meta-scriptJakob Dylan Opens Up About The Return Of The Wallflowers & Their New Album 'Exit Wounds' | GRAMMY.com
Jakob Dylan

Jakob Dylan

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Jakob Dylan Opens Up About The Return Of The Wallflowers & Their New Album 'Exit Wounds'

GRAMMY-winning singer/songwriter Jakob Dylan talks about how transitions in life inspired him to return to his longtime band the Wallflowers and record a new album, 'Exit Wounds'

GRAMMYs/Jul 9, 2021 - 01:20 am

Much like his famous father, singer/songwriter Jakob Dylan is a master of ambiguity and double meanings. For example, take the title of his GRAMMY-winning band the Wallflowers' first album since 2012, Exit Wounds.

"There's an image that people might have of the exit site of a bullet or an arrow, and I don't really feel that way about the title," Dylan, who has won two GRAMMYs and been nominated for six, tells GRAMMY.com. "I think that it's more about transition. I think anytime you transition from one thing to the other, you're going to have exit wounds, and you're going to give other people exit wounds."

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As transitions go, Dylan recently made a big one into filmmaking: He produced the 2018 film Echo in the Canyon, which chronicled the history and lasting impact of the Laurel Canyon sound of the '60s and '70s. Despite branching off into new territory, his intention has always been to return to the band he started 30 years ago. The inspiration just had to be right.

"Once the dust settled, I waited. I don't feel compelled [to] make a record if I'm not inspired," Dylan adds. "I'm always inspired to tour and play. I'll do that as I wait for material to come." With the help of his band and producer Butch WalkerExit Wounds, which arrives July 9, befits the band's legacy.

GRAMMY.com caught up with Dylan to discuss his return to the Wallflowers with a revamped lineup, what it was like working with singer Shelby Lynne and how the lessons from the band's self-titled 1992 debut still resonate.

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and brevity.

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You got to record some classic songs for the Echo in the Canyon soundtrack. What lessons from that experience carried over to the album?

For those songs, I was able to be an interpreter. I wasn't the writer. I got to put most of the weight on being a singer, which I hadn't really done before. And I found that I could do different things with my voice than I imagined before. I knew that I still love being in a band and playing this music. 

You have times you feel like maybe you want to try new things but singing those songs, those great songs, Buffalo Springfield and the Byrdsthe Mamas & the Papas. It just got me excited to have my own songs to sing.

And we don't need any more songs, necessarily, but I want more songs for myself to sing. I want to be excited when I go out and play shows. I want new songs for those who want to hear new songs. In that regard, it was motivating to just keep doing what it is I do. 

I like being in the studio. I like creating songs. That rush never gets old. And if you've got a good song, you're off to a great start. That's what I've always tried to have when I begin.

Despite playing with a different lineup, you've said that it's very much a band record. Why do you think it feels like a Wallflowers record? 

That's up to you, but for me, what is the band? I don't know. Does a band have to be together for 20 years to be a band? Does a band have to only work within its own confines of each person to be a band for a length of time? 

I think if you put five people in a room and they make a record together for a month, that is a band. And you're working together, you're feeling each other out, you're leaning on each other's strengths and it's cohesive from the beginning to the end. 

And it has a particular sound that only those five people could create together, bouncing off one another. That's a band. Whether or not that band goes out and continues and tours the next four records, it might not. But for the time that it existed, that is a band, as opposed to making a record and having a grab bag of 50 different musicians coming and going. 

Five people together making a record: That's a band to me.

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Does the Wallflowers' material have a special essence that the solo material doesn't have?

Yeah, I suppose it does. You could say it's instrumentation, but when I know I'm making Wallflowers records, certain songs occurred to me. I can't tell you why. But as much as I've worked on this band for 30 years or so, there are times I want to do something different. 

Sometimes, that just means if I tell myself it's a solo record, I'm free of accepting the guidelines of what I find the sound of the Wallflowers is. I'm able to do different things. And when I work on the Wallflowers, I have a sound in mind and it's a continuous sound that they've been carrying for 30 years, and I can change it and enhance it, but at its core, it does a certain thing. But it's usually led by the songs that start showing up to me. 

I don't start writing and thinking, "This is going to be a solo record or a Wallflowers record." Once the songs come in, they just kind of tell me what they want. And sometimes they don't want to be within the sounds of the Wallflowers. Sometimes they want to be more. There's room for everything. There's time for everything. If there's nothing else, there's time for more than I do. 

For the Wallflowers, it's something that I do, and I started that sound a long time ago. I had to do it with almost anybody. It's my voice and it's my song, and it's traditional instrumentation, guitar, bass, drums, keyboards. I can make that sound like The Wallflowers with almost any different group of people. That's the sound that lives in my head.

Read More: Butch Walker On His New Rock Opera, 'American Love Story,' And Making Amends For His "Complicit" Youth

What makes this particular lineup special or unique?

