Today’s New Albums: Elvis Costello, Mr. Bungle, Wynonna, Grateful Dead, Joni Mitchell & More
Each week Release Day Picks profiles new LPs and EPs Team JamBase will be checking out on release day Friday. This week we highlight new albums by Elvis Costello, Mr. Bungle, Wynonna, Grateful Dead, Joni Mitchell, Sun Ra Arkestra,Andrew Bird, Howlin Rain, Puscifer, Wesley Schultz, Nate Todd and The Casual Coalition. Read on for more insight into the records we have all queued up to spin.
Elvis Costello – Hey Clockface
The Scoop: Acclaimed singer-songwriter Elvis Costello recorded his new album, Hey Clockface, during sessions held in Paris, Helsinki and New York City. The Paris sessions yielded the nine of the album’s 14 tracks and featured a group Costello called “Le Quintette Saint Germain” and consisting of Steve Nieve on piano, Mickaël Gasche on trumpet, Renaud-Gabriel Pion on clarinet and contrabass clarinet, Pierre-François “Titi” Diufour on cello and AJUQ on drums. “None of our arrangements for this session were written down in advance,” Costello stated. “I sang the theme of ‘How Can You Face?’ to Mickaël and we kicked off this take right away, quoting a few lines of the song in the tag.” Costello worked alone on the three tracks recorded in Helsinki, “No Flag,” “Hetty O’Hara Confidential” and “We Are All Cowards Now.” In New York City, Michael Leonhart produced sessions that featured guitarists Bill Frisell and Wilco‘s Nels Cline resulting in “Newspaper Pane” and “Radio Is Everything,” for which Costello’s vocals were recorded remotely. “Michael sent this music to me from New York at the perfect time,” Costello said. “It connected to elements in both of the previous sessions and completed the picture.”
Mr. Bungle – The Raging Wrath Of The Easter Bunny Demo
The Scoop: The Raging Wrath Of The Easter Bunny Demo is Mr. Bungle’s first album in 21 years. The long awaited follow-up to 1999′ California features guitarist Trey Spruance, vocalist Mike Patton and bassist Trevor Dunn reworking material from their 1986 demo tape. Recorded by Husky Höskulds at Foo Fighters’ Studio 606 and mixed by Jay Ruston, Mr. Bungle self-prouced the new album. Guitarist Scott Ian (Anthrax, S.O.D.) and drummer Dave Lombardo (Dead Cross, Slayer, Suicidal Tendencies) contributed to the album along with actor Rhea Perlman who appears on “Anarchy Up Your Anus.” “Recording THIS music with THESE guys was an enormous head-rush of virtuosity and surprises every day in the studio,” Patton said in a statement. “Trey’s video game-esque solos, Scott’s bionic right hand and cyborg-like precision, Dave’s caveman-meets-Bobby Brady-like drum fills, Trevor’s solid foundation and laser-focus to detail. There is nothing sweeter than getting your ass kicked by true comrades…where everyone has a singular drive and mission.”
Wynonna – Recollections
The Scoop: Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Wynonna released her covers EP, Recollections, today through ANTI-Records. Wynonna recorded the collection with her husband, multi-instrumentalist and producer Cactus Moser, while they quarantined on their farm in Tennessee. The EP sees Wynonna getting back to her musical roots with a stripped-down set of choice covers from the Grateful Dead, Nina Simone, John Prine and more. Like many musicians sidelined by the pandemic, the legendary singer was able to connect with the songs in a way that reminded her of why she got into music in the first place. “I’ve learned a lot being at home these last few months,” Wynonna related in a statement. “When there’s no touring, no concerts, no band, no lights, no action, all that’s left is you and the song. All that’s left is your gift.”
Grateful Dead – American Beauty: 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition
The Scoop: In August of 1970, the Grateful Dead entered Wally Heider Studios in San Francisco just months after the release of Workingman’s Dead. The band — which consisted of guitarists Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir, keyboardist Ron “Pigpen” McKernan, bassist Phil Lesh and drummers Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann — came away with American Beauty, a collection of 10 songs that stand among the best in GD history. Rhino Records’ American Beauty: 50th Anniversary Edition features newly remastered audio of the original LP as well as a previously unreleased recording of the Dead’s February 18, 1971 concert at The Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, New York. Producer Stephen Quinn Barncard was behind the boards for American Beauty, which includes such beloved classics as “Friend Of The Devil,” “Box Of Rain,” “Truckin'” and “Attics Of My Life.”
