DC November 13 New Release Recap

As is often the case in our look at the week's new releases, the tried and true bump up against the upstarts: The Rolling Stones celebrate 50 years with their new GRRR! collection (with two new songs), we dig deep into some stellar live performances from the late, great Amy Winehouse (Live at The BBC) and Paul McCartney does some Live Kisses on the DVD front. We get some promising new voices: Brooklyn's Sophie Auster, a solo project from Romantica's Ben Kyle, a remarkable new album from Bear Colony and a sterling U.K. debut from English neo-folk trio The Staves. In between, we take a listen to New York songwriter Ari Hest, Sweden's alterno-popping El Perro del Mar, SoCal tunesmith Nels Andrews and New Orleans roots rockers Ben Labat and the Happy Devil. Also out this week: new music from Lana Del Rey, Soundgarden, Big Boi, Brian Eno, Christina Aguilera, Trent Reznor's new side project Hot To Destroy Angels, a Sufjan Stevens' holiday collection and a new Mark Kozelek longplayer. Read about our featured artists and link to music and videos as well as peruse our complete listing of artists and titles below...

Over the course of her all-too-brief career, Amy Winehouse's live performances ranged from the rhapsodic to the wretched, a commanding and charismatic performer riddled with the excess of ego, drugs and self-destruction. Sixteen months after her tragic death, Winehouse is now remembered in her best light in Amy Winehouse: At the BBC, an expansive 4-disc box set for the U.K. market that has been trimmed, at least for now, to a 2-disc set for America. The full Brit box contains 3 DVD's and one CD, including the Tribute to Amy Winehouse from Jools Holland DVD, featuring ten performances from Holland's praised BBC show "Live With..." as well as an excellent 14-track BBC One Sessions Live at Porchester Hall (2007) DVD...more DC

"We tend to fall into the trap of thinking too much about where we expect to be in our lives instead of embracing where we are," says New York songwriter Ari Hest. "I am a black belt in such thinking." That double sided psychological challenge is summed up in the lyrics "I play with fire/and the fire plays with me" from the title track off Hest's fine new The Fire Plays (November 13). It is also, not surprisingly, the most personal of his seven albums. Produced by Gerry Leonard, The Fire Plays has Hest's husky vocals and distinctive way with a flawless melody on prime display coupled with introspective lyrics that have been described as a "journey of self-exploration"...more DC

It probably doesn't hurt that 25-year-old Brooklyn singer/songwriter/actress Sophie Auster has a few genetic things going in her favor. Her dark-eyed, model-ready good looks for one, her famous literary parents -- Paul Auster and Siri Hustvedt -- for another. But Auster has worked to carved out her own career in music and her new EP Red Weather (November 13), arriving nearly a decade after she recorded her first, indicates she's put all that time -- and experience -- to good use. Auster has embraced writing and performing, working with legendary guitarist and songwriter Barry Reynolds (Marianne Faithful, Rufus Wainwright) and laying down her own self-produced tracks...more DC

Five years after Twin Cities alt/country band Romantica released their well-received album America, frontman Ben Kyle returns with his self-titled solo debut, a feat made even more rewarding considering the many starts, stops and reboots along the way. "For me it wasn’t about getting the next marketable product out to keep the train rolling and the career climbing, so I could spend more years on the road," says Kyle. "But it was about not settling for something that my heart wasn’t behind 100%, and making sure I made a record that I felt was beautiful and that I believed in..."more DC

London-based acoustic trio The Staves -- early 20-something sisters Emily, Jessica and Camilla Staveley-Taylor -- have been creating something of a serious buzz on both sides of the big pond lately, touring with The Civil Wars, Ben Howard, Mumford & Sons and Michael Kiwanuka along with releasing a pair of exquisitely delicate nu-folk EP's. Produced by the father and son studio dream team of Glyn and Ethan Johns, the siblings' full length Dead & Born & Grown (November 13, UK) collects selected songs from those EPs as well as a batch of fine new tracks for an album brimming with what we've described as a "masterful bit of sublime harmony that spans the chilly confines of England and balmier surroundings of 70's L.A. folk/pop..." more DC

Some bands try to keep things short, simple, stripped and direct. Not Arkansas music amalgam Bear Colony. Sophomore indie album Soft Eyes (November 13, Esperanza Plantation) is one densely layered, headspinning mash-up of styles and atmospherics: imaginative art/rock, big-melodied pop, grandiose post-rock instrumentalism topped off with dark dollop of unpretentious proggy touches. The recent passing of frontman Vincent Griffin's mother after a battle with cancer serves as the sobering inspiration for Soft Eyes' thematic direction, thirteen songs and instrumental bridges that dig beneath the emotional surface for reflection and, ultimately, a celebration...more DC

Also -- listen to tracks from Nels Andrews ("Barroom Bards") and Ben Labat and the Happy Devil ("Revival").

More November 13 New Releases:

Ben Labat & The Happy Devil - The Revival
Big Boi - Vicious Lies & Dangerous Rumors
Brian Eno - Lux
Carrie Newcomer - Kindred Spirits: A Collection
Christina Aguilera - Lotus
Clinic - Free Reign
Crystal Castles - III
El Perro del Mar - Pale Fire
Eva Cassidy - Best of
Green Day -  ¡Dos!
How To Destroy Angels (Trent Reznor) - An Omen (EP)
Joe Cocker - Fire It Up
Lana Del Rey - Paradise & Born to Die (Paradise Edition)
Mark Kozelek - On Tour: The Soundtrack
Natalie Merchant - Leave Your Sleep (w/ book)
Nels Andrews - Scrimshaw
Paul McCartney - Live Kisses DVD
Peter Frampton - The Best of FCA! 35 Tour (3-CD)
Punch Brothers - Ahoy (EP)
Radical Face - Always Gold EP
School of Seven Bells - Put Your Sad Down EP
Soundgarden - King Animal
Sufjan Stevens - Silver & Gold: Songs for Christmas Vol.6-10 (Box)
Susan McKeown - Belong
Sylver Tongue (Charlotte Hatherly) - Something Big EP
The Rolling Stones - GRRR! (Collection, 2 new songs)
Various - Twilight:The Breaking Dawn 2 (Sndtk)