• Ben Lee

New Releases: 18th December 2020

Ben brings you all the new releases and reissues to arrive at The Vinyl Whistle this week, featuring releases ranging from indie, rock, soul, funk, hip-hop, electronic, pop, psychedelic, jazz and folk. To order, you can find the items on the links below. Here's Ben's roundup of his Top 10 Picks of the week:

James Blake - Before EP

Mercury Prize and Grammy Award-winning James Blake releases the limited 12” of his Before EP. Paying homage to his London club days, Before sees Blake returns to his roots whilst showcasing the evolution of his music. For James, the EP is the expression of “a yearning for dancefloor elation”, a reminder that he has continued to be a DJ and continued to be plugged into underground club culture all this time, but also a statement of “finally having confidence to put my own voice on dancefloor rhythms”.

Blu and Exile - Below The Heavens

Blu is the leader of West Coast Hip Hop. Since the days of Pharcyde, Freestyle Fellowship, and Jurassic 5, there have been few wordsmiths that have grasped the attention of listeners worldwide. Introduced to NWA and Public Enemy by his father, Blu later was captivated by the likes of Black Star, The Roots, and Common, creating a unique balance that is displayed in Blu’s personality and music. Blu’s first full length LP Below the Heavens pairs Blu with producer Exile on the Sound in Color imprint. His first single Narrow Path has rocked stages across the world, as fans begin to feel the impact of Blu’s music. His delivery flows flawlessly, while the content reflects the joy and pain of working class youth everywhere. Since the release of Narrow Path, Blu has performed alongside Slum Village, X-Clan, Platinum Pied Pipers, Lyrics Born, DJ Houseshoes, and many others, while participating in 3 high-profile nationwide tours alongside musical family members: Ta’Raach, Aloe Blacc, and Exile. The buzz has fans salivating for new music. Worldwide, people are looking to put hope into the ‘next’ emcee that will give them the same feeling when they first heard Black Thought, Common, or Slum Village. Blu fulfills this need, but maintains something that is entirely new, while not recycled. Double vinyl includes bonus 7" with 2 unreleased instrumentals.

Dominic Fike - What Could Possibly Go Wrong

American singer, hip-hop/pop star & Brockhampton collaborator, Dominic Fike, releases his new album via Columbia Records. . A x14 song album, which includes the hit single "Chicken Tenders" & more…

Liam Gallagher - All You're Dreaming Of

Charity Partner for Single will be Action For Children. New single 'All You're Dreaming Of' taps into this energy, a song about raising your head to look for the future. Liam comments...“‘All You’re Dreaming Of’ is an instant classic that is perfect for this time of year. Considering the year that we’ve all had, I hope this brings back some much needed love and hope. Bing Crosby would have been proud.”

Click here for the 7" version.

Glass Animals - Dreamland

Glass Animals release their third studio album Dreamland on Polydor. At the heart of Dreamland lies the quietly enigmatic Dave Bayley, the bands frontman and producer extraordinaire who’s work extends far beyond that of Glass Animals, with credits including Joey Bada$$, Flume, Wale, Khalid and most recently Denzel Curry on the late 2019 single Tokyo Drifting. For Bayley, Dreamland is a nostalgic memoir of his life so far, covering expansive and difficult ground and holding nothing back. It’s packed full of personal experiences, none more emotional than when the bands drummer Joe Seaward was involved in a monstrous bike accident in July 2018 which threatened his life, and that of Glass Animals altogether.

Alicia Keys - Alicia

RCA Records finally release the double, white coloured, LP Vinyl format of the seventh studio album from US R&B royalty, Alicia Keys. A x15 song album, released to coincide with her soon to be published memoirs.

Lanterns on the Lake - The Realist

Following their Mercury Prize nomination, and having recently been featured in The Guardian, Lanterns On The Lake release a new 5-track EP, The Realist, via Bella Union. The EP includes four brand new tracks as well as a new reworked stripped-back arrangement of the single Baddies. Of the track and EP vocalist Hazel Wilde says: “The Realist is a song about being a dreamer, clinging to a vision and following your heart - even when that path can seem deluded to others. It was one of the songs that didn’t make it onto the album Spook The Herd as it didn’t fit sonically or narratively. It felt like it came from another place. So we began putting together this EP. We wanted to sculpt an intimate “headphones” record. One for the introverts and dreamers, the ones that still find beauty and magic in things. Recording some of the songs over lockdown in our homes helped in creating that world.”

