We’re passed the point where it’s socially acceptable to wish someone a Happy New Year, which means 2020 is in full swing. So let’s get cracking on the Best of 2020 Playlist, huh?
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This Week’s Releases
Pearl Jam “Dance of the Clairvoyants”
On this past Monday morning, I tuned into the latest episode of The Bill Simmons Podcast and was a little surprised when he announced that he had different intro music. For a while now, he had been using a clip from a live version of “Corduroy” by Pearl Jam. As both a Simmons fan and a Pearl Jam fan, I enjoyed it.
But then on Monday, there was something different. It did not sound like Pearl Jam, that’s for damn sure. I thought maybe he was using music his young son had put together; something he had done before.
Ah but then a few days later, the mystery was solved.
It was not Simmons’ young son, but new music from Pearl Jam, their first single off of their upcoming album Gigaton.
Yes, it really is Pearl Jam. It doesn’t sound like Pearl Jam, but I can assure you, it’s Pearl Jam. Just like, fun Pearl Jam; a side of the band we haven’t seen in awhile, if ever.
In a statement, bassist Jeff Ament said that the new song is “a perfect storm of experimentation and real collaboration,” adding, “We’ve opened some new doors creatively and that’s exciting.”
It’s definitely a new door.
When the band announced that they had a new album coming out, I expected that they would go heavy with it and that the album would be packed with anti-Trump material. And that may very well be the case. But if this new song of theirs is an indication of what’s to come, maybe the band just decided to have a good time this around as opposed to getting political.
The last time the band got super political, it did not go well. They could be forgiven for sitting it out this time.
Gigaton, the band’s first album since 2013’s Lightning Bolt, comes out on March 27.
Gary Clark Jr. w/ The Roots “This Land (Remix)”
Back in early December of 2019, Gary Clark Jr. swung by The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon to perform the title track from his excellent 2019 album This Land. The song packs enough of a punch on its own but for the performance, Clark Jr. used The Legendary Roots Crew as his backing band, giving the song a whole new look and feel.
Now a month later, a studio version of the remixed track is available and features an intro verse from Black Thought. It also features horns and Questlove’s signature drumming.
Somethings are so good, they are best left alone. “This Land” is a fire song, but it’s also the exception to that rule, mainly because of another rule.
Everything is better when The Roots are involved.
Pigeons Playing Ping Pong Presto
Okay, full disclosure here.
I don’t get Pigeons Playing Ping Pong.
It could be because I’m old or just not into jam bands anymore. Or maybe it’s because I’m turned off by their name, which I firmly believe is ridiculous.
I don’t know what exactly it is, but this band is a mystery to me.
With that being said, the jam band funksters are releasing Presto, their fifth studio album and first since 2017’s Pizazz. As with a lot of jam bands, a lot of the material has been out there for a while now. But there’s a reason for that.
“The crowd is like an equal member of the band at this point,” guitarist Greg Ormont said recently. “We really feed off their response and truly value their input, and we can tell right away what works and what doesn’t from their reaction.”
Earlier this week, the band shared a pro-shot video of the second night of the 2019 Halloween run, where they premiered Stop Making Cake, a tribute to The Talking Heads and Cake.
The band is on tour throughout the winter before hitting the festival circuit this summer.
Lukas Nelson & Shooter Jennings “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys”
Back in the day, Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings took a swing at the country classic “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys” and now forty years later, their sons are taking a run at the song.
Willie’s son Lukas and Waylon’s boy Shooter originally recorded the song for the Netflix show The Ranch. A full-length version had yet to be released though. On Friday, the show’s soundtrack was released and with it, finally a full-length version of the song.
Based on comments each singer made about working together, I wouldn’t rule out them teaming up again sometime in the near future.
“I’m so happy to have had the opportunity to sing this song with my brother,” Jennings said. “And just have fun with it.”
Still don’t believe me?
“Working with Shooter was an honor,” Nelson says. “We had a great time in the studio and I would love to do it again many times.”
See? Told you.
Other artists contributing to the soundtrack for The Ranch include Lee Brice, Jason Isbell, The Bodeans, Rodney Atkins and more.
When At the Drive-In broke up in 2001, band members went in two different directions.
