Music Releases 01-14-22
Covers [Indie Exclusive Limited Edition Gold LP]
Cat Power returns with Covers, Chan Marshall’s third album of her celebrated reinterpretations of songs by classic and contemporary artists.
On Covers, Marshall reaches back to songs that have affected her from childhood to the present, connecting each with a deeply personal memory. She recalls her grandmother’s love for Billie Holiday’s “I’ll Be Seeing You” and finding a box of cassettes as a teenager that led her to discovering Kitty Wells’ “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels.” She remembers getting chills hearing Iggy Pop’s “Endless Sea” in the 1986 Michael Hutchence film Dogs in Space and being a broke artist in her twenties in New York City spending her last dollar to play the Replacements’ “Here Comes a Regular” on the jukebox at Mona’s. She recorded the Pogues’ “Pair of Brown Eyes,” which she calls one of her favorite songs of all time, after it reminded her of one friend who passed from cancer and turned to Bob Seger’s “Against the Wind” to help her heal from the loss of another.
Alongside covers of rock-and-roll icons from Nico to Nick Cave, Marshall brings her inimitable vocal power and elegant arrangements to songs by contemporary artists, capturing the defiance of Dead Man’s Bones’ “Pa Pa Power” and the dreaminess of Lana Del Rey’s “A White Mustang.” And the album opens with a dazzling cover of Frank Ocean’s “Bad Religion,” of which she says, “I believe in whatever God is called… But I think that the wretched men that have come in history to implement horror on humanity in the name of these religions is something that should be looked at universally.”
Finally, Covers finds Marshall, an artist of constant evolution, reworking “Hate,” a song from her 2006 LP The Greatest on which she sang “I hate myself and I want to die.” Marshall says she has always felt “antsy” about the track and reimagined it as “Unhate,” a new version that looks back on the raw devastation of the original track in the rearview. “We all have bad days,” she says. “We all have shit, trauma, something. There are times when you feel like that. But I needed to make it right.”
Marshall self-produced all of Covers; it was recorded in Los Angeles at Mant Studios with Rob Schnapf, who mixed and engineered.
Hell on Church Street [LP]
Vinyl: $22.98 Buy
Hell on Church Street, Punch Brothers’ newest album, due January 14, 2022 on Nonesuch Records, is the band’s reimagining of, and homage to, the late bluegrass great Tony Rice’s landmark solo album Church Street Blues. The record features a collection of songs by Bob Dylan, Gordon Lightfoot, Bill Monroe, and others. Recorded at Nashville’s Blackbird Studio in November 2020, during a time of great uncertainty, Hell on Church Street was intended as both its own work of art and a gift to Rice, who died that Christmas. Punch Brothers said of Tony Rice and Church Street Blues: “No record (or musician) has had a greater impact on us, and we felt compelled to cover it in its entirety, with the objective of interacting with it in the same spirit of respect-fueled adventure that Tony brought to each of its pre-existing songs.”
Fragments [Indie Exclusive Limited Edition Red Marbled 2LP]
Vinyl: $35.98 Buy
Bonobo will release new album Fragments, due on January 14, 2022 via Ninja Tune. Fragments is the most emotionally intense record that he - aka Simon Green - has ever had to make. It’s no surprise that it’s also his masterpiece. The album features Jamila Woods, Joji, Kadhja Bonet, Jordan Rakei, O’Flynn and Miguel Atwood-Ferguson. Born first out of fragments of ideas and experimentation, the album ultimately was fused together in a burst of creativity fueled by both collaboration and Green’s escape into the wild.
Voyeurist [Indie Exclusive Limited Edition Golden Age LP]
Underoath return to their unique chaotic core with their seventh studio album, Voyeurist. An unguarded keyhole invites the viewer to peer into the process, and draw their own conclusion on who the band is, and what that perception reveals about the viewer themselves. Amidst the colliding perspectives, it’s clear that identities have been lost, and you are no longer you.
Chelsea Walls [LP]
Listen To The Blood [LP]
Vinyl: $21.98 Buy
With a storyteller's eye and sly sense of humor that echoes not only his “honorary uncle” Del Reeves, but Tom T. Hall and Roger Miller, The Kernal delves deep into everything from family dysfunction to road trips to matters of the heart. The music, which he describes with a laugh as “diet country,” embodies the spirit of that genre without any of the slavishness or self-seriousness of much modern Americana. Rolling Stone has called his style “sweetly subversive, intellectual and addictive,” while Lo-Down said “the songs have an air of nostalgia but they sound far from old - modern, yet timeless. ”
From the joyous, southern-fried grooves of “U Do U” and “Pistol in the Pillow” through the revved-up rockabilly stomp of “Green Green Sky” and the cinematic travelogue of “Wrong Turn to Tupelo” to “The Fight Song,” a sparkling '80s style duet with Caitlin Rose, it's a nine-song sequence that showcases The Kernal's warm, confidential voice while managing to make profound connections with the head, heart and feet.
