One for the Record Collection!
IN THIS PHOTO: Jeff Goldblum/PHOTO CREDIT: Jeff Goldblum/Decca Records
Essential November Releases
THE last couple of months of the year…
IN THIS PHOTO: Michael Kiwanuka/PHOTO CREDIT: Olivia Rose
tend to be less active when it comes to album releases in general. I think artists are thinking about the following year and using November and December to unwind and get a few last-minute gigs in. Regardless, every month provides some interesting albums that are worth time and investigation – November is no exception! There is a pretty eclectic mix of albums out in November that is worthy of some cash and attention. Starting off on 1st November, Jeff Goldblum brings us I Shouldn’t Be Telling You This. He released his debut album only last year and, with The Mildred Snitzer Orchestra, we will get another collection of great songs from Jeff Goldblum and friends! This article explains more:
“After his live set being hailed as one of Glastonbury 2019’s most iconic moments this summer, at which he announced from the stage that a brand new record was in the works, Jeff Goldblum has revealed the details of an album which will make the listener smile even more than his first one. If that is possible. With his long-time band The Mildred Snitzer Orchestra, the enticingly-titled album I Shouldn’t Be Telling You This will be released globally on 1 November on Decca Records and features an impressive array of surprising duet guests.
With last year’s debut – which was met with glowing reviews and landed the Hollywood icon a No.1 jazz album in both the UK and US – Goldblum was described in The Times as performing an important service by “reminding us that jazz should be allowed to be fun”. With playing that is “as loose and improvisational as his acting” (Daily Telegraph) Goldblum yet again brings his on-screen charisma and eccentricities to the piano, with a style that is totally unique.
And this time, we are treated not only to his piano-playing skills but to his incredibly distinctive voice, as the man himself takes centre stage to sing ‘Little Man, You’ve Had A Busy Day’. First released on Decca in 1934, it is here particularly poignant coming from the father of two young Goldblum sons”.
With contributions from Anna Calvi and Fiona Apple (among others), I would urge people to pre-order the album! This is an album I will be checking out; I do love Jeff Goldblum and think he is an exceptional musician. The exceptional Sudan Archives unveils Athena on 1st November and, whilst you need to get involved, I would also encourage you to look back at Sudan Archives’ work. She is fantastic and one of the best new artists on the block. Released on the Stones Throw label, Athena is shaping up to be a late contender for the best album of 2019. There is a lot to unpack when it comes to Sudan Archives (Brittney Parks). Here, in this interview with The Line of Best Fit, we learn more about Sudan Archives and Athena:
“Parks grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, where her life revolved around church, working, and playing hooky from school. It was during this time that she would fall in love with music, and her weapon of choice: the violin.
“I don’t know what drew me to the violin. I literally saw it and fell in love as soon as I saw it. When I was young I saw this group of people playing violins, but they were dancing too. It was very upbeat, very wild. It wasn’t something I was used to seeing, because whenever I would see violinists, they would be sitting down in a group playing classical movements and stuff. So, when this group of fiddlers came, dancing round the room as they played, ever since then I just wanted to be like them – in my own way, though”.
“Seeing this energy captivated Parks. She wanted to bring her own style to her instrument, to create something wild, and truly her own. To save up for new instruments, she held down several jobs alongside her studies and locked herself away to hone her craft – just like her childhood heroines. “Whenever I got paid I would buy an instrument,” she explains. “I had all these drums: hand drums and drum machines. That’s when I properly tried experimenting, trying to make my own beats. My first beat was made off of my iPad, but I was always curious; watching YouTube tutorials on how to use the equipment.”
It’s all about completing the circle for Sudan Archives, and Athena is the link that has been missing. “I feel that the album ends with a sense of oneness. Not just within myself, but within everyone. I want people to listen to this album and know they have power, as a woman or a man. To be one with the good and bad that might be going on in your life. It’s part of you, embrace it.”
“This album is for Parks herself, her fans, her collaborators, and everyone who has helped her along this long and winding path. But most of all, Athena is for that little girl who would while away the hours lost in the worlds of Sailor Moon and Xena. She wants to take it back to where it all began and make that girl proud. As she sings on Athena’s opener: “When I was a little girl, I thought I could rule the world”.
One of the albums I have been eagerly looking forward to is Michael Kiwanuka’s KIWANUKA. It is already shaping up pretty well – the singles released are his strongest to date. You can pre-order here - and it is a record you will want to own! What can we expect from Kiwanuka’s latest gem? Rough Trade explain more:
“Kiwanuka sets off on a journey that evokes the psychedelic haze of its predecessor, but ramps up a very broad sense of scale. With his exquisite band of players, Michael channels an assortment of the late greats (a nod to Gil Scott-Heron here, Bobby Womack flecked there, and the ever present Otis Redding vocally) for a richly rewarding record that sits typically at odds with the notion and expectations of a successful British singer-songwriter in 2019, and moves even further away from the folk-imbued vintage soul of his debut album, Home Again, back in 2012.
