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Next Week in Music | June 1-7 • The Short List: 6 Releases You Want to Hear

Dion, Nick Lowe, No Age, Run The Jewels and the rest of this week's big releases.

Run The Jewels make a triumphant return, Dion welcomes some superstar pals, Nick Lowe and Los Straitjackets keep it short and sweet, a new supergroup arrives and some indie-rock outfits make some noise. That’s what I’m looking forward to this week. Well, that and a whole lot of hanging out in the backyard. You got a better idea?

Blues With Friends

THE PRESS RELEASE:Dion’s Blues With Friends represents the fulfillment of a lifelong vision. Dion explains the album’s impetus: “I wanted an album of songs that were strong and memorable and told stories that were worth telling.” His songwriting efforts were supported by a cadre of great players, each of whom jumped at the chance to collaborate with a music legend they think of in heroic terms. He’s quick to point out just how enduring this creative relationship has been, “The blues have been at the heart of my music since the early 1960s. The Wanderer is a 12-bar blues and I was covering Willie Dixon and Jimmy Reed in my early years at Columbia — much to the dismay of my corporate masters.” That’s the way it’s long been for the man Lou Reed inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame more than thirty years ago. That night the normally taciturn Reed exalted, “And then there was Dion — whose voice was unlike any other I had heard before — a voice that stood on its own, remarkable and unmistakably from New York. Bronx soul.” The album’s guests include the cream of the contemporary scene’s blues-rooted slingers including Jeff Beck, Billy Gibbons, Joe Bonamassa, Brian Setzer, Sonny Landreth, Samantha Fish, John Hammond Jr., Joe Louis Walker, Rory Block, Jimmy and Jerry Vivino, vintage guitar guru Joe Menza as well as icons Stevie Van Zandt, Patti Scialfa, Bruce Springsteen, Van Morrison and Paul Simon. Yes, that’s a whole lot of star power but each participated not because of his or her marquee appeal but because of what each could add musically. The result is one reflective of nuanced devotion to the blues rather than a gratuitous display of individual virtuosity. It’s very much Dion’s album and those bold face names participating are most convincingly there for him.”

Nick Lowe with Los Straitjackets
Lay It On Me

THE PRESS RELEASE:Lay It On Me is Nick Lowe’s third EP in two years with backing from Los Straitjackets. It features three recently road-tested gems on its A-side: the Lowe originals Lay It On Me Baby and Don’t Be Nice To Me, plus a cover of the Dorsey Burnette-penned Brenda Lee hit Here Comes That Feeling. The flip finds Nick behind the boards, producing his first session for another artist in 25 years, on the Straitjackets’ stinging version of the Shocking Blue classic Venus. Says Nick: “In the late 1960’s CBS had an inspired idea; they invented the ‘sampler’ LP. It was called The Rock Machine Turns You On and consisted of a dozen tracks, each one lifted from the current album releases of 12 of the label’s ‘second tier’ of talent. It was an unashamed promotional device and sold by the truck load. I had a copy, as did everyone I knew. One night in London a few years back, I had Neil Brockbank and Bobby Irwin (my late friends and collaborators), round for dinner at my house. During what might be described as the ‘port and cigars’ part of the evening, we found ourselves riffing on the idea of producing a sampler for an imaginary record label of its imaginary artists. We started by fancying what the names of those artists might be and what kind of music they’d do, and from there began to create likely song titles to suit them. Even though the whole idea started as a joke, we got into it pretty seriously and made copious notes as the plan unfolded. Song titles became songs. The next day when the enormous cost and limited commercial appeal of such a project became clearer, our enthusiasm soon waned and most of the fruits of the evening are now lost. Two examples however remain. They are Restless Feeling originally written for Coastline [and released on Nick’s The Old Magic LP] and Lay It On Me Baby for Turk Collins.”


THE PRESS RELEASE: “Alright, let’s just get this part out of the way: Muzz is a new band comprised of three gentlemen you probably know from other bands. Paul Banks is the singer in Interpol, has a project with The RZA called Banks + Steelz, and has released records as a solo artist. Matt Barrick played drums for Jonathan Fire*Eater and The Walkmen, and you’ve likely seen him on tour with Fleet Foxes. Josh Kaufman is a third of the folk group Bonny Light Horseman and has his producer mitts all over esteemed recordings by The National, Bob Weir, The Hold Steady, The War on Drugs, and many more. Paul + Matt + Josh = Muzz. OK, phew. So how did we get here? Why, casually, of course. Banks and Kaufman have been friends since their formative teen years, having attended high school together overseas before separately moving to New York City for further study. There, they independently crossed paths with Barrick while running in similar music circles and shapeshifting scenes. Some years on, they each remained in touch: Barrick drummed in Banks + Steelz and on some of Kaufman’s production sessions; Kaufman helped on Banks’s early Julian Plenti solo endeavor; various demos were collaborated on; a studio in Philadelphia was co-bought; “what if”s and “we should”s were tossed about. By some accounts, Muzz recordings date back to 2015; cosmically speaking, though, the seeds were planted long ago. Either way, when the opportunity to make music as a trio presented itself, the gentlemen pounced. Sonically, the band aimed for a timeless tone, one that would make the music hard to place when viewed from some distance. In fact, the band’s name holds a meaning that serves to describe that very feeling. “We didn’t want the record’s era to be overly identifiable, so we used traditional recording methods with a live, analog feeling,” Banks says. “It’s a little more naked and open at times. Josh uses the word ‘muzz’ to describe a texture of sound he likes in certain older recordings, so it’s his attempt to put a term to a subtle analog quality. It became very married to our sound.”

