New Music Friday and here we have our top five album picks that are out today.. From Michael Ball to Fickle Friends, there is something for everyone this weekend.
1. Michael Ball – ‘We Are More Than One’
It’s been a tough 12 months for everyone, and Michael is no exception. He and his partner Cathy both suffered Covid early on in the pandemic and like many, much of Michael’s work was stalled as theatres closed across the UK. However, Michael says that lockdown has been a positive experience and urges everyone to make the most of the time at home they have left to seize the moment do that one ‘thing’ they have always wanted to do!
Michael says “In the words of Charles Dickens, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times…. That about sums up how I and many others feel about this last 18 months. The worst of times is pretty self-evident. The fear, uncertainty, isolation and at times mind-numbing boredom have taken their toll on everyone, myself included but for me there were moments when it was indeed the best of times and this album is the result of those.
It started when, I interviewed Capt. Tom and became inspired by his positivity and determination. He galvanised me into believing I needn’t just sit around desperately looking for the next box set on Netflix, but I could try to use this time creatively and do what I’d always promised myself I would do one day and write and produce my own album…my first call was to Amy Wadge and it started from there
Lockdown freed up the space in my life to focus on writing and recording the entire album at home and the chance to work virtually with some amazing collaborators. I urge everyone to make the most of what’s left of this time to really put energy into achieving that one thing you’ve always wanted to do… now is your chance!”
2. Van Morrison – ‘Latest Record Project: Vol 1’
It’s been over 50 years since Van Morrison first came to attention, and still no-one comes close to his free-wheeling blend of blues, R&B, jazz and soul. Today, Van Morrison shares his 42nd album ‘Latest Record Project: Volume 1’ which is out now on Exile/BMG. LISTEN HERE.
His most dynamic and contemporary album in years, ‘Latest Record Project: Volume 1’ is a 28-track delve into his ongoing love of blues, R&B, jazz and soul. However much you may love his classic albums, this new project proves that he’s living in the present, and remains an artist of integrity and distinction.
“I’m getting away from the perceived same songs, same albums all the time,” says Morrison. “This guy’s done 500 songs, maybe more, so hello? Why do you keep promoting the same ten? I’m trying to get out of the box.”
‘Latest Record Project: Volume 1’ is the result of our enforced period of isolation. Unable to tour, Morrison remained busy with constant songwriting, starting ideas on piano, guitar or saxophone. What emerged is a wealth of new material, which shimmers with a directness and vibrancy that comes from working with a rhythm section with whom he shares an immediate, spontaneous connection.
3. Fickle Friends – Weird Years: Season 2′
What’s the key to creating an essential second season? It’s simple, but far easier said than done: maintain the spark of the original while also introducing fresh elements that bring new ideas to a familiar setting. That’s precisely what forward-thinking electro/indie-pop quartet Fickle Friends have done with their new EP ‘Weird Years: Season 2’, which is out now. Listen HERE. Watch the official video for ‘Won’t Hurt Myself’ below.
The EP’s first two singles – ‘Not In The Mood’ and ‘Cosmic Coming of Age’ – sparked a surge of acclaim, new streaming support, and further plays from Annie Mac. Now Fickle Friends share ‘Season 2’ with the new single ‘Won’t Hurt Myself’. The song closes the new EP in dramatic style, building skywards from the keys and elemental beats of its introduction into a full-bodied maelstrom of soaring synths and serrated guitars.
The sheer scale of those contrasts reflects the passion of its emotions. “Every day’s like Halloween but I just want to leave the party,” sings a brokenhearted Natti Shiner. But ultimately it’s about striving to do the best for yourself, regardless of how down you may feel. As the chorus counters, “I won’t hurt myself the way you want me to.”
4. Weezer releases Van Weezer
The time has come to welcome Weezer’s long-awaited homage to metal to the world: Van Weezer is out TODAY via Crush Music/Atlantic Records. A video for the new song “All Of The Good Ones” will be released at 5pm today. The animated clip was directed by Jim Dirschberger (Sanjay & Craig) with art by Jay Howell (Bob’s Burgers).
The band will also be returning to The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon this coming Monday, May 10th to perform a new track from Van Weezer. They were last on the show in 2020, doing an at home version of Van Weezer’s song “Hero.” In 2019, they joined The Tonight Show gang for a Classroom Instruments version of their cover of A-Ha’s “Take On Me,” as well as a barbershop quartet rendition of their classic song “Buddy Holly.”
Weezer is commemorating the album with a limited deluxe box set featuring two exclusive remixes, an exclusive album format, lightning bolt laser cut picture disc, and more. The first 500 of the limited 1100 copies are signed. Only available in the band’s webstore HERE.
Van Weezer, the band’s fifteenth studio album, is produced by Suzy Shinn (Panic! At The Disco, Fall Out Boy). The inspiration for this album derives from the deepest roots of Weezer – metal! What has metal got to do with Weezer, you ask? In his earliest years, Rivers was a huge KISS fan; Brian was a big Black Sabbath fan; Pat worshipped at the altar of Van Halen and Rush; Scott loved Slayer and Metallica. The last time this vein of harder rock was mined by Weezer was on their much-loved 2002 album Maladroit; Van Weezer is primed to take that album’s sonics many steps further courtesy of producer Suzy Shinn.
5. Shaun Ross releases debut album ‘Shift’
Bronx-born/LA-based recording artist Shaun Ross releases his eagerly anticipated debut album ‘SHIFT’, out now via Propeller Recordings/JEX Records.
Effortlessly blending disco, R&B, synth-pop, and taking sonic cues from artists as diverse as Björk, Stevie Wonder, and Donny Hathaway, ‘SHIFT’ is a 10-track odyssey that is both deeply personal and hugely relatable. Latest single ‘BLUE EGO’, muses on paranoia – an increasingly fertile topic – over a spellbinding blend of disco and glistening R&B.
Together, alongside Rush Davis and producers Michael Tritter and Carlos Chairez, ‘SHIFT’ was created. And it is an album, not a mixtape or EP or ‘project’. “When artists come out with two projects and then they’re like ‘now, here’s my debut album’ and it’s like ‘I thought that was two albums ago?’,” Shaun laughs. “I didn’t want to get into that situation. I just wanted to put out an album and that’s it.” It’s title describes the shifts that have occurred in his life, as well as “the things I am putting out into the universe to experience.” It’s also a reflection of a shift in perspective that comes with age. “I’m about to turn 30. There are so many things I’m feeling around me, and it’s all coming down to the shift and the way I want to live my life moving forward. I’ve lived a lot of my life on autopilot and I think it’s time to wake up to the things I want to do, and the things I want to see.”