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Saturday, July 4, 2020

New releases from Michael Stipe, Elvis Costello, The Sea The Sea, Ray LaMontagne, Dizzy

Michael Stipe & Big Red Machine: No Time For Love Like Now

Big Red Machine, a collaboration between Aaron Dessner of The National and Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, joins with the former R.E.M. frontman on this song that feels well suited to the moment. Dessner told Rolling Stone: “Michael wrote the lyrics last fall, but when the reality of the Covid-19 pandemic and social-distancing and self-isolation descended, they felt like they were written about this time all along and perhaps the message resonates especially now.” There's a line about "lockdown memories" that we're guessing was added later.

Elvis Costello: No Flag

His first release since 2018's Look Now with The Imposters finds Costello working alone at a studio in Helsinki. "I wanted to go somewhere nobody knew me. So, this is 'The Helsinki Sound,'" he says. The credits say he plays "mouth, drum, Fender Jazzmaster, Hammond organ and bass. Filled with nervous energy, the song lashes out at a world where nothing seems worthy of allegiance. "No time for this kind of love / No flag waving high above / No sign for the dark place that I live / No god for the damn that I don’t give.”

The Sea The Sea: A Thousand Years

This peaceful track arrives ahead of Stumbling Home, the third album from the Upstate New York-based duo of Chuck and Mira Costa. The couple said this song grew out of a songwriting retreat in the West Texas desert. "No cell service. No internet. It’s beautiful. It’s quiet. At night out there we often found ourselves under an unimaginable blanket of stars, just listening to the silence. Listening to nothing. It sounded thousands of years old. A clear and peaceful sound.” We've been playing another single, "Parachute," on The Birch Street Bistro, and look forward to hearing the rest of the LP later this summer. 

Ray LaMontagne: Misty Morning Rain

On his eighth album, Monovision, this New England-based singer-songwriter works largely alone, playing all the instruments. But he brings with him a cast of masters whose influences can be clearly heard. On this track, the steady strumming of the rhythm guitar, the raspy vocal and grounding percussion recall Moondance-era Van Morrison. AllMusic writes that LaMontagne's latest collection "revives the classic weathered troubadour vibe at the heart of his music," and its references to Morrison, Cat Stevens and even mellow Led Zeppelin "are there as cultural touchstones as much as specific influences, helping guide the listener through an album that feels as comforting as a hug from an old friend."

Dizzy: Sunflower

We previously featured "The Magician" from the upcoming LP The Sun and her Scorch, and now we're catching up with this upbeat number that was released a few months back. Lead singer Katie Munshaw calls it "a three and a half minute 'snap out of it!' to myself when I'm feeling low, unconfident or not myself." That's a tonic we're sure many listeners could use right now. On their new album, Munshaw and brothers Alex, Mackenzie and Charlie Spencer bring "a more kinetic energy into their sound through their lavish use of live instrumentation," the band says.

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