wears the trousers magazine

30 albums you need to hear this spring (II)

part one | part three

January is a month for looking forward as well as back. So while we are in the process of revealing our top 100 albums of the 2000s, this week we’ll also be taking a look at the 30 albums we are most excited about this Spring, in release date order. The new decade is getting off to a solid start as some familiar faces return and new ones jostle for recognition.

In part two, we look at new releases from Pepi Ginsberg, Kath Bloom, Laura Gibson & Ethan Rose, Allison Moorer, Sade, Juliana Hatfield, Marina & The Diamonds, Erykah Badu, Holly Miranda and Kathryn Williams.

* * *

Pepi Ginsberg
East Is East

When we interviewed Pepi Ginsberg a short while after the release of her third album Red, she was already excitedly planning the next one. Now that it’s here, East Is East marks a huge stylistic departure for Ginsberg, being her first real band record. That wonderfully rich, unorthodox voice is still very much present, but there’s a much more accessible indie-rock feel to much of the material, making the album a candidate for Ginsberg’s long overdue breakthrough.

What the label says: “In East Is East, Pepi Ginsberg and her collaborators step into the golden hour of the day and embrace ‘The most ephemeral of seasons’. A mood and a time where we ‘know that change is coming in the form of a cool wind; we hold on until we let go’. The song ‘Summer Sick As Love’ accomplishes this feeling, with its mythical descriptions of gutter punks and wind ravaged stop-signs. Ginsberg, with arrangements expertly handled by her band, creates a world with East Is East, that is ‘the season in between, and parts the waters, navigating change in the sea of these strange times.”

East Is East is released through Park The Van on February 1.

FREE MP3: Pepi Ginsberg, ‘Coca Cola’ [via Stereogum]

read our interview with Pepi

* * *

Kath Bloom
Thin Thin Line

Having recorded on and off since 1976, Kath Bloom is one of the music industry’s survivors. She’s currently enjoying a second revival thanks to 2008’s brilliant Terror and reissue of her wonderful 1982-’83 sets Sing The Children Over and Sand In My Shoes, not to mention last year’s beautiful tribute compilation, Loving Takes This Course, featuring the likes of Meg Baird, Scout Niblett, Josephine Foster and Mia Doi Todd. Thin Thin Line looks set to continue this inspirational trajectory with grace and power.

What the label says: “The more you hear of Kath Bloom, the more you notice it’s not just the arresting voice, but the power of the songwriting [which] continues as penetrating and prolific as ever. Once again Kath has mined the depths and come up with gems. Some songs tender and haunting, others filled with strength and resolve. Likely, it will burn a hole straight to your soul on the first listen.”

Thin Thin Line is released through Caldo Verde on February 8.

FREE MP3: Kath Bloom, ‘Freddie’
FREE MP3: Kath Bloom, ‘Heart So Sadly’
FREE MP3: Kath Bloom, ‘Is This Called Living?’

* * *

Laura Gibson & Ethan Rose
Bridge Carols

Though you wouldn’t guess if from that beautifully pastoral sleeve, Bridge Carols started out as a project in which Portland-based singer-songwriter Laura Gibson and sound artist Ethan Rose aimed to make each other uncomfortable. Recorded in a field, a forest and a basement, the album is essentially a tapestry of improvised and leftover lyrics and wordless vocals cut up Burroughs-style and rearranged into new “musical poems”, distancing Gibson from her traditional songcraft and Rose from his largely instrumental solo compositions.

What the label says: A record of deep atmosphere and an almost sublingual resonance, Bridge Carols takes the listener to a place that exists between the notes and behind the words of modern music. This breaking down and rebuilding, cutting down to the core and polishing, results in something truer and more fundamental. It’s music that feels intimately familiar, timeless; at its heart, quite natural and human.”

Bridge Carols is released through Holocene Music on February 8.

FREE MP3: Laura Gibson, ‘O Frailty’ [Daytrotter session, registration required]

* * *

Allison Moorer

Crows is Allison Moorer’s first collection of original material in four years. Perhaps influenced by the research involved in making her 2008 covers album Mockingbird, for which she recorded several covers of songs written by women (Joni Mitchell, Patti Smith and June Carter Cash to name but a few), Crows finds Allison departing from her usual country stylings with more emphasis on sophisticated pop arrangements, many of which were written and performed on piano.

What Allison says: “I am a little obsessed with birds, and have been told that they are indeed our messengers from the other side. So I decided that instead of letting the crows make me uneasy, I would start to consider them as friendlies, and that they were actually bringing me a message of comfort.”

Crows is released through Rykodisc on February 8.

* * *

Soldier Of Love

A decade on from the multi-million selling Lovers Rock, the return of Sade with this long overdue sixth album is a surprisingly big deal. More surprising perhaps is that there’s still not a great deal of information out there about it. We know it was recorded between June and October of last year in the UK, and that the title track is out next week as the first single. What’s good is that the single sees the band shaking up their signature sound a little, so while La Roux et al. are all busy parading around like it’s the 1980s all over again, Sade have us all wondering what to expect.

What Maxwell says: “Trust me, it’s so monolithic it’ll shake you in your shoes!”

Soldier Of Love is released through SonyBMG on February 8.

