James Brandon Lewis is a New York-based jazz tenor saxophonist, composer, and bandleader. His instrumental voice marries the emotional power of gospel and the grit and groove of blues and R&B to the modal and vanguard influences of Albert Ayler and John Coltrane, and Sonny Rollins’ expressive melodic and tonal discipline. Moments, his 2010 debut, was followed by two outings for Sony Masterworks’ revived OKeh imprint: Divine Travels in 2014 and the widely celebrated Days of Freeman the following year. After working American stages and clubs, he toured European and Asian festivals. Radiant Imprints, a duo outing with drummer Chad Taylor, appeared in 2018 and was followed by the quintet offering An UnRuly Manifesto a year later. In 2021, after he was selected as the “Rising Star Tenor Saxophonist” in the Downbeat International Critics Poll, Lewis issued The Jesup Wagon, his debut for Tao Forms.
Along the way, Lewis drew the attention of many improvising artists, most notably the saxophonist and jazz deity Sonny Rollins, who doesn’t offer effusive praise very often. Moved by Lewis’ deep, spirit-seeking sound, Rollins said “When I listen to you, I listen to Buddha, I listen to Confucius ... I listen to the deeper meaning of life. You are keeping the world in balance.”
Eye of I opens with 44 seconds of gritty, high-throttling low-down groove, an ear pulverizing opening designed to cleanse all traces of ordinary from the palette. From there, Lewis offers a prayerful cover of Donnie Hathaway’s “Someday We’ll All Be Free” and then the first of his disarmingly addictive originals, “The Blues Still Blossoms” in addition to many others.
With One Day, Fucked Up have delivered one of the most energizing and intricate albums of their career, a massive-sounding record that arrives in deceptively small confines. The Canadian hardcore legends have been known for their epic scale in the past, so it might be a surprise that Fucked Up’s sixth studio album is their shortest to date, written and recorded in the confines of one literal day (hence the title). Don’t mistake size for substance, though: The band’s sound has only gotten bigger, more hard-charging, with even denser thickets of melody.
“I wanted to see what I could record in literally one day.” That singular idea came to mind for guitarist Mike Haliechuk in the closing months of 2019. Haliechuk got himself into a studio and proceeded to write and record the record’s ten tracks over three eight-hour sessions, reconnecting with the core the band’s songwriting essence in the process.
Initially, Fucked Up vocalist Damian Abraham was also set to complete his vocals in similar fashion—that is, before the lockdowns of 2020 took place. As it turns out, the isolation yielded creative dividends, as Abraham returned to contributing lyrics as well for the first time since 2014’s Glass Boys. “It almost felt like it might be the last time I’d ever get to record vocals for anything,” Abraham says of the stakes he felt while putting his part to tape, before reflecting on how he approached the lyrical process: “What do I want to say to friends who aren’t here anymore? What do I want to say to myself?”
Over swarms of tuneful noise that evoke Sonic Youth circa Daydream Nation, Abraham lets loose on gentrification in “Lords of Kensington,” which was inspired by an “incredible” Toronto neighborhood that was regularly subject to life-ruining police surveillance and structural violence. “The police chief during that era—he just opened a cannabis store,” Abraham explains. “It’s so cynical and gross, what society has come to—but by being in a band, we’re culpable in changing the neighborhood, too, since the punk spaces and cool happenings that pop up are part of gentrification. Are you building a culture? Or are you ruining something that’s already been there?”
Then there’s the dusky burn of “Cicada,” a sonic cousin to Dose Your Dreams’ excellent standout “The One I Want Will Come for Me” that features Haliechuk taking lead-vocal duty. The song is dedicated to lost friends, and in his words, it’s about “what life is like after you lose people, and our responsibility to carry them forward into the future, using the things they taught us as a light. I like to imagine the sound of cicadas as a metaphor for our strange life in the subculture—we all just live these weird little hidden lives under the dirt, and then once in a generation, one of us gets to bust out of the dirt and intone their song so loud that it can be heard all over.”
One Day is an undeniable work of confidence from a band that continues to operate at the top of their game, making music that’s guaranteed to last a lifetime and beyond.