I always think it's the songs that get over or they don't. I think with this particular group of guys, I think that everybody understood that we're all here because if I'm not going to get over and these songs aren't reaching people, then there's no point in being here. And we had a good understanding of that.

You also got to work with Shelby Lynne on four of the songs. You've been a fan of hers for a while, so I imagine it was a special experience. What was it like to work with her and develop a musical chemistry?

It's not enough to just call in your favorite singer to sing with you. You have to have some kind of chemistry and purpose together. Sometimes you can just swallow each other up. So as much as I admire Shelby and I admire a lot of people, you run the risk of just not working, not sounding good, wasting each other's time. 

Shelby's a giant on her own. Her own records, she takes up a lot of space. She has a very unique voice, she's a contralto, and she has a really strong identity to the songs she writes. But she can wear a lot of hats, and she was able to switch gears and back me up versus what her normal ability is, which is to be the person out front.

I have a very strong kinship with her musically and I admire her greatly. And I appreciate very much that we sounded good together because I would have been pretty devastated had we not. I've done that before. I've had people come in and sing, and it's disappointing when you just have to face the fact that you don't sound good together. 

Fortunately, I think Shelby and I sounded great together when we started.

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"Exit Wounds" to some might conjure a negative and unpleasant meaning, but you see it in a more positive light. Why do you think it's important to make that distinction?

I like words that are pliable. I like words that have multiple meanings. [The phrase] "exit wounds" to me is not negative. There's an image that people might have of the exit site of a bullet or an arrow, and I don't really feel that way about the title. 

I think that it's more about transition. I think anytime you transition from one thing to the other, you're going to have exit wounds, and you're going to give other people exit wounds. That's what life is. You don't get to be the same thing forever and not move along without some kind of pain. And sometimes that pain is required and it's necessary and it makes you a better person or takes you to a better place.

Collectively, I think you could probably say the entire planet has a lot of exit wounds. Whether you lost somebody or you changed in the last year, you're somebody different now. You got to say goodbye to whatever it was you were. And maybe you're better now. And maybe you're not, but either way, you're taking some exit wounds with you and that's how you evolve. 

That's how you change. And it's unavoidable, but it is not negative. It's not meant to be standing up on a battlefield and walking on after some horrific situation. That's not how I see it. I think you can attach that meaning to the current times, but I wouldn't. And I don't really mean to project that. I think it's more about transition.

How does songwriting help you make sense of the world?

I haven't yet. That's certainly not my goal. I just went by my songs, they're conversations, and you're working through them, but there is no end game. Nothing is resolved. I write mostly about the human condition and what I feel about it. 

I'm in the thick of it as you are or as anybody else. I explore those ideas in my songs, why we do good things, why we do bad things. Why do we do bad things when we know what the right thing to do is, we do the wrong thing. These are all things that you explore in the song, and these are conversations.

"Maybe Your Heart's Not in It No More" is one such conversation, one with your muse—your motivation. Why is that conversation important?

It's what's in your mind that keeps you moving and that drives you. It's possibly a conversation you could have with your own muse when you're asking yourself and your muse, if you're still in sync together and if you are still doing what you hope to be doing. Are you still inspired?

What were you hoping to convey on "Who's That Man Walking 'Round My Garden"?

It's tied in traditional music really, in that you're protecting something. You find something in your life that's worth protecting, your ideals, a person, whatever it is. And you find it worth protecting and you find that it's been toiled with or messed with or compromised. You might ask yourself: Who is that, or what is that, that is doing such a thing?

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Next year marks the 30th anniversary of the band's debut. What do you recall of those sessions?

We were very young, and we felt we were one of the greatest rock 'n' roll groups in the world. And although it turns out that, at that young age, we certainly were not, it's the right attitude to have. 

And we had a producer, Paul Fox, who allowed us to feel that way and have that kind of attitude, which is important in music and rock 'n' roll. And while that record is flawed, I'm very proud that we did it that way. I think just two weeks' time that we rehearsed and had our songs together and we sound like a band. 

And I'm glad we came up when we did. We played it live with very few overdubs. We just thought that's how bands do it. We thought that was the whole point. No one told us yet that you could spend six months in the studio exploring. It's good to have that experience where you're relying only on your own abilities and not the studio as an additional instrument.

What advice would you have for newer bands?

Records should not be a burden to make. There should be a lot of joy in making them. And you can have a good time making a record and do great things at the same time. 

I think a lot of young bands are taught that records are supposed to be really difficult to make, and that's totally inaccurate. They can be, and you can get great results doing that, but it's not required. You can have a good time making a record and do stuff that you find to be meaningful and deep.

Jakob Dylan Talks 'Echo In The Canyon,' Tom Petty & Why You Can't Define California Sound

Marcus King
Marcus King

Photo courtesy of the artist

interview

Marcus King Is Spilling His Guts On ‘Mood Swings’ — But He’s Always Serving The Song

The more Marcus King faces ugly psychic territory — as on his new album, ‘Mood Swings’ — his guitar playing gets subtler, not more strident. Read on for an interview with the GRAMMY nominee about working with Rick Rubin, his mentor Eric Clapton and more.

