Posts Tagged ‘Jason Isbell’

Setlist and Full Show Video: Jason Isbell Performs Entire ‘Reunions’ LP with Amanda Shires at Crowdless Brooklyn Bowl Nashville

Jason Isbell has not let the COVID-19 outbreak get in the way of celebrating his brand new album “Reunions”. Subbing in his creative collaborator and wife Amanda Shires for his 400 Unit band, Isbell performed the entirety of Reunions at the Brooklyn Bowl Nashville on Friday night, marking the live debut of almost every track as well as the first-ever live performance at the nascent venue.

Isbell and Shires enlisted FANS.com to help virtually populate the almost-empty room, as hundreds of fans tuned in via Zoom sending applause and messages to the duo,“Hey everybody I see y’all,” Isbell said waving to a screen filled with fans tuning in “…This crowd is ready.” “When people put new music out during this time it brings so much good to my life on the daily,” Shires added later in the performance, turning to Isbell. “And I know we could use more records. So I’m glad yours is out now.”

In addition to the slew of new music, Isbell used his encore to cover Warren Zevon’s “Mutineer” and look back at his own “Cover Me Up” from 2013’s Southeastern.

Jason Isbell & Amanda Shires
May 15th, 2020
Brooklyn Bowl, Nashville –  Crowdless Performance Broadcast Live by FANS.com

Setlist :
What’ve I Done to Help*, Dreamsicle*, Only Children*, Overseas, Running with Our Eyes Closed*, River*, Be Afraid, St. Peter’s Autograph*, It Gets Easier*, Letting You Go*
Enc: Mutineer^, Cover Me Up

Jason Isbell Variety Magazine Feature

Can someone learn from their past without being beleaguered by it? Is change something measured in footsteps, days sober, or something less tangible? These are all questions that Jason Isbell poses, and some of which he answers, on his latest album with The 400 Unit, “Reunions”.

The Nashville-based, Alabama-native singer-songwriter has traced a long and storied path to get to this, his seventh studio record and fourth alongside The Unit. From cutting his teeth with Drive-By Truckers in the late 2000s, to his departure from that group, hitting rock bottom, and finding salvation on 2013’s Southeastern, Isbell has seen quite a bit. One of the things that made him such an attractive songwriter was his ability to bring listeners in on that arc of rise, fall, and redemption. Now, with the release of Reunions, he begins to tell a new story.

Reunions, featuring 10 new songs, is a grab bag of material from Isbell. Some of it is the tried-and-true storytelling of his turbulent past, while some looks to his bright present of family life and critical acclaim, and still more look to realities completely bereft of Isbell himself. Reunions marks the evolution of an artist uncomplacent with doing what’s easy and restless enough to risk making some mistakes.

The album’s opening track, “What’ve I Done to Help”, finds Isbell still wrestling with his past and the resulting life it has created. While this isn’t the down-and-out Isbell to which audiences are privy, this is a much more cogent singer who acknowledges that all of these long-standing problems won’t go away just because “I kept my head down and showed up to work on time.”

Then, take a song like “Dreamsicle”, which again looks to the past but goes back a little further. From a turbulent childhood filled with cross country moves and frequent goodbyes to friends, “Dreamsicle” lays the emotional groundwork for songs closer to Isbell’s present self. With lines like, “I’ll be 18 four years from now/ with different friends in a different town/ I’ll finally be free,” Isbell offers a tender glimpse into a troubled childhood paramount to his adult formation.

Obviously, the lyrics are the focal point of Isbell’s music, but Reunions sets itself apart musically as well as lyrically. Take a song like “Overseas”, for example, with an opening guitar solo that comes roaring in like it’s a Tom Petty track. Isbell even poked fun at his musical maturation on Twitter the day the album was released, revealing that he wrote and recorded all of Reunions without using a capo. “How’s that for a folksinger and songwriter?” he asked.

Then, on Reunions, there’s a mysterious song-writing element that ties itself to Isbell as well as non-literal characters. “River” focuses on a protagonist who finds his saviour in the form of a river. The river tends to Isbell, hears his secrets, “wash my head when I’ve been sinning/wash my knuckles when they bleed.” As our character is saved by the dutiful protection of the river, the final stanza ends with the line, “and last night I woke up screaming at my wife.” This is immediately proceeded by a fiddle run from none other than Amanda Shires, Isbell’s wife.

This is not the lone reference to Isbell’s better half, for the song “St. Peter’s Autograph” is about Shires grieving over the passing of friend Neal Casal. Isbell said of the song in a recent New York Times profile, “I was trying to say, ‘It’s all right to grieve the parts of your relationship you might think I’d be upset or jealous about.’”

The role that Isbell and Shires’ domestic life plays in Reunions is unavoidable and unmistakable. It also represents the side of Isbell that looks optimistically toward the future, with a wife and a child, rather than constantly back at his destructive past. While Jason Isbell is not ready to give up that past just yet, Reunions shows the progress of a man who has learned from his mistakes, but is not defined by them.

