Today’s New Albums: ‘Cluster Flies,’ Matt Sweeney & Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, Manchester Orchestra + 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 including JamBase’s ‘Cluster Flies’ Phish covers compilation as well as from Matt Sweeney & Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Manchester Orchestra, Pink Floyd, Dawn Richard, Dave Simonett and Marcus Rezak. Read on for more insight into the records we have all queued up to spin.
Various Artists – Cluster Flies
The Scoop: JamBase is proud to present today’s release of Cluster Flies, a covers compilation reimagining Phish’s album Farmhouse. The limited-edition Cluster Flies 3LP, mastered by engineer Joe Lambert and featuring custom artwork and a poster designed by Phish collaborator Jim Pollock, can be pre-ordered through Monday, May 3. A true reimagining of Farmhouse, the songs on Cluster Flies are presented in an entirely new sequence with five bonus tracks, alongside the 12 others on the original album. Phish covers were recorded by Umphrey’s McGee’s Brendan Bayliss, Club d’Elf, Daniel Donato, Chris Forsyth, Neal Francis, Jennifer Hartswick, Amy Helm, Lindsay Lou, Reed Mathis, White Denim’s James Petralli, Strand Of Oaks, Sylvan Esso, William Tyler, Sadler Vaden, Vetiver, Ryley Walker, and a supergroup led by Tim Palmieri. Head here to check out The JamBase Podcast episodes featuring deep dives into each of the 17 songs on Cluster Flies paired with interviews with the participating musicians.
Matt Sweeney & Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy – Superwolves
The Scoop: Matt Sweeney and Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy (Will Oldham) released Superwolves, their first collaborative album since 2005’s Superwolf, digitally today, arriving via Drag City. Five years in the making, the material on Superwolves came into being through a fruitful back and forth between the two musicians described in a press release as “classic Garcia-Hunter style” with Oldham’s lyrics sparking guitar melodies and chords from Sweeney. And so they danced until the songs were primed for the studio. The duo began recording sessions at Brooklyn’s Strange Weather with Sweeney at the helm and also convened at the Butcher Shoppe in Nashville where Oldham took the wheel. But Superwolves wasn’t solely a duo effort. Oldham’s lead vocals and Sweeney’s harmonies and guitar work were buoyed by renowned Toureg guitarists Ahmoudou Madassane and Mdou Moctar along with their bandmates bassist Mike Coltun and drummer Souleyman Ibrahim. All four of those musicians play on the single “Hall of Death,” which Sweeney and Oldham co-wrote with Madassane. The duo also welcomed Ryan Sawyer and Peter Townsend on drums, Mike Rojas on keys and stand up bassist David Ferguson. Along with “Hall of Death, Matt Sweeney and Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy previewed Superwolves with the singles “Make Worry For Me,” “Resist The Urge” and “My Blue Suit.”
Manchester Orchestra – The Million Masks Of God
The Scoop: Atlanta-based rockers Manchester Orchestra released The Million Masks Of God today through Loma Vista Recordings. The new record is the follow up to the band’s 2017 album, A Black Mile To The Surface, which they performed live in its entirety that year and captured for posterity in A Black Mile To The Surface: The Global Concert Film. The band screened the concert film earlier this year and shortly after began teasing their new LP, The Million Masks Of God. Their sixth studio album saw guitarists and lead songwriting duo Andy Hull and Robert McDowell co-producing alongside Catherine Marks (PJ Harvey, The Killers) and Ethan Gruska (Phoebe Bridgers) and also features Manchester Orchestra rhythm section bassist Andy Prince and drummer Tim Very. In a sense, Black Mile and Masks Of God are companion albums, as Hull explained in a press release: “If Black Mile was this idea of ‘from birth to death,’ this album would really be more about ‘from birth to beyond,’ focusing on the highs and lows of life and exploring what could possibly come next.” Singles for The Million Masks Of God included “Bed Head” and “Keel Timing.”
Pink Floyd – Live At Knebworth 1990
The Scoop: Legendary rock band Pink Floyd only played once in 1990. The performance took place on June 30, 1990 at Knebworth House in Knebworth, England to cap The Silver Clef Award Winners Concert. While official audio of the seven-song set was previously featured in Pink Floyd’s The Later Years box set, Live At Knebworth 1990 arrives today via Warner Music as a standalone release for the first time. Longtime members David Gilmour, Nick Mason and Richard Wright were augmented by their touring band, keyboardist Michael Kamen, saxophonist Candy Dulfer and vocalists Durga McBroom, Sam Brown and Vicki McBroom for the set.
Pink Floyd focused on such classic material as “Shine On You Crazy Diamond, (Parts 1 – 5),” “The Great Gig In The Sky” and “Money” throughout the evening. “There is something special about Knebworth,” explained Nick Mason. “We all still have fond memories of playing there in the ’70s, and this show was no different. As a North London boy, this was almost a home game, but with the added delight of being the reassembly of the band after a fairly mega-tour that had lasted for well over a year.”
Dawn Richard – Second Line
The Scoop: Dawn Richard is the first artist to release music on P. Diddy’s Bad Boy Records label (as co-founding member of both Danity Kane and Diddy’s Dirty Money) and on the independent label Merge Records. Richard makes her Merge debut today’s release of Second Line, which incorporates elements of her native New Orleans like bounce music and Louisiana Creole culture along with electronic futurism. Richard’s self-released 2019 album, New Breed was influenced by her father, while its follow-up, Second Line takes inspiration from her mother. The album’s concept is further driven by Richard’s alternate persona King Creole, described as an “assassin of stereotypes, a Black girl from the South at a crossroads in her artistic career.”
“The definition of a second line in New Orleans is a celebration of someone’s homecoming,” Richard, who previously recorded under the moniker DAWN, stated. “In death and in life, we celebrate the impact of a person’s legacy through dance and music. I’m celebrating the death of old views in the industry. The death of boxes and limits. I’m celebrating the homecoming of the Future. The homecoming to the new wave of artists. The emergence of all the King Creoles to come. This is our revival.”
Dave Simonett – Orion
The Scoop: Trampled By Turtles frontman Dave Simonett today releases Orion, a new EP, via Thirty Tigers. Simonett, who previously shared solo music under the Dead Man Winter moniker, recorded the follow-up to 2017’s Furnance while riding out the pandemic at a space in South Minneapolis. Dave tapped Huntley Miller to master the EP which Simonett mixed to cassette.
“While separated from my band mates this last year, I decided to record a small collection of songs by myself in my little writing studio in South Minneapolis,” Dave Simonett stated. “Through some dark winter months these songs became an EP I’m calling Orion.”
Marcus Rezak – Truth In Sound
The Scoop: Guitarist Marcus Rezak’s new four-song EP, Truth In Sound, features members of the Trey Anastasio Band. The Denver-based Rezak connected with TAB drummer Russ Lawton, bassist Tony Markellis and keyboardist Ray Paczkowski when they backed his Shred Is Dead Grateful Dead tribute collective at Nectars in Burlington, Vermont in November 2019. Rezak recruited the members of TAB and world percussionist and tabla player Kaylan Patak to record at Tank Recording Studio in Burlington with studio owner/operator Ben Collette.
“Recording with Marcus for his new album Truth in Sound felt like we had been playing together for years,” Lawton said of the sessions. “Cool songs with deep grooves, just the way I like it.”
Compiled by Scott Bernstein, Nate Todd and Andy Kahn.