Michael will tell you of his love for records that entwine their songs with incidental skits and shape-shifting spiralling outros, so that the listener experience is almost that of listening to one long, dramatic song. Kiwanuka fulfils that winding, dream-like haze, unhurried, and is peppered with some of the best songs of Michael’s career to date. At its very heart is a song called Hero; a scorched epic that propagates the essence of the whole record into a sub five-minute psych-fuzz song.
Where Love and Hate showcased Michael’s prowess with a guitar, Kiwanuka showcases an ear for musical adventure. Themes that resonated so loudly previously return here, namely Michael’s life-long confusion and questioning of his own identity, but also that of hope and of power. That Michael has spent the past year or two writing and nurturing the record, whilst also finding a newly discovered love for documenting his life behind a lens, lends itself to the suggestion of an artist putting a microscope on his own life”.
I think, again, Kiwanuka could come in with one of this year’s best albums just as the year is starting to wind down. November is off to a hot start and, on 8th, Girl Ray release Girl. You can order the album from their Bandcamp page, and I would suggest you check this band out if you are unfamiliar. Tracks like Girl are just what we need at the moment: brightness and breeze against the fire and darkness of the current time. In terms of what the album promises and, indeed, where you can catch them tour; here are some more details
“Girl Ray features Poppy Hankin (guitar/vocals), Iris McConnell (drums), and Sophie Moss (bass). Girl is their second album, the follow-up to their cleverly titled 2017-released debut album, Earl Grey (it was our Album of the Week and #3 on our Top 15 Debut Albums of 2017 list).
Girl was recorded at Electric Beach Studios in Margate with Ash Workman (Christine and the Queens, Metronomy). Whereas their debut album was a twee-pop gem, Girl is inspired by more modern and electronic pop sounds, in particular Rihanna and Ariana Grande. Crusoe Weston directed the "Show Me More" video, which features the band riding around on bikes.
In a press release the band say "Show Me More" is about "crushing really hard but having to play the long game and wait it out because your boo is playing savage games. It's your classic pop banger. Steamy dance floor. Drinks on me".
Girl Ray Tour Dates:
6th November 2019 - O2 Guildhall Southampton w/ Metronomy
8th November 2019 - Roundhouse, London w/ Metronomy
9th November 2019 - Manchester Academy w/ Metronomy
14th November 2019 - O2 Academy Bristol w/ Metronomy
15th November 2019 - Rock City Nottingham w/ Metronomy
18th February 2020 - Birmingham, Hare & Hounds
19th February 2020 - Leeds, Belgrave Music Hall
20th February 2020 - Glasgow, Stereo
21st February 2020 - Manchester, YES
22nd February 2020 - Nottingham, Bodega
23rd February 2020 - Cardiff, Clwb Ifor Bach
25th February 2020 - Bristol, The Fleece
26th February 2020 - London, Electric Ballroom
27th February 2020 - Brighton, The Haunt
I am going to try and catch them in London in February and am really looking forward to a magnificent album from Girl Ray. This year has been a fantastic and busy one for music and, with bands like Girl Ray storming it, I have high hopes 2020 is going to be immense.
Bloc Party’s Kele Okerekey has announced his solo album, 2042. With tracks like Jungle Bunny out in the world, 2042 is looking pretty fascinating and strong. I think Okerekey is a fantastic writer and performer and, away from Bloc Party, you get a slightly different (solo) sound. Here, we learn more about 2042’s background and aims.
“In a press release, Kele says, “There is a history of black entertainers feeling that after they have achieved a certain level of success that they are above discussions of race but that idea is a delusion. As a person of colour living in the western world, it does not matter how much wealth one accumulates, race will follow you wherever you go. With JUNGLE BUNNY I wanted explore this idea: In a time of such rampant division and public racism, what is the responsibility of the black entertainer?”
This album is definitely going to receive some of my time, and I am looking forward to hearing what the vibe is. I am interested seeing how frontmen/women adapt away from their bands and what sort of sound they bring to their solo material; whether it will be very similar to what we are used to. With 2042, one can expect shades of Bloc Party, but this is Okerekey making something personal and deeply moving. I know the album will accrue huge reviews and, even if you are not familiar with his past work, go and grab 2042 and you will not be disappointed!
