Release Day Picks: June 26th New Album Highlights
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 moe., Maceo Parker, Khruangbin, HAIM, Dirty Projectors, Ray LaMontagne, The New Deal, The California Honeydrops, Frank Zappa, B.B. King & Eric Clapton and a pair of tributes to John Hartford. Read on for more insight into the records we have all queued up to spin.
moe. – This Is Not, We Are
The Scoop: After six years, there’s finally a new moe. studio album. This Is Not, We Are — the long-awaited follow-up to 2014’s No Guts, No Glory is out today via the band’s Fatboy Records imprint. The LP contains nine tracks, eight of which moe. road tested over the past few years. “Undertone,” penned by guitarist Chuck Garvey, is the album’s lone song which has never been heard before its release on This Is Not, We Are. “We kind of went back to our roots a bit,” bassist Rob Derhak of the new album.” We just wanted to do something that made us feel inspired like we had felt when the band first started. But it also has everything that we’ve picked up along the way, all the good baggage – and maybe some of the bad – that we’ve dragged along for the past 30 years.”
Maceo Parker – Soul Food – Cooking With Maceo
The Scoop: Legendary saxophonist Maceo Parker is back with his first studio album in eight years, Soul Food – Cooking With Maceo. The new LP also marks Maceo’s first record on Mascot Label Group’s new imprint, The Funk Garage, and the funk legend recorded the album in the funk mecca of New Orleans at the House of 1000hz with Andrew “Goat” Gilchrist and producer Eli Wolf (Norah Jones, Madlib, Al Green). Parker also tapped renowned NOLA-affiliated artists like Ivan Neville, Nikki Glaspie and Tony Hall to guest on the album, which sees Maceo nodding to New Orleans greats by including songs by The Meters (“Just Kissed My Baby”), Allen Toussaint (“Yes, We Can Can”) and Dr. John (“Right Place, Wrong Time”). Maceo also pays tribute to his fellow funk pioneers like James Brown with their collaboration “Cross The Track,” Aretha Franklin’s “Rocksteady” and Prince’s “Other Side Of The Pillow.” “More than anything I miss Prince,” Parker said in a statement. “He was a genius, so it was special to re-record a song he and I had once toyed with the idea of releasing and give it that special New Orleans feel while also referencing the person I most admired growing up, the Genius Mr. Ray Charles.”
Khruangbin – Mordechai
The Scoop: With their third full length Mordechai, Khruangbin adjusted their previously predominantly instrumental style to incorporate vocals on nearly every track. That decision was informed in part by bassist Laura Lee Ochoa’s experience hiking to a waterfall with a new acquaintance and his family to a waterfall. Upon reaching the waterfall, she jumped in while shouting her full name recently taken from her grandfather’s surname. Likening it to baptism, Ochoa was inspired to express herself through words, which became the source of the album’s lyrics. The Houston-based trio rounded out by guitarist Mark Speer and drummer DJ Johnson recorded the 10-track Mordechai at their farmhouse studio in Burton, Texas. The album was produced by their regular collaborator Steve Christensen.
HAIM – Women In Music Pt. III
The Scoop: Sister act HAIM released three singles in 2019 in teasing the release of their third studio album. The follow-up to 2017’s Something To Tell You, entitled Women In Music Pt. III has finally arrived via Columbia Records. Danielle Haim produced the LP with longtime collaborators Ariel Rechtshaid and Rostam Batmanglij. Danielle, Este Haim and Alana Haim contributed to the writing of all 13 songs featured on Women In Music Pt. III. “The name came to me in a dream and I woke up laughing so I told my sisters,” Danielle said of the album’s title. “I just thought it was funny, plus the initials are WIMP3. Wimp is a hilarious word,” added Este. WIMP3 was originally set for release in April but the date was pushed back due to the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.
