Release Day Picks: October 16th New Album Highlights
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 Sturgill Simpson, Kevin Morby, Jeremy Ivey, Matt Berninger, Steep Canyon Rangers, Gord Downie, Cordovas, Tom Petty, Eagles, The Allman Brothers Band, Tanya Tucker and Frute. Read on for more insight into the records we have all queued up to spin.
Sturgill Simpson – Cuttin’ Grass Vol. 1 – The Butcher Shoppe Sessions
The Scoop: Sturgill Simpson recruited an all-star collection of bluegrass musicians to record his first forray into bluegrass, Cuttin’ Grass Vol. 1 – The Butcher Shoppe Sessions. Joining Simpson at John Prine’s Butcher Shoppe Recording Studio in Nashville was the impressive group consisting of fiddler Stuart Duncan, drummer Miles Miller, guitarist Tim O’Brien, mandolinist Sierra Hull, bassist Mike Bub and banjo players Scott Vestal and Mark Howard. Produced by David “Ferg” Ferguson, the album features 20 songs from Simpson’s back catalog rearranged for bluegrass. Simpson previewed the album with a concert in June at an empty Ryman Auditorium in Nashville with several of the musicians that appear on the album joining him on stage. Simpson shared a lengthy essay with the album that concludes with:
This album also begins a new phase for my career. I’m starting back the way I started out, on my own record label. I’m realizing more and more every day what I already knew, which is that I was always supposed to be an independent artist. I’m just trying to look forward and create without any industry timelines or narratives and all the creative restrictions that inevitably come with them. The real benefit is that I’ve completely fallen back in love with music again. I was really burnt out for a long while, due to so many variables that had absolutely nothing to do with making music, and as a result had started associating music with some of the headaches behind the curtain that came with it. But with all that now in the rearview, I am feeling extremely healthy and happy. Mostly I’m just extremely grateful to wake up every day and look at my children. When I’m not playing with my kids, I just sit around playing guitar all day, which I haven’t really done for a number of years.
The world’s hurting right now in so many ways…there are a lot of people in way worse shape than most of us could ever imagine. I cannot fix or change any of this. But I can change myself. And I can put some music out, and hopefully, if nothing else, it might make some people forget about their pain and troubles for 45 minutes.
Kevin Morby – Sundowner
The Scoop: Singer-songwriter Kevin Morby’s new album Sundowner follows last year’s full-length, Oh My God. The 10-track Sundower features Morby handling the majority of the instrumentation, with producer Brad Cook playing bass and Big Thief‘s James Krivchenia adding percussion. The album was recorded in January 2019 at Sonic Ranch recording studio in Tornillo, Texas. Morby wrote the songs on Sundowner after moving back to his hometown of Kansas City, recording demos at home on a four-track Tascam model 424. His partner Katie Crutchfield (Waxahatchee) regularly visited Morby, and the pair coined the term “sundowners” for the shared feeling of melancholy they both often felt at sunset. “My end goal was to capture the cadence of what I had found inside the four track but make it three dimensional, and Brad [Cook] seemed perfect for the job,” Morby stated. “It is a depiction of isolation. Of the past. Of an uncertain future. Of provisions. Of an omen. Of a dead deer. Of an icon. Of a Los Angeles themed hotel in rural Kansas. Of billowing campfires, a mermaid and a highway lined in rabbit fur. It is a depiction of the nervous feeling that comes with the sky’s proud announcement that another day will be soon coming to a close as the pink light recedes and the street lamps and house lights suddenly click on.”
