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  • Friday, December 18, 2020
    Celebrating the Year in Nonesuch Music: 2020

    As 2020 draws to a close, and the Nonesuch Journal takes a bit of a hiatus till the start of what we hope will be a much happier, healthier new year, it's time to take a look back and remember all of the great and diverse music made by Nonesuch artists over the past year—despite and in some cases in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many Nonesuch artists and their recent Nonesuch releases have made music critics' and fans' year-end best lists. And Spike Lee's film of David Byrne's American Utopia, for which Nonesuch released the original cast album in late 2019, landed on just about every list of the year's best films and earned a Grammy nomination for Best Musical Theater Album. As NPR's Glen Weldon writes: "It was a year when we were starved for good feelings, a year when mere happiness felt like ecstatic joy, and real ecstatic joy—like that on glorious display on a Broadway stage by a barefoot David Byrne and a cadre of musicians in matching gray suits—could leave you breathless, swooning and profoundly grateful."

    So here, in words and music and in chronological order, is a look back at the year in Nonesuch music, in gratitude:


    JANUARY

    Jeff Parker
    Suite for Max Brown

    The new year began with the first project in a new partnership with International Anthem: composer/multi-instrumentalist Jeff Parker's album Suite for Max Brown, released on January 24. The album is named for and dedicated to his mother and features nine original songs plus "Gnarciss," an interpretation of Joe Henderson's "Black Narcissus," and John Coltrane's "After the Rain." Parker plays the majority of the instruments on the album. "The veteran guitarist has created an effortlessly detailed album, full of tradition and experimentation that spans generations," says Pitchfork. "It lives at the vanguard of new jazz music."

    Suite for Max Brown has made year-end best lists from Rolling Stone, NPR Music, Aquarium Drunkard, Paste, Fretboard Journal, Brooklyn Vegan, Guardian, Jazzwise, Mojo, The Quietus, Record Collector, and Uncut.



    FEBRUARY

    Daughter of Swords
    Prairie Winter Wasteland

    Daughter of Swords—Mountain Man's Alexandra Sauser-Monnig—released a seasonally appropriate single “Prairie Winter Wasteland” on February 5. The track was produced by Jeff Tweedy and recorded at his Chicago studio The Loft. Tweedy joins her on a variety of instruments, with his son Spencer on drums and Nick Macri on bass. The song “is a reflection on the way our emotional experiences of place are shaped in powerful and mystical ways by the people we’ve know there,” says Sauser-Monnig. “The way a certain quality of sunlight, or the call of a particular bird can conjure such specific associations, and can break your heart or lift you up.”

    ---

    Pat Metheny
    From This Place

    On From This Place, released on February 21, Pat Metheny is joined by drummer Antonio Sanchez, bassist Linda May Han Oh, pianist Gwilym Simcock, the Hollywood Studio Symphony led by Joel McNeely, and special guests Meshell Ndegeocello (vocals), Gregoire Maret (harmonica), and Luis Conte (percussion). "This is extraordinary music," says Stereogum. “His most audacious album yet," exclaims Mojo, "a breathtakingly immersive experience that affirms Metheny as a consummate musical storyteller. A transcendent album, From This Place is possibly the Missouri fretboard maestro’s most impressive opus yet.”

    The title track to From This Place has been nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals. The album has made year-end best lists from Rolling Stone, Jazzwise, Record Collector, and Fretboard Journal.



    MARCH

    Vagabon
    In a Bind (Strings Version) / Wits About You (Saxophone Version)

    March 10

    On March 10, Vagabon released a single with two alternate versions of songs from her critically praised 2019 self-titled album: "In A Bind (Strings Version)" and "Wits About You (Saxophone Version)." "When recording 'In a Bind' for the album," she says, "I struggled with what arrangement was best for the song. Originally, I thought it should include soaring strings and be very theatrical and dramatic ... I'm glad this string version gets to see the light of day."

    ---

    Sam Gendel
    Satin Doll

    Sam Gendel made his Nonesuch Records album debut with the release of Satin Doll on March 13. On this futuristic homage to historical jazz, three musicians—Gendel on saxophone and other things, Gabe Noel on electric bass, and Philippe Melanson on electronic percussion—engage in simultaneous synchronized sonic construction/deconstruction of well-known jazz standards, including Miles Davis's "Freddie Freeloader," Charles Mingus's "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat," and Duke Ellington's "Satin Doll." "A woozy, blissfully twisted album," says the Los Angeles Times.

    Satin Doll has made year-end lists from Bandcamp and Aquarium Drunkard.

    ---

    Early James
    Singing for My Supper

    Making another debut on March 13 was Early James, who released his first album, Singing for My Supper, then on Easy Eye Sound/Nonesuch Records. The album spans hard-charging blues, wistful folk, and ages-old pop crooning, anchored by the singer's voice that oscillates from gravel-gruff shout to a honey-smooth whisper. James' inspirations run from Fiona Apple and Tom Waits to the Southern gothic poets, as heard in the album's darker themes and in the wry humor with which he writes about them. He "dazzles on his luminous debut," says Mojo, "this astonishingly assured album."

    Singing for My Supper made Mojo's year-end best list for Americana.



    APRIL

    Randy Newman
    Stay Away

    As the world went into lockdown, Randy Newman wrote and recorded "Stay Away," a call for social distancing in the fight against COVID-19, released on April 17. Proceeds from the single support the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music's efforts to broaden opportunities for underserved children and young musicians in New Orleans' Ninth Ward.

    "Stay Away" made Mail on Sunday's list of the Best Songs of the Year.



    MAY

    Mountain Man
    Sings Kacey Musgraves

    Continuing the series of covers singles it began in 2019, Mountain Man released Mountain Man Sings Kacey Musgraves on May 5, performing “Slow Burn” from Musgraves’ 2018 album, Golden Hour. "We are all huge fans of Kacey Musgraves,” says the band. "'Slow Burn' embodies the magic of the unfolding of life, the power of being present and patient and knowing that sometimes things just take time. Like following a thread—it requires attention and curiosity.”

    ---

    Rhiannon Giddens
    Just the Two of Us (feat. Sxip Shirey)

    “We made this song in a very un-socially distanced time, a few years ago," Rhiannon Giddens says of her take on Bill Withers' "Just the Two of Us" featuring Sxip Shirey, released on May 7. "When Bill Withers passed, we suddenly remembered we had made this and thought it would serve as the perfect backdrop to the reality of where we are now—staying inside so that our healthcare workers have the best chance to fight this virus that cares nothing for the artificial divisions we have put up between us." Proceeds from the track go to Global Giving’s Coronavirus Relief Fund.

