Release Day Picks: January 24th New Album Highlights
By Team JamBase Jan 24, 2020 • 6:24 am PST
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 The Wood Brothers, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, The Lil Smokies, Bonny Light Horseman, Jeff Parker and the New Breed and Wolf Parade. Read on for more insight into the records we have all queued up to spin.
The Wood Brothers – Kingdom In My Mind
The Scoop: The Wood Brothers are back with the follow up to their Grammy-nominated 2018 album One Drop Of Truth. A bit of serendipity ignited the creative process for Kingdom In My Mind, out today on Honey Jar/Thirty Tigers. The band — consisting of brothers Oliver Wood (guitar, vocals) and Chris Wood (bass) along with multi-instrumentalist Jano Rix — got to tracking some jam sessions as a test run for their new Nashville recording space. Unfettered by the self-consciousness that often comes with making a record, the jam sessions produced incredibly candid musical conversations between the trio. During playback, the band realized that they had captured lightning in a bottle. The next step was to refine the raw takes into songs, an undertaking tackled mostly by Chris Wood, with the entire band taking compositions that spoke to them and writing lyrics. The resulting 11-song collection gets to the core of human nature, exploring themes like morality, circumstance and the seemingly simple but infinitely impossible endeavor of accepting what we cannot control.
Pigeons Playing Ping Pong – Presto
The Scoop: Jam quartet Pigeons Playing Ping Pong’s flock has grown exponentially since the release of Pizazz in 2017. The band’s sound has also changed in the three years following their last studio album. Presto, an 11-track LP out today, shows off the fruits of more than 200 days on the road each annum. PPPP’s record contains many road-tested tunes including “King Kong,” “Yo Soy Fiesta,” “Avalanche” and “Dawn A New Day.” The former features contributions from the Here Come The Mummies Horns. A big influence for the band on this batch of songs are all the intricately themed concerts they play on Halloween and New Year’s Eve. “Those shows have been crash courses in learning new ways to play and arrange music,” noted guitarist/vocalist Greg Ormont. “We picked up different techniques from all these different genres that we were able to draw on when writing Presto.”
The Lil Smokies – Tornillo
The Scoop: Montana-based string band The Lil Smokies are back with Tornillo, their third studio album. The 11-track LP was produced, engineered and mixed by Bill Reynolds. Having recorded the album at Sonic Ranch in Tornillo, Texas; the quintet decided to name the follow-up to 2017’s Changing Shades after the town where the LP was made. “Our time there encapsulates all of the good things about being in a band and making music,” frontman Andy Dunnigan said in a statement. “The word ‘tornillo’ in its literal definition means a screw or a bolt. That’s exactly what this experience in the studio did for us as a band. We really came together and worked as a unit, and we got back to those reasons why we do this.”
Bonny Light Horseman – Bonny Light Horseman
The Scoop: Supergroup Bonny Light Horseman — consisting of singer-songwriter Anaïs Mitchell, Fruit Bats mastermind Eric D. Johnson and renowned producer and multi-instrumentalist Josh Kaufman — released their eponymous debut album today on 37d03d. The new record sees the trio diving deep into the traditional songbook of the British Isles. In doing so, the musicians lay bare the timeless nature of the material while also allowing it to inform their own compositions. During a weeklong residency at Berlin’s The Funkhaus, led by Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon and The National’s Aaron Dessner, Bonny Light Horseman recorded what would become the foundation for the album with contributions from artists-in-residence Michael Lewis (bass, saxophone) and JT Bates (drums, percussion) along with Vernon, Dessner and more. With Lewis and Bates in tow, the trio would reconvene at Dreamland Studios in Woodstock, New York with engineer Bella Blasko and mixer D. James Goodwin to finish out the album. The result is an archaic and yet incredibly relevant 10-song set that traces the thread of the human condition.
Jeff Parker And The New Breed – Suite For Max Brown
The Scoop: Jeff Parker‘s new album, Suite For Max Brown, is named after the Tortoise multi-instrumentalist’s mother, who appears in a photograph on the album’s cover. Though credited to Jeff Parker And The New Breed — bassist/mixer/co-producer Paul Bryan, pianist-saxophonist Josh Johnson, piccolo trumpet player Rob Mazurek, cellist Katinka Kleijn, trumpeter Nate Walcott and drummers Jamire Williams, Makaya McCraven and Jay Bellerose — Parker recorded the majority of the instruments on Suite For Max Brown. The record presents nine originals alongside “Gnarciss,” an interpretation of John Coltrane’s “After the Rain” and Joe Henderson’s “Black Narcissus.” Parker’s daughter, Ruby Parker, added vocals to the track “Build A Nest.” Parker shared the following statement about the album:
[Parker’s 2016 album The New Breed] became a kind of tribute to my father who he passed away while I was making the album. It’s named for a clothing store he owned when I was a kid. I thought it would be nice this time to dedicate something to my mom while she’s still here to see it. Maxine Brown is her maiden name and everybody calls her Max. The picture on the cover is her when she was 19 … I used to deejay a lot when I lived in Chicago. I was spinning records one night and for about 10 minutes I was able to perfectly synch up a Nobukazu Takemura record with the first movement of John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme and it had this free jazz, abstract jazz thing going on with a sequenced beat underneath. It sounded so good. That’s what I’m trying to do with Suite For Max Brown. It’s got a sequenced beat and there are musicians improvising on top or beneath the sequenced drum pattern. That’s what I was going for. Man vs. machine. It’s a lot of experimenting, a lot of trial and error. I like to pursue situations that take me outside myself, where the things I come up with are things I didn’t really know I could do. I always look at this process as patchwork quilting. You take this stuff and stitch it together until a tapestry forms.
Wolf Parade – Thin Mind
The Scoop: It’s been three years since the release of Wolf Parade’s last album, Cry Cry Cry, which is considerably shorter in time than the seven years it took for that record to follow their third album, 2010’s Expo 86. With Thin Mind, the band reverted back to the original trio of keyboardist Spencer Krug, drummer Arlen Thompson and guitarist Dan Boeckner after the amicable departure of multi-instrumentalist Dante DeCaro in 2018. Shortly after DeCaro’s exit, Krug, Thompson and Boeckner convened with producer John Goodmanson at Risque Disque on Vancouver Island, British Columbia to begin work on what became Thin Mind. “This record is very personal, but at the same time, we’re all coming from the same place of a general sense of anxiety,” Thompson said. “How do you deal with the constant barrage of having your opinions swayed by all these different actors when you don’t know who they are or what their purpose is? There is no normal anymore.” “Thin Mind refers to the way that being around too much tech has made our focus thin,” Krug added.
Compiled by Scott Bernstein, Nate Todd and Andy Kahn.