Skinshape - Arrogance Is The Death Of Men

Second album in less than a year from the prolific William Dorey. Skinshape returns with the witheringly, prophetically titled Arrogance is the Death of Men. Written and recorded between November 2019 and July 2020, Skinshape bids to recreate something akin to the ‘old style’ of Oracolo (2015) and Life and Love(2017). With Arrogance..., Will Dorey’s blueprint points to a simple formula, aligning a bank of fresh drum breaks recorded at the end of 2019 to whatever he had to hand, for a long player recorded in the majority at home due to the COVID-19 lockdown. Forever balanced between sweetness and a sigh, as per his position Behind the Sun, the Skinshape essence, intricate yet always reachable, at times tailored in a single session and sourcing archive bric-a-brac when required, is all around on the sweetly strummed Tomorrow and The Eastern Connection, featuring Ivan Kormanak on drums.

Maintaining an incisive knowledge of global sounds that keeps him in the filmic company of Khruangbin and El Michels Affair, Dorey’s listening to vintage Vietnamese music and Asian film scores provides the basis of Sound of Your Voice and Flight of the Erhu, starring Wan Pinchu on Erhu violin. Acutely aware of the world’s ongoing health crisis without preaching about the whys and wherefores, the title track and Losing My Mind reflect enforced confinement as tranquil songs of both quiet consideration yet powerful release. Dorey’s guitar pieces and wraith-like soul continue to flicker with fascination as Indian Summers and fireside retreats beckon, with Watching From The Shadows - about “standing up for yourself, and avoiding the limelight for your own good”– and Outro gently bringing the album to rest.

Tame Impala - The Slow Rush

The Slow Rush, Kevin Parker’s fourth album as Tame Impala was released in February 2020 to wide-spread acclaim. Parker scored his second #1 in Australia and highest charting album to date in both the US and UK, and 14 top 10 chart positions around the world.

Re-pressed for the first time since its initial release, the new limited-edition colour version of The Slow Rush comes on 180-gram creamy white vinyl.

Featuring 'Lost In Yesterday', 'Borderline', 'It Might Be Time', ‘Breathe Deeper’ & ‘Is It true’, 'The Slow Rush' is Parker's deep dive into the oceans of time, conjuring the feeling of a lifetime in a lightning bolt, of major milestones whizzing by while you're looking at your phone, it's a paean to creation and destruction and the unending cycle of life.

Thundercat - Fair Chance

Back in April, as the world was spiralling into COVID-19 lockdown, Thundercat released his aptly titled album It Is What It Is featuring musical contributions from Flying Lotus, Childish Gambino, Kamasi Washington, Steve Lacy, Steve Arrington, BADBADNOTGOOD, Louis Cole, Zack Fox, Ty Dolla $ign and Lil B.

Earlier this summer, rappers Smino and Guapdad 4000 brought their own inimitable flavour to the anthemic Dragonball Durag and now it’s the turn of much loved British producer Floating Points to share his take on Fair Chance, nudging the ballad onto the dancefloor with a fabulous rework that nods to vintage 4x4 UKG.

Here are the best reissues coming out this week at The Vinyl Whistle:

Lee Fields - Let's Get A Groove On

Freshly unleashed from the vaults of Desco Records and remastered for the first time since its 1998 release, Daptone re-release of one of the finest and most satisfying needle drops of the last 40 years. An album that needs no introduction, yet one is required... we're talking raw soul and heavy, heavy funk sung with aplomb by one of the best in the biz... Ladies and Gentlemen... Presenting! the Lee Fields' classic, Let's Get a Groove. And groove you shall, for this is supernova of soulful superiority. This album has been out-of-print for over a decade.

Fine Young Cannibals - Fine Young Cannibals

Fine Young Cannibals' self-titled album is celebrating 35 years since its original release. To mark the occasion the iconic debut has received special treatment which sees the album newly remastered from analogue tapes.

Originally released in 1985 the album that spawned the hits Johnny Come Homeand Suspicious Minds launched the band high into the charts the world over and lay foundations for an impressive career that was still to follow.

