Now Hear This – June 2018
School’s out for summer which means more time to listen to music! One would be forgiven if you missed some excellent new music in the wake of a new release from Courtney Barnett and Weezer acceding to a fan’s wish and tackling the yacht-rock opus “Africa”. But 2018 continues to shine and this months Now Hear This playlist covers a lot of ground so hang on tight as we bless the rains down in Africa….
Courtney Barnett – City Looks Pretty
Courtney Barnett’s side project with Kurt Vile was a pleasant diversion but Barnett’s new album Tell Me How You Really Feel proves her debut was far from a charming fluke. As an songwriter, Barnett captures her own predicament beautifully with the line – “The city takes pity on your injured soul, And heavenly prose ain’t enough good to fill that hole.” Resolute in her music, Barnett chooses to rail against that hole with a louder guitar and more wry observations on this immaculate follow-up album.
Parquet Courts – Freebird II
Five stellar albums in five years, the New York (via Texas) Parquet Courts are annoyingly consistent. Before you can fully appreciate a new album, another one arrives. “Freebird II” offers a reinterpretation of soaring folk-rock as done by a tightly wound Americana punk outfit. It steps away from expectations and offers a new angle the band can pursue in a few months when the next album will likely drop.
illuminati hotties – (You’re Better) Than Ever
Sarah Tudzin didn’t set out to make an album of songs that capture the uncertainty of being in your mid-20s. A noted engineer (Slowdive, Porches), Tudzin found that her pop-punk songs needed a more formal artistic framework and illuminati hotties was born. Much like Courtney Barnett, the simplest observations are full of deeper meaning while the music captures the surf-rock vibes of Best Coast. Her work as an engineer may be on hold for some time….
Mazzy Star – That Way Again
More than a band, Mazzy Star are a place in our dreams. The band’s latest slice of slowcore dreaminess evokes a pastoral fog that lingers at dusk, the place they have always taken us.
James Bay – Wanderlust
At first glance, Bay’s new image and sound made me instantly nervous. As a long-haired, acoustic songwriter, Bay represented a necessary counter-balance to the Ed Sheeran’s of the world when his 2015 debut Chaos and The Calm became a major success, including a Best New Artist nomination from the Grammys. However, “Wanderlust” eases those nerves greatly as Bay’s new sound adds a fresh sparkle to his folk-rock sound and reveals new layers of the songwriter. Fleetwood Mac seems to be a common touchstone for today’s pop stars and Bay throws his hat into the ring on this effervescent song. The world demands pop stars and Bay shines brightly on “Wanderlust”.
Lykke Li – utopia
Written for her mother, Li’s latest glimpse at her upcoming album reflects a shifting direction in her music. There is no change in her melodic prowess, however, and “utopia” sticks in your head.
Laura Carbone – Cellophane Skin
Evoking the gothic overtones of The Cure while raining down fear on your mortal soul, Carbone’s second album, Empty Sea, squeezes you tightly in its grasp. The atmosphere evokes everyone from Nick Cave to the aforementioned Mazzy Star and like Cave, the songs seem perfectly suited to soundtrack a season of Peaky Blinders.
Weezer – Africa
And then there was this….
See you next month….