With the first month of the new year rapidly coming to its close, the music community has already been gifted some fantastic new music in 2017. The Flaming Lips released its 14th studio album, Oczy Mlody, via Warner on the 13th. English indie pop sensation The xx unveiled I See You after a painful four year hiatus. Pop heartthrob turned psychedelic rail-riding Dead family blues guitarist John Mayer released his EP, The Search of Everything: Wave One, which includes the first four songs from his upcoming seventh studio album. What’s more – Baltimore’s high-octane funk outfit Pigeons Playing Ping Pong successfully tapped into its loyal fanbase (sometimes referred to as “The Flock”) with a Kickstarter campaign to fully fund the studio sessions and recording overhead for its third full-length album, fittingly titled Pizazz. With 2017 off to a hyper-charged sonic start, it’s time to turn our attention to the musical gifts awaiting us in the month of February. Below find five albums to watch out for next month.
Ross Jenssen – Stories (2/7/17)
If you haven’t already heard of Ross Jenssen at this point, there’s no better time than RIGHT NOW to hop on the bandwagon. Comprised of Jules Jenssen (drums), Brian Ross (bass), and Sam McGarrity (guitar), Ross Jenssen is an incredibly unique heavy-future-groove trio based out of Massachusetts that’s set up for a monster year in 2017. Stories is the band’s sophomoric release and follows 2015’s full-length album, Phrases, which features heavy guitar storytelling, diverse and dexterous drumming, and powerful 5-string electric bass. “Drawing upon the heavier sounds found amongst the more diverse styles comprising their debut release, Phrases, the Stories EP exemplifies Ross Jenssen’s desire to dish out heavy music for heavy times,” writes the band in a teaser for the upcoming release. So mark your calendars, and check out one of my favorite songs from Phrases below.
Thievery Corporation – The Temple of I & I (2/10/17)
DC-based psychedelic livetronica outfit Thievery Corporation announced in early December it would release its 8th studio album, The Temple of I & I, in February. This marks the band’s first release since Saudade, which was put out in 2014 through their independent label, Eighteenth Street Lounge Music. Thievery Corporation has always been known to capture different worldly sounds with their eclectic studio productions and diverse array of contributing live musicians, and The Temple of I & I will be no exception. The band recorded the album at Geejam Studios in Port Antonio, Jamaica, and spent a significant amount of time on the island to fully capture the ethos of the culture’s indigenous sound. “The innovation, spirit and power of Jamaican music is a constant source of creative manna for us,” explains Eric Hilton of Thievery, “Frankly, we could have spent a year there, soaking up the vibes in the air and the strength and resilience resonating from the people. And for us, the only way to connect with this rich source of inspiration was to work in that environment – to feel the pulse of the place.” Two tracks, “Letter to the Editor” and “Let the Chalice Blaze” have already been released from the forthcoming album. Check out “Letter to the Editor” below, and of course, mark your calendar.
Thudercat – Drunk (2/24/16)
Just hours ago actually, bass virtuoso Stephen Bruner, better known by his stage name, Thundercat, announced the release date of Drunk, his first full length studio album since 2013’s Apocolpyse. Well known as a celebrated collaborator with Kendrick Lamar, Flying Lotus, and Erykah Badu, Thundercat won his first Grammy in 2016 for “Best Rap/Sung Collaboration” with Kendrick Lamar for their track “These Walls” off K.Dot’s To Pimp a Butterfly. On the forthcoming album, Thundercat reaps the benefits of his past collaborations with a roster of notable features including Kendrick Lamar, Pharrell, Wiz Khalifa, Flying Lotus, and Kamasi Washington. Just today he shared the first single off Drunk titled “Show You The Way” – a duet featuring yacht rock icon Michael McDonald and ’80s soundtrack king Kenny ‘Danger Zone’ Loggins. “Show You The Way is about going down the rabbit hole, taking you to another place,” says Thundercat, “The experience that I’ve had growing up with friends and people that I’ve been around where it’s inviting them into where I come from emotionally.”
The Orwells – Terrible Human Beings (2/17/17)
Garage rock revival band The Orwells announced late last year it would release its third full length studio album, Terrible Human Beings, in mid February. After putting out its critically acclaimed debut album, Remember When, via indie label Autumn Tone Records, the punk rock quintet from Elmhurst, IL, quickly signed a multi-record deal with Atlantic Records. Terrible Human Beings marks the second album produced and distributed by Atlantic and follows 2014’s Disgraceland, which debuted at 64 on the Billboard 200 chart. Terrible Human Beings was recorded at Chicago’s Electrical Audio and was produced by Jim Abbiss of the Arctic Monkeys. “The Pixies were an obsession when we were writing this album,” says guitarist Matt O’Keefe, “I think that’s where a lot of trying to make the songs and the guitar parts very simple was coming from, because the Pixies are kings of that. We’ve always been a simple band, but this time it was about trying to keep everything straightforward, nothing flashy.” The Orwells have already released three tracks from Terrible Human Beings titled “Black Francis,” “They Put A Body In The Bayou,” and “Double Feature.” Check out “They Put A Body In The Bayou” below, and mark the calendar.
Dams of the West – Youngish American (2/24/16)
Dams of the West, the new solo project of Vampire Weekend’s Chris Thomson, is scheduled to release its debut record at the end of the month via 30th Century Records / Columbia. Late last year Thomson announced that Youngish American was coproduced by none other than Patrick Carney of the Black Keys, as well as Roger Moutenot and himself. The album’s lead single, “Tell the Truth,” was released as a video in early December, and true to Vampire Weekend’s fervent political tendencies, the song and video is jam packed with social commentary. In fact, Thomson released this statement in conjunction with the video: “This video was inspired by the oppressive sense of paranoia that has come to define 2k16 for me. I am fascinated by the way the most trivial bits of footage can be used as definitive proof that, say, a certain televangelist is a shape-shifting reptilian overlord or Hillary def has a malignant brain tumor. While I’m not yet a political figure, I thought it would be a worthwhile exercise to see what a closer examination of my own actions might reveal. The results, as you can see, are provocative yet not entirely unexpected.” Enjoy the video below, and I hope you’re as excited as I am for this upcoming month of music.