This fall has seen some amazing releases from some of the most captivating artists on the scene right now. From the rootsy soul of Alabama Shakes’ Brittany Howard, to the genre shattering Sturgill Simpson album and anime film, these seasoned veterans of the music game prove they’ve still got the goods.
Brittany Howard “Jaime”
Alabama Shakes’ leader Brittany Howard branches off into much more autobiographical territory on her solo debut. Creating a vintage sound with regards to production, Howard fleshes out ideas that are contrastingly fresh and powerful, specifically on tracks like “Stay High,” and the forward thinking political ballad, “Georgia.” The album brims with originality, and demonstrates how Howard has always striven for a genuine sound, and a truthfulness in her songs. After listening to “Jaime” a few times, it’s clear Howard needed to break out on her own, and let the spotlight shine on her story alone.
Sturgill Simpson “Sound & Fury”
“I wanted this (album) to literally break your stereo,” is how Sturgill Simpson introduces his latest album, “Sound & Fury,” which bends just about every modern rock subgenre to its will, challenging his legions of fans to switch gears. The album was released in conjunction with an anime film release, as a sort of visual compendium to the tracks on the album. Simpson has stated that he was listening to a lot of Cars (RIP Ric Ocasek), Hip-Hop, and Black Sabbath, and it comes through in subtle yet dynamic ways. From the rocking intro, it’s evident Simpson has made a dramatic stylistic shift, and by the full tilt jolt of “Sing Along,” the album sets its own course, meandering through ’80s synth and classic FM guitar rock, like a Camaro down a country road. Though certainly a polarizing release, which may not sit well with all of Simpson’s country fans, “Sound & Fury” leaves those who can’t get with it, in the dust.
Wilco “Ode To Joy”
Veteran Americana rockers, Wilco release their latest album in a robust 25-year career, bringing forth a lighter, optimistic angle on the aptly titled “Ode To Joy.” Finding frontman/lyricist Jeff Tweedy (who also has three solo albums under his belt) and guitar guru Nels Cline in top form, “Ode To Joy” shows off their chops, while coming up with new ideas. “Love is Everywhere” seems to sum up the playfulness of the album, while Cline’s guitar work on “We Were Lucky,” reminds us of the dynamic musical machine that Wilco is. Another solid outing for these Americana heroes.
Olsen “All Mirrors”
Angel Olsen returns with her fifth studio album, “All Mirrors,” creating a lush, theatrical landscape of sounds, textures, and moods. Much more introspective in its lyrics, “All Mirrors” takes giant steps in its production, enhanced by a 12-piece string section. “Lark” is a perfect example of her lyrics and musical production combining to create one of her most dynamic songs to date. With her voice in full throttle for most of the first half of the album, Olsen tempers it nicely with a softer, darker direction toward the end. For fans, and those new to Olsen, this album will certainly inspire.
And with the Holidays upon us, here’s a quick Holiday Album Top 5:
1. Jimmy Smith, “Christmas ‘64”
2. Vince Guaraldi, “A Charlie Brown Christmas”
3. Sharon Jones & Dap-Kings, “It’s A Holiday Soul Party”
4. JD McPherson, “Socks”
5. Various Artists, “Christmas Cocktails” Vol. 1-3
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