    ---

    Various Artists
    I Still Play

    I Still Play, out on May 22, is eleven new solo piano compositions by artists who have recorded for Nonesuch Records, written in honor of the label’s longtime President Bob Hurwitz on the occasion of his 2017 shift into the Chairman Emeritus role. The album features works by John Adams, Laurie Anderson, Timo Andres, Louis Andriessen, Donnacha Dennehy, Philip Glass, Nico Muhly, Brad Mehldau, Steve Reich, Pat Metheny, and Randy Newman, performed by Andres, Mehldau, Newman, and Jeremy Denk.

    ---

    The Magnetic Fields
    Quickies

    The Magnetic Fields closed out the month with Quickies, a five 7" vinyl box set of twenty-eight new short songs by Stephin Merritt, ranging in length from thirteen seconds to two minutes and thirty-five seconds, performed by Merritt and band members Sam Davol, Claudia Gonson, Shirley Simms, and John Woo, along with longtime friends and collaborators Chris Ewen, Daniel Handler, and Pinky Weitzman. "Miniature gems," says the Guardian. "Extraordinary." A translucent magenta vinyl edition of Quickies was released for Record Store Day’s Black Friday on November 27.

    Quickies has made Mojo's list of the year's best albums.



    JUNE

    Brad Mehldau
    Suite: April 2020

    While sheltering at home with his family during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, Brad Mehldau wrote twelve new songs about what he was experiencing; he was able to record them safely in a studio, together with tunes by Neil Young, Billy Joel, and Jerome Kern that mean a great deal to him, for this album, Suite: April 2020. The album was first released on June 12 as a limited-edition deluxe LP and digitally—one thousand numbered and signed copies, with a minimum of $90 from each sale going to the Jazz Foundation of America’s COVID-19 Musician’s Emergency Fund—and on CD and standard vinyl on September 18.

    ---

    Natalie Merchant
    Butterfly / Rarities (1998–2017)

    On June 26, Natalie Merchant released two digital albums that had first been released as part of the 2017 ten-disc box set The Natalie Merchant Collection: Butterfly, a new studio set featuring four new songs and six reinterpreted selections from her catalog, all arranged for string quartet; and Rarities, a collection of fifteen rare and previously unreleased tracks recorded between 1998 and 2017, which offers a unique view of Merchant's creative experimentation through home studio demos, album outtakes, live tracks, and collaborations with diverse artists like Billy Bragg, David Byrne, The Chieftains, Cowboy Junkies, and Amy Helm.



    JULY

    Joshua Redman, Brad Mehldau, Christian McBride, Brian Blade
    RoundAgain

    The members of the original Joshua Redman Quartet—Redman (saxophone), Brad Mehldau (piano), Christian McBride (bass), and Brian Blade (drums)—reunited with RoundAgain, out July 10, the group’s first recording since 1994’s MoodSwing. The album features seven newly composed songs: three from Redman, two from Mehldau, and one each from McBride and Blade. "A flawless effort," exclaims NPR. "Each one of them is at the very top of his game now."

    RoundAgain has been nominated for two Grammy Awards: Best Jazz Instrumental Album and Best Improvised Jazz Solo, for Joshua Redman, on the track "Moe Honk." The album has made year's best lists from Rolling Stone and NPR Music.

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    Vagabon
    Water Me Down (Pamcy Remix)

    Vagabon’s second release of 2020 was a remix of “Water Me Down” by Manila-based DJ/producer Pamcy, on July 14. She had discovered and fallen in love with Pamcy’s music on Bandcamp, where Vagabon herself had first released her music and found a music community. The two began an e-mail correspondence, which eventually led to the creation of this remix of a song from Vagabon's 2019 self-titled Nonesuch debut album.

    ---

    Lianne La Havas
    Lianne La Havas

    Lianne La Havas's acclaimed self-titled, third album, released on July 17, spans the arc of a relationship. "What plays a big role in the album is the idea of the life cycle of plants and nature—equating this journey with a seasonal thing that blooms, thrives, goes away, and comes back even stronger," she says. Its musical references are as varied as Milton Nascimento, Joni Mitchell, Jaco Pastorious, Al Green, and Destiny’s Child. In keeping with the album's intimate feel, everyone who contributed is a trusted collaborator, including longtime songwriting ally Matt Hales, co-producer Beni Giles, and guest co-producer Mura Masa.

    Lianne La Havas has made year's best lists from New York Times, NPR Music, Pitchfork, Noisey, Paste, PopMatters, WFUV, KCRW, Stereogum, Mojo, Uncut, and Financial Times.

    ---

    Devendra Banhart
    Vast Ovoid

    Devendra Banhart's four-song EP Vast Ovoid, released on July 24, followed his 2019 studio album, Ma, about which Q says: "Banhart’s singular world remains as intoxicating as ever, as if all human life is here." The EP, available in a limited-edition 12" white vinyl 45, includes the Helado Negro remix of the Ma song "Love Song" and three songs "that didn’t quite fit in with Ma's theme of maternity," Banhart says. "Ultimately all three songs are about the difference between disappointment and disillusion … Bigger difference than I realized ..."



    AUGUST

    Mountain Man
    Look at Me Don't Look at Me

    Mountain Man's Look at Me Don’t Look at Me, released August 7, was recorded live at Saint Mark’s Cathedral in Seattle in November 2018, capturing the intimacy of the band’s live shows. The recording includes songs from the trio's Nonesuch album Magic Ship and its 2010 debut, Made the Harbor; covers of Fiona Apple's "Hot Knife" and Michael Hurley’s "Blue Mountain"; and the group’s singularly quirky banter. "One of our favorite things in life is singing together to a bunch of people in a room," says the band. "We hope this recording brings you some of the joy you may have been missing until the next time we can all be together."

    ---

    The Staves
    Nazareth / Good Woman singles

    The Staves released the song “Nazareth,” their first new music since its 2017 EP with yMusic, on August 7. "We recorded 'Nazareth' in one take on a field recorder sat outside the studio in the summer of 2018," says the band of the track. "The sun was shining and the birds were singing. We tried recording it in the studio but just kept coming back to this version. It seemed to have the magic.  The song was intended to be in the spirit of an Irish blessing or a kind of a prayer, asking to be kept safe—but it pretty quickly became a more personal and introspective lyric. Moments of glory quickly faded. Worrying, trying. How we mean everything and nothing at the same time. To everyone, to no one."

    ”Nazareth” would be followed in quick succession by “Trying,” another new track, on September 10, and about a month after that by the announcement of the 2021 release of Good Woman, the trio’s first album in six years. “Trying” is on the new album, as are the title track, which arrived in October, and “Satisfied,” which came December 3.

