Some weeks it’s a feast. Some weeks it’s a famine. This week, weirdly enough, it’s both. On the one hand, there are more than 300 new titles due by Friday. On the other hand, there are very few big-name releases — because umpteen prominent artists (including Luke Bryan, Corb Lund, Braids, Coriky, Indigo Girls, Rufus Wainwright and Willie Nelson) bumped their albums until summer or fall. Here are four whose discs haven’t moved — yet.
THE PRESS RELEASE: “Brendan Benson finds himself in an enviable spot as he enters the third decade of a remarkably creative, consistently idiosyncratic career — an accomplished frontman, musician, songwriter, producer, band member, husband, and dad. Dear Life marks this consummate polymath’s most inventive and upbeat work thus far, an 11-track song cycle about life, love, family, fatherhood, and the pure joy of making music. Produced and almost entirely performed by Benson at his own Readymade Studio in Nashville, the album sees the Michigan-born, Nashville-based artist — and co-founder, with Jack White, of The Raconteurs — reveling in a more modernist approach than ever before, fuelled by a heady brew of cannabis, hip-hop, and a newly discovered interest in software drum programming. The result is an untapped playfulness that elevates expertly crafted songs like the future funk-fuelled opener, I Can If You Want Me To, and the ecstatic Richest Man Alive with voluble arrangements, elastic grooves, and incandescent power. Imbued with revitalized ambition and confidence, Dear Life is Brendan Benson at his very best. “There’s something about this record,” Benson says. “A friend of mine called it ‘life-affirming.’ I thought it was a joke at first but then realized, well, it’s about life and death for sure. I don’t know if that’s positive or optimistic or whatever, but that’s what’s going on with me.”
Danzig Sings Elvis
THE PRESS RELEASE: “Glenn Danzig is a name that permeates, infects, and ultimately makes strong, the very soul of hard rock in the ’90s. Through the legendary punk charge of his pre-Danzig outfits Misfits and Samhain, Danzig formed the backbone of today’s mosh movement. Into the deep waves of the Danzig catalogue, and you’ve got a band that has created high-tension hybrids that are still being pondered and quietly adopted throughout today’s metal community. This studio album pays tribute to his idol and inspiration, Elvis Presley. It features 14 unforgettable interpretations of well-known Elvis classics and unheralded deep cuts that will thrill fans of both of these kings of rock music. Highlights include Danzig’s sinister take on Fever and a truly haunting version of Always On My Mind. Danzig is no stranger to working with American music royalty having written songs for both Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison.”
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard
THE PRESS RELEASE: “This double-LP live album features 13 live performances hand-picked from the band’s 2019 European tour and includes a musical score written by Stu Mackenzie that adds a ‘magical touch of alien melancholy’ throughout the record. Chunky Shrapnel is an adrenaline fueled psychedelic trip that captures the energy of a live concert while also creating something tailored and unique to King Gizzard. The band has also announced a feature-length motion picture by the same name that follows King Gizzard’s adrenaline-inducing onstage performances from the perspective of the band. “John Stewart (director of Chunky Shrapnel) followed us around for a few weeks through Europe,” says the band’s Stu Mackenzie. “It was fun and funny and wild and weird. Sometimes an inconspicuous fly on the wall, sometimes an intrusive camera man one inch from my face. Always exciting though. Chunky Shrapnel was made for the cinema but as both concerts and films are currently outlawed, it feels poetic to release a concert-film digitally right now.” A musical road movie dipped in turpentine, Chunky Shrapnel is a point of view / on stage experience from the perspective of King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard. Once a song begins, just like the band, you’re stuck in the adrenaline-fueled quicksand that there is no escape from. The film’s contention is clear from the outset, it’s going to be a “journey” not a “lecture”, an incurved experience rather than a linear one.”
Good Souls Better Angels
THE PRESS RELEASE: “It’s all come full circle,” says Lucinda Williams about her powerful new album Good Souls, Better Angels. After more than 40 years of music making, the pioneering, Louisiana-born artist has returned to the gritty blues foundation that first inspired her as a young singer-songwriter in the late 1970s. The result — Good Souls, Better Angels — is the most topical album of Williams’ career. The dangerous world we live in, the constant barrage of a frightening news cycle, depression, domestic abuse, a man without a soul — and, yeah, the devil — figure prominently among its 12 tracks. “The devil comes into play quite a bit on this album,” Williams says. “I’ve always loved the imagery in Robert Johnson songs and those really dark Delta blues that are sort of biblical. I was inspired by Leonard Cohen — he dealt with that in his songs — and Bob Dylan and Nick Cave.” While Good Souls, Better Angels reflects many dark realities that surround us, the album is tied together with themes of perseverance, resilience and ultimately, hope. As for the topicality of the material, Williams says, “Because of all this crap that’s going on, it’s on the top of everybody’s minds — it’s all anybody talks about: Basically the world’s falling apart — it’s like the apocalypse. That’s where that Old Testament stuff comes from. It’s different from my other albums in that there aren’t the story songs about my childhood and all. It feels exciting.”