9/24 New Release CDs
On September 24, Mac McCaughan will release The Sound of Yourself, his second full-length under his own name.
Throughout his musical career fronting Superchunk and Portastatic, Mac McCaughan has channeled more than his share of angst and tumult into a microphone, resulting in straight-up undeniable rock anthems. So how can a voice so familiar to others still seem foreign to its owner? On The Sound of Yourself, he explores that question fully, shooting his voice through a prism and refracting it across these songs in new and rewarding ways. In January 2021, McCaughan found himself at his home studio in Chapel Hill staring down a clean slate after wrapping up a film score and several other music projects. This setting—a distant light at the end of a figurative tunnel, and a literal room full of instruments—was integral to The Sound of Yourself. His thought process was simple: “Each day is blurring into the next, so what are we doing today? How can I disrupt this? I think what resulted was a theme of subdued... ‘joy’ is the wrong word, but it’s at least comforting if not propulsive to have something open-ended to work on every day without any kind of structure or deadline or rules.”
While the pop-oriented tracks hint at sounds first explored on his 2015 album Non-Believers, McCaughan’s recent scoring work and frequent excursions down the rabbit hole of synthesizers and sequencers (see: the Moogfest-commissioned POMS and his ambient project with Mary Lattimore) add a particularly crystalline spaciness akin to The Durutti Column and Bowie’s Berlin trilogy. Also similar to the making of the Berlin trilogy, McCaughan sought out vital contributions from a slew of accomplished musicians: Yo La Tengo, Mackenzie Scott (TORRES), Jon Wurster (Superchunk, Mountain Goats, Bob Mould Band), Annie Hayden (Spent) & Michael Benjamin Lerner (Telekinesis), just to name a few.
Every trip needs a guide. Through the trumpet, Theo Croker narrates a human story rooted in intimate experience, yet cognizant of cosmic consciousness. The GRAMMY®Award-nominated artist, producer, composer, thought leader, influencer, and tastemaker unpacks moments of heroism, trials, tribulations, awakenings, and apotheosis within a musical pastiche brought to life by a myriad of fellow cultural renegades and threaded together by his playing.
This journey unfolds in technicolor on his sixth full-length offering, BLK2LIFE || A FUTURE PAST.
“This record was composed like a film score,” Croker explains. “I want the listener to feel like they are in the movie.” The narrative is an affirmation of the hero’s creative identity. A reclamation of the culture, for the culture. “Our hero receives a transmission (sent from his ancestors while in meditation) that sets him on a mission to raise the planet's vibrations through music that defies the confines of a ‘genre’ and frees the culture from the imminent threat of commercial gentrification. BLK2LIFE || A FUTURE PAST is meant to be a deeply impactful, personal experience for the listener. One that you can also dance to - it is Black music after all.”
Joining Croker on the new 13-track project are Ari Lennox, Charlotte Dos Santos, Gary Bartz, Iman Omari, Kassa Overall, Malaya, and Wyclef Jean.
Croker introduces the album with the first single “State Of The Union 444 || BLK2THEFUTURE” [feat. Wyclef Jean] in which legendary Fugees co-founder admits, “This might be my last rap on the planet…I don’t know what I’m going to say after this.” This is followed by the tracks “Hero Stomp || A Future Past,” “Happy Feet (for dancers)” featuring Malaya, where Croker delivers a shuffling anthem meant to “capture the essence of the Detroit dance scene and give dancers everywhere something to move to,” and “Every Part of Me” which features Ari Lennox and was specifically written with her in mind. “I wanted to feature different voices as narrations to all of the different movements and colors I was presenting instrumentally,” Croker explains, “lyrically, she’s asking why she can’t simply be who she is as a divine feminine being.”
In the end, Theo isn’t just our guide on BLK2LIFE — he’s also the story’s hero.
“I’m reborn in 2021,” Croker says. “I allowed the stillness to catch up to me. Instead of putting it aside, I really saw who I was as a human being, how I receive and treat people, and how I understand the world and how it understands me. I fully believe in myself as an artist, as a creator, as a friend, as a family member, and as a human being. I am who I am—and I like it. This music is me.”
US version: 1 CD, 1 Photobook, 1 Lyric Paper, 2 Photo Cards, 2 Polaroids, 1 Sticker, 1 Standing Card, 1 Special Card Set, 1 Poster, 1 Photocard Set (US only). All sales count towards Soundscan and the US Billboard Charts, as well as the Korean Hanteo and Gaon charts.