    ---

    Rhiannon Giddens
    Don't Call Me Names

    "The framework in the song is a love affair, but it can happen in any kind of connection," Rhiannon Giddens says of her song "Don't Call Me Names," which she released on August 23. "The real story was accepting my inner strength and refusing to continue being gas-lit and held back; and refusing to keep sacrificing my mental health for the sake of anything or anyone ... When I listen to it, the anger that I felt then now is the anger I feel at my entire country being gas-lit, held back, and sacrificed. We have to keep saying NO to toxic behavior, no matter how small or large the stage, and keep saying it nice and loud.”

    ---

    Tigran Hamasyan
    The Call Within

    On his new album, The Call Within, released August 28, pianist/composer Tigran Hamasyan performs ten original compositions, with Evan Marien on electric bass and Arthur Hnatek on drums. Produced by Hamasyan, the album is a journey into his dreamlike inner world, taking inspiration from his interest in maps from different eras, poetry, Armenian folk stories, astrology, geometry, ancient Armenian design, rock carvings, and cinematography, and creating what Record Collector calls "a kaleidoscopic tapestry of sound." Jazzwise exclaims: "An exceptional recording for exceptional times."

    The Call Within has made year's best lists from Jazziz and Jazzwise.

     


    SEPTEMBER

    Vagabon
    Home Soon (Antebellum Film Mix)

    The third of three Vagabon releases for the year, out on September 18, is new mix of her song "Home Soon," from her self-titled Nonesuch debut album, featured in the film Antebellum starring Janelle Monáe.

    ---

    Rostam
    Half-Light (Acoustic)

    Another single out September 18 came from Rostam, who celebrated the three-year anniversary of his Nonesuch debut, Half-Light, with an acoustic version of the album's title track. The song, which was originally released as part of a compilation album benefitting Fair Fight, features Rostam solo and multi-tracked on guitar, drums, piano, hammond organ, and bass.

    ---

    Sarah Kirkland Snider
    Mass for the Endangered

    Composer Sarah Kirkland Snider’s Mass for the Endangered, released on New Amsterdam and Nonesuch Records on September 25, with a libretto by poet/writer Nathaniel Bellows, is a celebration of, and an elegy for, the natural world—animals, plants, insects, the planet itself—an appeal for greater awareness, urgency, and action. Originally commissioned by Trinity Church Wall Street, this recording features the English vocal ensemble Gallicantus conducted by Gabriel Crouch.

    Mass for the Endangered has made year's best lists from NPR Music, The Nation, KEXP, WQXR, and I Care If You Listen.

    ---

    Mountain Man
    Sings Simple Gifts

    In the second in its cover singles series for 2020, Mountain Man performs the Shaker hymn "Simple Gifts,” which arrived September 29. "'Simple Gifts' is one of those incredible songs that transforms you while you sing it," says the trio. "It's like an incantation, and it was a joy to record."

    ---

    Lake Street Dive
    Making Do

    "'Making Do' is about the world that future generations are inheriting," Lake Street Dive says of its new song, released on September 30. "We are all concerned about what is happening to our planet, so the song explores what arises when we consider both our role in it and our responsibility to address it. Hopefully it comes through as a rallying cry to do the best you can with what you have."



    OCTOBER

    Sam Gendel
    DRM

    Sam Gendel released his second album of the year, DRM, on October 1. On the album, for which he released a video to every song, Gendel performs solo musical experiments with vintage instruments—a forty-year-old Electro Harmonix DRM32 drum machine, antique synthesizers, a sixty-year-old nylon-string guitar—accompanied by his voice. The album includes one cover song: Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road,” which Gendel interprets as an instrumental, playing the melody on an old German analogue synthesizer. The vinyl is due April 16, 2021.

    DRM made the Los Angeles Times' list of the Year's Best L.A. Albums of 2020.

    ---

    Joachim Cooder
    Over That Road I’m Bound

    On his Nonesuch Records debut album, Over That Road I’m Bound, released October 2, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Joachim Cooder uses the plain-spoken songs of country-music progenitor and banjo player Uncle Dave Macon as a jumping off point, tinkering with the lyrics and reworking melodies for his chosen instrument: an electric mbira. Cooder culled songs from Macon’s vast catalog and recorded them with his band and special guests: Ry Cooder, Rayna Gellert, Juliette Commagere, Sam Gendel, Glenn Patscha, Amir Yaghmai, Dan Gellert, and Vieux Farka Touré. "Warm, uplifting, and quietly spectacular," says Uncut. "A buoyant and joyful long-player," says Mojo.

    Over That Road I'm Bound made year's best lists from Folk Alley, Fretboard Journal, and Roots Radio WMOT.

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    Mountain Manr
    Sings Neil Young

    On Mountain Man Sings Neil Young, the third of its cover singles in 2020, out October 14, the trio performs "Through My Sails," from Young's 1975 album, Zuma. "Neil Young has been a pillar of the soundtrack along the Mountain Man road from Vermont to the windy ocean roads of California," says the band. "'Through My Sails' is such a gentle secret at the end of Zuma and it felt immediately natural and right sinking into the harmonies of Neil Young with Crosby, Stills and Nash."

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    Sam Amidon
    Sam Amidon

    Sam Amidon considers his self-titled album, which he produced, to be the fullest realization to date of his artistic vision. On the album, released October 23, he performs radical reworkings of mostly traditional folk songs with his frequent band, multi-instrumentalist Shahzad Ismaily and drummer Chris Vatalaro, along with saxophonist and label mate Sam Gendel, guitarist Bert Cools, bassist Ruth Goller, and Amidon’s wife, Beth Orton, who adds vocals on three songs. The vinyl is due January 22, 2021.

    Sam Amidon made year-end lists from Aquarium Drunkard and Fretboard Journal.

    ---

    Chris Thile
    Thank You, New York (2020) feat. Gaby Moreno

    Chris Thile updated his song "Thank You, New York," featuring Gaby Moreno, as the setting for choreographer Justin Peck's new piece, which the New York City Ballet premiered on October 31. The original version was featured on Thile's 2017 album, Thanks for Listening. "Right now, with how easy it is to be the talker on social media, how hard it is to maintain focus or give something enough attention to appreciate it, we're in a place where listening is a precious commodity," Thile said. The songs are "a celebration of people who haven't switched off, despite being given every reason to do so."



    NOVEMBER

    Mountain Man
    Sings Greensleeves

    In its final cover single of the year, out November 5, Mountain Man performs the English folk song "Greensleeves." "'Greensleeves' is one of our favorite winter songs," says the trio. "It occupies a strange melodic balance point between crystalline winter whimsy and the kind of grim determination required to embark into the emotional wilds of the holiday season."

    ---

    Tristan Perich
    Drift Multiply

    Tristan Perich's Drift Multiply, for 50 violins and 50-channel 1-bit electronics, is the second album of the year on New Amsterdam and Nonesuch Records, released on November 13. The composer's largest work to date, it is conducted on the album by Douglas Perkins. Scored as one hundred individual lines of music, the piece blends violins and speakers into a cascading tapestry of tone, harmony, and noise. The violins perform from sheet music, while the speakers are each connected to custom-built circuit boards programmed to output 1-bit audio, the most basic digital waveforms made of just ones and zeroes.

