Today’s New Albums: Kendrick Lamar, The Black Keys, The Smile, Florence + The Machine & More

Tank and the Bangas, Kevin Morby, Lyle Lovett, Mandy Moore, Monophonics, May Erlewine and Ezra Lipp also have new releases out today.

By Team JamBase May 13, 2022 6:35 am PDT

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 Kendrick Lamar, The Black Keys, The Smile, Florence + The Machine, Tank and the Bangas, Kevin Morby, Lyle Lovett, Mandy Moore, Monophonics, May Erlewine and Ezra Lipp. Read on for more insight into the records we have all queued up to spin.


Kendrick Lamar – Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers

Kendrick Lamar released his new album, Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers, which is the follow-up to his Pulitzer Prize-winning 2017 album, Damn. Lamar revealed he was working on Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers in an August 20, 2021 message posted on his oklama.com website. The note indicated the new album is Lamar’s final for the Top Dawg Entertainment (TDE) record label. Little more was shared in the lead-up to today’s release of Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers, which came out via TDE, Aftermath Entertainment, Interscope Records and Lamar’s pgLang. Lamar released the single “The Heart Part 5,” continuing a song series that began in 2010.

“I spend most of my days with fleeting thoughts,” Lamar said in August 2021. “Writing. Listening. And collecting old Beach cruisers. The morning rides keep me on a hill of silence. I go months without a phone. Love, loss, and grief have disturbed my comfort zone, but the glimmers of God speak through my music and family. While the world around me evolves, I reflect on what matters the most. The life in which my words will land next.”


The Black Keys – Dropout Boogie

Tomorrow, The Black Keys will mark the 20th anniversary of the release of their debut album, The Big Come Up. Today, the duo consisting of guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney dropped their 11th studio album, Dropout Boogie, via Nonesuch Records. The follow-up to 2021’s Delta Kream features ZZ Top guitarist Billy F. Gibbons on the track “Good Love.” Others who contributed to Dropout Boogie include Reigning Sound guitarist Greg Cartwright and Face to Face keyboardist Angelo Petraglia. The new 10-song LP was written and recorded by Auerbach and Carney at the former’s Nasvhille-based recording facility, Easy Eye Sound.

“Living in Nashville and making records here has opened both of our minds to that experience a little bit more,” Auerbach stated. “I knew Pat would love working with both of these guys, so we decided we’d give it a shot. It was the first time we’d ever really done that. It was fun as hell. We just sat around a table with acoustic guitars and worked out a song ahead of time.”

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The Smile – A Light For Attracting Attention

The SmileRadiohead‘s Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood along with Tom Skinner of Sons of Kemet — put out their debut album, A Light For Attracting Attention, today through XL Recordings. The 13-track LP features contributions from The London Contemporary Orchestra, Byron Wallen, Theon Cross, Nathaniel Cross, Chelsea Carmichael, Robert Stillman and Jason Yarde. The album was produced and mixed by longtime Radiohead collaborator Nigel Godrich. Among the songs on A Light For Attracting Attention are the previoulsy unreleased Radiohead song “Skrting on the Surface” and “Pana-Vison,” which appeared on the series finale of Peaky Blinders. Other singles included “Free In Knowledge,” “You Will Never Work In Television Again” and “The Smoke.”


Florence + The Machine – Dance Fever

Florence + the Machine return with Dance Fever today. The new album — co-produced by frontwoman Florence Welch along with Jack Antonoff and Glass Animals’ Dave Bayley — follows the 2018 LP, High As Hope. Florence + the Machine cut Dance Fever in London as the pandemic raged and the album sees Welch reflecting on something she missed at the time, “clubs, dancing at festivals, being in the whirl of movement and togetherness,” press materials for Dance Fever stated.

Intrigued by the historical phenomena choreomania — where groups of people, sometimes whole towns, would dance wildly to the point of exhaustion or even death — Florence put dance at the focal point of the album. Naturally, Welch expressed Dance Fever’s central theme in her Autumn de Wilde-directed visuals for the album, most notably on the single “Heaven Is Here” with choreography by Ryan Heffington and filmed in Kyiv, Ukraine in November 2021. Florence + the Machine also previewed the record with “King” and “My Love.”