“When people ask me what kind of music I play, I say, 'It's like sixteen-foot trailer country music,'” he says. “You pull up a hay trailer in a field and you barbecue a bunch of stuff and there are people setting off fireworks and there are kids running around in diapers with ice cream running down their bellies. You get up there, turn it up and have a good time. I just love seeing people have a good time, and I think that's why I like country music. The groove of it. It speaks to people's legs. They loosen up and enjoy themselves and it's no big deal. I love that. And I love to be able to contribute to that.”
Storm Queen [Opaque White LP]
Grace Cummings’s second album Storm Queen has its own unruly climate, governed only by the singular force of her devastating vocals. Over the course of 11 feverishly composed folk songs, the Melbourne-based singer/songwriter explores a vast and volatile emotional landscape, approaching each track with both exquisite control and unfettered abandon. Cummings captured the bulk of Storm Queen’s songs in just a few takes, amplifying the visceral quality of her spellbinding vocal presence.
Elvis Costello & The Imposters
The Boy Named If [2LP]
Elvis Costello & The Imposters release The Boy Named If, an album of urgent, immediate songs with bright melodies, stinging guitar solos, and a quick step to the rhythm. Costello says, “The full title of this record is ‘The Boy Named If (And Other Children’s Stories).’ ‘IF’ is a nickname for your imaginary friend; your secret self, the one who knows everything you deny, the one you blame for the shattered crockery and the hearts you break, even your own.” Produced by Costello and Sebatian Krys.
Fix Yourself, Not The World [LP]
Vinyl: $28.98 Buy
Dodging Dues [LP]
Dodging Dues is a startlingly expansive record—“startling” in part because it’s relatively short (seven songs, all but one hovering around the four minute mark), but also because it traverses so many moods and styles: languid and dreamy one moment, surging and intense the next. Garcia Peoples (these days a six-person band) “hit their stride” a long time ago, but here they seem to be hitting a different one, working themselves loose of influences (though this tree has roots: traces of Thin Lizzy, of more arcane bits of U.K. folk-prog, of vintage Meat Puppets in some of the softer passages) while at the same time opening themselves up to their own individual strangeness, becoming ever more singular and ever more free.
Richard Carpenter’s Piano Songbook
CD: $14.95 Buy
Collected Pieces: 2015-2020 [2LP]
In the afterglow of her acclaimed 2020 album Silver Ladders (a year-end favorite of NPR, Pitchfork, The New Yorker, and others), Los Angeles-based harpist Mary Lattimore returns with a culminating counterpart release, Collected Pieces: 2015-2020. The limited-edition LP features new and previously unreleased material, Bandcamp-only singles, and other obscurities alongside standouts from her 2017 tape Collected Pieces. Beyond the vinyl compendium, an expanded tracklist on the cassette/digital version brings more of Lattimore’s archives together for the first time. Lattimore has described the process of arranging these releases as akin to “opening a box filled with memories,” and here that box continues to populate, accessible for both the artist and fans. Evocative material separated by years, framed as a portrait of an instrumental storyteller who rarely pauses, recording and often sharing music as soon as it strikes her. Seemingly in constant forward motion for the last five years since her Ghostly debut, Lattimore glances back for a breath, inviting new chances to live in these fleeting moments and emotions; all the beauty, sorrow, sunshine, and darkness housed within.
Opening the cassette version is “Mary, You Were Wrong,” which mirrors an author’s bout with a broken heart. “It’s about how you have to keep on going even if you make some mistakes,” she says. The bittersweet refrain cycles throughout, a little brighter every time, slowly, like the way time tends to heal.
Unreleased track “Sleeping Deer” came together during Lattimore’s artist residency on a cattle ranch in Wyoming. She remembers, “a small deer whose mother I think had been run over by a car would hang out in the yard. I called him Lollipop and would leave vegetable scraps out.” Lollipop returned daily to eat, rest, and wait for more. The music this vision inspired is patient and droning, with light plucks giving way to deeper, vibrating tones, permeating with a sense of anticipation.
Next is a newer single, “We Wave From Our Boats,” which she improvised after walking her neighborhood during the early days of lockdown in 2020, and shared on her Bandcamp. “I would just wave at neighbors I didn’t know in a gesture of solidarity and it reminded me of how you’re compelled to wave at people on the other boat when you’re on a boat yourself, or on a bridge or something. The pull to wave feels very innate and natural.” The heart of the track is somber loop, over top which Lattimore’s synth notes ruminate, each a gentle shimmer of optimism in the most anxious and absurd of days.