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We could all use a little Jason Isbell right now. Thankfully, the Alabama-bred/Nashville-based country singer and beloved songwriter is right on time with a new album. His next project with his ace country-rock band the 400 Unit, “Reunions”, arrives next month, the follow-up to 2017’s critically adored The Nashville Sound. That album garnered them new attention in corners where they may have been previously unknown, but Isbell’s longtime fans have been lapping up his music for the better part of 20 years.

He’s never really made a bad album, either with his band or solo, so the bar is high for Reunions. So far, the singles have been both thoughtful and delicate (“Dreamsicle” and “Only Children” are introspective and nostalgic) as well as powerful and politically forthcoming in the vein of “White Man’s World” (“What’ve I Done To Help” and “Be Afraid” both examine our current moment with criticism and bite). Isbell is one of the most consistent songwriters of his day, and his music always has a lot of heart. Indeed, the hopes are high for this new album, but I have faith in Jason Isbell. He knows his way around a country song.

Southeastern Records. Released on:  27th March 2020.

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In addition to his new album, Jason Isbell unveiled the lead single, “Be Afraid,” as well as a tour with dates that run from February until September. and span headlining shows to festivals. Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter and musician Jason Isbell and his band the 400 Unit will release their highly anticipated new album, “Reunions”, May 15th via Spunk Records. Produced by Grammy Award-winning producer Dave Cobb and recorded at Nashville’s historic RCA Studio A, the album features 10 new songs written by Isbell including album track, “Be Afraid,”.

Reunions is Isbell’s seventh full-length studio album and the fourth released with his band, the 400 UnitDerry deBorja (piano, keyboard, organ, omnichord), Chad Gamble (drums, tambourine), Jimbo Hart (bass), Amanda Shires (fiddle) and Sadler Vaden (acoustic guitar, electric guitar). The new album also includes background vocals from special guests David Crosby (Crosby, Stills & Nashthe Byrds) and Jay Buchanan (Rival Sons)..

Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit have shared a new song from their forthcoming album Reunions which is out May 15. “Only Children” is spare and somber and quite lovely.

“There are a lot of ghosts on this album,” Isbell said in a press release. “Sometimes the songs are about the ghosts of people who aren’t around anymore, but they’re also about who I used to be, the ghost of myself. I found myself writing songs that I wanted to write 15 years ago, but in those days, I hadn’t written enough songs to know how to do it yet. Just now have I been able to pull it off to my own satisfaction. In that sense, it’s a reunion with the me I was back then.”

Of the release, Isbell shares, “There are a lot of ghosts on this album. Sometimes the songs are about the ghosts of people who aren’t around anymore, but they’re also about who I used to be, the ghost of myself. I found myself writing songs that I wanted to write fifteen years ago, but in those days, I hadn’t written enough songs to know how to do it yet. Just now have I been able to pull it off to my own satisfaction. In that sense it’s a reunion with the me I was back then.”

Originally from Green Hill, Alabama and now based in Nashville, Isbell is widely renowned as one of the greatest songwriters of his generation. Since the release of his breakthrough solo album, Southeastern, in 2013,

NPR Music calls him, “one of the finest singer-songwriters working at the intersection of folk, country and rock today,” and continues, “his songs have an exquisite, rawboned realism and deeply embedded class consciousness,” while American Songwriter declares, “There’s no better songwriter on the planet at this moment, no one operating with the same depth, eloquence or feeling” and USA Today proclaims, “he has developed into one o the great American songwriters…in a world where most pop songs are lies, Isbell is determined to find truth.”

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit “Be Afraid” Southeastern Records marketed and distributed by Thirty Tigers

Jason Isbell’s seventh solo album, “Reunions”, will be released on May 15th.

In “Mr. Tillman” the single off his 2018 LP God’s Favorite CustomerFather John Misty sings through a bizarre conversation he had with the person working the desk of his hotel. Jason Isbell makes a cameo shortly after a member of the hotel staff casually mentions Tillman has a few outstanding charges and that Tillman left his passport in his room’s mini fridge: “Did you and your guests have a pleasant stay? What a beautiful tattoo that young man had on his face / And oh, will you need a driver out to Philly? Jason Isbell’s here as well and he seemed a little worried about you.”

Isbell later joked about the instance on Twitter, but refrained from popping out for a cameo when Misty — a.k.a Josh Tillman — played “Mr. Tillman” at Celebrate Brooklyn! in Prospect Park on Wednesday night (June 19th) and was met with a round of cheers when he sang through the verse.

A year after Father John Misty unveiled God’s Favorite Customer, Isbell and his band, the superlative 400 Unit (which includes renowned fiddle player Amanda Shires, Isbell’s wife), find themselves on the road with Father Misty and Jade Bird. The trek is proving to be an ideal match-up for two of the best songwriters in American rock, and they have plenty in common — to the point where it’s shocking no one’s made the call to pair them up on a co-headlining tour before.

Pristine tenors with exceptional musical acumen aside, Tillman and Isbell share a brave propensity to stare, unblinkingly, into the churn of crisis. Disintegrating relationships, loosening grips on mental health, the pressures that come with striving to be a good partner (and father, in Isbell’s case), and facing all of the above in a world gone mad and growing madder by the minute — none of this is off-limits or too far afield for either songwriter. Isbell’s “White Man’s World” from 2017’s The Nashville Sound is a master class in this allergy to bullshit put to paper, and the song directly confronts the racism, sexism and classism that shaped the American experiment in a radical call for empathy. Even his contribution to the soundtrack for A Star Is Born, “Maybe It’s Time,” throws to this (and played over well in Brooklyn).