GRAMMYs/Apr 4, 2024 - 10:29 pm

I'll just match your energy. I love a good lie-down too.

That’s what flitted through young guitar great Marcus King’s mind as he worked with the preternaturally serene Rick Rubin — the prospect of which had blown his mind. (“I was just in a hotel room, beside myself with disbelief,” he told Variety about getting that phone call.) Despite any jitters, “we just kind of hit it off in that energy realm. It's positive.”

This isn’t how the GRAMMY nominee is used to working: when he hooked up with the Black Keys Dan Auerbach to make his last album, Young Blood, it was a more methodical and structured approach while Rubin’s is more relaxed and unconventional.

But these sessions were no spa days: perhaps in a Rubinesque paradox, King’s art bored deeper into his own psyche, and he focused like never before. But despite King’s openness about his struggles, and songs titles like “F*** My Life Up,” “Soul It Screams” and “Save Me,” his latest album, Mood Swings — released in February 2024 — doesn’t sound like a thrashing, cathartic nightmare, but sweet, healing soul music.

King can shred — but like his heroes, including mentor Eric Clapton, he serves the song always. “I don't like to do it where it's gratuitous, and I just like to play what needs to be played and say what needs to be said,” he said of his soloing on the record. “It was certainly a garnish that we held off on until the very end.”

Read on for an interview with King about the making of Mood Swings, his guitar and rig thinking, and the uneasy relationship between trauma and marketing.

This interview has been edited for clarity.

Describe the bridge between working with Dan Auerbach and working with Rick Rubin.

Both are very profound individuals, and both of them I met in the same way, which was just out of the blue, cold called. And it just felt really similar and it felt like the right path. And I really just fell in love with Rick's energy as soon as I arrived in California.

And really different approaches — me and Auerbach stuck to a very regimented, some would say, Nashville approach. And we got a lot of really great stuff done together. And Rick's approach is wildly different and more lackadaisical.

I love Rick Rubin; I have all the respect in the world for him. But there’s sort of a dual perspective of him — what some call holistic, some might call hands-off. Did any perceptions of him melt away?

Well, I was really thankful. I'm almost finished with his book right now.

Rick, he's a fan first and foremost. It was really humbling to see that even someone with his pedigreed tenure as a producer and just a symbol of music as a whole, just to see that he still got nervous about interviews. And he still spoke about Paul McCartney like a fan — not as a peer, because they're both legendary in the music world. But he speaks about Springsteen and McCartney the same way that I would as far as them just being bigger than life.

I don't know, I didn't really have any preconceived notions about Rick, per se. I knew he was an eccentric producer, so I was expecting the unexpected. And for me, I try to match energies and I think maybe just some people are more thrown off by a barefoot yogi-esque producer lying down in the middle of a meeting while we're listening to music and stuff.

Are you kind of an all-genres guy yourself, as everyone knows Rubin is? I can’t imagine you sitting around all day listening to music that’s similar to yours.

Right, yeah. Very rarely do I listen to guitar music, even. I like to listen to all kinds of music, and just try to find inspiration from wherever it might be hiding. And that kind of changes from day to day.

What have you been listening to that might surprise people?

Well, I’ve been on a real Blaze Foley kick, which isn’t very surprising. Just a really wonderful songwriter out of Austin, Texas — a really tortured soul, and just an incredible voice. I remember a friend of mine actually introduced me to that music years ago. And when we both listened to it, it was a late night, but I remember we both just wept. He's got the most beautiful voice.

I find these songs sometimes, and the melody just kind of latches onto me, and I just listen to it over and over and over again. And this particular song by Blaze Foley, it's called “Rainbows and Ridges.”

And what's really interesting about him is there's hardly any good recordings of him. They're all just decent. And he never owned a guitar. He just borrowed them all the time and just kind of roamed from place to place. And there's obviously something romantic about that just to look at it as an artist. But he's a really interesting cat, man, and just one of those guys. I've been just being inspired by him again lately.

Stevie Wonder is another guy that's always constantly inspiring me. I got to meet him recently in LA for a brief moment, and that just relit that fire that I've always had. Early ‘70s Stevie Wonder when he did the “Sesame Street” theme song — I highly recommend you give that a Google. 

What else am I listening to? I mean, I'm moved by Beyonce's new record. I heard that song “16 CARRIAGES” and how heavy those hits are when they come in. I want to figure out how the f*** they did that, 'cause it moves me greatly.

You called Foley a “tortured soul.” In the music industry, our conception of that has changed, in a positive way. But it remains archetypal, and reading your press release, you talk about deep, dark stuff. Does it ever become tiresome to talk about your darkest moments as a marketing need?

I've often worried that it may come across as some kind of a marketing ploy, but it's really just the truth. And I'm hoping to use my experiences, and my depression is something that I feel I'm in remission of.