Dirty Projectors – Flight Tower
The Scoop: Surprise released yesterday, Flight Tower is number two out of five EPs Dirty Projectors intend to put out this year on Domino Records. The series began in March with Windows Open featuring guitarist Maia Friedman on lead vocals. Keyboardist-percussionist Felicia Douglass is the featured vocalist on Flight Tower and separate subsequent EPs will feature lead vocals by frontman Dave Longstreth and Kristin Slipp. The fifth and final installment will feature all four vocalists sharing lead duties. Longstreth posted a message with the early release of the Flight Tower EP, it read in part:
[Flight Tower is] arriving into a different world than the one it was conceived in, and that’s a beautiful thing. For me (Dave) this cycle of EPs is about growth, transition, liminal space, shifting identity. Alan Ginsberg had a phrase, “first thought, best thought” to talk about a particular kind of writing — not automatic writing exactly, but quick, spontaneous, trusting. (Arthur Russell gave the name to an album, which is how I heard about it). For me, these songs are about rediscovering that place, after the stereo ouroboros of the Ivo Shandor era (s/t & llp). And I think for us — Felicia, Maia, Kristin, mike and me — it’s about finding it for the first time: playing, writing, learning together as a new band.
Flight Tower — I don’t know what that phrase means. it came to my mind as a random association, but I trust it — first thought, best thought. flight tower is both high and ascendent. It’s in motion and sees the world from a bird’s-eye P.O.V. Lockdown showed us all that we can come together and, on a dime, radically change how we live. As insane and difficult as it’s been in so many ways, the silver lining is that we’ve learned that things don’t have to be the way they are, or were. It can change. We can build the world we want.
Ray LaMontagne – Monovision
The Scoop: Singer-songwriter Ray LaMontagne self-produced, self-engineered and supplied all of the instrumentation on his new album, Monovision, out today on RCA Records. The 10-track release follows LaMontagne’s 2018 record, Part Of The Light. Released by Columbia Records, the 10-track Monovision is the 46-year-old LaMontagne’s eight full-length album.
The New Deal – Isolation Suite
The Scoop: Livetronica act The New Deal may be off the road during the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, but they haven’t stopped making music. The trio consisting of keyboardist Jamie Shields, bassist Dan Kurtz and drummer Davide Di Renzo today issue Isolation Suite, a 17-minute composition featuring four movements. “Isolation Suite” was written, recorded and mixed while the band was quarantining due to the pandemic. While past TND albums recorded with Di Renzo were fully improvised, “Isolation Suite” is a composed piece of music. Jamie penned the piece at his home studio without access to sample libraries and then Dan and Davide — as well as special guest Brendan Bayliss of Umphrey’s McGee — recorded their portions at their respective home studios.
Shields weighed in on the new release:
Isolation Suite was born out of a conversation with Dan where I suggested that I write a piece of music using only the instruments available to me in my studio (no sample libraries). After a few weeks composing the movements with that mandate in mind, we realized that we had created something very special and unique to the environment that we all experienced through the first half of 2020.
I was unsure how a band that thrives on in-person creative contact would fare trying to collaborate in separate studios but the process was practically seamless. A true testament to three musicians sharing a single creative mind.
The California Honeydrops – Just One More, And Then Some
The Scoop: The California Honeydrops released their EP Just One More, And Then Some today via Tubtone Records. Following their stand-alone single “In The Air,” the new record sees the Bay Area band translating their high-energy live performances into a four-song set. “We wanted the EP to be super raw and to reflect how we play live, so there’s little to no dubbing on the tracks—what you hear is what you get,” frontman Lech Wierzynski said in a statement. “We want to conjure a place where anyone and everyone is welcome to pick up an instrument or a microphone, a piece of floor to tear up, and just be appreciated for digging in and being a part of it,” added drummer Ben Malament.
