Great Lake Swimmers return with a new album entitled New Wild Everywhere. This record, like all of GLS’s albums, should hit the spot as you’re sitting around a campfire roasting some wieners this summer. Like a less-choral Fleet Foxes or a less-weird Bon Iver, GLS write songs that are wistful and windswept but still tuneful and interesting. Here’s hoping that New Wild Everywhere builds on the residual momentum of 2009’s excellent Lost Channels.
Malian musicians Amadou & Mariam return with a new album called Folila. Their infectiously melodic music has crossed over into wider circles thanks to Western pop benefactors like Damon Albarn. Folila reportedly began as two separate albums – one with more traditional African guests and one with a selection of their new Western friends. But instead of splitting the finished songs into two separate albums, Amadou & Mariam bravely elected to pick the best results from all of the recordings and combined them into a single release. Guests like TV on the Radio, Santigold, and Jake Shears (of Scissor Sisters) made the cut, and the results should be interesting to hear. Integrating ‘world music’ with Western pop can be a treacherous path, but when executed properly (think Paul Simon or Peter Gabriel) the results can be greater than the sum of the parts.
Portland’s M. Ward follows up 2009’s well-received Hold Time with a new album called A Wasteland Companion. Like Amadou & Mariam, this album was recorded with a laundry list of musicians (including frequent collaborator Zooey Deschanel), but that’s likely where the comparisons end. M. Ward’s music tends to be rooted in a certain kind of Americana, one where shapes and textures are just as important as melodies and rhythms.
The new Spiritualized album, Sweet Heart Sweet Light, which was released in the UK back in March gets a North American release. Although if you’re internet-savvy and a fan of J. Spaceman’s alternative, reflective, interstellar dream-pop, you’ve probably found a way to acquire this record by now.
Jack White finally cuts the cords to his various other projects (White Stripes, Raconteurs, Dead Weather) and puts out an album under his own nom de plume. Hopefully White takes some chances with Blunderbuss and pushes himself in new musical directions. It would be cool if some twisted echoes of his Nashville neighbours made it into the mix. But if the songs skew more toward the fully-formed melodic rock of The Raconteurs instead of the hyperactive riffs and underdeveloped musical ideas of a White Stripes record, so much the better.
The Dandy Warhols continue to try to undo the damage done to their careers by 2008’s uneven Earth to the Dandy Warhols and 2005’s frankly terrible Odditorium or Warlords of Mars. Early word is that This Machine is a somewhat schizophrenic affair, flirting with the Dandy’s usual touchstones (psychedelic rock, grungey alt-rock) and new textures (electronic music). Could be brilliant, or could be crap. As a wise man once said, “It’s a fine line between stupid and clever”.
Record Store Day!
On Saturday, April 21st, the fifth annual Record Store Day will finally be upon us! Get out and support your local merchant, whose business is more than likely hanging on by its fingernails these days. Without local record shops catering to music fans that like something a little different, your brick & mortar music consumerism would be reduced to choosing between Rihanna and Maroon 5 down at the ever-shrinking Best Buy CD rack.
Many prominent musical acts are helping to promote RSD 2012 with a bevy of new releases. On Saturday the 21st, look for limited quantities of these gems in your local shop:
Arcade Fire – Sprawl II (12″)
Brendan Benson – What Kind of World (7″)
The Black Keys – El Camino (2 x 45 rpm 12″)
Blitzen Trapper – Hey Joe (7″)
The Civil Wars – Billie Jean (7″)
The Clash – London Calling 2012 (7″)
Coldplay – Up With The Birds / UFO (7″)
Fun. – The Ghost That You Are To Me (10″ gold gear-shaped picture disc)
The Hives – Go Right Ahead (7″)
Paul Simon – Graceland re-release (12″)
Pete Townshend – Quadrophenia Demos part 2 (10″)
Uncle Tupelo – the seven-inch singles box set (4 x 7″)
Uncle Tupelo – No Depression, Still Feel Gone, and March 16-20 1992 re-releases (12″)
As usual, Wilco are getting into the act with a very limited release of a deluxe LP box set for The Whole Love. Big deal – I already have it! But the limited-edition turntable slip-mat looks pretty cool.