Rockin Rudys Staff Picks
Rockin Rudys staff favorites of 2018!
Wide Awake! is New York’s Parquet Courts’ fifth record since their formation eight years ago. It’s also their most groundbreaking. It’s an album about independence and individuality but also about collectivity and communitarianism. Love is at its center. There’s also a freshness here, a breaking of new territory that’s testament to the group’s restless spirit. In part, this may be attributed to the fact that it’s produced by Brian Burton, better known as Danger Mouse, but it’s also simply a triumph of their songwriter’s art. The songs, written by Austin Brown and Andrew Savage, are filled with their traditional punk rock passion, as well as a lyrical tenderness, but are elevated to even greater heights by the dynamic rhythmic propulsion of Max Savage (drums) and Sean Yeaton (bass). Ultimately then the message contained in Wide Awake! is complex. “In such a hateful era of culture, we stand in opposition to that — and to the nihilism used to cope with that — with ideas of passion and love,” Brown says. For Savage, it comes back to the deceptively complex goal of making people want to dance, powering the body for resistance through a combination of groove, joy, and indignation, “expressing anger constructively but without trying to accommodate anyone.” “The most exhilarating exercise from New York’s reigning indie-rockers laureate since their legend-making “Stoned and Starving” – as if you didn’t already have reason enough to be on high alert for Wide Awake!” – Stereogum “An urgent, fantastic return that sees the band at the very top of their game, and more together than ever” – DIY Mag
The Decemberists explore a new sound on their inspired 8th studio album I’ll Be Your Girl, out 3/17 on Capitol Records. The acclaimed Portland, Oregon-based band (with nearly 2M adj. albums sales) worked with producer John Congleton (St. Vincent, Lana del Ray) & embraced influences such as Roxy Music and New Order to spark a new creative path, as evidenced on synth-driven lead single “Severed.” The band kicks off their 2018 Your Girl / Your Ghost World Tour on 3/22.
Ever since his debut album Dolls of Highland was released on Sub Pop in 2016, Kyle Craft has been a critic's dream. Based in Portland, he serves up all the observational, storytelling talent with none of the attitude that so often comes with male singer-songwriter territory. “I've found my place,” he says. “I'm not one of those people that approaches music for anyone other than myself. My favorite part about music is when it's just me and a notebook.” Speaking of, his second forthcoming album Full Circle Nightmare is entirely autobiographical. Sonically, thematically, lyrically, it's a huge leap forward from his 2016 release. The title Full Circle Nightmare refers to a moment where Craft saw his life for what it is and told himself to be satisfied. “But that's nightmarish to me,” he laughs. He described his debut record as: “like walking down this long hall of bizarre characters and surreal experiences, moving through the spider web of love and loss.” This album is when you get to the end of that hallway, turn around and see all the stuff you've been through, then walk through the door, close it and start a new chapter in an even crazier hallway. A straight-up rollicking rock'n'roll album, it traverses all the different nuances of the genre; from the bluegrass twang of 'Exile Rag,’ to the gothic style of 'Gold Calf Moan,' it's a timeless piece that could exist in any of the past five decades. In terms of contemporary peers, Craft likes to stay in his own lane. He's an old soul who sticks to his tried and tested influences. Social media is not his game - it's just not interesting to him. He's not fussed about preaching his politics or discussing the status quo either. “I don't really like writing a time piece. I don't wanna get trapped in the 'Donald Trump era of Kyle Craft,' you know? I'm a very off-the-grid sort of person. As much as I am traveling across this giant place sometimes I just feel so outside of it. Also, I'm not necessarily a stand-up citizen so it's hard for me to say: here's Kyle Craft's America, ladies and gentlemen.” The ironic thing is that Full Circle Nightmare sounds exactly like Kyle Craft's America. That is what he's built for us: the story of one man's trials and tribulations to find his passion and voice for art and creativity in this vast opportunistic country. Where did he find it? Among the historic riches of America's most honest sounds.
Six-time Grammy-nominee Florence + the Machine to release hugely-anticipated new album ‘High As Hope’ June 29th via Virgin EMI / Republic Records. ‘High As Hope’ is the sound of an artist who appears more certain than ever of herself. Florence writes about her teens and twenties with a renewed, more mature perspective: of growing up in South London, of family, relationships and art itself. The first official single ‘Hunger,’ is out now.
Take a tour through Ty Segall's musical psyche with his new solo album, Fudge Sandwich, a collection of Segall's take on eleven songs that were originally done by other people. These aren't just cover versions. Cover versions happen at weddings and high school band battles. The songs here are what happens when someone loves a song so much, they need to get inside it and let it propagate and transform into what it would have been if they had actually written it. Equal parts reverence and reimagination, this album shows Segall inhabiting the world of a song's intent, filtering it through the muse that drove this year's exceptional Freedom's Goblin. Cluttered, passionate and inspired, the songs are barely recognizable, irresistible and by album's end, present a cohesive collection that stands proudly alongside the best of Segall's considerable output.
4-panel digipak with matte coating
Formed in Brooklyn in 1998, The Essex Green released four albums between 1999 and 2006. They became one of the few bands from the Northeast to be associated with the groundbreaking Elephant 6 Collective. Their unique blend of harmony-infused pop music culminated in the 2006 release of Cannibal Sea.
Sasha Bell, Jeff Baron, and Christopher Ziter were last seen together in the late aughts, waving from their van as they bid farewell to Brooklyn. And then, the unthinkable: The Essex Green went silent. But why? Legal cannabis? Climate change? Bad oysters? Nothing so dramatic. It was a simple promise made among them to chase down their separate dreams: Baron to build a houseboat and navigate the mighty Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio Rivers; Ziter to return to his home state of Vermont and lead local fermentation efforts; and Bell to decamp to Montana to study elk rutting.
Having achieved their goals or not, they vowed to break their silence in secret on the frigid waters of Lake Champlain during the blood moon eclipse of 2015 when the effect of the moon in Libra would be most powerful. Over the next two years, the three continued to meet and record in undisclosed locations. The result is Hardly Electronic, a music mapping of the trio’s personal journeys over the past decade.
The Worms Heart is a complete re-work of The Shins critically acclaimed March, 2017 album 'Heartworms'. The album offers new reworked versions of the 'Heartworms' album original tracks, and the sequence is flipped as well. The album is available digitally, on CD, and VINYL LP.
When James Mercer wrote, produced, and recorded the Heartworms album, he had this desire for an alternate version, an opposite version. The album's slow songs would be flipped and re-recorded as fast songs, and vice versa. The reasoning was to showcase the versatility and strength of his songwriting, and the result is The Worm's Heart. This 'flipped' collection is produced by Yuuki Matthews, Jon Sortland, & James Mercer; and is a must for any fan of The Shins.
BOARDING HOUSE REACH is the new solo album from Jack White, and is a testament to the breadth of the artist's creative power and his bold artistic ambition. This new material finds Jack White expanding his musical palate with perhaps his most ambitious work thus far, a collection of songs that are simultaneously timeless and modern. Written and conceived while holed up in a spartan apartment with literally no outside world distractions, White exclusively used the same kind of gear he had when he was 15 years old (a quarter-inch four-track tape recorder, a simple mixer, and the most basic of instrumentation). The album explores a remarkable range of sonic terrain -- crunching rock 'n' roll, electro and hard funk, proto punk, hip hop, gospel blues, and even country -- all remapped and born anew to fit White's matchless vision and sense of restless experimentation.
Rod Stewart will release his 30th studio album – “Blood Red Roses” – September 28th on Republic Records! The album highlights Stewart’s acclaimed songwriting roots – blending the poignant observation, self-reflective introspection and playful swagger which established him as one of the world’s best-selling artists of all time. “Blood Red Roses,” a deeply personal 13-track collection of originals and three covers, is quite simply peak Rod Stewart. The album’s first single, “Didn’t I” is about the damage drugs can do from a parent’s’ point of view. This new album, his first in three years, follows international bestsellers “Another Country” (2015) and “Time” (2013) and will be released nearly 50 years to the date of when he signed his very first solo recording contract.
Ty Segall and White Fence are AS ONE again. Six years after their fun favorite "Hair" collaboration, and jeez, almost four years after Ty produced the last White Fence record "For the Recently Found Innocent", they're back at it. But the second time around, it's no Hair 2 - Joy is its own reward. Tim Presley and Ty take it up a notch, with fifteen wild tracks that share space in a effortless fashion, dispersing doses of the fabled vintage obsessions, but threading them together instead with their own sound of today. Joy, indeed!