Tillman explores the consequences of these destructive forces across both 2017’s Pure Comedyand God’s Favorite Customer, and though he’s the one who called the planet a “godless rock that refuses to die” (on Pure Comedy’s “Things It Would Have Been Helpful to Know Before the Revolution”), it could’ve been an Isbell line. On their own terms, they each unpack the scariest issues of the moment while condensing them into songs listeners can absorb and sing along to, as both artists were met with a near-constant sing-along from the crowd of 5,000 that gathered to join them in the rain in Prospect Park.

But neither Isbell nor Tillman remained fixated on the doom and gloom, and both managed to keep from overwhelming the masses by working plenty of swoon-worthy balladry and deeply funny banter into their sets. Tillman and Isbell’s love songs are just as potent as the discourse of their heaviest cuts, and those remain rapturous crowd pleasers on this current jaunt. Isbell rarely plays “Cover Me Up” if Shires isn’t present (which, given her own career and the touring it requires, can lead to weeks or months apart), but when she is, it’s a breathtaking duet and an intimate glimpse into the love they share.

The finale “If We Were Vampires” has them both considering their mortality while celebrating the eternity of their love, and was just as stunning. 2015’s I Love You, Honeybear was one long love letter to his wife, Emma, and Tillman soared through the songs off that album that directly pull from significant moments their marriage, from the moment they met (set closer “I Went to the Store One Day”) to their wedding and honeymoon (“Chateau Lobby #4 [in C for Two Virgins],” complete with mariachi interlude courtesy of his killer brass section).

In between songs, Isbell and Tillman kept their musings brief (and briefer than most would’ve liked, as one dude in the crowd actually screamed “I WANT BANTER!” five songs into Tillman’s set). Isbell praised Tillman and his band, joking that they played “songs that I can listen to where I don’t get mad” from backstage; Tillman praised Isbell and Bird in turn, but first took a few minutes to try to find a hair tie for his mane and requested a scrunchie, which one fan happily met. (He was surprised that he wasn’t met with “a blizzard of scrunchies,” which, same.)

The new material popped, too: though the well-worn gems from their catalogues were roundly applauded, both Isbell and Misty — who’ve been hard at work on the follow-ups to both The Nashville Sound and God’s Favorite Customer — played brand new material. Isbell’s “Overseas” is clearly a throw to making a relationship work across long distances (“Does your heart rest easy where you are? / Do they treat you like a star?”), while Misty’s fresh cuts (name TBD) offered a stylistic gear-shift with ‘80s synths, harmonica solos and a drum beat Ronnie Spector would covet. In spite of the dreary weather a Misty night for Misty and Co, Isbell, Tillman and the magnificent musicians that join them onstage each night proved that they should’ve circled their tour buses a long time ago. We’re all the luckier they finally did just that.

Fever Breaks Cover

Last fall, I went to Nashville and made a record. My friend Jason Isbell produced it and the 400 Unit backed me up. It was a blast to work on.

It’s a rainy November evening in Nashville and Josh Ritter and Jason Isbell are huddled in front of the console at Sound Emporium Studios, an historic space located in an otherwise nondescript building in the city’s Belmont neighborhood. It’s the last recording session for Ritter’s new album, which Isbell is producing and playing on as part of the 400 Unit, and they’re in the thick of adding fiddle to one of the album’s tracks.

The song, an optimistic, mid-tempo rambler called “In Passing,” is the group’s penultimate to finish after a week in the studio, following initial sessions held back in August. “In Passing” is anchored by the acoustic warmth and unpretentious erudition (“Love the thorn and hate the rose,” Ritter sings in the hook) endemic to Ritter’s earlier work, with a gently twangy, studiously meaty heft lent by the 400 Unit. It’s classic Ritter on Muscle Shoals-bred steroids.

Jason’s Wife Amanda Shires layers three fiddle parts atop one another, the second and third layers played ever-so-slightly more loosely than the first, making for a sound that’s at once fat and chiming, stretching across the backing music like thick, lustrous strands of taffy. Shires isn’t hearing what she’s wanting after the first couple of takes and has a few choice words for her fiddle in the interim.

The album is called ‘Fever Breaks’ and it comes out April 26th. I’m so excited to share it! You can listen to “Old Black Magic” now.

‘Fever Breaks’ – new album out April 26, 2019.

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Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit – Live From the Ryman

Americana icon Jason Isbell and his band the 400 Unit release a new live album release. The album is set in none other than the Mother Church of Country Music, the Ryman Auditorium. Live From the Ryman was recorded at Nashville’s famous auditorium, and will feature live versions of songs from Isbell’s three latest releases, Southeastern, Something More Than Free andThe Nashville Sound. Songs included on the project are Last of My Kind, Hope the High Road, Something More Than Free and the Grammy Awards-winning If We Were Vampires, among others.

