New Release Round-Up 8/25/17
THE WAR ON DRUGS - A Deeper Understanding - Atlantic
For much of the three-and-a-half year period since the release of Lost In The Dream, The War On Drugs' frontman, Adam Granduciel, led the charge for his Philadelphia-based sextet as he holed up in studios in New York and Los Angeles to write, record, edit, and tinker - but, above all, to busy himself in work. Teaming up with engineer Shawn Everett (Alabama Shakes, Weezer), Granduciel challenged the notion of what it means to create a fully realized piece of music in today's modern landscape. Calling on his bandmates - bassist Dave Hartley, keyboarding Robbie Bennett, drummer Charlie Hall and multi-instrumentalists Anthony LaMarca and Jon Natchez -- continuously throughout the process, the result is a "band record" in the noblest sense, featuring collaboration, coordination, and confidence at every turn. Through those years of relocation, the revisiting and reexamining of endless hours of recordings, unbridled exploration and exuberance, Granduciel's gritty love of his craft succeeded in pushing the band to great heights.
QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE - Villains - Matador Records
Hundreds of epic shows, memory lapses, unexplained injuries, one yearlong detour with Iggy Pop and multiple Grammy nominations later, Queens Of The Stone Age reemerge from the desert newly scarred and somehow strangely prettier with lucky seventh album, Villains. Produced by Mark Ronson and co-produced by Mark Rankin and mixed by Alan Moulder, Villains is the first full album offering from Queens Of The Stone Age since 2013’s …Like Clockwork gave the band its first #1 album in the U.S. Like the stunning artwork of returning illustrator Boneface, the sonic signatures of the lineup that took …Like Clockwork around the world and back are as unmistakable as ever, though coexisting with sufficient new twists to induce recurring double takes. As Homme himself puts it, “The most important aspect of making this record was redefining our sound, asking and answering the question ‘what do we sound like now?’ If you can’t make a great first record, you should just stop—but if you can make a great record but you keep making records and your sound doesn’t evolve, you become a parody of that original sound.”
GRIEVES - Running Wild - Rhymesayers
Seattle rapper/producer Grieves emerged in 2007 with his independently released album, Irreversible. In the years that followed, he wholly devoted himself to touring, writing and recording, honing his craft and defining his sound. His 2011 Rhymesayers debut, Together/Apart, was a career landmark and a testament to his growth in both, his writing and delivery, and this progression was re-affirmed by his follow-up, Winter & The Wolves, in 2014. Now, after three years, Grieves prepares to reveal further evolution with the release of his new full-length album, Running Wild. On Running Wild, Grieves teamed up with Swedish producer Chords. Together, the two have produced a modernized sound that is lush and intoxicating, pairing punchy drums with thick layers of synths and warm bass lines, all accented by soulful keys, horns, or guitars. Whether dark and moody, or upbeat and jazzy, Grieves navigates and complements the soundscape, penning verses that range from vulnerable and confessional, to fun and carefree. Grieves is most certainly breaking boundaries, truly running wild, all while remaining honest to himself.
IRON & WINE - Beast Epic - Sub Pop
"Beast Epic, Iron & Wine’s fourth album of new material for Sub Pop and it's sixth overall, recasts soft power as a series of vignettes, observations and regular old songs that redeem through joy and a certain expectation of grace. Even the instant classic, 'Bitter Truth,' with a lyric as pained and direct as any I've heard from Iron & Wine, is leavened with background vocals recalling The Jordanaires. Sam Beam has called Beast Epic his 'most personal' album to date. It is the first Iron & Wine album that he's produced since The Creek Drank The Cradle, though the results are vastly different. This album brims with surprise flourishes, classic touches and an appealing confidence that is evident on songs like 'Call It Dreaming.' After a decade and a half of prodigious expression and exploration, recording as both Iron & Wine and eponymously, Sam Beam confessed that he has finally figured out how to make records. He had me fooled all along. Beast Epic will be available worldwide through Sub Pop Records on August 25th. It's my favorite Iron & Wine album by a mile. - Jonathan Poneman, Sub Pop Records President
EMA - Exile In The Outer Ring - City Slang
After the success of 2011's Past Life Martyred Saints and 2014's prophetic The Future's Void, EMA retreated to a basement in Portland, Oregon, a generic apartment complex in a non-trendy neighborhood, with beige carpeting and cheap slat blinds. Now, she returns, with a portrait of The Outer Ring: A pitch-black world of dark night highways, American flags hung over basement windows, jails and revival meetings and casinos and rage. In a year dominated by white working-class alienation and anger, EMA, a Midwesterner who never lost her thousand-yard stare, has delivered an album that renders Middle American poverty and resentment with frightening realism and deep empathy.
For more information on these and other releases out this week, check out our New Releases charts by week section and don't forget that many of these titles are also available on vinyl.