Sunday, October 22, 2017

Many moods in our latest New Music picks

We've previously featured music by New York-based singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Lizzie No, and we're now adding her new single, "Sundown." It's a heartfelt description of the insecurity felt by African-Americans in the U.S. The title is a historical reference to "sundown towns" where blacks were unwelcome and had "best be gone by sundown." Underscoring No's calm, matter-of-fact vocal are the contrasting sounds of her plucked harp and a biting electric guitar. "We may not live in literal sundown towns, but this country continues to find ways to tell us to move along, that we are not welcome," No told American Songwriter. "The song is also about having to stubbornly and creatively invent our own definitions of home.” Purchases of the track benefit Black Lives Matter.

There's a sense of anxiety, too, in the new single from Arizona-based Calexico. At least, that's what we hear as Joey Burns sings of "love in the age of the extremes" and being "stuck at the end of the world with you." (We'll have to pair this up occasionally with Bruce Cockburn's 1999 song, "Last Night of the World.") "End Of The World With You" is the first taste of Calexico's album The Thread that Keeps Us, due in January.

A more upbeat sentiment comes from another New York singer/songwriter, Elizabeth Ziman, who performs as Elizabeth and the Catapult. She's been releasing music since 2006, in between touring with Sara Bareillis, scoring documentary films and other adventures. We're just catching up with her as she brings out her latest LP, Keepsake. “There’s a theme on this record of reclaiming yourself," Ziman says. "I can be easier on myself, no need to be afraid of falling. I still fall – I’m just better at it now.” That theme is expressed in our pick for the New Music bin, "Underwater."

Ziman has said that many of her songs were inspired by dreams - but presumably not the nightmarish type that Australian rockers Awaken I Am sing about in "Black Dreams," a track from their recently released Blind Love. In fact, the song is almost an antithesis to the self-empowerment of Ziman's lyrics. "'Black Dreams' is written about a person trying to climb their way out of a place of depression and anxiety,” says vocalist Adam Douglas. But it reflects the hope that someone who cares can pull you out. "I see you looking, looking back at me/I feel like you know me better than I know myself."

Several weeks ago we picked up a track from Liam Gallagher's most recent album, and this week we're adding one from the upcoming release by Noel Gallagher's High-Flying BirdsWho Built the Moon? It's an explosive, joyful track called "Holy Mountain." We have no idea what lyrics like "She fell, she fell/Right under my spell ... She danced, she danced/Right into my hands" have to do with a mountain, holy or not, but it's a rollicking good-time record. Now we just have to make sure to keep the notoriously feuding brothers and ex-Oasis bandmates apart.

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