Wilco introduce their cousin, ’68 make it up as they go along, Johnny Dowd ponders the afterlife, Blonde Redhead gather ’round the table, Green Day drop a giant Dookie, Jeffrey Lee Pierce overwhelms you and more. Welcome to your plays of the week:
Isn’t It Now?
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “After nearly a quarter-century as one of its generation’s most daring and defining bands, Animal Collective remain committed to the beginner’s mind. The bands structure has long been that of a playground, an open space for exercising and indulging new notions and influences, for saying “Why not?” from way up on the high beams. Maybe that means allowing Panda Bear to focus on his drumming more or encouraging Deakin to dig more deeply into his piano playing. Or perhaps it is giving Avey Tare and Geologist’s burgeoning interest in Renaissance music — plainchant, the hurdy-gurdy, gilded polyphony — space to bloom. Those impulses are at the very core of Isn’t It Now?, the second Animal Collective album in as many years and a striking landmark on their joyously circuitous journey. Co-produced, mixed and recorded with the Grammy-winning producer Russell Elevado (D’Angelo, The Roots, Kamasi Washington), Isn’t It Now? absolutely lands as a classic, its mix of playfulness and earnestness, glittery pop and tessellated textures seeming to synthesize and update all that has ever made and still makes this band so compelling. It is experienced and wise, energized and young, the work of four people committed to finding the frontier of a beginner’s mind, together.”
Sit Down For Dinner
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “In spring 2020, Kazu Makino encountered a passage from Joan Didion’s 2005 memoir of grief, The Year of Magical Thinking, which reflects on the authorʼs devastating experience of witnessing her husbandʼs sudden death at the dinner table. Makino was thinking of her own parents far away in Japan; the then-lost ritual of congregating for dinner with family; and the heavy, omnipresent feeling that life could change in the instant for any of us. There was one line in particular that would eventually lend itself to the albumʼs title: “Life changes fast. Life changes in the instant. You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends.” Sit Down For Dinner is immaculately structured, imbued with sensitivity, clarity, and resolve. Throughout the album, the understated yet visceral melodies create a foil to lyrics about the inescapable struggles of adulthood. Itʼs a meticulous and immersive testament to the unique internal logic Blonde Redhead have refined over their three-decade existence, one characterized by the sense of persistent togetherness.”
I Don’t Want You Anymore
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “It’s been four years since Cherry Glazerr released their resplendent third album Stuffed and Ready, but Clementine Creevy has been in no rush. “I’ve spent these years taking a hard look at myself, at my relationships, and writing about it,” she says. “I guess I’m coming to terms with a lot of my bullshit.” Cherry Glazerr have been on the road more often than not since Creevy was still in high school, and when the pandemic hit, she immersed herself in a static existence she’d been deprived of. “When you’re always leaving, you don’t have a great sense of where your relationships stand, romantic or otherwise. You’re not thinking about the work that goes into maintaining them,” she says. Creevy describes Cherry Glazerr’s ambitious new album I Don’t Want You Anymore, as some of her most personal, raw music to date, a collection of songs that elaborate on this period of self-reckoning. It’s the first she’s produced since Cherry Glazerr’s garage-rock debut Haxel Princess, released nearly a decade ago when Creevy was a teenager.”
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Dictator Ship are back! In 2020, the band launched their excellent debut album Your Favorites, which received praise from fans and media alike. Now the Swedish four piece is back, ready to launch their second studio album Electric Jihad. Blending energetic and raw rock ’n’ roll with exquisite multi-layered vocal harmonies and melodies inspired by ’60s soul and doo-wop, the band has carved out their very own niche in the rock landscape, perfectly displayed throughout the whole album. In many ways, the album is the natural progression of their debut. The band explain: “This is a step up from our first album in every single way. We knew from the start that we wanted more harmonies in the vocals and more structure in the guitars than we had on Your Favorites and we are very satisfied with the end result. It’s also a reflection of how we as a group feel about the society we live in. The true frustration that a capitalist pig power structure plants in you may not bring out the best solutions to the problem, but it’s true and honest and should be taken seriously either way.”