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The Lucid Dream – Actualisation

The Lucid Dream return with the release of their 4th album, Actualisation. Driven by fans raising £10,000 to help replace all equipment robbed after a Paris show in early 2017, a new album became the instant focus in the summer of 2017 for a rejuvenated The Lucid Dream. Actualisation is soaked in the influence of acid house, amalgamated with dub and kosmische. The album was penned over the summer of 2017 by Mark Emmerson (vocals/guitar/synths), using only the classic Roland 303/808 synths, bass and vocals as tools for writing. Inspiration for the writing was formed via continuous listening to the Chicago to UK acid house works of 1986-1992, the focus predominantly on the groove. Several months on from those writing sessions and The Lucid Dream have completed their 4th album in 5 years. A record made for the dancefloor. Recorded at Whitewood Studios, Liverpool, with Rob Whiteley, the album is produced alongside long-time collaborator Ross Halden (Ghost Town Studios, Leeds), with mastering via Dean Honer (All Seeing I/I Monster/The Moonlandingz). The confrontational techno-punk of Alone In Fear opens the album, a 9-minute attack fuelled by the frustration and anger spawned by Brexit, government and a realisation of what 2018 Britain currently is. Recent single SX1000 (the first work from the album, unveiled via 12′ vinyl in April this year) is the band’s first move into pure acid house. The acid house fusion runs throughout the record, represented furthermore by Ardency, a track already praised by live critics when aired live for the first time earlier this year as ‘even on first hearing, would’ve raised the roof of The Hacienda’. The 2-part opus of Zenith follows, commencing with a space-dub / house instrumental groove before building into a track that will go for your head as much as your hips. Only Breakdown harks back to sounds of old for the band, a little reminder of the skull-crushing impact they can make when stripped to the bare bones. No Sunlight Dub closes the album, a dark-dub that invites the classic acid-house tool (Roland 808) into the dub. The track makes a stop-off into drum ‘n’ bass / jungle along the way before rounding up in a manner suited to Lee Perry, King Tubby, Augustus Pablo and other Jamaican greats.

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Titus Andronicus – Home Alone on Halloween

Limited to 1,300 for world on Orange Vinyl with Download. With Home Alone on Halloween, noted rock band Titus Andronicus celebrate the spookiest of the seasons by staring into the abyss and confronting the bone-chilling terror which lies at the haunted heart of our human experience. Bearing the justly feared catalog number MRG666, the 12-inch EP spans 31 minutes and features three tracks recorded concurrently with the group’s most recent full-length A Productive Cough, offering an autumnal tableauof dread and decay to complement its LP companion’s springtime visions of rebirth and new possibilities. The title track remixes A Productive Cough’s hardest-rocking selection, foregrounding its ominous strings and swelling organ and featuring a soulful new lead vocal from frequent captain Matt “Money” Miller, while Only a Hobo plucks an oft-forgotten gem from the dusty corners of the Bob Dylan songbook to paint a grim portrait of hopes dashed and potential squandered. Eeriest of all is A Letter Home, which, across nearly 17 minutes and more than 1,200 words, drags the listener along for a harrowing descent into the darkness and proves definitively that this ceremony is no mere monster mash.

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Kiran Leonard – Western Culture

Kiran Leonard is a 22 year old musician from Saddleworth, Greater Manchester. Debut album proper Bowler Hat Soup(2014) and follow-up Grapefruit (2016) were both recorded at home, with Kiran playing virtually every instrument himself. Dervaun Seraun (2017), a concept album in five movements inspired by five pieces of literature and arranged for piano, strings and voice, was an ambitious departure from his usual sound. Western Culture now sees him return to the signature sound of his first two records, yet marks a huge sonic progression thanks to the involvement of his venerable live band on record for the first time, as well as being the first to have been made in a professional studio (Old Granada Studios in central Manchester).

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Novo Amor – Birthplace

Novo Amor, aka multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and producer Ali Lacey comes from deep in the Welsh mountains. Recording, mixing and producing everything in his home studio, Lacey’s emotive vocals and the sounds he uses, often formed through sonic experimentation, make for fantastically atmospheric songs that are moving and striking. On his debut album Birthplace, the sounds of his home bleed in – the chatter of a party across the street, Bonfire Night fireworks, the seagulls that gather on the building site next door. Even the sound of the late-night recording hours kept to avoid the sounds of construction make their presence felt. The songs cover many theme and thoughts – Repeat Until Death deals with friends experiencing drug addiction, Seneca is rooted in the story of a town in Nebraska that tore itself apart over a dispute over how many horses might be kept in a yard.

LP – Single LP made from recycled vinyl, housed in full-colour printed inner sleeve and full-colour printed reverse board outer sleeve. Includes download card and 8-page 12’’ tracing paper booklet, featuring gold Pantone detail to mirror the effect of the original artwork used on the cover. As using recycled vinyl every record will be unique, no two colours will be the same. All cardboard used is FSC certified.

