Best of What’s New

A selection of newly released music that caught my attention

It’s Saturday and winter and snow have finally arrived in Central New Jersey. But this shall not prevent me from taking a fresh look at newly-released music. As is oftentimes the case in these posts, the featured artists are entirely new to me. All tracks appear on albums released yesterday (January 28). This Best of What’s New installment is the first to include a Spotify playlist that goes beyond the tunes highlighted in the post. I figured why not add a few additional new songs from each reviewed new release.

Pinegrove/Habitat

My first pick this week is a rock band from New Jersey, Pinegrove. According to their Apple Music profile, they blend ragged, emo-tinged indie rock with Americana and folk influences…and have…built a sturdy grassroots following through several well-received independent releases before signing with Run for Cover Records to release their 2016 breakout album, Cardinal. Just as their momentum was building, the band took a year-long hiatus, delaying the release of their third album, Skylight, which finally appeared in late 2018...Led by singer/ songwriter Evan Stephens Hall, along with core members Zack Levine (drums) and his brother Nick Levine (guitar), Pinegrove first emerged out of the city of Montclair in 2010 with a self-released EP called Mixtape One. Their debut album, Meridian, arrived in 2012, followed by a pair of independently released EPs and Mixtape Two. This brings me to Habitat, a track off Pinegrove’s sixth and latest album 11:11. Like all other tunes on the record, it was penned by Hall.

Immanuel Wilkins/Emanation

For the most part, I include (old) jazz in my weekly Sunday Six feature, which is why I’m particularly happy to have come across new music by a young jazz alto saxophonist called Immanuel Wilkins. From his website: The music of saxophonist and composer Immanuel Wilkins is filled with empathy and conviction, bonding arcs of melody and lamentation to pluming gestures of space and breath. Listeners were introduced to this riveting sound with his acclaimed debut album Omega, which was named the #1 Jazz Album of 2020 by The New York Times. The album also introduced his remarkable quartet with Micah Thomas on piano, Daryl Johns on bass, and Kweku Sumbry on drums, a tight-knit unit that Wilkins features once again on his stunning sophomore album The 7th Hand. Here’s the opener from that record, Emanation. It’s pretty free-form, but I still like it!

Brent Cobb/Just a Closer Walk with Thee

Brent Cobb is a 35-year-old Nashville-based country singer-songwriter who originally hails from Georgia. He made his vocal debut as a 7-year-old when he performed a Tim McGraw song with his father’s band at a Georgia festival. As a teenager, Cobb fronted Mile Marker 5, a local band that gained prominence opening up for larger acts. After meeting his cousin and record producer Dave Cobb, he recorded his debut album No Place Left to Leave, which appeared in August 2006. Just a Closer Walk with Thee is the opener of Cobb’s latest album And Now, Let’s Turn the Page…, a country gospel record. Here’s a bit more from his website. Brent Cobb follows in the footsteps of his country music heroes with his new gospel album, And Now, Let’s Turn to Page…. By offering eight familiar hymns alongside an original song written with his wife, the collection feels reverent as well as rowdy—and completely in his comfort zone. Brent cites a near-death experience as the push he needed to finally make And Now, Let’s Turn to Page…. In July 2020, the vehicle he was driving, with his young son inside, got T-boned at a rural four-way stop. I rarely listen to gospel and when I do, I usually prefer a gospel choir. But this tune nevertheless grabbed me with its warm feel.

Cloakroom/Dottie-back Thrush

I’d like to wrap up this new music review with Cloakroom, an American rock band from northwest Indiana. From their Apple Music profile: Midwestern trio Cloakroom formed in 2012, coining the term “stoner emo” to describe their lurching, guitar-heavy sound that borrowed equally from hardcore’s brawniness, the dreamy sound-webs of shoegaze, and sad-hearted ’90s indie rock bands like Hum and Red House Painters. Coming together in Michigan City, Indiana, the band consisted of guitarist/vocalist Doyle Martin, who had formerly fronted pop-punk act the Grown-Ups, as well as drummer Brian Busch and bassist Bobby Markos. [In 2019, Bush was replaced by Tim RemisCMM] Debut album Infinity arrived in 2013 and was followed the next year by the more developed double album Further Out. In 2017, Cloakroom dropped their sophomore LP, Time Well, via Relapse Records. This brings me to the band’s new album Dissolution Wave and the track Dottie-back Thrush – definitely outside my core wheelhouse. But there’s just something about their trance-like sound.

Last but not least, here’s the above-noted enhanced playlist.

Sources: Wikipedia; Apple Music; Immanuel Wilkins website; Brent Cobb website; YouTube; Spotify

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