Today’s New Albums: Foo Fighters, Aaron Lee Tasjan, Shovels & Rope + 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 Foo Fighters, Aaron Lee Tasjan, Shovels & Rope, Ryley Walker & Kikagaku Moyo, Femi Kuti & Made Kuti, Psychedelic Sangha and a compilation tribute to Allen Ginsburg. Read on for more insight into the records we have all queued up to spin.
Foo Fighters – Medicine At Midnight
The Scoop: In 2020, Foo Fighters were scheduled to celebrate their 25th anniversary with a tour and an album, but then the pandemic hit leading the band to delay their plans. While the tour will still have to wait, Foo Fighters released Medicine At Midnight, their 10th studio album, today via RCA/Roswell. Dave Grohl and company tapped Greg Kurstin to produce the nine-track effort. The album was recorded in what Grohl described as a “haunted house” in Encino, California.
“It’s almost like two records in one,” drummer Taylor Hawkins explained of Medicine At Midnight to USA Today. “You’ve got your disco, dancey, groove-oriented album, and then other half is pretty traditional Foo Fighters rock music. So if you don’t like the dancey bits, just fast forward.”
Aaron Lee Tasjan – Tasjan! Tasjan! Tasjan!
The Scoop: Genre-defying, Nashville-based musician Aaron Lee Tasjan feels his latest album is the most true embodiment of his artistry yet. As such, it’s only fitting he named the LP Tasjan! Tasjan! Tasjan! The 11-track effort, his fourth studio album, was released today via New West Records. Aaron recorded Tasjan! Tasjan! Tasjan! with co-producer Gregory Lattimer at Make Sound Good Studio in Nashville. Contributors include Lattimer, Tommy Scifres, Dylan Sevey, Keith Cristopher and Fred Eltringham.
Aaron kept the project a secret from his label during the sessions after reps questioned the direction of his music. He decided to stay true to himself and his music and wrote a number of autobiographical songs addressing tough topics for the LP. Tasjan dedicated the album to those who also felt “other” during their youth:
No one likes to feel singled out. I’ve encountered this feeling many times in my life including being in line at a drive-thru window in a small town in Ohio and experienced homophobic verbal abuse and harassment after I parked to eat. Be kind to each other, friends, and when our world is back to normal, come meet me at my favorite bar which I’ve raised just high enough to let in everyone.
Shovels & Rope – Busted Jukebox, Volume 3
The Scoop: Shovels & Rope released the third installment in their Busted Jukebox series today. Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent’s Busted Jukebox, Volume 3 is a collection of 10 cover songs selected with children in mind and carries the nickname “Busted Juicebox.” The husband and wife duo enlisted the help of fellow musician parents on the album including M. Ward, The War and Treaty, John Paul White, members of Deer Tick, The Secret Sisters, The Felice Brothers, T. Hardy Morris and more. Shovels & Rope heralded Busted Jukebox, Vol. 3 with a rendition of The Beach Boys classic “In My Room” featuring Sharon Van Etten. The record also features takes on childhood favorites like “You Are My Sunshine” and “The Ants Go Marching” as well as other classics such as the Louis Armstrong popularized “What A Wonderful World” and R.E.M.’s “Everybody Hurts.”
Ryley Walker & Kikagaku Moyo – Deep Fried Grandeur
The Scoop: American guitarist Ryley Walker accompanied Japanese psych-rockers Kikagaku Moyo for a set at the Le Guess Who? festival in Utrecht, The Netherlands on November 10, 2018. The entirely improvised performance was recorded by Don Funcken and Marc Broer and is available today on Walkers’ Husky Pants record label. Walker somewhat quietly released a limited vinyl edition of Deep Fried Grandeur to a select group of independent record stores last month. Walker revealed the album’s pending release on Husky Pants by tweeting an image of the vinyl and the list of record stores he shipped copies to. Regarding the performance, Walker stated:
So, the group came together at Le Guess Who? Festival in Utrecht, Netherlands in 2018. I was asked by the organizers to find another group on the festival to collaborate with for a one-off performance. I was immediately drawn to Kikagaku Moyo. We share similar guitar scuzz and riff-heavy improvising when playing live. Seemed like the most fun and natural thing to do. I was in the middle of a European tour, so had my full backing band. So with KM and me, nine mother fuckers total on stage wailing.
