Rockin Rudys Staff Picks
Rockin Rudys staff favorites of 2020!
On August 20, 2020 the world lost an amazing light with the passing of Justin Townes Earle. Justin was a vibrant songwriter who could play the blues, country, and rock n roll all in the same song. In his short career, Justin released eight albums and one EP that all manage to sound classic and yet inventive.
Justin's father, Steve Earle, pays tribute to his son by recording an album of songs written by Justin titled, J.T. The album consists of ten Justin Townes Earle songs as well as one song written by Mr. Earle shortly after Justin's passing. J.T. features fan favorites such as "Harlem River Blues," "Far Away In Another Town" and "Champagne Corolla" along with lyrically heavy songs like, "The Saint of Lost Causes" and "Turn Out My Lights."
J.T. is a loving tribute to a loved son and beautiful songsmith who left this earth too early. But in his wake, Justin left a wealth of beauty. All proceeds from this release will be put into a trust for Justin’s 3 year old daughter, Etta.
Lord Huron presents their fourth studio album, Long Lost. The band has often tried to uncover the past of their studio, Whispering Pines, without much success. Instead, they decided to imagine what has gone on in the studio, who has passed through, and that is how Long Lost was created. Featuring the singles “Not Dead Yet,” “Mine Forever,” “I Lied” and “Love Me Like You Used To.”
Just a few weeks after the surprise release of the Cuttin' Grass (Vol. 1): Butcher Shoppe Sessions album—which Uproxx called “the most sublime and delightful music he’s yet made on record”—Sturgill Simpson returns with the next installment of his bluegrass series, Cuttin' Grass (Vol. 2): The Cowboy Arms Sessions. The genre-defying singer/songwriter reconvened an A-Team of acoustic players (now dubbed "The Hillbilly Avengers") for another round of reinterpretations of his catalogue, this time largely focusing on 2016's A Sailor's Guide to Earth, which won the Grammy for Country Album of the Year and was nominated for Album of the Year. This volume also includes "Jesus Boogie," originally performed by Simpson's first band, Sunday Valley, and two previously unreleased songs, "Tennessee" and "Hobo Cartoon," the latter of which was co-written with the incomparable Merle Haggard—who once said that Simpson was "about the only thing I've heard that was worth listening to in a long time."
Cuttin' Grass Vol. 1 (Butcher Shoppe Sessions) is now available on Vinyl & CD.
Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio—or as it is sometimes referred to, DLO3—specialize in the lost art of “feel good music.” The ingredients of this intoxicating cocktail include a big helping of the 1960s organ jazz stylings of Jimmy Smith and Baby Face Willette; a pinch of the snappy soul strut of Booker T. & The M.G.’s and The Meters; and sprinkles Motown, Stax Records, blues, and cosmic Jimi Hendrix-style guitar. It’s a soul-jazz concoction that goes straight to your heart and head makes your body break out in a sweat.
The band features organist Delvon Lamarr, a self-taught virtuosic musician, with perfect pitch who taught himself jazz and has effortlessly been able to play a multitude of instruments. On guitar is the dynamo Jimmy James who eases through Steve Cropper-style chanking guitar, volcanic acid-rock freak-out lead playing, and slinky Grant Green style jazz. From Reno, Nevada is drummer Dan Weiss (also of the powerhouse soul and funk collective The Sextones). Dan’s smoldering pocket-groove drumming locks in the trio’s explosive chemistry.
Founded by Larmarr’s wife and manager Amy Novo, the trio started from humble beginnings in 2015, but since then has released two Billboard charting albums and toured the world to sold out venues. The trio returns now with their second studio album, I Told You So, with even heavier grooves and more confidence. It may have been several years since their most recent studio effort, but they haven’t missed a beat.
Recommend for fans of: New Mastersounds, Soulive, Jimmy Smith, Khruangbin
Glowing in the Dark, the fourth studio album by critically acclaimed Django Django, is about escapism & hope. Throughout their career, Django Django has consistently headed left where others have gone right. Produced by Dave MacLean, the 13 track LP represents the band’s kaleidoscopic, genre-defying sound with a rejuvenated spirit, boldness & confidence. Out February 12th via Because Music. Limited Edition Indie Exclusive Luminescent Green ‘glow in the dark’ LP. Includes Poster.