    Drift Multiply has made year's best lists from the New York Times, PopMatters, and Bandcamp.

    ---

    Stephen Sondheim
    Sweeney Todd (Film Soundtrack) LP

    The soundtrack to Tim Burton's film of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, first released on Nonesuch Records in 2007, was released in its first-ever vinyl edition, a two-LP set, on November 13. The film, which won the Golden Globe for Best Picture, is an adaptation of Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler’s Tony Award–winning musical, starring Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, and the late Alan Rickman. "Something close to a masterpiece, a work of extreme—I am tempted to say evil—genius," exclaimed the New York Times' A.O. Scott. "This Sweeney is a bloody wonder," raved Rolling Stone's Peter Travers, "intimate and epic, horrific and heart-rending as it flies on the wings of Sondheim's most thunderously exciting score."

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    Rob Mazurek
    Dimensional Stardust

    For his 2020 album with Exploding Star Orchestra, Dimensional Stardust, the second release of the year from International Anthem and Nonesuch Records, out November 20, multidisciplinary artist Rob Mazurek arranged his pieces for eleven musicians, including Jeff Parker, and commissioned his long-time lyrics collaborator Damon Locks to draft original texts for the songs. The album recalls an array of Mazurek’s symphonic­ influences, from Béla Bartók to Morton Feldman to Gil Evans to Sun Ra to Pedro Santos to Bill Dixon to The Art Ensemble of Chicago. Opting to focus on tight ensemble orchestration over passages of open improvisation, he distills an orchestra of explosive improvisers into a graceful group exercise in melodic minimalism.

    Dimensional Stardust has made year's best lists from the New York Times, Rolling Stone, Aquarium Drunkard, Mojo, and The Quietus.

    ---

    k.d. lang
    Watershed LP

    The first-ever vinyl release of k.d. lang's 2008 Nonesuch album, Watershed, declared "a masterpiece" by the Times, arrived on November 20. As the title suggests, Watershed represented a milestone in lang’s career. For the first time, she assumed the role of producer, as well as writer, singer, and multi-instrumentalist. “Watershed is like a culmination of everything I’ve done," lang said; "there’s a little bit of jazz, a little country, a little of the Ingénue sound, a little Brazilian touch. It really feels like the way I hear music, this mash-up of genres, and I think it reflects all the styles that have preceded this in my catalogue. I didn’t feel the need to be genre-specific because this experience felt so wide open."



    DECEMBER

    Devendra Banhart
    Franklin’s Tower

    Devendra Banhart's cover of The Grateful Dead’s “Franklin’s Tower,” recorded in honor of the 45th anniversary of The Grateful Dead album Blues for Allah, was first released as an Amazon Original on September 3 and made available everywhere December 4. The song was produced and mixed by Noah Georgeson and recorded with his current touring band: Nicole Lawrence on guitar, Jeremy Harris on synths, and Gregory Rogove on drums and percussion. It was recorded remotely in various studios and home studios around Los Angeles and Stinson Beach, CA.

    ---

    Clint Mansell & Kronos Quartet
    Requiem for a Dream soundtrack LP

    Clint Mansell's haunting score to director Darren Aronofsky's 2000 film Requiem for a Dream, performed by Kronos Quartet, returned to vinyl for the film's 20th anniversary year, on December 4. The soundtrack was originally released on Nonesuch in 2000; the first vinyl edition was released for Record Store Day in 2016 with new artwork and two previously unreleased bonus tracks. The new 2-LP vinyl edition, which also includes the bonus tracks, features the original 2000 soundtrack cover art for the anniversary. "Brilliant stuff," says Classic FM.

    ---

     

    Joachim Cooder
    Christmas in Washington

    Joachim Cooder's cover of Steve Earle’s "Christmas in Washington," recorded just weeks ago in Los Angeles and released December 18, features Cooder, who produced the track, on vocals, array mbira, and percussion; Rayna Gellert on fiddle; and Juliette Commagere on backing vocals. “Since Steve Earle released 'Christmas in Washington' in 1997 I've been listening to it year in and year out," he says. "After the election and the last four years we’ve been through, and with Christmas approaching, I thought it was time we all checked back in with Steve. Now more than ever, it seems all a man can do is call out for Woody Guthrie to rise again."

    ---

    Lianne La Havas
    Live at the Roundhouse

    Lianne La Havas's Live at the Roundhouse EP, released December 18, features five songs from an intimate live-streamed performance she gave from the famed London venue in July: four from her 2020 self-titled album plus "Midnight" from her previous album, Blood. Vocalist Frida Touray joins for two songs.

    ---

    The Black Keys
    Brothers - Deluxe Remastered Anniversary Edition

    The Black Keys mark ten years of their four-time Grammy Award–winning album Brothers with a deluxe, remastered 10th anniversary edition, available in a limited-edition 7" vinyl box set, featuring the remastered original album plus three previously unavailable songs on nine 7" singles, a 60-page book with a new liner note by David Fricke and photos from the archives, a poster, and a cover printed with special heat-sensitive ink. Released December 18 in the US and Canada and worldwide January 1, it is also available in a two-LP 12" set and on CD, both with the extra tracks and updated booklet. The album, recorded primarily at Alabama's legendary Muscle Shoals Sound Studios, is "a masterpiece," exclaimed Rolling Stone; Uncut said it proves The Black Keys to be "one of the best rock 'n' roll bands on the planet."



    AND SO, THE YEAR IN MUSIC

    The above playlist can also be found on our Playlists page, along with our recently updated holiday playlist and many others we hope you'll enjoy.


    AND MORE …

    There is, of course, more great music to come in 2021. Pre-orders are already available for Caroline Shaw's Narrow Sea, performed by Sō Percussion, Dawn Upshaw, and Gilbert Kalish, out January 22; Mariza Sings Amália, Portuguese singer Mariza's celebration of the centenary of the late Queen of Fado, Amália Rodrigues, out on Nonesuch in the US on January 29; a remastered, expanded edition of the soul-stirring 2005 benefit album Our New Orleans with five previously unreleased tracks, for the first time on vinyl, due January 29; as noted above, The Staves' first album in six years, Good Woman, out on Nonesuch in the US on Feburary 5; a limited-edition, translucent red vinyl release of Emmylou Harris's Nonesuch debut album, Red Dirt Girl, for its 20th anniversary, out February 19; and Louis Andriessen's The only one, performed by Los Angeles Philharmonic and solo vocalist Nora Fischer conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen, due March 5.

    Happy Holidays from everyone at Nonesuch Records!