Elle King can do many things, ranging from exuberant alternative/punk to soul pop. She’s also been a compelling presence in country music; winning both Country Music Association and Academy of Country Music Awards and breaking the 30 year old, glass-ceiling record for women on the radio charts with the lead single “Drunk (And I Don’t Want To Go Home).” She’s collaborated with Dierks Bentley, Miranda Lambert, Ashley McBryde and been on tour with Chris Stapleton for the better part of 2022; it’s been an unbridled love fest with Nashville’s music community.
Now she makes it country music official with Come Get Your Wife, a dozen glorious tracks that run a gauntlet of styles and attitudes leaving King’s roots showing. Set for release on Jan. 27, the quadruple Grammy nominee co-produced the album with award winning songwriter Ross Copperman and the result is a collection that moves through all the topics. From being a hot mess, a glorious excess and a woman coming into her own, King has created a very real, small-town frayed at the edges but solid at core missal.
Elle King, singular, swaggering, sardonic, is a musically and personally fearless woman. With Come Get Your Wife, she sharpens her gaze, digs into her roots, puts her banjo front and center and creates a record that’s as alive and electric as she is. Taking all the pieces – the rock, soul, (blue)grass and country that she loves – she’s made an album that demands your attention, then delivers on all cylinders.
“There’s something about how you put the pieces together,” King offers of her first true country project. “This whole album is a crazy quilt of all sorts of moments and things that might not seem to go together, but because they’re me, they do. It’s very Southern Ohio, very who we are – and very much a lot of people who are just like me, because I know they’re out there.”
Illiterate Light thrives on subverting expectations. Though just a duo, the Harrisonburg, Virginia-based singer-guitarist Jeff Gorman along with Nashville, Tennessee-based drummer Jake Cochran make surprisingly pummeling and thoughtful alternative rock. Since the band’s 2015 inception, they’ve intently focused on their unorthodox live show with Cochran standing behind his kit and Gorman playing synth bass with his foot as he sings and strums his guitar. Fiercely egalitarian and independent, the two not only split up songwriting duties and arrangement ideas, they even built bike-powered stages: bringing the fans into the live experience and envisioning a greener future for shows.
But with their latest album Sunburned, out January 27 via Thirty Tigers, Gorman and Cochran have turned their attention inward to their songwriting and studio craft. It’s their most fully-realized and ambitious LP yet, one that’s full of immediate songs that update and revolutionize the band’s approach to making music. There are rich keyboard and programmed percussion textures now populating their songs, as well as soaringly anthemic choruses, and hefty doses of fuzz. “On our first record, we were very live-focused and wanted to make sure whatever we were writing was translated in person,” says Gorman. “Without that crutch, we could be more adventurous and take more risks. We definitely weren’t timid in the studio.”
As their writing started, Gorman’s father died after a years-long battle with multiple system atrophy (MSA). While his grief was devastating and palpable, it also gave him clarity and newfound motivation. “These songs aren't about my dad dying but there’s been such a shift in my own life that my own writing took on a certain fearlessness,” says Gorman. “I saw the thin veil between life and death and I realized there's nothing to be afraid of anymore. I wanted to embrace the things I love and the weird things that'll come to us in life. My grief found its way into the record, sonically and emotionally, but not topically.”
The songs on Sunburned find their resonance in dichotomies, the connection between light and dark, life and death, and heaven and hell. Gorman and Cochran work best in contradictions, gray areas, and difficult questions that don’t have easy answers. On single “Fuck LA,” what looks like a kiss-off to a major city is actually an anthem for the homesick as Gorman sings, “Wherever you are / Fuck that place / And come back home.” Meanwhile, “Feb 1st” captures the other side of the coin: the desperation of being stir-crazy cooped up at home. Gorman snarls, “So take me somewhere I’m a stranger / Yeah take me back to Santa Fe / And show me faces unfamiliar / Yeah show me somebody like you.”