2LP 140g Vinyl, Gatefold Sleeve with Spot Glitter Varnish & Gloss Laminate Finish, lyric poster w/ D
John Grant's fantastic fifth solo album, Boy from Michigan, finds him at the peak of his powers. Having lived outside of the US for a decade, John is looking back at his childhood growing up in Michigan and Colorado. He documents America in microscopic, painterly detail, and his keen eye and acerbic wit are as sharp as ever. John worked with Cate Le Bon to produce twelve tracks that balance both sides of his musical personality, the battle-scarred piano-man and the grand electronic auteur. In a decade of solo work, he has established himself as one of the great musical chroniclers of the American Dream, viewed mostly from its flipside. He is the misfit's misfit: too weird to be mainstream, too mainstream to be weird; too sad to be happy, too sharp not to crack a mordant joke about it.
On May 21, Matador Records will release Afrique Victime, the long-awaited new album by Mdou Moctar. On Afrique Victime the prodigious Tuareg guitarist and songwriter rips a new hole in the sky Â' boldly reforging contemporary Saharan music and 'rock music' by melding guitar pyrotechnics, full-blast noise, and field recordings with poetic meditations on love, religion, women's rights inequality, and Western Africa's exploitation at the hands of colonial powers.
Flying Lotus follows the release of his sweeping epic Flamagra and his Producer of the Year Grammy nomination for Thundercat's It Is What It Is, with an expansive original soundtrack for Netflix's new anime series, Yasuke.
Flying Lotus is the executive producer & composer of Yasuke, which retells the story of feudal Japan's first African samurai who served with Oda Nobunaga. The series is directed by LeSean Thomas, stars Lakeith Stanfield and features Takeshi Koike as its lead designer.
Flying Lotus' score for Yasuke is an unforgettable titan in his musical canon, drawing enhanced influence from prior instrumental and vocal works alike, while looking towards the future uncompromisingly. The music lies heavily steeped within the legacy of jazz and electronic instrumentation, with select feature appearances by longtime friends and collaborators: Thundercat, Denzel Curry and Niki Randa.
BAFTA award-winning Matt Berry has stared in number of high-profile televison series, including FX's mockumentary What We Do In The Shadows. He has released 7 solo albums and collaborate with the likes of Bond composer David Arnold, Jean-Michel Jarre and Josh Homme. Recorded during the summer of 2020, Blue Elephant is a psych masterpiece and arguably his best album to date. With the exception of Craig Blundel on drums, every instrument is played by Matt including, guitars, bass and a variety of keyboards and synthesizers. The album explores themes surrounding today’s close scrutiny in all its bewildering, objectifying and unnerving experiences, and is a testament to Matt’s exceptional musicianship, production skills and songwriting prowess.
Just two months after the release of his seminal album After The Gold Rush, Neil Young played a solo show at The Shakespeare Theater, Stratford, CT on January 22 1971. The show was filmed and recorded, and the concert shown on German TV later in 1971.
In 2020, while Neil and his team were reviewing his Archive for future projects, Neil re-visited the 16mm film and audio recording of this show that had been preserved in the Archive for almost 50 years. Piecing together the tapes and footage, Neil realized that he had the full concert – the film of which is the earliest live footage of Neil performing that is known to exist.
Neil has written on NYA that this show is “superior to our beloved “Massey Hall”. A more calm performance, without the celebratory atmosphere of Massey Hall, captured live on 16mm. “Young Shakespeare” is a very special event. To my fans, I say this is the best ever.”
As an insight into Neil’s prolific song writing at the time, the concert features two songs from the recently released After The Gold Rush but four songs from the classic Harvest album that was still over a year away from being released. The wonderful set list also includes acoustic renditions of favorites such as “Ohio”, “Cowgirl In the Sand”, “Helpless”, “Down By The River” and “Sugar Mountain”.
The ancient analog tapes have been lovingly restored – resulting in (as Neil says on NYA) “one of the most pure sounding acoustic performances we have in the Archive”.
This beautiful concert is being released on LP and CD, plus a deluxe boxed edition that includes both LP and CD and, for the first time ever, a DVD of the concert.
