Release Day Picks: September 20th 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 Vida Blue, Brittany Howard, Hiss Golden Messenger, Marco Benevento, Robbie Robertson, Zac Brown Band, Molly Sarlé, M83 and Neal Francis. Read on for more insight into the records we have all queued up to spin.
Vida Blue – Crossing Lines
The Scoop: Keyboardist Page McConnell formed Vida Blue with bassist Oteil Burbridge and drummer Russell Batiste during Phish’s hiatus. The trio released their self-titled debut album in 2002 and the next year issued The Illustrated Band in which they were backed by the Spam Allstars. Sixteen years later the third Vida Blue album, Crossing Lines is finally here via Page’s Keyed Records imprint. “I do a lot of work in my studio, not for anything in particular, just because I like doing it,” McConnell explained to Relix. “Then, at one point, I realized that I had a handful of songs that the band would be a great vehicle for—or, perhaps, the songs would be a great vehicle for the band. So I reached out to Oteil and Russell to see if they wanted to do it.” Page, who produced the album, added guitarist Adam Zimmon to the lineup for the eight-track LP and Spam Allstars contributed to two songs.
Brittany Howard – Jaime
The Scoop: Alabama Shakes frontwoman Brittany Howard took a cross-country drive from Tennessee to California that inspired her to work on her solo debut album. Jaime is a collection of 11 songs Howard recorded at engineer Shawn Everett’s studio in Los Angeles. Brittany is backed by a core band featuring Alabama Shakes bassist Zac Cockrell, jazz keyboardist Robert Glasper and drummer Nate Smith. While the ATO Records released was named after her sister, who passed away from cancer when the pair were teenagers, it’s not a tribute album. “The title is in memoriam, and she definitely did shape me as a human being,” said Howard. “But, the record is not about her. It’s about me. I’m pretty candid about myself and who I am and what I believe. Which is why I needed to do it on my own.”
Hiss Golden Messenger – Terms Of Surrender
The Scoop: Hiss Golden Messenger mastermind M.C. Taylor wrote 10 songs that cover a wide range of topics from the group’s latest studio album for Merge Records. Terms Of Surrender was produced by Taylor and Brad Cook at Aaron Dessner’s Long Pond studio in upstate New York. Additional recording sessions took place at Sound City in Los Angeles, Nashville’s Haptown Studio and Overdub Lane in Taylor’s home state of North Carolina. Aaron Dessner, Jenny Lewis and Josh Kaufman are among those who contributed to the follow-up to 2017’s Hallelujah Anyhow.
Marco Benevento – Let It Slide
The Scoop: Marco Benevento is back with, Let It Slide, the follow-up to his 2016 album The Story Of Fred Short. As he is wont to do, the self-styled “hot dance piano rock” purveyor waded into uncharted water on Let It Slide. Benevento relinquished a good deal of control on the record to producer Leon Michels, who has worked with the likes of Dr. John, Dan Auerbach, Charles Bradley, Lee Fields and Mark Ronson. Also on the album are bassist Karina Rykman, drummer Andy Borger, and longtime collaborator Brad Barr on guitar. As he is also want to do, Benvento does a good deal of experimenting with piano sounds on the album including using gaffers tape on the piano strings for a more muted sound as well as toying with a Binson Echorec tape machine. The result is a gritty yet soulful record.
Robbie Robertson – Sinematic
The Scoop: Robbie Robertson returns with Sinematic, his first album of original music in nearly a decade since 2011’s How To Become Clairvoyant. For the new record, helmed by Scottish producer and DJ Howie B, Robertson drew inspiration from his work on the score for the Martin Scorsese-directed crime epic The Irishman as well as from the upcoming documentary Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band based on Robertson’s 2016 memoir Testimony. The record explores the “darker corridors of human nature” as is evidenced in the album’s lead single “I Hear You Paint Houses,” which is mob slang for hiring a hitman. Robertson teamed up with Van Morrison for the track and the record also includes guest appearances from Derek Trucks, Glen Hansard, Citizen Cope, J.S. Ondara, Laura Satterfield, Jim Keltner, Doyle Bramhall II and Frédéric Yonnet.