Is Heaven Real? How Would I Know?
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “I never wanted to be a songwriter,” recalls singer-guitarist Johnny Dowd. It’s a strange confession from one of America’s most evocative wordsmiths. But when it became a matter of sink or swim, back around 1988, he dove in the deep end. “I was in a Memphis/Texas swamp blues band,” he says, “but then the singer quit — and he was the only one who was enough of a musician to learn a song off a record and show it to us. I couldn’t figure out how to do that! So I said, ‘Fuck it’ and started writing songs — just so we could play.” Now, as he releases his 25th studio album, Is Heaven Real? How Would I Know?, two things from that time still resonate today: his uncanny way with a haunting song, and the city of Memphis. The group he led through his first originals became Neon Baptist, but by the mid- ’90s Dowd went solo and self-released his debut, Wrong Side of Memphis. As songs like Murder, Ft. Worth, Texas and John Deere Yeller made clear from the start, the rock he built his songs on was a forlorn outcropping of life in deepest, darkest, weirdest America. And they struck a nerve. Somehow, Memphis embodied that — and he knew he had to go back.”
Wake Of The Flood 50th Anniversary Edition
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “In 1973, following the recent passing of founding member Ron “Pigpen” McKernan and the temporary exit of drummer Mickey Hart, Grateful Dead released Wake Of The Flood. As the debut album from their own record label, the studio LP marked a period of transition, growth, endurance and optimism for the band, introducing a fresh lineup that included new members Keith and Donna Godchaux on keys and vocals. While songs like Eyes Of The World, Stella Blue and Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo were largely road-tested for more than half a year beforehand and have remained staples of live sets by any number of Dead-related bands ever since, the album and record label delivered both a profound artistic statement and proof of concept for the community, ideals and future the band were building. Together they ushered in a new era of Grateful Dead — one defined by hope, independence, ambition and accessibility — and in celebration of its 50th anniversary, Wake Of The Flood has been newly remastered and expanded with unearthed and unheard material.”
Dookie 30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Green Day’s third studio album Dookie was released in February 1994, and has since sold over 15 million copies worldwide, including 10 million in the U.S. The album is an iconic punk-rock-pop masterpiece and one of the most influential and defining albums of the 1990’s. It spawned five hit singles that are still hugely popular songs: Longview, Basket Case, Welcome to Paradise, When I Come Around and She. In addition to the original album, the super deluxe box sets will include a wealth of rare and unreleased material. The legendary Woodstock ’94 performance is included — previously released as a very limited Record Store Day vinyl release. The four CDs also feature 17 unreleased demos, six studio outtakes (three unreleased), and a 17-track unreleased club show from Barcelona in 1994.”
Southeastern 10th Anniversary Edition
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Jason Isbell’s songs are filled with ghosts. They’re haunted by spirits both welcome and unwelcome, by the personal and historical legacies that make us who we are. Nowhere Is this more evident than on his 2013 breakthrough album Southeastern. Isbell offers confessions. reflections. and promises that contront and make communion with those who have come before and remain with us still. Its 12 tracks represent an extended meditation on the concept articulated by another celebrated southern storyteller, author William Faulkner: “The past is never dead. It isn’t even past.”
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “The raucous duo Josh Scogin demurely undersells as “rock ’n’ roll with a kick in the pants” is named ’68, after the Camaro the Atlanta, Georgia native grew up working on with his dad. Already a young hardcore scene vet with a handful of influential albums under his belt by his twenties, Scogin introduced ’68 to the world in 2013, barreling forth into the unknown with noisy, bluesy abandon. ’68 is a ride for everyone on both sides of the speakers as the hurricane swirls around the frenzied duo. The obstacle is the goal. Inventive, disruptive, frantic, even at their quietest, ’68 is urgent. The provocative, impulsive, controlled chaos unleashed by ’68 is a musical conversation between artist and audience. Armed with his guitar, copious pedals, and percussive partner-in-crime Nikko Yamada, the former frontman for The Chariot conjures a spirited sound of ambitious raw nerve. The kinetic conversation continues with the appropriately titled Yes, And…, a densely packed and diverse indie rock romp in which Scogin and Yamada crib cues from improvisational ideology. ’68 fills album No. 4 with howling exposition, tangential dirges, and unbridled honesty.”
