Release Day Picks: March 27th New Album Highlights
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 Pearl Jam, Béla Fleck, Lukas Nelson & Promise of The Real, Jim Lauderdale, Waxahatchee, Clem Snide, Nap Eyes and Bon Iver. Read on for more insight into the records we have all queued up to spin.
Pearl Jam – Gigaton
The Scoop: Today, legendary rockers Pearl Jam released their first new studio album in over six years, Gigaton. The highly-anticipated follow-up to the Grammy-winning 2013 LP Lightning Bolt, Pearl Jam tapped Josh Evans to help with producing duties on an album guitarist Mike McCready described as “a long journey.” He continued: “Collaborating with my bandmates on Gigaton ultimately gave me greater love, awareness and knowledge of the need for human connection in these times,” McCready said in a statement. The album’s cover art alone is a statement. For the artwork, Pearl Jam used a photo by Canadian photographer, filmmaker and marine biologist Paul Nicklen’s photo entitled “Ice Waterfall.” Captured in Svalbard, Norway, the image shows the Nordaustlandet ice cap hemorrhaging meltwater. With driving beats and frantic guitar, the music also evokes a sense of urgency evident on tracks like “Superblood Wolfmoon,” “Quick Escape,” and the careening “Who Ever Said” while lead single, “Dance Of The Clairvoyants” — still with a sense of urgency — is almost Talking Heads-esque, utilizing synthesizer and a prominent bass line.
Béla Fleck – Throw Down Your Heart: The Complete Africa Sessions
The Scoop: Originally released in 2009, an expanded reissue of Béla Fleck’s Throw Down Your Heart: The Complete Africa Sessions is now available. The set documented Fleck’s trip to Africa, where he explored the roots of the banjo. In addition to the release of the complete film and music set for the first time, Throw Down Your Heart: The Complete Africa Sessions also includes The Ripple Effect, a new album Béla recorded with master kora player Toumani Diabaté. Plus, the set’s DVD contains the film Throw Down Your Heart complete with commentary from the banjoist and his brother, director Sascha Paladino as well as 14 extra performances and the LPs Tales from the Acoustic Planet, Vol. 3—Africa Sessions and Africa Sessions Part 2: Unreleased Tracks.
Lukas Nelson & Promise of The Real – Naked Garden
The Scoop: Lukas Nelson & Promise Of The Real shared the 15-track companion album to their 2019 LP, Turn Off The News (Build A Garden), recorded at Shangri-La and Village Studios with co-producer John Alagia. The companion piece contains song embryos, extended performances and alternate versions of songs like “Bad Case” and “Civilized Hell.” Overall, the collection lives up to its revealing title, full of tape machine buzz and microphone bleed, banter and laughter, lyric misses and out of tune guitars. “Our hope is that Naked Garden offers a glimpse behind the curtain, at POTR in our most raw, honest, and naked state,” the band said in a statement. “For our band’s name is truly our mantra, and if nothing else, this project is an attempt to make good on our promise.”
Jim Lauderdale – When Carolina Comes Home Again
The Scoop: Paying tribute to his native North Carolina, Jim Lauderdale’s new album, When Carolina Comes Home Again, is out now on Yep Roc Records. Lauderdale’s longtime collaborator, the late Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter co-wrote “As A Sign,” which is one of 13 tracks on the album. Lauderdale enlisted an impressive roster of North Carolina-based musicians to appear on the record, including members of Balsam Range, Cane Mill Road, Hank Pattie & the Current, John Stickley, Songs From The Road Band, Steep Canyon Rangers and Town Mountain. Others accompanying Lauderdale in the studio were banjoist Matt Pruett, fiddler Pattie Hopkins Kinlaw, mandolinist Aaron Ramsey and guitarists Presley Barker and Nick Dauphinais. “North Carolina has such a long and important heritage in bluegrass music,” Lauderdale stated. “Since it’s where I’m originally from and where I started playing bluegrass, it seemed right to go back to my roots in bluegrass there and collaborate with musicians in that area. There’s just something in the atmosphere there. Hearing bluegrass in different areas and settings in North Carolina, the music is just there in the air. The first bluegrass festival I ever went to was Union Grove when I was 14, and it blew my mind. The music got into my bones, and I just had to get a banjo.”
Waxahatchee – Saint Cloud
The Scoop: Waxahatchee — the nom de plume of singer-songwriter Katie Crutchfield — returns with a new album, Saint Cloud. The follow-up to her 2017 album Out In The Storm, Crutchfield wrote the material for Saint Cloud following her decision to get sober and the record is “more calm and less reckless” to use Crutchfield’s own words. The singer-songwriter split her time between Sonic Ranch in Tornillo, Texas and Long Pond in Stuyvesant, New York to record the album with the help of producer Brad Cook (Bon Iver, Big Red Machine). She also tapped Bobby Colombo and Bill Lennox of the Detroit-based band Bonny Doon along with Josh Kaufman (Hiss Golden Messenger, Bonny Light Horseman) on guitar and keyboards and Nick Kinsey (Kevin Morby, Elvis Perkins) on drums and percussion for her session band. The result is an 11-song set steeped in Americana traditions but with a modern feel evident on songs like “Can’t Do Much,” “Fire” and “Lilacs.”
Clem Snide – Forever Just Beyond
The Scoop: Clem Snide (Eef Barzelay) returns with Forever Just Beyond, Barzelay’s first new studio album in five years. Eef tapped Scott Avett to produce and contribute to the 11-track release. Scott and Eef began work on the LP at Avett’s North Carolina farm with a core band of bassist Bill Reynolds an drummer Mike Marsh. The process then continued in Nashville, where a number of guests contributed included Ketch Secor of Old Crow Medicine Show and Scott’s Avett Brothers band mate cellist Joe Kwon. “About ten years ago, everything just seemed to fall apart,” Barzelay explained in a statement. “The band bottomed out, my marriage was crumbling, I lost my house, and I had to declare bankruptcy. That started this process of ego death for me, where I realized the only way to survive would be to transcend myself and to try to find some kind of deeper, spiritual relationship with life and with being. Once I committed myself to that, miraculous things started to happen.”
Nap Eyes – Snapshot Of A Beginner
The Scoop: Snapshot Of A Beginner, the new Nap Eyes album out today on Jagjaguwar/Royal Mountain/Paradise of Bachelors, was recorded at The National’s Upstate New York-based Long Pond Studio. The band worked on pre-production and arrangements with James Elkington, who co-produced the album with Jonathan Low. The songs on Snapshot Of A Biginner originated from frontman Nigel Chapman’s sprawling free-writing sessions with guitar and voice. The other members, drummer Seamus Dalton, bassist Josh Salter and guitarist Brad Loughead, were then brought in to flesh out the tracks that made up the new record.
Bon Iver – Blood Bank (10th Anniversary Edition)
The Scoop: A decade after its release, Bon Iver’s four-song EP Blood Bank gets the expanded reissue treatment via Jagjaguwar. The anniversary edition comes with live versions of the four tracks on the EP performed in various locations in 2018. The expanded version comes with live versions of “Blood Bank” (from Ericsson Globe, Stockholm on October 31, 2018), “Beach Baby” (from The Bomb Factory, in Dallas on January 23, 2018), “Babys” (from Eventim Apollo in Hammersmith, London on March 4, 2018) and “Woods” (from Pitchfork Paris Presented by La Blogothèque on November 3, 2018). Now through April 11, a portion of Bon Iver merchandise sales — including Blood Bank (10th Anniversary Edition) — will be donated to the Chippewa Valley Artist Relief Fund and Feed My People to support their efforts in offering assistance to those affected in Wisconsin by the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak.