Check Out New Albums From M83, U2, Unknown Mortal Orchestra & Others Released Today
Band of Heathens, Julian Lage, Krasno / Moore Project, and The Black Crowes also have new releases out today, Friday, March 17.
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 M83, U2, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Band of Heathens, Julian Lage, Krasno / Moore Project, and The Black Crowes. Read on for more insight into the records we have all queued up to spin.
M83 – Fantasy
Fantasy, M83’s ninth studio album, arrived today via Mute. The album serves as the follow-up to the last full-length release from the project led by Anthony Gonzalez, 2019’s DSVII. Gonzalez recorded the 13-track Fantasy throughout 2021 with producer Justin Meldal-Johnsen and longtime bandmate Joe Berry. After issuing the lead single “Oceans Niagara,” Gonzalez further previewed the album by releasing the first six songs as an EP titled, Fantasy – Chapter 1.
“I wanted this record to be very impactful live,” Gonzalez said regarding Fantasy. “The idea was to come back with something closer to the energy of [2005’s] Before The Dawn Heals Us. The combination of guitars and synths is always in my music, but it’s maybe more present on this new record than on the previous ones. I wanted to be more present lyrically and vocally even if that was daunting at first. I thought if I could achieve that, this album will be more personal than those that came before.”
U2 – Songs Of Surrender
U2 reworked and re-recorded 40 of their songs for their new release, Songs Of Surrender, which arrived today fittingly for the Irish band on St. Patrick’s Day. The album was conceived alongside U2 frontman Bono’s recently published memoir, Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story. Bono named each of the book’s 40 chapters after the title of one of the band’s songs and those songs make up the Songs Of Surrender tracklist. Included are new versions such favorites as “One,” “Beautiful Day,” “With Or Without You,” “Pride (In the Name of Love),” “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” and others. U2 guitarist The Edge and Bono worked on the album at the former’s home in France. Additional sessions were held in Los Angeles and London. Producers who contributed to the album include Brian Eno, Daniel Lanois, Bob Ezrin, Duncan Stewart, Stjephan Hauser and Declan Gaffney. Bono described the project in his memoir, writing:
“During lockdown we were able to reimagine forty U2 tracks for the Songs of Surrender collection, which gave me a chance to live inside those songs again as I wrote this memoir. It also meant I could deal with something that’s been nagging me for some time. The lyrics on a few songs that I’ve always felt were never quite written. They are now. (I think.)”
Unknown Mortal Orchestra – V
Unknown Mortal Orchestra returns today with V, the first double LP from Hawaiian-New Zealand artist and UMO mastermind Ruban Nielson. The record is a mélange of “West Coast AOR, classic hits, weirdo pop and Hawaiian Hapa-haole music,” as per a press release. Family played a big role in the creation of V. Nielsen booked an Airbnb for his family around UMO’s performance at Coachella in 2019. He realized the towering palms of the desert tourist town reminded him of “a childhood spent playing by white hotel swimming pools with his siblings while their entertainer parents performed in showbands across the Pacific and East Asia.” When pandemic lockdowns loomed, Ruban returned to Palm Springs to get away and treat non-COVID-related health problems. Nielson found the warm dry air helped his asthma, strengthening his singing voice, which in turn led to a creative spark. Ruban’s brother Kody flew from New Zealand to help with the subsequent recording leading to early V cuts and 2021 singles “Weekend Run” and “That Life.”
Health problems, however, continued to plague Ruban’s family and he found himself splitting time between Palm Springs and Hawaii. Hawaiian music began to sweep into the record on tracks like “I Killed Captain Cook.” Deepening the family ties, Ruban’s father Chris Nielson joined Ruban and Kody in Palm Springs to add saxophone and flute alongside contributions from longtime UMO member Jake Portrait.
“In Hawaii, everything shifted off of me and my music,” Ruban recalled. “Suddenly, I was spending more time figuring out what others need and what my role is within my family. I also learned that things I thought were true of myself are bigger than I thought. My way of making mischief – that’s not just me – that’s my whole Polynesian side. I thought I was walking away from music to focus on family, but the two ended up connecting.”