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Celebrating the Year in Nonesuch Music: 2020

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on December 18, 2020 - 12:00pm
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Friday, December 18, 2020 - 12:00
Excerpt: 

As 2020 draws to a close, and the Nonesuch Journal takes a bit of a hiatus till the start of what we hope will be a much happier, healthier new year, it's time to take a look back and remember all of the great and diverse music made by Nonesuch artists over the past year—despite and in some cases in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many Nonesuch artists and their recent Nonesuch releases have made music critics' and fans' year-end best lists. Here, in words and music and in chronological order, is a look back at the year in Nonesuch music, in gratitude.

Copy: 

As 2020 draws to a close, and the Nonesuch Journal takes a bit of a hiatus till the start of what we hope will be a much happier, healthier new year, it's time to take a look back and remember all of the great and diverse music made by Nonesuch artists over the past year—despite and in some cases in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many Nonesuch artists and their recent Nonesuch releases have made music critics' and fans' year-end best lists. And Spike Lee's film of David Byrne's American Utopia, for which Nonesuch released the original cast album in late 2019, landed on just about every list of the year's best films and earned a Grammy nomination for Best Musical Theater Album. As NPR's Glen Weldon writes: "It was a year when we were starved for good feelings, a year when mere happiness felt like ecstatic joy, and real ecstatic joy—like that on glorious display on a Broadway stage by a barefoot David Byrne and a cadre of musicians in matching gray suits—could leave you breathless, swooning and profoundly grateful."

So here, in words and music and in chronological order, is a look back at the year in Nonesuch music, in gratitude:


JANUARY

Jeff Parker
Suite for Max Brown

The new year began with the first project in a new partnership with International Anthem: composer/multi-instrumentalist Jeff Parker's album Suite for Max Brown, released on January 24. The album is named for and dedicated to his mother and features nine original songs plus "Gnarciss," an interpretation of Joe Henderson's "Black Narcissus," and John Coltrane's "After the Rain." Parker plays the majority of the instruments on the album. "The veteran guitarist has created an effortlessly detailed album, full of tradition and experimentation that spans generations," says Pitchfork. "It lives at the vanguard of new jazz music."

Suite for Max Brown has made year-end best lists from Rolling Stone, NPR Music, Aquarium Drunkard, Paste, Fretboard Journal, Brooklyn Vegan, Guardian, Jazzwise, Mojo, The Quietus, Record Collector, and Uncut.



FEBRUARY

Daughter of Swords
Prairie Winter Wasteland

Daughter of Swords—Mountain Man's Alexandra Sauser-Monnig—released a seasonally appropriate single “Prairie Winter Wasteland” on February 5. The track was produced by Jeff Tweedy and recorded at his Chicago studio The Loft. Tweedy joins her on a variety of instruments, with his son Spencer on drums and Nick Macri on bass. The song “is a reflection on the way our emotional experiences of place are shaped in powerful and mystical ways by the people we’ve know there,” says Sauser-Monnig. “The way a certain quality of sunlight, or the call of a particular bird can conjure such specific associations, and can break your heart or lift you up.”

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Pat Metheny
From This Place

On From This Place, released on February 21, Pat Metheny is joined by drummer Antonio Sanchez, bassist Linda May Han Oh, pianist Gwilym Simcock, the Hollywood Studio Symphony led by Joel McNeely, and special guests Meshell Ndegeocello (vocals), Gregoire Maret (harmonica), and Luis Conte (percussion). "This is extraordinary music," says Stereogum. “His most audacious album yet," exclaims Mojo, "a breathtakingly immersive experience that affirms Metheny as a consummate musical storyteller. A transcendent album, From This Place is possibly the Missouri fretboard maestro’s most impressive opus yet.”

The title track to From This Place has been nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals. The album has made year-end best lists from Rolling Stone, Jazzwise, Record Collector, and Fretboard Journal.



MARCH

Vagabon
In a Bind (Strings Version) / Wits About You (Saxophone Version)

March 10

On March 10, Vagabon released a single with two alternate versions of songs from her critically praised 2019 self-titled album: "In A Bind (Strings Version)" and "Wits About You (Saxophone Version)." "When recording 'In a Bind' for the album," she says, "I struggled with what arrangement was best for the song. Originally, I thought it should include soaring strings and be very theatrical and dramatic ... I'm glad this string version gets to see the light of day."

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Sam Gendel
Satin Doll

Sam Gendel made his Nonesuch Records album debut with the release of Satin Doll on March 13. On this futuristic homage to historical jazz, three musicians—Gendel on saxophone and other things, Gabe Noel on electric bass, and Philippe Melanson on electronic percussion—engage in simultaneous synchronized sonic construction/deconstruction of well-known jazz standards, including Miles Davis's "Freddie Freeloader," Charles Mingus's "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat," and Duke Ellington's "Satin Doll." "A woozy, blissfully twisted album," says the Los Angeles Times.

Satin Doll has made year-end lists from Bandcamp and Aquarium Drunkard.

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Early James
Singing for My Supper

Making another debut on March 13 was Early James, who released his first album, Singing for My Supper, then on Easy Eye Sound/Nonesuch Records. The album spans hard-charging blues, wistful folk, and ages-old pop crooning, anchored by the singer's voice that oscillates from gravel-gruff shout to a honey-smooth whisper. James' inspirations run from Fiona Apple and Tom Waits to the Southern gothic poets, as heard in the album's darker themes and in the wry humor with which he writes about them. He "dazzles on his luminous debut," says Mojo, "this astonishingly assured album."

Singing for My Supper made Mojo's year-end best list for Americana.



APRIL

Randy Newman
Stay Away

As the world went into lockdown, Randy Newman wrote and recorded "Stay Away," a call for social distancing in the fight against COVID-19, released on April 17. Proceeds from the single support the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music's efforts to broaden opportunities for underserved children and young musicians in New Orleans' Ninth Ward.

"Stay Away" made Mail on Sunday's list of the Best Songs of the Year.



MAY

Mountain Man
Sings Kacey Musgraves

Continuing the series of covers singles it began in 2019, Mountain Man released Mountain Man Sings Kacey Musgraves on May 5, performing “Slow Burn” from Musgraves’ 2018 album, Golden Hour. "We are all huge fans of Kacey Musgraves,” says the band. "'Slow Burn' embodies the magic of the unfolding of life, the power of being present and patient and knowing that sometimes things just take time. Like following a thread—it requires attention and curiosity.”

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Rhiannon Giddens
Just the Two of Us (feat. Sxip Shirey)

“We made this song in a very un-socially distanced time, a few years ago," Rhiannon Giddens says of her take on Bill Withers' "Just the Two of Us" featuring Sxip Shirey, released on May 7. "When Bill Withers passed, we suddenly remembered we had made this and thought it would serve as the perfect backdrop to the reality of where we are now—staying inside so that our healthcare workers have the best chance to fight this virus that cares nothing for the artificial divisions we have put up between us." Proceeds from the track go to Global Giving’s Coronavirus Relief Fund.

