New Music Round-Up 9/20/19: Brittany Howard, Vida Blue, DJ Shadow, Zac Brown Band, Too Many Zooz and more

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Welcome to the BroBible New Music Round-Up, where we firmly believe “Send Me On My Way” by Rusted Root is one of the best driving songs ever and will be for another twenty five years. For more follow me on Twitter:  @ryanoconnell79

This Week’s Playlist

Blink-182 released a new album today, but former member Tom DeLonge finally got someone to listen to him about effin’ aliens. So we’re honoring him this week by highlighting the better of his two other projects outside of Blink, Boxcar Racer.

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This Week’s Releases

Brittany Howard Jaime

When Alabama Shakes emerged towards the end of the last decade, it was clear from the jump that the band’s singer, Brittany Howard, was a star. Her voice sounded like a ten ton tank that was shot out of a canon. The band was good, but Howard was someone to watch.

The band went on to release two albums, but then seemed to disappear just as suddenly as they appeared. It was a bummer, but you know, there were other roots rock bands out there and as is often the case with bands we like, but don’t strongly align ourselves with, moving on isn’t really that hard. Hey, we’ll always have “Hold On” and “Always Alright.”

A Howard solo joint was all but a guarantee once that first Shakes album hit and now, almost a decade later, we have it. Along the way, she dabbled in dive bar rock with Thunderbitch and country with Bermuda Triangle, but now she’s by her lonesome.

The result is freedom and independence and the reassuring feeling that unlike with her work in Alabama Shakes, no one can attribute the quality of music to anyone else, which is what happened when people praised the band’s shift in sound on their second album, Sound & Color. A lot of people assumed that the band’s co-producer, Blake Mills, was responsible for the band’s new sound. They were wrong and Howard grew tired defending herself and fighting for credit, something she doesn’t have to do this time around.

“I’ll just say that I’m very excited, as a woman in 2019, to have produced this record,” she told Pitchfork recently.

The album is named after Howard’s sister, who died when they were younger, but not before teaching Howard how to write songs and play the piano. But in the end, the album is about Howard, who “opens up with painful stories from her past, meditations on the state of the country, queer love songs, and one wildly catchy tune that brushes off the notion that God doesn’t love church-skipping, blunt-smoking sinners like herself.”

Based solely on the songs released before the album came out on Friday, it’s been hard to pinpoint exactly what the whole thing will sound like. The first single, “History Repeats,” is scattershot funk, while the second song, “Stay High,” is a beautiful piece of downhome goodness. The third track, “13th Century Metal” is a fusion of old school spoken word and a pulsating, jazz-influenced grooves.

Overall though, it sounds like Howard, which is what she’s been shooting for since she was a kid and started dreaming of this specific album.

I still kind of miss the Alabama Shakes, though. Just throwing that out there.

Zac Brown Band The Owl

I’d like to think that there are two versions of a video for the band’s song “Leaving Love Behind.” There’s one that is very sweet and serious, possibly featuring the band performing the song in a barn or out in a field. I’m sure it’s wonderful. But then there’s the version they went with, which is full of animals being awesome and whoever made the call on them going with that version deserves a raise.

We’re talking management potential people!

“Leaving Love Behind” comes from The Owl, the band’s first new album in two years. In a statement, Brown said that the band has “been working tirelessly on this album over the past couple years, ensuring every detail is perfect.” Addng that they “are always pushing ourselves as musicians by blurring genre boundaries and incorporating all kinds of music we are personally inspired by, elevating what we are capable as a group. This album will have something for everyone.”

As if to really drive that point home, the band worked with an electic group of producers, including Skrillex, Max Martin, Benny Blanco and One Republic’s Ryan Tedder, among others. I personally have no clue what a Zac Brown Band song produced by Skrillex could even sound like, but I’m sure as hell down to give it a shot and find out.

DJ Shadow “Rosie”

Legendary producer DJ Shadow has announced his first new album in three years and he’s bent on making up for lost time. Our Pathetic Age is a 23-track double album and it features an impressive list of guests: Run the Jewels, Nas, De La Soul, Inspectah Deck, Ghostface Killer, Raekwon, Future Islands’ Samuel T. Herring, Wiki, Paul Banks, and more.

Based on the tracklisting, which was released on Friday, the guest spots look to make up the second disc, with the first disc being DJ Shadow on his own.

In a statement, DJ Shadow talked about his thoughts behind the new album.

“More than anything, I try to get a sense of the mood of society as a whole. The subtle signals that humans send each other, the way people behave, their frustrations and ebbs and flows.  In my part of the world, people are scared. There’s rampant homelessness, and a real fear of falling into generational poverty.  People are addicted to, and addled by distraction; they’re angry and confused, and disaffected by their own governmental institutions.  There’s songs that are inspired by this energy and seek to harness it, to make sense of it. In some cases, there’s attempts to salve the wound; in others, the songs merely observe but don’t offer solutions.  Despite the title, it’s a hopeful, vibrant album…there is always light in darkness. I want it to reflect the times we live in, a signpost in the ground to mark the era…Our Pathetic Age.”

Our Pathetic Age comes out on November 15.

Fitz and the Tantrums All the Feels

Okay, so let’s back it up a bit. Let’s go back to 2010, when Fitz and the Tantrums first showed up and dropped “MoneyGrabber” into our laps. Do you remember that? It was a while ago, but come on, it wasn’t that long ago.

I remember that. I remember loving that song; listening to it so much it could be almost described as unhealthy amount of times. The neo-soul thing wasn’t new, but this crew had put a polish and shine on their take on the genre and that song popped.

