PlayARt - Bring Albums to Life
These albums are enhanced with PlayARt experiences, providing an Augmented Reality experience and taking your favorite albums to a new level.
To learn more about PlayARt check the description of each album and visit PlayARt.ai.
Fear Of The Dawn [Indie Exclusive Limited Edition Astronomical Blue LP]
Vinyl: $29.98 PREORDER
Fear of the Dawn is the fourth studio album from Jack White, founding member of The White Stripes, The Raconteurs, and The Dead Weather. True to his DIY roots, this record was recorded at White's Third Man Studio throughout 2021, mastered by Third Man Mastering, pressed to vinyl at Third Man Pressing, and released by Third Man Records. Pressed on limited astronomical blue vinyl, only available at independent record stores
Electric Cowboy: Born In Carolina Mud [Indie Exclusive Limited Edition Red & Black Swirl LP]
Vinyl: $27.98 PREORDER
“I was born in the North Carolina mud,” says Jamil Rashad, better known as Boulevards, one of the most idiosyncratic artists making music in the Tarheel State. His fourth album, Electric Cowboy: Born in Carolina Mud, is caked in the soil where he grew up, mired in the muck of this place—not stuck but freed. Grounded in personal experience and haunted by personal demons, Electric Cowboy is an album that reaches out, that embraces the world, that mixes the confessional and the communal. But the dominant sound—the dominant mindset—is funk: gritty, warm, weird, charismatic. Rashad once again composed and recorded with Blake Rhein, guitarist for Durand Jones & the Indications, after they had worked so well together on 2020’s Brother! EP. They corralled an all-star team that included Adrian Quesada from the Grammy-nominated neo-soul act Black Pumas and Colin Croom from the Chicago indie-rock outfit Twin Peaks.
“On Electric Cowboy I wanted to make some modern funk that the kids would enjoy, but still have some soul elements and some punk elements. On the cover you see a black man on a horse running away from his demons. That’s me. You can hear it all in the songs – struggling with demons and still coming out on top of it all. That’s what funk is! You got some heavy, dark shit, but you also got some joyful compositions, funky basslines, dope harmonies, infectious hooks. So that’s me on the cover, the Electric Cowboy, slaying anything that comes in my path. I gotta keep riding, keep trucking, keep fighting, keep pushing.”
Neil Young & Crazy Horse
Barn [Indie Exclusive Limited Edition LP]
Vinyl: $34.98 PREORDER
Special edition of the album includes 6 photographs from the Barn sessions.
BARN, the new Neil Young/Crazy Horse album was recorded in a remote, restored, 19th century log barn. This musical family has played together for a half century, yet they continue creating new music. Neil and the Horse fans have long shouted for “more barn” and here it is… 10 new songs that capture the wild, rock and roll spirit, the idiosyncratic raw sound and the lyrical beauty that epitomizes a classic NYCH collaboration. The last song appeared on the last morning and was recorded just an hour later during a pounding hailstorm and during the full moon.
The album was recorded this summer over a handful of days. The ten new songs encompass all that Neil Young with Crazy Horse are known for, beautiful romantic acoustic ballads, powerhouse electric rockers and insightful rollicking tunes that stick with you.
Niko Bolas was parked adjacent to the barn, in an exquisite analog mobile recording truck, Le Mobile ready to capture and mix the album on the spot. Produced by The Volume Dealers – Neil Young and Niko Bolas, the album will be released on vinyl, CD, cassette and digitally. There will also be a deluxe edition that will include the LP, CD. and Blu-ray film.Special edition of the album includes 6 photographs from the Barn sessions.
BBC Sessions [Indie Exclusive Limited Edition Milky Clear 2LP]
Vinyl: $39.98 PREORDER
Between1994 to 2001, Green Day would visit the BBC’s Maida Vale Studios in London four times and record live sessions for Radio 1’s “Evening Show” and its popular DJ Steve Lamacq. This compilation documents those sessions, and includes many of the band’s hits including “When I Come Around”, “Basket Case”, “Brain Stew/Jaded” and “Minority”.
At My Piano
CD: $13.95 PREORDER
Genius, icon, trailblazer - he revolutionized music as head of the Beach Boys. Now, legend Brian Wilson retraces his steps and reimagines the most iconic songs from his back catalogue into their purest form, him alone at the piano. Featuring God Only Knows, Wouldn't it Be Nice, California Girls, Good Vibrations and many more on solo piano.
