There is still music being released so let’s enjoy it!! Thank goodness for technology, amiright friends?
Willie Nelson – First Rose of Spring
Release date: 7/3
Who doesn’t have love for Willie? He’s just such a sweet persona and still has so much to say on every level of life.
So this is his SEVENTIETH – SEVEN-ZERO – 70th – studio album! And looking over the credits, looks like he recorded a few of these in the building directly behind my apartment at The Tracking Room… *faint*.
Willie still works with the people we consider greats in modern country now – other writers on this album include the likes of Chris Stapleton, Toby Keith, and Randy Houser (which co-wrote our first taste and title track, “First Rose of Spring”). Willie remains honest and humble to the listener. His voice is steady and he knows the right limits to push it.
(Side note – if you’ve never seen Willie at his start, please go scroll through his discography on his Spotify page – the man is unrecognizable from the red-headed strangers we know and love with braids.)
“Our Song” is the Chris Stapleton track on the album and it’s made for slow dancing on a hot country night in the kitchen while the fireflies buzz outside the screen door. And yes, the song inspires that image, not just my wishful thinking.
In a more upbeat way that just makes me laugh, we get “I’m the Only Hell My Mama Ever Raised.” Oh such a good line dancing number for sure. But we only get a taste of that fast movement (they guy is up there, mind you) and soon “We Are the Cowboys” comes on and Billy Joe Shaver provided this absolutely classing riding song in a collection of the old school country music so many have been longing for.
Other 7/3 releases:
Trapt – Shadow Work
Buckwild – Fully Loaded
Gucci Mane – So Icy Summer
Rufus Wainwright – Unfollow the Rules
Release date: 7/10
Nine albums in but this being the man’s first album since 2012, Rufus Wainwright has garnered considerable anticipation for this new one. It will also be his first album with his new label of BMG.
He has taken a waterfall approach with releasing singles digitally since October. This started with “Trouble in Paradise” and seemed to be off putting to a lot of people with a harder to digest video. There’s a comment on the fashion industry meant here, and it was commented that it could be a commentary on the whole world even. There’s a humor, but a truth and darkness embedded there too.
“Damsel in Distress” was written in honor of Joni Mitchell after a “journey into her music” with John Weisbrodt, and it’s like the moment you discover someone you should have known about your entire life. It personifies something I find most beautiful in music – there’s always more to learn, grow from, and develop with.
I think I love “Peaceful Afternoon” from the opening few chords. It is uniquely Wainwright’s voice, but the instrumentals are delightfully Beatles-esq with a warmth that sweeps you away. I can’t even place the right mood to be in for this one but it’s a good one.
The song that will close out the whole album was released next, “Alone Time.” It’s reminiscent of the old Beach Boys sound in the harmonies, but the style of the song is entirely the eerie nature of Wainwright.
“You Ain’t Big” is so Randy Newman inspired it’s crazy. Okay, let me clarify – did you see the clip in Family Guys where he sings about Lois picking apples and walking away and whatnot? It’s the whole end of the world arc. Right, so now listen to this song and try not to sing that diddy along to the rhythm. Hey, it’s adorable and fun! Didn’t think I’d be using that phrase for this guy, but it’s 2020 – anything can happen.
Other 7/10 releases:
PVRIS – Use Me
Margo Price – That’s How Rumors Get Started
The Chicks – Gaslighter
Release date: 7/17
You may have heard or not (I live in Nashville so it was in our normal newspapers), The Dixie Chicks recently dropped “Dixie” from their name in response to the negative connotations to the historical term of “dixie” in light of the Black Lives Matter movement. Talk about using your platform to make a statement, ladies.
This album altogether is a statement. It is the first album the group as put out in 14 years, after taking time for their lives and own interests for so long. This is a legendary female country group, and it is truly a delight to know that such influential women are back on the scene.
The title track kicked things off, and “Gaslighter” brings back these wonderful voices with such strength. The harmonies are still there, and the production is modern. They have the classic country in the background, but are clearly showing the influence of music and life over the past few years.
“Julianna Calm Down” slows things down but keeps this intensity that will infuse a listener with power to get going and keep life up. Oh, and they curse. Yeah, we almost forget – these are not your everyday country girls.
Lastly we’ve gotten “March March” which absolutely has to be in light of the women’s movement in the past few years. They ladies have put themselves at the center of political controversy and they finally are back to say that’s not a bad thing – use your damn voice!
Other 7/17 releases:
BTS – Map of the Soul
Ellie Goulding – Brightest Blue
The Naked and Famous – Recover
Release date: 7/24
Oh I forgot how much I like this band. But the opening bits of “Sunseeker” are a quick reminder – pop fun with a depth for your ears. Something about New Zealand, at least in my mind.
There is not a ton published on this album and I think I like it that way. This music becomes a self-discovery, something you can hold close without sharing (though you still want the world to know). “Come As You Are” is just as welcoming to the listener as you want it to be.
“Bury Us” seems to be the main single, garnering the most ‘press’ or sorts. It’s got an entirely electronic sound around the production of the voices, almost to a point you’d thing it could all be computerized, but that bridge picks up and you feel human along with it.
I realize I’m getting wistful and a little poetic around this album, but I don’t know – sometimes you come across songs that just make you that way. “Death” has a weird way of bringing me back down (fittingly), returning the sound to earth and preparing us to know what the sound will be like when it all comes together in a few weeks.
Other 7/24 releases:
Neck Deep – All Distortions Are Intentional
MisterWives – SUPERBLOOM
Lori McKenna – The Balladeer
The Acacia Strain – Slow Decay
Valkyrie – Fear
The Psychedelic Furs – Made of Rain
Release date: 7/31
So funny story – I didn’t know how to spell “psychedelic” growing up, but when I made my first screenname on AOL I had this weird looking little tree paperweight and that word sprang to mind – and I spelled it “sycadelic” – and that has stuck with me.
All that’s to say, forgive me if I don’t type the band’s name too often because at this point I feel like spell check is mocking me.
Okay, so, new music! Once again, we are faced with a band that hasn’t released music in quite sometime – this time it’s been 19 years! Don’t know what about this year spurned everyone to release new music – keep in mind this was all set up prior to the pandemic and madness since that began. Guess 2020 is just handing out strange things all around, and new music must be the good to balance the bad.
“Don’t Believe” was the first song released (on my birthday!) and it’s just classic of this band’s sound. So if you were looking to relive nostalgia, trust me, you’re going to be happy.
Now that said, let’s keep in mind technological advances from the past 20 years and how this sound is so much cleaner than you ever would have expected. “You’ll Be Mine” is deep and even the gritty vocals are crisper than you’d expect.
“No-One” outright starts the experimentation… with sound, people. Come on now. They add in these effects that are not instrumentally-made, and it brings this band’s sound to a whole different level than I think we had ever previously seen it at.
Last up (so far) is “Come All Ye Faithful,” and no, this isn’t a Christmas song. Instead it’s… eerie. This is the darkness, the scary nature, that we don’t always love being pulled down. But given the right conditions, I could see it, just maybe.
Other 7/31 releases:
Beyonce – Black Is King