CHRIS ROBINSON BROTHERHOOD
FOSTER THE PEOPLE
BAREFOOT IN THE HEAD
SACRED HEARTS CLUB
ALL I EVER SEE IN YOU IS ME
Barefoot In The Head is the third collection of new material in only two years for the Chris Robinson Brotherhood – further showcasing the continued growth of Chris Robinson’s songwriting partnership with his bandmates (guitarist Neal Casal, drummer Tony Leone, keyboardist Adam MacDougall, and bassist Jeff Hill), while reveling in the kind of playful adventurousness that can only come from five artists tuned in to the same sonic wavelength (as their series of live albums clearly attests). Album opener, “Behold The Seer,” sounds like something of a mission statement for the CRB. On the dreamy “She Shares My Blanket,” Robinson crafts cinematic scenes from a winter love affair in the mountains, while elegant pedal steel added by special guest Barry Sless on “Blonde Light Of Day” casts a warm, romantic haze and “Blue Star Woman” sounds like T-Rex dressed in overalls living on a West Coast commune. Throughout Robinson and Co. deftly intertwine country, blues and psychedelia, even channeling freewheeling 60s’ folk on “Hark The Herald Hermit Speaks,” a breakneck stream of consciousness that blurs the lines between fantasy and reality, and the English psych inspired “Glow.”
Founded in in 2009, Foster the People achieved success with the 2011 release of its debut album Torches, which has sold nearly two million albums and over nine million singles worldwide. Torches features the #1 hit single “Pumped Up Kicks,” which was declared “the year’s anthem” by SPIN, and also spawned the chart-topping singles “Don’t Stop (Color On The Walls),” “Houdini,” and “Helena Beat.” Foster the People garnered three Grammy nominations. Supermodel was the second full-length record from Foster the People. Influenced by frontman Mark Foster’s world travels and shifting perspective, the album was recorded in studios around the world and features fan favorites including “Coming of Age” and “Best Friend.” Where Torches was the band’s pop album, and Supermodel it’s rock / shoegaze album, the band’s new album, Sacred Hearts Club, is considered a Hip Hop album by the group – a collection of songs that want to party despite these heavy times. “One of my favorite things about music is that it’s unifying,” says Mark Foster. “We wrote these songs to reflect joy in a time where people have needed it more than ever.” And tracks like “Doing it For the Money,” “Pay the Man,” and “SHC” have the power to reach across the aisles and get everyone dancing.
All I Ever See in You Is Me is the sophomore album from Nashville-based singer / songwriter / pianist Jillette Johnson. Produced by Dave Cobb (Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson, Chris Stapleton), All I Ever See in You Is Me offers up sparsely orchestrated songs centering on Johnson’s spirited piano work and graceful vocal command. Like only the most timeless songwriters, Johnson finds infinite depth within that simplicity, tapping into her quiet intensity and classic sensibilities to capture the subtlest of feelings. Recorded at RCA Studio A – where Dolly Parton laid down “Jolene” and “I Will Always Love You” in the same three-hour span – All I Ever See in You Is Me bears an unhurried pace and warm intimacy. At the same time, All I Ever See in You Is Me unfolds with an eloquence that reveals Johnson’s natural sophistication as a songwriter. Drifting between hazy romanticism and resolute self-awareness, the album examines heartbreak and resilience with a willful vulnerability via the ever-changing texture of her voice, an instrument that’s irresistibly powerful whether she’s belting out a refrain or whispering a hushed melody. Jillette Johnson is a gem among the rhinestones.
Paranormal is Alice Cooper’s first new studio album in six years – a 12-track collection recorded in Nashville, TN with long-time collaborator Bob Ezrin. The album is a return of sorts to Cooper’s early garage rock sound. In addition to Alice’s touring band (who co-wrote 3 of its tracks), Paranormal features contributions of some legendary guests, including Deep Purple’s Roger Glover, ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons and U2’s drummer Larry Mullen Jr. Reflecting on the album’s title, Cooper said, “ With regards to the album title, Cooper said: “I love that title – Paranormal – but it’s not really a scary record. There’s a couple of scary songs on it, but [it is] Paranormal meaning other than normal. This is not a normal Alice record. Bob and I decided, no theme this time – we’re gonna make a record of things that just get us off, things that we like. And it might go in a lot of directions.” Paranormal also features a very special bonus CD: A mini-album consisting of three brand new songs written and recorded with original Alice Cooper band members Dennis Dunaway, drummer Neal Smith and guitarist Michael Bruce, alongside carefully selected live recordings.
