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Next Week in Music | Sept. 7-13 • The Short List: 8 Titles You Want to Hear

The Lips, Mason, Swans and more: It's a good week to be an indie-rock fan.

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The Flaming Lips get moody, Marilyn Manson delivers some chaos, Arcade Fire’s Will Butler goes it alone, Doves want you to want them, Mastodon serve up medium rarities, Johnny Thunders gets resurrected, Waylon Payne lives up to his name and Swans go multi-media. It’s a good week for indie-rock fans. Here’s the rundown:

 


Will Butler
Generations

THE PRESS RELEASE: “In the five years since Will Butler released his debut album, Policy, he’s toured the world both solo and as a member of Arcade Fire, released the Friday Night live album, recorded and released Arcade Fire’s international #1 album Everything Now, earned his master’s degree in public policy from Harvard, hosted a series of touring town halls on local issues (police contracts, prison reform, municipal paid sick leave, voting rights), and spent time raising his three children. He also found the time and inspiration to write and record a new album, Generations. Generations was recorded and produced by Butler in the basement of his home in Brooklyn. Tracking finished in March 2020, as New York closed down for the pandemic. Half the record was mixed in Montreal by longtime Arcade Fire engineer Mark Lawson, the other half by Brooklyn-based producer Shiftee.”


Doves
The Universal Want

THE PRESS RELEASE:Doves recently revealed their first new music in 11 years with new track Carousels. Then the band broke their silence on new album rumours by announcing their long-awaited fifth studio album The Universal Want. Dropping breadcrumbs in rare interviews since they announced their return in late 2018, Jimi Goodwin, Andy and Jez Williams have remained reluctant custodians of their barely kept secret of a new album throughout last year’s busy period of memorable festival and outdoor headline shows. Coming together to confirm themselves, once again, as an artistic unit for the first time since sessions ended on 2009’s Kingdom Of Rust, the cherished Manchester trio hint that The Universal Want has become an equally poignant and celebratory document of both time passed and time recouped. “It’s definitely got the stamp of ‘the time’ all over it,” says Jez, when asked as to what lies ahead for fans who have waited patiently for over a decade for another record. “Everything on the album is an echo. It’s an echo of what we were going through at the time. Getting back together, the Royal Albert Hall and everything else.”


The Flaming Lips
American Head

THE PRESS RELEASE: “Multiple Grammy-winning American Legends The Flaming Lips are releasing their 21st studio album American Head. The album is comprised of 13 new cinematic tracks, produced by longtime collaborator Dave Fridmann and the Lips. American Head takes on a welcome temporal shift that occupies a similar space to that of The Soft Bulletin or Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots and just may be their most beautiful and consistent work to date. American Head finds The Flaming Lips basking in more reflective lyrical places as Wayne Coyne explains in a longer form story titled We’re An American Band. An excerpt: “The music and songs that make up the American Head album are based in a feeling. A feeling that, I think, can only be expressed through music and songs. We were, while creating it, trying to NOT hear it as sounds… but to feel it. Mother’s sacrifice, Father’s intensity, Brother’s insanity, Sister’s rebellion…I can’t quite put it into words. Something switches and others (your brothers and sisters and mother and father…your pets) start to become more important to you…in the beginning there is only you… and your desires are all that you can care about…but… something switches.. I think all of these songs are about this little switch.”


Marilyn Manson
We Are Chaos

THE PRESS RELEASE:Marilyn Manson announces the release of his 11th studio album We Are Chaos. Co-produced by Manson and Grammy winner Shooter Jennings (Brandi Carlile, Tanya Tucker), the 10-track opus was written, recorded, and finished before a pandemic blanketed us all.
Manson says of the album, “When I listen to We Are Chaos now, it seems like just yesterday or as if the world repeated itself, as it always does, making the title track and the stories seem as if we wrote them today. This was recorded to its completion without anyone hearing it until it was finished. There is most definitely a side A and side B in the traditional sense. But just like an LP, it is a flat circle and it’s up to the listener to put the last piece of the puzzle into the picture of songs. This concept album is the mirror Shooter and I built for the listener — it’s the one we won’t stare into. There are so many rooms, closets, safes and drawers. But in the soul or your museum of memories, the worst are always the mirrors. Shards and slivers of ghosts haunted my hands when I wrote most of these lyrics. Making this record, I had to think to myself: ‘Tame your crazy, stitch your suit. And try to pretend that you are not an animal’ but I knew that mankind is the worst of them all. Making mercy is like making murder. Tears are the human body’s largest export.”


Mastodon
Medium Rarities

THE PRESS RELEASE: “Still just shy of legal U.S. drinking age, Grammy-winning Atlanta hard rock juggernaut Mastodon turns 20 this year! Celebrating two decades together, the group will unleash a rarities collection, Medium Rarities, which presents a bevy of classic covers, soundtrack contributions, instrumentals, B-sides, and live recordings on one complete package for the very first time. Among an eclectic array of covers, the musicians tackle A Commotion by Feist, A Spoonful Weighs A Ton by The Flaming Lips, and Orion by Metallica. It also features soundtrack cuts such as White Walker (Game of Thrones) and Cut You Up With A Linoleum Knife (Aqua Teen Hunger Force). Meanwhile, they get under the hood with instrumental versions of Asleep in the Deep, Toe To Toes, Jaguar God and Halloween. The anniversary celebration only continues. At the moment, Mastodon are hard at work on their anxiously awaited ninth full-length and first record since the Grammy-winning Emperor of Sand in 2017.”


