New Releases for February 26th (2/26/21)

Wesley Schultz – Vignettes
Available on CD & LP!

The Lumineers are one of Colorado’s biggest musical success stories, having relocated here from New York City about a decade ago before finding platinum-selling success from the Mile High City. But Wesley Schultz, singer and guitarist for the Grammy-nominated folk act, has never released a solo full-length — following the lead of other Colorado-based groups that keep the focus on the band instead of its frontman (see OneRepublic, Big Head Todd and the Monsters, The Fray, etc.).

That changed with the surprise announcement of Vignettes, Schlutz’s debut platter of cover tunes. The album features Schultz’s take on songs by Bruce Springsteen, Tom Waits, Sheryl Crow, Jim Croce, Derek and the Dominos (an Eric Clapton project), and Warren Zevon, among others.

Delicate and unadorned, the percussion-light album places the emphasis squarely on Schultz’s voice and subtle strumming. But the guests are impressive, including backing singer Cindy Mizelle (Bruce Springsteen, Dave Matthews Band); The Felice Brothers’ James Felice on accordion and harmony; U.K.-based vocal duo The Webb Sisters (Tom Petty, Leonard Cohen); and singer-songwriter Diana DeMuth (on a duet of Dylan’s “Boots of Spanish Leather”).

Read the full write-up and and interview with Wesley Schultz at The Know

Julien Baker – Little Oblivians
Available on CD & LP!

Just under two minutes into Julien Baker‘s third album ‘Little Oblivions’, the singer’s horizons burst wide open like a wound. “I can see where this is going, but I can’t find the brakes,” she sings on ‘Hardline’, predicting future pain and trauma while unable to divert herself away from the inevitable, before an avalanche of post-rock guitars and thumping drums burst through. It’s the first time drums have been heard on one of the singer’s records, and opens the door for ‘Little Oblivions’, an album of stunning emotional clarity that sees Baker’s words sent skyward with help from the beefy instrumentation of a full band.

The Tennessee musician’s first two albums – 2015 debut ‘Sprained Ankle’ and 2017’s lauded follow-up ‘Turn Out The Lights’ – used space as their greatest weapon. Her affecting voice circled around a solo piano or guitar, letting each devastating lyric hang in the air and worm its way into your brain. Live, she played solo, looping reverb-drenched guitar lines until the repeated musical motifs became transcendent.

The explosion heard on ‘Hardline’ to open album three comes as a shock, then. There was always a chance that Baker’s bruised musings – she sung of depression, faith, sexuality and beyond with striking openness – would be diluted when trying to roar over an avalanche of instrumentation. Yet while the songs here are fleshed out and add plenty more musical textures, they feel like they’re working in service of her tender songwriting, rather than fighting against it.

Read the full review at NME

Bob Dylan – 1970
Available on CD!

Rare collaborations between Bob Dylan and George Harrison will be included on a deluxe reissue entitled Bob Dylan – 1970 that is due on February 26. The collection will also include previously unreleased outtakes from the sessions that produced Dylan’s Self Portrait and New Morning albums, which arrived within months of each other in 1970.

The Harrison tracks, which were released in a tiny quantity last week in order for Dylan to retain their copyright, comprise a complete May 1, 1970 studio session that captures the pair performing together on nine tracks, including Dylan originals (“One Too Many Mornings,” “Gates of Eden,” “Mama, You Been On My Mind”), covers (the Everly Brothers’ “All I Have to Do Is Dream,” Carl Perkins’ “Matchbox”) and more. The two collaborated often around that time; “I’d Have You Anytime,” the opening track on Harrison’s masterful 1970 solo debut, is a Dylan-Harrison composition, although Dylan does not play on the released version.

The sessions date from an era where Dylan had become fed up with the trappings of fame and particularly his loss of privacy, and consequently deliberately released an album that he said he knew his fans would hate, which ended up being a sloppy collection entitled Self Portrait. got the reception he’d expected, and just four months later, he followed with the powerhouse New Morning.

Read the full write-up at Variety

Alice Cooper – Detroit Stories
Available on CD and LP!

Nothing says ‘classic’ like this album does. Described as a “modern-day homage to the toughest and craziest rock and roll scene there ever was”, Detroit Stories takes us back to Alice Cooper’s origins – that is to say, the origins of both the band, who found success with "I’m Eighteen" whilst they were in Detroit, and the origins of the frontman himself, who was born in the city.

The album opens with a cover of The Velvet Underground’s "Rock and Roll," released as a single in November 2020. Cooper’s trademark rasp certainly gives the original song a run for its money with a classic 70s vibe and an old-school guitar solo to boot. Elsewhere in the album, Cooper takes on a more serious tone with Don’t Give Up and, whilst it was also released last year, it’s worth a mention now, too. It’s certainly one of the more musically intense songs on the album, and Cooper sums up what the entire planet has been feeling for the last twelve months when he declares that “we’re all hanging on by a thread.”

On the whole, this album does not disappoint. It’s varied, it’s exciting, and it’s just what we need at the moment.

Get the full scoop over at Vinyl Chapters

Willie Nelson – That's Life
Available on CD and LP!

It ought to be clear now, if it hadn’t become obvious already, that Willie Nelson’s a musical chameleon, unbounded by any initial identification with country. Even at the age of 87, his musical ambition appears as resilient as ever, evidence of an unflappable desire to transcend any and all musical boundaries, be it Outlaw Americana, folk, rock, roots, reggae or any other style that falls in-between. That said, his love for the great American songbook found him laying a path that others would eventually follow.

In 2018, Willie focused his homage on Frank Sinatra with the album My Way. The title was certainly as apt for Willie as it was for Sinatra, given an independent streak from which he’s never wavered. Likewise, Nelson’s new homage, That’s Life, bears a title that also sums his sentiments up equally succinctly. With a cover that evokes the images of the classic Sinatra albums from his Capitol Records catalogue, throughout the bulk of the 1950s, it revisits any number of songs associated with Old Blue Eyes’ fabled legacy.

That’s especially evident with Willie’s read of “You Make Me Feel So Young,” the appropriately placed closing track and one of the album’s crown jewels. Given his senior status, he finds a certain sanctity in the song, enabling him to convey it with both credibility and conviction. That’s life indeed, and Willie Nelson gives us all a great lesson for the learning.

Read the full review over at American Songwriter

Melvins – Working With God
Available on CD & LP!

Alt-rock veterans The Melvins has returned to its roots with its twenty-ninth full-length album. Working with God reunites what the band calls Melvins 1983, the almost-founding lineup – original guitarist Buzz Osbourne, original drummer Mike Dillard, and bassist Dale Crover, who joined the band when Dillard left in 1984.

While the band has gone through a lot of lineup shifts and musical experimentation over the years, Working with God sounds like vintage Melvins. It has the murky tone, the down-tuned heavy riffing, the Dadaist lyrics, the atypical time signatures. It pushes musical boundaries with its uncomfortable alchemy of contrasting styles, shoving psychedelic licks through punk power chords, playing heavy music at decidedly not-heavy tempos, and even defiling the Beach Boys. The ridiculously profane interpretation of “I Get Around” that opens the album is an early indication that the trio still doesn’t take itself too seriously.

Working with God sounds foreign in 2021, with its lack of polish, chaotic energy, and embracement of imperfection. “Negative No No” is a mid-tempo head-banger built around a thumping palm-muted riff and bludgeoning bassline. Osbourne’s voice ranges from low drone to bellow, sometimes unintelligible, buried under a wall of distortion, feedback, and pounding drums.

Read the full review over at Glide Magazine