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.
Still On My Mind
It’s been six years since audiences have last heard from Dido, but there’s no question the crystalline vocals, refreshed pop musicality, and rich songwriting on her new album Still On My Mind proves to be worth the wait. Best known for her 1999 debut album No Angel, smash singles like “Thank You” and “White Flag,” and being sampled on Eminem’s #1 hit “Stan,” the English singer-songwriter crafted her new album under relatively low stakes with her producer (and brother) Rollo Armstrong, stating in a recent NPR “Weekend Edition” interview: “There was so little pressure on this album… I just knew I wanted to make some music with my brother.” While the creative atmosphere between the siblings may have been chill, the album’s crackling energy feels anything but phoned in. Opening track “Hurricanes” swirls and builds with a mesmerizing electro-pop touch, “Friends” features warbled synths wrapped around a dancefloor underpulse, and lead single “Give You Up” is an uncluttered pop ballad that features some minimal piano and vocal atmospherics supporting Dido’s warm croon.
For her tenth studio album, Americana legend Patty Griffin filters her storyteller’s touch through a variety of roots music inspirations. Her masterful employment of acoustic ballads, bluesy shuffles, narrative folksongs, gospel-shaded vocalizations, and even a murder ballad make the 13-track collection feels like a sonic history lesson subtly taught through Griffin’s angelic howl. Griffin’s uncanny ability to viscerally inhabit her song’s characters make songs like “Mama’s Worried” and “Where I Come From” drip with authentic believability and the earthy instrumentation underpinning it all is beautifully captured and refreshingly breathy in its sonic spacing. One of the strongest tracks on the album finds Griffin leading the boozy marching band sway of “Hourglass” with its puckish acoustic guitar lines and a wonderfully gin-soaked trombone. Sounding like a lost Tom Waits track, “Hourglass” also features some of Griffin’s grittiest and loosest vocals. If you need a reason why Griffin is often cited as a songwriting hero for many artists, Patty Griffin can provide you with 13 of them.
Flight of the Conchords
Live in London
Comedic duo Flight of the Conchords (Bret McKenzie and Jermaine Clement) have followed up their HBO special Live at the London Apollo reunion show with an audio recording of the monumental evening called Live in London on 2xCD/3xLP/digital versions via Sub Pop Records. They released their new song “Father and Son” as a single last December (after playing it on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert a few months prior) and positioned as the album opener here, it’s a perfect starting point to a live show featuring their comedic interplay, musical proficiency, slowly escalating absurdity, and impeccable timing. Along with new songs like “Iain and Deanna,” Bret and Jermaine thrown in a healthy smattering of fan favorites like “Carol Brown,” “Robots,” and album closer “The Most Beautiful Girl (in the Room).” Along with the rewindably hilarious lyrical narratives, Live in London also reminds listeners just how fun and inspired the music is behind their songs when you experience them in a live setting.