Release Day Picks: November 22nd New 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 Beck, Keller & the Keels, Leonard Cohen, Harry Nilsson, Coldplay, Turkuaz, Grateful Dead, Big Band Of Brothers and a pair of holiday compilations. Read on for more insight into the records we have all queued up to spin.
Beck – Hyperspace
The Scoop: Beck is back with the 14th entry into his eclectic studio canon. Hyperspace is the follow-up to Beck’s Grammy-winning 2017 LP Colors. Hyperspace is perhaps Beck’s most collaborative album to date with the record’s 11 tracks — including lead single “Uneventful Days” — featuring co-writes and co-production from Pharrell Williams as well as backing from longtime Beck bandmembers Jason Falkner, Smokey Hormel and Roger Manning Jr. on many of the tunes. The album also contains contributions from frequent Beck collaborator Greg Kurstin, Coldplay’s Chris Martin, Terrell Hines, Sky Ferreira and more.
Keller & The Keels – Speed
The Scoop: Keller Williams returns with his 25th studio album, Speed. It’s a joint record between Keller and longtime collaborators Larry and Jenny Keel, known as Keller & The Keels. Speed marks the trio’s third LP together following 2006’s Grass and 2012’s Thief. While Speed contains two original compositions, one from Williams and one from Larry Keel, the record — much like Thief — is comprised mostly of grassified covers including takes on Fiona Apple’s “Criminal”, Kacey Musgraves’ “Slow Burn” and Weezer’s “Island In The Sun” as well as a tune by The Doors done in the trio’s trademark psychedelic Appalachian bluegrass style.
Leonard Cohen – Thanks For The Dance
The Scoop: Three years after his death on November 7, 2016 at age 82, acclaimed singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen still has more to say to the world. Produced by Cohen’s son, Adam Cohen, the posthumously released Thanks For The Dance features nine new Leonard Cohen originals. The album is described as “not a commemorative collection of B sides and outtakes, but an unexpected harvest of new songs, exciting and vital, a continuation of the master’s final work.” Adam Cohen worked with his father on the elder’s final album, You Want It Darker, which came out weeks before his death. Those sessions were the source of what became, Thanks For The Dance. Here’s a description of the participants who helped complete the album:
Javier Mas, the great Spanish laud player who accompanied Leonard on stage for the last eight years of touring, flew from Barcelona to Los Angeles to capture the artist’s spirit on Leonard’s own guitar. In Berlin, at a musical event called People Festival, Adam invited friends and comrades to lend their ears and talents. Damien Rice and Leslie Feist sang. Richard Reed Parry of Arcade Fire played bass. Bryce Dessner of The National played guitar, the composer Dustin O’Halloran played piano. The Berlin-based choir Cantus Domus sang, and the s t a r g a z e orchestra played. In Montreal, the famed producer Daniel Lanois dropped in, beautifully enriching sparse arrangements. The Shaar Hashomayim Choir, who played such an important part of the sound of the last album, contributed to a song, and Patrick Watson brought his inimitable talent as co-producer to a song. Back in Los Angeles Jennifer Warnes, one of the keepers of Leonard’s flame, sang background vocals, and Beck contributed on guitar and Jew’s harp.
Harry Nilsson – Losst And Founnd
The Scoop: Omnivore Recordings recruited legendary musicians Van Dyke Parks, Jim Keltner, Jimmy Webb and others for the posthumous Harry Nilsson album, Losst And Founnd. Nilsson was 52 when he died of a heart attack on January 15, 1994. The new record contains nine new Nilsson originals alongside covers by Webb and Yoko Ono. The album was produced by Mark Hudson and also features Harry’s son, bassist Kiefo Nilsson. Here’s an excerpt from the liner notes written by Hudson:
It’s been a little over 25 years since we’ve had one of “our conversations” and I can’t tell you how much I miss your wisdom, humor, passion, stories, and most of all… your music… Anyway, I finally finished the record we were working on … All of your ideas I would write down, and I have put them into this project… Making this album was a dream come true for me. I promised you we would finish it and get it out there one day and that day has finally come!
Coldplay – Everyday Life
The Scoop: Coldplay went the double album route for their first studio album since the release of A Head Full Of Dreams in 2015. Everyday Life features 16 tracks broken down by groups of eight into a first half titled Sunrise and a second dubbed Sunset. The British rockers tapped Rik Simpson, Dan Green, Bill Rahko, Angel Lopez, Federico Vindver and Max Martin as producers for their eighth studio album. Frontman Chris Martin called Everyday Life, a “reaction to the perceived negativity that’s everywhere” during an interview with BBC Radio’s Annie Mac. “This has been the first time where we have felt like ‘oh we’ve got to this place as a band, there is really nothing to think about career wise as it were’ so you can just speak completely freely and let all the colors of your own life come through.”
Turkuaz – Kuadrochrome
The Scoop: Today’s release of the four-track EP Kuadrochrome marks a turning point for Turkuaz. Members of the band have each dressed in different rainbow colors for live performances over the past few years but moving forward are embracing the new music found on Kuadrochrome by sporting black, tan, grey and white gear at upcoming shows and in the foreseeable future. The nine-piece band recorded Kuadrochrome at Brooklyn’s Galaxy Smith Studios with guitarist/vocalist Dave Brandwein serving as producer. While the EP’s “Heat Drop” is a recent addition to Turkuaz’s live repertoire, the other three tracks on the release date back to the mid-2010s.