EAGLES OF DEATH METAL
CAGE THE ELEPHANT
HARD WORKING AMERICANS
HICKMAN HOLLER RECORDS
Throughout music history, the breakthrough albums for several legendary artists were live recordings: At Fillmore East by The Allman Brothers Band, Frampton Comes Alive by Peter Frampton, and Alive by KISS. Now four decades later, history seems poised to repeat itself with the release of We’re All In This Together, the powerful, new live document by Hard Working Americans the burgeoning sidepiece of high profile jammers bassist Dave Schools and drummer Duane Trucks of Widespread Panic, guitarist Neal Casal of Chris Robinson Brotherhood, keyboardist Chad Staehly of Great American Taxi, Tulsa guitarist Jesse Aycock, and celebrated singer-songwriter Todd Snider on lead vocals. Recorded live by monitor engineer Colin Cargile during the band’s 2016 “Rest In Chaos” tour, the album was produced by Schools and mixed by the legendary John Keane, who also mixed the band’s first record. We’re All In This Together features 13 tracks, with most selected from an unforgettable show at Iron City in Birmingham, AL. “ I think this is a definite statement for us,” says Snider. “It captures a collective spirit, a collective muse being shared by a thousand-plus people.” Indeed.
30 years ago, “Glam Rock” arguably hit its apex with Hysteria – Def Leppard’s insanely popular fourth album that spawned seven goddamn singles – “Pour Some Sugar on Me,” “Hysteria,” and “Rocket” among them – and sold 25 million albums. Produced by Mutt Lange, Hysteria wrapped Def Leppard’s T-Rex-inspired hard rock (which they had practically perfected on their previous album, Pyromania) and gave it a pop sheen that was glossier than, say, Poison, but rocked just as hard. Frontman Joe Elliott says “It’s hard to believe that it’s been thirty years since the release of Hysteria… In some respects it really does seem like only yesterday. So, to mark this milestone, we wanted to do something very special for our fans and give them the definitive version of the album, one that incorporates all of the memories and milestones that we caught on tape and some of the madness that we got up to on the road. We hope it means as much to you as it does to us.” So here you go: Not only has Hysteria been remastered, but it includes a load of extras, including an audio version of their concert film In The Round. The album is available in a variety of configurations, too, including vinyl and a massive 7-disc box set.
Like many great Southern storytellers, singer-songwriter Tyler Childers has fallen in love with a place. The people, landmarks and legendary moments from his childhood home of Lawrence County, Kentucky populate the ten songs on his formidable debut, Purgatory, an album that’s simultaneously modern and as ancient as the Appalachian Mountains in which events unfold. The album, co-produced by Grammy Award winners Sturgill Simpson and David Ferguson (who successfully aided Childers in his quest to find a high and gritty “mountain sound”), is a semi-autobiographical sketch of Childers’ growth from wayward youth to happily married man, told in the tradition of a Southern gothic novel with a classic noir antihero who may just be irredeemable. Purgatory is a chiaroscuro painting with darkness framing light in high relief. There’s catharsis and redemption. Sin and temptation. Murder and deceit. Demons and angels. Moonshine and cocaine. So much moonshine and cocaine. All played out on the large, colorful canvas of Eastern Kentucky in a style familiar enough to attract traditionalists and lush enough keep those who like to get “higher than the grocery bill” in thrall.
I LOVE YOU ALL THE TIME: LIVE AT THE OLYMPIA IN PARIS UME
During Eagles of Death Metal’s November 13, 2015 concert at the Bataclan in Paris, gunmen entered the venue and opened fire on the crowd, leaving 89 dead. On February 16, 2016, the band returned to Paris to complete their show as part of the “Nos Amis” tour¸ performing at the Olympia hall. This release encapsulates the pure emotion and intensity of that extraordinary Olympia concert and is dedicated to all those who lost their lives at the Bataclan. Before the show, Eagles of Death Metal co-founder and lead singer Jesse Hughes said: “The people of Paris have always been incredible to us, and our feeling of love towards this beautiful city and its people has been reinforced a million times over this past month. Hearing the stories of the survivors, the injured and those who have lost loved ones has been overwhelming. Not returning to finish our set was never an option.” The lineup for this historic show features the core duo of Hughes on vocals and guitar, and Queens of the Stone Age leader Joshua Homme on drums, along with Dave Catching (guitar), Matt McJunkins (bass), Julian Dorio (drums), Eden Galindo (guitar), and Tuesday Cross (keyboards).