Sunburned is an album for searchers, the people who channel the darkest energy into something healing and positive. Even on songs like the adventurous and experimental “Hellraiser,” which takes on a menacing undertone in its lyrics, Illiterate Light presents it in a way that’s universal and inviting. “This record was all about chasing a gut feeling and going for songs that had more depth and darkness and pain,” says Gorman. “We'd rather share what we're really going through and let that come out.”
There’s a line on Honey, the latest album from Nashville-via-NYC songwriter Samia, about Aspen Grove, a collection of 40,000 trees in the plains of North America, all connected by a single expansive root system. There’s no stronger metaphor for the audience the 25-year-old empathy engine has been generating since she began releasing music seven years ago. Her songs, her fans, her friends: one enormous, interconnected ecosystem. Honey, comprised of eleven new moments of catharsis, is by and for that organism. Set for release on January 23rd 2023 via Grand Jury Music, the album was recorded at North Carolina studio Betty’s –- owned and operated by Sylvan Esso’s Nick Sandborn and Amelia Meath, frequent touring partners of Samia’s. It was produced by Caleb Wright, part of the team that helmed Samia’s breakthrough 2020 debut The Baby, and a founding member of one of Samia’s favorite bands, The Happy Children. It features some of her nearest and dearest friends: Christian Lee Hutson, Briston Maroney, Jake Luppen, Raffaella. Its songs were surreptitiously road tested for her devotees while opening for Lucy Dacus, Courtney Barnett, and more. The end result is what Samia calls simply “a real community record.”
In 2015, Dan Auerbach entered the studio with Leon Michels, Nick Movshon, Homer Steinweiss, and the late Richard Swift (who passed away in 2018) to record The Arcs' debut album Yours, Dreamily in a handful of freewheeling sessions over two weeks. Now, more than 7 years later, those same sessions became the bedrock on which the surviving members fleshed out the anticipated follow-up album, Electrophonic Chronic, a collection of psychedelic rock, gritty funk, and heady, soulful grooves.
RIAA multi-platinum certified global pop sensation Ava Max is celebrating her newest single “Maybe You’re The Problem”. Along with delivering the debut national television performance of her upbeat and confident new single, Ava gave the exclusive announcement that her sophomore album, DIAMONDS AND DANCEFLOORS, is coming October 14thThe announcement comes hot on the heels of the recent RIAA Platinum certification of her debut album HEAVEN & HELL, featuring smash hits such as the newly 4x Platinum “Sweet but Psycho,” 2x Platinum “Kings & Queens,” and Platinum “My Head & My Heart.” “Maybe You’re The Problem” offers the first preview of Ava’s fiercely personal upcoming album and is available now.
Following the global success of the unstoppable single “Unholy” featuring pop diva Kim Petras, Sam Smith will be releasing their fourth studio album, Gloria, on January 27, 2023. The 13-track record will be Sam’s boldest statement yet and comes off the back of an undeniable run of success with the lead single from the album.
The Murder Capital’s second studio album Gigi’s Recovery, produced by John Congleton, will be released on January 20, 2023 via Human Season Records. The CD will be housed in a printed inner sleeve in a recycled wallet-style jacket. Painting by Peter Doyle and designed by Aidan Cochrane.
Rush! Is the latest full length from global sensation, Mĺneskin. The band is a critically acclaimed four-piece-rock band that began busking on the streets of Rome as teenagers, and now just a few years later, are a razor tight group of captivating musicians widely hailed for being at the forefront of driving a worldwide resurgence of Rock music. Rush! contains the track ‘Kools Kids’ that was recently debuted live along with ‘The Loneliest,’ the band’s latest global-smash-in-waiting, an ode to classic old-school rock ballads.
Beauty, disposability and fragility of the culture that surrounds us, and the exhilaration of freeing yourself from those structures… these are the themes Ladytron return to on Time’s Arrow, their seventh album.
Driven by analogue synths, distorted chimes and hallucinogenic soundscapes, Ladytron crash-landed into electroclash at the turn of the century, using the dancefloor as a bridgehead to the collective unconscious. On Time’s Arrow the group add new richness, distant shimmers and a shoegaze-adjacent glow with Helen Marnie and Mira Aroyo’s trademark understated voices now inhabiting a space somewhere between cloudscape and dream.