ON SALE $15.97 CD: $14.99 Buy
one hand on the steering wheel the other sewing a garden is the name of 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.
Many of the songs on one hand came together with a blend of studio tracks and elements from the pre-recorded demos. The resulting sounds range from classic, soft-rock beauty to intimate finger-picked folk passages and night-drive art-pop. And the textures are frequently surprising due to the collage of lo-fi and hi-fi sounds that tastefully decorate the album without ever clouding the heart-center of the song. In their subtle, sonic variety, all of the album’s songs flow together with ease into one big, romantic dream for Levy’s silken vocals to float above.
Inspired by personal experience, daydreams, and Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels, the lyrics of one hand... center storytelling on a bigger scale. The experience and emotions of a year are communicated through Levy’s vignettes of city life. These collected stories as a whole chart the unavoidable growth that comes with experience. “All is forgiven in time. All is forgotten in time. And when the music stopped, I heard an answer” (from “my love 4 u is real”).
Whether to consider these songs fiction or memoir remains unknown. On one hand, Levy says “Why would I try to write a story that’s not my own? What good would that do?” but on the other hand, she is quick to note the ways that language fails to describe reality, and how difficult this makes it to tell an actually true story. The poetic misuse of the word “sewing” in the album’s title serves as a nod to the limitations words provide. What does it mean to sew the garden? And how can we appreciate its carefully knit blooms when the rearview mirror is so full of car exhaust?
Distant Populations, just the fourth full-length album of Quicksand’s career, comes as a comparatively swift follow-up to Interiors--which itself came a full 22 years after its predecessor, 1995’s Manic Compression. Critically lauded and deemed very much worth the wait, Interiors succeeded in reestablishing the band as the powerful and contemporary entity they had always been.
Distant Populations has a punchier, more up-tempo sound than its predecessor; its 11 songs are concise, carved sonic jewels boasting not a single wasted note; and its raw power, its gripping lyricism, leaps out from the very first listening. It is a striking step up for the band.
The songwriting itself had been no minor process: Following the release of Interiors, the band successfully toured around the world and in the process fully re-established their chemistry together. Looking forward to making the next album, the three of them—frontman/ guitarist Walter Schreifels, bassist Sergio Vega, and drummer Alan Cage—had methodically recorded various soundchecks, improvisations, and show rehearsals, and compiled the results. “Eventually, when it came time to make a record,” Schreifels says, “we would just edit down to the ones that were most exciting to us all, and then refocus on them and see if we could recapture the magic from it.”
There may be a final irony in the title of Distant Populations. Practically speaking, that’s precisely whom Quicksand recorded it for: Listeners very far away. Not a single one of these songs has ever been played live onstage. The band has dates on hold for the fall, notes Schreifels, and fingers are crossed Quicksand will be out there performing very soon. They will likely be the most memorable shows of the band’s career.
It may be tempting to reduce Convocations into a longform ambient anomaly within Sufjan Stevens' vast catalogue. It is, however, neither an anomaly nor entirely ambient. This is not a side project. From his numerous dance scores for New York City Ballet to instrumental albums such as Enjoy Your Rabbit, Aporia, and The BQE, Stevens spends at least half his working life making largely instrumental music, as he has for decades. And though the first ten pieces, dubbed "Meditations," unfurl as gorgeous states of reflective new-age grace, this is by no means an ambient enterprise. Stevens invokes the lessons of Morton Subotnick, Maryanne Amacher, Christian Fennesz, Brian Eno, and Wolfgang Voigt here. As musically erudite as it is emotionally experienced, Convocations can be dissonant, vertiginous, rhythmic, repetitive, urgent, or calm-that is, all the things we undergo when we inevitably live through loss, isolation, and anxiety. Indeed, Convocations moves like a two-and-a-half-hour requiem mass for our present times of difficulty, it's 49 tracks allowing for all these feelings to be felt. The album is divided into five sonic cycles, each replicating a different stage of mourning. "Meditations" work toward acceptance and resolution, of coming to terms with the day's news even if it stings. The subsequent "Lamentations" slink, sputter, and sometimes grind, as sadness transmutes to anger and back again. The rhythmic drift and glitchy strata of "Revelations" allow for confusion and catharsis, of asking just why the world or the heavens have wronged us. With it's bright tones, occasional sweeps of strings, and scrambled voices, "Celebrations" offers furtive bits of fondness, though the nostalgia is never far removed from the news