Dead Cross emerged out of a series of impractical schemes, fallenthrough plans, and last-minute musical experimentation. Shows were scheduled before a single song was written, fans were formed before even one show was played. The chaos of its creation seems apt – after all, the band is comprised entirely of artists who have thrived playing tightly-coiled turmoil. Consisting of Dave Lombardo, Justin Pearson, Michael Crain, and Mike Patton, the impressive, expansive, and eclectic list of prior bands collectively played in would be enough to ensure the unyielding ferocity of the music – but Dead Cross stands on its own, speaks volumes with its multilayered evil-genius vocals, manic guitar riffs, and brutal rhythms. “’Grave Slave’ is S&M for your ears,” says Lombardo. “Patton’s vocal range and intensity are on full blast throughout this entire album. This song is a two-minute example of what it’s like to travel through the depths of his brain while JP, Crain and myself commandeer the vehicle. It’s jarring, aggressive and unsettling. We’re coming at you hardcore, but leaving you with a kiss.” ¶ “A track like this only makes complete sense in this climate... absurdity, pigs, neo-fascist authoritarianism... the American dream is alive and well.”
Since 2008, the pride of Bowling Green, KY, Cage The Elephant, has been releasing high quality rock and roll that bridge the gap between a peculiar strain of backwoods American punk and the bigchorused Mad-For-It ladcore inspired by British rock titans, Oasis. But after four albums of channeling their profound electricity in the studio, thought the time was right to attempt something in the opposite direction. Cage The Elephant’s new live album Unpeeled was recorded over a series of intimate shows in cities including Los Angeles, Washington DC, Knoxville, and Nashville where the band performed in a stripped-down arrangement with a string quartet and additional percussion. Unpeeled features 21-tracks: 18 curated songs from their past four albums plus three re-imagined versions of existing songs. Said frontman Matt Shultz about the inspiration behind the double live release: “Many times you›re adding sonic layers looking for something to hide behind, and what you don›t realize is that that vulnerability and that nakedness might be the most compelling and interesting thing about the song.” Unpeeled is a new way of hearing – and falling in love – with this exceptional band.
WE'RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER
MENTAL JEWELRY RADIOACTIVE RECORDS
The thing that people forget about the early 90s is the proliferation of slappy bass (What have you wrought Red Hot Chili Peppers?!?). Ugly Kid Joe. fIREHOSE. Fishbone. Faith No More. Fuck, even Fugazi did it. Maybe it was a political statement. Maybe it was just for The Funk. But for a quartet of Pennsylvania youths it was a mode of spiritual expression. Live existed as a “college rock” cover band before they started developing their own material, so it was natural that they would weave the different threads of “weird kid” music into their own tapestry. Ever ambitious, they stood on the shoulders of giants – U2, R.E.M., the Chili Peppers – and threw in a strange, yearning spirituality into the mix. They also had an aversion to shirts. A regular presence at CBGB’s, Live – the vowel is long – earned a reputation worthy of their name. It wouldn’t be long before Jerry Harrison of Talking Heads would take them under his wing and produce their debut album, Mental Jewelry – which turns 25 this year – and with it comes a deluxe version of the album, which has been lovingly remastered (the bass pops more than ever) and benefits from a generous ample of bonus material, including a full concert from The Roxy in Los Angeles that, once again, finds the band living up to its name.
VALVE STUDIO ORCHESTRA
WEDDINGS & FUNERALS
Soccer Mommy is the project of Sophie Allison – a 19-year-old Nashville DIY artist, recording her own songs and releasing them online. Collection compiles the best of those songs as well as a few new songs, written, mixed and produced herself. The songs portray an artist fully-formed, mature far beyond her age singing about toxic relationships, infatuations, and all the experiences of being a teenage girl. Or, as Sophie describes her subject matter, “crush stuff with a hint of bad to it.” There’s a playfulness to the music that belies the sophisticated nature of the songcraft. The songs can be sweet, they can be happily melancholic or melancholically happy, but they always cut deep. They belong on playlists and mixes, to be shared among friends and belted out during road trips. These perfect pop gems have power. “Allison,” a gorgeous meditation on the bittersweet feeling of hurting someone you love while pursuing your own dreams, showcases Sophie’s talent for home recording, with multi-tracked vocals layered to perfection while the relatable and anthemic “Out Worn,” strikes the perfect balance between anger and sugary pop bliss – two great tastes that taste great together. In fact, all of Collection is a treat.