And when I'm on the road and I'm staying on a healthy regimen and I'm avoiding these things that I like to do — or overindulge in, rather — I feel that I have an opportunity and an ability to truly emote, and allow myself to be a vessel for the energy to flow through. And I just want people to be able to hear that and people to latch onto that idea that we can use our shortcomings in mental health, I guess, is the only way I can put it.

For me, Rick was one of the first people to explain to me that I could use what I saw as shortcomings or challenges. He kind of encouraged me to use my bipolar disorder or my depression or anxiety as a writing partner.

And now I just know that, although right now I'm feeling positive, I'm on a good regimen, microdosing psilocybin and taking my vitamins — eating my Wheaties, as they say — working out and doing a lot of mindfulness practices, and writing and trying to stay healthy in all regards, I could still get off the phone and still be hit with a really big wave of depression, 'cause it's just something that I can't really predict.

I know the things that I can do to try to avoid it, but it's an unpredictable beast, and when it comes around, I just kind of view it as a writing partner and I just kind of view it as a time for me to get back to work and just hope that they leave after the songs are written.

Do you take a community-oriented approach to recovery and mental health? In other words, are you like one star in a constellation of like-minded people, in any sort of formalized system? Or are you the type to stick to your own business and keep it moving?

Well, I think that's a really fascinating perspective to take. I guess, in a lot of ways we are part of the same galaxy, as it were, especially since I'm inviting people to come out and take part in this experience that we're bringing from town to town, which is really just as much for me as it is for anyone who's attending.

I think a lot of the abandonment issues and my anxious avoidant attachment style and all, it's just healed a little bit each night from getting validation from folks who were kind enough to come out and see me.

I mean, I’m trying to just fully understand that as a positive, because seeking validation from strangers from night to night could be taken as a non-positive. But it's what I love to do, and I hope that someone else can get some healing from it the same way that I do.

I love your guitar playing on the record. I love players who can be flashy, but often opt to weave in and out — the Richard Thompsons, the Doug Gillards.

Well, I think I'm like you, man. I don't like to do it where it's gratuitous, and I just like to play what needs to be played and say what needs to be said. It was certainly a garnish that we held off on until the very end.

For instance, on "Delilah," it's obviously a produced solo, because it's six or seven layers on top of one another. And that was kind of by design, just playing directly through the board with a fuzz pedal, in kind of a [David] Gilmour approach.

But playing something that was from the heart, but knowing that I was going to stack it. I got to go back and play it. I'm doubling it and then putting a harmony on it. A little bit more thought out in that regard. You're not going to be as overly flashy if you know you got to double it — but at the same time, you’re still allowing it to be straight from the heart and not too overthought. Kind of balancing out that middle of the road.

But when I play live, there's always moments for improvisation, where we can go on a trip together, me and the band. And just kind of dance together in an astral realm, to put it in a hippie-dippy way.

Where are you at with your rig lately?

Live, I use my Orange amplifier we did together. We named it the MK Ultra, and it’s got six L6 [power valves] in it.

It was my approach to do a hybrid of my two favorite amplifiers. I wanted a Fender Super Reverb, but I wanted it to have the output authority of a Marshall or an Orange — that real British power, and they really did a great job with it. It's super simple, just volume, treble, bass. And I just wanted something that was super intuitive, plug in and play, and we definitely achieved that.

Who are your heroes, as per “British power”? I’ve been going down some weird late-Sabbath rabbit holes lately.

Iommi is certainly a hero of mine. His accident in the factory caused him to lose the tip of his middle and ring finger on his right hand — he was left-handed, so he played that way. He fashioned some fingertips for himself, and that’s why they tuned down. Just all this s*** that happened that felt like it was just meant to be. I don’t think they would’ve tuned down otherwise.

Robin Trower is one of my favorite guitar players — a really incredible sound, and a good example of a great Strat player. Who else? Clapton, obviously. He’s a friend and a mentor, and you can’t go wrong with Cream or Blind Faith era Clapton. Just pure Gibson through Marshall power.

I’ve loved Eric Clapton since I was a little kid. What’s it like to be in the room with him?

Well, it's another situation of just a really heavy presence, and he's always been so gracious and so sweet to me and my guys. I feel like when I see Clapton, he's like if the Olympics were a person. It's like every four years, I get to see him and spend some time with him and borrow some of his energy.

The last time we hung out, he was really so gracious with his time and spoke with me and my dad. And my dad just talked to him for half an hour about learning “Sunshine of Your Love” when he was in high school, and he was just so cool about it. He could have had a s****y attitude about it, but he was just as gracious as could be, and I really admire that.

So many people of that stature would not give a damn, and it would show.

I think that's part of the thing that's so cool about him. He felt that what my father was saying was earnest and true, and I think he had enough respect for me to understand I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing if my father hadn't been inspired by his playing in the first place and then taught me to play guitar later with those same riffs. I mean, it's all just so meant to be. He's a really deep, deep guy.