Jeremy Ivey – Waiting Out The Storm
The Scoop: “I decided to be political, but not so strongly one-sided about it,” Jeremy Ivey said of the lyrical themes on Waiting Out The Storm. “Some of these songs are about things that are current, but they could also be true 30 years from now.” Ivey’s follow-up to his 2019 debut The Dream And The Dreamer was produced by his wife and musical partner, Margo Price, who also produced his debut. Ivey, who is recovering from a difficult COVID-19 infection earlier this, pushed the release of the new record back a week due to production delays caused by the pandemic. Ivey chose to credit his backing band The Extraterrestrials on the 10-track Waiting Out The Storm. Here’s Ivey talking about co-writing with Price the Waiting Out The Storm single “Someone Else’s Problem”:
Matt Berninger – Serpentine Prison
The Scoop: The National frontman Matt Berninger’s debut solo album, Serpentine Prison, arrives today. The LP is the first on Book Records, an imprint formed by Berninger and famed Memphis multi-instrumentalist Booker T. Jones, who produced the album. The record also features a number of notable guests including Berninger’s National band mate Scott Devendorf, David Bowie collaborator Gail Ann Dorsey, Willie Nelson’s longtime harmonica player Mickey Raphael, Booker T. himself and many more. Berninger began writing the material for Serpentine Prison shortly after wrapping up work on The National’s I Am Easy to Find at the end of 2018. Fittingly enough, Berninger’s solo debut sees the frontman delivering a more personal set of songs beginning with the title track which showcases his astute observational style and keen eye for a metaphor. “The title is from a twisting sewer pipe that drains into the ocean near LAX,” Berninger explained in a statement. “There’s a cage on the pipe to keep people from climbing out to sea. It feels like an epilogue so I named the record after it and put it last.”
Steep Canyon Rangers – Arm In Arm
The Scoop: Steep Canyon Rangers return with their 13th album, Arm In Arm, out today via Yep Roc Records. The Grammy-winning Asheville, North Carolina-based string band headed to Nashville to record the LP at Music City’s famed Southern Ground Studios. SCR tapped renowned producer Brandon Bell, who has worked with such luminaries as John Prine and Zac Brown, to helm the album. The 11-song set sees the lauded bluegrass band “expanding their sound by paying homage to their early influences and the bluegrass tradition for which they’re known,” as per a press release. That adventurous spirit — evident on the track “Sunny Days,” which sees the band experimenting with dynamics to give the song its intended vibe — coupled with a respect for their roots led to tracks like “Honey On My Tongue,” “In The Next Life” and “Every River.”
Gord Downie – Away Is Mine
The Scoop: Away Is Mine, a posthumous solo album recorded by Gord Downie, frontman of Canadian rock band The Tragically Hip, is available today through Arts & Crafts. Recording sessions for the album started on July 17, 2017 in Downie’s native Canada at The Tragically Hip’s studio in Bath, Ontario. Downie died of brain cancer at the age of 53 on October 17 — three months to the day after the sessions started. The sessions saw Downie supported by the “Family Band” consisting of his son, Lou Downie on drums, The Sadies‘ Travis Good contributing fiddle, mandolin and guitar parts, as well as longtime studio overseer Dave “Billy Ray” Koster also playing drums. Guitarist Josh Finlayson, who co-wrote the 10 songs making up Away Is Mine, also performed on the album, which he helped complete. “This won’t be his last release, but these are the final 10 songs Gord sang before he passed away,” Gord’s brother Patrick Downie stated. “The last time he ever sang into a mic. That’s pretty special to us.”
Cordovas – Destiny Hotel
The Scoop: Tennessee-based rockers Cordovas assembled in Los Angeles to record a new album for ATO Records. The 10-track Destiny Hotel was produced by Rick Parker, whose credits include Lord Huron, Beck and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. Cordovas first came together at the Todos Santos artist community in Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula, where they spent over three months writing the material that appears on the LP. The quartet then went to L.A. for a frantic seven-day session just before the pandemic led to stay-at-home orders. “We wanted to strike the term ‘want’ from our music—to get rid of all the ‘Baby, baby, baby, I want this, I want that,’ and create something more useful,” vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Joe Firstman said of the follow-up to That Santa Fe Channel. “We needed to make sure these were songs we’d be proud to sing forever.”
Tom Petty – Wildflowers & All The Rest
The Scoop: Tom Petty’s long-awaited expanded reissue of his 1994 album, Wildflowers, was finally released today — days after the anniversary of his untimely death in 2017 and just shy of what would have been his 70th birthday on October 20. Wildflowers & All The Rest was curated by Petty’s wife Dana Petty and daughters Adria Petty and Annakim Petty, along with The Heartbreakers memembers Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench. In his final interview, Petty told the Los Angeles Times that he planned to turn his attention to the expanded Wildflowers project after the 40th anniversary Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers Tour, which ended one week prior to his death. Wildflowers was co-produced by Petty, Campbell and Rick Rubin and initially intended to be a double album. At the behest of his record label, the single-disc version of Wildflowers was originally issued on November 1, 1994. Produced by longtime collaborator Ryan Ulyate, the standard 2-CD/3-LP Wildflowers & All The Rest features 25 songs including five previously unreleased tracks. Wildflowers & All The Rest – Deluxe Edition comes as a 4-CD/7-LP set with the addition of home recordings and demos and a compilation made up of live performances recorded between 1995 and 2017 of 14 Wildflowers tracks. Finding Wildflowers, 16 studio recordings of alternate takes of Wildflowers songs rounds out the massive Wildflowers & All The Rest – Super Deluxe box set.
