Van Morrisson: Duets Re-working the Catalogue. Van Morrison and guests selected and recorded some favorite songs from the vast catalog of 360 songs that he has recorded during his long career. Deliberately steering away from his more well-known classics, Van enlisted some of the artists he most respects to perform these songs with him to re-craft and re-imagine them. The album was recorded in his home town of Belfast and London over the last year, using a variety of musicians and fresh arrangements. Produced by Van Morrison along with Don Was and Bob Rock, the album features duet performances with Bobby Womack, Steve Winwood, Mark Knopfler, Taj Mahal, Mavis Staples, Michael Bublé, Natalie Cole, George Benson, Gregory Porter, Clare Teal, P.J. Proby, Joss Stone, Georgie Fame, Mick Hucknall, Chris Farlowe, and Van’s daughter Shana Morrison.
Bjork: Vulnicura. The eighth studio album from Icelandic artist Bjork. Vulnicura was written, produced and recorded in collaboration with Venezuelan producer Arca and British musician The Haxan Cloak. Of the album’s nine tracks, six are written by Bjork with two co-written with Arca and one co-written with Spaces. Six songs are produced by Bjork and Arca, one by Bjork, Arca and The Haxan Cloak and two by Bjork. All string arrangements are by Bjork. The album was mixed by The Haxan Cloak, except two songs mixed by The Haxan Cloak and Chris Elms, and mastered by Mandy Parnell. Vulnicura is Bjork’s first release since the 2011 album/multimedia project Biophilia.
Buena Vista Social Club: Lost and Found. Almost two decades after the release of the original, Grammy-winning album, the romance of the Buena Vista Social Club continues with Lost and Found, a collection of previously unreleased tracks, some recorded at the first legendary sessions in Havana with producer Ry Cooder and others during the extraordinarily rich outpouring of music that followed.
Laura Marling: Short Movie. This album, her fifth in seven years, is a follow up to 2013’s Mercury Prize-nominated Once I Was An Eagle, and marks a new chapter in her sound and artistic development. Short Movie sees Marling move into new musical territory and may surprise fans with its prevalence of electric guitar. The album is freer and looser sounding than anything she has done before. Marling produced the album, was recorded at Urchin Studios in London and aided by her long time drummer Matt Ingram and studio engineer Dan Cox.
Courtney Barnett: Sometimes I Sit & Think & Sometimes I Just Sit. Following the runaway success of her EP collection, The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas, Courtney Barnett returns with her debut album. Recorded in the autumn of 2014 in an intense 10-day session at Head Gap studios in Melbourne, the album finally brings Barnett’s incisive vision into stark, unflinching focus; her wit sharpened to a knife edge, her melodies more infectious and addictive than ever. Sometimes I Just Sit and Think, and Sometimes I just Sit cements Barnett’s standing as one of the most distinctive voices in indie rock. Mixing witty, often hilarious observations with devastating self-assessment over a beguiling collection of songs that reveals her as an ambitious songwriter with an ear for clever turns of phrase and an eye for story-song details that are literate without being pretentious. Depressing rentals and dead foxes, go-nowhere relationships and dead end suburbs, even her own fears, doubts and insecurities – nothing escapes Barnett’s caustic sense of humor. If The Double EP announced the arrival of a major new talent, Sometimes consolidates that promise and marks Courtney Barnett as one of the best and most unique voices around, period.
Nellie McKay: My Weekly Reader. An homage to the ’60s, My Weekly Reader flits from Haight Ashbury to Greenwich Village to Carnaby Street, featuring unlikely gems from Country Joe, Moby Grape, Frank Zappa, Richard Farina, Crosby Stills and Nash, The Beatles and The Kinks.
Modest Mouse: Stranger to Ourselves. The sixth album by the American alt-rockers, Strangers To Ourselves is the band’s first studio album since We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank, released in 2007, marking the longest gap between studio albums in their career. The aerial image on the album cover is Venture Out RV Resort located in Mesa, Arizona.
Mark Knopfler: Tracker. The ninth solo album from the British guitarist, singer/songwriter and former Dire Straits mainman, Tracker features 11 new Knopfler songs inspired by a wide range of subjects including Beryl Bainbridge and Basil Bunting. Produced by Knopfler and Guy Fletcher and recorded at British Grove Studios in London. Knopfler and Dire Straits have sold in excess of 120 million albums to date. A four-time Grammy Award winner, Knopfler is ranked by Rolling Stone Magazine as the 27th greatest guitar player of all time…
Seth Avett & Jessica Lea Mayfield: Sing Elliott Smith. Twelve songs originally written by the acclaimed and well-loved Smith, performed by two artists, currently known for their contributions to the indie folk rock landscape. The recordings are, in many cases, defined by bare instrumentation, driven by a simple yet bold vocal delivery, the depth of feeling complimenting that of the subject matter. This album is an obvious labor of love; a comment based on the genuine reverence which Avett and Mayfield clearly hold for Smith. At times, the songs feel light as a feather, while in others, thematically leaden with heartache, they are given a deep breath, a different dimension, a new color. In modern fashion, melodies intensely whispered by Elliot Smith are sung in a harmonious way, akin to the folk aesthetic of Gillian Welch and David Rawlings.
Allison Moorer: Down to Believing is being hailed as her best body of work, Despite her previously earned nominations for an Academy Award for Best Song and a Grammy. The album features Moorer’s warm, distinctive vocals on 13 self-written, genre-crossing tracks that explore a wide range of topics, drawn from her own true life experiences, both positive and negative. Rolling Stone has called Allison’s new album “Brilliant and extraordinarily candid…” and early reviews are in total accord with that summary.