Release Day Picks: October 23rd New Album Highlights

By Team JamBase Oct 23, 2020 6:00 am PDT

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 Bruce Springsteen, Jeff Tweedy, Gorillaz, The Mountain Goats, Ben Harper, Songhoy Blues, Bootsy Collins, This Is The Kit, FUZZ, Cory Wong, Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, Kendall Street Company, Beastie Boys and Chavez. Read on for more insight into the records we have all queued up to spin.

Bruce Springsteen – Letter To You

The Scoop: Bruce Springsteen assembled the E Street Band at his home studio in New Jersey last November to work on the follow-up to his 2019 solo album, Western Stars. The result is Letter To You, a 12-track LP available now on Columbia Records. “I love the emotional nature of Letter To You,” said Springsteen of his 20th studio album. “And I love the sound of the E Street Band playing completely live in the studio, in a way we’ve never done before, and with no overdubs. We made the album in only five days, and it turned out to be one of the greatest recording experiences I’ve ever had.”

Bruce wrote nine songs expressly for inclusion on Letter To You. Additionally, the album features new recordings of a trio of songs penned but unreleased in the 1970s, “Janey Needs a Shooter,” “If I Was the Priest,” and “Song for Orphans.” Springsteen co-produced the record with Ron Aniello with the E Street Band lineup of Roy Bittan, Nils Lofgren, Patti Scialfa, Garry Tallent, Stevie Van Zandt, Max Weinberg, Charlie Giordano and Jake Clemons backing him.

Jeff Tweedy – Love Is The King

The Scoop: Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy has made the most of the band having its own label, dBpm Records. Tweedy today releases his third solo album in the past three years, which comes in addition to the 2019 Wilco LP, Ode To Joy. Jeff Tweedy’s Love Is King follows 2018’s WARM and 2019’s WARMER. The new album was recorded at Wilco’s The Loft studio/clubhouse in April 2020 with Jeff’s sons, Spencer Tweedy and Sammy Tweedy.

Read a statement from Jeff Tweedy about the 11-track Love Is The King:

At the beginning of the lockdown I started writing country songs to console myself. Folk and country type forms being the shapes that come most easily to me in a comforting way. “Guess Again” is a good example of the success I was having at pushing the world away, counting my blessings — taking stock in my good fortune to have love in my life. A few weeks later things began to sound like “Love Is The King” — a little more frayed around the edges with a lot more fear creeping in. Still hopeful but definitely discovering the limits of my own ability to self soothe.

Gorillaz – Song Machine: Season One – Strange Timez

The Scoop: Gorillaz innovative new project, Song Machine: Season One – Strange Timez, arrived today. As with most concepts from the virtual band — Noodle, 2D, Murdoc and RusselSong Machine encompasses both the visual and the sonic. The genre-bending album sees Gorillaz’ on a number of adventures while recording their new LP along with a star-studded cast of guest musicians including Elton John, Beck, Fatoumata Diawara, Robert Smith, ScHoolboy Q, Skepta and the late great drummer Tony Allen among others. Gorilla mastermind Damon Albarn kicked off the Song Machine rollout with “Momentary Bliss” featuring slowthai and Slaves, hit Lake Como with Fatoumata Diawara on ‘Désolé,” collaborated with icon Elton John and hip hop artist 6lack on “The Pink Phantom” and more.

The Mountain Goats – Getting Into Knives

The Scoop: The Mountain Goats didn’t wait long before getting to work on the follow-up to 2019’s In League With Dragons. Today, the band releases Getting Into Knives, a 13-track album, via Merge Records. Matt Ross-Spang produced the LP, which the Mountain Goats recorded at the legendary Sam Phillips Recording facility in Memphis. The group masterminded by John Darnielle tracked Getting Into Knives in just one week using “magic” microphones salvaged from The Nashville Network. Darnielle was joined by the full band for the new album, which also features a guest appearance from Al Green organist Charles Hodge.