Frank Zappa – The Mothers 1970
The Scoop: The Zappa Family Trust is honoring the 50th anniversary of Frank Zappa’s short-lived 1970 Mothers Of Invention lineup with today’s release of The Mothers 1970 box set. The 70-track collection of previously unreleased live and studio recordings features Zappa leading a band made up of George Duke (piano/keys/trombone), Aynsley Dunbar (drums), Ian Underwood (organ/keys/guitar) and Jeff Simmons (bass/vocals), along with Howard Kaylan (vocals) and Mark Volman (vocals/percussion) of The Turtles who were credited as Flo & Eddie to avoid legal issues. The lineup that only lasted approximately seven months can be heard on studio recordings made with Roy Thomas Baker at London’s Trident Studios on June 21 and 22, 1970 and performing live on Dutch radio station VRPO on June 18, 1970 and in San Rafael, Calfornia on September 26, 1970. The box set also contains a simulated concert constructed from tapes of their performances in Santa Monica, California on August 21, 1970 and in Spokane, Washington on September 17, 1970. Additional tracks are highlights of live performances recorded by Zappa.
B.B. King & Eric Clapton – Riding With The King
The Scoop: In 2000, guitar greats B.B. King and Eric Clapton released Riding With The King, a collaborative studio album featuring a mix of blues classics, diverse covers and four originals penned by B.B. The album has been reissued today by Reprise Records in honor of its 20th anniversary. New to Riding With The King are a pair of previously unreleased tracks — a take on the blues standard “Rollin’ & Tumblin'” and B.B. King’s “Let Me Love You.” Simon Climie, who produced Riding With The King, was behind the board for both songs, which were recorded during the original 1999 sessions. Bob Ludwig remastered the album from the master tapes for the new release. Backing B.B. and Eric were an impressive array of musicians that included Doyle Bramhall II, Andy Fairweather Low, Steve Gadd, Nathan East, Susannah & Wendy Melvoin, Jim Keltner and Joe Sample.
Various Artists – On The Road: A Tribute To John Hartford
The Scoop: Singer-songwriter John Hartford influenced multiple generations of musicians both through his recordings and live performances before his death in 2001. Sam Bush, Yonder Mountain String Band, The Travelin’ McCourys, Railroad Earth, Todd Snider and Keller Williams are among the acts who honored Hartford by covering his songs for the new On The Road: A Tribute To John Hartford compilation. The 15-track LP is out today on LoHi Records with proceeds going to MusiCares, an organization that helps musicians in need. Chad Staehly, Tim Carbone and LoHi’s Jim Brooks served as executive producers for the album. “This album is an homage to all these hardworking musicians who are out on the road making their living,” said Staehly, a keyboardist for Great American Taxi and Hard Working Americans who contributed piano and vocals to the track “Waugh Paugh” as part of supergroup The High Hawks featuring members of Leftover Salmon, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades, Railroad Earth and Andy Frasco.
Various Artists – The John Hartford Fiddle Tune Project, Volume 1
The Scoop: Another tribute to John Hartford, produced by Hartford-protege Matt Combs, is out today as well. “Over 2,000 original and unrecorded fiddle tunes” written by Hartford were discovered after his death and serve as the basis for The John Hartford Fiddle Tune Project, Volume 1. The all-star release, executive produced by Hartford’s daughter Katie Hartford Hogue, contains 17 never-before-heard Hartford originals. Participants include Combs along with Brittany Haas, Tim O’Brien, Megan Lynch Chowning, Kate Lee O’Connor, Forrest O’Connor, Sierra Hull, Mike Compton, Tristan Scroggins, Ronnie McCoury, Dominick Leslie, Jan Fabricius, Alison Brown, Shad Cobb, Noam Pikelny, Chris Eldridge, Chris Sharp, Jordan Tice, Mark Howard, Rachel Combs, Paul Kowert, Dennis Crouch, Mike Bub and Kristin Andreassen.
“We knew we had to bring these tunes to life and record them so that others can learn and play them,” said Combs. “When John was still living, he felt a great sense of accomplishment when his tunes were accepted into the fiddle tune vernacular, and his greatest hope as a composer was that they would get mixed in with all the old tunes that he loved so much. This record is our attempt to do just that.”
“What I love the most about this record is that each artist’s DNA comes through, and Dad is the unifying spirit that brings it all together,” said Hartford Hogue. “He pulled inspiration from every moment, every sound, every sight he encountered, and his journals were a place to explore all of his ideas.”
Compiled by Scott Bernstein, Nate Todd and Andy Kahn.