Also recorded in 2020, “What The Living Do” is inspired by Marie Howe’s poem of the same name, which reflects on loss through an appreciation for the mundane messiness of being human. The echoed, slow-marching track has a distant feel to it, as if the listener is outside of it, watching life play out as a film. “Princess Nicotine (1909)” scores actual footage, a dream sequence Lattimore imagined for J. Stuart Blackton’s surreal silent film Princess Nicotine; or, the Smoke Fairy. She adopted the same approach for “Polly of the Circus,” explaining it was the name of one of the old silent films discovered in permafrost in the Yukon [featured in the documentary Dawson City: Frozen Time], “the only copy that survived and it kind of warped in the aging process.”
A trove of pieces are collected here, most recorded in the moment, just Lattimore and her Lyon and Healy Concert Grand Harp, contact mics, and pedals. There’s the one about the American astronaut’s homecoming (“For Scott Kelly, Returned To Earth”), the Charlie Chaplin-like character who lost their glasses (“Be My Four Eyes”). Like her most affecting work, these songs showcase Lattimore’s gifts as an observer, able to shape her craft around emotional frequencies and scenes. Her power as a musician is rooted in how she sees the world: in vivid detail, profoundly empathic, with deep gratitude for nature and nuance.
Jamestown Revival have made the quietest record of their career with Young Man, yet it may resonate the most. Recorded in their home state of Texas, it is their first project without electric guitars, with the emphasis instead on skillful songwriting, flawless harmony, and intricate fingerpicking. In addition, it’s the first time that bandmates Jonathan Clay and Zach Chance have created an album with a producer -- in this case, Robert Ellis, a fellow Texan and a recording artist in his own right.
“I really think this is an album about coming of age and settling into an identity,” Clay says. “It’s about losing your identity and searching for it. It’s feeling like you found it and then realizing that’s not it. And it’s about our experiences over the last 15 years of making music – the successes and failures and all of those things mixed up together.”
Sonically the album draws on inspirations such as Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and The Doobie Brothers (particularly “Black Water”), yet there’s also a dusty Western feel to Young Man, similar to a Guy Clark or Townes Van Zandt album where the detailed backdrop and acoustic arrangements convey the story as eloquently as the lyrics do.
“This is our first excursion with fiddle and we didn’t hold back,” Chance says. “We wrote a lot of these songs about the questions and the perspectives now that we’re a lot older and have been doing this longer. It’s almost like having a conversation with ourselves at times. We wanted it to feel earthy and rootsy, so the fiddle was a big part of that identity.”
A sense of spaciousness came naturally in past projects like 2014’s Utah, recorded in the Wasatch Mountains, and 2019’s San Isabel, recorded in a Colorado cabin. This time, the band opted for a studio for the first time, choosing Niles City Sound in Fort Worth, Texas. Studio co-founder Josh Block engineered Young Man to evoke the experience of musicians huddled together, singing and playing without headphones or click tracks. Chance and Clay are joined on the session by their longtime rhythm section of bassist Nick Bearden and drummer Ed Benrock.
“The songs move, the tempos move, but we really wanted to capture the performances,” Clay explains. “We wanted the songs to push and pull as they needed to, and not to have to adhere to a grid. It feels like the songs straighten out too much when that happens, so it was cool to be in a studio with an engineer and producer who really supported that idea.”
Chance continues, “All of the adventures we’ve had recording in different places have been fun, but the burden of bringing our own gear, setting it up, and then being our own producer is a lot to carry on our shoulders sometimes. With Robert, he always has an opinion and he could help us pick a direction. We could relinquish control and focus on capturing our best performance.”
Young Man opens with “Coyote,” a plaintive ballad the duo wrote on their ranch near Huntsville, Texas, about an hour north of their hometown of Magnolia. With its lonesome tones and sly title character, it sets the tone for the album, pulling in listeners with blended voices and a narrative that befits a campfire setting. From there, songs like “Young Man,” “Moving Man,” “Northbound,” and especially “These Days” further explore their restless frame of mind, due in no small part to the pandemic.
As Clay explains, “I think what we asked ourselves a lot throughout this process were questions like, ‘Damn, where did our fire go? Do we still have it?’ I didn’t pick up a guitar for six months after our tour got canceled when COVID hit. I just felt like music had turned on me. I felt like I was asking, ‘Am I a musician anymore?’” Chance agrees with that sentiment, adding, “It’s easier for us whenever we’re in motion. I don’t think you ever stop to question how fragile it actually is, and then it gets taken away. You lose the ability to identify with it.”