Also out on 8th November is Champion from Bishop Briggs. Many might not be familiar with the Los Angeles-based singer. Her debut album, Church of Scars, came out last year and received a smattering of positive reviews. Some remarked how Briggs sounded too like other artists. There was a bit of BANKS and Florence + The Machine, maybe too much of other people’s work. I think there is more individuality and personality on Champion. You can pre-order it here - and you will be able to see how Briggs has evolved. She is an artist you definitely should keep an eye out for because, in years to come, she will come into her own and really hit her stride. Right now, Champion is looking pretty healthy and I think it is an album that will fare very well – a lot better than her debut in many respects. There are not too many interviews out there where she talks about the album but, when speaking with Hollywood Life this year, Briggs discussed her songwriting and inspiration:
“The singer knows her way around the process of penning a meaningful track, and goes on to say that she thinks channeling a heartbreaking experience could actually be healthy. “I want her to write music about it. Oh my gosh, because it is so therapeutic and I think it is so important with music that it comes from a personal place as much as it is heartbreaking for me I can’t even imagine for her. Because she has kids and an amazing husband. But I feel she is so powerful and I really hope she writes about it. She really is a makeup artist, an incredible makeup artist,” she says of her friend. So – would to two ladies ever link up for a collaboration? “Definitely,” says Bishop”.
I told you how November was a diverse year for albums. Consider the fact we have a new DJ Shadow album out in the form of Our Pathetic Age, and you will see what I mean. You can pre-order here and witness the brilliance. DJ Shadow is one of those legends who seldom disappoints and always brings something new and invigorating to the table. His collaborations are sensational, and I am a massive fan. Like Bishop Briggs, there is not too in the way of fresh information and feedback from the artist. Rough Trade provide a bit of detail regarding the new album:
“DJ Shadow releases an ambitious double album - Our Pathetic Age - on Mass Appeal. Our Pathetic Age is the result of an intensely creative period that found the hip-hop and electronic innovator delving further into original composition and experimentation. The first half of Our Pathetic Age features 11 new instrumental works that balance some of Shadow’s most menacing sounds with beams of hope, including his first fully composed orchestral piece.
The second half of Our Pathetic Age is a full album of vocal collaborations, ranging from Run The Jewels, Nas and Dave East to Sam Herring, Paul Banks and Wiki, Inspectah Deck, Ghostface Killah and Raekwon. Shadow notably reunites with his early Solesides collaborators Lateef The Truthseeker and Gift of Gab (Blackalicious). It also features St. Louis MCs Rockwell Knuckles and Tef Poe, fellow Bay Area musicians Fantastic Negrito and Jumbo is Dr.ama, and Brookyln MC Stro”.
There are a few more albums, varied as they all are, that will be vying for your love in November. I am relatively new to Lady Antebellum and, on 15th November, Ocean reaches the shore. You can pre-order here and, like so many other artists, they are not easy to define. They are a Country act, but they blend the modern and classical; there are spiritual vibes and plenty of relatable moments. Rolling Stone provide more details regarding Ocean:
“Lady Antebellum have announced the autumn release of Ocean, the trio’s first full-length LP since 2017’s Heart Break and first since departing longtime label Capitol Nashville. Ocean, due November 15th, teams the group with producer Dann Huff for the first time, and marks Lady A’s debut project for Big Machine Label Group. Tracks already available from the forthcoming album are “Pictures” and the group’s current single, “What If I Never Get Over You.” Also featured will be a collaboration with Little Big Town on “The Thing That Wrecks You,” written by Tenille Townes, Daniel Tashian ands Kate York. Closing the album is its emotionally charged title track, a ballad featuring Hillary Scott’s yearning lead vocal accompanied by Dave Haywood on piano, which is officially out today.
Encamped in Las Vegas earlier this year for the Our Kind of Vegas residency, Scott, Haywood and band mate Charles Kelley road-tested some of new music that will be included on the 13-track LP, including “Crazy Love,” penned by Kelley with Nathan Chapman. Scott, who gave birth to twin daughters in 2018, co-wrote the album’s “Let It Be Love,” which Kelley noted is likely to be a single.
“The theme of this record is definitely bearing our souls and our journey. We’ve gone through a lot over the past couple years, finding ourselves, reconnecting as a band and finding where we want to go,” Kelley said earlier this year when the album was in its early stages. “At some point you have to just enjoy the journey and appreciate the art and the process and not so much the outcome. Now we’re going a little more fearlessly about it. I always feel like that’s when we’re at our best. There’s some meaty stuff on this record, some really meaty raw stuff”.
