Today’s New Albums: Neil Young, Willie Nelson, Julien Baker, Menahan Street Band, King Gizzard & More
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 Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Willie Nelson, Julien Baker, Menahan Street Band, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, Bob Dylan, Alice Cooper and The Black Crowes. Read on for more insight into the records we have all queued up to spin.
Neil Young & Crazy Horse- Way Down In The Rust Bucket
The Scoop: Neil Young & Crazy Horse’s live album and concert film, Way Down In The Rust Bucket, arrives today via Reprise Records. The set documents a previously unreleased show played in front of an intimate audience at the Catalyst in Santa Cruz, California on November 13, 1990, the only full concert Crazy Horse — guitarists Young and Frank Sampedro, bassist Billy Talbot and drummer Ralph Molina — would play that year. They seemed to be making up for lost time as the three-set show stretched to over three hours. Young has heralded the album and film with clips of “Don’t Cry No Tears” and “Homegrown. The concert also saw early versions of “Surfer Joe and Moe the Sleaze,” “Fuckin’ Up,” and “Love and Only Love” as well as classics like “Cinamon Girl,” “Like A Hurricane” and closer “Cortez The Killer.”
Willie Nelson – That’s Life
The Scoop: Legendary musician Willie Nelson continues to show his appreciation for Frank Sinatra on That’s Life, his 71st studio album and 15th for Legacy Recordings. Nelson previously released another collection of songs popularized by Sinatra, My Way, in 2018. This time around, Willie takes on such classics as “Learnin’ The Blues,” “Luck Be A Lady,” “In The Wee Small Hours Of Morning” and the title track. Diana Krall contributed to “I Won’t Dance.”
The 11-track That’s Life was produced by Buddy Cannon and Matt Rollings. Sessions took place at the historic Capitol Studios in Hollywood with additional recording at Pedernales Studios in Austin. “I learned a lot about phrasing listening to Frank,” Nelson explained of Sinatra in a 2018 interview for AARP magazine. “He didn’t worry about behind the beat or in front of the beat, or whatever—he could sing it either way, and that’s the feel you have to have.”
Julien Baker – Little Oblivions
The Scoop: Julien Baker’s third album, Little Oblivions, follows her 2017 sophomore LP, Turn Out the Lights, which was also issued by Matador Records. Between those records, Baker teamed with Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus to form boygenius, putting out their self-titled debut album in 2018. Baker recorded Little Oblivions in Memphis between between December 2019 and January 2020. Baker played guitar and piano across the album’s 12 tracks, contributing most of the other instrumentation as well, including bass, drums, synthesizers, banjo and mandolin. The Little Oblivions sessions were engineered by Calvin Lauber and mixed by Craig Silvey, who also worked on Turn Out the Lights.
“In the moment, here is a new Julien Baker album that arrives as a world comes to newly understand its relationship with touch, with distance,” author Hanif Abdurraqib wrote. “At the time of this writing, I shouldn’t want to run into the arms of anyone I love and miss, and yet I do. In an era of hands pressed on the glass of windows, or screen doors. An era of hands reaching back. An era where touch became an illusion. If we have been unlucky enough, our own lifetimes have prepared us for the ever-growing tapestry of aches.”
Menahan Street Band – The Exciting Sounds Of The Menahan Street Band
The Scoop: The Exciting Sounds Of The Menahan Street Band is the third album and first full-length release from the (mostly) instrumental soulful, jazz funk outift the Menahan Street Band since 2012’s The Crossing. The album was recorded on analog tape at the band’s Diamond Mine Studios in Long Island City, New York. The new 14-track LP was produced by multi-instrumentalist Thomas Brenneck and features fellow MSB members, drummer Homer Steinweiss, trumpeter Dave Guy, saxophonist/organist/percussionist Leon Michels and bassist Nick Movshon, who have regularly contributed to Daptone Records releases by Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, Charles Bradley, Lee Fields and many others. Guests appearing on The Exciting Sounds Of The Menahan Street Band include Tedeschi Trucks Band vocalist Alecia Chakour, vocalists from The Gospel Queens and The Dap-Kings bassist Bosco Mann and vocalist Saundra Williams. Brenneck revealed on an episode of The JamBase Podcast that some of the shorter tracks were inspired by J Dilla’s classic album, Donuts.
