Music Releases 08-21-20
Sometimes it feels like you hear a Bright Eyes song with your whole body. From Conor Oberst’s early recordings in an Omaha basement in 1995 all the way up to 2020, Bright Eyes’ music tries to unravel the impossible tangles of dissent: personal and political, external and internal. It’s a study of the beauty in unsteadiness in all its forms – in a voice, beliefs, love, identity, and what fills up the spaces in-between. And in so many ways, it’s just about searching for a way through.
The year 2020 is full of significant anniversaries for Bright Eyes. Fevers and Mirrors was released 20 years ago this May, while Digital Ash in a Digital Urn and I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning both turned 15 in January. The latter, a singer-songwriter tour-de-force released amidst the Bush presidency and Iraq war, wades through incisive anti-war rhetoric and micro, intimate calamities. On the title track and throughout the record, Oberst sings about body counts in the newspaper, televised wars, the bottomless pit of American greed, struggling to understand the world alongside one’s own turmoil. In its own way, I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning carved out its place in the canon of great anti-war albums by being both present and prophetic, its urgency enduring 15 years later.
In 2011 the release of The People’s Key, Bright Eyes’ ninth and most recent album, ushered in an unofficial hiatus for the beloved project. In the time since, the work of the band’s core members – Oberst, multi-instrumentalist Mike Mogis, and multi-instrumentalist Nathaniel Walcott – has remained omnipresent, through both the members’ original work and collaboration.
In recent years, Mogis produced records for beloved folk acts First Aid Kit and Joseph, among others, as well as mixed the fine-spun ennui of Phoebe Bridgers’ breakthrough 2017 debut, Stranger in the Alps. Mogis and bandmate Walcott also teamed up to write the original scores for The Fault in Our Stars, Stuck in Love, and Lovely Still, and Walcott worked as a solo composer scoring number of independent feature-length films. Walcott spent extensive time on collaboration; in addition to his arrangement work for Mavis Staples, First Aid Kit, and M. Ward, he contributed studio work to artists ranging from U2 to jazz guitarist Jeff Parker, and also toured heavily as a member of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Oberst, who’s nearly 30 years into a prolific musical career, spent the last decade in similarly productive fashion. Across three years he released a string of solo albums: Salutations (2017), Ruminations (2016), and Upside Down Mountain (2014), as well as guested on records by First Aid Kit, Phoebe Bridgers, and Alt-J. His punk band, Desaparecidos, emerged from a 13-year hiatus in 2015 with the thunderous sophomore LP, Payola, a white-knuckled disarray of hollered political fury. And at the top of 2019, Oberst and Bridgers debuted their new band, Better Oblivion Community Center, digitally dropping the critically-lauded eponymous debut LP alongside a surprise performance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
The heart at Bright Eyes’ songwriting still looms culturally, in films and TV shows and through re-imaginings by other artists. Mac Miller covered both “Lua” and “First Day of My Life”; Lorde’s version of the penultimate The People’s Key track, the funereal-waltz “Ladder Song,” was a focal point of The Hunger Games’ soundtrack; The Killers covered “Four Winds” for their Spaceman EP; and Lil Peep’s “Worlds Away” samples “Something Vague” while Young Thug’s “Me Or Us” samples “First Day of My Life.”
Bright Eyes’ expansive catalog has traversed genre, sound, and countless players; unpolished demos or fuzzy folk, electrified rock or country twang. The sharp songwriting and musicianship is all anchored in Bright Eyes’ singular ability to flip deep intimacy into something universal. For so many, for so long, listening to Bright Eyes has been like hearing yourself in someone else’s song – a moment of understanding or illumination, knowing you’re on the same team looking for a way to move through of all this shit.
And while 2020 is a year of milestones for the band, it’s also the year Bright Eyes returns, newly signed to indie label Dead Oceans. Amidst the current overwhelming uncertainty and upheaval of global and personal worlds, Oberst, Mogis, and Walcott reunited under the moniker as both an escape from, and a confrontation of, trying times. Getting the band back together felt right, and necessary, and the friendship at the core of the band has been a longtime pillar of Bright Eyes’ output. For Bright Eyes, this long-awaited re-emergence feels like coming home.
