Release Day Picks: August 21st 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 Bright Eyes, Lotus, Bill Frisell, Old 97’s and The Secret Machines. Read on for more insight into the records we have all queued up to spin.
Bright Eyes – Down In The Weeds, Where The World Once Was
The Scoop: The return of Bright Eyes has arrived. Bright Eyes today releases Down In The Weeds, Where The World Once Was via Dead Oceans, the band’s first new studio album since 2011. Conor Oberst, Mike Mogis and Nathaniel Walcott recorded the 14-track LP during sessions at Omaha’s ARC Studios as well as Capitol Studios and Electro-Vox in Los Angeles. The trio was backed by a rhythm section consisting of Jon Theodore and Flea. Down In The Weeds, Where The World Once Was marks Bright Eyes’ Dead Oceans debut and 10th studio album since forming in 1995.
Lotus – Free Swim
The Scoop: Livetronica quintet Lotus are back with new album Free Swim, their 10th full-length studio album following 2018’s Frames Per Second. The band’s brotherly duo of Jesse Miller and Luke Miller produced Free Swim in the City Of Brotherly Love at Philadelphia’s Spice House Sound. The record is an homage of sorts to the band’s jazz, funk, disco and psychedelic influences from the jazz-inflected, French house-inspired “Catacombs” and the Nordic disco of “Bjorn Gets A Haircut” to the funky tracks “Sepia Rainbow” and “Earl Of Grey.” The title of the album alludes to the freeform nature of the LP. “Luke named the track Free Swim and I thought it also made a great album name,” Jesse said in a statement. “Free swim can be read a couple of different ways, but I think both can apply to Lotus’s music. The first brings me back to childhood when my mom would drive myself and four brothers to the public pool.The free swim time was pure, unrestrained joy as we soared off the diving boards and burned off excess energy swimming for hours in the summers. The second reading is becoming free while swimming. I picture the feeling of weightlessness in open water in some beautiful, remote location.”
Bill Frisell – Valentine
The Scoop: Acclaimed jazz guitarist Bill Frisell recruited trio members bassist Thomas Morgan and drummer Rudy Royston to contribute to a new studio album. Valentine, out today via Blue Note was recorded at Flora Recordings in Portland, Oregon by Tucker Martine and produced by longtime collaborator Lee Townshend. “This album is all about Rudy and Thomas and the musical relationship I have with them,” Frisell said. “We’ve played a lot for a number of years, but there was no evidence of it, so I really wanted to have a document of it, if only to show that it’s real and not this magical thing that I’ve imagined in my fantasies.” The 13-trck collection includes eight originals and takes on the traditional “We Shall Overcome,” Billy Strayhorn’s “A Flower Is A Lovesome Thing,” Burt Bacharach’s “What The World Needs Now” and more.
Old 97’s – Twelfth
The Scoop: “We experienced some close calls over the last few years and I think that led us to this dawning realization of the fragility of it all,” frontman Rhett Miller stated about the Old 97’s new album, Twelfth. “At the same time, it also led us to this increased gratitude for the music and the brotherhood we’ve been so lucky to share. I think all of that combined to make recording this album one of the most intensely joyful experiences we’ve ever had as a band.” Those close calls mentioned by Miller include his getting sober, as well as serious health issues overcome by drummer Philip Peeples and guitarist Ken Bethea. Along with bassist Murry Hammond, the band recorded their aptly titled 12th studio album with producer Vance Powell at Sputnik Sound in Nashville just as tornadoes caused severe damage and casualties in the Nashville area. The result was the 12-track Twelfth featuring 10 Miller originals alongside two written and sung by Hammond. The cover art is a photo of former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach (who wore number 12), chosen as an homage to Miller’s childhood idol and in a nod to the band’s 27 years as professional musicians.
The Secret Machines – Awake In The Brain Chamber
The Scoop: It’s been 12 years since the release of the last The Secret Machines album, their self-titled 2008 LP. That record was the first without co-founding guitarist Benjamin Curtis who left the band he formed with his brother, keyboardist/bassist Brandon Curtis and drummer Josh Garza to form School Of Seven Bells. Benjamin Curtis sadly died from cancer in 2013 at the age of 35. The band continued for a short while with guitarist Phil Karnats (who contributed to Secret Machines) but went on an unofficial hiatus in 2010. The songs on Awake In The Brain Chamber date back to that time period, with Benjamin Curtis assisting Brandon Curtis with production and mixing prior to the former’s death. Benjamin also played guitar on the track, “Everything Starts.” “Ten years ago, I was very depressed, sad, and lonely,” Brandon stated. “I still relate to the songs I wrote in 2010, but I don’t feel that sense of hopelessness anymore. After losing my best friend, brother, and collaborator, I was able to say, ‘This is what true loss feels like.’”
“Since we made this record ourselves, and are releasing it ourselves, there’s a certain feeling that we’re just doing our thing,” Garza stated. “It’d be nice if the fans give it a chance. We’re not trying to convince people with this record. Like I said, we’re just doing our thing.”
Compiled by Scott Bernstein, Nate Todd and Andy Kahn.