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The Oscillation – Wasted Space

The Oscillation are back with their sixth and most ambitious album to date, Wasted Space. A meditation on the nature of existence in the face of what can be insurmountable odds, Wasted Space finds The Oscillation painting from the darker shades of the kaleidoscopic scale. “The origins of Wasted Space go back to Monographic in 2016,” muses Demian Castellanos – themastermind behind The Oscillation. “That was a very bleak and heavy record and I really needed to move out of that mindset. Making U.E.F freed me up to write a coherent collection of narrative songs and compositions. Wasted Space is a partial continuation of a journey started with U.E.F., but one that re-incorporates more song-based ideas again.”What’s immediately apparent is that Wasted Space sets it stall well away from the prosaic third-eye tropes that have become orthodoxy. Album opener ‘Entity’ establishes the pace with a focus on the dance floor as much as on the navigation of existence. Fusing muscular grooves with an industrial wall of sound,these are bold steps into wholly new territories. “There’s an irony at play here,” considers Castellanos. “It’s a twisted party song, albeit a party for one.” But what a party it is. The mutant disco is bolstered by the rhythmic call-and-response of ‘Drop’, a track that eschews conventional methods of dance sensibility for more instinctive and primal urges. This is music that calls out to the suitably attuned.

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Cloud Nothings – Last Building Burning

Last Building Burning is the product of eight days with producer Randall Dunn (Sunn O))), Wolves in the Throne Room, Boris) in Texas studio Sonic Ranch. Clocking in just over half an hour, the eight-song album sees Cloud Nothings capture their onstage appeal with help from Dunn, who Dylan Baldi describes as “technically minded without relying on technology to perfect the live sound.” In that, Last Building Burning is a return to Cloud Nothing’s sharpest form – the unhinged, feverish, guitar-heavy sound that they explode with onstage – without their early angst. “It’s not an angry record,” says Baldi. “It’s a very joyous thing for me. And it feels so nice to scream again, especially when you know people in the crowd will be screaming along back at you.”

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Peter Holsapple vs Alex Chilton  –  The Death Of Rock

Newly discovered recordings of early solo Peter Holsapple and Like Flies On Sherbert–era Alex Chilton. Liner notes by Peter Holsapple and author / filmmaker, Robert Gordon. Previously unseen photos from the collections of Peter Holsapple and Pat Rainer. It’s 1978 at Sam Phillips Recording Service in Memphis, TN. Peter Holsapple had rolled into town chasing the essence of Big Star. He hooked up with musician / engineer / friend-of-Big-Star, Richard Rosebrough after approaching, and being turned down by, Chris Bell who Holsapple had hoped might be interested in producing him. Together Richard and Peter started laying down tracks during the off hours at the studio. Chilton meanwhile, was knee deep in the making ofLike Flies On Sherbert, also being tracked at Phillips. He told Peter, “I heard some of that stuff you’re working on with Richard . . . and it really sucks.” Alex promised to come by and show Peter “how it’s done.” The results? Alex’s tracks definitely line up with the chaos found on Flies, while several of Peter’s songs found homes on The dB’s albums (Bad Reputationand We Were Happy There) and on an album by The Troggs (The Death Of Rock retooled as I’m In Control), so not a loss at all. What we have in these newly discovered tapes, is a fascinating pivot point with both artists moving past each other headed in distinctly different directions. Chilton moved toward punk/psychobilly as he began playing with Tav Falco’s Panther Burns and produced The Cramps debut, Songs The Lord Taught Us, within a few months of these recordings. Holsapple was off to New York to audition for The dB’s and enter the world of “sweet pop.” Liner notes by Peter Holsapple tell the story of these recordings firsthand and author / filmmaker / Memphian, Robert Gordon, helps pull the time and place into focus. Previously unseen photos included in the package are drawn from the collections of Peter Holsapple and Pat Rainer.

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Dave Matthews Band – Come Tomorrow

ATO records release Dave Matthews Band’s long-awaited new albumCome Tomorrow. Come Tomorrow is the band’s ninth studio release and its first since 2012’s Away From The World, which debuted at No. 1 on Billboard 200. Working between tours at studios in Seattle, Los Angeles and Charlottesville, Dave Matthews Band chose to record with several different producers, including John Alagia, Mark Batson, Rob Cavallo and Rob Evans. The cover art for Come Tomorrow is by Béatrice Coron, who creates narrative allegories in silhouette to render archetypal stories.

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Insecure Men – Karaoke for One: Vol 1

Insecure Men return with a 10 track covers record, featuring takes on Bruce Springsteen, The Pogues, The Carpenters, Peter Andre et al.

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R.E.M.  –  Live At The BBC

REM grew up with the BBC, and this historic relationship is lovingly celebrated across an incredible collection that beautifully illustrates the career trajectory of one of modern music’s greatest bands. The collection comprises a treasure trove of rare and unreleased live and studio recordings culled from the BBC and band archives. This is a must-have collection for REM fans and an authoritative introduction for newcomers.

9CD – In-studio performances featured in the 8-CD / 1-DVD box set include a John Peel Session (1998), Drivetime and Mark and Lard appearances (2003) and a glorious Radio 1 Live Lounge performance (2008). Live broadcasts include a rough-and-tumble show from Nottingham’s Rock City (1984), the stunning 1995 Milton Keynes Monster Tour (their first after a six-year break), a blistering 1999 Glastonbury headline set and an invitation-only 2004 show at London’s St James’s Church. The DVD kicks off with a sixty-minute intimate retrospective of the band’s legendary performances at the BBC in the Accelerating Backwards film – previously broadcast only in the UK and available commercially for the first time here. Accelerating Backwards also includes revealing interviews with Peter Buck, Mike Mills and Michael Stipe, further testifying to R.E.M.’s long, special relationship with the BBC. The DVD also offers a complete 1998 Later….With Jools Holland episode uniquely dedicated to the band, plus TV appearances on Top of the Pops and more.

