Unlike the Indian independent music scene, where artistes are focusing on releasing singles, musicians in the West continue to record albums in large numbers. Every Friday, a set of new international albums is released, and immediately available on the streaming platforms.
Strangely, a lot of them don’t get noticed, unless they are by the known names or pushed by the big labels. In India, many music lovers don’t even know of the existence of such albums, unless one gets to hear from friends or social media. If labels and music channels actively pushed new albums during the era of the compact disc, the practice has diminished over the years.
There’s a simple way of discovering new music, whatever one’s taste and choice. Every Friday, websites like AllMusic, Pause & Play and NPR put out a list of new releases, with AllMusic even mentioning the genre. By browsing these lists and researching further, one can actually find out about new music and unfamiliar artistes.
Take the releases of July 14, for instance. Jazz lovers were delighted to find out about the release of a rare 1961 recording by tenor saxophonist John Coltrane and clarinettist-flautist Eric Dolphy, under the title Evenings At The Village Gate. The lesser known acts with new releases included singer-songwriter Claud, and indie-rock bands Night Beats and Palehound.
One keeps discovering a lot of new albums, and the list goes beyond known acts like progressive rock band Yes, rock groups Foo Fighters and Greta Van Fleet, and popular star Taylor Swift. Let’s begin with five albums this writer picked up from these lists. Different readers would have their own tastes, but the idea is to keep exploring and find what suits your ear best.
Boygenius/ The Record
Boygenius are an all-girl trio consisting of Phoebe Bridgers, Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus. The sound is a blend of pop-rock and American folk, with jangling guitars backing. The three use harmonies beautifully, and even sing the a cappella hymn Without You Without Them. Stand-out tracks are the soothing Cool About It and Phoebe’s Revolution 0, besides a song dedicated to singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen.
Brigid Mae Power/ Dream From The Deep Well
The fourth album by the Irish singer who blends folk with dream-pop, this is an absolute gem. Brigid has a gorgeous voice texture, and the lyrics have depth. Her own writing on Counting Down, The Waterford Song and Ashling is strong, and she also sings the traditional I Know Who Is Sick and Down By The Glenside, besides Tim Buckley’s I Must Have Been Blind.
Vance Gilbert/ The Mother Of Trouble
Having released his first album in 1985, Vance is a veteran, though he remains fairly unknown in India. This is his 14th album, and he traverses various styles, using innovative arrangements. There’s folk, jazz, funk, pop and blues in different measures and stand-out tracks are the funky title track, the fun-filled Body In The Well, the philosophical Simple Things and Dylan-inspired Black Rochelle.
Duane Betts/ Wild & Precious Life
The son of the great Allman Brothers Band guitarist Dickey Betts, Duane Betts is known for his work with The Allman Betts Band and Dawes. Wild & Precious Life, his first solo outing, continues the southern rock tradition with ingenuity. Some brilliant guitar solos and duets adorn the album, which has guest appearances by Marcus King, Derek Trucks and Nicki Bluhm. Highlights are the mood-setting Evergreen, the rocking Waiting On A Song and the riffing on Cold Dark Heart, besides the instrumental Under The Bali Moon.
Jessie Ware/ That! Feels Good!
There’s nothing like ending with a dance record, and what’s better than good ole disco? British singer Jessie, who had the fabulous album What’s Your Pleasure? in 2020, returns with That! Feels Good! From the title tune through Free Yourself and Pearls, the 10-track set takes your through an early 1980s journey, blended stylishly with a modern flavour and trendy horns. These are just five discoveries. Depending on your preference, you could find a lot more new music on streaming platforms. Happy listening.