Gotta love anybody that tosses together Tom Waits, Kanye West, Ray Charles and Bon Iver on his short list of influences. We can't say we know much about Botswania-born, Perth, Australia-based Mwansa Msapenda but we can say we're pretty taken with his debut roots-meets-electronica track "Burn The House" and the striking video created for it featuring dancer Andrea Petrovic. The song, sadly, concerns the death of Mwansa's brother. "I felt the need to write and record, as a sort of catharsis, " he says. "I felt like there was so much poison in me, if I didn't get it out it would kill me."
Veteran British band Elbow are something akin to artisans in the world of modern progressive music, skilled craftsmen who create eclectic epics that manage to retain breathtaking beauty and refined power without coming across as pretentious twits -- not an easy feat. Sixth studio album The Take Off and Landing of Everything (March 11, Concord) has plenty of what creative frontman Guy Garvey calls the "big themes," a "celebratory" sound and lyrics tied to retrospection and the aging process. "When you’re 40, you're all ages at once," he says, "because you're thinking of your youth, which has very definitely passed, and about how you became the person you are. You wonder about how the rest of your life plays out from here." With it's many expansive and evolving 5 to 7 minute tracks of graceful, subtle art/rock, it's fitting that Elbow chose Peter Gabriel's Real World studio for part of the album's recording: Garvey and Gabriel, longtime admirers, share a similar artistic style and adventurous spirit. Click through to stream (and watch) "Fly Boy Fly / Lunette)". Sample the album here...
Elbow - "New York Morning" (from The Take Off and Landing of Everything)
Brisbane Australia's Ball Park Music decided on the (almost) DIY route for their forthcoming third album Puddinghead (April 4, AUS). Suffering through stifling heat and humidity in a makeshift home studio, the band laid down tracks for nearly a year "to the sweet backdrop of leaky taps, magpies and main roads" before bringing on Grammy-nominated engineer Tony Hoffer (Beck, Phoenix) to help complete the final mix. The result for GPM, named "Unsigned Band of the Year" by Aussie radio powerhouse Triple J, is a spirited and accomplished collection of twisty alt-pop songs that combine harmonies that would make Brian Wilson smile, sweet melodic chops and just enough angular, New Wavey rock edge to keep your woofers happy. Click through to stream (and watch) "She Only Loves Me When I'm There."
London's Hyde Park is the setting for a live version of new song "Empty Handed" from the Dutch songwriter Christof. Mr. van der Ven, who now makes his home in the U.K., will be the opener on the upcoming May tour of Europe by Bear's Den. Click through to stream (and watch) "Carousel" from his fall 2013 EP Love's Glory.