* * *

Juliana Hatfield
Peace & Love

For her ninth solo album Peace & Love, Juliana Hatfield shunned the lush studio sounds of 2008’s How To Walk Away, choosing instead to record alone at her home in Cambridge, Massachusetts, armed only with acoustic and electric guitars and an 8-track recorder. Thematically, the songs are about relationships, though not all of the romantic kind. Hatfield is preoccupied with how we all treat each other. ‘Evan’ addresses her much-publicised romance (and subsequent split) with Evan Dando of The Lemonheads with a mature and level head, ‘Dear Anonymous’ is a letter from a stalkee to her stalker and ‘I’m Disappearing’ sees Hatfield embody the character of an anorexic girl with lyrics derived from her own personal experience. It’s also the first time that Hatfield has included an instrumental on an album, something she says she has always wanted to do.

What the liner notes say: “The title, to begin with: Peace & Love. Ironically, it’s not ironic. The mercies are there, trusted in, available somehow, even if temporarily barred from your consciousness: they’re on the tip of your tongue, at the back of your mind, round the corner, in the strengthening of the light at the breakfast table, or the wry, descending piano figure that anchors ‘Why Can’t We Love Each Other’. John Berryman, once a depressed brain in Cambridge, MA, wrote that ‘the hardest challenge, let’s say, that a person can face without defeat is the best for him’. Or her. Like George Michael says, ‘you gotta have faith’.”

Peace & Love is released through Ye Olde Records on February 15.

read Juliana’s track-by-track guide to Peace & Love

* * *

Marina & The Diamonds
The Family Jewels

On The Family Jewels, her debut album, Marina Diamandis is getting personal, bringing it all back home. Featuring the singles ‘Obsessions’, ‘Mowgli’s Road’ and the forthcoming ‘Hollywood’, plus the star cut from The Crown Jewels EP, ‘I Am Not A Robot’, the part-autobiographical, part-fairytale album looks set to be one of 2010’s most talked about albums. Production comes from former Sneaker Pimps man Liam Howe plus Kylie and Ladyhawke collaborators Biff Stannard and Pascal Gabriel.

What Marina says: “I am really proud to finally release my debut album, ‘The Family Jewels’. It is a body of work largely inspired by the seduction of commercialism, modern social values, family and female sexuality. Each song was intricately produced and written by myself and my only hope is for it to be enjoyed and consumed as a story and theory that encourages people to question themselves.”

The Family Jewels is released through 679 / Atlantic on February 15.

* * *

Erykah Badu
New AmErykah Part II: Return Of The Ankh

[ not final artwork]

Return Of The Ankh is the long-awaited follow-up to the brilliant sociopolitical narratives of 4th World War, the first installment in Erykah Badu’s two-part New AmErykah series. Motherhood may have delayed its arrival somewhat, but that’s only served to heighten our anticipation. From what we’ve heard, the two albums could not be more different. Where 4th World War was hard hitting and digitally recorded, Return Of The Ankh (aside: Ankh is an Egyptian hieroglyphic meaning ‘eternal life’) uses analogue instruments to create a warm backdrop for its emotional themes. Collaborators include Georgia Anne Muldrow, James Poyser, J Dilla and Madlib, plus a rumoured nine MCs, including Lil’ Wayne, Andre 3000 and Bilal, all guesting on a single track.

What Erykah says: “I called it Part II: Return Of The Ankh because this album is the sister of the left side of my brain – it is the right side. Part I was the left side of my thoughts – it was more socially political and my thought process was more analytical. This time there wasn’t anything to be concerned with – the album is more emotional and flowy and talks about feelings. It reminds of the days of Baduizm – this is just about beats and rhymes in a cipher… There’s a strong undercurrent of bottom, a rumbling to these songs that feels good to me. It feels like a hug.”

New AmErykah Part 2: Return Of The Ankh is released through Universal Moton on February 22.

* * *

Holly Miranda
The Magician’s Private Library

While downbeat indie-pop foursome The Jealous Girlfriends take a break, guitarist Holly Miranda has not been catching up on shut-eye. After a well received solo EP, Sleep On Fire, and tours supporting The xx, The Antlers and Friendly Fires, Miranda is about to release her Dave Sitek-produced debut full-length. Taking its name from her uncle’s description of what he thought Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon sounded like, The Magician’s Private Library is a personal triumph rich in poetic descriptions, determined emotions and bewitching production.

What Miranda says: “I wanted it to be really positive or encouraging.”

The Magician’s Private Library is released through XL Recordings on February 22.

FREE MP3: Holly Miranda, ‘Forest Green Oh Forest Green’

* * *

Kathryn Williams
The Quickening

[not final artwork]

Recorded at the Bryn Derwen studio in rural North Wales, The Quickening finds Kathryn Williams opening up into more personal songwriting and introducing samples into her work. That’s not to suggest the album has been overly produced; as Kathryn explained to Mojo magazine earlier this year, the album was laid down “in four days, all live, three takes maximum” with co-producer David Wrench (Beth Orton, British Sea Power). Read our preview feature for a track-by-track rundown.

What Kathryn says: “It has a mood, a slightly sinister palette with lyrics that are raw. I see myself in these songs a lot, whereas before I invented characters.”

The Quickening is released through One Little Indian on February 22.

* * *

Alan Pedder


3 Comments so far
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Look forward to the Juliana Hatfield – listening to previews on Amazon MP3 (sounds lovely – reminds me of her “Beautiful Creature” album).

Comment by Jason Oldfield

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