Tuesday, May 09, 2023

New music: The Album Leaf, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Stephen Stills

A terrific return from San Diego-based The Album Leaf as well as the release of long-lost recordings featuring Blood, Sweat & Tears and Stephen Stills will be welcome additions to any music lover's library...

The Album Leaf
Title: Future Falling (Eastern Glow Recordings)
You might like if you enjoy: Bat for Lashes, Tycho
Tell me more: Electronic artist The Album Leaf is back with Future Falling, his first album since 2016's masterful Between Waves (not including a number of film scores and re-issues spearheaded by Jimmy LaValle during that period). The ambitious Future Falling features 10 immersive tracks that will appeal to fans of chillwave, ambient and downtempo electronica music. The feeling of listening to several tracks  notably the openers "Prologue" and "Dust Collects" and poignant closer "Epilogue"  is one of loss, grief and mortality. The aptly-titled "Stride" is a more uptempo track that expands the reach of the mostly-instrumental record. The luxurious and absolutely gorgeous track "Afterglow" features guest vocalist Kimbra; later Bat for Lashes makes an equally strong vocal contribution via the otherworldly "Near." A North American headlining tour featuring The Album Leaf in support of the new album will launch on May 13 in San Diego. Information: TheAlbumLeaf.com.

Blood, Sweat & Tears
Title: What the Hell Happened to Blood, Sweat & Tears? (Omnivore Recordings)
You might like if you enjoy: Blood, Sweat & Tears, early Chicago, classic rock
Tell me more: The first American band to perform behind the Iron Curtain, Blood, Sweat & Tears performed a string of dates in Yugoslavia, Romania and Poland in June and July 1970. Many of the concerts were recorded using a portable 8-track machine; an American film crew filmed the shows for a planned documentary as well. However, the film company that financed the project closed its doors during post-production and members of BS&T didn't know how to to retrieve the materials. Fast forward 50 years and director John Scheinfeld and a tenacious team tracked down many of the recordings for the newly-released 2023 documentary "What the Hell Happened to Blood, Sweat & Tears?" and accompanying 10-track soundtrack. The depth and diversity of the troupe's material (encompassing rock, jazz, R&B, classical and more) shines across the soundtrack, with the fiery opener "Something's Coming On," soulful "God Bless The Child," dazzling "Spinning Wheel" and blues blaster "Something' Goin' On/Blues - Part II" among the early standouts; a bluesy "And When I Die," symphonic "Sometimes In Winter," the romantic "You've Made Me So Very Happy" (bolstered by David Clayton-Thomas' top-tier vocals) and powerful closer "I Can't Quit Her" entice on the second half of the collection. Information: OmnivoreRecordings.com.

Stephen Stills
Title: Live at Berkeley 1971 (Iconic Artists Group / Omnivore Recordings)
You might like if you enjoy: Stephen Stills, David Crosby, Buffalo Springfield, Manassas
Tell me more: Following the release of his second solo album in June 1971, Stephen Stills embarked on his first solo tour. During that "The Memphis Horns Tour" Stills would open each night with a solo-acoustic set, and then close with an electric one. Now more than 50 years after completing that historic trek, a 14-track collection of previously unreleased performances captured over two nights at the Berkeley Community Theater on Aug. 20 and 21, 1971 has been released shining a well-deserved spotlight on the two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee. The marvelous title features inspired performances of a myriad of the singer-songwriter/guitar great's songs. The Dallas, Texas native kicks it off with a freewheeling take on "Love The One You're With." The acoustic-flavored "Do For The Others" and "Jesus Gave Love Away For Free," shimmering harmonies-rich "You Don't Have to Cry" and "The Lee Shore" (the latter two tracks feature David Crosby sharing vocals with Stills) are early standouts on the set. A medley of "49 Bye-Byes/For What It's Worth" (featuring Stills on piano), the blues-centered "Know You've Got To Run," horn section-anchored R&B gems "Lean On Me" and "Ecology Song" shine on the second half of the live album. The original recording was produced by Stills and recorded by Bill Halverson; the new reissue was produced by Kevin McCormick and Stills. Information: OmnivoreRecordings.com.

Robert Kinsler

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