Monday Music: New albums by Bob Evans & Devendra Banhart (and an older Rufus Wainwright album)

Familiar StrangerFamiliar Stranger by Bob Evans

A couple of months ago I mentioned the release of an EP by Bob Evans, The Double Life EP, which also featured a couple of songs from an upcoming album, it turned out. The twelve tracks which make up Familiar Stranger are widely varied in sound, and are a definite move away from the acoustic-guitar driven songs from his first three solo albums (Kevin Mitchell – his stage name is Bob Evans – is also the frontman for Aussie band Jebediah). Instead this album is layered with various pop sounds, with a lean towards nostalgic pop in places, with lively songs such as lead single “Don’t Wanna Grow Up Anymore” and “Maps” bound to get you tapping along, while being alternated with softer, sweeter songs such as “What Else Is There?”, “Wonderful You” and “Sitting In The Waiting Room” (which might not sound sweet until you get to the end of the song). This album has been on non-stop in my car for a week and I suspect this won’t change any time soon. Check out the second single here, titled “Go”:

MalaMala by Devendra Banhart

Devendra Banhart is a Venezuelan American singer-songwriter who, for the last decade, has released a string of albums that are a blend of folk rock, psychedelic rock, latin music, and probably a whole bunch of other genres too. Generally quiet in mood, his music often has a slight cheekiness to it that is bound to put a smile on your face, and his eighth album, Mala, is no different. It picks up exactly where his last album left off, with a generally upbeat atmosphere, quirky songs that are definitely among the most mainstream he has written thus far (which isn’t a bad thing), and even dabbling in some entirely new sounds. If you’ve never heard of his music, now is a good time to start by listening to this album. The song I’ve included is called “Never Seen Such Good Things”:

All Days Are NightsAll Days Are Nights: Songs For Lulu by Rufus Wainwright

I’ve mentioned Rufus Wainwright at least a couple of times before on my blog. However, this album stands out among his catalogue as something different – the entire album consists of only a piano and vocals, resulting in some of the most intimate but intense songs he has ever written. He also used this album as a way of dealing with the passing of his mother (who, like everyone in his family, was also a musician), and so there’s a melancholy tone running throughout, which only adds to the atmosphere. With his classically trained voice complementing his incredible piano skills, this album feels surprisingly big and full for such a simple set up, which is testament to his abilities as a musician and song writer. The song I’ve included is one of my favourites off the album, the beautiful “The Dream”:

What music have you been listening to this last week?

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