New Music Round-Up 4/3/20: Phish, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, Kings of Leon, Thundercat, Brendan Benson and more
Welcome to the BroBible New Music Round-Up, where I’m currently on my second quarantine beard. For more follow me on Twitter: @ryanoconnell79
With the release of a new Phish album, it’s prompted me to look back at their other studio albums. So with that in mind, this week’s playlist is highlighting the best of Phish’s studio tracks.
This Week’s Releases
Phish Sigma Oasis
“When we recorded the album (Sigma Oasis,) we didn’t plan to release it this way,” Phish said this week. “But today, because of the environment we’re all in, it just feels right. We don’t know the next time that we’re all going to be able to be together.”
By “this way,” they mean seemingly out of the blue.
The band popped up during set break of this week’s Dinner and a Movie live stream to announce that they’d be releasing a new album, Sigma Oasis, the following night. Sure enough, on Wednesday night, they hosted a virtual album premiere of their fifteenth studio album and first since 2016’s Big Boat.
Sigma Oasis was recorded in Trey Anastasio’s barn studio in the fall while the band was running through songs, preparing for their upcoming tour. Yet instead of rehearsing, they found themselves itching to record some of the newer songs they had been working on over the past year or so.
“We set up the gear with no room dividers, no click tracks,” the band said in a statement. “Nothing. Just like a Phish show. Open space. We played for a couple days. We just played a bunch of songs — very quickly, a few takes, very organic, natural, live, honest. We had the best time.”
They stepped outside for a couple minutes, had a photographer take a few pictures, one of which would become the album cover and that was that.
Fast forward three or four months and given this new reality of ours, the band decided to bail on the traditional roll-out of releasing an album and just drop the damn thing in fans’ laps, saying that “this is an opportunity to have a moment where the Phish community can share something despite being physically separated.”
Meanwhile, the band’s Dinner and a Movie series continues. Each Tuesday night, the band will unveil a free live stream of a past show (this week’s was from Maryland in 2014) as well as a dinner recommendation (last week it was Mike Gordon sharing recipes from one of his favorite Burlington, Vermont restaurants.)
The band also collects donations for a different charity each week.
Kings of Leon “Going Nowhere”
Quarantine has proven to be a great opportunity to catch up with friends you haven’t talked to in a while, so it makes sense that Kings of Leon popped back onto the radar this week. The band has been fairly quiet since releasing their last album Walls in 2016.
On Tuesday, the band released the quiet new tune “Going Nowhere” as well as a black and white video featuring the band’s singer, Caleb Followill, performing the song.
“Stay safe. Stay home. We will see you as soon as we can,” the band said in a message accompanying the video.
The somber vibe of both the video and the song is a near-perfect fit for this new world we’re living in, as are the song’s lyrics.
“I’m going nowhere/If you’ve got the time/And it’s a long, hard road/’til I can get to you/And I’ll be holding on/Hoping the sun comes shining through.”
In February, the band started sharing pictures of them working in the studio and currently (although don’t hold your breath) have shows lined up in Europe this summer as well as appearances at Pearl Jam’s Ohana Festival in late September.
You can check out a playlist of some of Kings of Leon’s best songs here.
Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever “She’s There”
Australian quintet Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever first came on my radar sometime last year when I saw their band name and thought that A) it was a pretty interesting name for a band and B) it actually was two interesting band names combined into one.
“In the Capital” was a stand-alone track for the band, having been released after their debut album Hope Downs came out in 2018. Since then they’ve released two more tracks that were also seemingly all by their lonesome, but this week they dropped “She’s There,” the first single off of their upcoming album Sideways to New Italy.
“I wanted to write songs that I could use as some sort of bedrock of hopefulness to stand on, something to be proud of,” the band’s Fran Keaney said in a statement. “A lot of the songs on the new record are reaching forward and trying to imagine an idyll of home and love.”
Did you know that Italy had a cultural foothold in Australia? I didn’t.
But it’s true.
“The new album’s title was inspired by New Italy, a small village near New South Wales’ Northern Rivers and not far from drummer Marcel Tussie’s hometown. Settled by Venetian immigrants in the late 1800s, the community is something of a living monument to Italy’s impact on Australia.”
How about that? You learn something new every day.
Sideways to New Italy comes out on June 5th.
Thundercat It Is What It Is
Bassist extraordinaire Thundercat’s fourth album is finally here. His first release since 2017’s Drunk was one of the year’s most-anticipated albums.
In a statement released earlier this year, Thundercat said the new album was “about love, loss, life and the ups and downs that come with that. It’s a bit tongue-in-cheek, but at different points in life you come across places that you don’t necessarily understand… some things just aren’t meant to be understood.”
And that statement was made before we all went into quarantine.
