LUNA music essentials...
for the week of 16 JUNE 2017
“For the second album released under his own name, Michael Nau distils some of the best elements of his works with Page France and Cotton Jones into a warmly organic mixture of low-key, sleepily pastoral chamber pop.” – PopMatters [Limited pink color vinyl pressing also available.]
“The title of Jason Isbell’s sixth album, The Nashville Sound, could be construed as either wildly presumptive or absurdly aspirational. In truth, it’s a little bit of both. The idea of a homespun artist like Isbell eclipsing any number of corporate country megastars as the public face of “the Nashville sound” is far-fetched, but it’s no longer entirely laughable. The bro-country backlash has made Isbell’s cerebral, folky brand of songwriting somewhat en vogue to the point that even the most mainstream country artists have started chasing at least the perception of the rootsy authenticity he exudes. Even if Isbell only plays a miniscule role in defining what comes out of Nashville these days, he’s exercising that influence the best he can on The Nashville Sound. The album is more eclectic and energetic than his other recent efforts, which have seen Isbell’s voice and vitality as a songwriter crystallize just as his sound has become slicker and more uniform. It may not entirely be the full-throated ‘return to rock’ we were promised, but it’s convincing evidence that the Nashville sound can and should encompass more than country—alternative or otherwise—and mean more than just somber acoustic dirges about sobriety and marriage.” – Slant [Limited vinyl pressing including a 11”x11”, 22-page songbook also available.]
Crack-Up is the long-awaited and highly anticipated third album from Northwest indie-folk act Fleet Foxes. The Nonesuch Records release comes six years after the 2011 release of Helplessness Blues and nearly a decade since the band's breakout 2008 self-titled debut. All 11 songs on Crack-Up were written by Robin Pecknold who also co-produced the album with longtime bandmate and close collaborator Skyler Skjelset. The album comes preceded by “Third of May / Ōdaigahara,” a nearly nine-minute epic powered by piano and electric twelve-string guitar, string quartet, and the group's trademark sparkling harmonies. “When Fleet Foxes released the nine-minute album centerpiece ‘Third Of May / Ōdaigahara,’ they were sending a message, letting us know that this would be an album of multi-part suites and proggy digressions and quiet ruptures. On that score, they have been true to their word. Crack-Up is an album full of pretty, soothing music that nonetheless delights in taking odd turns, in branching off in unexpected directions.” – Stereogum
City Music is an airplane descending over frozen lakes into Chicago. City Music is riding the Q Train out to Coney Island to smell the ocean and a morning in Philadelphia where great cranes reconfigure the buildings like an endless puzzle. City Music is also the new album by Kevin Morby. Full of listless wanderlust, it's a collection inspired by and devoted to the metropolitan experience across America and beyond by a songwriter cast from his own mold. It is a collection crafted using the other side of its creator's brain, the jumping off point perhaps best once again encapsulated by an image. “Here, Lou Reed and Patti Smith stare out at the listener,” explains Morby. City Music sees Morby joined once again by cohorts Megan Duffy (guitar) and Justin Sullivan (drums). Here the vocals were recorded at night, in darkness, overlooking a Pacific Ocean illuminated only by the stars, the wash and whisper of the ebbing tidal a distant soundtrack. The record was completed with Richard Swift in Oregon (producer of Foxygen, sometime member of The Black Keys). Here the album gives voice to all those cities speaking the same universal language of chaos and commerce and culture.
Six years after Galactic Melt introduced the cosmic story of Com Truise, Iteration now concludes his sprawling saga. True to its name, the album is built on Com Truise hallmarks: neon-streaked melodies, big drums, robotic grooves, bleary nostalgia. But Iteration is also the most elegant and streamlined that Seth Haley's singular music has ever sounded. At the album's heart is an elaborate narrative, one full of longing, hope, anxiety, and triumph. Iteration illustrates the last moments Com Truise spends on the perilous planet Wave 1, before he and his alien love escape its clutches to live in peace. Some of Haley's smartest, catchiest work is here, from the weightless pop of “Isostasy” to “Ternary's” lush synth-funk. “Vacuume” somehow balances massive bass drops and smashing drums with angelic gasps, and “Usurper” gracefully pairs subtle poignancy and uplifting dance beats. The closing title track “Iteration” ends it all in a gush of majestic revelry. [Limited blue and white color vinyl pressing also available.]