Old 97's return with Twelfth, their aptly titled 12th studio album, recorded this spring in Nashville, Tennessee between a tornado and a pandemic. 2016's Graveyard Whistling took the 97's to new heights lead by the single "Good With God" - a bona-fide hit at non-commercial radio. Twelfth's lead single "Turn Off The TV" might be the unintentional anthem of 2020, celebrating the occasional and necessary need to turn off the TV set and tune out the outside world.
Narratively, H.C. McEntire’s Eno Axis is about finding direction in the natural world, and following love. Sonically, it’s an album shaped enormously by the atmosphere it was recorded in—the crew’s synergy and positivity, the proximity and presence of a band in a room playing with intention. Structurally, it’s a group of songs inspired by the colors and tones of open tunings, by the sacrality of space and instinct. Stylistically, it’s folk-rock leaning into its curious experimental side and moved by the spiritual rawness of classic soul and the simplicity of earnest pop. Eno Axis feels like a confident and mature step forward from her debut album LIONHEART—in tone, arrangement, production, and spirit.
Vinyl LP pressing. 2020 release. Chuck Prophet, San Francisco's savior-songwriter, has returned with The Land That Time Forgot. Varying from the rich heartland rock of songs like 'Best Shirt On' to the building drum machine of 'Marathon' and all the way back to stripped back words and guitar of 'Nixonland'; and 'Get Off the Stage'Prophet's work defies classification. Chuck Prophet is a rock and roll star in a country that has forgotten that it needs rock and roll stars. America turns it's popular musicians into celebrities (as if that's what we need more of). Meanwhile, the true grit, write it like you live it and live it 'til it kills you musical artist exists in obscurity, kicking ass and taking names in small clubs every night while sweating blood over making records. Thankfully, we live in the same timeline as Chuck Prophet.
Available widely on colored vinyl for the first time, Guided By Voices Alien Lanes celebrates its 25th anniversary with the release of a new multicolored LP. The reprint of GBV's 1995 classic is the first in Matador's Revisionist History 2020 series, limited to an edition of 2,500.
Vinyl LP pressing. 25th anniversary reissue of this unique coming together of Brian Eno and ex-Public Image Limited bass player Jah Wobble, also featuring Jaki Liebezeit from Can on drums. Starting life as the soundtrack to Derek Jarman's Glitterbug, Eno passed stereo mixes of the film cues to Wobble who embellished and built upon them to construct the Spinner tracks. The resulting fusion combines icy ambience with a kind of psychogeographical funk. Digital download card includes two bonus tracks.
Vinyl LP pressing. Includes digital download. Digitally remastered and expanded edition. 30th anniversary reissue of the historic coming together of two icons of leftfield music. Having both started their careers as creative forces in seminal bands (Eno's unique synthesizer treatments in Roxy Music and Cale's viola and bass contributions to the Velvet Underground), they've appeared as guest musicians on each other's records as far back as 1974, the year in which they also made a historic live album with Nico and Kevin Ayers at the Rainbow Theatre in London. They remained friends, and the year prior to Wrong Way Up, Eno produced Cale's Words For The Dying album. This paved the way for the pair to write and record an album together, notably the first time Eno had delivered a collection of song-based recordings since Before And After Science in 1977. The resulting album is a triumph for both artists, containing the singles 'Spinning Away' and 'Been There Done That'. Bonus tracks accessible via download card: Grandfather's House Palanqui
The Shadow is an album of growth. In the years since our previous album SLUFF was recorded, we have toured around the world, honed our musical skills and found our own little place in the music industry - but we have also seen our share of shadows, and it is through acknowledging these shadows that we grow the most. Each song on The Shadow examines an aspect of this growth through a different musical lens, adding up to a series of rock-and-roll vignettes of light, shadow, anxiety and responsibility. Frantic punk-scenes of information overload are contrasted by patient drones of introspection; fun, ear-worm musings of life as a young rock band are juxtaposed with the heavier responsibility of having a voice and not quite knowing what to say. The amalgam of information in the songs is complemented with a blend of sonic perspectives - we threw in all our infl uences, from the usual suspects of punk rock and new wave to spacedout 80’s balladry, fuzzy garage-metal and psychedelic desert folk (with synths and tape loops added to taste). And with producer Chris Funk leading the way, our somewhat scatterbrained sprawl of musical and conceptual ideas are tied together in an artful way. Chris’ quiet but steady direction pushed us to serve the songs, reigning in the guitar pedal breaks and drum solo freakouts from our live set while leaving just enough unpredictability and experimentation to give the album a liveliness of its own.
