Today’s New Albums: Blackberry Smoke, Dispatch, Moby, DMX, Can & More
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 Blackberry Smoke, Dispatch, Moby, DMX, Can, Tea Leaf Green, The Infamous Stringdusters, Lou Barlow, The True Loves, Kendra & the Bunnies, Joe Marcinek, Free Radio, and a David Bowie covers tribute album. Read on for more insight into the records we have all queued up to spin.
Blackberry Smoke – You Hear Georgia
The Scoop: Just a few months after the pandemic began, Blackberry Smoke assembled at the historic RCA Studio B in Nashville with acclaimed producer Dave Cobb. The band came away with You Hear Georgia, a collection of 10 new songs out today through Thirty Tigers. Frontman Charlie Starr penned the material for an album honoring BBS’ (and Cobb’s) home state of Georgia with a number of old friends including Warren Haynes, Ricky Medlocke of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Four Horsemen guitarist Dave Lizmi and ex-Buckcherry member Keith Nelson. Haynes, Jamey Johnson and members of The Black Bettys are among special guests featured on the follow-up to 2018’s Find A Light.
Starr shared the following about working with Dave Cobb:
“Dave and I had spoken for the last few years about making a record. Finally, it worked out, our schedule and his schedule, and we said, yes—let’s make a record. He’s a very laid-back guy with excellent ideas, but he’s very enthusiastic about making music, and he’s right in there with you having a ball. He’s a calming presence and so knowledgeable musically, and he knows how to get what he wants in the studio. I don’t know if we could have made a record in 10 days with everyone, and that definitely speaks to Dave’s ability.”
Dispatch – Break Our Fall
The Scoop: Dispatch released their eighth studio album, Break Our Fall, today via Bomber Records/AWAL Recordings. The follow-up to 2018’s Location 13 sees Dispatch — now consisting of just two of its founding members, Chadwick Stokes and Brad Corrigan, after Pete Francis Heimbold left the band in 2019 — documenting not only the evolution of the band but also changes in society. “For Stokes and Corrigan, the only constant these past few years has been change – marriage, birth, death, departure – add to that an exceedingly tense political climate, long-overdue reckonings on racial justice/gender equality and a runaway global pandemic and you’ve got Break Our Fall,” a press release noted of the album. Fittingly, Dispatch subverted the conventional album rollout on Break Out Fall, releasing a number of singles in “Phases” in the fall of 2020 including “May We All” and “All This Time,” the latter featuring The White Buffalo’s Jake Smith. Stokes and Corrigan also worked with Mike Sawitzke of Eels and The Submarines’ John Dragonetti and tapped acclaimed engineer Emily Lazar (David Bowie, Dolly Parton) to master the LP.
Moby – Reprise
The Scoop: Moby is back with a reimagined collection of some of his classic songs. Reprise is available today through Deutsche Grammophon and sees the renowned producer and DJ working with the Budapest Art Orchestra. Inspired to embark on the ambitious project after working with friend Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic in the fall of 2018, Moby spoke about the allure of classical and acoustic music in a statement. “Sorry if this seems self-evident, but for me the main purpose of music is to communicate emotion,” he said. “To share some aspect of the human condition with whoever might be listening. I long for the simplicity and vulnerability you can get with acoustic or classical music.” Reprise also features an all-star cast of guest artists including Kris Kristofferson, Gregory Porter, Skylar Grey and more. Additionally, My Morning Jacket’s Jim James appears on the reworking of Moby’s landmark 1999 hit “Porcelain.” The collection also features updated renditions of “Go,” “Extreme Ways,” “Natural Blues” and “Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad?” among others.
DMX – EXODUS
The Scoop: Highly influential hip hop artist DMX, born Earl Simmons, tragically died far too young after suffering a heart attack in early April. He died on April 9 at the age of 50. Before his death DMX was working on a new album, his first since 2012’s Undisputed. The posthumous Exodus is now available via Def Jam Recordings, his first with the legendary label since 2003’s Grand Champ. Longtime collaborator Swizz Beats produced Exodus, largely captured at Snoop Dogg’s Los Angles Recording facility. Snoop also appears on the album along with JAY-Z, Nas, Lil Wayne, Alicia Keys, Bono and more. In a 2020 interview with GQ, DMX spoke about the album saying, “The standard that I hold myself to is the same: Better than everything I hear.”