Ben Harper – Winter Is For Lovers

The Scoop: Ben Harper’s first entirely instrumental album, Winter Is For Lovers, is available via ANTI- Records and presents Harper alone on his lap steel guitar. The 15 original songs were conceived as a single symphonic composition, written for the lap steel. “Before I started to actually play, it was the instrument that pulled me in,” Harper stated. “My first deep dive with the slide was my mom’s record collection. She had Hawaiian slide records, the blues of Son House and Blind Willie Johnson, but also classical guitar records by Andrés Segovia and flamenco albums by Sabicas and Carlos Montoya. But when I started to actually play, I would listen to Blind Willie Johnson, putting the needle back over and over.”

Compiled by Scott Bernstein, Nate Todd and Andy Kahn.

Songhoy Blues – Optimisme

The Scoop: Acclaimed Malian rock group Songhoy Blues are back with a new full-length, Optimisme, issued today by Fat Possum Records. The quartet’s third album, the title is French for “Optimism,” was produced by American musician Matt Sweeney (see Chavez’s entry below). Sweeney, and the band — Aliou Touré, Garba Touré, Oumar Touré and Nathanael Dembélé — recorded the album with Daniel Schlett at Strange Weather Recording Studios in Brooklyn. Sweeney “encouraged the band to make the album they want to make,” resulting in the 11-track, multilingual Optimisme whose lyrical content tackles the current unrest in Mail, which is divided between southern and northern territories, with music banned in the north under sharia law. “Songhoy Blues has always been about resistance,” Aliou Touré stated. “We started the group during a civil war, in the face of a music ban, to create something positive out of adversity.”

Bootsy Collins – The Power Of One

The Scoop: Booty Collins is back with a new album today, The Power Of The One. The legendary funk bassist began work on the new LP at Sweetwater Studios and finished up during lockdown at his own Boot-Cave Studios in Cincinnati. Bootsy produced, co-wrote and arranged the music himself, which features an all-star cast of musicians including Snoop Dogg and Brandon “Taz” Niederauer on “Jam On,” Victor Wooten, Steve Jordan and more on “Stargate,” renowned jazz guitarist George Benson on the title track and more. “Funk is making something out of nothing,” Bootsy said in a statement. “As a team, it’s easier to pursue your dreams.” It’s official: Family Approved, One Nation under a Groove!”

This Is The Kit – Off Off On

The Scoop: This Is The Kit (Kate Stables) released a new album, Off Off On, out today on Rough Trade. Josh Kaufman produced the new record. The pair met while working with Kaufman’s Bonny Light Horseman band mate Anais Mitchell on a cover of Osibisa’s “Woyaya” and reconnected at 37d03d residencies held in Brooklyn and Berlin. “We were on the same page about a lot of musical ideas, as well as doing things I wouldn’t do musically,” Stables said of working with Kaufman. “It was a lovely mixture of ‘you’re exactly in my brain and exactly at the opposite end of my brain.’” The 11-track Off Off On serves as the follow-to 2017’s, Moonshine Freeze, and was tracked during sessions held at Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios in England and completed, “just in time for everyone to get home for lockdown.” Stables was joined on the album by bassist Rozi Plain, guitarist Neil Smith, multi-instrumentalist Jesse D. Vernon and drummer Jamie Whitby-Coles.


The Scoop: The first new FUZZ album in five years, III, available today through In The Red Recordings. The band consisting of Ty Segall (best known for his guitar playing) on drums, Chad Ubovich on bass and Charles Moothart on guitar, were also supposed to embark on their first tour in half a decade but it was canceled due to the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. FUZZ recorded their aptly titled third album and follow up to their 2015 sophomore LP, II, at United Recording in Los Angeles with renowned engineer/producer Steve Albini. The eight-songs were largely tracked with limited use of overdubs or other “studio tricks.”