Now as for the rest of the album, Pickin’ Up the Pieces – it was fine. There wasn’t anything that I felt matched the magic and bolt of lightning of “MoneyGrabber,” but it was a solid debut nonetheless. They followed that up with More Than Just a Dream (2013,) which was fine and then Fitz and the Tantrums (2016,) which was where they lost me. That “HandClap” song is the sound of nightmares, especially if you’re the parent of a young child.

The band is now back with their fourth albumAll the Feels, and comes after a period that singer Michael “Fitz” Fitzpatrick described on Instagram as one full of “so many highs and lows this last year but we’ll make it through together.” In a statement, he added that the new album “has all the emotions.”

All the emotions, huh? I’m going to hold you to that, sir.

Vida Blue Crossing Lines

With Phish’s summer tour now officially in the books, it’s solo project season for the band. Bassist Mike Gordon is doing a tour later on, Trey Anastasio is out there playing any chance he gets and earlier this week, keyboardist Page McConnell got his side project, Vida Blue, officially back on track. One can only imagine what drummer Jon Fishman is doing to kill time. I mean, the dude plays a vacumm. All bets are off.

Vida Blue, which along with McConnell, consists of bassist Oteil Burbridge and drummer Russell Batiste Jr., and guitarist Adam Zimmon, last played together back in 2004, which was also around the time they released their first and only album. Crossing Lines, their new album, was recorded last year in Miami, with McConnell handling producing duties.

The band kicked off their fall run of shows Thursday night in Washington D.C. and spend the weekend playing shows in Philadelphia and Port Chester, NY. Crossing Lines will be available on vinyl in October. So settle down and be patient for God’s sake!

Gang Starr feat. J. Cole “Family and Loyalty”

Guru passed away in 2010, but his partner in crime with Gang Starr, DJ Premier, has been able to pull enough material from the archives to drop the first new Gang Starr album since 2003. DJ Premier first teased the new music on Instagram earlier this week.

The first track features J. Cole trading verses with the late rapper on top of one of those blissful Gang Starr grooves DJ Premier has come to be known for.

No release date yet, so stand by on that one.

The Shelters Jupiter Sidecar

Listen, if Tom Petty puts his stamp of approval on a band, you owe it to yourself to at least give them the once over. Case in point: The Shelters.

Petty heard these dudes one day, took them under their wing, let them record in his studio and according to band member Chase Simpson, “became their best friend.” Petty produced the band’s self-titled debut album in 2016.

Petty’s finger prints are on their new record, Jupiter Sidecar, too, especially their latest single, “Strange.”

“‘Strange’ is actually a song Tommy was part of,” Simpson, who wrote the track, told Billboard. “That was a song we struggled with for a long time.” Singer-guitarist Josh Jove adds that, “It was a song Tommy had a hard time guiding us through, but he really dug that song and helped us with it in the beginning, for sure.”

Petty was still alive when the band began kicking around ideas for a second album and even after his death, they still found themselves working at his studio.

“It’s the only place we could feel connected to Tommy; He’s still a huge presence there, so after everything happened that’s kind of where everyone would go to feel that energy, and I think it actually helped us,” Simpson says. “It’s still a magical place, and I don’t think you can ever erase the history and energy that’s there. We were lucky enough to still have access to it.”

Don’t let yourself think that the band is nothing more than a Petty rip-off, though. You know, kind of like another rock band out there today that maybe, sort of sounds a lot like Led Zeppelin (cough Greta Van cough Fleet cough.)

They’re influenced by Petty for sure, but have a harder edge than he did. It’s a fun mix that makes for a pretty vibrant pop rock album.

Elsewhere in Music…

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Finally! A Version of “Old Town Road” We Can Get Behind!

There have been a lot of remixes of Lil’ Nas X’s “Old Town Remix.” Like a lot. Like SO MANY. Homeboy is probably working on one right now for all we know. Can’t blame either. Get that money, Lil Nas X.

The latest version of the track that we just can’t escape comes from Anderson .Paak, a fan favorite here at The New Music Round-Up. .Paak was over in London and performed his spin on the song during an appearance on BBC Radio 1’s Live Lounge and this shouldn’t come as a surprise, but it’s dope as hell!

How about we let Anderson .Paak remix every song? Who says no? Really, who says no?

This Week in So, What’s Kanye Up To?

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1. Announcing a release date for his new album, Jesus Is King

2. Cashing checks. Like a lot of checks.

Hey, Did You See This?

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Earlier this week, Twitter user @mattwhitlockPM stopped people in their tracks when he shared a video from a subway stop in New York City.

I for one, watched it roughly five times in a row immediately after seeing it; going through a few stages along the way. First I was impressed, than amused, then impressed again, then really impressed and then finally had to figure out who these dudes were.

They are two-thirds of Too Many Zooz, a trio from New York. Apparently playing in subway stations is kind of their thing.

They also dabble in cover songs.

There a lot of trios out there, but not many of them are made up of baritone sax, trumpet and percussion. I’d go so far as to say that none of them are made up of baritone sax, trumpet and percussion.

Too Many Zooz are currently on tour and you can check out more of their music here and here.

See? Sometimes Twitter is useful.

Sometimes.

Keep Your Opinions to Yourself Please

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Ben Shapiro is a conservative commentator and while I won’t get into most of his beliefs and past comments, he did ruffle some feathers earlier this week. On a recent episode of The Ben Shapiro Show, Shapiro was talking to rapper Zuby and made it clear that he was of the opinion that rap music isn’t actually music.

Now I can feel a certain way about these comments, but I defer to Talib Kweli because frankly, he’s much more qualifed to tackle such an issue.

Okay then. Moving on.

What’s Jason Isbell Tweeting About This Week?

Well, he’s not wrong.

In related news, Isbell is on tour this fall.

And We’ll End Here

 

See you next week!

 

 

 

 

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