The Kickback’s new album, Weddings & Funerals, is a smart, exhilarating, and deeply emotional collection of songs that captures all the shared experiences that bring us together – joy and sorrow, unity and separation, love and hate, beginnings and endings… Usually under great duress. Produced by Dennis Herring (Modest Mouse, Elvis Costello, WAVVES), Weddings & Funerals, sees singer-songwriter Billy Yost rending his chest to bare his own dark heart without shying from a smirk. Set against an inventive bed of infinite guitars, grizzled bass, and slippery rhythms, songs like “Latest Obsession” and “False Jeopardy” are personally cathartic but also painfully universal, Yost’s heartbreak as identifiable and real as any of our own. “I found out I was getting divorced,” Yost says. “It was really unexpected. I got to a pretty bleak place initially. I wouldn’t care to ever make a record this way again, but I also know it’s the best group of songs this band has been able to make.” A power pop record smothered in beautiful bashes of sound and the perfect amounts of humor and self-depreciation, Weddings & Funerals is a beautiful mess that recalls the under-heralded genius of bands like Superdrag and The Wedding Present. Break-up records rarely sound this fun.
DOTA2/THE OFFICIAL SOUNDTRACK
GOODNIGHT RHONDA LEE
Nerds recognize nerds, just as game recognizes game – this may account for the growing number of video game soundtracks that are coming out on vinyl. Perhaps it’s just the collector’s mentality that is bridging the analog-to-digital divide, but that isn’t stopping the Valve Studio Orchestra from dropping quality wax. Valve Studio Orchestra are musicians who compose music for Valve’s games, including Half Life 2, Team Fortress 2, Left4Dead and Day of Defeat. DotA 2 is a free-to-play multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) video game developed and published by Valve Corporation. The game is the stand-alone sequel to Defense of the Ancients (DotA), which was a community-created mod for Blizzard Entertainment’s Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos and its expansion pack, The Frozen Throne. DotA 2 is played in matches between two teams that consist of five players, with both teams occupying their own separate base on the map. The official soundtrack to DOTA 2 from composer Jason Hayes (Warcraft III, World of Warcraft, Hearthstone) and audio director Tim Larkin (Myst, Riven, Prince of Persia) features conductor Timothy Williams leading the Northwest Sinfonia and Chorale and is pressed on colored vinyl.
It takes strength, wisdom, and maturity to put your art and heart out in the forefront. On DWNTWN’s latest, Racing Time, the LA-based dream pop band lay bare both their songs and their souls. Racing Time opens with “Bloodshot Eyes” – all sweet spectral vocals and acoustic guitar strumming. Soon, lush textures emerge and envelop you while the beat surges forward with pent-up emotionality. There is majestic sadness to tracks like “Bloodshot Eyes,” along with album tracks like “Love Someone” and “Little Night Song.” On the elegantly elegiac “Fourteen,” singer Jamie Leffler addresses the loss of her father. “He was my buddy and best friend as a child, but I didn’t get to know him as an adult. Writing this was therapeutic because I could say those things I always wanted to say to him,” Jamie confides. Racing Time concludes with a stunning rendition of Anita Carter’s 1960s chestnut “As the Sparrow Goes,” featuring a guest appearance by Jamie’s stepmother, Carlene Carter – herself the stepdaughter of Johnny Cash (June was her mom). Here, Carlene’s richly expressive vocals beautifully complement Jamie’s dreamy singing.
Nicole Atkins is a rare artist whose timeless songwriting and raw, emotional voice spans decades - a miasma of faded glamour and nostalgic pop noir. However, she remains untethered to a decade or movement or the whim of the hipster elite. To capture the timelessness, she sought for her fourth studio album Goodnight Rhonda Lee, Nicole enlisted a modern-day Wrecking Crew, Niles City Sound in Fort Worth, TX who had just risen to national acclaim as Leon Bridges’ secret weapon, and co-writers like Chris Isaak and Jim Sclavunos (Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds). She explains, “We spoke the same language. We wanted to make something classic, something that had an atmosphere and a mood of romance and triumph and strength and soul.” She adds, “This record came to me at a time of deep transition. Some days were good, some not so good. What I did gain, though, from starting to make some changes and going inward, and putting it out on the table, was a joy in what I do again. Joy in the process and a newfound confidence that I don’t think I’ve ever had until now. The album title, Goodnight Rhonda Lee, also came from those feelings. Rhonda Lee was kind of my alias for bad behavior, and it was time to put that persona to bed.”