That’s a guy who’s been to hell and back. I’m sure you’ve had great conversations along those lines.

He's definitely an inspiration to us all who have that devil inside of us. He's certainly a good resource and he's provided a lot of good resources too. Yeah, he's a beautiful guy.

Anything else on your mind about Mood Swings before we hop off?

It's just a full release of where I was at mentally, and I hope that it resonates with people — whether it resonates with you personally, or from an empath standpoint. Maybe you know someone, maybe one of your loved ones is someone who struggles with these kinds of issues.

And if you don't want to go that deep with it, I mean, [drummer] Chris Dave and [organist] Cory Henry are dope as f***. Just enjoy it from the musical side of it.

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list

21 Albums Turning 50 In 2024: 'Diamond Dogs,' 'Jolene,' 'Natty Dread' & More

Dozens of albums were released in 1974 and, 50 years later, continue to stand the test of time. GRAMMY.com reflects on 21 records that demand another look and are guaranteed to hook first-time listeners.

GRAMMYs/Jan 5, 2024 - 04:08 pm

Despite claims by surveyed CNN readers, 1974 was not a year marked by bad music. The Ramones played their first gig. ABBA won Eurovision with the earworm "Waterloo," which became an international hit and launched the Swedes to stardom. Those 365 days were marked by chart-topping debuts, British bangers and prog-rock dystopian masterpieces. Disenchantment, southern pride, pencil thin mustaches and tongue-in-cheek warnings to "not eat yellow snow" filled the soundwaves.  

1974 was defined by uncertainty and chaos following a prolonged period of crisis. The ongoing OPEC oil embargo and the resulting energy shortage caused skyrocketing inflation, exacerbating the national turmoil that preceded President Nixon’s resignation following the Watergate scandal. Other major events also shaped the zeitgeist: Stephen King published his first novel, Carrie, Muhammad Ali and George Foreman slugged it out for the heavyweight title at "The Rumble in the Jungle," and People Magazine published its first issue. 

Musicians reflected a general malaise. Themes of imprisonment, disillusionment and depression — delivered with sardonic wit and sarcasm — found their way on many of the records released that year. The mood reflects a few of the many reasons these artistic works still resonate.  

From reggae to rock, cosmic country to folk fused with jazz, to the introduction of a new Afro-Trinidadian music style, take a trip back 18,262 days to recall 20 albums celebrating their 50th anniversaries in 2024. 

Joni Mitchell - Court & Spark

Joni Mitchell’s Court & Spark is often hailed as the pinnacle of her artistic career and highlights the singer/songwriter’s growing interest in jazz, backed by a who’s who of West Coast session musicians including members of the Crusaders and L.A. Express. 

As her most commercially successful record, the nine-time GRAMMY winner presents a mix of playful and somber songs. In an introspective tone, Mitchell searches for freedom from the shackles of big-city life and grapples with the complexities of love lost and found. The record went platinum — it hit No.1 on the Billboard charts in her native Canada and No. 2 in the U.S., received three GRAMMY nominations and featured a pair of hits: "Help Me" (her only career Top 10) and "Free Man in Paris," an autobiographical song about music mogul David Geffen.

Gordon Lightfoot - Sundown

In 2023 we lost legendary songwriter Gordon Lightfoot. He left behind a treasure trove of country-folk classics, several featured on his album Sundown. These songs resonated deeply with teenagers who came of age in the early to mid-1970s — many sang along in their bedrooms and learned to strum these storied songs on acoustic guitars. 

Recorded in Toronto, at Eastern Sound Studios, the album includes the only No.1 Billboard topper of the singer/songwriter’s career. The title cut, "Sundown," speaks of "a hard-loving woman, got me feeling mean" and hit No. 1 on both the pop and the adult contemporary charts. 

In Canada, the album hit No.1 on the RPM Top 100 in and stayed there for five consecutive weeks. A second single, "Carefree Highway," peaked at the tenth spot on the Billboard Hot 100, but hit No.1 on the Easy Listening charts.

Eric Clapton - 461 Ocean Boulevard

Eric Clapton’s 461 Ocean Boulevard sold more than two million copies worldwide. His second solo studio record followed a three-year absence while Clapton battled heroin addiction. The record’s title is the address where "Slowhand" stayed in the Sunshine State while recording this record at Miami’s Criteria Studios. 

A mix of blues, funk and soulful rock, only two of the 10 songs were penned by the Englishman. Clapton’s cover of Bob Marley’s "I Shot the Sheriff," was a massive hit for the 17-time GRAMMY winner and the only No.1 of his career, eclipsing the Top 10 in nine countries. In 2003, the guitar virtuoso’s version of the reggae song was inducted into the GRAMMY Hall of Fame

Lynyrd Skynyrd - Second Helping

No sophomore slump here. This "second helping" from these good ole boys is a serious serving of classic southern rock ‘n’ roll with cupfuls of soul. Following the commercial success of their debut the previous year, Lynyrd Skynyrd’s second studio album featured the band’s biggest hit: "Sweet Home Alabama." 

