A wide range of highly-recommended releases are featured in my column this week.
Title: Late Style (Omnivore Recordings)
You might like if you enjoy: Steely Dan, Elvis Costello and Burt Bacharach's "Painted from Memory" collaboration in 1998, Chris Stamey & the Fellow Travelers, Steely Dan
Tell me more: Blending the sounds of the past via an intoxicating mix of jazz, baroque pop and soul with an eternally-adventuresome spirit, singer-songwriter Wesley Stace has joined forces with composer David Nagler on the new album Late Style. Stace — who has also recorded a number of celebrated albums as John Wesley Harding — is an acclaimed novelist; his faith in joining forces with Nagler was an obvious leap of faith but pays huge dividends across Late Style. Indeed, Stace (a native of England who now lives in Philadelphia) would email lyrics to Nagler (who is based in New York). The parade of dozen wonderful tracks produced by Nagler and long-time Harding collaborator Chris Von Sneidern is a listener's dream. The jazzy opener "Where the Bands Are," melodious "Everything All the Time," euphonious "Come Back Yesterday," romance-themed gem "The Impossible She," soulful "Do Nothing If You Can" (the latter bolstered by some sublime Sneidern electric guitar) and acoustic-flavored "How You All Work Me" are among the timeless tracks on the wonderful and literate "Late Style." Information: OmnivoreRecordings.com and WesleyStace.com.
Tell me more: Graham Coxon's Superstate is actually a collection of 15 tracks composed and recorded in connection with a graphic novel written by Alex Paknadel and Helen Mullane. To be clear, Superstate works wonderfully as an immersive listening experience apart from the newly-published 124-page graphic novel. The driving synth-pop gem "Yoga Town" features guest vocalist Valentina Pappalardo and is an inviting opener. The funky "Uncle Sam" features stylish guitar and electro disco romp "Only Takes A Stranger" (both with guest vocals from Rahel Debbie-Dessalegne) as well as the experimental Neo-classical "L.I.L.Y" are early nuggets on the album. "The Astral Light" blends disco, electronic and experimental sonic forces with the vocals of Pappalardo and Sharlene Hector bolstering the dystopian vibe. The dance floor-ready "Heaven (Buy a Ticket)," "The Ball of Light" and "Goodbye Universe" along with the soul-mining "Butterfly" and evocative "We Remain" also shine on the ambitious collection. Both Coxon's Superstate soundtrack and the companion graphic novel (released by Z2 Comics) are available on amazon.com. Information: GrahamCoxon.com.
Title: Screen Violence (Glassnote Records)
You might like if you enjoy: Chvrches, The Cure, Two Door Cinema Club
Tell me more: Chvrches is back with their ambitious fourth album, Screen Violence. The Scottish synth-pop trio recorded the album during the pandemic, working remotely on two different sides of the Atlantic. The shimmering opener "Asking for a Friend" is at once a dance-styled invitation and reflective sortie into these uncertain times. Other songs continue to showcase front woman Lauren Mayberry using her signature soprano in songs that explore fear, isolation, rejection and loneliness with tuneful candor. The wistful "California," darkly euphoric "Violent Delights," propulsive "Nightmares" and synth-swept rock closer "Better If You Don't" are among the wonderful cuts on "Screen Violence." My favorite track is the towering "How Not To Drown," a bewitching duet featuring Mayberry sharing lead and tandem vocals with The Cure's Robert Smith. Information: chvrch.es.
Title: More Like Tomorrow (Soundly Music)
You might like if you enjoy: The Jayhawks, Dawes
Tell me more: The Way Down Wanderers' More Like Tomorrow — the Peoria, Illinois-spawned quintet's third full-length album — is a marvelous showcase for outstanding songcraft, top-tier Americana musicianship, nuanced arrangements and fantastic harmonies. The dynamic mournful tale of loss "Codeine, Rest & Loneliness," uplifting melody-soaked "Parkside Drive," rootsy sing-along "The Wire," gentle genre-bending "Dark Marks," mandolin- and banjo-bolstered "Hard Times," and sparse bluegrass-mining "Everything's Made Out of Sand" are among the standouts on the disc (set for release on Sept. 10). Information: thewaydownwanderers.com.