If Words Were Flowers [Indie Exclusive Limited Edition Strawberry Shortcake Splash LP]
Vinyl: $31.98 PREORDER
Antique Glow: Expanded Edition [Indie Exclusive Limited Edition Silver 2LP]
Vinyl: $45.98 PREORDER
Third Man Records is proud to release the 20th anniversary expanded edition of Kelley Stoltz's defining album 'Antique Glow.' Originally self-released in miniscule vinyl-only quantities in 2001, 'Antique Glow' has served not only as a template for the length of Kelley Stoltz's twenty-plus year career, but has also served as a compass for other Anglophile, TASCAM 388 home recording acolytes.
Original copies featured Stoltz's clever, wry and fanciful hand-painted adornments overtop reclaimed thrift store LP jackets, Third Man's release here utilizes some of those original unused images for a die-cut sleeve that ultimately gives the listener six different possible album covers.
The songs are by and large masterpieces of bedroom pop magic. From the whispering 'Here Comes the Sun'-adjacent acoustic underpinnings of album opener 'Perpetual Night' through the fuzz-threaded leads of 'Are You Electric?' Stoltz's inspirations are impeccable and clear. Sixties Davies British Invasion through 80's British Bunnymen post-punk, with appropriate off-shoots into West Coast American pop-psych, Velvets-indebted hooliganism and Drake/CSNY acoustic attenuations, the end result is pure joy.
On the expanded version, standout tracks previously relegated to an Australian tour-only CD (like the breathlessly cinematic 'Old Pictures') see their first-ever vinyl and digital release while there's an additional 8 songs from the 'Antique Glow'-era seeing their first ever release in any format. The cutting room floor quality here is second-to-none, Stoltz clearly gifted with the curse of writing too many indelible songs, so the newly released 'Too Beck' (originally cast off by Kelley because he thought 'it sounded too much like Beck') and 'Umbrella' stand firm as some of the best, most timeless music Stoltz has ever released... a full two decades after he recorded them!
With all instruments and vocals performed by Stoltz, the singularity of vision here is impeccably clear and executed. Packaging: Die-cut direct-to-board LP jacket, printed inner sleeves, standard weight vinyl
Wilds [Indie Exclusive Limited Edition Translucent Blue LP]
Vinyl: $30.98 Buy
Few artists are storytellers as deft and disarmingly observational as Andy Shauf. The Toronto-based, Saskatchewan-raised musician’s songs unfold like short fiction: they’re densely layered with colorful characters and a rich emotional depth. Like he’s done throughout his career, Shauf wrote, performed, arranged, and produced every song on his new album Wilds at his studio space in the west end of Toronto.
Over the course of a year-and-a-half, Shauf had written more than 50 songs, and pared down this massive body of work, into a single album’s worth of material, which became 2020’s highly acclaimed The Neon Skyline album. These songs focused on a theme by intertwining the individual characters stories of a group of friends who gathered for one night at the same local bar. Wilds includes songs from those same writing sessions, that did not fit into the Skyline storyline and had their own singular identity apart from that album, though he does revisit with his old friends Judy and Jeremy in this outing.
The Nearer the Fountain, More Pure the Stream Flows [LP]
ON SALE $24.98 Vinyl: $23.99 Buy
The Black Keys
El Camino: 10th Anniversary Edition [Super Deluxe 5LP]
Vinyl: $154.98 Buy
Original remastered album, previously unreleased full live concert and BBC Session Recorded in 2012, 2011 Electro-Vox Session, limited-edition poster and lithograph, “new car scent: air freshener, 100-page photo book.
The Black Keys release a special tenth anniversary edition of their landmark seventh studio album El Camino via Nonesuch Records on November 5, 2021. El Camino (10th Anniversary Deluxe Edition) will be available in several formats including a Super Deluxe edition of five vinyl LPs or four CDs, featuring a remastered version of the original album, a previously unreleased Live in Portland, ME concert recording, a BBC radio Zane Lowe session from 2012, a 2011 Electro-Vox session, a limited-edition photo book, poster, and lithograph, and a “new car scent” air freshener. A three-LP Deluxe edition, which includes the remastered album and the live recording, also will be available.