No Age
Goons Be Gone

THE PRESS RELEASE:No Age’s Goons Be Gone kicks into gear, takes you out west and gets some dirt on it, with what’s possible their most honed in and direct record yet. A guitar/drums duo (Randy Randall and drummer/vocalist Dean Spunt) with a penchant for self-recorded samples, No Age are mostly unconcerned with things like space or pause, and Goons Be Gone is gorgeously thick — a hazy, delirious expanse that’s both comforting and disorienting. Randall and Spunt sputter and twitch and pound, alternately revealing and concealing a sweet, taut melody — such is No Age’s agenda, burying an addictive little singalong in layers of effects and fuzz. Some fans might pine — at least at first — for the (vaguely) more experimental, less riff-driven muck of An Object, but Goons Be Gone is a more thoughtful, coherent (and still plenty dirty) version of what No Age began building with all those EPs. Listening to Goons Be Gone, it’s hard to comprehend how just two people can manage to make so much noise while still sounding so subdued and mysterious — it’s easier to imagine Randall and Spunt spewing these songs underwater, bursting forth from some colossal California quarry rather than a tiny, stuffy art space a few blocks from L.A.’s skid row. Goons Be Gone is so cacophonous, so fertile, and so ripe with sound that parsing out the samples and effects and various layers of guitar is nearly impossible; besides, it’s way more satisfying to just close your eyes and just enjoy it. Ultimately, it’s part of No Age’s allure that Goons Be Gone is so difficult to figure out, that it manages to be so big while coming from a place so small: All you’ll know for sure is that you want to listen longer. Maybe forever.”

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever
Sideways To New Italy

THE PRESS RELEASE: “After enough time away from home, even the familiar starts to feel foreign. For guitar-pop five-piece Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, returning to Melbourne after long stretches looking out at the world through the windows of airplanes and tour vans lead to dislocation, like being the knot in the middle of a game of tug-o-war. Their second record, Sideways to New Italy, sees the band interrogate their individual pasts and the places that inform them. In clicking the scattered pieces back into place, they have crafted for themselves a new totem of home to carry with them no matter where they end up. Led by singer-songwriter-guitarists Tom Russo, Joe White and Fran Keaney (and rounded out by bassist Joe Russo and drummer Marcel Tussie), the band began grasping for something reliable after emerging from relentlessly touring their critically regarded debut Hope Downs. “I felt completely rudderless on tour,” Keaney says. “It’s fun but you get to a point where you’re like, Who am I anymore? You feel like you’re everywhere and nowhere at the same time. And no one in particular.” Russo adds, “We saw a lot of the world, which was such a privilege, but it was kind of like looking through the window at other people’s lives, and then also reflecting on our own.” Rather than dwell in the displacement, Keaney was determined to channel how he was feeling into something optimistic. “I wanted to write songs that I could use as some sort of bedrock of hopefulness to stand on, something to be proud of. A lot of the songs on the new record are reaching forward and trying to imagine an idyll of home and love.”

Run the Jewels

THE PRESS RELEASE:Run The Jewels, the lauded duo of El-P and Killer Mike, have shared the long-awaited details of their feverishly anticipated new album, Run The Jewels 4. This 11-song, 40-minute powerhouse is their most ferocious and focused effort to date, and sports a lineup of all-star guests including Pharrell Williams, Mavis Staples, 2 Chainz, Zack de la Rocha, Josh Homme, DJ Premier, and Greg Nice. Recorded primarily at Rick Rubin’s Shangri-La Studios and the iconic Electric Lady Studios in NYC, RTJ4 represents two years of intensive writing, recording, distilling, and amplifying the most potent elements of their music. The result is a collection of wall-to-wall bangers illuminating the group’s unique ability to straddle the worlds of pointed social commentary and raw, boisterous fun. The new album is preceded by two singles, both of which arrived to rapturous reception. The first, yankee and the brave (ep.4), dropped during an impromptu Instagram Live session the duo held as shelter in place orders were starting to take hold. Days later, the second single ooh la la (feat. DJ Premier & Greg Nice) made a surprise debut in the season finale of the hit Netflix series Ozark, and became the #5 most Shazam’d song in the country. This was soon followed by the song’s glorious new music video, directed by Brian & Vanessa Beletic, which quickly shot to the #10 trending position on YouTube, surpassing 1.5 million views in its first week, and brilliantly setting the stage for the arrival of RTJ4.”