Even as “One Step Forward” finds the duo seeking a silver lining, “Slow It Down” shows them embracing the situation – by strumming their guitars, driving down dirt roads, and catching crawfish. That homegrown approach carries over into “Way It Was,” even as the opening lines address the inevitable changes in life. Meanwhile, “Old Man Looking Back” is a co-write with Ellis, completed in Chance’s kitchen in the weeks leading up to the sessions for Young Man.
However, it’s a different gathering that set Jamestown Revival on the course to make Young Man. After a year apart of not playing together, Chance and Clay invited their band to the ranch to hang out and to record a few songs in their hay barn. The results served as an unintended pre-production of sorts, sparking ideas that they eventually carried into the sessions with Ellis. They also wrote “Coyote” during that time, as well as the album’s closer, “Working on Love.”
Asked about the message of that final song, Chance replies, “For me, it was about the idea of love – and not just intimate love but love in general – being a lifelong journey. It’s similar to how you’ve got to plow the fields and replant the seeds and water it and tend to it. It’s the same way you have to approach your patience for love in your life.”
Chance and Clay envision Young Man as a collection of songs that should be played all the way through, like reading a book. “We had the most amazing time recording this album. We laughed nonstop,” Clay says. “When I listen to this album top to bottom, I’m really proud of what we did. I hope that this album transports people because it’s like a time capsule. It takes us right back to that studio and to that couple of weeks. It felt like we were doing what we were meant to do.”
Killing Joke (2003) [Limited Edition Translucent Purple 2 LP]
Killing Joke is the eleventh studio album by English rock band, Killing Joke. Released on July 28, 2003, the album was produced by Gang of Four guitarist Andy Gill, and features Nirvana drummer and Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl on drums. Limited Edition Translucent Purple LP.
Fit For An Autopsy
Oh What The Future Holds
CD: $15.98 Buy
CD: $15.98 Buy
Dominion by SKILLET
Their 11th studio project, "Dominion" follows SKILLET's amazing track record of two RIAA certified multi-platinum albums, two Gold Albums, five RIAA certified multi-platinum singles, and four gold singles. The album, produced by Kevin Churko (Ozzy Osbourne, Papa Roach, Disturbed) with songs written by John Cooper, Korey Cooper, Kevin Churko and Kane Churko, was created 100% remotely between the band's tour dates, home studio in Wisconsin, and the Churko's studio in Las Vegas.
DOMINIONis about the celebration of freedom, a liberation from fear - to be who we want to be, say what we want to say, believe what we want to believe, Cooper says. "In some ways it's a reminder of the God-given rights that we were born with. It's time to regain some sort of control over our lives and not be a slave to fear. I hope this record is going to make people feel empowered, inspired, uplifted and want to rock their faces off!"
Still Some Light: Part 1 [2LP]
Vinyl: $32.98 Buy
Bill Fay has always sung about attempting to understand the most universal questions: those of nature, spirituality, humanity. His songs are “calming hymns for another chaotic time”, he says. His influence can be traced through many artists’ work, and so it only seemed right to celebrate this with a collection of newer voices interpreting his timeless tracks. Originally released in2010 by David Tibet (Current 93), Still Some Light was released as a double CD, made up of70’s album demos (Disc One) and 2009 home recordings (Disc Two). This year, for the first time, this collection of recordings will be pressed to vinyl and released digitally, presented alongside contemporary reimaginings of the tracks by Kevin Morby, Steve Gunn, Julia Jacklin and Mary Lattimore. Bill Fay’s words and melodies remain unaffected by the passing of time and changing trends; and here alongside the original recordings, these reinvented versions still calmly guide us through another moment of chaos.
A Closed Mouth Don't Get Fed [Indie Exclusive Limited Edition Gold LP]
MP3 Album: $9.99 Download
Smoke DZA’s 2020 album boasts features from WestSide Gunn, Wale, T-Pain, Flipp Dinero and more. Available for the first time at retail. Limited Edition Gold LP.
Smoke DZA & Curren$y
Prestige Worldwide [Indie Exclusive Limited Edition Cerulean Marble LP]
MP3 Album: $9.99 Download
Harlem native Smoke DZA pairs up with one of NOLA’s finest, Curren$y, to release a joint project called Prestige Worldwide. The album features production from MonstaBeatz, Girl Talk, 183rd, Buda Da Future and Grandz Muzik. Available for the first time at retail. Limited Edition Cerulean Marble LP. 150-gram vinyl.