Cory Wong – The Striped Album

The Scoop: Cory Wong released his eighth record of 2020 today. The wildly prolific Wong produced the album himself but also enlisting the help of a number of guests. Guitar ace Joe Satriani appears on “MASSIVE” while singer-songwriter Kimbra features on the disco-funk track, “Design.” Wong also got help from UK singer and guitarist Tom Misch on the down-tempo funk of “Smooth Move.” The entire nine-song set only sees two songs without a featured guest and “finds Wong in typical giddy form,” as per a statement, “masterfully combining elements of funk, blues and disco.”

Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings – Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Rendition Was In)

The Scoop: Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings released a covers collection today dubbed Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Rendition Was In). The record from the late great soul singer and her famed band The Dap-Kings features five previously unheard recordings alongside beloved covers from Jones’ career. Many of the covers the band cut for movie soundtracks or commercials like Stevie Wonder’s “Signed Sealed Delivered (I’m Yours),” which the band recorded for a bank commercial. Sharon and company also put down Bad Medicine’s funky instrumental, “Trespasser” for the American Gangster soundtrack. Additionally, Jones and the band cut a number of homages for tribute albums to Prince, Shuggie Otis and more. The covers collection drew its name from Jones’ stellar cover of “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In).”

Kendall Street Company – The Stories We Write For Ourselves

The Scoop: Charlottesville, Virginia’s Kendall Street Company have a new record, The Stories We Write For Ourselves, which is the Americana acts first full length release since 2018’s RemoteVision. The 15-track The Stories We Write For Ourselves was recorded in Virginia Beach by acoustic guitarist/vocalist Louis Smith, bassist Brian Roy, drummer Ryan Wood, electric guitarist Ben Laderberg and keyboardist/saxophonist Jake Vanaman with co-producer Scott Gordon, whose previous credits include Ringo Starr, Alanis Morissette, Aerosmith, Baja Men, Hanson, Cher and others. The new record follows the band’s “coastal themed” EP, The Nautical Aquatical, that came out earlier this year. The group previewed their ever-evolving roots-based sound with the singles, “Lady In Green,” “Go On” and “Waiting On A Train.”

Beastie Boys – Beastie Boys Music

The Scoop: Hot on the heels of documentary Beastie Boys Story and tome Beastie Boys Books comes Beastie Boys Music. The compilation, which is a companion to both the film and book, features 20 of the hip-hop trio’s most beloved songs. Beastie Boys Music spans Beastie Boys’ 30-year career from 1986’s Licensed To Ill tracks “Right For Your Right,” “Brass Monkey,” “Paul Revere” and “No Sleep Till Brooklyn” through “Make Some Noise” and “Don’t Play No Game That I Can’t Win” off 2011’s Hot Sauce Committee Part Two. Tracks from Paul’s Boutique, Check Your Head, Ill Communication, Hello Nasty and To The 5 Boroughs are also included as part of the set.

Chavez – Gone Glimmering (Expanded)

The Scoop: Matador Records’ 2020 Revisionist History series continues with a reissuing of Chavez’s album, Gone Glimmering. Originally issued by Matador on May 23, 1995, Gone Glimmering was the debut album released by Chavez, the New York City-based rock group made up of drummer James Lo, guitarist Clay Tarver, bassist Scott Marshall and guitarist Matt Sweeney (who went on to work with Johnny Cash, Run The Jewels, Zwan, Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Iggy Pop, Endless Boogie, Cat Power, Margo Price and Songhoy Blues, among others). “For a year Clay [Tarver] and I played together in a Chinatown loft as a two-guitar thing before we got together with James [Lo],” Sweeney said. “Before practice, we would meet up at Max Fish bar on Ludlow street then go to the rehearsal space. And then we’d go back to Max Fish. This was the Gone Glimmering writing process.” The Gone Glimmering 25th anniversary reissue was remastered by Greg Calbi. The double-LP physical edition comes with four bonus tracks from the Pentagram Ring EP.

Compiled by Scott Bernstein, Nate Todd and Andy Kahn.

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