New Music Releases 13/02/15

This week sees some pretty interesting releases in the world of music. One of them, the album Vestiges & Claws by José González, seems to not be available just yet on Spotify so it might be a genuine worldwide release next Tuesday. But here are three other albums you might like, all available from this week onwards.

Father John Misty – I Love You, Honeybear

While this is his second album under this particular pseudonym, J. Tillman also has several albums to his real name and was a member of much loved band Fleet Foxes until his departure in 2011. I love his work as J. Tillman, but as Father John Misty he has tapped into a much louder and upbeat sound. The folky feel of his other projects is still there of course, but there is a strong 70s vibe and on many songs I find the style a little reminiscent of the older (and better) material of Elton John. Have a listen and see what you think, but personally I think this will be one of the bigger folk releases of the year:

Peace – Happy People

Another indie rock quartet from England, this is the band’s second album and follow up to 2013’s In Love. Already receiving mixed reviews, it will strike a chord with those who are fans of that scene in general as the band is often compared to others such as Vampire Weekend, The Maccabees and Foals, although I dare say they don’t quite possess the talent their comparisons often showcase. It’s not bad, but it’s not particularly amazing or ground-breaking either. Easy to listen to, it’ll be a crowd-pleaser all the same.

Colin Hay – Next Year People

I mentioned this album, Hay’s 12th solo album, a couple of weeks ago, and it has finally been released on Spotify (although sadly no clips are up on Youtube and only the same clip that I have already shown you on SoundCloud). It sounds great -Colin Hay is one of those artists who just keeps getting better with age. Continuing the folk sound of his last couple of albums, this album has an optimistic energy with just a small amount of melancholy lurking beneath as he addresses themes of people going through rough times holding out for something better in the near future (hence the title). His voice is, as always, the most awe-inducing aspect of this album. Nice easy listening from an artist who has found what he is good at and sticks to it.

What have you been listening to this week?

From Here To Now To You – Why I was always going to like Jack Johnson’s latest album

From Here To Now To YouI’ve always thought it must be really difficult for a lot of songwriters out there. If they try to do something different and unexpected with their music, they lose a lot of fans who claim “they sold out”, and if they try to sound the same every time they get told they need to do something different – it’s a lose-lose situation.

But some artists seem to find a way to get past such criticism, and Jack Johnson is one such musician. Sure, over his six albums his style has changed a little, with the addition of a keys player, the introduction of playing the electric guitar from time to time, and a more mature songwriting style overall. But really, he has released pretty much the same kind of music every time, and has only gone from strength to strength – I know I will continue to buy every album he ever makes.

From Here To Now To You is his 6th studio album (not counting all his soundtracks and live albums of course), and was released about a week ago around most of the world (and a week and a half ago in Australia and New Zealand, because we’re special). The album opener is also the first single, “I Got You”, released a couple of months ago, and is a typically chilled out Jack Johnson song with a slow acoustic melody, sweet lyrics and whistling to match.

From here, the album becomes a lot louder and more pop-oriented with the songs “Washing Dishes” (which should definitely be a single) and “Shot Reverse Shot”, both of which make me think of the upbeat sort of stuff he was writing back around the In Between Dreams period. This album then slows a little with “Never Fade” before a very fun, entertaining and foot stomping song, “Tape Deck”, which tells of a group of young musicians trying to form a punk band with little money or talent. It then slows a little for a couple of songs, before the cute “You Remind Me Of You”, clearly about his child, and the very upbeat song “Radiate” which is one of my favourites and which is, so I have heard, the second single off the album (as soon as I find a more official video, I’ll replace this upcoming video with that one, but for now listen to the song anyway):

After that, the album finishes off with the darker sounding “Ones and Zeros” and “Change” (which features Ben Harper), before ending, somewhat oddly, on a newly recorded version of his classic song “Home” (which featured as a bonus track on some versions of the Sleep Through The Static album and has been a regular live song). At only 12 tracks, this album might feel a little short compared to some of his others, but it is more than a full enough album in my opinion.

