Two major new albums from Cherry Ghost and First Aid Kit, among the best released anywhere this year, are out – and tracks are added to an already dazzling blog list. Get your headphones out, press play and listen to releases from these two supergroups – and from a dozen other artists from all over the world and of all ages. Really all ages.
This is quite a story: Eron Falbo is Brazilian, hooked on the 70s, not the samba. Instead he loves Simon & Garfunkel, Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen. In fact, he loves them so much that he tracks down their producer Bob Johnston, and the two of them produce an album, 73, of inspirational songs, in the wrong sense of the word. Unfortunately, not all tracks are of the same quality as Eron’s heroes produced, but quite a few of them are really worth listening to, with a production quality that reminds me more of the 70s than the 2010s.
Another group of musicians inspired by predecessors is Arc Iris from Massachusetts. I have previously added songs by The Low Anthem, and the same woman, Jocie Adams, masterminds Arc Iris. The music from the self titled album, Arc Iris, is crossing into a lot of genres, making it truly genuine, even if it easy to recognize everything from musicals to Beatles to classical to country, surprising and familiar at the same time.
So what is all the Miley Cyrus hype about? This is music normally not sought out by anyone above 25, but the former Disney starlet is an amazing singer, performer and, I guess, songwriter. You may not choose to go see one of her shows, but have a listen to the four tracks I have added from her latest album Bangerz , I guarantee your toes won’t stay rested.
Listen to the amazing voice of Hamilton Leithauser, powerful edgy but with a vulnerability. Hamilton may be the next crooner, it all depends on what material he will choose to perform. His album, Black Hours, is supposedly inspired by Frank Sinatra, but now all songs delivers for Frank’s core audience. The three tracks I have added are nothing less than magnificent, though, and they grow on you with every li
From the strongest to the most fragile voice of this blog list addition: Tiny Ruins is a trio from New Zealand, playing acoustic music in a folk tradition. I am not thrilled by everything on their album Brightly Painted One, but some of the songs are really gems, particularly their opening track Me at the Museum, You at the Wintergarden.
On to an album that either annoys or pleases. The Chicago group Sleeping at Last has recorded a number of covers and have called the collection… Covers Vol 1. I have added songs formerly performed by Police, Nena, The Proclaimers and Cindi Lauper. I find their renditions interesting, although the slightly whining vocals may drive you to tears.
Cherry Ghost is an amazing new discovery for me. Their new album, Herd Runners, is among the best of new releases this year. The group from Bolton, England plays pop music shamelessly, borrowing from the best, creating silky arrangements around strong melodies and great performances.
On to two Norwegian-born artists who have left their home country and developed their music in other countries. Bernhoft’s new album, Islander, is very much in the vein of his previous brilliant album, Solitary Breaks. He is an amazing r&b singer, ranking among the best in the world, and as an instrumentalist he also excels. I have picked a bunch of great tracks, with the ballad Don’t Let Me Go, as my favourite.
Kate Havnevik moved to London years ago, and she is fairly unknown in her native Norway. She has made a career for herself, however, both in California and in England, with her recognizable voice, genre bending music and sophisticated songwriting. Her latest album, Residue, is just that: experiments and remixes and new songs in a lovely mix. I have picked a bouquet of seven songs, including the Norwegian lullaby, Trollmor, that I grew up with.
Classic country, blues and jazz are all merged together in Texan Amy LaVere’s music. I really love the subtly husky voice of hers, and the music is full of twists and surprises. Amy also plays the bass, and there are clear concepts behind both the album, Runaway’s Diary, and the individual songs.
Let’s move on the 80s, this time not the decade but, amazingly enough, the age. Yes, blues player John Mayall, is now a very old man, but who would believe it listening to he latest album, A Special Life. Sure it is a retrospective album in many ways, but if I ever live to be 80 and can do anything remotely close to what John Mayall is doing here, I will also conclude I have a special life.
The two Swedish sisters in First Aid Kit are about 60 years younger than Mayall. If we are to philosophize over this, it must be to conclude that the audience have 60 years of wonderful music to look forward to. Because First Aid Kit just gets better and better. Their new album, Stay Gold, is nothing short of amazing, both the song writing and the performances. I am normally not fond of harmony singing like this, but Johanna and Klara’s voices are as moulded together. This is just so incredibly beautiful to listen to.
Conor Oberst has been around on the indie scene since the late 1990s, both as a solo artist and as member of bands like Bright Eyes. His quivering voice is instantly recognizable, and although I love the tracks from Upside Down Mountain that I have added to the list, there are limits to how much I can take of the sound of this sad sounding voice.
We end this week’s additions to the list with two veterans, Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott, who met when they were members of supergroup Beautiful South. Now they have reunited and have recorded a duo album, What Have We Become. It’s a good question, obviously for two artists with a string of hits behind them, but they may certainly draw a breath of relief, for the songs on the album are confident and spirited, and they can certainly rejoin the music business.
This time we have to say goodbye to Bow to Each Other, Boy & Bear, Bruce Springsteen, Dave Edmonds, Sigurd Julius and Torun Eriksen. Welcome back with new material soon!