The Black Keys won three awards at the 55th annual GRAMMY Awards for El Camino— Best Rock Performance, Best Rock Song, and Best Rock Album—among other worldwide accolades. In the UK, the band was nominated for a BRIT Award (Best International Group) and an NME Award (Best International Band).
El Camino was produced by Danger Mouse and The Black Keys and was recorded in the band’s then-new hometown of Nashville during the spring of 2011. In the UK, the record gave the band their first top 10 hit, and in the US it debuted at # 2 on the Billboard Top 200. The band was also the # 1 most played artist at Alternative and AAA radio formats for 2012 in the US. The album’s first single, “Lonely Boy,” reached # 1 on the Alternative and AAA charts; it also entered the top 10 at Rock radio. The second single, “Gold on the Ceiling,” also reached # 1 on Alternative radio and the third single, “Little Black Submarines,” reached the top 3 at Alternative radio. El Camino has been certified Double Platinum in the US, Australia, and New Zealand; Platinum in the UK, France, Ireland, and Belgium; Quadruple Platinum in Canada; and Gold in Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, and Spain. Of the album’s singles, "Lonely Boy" was certified nine-times platinum in Canada, triple-platinum in Australia, platinum in New Zealand, and gold in Denmark. "Gold on the Ceiling" was certified platinum in Australia and Canada.
Rolling Stone hailed El Camino for bringing “raw, riffed-out power back to pop’s lexicon,” and called it “the Keys’ grandest pop gesture yet, augmenting dark-hearted fuzz blasts with sleekly sexy choruses and Seventies-glam flair.” The Guardian said, “They sound like a band who think they've made the year's best rock'n'roll album, probably because that's exactly what they've done.”
Thank You [2LP]
Vinyl: $39.98 Buy
Diana Ross sings “Thank You” to the world. “This collection of songs is my gift to you with appreciation and love. I am eternally grateful that I had the opportunity to record this glorious music at this time,” said Ms. Ross. Her new album, “Thank You” is scheduled for release this fall through Decca Records / Universal Music Group. The title track and first single,” Thank You,” will be available for streaming and download on June 17.
Recorded in her home studio, “Thank You" offers a powerful, inclusive musical message of love and togetherness. With its songs of happiness, appreciation and joy, it wholeheartedly acknowledges that we are in this all together. Her family, friends and loyal and loving audiences all around the globe have been an integral part of her wonderful life’s story. In this special moment, it is time to step into the light.
Ms. Ross co-wrote and collaborated on the 13 songs along with award-winning songwriters and producers including: Jack Antonoff, Troy Miller,Triangle Park, Spike Stent, Prince Charlez, Amy Wadge, Neff-U, Freddie Wexler, Jimmy Napes, Tayla Parx, Fred White, and Nathanial Ledgewick.
Let us come together in harmony and gratitude with Diana Ross now and for the future. “I dedicate this songbook of love to all of you, the listeners. As you hear my voice you hear my heart. "Let Love Lead the Way”
Hushed And Grim [Limited Edition Clear 2LP]
Vinyl: $39.98 Buy
Ocean To Ocean
CD: $13.95 Buy
Another Kill For The Highlight Reel
SAVE FACE are a band who have always prided themselves on taking risks and the New Jersey band have doubled down on that sentiment with their sophomore album, Another Kill For The Highlight Reel.
Another Kill For The Highlight Reel, which features indelibly human performances, including a guest appearance from Thursday’s Geoff Rickly on “A.M. Gothic”. “There’s something about the New Jersey kinship [between Geoff and I] that really resonates with me,” Tyler Povanda explains. “New Jersey’s music scene is really something special.”
Musically, the album—which was produced by the Movielife’s Brett Romnes—sees Povanda taking influence from his Jersey brethren like Thursday but adds a theatrical twist. “‘GLITTER’ was the first song I wrote that ended up being on this album and it bridges the gap between Merci and Another Kill For The Highlight Reel, ” Povanda says. “I think that song serves as a cool sonic metaphor for the transformation of the band. I would say this album isn’t narrative in the same way as the last one, but it does feel much more immersive.”