Born in New York City, 21 year old Maya Hawke is an actress, singer and lyricist. Hawke was most recently seen in the third season of Netflix’s “Stranger Things,” as well as in Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” and Amanda Kramer’s “Ladyworld.”
Following the release of her independently released A and B side singles in 2019, she returns with a deeply personal full-length album. Hawke, who wrote the lyrics, continued her collaboration with Grammy Award-winning songwriter Jesse Harris, who wrote the music for the album.
On creating the album, Hawke says, “This album happened accidentally… Jesse and I started working together accidentally... we kept writing, kept collecting songs because it brought joy into both of our lives. Collecting them into an album and releasing it comes from a crazy, if not pathological desire to share that joy with others. From my point of view, ‘Blush’ is a collection of secret messages, hidden communications with the people in my life. ‘By Myself’ was a secret message to myself, that I hope I’ll receive someday soon.”
Fresh off their 30th Anniversary & World Tour in 2019, the genre-bending, multi-platinum selling Mavericks are changing the game once again with the release of their first-ever Latin format album En Español. Produced by the band's longtime creative partner Niko Bolas (Neil Young, Prince, Sheryl Crow) and Mavericks lead singer & principal songwriter Raul Malo, En Español features a compelling mix of standards and Spanish-language originals in signature Mavericks style.
Vinyl reissue of 1993 collection of demos written and recorded at Polly Harvey's home in 1991-1992. It includes eight demos of songs from the album, Rid of Me, released earlier in that year along with six demos of additional songs. Reissue is faithful to the original package, with vinyl cutting by Jason Mitchell at Loud Mastering under the guidance of longtime PJ Harvey collaborator John Parish.
Reissue on vinyl of the first PJ Harvey studio album in the Island Records catalogue, and her second studio album. Produced by Steve Albini and originally released in May 1993, Rid Of Me features the singles ‘50ft Queenie’ and ‘Man-Size’. The album charted at number 3 in the UK. Reissue is faithful to the original recording and package, cutting by Bob Weston at Chicago Mastering under the guidance of Steve Albini.
World renowned and multi-Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter Bebel Gilberto has been enchanting fans and critics worldwide since her solo debut release in 1986. She catapulted onto the global music scene in 1996 when she featured on the celebrated compilation RED HOT + RIO. She followed up with her breakout album, Tanto Tempo, positioning herself as one of the top-selling Brazilian artists since the 1960's. She continued with a streak of critically-acclaimed albums on which she refined her sound and showcased her strengths as a composer. Her new album, Agora, which translates to now, chronicles the moment in time in Bebel's life after a period of great change. It was produced by Thomas Bartlett (Sufjan Stevans, St. Vincent, Father John Misty, David Byrne, Martha Wainwright).
