Wednesday, December 29, 2010

11 Albums For Early 2011

Since Brooklyn is buried, and I have some time in between mandolin playing and digging into some pretty stellar albums that I received as Christmas gifts, I have decided to offer up one last feature before the door closes on 2010. With all of the reflections on the "best of 2010", I'd like to offer up some of the early 2011 releases that I am most looking forward to getting my hands on.

In order of release date:

The Decemberists: The King Is Dead. The band have shelved their more literary tendencies for the time being, and will be releasing an album that was inspired by Americana and roots music, as much as by Colin Meloy's more youthful musical influences including R.E.M and Neil Young. Gillian Welch sings along with the band on seven tunes and R.E.M. guitarist guests on three. (1/18/2011)

Carolina Chocolate Drops & Luminescent Orchestrii. This four-song EP features a meeting of the "stringband minds". The Carolina Chocolate Drops follow up their brilliant Genuine Negro Jig by dropping this collaborative effort with Romanian gypsy stringband Luminescent Orchestrii. You can listen to the tunes over at Nonesuch as well as pre-order it now. (1/25/2011)

Iron & Wine: Kiss Each Other Clean. Mr. Sam Beam returns with his first album in over three years. Kiss Each Other Clean is his major label release after leaving Sub Pop, and judging from the first single, "Tree By The River", it should make for a compelling listen. (1/25/2011)

Jessica Lea Mayfield: Tell Me. Twenty-one year old Jessica Lea Mayfield follows her impressive debut fill-length, With Blasphemy So Heartfelt, with another one produced by Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys. Ms. Mayfield's brother David, of the contemporary bluegrass band Cadillac Sky, joined her and Mr. Auerbach on the new LP.  Following recent tours with Justin Townes Earle and Jay Farrar, Ms. Mayfield is already lining up future tour plans. Definitley someone to watch out for. (2/8/2011)

Hayes Carll: KMAG YOYO: No doubt Mr. Carll is one of the best American songwriters to emerge in recent memory. Trouble in Mind brought lots of national attention to Mr. Carll, including an Americana Music Award for his song "She Left Me For Jesus".  KMAG YOYO (And Other American Stories) is an album that is likely to bring Mr. Carll to the next level. Judging from the catchy, witty, and heartfelt tune "Grateful For Christmas", as well as the rocking title track, which are both streaming now on his website, Mr. Carll has not lost any of his appeal. (2/15/2011)

Drive By Truckers: Go Go Boots. On the heels, literally of The Big To-Do, The Truckers are kicking of 2011 with a bang. They are returning with a new album, a band documentary called The Secret To A Happy Ending, and embarking on an upcoming tour. Go Go Boots has been described as a "country meets rhythm and blues" kind of album. Check out Bettye LaVette's excellent Scene Of The Crime, which featured the Truckers as LaVette's backing band, and you'll get an idea of where this is going. (2/15/2011)

The Low Anthem: Smart Flesh. The Low Anthem are growers. The first time I heard each of the Providence-based band's releases, What The Crow Brings and Oh My God Charlie Darwin, I was immediately drawn in, but only to a point. After repeated plays, the intrigue of each album gave way to a comfortable and growing ease that slowly continued to reveal more and more. I've only seen them perform live at the main stage at The Newport Folk Festival last summer.  I was shocked how they pulled it off. The thought of their sound being lost as it projected to the sea was a fear that quickly faded, as their performance drew the crowd in, which was no easy feat. Smart Flesh is one of the albums I am most excited to hear, by one of the bands I most anxious to see again in 2011. (2/22/2011)

Eddie Spaghetti: Sundowner. Eddie Spaghetti of Supersuckers fame continues his output of outlaw-country tinged solo albums with his third release, Sundowner. It's his first for Bloodshot Records and features originals, as well as noteworthy covers of Dean Martin, Del Reeves, Dave Dudley, and The Dwarves. (2/22/2011)

Lucinda Williams: Blessed. Little Honey saw Ms. Williams rebound from her previous album, the somber West, and break out with a much welcomed spit-fire confidence, bringing "the rock" back to her work. When I saw her tour for the last album, she seemed refreshed, energized, and inspired. I'm anxious to see what new tricks she's got up her sleeve and to see what Lu's got cooking this time around. (3/1/2011)

Steve Earle: TBA. During his opening set for Levon Helm at The Beacon Theatre, Mr. Earle announced that he has finished up a new album with T-Bone Burnett and that he will be hitting the road with The Dukes after he wraps up shooting the next season of Treme this spring. Sounds great, right?

Andy Statman: Old Brooklyn. According to Mr. Statman's interview on Mandolincafe, the new 2-CD set will be available early in 2011, and will include Statman's trio (with Jim Whitney and Larry Eagle), along with special appearances by Byron Berline, Jon Sholle, Ricky Skaggs, Béla Fleck, Paul Shaffer, Bruce Molsky, Art Baron, Marty Rifkin, Bob Jones, and Lew Soloff. 

Honorable Mentions:
Wanda Jackson: The Party Ain't Over (1/25/2011)
Cave Singers: No Witch (2/22/2011)

Lastly, I'd love to see these artists deliver some new material in 2011:

Gillian Welch: The Dave Rawlings Machine album was great and so was seeing them live.  Don't get me wrong- I love DRM and I'm excited to hear her on The Decemberists' The King Is Dead, but I'm really hoping that Ms. Welch will finally follow up her 2003 album (!), Soul Journey, and offer us an album of new material.

Fleet Foxes: According to lots of teasingly intriguing status updates on Facebook, the band is at least recording. I would love to get my hands on a new LP and get to see them in 2011.

Old Crow Medicine Show: These guys have been touring like crazy. Maybe they have squeezed in some studio time?

Bon Iver: Don't get me wrong, I love guilty pleasures as well as the next guy. But now that Gayngs has wrapped up, I'm looking forward to a return to form from the band, more in line with For Emma, Forever Ago and the Blood Bank EP.  Third time's a charm.

Okkervil River: Loved the Rory Erickson collaboration but have missing these guys since The Stage Names and Stand Ins LPs. Personally, I'm more of an Okkervil River fan that always reaches for everything up to, and including, Black Sheep Boy. I'm pulling for less of a concept album, and more of a collection of strong tunes.

Punch Brothers: I know, I know- Antifogmatic is not that old, but after interviewing bassist Paul Kowert, and when he mentioned that these guys may pull out a new tune or two at the upcoming Bowery Ballroom show, I just had to add them on here. I would welcome anything new from these guys- a full length, EP, or just some more shows (which, judging from their tour itinerary, I am sure we can all look forward to).

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