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Various Artists
I Still Play

I Still Play, out on May 22, is eleven new solo piano compositions by artists who have recorded for Nonesuch Records, written in honor of the label’s longtime President Bob Hurwitz on the occasion of his 2017 shift into the Chairman Emeritus role. The album features works by John Adams, Laurie Anderson, Timo Andres, Louis Andriessen, Donnacha Dennehy, Philip Glass, Nico Muhly, Brad Mehldau, Steve Reich, Pat Metheny, and Randy Newman, performed by Andres, Mehldau, Newman, and Jeremy Denk.

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The Magnetic Fields
Quickies

The Magnetic Fields closed out the month with Quickies, a five 7" vinyl box set of twenty-eight new short songs by Stephin Merritt, ranging in length from thirteen seconds to two minutes and thirty-five seconds, performed by Merritt and band members Sam Davol, Claudia Gonson, Shirley Simms, and John Woo, along with longtime friends and collaborators Chris Ewen, Daniel Handler, and Pinky Weitzman. "Miniature gems," says the Guardian. "Extraordinary." A translucent magenta vinyl edition of Quickies was released for Record Store Day’s Black Friday on November 27.

Quickies has made Mojo's list of the year's best albums.



JUNE

Brad Mehldau
Suite: April 2020

While sheltering at home with his family during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, Brad Mehldau wrote twelve new songs about what he was experiencing; he was able to record them safely in a studio, together with tunes by Neil Young, Billy Joel, and Jerome Kern that mean a great deal to him, for this album, Suite: April 2020. The album was first released on June 12 as a limited-edition deluxe LP and digitally—one thousand numbered and signed copies, with a minimum of $90 from each sale going to the Jazz Foundation of America’s COVID-19 Musician’s Emergency Fund—and on CD and standard vinyl on September 18.

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Natalie Merchant
Butterfly / Rarities (1998–2017)

On June 26, Natalie Merchant released two digital albums that had first been released as part of the 2017 ten-disc box set The Natalie Merchant Collection: Butterfly, a new studio set featuring four new songs and six reinterpreted selections from her catalog, all arranged for string quartet; and Rarities, a collection of fifteen rare and previously unreleased tracks recorded between 1998 and 2017, which offers a unique view of Merchant's creative experimentation through home studio demos, album outtakes, live tracks, and collaborations with diverse artists like Billy Bragg, David Byrne, The Chieftains, Cowboy Junkies, and Amy Helm.



JULY

Joshua Redman, Brad Mehldau, Christian McBride, Brian Blade
RoundAgain

The members of the original Joshua Redman Quartet—Redman (saxophone), Brad Mehldau (piano), Christian McBride (bass), and Brian Blade (drums)—reunited with RoundAgain, out July 10, the group’s first recording since 1994’s MoodSwing. The album features seven newly composed songs: three from Redman, two from Mehldau, and one each from McBride and Blade. "A flawless effort," exclaims NPR. "Each one of them is at the very top of his game now."

RoundAgain has been nominated for two Grammy Awards: Best Jazz Instrumental Album and Best Improvised Jazz Solo, for Joshua Redman, on the track "Moe Honk." The album has made year's best lists from Rolling Stone and NPR Music.

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Vagabon
Water Me Down (Pamcy Remix)

Vagabon’s second release of 2020 was a remix of “Water Me Down” by Manila-based DJ/producer Pamcy, on July 14. She had discovered and fallen in love with Pamcy’s music on Bandcamp, where Vagabon herself had first released her music and found a music community. The two began an e-mail correspondence, which eventually led to the creation of this remix of a song from Vagabon's 2019 self-titled Nonesuch debut album.

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Lianne La Havas
Lianne La Havas

Lianne La Havas's acclaimed self-titled, third album, released on July 17, spans the arc of a relationship. "What plays a big role in the album is the idea of the life cycle of plants and nature—equating this journey with a seasonal thing that blooms, thrives, goes away, and comes back even stronger," she says. Its musical references are as varied as Milton Nascimento, Joni Mitchell, Jaco Pastorious, Al Green, and Destiny’s Child. In keeping with the album's intimate feel, everyone who contributed is a trusted collaborator, including longtime songwriting ally Matt Hales, co-producer Beni Giles, and guest co-producer Mura Masa.

Lianne La Havas has made year's best lists from New York Times, NPR Music, Pitchfork, Noisey, Paste, PopMatters, WFUV, KCRW, Stereogum, Mojo, Uncut, and Financial Times.

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Devendra Banhart
Vast Ovoid

Devendra Banhart's four-song EP Vast Ovoid, released on July 24, followed his 2019 studio album, Ma, about which Q says: "Banhart’s singular world remains as intoxicating as ever, as if all human life is here." The EP, available in a limited-edition 12" white vinyl 45, includes the Helado Negro remix of the Ma song "Love Song" and three songs "that didn’t quite fit in with Ma's theme of maternity," Banhart says. "Ultimately all three songs are about the difference between disappointment and disillusion … Bigger difference than I realized ..."



AUGUST

Mountain Man
Look at Me Don't Look at Me

Mountain Man's Look at Me Don’t Look at Me, released August 7, was recorded live at Saint Mark’s Cathedral in Seattle in November 2018, capturing the intimacy of the band’s live shows. The recording includes songs from the trio's Nonesuch album Magic Ship and its 2010 debut, Made the Harbor; covers of Fiona Apple's "Hot Knife" and Michael Hurley’s "Blue Mountain"; and the group’s singularly quirky banter. "One of our favorite things in life is singing together to a bunch of people in a room," says the band. "We hope this recording brings you some of the joy you may have been missing until the next time we can all be together."

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The Staves
Nazareth / Good Woman singles

The Staves released the song “Nazareth,” their first new music since its 2017 EP with yMusic, on August 7. "We recorded 'Nazareth' in one take on a field recorder sat outside the studio in the summer of 2018," says the band of the track. "The sun was shining and the birds were singing. We tried recording it in the studio but just kept coming back to this version. It seemed to have the magic.  The song was intended to be in the spirit of an Irish blessing or a kind of a prayer, asking to be kept safe—but it pretty quickly became a more personal and introspective lyric. Moments of glory quickly faded. Worrying, trying. How we mean everything and nothing at the same time. To everyone, to no one."

”Nazareth” would be followed in quick succession by “Trying,” another new track, on September 10, and about a month after that by the announcement of the 2021 release of Good Woman, the trio’s first album in six years. “Trying” is on the new album, as are the title track, which arrived in October, and “Satisfied,” which came December 3.