SUGAREGG roars from the speakers and jumpstarts both heart and mind. Like My Bloody Valentine after three double espressos, opener “Add It On” zooms heavenward within seconds, epitomizing band leader Alicia Bognanno’s newfound clarity of purpose, while the bass-driven melodies and propulsive beats of “Where to Start” and “Let You” are the musical equivalents of the sun piercing through a perpetually cloudy sky. A very old saying goes that no one saves us but ourselves. Recognizing and breaking free from the patterns impeding our forward progress can be transformative. Indeed, the third Bully album, SUGAREGG, may not ever have come to fruition had Bognanno not navigated every kind of upheaval imaginable and completely overhauled her working process along the way. The artist admits that finding the proper treatment for bipolar 2 disorder radically altered her mindset, freeing her from a cycle of paranoia and insecurity about her work. “Being able to finally navigate that opened the door for me to write about it,” she says, pointing to the sweet, swirly “Like Fire” and slower, more contemplative songs such as “Prism” and “Come Down” as having been born of this new headspace. Even small changes like listening to music instead of the news first thing in the morning “made me want to write and bring that pleasure to other people.” An unexpected foray into the film world also helped set the table for SUGAREGG when Bognanno was asked to write songs for the 2019 movie Her Smell, starring Elisabeth Moss as the frontwoman of the fictional rock band Something She. The experience was cathartic, infusing Bognanno with new energy for songwriting, and she dove into making the new album. Having engineered both previous Bully albums herself, Bognanno freed herself to focus on the songs by handing production and engineering duties to Grammy-winning producer John Congleton (St. Vincent, Sleater-Kinney, The War on Drugs, Modest Mouse), and who worked with her on SUGAREGG at Pachyderm Studios in Cannon Falls in Bognanno’s home state of Minnesota. (Nirvana’s In Utero, PJ Harvey’s Rid of Me and Superchunk’s Foolish were recorded at Pachyderm.) With contributions from longtime touring drummer Wesley Mitchell and bassist Zach Dawes (Sharon Van Etten and Lana Del Rey), and two additional songs recorded at Palace Studios in Toronto with Graham Walsh (Alvvays, METZ, !!!), SUGAREGG was finally complete. Ultimately, SUGAREGG is a testament that profound change can yield profound results — in this case, the most expressive and powerful music of Bognanno’s career. “This is me longing to see the bigger picture, motivated and eager for contentment in the best way,” she says. “I hope the happy go lucky/fuck-it-all attitude shines through some of these songs because I really did feel like I was reentering a place I hadn’t been to in a while and was excited to be back there.”
New Vinyl: $49.98 Buy
On August 21, 2020, 30 years to the day after its initial launch, thrash/metal-masters Anthrax will celebrate with the release of the deluxe anniversary edition of their fifth studio album, the Gold-certified Persistence of Time, produced by Anthrax and Mark Dodson (Megaforce). Available exclusively on disc and vinyl, the CD package will include two CDs and one DVD, the vinyl edition offers four LPs, as well as revised cover art that reflects what had been the album's original visual concept.
Vinyl LP pressing.2020 release. The D'Addario brothers return with their third Lemon Twigs album, Songs For The General Public. The prodigiously-talented duo's showstopping melodies mined from every era of rock quickly earned fans in Elton John, Questlove, and Jack Antonoff. Songs For The General Public was written, recorded and produced by the D'Addarios at their Long Island home studio, Sonora Studios in Los Angeles and New York City's Electric Lady.
Limited seafoam colored vinyl LP pressing comes packaged in wide spine jacket with printed inner sleeve. Includes digital download. No Dream is the fourth full-length from Jeff Rosenstock. It comes at a time of unparalleled chaos and confusion, division and despair, the depths of which would have been impossible to predict when much of it was being written over the course of the last few years. And yet the record feels prescient, unexpectedly and uniquely suited for this moment. After building a devoted cult following with the acerbic ska-punk of the Arrogant Sons of Bitches, the DIY heroics of Bomb the Music Industry!, and three increasingly celebrated solo albums, No Dream arrives with an entirely new set of expectations in an entirely new era.
Imploding the Mirage is The Killers highly anticipated sixth studio album. The album - produced by the band in conjunction with Shawn Everett and Jonathan Rado of Foxygen - was recorded in Los Angeles and Park City, UT. It is the first album of their career to be created outside their hometown of Las Vegas, NV. Imploding The Mirage also features a brilliant array of collaborators, another first for the band who have typically kept guest spots on their albums to a minimum. The list of featured artists includes Lindsey Buckingham, k.d. lang, Weyes Blood, Adam Granduciel (War On Drugs), Blake Mills, and Lucius.