“Why is there nine years between the Menahan records?,” Brenneck said on The JamBase Podcast. “It’s because the Menahan records are fucking special. We’ll just do a song once every few months when there’s an idea that is special enough or the mood is right. And in between that, we’ve really focused on the singers that we have relationships with.”
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – L.W.
The Scoop: 2021 didn’t get very far without a new record from prolific Australian rock band King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard. The sextet today unveiled L.W., their 17th studio album. L.W. is the group’s third collection of explorations into microtonal tunings following 2017’s Flying Microtonal Banana and last year’s K.G.. The Melbourne-based band’s new record features nine tracks birthed during the same sessions that yielded K.G..
“We wanted to make new music that was somehow more colorful this time around, and which maybe reflected the many new things that we have learned along the way,” noted frontman Stu Mackenzie. “After recording Flying Microtonal Banana the songs expanded when we played them live, so we felt ready to tackle the microtonal landscape again. Making these two new records was not expected, but because they were recorded in a way that was new to us – not being in the room at the same time – there was a feeling of almost being over-prepared, which is definitely not normal for us. Whatever normal is.”
Bob Dylan – 1970
The Scoop: Today, Bob Dylan released his Bob Dylan 1970 collection through Columbia Records/Legacy Recordings. The three-disc set features previously unreleased outtakes from the sessions for Dylan’s two 1970 releases, Self Portrait and New Morning. Bob Dylan 1970 also contains highly sought after recordings Bob Dylan made with George Harrison that saw the future Traveling Wilburys band mates performing Dylan’s songs “One Too Many Mornings,” “Gates of Eden” and “Mama, You Been On My Mind” as well as covers of The Everly Brothers’ “All I Have To Do Is Dream” and Carl Perkins’ “Matchbox.” The collection also features Dylan collaborators guitarist David Bromberg, drummer Russ Kunkel, bassist Charlie Daniels, guitarist Ron Cornelius and Al Kooper on organ.
Alice Cooper – Detroit Stories
The Scoop: An homage to the city that launched the enigmatic career of Alice Cooper, Detroit Stories finds the veteran rocker again working with acclaimed producer Bob Ezrin, after first collaborating back in 1970. Local Detroit music icons make guest appearances on the 15-track album, which follows Cooper’s 2017 Ezrin-produced LP, Paranormal. Guests on the new record include MC5’s Wayne Kramer, The Detroit Wheels’ Johnny “Bee” Badanjek, jazz/R&B bassist Paul Randolph, the Motor City Horns and other local musicians.
“Detroit was Heavy Rock central then,” Alice Cooper stated. “You’d play the Eastown and it would be Alice Cooper, Ted Nugent, The Stooges and The Who, for $4! The next weekend at the Grande it was MC5, Brownsville Station and Fleetwood Mac, or Savoy Brown or the Small Faces. You couldn’t be a soft-rock band or you’d get your ass kicked. Los Angeles had its sound with The Doors, Love and Buffalo Springfield. San Francisco had the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane. New York had The Rascals and The Velvet Underground. But Detroit was the birthplace of angry hard rock. After not fitting in anywhere in the US (musically or image-wise) Detroit was the only place that recognized the Alice Cooper guitar-driven, hard rock sound and our crazy stage show. Detroit was a haven for the outcasts. And when they found out I was born in East Detroit… we were home.”
The Black Crowes – Shake Your Money Maker (30th Anniversary Reissue)
The Scoop: In 1990, The Black Crowes burst onto the scene with their debut studio album, Shake Your Money Maker. Co-founding members Chris Robinson and Rich Robinson teamed with the LP’s original producer, George Drakoulias, to oversee reissues celebrating the 30th anniversary of the album that put them on the map. Multiple formats are out today through UMe/American Recordings featuring the remastered original album as well as a collection of never-before-heard tracks, outtakes, B-sides and demos.
Shake Your Money Maker includes such instant classics as “Jealous Again,” “Twice As Hard,” “She Talks To Angels” and the band’s take on Otis Redding’s “Hard To Handle.” Super Deluxe versions, which add a previously unreleased concert from December 1990 in a package featuring a slew of goodies, are due next month.
Compiled by Scott Bernstein, Nate Todd and Andy Kahn.