Today’s New Albums: Amy Helm, Rebelution, H.E.R., Frank Zappa & More
Doctor Lo Faber, Luke the Knife and Tenth Mountain Division round out this week's picks.
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 Amy Helm, Rebelution, H.E.R., Frank Zappa, Lo Faber, Luke the Knife and Tenth Mountain Division. Read on for more insight into the records we have all queued up to spin.
Amy Helm – What The Flood Leaves Behind
The Scoop: Singer-songwriter Amy Helm’s third studio album, What The Flood Leaves Behind, is out today on Renew Records/BMG. Josh Kaufman produced the 10-track follow-up to 2018’s This Too Shall Light. Helm and fellow multi-instrumentalist Kaufman were accompanied during the recording sessions by a group consisting of Phil Cook (keys, harmonica), Michael Libramento (bass, organ, percussion), Tony Mason (drums), Daniel Littleton (guitar), Stuart Bogie (saxophone), Jordan McLean (trumpet), and Helm’s son Lee Collins (congas). The album title comes from a lyric in the song “Verse 23,” which appears on What The Flood Leaves Behind and was written for Helm by Hiss Golden Messenger’s M.C. Taylor. The new album was recorded at Levon Helm Studios in Woodstock, New York — a recording stduio and performance space formerly run by Helm’s father, late The Band co-founder Levon Helm.
“Going back to the place where I learned so much about how to express music, how to hold myself in music, how to listen to music,” Amy Helm stated. “It was humbling in a funny way. I could see clearly where I came from and where I am now in my life. I was singing from a different place now and for a different reason.”
Rebelution – In The Moment
The Scoop: In The Moment is Rebelution’s seventh studio album and out now through a joint venture between their 87 Music imprint and Easy Star Records. The 15-song follow-up to 2018’s Free Rein was recorded remotely by the reggae rockers at their respective Southern California homes. The tracks were guided by co-producer and touring guitarist Kyle Ahern, who worked with vocalist Eric Rachmany, drummer Wes Finley, keyboardist Rory Carey and bassist Marley Williams to construct the album. Recognizing the roots of reggae music, the band invited Jamaican artists Kabaka Pyramid, Keznamdi and Busy Signal to guest on In The Moment. Soul singer Durand Jones provided vocals on a song as well.
“We all worked together with Kyle to bring our individual visions to life,” said Rachmany. “We wanted to make this the most diverse sounding record we could. Whenever I started to write, this notion of time kept coming up over and over again in the lyrics. It can feel a little scary how fast everything moves, but you have to just keep reminding yourself to be present and make the most of every moment.”
H.E.R. – Back Of My Mind
The Scoop: The long wait for the debut full length from guitarist H.E.R. ends today with the release of Back Of My Mind. Despite being H.E.R.’s (Gabriella Wilson) official debut LP, the new album follows a pair of compiliations that were made up of previously released EPs paired with a few new songs, 2017’s H.E.R. and 2019’s I Used To Know Her, both of which earned Album Of The Year Grammy Award nominations. Earlier this year, H.E.R. won an Academy Award for Best Original Song for “Fight For You,” which was written for the feature film, Judas And The Black Messiah. Several guests appear on Back Of My Mind, including Thundercat, YG, Ty Dolla $ign, Hit-Boy, Cordae, Lil Baby, Kaytranada, Yung Bleu, DJ Khaled and Bryson Tiller.
“I didn’t wanna pull out all my tricks at once,” H.E.R. told Variety. “My first few [releases] were just a small piece of who I am musically, and it was a matter of time before I could reveal others. I’ve always been a huge fan of Coldplay and Led Zeppelin and Radiohead and alternative and rock and blues, but it wasn’t until this album that I started digging into those other elements and bringing them to R&B.”
Frank Zappa – Zappa ‘88: The Last U.S. Show
The Scoop: A landmark addition to Frank Zappa’s live catalog, Zappa ‘88: The Last U.S. Show, arrives today via Zappa Records/UMe. As the title suggests, the extensive collection marks the legendary guitarist, composer and bandleader’s final performance in America which took place at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York on March 25, 1988. The short-lived lineup — which would disband after the subsequent European tour ahead of a scheduled return to the U.S. — features longtime Zappa collaborators as well as new additions and goes as follows: Mike Keneally (guitar, synth, vocals), Scott Thunes (electric bass, Minimoog), Ike Willis (rhythm guitar, synth, vocals), Chad Wackerman (drums, electronic percussion), Ed Mann (vibes, marimba, electronic percussion), Robert Martin (keyboards, vocals) and the horn section of Walt Fowler (trumpet, flugel horn, synth), Bruce Fowler (trombone), Paul Carman (alto, soprano and baritone sax), Albert Wing (tenor sax) and Kurt McGettrick (baritone and bass sax, contrabass clarinet). Zappa fronts the band on lead guitar, vocals and a plays a new addition to his arsneal, the Synclavier.