Sound & Color: Deluxe Edition [Red/Black/Pink Mixed Color-in-Color 2LP]
Vinyl: $40.98 Buy
Deluxe edition of the groundbreaking, genre-defying second album by Alabama Shakes. Certified gold and the winner of four Grammys, Rolling Stone called "Sound & Color” a "weirder, woozier, fiercer and sexier record than their debut in nearly every way.” This repackaged set features revised artwork, new photos, and seven bonus tracks pulled from unreleased studio material, b-sides and live songs cut at the world renowned Capitol Records Studio A.
Nat King Cole
A Sentimental Christmas With Nat King Cole And Friends: Cole Classics Reimagined [LP]
Vinyl: $23.98 Buy
The new album 'A Sentimental Christmas with Nat King Cole and Friends: Cole Classics Re-imagined' weaves Nat’s unparalleled, beautifully restored vocals with new arrangements and contemporary artists creating beautiful sentimental duets of holiday classics. Taking its lead from the GRAMMY award-winning virtual duet of “Unforgettable,” by Natalie Cole with her father, this holiday album features brand new duets with John Legend, Kristen Chenoweth, Calum Scott, Gloria Estefan & Johnny Mathis.
Time In The Sun [Indie Exclusive Limited Edition Translucent Orange LP + Autographed Poster]
Vinyl: $31.98 Buy
Translucent Orange Vinyl, comes with an autographed 11x17 poster
Time In The Sun is the 4th full length album from Charleston, SC band Susto. The album was written and recorded in the midst of a lot of life changing events for lead writer/singer Justin Osborne. Like everyone around the world, Osborne was navigating the global issues felt from the pandemic while normal life continued with its own blessings and challenges.. "We were navigating the global and national issues that everyone else was dealing with, but also I became a father and also lost my father. There was a lot of contemplation going on in my brain, a lot of personal evolution going on in my life, and songwriting was my way of working through it all. The title Time in the Sun is meant to be a monument to my own human existence and also a tribute to the human experience in general. I wouldn’t claim to understand what it means to be a human, from the countless different perspectives of the world, but I do have my own experience to reflect on and I want to be able to express and explain that in some way. I guess this album is an attempt at that. At the core though, it’s just a collection of songs about my life and my feelings." Time In The Sun is set for release on October 29, 2021 via New West Records.
My Morning Jacket
My Morning Jacket [Indie Exclusive Limited Edition Orange Crush w/ Lemon Splatter 2LP]
Vinyl: $34.98 Buy
On their new full-length - the first new music since The Waterfall (2015) - My Morning Jacket reaffirm the rarefied magic that has made them so beloved, embedding each song with moments of discovery, revelation and ecstatic catharsis. It comes after a near permanent hiatus for the band until performing four shows in summer '19 left them with a new energy. Jim James engineered/produced at 64 Sound in LA where the band spent weeks in intentional seclusion emerging with their self-titled 9th album.
Hits [Limited Edition]
CD: $19.98 Buy
Every Time I Die
Radical [Indie Exclusive Limited Edition Opaque Lime 2LP]
EVERY TIME I DIE is a loud rock institution committed to leaving an outpouring of chaotic passion and blissful malcontent all over their records and on the stage. With boiling charisma and unrelenting energy to spare, the Buffalo, NY band manages not one but two near-impossible tasks. They’ve survived two decades as an underground entity cherished for coloring outside the lines, and contrary to most career arcs, continually improving with each successive album as they charge ahead. ETID makes a glorious hardcore-punk noise. Alchemized by a swampy summoning of Southern rock and coarse poetry, the music swirls beneath sardonic and clever wordplay, cementing them as leaders, not followers.
The band’s ninth studio album, Radical, is 16 tracks of peak-ETID, including raucous new anthems. They deliver what you have come to know and love and then diverge into new paths. To say that “All This And War” featuring guest vocals by Josh Scogins from The ‘68 is absolute brutal heaviness is an understatement. It’s an addictive punch in the face, you’ll want on repeat. The boys then run off to explore the dark haunted woods of a more somber and melodic side in the track “Thing With Feathers” featuring Andy Hull from Manchester Orchestra.
Radical proves with every track that it is a distillation of the strengths of their past, injected with their unyielding revelry and signature sarcasm while cognizant – and fiercely combative – of the present state of world affairs.
