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Next Week in Music | May 31-June 6 • The Short List: 7 Titles You Want to Hear

Billy & Liz & Joe & Alice & James and the rest of the names on your next playlist.

Sometimes it’s about quantity. Sometimes it’s about quality. Next week it’s about comebacks — you’ve got long-overdue new albums from Liz Phair and Crowded House, ZZ Top singer-guitarist Billy Gibbons’ latest solo joint, the return of Rise Against, Wolf Alice and James, and a unique solo offering from erstwhile Icarus Line frontman Joe Cardamone. Here’s the rundown in alphabetical order:


Joe Cardamone

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Joe Cardamone (formerly of The Icarus Line) returns with his second solo offering: the soundtrack to his film series Quarentina. The project was born out of a necessity for destruction and expression. Life gets real hectic real fast and when you are getting dragged down into the sea, you better learn to swim. A global pandemic. A city in lockdown. The end of a relationship. A life chopped up into parts. Out of this chaos emerged these uncut gems: 19 songs about love and pain. Recorded in a flurry of home studio sessions with tracks dubbed in one or two takes — just grab the moment, not sing, and keep flying — Quarentina was completed in a matter of weeks. An exercise in immediacy and minimalism, the album is sparing with its instrumentation but not in its intimacy. Quarentina is the most stripped-down and vulnerable Joe as ever sounded on a record.”

Crowded House
Dreamers Are Waiting

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Dreamers Are Waiting is  legendary New Zealand group Crowded House’s first new album in over a decade. The band’s lineup includes founding members Neil Finn and Nick Seymour, in addition to producer and keyboardist Mitchell Froom, singer and guitarist Liam Finn, and drummer Elroy Finn, Liam’s brother. “I’ve always been afraid of just repeating the same formulas, and somehow this feels like a fresh and authentic way to re-approach Crowded House today with an awareness of all our history and where, how and why it began in the first place,” said Finn. “The original band mentality and philosophy is still in there, especially with Mitchell now part of it again, working in a different way along with Nick and I.”

Billy Gibbons

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Billy F. Gibbons’ third solo album Hardware was produced by Gibbons with Matt Sorum and Mike Fiorentino with additional production by engineer Chad Shlosser. Guns N’ Roses, Velvet Revolver and The Cult drummer Sorum also plays on the album as part of a core band featuring guitarist Austin Hanks. It’s the same musical backbone that starred on Gibbons’ second solo release The Big Bad Blues, which came out in 2018 and won the Blues Foundation’s Blues Music Award. While most of the The Big Bad Blues and its 2015 predecessor Perfectamundo were formed of covers, almost all of the Hardware repertoire is comprised of original, rock-oriented material. Eleven of its 12 songs were written by Gibbons, Sorum, Fiorentino and Shlosser. The one exception is Hey Baby, Que Paso, first recorded by the Texas Tornados for their 1990 album Los Texas Tornados.

All The Colours Of You

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “U.K. alternative band James’ new album All The Colours Of You was recorded in part before the Covid pandemic struck, and was produced by the Grammy award-winning Jacknife Lee (Taylor Swift, U2, R.E.M., Snow Patrol, The Killers). The songs on the new album were directly influenced by what bandleader and frontman Tim Booth experienced during a nearly apocalyptic time, with the pandemic raging while wildfires burned so close to Booth’s home that he had to evacuate three times over the course of a few months. The lyrics reflect the intense emotions Booth went through living as an expat in Los Angeles as the U.S. was buffeted by ever-increasing political chaos in the last year of Trump’s presidency. Matching the energy of the lyrics, producer Jacknife Lee brought a fresh approach to James’ sound, working remotely from his studio with Booth (Lee’s Topanga Canyon neighbor) and liaising in a daisy chain with fellow band member Jim Glennie, reimagining their demos, and capturing the band in all their virtual glory. The result is a record with the most arena-ready tracks of their 38-year career, the sound of one of Britain’s best bands, deconstructed and reassembled by one of the world’s most renowned producers.”

Liz Phair

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Soberish is Liz Phair’s first collection of original material in 11 years. It was produced by longtime collaborator Brad Wood, who helmed her albums Exile In Guyville, Whip-Smart, and whitechocolatespaceegg. Soberish is a portrait of Phair in the present tense, taking all of the facets of her melodic output over the years and synthesizing them into a beautiful, perfect whole. She’s at the top of her game in the recording studio, drawing upon years of experience in television composition to weave through the songs daring and unexpected sound design. With Wood’s exquisite engineering and masterful production, the result is a wholly fresh yet satisfyingly familiar sound that challenges on the first listen and seduces with each subsequent play through. Phair says, “I found my inspiration for Soberish by delving into an early era of my music development, my art school years spent listening to art-rock and new wave music non-stop on my Walkman. The English Beat, The Specials, Madness, R.E.M’s Automatic for the People, Yazoo, Psychedelic Furs, Talking Heads, Velvet Underground, Laurie Anderson, and The Cars. The city came alive for me as a young person, the bands in my headphones lending me the courage to explore.”

Rise Against
Nowhere Generation

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Punk rock band Rise Against are back with the provocative and dynamic Nowhere Generation, the group’s first new studio effort in four years. On the upcoming release, the outspoken band points a finger at big business and politics for stacking the social and economical deck against Millennials’, Gen Y’s, and Gen Z’s pursuit of The American Dream. Musically, the album is blazing, aggressive punk rock; lyrically, the eleven songs were inspired in part by input from band members’ young children and Rise Against’s community of fans. Says frontan Tim McIlrath, “Today there is the promise of the American Dream, and then there is the reality of the American Dream. America’s ‘historical norm’ that the next generation will be better off than the one that came before has been diminished by an era of mass social, economic, and political instability and a sell-out of the Middle Class. The brass ring that was promised by hard work and dedication no longer exists for everyone. When the privileged climb the ladder of success and then burn it from the top, disruption becomes the only answer.”

Wolf Alice
Blue Weekend

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “It is now more than a decade since Wolf Alice began; first as a duo made up of Ellie Rowsell and guitarist Joff Oddie, then later expanding to a four-piece, with drummer Joel Amey and bassist Theo Ellis. Their music was magnetic: masters of the fiery chorus, the grunge riff, the whisper and the rebel-yell. Meanwhile Rowsell’s lyrics told of youth and young womanhood, of nights out, best friends, bus rides home; of desire, and rage, freedom, and joy. Musically, Blue Weekend finds a new simplicity to its songs. “If you were to strip these songs back, we were going more on feeling than on musical merit,” Rowsell says. “It felt like ‘If we don’t capture that feeling of soul then we’ve not got it’ I think we felt that when you’re really focusing on feeling, or subject matter, or lyrics, you don’t want to get distracted by something too clever.”