that prompted it. The final nine "Incantations" are lessons for those of us who remain, gorgeous and galvanizing reminders that our time here is as limited as the possibilities for how we spend it are infinite. Convocations occasionally soothes and sometimes hurts; when it's done, you're left with a renewed sense of wonder for being here at all.In fact, Stevens made Convocations in response to (and as an homage to) the life and death of his father, who died in September last year, two days following the release of The Ascension. It is, then, ultimately an album about loss, and an album that reflects a year in which we have all lost so much. One could easily compare this project to Stevens' album Carrie & Lowell, which he wrote following his mother's death. But this is something entirely different. A new time, a new season, a new life lost, a new reckoning, a new kind of isolation, grief, despair, frustration, confusion, and the search for happiness and hope for the future. This is not a personal record, but a universal one. Convocations is built on a shared experience that seeks to be honest about how complicated grief can be in these difficult times-the pain, the anxiety, the unknown, the absolute joy of memory. This is also an album made in lockdown, when we were all cloistered in whatever space we had. So long as the science and statistics hold, Convocations arrives just as we begin to emerge from a year whose losses we will calculate for a lifetime. It is, then, right on time, as we begin to process our grief and try to carry on with it. -Grayson Haver Currin
2021 release. It's been said that writing about music is like dancing about architecture (impossible and absurd). But what about singing about movies? Sufjan Stevens and Angelo de Augustine have paired up for a collaborative project that does just that. A Beginner's Mind is their debut album that contains 14 songs (loosely) based on (mostly) popular films. The source material is highbrow, lowbrow, and everything in between. The music is folksy, sweet, sincere and harmonically effervescent-Simon & Garfunkel with New Age flourishes. This album runs the gamut and has fun with it, even while it's songwriters remain fully rooted in the melancholy folk idioms they are known for. Daniel Anum Jasper, a pioneer of Ghanian movie poster painting, was commissioned to paint a series of new works for A Beginner's Mind. His paintings are a graphic simulacrum for the same sense of wonder, wordplay, and intrigue that shape A Beginner's Mind. By transforming old films into vital new songs, Stevens and de Augustine ask us to consider ourselves from a previously unconsidered vantage point-a new way of seeing and hearing-an exercise that's as necessary and relevant now as it's ever been.
One of the top emerging artists across all genres of music, Billy Strings has made his most ambitious album to date with Renewal, a 16-song collection that effortlessly positions him as a singular talent—one who reveres the history of the acoustic music that inspired him, while pushing it forward into new spaces and audiences through his incredible live shows.
Serving as a reflection of Strings’ diverse musical influences, Renewal reaches well beyond bluegrass with elements of heavy metal, jam bands, psychedelic music and classic rock—even though it’s still primarily an acoustic record. The album follows his Grammy Award-winning project, Home, as well as industry recognition ranging from Pollstar’s Breakthrough Artist of the Pandemic to the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Guitar Player of the Year and New Artist of the Year.
“I’ve learned, you’ve just got to let the song do its thing,” shares Strings. “So that’s what I try to do—write songs and let them come out however they do.”
Looking for this album on VINYL? Check back here on 8/5 for a big announcement!
Since their emergence in 2014, Badflower has notched 3 #1’s off their critically-acclaimed debut album, OK, I’M SICK, scored the iHeart Rock Song of 2020 with “Ghost,” and went Top 5 with their hit “30.” Wielding their signature energy, the music taps into a gritty and grungy gutter rock spirit complemented by jarring theatrical delivery and unshakable riffing. The band’s latest single “F*ck The World” is Top 10 and climbing. This Is How The World Ends marks Badflower’s long-awaited sophomore album.
The Best of Bond.James Bond is a compilation featuring celebrated theme songs from the longest-running franchise in the history of cinema. This updated collection includes "No Time to Die" by Billie Eilish, the title theme song from the highly anticipated new film. New additions also include Adele's "Skyfall" and Sam Smith's "Writing's On The Wall," Oscarr winners for Best Song in 2013 and 2016, respectively.
On September 24, Raleigh-based, globally acclaimed band The Connells release Steadman’s Wake, their first new album in over 20 years. The Connells started recording music in the autumn of 1984, and since their debut album Dark Days, the band has gone on to amass worldwide acclaim for their melodic and introspective alternative rock sound. The band’s 5th studio album, 1993’s Ring (featuring their hit "'74–'75") reached top 10 status in 11 European countries, peaking at #1 in Norway and Sweden.