Jackson + Sellers
Introducing Jackson + Sellers and their debut album Breaking Point, on ANTI records. Jade Jackson and Aubrie Sellers, two rising stars who aligned during the pandemic to write one of the most compelling duo albums of the last decade.
Drawn together by instant chemistry, cosmic forces and their ability to write intuitive romantic breakup songs for each other, their album is a window into the dissolution of two different relationships and the formation of another: a perfect, platonic, creative union. United in their desire to write a record that reflected their expansive musical interest from 70s rock to raucous roots to indie pop, their LA written, Nashville recorded album is a masterclass in unexpected vocal harmonic convergence.
With Breaking Point, Jackson + Sellers will establish themselves as two individual artists who together, share a deep friendship, musical kinship and the ability to craft tight singular pop rock songs that will embed themselves in your ears for the rest of time.
In The Blossom Of Their Shade [Indie Exclusive Limited Edition Transparent Orange LP + Bonus 7in]
Pokey LaFarge’s 7th studio solo album, In the Blossom of Their Shade, showcases the positivity of coming out of the darkness and into the light. When the 2020 global pandemic hit, LaFarge’s rigorous work ethic powered him through the potentially challenging creative period. As days became a couple months, songs blossomed from embryonic ideas into full-formed ones and he was ready to move on, which typified his mindset as a working artist. With this record LaFarge captures the thematic notion of being the perfect summer afternoon soundtrack...the type of music you want to listen to while having a cocktail with your significant other. It makes sense musically as well — LaFarge intentionally crafted songs that created space and have melodies that can glide throughout a composition that’s a far cry from the swing and blues-infused songs of his earlier work. LaFarge is an artist who refuses to rest on his laurels and compromise. He’s always motivated and ready to create. With In the Blossom of Their Shade the album is one of LaFarge’s strongest and most mature efforts to date.
Peso In My Pocket
CD: $12.98 Buy
Singer, songwriter and entertainer Toby Keith will release his first all-new Show Dog Nashville album in more than five years October 15. Peso In My Pocket was co-produced by Kenny Greenberg and Keith, and features the highest Billboard Country Airplay chart debut of his career with the lead single "Old School."
Though Keith has accomplished much since the 2015 release of 35 MPH Town - perhaps most notably in writing the Clint Eastwood inspired "Don't Let The Old Man In" - a new studio album was long overdue. And Peso In My Pocket has more than a little to do with the worldwide pandemic. "My whole musical career, I haven't been off the road this long," Keith says, calling 2020 "a reset button I never would have hit."
Also deserving of credit for the collection is Mexico, where Keith has a house he stayed at for the first several months of the crisis. "It was like being on the moon," he says. "A lot of my friends down there were afraid they wouldn't be let back in the U.S., so they all went home. I wasn't on the road and nobody could go anywhere, so I thought, 'You've written a long list of songs by yourself, dumbass. Get up and get busy!' I went through the ideas I keep on my phone and thought, 'Shit, I need to write these.'"
Not only did he come to the table with more than a few songwriting pesos in his pocket, he added outside contributors to the mix. Notable songwriting credits include The Warren Brothers, Ryan Hurd, Maren Morris, Jesse Jo Dillon, Brett Tyler, and Sammy Hagar. Keb Mo joined Keith in the studio on a cover of his "Old Me Better," as did well-known Oklahoma artist Mike Hosty, whose "Oklahoma Breakdown" kicks off the album. Keith also offers a tribute to the late John Prine on the Prine-John Mellencamp co-write "Take A Look At My Heart." And, of course, the 2015 Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee has several solo writes, led by the title track.
As Show Dog gears up for the album's release, Keith recently resumed touring on his Country Comes To Town Tour. He will receive the Academy of Country Music's prestigious Merle Haggard Spirit Award in August for "following his own path, crafting great songs and epitomizing Merle's spirit." Keith received the National Medal of Arts earlier this year. He is being inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame this November. And in June he raised another $1.4 million to help sick children and their families in Oklahoma through his OK Kids Korral.
Going Steady [Indie Exclusive limited Edition Opaque Pink LP]
Official reissue of North Americans' 2018 breakthrough album.
Originally limited to 100 vinyl LPs.