This new expanded edition features a wealth of bonus material spread across 2CDs including b-sides, previously unreleased rarities, unheard demos, BBC sessions, live performances, as well as a newly commissioned 2020 remix by Derrick Carter.

Fine Young Cannibals - The Raw and the Cooked

Fine Young Cannibals' worldwide smash The Raw & The Cooked has received special treatment which sees the album newly remastered from analogue tapes.

Originally released in 1989 the album that spawned the hits She Drives Me Crazy, Good Thing and Ever Fallen In Love took the band to No.1 in the charts on both sides of the Atlantic and won the band two Brit Awards.

This new expanded edition contains the original album remastered from analogue tapes and features a wealth of bonus material spread across 2CDs including b-sides, previously unreleased rarities, unheard demos, live recordings, as well as newly commissioned 2020 remixes by Dimitri From Paris and Seth Troxler.

The Last - Look Again

The lost album from The Last. Recorded 40 years ago in 1980, Look Again has never been released until now. The Last were a seminal Los Angeles Punk band in the late 1970s and early 1980s, playing alongside The Go-Go’s, X, The Germs, and others of that era. This album was recorded in 1980 at Joe Julian of Berlin’s new studio and he insisted on doing the mixing himself. The band felt the songs were the best of their career but hated the mix to the point of shelving the record. Their manager had pressed up dozens of test pressings to send to labels – these were the only known copies in existence and now fetch over $800 on collector sites like Discogs.

The Last’s reputation in the early 1980’s Punk scene still looms large, influencing the likes of Henry Rollins of Black Flag and Rollins Band, Keith Morris of Circle Jerks, Redd Kross, X’s John Doe, The Go-Go’s Jane Wiedlin and Belinda Carlile.

Mac Miller - Swimming In Circles

Swimming In Circles collects the critically-acclaimed albums Swimming and Circles, conceived by Mac Miller as companion albums, into one deluxe presentation. Fans will be able to listen to both releases on vinyl side by side for the first time, experiencing the full narrative arc expressed across the two albums.


2x 12” limited edition dark blue Swimming LPs

2x 12” limited edition light blue Circles LPs

Die-cut outer case

12" x 12" booklet of archival images from the making of Swimming and Circles

24” x 36” poster

6-panel lyric scroll

Hugh Mundell - Rasta Have The Handle

1982 straight to Babylon head business from Hugh Mundell with Roots Radics in full effect. Big bad seven-inch ruler from the rasta youth Mundell. Authorised version backed by world cup winning Scientist dub. Produced by Henry ‘Junjo’ Lawes. Recorded at Channel One. Mixed by Scientist at King Tubby’s.

Pavement - Slanted and Enchanted

In their own way, Pavement changed the face of '90s rock just as much as Nirvana, at least for those with an ear closer to the ground of the indie scene. In fact, they virtually defined the indie scene for that decade, and their first full-length album Slanted and Enchanted was the non-anthem of slacker rock. For years after its release, every hip indie band seemed to imitate Pavement's fall-influenced, off-kilter sound and post-functional, obscurantist lyrical approach.

St Germain - Nuages Blanc

Limited edition remastered, originally released on F Communications 1996. St Germain is a true reference, and his influence has been pivotal for the French scene. With his melodies, new and successful fusions between different musical styles, and the flawless and classy productions of his records, has earned Ludovic Navarre being copied but rarely equalled.

With his melodies, new and successful fusions between different musical styles, and the flawless and classy productions of his records, has earned Ludovic Navarre being copied but rarely equalled. St Germain is a true reference, and his influence has been pivotal for the French scene. At the age of 21, Ludovic Navarre started out on the Dance Division of Fnac Music and stood out above all in the techno world, coming out of maxis in 1991.

His passion for jazz, house, blues, funk, techno, soul and hip-hop gave him an open spirit. Very quickly, he became an essential composer of the house scene, under different pseudonyms like Deepside, Modus Vivendi, D.S or St Germain.

