This week, we’re closing September with our favorite new albums from the month.Do we agree that the search for great new music has become harder than ever? It fills our screens, inboxes and stares back at us at record stores. But seeking new music that I actually connect with has become somewhat of a chore. It’s like finding the perfect pair of jeans in a sea of denim. Literally, a sea’s worth of denim. Hence, I return to what I know and love – music of eras past.
But this month, I’ve made an effort to seek out new albums worth exploring. September gave us new hits by Lana Del Rey, Prince, Duran Duran, Keith Richards, and even a melancholy 1989 cover album by Ryan Adams. Beirut, Angels and Airwaves, and Jewel were among the many who released new albums. But for this week’s “The Five,” I’m bringing some new music to your attention. As always, follow The Five on Spotify!
Julia Holter, Have You In My Wilderness
Released today, singer, composer, and keyboardist Julia Holter’s Have You in my Wilderness is one of the most anticipated albums of the month. Already receiving accolades from Pitchfork for Best New Music, Wilderness does not disappoint. Pitchfork states, “Have You In My Wilderness embraces the specific, rather than the eternal, and in her narrowed focus you can sense a palpable self-confidence and a hard-won precision. (Her) sounds range widely, from French impressionist classical music and 17th-century madrigals to Talk Talk’s jazz-infused post-rock, from the avant music-drama of Robert Ashley and Meredith Monk, to the pop songwriting that evolved in the hills of her Los Angeles hometown in the 1970s. But though these names remain on the tip of your tongue as you listen to her music, none of them describe Holter; they are only points on a broader and more inscrutable map.” That insight couldn’t be correct – whilst listening, I likened her to Karen O and, at one point, I thought my playlist had skipped over to Nico. But one thing remains – Holter holds her own.
Diane Coffee, Everybody’s a Good Dog
Diane Coffee is Foxygen drummer Shaun Fleming’s solo project, started in 2012 after moving from a quiet LA suburb to the fast lane in New York City. As a fan of Foxygen and the first Diane Coffee album, I was excited to hear more from this talented artist. Still influenced by ’70s pop-folk and psychedelic rock, Everybody’s a Good Dog has a little more glam and a lot more fun. Says NPR of the new record, “aspiring to a ’70s ideal that rolls up sugarcoated bubblegum glam, soul balladry, Francophone pop and echoes of the Brill Building, Fleming finds the right notes of sincerity under all that artifice.”
Youth Lagoon, Savage Hills Ballroom
Savage Hills Ballroom takes us on a new path never before explored by Youth Lagoon (aka Trevor Powers). The first two records were like walking through a watercolor dream — ethereal and hypnogogic. Though the new record is still surreal in sound, we have a clearer understanding of Powers’ voice and songwriting. Savage Hills Ballroom is dramatic and sensitive, piercing and psychological. The record comes out today — get it!
Ok, I know this isn’t new music, but the release of Garden City Blues is well worth a listen. We all need to keep learning from music’s past, and Detroit’s Jumping Scene 1948-1960 is just the compilation to do that. The four-CD set focuses on a major transitional period in history, when the blues made their way from the southern states up to Chicago, Detroit and other industrial cities. It was a time when the acoustic sound of the ’40s moved into the electric era of the ’60s. This was rock music before there was rock. John Lee Hooker takes up the most space on this collection, rightfully, with 35 songs. Others include Hooker’s touring partner, Eddie Kirkland, and his backing harmonica player, Eddie Burns. Though influenced by Hooker, both Kirkland and Burns hone in on their own sound. This collection is a must for any blues fan or anyone looking to dive into an important era of music history.
Empress Of, Me
Written alone in a small town in central Mexico, Lorely Rodriguez’s first Empress Of album, Me, is a lyrical journey into her mind as she wrestles with the thoughts of her previous life in Brooklyn. Rodriguez’s career has run many courses in the indie music scene but she comes truly alive on this record, letting out more of her R&B side. Pitchfork even compared her to “Bjork unleashing her inner-Beyonce.” They went on to say, “Rodriguez has gradually become a more captivating singer, compelling songwriter and creative producer. And what makes the first proper album from Empress Of so impressive is that it’s not just Rodriguez’s most outwardly pop-focused work-to-date, but also her most restlessly experimental and—as suggested by that stark, Horses-style cover shot—lyrically raw.” Fans of Sylan Esso: check this album.
+What new records are you listening to? Any favorites from the September releases? Let me know in the comments!