“It still boggles my mind to think of the Grateful Dead’s creative output in 1970. For any other band, catching lightning with an album as perfect and excellent as Workingman’s Dead is a once-in-a-lifetime achievement,” said Grateful Dead archivist and American Beauty: 50th Anniversary Edition producer David Lemieux. “The Dead, however, followed up just a few months later with an album that virtually every Dead Head considers its equal. Ten songs, nearly all of which became cornerstones of the band’s live repertoire for the next 25 years.”
Joni Mitchell – Joni Mitchell Archives Vol. 1: The Early Years (1963-1967)
The Scoop: The Scoop: The first volume in the highly-anticipated Joni Mitchell Archives box set series arrives today via Rhino in a number of formats including a deluxe 5-CD set as well as vinyl and streaming. Joni Mitchell Archives Vol. 1: The Early Years (1963 – 1967) dives right into the formative early years of the legendary singer-songwriter’s storied career. The collection features close to six hours of unreleased home, live and radio recordings — which include 29 original Mitchell compositions never before released with her vocals — that follow Joni Mitchell as an up and coming artist on the road to her 1968 debut album, Song To A Seagull. Those early gems include Mitchell’s first known recording in 1963 at age 19 for CFQC AM in her native Saskatoon, Saskatchewan which kicks off with a performance of the classic “House Of The Rising Sun” as well as a three-set performance at the Canterbury House in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1967. The collection also traces Mitchell’s evolution from a folk singer covering standards to a promising singer-songwriter penning her own tunes like “Day After Day” and “Urge For Going.” Her prowess as a songsmith is also highlighted in early versions of tracks that would wind up on Song To A Seagull including “Michael From Mountains” and “I Had A King” as well as tunes that would land on later landmark albums like “Chelsea Morning” from 1969’s Clouds, “The Circle Game” off 1970’s Ladies of the Canyon and “Little Green” from her 1971 album, Blue.
Sun Ra Arkestra – Swirling
The Scoop: The legendary Sun Ra Arkestra continues to uphold the legacy of pioneering jazz pianist Sun Ra with the release of their first new album in over two decades, Swirling. The ensemble led by 96-year-old saxophonist Marshall Allen since Sun Ra’s transition in 1993, last released 1999’s A Song For The Sun. The new album out today on Strut Records was recorded in the collective’s adoptive home of Philadelphia at Rittenhouse Soundworks with producer Jim Hamilton. The big band album features Arkestra veterans, the late Danny Ray Thompson and Atakatune, as well as Michael Ray, Vincent Chancey, Cecil Brooks, Elson Nascimento, Tyler Mitchell and others. “This new release is the Arkestra’s love offering to the world,” Allen stated. “Beta music for a better world.”
“We truly hope that this recording brings much joy to a planet which is so deeply in need of a spirit sound and vibration,” added saxophonist Knoel Scott. “We hope it contributes to a change in the ominous direction of man’s journey through the cosmos.”
Andrew Bird – Hark!
The Scoop: Andrew Bird’s holiday album Hark! is here via Loma Vista Recordings. The lauded singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist heralded his debut holiday album in Spring 2020 with the incredibly forward-thinking single, “Christmas in April,” which was described in a press release as “the world’s first-ever COVID-inspired Christmas song.” The collection also features Andrew’s unique take on familiar holiday tunes including “White Christmas,” Vince Guaraldi Trio’s “Christmas is Coming” and “Auld Lang Syne” alongside Bird originals like “Alabaster” and “Night’s Falling.” Additionally, Hark! contains seasonal reimaginings of covers from John Prine, John Cale and more. Fittingly, the holiday record saw Andrew collaborating with his mother, Beth Bird, on the album artwork for the first time since 2002’s Ballad Of The Red Shoes and she also inspired the inclusion of “Mille Cherubini in Coro,” a favorite piece from the Pavarotti and Vienna Boys Choir recording mother and son listened to when Andrew was young.
Howlin’ Rain – Under The Wheels: Live From The Coasts, Vol. 2
The Scoop: Under The Wheels: Live From The Coasts, Vol. 2 is the second installment in a series of Howlin Rain live albums curated by founder Ethan Miller. The six-track Silver Current Records release, like 2019’s Under The Wheels: Live From The Coasts, Vol. 1, features material recorded during the band’s 2018 – 2019 North American coastal tours in support of Howlin Rain’s The Alligator Bride LP.
