New Releases for December 4th (12/4/20)

The White Stripes – Greatest Hits
Available on CD and LP!

It was no great surprise when the White Stripes announced they were no more back in early 2011. Since calling their 2007 tour short due to Meg White’s “acute anxiety,” Jack White had released two albums with the newly-formed the Dead Weather, a second with the Raconteurs, and despite his repeated claims of the duo’s imminent return to the studio, there had only been a handful of joint public appearances. The split was, they reasoned, “to preserve what is beautiful and special about the band.”

The title ‘Greatest Hits’ can only be indicative of a continuation of the pair’s playfulness: sure, they’re responsible for one of the biggest global sporting chants, but with a grand total of three Billboard Hot 100 features in the US (though a not inconsiderable five UK Top 10s here), the record feels more like opening a time capsule than self-congratulation; as if that 2011 statement locked a door we’re only now allowed to peek back into. Also crucially, many of the songs here were never even released as singles.

And sure, it’s not as if their work has disappeared in the interim - but like ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ before it, by the time ‘Seven Nation Army’ hits to close this collection, you remember just how great the song is, its genius having been lost in its ubiquitousness. The non-linear tracklisting helps, too: we might start, as they did, with 1998’s ‘Let’s Shake Hands’, but by skipping from 2000’s yelping ‘Hello Operator’ to the slow-building ‘I’m Slowly Turning Into You’ from 2007’s ‘Icky Thump’, back from their take on Burt Bacharach’s ‘I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself’ from 2003’s ‘Elephant’ to the stomping ‘Astro’, from the charming ‘Apple Blossom’ (2000) to the sprawling ‘Blue Orchid’ (2007), the breadth and depth of how much they did while still keeping it (relatively) simple is so evident.

Plus by sequencing the record as a live set would be - the highest-charting singles are scattered throughout, the beautifully nonsensical ‘I Think I Smell A Rat’ featuring before a final big three - it’s almost as if we’re primed to rediscover the band all over again. Which is no small joy.

Read the full review from DIY Mag.
Green Druid – At the Maw of Ruin
Available on CD!

Prepare ye acolytes, on this day of the lord, 4 December 2020, Green Druid will release At the Maw of Ruin on Earache Records, the follow up to their 2018 debut, Ashen Blood. What to expect? To put it simply: bone-crushing-doom. A few moments into the first track, “The Forest Dark,” I felt as if a hole had opened up in the sky above and all manner of beast and demon had been unleased upon this world. The Earth surely risks being swallowed whole when this band plugs in.

The shortest song on At the Maw of Ruin clocks in at 8 minutes and 16 seconds, while the others range from 10-13 minutes and change. At the Maw of Ruin is cosmic-funeral-occult-doom peppered with subtle hints of folk and black metal throughout. Green Druid lays down a psychedelic groove dripping with texture and atmosphere, rife with a sense of grim cinema and dark grandeur.

Musically speaking, At the Maw of Ruin is excellent doom metal, and certainly heavy, but at times it felt like I was listening to one long song comprised of six different sections. To be clear, that’s not to say I don’t recommend this album, I do. I see At the Maw of Ruin as a herald to something bigger creatively, that might be a record or two away. Check out Green Druid and spin At the Maw of Ruin in the meantime.

Read the full review at New Noise Magazine.
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – K.G.
Available on CD!

Anyone would think that a band releasing two albums a year on average for 8 years would eventually become uninspired and want to take some sort of a break. Australian rock band King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard haven’t stopped since the release of their debut album 12 Bar Bruise in 2012 – yet they’re still teething with innovative ideas.

This is proven with their new 16th studio album K.G. which serves as a sequel to their 2017 album Flying Microtonal Banana, now one of their most highly regarded albums. Recorded and produced remotely with the band scattered around Melbourne thanks to the ongoing pandemic, K.G. shows that the band were built to swiftly adapt to new situations and not lose their creative spark. Not a single drop of that unnamed alchemical-something that makes King Gizz so special is missing on this album.

