Today’s New Albums: Sleater-Kinney, Mammoth WVH, Lukas Nelson + POTR, The High Hawks & 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 Sleater-Kinney, Mammoth WVH, Lukas Nelson & Promise of The Real, The High Hawks, Cory Wong & Dave Koz, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, Mr. Bungle, Julian Lage, Phosphorescent and Kendall Street Company. Read on for more insight into the records we have all queued up to spin.
Sleater-Kinney – Path Of Wellness
The Scoop: Sleater-Kinney’s 10th studio album, Path Of Wellness, is out today on Mom + Pop. It is the first self-produced Sleater-Kinney album, which currently consists of guitarists Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker. Path Of Wellness is also the first Sleater-Kinney album since the departure of longtime drummer Janet Weiss, who initially appeared on the band’s third album, 1997’s Dig Me Out. Weiss left the group shortly before the release of their previous St. Vincent-produced album, 2019’s The Center Won’t Hold. Tucker and Brownstein wrote and recorded Path Of Wellness last year in Portland, Oregon. The 11-track album features local musicians who were tapped to contribute to the recording sessions.
“The entire process relied upon taking stock of who and what was nearby, upon generosity of time, spirit, and input, but mostly upon a mutual love, need, and gratitude for making music,” Tucker and Brownstein stated.
Mammoth WVH – Mammoth WVH
The Scoop: Wolfgang Van Halen today unveiled the self-titled debut album from his new Mammoth WVH project. While the talented son of the late Eddie Van Halen will take the music from the 14-track Ex1 Records/Explorer1 Music Group LP on the road with a new band, he played every instrument and sang every song on Mammoth WVH. The album was recorded with producer Michael “Elvis” Baskette at 5150 Studios, the same facility where Van Halen prepped some of their most beloved LPs.
”A lot of people have, understandably, preconceived notions about what this must be. Like, ‘Oh, he’s the son, it must sound exactly like it.’ But I’ve done everything I can to be my own person. And I think it really shows on the album,” Wolfgang told People regarding Mammoth WVH. “It’s very freeing to start this path now, rather than doing what everybody would expect me to do, to get out there and just play covers of Van Halen songs. I don’t think I’d ever want to do that. Ever.”
Lukas Nelson & Promise Of The Real – A Few Stars Apart
The Scoop: A Few Stars Apart is the new studio album from Lukas Nelson & Promise Of The Real. Singer-songwriter Lukas Nelson wrote the bulk of the songs on A Few Stars Apart during last year’s pandemic. The band recorded the 11-song album at historic RCA Studio A in Nahville, where photos of Nelson’s father Willie Nelson hang on the walls. The sessions were helmed by producer Dave Cobb, who worked with Lukas on the feature film A Star Is Born. Joining them were POTR members drummer/percussion Anthony LoGerfo, bassist Corey McCormick, percussionist Tato Melgar and keyboardist Logan Metz. Guest vocalist Rina Ford appears on the song “Hand Me A Light,” which she co-wrote with Lukas.
“How I’m feeling influences what I write about,” Lukas Nelson said on The JamBase Podcast. “Unless I’m trying to write about a specific thing, usually it just comes out based on how I’m feeling at the moment. I just write my thoughts down and try and put a good hook to it.”
The High Hawks – The High Hawks
The Scoop: Jamgrass supergroup The High Hawks released their self-titled debut album. The all-star band consists of Leftover Salmon’s Vince Herman, Railroad Earth’s Tim Carbone, Horseshoes and Hand Grenades’ Adam Greuel, Hard Working Americans’ Chad Staehly, DeadPhish Orchestra’s Brian Adams and Great American Taxi’s Will Trask. The group’s connections run deep, having collaborated in various formats over the years. The High Hawks features covers of Woody Guthrie’s “Fly High” and Lead Belly’s “Goodnight Irene,” alongside 11 originals written by the band members. Among the originals is Staehly’s “When the Dust Settles Down,” written in response to the death of his HWA bandmate Neal Casal.
“The reason I think it worked so well is that we’d known each other for so long,” Carbone stated. “I’ve sat in with Adam’s band. I produced two Great American Taxi records. I’ve worked with Chad in super creative situations. I’ve known the guys in Leftover Salmon for over twenty years. It’s one big happy family. It’s kind of the perfect situation. You have a group of guys who know and love each other. And oh yeah, by the way, we get to play these cool original songs too.”