Cedric Bixler-Zavala and Omar Rodríguez-López went on to pursue their prog-rock dreams in The Mars Volta while Jim Ward, Paul Hinojos, and Tony Hajjar formed Sparta, a more straight-forward rock band that contained traces of their former band’s sound.
Sparta released two albums in the 2000’s, the last one being Threes in 2006. I would highly recommend their 2004 album Porcelain if you’ve never heard it or haven’t checked it out in a while.
Now after fourteen years away, the band is back with Trust the River. They announced their return earlier this week with the new single “Believe,” a tune with a Springsteen vibe that Ward had been kicking around for a few years.
“‘Believe’ is a song that’s been on my desk for 10 years,” he said. “I’ve recorded numerous versions but couldn’t quite get it where I thought it was ready until now.”
Trust the River comes out on April 10 and the band has a few shows scheduled later that month.
And in somewhat related news, Bixler-Zavala has recently claimed that Scientologists poisoned his dog.
The Wood Brothers Kingdom In My Mind
The roots/rock trio The Wood Brothers have made a name for themselves over the past few years by producing solid, down-home jams. Rarely were there any traces of Chris Wood’s work with the experimental jazz trio Medeski, Martin, and Wood.
On their new album though, that changed and the band decided to do some experimenting. That kind of thing tends to happen when you’re breaking in a new studio, which is what the band was doing, having finished off their new space in Nashville.
“If we had known we were making a record, we probably would have been too self-conscious to play what we played,” reflects Chris. “At the time, we just thought we were jamming to break in our new studio, so we felt free to explore all these different ways of playing together without worrying about form or structure. It was liberating.”
The other Wood, Oliver, elaborated, saying “We weren’t performing songs. We were just improvising and letting the music dictate everything. Somebody would start playing, and then we’d all jump into the groove with them and see where it went.”
The result is a much looser album than their previous work. They released their last album, One Drop of Truth in 2018.
Elsewhere in Music…
Got Some Grammy News For Ya
Sunday night’s Grammys are shaping up to be a good one, whether Joey Kramer comes or not. The highlight of the show is always the performances. And it’s fun because the performances tend to fall into categories.
For instance, there are performances that are tributes.
This year there will be a tribute to the late Nipsey Hustle, who was murdered in April 2019. The tribute will feature YG, Kirk Franklin, DJ Khaled, John Legend, Meek Mill, and Roddy Ricch. The late rapper’s collaboration with DJ Khaled, “Higher,” is nominated for Best Rap/Sung Performance, one of three Grammys Hustle is up for.
Another category of Grammy performances is the superstar team-up, where up and coming artists are paired with established stars. This one can be hit-or-miss.
Lil Nas X’s breakout hit “Old Town Road” is getting the superstar team-up treatment this year as the rapper will be joined by Billy Ray Cyrus, Diplo, BTS, and Mason Ramsey.
All of those artists recorded a version of the tune at some point in 2019, so really, it’s only fair.
And speaking of fair, let’s talk about these Grammy allegations, huh?
Ozzy’s Not Done Yet
In an interview with Good Morning America, Ozzy Osbourne revealed that he been diagnosed with Parkinson’s. He had been diagnosed in February of 2019.
“I did my last show New Year’s Eve at the Forum. Then I had a bad fall,” he explained. “I had to have surgery on my neck, which screwed all my nerves.”
From there, Osbourne was diagnosed with PRKN-2, a “mild-form of Parkinson’s.”
“I ain’t gonna go anywhere yet,” he said in the interview.
Osbourne’s new album, Ordinary Man, comes out on February 21.
This Week in So, That’s Where We’re At, Huh?
Welcome Aboard, Neil!
Neil Young is officially a citizen of the United States of America. The rock legend had said he wanted to become a citizen for one reason and one reason only.
My dude wants to vote Trump out of office.
Or to be more specific, he really wants to vote Trump out of office. Do you know how hard it is to become a citizen of this country? If you don’t, then just know, it’s really effin’ hard.
Young was denied citizenship in November because his marijuana use apparently exhibited “a lack of good moral character.”
Hey, either way, congrats Neil. Happy to have you.
And We’ll End Here
See you next week!