Today’s New Albums: Khruangbin & Vieux Farka Touré, Nikki Lane, Makaya McCraven + More
Don't miss these new releases out today, Friday, September 23.
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 Khruangbin & Vieux Farka Touré, Nikki Lane, Makaya McCraven, Daniel Lanois, Todd Snider, Marisa Anderson, Arkells, The Tallest Man On Earth, Chris Canterbury, New Riders of The Purple Sage, Grateful Dead and a NEU! box set. Read on for more insight into the records we have all queued up to spin.
Khruangbin & Vieux Farka Touré – Ali
Texas-based trio Khruangbin and Malian guitarist Vieux Farka Touré teamed up for the collaborative tribute album, Ali, that’s out now on Dead Oceans. As the title implies, the new record is a tribute to Vieux’s late father and legendary African musician Ali Farka Touré. The elder Farka Touré, who died at age 66 in 2006, was one of Africa’s most renowned and influential musicians merging of Malian musical styles with American blues created the groundbreaking genre now known as “desert blues” and earned him the nickname the “African John Lee Hooker.” Ali Farka Touré influenced contemporary African artists like Tinariwen and Etran Finatawa as well as American groups including Khruangbin. Vieux Farka Touré recruited the trio — guitarist Mark Speer, bassist Laura Lee and drummer DJ Johnson — to help pay tribute to his father. The eight songs on Ali are some of Vieux’s personal favorites of those written by his father.
“I want this album to convey love,” Vieux said of the collaboration. “It is about the love that Ali brought into the world. It is about the love that I have for him and that Khruangbin has for his music. It is about pouring your love into something old to make it new again.”
“We made this album to honor Ali’s life and body of work,” Khruangbin added. “We hope this collaboration enlightens more people to Ali’s musical legacy.”
Nikki Lane – Denim & Diamonds
“Neither of us knew what the year was going to hold and if it was going to work or if it was going to be easy,” Nikki Lane said in regards to a phone call she had with Josh Homme in May 2020, when the pandemic forced an end to touring. Homme, of Queens Of The Stone Age fame, produced Lane’s new album, Denim & Diamonds, which came out today on New West Records. The 10-song LP is Lane’s first since 2017’s Highway Queen and was recorded at Homme’s Pink Duck Studios in Burbank, California. Homme, who appears on the album, recruited an impressive array of talent to play on the album, bringing together his QOTSA cohorts, guitarist Alain Johannes, keyboardist Dean Fertita and bassist Michael Shuman, as well as Arctic Monkeys drummer Matt Helders and Autolux drummer Carla Azar. At Homme’s request, Lane brought along her pedal steel guitarist Matthew Pynn. Regarding her first album in five years, Lane stated:
“I hadn’t made a record in years and did not really feel interested in making another one. What I realized was how many little nuggets I was sitting on … There is a song that didn’t make the album with the lyrics ‘sometimes you gotta run away to live a life that you can write a song about.’ Prior to this album, I was so focused on writing about life on the road, that I just didn’t have the headspace to write about the road that got me here.”
Makaya McCraven – In These Times
Chicago-based jazz musician Makaya McCraven returns with In These Times, which arrived today through International Anthem/XL Recordings/Nonesuch. Clocking in at 41 minutes, the album was recorded at five studios and four live performance spaces. McCraven contributed drums, sampler, percussion, tambourine, baby sitar, synths, kalimba, handclaps, vibraphone, Wurlitzer and organ to In These Times. An impressive and extensive group of collaborators appear on the album called “the strongest and clearest statement we’ve yet to hear from McCraven, the composer” including Junius Paul (double bass, percussion, electric bass guitar, small instruments), Jeff Parker (guitar), Brandee Younger (harp), Joel Ross (vibraphone, marimba), Marta Sofia Honer (viola), Lia Kohl (cello), Macie Stewart (violin), Zara Zaharieva (violin), Greg Ward (alto sax), Irvin Pierce (tenor sax), Marquis Hill (trumpet, flugelhorn), Greg Spero (piano), Rob Clearfield (piano), Matt Gold (guitar, percussion, baby sitar) and De’Sean Jones (flute).
Daniel Lanois – Player, Piano
Multi-talented musician and producer Daniel Lanois issued his latest full-length album, Player, Piano, through Modern Recordings. Player, Piano is the follow-up to Lanois’ 2021 album, Heavy Sun. Lanois — who has produced albums by Bob Dylan, Neil Young, U2 and Peter Gabriel to name a few — co-produced Player, Piano at his Toronto studio with Dangerous Wayne Lorenz. To achieve the vintage sound heard on the record, Lanois and Lorenz utilized a number of techniques like damping the piano strings with tea towels and adding felt pads to the hammers. They also used ribbon microphones placed behind the pianos rather than in front to further soften the sound. Lanois spoke about Player, Piano, revealing:
“I decided that if I was going to make a piano record, I wanted it to sound like recordings from the ‘40s and ’50s, back when the piano was soft and beautiful. Making this record transported me at a time when I couldn’t go anywhere. I got to travel to Cuba and Mexico and Jamaica. I got to visit with the ghosts of Erik Satie and Oscar Peterson and Harold Budd. I got to go back in time to my work with Brian Eno and Kate Bush and Emmylou Harris. All without ever leaving my studio.”
