody Blues, and his wife, Linda, on keys and vocals. They called themselves Wings. To avoid competing with the outrageous success of his previous band, McCartney wanted to make a record with a raw sound that would capture the essence of a band forming its identity. The result of their efforts is Wild Life. It’s an album that could easily be passed by among the slew of great Wings records, but it is chock-full of hummable melodies and is worth a listen from any casual Beatles fan. The title track is particularly charming and features Paul throwing caution to the wind with a raucous vocal delivery.
“Poly Blue” - Jessica Pratt, Quiet Signs
Arrives February 8, 2019
Mexican Summer/City Slang
Los Angeles-based songwriter Jessica Pratt branches out from her previous work on her third album, Quiet Signs. With her first two releases, Pratt kept faithful to the wispy stylings of early 70’s guitar folk music by employing only a classical guitar and her hazy, washed-out voice. The new songs still lean heavily on those old, folky influences, but are embellished with more textures than she’s ever used before. On the second single, “Poly Blue,” Pratt showcases this subtle shift with piano and flute flourishes. She is currently on tour with Kurt Vile and the Violators.
“Element” - Deerhunter, Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared?
Arrives January 18, 2019
“Element,” the second single from Deerhunter’s upcoming album Why Hasn’t Everything Disappeared Already?, is a string-heavy baroque pop jam that should brighten the darkest of winter days. Despite the upbeat vibe of the song, however, the lyrics suggest something much more grim. “The wind was stained/ Orange clouds laid out for a toxic view.” On their 8th album, Deerhunter have made what they call “a science fiction album about the present.” Why Hasn’t Everything Disappeared Already? was produced by Welsh musician Cate Le Bon and was recorded in Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Marfa, Texas.
“Kazakhstan” - Brian Eno, Music For Installations
Released May 4, 2018
UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)
Following his glam rock days with Roxy Music and his first few glam-pop oriented solo albums in the early 70’s, Brian Eno began creating music that sounds almost otherworldly. He called this new form ambient music and he has continued exploring its boundaries ever since 1978’s Ambient 1/Music For Airports. His latest, Music For Installations, features “new, rare, or unreleased” music dating back to 1986 that was crafted specifically for use in art installations around the world, including St. Petersburg, Beijing, Sydney, Kazakhstan, and others. The physical release of the album comes with a 64-page booklet that showcases the visual art from the various installations where the music was first heard.
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.