New Releases for January 22nd (1/22/21)

Jeremiah Fraites – Piano Piano
Available on CD & LP!

Often, band members go solo only to release an album that sounds just like their day job. Not so Jeremiah Fraites. The co-founder, drummer and multi-instrumentalist of Denver folk-rock band The Lumineers has put out a debut solo LP that, on the face of it, is a diametrical contrast to his band’s crowd-rousing, heartwarming foot-stompers. It’s refreshing.

For a start, Fraites has ditched the vocals. (“I love the idea of communicating with people through music alone,” he has explained.) Piano Piano is a gorgeous instrumental album, revealing Fraites as an impressive composer, stemming from his childhood love of classical music. Translated from the Italian as “step by step”, its title defines the songs’ creation over 13 years. Covid put a halt to the band’s tour, which meant Fraites could finally piece it together. With its serene, slow-paced reflection, it feels made for lockdown.

Piano Piano offers that rare gift of space in the spare piano and mournful cello of “Chilly”. Keen to avoid the “pristine” sound of many piano albums, Fraites recorded much of this on a cracked upright nicknamed “Firewood”, creating a warmer ambience. It shifts cinematically through an intriguing spectrum of moods; the minimalist “Dreams” is mysterious, drifting in and out of an unsettling harmony, while, with its gliding strings and Debussian flourishes of piano, “Pyromaniac” shimmers with romance.

Read the full review from I News UK.

Rhye – Home
Available on CD & LP!

On the richly composed and produced Home, Rhye expands on his original theme by imbuing lush new elements. There are orchestral embellishments; funk-inspired basslines; sensual, Prince-like guitar solos; and dynamic beats. To layer each ingredient over one another and retain the same muted atmosphere we’ve come to closely associate with Rhye – well, that’s an impressive feat.

Drawing the listener in with a grooving, sticky thump, “Come In Closer” achieves its titular request easily, and ensures that they’ll stay for a while with Milosh’s shower-warm falsetto. Lead single “Beautiful” rolls the shag carpet out further with Barry White-inspired funk and a catchy, contemporary synth melody. Album standout “Black Rain” crescendos with a familiar blend of funk and bass overlaid with aching, swelling strings.

Home sounds like an invitation to a decedent, warmly lit house party where there may or may not be a jar of keys in the corner. Whether or not you’d participate in any tawdry activity, Milosh’s Home is a welcome respite from reality and a shelter to hole up in for a while.

Scope the full review at Independent.

Mayer Hawthorne – Rare Changes
Available on CD and LP!

You can call Mayer Hawthorne many things, but you can't call the man lazy. While putting out music with his side project Tuxedo, he's also kept us on the hook with a bevy of solo singles that he dropped throughout 2019 and 2020. At first we speculated whether or not Mayer had an album in the works, and now we know that he did. Well, sorta. The prolific Mr. Hawthorne rounds up all those loosies for one LP that he's named Rare Change.

Named after the track he released this past July, we've heard almost the entirety of this album before. Not that we mind getting it all in one convenient package here. Especially since Mayer gives us what truly makes an album great: sequencing. The songs here aren't just thrown on haphazardly or in order of release. Instead, they're placed together to complement (our favorite being the combo of "Over," "M.O." and "The Great Divide" at the album's center). The only new track here is actually the album's short-but-sweet "Intro." But don't sleep on it, though. It's a sultry slow jam that could've easily been played during the quiet storm hour back in the '80s. In fact, our only gripe with it is that it really should've been a full-song so that we could luxuriate in its smoothness for a little while longer.

Read the full review over at Soul Bounce.

Brian Eno – Film Music 1976 – 2020
Available on LP and CD!

Unless you’ve been living underneath a sub-woofer for the last 40 years, you already know that Brian Eno is one of the most important figures in modern music—providing sonic sorcery as a producer for everyone from David Bowie to U2 to Coldplay, along with making some very cool albums of his own. But unless you’re a film buff, you might not know that Eno has also deployed his trademark musical mellowness to a long list of movies, scoring soundtracks for everything from Michael Mann’s 1995 heist film Heat to David Lynch’s wrongly maligned sci-fi epic Dune. Film Music 1976-2020 — a new compilation of Eno’s film work — collects a juicy smattering of his TV and cinema scores, and features seven previously unreleased tracks. The album’s chill vibe offers a fantastic soundtrack for your daily activities, whether you’re washing the dishes or snorkeling with dolphins in enchanted azure waters.

Throughout the album, the music is understated and restrained— which makes sense as these pieces were composed to accentuate the action on the screen, not upstage it. The album’s opener, “Top Boy (Theme),” features melodious clangs that sound like a cross between a xylophone and a steel drum. The haunting tune provides the theme music for a British TV crime series of the same name. The music grows as additional instruments join in, eventually human voices augment the simple pattern of clangs. But even as the music builds, the basic pattern remains the same. In fact, it’s Eno’s use of stasis and repetition that provides much of the music’s power.

Film Music 1976-2020 serves as more evidence that Brian Eno’s genius is expansive, and that the guy who teamed up with King Crimson’s Robert Fripp for the rock combustion of “Baby’s On Fire” in 1973, is equally at home among the serenity of minimalism. Like Eno’s incredibly influential sound installation and 1978 album Music For Airports — which used tape loops and swathes of simple sounds to try to defuse the tense environment of the airport terminal — the snippets of scores collected on Eno’s latest create huge, expansive soundscapes with minimal elements. So, if you’re looking for some music to score your life and make you feel like you’re living in a kelp forest or on the peak of a blustery mountain in Peru while you wait for your next Zoom session to start, Brian Eno has got you covered.

Scope the full review at Riff Magazine.

Nick Cave & Nicholas Lens – L.I.T.A.N.I.E.S
Available on CD and LP!

The Covid pandemic has meant, with both performance and recording opportunities at a minimum, that many musicians have had to apply a bit of lateral thinking to keep their creative juices flowing. Nick Cave, of course, is not renowned for running with the pack, and used his time by performing his Idiot’s Prayer solo show in front of cameras at the Ally Pally early in the lockdown period. However, not one to stand still, he has now gone further leftfield by writing the libretto for Nicholas Lens’ chamber opera L.I.T.A.N.I.E.S.

Cave and Lens have had previous experience of working together, with the Shell Shock opera of 2012, but this is something different altogether – not least because it only utilises 11 musicians due to the limitations of lockdown. These include Lens’ daughter Clara-Lane, who only found herself taking part because she was stranded in Lens’ hometown of Brussels during recording.

While Cave doesn’t actually lend his distinctive singing voice to the performance, fans of his recent Ghosteen and Skeleton Tree albums will find plenty that’s engaging – both in the lyricism and in the general vibe of the album. L.I.T.A.N.I.E.S. is atmospheric and haunting, as it tracks the birth, blooming, death and eventual rebirth of an individual, with the instrumentation mainly provided by a sparsely used piano, various woodwind instruments and some spidery violin.

Read the full review over at The Arts Desk.