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Spearheaded by legendary underground guitarist Graham Clise (Witch, Annihilation Time, Lecherous Gaze, Rot TV), Stepmother deliver Planet Brutalicon, the Oz–based outliers’ debut album. Channelling raw rock ’n’ roll energy into anthems that resonate with the poor, depraved and miscreant sickos of society, the trio concoct an aural speedball of motor city proto-punk cut with power lines of fedback-fuzz and electric psychedelia. Influenced by the likes of Blue Cheer, The Pink Fairies, Nervous Eaters and The Damned, the band weave together a spellbinding tapestry of hardened punk rage and nefarious nihilism. Recorded at Rat Shack by Robert Muinos (Saskwatch) and mastered by John Davis (The Damned) at Metropolis Mastering, there’s no doubt that Stepmother are set to carve a mark in the annals of rock history with Planet Brutalicon. The question is: Will you be joining them for the ride?
The Jeffrey Lee Pierce Sessions Project: The Task Has Overwhelmed Us
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Nearly 10 years in the making, The Task Has Overwhelmed Us is the long-awaited fourth volume in The Jeffrey Lee Pierce Sessions Project series. Conceived in 2006 by the late Gun Club titan’s guitarist Cypress Grove, the Project has always aimed to highlight Pierce as one of America’s most fascinatingly influential singer-songwriters of the last century while propelling his outpourings into modern times by placing it in the hands of former collaborators, friends and fans. Following 2009’s We Are Only Riders, 2012’s The Journey Is Long and 2014’s Axels and Sockets, The Task Has Overwhelmed Us presents stellar interpretations of tracks from Pierce’s Gun Club and solo canons along with fresh works constructed from rehearsal skeletons, previously unheard lyrics, songs only performed live. Taking song ideas without lyrics and words looking for musical settings gave rise to what Cypress Grove calls “Frankenstein songs.” The stellar roll-call of contributors features the recurring core of Nick Cave, Debbie Harry, Mark Lanegan, Lydia Lunch, Youth, Jim Jones, Warren Ellis, Mark Stewart, Hugo Race, Cypress plus Mick Harvey and J.P. Shilo and even Jeffrey himself from original tapes. These are joined by new bloods including Dave Gahan, Suzie Stapleton, Duke Garwood, Pam Hogg, The Coathangers, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s Peter Hayes and Leah Shapiro, Humanist, The Walkabouts’ Chris Eckman, Jozef van Wissem, Jim Jarmusch, Chantal Acda and Welsh space-rockers Sendelica with vocalists Wonder and Dynamax Roberts.”
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “I’m cousin to the world,” Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy confesses. “I don’t feel like I’m a blood relation, but maybe I’m a cousin by marriage.” Produced by the singular Welsh artist Cate Le Bon, Cousin marks the first time since Sky Blue Sky that Wilco have handed the reins over to a producer outside their immediate circle of collaborators. Le Bon’s influences — among them the inclusion of saxophone, cheap Japanese guitars, and a cinematic, new wave-style drum machine — drive the album into the future. The result is Wilco’s most pointed and evocative album, one related but not tied to our present moment, truly new ground for a band that has tested musical boundaries throughout its lengthy career. Longtime admirers of each other’s work, Wilco and Le Bon first met at the band’s Solid Sound Festival in 2019, where they formed an immediate connection, inspiring Tweedy to invite Le Bon to the band’s famed Chicago studio, The Loft, in 2022 to work on Cousin. Le Bon pushed the band to take risks, repurposing Wilco’s established strengths and challenging them to oppose habits — all the while maintaining what has, for the last 30 years, defined Wilco as a band, their fearlessness, made possible by musical virtuosity and the secret language only a family shares. “The amazing thing about Wilco is they can be anything,” Le Bon says. “They’re so mercurial, and there’s this thread of authenticity that flows through everything they do, whatever the genre, whatever the feel of the record. There aren’t many bands who are able to, this deep into a successful career, successfully change things up.”