Album of the Week: Brandi Carlile – In These Silent days

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This is Brandi Carlile’s seventh album, so I suppose we should have reasonably high expectations. We were delighted however to hear her growth from her previous, Grammy award winning album By The Way, I Forgive You. We begin with the lush “Right On Time” followed by a stunning set of original songs. AllMusic described its “controlled urgency and tight sense of craft, an aesthetic evident in how the album is as lean and robust as a well-loved record from the ’70s”. “You and Me On The Rock” is a clear tribute to Joni Mitchell. I loved her story in her Apple Music interview of playing it to Joni and anxiously awaiting her verdict – all she got was an offhand “sounds like a hit”! We look forward to further investigating the album this week.

Album of the Week: Lindsey Buckingham – Lindsey Buckingham

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Lindsey Buckingham has chosen to come out again and make comment on his departure from Fleetwood Mac. Although undoubtedly an attempt to get publicity for the release of his seventh solo album, and although undoubtedly there was fault on both sides, some of the narrative (“Stevie Nicks has never been over me”) reinforces the impression that he is a bit of a narcissistic prat.

Although that impression might be debatable what isn’t is that he is a pop master craftsman. This collection is another gem, phenomenal for someone whose career began in the late 1960s. As AllMusic state it is his most “Fleetwood Mac-esque” solo album and a great listen.

Album of the Week: Kacey Musgraves – Star-Crossed

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After the marital bliss of her last album Golden Hour things come back to earth with Star-Crossed. Blissful melodies and polished production can’t smooth out the anguish of a failed marriage. Musgraves seems honest although also packaged up for pop perfection with accompanying film. Without trying to guess where blame lies I did feel a little for her ex-husband with some of the revelations. That said this album displays her musical prowess and ability to straddle country and pop with aplomb.

Album of the Week: CHVRCHES – Screen Violence

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We really enjoy CHVRCHES synth driven music. This album follows an interesting theme of screen violence, both of the ‘movie’ as well as more personal social media variety. The Guardian has a great write-up on this “big icy romp” here. We’ll look forward to checking it out this week.

Album of the Week: OneRepublic – Human

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Judging by the lack of reviews you would think this album from the consummate masters of bombastic pop had slipped under the radar or was symptomatic of their waning powers. We’ll be a bit contrarian and play it as our album of the week despite some equally meritous competition. A bit of a funny album, the first single came out over two years ago and its been delayed many times. That said its still a solid collection of pop songs and sitting at no. 6 on the Apple Music NZ album chart so not too shabby!

Album of the Week: Lorde – Solar Power

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Whilst its tempting to rebut the Stuff.co.nz review with its clickbait headline (a ‘trite album’, the actual review is mostly alright) we’ll let the music speak for itself. This is a definite change of direction, a releasing of the pounding pressure of driving pop songs. Instead its a reflection and a clawing back of power from those who portrayed Lorde as a puppet of the industry, a mouthpiece for Antonoff’s genius. Simpler, relaxed and returning to the things that gave her joy in her upbringing in New Zealand – sand between the feet and salt in the mouth. Like good food it might take time to acquire the taste but this album has legs.

Album of the Week: The Killers – Pressure Machine

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The Guardian describes it as “their best album in years”. We’ve enjoyed others but this one is a nice change of tack. The bombastic elements are more subdued, the guitars and synths are still there but supported by harmonicas and violins. The changeup in sound supports Brandon Flower’s most personal lyrics ever. He describes part of his childhood in a small Utah town (Nephi) with nice touches. Of course there are moments of nostalgia but also the darker side of life – hillbilly heroin pills and a tragic train accident are described. An album that deserves repeated listening – we look forward to checking out the tracks this week, beginning after nine this morning with “In The Car Outside”, a song that sounds a lot like a traditional Killers song at the beginning with swirling synths..

Album of the Week: Torres – Thirstier

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Solid hooks and a stronger pop ethos – the new album from Torres is a strong one. Read this great editorial from NPR:

https://www.npr.org/2021/08/04/1024304446/torres-thirstier-interview-mackenzie-scott

Album of the Week: Bleachers – Take The Sadness Out of Saturday Night

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We’ve found ourselves agreeing with Pitchfork several times recently, so we were relieved to find that they described Jack Antonoff’s (lead singer/songwriter/persona of Bleachers) efforts on this album as “splitting his time between careful rock songwriting and carefree pop singing, leaving a minor impression of both”. It is in fact a brilliant collection of pop/rock reminiscent of the 80’s Jersey sound of Springsteen with some memorable melodies and great moments. The guitar – saxophone dual towards the end of “How Dare You Want More” (as seen on the Music Video) is something else!

Album of the Week: Laura Mvula – Pink Noise

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This album came out a few weeks ago but we couldn’t let it go by without recognising its wonderful songwriting, get-up-and-dance vibe and great 80s electronic feel. Her third album, Mvula has really reinvented herself here – she was classically trained and although her first two albums were critically acclaimed they weren’t huge hits. This album certainly hits the spot!