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There’s some rather good albums out tomorrow. We have new records from Cowboy JunkiesMattielLulucRayland BaxterDirty ProjectorsLoticBody/HeadThe HunnaThe OpheliasImmersion and a new ‘Black Mirror‘ soundtrack, this time from Alex Somers and Sigur Ros on limited white vinyl.

Some nice reissues as well, with coloured vinyl from Tom Waits for the ‘Foreign Affairs‘ album which hasn’t been on vinyl for some years. We also have old albums made new from The LibertinesGrateful Dead, a repress of the King Gizzard ‘Polygondwanaland’ coloured vinyl on Fuzz Club (in standard sleeve packaging) and a Trojan Records 50th anniversary picture disc. Special mention must go to the Holger Czukay/David Sylvian ‘Plight & Premonition and Flux and Mutability’ albums released as a double LP.

Dirty Projectors – Lamp Lit Prose

‘Lamp Lit Prose’ arrives just over a year after 2017’s self-titled ‘Dirty Projectors.’ Here David Longstreth’s band returns with a new album that is the yang to the yin of the 2017 effort. The songs signal a page turned for Longstreth: hope instead of heartbreak, a restorative balance. Guitars have returned to the Dirty Projectors’ world, intricate and gorgeous vocal harmony too. The album begins with “Right Now,” David singing, “there was silence in my heart, but now I’m striking up the band.” In addition to the core musicians and guests, LA string group the Calder Quartet, and The Brass Players of Los Angeles both appear on several songs. ‘Lamp Lit Prose’ is a recommitment to the sounds and ideals of Dirty Projectors, embracing the band’s trademarks while pushing forward the sonic envelope.

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Cowboy Junkies   –  All That Reckoning

With Cowboy Junkies’ new album, All That Reckoning, the band once again gently shakes the listener to wake up. Whether commenting on the fragile state of the world or on personal relationships, this new collection of songs encourages the listener to take notice. It also may be the most powerful album Cowboy Junkies have yet recorded.

Jason Isbell  –  Sirens Of The Ditch

The debut album from accomplished guitarist and songwriter Jason Isbell, formerly of Drive By Truckers, is reissued with four unreleased tracks from the original recording sessions. The addition of those extra songs finds ‘Sirens Of The Ditch’ clocking in at 15 total tracks.

Sirens Of The Ditch’’s mystical quality can be partially attributed to the FAME recording studio (Aretha Franklin, Duane Allman, Otis Redding) in Isbell’s hometown of Muscle Shoals, AL, where the album was recorded.

Co-produced by Isbell and Patterson Hood (Drive By Truckers), ‘Sirens Of The Ditch’ features Isbell singing lead vocals and playing guitar throughout, joined by Shonna Tucker (formerly of Drive By Truckers) on bass and Brad Morgan (Drive By Truckers) on drums. Several musicians pop in for cameos including Spooner Oldham and David Hood (Patterson’s father) on ‘Down In A Hole’, John Neff (formerly of Drive By Truckers) on ‘Dress Blues’ and Patterson himself guests on ‘Shotgun Wedding’.

“A strong debut, full of the kind of confident, charismatic songwriting that just can’t be taught.”

Deafheaven – Ordinary Corrupt Human Love

Deafheaven’s new album, Ordinary Corrupt Human Love, finds them working with old friends again. The Jack Shirley-produced and Nick Steinhardt-art directed (of Touché Amoré) collection gets its title from Graham Greene’s novel The End of the Affair, referencing a moment when someone is looking for love, in all of its imperfection and simple beauty. This sentiment is carried throughout the hazy, yearning romanticism of the record with song titles and words as sumptuous as the sounds around them.

Clarke describes the composition of Ordinary Corrupt Human Love beginning with “small seeds of healing, repair, and rebirth,” and like each subsequent Deafheaven album, this record is, in fact, a revelation. Defeat has inspired some of our best art. If you survive something terrible, you surface on the other side, walk toward the light, and come back to life. If you’re an artist, this kind of new self-knowledge can lead to creating something universal and remembered, something that can live longer than you do.

While Deafheaven have managed to cross over this road in the past, they’ve nailed the feeling wholly with Ordinary Corrupt Human Love, a feeling that comes with experience and wisdom. Yes, everybody deals with hurt, everybody’s been the cause of their own implosions, and everybody has the capacity to overcome and love again. Deafheaven have found a way to externalize all of this, and in making their most complete record to date, they turn it into a balm and a cathartic exorcism.

