New songs I’m listening to

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Spinning Song by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
(At this point, Cave is creating deeply personal, vulnerable, therapeutic music. The emotional outro “peace will come” could be interpreted as an ode to Cave’s late son who tragically died aged 15. There’s also a tribute to Elvis “the king of rock ‘n’ roll” whom Cave previously has included in lyrics. The stunning artwork is presumably a depiction of heaven/paradise and a reworking of The Breath of Life, a 2001 painting by the artist Tom duBois. According to the singer the title Ghosteen refers to “a migrating spirit”. Perhaps the ghost of his son, hopefully Arthur is listening from the afterlife because his dad has a lot of love for him. Despite the specificness, there’s an ambiguity, and anyone can immerse themselves in the poetry. Everyone has to deal with loss)

 

 

 

 

 


Happens to the Heart by Leonard Cohen

(Chill-inducing, from his upcoming posthumous album, out November 22)

 

 

 

 

 


All Mirrors by Angel Olsen
(Possibly the most beautiful song of 2019. She gives Elizabeth Fraser a run for her money)

 

 

 

 

 

 


You Ain’t The Problem by Michael Kiwanuka
 (I just love the lyrics. A future classic)

 

 

 

 

 


Good Luck by Broken Bells
(A welcome return)

 

 

 

 

 


Vampires (instrumental) by Bat For Lashes
(Inspired by 80s culture, my favorite off the album. If you want to know what her influences are she revealed some of them in What’s In My Bag? )

 

 

 

 

 

 


UFOF by Big Thief
(Sad yet gorgeous. This group is getting a lot of attention and rightly so)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


End is Nigh by Alex Cameron
(Morbidly hilarious. Continues the dead pan humor which was a feature on his superb last album. Sometimes Cameron’s writing is off-putting. This melody is a winner)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hope you find one or two you like. As always, comments are welcome 

My album of the year just turned into a two-horse race, thanks to Lana Del Rey

 

This post consists of reviews for my two favorite 2019 albums so far, plus an autumn preview of upcoming albums.

 

 

 

 

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Norman Fucking Rockwell! by Lana Del Rey (2019)
Her new album is arguably the singer’s best since 2014’s Ultraviolence. Hardly any filler despite a 67 minute running time. Judging from the profanity in the album title you might think she is out to shock but don’t let that fool you as her lyrics have improved and Lana seems more mature as a songwriter. Lots of piano and beautiful instrumental details. There were signs on the second half of Lust for Life (2017) that her style was going in a less pop friendly direction and on the 2019 LP the singer is less interested in catchy tunes and goes for music with a longer shelf life. I’ve read she got some help with the lyrics and probably that was for the best. Produced and co-written by Jack Antonoff of the indie pop band Bleachers who also produced Taylor Swift’s 2019 album Lover. Be sure to check out the official video for Doin Time which even if you don’t like the music is worth a look, a homage to Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (1958).

 

 

 

 

 

and the other main contender is…

 

 

 

 

 

