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Saturday, January 27, 2024

New releases by Mark Knopfler, Future Islands, Positive People, The Vaccines, Driven Snow


Mark Knopfler: Ahead of the Game


Photo by Murdo MacLeod
April will bring us the 10th solo album by the guitarist and former Dire Straits bandleader. Knopfler says the title, One Deep River, reflects his attachment to the Tyne, which flows through Newcastle, in northeast England, where he grew up. “Crossing the Tyne is always on your mind,” he says. “It’s what you were doing when you were leaving as a youngster, and that feeling is always the same every time you do it. You’re heading out or you’re coming back, and it just connects with your childhood. The power of it doesn’t go away.” Stereogum calls this first single "a dreamy, propulsive spin on the expert-level guitar-pop Knopfler has been kicking out for decades, metropolitan but seasoned with notes of blues, country, and folk."

Future Islands: Say Goodbye


Photo by Frank Hamilton
Speaking of Dire Straits, the theme of their classic song "So Far Away" - trying to maintain a relationship across distance and time zones - is echoed in this track from the new album by Sam Herring and company. "I'll be alright / When you're on my time." But there's a sense of foreboding here: "Every day without you feels one closer to goodbye." And indeed, this and other songs on People Who Aren't There Anymore apparently refer to the breakup of Herring's romance with Swedish actress Julia Ragnarsson, in part due to being separated by Covid lockdowns.

Positive People: Off/On


New to our ears, and likely yours, is the duo of Olenka Krakus and Jeffrey Moon, who are also members of Montreal band Olenka & the Autumn Lovers. Their self-titled debut album is billed as a collection of "bright melodies that mask a darker subject matter." This track features Olenka's smooth vocals, while others on the LP mix it with Jeffrey's rougher voice (a la July Talk). The lyric suggests an indecipherable message: "I can’t begin to paint the picture / sort the mixture into /off and on and off and on."

The Vaccines: Heartbreak Kid


The British indie-rock band just released its sixth studio album, Pick-Up Full of Pink Carnations. Lead singer Justin Young says of this track: "There are two types of people in the world – people that have had their heart broken and people that haven’t had their heart broken yet. ... [the song is] a reminder that in a world where too many of us feel too detached too often, facing your feelings head-on can make you feel more alive, even if it feels like the world is ending."

Driven Snow: Sunlight


Kieran McGuinness and Emily Aylmer are about to release their debut album, A Kind of Dreaming. It pulls together several singles the married Dublin duo released in the past two years (such as "Flickers of You" and "In Moonlight," previously in our New Music bin), along with brand-new tunes. We didn't catch this one when it was issued last year, so we're using the LP release as an excuse to feature it now. 

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