Body/Head – The Switch

Body/Head, the duo of Kim Gordon (CKM, Sonic Youth, Free Kitten, etc.) and guitarist Bill Nace (X.O.4, Vampire Belt, Ceylon Mange, etc), will release their second studio album, ‘The Switch’, on the 13th of July on Matador Records. Their debut album together as Body/Head, ‘Coming Apart’, from 2013, was more of a rock record

Brick benfolds95 12 2d

Ben Folds  –  Brick

Brick – The Songs of Ben Folds, 1996-2012 features 13CDs housed in a unique brick box set.
This collection of 194 tracks spans the career to date of one of the most adventurous and exciting songwriters and performers of his generation, who has not only worked with a diverse range of artists including William Shatner, Sara Bareilles and Regina Spektor, but authors Nick Hornby and Neil Gaiman.
In addition to featuring all the Ben Folds Five and Ben Folds’ solo studio albums, the box set also includes the 2002 Ben FoldsLive album, the live album Songs For Goldfish which accompanied the 2005 album Songs For Silverman, the alternative Seeds versions from Stems And Seeds, and all the bonus tracks, b-sides and rarities from the whole period. Ben Folds Five formed in in 1993, accompanied by Robert Sledge (bass, synthesizers, backing vocals) and Darren Jessee (drums,backing vocals), with Folds on lead vocals and piano, this outstanding musical trio forged a path as an incendiary live band. Releasing their self-titled debut album in 1995, the album featured such BFF’s classics as Underground and Philosophy. This was followed in 1997 by Whatever and Ever Amen. The album featured the singles, Battle Of Who Could Care Less and Kate, as well as UK Top 30 and mainstream radio hit in the USA and Australia, Brick. The third and final BFF’s album (until their 2012 reformation) was The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner.

In 2001 Folds released his first solo album, Rockin’ The Suburbs, which was recorded in Adelaide, Australia, where he was living at the time. The title track was remade for the 2006 film Over The Hedge, featuring William Shatner on vocal duties (both versions appear on this box set, as well as the five other songs recorded for the film). This was followed in 2005 by Songs For Silverman, which reached no.13 on the Billboard chart. The next year Folds released Supersunnyspeedgraphic, a compilation of songs,which were originally released on the EPs Sunny 16, Speed Graphic and Super D. The final Folds solo album to appear in this box set is 2008’s Way To Normal, which is his highest-charting solo album to date in the US, having entered at no.11 on the Billboard chart. The album featured a guest appearance by Regina Spektor, as well as are mastered follow up version, Stems and Seeds. For this Folds created a different track order and stem files, which allowed the listener to use computer applications to produce their own remixes. In 2011, Ben Folds Five reunited to record new tracks for a Ben Folds retrospective. Excited by the experience, the band reconvened in Folds’ studio and recorded what would become the first BFF’s album for 13 years. With the title track’s lyric supplied by Folds collaborator Nick Hornby, The Sound of the Life of The Mind was to be their highest charting album, reaching no.10 on the Billboardchart. The box includes a 60 page booklet featuring a brand new interview with Paul Myers.

Grateful Dead  – Anthem of the Sun: 50th Anniversary Edition

Anthem of the Sun: 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition includes two versions of Grateful Dead’s original album, both of which have been newly remastered: first, the original 1968 mix, and second, the 1971 remix. Both mixes of the albums were remastered by Grammy-winning engineer David Glasser from the original analog master tapes. The second disc boasts a previously unreleased complete live show recorded on October 22nd, 1967 at San Francisco’s Winterland.  It’s been newly  remastered by Jeffrey Norman and marks the first known recording of the Dead with Mickey Hart, who joined the band in September 1967.  A picture disc vinyl edition features the remastered 1971 mix only.

The Rolling Stones  – From the Vault: No Security – San Jose 1999 

The Rolling Stones revisit a 1989 performance from their No Security tour which extended from the band’s Bridges to Babylon outing.  This title will be released on DVD, 2CD/SD (Standard Definition) Blu-ray, 2CD/DVD, 3 LP, and digital audio and video platforms.  Whew!  (The 1998 concert album entitled No Security featured tracks culled from the Bridges to Babylon tour.)

Ben Folds Five  –  The Complete Sessions at West 54th 

This week brings a release from another longtime favorite!  Real Gone Music has the audio debut of Ben Folds Five’s June 9th, 1997 performance for PBS’ Sessions at West 54th of 15 songs including “Brick,” “Kate,” and “Battle of Who Could Care Less.”