The new album comes with a heavy list of ringers, including Childish Gambino, BADBADNOTGOOD, Lil B, Kamasi Washington, and Ty Dolla $ign.
As for the album’s title, yes, it’s a widely-used sports cliche, but for Thundercat, it was a way for him to make sense of his friend Mac Miller’s passing, an event that influenced the album.
“I had a very hard time coping with Mac’s passing, and my conclusion with it was just that some things are bigger than your comprehension and not meant to be understood,” he says. “It’s just meant to be what it is.”
The death of Mac Miller is the subject of one of the album’s best tracks, “Fair Chance.”
If for some reason you’re not familiar with the Toronto group BADBADNOTGOOD, I’d highly recommend their album Sour Soul, a collaboration with Ghostace Killah.
Brendan Benson “Richest Man”
Brendan Benson of The Raconteurs is feeling pretty good lately according to his new song, “Richest Man.”
“I’ve got two beautiful babies/one hell of a good looking wife/Got twice the love and half the money/and I feel like the richest man alive”
The song is the latest single from his upcoming solo album Dear Life. The album, which is his first since 2013’s You Were Right, comes out on April 24th.
Well, provided there is an April 24th. I’m not sure what the world will look like by that time. We may have given up on the idea of days and dates by then.
There will just be today, tomorrow, and yesterday.
Fantastic Negrito “Chocolate Samurai”
Have I lost my mind yet, Fantastic Negrito?
Well, I’m happy you asked.
On Monday, I came close. Since then, things have been a little better. It’s a day-to-day situation, so please stand by.
In the video for his latest song, Negrito asked people to share videos of themselves keeping busy during quarantine.
“Have you lost your mind yet? I asked people around the world to send me footage of how they’re coping with coronavirus…this is what came back. A moment of light. We may be isolated behind closed doors, but we are in this together.”
The song will appear on Fantastic Negrito’s upcoming album.
Elsewhere in Music…
Two More Festivals Go Down
If you’re keeping score, so far the Coronavirus outbreak has caused both Coachella and Bonnaroo to reschedule and for Governors Ball to be postponed until 2021.
Boston Calling was set to be headlined by Foo Fighters, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Rage Against the Machine and said that they will be offering either full refunds or tickets to next year’s festival.
Hangout’s future is a little more uncertain. The festival, which featured Red Hot Chili Peppers, Billie Eilish, Lana Del Rey, and Post Malone as headliners, has said that an announcement will be made in the next few weeks as to whether or not the festival will still happen later this year.
Also on the cancellation front, Foo Fighters have canceled their spring 25th anniversary Van Tour, saying that they will look to reschedule the shows for later this year.
You can keep up with all of the tours and festivals that have been canceled here.
This Week in Nailed It
Bill Withers, Rest in Peace
Withers, the legendary singer of “Ain’t No Sunshine,” “Lovely Day,” and “Lean On Me” among many other songs passed away this week.
“What few songs I wrote during my brief career, there ain’t a genre that somebody didn’t record them in,” he told Rolling Stone in 2014. “I’m not a virtuoso, but I was able to write songs that people could identify with. I don’t think I’ve done bad for a guy from Slab Fork, West Virginia.”
Bill Withers was 81.
Hey, Here’s A Couple Oral Histories To Help You Kill Time
Oral histories are great. History, in general, is interesting, but history, as told by those who lived it, tends to take it up a notch.
I have two good ones for you.
First is an oral history of High Fidelity (the movie, not the TV show.)
And second, is an oral history of the delightful, yet occasionally problematic relationship between the music industry and Myspace.
Because come on now, you can only scroll through Instagram for so long before you start to lose it.
And Now, Casual Billie Eilish & Finneas
Earlier this week, iHeart radio made lemonade out of lemons as this year’s award show that they run was canceled. So they, like a lot of us these days, pivoted and produced the iHeart Living Room Concert for America instead.
The show, which was hosted by Elton John, featured artists like Billie Eilish, Dave Grohl, Billie Joe Armstrong and more performing songs from their homes.
Later in the week, Eilish performed again from home, appearing on James Corden’s Homefest on Monday night.
In related news, I don’t know about you, but I think this Billie Eilish gal is going to be something some day.
Questlove To The Rescue!
When you spend all day inside, nights can be a little anti-climatic. You need to mix things up a bit, get away from the television at least for a hot minute.
Thankfully, Questlove has you covered.
Questlove has been performing nightly DJ sets on his Instagram with themes ranging from Stevie Wonder-appreciation sets to chill nights to tributes to the legendary rap crew Native Tongues.
The Roots drummer and bandleader typically announces each night’s theme earlier in the day on his Twitter account.
It’s either jam out to Questlove or rewatch Tiger King again.
It’s your call.
This Week In ‘Thanks, I Needed That’
And We’ll End Here
See you next week!