Rockin Rudys Staff Picks

Rockin Rudys staff favorites of 2019!

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Fruit Bats

Gold Past Life marks both an end and a beginning for Fruit Bats. It's the end of an unintentional thematic trilogy of records that began with 2014's EDJ (a solo record by name, but a Fruit Bats release in spirit) and hit an emotional peak with 2016's Absolute Loser. They encompassed years of loss, displacement, and the persistent, low-level anxiety of the current political climate. They were written in the wake of friends who left these earthly confines and families that could have been. But these salves, these songs on Gold Past Life, also represent new beginnings-the journeys that await after making it through troubled times. Gold Past Life is about rejecting notions of idealized nostalgia ("Gold Past Life") and the process of grounding oneself in the present, both geographically ("A Lingering Love," "Ocean") and spiritually ("Drawn Away"). With Gold Past Life, Eric Johnson of Fruit B hopes to bring more immediacy to the music and share positivity, hope, and motivation to keep on keepin' on with a wider audience.

Fruit Bats
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William Tyler

From M.C. Taylor:  William s new record, Goes West, is the best music that he s ever made. I m sure of this because I know and love all of his music intimately, and this album moves me the most, and the most consistently. The first time I heard it was in the late spring in the Texas Hill Country, rolling between limestone and scrub. I was on a cleanse then no alcohol, no drugs, no evil thoughts and was astonished at the emotional clarity that the album held. It offered up a model for what I wanted my head to feel like. Goes West marks a sort of narrowing of focus for William s music; it sounds as though he found a way to point himself directly towards the rich and bittersweet emotional center of his music without being distracted by side trips. Perhaps this is down to the fact that William only plays acoustic guitar on the album, a clear and conscious decision considering that he is one of Nashville s great electric guitarists. The band that performs Goes West alongside William including guitarists Meg Duffy and Bill Frisell, bassist and producer Brad Cook, keyboardist James Wallace, drummer Griffin Goldsmith, and engineer Tucker Martine is the best and most sympathetic group of players that William could have assembled to play these songs.

William Tyler
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Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen

Western Stars [2LP]

New Vinyl: $30.98 Buy

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$11.99

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Western Stars is the new album from Bruce Springsteen, and his first new studio album in five years. This collection of songs takes his music to a new place, drawing inspiration in part from the Southern California pop records of the late '60s and early '70s. The album was recorded primarily at Springsteen's home studio in New Jersey, with additional recording in California and New York. "This record is a return to my solo recordings featuring character driven songs and sweeping, cinematic orchestral arrangements," says Springsteen. "It's a jewel box of a record." The 13 tracks on Western Stars encompass a sweeping range of American themes, of highways and desert spaces, of isolation and community and the permanence of home and hope. Ron Aniello produced the album with Springsteen and plays bass, keyboard, and other instruments. Patti Scialfa provides vocals and contributes vocal arrangements on four tracks. The musical arrangements include strings, horns, pedal steel and contributions from more than 20 other players including Jon Brion (who plays celeste, Moog, and farfisa), as well as guest appearances by David Sancious, Charlie Giordano, and Soozie Tyrell. Bruce Springsteen's recording career spans over 40 years, beginning with 1973's Greetings from Asbury Park, NJ.' He has garnered 20 Grammys, won an Oscar and a Tony, been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, received a Kennedy Center Honor, and was MusiCares' 2013 Person of the Year. Springsteen's memoir 'Born to Run' (Simon & Schuster) and its companion album 'Chapter and Verse' were released in September 2016, and he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in November 2016. His historic 236-show run of 'Springsteen on Broadway' at Jujamcyn's Walter Kerr Theatre in NYC ran from October 2017 to December 2018, and also yielded an accompanying soundtrack album and Netflix special.

Bruce Springsteen
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Crumb

Crumb

Jinx

New Vinyl: $19.98 Buy

Crumb
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Fontaines D.C.

The last twelve months have seen Fontaines D.C. release four hotly received double A-side singles, all of which were named as singles of the week by Rough Trade, and garnered early support from the likes of KEXP, Steve Lamacq and others on BBC 6 Music, as well as earning feature space from every major Irish and UK publication. Now the Dublin band return with their debut record, Dogrel. On the short and punchy opening track, "Big," frontman Grian sings "My childhood was small, but I'm gonna be big", and that, they certainly will be. Dogrel is a debut which is best enjoyed as a whole; it is very much in the grand tradition of the album as art form, just as this is a band very much in the classic band mold: great singles, an indefatigable work ethic and an utter aversion to standing still.