Cory Wong & Dave Koz – The Golden Hour
The Scoop: Guitarist Cory Wong and saxophonist Dave Koz put out their collaborative album The Golden Hour today. The new record features the wildly prolific Wong teaming up with the renowned smooth jazz sax man for 11 tracks that saw Koz stepping out of his comfort zone. “Recording The Golden Hour was the most fun I’ve ever had in the studio,” Koz said in a statement. “It was also the most terrifying, but in a good way, because it was all about being vulnerable and having to stand on my own musical instincts, with everyone jamming on the arrangements at the same time.” Those jams came from Wong’s 10-piece band and boast horn lines from Prince’s chief horn arranger Michael Nelson. Wong and Kox prefaced The Golden Hour with the opening number “Today” and Cory also spoke about the album’s title track and overall vibe:
Besides “The Golden Hour” being one of Dave’s favorite songs on the album, the term conjures up an image of a quintessential part of the day, either the afternoon before sunset or just after the sun comes up. That moment is about capturing warmth and authenticity, when you feel so alive and full of energy, excited about what the future may hold. It’s that intersection between night and day, a transitional moment where momentum shifts from one thing to another.
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Butterfly 3000
The Scoop: Avoiding the use of “prolific” is difficult when describing King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, who have released their 18th studio album, Butterfly 3000. The mysterious album follows L.W., which came out in February and last year’s K.G.. The Australian rockers kept details of Butterfly 3000 sparse, revealing only the album’s 10-song track count while holding back their titles prior to release. The mystery was furthered by the band opting out of sharing any singles or even the artwork before today’s release. What was revealed ahead of release day was a press statement that read:
Butterfly 3000 might be their most fearless leap into the unknown yet; a suite of ten songs that all began life as arpeggiated loops composed on modular synthesizers, before being fashioned into addictive, optimistic and utterly seductive dream-pop by the six-piece. The album sounds simultaneously like nothing they’ve ever done before, and thoroughly, unmistakeably Gizz, down to its climactic neon psych-a-tronic flourish. This is undoubtedly the most accessible and jubilant album of their career.
Mr. Bungle – The Night They Came Home
The Scoop: Cult heroes Mr. Bungle released the live album, The Night they Came Home, today via Ipecac Recordings. The famed Northern California experimental rockers — longtime members guitarist Trey Spruance, vocalist Mike Patton and bassist Trevor Dunn along with renowned hard rockers guitarist Scott Ian (Anthrax, S.O.D.) and drummer Dave Lombardo (Dead Cross, Slayer, Suicidal Tendencies) — captured the 14-song collection during their 2020 Halloween livestream special, The Night They Came Home, which the band performed one day after releasing their first album in 21 years, The Raging Wrath Of The Easter Bunny Demo. The live compilation features songs from the LP including “Bungle Grind” and “Eracist” as well as an interpretation of Mr. Rogers’ “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” to open the live album and a cover of Van Halen’s “Loss Of Control” to close it out.
Julian Lage – Squint
The Scoop: Jazz guitar virtuoso Julian Lage makes his Blue Note Records debut today with Squint. Lage co-produced the 11-song set with Margaret Glaspy and longtime collaborator Armand Hirsch. The record also features the guitarist’s rhythm section consisting of bassist Jorge Roeder and drummer Dave King (The Bad Plus). Squint sees Lage marrying his jazz roots with a singer-songwriter slant, helped along with informal counseling from Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy. “I absolutely love improvised music, and I’ve always been fascinated by singer-songwriter music,” Julian said in a statement. “For me, the jazz that came out of Blue Note always engaged both sides of that.” Lage previewed the album with “Saint Rose” and followed with “Boo’s Blues” as well as a performance video for “Familiar Flower,” a tribute to jazz master and saxophonist Charles Lloyd.
Phosphorescent – The BBC Sessions
The Scoop: Phosphorescent’s Matthew Houck performed sessions in London for BBC Radio in 2011 and 2013. Houck selected a total of five tracks from the sets to appear on The BBC Sessions, a new EP out today through Dead Oceans. The compilation opens with stripped-down renditions of “Song For Zula” and “Terror In the Canyons (The Wounded Master)” from Phosphorescent’s 2013 set and ends with intimate versions of “At Death, A Proclamation,” “Los Angeles” and “We’ll Be Here Soon” recorded as part of the 2011 session.
Kendall Street Company – The Year The Earth Stood Still: Ninurta
The Scoop: Today, Charlottesville, Virginia-based band Kendall Street Company unveiled Ninurta, the first installment of their ambitious two-volume The Year The Earth Stood Still project, via What Is Yes Records. With touring out due to the pandemic, the group entered White Star Studio in the rural town of Louisa, Virginia with producer John Tranium. The resulting eight-track Ninurta collection finds Kendall Street Company exploring ambient soundscapes and is described as “a nod to the Mesopotamian god whose stalwart presence emerges every seven millennia to save humanity from its own avarice.” Nine additional tracks arrive as the “space opera companion” Inertia in September.
“After a year of dedicated work on behalf of our last release, we felt called to start from the ground up on a new project with no preconceived expectations,” noted saxophonist Jake Vanaman. “This concept of building an album from scratch is an idea we had been talking about as early as 2016 while learning about the magic that can take place in a studio environment. Without the pandemic, I’m not so sure we would have taken that deliberate pause to make such a project happen.”
Compiled by Scott Bernstein, Nate Todd and Andy Kahn.