A full time indie artist, a former indie band on major label and former indie to major back to indie label artist all are adding great new music to their catalogs.
Sufjan Stevens has recorded under his own independent label, Asthmatic Kitty for 15 years running and his new album, Carrie & Lowell is one of his finest efforts. This is certainly one of his most personal albums. Carrie & Lowell are the names of Sufjan’s late mother and stepfather. Judging from “I Should Have Know Better”, Sufjan is still coming to grips with some unresolved issues.
I should have known better
Nothing can be changed
The past is still the past
The bridge to nowhere
I should have wrote a letter
Explaining what I feel, that empty feeling
It’s a theme throughout the album but it’s also a tribute of sorts and it’s all framed by sparse musical tones and is reminiscent of a lost Simon & Garfunkel album.
Death Cab for Cutie are on their fourth major label record after four albums on Barsuk Records (If you’re so inclined get the vinyl of the new album on Barsuk). This album will probably be known as the divorce record as this is the first album after the breakup of lead singer Ben Gibbard’s marriage to She & Him singer/actress Zoey Deschanel. I can imagine fans will be mining for clues in the lyrics. Ben gives them plenty to find in the opening stanza of the first single, “Black Sun”
There is whiskey in the water
And there is death upon the vine
There is fear in the eyes of your father
And there is “Yours” and there is “Mine”
But it’s not only the end of Ben Gibbard’s marriage but the end of guitarist/producer Chris Walla’s participation with the band. It’s probably the reason the name of the album is “Kintsugi,” a reference to a Japanese art form involving repair of broken pottery, Is Ben broken, is the band broken. I think Ben is thinking like Kelly Clarkson and whatever doesn’t kill him makes him stronger as the band is embarking on a summer tour of festivals and arenas. There may be “no room in frame for two” but I would suspect these shows will prove that Death Cab for Cutie will soldier on.
One of my favorite singer/songwriters Ron Sexsmith returns and it’s nice to see him in good spirits. A new album from Ron is like a friend checking in on you to let you know how he’s feeling a what’s going on in his life. Ron was on a major label for a second in the late 90s but has now been recording brilliant independent records for a while. It’s nice to know that Ron is in good spirits based on the first single, the playful “Can’t Get My Act Together”. Welcome back!