So what can I say? If you like Jack Johnson, you’ll probably like this album. There’s a few new sounds, but nothing ground-breaking – and that’s why I like him so much! This will definitely be on my spring and summer playlist over the next few months!

Are you a fan of Jack Johnson? If so, what’s your favourite song/album? What are your thoughts of his new material so far?

Sunday Sounds #5

This week I’m looking at albums by Incubus, Tim Finn and Pink Floyd – so hopefully there’s something for everyone here.

If Not Now, When?If Not Now, When? by Incubus

This album was released in 2011, five years after the preceding album Light Grenades, and the masses of Incubus fans around the world wondered where the band was going to go next considering they have already reinvented themselves numerous times throughout their now two decade long career. While some critics oversimplified it by saying this, their sixth album, was a pop album, in truth it is still a typical Incubus album with just a couple of radio friendly songs. The main difference is that this album is much more quiet, much more restrained, and builds up slowly. As a result it takes several listens before it really starts to seep under your skin and pull you in much as their older albums did. It didn’t please all their fans, but I think this is a great album by an awesome band. I’ve included the song “Adolescents”, which funnily enough is probably the one song most reminiscent of their older style.

Say It Is SoSay It Is So by Tim Finn

Tim Finn is best known as the frontman of Split Enz and one half of The Finn Brothers (the other half being Neil Finn, who is most famous for being the frontman of Crowded House). Apart from the odd stint working with his brother, Tim has mostly been a solo artist for the last three decades, with varying levels of success. This, his fifth solo album, was released in 1999 independently, and helped spring his career back into action after a several year break (he has since then released four more albums, plus another Finn Brothers album, and an anthology covering his whole career). I think in some ways the amount of time between this and his earlier albums has been a good thing, allowing for a newer and more creative sound to develop which stayed with him for subsequent albums. I’ve included the song “Underwater Mountain”, the opening track off the album and with one of the strangest film clips I’ve seen.

Wish You Were HereWish You Were Here by Pink Floyd

While Pink Floyd is best remembered and loved for their 1973 album Dark Side Of The Moon, and to a lesser extent 1979’s The Wall, I have always preferred this album from 1975, famous for its incredibly nine part “Shine On You Crazy Diamond”. The album features this and three other songs (Shine On You Crazy Diamond plays for about half an hour, with half of it at the start and half at the end of the album), and is bursting with beauty and feeling, compared to the, at times, more intellectually driven albums that were released before and after. The title track is my favourite song by Pink Floyd, and so I have included it here played live, in front of an enormous audience of which I really would have loved to have been a part.

What have you been listening to this last week?

Sunday Sounds #2

It’s that time of the week again where I share some of the music I’ve been listening to lately. As usual I’ll briefly describe each album, and include a clip of one of my favourite tracks from each one for you to watch and enjoy.

The Double Life EPThe Double Life EP by Bob Evans

When Kevin Mitchell isn’t preoccupied with Australian indie band Jebediah, he’s busy with his solo project in which he calls himself Bob Evans. To date he has released three albums, all of which have become increasingly folky in style, so this four track EP is a bit of a jump in sound, playing with quite different instrumentation on some of the songs while still retaining that unique feel of his music. The single of the EP, “Don’t Wanna Grow Up Anymore”, is a fun song and video as well, but it is worth checking out the other three songs – definitely a cool little piece on the whole.

I Know What Love Isn'tI Know What Love Isn’t by Jens Lekman

I’ve found myself drawn to a number of Swedish musicians and songwriters lately, and this is one of them. Jens Lekman writes mostly guitar based pop music, and a lot of it is quite melancholy both in sound and lyrical theme. While I haven’t heard his earlier albums in full, this album has grown on me with each listen. I love his voice as well – it sounds so unusual but that’s no bad thing. The song I’ve included is the title track of the album, and is considerably more upbeat too when compared to the other songs. I intend on spending more time exploring the work of this talented artist.