Overall, it’s clear that King Gizz’s tireless effort over the past 8 years still has no end in sight as they release yet another radical and innovative album which doesn’t fall short of the endless inspiration that King Gizzard continue to shine.

Read the full review over at The Line of Best Fit.
Margo Price – Perfectly Imperfect at the Ryman
Available on CD!

Captured during Margo Price's three night residency in May 2018, the historic Nashville venue saw a host of guests and a mix of Margot's country/rock/folk/Americana styles, resulting in a show that proves she is a vital voice on the modern scene.

The Nashville Friends Choir join Price on vocals for two tracks, the distortion and fuzz bass rock of "Worthless Gold" and a pumping cover of "Proud Mary" which rips the Ryman wide open. Very comfortable playing tribute to her heroes, both Merle Haggard's "I Think I'll Just Stay Here and Drink" and Willie Nelson's "Whiskey River" get verses aired in the middle of Price's own " Hurtin' (On The Bottle)" which also delivers soaring vocals from Price.

Her most evocative tune "All American Made" starts things off with a meditative piano ballad discussing the sad state of American affairs before Jack White joins for White's lighthearted ode to Nashville singer/songwriters "Honey, We Can't Afford To Look This Cheap". Price's originals stand toe to toe with any covers played and whether she is going for the rocking gusto or mellowing out, Price is a dynamite performer. Perfectly Imperfect At The Ryman is a rare live album that people who are not fans of the artist can still appreciate as Price and guests work to incorporate a range of styles around great songwriting and singing from Price.

Read the full review at Rock the Body Electric.
Beyonce – Homecoming
Available on LP!

Before you add any other superlative to her name, Beyoncé is, first and foremost, a performer. She spent her childhood being trained not just to be a great singer but to become the type of athletic vocalist who could sing while in constant, rapid, muscle-and-bone defying movement on a stage for hours. She would get the chance to show that off early with Destiny’s Child, and by the time she launched her solo career, her live abilities were otherworldly.

Listening to the live album version of Homecoming, which was dropped as a surprise-release on all streaming platforms the same morning as the documentary, it’s clear that Beyoncé and her musicians met the call. From the stirring, opening brass section of “Welcome” to even the collage-like interludes that weave portions of her own discography with nods to everyone from Nina Simone to Soulja Boy, Homecoming: The Live Album is the type of victory lap worthy of a queen.

The setlist works so well because, at the time, Beyoncé was untethered to any current projects. Lemonade was a couple years behind her and Everything Is Love, her collaborative album with husband Jay-Z, had not yet been revealed to the public. For a pop star as productive and intentional as she is, a concert that isn’t tied to an era is rare. So, the songs from Homecoming feel like a greatest hits collection with a twist: they’re carefully combined, remixed and chopped up to fit the college homecoming theme and musical accompaniment of a full marching band.

Read the full review at Rolling Stone.
Khruangbin – Late Night Tales
Available on CD and LP!

With Texan psychonauts Khruangbin at the helm of this Late Night Talesmix, you might assume that they’d stray away from the safety of their idiosyncratic sound that infuses funk and dub with a sprinkling of psychedelia. On the contrary, the band have dug even deeper into the sounds that inspire them, and present an intriguing collage of life around the world in hues of groove-inflected disco.

Conjuring the hazy essence of chilling out whilst the afterparty carries on around you, Brilliantes Del Vuelo’s ‘I Know That’ transports you to an undulating dub soundscape that feels as though it’s being projected through a vocoder. Buried deep within the song is a sense of revelry; it’s like listening to a party through a wall and never being sure whether you’re at the heart of the action or idly observing on the periphery.

This edition of Late Night Talesis evocative of the otherworldliness that Khruangbin tend to draw upon as they channel moments of bliss into their work. At times its unfamiliarity can feel disjointed, but overall it’s an ebullient celebration of music’s encyclopaedic nature.

Read the full review at Loud and Quiet.