The anthem is a celebration of Southern pride; it was written in response to two Neil Young songs ("Alabama" and "Southern Man") that critiqued the land below the Mason-Dixon line. The song was the band’s only Top 10, peaking at No. 8 on the Billboard Top 100. Recorded primarily at the Record Plant in Los Angeles, other songs worth a second listen here include: the swampy cover of J.J. Cale's "Call Me The Breeze," the boogie-woogie foot-stomper "Don’t Ask Me No Questions" and the country-rocker "The Ballad of Curtis Loew." 

Bad Company - Bad Company

A little bit of blues, a token ballad, and plenty of hard-edged rock, Bad Company released a dazzling self-titled debut album. The English band formed from the crumbs left behind by a few other British groups: ex-Free band members including singer Paul Rodgers and drummer Simon Kirke, former King Crimson member bassist Boz Burrel, and guitarist Mick Ralphs from Mott the Hoople. 

Certified five-times platinum, Bad Company hit No.1 on the Billboard 200 and No. 3 in the UK, where it spent 25 weeks. Recorded at Ronnie Lane’s Mobile Studio, the album was the first record released on Led Zeppelin’s Swan Song label. Five of the eight tracks were in regular FM rotation throughout 1974; "Bad Company," "Can’t Get Enough" and "Ready for Love" remain staples of classic rock radio a half century later. 

Supertramp - Crime of the Century

"Dreamer, you know you are a dreamer …" sings Supertramp’s lead singer Roger Hodgson on the first single from their third studio album. The infectious B-side track "Bloody Well Right," became even more popular than fan favorite, "Dreamer." 

The British rockers' dreams of stardom beyond England materialized with Crime of the Century. The album fused prog-rock with pop and hit all the right notes leading to the band’s breakthrough in several countries — a Top 5 spot in the U.S. and a No.1 spot in Canada where it stayed for more than two years and sold more than two million copies. A live version of "Dreamer," released six years later, was a Top 20 hit in the U.S. 

Big Star - Radio City

As one of the year’s first releases, the reception for this sophomore effort from American band Big Star was praised by critics despite initial lukewarm sales (which were due largely to distribution problems). Today, the riveting record by these Memphis musicians is considered a touchstone of power pop; its melodic stylings influenced many indie rock bands in the 1980s and 1990s, including R.E.M. and the Replacements. One of Big Star’s biggest songs, "September Gurls," appears here and was later covered by The Bangles. 

In a review, American rock critic Robert Christgau, called the record "brilliant and addictive." He wrote: "The harmonies sound like the lead sheets are upside down and backwards, the guitar solos sound like screwball readymade pastiches, and the lyrics sound like love is strange, though maybe that's just the context." 

The Eagles - On the Border

The third studio record from California harmonizers, the Eagles, shows the band at a crossroads — evolving ever so slightly from acoustically-inclined country-folk to a more distinct rock ‘n’ roll sound. On the Border marks the studio debut for band member Don Felder. His contributions and influence are seen through his blistering guitar solos, especially in the chart-toppers "Already Gone" and "James Dean." 

On the Border sold two million copies, driven by the chart topping ballad "Best of My Love" — the Eagles first No.1 hit song. The irony: the song was one of only two singles Glyn Johns produced at Olympic Studios in London. Searching for that harder-edged sound, the band hired Bill Szymczyk to produce the rest of the record at the Record Plant in L.A. 

Jimmy Buffett - Livin’ and Dyin in ¾ Time & A1A

Back in 1974, 28-year-old Jimmy Buffett was just hitting his stride. Embracing the good life, Buffett released not just one, but two records that year. Don Grant produced both albums that were the final pair in what is dubbed Buffett’s "Key West phase" for the Florida island city where the artist hung his hat during these years.

The first album, Livin’ and Dyin’ in ¾ Time, was released in February and recorded at Woodland Sound Studio in Nashville, Tennessee. It featured the ballad "Come Monday," which hit No. 30 on the Hot 100 and "Pencil Thin Mustache," a concert staple and Parrothead favorite. A1A arrived in December and hit No. 25 on the Billboard 200 charts. The most beloved songs here are "A Pirate Looks at Forty" and "Trying to Reason with Hurricane Season." 

Buffett embarked on a tour and landed some plume gigs, including opening slots for two other artists on this list: Frank Zappa and Lynyrd Skynyrd. 

Genesis - The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway

Following a successful tour of Europe and North America for their 1973 album, Selling England by the Pound, Genesis booked a three-month stay at the historic Headley Grange in Hampshire, a former workhouse. In this bucolic setting, the band led by frontman Peter Gabriel, embarked on a spiritual journey of self discovery that evolved organically through improvisational jams and lyric-writing sessions. 