Here are the best of the rest of the new releases arriving at The Vinyl Whistle this week:

Wilma Archer - A Western Circular (LRS)

Within A Western Circular lies an exciting and varied crew of guest artists including MF Doom, Samuel T. Herring (Future Islands), Sudan Archives, and Laura Groves, all contributing vocals to his rich, dexterous compositions. These collaborations are the by-product of several years of writing and producing. Recently, he’s appeared extensively on the debut albums by Sudan Archives (writing the lead single, Confessions, no less) and Nilüfer Yanya (contributing seven songs), alongside work with Celeste, and another writer and production credit on Jessie Ware’s Devotion. An album that’s been in the works for the past half-decade, A Western Circular is a bold, reflective piece that directly relates to Archer’s personal experiences of life and death, centered on one particular week where they breathed with equal intensity. The record’s themes of greed, love and loyalty all relate back to that specific time. Inspired by author John Fante, A Western Circular is a spiritual voyage through life’s pushing and pulling: finding beauty in the rough, sadness in the bright. Ostensibly, it’s a poignant reflection on the duality of the human condition. On the record, Archer has uncovered new depths and forged an invigorating singular sound - supple and multi-layered, honouring his acoustic heritage and influence, while building a sonic universe that commands contemporary references to everything from Frank Zappa to Yasuaki Shimuzu, Robert Wyatt to Arthur Russell.

Ward Davis - Black Cats and Crows

Davis’s much-anticipated third album, Black Cats and Crows, is finally finished. It is a triumph: a muscly country-rock record filled with murderous story songs, heart-breaking vulnerability, and that unmistakable voice––Davis’s weathered croon, a gift, barrel-aged then left out in the sun.

Produced once again by Jim “Moose” Brown, Black Cats and Crows is anchored in twin pillars: care for craft and disdain for sterility. Crackles and breaths come alongside outright virtuosity and skill, and the effect is warm and humanizing. “This is my coping mechanism. I know music is a coping mechanism for a lot of people,” Davis says. “It’s important that it’s crafted well, but it’s also important that it’s honest so that people can relate to it and get something out of it.” Davis has earned a legion of fans, loyal and spread out across the country. His 2015 debut album, ‘15 Years in a 10 Year Town’, introduced a compelling artist who, up until then, had turned Nashville heads as a player and writer for others: Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard, Trace Adkins, Wade Hayes, Sammy Kershaw, The Roys, Jimmie Van Zant, and more recorded nuggets penned by Davis, and he’d held down a steady gig as Ray Scott’s keyboard player for years. In 2018, he released a gut-wrenchingly beautiful EP, Asunder, and continued to tour hard, winning over city after city.

Georgia - Seeking Thrills (LRS)

Second album from the wonderous Georgia. Georgia is seeking a thrill. Her new album, Seeking Thrills, is a musically daring story of hedonism, self-discovery, and above all, the transcendental power of the dancefloor.

Kacy and Clayton and Marlon Williams - Plastic Bouquet

Every December, Christchurch, NZ enjoys the start of summer as Saskatoon, SK begins to freeze over. For as far apart as these places may seem, you would never know it from the sound of Plastic Bouquet, the debut collaborative album between Saskatoon duo Kacy and Clayton and Christchurch singer and songwriter Marlon Williams. While on tour across Europe in 2017, Kacy and Clayton quite literally stopped Marlon in his tracks. As if playing by divine design through the radio, the pair’s Springtime of the Year immediately enchanted him. Soon thereafter, Marlon hopped a flight to Saskatoon and they wrote and recorded the bulk of what would become Plastic Bouquet. They unlocked undeniable chemistry. With Plastic Bouquet, these three musicians find common ground in dusty country spun through a kaleidoscope of psychedelic soul and dreamy fifties delivery. They created an ethnosphere that is more than the sum of its parts. It’s also the beginning of something very exciting.

Keleketla! - Future Toyi Toyi / Swift Gathering DJ Stingray and Skee Mask Remix

Keleketla! is an expansive collaborative project, releasing here a remix 12” off the back of the self- titled album, featuring producers DJ Stingray and Skee Mask.

Reaching outward from Johannesburg to London, Lagos, LA and West Papua, Keleketla! started as a musical meeting ground between Ninja Tune co- founders Coldcut and a cadre of South African musicians (introduced by the charity In Place Of War), including the raw South African-accented jazz styles of Sibusile Xaba and rapper Yugen Blakrok (Black Panther OST).

From those initial sessions, the record grew to encompass a wider web of musical luminaries, including Afrobeat architects Tony Allen and Dele Sosimi, legendary LA spoken word pioneers The Watts Prophets and West Papuan activist Benny Wenda.