It was a lot of SOUND. So we passed the live recordings off to Cooper Crain of CAVE and Bitchin Bajas to tweak the levels and add some sprinkles. He shaped the raw recordings into a cohesive piece that works for a 40 min slab. We had an afternoon of rehearsal and it mostly just drinking espresso, smoking cigs and saying “man, we’ll be fine.”
And it was great.
Femi Kuti & Made Kuti – Legacy+
The Scoop: Afrobeat legned Fela Kuti’s son Femi Kuti teamed with his son Made Kuti for the double album, Legacy+, which is out today on Partisan Records. Femi Kuti’s contribution, Stop The Hate, which features Made, is a collection of 10 tracks steeped in the traditional Afrobeat developed by Fela in the 1960s through the 1980s. Made Kuti’s half of Legacy+ features Fela’s grandson providing all of the instrumentation across his set of eight songs entitled For(e)ward, which is described as “a modern and progressive freedom manifesto, pushing boundaries of the subgenre even further.”
“I am very excited and happy because as a father I get to perform with my son on my album again, and I get to see him compose, arrange, and play all instruments on his own album,” Femi Kuti stated. “Most importantly, we get to release this project together. It is spiritually soothing and comforting to witness this chapter in my life.”
“I truly believe that once in a while we are fortunate enough to write stories for ourselves that we can look back on much later in our lives,” Made Kuti stated. “This has been one of the greatest positive highlights of my life so far, both musically and transcendently. I’ve learnt so much from my father politically, socially, philosophically and musically that I know this lovely project is only the beginning of more beautiful things to come.”
Psychedelic Sangha – Sounds From The Bardo, Vol. II
The Scoop: New York City-based collective Psychedelic Sangha tapped guitarist Scott Metzger (Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, RANA), bassist Jeff Hill (Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Rufus Wainright) and percussionist/drummer Tony Leone (Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Little Feat) to provide a musical soundtrack for a meditation session held at Judson Memorial Church in New York City on November 10, 2020. The fully improvised performance is out today as the second installment of Psychedelic Sangha’s Sounds From The Bardo series. Sounds From The Bardo, Vol. II also incorporates guided meditations by Jessica Angima.
While Leone, Metzger and Hill have long run in the same musical circles, the LP marks their first documented performance. A pair of improvisations recorded during the trio’s soundcheck are included as bonus tracks. “What was great about performing in this context is that the audience was all meditating, ie, practicing stillness,” Leone said. “The only sense being used was their sense of hearing. In a setting so quiet, and with an audience so quiet and NOT sitting and staring at us, it allowed us to really keep our ears and consciousness open to whatever was happening in the moment. It allowed for listening by all on a pretty deep level.” Proceeds from the release will go towards Psychedelic Sangha’s free psychedelic integration and harm reduction service offerings online and at Judson Memorial Church.
Various Artists – The Fall Of America — A 50th Anniversary Musical Tribute
The Scoop: The Scoop: A musical tribute to legendary Beat poet Allen Ginsberg arrives today via Allen Ginsberg Recordings. The record contains musical interpretations of Ginsberg’s poetry collection The Fall Of America: Poems Of These States 1965-1971 which traces his travels throughout the country in those pivotal years and sees the astute observer reflecting on the war in Vietnam, the 1968 Democratic National Convention, the death of friend Neal Cassady and more. “In 1965, Ginsberg began planning an ambitious project, a book of thematically connected poems, a collection that ‘discovered’ America in poetry similar to the way Kerouac’s On the Road had explored the country in prose,” Michael Schumacher wrote in his introduction to The Fall of America Journals 1965-1971. “The Vietnam War would be a constant presence overhanging Ginsberg’s travel writings like a darkening shadow affecting daily life in the country,” Schumacher continued. “It would be a study of contrasts: natural beauty slammed up against an ugliness that rose out of the tensions of violence. The public’s polarized dialogue over Vietnam and, earlier in the decade, the civil rights movement, convinced Ginsberg that America was teetering on the precipice of a fall.” Opting to narrate many of the poems rather than write them, Ginsberg composed much of the work on an Uher reel to reel tape recorder gifted to him by Bob Dylan. The Fall Of America — A 50th Anniversary Musical Tribute features contributions from the Grateful Dead’s Mickey Hart, Yo La Tengo, Andrew Bird and Devandra Banhart among others.
Compiled by Scott Bernstein, Nate Todd and Andy Kahn.