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Rhiannon Giddens
Don't Call Me Names

"The framework in the song is a love affair, but it can happen in any kind of connection," Rhiannon Giddens says of her song "Don't Call Me Names," which she released on August 23. "The real story was accepting my inner strength and refusing to continue being gas-lit and held back; and refusing to keep sacrificing my mental health for the sake of anything or anyone ... When I listen to it, the anger that I felt then now is the anger I feel at my entire country being gas-lit, held back, and sacrificed. We have to keep saying NO to toxic behavior, no matter how small or large the stage, and keep saying it nice and loud.”

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Tigran Hamasyan
The Call Within

On his new album, The Call Within, released August 28, pianist/composer Tigran Hamasyan performs ten original compositions, with Evan Marien on electric bass and Arthur Hnatek on drums. Produced by Hamasyan, the album is a journey into his dreamlike inner world, taking inspiration from his interest in maps from different eras, poetry, Armenian folk stories, astrology, geometry, ancient Armenian design, rock carvings, and cinematography, and creating what Record Collector calls "a kaleidoscopic tapestry of sound." Jazzwise exclaims: "An exceptional recording for exceptional times."

The Call Within has made year's best lists from Jazziz and Jazzwise.

 


SEPTEMBER

Vagabon
Home Soon (Antebellum Film Mix)

The third of three Vagabon releases for the year, out on September 18, is new mix of her song "Home Soon," from her self-titled Nonesuch debut album, featured in the film Antebellum starring Janelle Monáe.

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Rostam
Half-Light (Acoustic)

Another single out September 18 came from Rostam, who celebrated the three-year anniversary of his Nonesuch debut, Half-Light, with an acoustic version of the album's title track. The song, which was originally released as part of a compilation album benefitting Fair Fight, features Rostam solo and multi-tracked on guitar, drums, piano, hammond organ, and bass.

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Sarah Kirkland Snider
Mass for the Endangered

Composer Sarah Kirkland Snider’s Mass for the Endangered, released on New Amsterdam and Nonesuch Records on September 25, with a libretto by poet/writer Nathaniel Bellows, is a celebration of, and an elegy for, the natural world—animals, plants, insects, the planet itself—an appeal for greater awareness, urgency, and action. Originally commissioned by Trinity Church Wall Street, this recording features the English vocal ensemble Gallicantus conducted by Gabriel Crouch.

Mass for the Endangered has made year's best lists from NPR Music, The Nation, KEXP, WQXR, and I Care If You Listen.

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Mountain Man
Sings Simple Gifts

In the second in its cover singles series for 2020, Mountain Man performs the Shaker hymn "Simple Gifts,” which arrived September 29. "'Simple Gifts' is one of those incredible songs that transforms you while you sing it," says the trio. "It's like an incantation, and it was a joy to record."

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Lake Street Dive
Making Do

"'Making Do' is about the world that future generations are inheriting," Lake Street Dive says of its new song, released on September 30. "We are all concerned about what is happening to our planet, so the song explores what arises when we consider both our role in it and our responsibility to address it. Hopefully it comes through as a rallying cry to do the best you can with what you have."



OCTOBER

Sam Gendel
DRM

Sam Gendel released his second album of the year, DRM, on October 1. On the album, for which he released a video to every song, Gendel performs solo musical experiments with vintage instruments—a forty-year-old Electro Harmonix DRM32 drum machine, antique synthesizers, a sixty-year-old nylon-string guitar—accompanied by his voice. The album includes one cover song: Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road,” which Gendel interprets as an instrumental, playing the melody on an old German analogue synthesizer. The vinyl is due April 16, 2021.

DRM made the Los Angeles Times' list of the Year's Best L.A. Albums of 2020.

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Joachim Cooder
Over That Road I’m Bound

On his Nonesuch Records debut album, Over That Road I’m Bound, released October 2, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Joachim Cooder uses the plain-spoken songs of country-music progenitor and banjo player Uncle Dave Macon as a jumping off point, tinkering with the lyrics and reworking melodies for his chosen instrument: an electric mbira. Cooder culled songs from Macon’s vast catalog and recorded them with his band and special guests: Ry Cooder, Rayna Gellert, Juliette Commagere, Sam Gendel, Glenn Patscha, Amir Yaghmai, Dan Gellert, and Vieux Farka Touré. "Warm, uplifting, and quietly spectacular," says Uncut. "A buoyant and joyful long-player," says Mojo.

Over That Road I'm Bound made year's best lists from Folk Alley, Fretboard Journal, and Roots Radio WMOT.

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Mountain Manr
Sings Neil Young

On Mountain Man Sings Neil Young, the third of its cover singles in 2020, out October 14, the trio performs "Through My Sails," from Young's 1975 album, Zuma. "Neil Young has been a pillar of the soundtrack along the Mountain Man road from Vermont to the windy ocean roads of California," says the band. "'Through My Sails' is such a gentle secret at the end of Zuma and it felt immediately natural and right sinking into the harmonies of Neil Young with Crosby, Stills and Nash."

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Sam Amidon
Sam Amidon

Sam Amidon considers his self-titled album, which he produced, to be the fullest realization to date of his artistic vision. On the album, released October 23, he performs radical reworkings of mostly traditional folk songs with his frequent band, multi-instrumentalist Shahzad Ismaily and drummer Chris Vatalaro, along with saxophonist and label mate Sam Gendel, guitarist Bert Cools, bassist Ruth Goller, and Amidon’s wife, Beth Orton, who adds vocals on three songs. The vinyl is due January 22, 2021.

Sam Amidon made year-end lists from Aquarium Drunkard and Fretboard Journal.

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Chris Thile
Thank You, New York (2020) feat. Gaby Moreno

Chris Thile updated his song "Thank You, New York," featuring Gaby Moreno, as the setting for choreographer Justin Peck's new piece, which the New York City Ballet premiered on October 31. The original version was featured on Thile's 2017 album, Thanks for Listening. "Right now, with how easy it is to be the talker on social media, how hard it is to maintain focus or give something enough attention to appreciate it, we're in a place where listening is a precious commodity," Thile said. The songs are "a celebration of people who haven't switched off, despite being given every reason to do so."



NOVEMBER

Mountain Man
Sings Greensleeves

In its final cover single of the year, out November 5, Mountain Man performs the English folk song "Greensleeves." "'Greensleeves' is one of our favorite winter songs," says the trio. "It occupies a strange melodic balance point between crystalline winter whimsy and the kind of grim determination required to embark into the emotional wilds of the holiday season."