This period culminated in a rock opera and English prog-rockers’s magnum opus, a double concept album that follows the surreal story of a Puerto Rican con man named Rael. Songs are rich with American imagery, purposely placed to appeal to this growing and influential fan base across the pond. 

This album marked the final Genesis record with Gabriel at the helm. The divisiveness between the lyricist, Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks came to a head during tense recording sessions and led to Gabriel’s departure from the band to pursue a solo career, following a 102-date tour to promote the record. The album reached tenth spot on the UK album charts and hit 41 in the U.S. 

David Bowie - Diamond Dogs

Is Ziggy Stardust truly gone? With David Bowie, the direction of his creative muse was always a mystery, as illustrated by his diverse musical legacy. What is clear is that Bowie’s biographers agree that this self-produced album is one of his finest works. 

At the point of producing Diamond Dogs, the musical chameleon and art-rock outsider had disbanded the band Spiders from Mars and was at a crossroads. His plans for a musical based on the Ziggy character and TV adaptation of George Orwell’s "1984" both fell through. In a place of uncertainty and disenchantment, Bowie creates a new persona: Halloween Jack. The record is lyrically bleak and evokes hopelessness. It marks the final chapter in his glam-rock period — "Rebel Rebel" is the swaggering single that hints at the coming punk-rock movement. 

Bob Marley - Natty Dread

Bob Marley’s album "Natty Dread," released first in Jamaica in October 1974 later globally in 1975, marked his first record without his Rastafari brethren in song Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer. It also introduced the back-up vocal stylings of the I Threes (Rita Marley, Judy Mowatt and Marcia Griffiths.) 

The poet and the prophet Marley waxes on spiritual themes with songs like "So Jah Seh/Natty Dread'' and political commentary with tracks,"Them Belly Full (But We Hungry)" and "Rebel Music (3 O’clock Road Block)." The album also Includes one of the reggae legend’s best-loved songs, the ballad "No Woman No Cry," which paints a picture of "government yards in Trenchtown" where Marley’s feet are his "only carriage." 

Queen - Sheer Heart Attack

The third studio album released by the British rockers, Queen, is a killer. The first single, "Killer Queen," reached No. 2 on the British charts — and was the band’s first U.S. charting single. The record also peaked at No.12 in the U.S. Billboard albums charts. 

This record shows the four-time GRAMMY nominees evolving and shifting from progressive to glam rock. The album features one of the most legendary guitar solos and riffs in modern rock by Brian May on "Brighton Rock." Clocking in at three minutes, the noodling showcases the musician’s talent via his use of multi-tracking and delays to great effect. 

Randy Newman - Good Old Boys

Most recognize seven-time GRAMMY winner Randy Newman for his work on Hollywood blockbuster scores. But, in the decade before composing and scoring movie soundtracks, the songwriter wrote and recorded several albums. Good Old Boys was Newman’s fourth studio effort and his first commercial breakthrough, peaking at No. 36 on the Billboard charts. 

The concept record, rich in sarcasm and wit, requires a focused listen to grasp the nuances of Newman’s savvy political and social commentary. The album relies on a fictitious narrator, Johnny Cutler, to aid the songwriter in exploring themes like "Rednecks" and ingrained generational racism in the South. "Mr. President (Have Pity on the Working Man)" is as relevant today as when Newman penned it as a direct letter to Richard Nixon. Malcolm Gladwell described this record as "unsettling" and a "perplexing work of music." 

Frank Zappa - Apostrophe

Rolling Stone once hailed Frank Zappa’s Apostrophe as "truly a mother of an album." The album cover itself, featuring Zappa’s portrait, seems to challenge listeners to delve into his eccentric musical universe. Apostrophe was the sixth solo album and the 19th record of the musician’s prolific career. The album showcases Zappa’s tight and talented band, his trademark absurdist humor and what Hunter S. Thompson described as "bad craziness."  

Apostrophe was the biggest commercial success of Zappa’s career. The record peaked at No. 10 on the Billboard Top 200. The A-side leads off with a four-part suite of songs that begins with "Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow" and ends with "Father Oblivion," a tale of an Eskimo named Nanook. The track "Uncle Remus," tackles systemic racism in the U.S. with dripping irony. In less than three minutes, Zappa captures what many politicians can’t even begin to explain. Musically, Apostrophe is rich in riffs from the two-time GRAMMY winner that showcases his exceptional guitar skills in the title track that features nearly six minutes of noodling.

Gram Parsons - Grievous Angel

Grievous Angel can be summed up in one word: haunting. Recorded in 1973 during substance-fueled summer sessions in Hollywood, the album was released posthumously after Gram Parsons died of a drug overdose at 26. Grievous Angel featured only two new songs that Parsons’ penned hastily in the studio "In My Hour of Darkness" and "Return of the Grievous Angel." 

This final work by the cosmic cowboy comprises nine songs that have since come to define Parson’s short-lived legacy to the Americana canon. The angelic voice of Emmylou Harris looms large — the 13-time GRAMMY winner sings harmony and backup vocals throughout. Other guests include: guitarists James Burton and Bernie Leadon, along with Linda Ronstadt’s vocals on "In My Hour of Darkness." 