Band Of Heathens – Simple Things
Austin-based rockers Band Of Heathens released their ninth studio album, Simple Things, via their own BOH Records. Fronted by lead vocalists and songwriters Ed Jurdi and Gordy Quist, Band Of Heathens self-produced the 10-track follow-up to the 2022 covers collection Remote Transmissions Vol. 1. The new album was recorded at The Finishing School in the pair’s hometown of Austin, Texas. Quist assumed control of the facility following the death of founder and Band Of Heathens collaborator George Reiff. Band Of Heathens are joined by Jurdi’s Trigger Hippy bandmate, vocalist Amber Woodhouse, on the soul-infused single “Don’t Let The Darkness.” Regarding the independently released Simple Things, Quiststated:
“I see a lot of artists out there screaming, ‘Hey, we’re outlaws, we’re independent!,’ and they’re signed to a major label and live completely within that model. We’ve been the ultimate indie band for 17 years … Many times in the past, we’d take a song and stretch to make it into something else sonically, because that’s exciting and fun to do in the studio. This time around, we tried to use some restraint and embraced our first instincts, trusting the songs.”
Julian Lage – The Layers
Guitarist Julian Lage released his album The Layers via Blue Note Records today. Recorded by Mark Goodell and produced by Margaret Glaspy, with additional production by Armand Hirsch, Lage previewed The Layers with the title track featuring renowned guitarist Bill Frisell. Frisell and Lage also teamed up for the dreamy, stripped-down acoustic cut “This World.” The LP is a companion piece to Lage’s 2022 album, View With A Room, which also featured Frisell along with Lage’s longtime rhythm section of bassist Jorge Roeder and drummer Dave King — as does The Layers. While The Layers arrived after View With A Room, the former documents the latter’s formative period, as Lage detailed:
“At its core, The Layers is a prequel to View With A Room. It has all the musical seeds that grew into what I consider the touchstones of View With A Room—a duo with Bill, a duo with Jorge, more atmospheric and expansive writing, Dave and Jorge’s incredible rhythmic and orchestrational sensibilities. View With A Room is a comprehensive look at these musical qualities we were so excited to explore in the studio, and The Layers offers a distillation of the various relationships within the ensemble and production team. Taken as a whole, The Layers has a heartbeat all of its own.”
Krasno / Moore Project – Krasno Moore Project: Book ofre Queens
Renowned musicians guitarist Eric Krasno (Soulive, Lettuce) and drummer Stanton Moore (Galactic) show off their recently formed band on Krasno Moore Project: Book of Queens, a nine-track album that arrived today via Concord Jazz. Krasno, Moore and organist Eric Finland‘s debut Krasno Moore Project LP offers fresh spins on songs from iconic female musicians including Aretha Franklin, Nina Simone, Sharon Jones and Peggy Lee. Cory Henry, Branford Marsalis and Robert Randolph each made guest appearances on the album recorded at Woodstock, New York’s Levon Helm Studios and mixed by Jim Scott. Krasno shared the following in regards to the album’s concept:
“When Stanton and I got together and decided to make a record we knew we wanted to focus on a concept that we both believed in. With the help of our wives (Lauren and Lauren), we started discussing a few ideas and agreed that a tribute to our favorite female singers and songwriters would be perfect. There are so many amazing songs to choose from spanning every genre and every era. Stanton and I zoned in on songs that had the right melodies and moods for an organ trio format. As soon as we started adapting the songs, adding grooves, and making demos with Eric Finland we knew we had something special.”
The Black Crowes – Shake Your Money Maker Live
Brothers Chris Robinson and Rich Robinson brought The Black Crowes to all corners of the world between 2021 and 2022 for a world tour honoring the 30th anniversary of the band’s debut studio album, Shake Your Money Maker. Nineteen tracks have been culled from the trek to form Shake Your Money Maker Live, a 2-LP set out today on Silver Arrow. The live album flows like the concerts did starting with a complete performance of Shake Your Money Maker, continuing with assorted hits and finishing with classic rock covers.
“The Black Crowes are proud to present an audio document of our Shake Your Money Maker Tour from the last 2 years,” stated Chris Robinson. “From where it all began to where we’re going and all that was in between. Hail hail rock ‘n roll!”
Compiled by Scott Bernstein, Nate Todd and Andy Kahn.