Tank and the Bangas – Red Balloon

Tank and the Bangas reunited after a pandemic-ordered break from their busy touring schedule to prep Red Balloon, a 16-track studio album that arrived via Verve Forecast today. The New Orleans-based band started work on the follow-up to 2019’s Green Balloon at their hometown Bangaville Studios facility and eventually moved the sessions to Los Angeles’ Revival Studios. “Our time alone in quarantine made us more comfortable in the studio,” frontwoman Tarriona “Tank” Ball explained on The JamBase Podcast. “We just had more patience with ourselves, with each other, with the producers and we just let the magic happen.”

Red Balloon features guest appearances from Alex Isley, Masego, Questlove, Lalah Hathaway, Big Freedia, Jacob Collier, Trombone Shorty, Jamison Ross, The Hamiltones, Georgia Anne Muldrow and Wayne Brady. The band produced some tracks themselves while also working on others with Jeff Gitty, Phoelix, Biako, James “J-Vito” Tillman, Peter CottonTale, BLVK and Austin Brown.


Kevin Morby – This Is A Photograph

Singer-songwriter Kevin Morby released his new album, This Is A Photograph, today through Dead Oceans. Morby recorded the follow-up to 2020’s Sundowner with producer and frequent collaborator Sam Cohen, who also produced Morby’s previous albums, Oh My God and Singing Saw. Recording sessions began with drummer Nick Kinsey at Cohen’s upstate New York studio. The album features Morby’s recent touring bandmates, saxophonist Cochemea Gastelum, keyboardist Jared Samuel and Tedeschi Trucks Band vocalist/trombonist Alecia Chakour, with banjo supplied by Eric Johnson. String parts were performed by Morby’s former touring pianist Oliver Hill and his mother Meg Hill and sister Charlotte Hill. Others who appear on the 12-track album include drummers Josh Jaeger and Makaya McCraven, vocalist Cassandra Jenkins and harpist Brandee Younger. Tim Heidecker and Alia Shawkat also appear on the track “Rock Bottom.” This Is A Photograph traces its beginnings to January 2020 when Morby was at his childhood family home looking through old family photos shortly after his father was sent to the hospital after collapsing. While his father eventually recovered, a photo of Morby’s dad caught the singer-songwriter’s attention.

“In the photo he looks young and full of confidence, puffing his chest out at the camera as if he were looking for a fight,” Morby stated. “It was not lost on me that this was the same chest, just hours before, I had seen the ambulance put a stethoscope against as he lay on the kitchen floor of my sister’s house.” After that experience, according to press materials, Morby:

[H]eaded to Memphis. He moved into the Peabody Hotel and spent his days paying tribute and genuflecting to the dreamers he admired; he’d head down to the banks of the Mississippi River, to the spot where Jeff Buckley met his end. He’d wander around the neighborhood where Jay Reatard spent his last day then drive by the Stax marquee for a brief lift in his spirits. Then cruise out past Graceland, before traversing Highway 61, letting the ghosts call to him and shape his own dreams. In the evening, he would return to his room and document his ideas on a makeshift recording set-up, with just his guitar and a microphone. The songs, elegiac in nature, befitting all he had seen, poured out of him.

Morby completed This Is A Photograph with live sessions held at the historic Sam Philip’s Recording Co. in Memphis with the facility’s namesake son, Jerry Philips engineering. The title track emerged from that session which included Stax Academy of Music alumni providing vocal harmonies.

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Lyle Lovett – 12th Of June

Renowned singer-songwriter Lyle Lovett is back with 12th Of June, his first new album in 10 years. The longawaited follow-up to 2012’s Release Me was co-produced by the 64-year-old Texas native and Chuck Ainlay. The 11 tracks on 12th Of June are a mix of Lovett originals alongside covers of songs Nat King Cole, Dave Frishberg and a Horace Silver instrumental “representing Lovett’s dynamic live performances with his Large Band.” The original songs “Gee, Baby, Ain’t I Good to You” and “Straighten Up and Fly Right” feature longtime accompanying vocalist Francine Reed.

