Album of the Week: Elbow | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Wednesday, November 13th, 2019  

Album of the Week: Elbow

Big Thief is the Runner-Up; Plus Stream the New Albums from Kim Gordon, Lindstrøm, Allah Las, Cursive, Mark Kozelek with Petra Haden, and More

Oct 11, 2019
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Elbow have released a new album, Giants of All Sizes, today via Polydor/Verve Label Group and it's our Album of the Week. Big Thief's Two Hands, on 4AD, is our close runner-up. Find more info on both albums below. Below that are streams of other notable albums released today: Kim Gordon, Lindstrøm, Allah Las, Cursive, Mark Kozelek with Petra Haden, Julien Chang, Starcrawler, Jónsi and Alex Somers, and Devon Welsh.

Elbow: Giants of All Sizes (Polydor/Verve Label Group)

The band's keyboardist Craig Potter produced and mixed the album, as he did with the band's last four albums. Giants of All Sizes was recorded at Hamburg, Germany's Clouds Hill Studio; The Dairy in Brixton, England; 604 Studios in Vancouver, Canada; and Blueprint Studios in Salford, England. Parts were also recorded at various band member's home studios in Manchester, England. As well as Hoop, the album also features The Plumedores and Chilli Chilton (described in a press release as "a South London newcomer").

Giants of All Sizes includes "Dexter & Sinister," a 7-minute long new song the band shared just prior to the announcement of the album (the song features backing vocals from Jesca Hoop and was one of our Songs of the Week). Then they shared another song from it, "Empires," which was also one of our Songs of the Week. Then the British band shared another song from it, "White Noise White Heat," which was also one of our Songs of the Week.

The band's keyboardist Craig Potter produced and mixed the album, as he did with the band's last four albums. Giants of All Sizes was recorded at Hamburg, Germany's Clouds Hill Studio; The Dairy in Brixton, England; 604 Studios in Vancouver, Canada; and Blueprint Studios in Salford, England. Parts were also recorded at various band member's home studios in Manchester, England. As well as Hoop, the album also features The Plumedores and Chilli Chilton (described in a press release as "a South London newcomer").

Potter had this to say about "Empires" in a press release: "We thought the studio would give us inner city vibes but we were on the edge of Hamburg which meant we spent more time in Clouds Hill rather than exploring. With time to spare, we sat around and played together in a way we haven't for a long time and experimented and improvised with the music which led to the looser feel you hear on 'Empires.'"

Giants of All Sizes seems to find the band in a looser, more experimental mode, with much of it recorded live in the studio, band members encouraged to spend more time cultivating their original demos rather than compromising, and Elbow perhaps embracing new influences. For example, the press release says "Doldrums" "mixes John Carpenter with The Plastic Ono Band" and "The Delayed 3:15" "marries mariachi guitars to jazz dynamics, Morricone via Buddy Rich."

In a previous press release lead singer and lyricist Guy Garvey described the album as "an angry, old blue lament which finds its salvation in family, friends, the band, and new life." 

The previous press release added that Giants of All Sizes "is a record that lyrically takes in moments of deep personal loss whilst reflecting its times by confronting head-on the specters of injustice and division not just in the UK but across the world. It is a record that could only have been made in the 21st Century."

Potter had this to say about "Dexter & Sinister" in a previous press release: "We haven't sat around and played like that in a long time. The looseness in the track definitely comes from us playing live in the room and, on the second part, we decided not to play to a click to really allow the tune to breathe."

The previous press release said "the track takes its title from heraldry where Dexter (Right) and Sinister (Left) represent the two sides of an escutcheon bearing a coat of arms."

In the previous press release Garvey said "Dexter & Sinister" is "a great, big, bewildered question dealing with my feelings on Brexit, the loss of family and friends and the general sense of disaffection you see all around at the moment."

Also, today we posted a rave review of the album and you can read that here.

Elbow's last album, their seventh, Little Fictions, was released in 2017, the same year they released a best of compilation, fittingly titled The Best Of.

Read our interview with Elbow's Guy Garvey on Little Fictions.

Also read our 2014 print article on Elbow and our 2014 web-exclusive interview with Garvey on his favorite cities. Plus read our 2016 The End interview with Garvey on endings and death.

www.elbow.co.uk

Album of the Week Runner-Up:

Big Thief: Two Hands (4AD)

Big Thief have released a new album, Two Hands, today via 4AD and it's our close runner-up.

Two Hands is Big Thief's second album of 2019 and is the "sister album" to U.F.O.F., which was released back in May via 4AD. Previously they shared Two Hands' first single, "Not," which was #1 on our Songs of the Week list. Then they have shared a second song from it, "Forgotten Eyes," which also made our Songs of the Week list. Last night the band stopped by The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to perform "Not." It was a passionate and rousing performance.

The band began work on Two Hands only days after finishing U.F.O.F. Whereas their last album was recorded at Bear Creek Studios in a cabin in the woods of Washington State, Two Hands was recorded at the Sonic Ranch studio 30 miles west of El Paso, in the desert near the Mexican border, surrounded by thousands of acres of pecan orchards. The songs were recorded live in the studio, with largely no overdubs, and the vocals on all but two songs were completely live vocal takes. 

Big Thief consists of singer/songwriter/guitarist Adrianne Lenker, guitarist Buck Meek, bassist Max Oleartchik, and drummer James Krivchenia. As with U.F.O.F., the band once again worked with engineer Dom Monks and producer Andrew Sarlo (who also mixed the album with Krivchenia).

Lenker had this to say about the album in a previous press release: "'Two Hands' has the songs that I'm the most proud of; I can imagine myself singing them when I'm old. Musically and lyrically, you can't break it down much further than this. It's already bare-bones."

U.F.O.F. was the follow-up to 2017's Capacity and 2016's debut album, Masterpiece. Last fall Lenker released a new solo album, abysskiss, via Saddle Creek.

Read our 2016 Pleased to Meet You interview with Big Thief.

Read our 2017 interview with Big Thief on Capacity.

www.bigthief.net

Also Released This Week:

Allah Las: LAHS (Mexican Summer)

Julien Chang: Jules (Transgressive)

Cursive: Get Fixed (15 Passenger)

Kim Gordon: No Home Record (Matador)

Jónsi and Alex Somers: Lost and Found (Self-Released)

Mark Kozelek with Petra Haden: Joey Always Smiled (Caldo Verde)

Lindstrøm: On a Clear Day I Can See You Forever (Smalltown Supersound)

Starcrawler: Devour You (Rough Trade)

Devon Welsh: True Love (You Are Accepted)

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