Titanic Rising by Weyes Blood
Titanic Rising by Weyes Blood (2019)
Natalie Mering (who goes by the name Weyes Blood) describes her new album in the press notes as Enya meets Bob Seger. The first 5-6 tracks of her ten song album are especially gorgeous, creating an ethereal atmosphere that exudes a calm and introspection, with lyrics that feel both personal and universal. Besides the great songwriting, what stands out the most is the lovely vocal performance, she reminds me of Aimee Mann and I mean that as a compliment. On the song Andromeda she sounds like Karen Carpenter. The weakest moments are Picture Me Better and the second half of Mirror Forever where the lyrical content became a bit bland, and the closing instrumental felt slightly undercooked with its sudden fade out ending, but minor complaints. I could imagine Titanic Rising becoming a classic that is listened to 50 years from now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Are there any other albums that could match them in the rest of 2019?
ANIMA, Thom Yorke’s new solo album impressed me this summer. Certainly has a chance of moving higher up my list. Possibly too bleak to put on often, for now it’s in the top 10.  Seeing Other People by Foxygen (released April 26) has a legitimate shot as well with the amount of tasty hooks despite portions of the lyrics which don’t hit the mark. Not forgetting Springsteen’s welcome return Western Stars which I like yet if I’m honest doesn’t hit me in the gut like his classic work. Same with Carly Rae Jepsen’s Dedicated, it’s good, but not THAT good.
The Cure plan to release a new album allegedly this autumn, word is from 60-year-old Robert Smith that it’s very dark and not stadium friendly. Michael Kiwanuka put out a catchy single in You Ain’t the Problem albeit I find his albums usually are not as strong as the individual tracks. His latest is simply called Kiwanuka and is out October 25. I loved Currents (2015) by Tame Impala though his 2019 singles are unexceptional. That said, I’m still cautiously optimistic as the new material appears to go in the same sonic direction, no word on a release date yet. Then we have Grimes whom I have a love-hate relationship with, Visions (2012) was brilliant but I couldn’t get into Art Angels (2015), she is expected to have an album out soon titled Miss_Anthropocene. Besides those, Alex Cameron drops his follow-up to the fantastic Forced Witness (2017), his new singles don’t light me up but I’ll definitely give Miami Memory a try which is available September 13. Angel Olsen might be ready to deliver her best album (True Blue with Mark Ronson was my song of the summer, Sisters from MY WOMAN (2016) floored me, and the self-titled lead single from upcoming All Mirrors (2019) is promising, the album hits October 4. I’m a fan of Metronomy and judging from the info on Metronomy Forever (September 13) it’s a collection of outtakes and not a proper album, the promo tracks I was lukewarm towards and maybe they are tapped out at this point. Hot Motion by Temples (September 27) could be good, again, I’m not super excited based on the early tracks. I think they peaked with the neo-psychedelia on Sun Structures (2014).  Canadian singer-songwriter Patrick Watson is an artist I like for his authenticity and he has a new LP titled Wave available October 18, the lead single Dream For Dreaming is good yet sounds too similar to Creep by Radiohead. Charli XCX is sure to appeal to those who love modern pop on Charli (September 13),  I doubt it’s for me. Bat for Lashes’ Lost Girls arrived on September 6, I listened to the promo material and did not fall in love with it. I’ve been recommended U.F.O.F. by Big Thief (released May 3) and will get to that soon. I’m expecting a few surprises which is always the case each year!

 

 

 

 

What do you think? As always, comments are welcome

Red Bull & Hennessy by Jenny Lewis

 

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Another blogger Crazy Classic Rock recently noted that it’s been slim pickings for rock albums in the 2010s, and I would agree with that assessment.  I’ll get back to that discussion when I publish my best of the decade lists. The lead single Red Bull & Hennessy from Jenny Lewis’ upcoming album was a pleasant surprise. I like the rock sound, thumping drums, piano, and the closing guitar solo works like a dream. Her vocal has been compared to Carole King and Stevie Nicks. To me, the lyrics suggest freedom and the open road, I could imagine listening while on a long drive. Singer-songwriter Lewis has spared no expense and is supported on the album by Beck, Ringo Starr, Don Was (bass player of the 1980s funk-rock band Was Not Was), Benmont Tench (keyboardist of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers), respected session drummer Jim Keltner, and under-fire singer-songwriter Ryan Adams, who was recently forced to pull his new album and tour amid claims of sexual abuse. I was hesitant if I should boycott with Adams’ involvement. But I thought would be unfair to Lewis if I refused to share. Hopefully, like me, you can separate the controversy from the music. Jenny Lewis is best known as the lead singer and rhythm guitarist for the indie rock band Rilo Kiley (which I am unfamiliar). Her latest album On The Line is released under her own name and is out March 22.

 

 

 

Time Rider by Chromatics

 

 

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The story of the upcoming(?) album Dear Tommy is fascinating and exasperating if you are a fan. Johnny Jewel has been talking about the record since December 2014. Word is 15,000 CDs and 10,000 vinyl copies were destroyed by Johnny in 2016. He wasn’t satisfied with the music. Could there be a copy or two hidden somewhere he forgot to smash to bits?
On a positive note, the band have announced their first tour in five years that kicks off in the US on April 30th. Promoting a new album on the tour is a possibility. We will have to wait and see. Hope you enjoy the new song which is one of my favorites of 2019. Nice and dreamy, as you’d expect from Chromatics.