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Tristan Perich
Drift Multiply

Tristan Perich's Drift Multiply, for 50 violins and 50-channel 1-bit electronics, is the second album of the year on New Amsterdam and Nonesuch Records, released on November 13. The composer's largest work to date, it is conducted on the album by Douglas Perkins. Scored as one hundred individual lines of music, the piece blends violins and speakers into a cascading tapestry of tone, harmony, and noise. The violins perform from sheet music, while the speakers are each connected to custom-built circuit boards programmed to output 1-bit audio, the most basic digital waveforms made of just ones and zeroes.

Drift Multiply has made year's best lists from the New York Times, PopMatters, and Bandcamp.

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Stephen Sondheim
Sweeney Todd (Film Soundtrack) LP

The soundtrack to Tim Burton's film of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, first released on Nonesuch Records in 2007, was released in its first-ever vinyl edition, a two-LP set, on November 13. The film, which won the Golden Globe for Best Picture, is an adaptation of Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler’s Tony Award–winning musical, starring Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, and the late Alan Rickman. "Something close to a masterpiece, a work of extreme—I am tempted to say evil—genius," exclaimed the New York Times' A.O. Scott. "This Sweeney is a bloody wonder," raved Rolling Stone's Peter Travers, "intimate and epic, horrific and heart-rending as it flies on the wings of Sondheim's most thunderously exciting score."

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Rob Mazurek
Dimensional Stardust

For his 2020 album with Exploding Star Orchestra, Dimensional Stardust, the second release of the year from International Anthem and Nonesuch Records, out November 20, multidisciplinary artist Rob Mazurek arranged his pieces for eleven musicians, including Jeff Parker, and commissioned his long-time lyrics collaborator Damon Locks to draft original texts for the songs. The album recalls an array of Mazurek’s symphonic­ influences, from Béla Bartók to Morton Feldman to Gil Evans to Sun Ra to Pedro Santos to Bill Dixon to The Art Ensemble of Chicago. Opting to focus on tight ensemble orchestration over passages of open improvisation, he distills an orchestra of explosive improvisers into a graceful group exercise in melodic minimalism.

Dimensional Stardust has made year's best lists from the New York Times, Rolling Stone, Aquarium Drunkard, Mojo, and The Quietus.

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k.d. lang
Watershed LP

The first-ever vinyl release of k.d. lang's 2008 Nonesuch album, Watershed, declared "a masterpiece" by the Times, arrived on November 20. As the title suggests, Watershed represented a milestone in lang’s career. For the first time, she assumed the role of producer, as well as writer, singer, and multi-instrumentalist. “Watershed is like a culmination of everything I’ve done," lang said; "there’s a little bit of jazz, a little country, a little of the Ingénue sound, a little Brazilian touch. It really feels like the way I hear music, this mash-up of genres, and I think it reflects all the styles that have preceded this in my catalogue. I didn’t feel the need to be genre-specific because this experience felt so wide open."



DECEMBER

Devendra Banhart
Franklin’s Tower

Devendra Banhart's cover of The Grateful Dead’s “Franklin’s Tower,” recorded in honor of the 45th anniversary of The Grateful Dead album Blues for Allah, was first released as an Amazon Original on September 3 and made available everywhere December 4. The song was produced and mixed by Noah Georgeson and recorded with his current touring band: Nicole Lawrence on guitar, Jeremy Harris on synths, and Gregory Rogove on drums and percussion. It was recorded remotely in various studios and home studios around Los Angeles and Stinson Beach, CA.

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Clint Mansell & Kronos Quartet
Requiem for a Dream soundtrack LP

Clint Mansell's haunting score to director Darren Aronofsky's 2000 film Requiem for a Dream, performed by Kronos Quartet, returned to vinyl for the film's 20th anniversary year, on December 4. The soundtrack was originally released on Nonesuch in 2000; the first vinyl edition was released for Record Store Day in 2016 with new artwork and two previously unreleased bonus tracks. The new 2-LP vinyl edition, which also includes the bonus tracks, features the original 2000 soundtrack cover art for the anniversary. "Brilliant stuff," says Classic FM.

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Joachim Cooder
Christmas in Washington

Joachim Cooder's cover of Steve Earle’s "Christmas in Washington," recorded just weeks ago in Los Angeles and released December 18, features Cooder, who produced the track, on vocals, array mbira, and percussion; Rayna Gellert on fiddle; and Juliette Commagere on backing vocals. “Since Steve Earle released 'Christmas in Washington' in 1997 I've been listening to it year in and year out," he says. "After the election and the last four years we’ve been through, and with Christmas approaching, I thought it was time we all checked back in with Steve. Now more than ever, it seems all a man can do is call out for Woody Guthrie to rise again."

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Lianne La Havas
Live at the Roundhouse

Lianne La Havas's Live at the Roundhouse EP, released December 18, features five songs from an intimate live-streamed performance she gave from the famed London venue in July: four from her 2020 self-titled album plus "Midnight" from her previous album, Blood. Vocalist Frida Touray joins for two songs.

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The Black Keys
Brothers - Deluxe Remastered Anniversary Edition

The Black Keys mark ten years of their four-time Grammy Award–winning album Brothers with a deluxe, remastered 10th anniversary edition, available in a limited-edition 7" vinyl box set, featuring the remastered original album plus three previously unavailable songs on nine 7" singles, a 60-page book with a new liner note by David Fricke and photos from the archives, a poster, and a cover printed with special heat-sensitive ink. Released December 18 in the US and Canada and worldwide January 1, it is also available in a two-LP 12" set and on CD, both with the extra tracks and updated booklet. The album, recorded primarily at Alabama's legendary Muscle Shoals Sound Studios, is "a masterpiece," exclaimed Rolling Stone; Uncut said it proves The Black Keys to be "one of the best rock 'n' roll bands on the planet."



AND SO, THE YEAR IN MUSIC

The above playlist can also be found on our Playlists page, along with our recently updated holiday playlist and many others we hope you'll enjoy.


AND MORE …

There is, of course, more great music to come in 2021. Pre-orders are already available for Caroline Shaw's Narrow Sea, performed by Sō Percussion, Dawn Upshaw, and Gilbert Kalish, out January 22; Mariza Sings Amália, Portuguese singer Mariza's celebration of the centenary of the late Queen of Fado, Amália Rodrigues, out on Nonesuch in the US on January 29; a remastered, expanded edition of the soul-stirring 2005 benefit album Our New Orleans with five previously unreleased tracks, for the first time on vinyl, due January 29; as noted above, The Staves' first album in six years, Good Woman, out on Nonesuch in the US on Feburary 5; a limited-edition, translucent red vinyl release of Emmylou Harris's Nonesuch debut album, Red Dirt Girl, for its 20th anniversary, out February 19; and Louis Andriessen's The only one, performed by Los Angeles Philharmonic and solo vocalist Nora Fischer conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen, due March 5.

Happy Holidays from everyone at Nonesuch Records!

featuredimage: 
Celebrating the Year in Nonesuch Music: 2020

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