Last week I did a feature interview with Los Angeles-based Talker. I wrote briefly how her unique indie rock continues to peak on her new record In Awe of Insignificance. While it is not by definition an album, it sure feels like it with eight incredible tracks which perfectly capture the exuberant spirit of a musician in the midst of redefining herself. That said, with Talker’s EP the centre of my world musically speaking in these last few weeks, I haven’t totally neglected checking out what else is new in music. In these first four months of the year, we’ve already been gifted with solid albums by The Weeknd, Big Thief, Maren Morris, Gang of Youths, Eddie Vedder and more. That said, in the coming weeks I will continue to talk about some of the other new releases on my radar. But for now I hope you will check out the following here below. Enjoy!
Cat Power – ‘Covers’.
“Performing covers is a very enjoyable way to do something that feels natural to me when it comes to making music,” Chan Marshall aka Cat Power said late last year prior to the releases of her you guessed it ‘Covers’ album of some very interesting musicians. As a fan of Marshall’s melancholy indie rock going back to the mid 90s, it’s hard not to be impressed by her rendition of songs by Frank Ocean, Lana Del Rey, Nick Cave, Billie Holiday and others. What’s great about Covers is how Marshall makes many of the songs she covers barely recognisable, swapping out instruments and tweaking harmonies in favour of something fresh or reimagined. While many songs from the album come to mind, it’s Bob Seger’s Against The Wind that completely blows me away with its dreamy atmosphere.
Lisa Mitchell – ‘A Place To Fall Apart’.
There is no doubt that we will continue to see musicians unfurl albums about the pandemic or more specifically an approach where they explore what it is to be human during an unprecedented time in our history. Lisa Mitchell touches on many of those aspects on her deeply emotive album A Place To Fall Apart. The new album in many ways feels like a return to the folk-leanings of her early years but far more refined and intelligent. It’s worth noting that Mitchell’s vocals seem to get better with age. She is earnest and wistful bringing forth a timeless charm that play off the album’s instrumentation. One song in particular, I Believe In Kindness, has its own unique charm which sounds strangely reminiscent of something Adrianne Lenker from Big Thief or George Harrison would be proud of.
Kurt Vile – ‘(watch my moves)’.
As arguably one of the leading voices of the psych-folk rock scene in the 2000s, you could easily forgive Kurt Vile if you thought he was going a little stale right about now. However it’s fair to say his new album shows he’s still got a few more tricks up his sleeve. While it might be reminiscent to his earlier work Wakin On A Pretty Daze (2013), the Philadelphian singer songwriter is seemingly more experimental here. I like how Vile shuffles between songs in his own little unhurried world with plenty of his trademark quirks and guitar playing. Standouts include Flyin (like a fast train), Palace of OKV in Reverse and Stuffed Leopards.
Hatchie – ‘Giving The World Away’.
Don’t take for granted a good Covid lockdown album. Sure Giving The World Away comes at a time when the world is continuing to return to some semblance of normality but this new album by Hatchie has all the markers of a singer songwriter who spent time contemplating life in lockdown. Without trivialising issues around anxiety and self-esteem, Hatchie ventures down a road often taken by musicians, to explore and exorcise her own demons through song. She does it balancing her love of shoegaze guitars and dream-pop sensibilities. With a smorgasbord of songs to showcase (12 in total), let me highlight just one The Rhythm with its layered synths and guitars which acts easily as one of the most danceable tracks on Giving The World Away.
I’ve been enjoying the Hatchie record – it hits a nice sweet spot between arty and poppy.
The Kurt Vile record has been on heavy rotation here, seemingly revealing more with each spin.
There’s just something about Kurt Vile’s guitar-playing and laid-back ‘don’t give a fuck’ vocal style that’s incredibly appealing.
Off to explore your choices . . . I have and like a couple of early Kurt Vile discs, but have lost track of him somewhere along the way. I posted my own 2022.5 list, here . . .