Celebration DayCelebration Day by Led Zeppelin

Back in 2007, the three surviving members of Led Zeppelin reformed for a one off show (with the late drummer’s son replacing him), and over a million people around the world went into a lottery to get one of prized tickets to this once in a lifetime gig. Though the band of course no longer have their youth, they are still amazing and still know how to rock better than most musicians half their age. Luckily, the concert was recorded on film and audio, and now has been released on CD, DVD and who knows what else for all the world to see (it even was screened in cinemas). While not every track hits the mark, the majority of this 16 song set is pretty impressive, and a must-see and must-hear for Led Zeppelin fans. I’ve included the video of Kashmir, which was one of the my favourites from this show as they writhe with energy the whole song (especially Plant with his amazing vocals).

What have you been listening to this week? What are your thoughts on these albums I’ve discussed, if you’ve heard them?


Tuneful Tuesdays – Incubus, Anathema and America (the band, not the country)

So, it’s been a while since I wrote one of my Music Mondays posts. Also, today is Tuesday. Anyway, here’s a few albums I’ve been listening to lately, as always I’d love to hear other people’s thoughts on these bands and albums.

Also, it appears I’m having trouble embedding clips from Youtube at the moment (is this just happening to me or are other people having issues? Any ideas how to fix it?), so I’ll just post the links to the clips.

Incubus – HQ Live

To celebrate making music together for two decades, Incubus recently played a series of intimate shows at a venue they nominated as their HQ. Luckily, they recorded these shows, and have released them in a wide array of different formats, the one I bought being a double CD plus a DVD of their shows. The CDs altogether include 28 songs, and interestingly group up the songs in such a way that the first disc is mostly older material from their first three albums, while the second disc is mostly the newer stuff from their more recent three albums (in particular their latest studio album). I can personally vouch for how awesome these guys are live, after seeing them earlier this year, so this live album is an absolute must for fans of Incubus. And if you haven’t heard them before, to be honest, this wouldn’t be a bad place to start, either.

The clip I’m linking to here is the song “Nice To Know You” – the song begins about a minute or two into the clip, but it’s worth watching the whole way through.

Anathema – Weather Systems

Anathema are one of those bands who I just took a gamble on. I’d never heard their music before, nor did I know anybody else who had heard their music (or at least told me about it), but I did notice that they were on KScope Records, a label to which many of my favourite bands belong, particularly prog rock bands and artists such as Steven Wilson’s various bands (including some Porcupine Tree albums), Pineapple Thief, and so on. So that was enough of a reason to buy the latest album by Anathema, and it does not disappoint. The album isn’t particularly heavy (as I had guessed), but the songs are often very intricate in structure, showcasing some immense talent, especially on guitars. I also like the way the vocals alternate between a male and a female vocalist, something we don’t hear enough of in music, but especially this genre.

Listen to my favourite song off this album, the opening track “Untouchable Pt. 1”, and let it blow you away as it blew me away.

America – Hearts and Hat Trick

I’ve long been a fan of this band known for their beautiful vocal harmonies and mastery of the simple folk pop song, but some of their albums from the 1970s are hard to find. I finally managed to get my hands on these two albums, and I love them both. Hearts has such well known songs as “Daisy Jane”, “Woman Tonight” and one of my all time favourites, “Sister Golden Hair”, while Hat Trick has “Muskrat Love”, “She’s Gonna Let You Down” and “Rainbow Song”. Of course, the whole album is good in both cases, so if you are a fan or if you just want a trip down memory lane, it’s worth trying to get your hands on these albums.

The clip I’ll show here is of “Sister Golden Hair”, a much loved favourite of mine.

What are your thoughts of these bands and songs I’ve shown? If you’ve heard these albums, I’d love to hear your thoughts!