CIMS Now Hear This
Few artists understand the human condition like 6-time Grammy nominee Brandy Clark. Working again with acclaimed producer Jay Joyce, Your Life is a Record takes her unerring eye for detail and a genre-melting sense of melody to examine personal truths, revelations and emancipations with wit, grace and compassion. Working with just four acoustic-based musicians, intimacy was the goal. Memphis strings and horns, guest appearances from Randy Newman (“Bigger Boat”) and guitarist John Osborne color in the sketches – creating a depth to what is easily Clark’s most revelatory record yet
Circles is the sixth and final studio album by Mac Miller. Conceived as a sister album to 2018's full length Swimming, the album was completed with the assistance of Jon Brion, with whom Miller worked on Swimming and had been working together on Circles at the time of his passing. While sonically distinctly different than its predecessor, Circles features many of the hallmarks for which Swimming was critically-acclaimed upon its release -- Miller further realizing his singing voice in addition to rapping, live instrumentation and earnest, confessional lyrical content. Listeners will hear shades of some of the album's influences in its songs, from the T-Rex guitar tone of "Surf" to the Plastic Ono Band-era John Lennon feel of its production and the inspired cover of Arthur Lee's 1972 single "Everybody's Gotta Live." It's a momentous final entry into the discography of an artist that remains at the center of reimagining the limits of rap.
Emmy-, Grammy- and Golden Globe-nominated actress, singer, and songwriter, Mandy Moore returns to music with her first album in a decade, Silver Landings. In a purposeful departure from the more tightly structured pop of her previous material, she's worked closely with long-time collaborator and producer Mike Viola and with her husband, Taylor Goldsmith (singer/guitarist/songwriter for L.A.-based folk-rock band Dawes), creating the album's lyrics on her own and recording each song live with a full band setup. The album deftly moves from 70s inspired soft-rock (When I Wasn’t Watching, I’d Rather Lose) to contemporary pop (Save A Little For Yourself, Tryin’ My Best, Los Angeles). “I wanted to make a California-inspired record, something that feels airy and natural”, says Moore.
Moore looks forward to embarking on the next chapter of her music career with a newfound sense of agency. “I very much feel like I'm at the helm of the ship now, where I'm stepping back into music completely on my own terms,” she says. “Everything that's happened up until this point has gotten me to where I am today, and I'm so excited to just keep moving forward.”
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For almost a decade, Agnes Obel has been one of the most independent and original artists in contemporary music. Now she has returned with new music, releasing the enchanting single "Island Of Doom", ahead of the release of her highly anticipated new album Myopia - through Deutsche Grammophon, Universal Music Group's prestigious Yellow Label, and Blue Note in North America, out on 21 February 2020.
The Big Exercise, the second album by Dutch band The Homesick, and their first for Sub Pop, finds the group keenly second-guessing their core chemistry as a live unit, imbuing their angular post-punk workouts with baroque elements such as piano, acoustic guitar, percussion, and even clarinet. “It’s the opposite of trying to translate recorded music to the stage,” guitarist Elias Elgersma comments. “We were already playing these songs live for quite some time, so for this album, we wanted to unlock the potential of these songs further in the studio.” Opening track “What’s In Store” was in part inspired by bassist Jaap Van der Velde’s unprompted deep dive into the world of national anthems, making his own attempt to conjure a similarly timeless melody. The song seamlessly bleeds into the chivalrous prance of “Children’s Day” and the fragmented “Pawing,” righteously encouraging Erik Woudwijk’s nimble, cerebral drumming to become the band’s driving force. The headstrong wanderlust of The Big Exercise is fitting, given The Homesick’s exodus as a small-town Dutch band ready to trot the world. Contrary to the quest for belonging, roots, and provenance found on their debut album, Youth Hunt, the band’s creative trajectory is now dictated by a sense of otherness and imagination. The sharp contrasts are ever-present; the music’s new sonorous depth is underpinned by wry meditations on family ties, alternate realities, and commonplace encounters. As the band’s chief lyricists, Elgersma and Van der Velde deliberately keep each other in the dark, allowing the syntax of words and music to entangle in surprising – sometimes delightfully absurd – ways. “I Celebrate My Fantasy,” for example, summons a mirage of creeping pianos, sylvan clarinet flourishes and cartoonish sprawls with mock-paranoia, as Elgersma documents a macabre vision he had during a mild case of sleep paralysis. True to the band’s method of holding the more mundane, fleeting moments under a magnifying glass, closing track “Male Bonding” pulls a wide range of movements out of the top hat: the album’s rare heavy burst is promptly mediated by almost medieval-sounding prog rock-flirtations. The Homesick have made a record impregnated with impressions that still fit neatly under the pop umbrella. The album title’s nod to Scott Walker - “the big exercise” is a phrase pulled from a passage in Walker’s biography, Deep Shade of Blue - isn’t an aberration either: straddling pop sonority and the cacophonous fringes is something well worth aspiring.
2020 debut album from New York City born, raised and forever-based songwriting partners Eliza Barry Callahan and Jack Staffen. Like New was produced by Jonathan Rado (Weyes Blood, Father John Misty, Whitney, The Lemon Twigs). The duo - who had previously captured attention releasing deft, stripped down, warm-toned pysch-pop under their names, Jack and Eliza - shifted to what naturally felt like their next musical gear. If Jack and Eliza showcased the songwriting prowess of a promising young duo (they are both still in their early twenties), then Purr let's Callahan's and Staffen's work bloom in the fertile ground of a fully realized soundscape. Purr builds upon an ageless, classic sound that at once looks at the past while leaning into their own, individual future - with Staffen's and Callahan's vocals humming at the center.
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Christopher Paul Stelling is a guitar virtuoso, a folk singer- songwriter and a touring troubadour. His new album Best of Luck was produced by Grammy award winning musician-producer, Ben Harper.The album's title, Best Of Luck, mirrored perfectly the emotional landscape in which it was created. "Depending on how you say it, it can either be a blessing or a dismissal," Stelling says. "And that was exactly the point I was coming to with myself, my career as an artist, as a friend and as a person." Harper and Stelling met a few years back when Harper invited Stelling to open a series of shows. "Ben gave me a true gift back then," Stelling says. "I'd been on the road for a long time and he put me onstage in front of his fans. He took me to the Beacon, The Ryman, Massey Hall, all these legendary rooms. Just to see that what I could do would even translate in spaces like that was revelatory."When Harper talks about his admiration for Stelling,. "A guy that can play any instrument from any country and play it with real feeling. He crosses genres but manages to respect them; he is a folk singer with an unusual soulfulness. He understands where this music comes from and why it's remains so essential. Of all the record's I have produced, this is one I'm most proud of."