Young Shakespeare is being released almost exactly 50 years after the original performance.
2020 was a terrible year for gardening. It was terrible for peppers, it was terrible for tomatoes, it was terrible for the condition of the soul. But Chad VanGaalen somehow raised a garden all the same: carrots and sprouts and broccoli and a revivifying new album, all of them grown at home. He likes to eat directly off the plant, he says—"I get down on my knees and graze. It's nice to feel the vegetables in your face"—and the 13 songs on World's Most Stressed Out Gardener were harvested with just such a spirit: in their raw state, young and vegetal, at the very moment, they were made. What that means is that the Calgary songwriter's new album is a psychedelic bumper crop. A collection of tunes that does away with obsessiveness, the anxiety of perfectionism, in favor of freshness and immediacy — capturing the world as it was met while recording alone at home over a period of years. "Don't overthink it," VanGaalen told himself again and again, despite the push/pull love/hate of his relationship with songwriting. "I'm always trying to get outside of the song—but then I realize I love the song." This is a record that gleams with VanGaalen's musical signatures: found sound, reverb, polychromatic folk music that is by turns cartoonish and hyperphysical—like ultra magnified footage of a virus or a leaf. Apparently, the LP began life as a "pretty minimal" flute record. (There's only a vestige now, on "Flute Peace"—one of three instrumentals.) Later it became an electronic record "for a while" and finally, "right at the last second," it "turned into a pile of garbage." The good kind of garbage: glinting, useful, free. Music as compost—leaves, and branches ready to be re-ingested by the earth, turned into a flower. Throughout these 40 minutes, VanGaalen floats from mania to solace to oblivion, searching for zen in all the wrong places. "Turn up the radio / I think we’re dead," he sings on "Nothing Is Strange"; or, on the inside-out rocker "Nightmare Scenario": "You’re stressed out when you should be feeling very well." The singer's mental landscape is rotting and redemptive, beautiful in spite of itself—and his soundscapes reflect this fertile decay. He has been influenced by his instrumental work on TV scores (Dream Corp's third season began this fall), but still "nothing can really replace the human voice,” he admits. Like Arthur Russell or Syd Barrett, it’s VanGaalen’s vocals that shine a path through the swampland—from the cello-lashed “Water Brother” to “Starlight”’s krautrock pipe-dream. These days, VanGaalen cherishes the privacy of the studio, the capacity to wander around, get distracted, and "move at the speed of life." Whereas once he would obsess over mic techniques, now he puts the microphone in the same place every time—trying to capture a song quickly, the idea at its heart. He'll act on his infatuations—for the flute, a squeaky clarinet, his basement's copper plumbing (remade into xylophones for "Samurai Sword")—and then he'll try to get out, "veering away from responsibility," before he overdoes his stay. In the end, it's like gardening. You have to live with your horrible decision-making; the weather's going to fuck you if it wants to; and if you plant a hundred heads of broccoli, "now you gotta eat a hundred heads of broccoli—or watch them go to seed." But mostly VanGaalen just tries to be a deer: "I remember seeing some deer come out in the Okanagan Valley once," he says, "watching them wait for a sunbeam to hit a perfect bunch of grapes—and then eating them right out of the sunbeam. I'd recommend that."
For My Mama And Anyone Who Look Like Her, Dixon’s debut album on Spacebomb, is the culmination of a journey where heartbreak and introspection challenged him to adapt new ways of communicating physically and mentally, as well as across time and space.
The album challenges Black people to revisit more than one timeline and question everything they’ve been taught about processing grief in order to rebuild their present and future selves. There’s no definitive end to the darkness and trauma of the past, but this album is a stepping stone in Dixon’s pursuit of moving forward, and being a voice for Black people still learning how to advocate for themselves.
“The best way to sum up this album is: I was sad, I was mad, and now I’m alive,” Dixon explains. “These things I talk about on the record have had harmful and brilliant effects on my timeline, and have forced me to be cognizant of the fact that living is complex. Rap has allowed me the language to communicate, and be someone who can communicate with people from all over. Knowing how far I’ve come, I think people will find trust in the message I’m sending.”