Waylon Payne
Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me

THE PRESS RELEASE: “Magic happens when everything comes together like it’s supposed to — when the joys and the pain, the triumphs and the missteps all click into place to be seen for what they truly are. Waylon Payne’s Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me is such a moment, the culmination of an extraordinary journey set to music. A son of country music royalty, a teenaged Baptist preacher turned addict and actor, Payne sings about fathers and sons, faith and addiction, recovery and renewal with devastating clarity. His character-rich collection harks back to a way of telling stories in song that revealed kept secrets and promised mystery. Over his years, Payne has felt the terrible power secrets can hold and learned the transformative value of releasing them. Finally, he’s in a place where he can harness that power to create transcendent work. Payne recorded Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me primarily at Southern Ground Nashville, a converted century-old church building just off Music Row that once housed Monument Studios. Payne’s mother, country singer Sammi Smith, cut her iconic version of Kris Kristofferson’s Help Me Make It Through the Night at Monument. When Payne recorded his vocals, he says, “I stood in the same spot she stood and sang while she was pregnant with me.” As a result, Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me sounds both timeless and out of time. It exists in music’s liminal spaces, the way the late ‘60s and early ‘70s albums of Kris Kristofferson and Bobbie Gentry did in their day. “Bobbie’s my songwriting hero, the reason I do what I do — her and Kris,” Payne says. “When my family threw me out, I picked the toughest motherfucker I could think of and modeled myself after him. I learned how to be a man watching Kristofferson.”


Swans
Where Does A Body End DVD/Blu-Ray

THE PRESS RELEASE:Where Does a Body End? is an intimate portrait of the band Swans, from their roots as a brutal, confrontational post-punk band that emerged from the same early 1980s era NYC that gave us Sonic Youth (and, somehow, Madonna) through their ill-fated bid at mainstream success in the ’90s indie-rock gold rush, through breakups and chaos (on and offstage) to their odds-defying current status as one of the most accomplished and ambitious bands in the world, one whose concerts are more like ecstatic rituals than nostalgic trips back through their most popular songs. Swans has always been a collection of singular performers, but there’s been one constant since its formation in 1982 — singer, songwriter Michael Gira. With unfettered access to hundreds of hours of Gira/Swans archives of never-seen-before recordings, videos, and photographs, the film brings us along the path they needed to carve for themselves. The film is many things, a musical history, a time-capsule, a tour diary, a concert film, but mostly it’s the story of a life in the arts, frequently difficult, spanning decades without a safety net, creating the work because, Gira says, ‘What else am I going to do?’ As bandmate Thor Harris notes, Michael is not a fearless person, but he is a fearless artist.”


Johnny Thunders
Que Sera Sera: Resurrected

THE PRESS RELEASE: “In 1985 Johnny Thunders went into the studio in London, to record his third and final solo album. He gathered friends Mike Monroe, Patti Palladin, John Perry, Wilko Johnson, Henri-Paul Tortosa, Nasty Suicide, JC Carroll, Stiv Bators, Glen Matlock and others, and the resulting album was christened Que Sera, Sera. It wasn’t all plain sailing — with Johnny it rarely was. Johnny had spent the previous two years in relative stability. He’d been gigging around the world, and between tours he was filming in France. Life was a series of nice apartments and hotels shared with his constant companions — his girlfriend Susanne and his manager Christopher. Now circumstances meant he had neither. Without a new release, touring slowed, and his high-maintenance lifestyle led him to seek friend’s favors for somewhere to live. The major labels that Christopher hoped would provide financial support hadn’t materialized. In a row with Susanne, she complained that Johnny had never written a song for her. Johnny obliged, and along with new songs from his live set, he recorded I Only Wrote This Song for You. Before the album was finished, as soon as he had a rough monitor mix of the song, he flew to Sweden to attempt a reconciliation. Those remaining at the studio were left to put the pieces together. Patti Palladin oversaw the mixing with the engineer, and found there wasn’t really enough for an album. Patti added Tie Me Up from the b-side of her Crawfish project, and Blame It On Mom was found from an earlier session. The title track was actually an afterthought; recorded as a single 16 months later. The album was well-received, and it got Johnny touring again, but there was always a sense that it could have been better, and that the guitar was restrained — in ’85 many artists were seeking mainstream crossover. Two tracks were left off — Jerry Nolan’s Countdown Love and Talk About You, a lengthy blues workout that didn’t seem to fit. With those two tracks in mind as bonus tracks for a reissue, Pat Collier, former Vibrators guitarist, was asked to mix them. When the results came through, it became obvious that Pat should remix the whole album using today’s technology and viewpoint. The original album is included, reinstating Tie Me Up and the old, familiar mixes. Three live gigs were uncovered, and they became the live version of the album as a bonus CD.”