Travel can inspire in surprising ways: Kurt Vile discovered as much making his first record in three years, the eclectic and electrifying Bottle It In, which he recorded at various studios around the country over two very busy years, during sessions that usually punctuated the ends of long tours or family road trips. Every song, whether it’s a concise and catchy pop composition or a sprawling guitar epic, becomes a journey unto itself, taking unexpected detours, circuitous melodic avenues, or open-highway solos. If Vile has become something of a rock guitar god—a mantle he would dismiss out of humility but also out of a desire to keep getting better, to continue absorbing new music, new sounds, new ideas—it’s due to his precise, witty playing style, which turns every riff and rhythm into points on a map and takes the scenic route from one to the next. Using past albums as points of departure, Bottle It In heads off in new directions, pushing at the edges of the map into unexplored territory: Here be monster jams. These songs show an artist who is still evolving and growing: a songwriter who, like his hero John Prine, can make you laugh and break your heart, often in the same line, as well as a vocalist who essentially rewrites those songs whenever he sings them in his wise, laconic jive-talkin’ drawl. He revels in the minutiae of the music—not simply incorporating new instruments but emphasizing how they interact with his guitar and voice, how the glockenspiel evokes cirrocumulus clouds on “Hysteria,” how Kim Gordon’s “acoustic guitar distortion” (her term) engulfs everything at the end of “Mutinies,” how the banjo curls around his guitar lines and backing vocals from Lucius to lend a high-lonesome aura to “Come Again.” These journeys took Vile more than two years to navigate, during which time he toured behind his breakout 2015 album b’lieve I’m goin’ down, recorded a duets album with Australian singer-songwriter-guitarist Courtney Barnett, opened for Neil Young in front of 90,000 people in Quebec, famously became a clue on Jeopardy, hung out with friends, took vacations with his wife and daughters. “I’ve been bouncing around a lot and recording all over. My family would meet me in the middle of America, and we’d go on a road trip somewhere. I would record in between all that stuff.” As Vile prepares for another round of lengthy tours and countless shows, these songs should prove good company, reminders of the love and responsibility he has toward those he leaves at home and those he meets along the way. That makes the sentiments resonate more strongly and lends Bottle It In an emotional weight. “It’s like that moment on the airplane,” Vile says, “when you’re on your way somewhere and you have that burst of panic. When you’re terrified of dying, that’s when you want people to know you love them.” “Impeccably recorded and mixed songs that shuffle bits of folk, new wave, or country in the mix but are always squarely down-the-middle rock.” Mark Richardson, Pitchfork “Vile’s self-awareness is as appealing as his melodies, and he’s stoked a reputation as a bit of a slacker maharishi—at the very least, a look inside Vile’s head might make you think a bit more deeply about what’s going on in your own.” The New Yorker
Saintseneca’s Zac Little has been thinking a lot about memory. Not necessarily his memories, though they creep in often, too. Rather, he mulls over the idea of memory itself: its resilience, its haziness, how it slips away as we try to hang on, the way it resurfaces despite our best efforts to forget. Memory is the common thread running throughout the Columbus, OH folk-punk band’s fourth album, Pillar of Na, arriving in late summer via ANTI- Records. Following 2015's critically lauded Such Things, the new album’s name is rooted in remembrance, referencing the Genesis story of Lot’s wife who looks back at a burning Sodom after God instructs her not to. She looks back, and God turns her into a pillar of salt. “Na,” meanwhile, is the chemical symbol for sodium. "Nah" is a passive refusal and the universal song word. It means nothing and stands for nothing. It is "as it is." Musically, Pillar of Na is Saintseneca’s most ambitious album to date, with Little aiming to incorporate genre elements he’d rarely heard in folk. “I wanted to use the idiom of folk-rock, or whatever you want to call it, and to try to do something that had never been done before," Little explains. I told Mike Mogis I wanted Violent Femmes meets the new Blade Runner soundtrack. I'm looking for the intersection between Kendrick Lamar and The Fairport Convention.”
A previously unheard home studio cassette recording of Prince performing at his piano in 1983 will be released as Piano & A Microphone on Sept. 21. The nine-track, 35-minute project from the Prince Estate in coordination with Warner Bros. Records is planned for what would have been the rock icon's 60th birthday.
This rare, intimate glimpse finds Prince working through songs including "17 Days" and "Purple Rain" (which would both be released the following year), a cover of Joni Mitchell's "A Case of You," "Strange Relationship" (issued in 1987 on the Sign O' The Times album) and "International Lover," as well as a rare recording of the pre-Civil War spiritual "Mary Don't You Weep," which will be heard on the end credits of Spike Lee's upcoming film BlacKkKlansman, due out in August.