Highly anticipated debut from 2020 breakthrough artist, london-based musician and poet Arlo Parks.
"My album is a series of vignettes and intimate portraits surrounding my adolescence and the people that shaped it. It is rooted in storytelling and nostalgia - I want it to feel both universal and hyper specific."
Recent press features have seen her grace the cover of NME and Dork Magazine as well as being included on the 2020 Dazed 100 List. And all whilst performing stand-out shows for the revered COLORS and NPR's Tiny Desk series - plus being one of only three artists to perform at Glastonbury this year.
Arlo has also been named an ambassador for the British mental health charity, CALM. Whilst her songwriting has seen her gain new fans in; Billie Eilish, Florence Welch, Michelle Obama, Angel Olsen and Wyclef Jean, among others.
"A minor key moonbeam"
“Her songs are the results of an alchemy that combines shiver-inducing highs with sweet, molasses-coated lows”
“gritty, visceral storytelling that shines through her songwriting”
Pigeons & Planes
"Arlo Parks gives teen angst a human face"
Every now and then an artist comes along who makes you remember why you started listening to albums in the first place: Aaron Lee Tasjan is that artist. With his off-center charm and restless creative dazzle, he makes music with conviction that has its roots in rock’s murky past, armed with an arsenal of songs that spill over with humor, intelligence, irony, and at times prophecy.He updates the idea of androgyny but dispels the emotional and social ambiguity with lyrics that reflect his own geographic and artistic wanderings.
Tasjan! Tasjan! Tasjan! is 11 songs. The man who began the album, is not the same man who completed it, transformed both by the experiences that inspired the songs and crafting them. This is not anxious music for anxious times, but rather music as an antidote for anxious times. It is the sound of the future arriving.
Limited blue colored vinyl LP pressing. Haram is a mercurial collaboration between incendiary rap duo Armand Hammer, and living legend The Alchemist. For the first time ELUCID and billy woods have crafted an album with a single producer and the result is extraordinary. With their unmatched penchant for stirring imagery and incisive storytelling, the two rappers dive into an ocean of Alchemist's creation: warmly inviting on the surface, black and bone-crushingly cold at depth. Haram is a collection of the profane and the pure; a reminder that that which is forbidden is also sacrosanct.
Coming June 25th: the new full-length from Lucy Dacus, Home Video. This new gift from Dacus, which features vocal contributions from boygenius bandmates Julien Baker and Phoebe Bridgers, was built on an interrogation of her coming-of-age years in Richmond, VA. Many songs start the way a memoir might''In the summer of '07 I was sure I'd go to heaven, but I was hedging my bets at VBS''and all of them have the compassion, humor, and honesty of the best autobiographical writing. Most importantly and mysteriously, this album displays Dacus's ability to use the personal as portal into the universal.
Kiwi Jr. is a phenomenal “rock” and/or “punk” and/or “indie-rock” (whichever you like more) band from Canada, made up of Jeremy Gaudet (mic, guitar), Brohan Moore (drums), Mike Walker (bass), and Brian Murphy (guitar). Cooler Returns is their second album, and their first for Sub Pop. Despite being a snapshot of the pandemic-infused beginnings of this decade, Cooler Returns is truly a whole lot of fun. RIYL indie-pop from down under, things that are smart/exuberant/catchy all at once. Buildings burning in every direction; macabre unknowns in your friendly neighbor’s basement; undecided voters sharpening their pencils: under pressure we could call Kiwi Jr.’s Cooler Returns “timely.” But what year is it, again? On Cooler Returns, Kiwi Jr. cycle through the recent zigs & looming zags of the new decade, squinting anew at New Year’s parties forgotten and under-investigated small town diner fires, piecing together low-stakes conspiracy theories on what’s coming down the pike in 2021. Put together like a thousand-piece puzzle, assembled in flow state through the first dull stretch of quarantine, sanitized singer shuffling to sanitized studio by streetcar, masked like it's the kind of work where getting recognized means getting killed, Cooler Returns materializes as a sprawling survey from the first few bites of the terrible twenties, an investigative exposé of recent history buried under the