The 31-song set — which gets underway with a voter registration drive — features Zappa classics like preview track “I Ain’t Got No Heart” from The Mothers Of Invention Freak Out! era, “Peaches En Regalia,” “The Black Page” “Inca Roads,” “Sofa #1” and more. Zappa ‘88: The Last U.S Show also boasts the first release of the highly sought after “The Beatles Medley” which contains reimagined versions of “Norwegian Wood,” “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” and “Strawberry Fields Forever.” The band also delivered “I Am The Walrus” later in the set along with covers of Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway To Heaven” and The Allman Brothers Band’s “Whipping Post.” Additionally, the concert sees The Maestro and company tackling orchestral arrangements like “Theme From The Bartok Piano Concerto #3,” Stravinsky’s “Royal March” from L’Histoire Du Soldat and the fitting closing track to Zappa ‘88: The Last U.S. Show, “America The Beautiful.”
Doctor Lo Faber – Claiborne Avenue
The Scoop: God Street Wine guitarist Lo Faber today releases the album Claiborne Avenue under his Doctor Lo Faber moniker. Faber recorded the 10-track follow-up to 2019’s Bottomland during the pandemic and that experience helped inform the songs, as does his current hometown. “Some of the songs are united by being my experience of living here in New Orleans for about nine years now,” Doctor Lo noted and while he added that the music “is not New Orleans-y,” the album gives listeners a feel of the Big Easy.
Doctor Lo Faber called on a number of his musical friends to contribute to Claiborne Avenue. Ominious Seapods’ drummer Ted Marotta and bassist Tom Pirozzi serve as Faber’s rhythm section. Additionally, Faber’s God Street Wine band mates Jon Bevo and Aaron Lieberman are on keyboards and lead guitar, respectively. Dave Eggar plays cello and wrote string arrangements with Jason Crosby, Marc Stone and Blake Collins among other guests on the LP.
Luke The Knife – Disco Nap
The Scoop: Luke Miller of Lotus released his debut solo album, Disco Nap, today under his Luke The Knife moniker. The nine-song set takes the listener on a sonic journey through Miller’s eclectic electronic, disco and funk influences. Suddenly finding free time on his hands with the onset of the pandemic, Miller wrote and recorded the album largely during quarantine, using the time to carefully construct his Luke The Knife debut. He spoke about the process in a statement:
When the lockdown hit I had my first long-term break from touring in many, many years. I took that opportunity to start writing original Luke the Knife tracks. At first I was planning on doing mainly disco and funk influenced tracks. I recorded a full album-worth of those and thought I was done with the debut. I kept listening to these over and over and I felt like it didn’t represent the full vision I wanted for Luke the Knife. So I wrote 9 more tunes pushing into more sides of my sound – tech house, future funk, bass house, melodic techno. Then I picked the best from both groups to make Disco Nap. It’s a special pleasure to release my first solo album and bring these original Luke the Knife tracks to people’s ears.
Disco Nap also features collaborations with Cherub on ‘She’s So Damn Fine” as well as ‘Better Mind’ with Raven Jane.
Tenth Mountain Division – Butte La Rose
The Scoop: Colorado-based quintet Tenth Mountain Division were primed to continue their rise in 2020 with headlining concerts and festival appearances following a year in which the band traveled coast-to-coast. When the pandemic hit, the five-piece put together a plan to safely return to Denver’s Silo Sound Studio to complete an album they started in early 2020. The result, Butte La Rose, arrives today. Railroad Earth’s Tim Carbone both produced and contributed to the third Tenth Mountain Division album and first since 2018’s In Good Company. Other guests include percussionist Will Trask, vocalist Elliott Peck (Midnight North, Terrapin Family Band) and a horn section featuring Scott Flynn (ODESZA) on trombone, Gabriel Mervine (Lettuce, Karl Denson, The Colorado Symphony) on trumpet and Nathan Peoples (Coral Creek) on saxophone.
Drummer Tyler Gwynn shared the following about the effect of the pandemic on Butte La Rose with the Colorado Sound:
The pandemic was a real shock to the system for the band and us as individuals. We went from having a headlining Bluebird Theater show and a six-week tour around to the US, seeing a different city every night, to not being able to leave the house. It put a lot of things on pause for us. That being said, it wasn’t all negative. It gave us a chance to catch our breaths and look at our creative enterprise from simply the musical standpoint. With no shows at first. we could really dive into the new tunes we have been working on the last year or so. When we were able to actually record them at Silo Studios a few months ago it was clear we had evolved and grown as a band in a short time.
Compiled by Scott Bernstein, Nate Todd and Andy Kahn.