Fontaines D.C.
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Y La Bamba

Y La Bamba

Mujeres [LP]

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Y La Bamba has been many things, but at the heart of it is singer-songwriter Luz Elena Mendoza’s inquisitive sense of self. Their fifth record, Mujeres, carries on the Portland-based band’s affinity for spiritual contemplation, but goes a step further in telling a story with a full emotional spectrum. Coming off Ojos Del Sol, one of NPR’s Top 50 Albums of 2016, Mujeres exhibits the scope of Mendoza’s artistic voice like never before. “Soy como soy,” Mendoza says, and that declaration is the bold— even political— statement that positions Mujeres to be Y La Bamba’s most unbridled offering yet. Mendoza forges new narratives from old stories of heritage and family, tracing history while forging modern chicana feminism. The raw honesty of Mujeres is in fact the raw honesty of Mendoza. Armed with the emotionality of traditional música mexicana and the storytelling of American folk, Y La Bamba’s artistry is not just their musical ability but Mendoza’s search for unadulterated truth. It is in an ancestral journey in which Mendoza comes to terms with the influence and limitations of her upbringing. While there is a celebration of the Mexican creativity that has informed Mendoza’s life, there is a darker side to reconcile with. Where do mujeres fit in to the American story? What are the sins for which we are all guilty? How do different generations interact with the world? How can a culture become visible without being tokenized? It is no surprise that in Mujeres, Y La Bamba’s first record with Mendoza at the helm of production, Mendoza contemplates these questions to tell her story. But it is not just Mendoza’s story. Challenging a narrative and dealing with the emotionality of that effort— that is everyone’s story. Mujeres was recorded by Luz Elena Mendoza and Ryan Oxford at Color Therapy Studios and Besitos Fritos Studios in Portland, Oregon. Mixed by Jeff Bond, with Grace Bugbee on bass, John Niekrasz on drums, Margaret Wher Gibson on keys, and Ed Rodriguez and Ryan Oxford on electric guitar.

Y La Bamba
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Nick Waterhouse

Nick Waterhouse

Nick Waterhouse [LP]

New Vinyl: $28.98 Buy

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$10.99

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The fourth album from Nick Waterhouse. He's calling it 'Nick Waterhouse.' And whether intentional or not, it is perhaps his most reflective and reflexive album, employing all of the mature production techniques learned throughout his professional career while retaining a viscous edge that allows it to land with colossal impact - more raw, heavy and overtly confrontational than anything he's made before.

Nick Waterhouse
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Drugdealer

Drugdealer

Raw Honey [LP]

MP3 Album:

$9.99

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Video

“All anyone wants to be is what they can.”

In an era when networked access to information is nearly universal and wearing influences on your sleeve is normalized, it often feels like everything’s been done. Which begs the questions: What’s the point of creating? Does the world need another still life of fruit? Another film about love? Does the world need another melody?

On Raw Honey, his second album as Drugdealer, Michael Collins colors these existential conundrums with lush arrangements, memetic melodies, and a vulnerable tunefulness that tries to make sense of self-doubt and connected loneliness in our shared simulacra.

Collins, who never played an instrument, let alone received musical training in any formal capacity, began experimenting with sounds in 2009 after traversing the US on freight trains. After a few years crafting abstract sampledelia, he decided to forgo his experimental exercises in favor of teaching himself how to write the traditional song. In doing so, he made the decision to approach songwriting from the perspective of a listener, rather than a “musician.”

In 2013, Collins headed west and enmeshed himself in the Los Angeles underground scene. It was then that he began collaborating with players in the orbit of Ariel Pink, slowly over time crafting what would become Drugdealer’s debut album, The End of Comedy, a collection of sunlit songs as indebted to Laurel Canyon psych pop as it is Bacharian orchestration.

Raw Honey continues where The End of Comedy left off, with Collins once again leading an ace crew of collaborators to coalesce the spirit of Drugdealer’s classically modern pop. Built on the foundation of a creative partnership between Collins, Sasha Winn (vocals) and Shags Chamberlain(bass, production), Drugdealer is more a collective than band. Raw Honeyfeatures contributions of Josh Da Costa (drums), Jackson MacIntosh(guitar), Danny Garcia (guitar), Michael Long (lead guitar), and Benjamin Schwab (backing vocals, guitar, organ, piano, wurlitzer), as well as guest vocalists like country balladeer Dougie Poole (“Wild Motion”), Harley Hill-Richmond (“Lonely”), and frequent collaborator Natalie Mering (Weyes Blood) whose dulcet tones sing low before soaring on “Honey,” a track as silky as the nectar itself.