Collaborators on this 12” include South Africa sessions with Soundz of the South Collective, DJ Mabheko and London sessions with Tony Allen, Ed ‘Tenderlonious’ Cawthorne, Tamar Osborn, Miles James, Joe Armon- Jones, Afla Sackey and Eska Mtungwazi.

Luka Kuplowsky - Stardust

With his wonderful new album Stardust, Luka Kuplowsky makes a refreshing argument for the relevance of acoustic music as a place to hold thought; an open space to place impeccably chosen words, ideas, and images. A young songwriter with a calm, conversational delivery and an effortless, un-showy grasp of poetry; Kuplowsky humbly picks up the same threads of inquiry that did Cohen, asking the big questions about love, meaning, and consciousness. Musically, Stardust triangulates between Hejira and Late for the Sky, finding connections between the purity of simple melody and the tangled modulations of jazz. Luka Kuplowsky makes a music of contemplation, a music alive to the everyday possibilities of epiphany and revelation, an unhurried music that moves with the gentle and curving rhythms of thought. - Tamara Lindeman (The Weather Station) Album features members of Broken Social Scene, Bahamas, U.S. Girls, Andy Shauf, Sam Amidon, The Weather Station, Julia Jacklin, Martha Wainwright, The Ex, Sandro Perri, and Bernice.

LA Priest - Gene (LRS)

Emerging from an all-too-long nomadic hibernation, LA Priest returns with Gene, his second album. Gene arrives five years after the iconoclast variously known as Sam Eastgate, Sam Dust and LA Priest thrilled the world with the cosmic pop of his debut album Inji, his first LP for Domino and his first solo output following the disbanding of former outfit, Late Of The Pier. Gene also follows the 2016 project Soft Hair in which Sam teamed up with Connan Mockasin for an instant cult-classic album. Gene, the album, is named after a brand-new analogue drum machine Sam dreamt up and built alone. Working in isolation for more than two years in California, Wales and England’s south coast, soldering iron in hand, Sam developed the inners of Gene using dozens of electrical circuits he made up himself. The creation came after a search for an alternative to the structure and rigor of standard drum machines. Its unique rhythmic patterns are the focal point for the album, which is coloured by lush, pastoral tones, paired with the influence of his environmental changes.

The product of clear-eyed focus, the record offers a one-way ticket into a dimension entirely of Sam’s own making. Gene is the most complete realisation of his vision yet. These songs are on a quest for meaning, exploring the limits of their maker’s abilities. Coaxed into life with the juicy groove of Beginning, the record struts and sparkles through Rubber Sky and What Moves towards the melancholic interlude of Sudden Thing and the gigantic noise of centerpiece Monochrome, taking a sharp turn in the final third towards something darker and more mystical. Gene was produced alongside London based artist, producer, DJ and founder of Phantasy records, Erol Alkan.

Kelly Lee Owens - Inner Song (LRS)

Kelly Lee Owens' masterful second album Inner Song finds the convention-blurring techno producer and singer / songwriter diving deep into her own psyche—excoriating the struggles she's faced over the last several years and exploring personal pain while embracing the beauty of the natural world. It's a leap in artistry from a musician who burst forth on the scene with a confident, rich sound, and Inner Song is endlessly enticing when it comes to what Owens is capable of.

Inner Song was largely written and recorded over a month last winter. As with her debut, Owens holed up in the studio with co-producer and collaborator James Greenwood —and letting loose in the studio and being open to whatever sonic whims emerge was essential to Owens' craftwork. The evocative title of the album is borrowed from free-jazz maestro Alan Silva's 1972 opus, which was gifted to Owens Smalltown Supersound's Joakim Haugland for her 30th birthday: "I'm so grateful for him and his perspectives—he's always thinking outside of the box. Those two words really reflect what it felt like to make this record. I did a lot of inner work in the past few years, and this is a true reflection of that." The hair-raising bass and tickling textures of Inner Song drive home that, more so than ever, Owens is locked in to delivering maximal sonic pleasure—as evidenced by the decision to make the album's vinyl release a sesqui album, or triple-sided album: "I'm still obsessed with frequencies that don't do well on vinyl if they don't have the space.