The band have a solid and passionate fanbase; people responding hard to what they are putting out there. As they explain in this interview with Taste of Country, they have created what is their most personal statement to date:
“Lady Antebellum's upcoming album will be their most personal and honest in their entire career.
"We've been a band for 13 years," singer Hillary Scott tells Taste of Country. "You get to a point where you can't outrun the things that you know you need to work on about yourself. I feel like we're now in this place of, 'No, we're going to own our crazy.'"
In many ways, Lady Antebellum grew up together. Their meteoric rise with "Need You Now" at a relatively early stage in their career gave way to the inevitable ebbs and flows of the music industry — a fact the band's Charles Kelley says they only recently learned to appreciate.
IN THIS PHOTO: Lady Antebellum/PHOTO CREDIT: John Shearer/Getty Images Portrait for Essential Broadcast Media
“It’s so funny when I look back on our career and how anxious I was when things weren’t coming as easy as they were the first four or five years — now I look back and I’m like, it’s true without the downs the ups wouldn’t mean as much,” Kelley says. “Now we’re just like, ‘Ok what do we really want to say?’”
All three agree their perspectives have changed, both collectively and personally.
“I think we’re a lot more in tune with who we are,” Dave Haywood says. “What we contribute to country music and families and kids change your perspective and contribute to your songwriting. I just feel like we’re more present, more honest with each other”.
There are some big albums coming in November; few are mightier than Beck’s Hyperspace. Out on 22nd November, be sure to pre-order now in order to experience the wonders of Beck’s fourteenth studio album. I am a huge Beck fan and love how he can dance between styles and moods. You can either have a more reflective Beck or an artist eclectic and mixing sounds. I think Hyperspace sits somewhere between those two possibilities. The forty-nine-year-old still sounds so fresh, invigorating and inspiring so long after his debut album. It is testament to his passion and talent that he continues to release these original and thrilling albums. Beck spoke with NME and talked about his new direction:
“I had a few things after the ‘Colors’ tour finished and I really wanted to seize the moment with this project,” Beck added. “There’d been a period of time where Pharrell had been really busy and an opportunity opened up so I went with it. Originally it was going to be a single or an EP, but I think we were both surprised when there was a body of work here.”
“I was not expecting the songs to come out how they did. I was going in thinking of songs like ‘Drop It Like It’s Hot’, y’know?” Beck said of working with Pharrell. “He felt very strongly that spending a little time with me, that ‘You need to be doing singer-songwriter type of songs’. So that was more of the direction we went in.”
He continued, “I really tried to be less ambitious on the production on these songs, like to let them be simple and let them breathe. Pharrell is a master minimalist. On production I’m a bit of a maximalist – I’m known to have 140 tracks of things trying to coexist and fight to be heard at the same time. I’ve really tried to reform myself to let it be more simple.”
‘Hyperspace’ is also one of Beck’s most collaborative efforts to date. Guests to look out for include Coldplay’s Chris Martin, who provides back-up on ‘Stratosphere’, and Sky Ferreira, who sings backing vocals on ‘Die Waiting’”.
The last album that is worth exploring – there are more, but this is my opinion -, is from the late Leonard Cohen. Thanks for the Dance can be pre-ordered here, and it is out on 22nd November. It features some well-known names from music too. Rough Trade explain more:
“A posthumous Leonard Cohen album called Thanks for the Dance via Sony Music Entertainment. Leonard’s son, Adam Cohen, produced and masterminded the project, enlisting a huge cast of musicians including Damien Rice and Leslie Feist (vocals), Arcade Fire bassist Richard Reed Parry, the National’s Bryce Dessner on guitar, Dustin O’Halloran on piano, and Leonard’s bandmate Javier Mas playing the man’s own guitar. Other features include Beck (on guitar and Jew’s harp), Daniel Lanois, Jennifer Warnes, the s t a r g a z e orchestra, and others”.
These are the albums I think you need to get involved with next month. October has been a busy and brilliant one for music; November has slightly fewer big releases, but there are plenty of albums to get excited about. I am excited to see whether we get any surprise releases; I will be getting Michael Kiwanuka, Beck and Sudan Archives’ albums, for sure. This year has been an extraordinary one for new artists and established acts putting out supreme work. I hope that continues into 2020. Do your best to get as many of my November-recommended albums as you can, because these works will stay in the head and provide some brilliant moments. I will end things now but, this time next month, I will be back and scouting around for the best albums due in December. November is shaping up to be a pretty impressive month with some really exciting releases. If you can, think about the records that catch the eyes hardest and…
PHOTO CREDIT: @edgr/Unsplash
PUT some pennies aside.