Can – Live In Stuttgart 1975
The Scoop: Live In Stuttgart 1975 is the first in a series of live albums set for release from the influential German krautrock band Can. Issued by Mute and Spoon Records, Live In Stuttgart 1975 features the original Can lineup of keyboardist Irmin Schmidt, drummer Jaki Leibezeit, guitarist Michel Karoli and bassist Holger Czukay. Schmidt and frequent collaborator Rene Tinner produced and engineered the live albums series drawing from original master tapes of the perfomances. The premiere release and others in the series will present, “the entirety of each show in the format of a story with a beginning, middle and end, with Can’s performances taking on a life of their own.”
Tea Leaf Green – Looking West Redux
The Scoop: In 2009, Tea Leaf Green recorded and released their sixth studio album, Looking West. Guitarist Josh Clark, keyboardist Trevor Garrod and drummer Scott Rager tapped band mate Reed Mathis to produce the LP, which came out less than two years after the bassist joined Tea Leaf Green. Mathis was not happy with the end result, so earlier this year he took the unmixed recordings and rebuilt Looking West from scratch. Looking West Redux is out today on all streaming services, a week after its initial release on Bandcamp.
“The band invited me to take a turn as producer, and I think I actually did something close to a really good job … rrrrrright up until it was time to seal the deal, at which point I kinda dropped the ball,” Mathis — who departed TLG in 2016 — said of Looking West. “We rushed the album out to the marketplace, and because it had been mixed in a van hurtling down the interstate during the endless touring of 2009, the sound was bizarre and noisy and distracted.” Reed went to work on what became Looking West Redux at Oakland’s “fancy studio” The Grey Room in January 2021 and came away with a fresh take on the 13-track collection featuring some of Trevor and Josh’s best songwriting. “These songs are messages in bottles washed up on foreign shores, alien transmissions from distant worlds, memories from our fading youth, and reminders of our endless and repetitious search for love and freedom,” noted Garrod.
The Infamous Stringdusters – A Tribute To Bill Monroe
The Scoop: Bluegrass outfit The Infamous Stringdusters honor legendary mandolin player and The Father Of Bluegrass with A Tribute To Bill Monroe. The collection of covers features seven of Monroe’s classics: “My Sweet Blue Eyed Darling,” “Dark As The Night,” “Sitting Alone In The Moonlight,” “Toy Heart,” “Old Dangerfield,” “Travelin Down This Lonesome Road” and “The Little Girl And The Dreadful Snake.” The ‘Dusters recorded the album remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic, with none of them in the same room together for any of the tracking. While Monroe was known for his mandolin playing as well as his singing and songwriting, The Infamous Stringdusters do not have a mandolin player in the band and one does not appear on the album. A \portion of proceeds from the album to the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Foundation. The Infamous Stringdusters’ fiddler Jeremy Garrett shared a statement regarding Monroe’s influence:
“Bill Monroe means a lot to a lot of musicians and is credited with creating his own genre of music that we know as bluegrass. To me, one of the things I respect the most about his music was that he was an innovator. The Dusters have looked to take a page out of his book so to speak and have followed our own path to be innovators in the music that we’ve created together, along with exploiting the bluegrass foundation that we all share.”
Lou Barlow – Reason To Live
The Scoop: Dinosaur Jr.’s Lou Barlow released his third solo album, Reason To Live, today via Joyful Noise Recordings. The follow-up to 2015’s Brace The Wave is a collection of songs spanning much of Barlow’s career, some decades-old and some penned in early 2020. In recent years, Lou and his family moved from their longtime home in Los Angeles back to Barlow’s earlier home of Massachusetts, which saw Lou grappling with the new domestic existence. “I had been struggling for a way to connect both my home life and my recorded life,” he said in a statement, “but this record is the first time I’ve integrated that.” While Barlow is a legend in a scene that grew out of punk and hardcore, Reason To Live sees Lou interestingly combining the harder side of rock with acoustic stylings, evident on the track “Thirsty.” “I wanted to make personal soft rock songs in a way that makes people feel extremely uncomfortable,” Barlow joked. “I always wanted to bring the raw, personal sensibility of a hardcore song into an acoustic mode.” Barlow previewed the album with the song and video for “Over You,’ a track conceived in the early 1980s and which traces his nostalgia for both his teenage years but also his former California home.