Eagles – Live From The Forum MMXVIII
The Scoop: Eagles’ Live From The Forum MMXVIII receives its official release today. The live LP comes from the legendary rock band’s September 2018 show at the iconic Southern California venue, a concert film for which premiered this past 4th of July weekend. Rhino delivers both the film and album in a variety of audio and video formats, including Blu-ray, CD, vinyl and streaming. A super deluxe edition is also available. The recording from The Forum is the first live release featuring newly minted Eagles Deacon Frey — the son of late Eagles co-founder Glenn Frey — and country star Vince Gill, joining Don Henly, Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmit. The collection contains a number of Eagles hits like “Hotel California,” “Take It Easy,” “Life In The Fast Lane” and “Desperado” along with deeper cuts like “Ol’ 55 and “Those Shoes.” The Eagles round out their set with solo songs from the band’s legendary members like Walsh’s “Rocky Mountain Way,” Henley’s “Boys Of Summer” and Gill’s “Don’t Let Our Love Start Slippin’ Away.”
The Allman Brothers Band – The Final Note & Erie 2005
The Scoop: The Allman Brothers Band vault has been opened for the release of two milestone shows from the group’s legendary 45-year career. The Final Note features seven songs from guitarist Duane Allman’s final performance just 12 days before his tragic death. Taped by 18-year-old high school student, Sam Idas, The Final Note was recorded at the Painters Mill Music Fair in Owings Mills, Maryland on October 17, 1971. “My only intention was to record [an] interview [with Gregg Allman]. This was a brand-new cassette recorder with an internal microphone, and I had one 60-minute cassette tape. I was sitting there with the recorder in my lap, and I remember thinking ‘Why don’t I try this out? I can record the concert!’ It was a totally spontaneous decision. I’d been to many concerts, but this was the only time I had the thought-and the motivation-to record the show.”
Additionally, The Allman Brothers Band unveiled an official recording of their entire July 19, 2005 concert at the Warner Theatre in Erie, Pennsylvania. Dubbed “the best show you have ever heard,” the release shows off the final ABB lineup — consisting of keyboardist Gregg Allman, guitarists Derek Trucks and Warren Haynes, percussionist Marc Quinones and drummers Butch Trucks and Jaimoe — that was intact from 2001 through the group’s last shows in 2014. “I was feeling it while they were playing,” longtime ABB manager Bert Holman said of the evening featured on the release. “Ultimately, I knew it had been a great night when they started coming off the stage and everyone was like, ‘Man, that was a great show!’ I remember Oteil and Derek particularly being pumped about it, Haynes was pleased, and Butch was just raving about how over-the-top the show was. They all told me that they needed a copy of the show, which says a lot right there.” [Order here]
Tanya Tucker – Live At The Troubadour
The Scoop: One year ago today, famed country musician Tanya Tucker brought her band to the iconic West Hollywood venue The Troubadour for a concert in support of her critically-acclaimed While I’m Livin’ LP. Live At The Troubadour is a live album available via Fantasy Records that captures the October 16, 2019 performance. The 16-track record features a mix of timeless classics and gems from While I’m Livin’. Plus, the release includes a medley of Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m On Fire” and Johnny Cash’s “Ring Of Fire.”
Frute – The Great Surround
The Scoop: Rock quintet Frute may have formed just over a year ago, but the band has developed a signature sound incorporating elements of funk, bluegrass, Americana and world music. The Great Surround, Frute’s debut studio album, features original compositions that display what their music is all about. Its title track is comprised of three different tunes interspersed throughout the record.
Compiled by Scott Bernstein, Nate Todd and Andy Kahn.