Grateful Dead – Ready Or Not
The Scoop: A new live collection of Grateful Dead songs offers up a tantalizing question: What would one more Grateful Dead studio album have sounded like? The Dead released their final studio effort, Built To Last, on Halloween in 1989. But subsequently, the band amassed a solid collection of new original material, most of which they debuted live in 1992 and 1993. Sadly, the band was never able to bring those songs into the studio due to the passing of Jerry Garcia in 1995. Yet Dead archivist David Lemieux sifted through numerous live versions of the songs and curated an album of unreleased live material called Ready Or Not. The record’s nine tracks include the songs “Lazy River Road,” “Liberty” and “Eternity,” the latter of which is a co-write between Dead guitarist Bob Weir, Rob Wasserman and legendary bluesman Willie Dixon. The album also features two somewhat rare collaborations between longtime Dead lyricist Robert Hunter and Weir in “Corinna” and “Easy Answers” along with a composition by new keyboardist (at the time) Vince Welnick, “Samba In The Rain,” which features words from Hunter. The album closes out with the poignant and sweeping Hunter/Garcia song “Days Between.”
Big Band Of Brothers – A Jazz Celebration Of The Allman Brothers Band
The Scoop: In honor of the 50th anniversary of the release of The Allman Brothers Band’s debut album, the Big Band Of Brothers recorded jazz arrangments of 10 of the legendary Southern rock band’s classic songs. The album was produced by Mark Lanter, Charles Driebe and John Harvey and recorded and mixed by Eric Bates. Vocalists Marc Broussard and Ruthie Foster each contributed to two songs. Former The Allman Brothers Band guitarist Jack Pearson also appears on the album, as does renowned jazz trombonist Wycliffe Gordon. The core Big Band Of Brothers includes: Rob Alley (trumpet & flugelhorn), Mart Avant (trumpet & flugelhorn), Dick Aven (tenor & soprano saxophone), Abe Becker (acoustic & electric bass), Billy Bargetzi (trombone), Jimmy Bowland (alto saxophone), Matt Casey (electric slide guitar), Steve Collins (baritone saxophone), Dave Crenshaw (congas & other percussion), Chad Fisher (trombone), Barney Floyd (trumpet & flugelhorn), Chris Gordon (trumpet & flugelhorn), Mace Hibbard (alto saxophone), Bill Huber (trombone), Chris Kozak (acoustic & electric bass), Mark Lanter (drum set), Nathan McLeod (tenor saxophone), Andy Nevala (piano, Hammond B-3, Rhodes), Kelley O’Neal (alto saxophone), David Ray (acoustic & electric bass), Brandon Slocumb (bass trombone), and Tom Wolfe (electric guitar).
Various Artists – This Warm December, A Brushfire Holiday, Volume 3
The Scoop: In 2008, artists on the Brushfire Records imprint including Jack Johnson, ALO, G. Love and Rogue Wave contributed Christmas songs to This Warm December: A Brushfire Holiday, Vol. 1. A second installment was released in 2011 and now the label has issued the 15-track This Warm December: A Brushfire Holiday, Vol. 3 featuring many of the same artists. This time around, Johnson recorded “New Axe” and “I Can’t Go To Sleep” and teamed with Mason Jennings for “Buddha Too.” Additional tracks include ALO guitarist Dan “Lebo” Lebowitz’s rendition of the traditional “Oh Hanukkah,” a cover of John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s “Happy Christmas (War Is Over)” performed by John Craigie, Lebo and Zach Gill and G. Love’s takes on “New Year’s Blues” and “Christmas Wave.” Bahamas, Mimi Naja (Fruition), Adam Topol and Paula Fuga also contributed to This Warm December: A Brushfire Holiday, Vol. 3.
Various Artists – Hanukkah+
The Scoop: Yo La Tengo, The Flaming Lips, HAIM, Jack Black, Watkins Family Hour, Loudon Wainwright III and more appear on Verve’s holiday compilation, Hanukkah+. Producer Randall Poster was inspired by Yo La Tengo’s annual eight-show Hanukkah run that began in their hometown of Hoboken, New Jersey but now takes place in New York City. Yo La Tengo covered Sam Elwitt’s “Eight Candles,” while The Flaming Lips’ recorded their original “Sing It Now, Sing It Somehow.” HAIM covered Leonard Cohen’s “If It Be Your Will” and Watkins Family Hour covered Woodie Guthrie’s “Hanukkah Dance.” The comp also features Jack Black performing the traditional “Oh Hanukkah” and “Chad Gadya (Passover Bonus).” Here’s Yo La Tengo’s take on their contribution:
When our old friend Randy Poster asked us to contribute to an album of Hanukkah songs he was putting together, we were kind of stumped. As non-practicing Jews (and non-Jews), truthfully the holiday has little meaning for us (that’s the meta joke behind Yo La Tengo’s Hanukkah shows), but we were open to inspiration. We thought maybe another friend, Sam Elwitt, could crack the code, and we think he did a fantastic job with his composition “Eight Candles.”
Compiled by Scott Bernstein, Nate Todd and Andy Kahn.