In this hectic fast-paced world with dozens of new albums being pushed upon you every week, it’s easy for some great records to get lost in the shuffle. Luckily, Saul Wright is here to guide your attention to some exemplary new LPs that may have gone under your radar.
The Deslondes – Hurry Home
The Deslondes follow up their excellent 2015 debut with another collection of old school, down home, country and western pickin’ and hollerin’. They expand their sound a little on Hurry Home but the foundation remains the same strong stuff as before.
RIYL: Pokey LaFarge, Hank Williams, Sitting on the Front Porch Double-Fisting a Whiskey Rocks and an Iced Tea
Slow Dancer – In A Mood
In A Mood is a great title for this blue-eyed 70s soul pop. It creates a mood immediately and keeps you there for 37 minutes. The instrumentation and playing of the band is kept simple with guitars, synths and a minimal rhythm section keeping a precise but relaxed pocket allowing Simon Okely to steal the show. His soulful baritone is special – low but nasal, smooth but textured, unique but familiar.
RIYL: Michael Kiwanuka, Majical Cloudz, 70s sexy voice guys, Irish Cream Slowly Poured Over the Rocks in a Nice Tumbler
CFCF & Jean-Michel Blais – Cascades
Chilled-out electronics master CFCF teams up with modern minimal pianist Jean-Michel Blais for one of the most exciting collaborations of the year. If you’re not familiar with CFCF, I highly recommend his back catalogue as he’s one of the most inventive and listenable artists in electronic music today. I wasn’t too familiar with Jean-Michel Blais before but his album from last year is a treat as well. Cascades doesn’t throw you for a loop but it does manage to meet the high expectations that come with a meeting of two musical minds of this magnitude. The songs go from the delicate and serene to the driving and vigorous. As in the best musical partnerships, these two masterminds compliment each other perfectly, knowing when to relinquish the floor and when to return to the forefront.
The album reaches it’s fever point in ‘Hypocrite’ with it’s champing at the bit beat and energy before winding things back down again, ending the album just where it started – with the tranquil wanderings of piano, melody and mind.
RIYL: Eluvium, Nils Frahm, Ólafur Arnalds, Going to the Museum and You’re Still Kinda Feeling Something from Last Night
HUDSON – Medeski, Scofield, Dejohnette, Grenadier
First, if you’ve never heard Medeski, Martin, & Wood, you really need to change that right now. They blend jazz, funk, rock and every genre under the sun to create unique, thoughtful, danceable, interesting, deep and fun music. They were one of the most important bands to my musical upbringing and I still consider them geniuses and their discography one of the best in instrumental music today. This album doesn’t quite live up to the manic energy and virtuosity of their best work (and obviously Martin and Wood aren’t involved here) but Medeski is always a pleasure to hear, especially when he’s surrounded by jazz giants like on this record. Scofield is arguably the best jazz guitarist around. Dejohnette, one of the greatest and most influential jazz drummers in history, needs no introduction and while Grenadier may not have the name recognition of the others, he’s an excellent bassist both here and in his work with in Brad Mehldau’s Trio.
RIYL: Any of these guys’ other work, Brian Blade, Ron Carter, Nice Conversation after Dinner and Hey, Somebody Brought a Jay
John Moreland – Big Bad Luv
John Moreland is well-known across the Midwest for both his skillfully written beautiful ballads and his propensity to tour nonstop for years on end. He finally settled down and got married and, while Big Bad Luv is far from a joyous album, his new-found if not happiness than at least contentment can be felt on this album. Even as he questions everything and wonders what his place in this relationship and world can or should be, there is a sense of peace to the songs.
RIYL: Hiss Golden Messenger, Ryan Adams, The Boss, Both Laughin’ and Cryin’ in your Beer
yadayn – Adem
I heard about this album from the excellent blog/label Dying for Bad Music.
A mix of guitar, field recordings, hushed voices whispering just beyond your reach, distorted loops and oscillating tones – this album in a panoptic vision. Adem is an auditory painting of a life’s interaction with nature, others and itself. The notes hang in the air, not in a void but suspended in a warm tape hiss that blankets and embraces you. The playing is impressive but the mini-orchestral arrangements and the construction of the album as a whole are the real draw. Focusing mainly on the guitar and some stunning ukulele work, along with the occasional chord organ, the instruments blend into each other and the album passes with a pleasant droney quality.
RIYL: Glenn Jones, Daniel Bachman, William Tyler, A Really Good Novel in Your Favorite Chair
Julian Lage & Chris Eldridge – Mount Royal
The talent and guitar chops on display here are readily apparent but Lang & Eldridge never show their capabilities just to show off. Everything here is in service of the song. While the album is mostly orbiting the folk & bluegrass worlds, it never quite touches down and in fact, stretches itself in many directions with jazz, country, blues and rock flourishes to be found throughout. Though it’s largely instrumental, the songs with vocals provide a welcome change of pace and are just as expertly executed as the rest of the album.
RIYL: Doc Watson, Nathan Salsburg, Musical Expertise and Knee-Slappin’ Good Times
Pantha Du Prince – The Triad (Ambient Versions & Remixes)
Honestly, I might like this more than the original version of the album. The new versions are the perfect amount of ambient – chill and relaxed melodies wash over you but the songs’ propulsion is maintained enough to never let you get lost and sleepy in the blanketing sonic waves. There are beats to be found here but they’re never beating you over the head, instead opting to calming float by in the background ceding the foreground to the sinuous rolling tides of synthesizers and sequencers.
RIYL: Selected Ambient Works 85-92, Four Tet, Caribou, Dancing then Sleeping then Dreaming and Dancing in Your Dream