This Week’s Releases

Rick Astley – ‘Beautiful Life’ LP
Rayland Baxter – ‘Wide Awake’ LP
Body/Head – ‘The Switch’ LP
Cowboy Junkies – ‘All That Reckoning’ LP
Holger Czukay & David Sylvian – ‘Plight & Premonition/Flux & Mutability’ 2LP reissue
Mikaela Davis – Delivery’ LP
Dirty Projectors – ‘Lamp Lit Prose’ LP
Grateful Dead – ‘Anthem Of The Sun’ picture disc LP reissue
The Hunna – ‘Dare’ limited sparkle vinyl LP
Immersion – ‘Sleepless’ LP
Jason Isbell – ‘Sirens Of The Ditch’ 2LP reissue
The Jayhawks – ‘Back Roads & Abandoned Motels’ LP
The Libertines – ‘Time For Heroes: The Best Of’ red vinyl LP reissue
Lotic – ‘Power’ limited LP
LULUC – ‘Sculptor’ limited maroon vinyl LP
Mattiel – ‘Mattiel’ limited coloured vinyl LP
Nightmares On Wax – ‘Deep Shadows Remixes’ 12″
The Ophelias – ‘Almost’ green vinyl LP
OST: Alex Somers & Sigur Ros – ‘Black Mirror: Hang The DJ’ limited white vinyl LP
Pariah – ‘Her From Where We Are’ LP
The Rolling Stones – ‘From The Vault: No Security – San Jose 1999’ 3LP
Tom Waits – ‘Foreign Affairs’ LP reissue
Wolf Eyes – ‘Dread’ LP reissue
Yes – ‘90125’ limited coloured vinyl LP reissue
Adrian Younge & Ali Shaeed Muhammad – ‘The Midnight Hour’ 2LP
Various Artists – ‘Trojan Records 50th Anniversary’ picture disc LP

There were an astonishing amount of forthcoming albums announced this week that we now have for preorder.  Paul Weller has a new record ‘True Meanings’, out 14th September and a week later there is a new one from Christine & The Queens; you can choose between an English version, a French version or a deluxe box set that contains both versions. October 12th sees a brand new album from John Grant, ‘Love Is Magic’ is released on standard black vinyl 2LP and a limited deluxe clear vinyl 2LP that only us indie stores will have. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds release a live EP on the 28th September called ‘Distant Sky’.

Lots more new albums coming soon too on the way from Seasick Steve, The Proclaimers, Mikey Collins, Slaves,The Lemon Twigs, Black Honey, Nothing, Paul Haig, The Joy Formidable, Mudhoney,Marissa Nadler, Black Peaks, Birdpen and a limited remix 12″ from Parquet Courts.

New West Records is set to release Jason Isbell’s debut solo album, Sirens Of The Ditch, in a deluxe edition with four never-heard-before tracks from the original studio recordings.

Originally released in 2007, Sirens Of The Ditch was met with critical acclaim upon its release calling it “…a gorgeously whiskey-soaked country-soul masterpiece,” American Songwriter declaring it, “…a decadent debut,” and Pitchfork stating that it was “…a strong debut full of the kind of confident, charismatic songwriting that just can’t be taught.”  When Jason Isbell left Drive-By Truckers in 2007, his future was by no means secure: His time in the band had been marred by substance-abuse issues, and he wasn’t a known quantity as a solo artist after years spent sharing the spotlight with other songwriters. But when Isbell released Sirens of the Ditch that same year, it was clear that he’d been working from an almost bottomless well of talent and star potential.

Sirens’ forthcoming reissue features four previously unreleased studio tracks: “Racetrack Romeo,” “Crystal Clear” and two songs you can hear for the first time here. “The Assassin” is a Patterson Hood composition Isbell still plays in concert, while the churning original roots-rock ballad “Whisper” burns slowly and wearily. Notably, both fit seamlessly alongside the singer’s later songs about stumbling hard and finding saviors on the road to peace and redemption.

This new deluxe edition features four previously unreleased songs from the original sessions at Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, bringing the new, expanded track listing to 15 total songs. NPR Music premiered two of the unreleased tracks today, including the Patterson Hood-penned “The Assassin,” which Isbell performs in concert to this day, and the track “Whisper.” The former Drive-By Truckers lead guitaristalbum was released on July 10, 2007

After leaving Drive-By Truckers amicably in 2007, Isbell released Sirens of the Ditch on New West Records. Sirens of the Ditch was recorded at Fame Studios, where among the musicians helping to record the album was Patterson Hood of Isbell’s previous band Drive by Truckers and Spooner Oldham, famous for his work with Aretha Franklin and Neil Young among others . The first single from the album was, “Brand New Kind of Actress,” deals with the death of Lana Clarkson in Phil Spector’s mansion.  Another single, “Dress Blues,” concerns the death of Corporal Matthew Conley, a US Marine from Isbell’s hometown who was killed in the Iraq War.

Jason Isbell’s third album in a row with outlaw-country “it” producer Dave Cobb (Sturgill Simpson, Chris Stapleton) is the pair’s most fruitful collaboration yet. Title notwithstanding, it certainly doesn’t sound like your typical Nashville product. Marked by a tangible intimacy and warmth and loaded with crisp performances from the 400 Unit, this is a true band album. It also happens to feature Isbell’s finest songwriting to date, with lived-in melodies that resonate and a remarkably varied narrative perspective. Cobb tinkers with the Isbell formula in interesting—but never obtrusive—ways, coaxing the accelerated pace that makes “Cumberland Gap” such an exhilarating rocker and adding a vaguely progressive intro and outro to “Anxiety,” one of the most harrowingly direct studies of emotional turbulence ever written. In quieter moments, Isbell continues to extract plainspoken poetry from the numbing predictability of life’s harsh realities. “Maybe we’ll get 40 years together/But one day I’ll be gone, or one day you’ll be gone,” he concedes on “If We Were Vampires,” a gorgeously delicate duet sung with wife Amanda Shires. Yep, death is inevitable—about as inevitable as another great Jason Isbell album.