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Saturday, September 12, 2020

New Springsteen + Vanishing Shores, Of Monsters and Men, Gracie and Rachel, Laura Marling

Bruce Springsteen: Letter To You

By a quirk of timing, amid a pandemic that has forced many bands to collaborate remotely comes an album recorded by a band working in close quarters - presumably many months ago. Springsteen reunited with his E Street Band at his home base in New Jersey and recorded “live in the studio, in a way we’ve never done before, and with no overdubs. We made the album in only five days, and it turned out to be one of the greatest recording experiences I’ve ever had.” Due Oct. 23, Letter to You has nine new songs and fresh versions of three that Springsteen wrote and demoed in the early 70s but didn't release. NPR says: "The song is in the classic E Street Band style: layered guitars, swirling organ, chiming piano and crashing drums." From Rolling Stone: "The song’s sentiment comes through in his voice and in the way the E Street Band effortlessly plays the track’s rootsy guitar and piano lines and swinging rhythms." 

Vanishing Shores: Fix Me

This indie group from Cleveland is one of the many bands worldwide whose planned releases have been delayed by the pandemic. While they wait to finish their Kickstarter-financed next album, Kevin Bianchi last month released an EP, Soundtrack for Survival (Bande-son pour la survie), consisting of polished-up demos. They have also issued two singles from the upcoming LP, and "Fix Me" is one of those, featuring backing vocals by Katie Egan. The song, says Bianchi, "is about realizing that relationships are not about changing another person. The idea that we can or should change a person to be more like us or to think more like us is a false idea that only causes us to miss true and lasting beauty." 

Of Monsters and Men: Visitor

This single is the first taste of what the Icelandic band says is “a body of work coming at the top of 2021 in celebration of the group’s tenth anniversary together.” The energetic track is "a song about disconnection and being on the fringe of change, seeing everything you once knew disappear, and finding yourself in the role of the visitor," says guitarist/vocalist Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir. It closes with a repeated, spooky refrain: "My mother said I was always afraid of the dark / But I'm not, I don't mind / Having a ghost in my bed." We've been liking this band more and more as its music evolves, particularly with last years' critically acclaimed LP Fever Dream. 

Gracie and Rachel: Underneath

This Brooklyn-based duo of California natives is about to release Hello Weakness, You Make Me Strong. The "alchemy" between free-spirited keyboardist Gracie Coates and classically trained violinist Rachel Ruggles "has never been more potent or realized than on their upcoming sophomore record," with more layers of electronics and beats, according to a statement from their new label, Ani DiFranco’s Righteous Babe Records.  "The songs ask us to look directly into the eye of the broken mirror reflection in front of us,” the duo says. “The music is less interested in fixing what’s fragmented than it is in putting value on imperfections for all they’re worth.” 

Laura Marling: Strange Girl

The songs on the British singer-songwriter's seventh album, Song for our Daughter, are written to an imaginary child, Marling has said, describing "trauma and an enduring quest to understand what it is to be a woman in this society" and offering "all the confidences and affirmations I found so difficult to provide myself.” This song can be heard as a mother's message of gentle guidance - but on another level, it could be a message of support and encouragement to oneself: "I love you my strange girl / My lonely girl, my angry girl, my brave." 

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