“My songs are rarely fiction,” Lovett stated. “That’s how I approach my work. My songs are from my life. I am the character in these songs. I get to spend my life for the most part doing a job where I get to be myself. This album reflects the music I grew up around. My music is like me: I live on land that belonged to my grandfather. I live next door to my mother. I think the music reflects where I’m from and who I am.”


Mandy Moore – In Real Life

Mandy Moore’s In Real Life arrived today via Verve Forecast. The record follows the singer-songwriter’s 2020 LP, Silver Landings, which was her first in over a decade. Renowned producer Mike Viola helmed In Real Life and Moore also welcomed several special guests on the album including her husband Taylor Goldsmith of Dawes along with his brother/drummer Griffin Goldsmith as well as Dawes keyboardist Lee Pardini. Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig of Lucius also appear on the record along with bassist Sebastian Steinberg (Sharon Van Etten, Phoebe Bridgers).

“To me it’s all about staying open, staying aware, staying sensitive and empathetic to the people around me,” Moore said about the inspiration for the new LP. “There’s something about expressing myself through lyrics and melody that makes me feel whole, and I see it as a privilege to have that outlet. And even though this album is very specific to me and my experience — there’s songs about my baby, my husband, my father, my friends—I hope everyone’s able to see their own lives in it. I hope they’re able to come along on the journey with me, and put themselves in the driver’s seat.”

Mandy previewed In Real Life with the title track. The singles “Little Dreams” and “Four Moons” followed.


Monophonics – Sage Motel

Bay Area psychedelic soul band Monophonics welcome listeners to the Sage Motel today. Produced by bandleader Kelly Finnigan, Sage Motel tells the story of the titular and mysterious locale.

“What started as a quaint motor lodge and a common pitstop for travelers and truckers in the 1940s morphed into a bohemian’s hang by the 1960s and 1970s,” press materials for the album stated. “Artists, musicians, and vagabonds of all types would stop there as seedy ownership pumped obnoxious amounts of money into high end renovations, eventually attracting some of the most prominent acts of the era. But when the money ran out, The Sage Motel devolved into a place where you rent by the hour.”

Monophonics kicked off the album rollout with the single, “Warpaint,” which “reveals the vices of each resident and confronts the struggles of substance abuse and addiction,” the press release noted. “Their warpaint becomes compulsory to face the day, tolerate the struggle, get through the hardest parts of the world, humanity, life and to fight the good fight. Cloaked in heavy riffs and robust vocals, ‘Warpaint’ gives you the first look through the doors of the Sage Motel.


May Erlewine – Tiny Beautiful Things

Prolific Michigan-based singer-songwriter May Erlewine released a new studio album entitled Tiny Beautiful Things today. The 10-track follow-up to 2019’s Second Sight was co-produced with Joe Hettinga, who also added keys and guitar to the LP. Erlewine also brought in Vulfpeck’s Theo Katzman on background vocals and electric guitar.

Tiny Beautiful Things takes its name from a book penned by Cheryl Strayed featuring a collection of deeply personal letters exchanged between total strangers. “This album is an invitation to connect with the many ways love appears in our lives,” explained Erlewine. “If we look around us, it’s always there. I feel thankful to get to share these love stories through music and I hope they find a useful place in your heart.”


Ezra Lipp – The Softened Sky

ALO drummer and Magic In The Other bandleader Ezra Lipp unveiled his debut solo album, The Softened Sky, today. The “solo” part is a bit of a misnomer as Lipp is joined by many of his musical friends on the 10-track LP including Stu Allen (Mars Hotel, Phil Lesh & Friends), Reed Mathis (Billy & The Kids, Electric Beethoven), Steve Adams (ALO), Dan “Lebo” Lebowitz (ALO), Scott Law, Rainbow Girls, Kelly McFarling, Jordan Feinstein, Lorenzo Loera (The California Honeydrops) and more.

Ezra handled all aspects of writing, producing, recording and mixing The Softened Sky. The project gave him a creative outlet at the start of the pandemic while touring was paused. Lipp penned songs in response to the chaos of the pandemic and the ensuing social unrest but also fit in themes of hope, lightness and curiosity.

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Compiled by Scott Bernstein, Nate Todd and Andy Kahn.

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