Stephen Malkmus - Traditional Techniques (LRS)

Traditional Techniques, Malkmus’ third solo LP without the Jicks (or Pavement), is new phase folk music for new phase folks, with Malkmus as attuned as ever to the rhythms of the ever-evolving lingual slipstream. It’s packed with handmade arrangements, modern folklore, and 10 songs written and performed in his singular voice. An adventurous new album in an instantly familiar mode, Traditional Techniques creates a serendipitous trilogy with the loose fuzz of the Jicks’ Sparkle Hard (2018) and the solo bedroom experiments of Groove Denied (2019).

Melanie Martinez - After School EP

Multi-platinum pop phenomenon Melanie Martinez releases After School which includes seven brand new songs, including The Bakery, produced by Blake Slatkin.

Ava Max - Heaven & Hell

Global pop sensation Ava Max releases her highly-anticipated debut album Heaven and Hell. The record features eight new tracks alongside her previously released hit singles Sweet But Psycho, Who’s Laughing Now, So Am I, Salt and Kings and Queens. Heaven and Hell represents light and dark, good and evil, and the devil and angel on your shoulder,” said Ava on the meaning behind the album. “I’m discussing the dualities of the challenges we face each day. Some songs have darkness; other songs are more positive. Heaven and Hell is the middle ground.

Philip Parfitt - Mental Home Recordings

Philip Parfitt is best known as the founder, guitarist, vocalist and primary songwriter of The Perfect Disaster. Formed in 1980, the alternative rock band released four albums and reached number fifteen on the UK Indie Chart before splitting up in 1991.

Philip Parfitt's songs on Mental Home Recordings possess both scars and genius. If Parfitt's previous work lurked within the sharp garage tradition of Bo Diddley, the Velvets and the Stones, he operates now within a quieter idiom: Nick Drake, Ronnie Lane, Syd Barrett. Quieter but not softer: this record will scrub you raw.

John Prine - Live

"I've been thinking lately 'bout the people i meet," sings Prine at the beginning of 'Fish and Whistle'. Yes, we all think about those people, but only Prine can relay their (or his own) heartbreaking stories in such a heartwarming fashion. The bulk of this cozy record was recorded at an intimate solo-acoustic show at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano, California, and is augmented by a pair of full-band cuts recorded at Nashville's Cannery plus one duet each with Bonnie Raitt and Steve Goodman. Even longtime Prine collectors will relish these pared-down tender readings for the snug setting calls even more attention to Prine's uncanny eye for detail, his acute empathy for human suffering, and ultimately, his ability to find humor where most only find misery. and try not to crack an "illegal smile" when the whole crowd sings along with him.

Protomartyr - Ultimate Success Today (LRS)

Protomartyr release their fifth album, Ultimate Success Today, on Domino. Following the release of Relatives In Descent, the band’s critically acclaimed headlong dive into the morass of American life in 2017, Ultimate Success Today continues to further expand the possibilities of what a Protomartyr album can sound like.

Ultimate Success Today was recorded at Dreamland Recording Studios, a late 19th century church, in upstate New York and co-produced by the band and David Tolomei (Dirty Projectors, Beach House) with mixing by Tolomei. Featured guest musicians on the album include Nandi Rose (vocals) a.k.a. Half Waif, jazz legend Jemeel Moondoc (alto sax), Izaak Mills (bass clarinet, sax, flute), and Fred Lonberg-Holm (cello).

Temples - Paraphernalia

Temples’ latest single Paraphernalia is an absolute golden moment that sounds like ABBA and ELO mixed with a smattering of psychedelia. Sean Ono Lennon produced the tune, which was initially recorded as a demo for (but not included on) the British psych-rock outfit’s 2019 LP, Hot Motion. The Limited 7" features Paraphernalia on the A-side and the band logo Ankh edged into the B-side.

Anna von Hausswolff - All Thoughts Fly

Anna von Hausswolff’s new album All Thoughts Fly via Southern Lord. Here in solo instrumental mode, the entire record consists of just one instrument, the pipe organ, and represents absolute liberation of the imagination. All Thoughts Fly radiates a melancholic beauty, and is distinguished by fluid transitions of contrasting elements; calmness and drama, harmony and dissonance, much like the place that inspires the music.

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