Chock full of humid, resonant soundscapes that bend time and emphasize texture, tone and timbre, Sarah Davachi's latest is her most defining and rewarding full-length to date. We're floored, again - there's nobody else doing it quite like this. Composed using a Mellotron, electric organ, piano and synthesizers, "Antiphonals" takes all the elements we know and love from Davachi's impressive catalogue to date and refines them into eight tracks of expertly-sculpted deep listening stickiness. If you're familiar with her work, the content won't be surprising, but Davachi's dedication to her craft has resulted in music that feels more and more revelatory each time. Here, she brings her obsession with the tonal and textural character of early music to the fore, playing confidently with sounds that exist two or three steps from the contemporary sonic spectrum. Her favored outpost is a cocoon of soft-focus resonance, where sounds graze lightly and hypnotize rather than scrape or bruise. It's not background music - this is art that requires attention and understanding to appreciate it's layered beauty and subtle complexity.
Capitol Nashville’s Mickey Guyton will release her album, Remember Her Name, on September 24. Mickey co-penned 15 of the 16 songs on the album. Remember Her Name follows the release of her critically acclaimed Bridges EP which included “Black Like Me” for which she went on to receive a historic GRAMMY nomination. Her performance on the prestigious GRAMMY show was the first by a black female country artist and was touted by NPR as “the night’s most affecting live performance.”
Only Honest At The Weekend is Becky Hill's hotly anticipated debut album - all your favorite tracks in one place. Featuring the hits "Better Off Without You," "Heaven On My Mind," and the summer anthem "Remember" with David Guetta. Plus, brand new tracks with S1mba, Ella Eyre, Topic, 220 and much more. CD w/ 16-page booklet.
Join Thievery Corporation co-founder Eric Hilton on a blunted journey through space with his new album, Ceremony - 13 tracks of emotive interstellar psychedelia. Cosmic events include the first 2 singles "Who Are You?" and "Forming Star," and the star-dying closer "Fade Into Forever." Out August 20th on Montserrat House Music.
When There's Love Around is an album of two halves. The first is "about feeling small and insignificant and stressed," Kiefer says. "It's about things that cause me to worry, but at the end of the day, are probably unimportant from a larger cosmic perspective."
The nostalgia of looking through old childhood pictures in one of the lead tracks, "I remember this picture," is reflected on the album cover, a Polaroid of Kiefer and his sister, painted by Mikey Yates.
The album's second half is more reflective and spiritual, its cathartic mood occasioned by the loss of Kiefer's beloved grandmother. While grief and loss are main themes, the tone is still largely positive - Kiefer describes himself as an optimist.
Kiefer assembled a band of his favorite musicians, including DJ Harrison, Andy McCauley, Josh Johnson, Will Logan, Sam Wilkes and other jazz luminaries. They laid the album down in three sets of sessions over 2020, including one stint at Jazzy Jeff's studio after the DJ invited Kiefer to record there. Several songs were recorded in one or two takes, with any mistakes left in, true to Kiefer's preference for music that feels spontaneous and from the heart. Kiefer has long performed with a live band, and found the setup suited the communal spirit he was striving for on this album: "I find something about the Herculean type of jazz performer really alienating. I want to celebrate human connection," he explains.
Migos Culture III is the groundbreaking third installment finale of the blockbuster Culture trilogy. As a knockout climax, it spotlights their nimble ad-libs, bulletproof bars, head-spinning hooks, and irreplaceable chemistry. And it's stacked with A-list co-stars: Cardi B, Drake, Future, Justin Bieber, Polo G, Youngboy NBA and the late Juice WRLD and Pop Smoke to name a few. The streets, the internet, and the game have been begging for Culture III for three years, and now Migos have delivered.
REGGAE GOLD 2021 - Celebrate the spirit of Summer with Reggae Gold 2021, featuring dancehall's finest for this annual collection of hits, featuring the smash summer anthems "Go Down Deh" by Spice, featuring Shaggy and Sean Paul and the reggae version of "Heartbreak Anniversary," the massive R&B streaming hit, covered by Tarrus Riley. Recent his "Nice Up The Dance' by Kabaka Pyramid and "Ginal (feat. Collie Buddz)" from international star Alborosie add to the set.
The reigning UK Queen of blues rock guitar, Joanne Shaw Taylor is releasing her newest record The Blues Album, produced by blues rock icons Joe Bonamassa and Josh Smith. The Blues Album finds Joanne energetically reinterpreting hidden gems from the genre's best such as; Albert King, Otis Rush and Little Milton. After being sidelined for over a year, Joanne felt this was the best time to release an album of blues covers and she brought her best vocals and guitar playing to the table.