Zac Brown Band – The Owl
The Scoop: Zac Brown Band are back with a new album, The Owl, named so because of Brown’s affinity for the nocturnal raptors. Following up on their 2017 LP Welcome Home, The Owl sees ZBB switching labels from Elektra to BMG / BBR Music Group’s Wheelhouse Records. While renowned producer Dave Cobb helmed Welcome Home, Brown and company enlisted the help of an eclectic group of producers for The Owl including Jason “Poo Bear” Boyd, Ryan Tedder, Skrillex, Andrew Watt, Max Martin Benny Blanco and more. Many of the songs on the record are personal for Brown as they came out of his split with his wife. Brown teamed up with pop star Shawn Mendes for the album’s lead single, the pop-inflected “Someone That I Used To Know.” The band would follow with the singles “Leaving Love Behind,” “Warrior” and “Need This.”
Molly Sarlé – Karaoke Angel
The Scoop: Molly Sarlé’s debut solo album Karaoke Angel consists of 10 new originas from the singer-songwriter who is one-third of the folk trio Mountain Man along with Amelia Meath (of and Alexandra Sauser-Monnig (. Following initial work “in a trailer on the Pacific Coast” and in Los Angeles and Durham, North Carolina, Sarlé setup in a converted church in Woodstock, New York to complete the record with producer Sam Evian. On her Facebook page, Sarlé wrote:
mountain man first album released 2010 made the harbor
toured for around the world
member of feist’s band for the album metals
moved to zen monastery – tour exhaustion
moved to la, started looking for jobs as a session singer
a friend told me i was a lightning bolt, and thats rare, so i should keep making my own music
decided to write an album and moved to big sur in my car
ended up making friends with a woman who lived at the top of a mountain up the same road henry miler used to walk down in his underpants to get his mail
lived in a mouse infested air stream and hiked through the mountains, went to karaoke, wrote songs
missed the company of people,
so i moved to durham
met ryan gustafson at his album release show for Montana
worked on this album with him
met the canine heart sounds, dreams came true
jenn wasner say my songs are making her psychic = heart grammy
M83 – DSVII
The Scoop: M83 mastermind Anthony Gonzalez recorded DSVII (Digital Shades Vol. 2) exclusively on analog recording equipment. The 13-track album is the sequel to M83’s 2007 release, Digital Shades Vol. 1. Here’s Gonalez on the second volume:
At first there was this vivid memory of Dungeons and Dragons, this childhood sensation of living in an imaginary world set in a faraway past or a lost future. I wanted to create some music that could be part of this adventure and journey with all of its solitary knights, dreamy landscapes, strange animals, forgotten myths and old spells. Originally, the Digital Shades project was supposed to be much more intimate – a collection of B-sides and unused tracks destined for the hardcore fan base. Digital Shades was the name chosen to dissociate it from a proper studio album, although it would be fully part of M83’s discography. Digital Shades became an excuse to give a second life to some tracks instead of letting them disappear into the void. I wanted to create a production of ambient music that could evolve throughout the years. With Vol. 2, I wanted to come back with something stronger that featured the depth of a proper studio album without the pressure of providing pop music – faraway from Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming and Junk. The inspiration behind this record is mainly video game music. It felt so refreshing to play all of these old school games again. I wanted to be surrounded by nature and the past. I would only feed myself with older art. It’s almost as if I couldn’t stand living in the present. This is probably why it was important for me to only use analog equipment for this record. We recorded everything with vintage equipment in my studio and at Justin Meldal-Johnsen’s studio in Glendale, California during final production.
Neal Francis – Changes
The Scoop: Keyboardist Neal Francis’ debut solo album, Changes, is out today on Karma Chief Records. The 30-year-old began his professional career as a teenage backing musician. Between 2012 and 2015 Francis toured and recorded with The Heard, but his struggles with drug and alcohol addiction led to his dismissal from the band. Soon after, Francis suffered an alcohol-induced seizure that resulted in a broken femur and dislocated arm. That incident propelled Francis to get clean and his new sobriety helped inform the content on Changes, which features The Heard bassist Mike Starr and The Revivalists/The Heard drummer PJ Howard. “I just wanted to be honest about everything, from my musical influences to my story,” Francis stated. “Drinking held my music in a half-cocked slingshot. I was always so consumed by drugs and alcohol that I didn’t have the time, money or creative energy to do it. Sobriety let it loose.”
Compiled by Scott Bernstein, Nate Todd and Andy Kahn.