Ride's first album in over 20 years was produced by legendary DJ, producer and remixer Erol Alkan, and is packed with all the classic elements that made Ride one of the defining bands of the early-‘90s. Trembling distortion, beautiful harmonies, pounding rhythms, shimmering soundscapes and great songwriting all combine to make an album that's ambitious in scope, timeless and thoroughly addictive. Weather Diaries sees the band reunited with label co-founders Mark Bowen and Dick Green, who worked with Ride during the band's early years on Creation Records. It also brings the band back together with mixer Alan Moulder (Arctic Monkeys, Smashing Pumpkins, The Killers) who mixed their seminal 1990 album Nowhere and produced its follow up Going Blank Again.
“Playing to tens of thousands of people at the main stage of Coachella is a disquieting proposition for a self-described introvert. But Lorde is making some of the most exciting music in pop by living in contradictions like this. Her second album, Melodrama, packs an emotional wallop, especially considering how coolly analytical her debut was. ‘For a lot of people, their teenage years would be where they were most emotionally accessible, and for me it was the opposite,’ she says. ‘I realized I was feeling all the feelings, and they feel so singular and so young. When I was 16, it felt important to be unfazed by things. Now I’m deeply fazed.’ This record is not only a test of her unique position in the pop firmament but also an attempt to capture the feeling of being young in 2017: tense, urgent, uncertain about the future. To be a success, it needs to speak to this moment. As she puts it, ‘Nobody wants an apathetic pop record right now.’” – Time
If you ever had any doubt about where Steve Earle's musical roots are planted, his new collection, So You Wannabe An Outlaw, makes it perfectly plain. “There's nothing ‘retro' about this record,” he states. “I’m just acknowledging where I'm coming from. I'm always gonna be a Texan, no matter what I do. And I'm always going to be somebody who learned their craft in Nashville. It's who I am.” So You Wannabe An Outlaw is an homage to outlaw music. “I was out to unapologetically ‘channel' Waylon as best as I could.” says Earle. “...Waylon Jennings’ Honky Tonk Heroes was the template for the new album. And I've always considered that record to be really important. I consider his Honky Tonk Heroes the Exile On Main Street of country music.” The new songs include the gentle, acoustic folk ballads “News From Colorado” and “The Girl On The Mountain.” “Fixin' To Die,” on the other hand, is a dark shout from the hell of Death Row. “The Firebreak Line” returns Earle to his pile-driving, country-rock roots. “You Broke My Heart” is a sweet, simple salute to the 1950s sounds of Webb Pierce or Carl Smith. “Walkin' In L.A.” is a twanging country shuffle. The guitar-heavy “Sunset Highway” is an instant-classic escape song. And the deeply touching “Goodbye Michelangelo” is Earle's farewell to his mentor, Guy Clark, who passed away last year. [Available in Regular and Deluxe editions. Deluxe adds four cover tracks.]
With The Drums' new Abysmal Thoughts, band founder Jonny Pierce is making the exact album he has always held in his heart. Of course, this is The Drums, so that heart is broken – but there's beauty and even bliss in this kind of heartbreak, as well as that special kind of glorious delirium that comes from taking everything life can throw at you and still walking away triumphant. If Abysmal Thoughts doesn't sound at all abysmal – really, Pierce has rarely been this irresistibly pop – that's because this is a story about how to figure out what happiness means once the worst has already happened: “If there's one thing I can rely on it's the healing power of being an artist,” he says. “I'm falling back in love with music.”