Throughout Raw Honey, Collins and crew display their influences as a new tapestry, one woven with the recycled fibers from thousands of tapestries that have colored our collective listening histories. As evidenced throughout Raw Honey, Collins has an ear for penning numbers that would sound as at home on Classic Rock radio as they would at Zebulon in Los Angeles, where any of the contributors to Raw Honey could, perhaps, be found on any night of the week, on stage, or in the audience supporting another Angelino’s modern pop aspirations.

Rather than hiding behind a curtain or casually sidestepping AOR tropes, Raw Honey adheres to a modern kind of creation — one that cultivates influences and espouses reverence. An honest totem, Raw Honey isn’t tangled up in social norms, with Collins prefering to air his self-doubt as a northern star to guide like-minded people wherever they need to go.

Drugdealer’s Raw Honey will be released on April 19, 2019 via Mexican Summer.

Drugdealer
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Frankie and the Witch Fingers

Frankie and the Witch Fingers' fifth LP, ZAM, bleeds beyond borders and boundaries. Its opening preternatural sounds bubble up out of the primordial soup, spilling into our world, invading the inner recesses of the listener's mind. Like a two-headed snake wrapped around the skull, the album pendulates between winding instrumentals and dancey riffs that pop like supernovas out of the black void. Just when a song goes one way, it propels another through long stretches of a cosmic inferno. Bringing glimmers of krautrock and funk, its eleven tracks unleash a versatile and tenacious weight, slithering between the sexy, the aggressive, the vivacious, and the disorienting-until the living invasion is felt-ZAM-a supernatural entity summoned by four madmen obsessed with tearing open a gateway to dark space. After being pulled apart atom-by-atom, the listener is reconfigured on the other side, born unto starry wasteland. Where head is separated from body. Where music is seen and apocalyptic soundscapes flow to revelation. A funhouse undercurrent pulses through the album's epoch, reflecting a carnival mosaic shrewdly lulling and doggedly brutal. As one track bleeds into the next, that hour of running time becomes wormhole travel, until the listener returns earthbound, transmuted, craving more odyssey.

Frankie and the Witch Fingers
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Sara Bareilles

Amidst The Chaos is the brand new, sixth studio album from acclaimed Grammy and tony award winning Sara Bareilles. The 12-track album features her recently released single "Armor", and the new single "Fire" out now.

Sara Bareilles
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The Specials

The Specials

Encore [Deluxe Red 2LP]

New Vinyl: $39.98 Buy

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$13.99

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The Specials, one of the most electrifying, influential and important bands of all time, will be releasing a special limited edition double vinyl set of their number 1 album “Encore” on July 19th. The translucent red 2xLP format includes “Best of The Specials, Live” and “Encore”, the band’s first new music for 37 years. “Encore” entered the UK album chart at no. 1 and was received with widespread critical acclaim and an acknowledgement from fans and critics alike, that The Specials’ music is every bit as vital and relevant today as it was 40 years ago.

The Specials
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Jeff Lynne's ELO

Single Disc, 180 Gram Black LP, Standard Single Sleeve Jacket, Printed Inner Sleeve

From Out Of Nowhere is the new album from Rock & Roll Hall of Famer and music legend Jeff Lynne, and follows up a remarkable run of sold out European and American tours. Jeff Lynne’s ELO, whose music has touched fans deeply across three generations now, has found himself in recent years at the peak of his powers as a songwriter, musician and producer. This new collection features a buoyant title song which opens the ten-track record including the wistful “Help Yourself” to the celebratory “Down Came the Rain” to the churning rocker “One More Time” to the sweet closer, “Songbird.”

As does its predecessor, 2015’s Alone in the Universe, From Out Of Nowhere shows Lynne finding new facets to his signature sound, at once drawing on his globally loved legacy and forging new paths in both sounds and emotions. Once again, he plays nearly every note of the music on guitars, bass, piano, drums, keyboards and vibes, as well as singing all of the lead and layered harmony vocals. Steve Jay, who also engineered the album, adds some percussion.

Jeff Lynne's ELO
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Iggy Pop

Iggy Pop

Free [Deluxe LP]

New Vinyl: $24.98 Buy

MP3 Album:

$9.99

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A uniquely somber and contemplative entry in the Iggy Pop canon. Free has virtually nothing in common sonically with its predecessor (Post Pop Depression)—or with any other Iggy Pop album. As Iggy says, “Free to recoil from guitar riffs in favor of guitarscapes, from twangs in favor of horns, from back beat in favor of space; and in large part, from the effluent of my own mind and problems, in favor of trying to interpret the poetry of others…so this album just kind of happened to me, and I let it happen.”

Iggy Pop
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