headlines & ancient kings buried under parking lots. Not so long since their debut Football Money in archaeological time, unending gray eons later in the dog years of quaran-time, spiritually antipodean Canadians Kiwi Jr return to disseminate this year's annual report to the shareholders, burying the incriminating numbers in the endless appendices of a longform narrative record, a 3,000 word tract for stakeholders to pore over. These stories - memories of Augusts past, unrepressed & transcribed fast - go down easier thanks to meaningful changes enacted in 2019’s KiwiCares Pledge: delivering on a promise to transition from Crunchy to Smooth by 2021, the caveman chug of Football Money has been steamed & pressed with the purifying air of a saloon piano - operated with bow-tie untied - and a spring green side-salad of tentatively up-tempo organ taps & freshly fluted harmonica. A chronically detuned spin of the dial through swivel-chair distractions & WFH daydreams, an immersive ctrl-tab deluge cycling through popular listicle distractions like the unentombing of Richard III, or the deja vu destruction of the Glasgow School of Art, Kiwi Jr. sing this song to an indoor audience, crisscrossing canceled, every other prestige distraction source wrung dry, only songwriting remaining to deliver engrossing tales to the populace, just how I imagine it worked in the old days. Fixing loose ingredients into a sturdy whip, Kiwi Jr. beam in live from the 9-5, striding into 2021 with a mastered brainwave that comes equally from the back room of the record store as the penalty box. And how do we, left holding this box of deliberate entanglements, sign off to those as yet uninitiated, undecided, uncertain, unseen, absent return coordinates - Best Wishes, Warm Regards, Good Luck? Cooler Returns, Cooler Returns, C o o l e r R e t u r n s ! Cooler Returns was produced by Kiwi Jr., mixed and engineered by Graham Walsh (METZ, Bully) in Toronto, and mastered by Phillip Shaw Bova at Bova Labs in Ottawa, Ontario.
Blue Weekend is the highly anticipated third album from one of Britain’s most revered bands, Wolf Alice. Blue Weekend is the follow-up to the band’s 2017 Mercury Prize-winning album Visions of a Life. Personal storytelling is at the core of Blue Weekend, an album that sees Wolf Alice embrace a newfound boldness and vulnerability in equal measure.
For Blue Weekend, the band decamped to an Airbnb in Somerset, and it was there that they reconfigured who they were together, and set to work on some fledgling demos in a converted church. These demos evolved into Blue Weekend, a record produced by Markus Dravs (Arcade Fire, Björk, Brian Eno, Florence + The Machine) who has aided the band in refining their sound to an even sharper point.
Wolf Alice are Ellie Rowsell (vocals, guitar), Joff Oddie (guitar, vocals), Theo Ellis (bass) and Joel Amey (drums, vocals). It has been a decade since the band began as a duo of Ellie Rowsell and Joff Oddie, then later expanded to a four-piece, with Joel Amey and Theo Ellis joining the group. Since then, the band saw their 2015 debut album My Love Is Cool soar to #2 on the UK charts, earned a GRAMMY nomination for Best Rock Performance and had their sophomore album Visions Of A Life win the 2018 Mercury Prize. Blue Weekend is the next chapter for Wolf Alice, and it’s the work of a band who raise the bar with every release.
Iconic band CROWDED HOUSE led by Neil Finn returns with new music after almost 10 years
The Album features “WHATEVER YOU WANT” as the first single and video from the upcoming album scheduled to be released June,4 2021. • Global tour confirmed in support of the album. • Previous hits include “DON’T DREAM IT’S OVER”, “WEATHER WITH YOU”, “BETTER BE HOME SOON”, ”FALL AT YOUR FEET” & more. • Sold over 12 MILLION records globally and over 1 BILLION streams worldwide • CROWDED HOUSE features NEIL FINN, NICK SEYMOUR, MITCHELL FROOM, LIAM FINN & ELROY FINN.
Fleet Foxes will release their fourth studio album entitled SHORE, a collection of 15 new songs, on February 5, 2021 on double-gatefold 2LP vinyl and CD.
Fleet Foxes’ Robin Pecknold shares, “SHORE feels like a relief, like you’d feel when your feet finally hit sand after getting caught in a riptide. It’s a celebration of life in the face of death, honoring our lost musical heroes, from David Berman to John Prine to Judee Sill to Bill Withers, embracing the joy and solace they brought to our lives and honoring their memory. SHORE is an object levitating between the magnetic fields of the past and the future.”