“No matter how accomplished a studio album a band makes there is still something even more elevated and relatable about a live performance captured well,” said Miller of the decision to put out live albums. “The audience and musicians engaged in an ecstatic, emotional dance together, the sound of light-speed group creativity under heavy pressure, feats of improvised melody and feel beyond expectation and of course the raw edges, rough corners and deeply human sound of artists completely exposed in the high temp firing and fusing of their hopes, risks, vulnerabilities and ultimately triumphs of imperfection and musical joyride’s beyond conscious imagination. That’s my favorite place for Howlin Rain to be and my intention with the live series is to open a spigot between the fans and these captured live adventures and to leave it open as an ongoing conversation about our spiritual dance together.”
Puscifer – Existential Reckoning
The Scoop: Puscifer returns with, Existential Reckoning, their first new full length release since 2015. The follow-up to Money Shot was recorded by Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan, guitarist/bassist/keyboardist Mat Mitchell and vocalist/keyboardist Carina Round along with multi-instrumentalist Greg Edwards and drummers Gunnar Olsen and Sarah Jones. Existential Reckoning was produced by Puscifer and Mitchell, the latter also recording and mixing the 12 tracks recorded at Puscifer Studios in North Hollywood. Puscifer will perform the new album in its entirety as part of a livestream event taking place tonight from Arcosanti in the Arizona desert.
Wesley Schultz – Vignettes
The Scoop: For his debut solo album, Vignettes, The Lumineers co-founder Wesley Schultz paid tribute to 10 different artists that either influenced or inspired him. The covers LP, out today via Dualtone, features Schultz’s renditions of songs by Bruce Springsteen, Tom Waits, Coldplay, Sheryl Crow, Counting Crows, Derek & The Dominos, Jim Croce, Bob Dylan, The Felice Brothers and Warren Zevon. “The way I envisioned this album was as if you had all these songs represented by little houses on a street, and then a tornado ripped through the town and tore them all the way down to the studs and foundation… that’s what you’d have with every one of these songs after I re-imagined them,” Schultz said in a press release. “I was also trying to create something that doesn’t ask anything from the listener — it’s simply a companion, a friend in both good times and bad. Like how I listen to James Taylor’s greatest hits, often, and it just seems to soothe me.”
The album was recorded in September at Sun Mountain Studios in Boiceville, New York. Simone Felice produced Vignettes, which was engineered by David Baron. Wesley played guitar and sang backed by Baron on piano. Special guests include vocalist Cindy Mizelle, multi-instrumentalist James Felice, vocal duo The Webb Sisters and singer Diana DeMuth.
Nate Todd – Revolutionary Loser
The Scoop: JamBase contributor Nate Todd is also a singer-songwriter who today has released his debut full-length album, Revolutionary Loser. The nine-track collection comes on the heels of Sky Cloud Machine, an EP that came out in April. Nate stays true to a virtue embedded in him early on as his lyrics discuss important social issues. “My parents were both involved in activism,” Todd said. “They went to college in the Vietnam War era and in the 1980s, they were active in the vigils on the White Train, which transported nuclear weapons. There’s a picture of my mom holding me as a baby with my dad and a few other like-minded individuals as the White Train rumbled through North Platte, Nebraska. That picture ended up in the newspaper. So I’ve had that activist way of thinking my whole life.” Most instruments featured on Revolutionary Loser were played by Nate including guitar, bass, lap steel and keyboards. Guitarists Erik Hill, Tessema Degen Tessema and Logan Green also contributed to the LP, which Todd mixed and mastered himself.
Casual Coalition – The Rendering Of A Ghost
The Scoop: Dropping on digital services tomorrow on Halloween, The Rendering Of A Ghost is a new album from Casual Coalition. The release features eight new songs written by the project’s leader, singer-songwriter Craig MacArthur, who co-produced with David Simon-Baker at Allegiant Records in San Anselmo, California at Carmel Studios in Novato, California. Simon-Baker also appears on the album, along with a number of Bay Area musicians. Among those who contributed to The Rendering Of A Ghost were Greg Loiacono, Brian Rashap and Danny Eisenberg (The Mother Hips), Mark Karan (Ratdog, Phil & Friends, The Other Ones), Steve Adams (ALO), Scott Thunes (Frank Zappa), Alex Koford (The Terrapin Family Band), Dave Zirbel and Danny Luehring (San Geronimo), Scott Guberman (Phil Lesh & Friends), Sean Nelson (Midnight North, Phil & Friends, Go By Ocean), Jeremy Hoenig (Melvin Seals & JGB), Scott Padden (Brothers Comatose, Goodnight, Texas), Robert Powell and Mike Bello. A vinyl version of The Rendering Of A Ghost is due in December and will include an extra track featuring a special contributing guest not listed.