Don’t Miss New Albums From Brittany Howard, Madi Diaz, Helado Negro, Fearless Flyers & More
Tinsley Ellis’ new album and an extensive Les Claypool box set are also available today, Friday, February 9.
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 Brittany Howard, Madi Diaz, Helado Negro, The Fearless Flyers, Tinsley Ellis and Les Claypool. Read on for more insight into the records we have ready to spin.
Brittany Howard – What Now
Brittany Howard returns today with What Now, the Alabama Shakes frontwoman’s first solo album since releasing her solo debut LP, Jaime, in 2019. What Now is also Howard’s first album on new label Island Records. Howard co-produced the album with longtime collaborator Shawn Everett at Nashville’s Sound Emporium and historic RCA Studio B. Howard recruited her Alabama Shakes bandmate, bassist Zac Cockrell, as well as frequent collaborator, drummer Nate Smith, and guitarist Brad Allen Williams, keyboardists Paul Horton and Lloyd Buchanan and trumpeter Rod McGaha to create the 12-song LP. Howard spoke about the inspiration behind the album and the process of making it, stating:
“With the world we’re living in now, it feels like we’re all just trying to hang onto our souls. Everything seems to be getting more extreme and everyone keeps wondering, ‘What now? What’s next?’ By the same coin, the only constant on this record is you never know what’s going to happen next: every song is its own aquarium, its own little miniature world built around whatever I was feeling and thinking at the time.
“I don’t ever plan too deeply, but usually I show up with the songs almost fully formed. With this record there was a lot of exploring sounds on the spot, and trusting that the right thing would come to us … All the sounds on this album are analog, all the drums are real drums. There’s so many different structures and tones happening within the songs that it ended up being a real monster to mix, but we figured it out. In a way it’s shocking to me how it all came together …
“This record’s definitely meant to be listened to alone so you can really meditate with it. At the end of the day I hope people use the album however they need to, but I do think the gift I bring is to help people to be more introspective and ask themselves questions. And I think with a little self-examination, we can learn to be kinder, more compassionate, more understanding of each other. We can see that a lot of us are going through the same shit, and we all just want to be seen for who we really are.”
Madi Diaz – Weird Faith
Singer-songwriter Madi-Diaz issued her new album, Weird Faith, today through ANTI- Records. The 12-song album serves as the follow-up to Diaz’s 2021 album, History of a Feeling. The new LP saw Diaz working and collaborating with producers Sam Cohen and Konrad Snyder and features fellow singer-songwriter Kacey Musgraves on the track “Don’t Do Me Good.” Detailing the inspiration behind Weird Faith, Diaz revealed:
“After being really burned by love – maybe relentlessly burned by it – the album is about being brave and trying again. Doing it differently. It’s in our nature to try to be brave like that. You see the car crash coming. Maybe it won’t happen, but you’re bracing for it anyway. Am I ready for this? Can I do this? Can I trust myself to know the good from the bad?”
Helado Negro – Phasor
Helado Negro (Latinx singer-songwriter Roberto Carlos Lange) released a new collection of original songs, Phasor, today through 4AD. The album follows the pandemic quarantine-inspired 2021 LP, Far In, as an “homage to going outside again.” Lange recorded Phasor in his recently established new home of Asheville, North Carolina. Lange created the album at a studio built in his home which also has a studio occupied by his wife and regular collaborator, Kristi Sword, whose artwork appears on the album cover. Phasor is rooted in an experience Lange in 2019 had on his 39th birthday, during a visit to Salvatore Matirano’s SAL MAR synthesizer at the University of Illinois. The machine, equipped with a vintage supercomputer brain and analog oscillators, generates music generatively, offering infinite sound sequence possibilities.
“I was enthralled by it,” Lange said of the five-hour experience. “It gave me special insight into what stimulates me. This pursuit of constant curiosity in process and outcome. The songs are the fruit, but I love what’s under the dirt. The unseen magical process. I don’t want everybody to see it because not everyone cares to see it. Some of us just want the fruit. I do. But I want to grow the fruit, too.”
The Fearless Flyers – The Fearless Flyers IV
Supremely funky outfit The Fearless Flyers — Vulfpeck bassist Joe Dart and guitarist Cory Wong along with acclaimed drummer Nate Smith and guitarist Mark Lettieri — used a recent four-night, eight-show residency at The Blue Note in New York City to record a new EP. The band fourth release, the aptly titled The Fearless Flyers IV, follows their similarly titled previous issued recordings. Vulfpeck/Vulf Records’ Jack Stratton was on hand at The Blue Note to capture audio and video of the six songs, noting he planned to send the recordings to his “guy in Chicago” to “reamp everything” and emphasized “it’s not a live album.” The EP consists of the tracks “Blue Angels,” “Red Arrows,” “Patrouille de France,” “Frecce Tricolori,” “Snowbirds” and “Thunderbirds.” Wong explained how the process for Fearless Flyers IV is different than the instrumental four-piece’s past EPs:
“If you’re unfamiliar with the process, also, typically we will write the songs and then just record them in that moment. For this, we wrote the songs four-ish days ago and we’ve had four-ish reps of them over the course of this weekend. So I do feel like we are more than ever with the material.”
Tinsley Ellis – Naked Truth
Renowned blues guitarist and singer-songwriter Tinsley Ellis released his first solo acoustic album, Naked Truth, via Alligator Records. The Atlanta-based musician captured his 21st album live in studio using just two guitars, his beloved 1969 Martin D-35 (a gift from his father) and his 1937 National Steel O Series. Made up of nine newly written originals and three covers, Ellis handled production duties on the record save for a cover of Son House’s “Death Letter Blues” produced by Atlanta roots musician Eddie 9V. The album’s single, “Devil In The Room,” was inspired by Col. Bruce Hampton’s “call to arms.”
“This is a record I’ve always wanted to make, and one that my longtime fans have been asking for. ‘Devil In The Room’ is musically a nod to the Hill Country Blues style of Mississippi Fred McDowell and R. L. Burnside. Lyrically it’s based on something Col. Bruce Hampton used to tell us before we went on stage to back him up. He would tell us to ‘put the devil in the room!’ His call to arms has stuck with me for 40 years! On ‘Devil In The Room I’m playing in open G tuning on my 1937 National O-Series steel resonator guitar with a brass slide.”
Les Claypool – Adverse Yaw: The Prawn Song Years
Renowned bassist Les Claypool’s work outside Primus from the ’00s is the subject of Adverse Yaw: The Prawn Song Years, a new box set out today. The five-album collection features Fearless Flying Frog Brigade’s 2001 live release, Live Frogs Sets 1 & 2, and 2002 studio record, Purple Onion. Also included are Claypool’s debut solo album, 2006’s Of Whales And Woe, and 2009 follow-up, Of Whales And Woe. Colonel Claypool’s Bucket of Bernie Brains’ (Claypool, guitarist Buckethead, keyboardist Bernie Worrell and drummer Bryan “Brain” Mantia) 2004 album, The Big Eyeball In The Sky, rounds out Adverse Yaw: The Prawn Song Years.
“When I did my [early solo project] Holy Mackerel, I said, ‘Those were songs I wouldn’t inflict upon the guys in Primus. And that’s kind of what all this stuff is,” Claypool explained of the box set. “It’s all stuff that I didn’t really feel was Primus. Primus is a democracy. And except Bucket of Bernie Brains, these are all my bands. It’s like directing a film—you bring in actors to fill certain roles, and that’s what these projects are. It’s my vision, though there is obviously collaboration and these guys take it to the next level. I’m the colonel.”
Compiled by Scott Bernstein, Nate Todd and Andy Kahn.