SHORE was released digitally in its entirety on the fall equinox (9/22) alongside an album length Super-16mm landscape film captured and edited in Washington State by the filmmaker Kersti Jan Werdal. The album was recorded in upstate New York at Aaron Dessner’s Long Pond Studio, in Paris at Studios St. Germain, in Los Angeles at the legendary Vox, in Long Island City at Diamond Mine, and New York City’s Electric Lady.
Fleet Foxes' self-titled debut made a profound impact on the international musical landscape, earning them Uncut's first ever Music Award Prize and a spot in Rolling Stone's 100 Best Albums of the 2000’s. The follow-up album Helplessness Blues was met with the same critical praise as its predecessor (MOJO ★★★★★, Pitchfork’s Best New Music) and earned them a GRAMMY nomination. Both Fleet Foxes and Helplessness Blues are certified Gold in the US. The band’s third studio album Crack-Up, released in 2017, charted #9 on the Billboard Top 200.
Here is Sweep It Into Space, the fifth new studio album cut by Dinosaur Jr.. during the 13th year of their rebirth. Originally scheduled for issue in mid 2020, this record's temporal trajectory was thwarted by the coming of the Plague. But it would take more than a mere Plague to tamp down the exquisite fury of this trio when they are fully dialed-in. And Sweep It Into Space is a masterpiece of zoned dialing. Recorded, as usual, at Amherst's Biquiteen, the sessions for Sweep It Into Space began in the late Autumn of 2019, following a West Coast/South East tour. The only extra musician used this time with Kurt Vile. Indeed, Sweep It Into Space is a very cool album. As is typical, Lou Barlow writes and sings two of the album's dozen tunes and Murph's pure-Flinstonian drumming drives the record like a go cart from Hell. Lou's songs here are as elegant as always. But there are very few moments where you wouldn't know you were hearing Dinosaur Jr. In blindfolded needle drop. They have a signature sound as sure as the Stooges or Sonic Youth or Discharge ever did. They continue to expand their personal universe with Sweep It Into Space, without ever losing their central core.
GENGHIS TRON make their return with their new album "Dream Weapon" on 3/26! The band’s first new studio outing in over a decade, GENGHIS TRON’s Hamilton Jordan and Michael Sochynsky are now joined by two new collaborators: vocalist Tony Wolski and Sumac/Baptists drummer Nick Yacyshyn. Together, the lineup perfects the unique mix of extreme rock and electronic music GENGHIS TRON has pioneered over their storied career.
KGLW's 18th studio album, Butterfly 3000, might be their most fearless leap into the unknown yet; 10 songs that began life as arpeggiated loops composed on modular synthesizers, before being fashioned into addictive, optimistic and seductive dream-pop. It sounds simultaneously like nothing they've done before, yet unmistakably Gizz, down to its climactic neon psych-a-tronic flourish. This is their most accessible, jubilant album to date. 4-panel Softpak CD w/ 8-pg booklet on 100% recycled stock.
Daddy’s Home, the sixth album from St. Vincent, is the latest facet of an ever-evolving artist regarded by many as the most consistently innovative and intriguing presence in modern music. The album was pro-duced by Annie Clark and Jack Antonoff, recorded by Laura Sisk, mixed by Cian Riordan, and mastered by Chris Gehringer. The music was performed by Annie, Jack, Cian, Thomas, Evan Smith, Sam KS, Greg Leisz, Daniel Hart, Michael Leonhard, Lynne Fiddmont and Kenya Hathaway.
"Daddy's Home collects stories of being down and out in downtown NYC. Last night's heels on the morning train. Glamour that's been up for three days straight.”—St. Vincent
Amy Winehouse's At The BBC features tracks from appearances on Later... with Jools Holland over the years, notably Amy's first performance on the show in 2003 with "Stronger Than Me." Plus, two performances from the Mercury Prize: "Take The Box" from 2004 and "Love Is A Losing Game" from 2007. Available for the first time as an audio-only release. The 3LP set is housed in a triple gatefold package and is pressed on 180-gram black vinyl.