Every Friday our NoiseTrade New Music Tip Sheet highlights three recommended picks from that week’s batch of new releases that we think are worth checking out at your local record shop or via your preferred online music distributor of choice.
Tides of a Teardrop
On their sixth studio album Tides of a Teardrop, Americana folk-pop duo Mandolin Orange offer a sonic safe harbor filled with invitational songwriting, relaxed rhythms, and comforting instrumental beds. However, the 10 songs are anything but low-gear sleepers, as NPR’s Stephen Thompson praises the duo’s musical balance as “palliative but never boring, sweet but never cloying, worn but never tired.” As with their previous releases, there is a beautifully deceptive ease with which Andrew Marlin and Emily Frantz unfurl their acoustic folk songs that can sometimes mask the depth of instrumental virtuosity and melodic mastery that the two conjure together. If you’re looking for an incredibly lush listening experience that is as enchanting as it is soothing, Tides of a Teardrop will get you there.
While it was already good news to hear that 2 Tone pioneers The Specials would be releasing a new album in 2019, the announcement that it would feature the return of original vocalist Terry Hall set fans’ skanking shoes ablaze. Hall hasn’t worked with the band since their iconic 1981 single “Ghost Town,” so it is such a welcomed return to hear him performing alongside originals members Lynval Golding and Horace Panter. The trio also produced Encore with help from touring keyboardist Nikolaj Torp Larsen. Encore features eight brand new ska-soaked originals and two covers: “Black Skinned Blue-Eyed Boys” (originally by The Equals) and “Blam Blam Fever” (originally by The Valentines). The CD version also includes a second disc that features a live album called The Best of The Specials Live.
You may recognize Emily King’s voice from the song “Reason” off Nas’ 2004 album Street’s Disciple, her Grammy-nominated debut album East Side Story, or her touring slots with John Legend, Sara Bareilles, Alicia Keys, or Maroon 5. However, if her name is new to you, her new album Scenery can serve as the perfect introduction. Along with her musical partner Jeremy Most, Scenery is a polished mixture of modern R&B and ‘80s synth pop with sprinkles of smoky smooth jazz. Opening track “Remind Me” rings with traces of Bad-era Michael Jackson and is an irresistible singalong jam that sets its hooks in deep for the remainder of the album. There’s an unquestionably nostalgic touch to much of the album’s keyboard tones and drum textures, but King’s voice feels so charismatic and fresh that it keeps the songs refreshingly locked in the present.