"For a piece that feels as if it could float away into nothing, GOING STEADY becomes the night." - NPR
Una Rosa [Indie Exclusive Limited Edition Summer Sky Wave LP]
Vinyl: $26.98 Buy
I Dream Of Christmas [LP]
Norah Jones has been a warm voice of comfort and reassurance for nearly 20 years since her cozy 2002 debut, Come Away With Me. Now, the 9x GRAMMY-winning artist has made her first holiday album with I Dream Of Christmas, a collection of timeless seasonal favorites (“White Christmas,” “Winter Wonderland,” “Christmas Time Is Here”) and profound new originals that explore the complicated emotions of the past year and our hopes that this holiday season will be full of joy and togetherness.
Horizons/East [Indie Exclusive Limited Edition Opaque Yellow LP]
Vinyl: $30.98 Buy
To emerge from a global pandemic with a renewed sense of situational awareness, hard won insight, and a new album is the kind of move we’ve come to expect from THRICE over the last twenty years. With Horizons/East, Dustin Kensrue and his bandmates address, with candor and courage, the fragile and awkward arrangements that pass for civilization, while inviting us to dwell more knowingly within our own lives. Without surrendering any of the energy and hard edge of their previous albums, they’ve given us a profoundly meditative work which serves as a musical summons to everyday attentiveness.
Since forming THRICE with guitarist Teppei Teranishi, bassist Eddie Breckenridge, and drummer Riley Breckenridge in 1998, Kensrue has never been one to back down from a mental fight. This mood is set by the opening synth-driven number “Color of the Sky,” which sounds well-suited to accompany the closing credits of the Stranger Things season finale. Think Flying Lotus giving way to Elbow and setting the listener down in a new dimension. A self-recorded effort, Horizons/East conveys a palpable sense of danger, determination, and possibility.
Revived Remixed Revisited [3CD]
CD: $29.98 Buy
REVIVED REMIXED REVISITED is a reimagined collection of her most iconic songs. REVIVED features exciting new arrangements of fan favorites like “Is There Life Out There” and “Can’t Even Get The Blues” recorded with Reba’s touring band. REMIXED takes songs like “Little Rock” and “I’m A Survivor” and spins them in ways like you’ve never heard Reba before. REVISITED produced by the Grammy® award-winning Dave Cobb strips back songs like “Somebody Should Leave” and “Consider Me Gone” to let the raw power of Reba’s vocals shine and features a long-awaited pairing between Reba and Dolly Parton on Reba’s most famous duet, “Does He Love You.” The collection spans Reba’s entire career and offers something for every Reba fan.
Ten Thousand Roses [LP]
Vinyl: $24.98 Buy
Dori Freeman’s inimitable signature sound is in peak form on her fourth studio album, Ten Thousand Roses. Raised among a family of musicians in the Blue Ridge Mountains and hailed by Rolling Stone as “one of the most authentic vocalists to emerge from the hills of southwestern Virginia in recent years,” she’s a bonafide Appalachian artist, while simultaneously shattering the archetype by empowering the characters in her songs with personal strength and homegrown wisdom. Through this process, she both defies and expands notions of what it means to be from the region.
“For this record Freeman says she leaned more into pop-inspired vocals than she ever has before. “I did some vocal layers and experimented with harmonies in a way I haven’t on previous records,” she says. The songs throughout the album tend to be shorter, and that was intentional. “I’m a big fan of the radio-ready tight three minute song,” she says. “I think there’s just something nice about a concise, but effective song. It’s like a couple sweet moments you can live in.” Ten Thousand Roses showcases an artist who knows exactly who she is and is ready to push past others’ assumptions about who she should be.”
Ten Thousand Roses was produced by Freeman’s husband, Nicholas Falk, who’s also an in-demand drummer who has toured extensively with artists such as Molly Tuttle and The Wood Brothers. Falk counts jazz and funk as his major influences, so quite fittingly his percussion punctuates the album. Freeman contributed guitar for the first time on her own recordings. The couple are joined by Victor Furtado bringing his skills as the youngest-ever recipient of the Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo, Eli Wildman (The Wildmans) contributing acoustic guitar and mandolin, the much sought-after keyboardist Sam Fribush on piano, keys, and organ, Berklee College of Music graduate Eric Robertson adds additional guitars and bass, as well as acclaimed multi-instrumentalist Aaron Lipp contributing banjo and bass.