Todd Snider – Live: Return Of The Storyteller
Singer-songwriter Todd Snider returns with Live: Return Of The Storyteller, out now on his Aimless Records label and Thirty Tigers. Described as a “successor in spirit,” Live: Return Of The Storyteller follows Snider’s critically-acclaimed 2011 live album, Live: The Storyteller. The new installment captures songs and stories told on stage at concerts held between August and December 2021. Live: Return Of The Storyteller includes material spanning Snider’s debut 1994 album, Songs From The Daily Planet through last year’s Fire Agnostic Church Of Hope And Wonder. Snider shares stories honoring late friends Colonel Bruce Hampton, John Prine, Neal Casal and Jerry Jeff Walker, as well as stage banter with one-of-a-kind stories. Snider shared the following in regards to Live: Return Of The Storyteller:
“this album is dedicated to all the people
who come to these shows
whether this last tour was the first one you caught
you’ve been coming since 94,
or you joined the family somewhere in between
you have my undying gratitude
traveling and singing has been the great joy of my life
and it’s not lost on me who makes it possible
Marisa Anderson – Still, Here
Thrill Jockey Records issued guitarist Marisa Anderson’s new album, Still, Here. The self-produced, eight-song set was recorded entirely by Anderson. The new album follows Anderson’s collaborative LPs, The Quickening with drummer Jim White and Lost Futures with guitarist William Tyler. Still, Here features six originals and Anderson’s arrangments of the traditional songs “La Llorona” and “Beat The Drum Slowly.”
“I don’t get ideas and then turn to the guitar,” Anderson said, “rather I turn to the guitar to find out what my ideas are. I turn towards it for meaning.”
Arkells – Blink Twice
Blink Twice, out now on Virgin Records/Universal Music Canada, comes on the heels of Arkells’ 2021 album, Blink Once. The newly released companion LP features several guests joining the Canadian band. Outside contributions came from the likes of Tegan and Sara, Cold War Kids, Cœur de pirate, Aly & AJ, The Lumineers’ Wesley Schultz and Lights. Frontman Max Kerman talked about the collaborative companion LP, stating:
“Blink Twice is about going to new places and seeing the world with fresh eyes. You can either move through life and grow stubborn, or you can grow curious. We’ve never had an album with so many guest artists along for the ride. Everyone from Cold War Kids, to Aly & AJ, Tegan and Sara, Lights, Cœur De Pirate, Joel Plaskett and Wesley Schultz of The Lumineers. At our core we’ll always be a living, breathing soul band. But Blink Twice lets us be that and more.”
The Tallest Man On Earth – Too Late For Edelweiss
The Tallest Man On Earth (Swedish musician Kristian Matsson) dropped an album of covers, Too Late For Edelweiss, through ANTI- Records. Consisting of 10 tracks, the covers LP is the first The Tallest Man On Earth album since 2019’s I Love You. It’s A Fever Dream. The new record was partially informed by Matsson’s cover of fellow Swedish musician Håkan Hellström’s “För sent för Edelweiss,” which is a song long used as his walk-on music before concerts and appears as the album’s opening track. Matsson recorded his arrangement of songs by Hank Williams, The Beatles, Lucinda Williams, Yo La Tengo, The National, Jackson Browne & Nico, Bon Iver, The Casinos and Ralph Stanley. Regarding Too Late For Edelweiss, Matsson stated:
“This past year, I’ve spent a lot of time touring but also writing and recording an album that I’m wildly proud of and will see the light of day eventually. But in the small hours in between trips and sessions, mostly in my house in Sweden and an AirBnb in North Carolina, I lo-fi recorded some covers here and there. Many times as a reset button for my own songwriting, to cleanse the palate from my whirlpool mind while writing songs. A little document of songs I had on my mind during those nights.
Chris Canterbury – Quaalude Lullabies
Louisiana-bred/Nashville-based singer-songwriter Chris Canterbury released a new album, Quaalude Lullabies. The nine-song LP is Canterbury’s second album and his first in five years. The LP was self-produced by Canterbury and features eight new original songs alongside a lone cover, Will Kimbrough’s tale of an Alabama inmate on death row, “Yellow Mama.” Canterbury previewed the album with the singles, “Heartache For Hire,” “Sweet Maria” and “The Devil, The Dealer, & Me.” Regarding Quaalude Lullabies, Canterbury stated:
“When I sat down to write this project, I tried to present each topic as a straightforward Saturday morning kitchen conversation. That’s how I approach songwriting. I wanted to woodshop a record together that felt like [Bruce Springsteen’s] Nebraska. I wanted it to be loose like a box of bedroom demo tapes, but cohesive enough to stand on its own. I feel like we ended up with a solid album.”
