Release Day Picks: January 31st 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 Drive-By Truckers, Son Little, Tre Burt, Destroyer, Kesha and Crowd Company. Read on for more insight into the records we have all queued up to spin.
Drive-By Truckers – The Unraveling
The Scoop: Southern rock songsmiths Drive-By Truckers are back with their first LP in three years, The Unraveling. The aptly named album and follow up to the band 2016 record American Band distills the roiling times the country has foundered in for the past three years. As Truckers co-founder, guitarist and songwriter Patterson Hood explains: “If the last one [American Band] was a warning shot hinting at a coming storm, this one [The Unraveling] was written in the wreckage and aftermath.” DBT recorded the album at the legendary Sam Phillips Recording Service in Memphis with Grammy-winning engineer Matt Ross-Spang (Jason Isbell, Margo Price) and longtime Truckers producer David Barbe. The band also enlisted the help of guests likes North Mississippi Allstars drummer Cody Dickinson and The Shins’ Patti King as well as violinist and string arranger Kyleen King (Brandi Carlile). DBT previewed the album with “Armageddon’s Back In Town,” which, along with songs like “Babies In Cages,” alludes to the powerful message of The Unraveling.
Son Little – aloha
The Scoop: Son Little — the musical moniker of singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Aaron Earl Livingston — returns with his third solo album, aloha, via Anti-. The new record follows Livingston’s 2017 release New Magic and his 2015 self-titled debut, between which he produced and grabbed a Grammy for Mavis Staples’ “See That My Grave Is Kept Clean.” So it’s curious that Livingston would bring in an outside producer, the renowned Renaud Letang (Feist, Manu Chao), for the first time to record aloha at the famed Ferber Studios in Paris. But giving up control and surrendering to fate are two of the main currents that run throughout the record. The fact that he was not in control stared Livingston in the face when a dozen or so demos disappeared after a hard drive crash, forcing him to start afresh and write the album in just eight days. Another recurring theme on aloha is human beings’ sometimes self-destructive nature, addressed on the singles “suffer” — a song about the suicide of a beloved uncle — and “belladonna.” The LP as a whole is a swirl of soul and old-school R&B that teaches to let go but also to “never give up” as the album’s last single suggests.
Tré Burt – Caught It From The Rye
The Scoop: Tré Burt is one of only two artists to sign with John Prine’s Oh Boy Records in the past 15 years. The Sacramento-based singer-songwriter caught the attention of Oh Boy’s Jody Whelan during a showcase at last year’s Americana Fest in Nashville and today unveils his debut album, Caught It From The Rye. “Burt’s songwriting lends as much to his early education, from the emotional depth of soul music, namely Otis Redding and Nina Simone, as to the radical spirit of folk music embodied by Neil Young, Woody Guthrie and, yes, John Prine, Tré Burt has an eye on the complexity of the modern American experience and writes songs that speak to, and through, it’s nasty nooks and crannies searching for something purer to hold onto,” reads a press release announcing the nine-track LP. “Clear-eyed and succinct, Burt is unflinching in his, sometimes psychedelic, always poignant, songs about the human experience with an eye on what we can do to be better to ourselves and to each other.”
Destroyer – Have We Met
The Scoop: “Make it sound cool,” was the instruction given by Destroyer mastermind Dan Bejar to his frequent producer and band mate John Collins. The “it” Bejar referenced was an initial attempt to revive a project that had begun many years earlier as a “Y2K” album. The first attempt by Collins at “layering synth and rhythm sections over demos with the period-specific Björk, Air, and Massive Attack in mind” produced a “sonic template was too removed from Destroyer’s own” and the project’s concept was scrapped. Those “Y2K” recordings went on to inform what eventually ended up on Have We Met, which is out today on Merge Records and follows 2017’s ken. The 10-tracks on Have We Met feature Bejar on vocals and synthesizers, Collins providing bass, synthesizer, drum programming and “granular synthesis” and Nicolas Bragg on guitar.
Kesha – High Road
The Scoop: Three years after the release of Rainbow, Kesha is back with a new album. Out on RCA/Kemosabe, High Road features a total of 16 tracks, some of which were written and recorded within the past few weeks. Kesha co-wrote the material on the album with her moom Pebe Sebert as well as Wrabel, Justin Tranter, Tayla Parx, Nate Ruess and Dan Reynolds. Guests include Big Freedia, Sturgill Simpson, Brian Wilson and Wrabel. Jeff Bhasker, Ryan Lewis, Stint, Stuart Crichton and John Hill produced tracks with Kesha serving as executive producer. “While writing my new album, I seemed to lose track of all of my fcks…I have danced a lot while making this one and cried some tears,” Kesha told Billboard of High Road. “I’m not sure what genre it is. Y’all will have to tell me.”
Crowd Company – Lowdown
The Scoop: British soul/funk outfit Crowd Company enlisted Soulive‘s Alan Evans to produce their latest studio album, Lowdown, which is out today on Evans’ Vintage League Music. The band also recorded their third album at Evans’ Western Massachusetts-based Iron Wax Studios. “I was immediately blown away by the tunes,” Evans stated. “For me it’s all about having great songs and this band has them. They came out to my studio Iron Wax and we went for a really natural recording process. All playing together in one room, keeping a live, analog kind of vibe. Very few takes for most tracks. After mixing we used Brian Lucey at Magic Garden to master the album and that was the icing on the cake. The album sparkles and the dynamism and strength of the tunes shines through.” The album extensively features guest horn players, trumpeter Eric “Benny” Bloom and saxophonist Ryan Zoidis of Lettuce .
Compiled by Scott Bernstein, Nate Todd and Andy Kahn.