CD: $11.99 Buy
Grandson of country pioneer Hank Williams and the son of outlaw legend Hank Jr., Sam Williams is the latest in a long line of American originals, but he’s not here for the sake of tradition. He sings with his own singular voice and he writes in his own singular style, fusing gut-wrenching honesty and plainspoken poetics with raw vulnerability and deep empathy. Williams’ extraordinary debut, Glasshouse Children, is proof of that. Set for release this summer via UMG Nashville, the record is a gorgeous meditation on hurt and healing, on growth and loss, on sin and redemption, but more than that, it’s a reckoning with fate and free will and the family ties that bind us. Williams has already released a series of early songs, including “10-4,” “Can’t Fool Your Own Blood,” SHUTEYE,” and “The World: Alone,” to widespread acclaim—Rolling Stone raved that “his voice exudes equal parts power and grace,” while CMT declared that he’d “inherited the gift of wondrous country lyricism.” His late-night television debut on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, brought his lyricism to life exemplifying his vocal prowess and grand storytelling. Sam Williams continues to prove that he is making a legacy for himself that is completely his own.
The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die
Sometimes, the best place to begin is at the end. If you really want to dig deep into Illusory Walls, the fourth album by THE WORLD IS A BEAUTIFUL PLACE & I AM NO LONGER AFRAID TO DIE, it definitely helps to do that. That’s because epic closer “Fewer Afraid”—all 19 minutes, 44 seconds of it—doesn’t just revisit the themes and ideas on the ten songs that precede it, but also offers a self-aware summary of the Connecticut band’s entire history. It’s the conclusion of all the stories within the record as well as a nod to all the lives that helped make them—little glimpses of everything that’s come before, on both a micro, immediate level, and a more universal one. “That song is a higher level look at my whole life and the whole world,” explains vocalist/guitarist David F. Bello, “as well as the album, our band and our discography. It places the band in the context of the rest of the world, as if we’re listening to everything that came before. It touches on all the themes of the previous songs, but there are also callbacks to songs
from earlier in our career. But in this song, they’re the object, not the subject—I’m talking about a world in which these things happen, not talking about these things happening.”
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the band—completed by Steven K. Buttery (drums and percussion), Joshua Cyr (bass/vocals) and Katie Dvorak (vocals/synth)—had nothing but time to realize the full extent of their musical and thematic aspirations. And so, four years on from lauded third album Always Foreign, they were able to make what is undoubtedly the band’s most ambitious and epic record to date. Written and recorded remotely—a first for the band—Illusory Walls takes on the weight of human existence while it’s buckling under the pressure of today’s near-dystopian society. Personal anxieties and political struggles collide with a series of portentous, apocalyptic and dramatic tunes, resulting in some of the darkest music the band has made since forming in 2009.
A Very Darren Crissmas
A Love Supreme: Live In Seattle [LP]
Vinyl: $40.98 Buy
This newly discovered live-recording of a performance of the Love Supreme suite is a revelation. Recorded at The Penthouse in Seattle on October 2, 1965, this recording transports the listener to a prime seat for piece of musical history. While not studio-quality audio, the power of the performance shines through. This version is also of the full suite and features an expanded band that includes the same Classic Quartet and Pharoah Sanders in his first official gig as part of Coltrane’s group.
Strand Of Oaks
In Heaven [Indie Exclusive Limited Edition Translucent Pink LP]
Vinyl: $25.98 Buy
To say In Heaven is about conquering grief would be oversimplifying everything Tim Showalter has achieved on the eighth studio album from Strand of Oaks. A stunning, hopeful reflection on love, loss, and enlightenment, In Heaven is a triumph in music making, and a preeminent addition to the Strand of Oaks discography.
In late 2018, Showalter’s wife, Sue, lost her mother in a car accident. Soon after, Stan, the cat they both adored, was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Showalter quit drinking so he could take better care of his wife and help rebuild the life they shared. And within months, they decided to pack up and move across the country from Philadelphia to Austin, Texas. It was an irrational decision made at the height of a terrible time, but it’s one that shaped so much of what In Heaven is about.