The True Loves – Sunday Afternoon
The Scoop: Seattle-based instrumental soul group True Loves make their Color Red debut with their sophomore album, Sunday Afternoon. Recorded at Studio Litho in the muscians’ hometown, the album features the core trio of guitarist Jimmy James, bassist Bryant Moore and drummer David McGraw, along with percussionist Iván Galvez and a horn section of baritone saxophonist Skerik, tenor saxophonist Gordon Brown and trombonists Jason Cressey and Greg Kramer. The follow-up to the group’s 2017 LP Famous Last Words, was preceded by the 2018 singles “Dapper Derp” b/w “Kabuki” on WeCoast Records and 2019’s “Famous Last Words” b/w “Mary Pop Poppins” on Colemine Records.
Kendra & The Bunnies – of Consideration
The Scoop: Kendra & The Bunnies, the project helmed by Los Angeles-based artist Kendra Muecke today released their new album, of Consideration. The LP follows 2020’s of Thank You and 2019’s of Vinyl. The band recorded of Consideration in San Francisco at Hyde Street Studios (formerly known as Wally Heider Studios) where many notable albums have been made, including the Grateful Dead’s American Beauty and Jefferson Airplane’s Volunteers, among others by Tupac, Neil Young, Cake and many more. The album’s cover features Muecke sitting on the steps of the Grateful Dead’s former house at 710 Ashbury in San Francisco. The band previewed the album, which was inspired by A Tribe Called Quest, Neil Young, the Dead, Tupac and elements of 1990s backbeat, with the single “So Hollywood.” The 15-track album concludes with the spoken word “Be On Key.”
Joe Marcinek – JMB4
The Scoop: Guitarist Joe Marcinek is known for assembling killer musicians to back him and the crew he put together for his latest studio album, JMB4, is otherworldly. The eight-track LP — which Marcinek self-releases today — features a core band of Joe, Dumpstaphunk bassist Tony Hall, Nth Power/Maceo Parker drummer Nikki Glaspie and Snarky Puppy keyboardist Shaun Martin. Special guests include Lettuce’s Eric “Benny” Bloom, Jason Hann of The String Cheese Incident, sacred steel specialist Roosevelt Collier and the Ron Haynes Game Changer Horns.
“All songs were written during the Pandemic. I knew I wanted my next album to be JMB4 but the song took on a bigger meaning once COVID hit. Thinking of it as JM BEFORE or before the pandemic. Keeping the energy and spirit we used to have alive,” Marcinek explained of the LP, which was recorded at Full Sail University. “So you notice on the album cover the guitar or music growing from the concrete. Breaking through to bring you what spirit we had before and to never lose it.”
Free Radio – EARthWORMS
The Scoop: Asheville-based hip-hop collective Free Radio shows off a new lineup on EARthWORMS, a studio album that arrived yesterday. The latest incarnation representing “a massive evolution of intention and sound” finds longtime members Austn Haynes and Johnny Reynolds joined by recent additions Debrissa McKinney and Datrian Johnson. EARthWORMS consists of eight tracks with contributors including guitarists Duane Simpson and Jed Willis as well as drummer Mike Pitts.
“I feel like the universe put us together,” explained Reynolds of the lineup featured on EARthWORMS. “We all came from different walks of life and found ourselves in this time and space.” Haynes added, “When Datrian and Debrissa come together it’s just magical. One thing Johnny and I are not as skilled at is being vulnerable, and to have them bring that balance and soulfulness, to bring it back to a heartfelt level, I’ve been manifesting that for years.”
Various Artists – Modern Love
The Scoop: BBE Music honors David Bowie with Modern Love, a covers compilation featuring 16 different artists recording the late legendary musician’s songs. Participating artists who covered Bowie songs for Modern Love include Khruangbin, Jeff Parker and The New Breed (with Ruby Parker), Meshell Ndegeocello, Helado Negro, We Are KING, Matthew Tavares, L’Rain, Nia Andrews, Kit Sebastian, Sessa, The Hics, Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, Foxtrott, Jonah Mutono, Bullion and Eddie Chacon & John Carroll Kirby. Recording industry executive and DJ Drew McFadden and BBE Music founder Peter Adarkwah curated Modern Love, taking inspiration from Bowie’s jazz-driven final album, Blackstar.
“I felt that the connection between Bowie and R&B, jazz, funk, gospel and all things soulful, had never really been explored before — at least not so much in covers, which tend to lean more towards rock and pop,” McFadden stated. “Certainly, there’s been plenty of Bowie covers over the years, but none that have really tapped into what seems to have been a big part of his core musical style and direction.”
Compiled by Scott Bernstein, Nate Todd and Andy Kahn.