“Having this identity—radical indigenous queer feminist—keeps me going. My music and my identity come from the same foundation of being a Native woman.” Katherine Paul (aka KP) is Black Belt Eagle Scout, and Mother of My Children is her debut album. Recorded in the middle of winter near her hometown in Northwest Washington, Paul’s connection to the landscape’s eerie beauty are palpable throughout as the album traces the full spectrum of confronting buried feelings and the loss of what life was supposed to look like. Paul reflects, “I wrote this album in the fall of 2016 after two pretty big losses in my life. My mentor, Geneviève Castrée, had just died from pancreatic cancer and the relationship I had with the first women I loved had drastically lessened and changed.” Heavy and heartbroken, Paul found respite from the weight of such loss in the creation of these songs that “are about grief and love for people, but also about being a native person in what is the United States today.” On Mother of My Children, the songs weave together to capture both the enduring and fleeting experiences of loss, frustration, and dreaming. The structures are traditional, but the lyrics don’t adhere to any format other than what feels right in the moment. Mother of My Children begins with lead single “Soft Stud,” which Paul describes as her “queer anthem.” It’s “about the hardships of queer desire within an open relationship.” It’s followed by “Indians Never Die,” a call out to colonizers and those who don’t respect the Earth. As Standing Rock was happening, many people in Paul’s life were coming together to fight for the most basic necessity to sustain human life: water. “Our treaty rights weren’t being honored. Imagine hearing on the news that the government doesn’t support you as a human being and never has. They don’t care about the water, they don’t care about how they are destroying what is around them. Indigenous people are the protectors of this land. Indians never die because this is our land that we will forever protect in the present and the afterlife.” Paul grew up in a small Indian reservation, the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, surrounded by family focused on native drumming, singing, and arts. From an early age, Paul was singing and dancing at powwows with one of her strongest memories at her family’s own powwow, called the All My Relations Powwow. Paul reminisces, “When I was younger, my only form of music was through the songs my ancestors taught the generations of my family. Singing in our language is a spiritual process and it carries on through me in how I create music today.” With the support of her family and a handful of bootleg Hole and Nirvana VHS tapes, Paul taught herself how to play guitar and drums as a teenager. In 2007, she moved to Portland, Oregon to attend college and get involved with the Rock’n’Roll Camp for Girls eventually diving deep into the city’s music scene playing guitar and drums in bands while evolving her artistry into what would later become Black Belt Eagle Scout.
When asked to describe the title track from his new record, Kyle Thomas—aka King Tuff—takes a deep breath. “It’s a song about hitting rock bottom,” he says. “I didn’t even know what I wanted to do anymore, but I still had this urge—this feeling—like there was this possibility of something else I could be doing… and then I just followed that possibility. To me, that’s what songwriting, and art in general, is about. You’re chasing something, there is something out there calling to you and you’re trying to get at it. ‘The Other’ is basically where songs come from, it’s the hidden world, it’s the mystery. It’s the invisible hand that guides you whenever you make something. It’s the thing I had to rediscover—the sort of voice I had to follow—to bring me back to making music again in a way that felt true and good.”
New CD: $11.96 Buy
The latest chapter in the highly acclaimed Bootleg Series makes available the pivotal studio recordings made by Bob Dylan during six extraordinary sessions in 1974--four in New York (September 16, 17, 18, 19) and two in Minneapolis (December 27, 30)--that resulted in the artist's 1975 masterpiece, Blood On The Tracks The 1 CD configuration of More Blood, More Tracks assembles 10 of the most emotionally resonant alternate takes of each of the 10 songs appearing the original Blood On The Tracks plus a previously unreleased version of "Up to Me."
Formed of Laura Lee on bass, Mark Speer on guitar, and Donald “DJ” Johnson on drums; globetrotting Texan trio Khruangbin present their second album ‘Con Todo El Mundo’, set for release on 26th January 2018. Whereas their 2015 debut album ‘The Universe Smiles Upon You’ was influenced by 60s and 70s Thai cassettes and compilations of southeast Asian pop, rock and funk, ‘Con Todo El Mundo’ hops east over India to take inspiration in similarly under discovered funk and soul sounds of the Middle-East, particularly from Iran. Laura Lee explains the album’s title: “My grandpa would always ask me ‘Como me quieres?’ (‘how much do you love me’?), and he’d only ever accept one response. ‘Con todo el mundo’ (With all the world).” Throughout ‘Con Todo El Mundo’, Laura Lee’s melodic low-end theory, Mark’s lyrical, free-role guitar lines, and DJ’s ever-steady, ever-ready backbeat form something greater than their parts. A vibe-synchronous soul-unit travelling the planet, honing their craft, absorbing the sights, sounds and feels from cultures across the globe, processing them through the Khruangbin filter and gifting the result...with all the world.