In Heaven was recorded in October 2020 with Kevin Ratterman at Invisible Creature in Los Angeles. Carl Broemel (My Morning Jacket) is featured on guitar throughout the record, while James Iha (The Smashing Pumpkins) contributed vocals and guitar for “Easter.” Bo Koster (MMJ, Roger Waters) provided keyboards, Cedric LeMoyne (Alanis Morrissette, Remy Zero) bass, Scott Moore violin, and Ratterman monstrous drums. Showalter also played a lot of synth on this record, which he hasn’t done since 2014’s HEAL. With clean sounds, Jeff Lynne-esque acoustics, and sophisticated songwriting, he approached In Heaven in a more poised and pop-leaning way than his past releases.
“I wanted to strive for something greater than what I thought I was capable of.”
The result is something extraordinary, as Showalter has crafted a poignant narrative that transcends his personal experiences and achieves a universality rooted not only in loss but joy, celebration, and newfound strength. The gorgeous opener “Galacticana” finds him telling us “I don’t want to drag you down,” a reassurance that his intentions lie in uplifting. But there’s a duality present throughout In Heaven that is palpable, as felt on “Easter,” an exuberant pop anthem featuring jaunty guitar and ethereal vocals courtesy of Iha, that both celebrates Showalter’s new life and references his efforts to “stop the boat from sinking.” It’s a powerful sentiment echoed in slow burner “Hurry,” which showcases some exceptional shredding by Broemel, and beyond, as Showalter explores mortality and a heightened sense of his own existence, intensified by a world where he no longer uses alcohol to cope.
Pairing smart, imaginative lyrics and striking arrangements, tracks like “Carbon” and its magnificent violin stand out, as does “Sister Saturn” with its funky, sinuous groove, and the sublime “Horses at Night,” which features one of Showalter’s most exquisite melodies to date. There’s also a discernible current running through In Heaven of homage to some notable losses in music—John Prine, Jeff Buckley, and Jimi Hendrix all play a part—for In Heaven is about moving beyond sadness or anger to a state of gratitude that we ever had these people to begin with. And while every song provides some clue to Showalter’s personal heaven, the jubilant “Jimi and Stan” says it all, wherein Hendrix and his beloved cat Stan are hanging out, going to shows, and looking at stars together.
And as our musical odyssey ends in the warm embrace of “Under Heaven,” the weight of everything Showalter has manifested—the beauty, and the sadness, and the immensity of it all—hits with tremendous impact. But any sense of hopelessness or melancholy yields to a different feeling entirely, just as he intended. Perhaps we’re feeling stronger, more prepared for something. Or maybe it’s just a reminder: call your parents, text your friends, hug your pets. Listen to your favorite records. And think about what it means to be alive.
Distant Populations [Indie Exclusive Limited Edition Purple Cloudy LP]
Vinyl: $28.98 PREORDER
Distant Populations, just the fourth full-length album of Quicksand’s career, comes as a comparatively swift follow-up to Interiors--which itself came a full 22 years after its predecessor, 1995’s Manic Compression. Critically lauded and deemed very much worth the wait, Interiors succeeded in reestablishing the band as the powerful and contemporary entity they had always been.
Distant Populations has a punchier, more up-tempo sound than its predecessor; its 11 songs are concise, carved sonic jewels boasting not a single wasted note; and its raw power, its gripping lyricism, leaps out from the very first listening. It is a striking step up for the band.
The songwriting itself had been no minor process: Following the release of Interiors, the band successfully toured around the world and in the process fully re-established their chemistry together. Looking forward to making the next album, the three of them—frontman/ guitarist Walter Schreifels, bassist Sergio Vega, and drummer Alan Cage—had methodically recorded various soundchecks, improvisations, and show rehearsals, and compiled the results. “Eventually, when it came time to make a record,” Schreifels says, “we would just edit down to the ones that were most exciting to us all, and then refocus on them and see if we could recapture the magic from it.”
There may be a final irony in the title of Distant Populations. Practically speaking, that’s precisely whom Quicksand recorded it for: Listeners very far away. Not a single one of these songs has ever been played live onstage. The band has dates on hold for the fall, notes Schreifels, and fingers are crossed Quicksand will be out there performing very soon. They will likely be the most memorable shows of the band’s career.