New Riders Of The Purple Sage – Lyceum ‘72
Omnivore Records released Lyceum ’72, a live album capturing the New Riders Of The Purple Sage set opening for the Grateful Dead on May 26, 1972. The performance was on the fourth night of the Dead’s run at London’s Lyceum Theatre, which was the final show of the Dead’s legendary Europe ’72 Tour. NRPS archivist, SiriusXM producer and host of the Grateful Dead Channel Rob Bleetstein prepped New Riders’ Lyceum ‘72 for release. Noted Grateful Dead engineers Betty Cantor, Janet Furman, Bob Matthews, Rosie (McGee), and Wizard captured New Riders Of The Purple Sage’s Lyceum ‘72 set — as well as all of the Grateful Dead’s storied Europe ‘72 Tour — on a 16-track recording machine. The tape was mixed by current Grateful Dead engineer Jeffrey Norman and mastered by Grammy-winning engineer David Glasser. Grateful Dead tour manager Sam Cutler recalled the run ending on May 26 in his liner notes for NRPS’ Lyceum ’72:
“The last night of the Grateful Dead’s 1972 European tour was memorable for a host of reasons, and prime amongst them, was the fun fact that the whole extended musical ‘family’ of the Grateful Dead was reunited at the London gig in the Lyceum Ballroom just off the Strand….”
Grateful Dead – Madison Square Garden, New York, NY 3/9/81
Part of a larger limited edition box set, In And Out Of The Garden: Madison Square Garden ‘81, ‘82, ‘83, the Grateful Dead’s March 9, 1981 show in at the famed New York City arena is available as a standalone release. The concert was performed by the Dead lineup consisting of guitarists Bob Weir and Jerry Garcia, bassist Phil Lesh, keyboardist Brent Mydland and drummers Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann. GD archivist and legacy manager, who produced In And Out Of The Garden, discussed the Dead’s history at MSG:
“As Jerry Garcia famously said, Madison Square Garden was ‘juiced.’ It had an energy unlike any other venue the Grateful Dead played, particularly of this size, owing to the symbiotic relationship between the Dead, the Dead Heads, and New York City itself. The Dead didn’t play the Garden until 1979, almost the midpoint of their performing career. but once they got rolling, they made it a home away from home, playing 10 shows in the next 15 years. These performances from 1981, 1982, and 1983 are six of the best the Dead played at the Garden, any of which could have been released on their own.”
Among the highlights of the first set are the opening pairing of “Feel Like A Stranger” with “Althea,” and a lengthy “Bird Song.” A 15-minute “China Cat Sunflower” into “I Know You Rider” begins the second set, which is also notable for the improv-heavy “Samson And Delilah” into “Ship Of Fools” into “Estimated Prophet” into “Uncle John’s Band” sequence.
NEU! – NEU! 50
NEU! 50! is the 50th-anniversary box set reissue celebrating the self-titled debut album by the legendary Krautrock group NEU!. The duo consisting of guitarist Michael Rother and the late drummer Klaus Dinger cultivated the groundbreaking sounds of NEU! in Düsseldorf, Germany, influenced by Kraftwerk’s Klingklang studios, art galleries, graphic design and advertising. The box set includes the duo’s 1972 self-titled debut, as well as its follow-up NEU! 2! and their third album, 1975’s NEU! 75. Press materials for the box set described the background leading to the duo’s 1972 premiere, stating:
They intended to create a previously unheard new music, aping the processes of commodification while remaining resolutely hostile to the commerciality of the music industry. Like other experimental bands of the late ’60s and early ’70s gathered under the Krautrock banner, NEU! were driven by a mixture of political and artistic imperatives to reject the clichés and conventions of orthodox, blues-based Anglo-American rock and create a music that was, formally, West German in origin.
Rother and Dinger were yin and yang-like in their temperamental dissimilarity. Rother, a pacifist with an affinity for the element of water, was responsible for the ambient drones and melodic foundation of NEU!. Dinger was a romantic, but an angrier man, a self-styled “working class hero” at loggerheads with his family, the West German patriarchy. He attacked his drum kit with, at times, literally, bloody violence. And yet, they were in lockstep from the beginning. They never argued over music, they simply rolled it out, mostly wordless, mostly instrumental, perfectly complementary.
Unable to find a way of making their music work live, further alienating them from a wider audience, NEU! were essentially a studio proposition, co-produced by the brilliant Conny Plank, known for enabling musicians to be the best possible versions of themselves without imposing any signature style of his own. When their self-titled debut album was released in 1972, it was as if they had arrived fully formed.
Also part of the reissue is a tribute album made up of reworkings of NEU! songs by The National, Idles, Man Man, Mogwai, Guerilla Toss, They Hate Change, Fink, Yann Tiersen, Alexis Taylor (Hot Chip), Stephen Morris (New Order, Joy Division) and Gabe Gurnsey (Factory Floor).