Neil Young - On The Beach

On the Beach, along with Tonight’s the Night (recorded in 1973, but not released until 1975) rank as Neil Young’s darkest records. Gone are the sunny sounds of Harvest, replaced with the singer/songwriter’s bleak and mellow meditations on being alone and alienated. 

"Ambulance Blues" is the centerpiece. The nine-minute track takes listeners on a journey back to Young’s "old folkie days" when the "Riverboat was rockin’ in the rain '' referencing lament and pining for time and things lost. The heaviness and gloom are palpable throughout the album, with the beach serving as an extended metaphor for Young’s malaise. 

Dolly Parton - Jolene

Imagine writing not just one, but two iconic classics in the same day. That’s exactly what Dolly Parton did with two tracks featured on this album. The first is the titular song, "Jolene," recorded  at RCA Studio B in Nashville. The song has been covered by more than a dozen artists. 

Released as the first single the previous fall, "Jolene," rocketed to No.1 on the U.S. country charts and garnered the 10-time GRAMMY winner her first Top 10 in the U.K. The song was nominated for a GRAMMY in 1975 and again in 1976 for Best Country Vocal Performance. However, it didn’t take home the golden gramophone until 2017, when a cover by the Pentatonix featuring Parton won a GRAMMY for Best Country Duo/Group Performance. 

Also included on this album is "I Will Always Love You," a song that Whitney Houston famously covered in 1992 for the soundtrack of the romantic thriller, The Bodyguard, earning Parton significant royalties. 

Barry White - Can’t Get Enough

The distinctive bass-baritone of two-time GRAMMY winner Barry White, is unmistakable. The singer/songwriter's sensual, deep vocal delivery is as loved today as it was then. On this record, White is backed by the 40-member strong Love Unlimited Orchestra, one of the best-selling artists of all-time. 

White wrote "Can’t Get Enough of Your Love, Babe," about his wife during a sleepless night. This song is still played everywhere — from bedrooms to bar rooms, even 50 years on. In the U.S., the record hit the top of the R&B pop charts and No.1 on the Billboard 200. Although the album features only seven songs, two of them, including "You’re the First, the Last, My Everything" reached the top spot on the R&B charts. 

Lord Shorty - Endless Vibrations

Lord Shorty, born Garfield Blackman, is considered the godfather and inventor of soca music. This Trindadian musician revolutionized his nation’s Calypso rhythms, creating a vibrant up-tempo style that became synonymous with their world-renowned Carnival. 

Fusing Indian percussion instrumentation with well-established African calypso rhythms, Lord Shorty created what he originally dubbed "sokah," meaning, "calypso soul." The term soca, as it’s known today, emerged because of a journalist’s altered writing of the word, which stuck. The success of this crossover hit made waves across North America and made the island vibrations more accessible outside the island nation. 

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Neil Young performs in concert during Farm Aid 2023

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Inside Neil Young's 'Before And After': Where All 13 Songs Came From

The folk-rock titan's newest LP is a journey through the past — whether recent or decades in the rearview. But 'Before And After' is far more interesting than just an album of re-recordings.

GRAMMYs/Dec 7, 2023 - 02:56 pm

More than his fragile tenor, knife-twisting pump organ, swarming Old Black guitar, or any other aural hallmark, Neil Young is defined by his dogged, locomotive-like (and somewhat wackadoo) resolve to surge forward. Come hell or high water, Young will continue the mission.

Which doesn't mean innovate, necessarily — even though innumerable contemporary indie and Americana artists owe their livelihoods to him. It's just that the fire he ignited in 1966, when he wrote his first song as a Buffalo Springfielder, remains furiously burning in 2023.

"I don't care. I figured that's why they like it, because I don't care. It's what I have to do. I want to do this," the two-time GRAMMY winner and 28-time nominee told a tickled Zane Lowe last year, while promoting his latest album with Crazy Horse, World Record. "That's why there's 51, 52 albums: because I want to do this, and I can still feel it. I'd be crazy to stop."


All of a year after
World Record, Young is back with a new album, Before and After. (Would that be his 53rd? His recent cavalcade of archival releases renders the number hopelessly blurry.)

Before and After, out Dec. 8 is a collection of solo re-recordings of old songs; it shows that even with his foot on the accelerator, he tends to drift into a figure 8. Some tunes, like "Mr. Soul," are classics. Others, like the Trans outtake "If You Got Love," are exclusively recognizable to the real heads.

But despite his litany of stylistic detours, Young's essentially the same musician as when we met him; as such, this sequence is seamless. Which leads to another wrinkle; Young designed Before and After to be an unbroken suite of music.

"Songs from my life, recently recorded, create a music montage with no beginnings or endings," he wrote in a press release. "The feeling is captured, not in pieces, but as a whole piece — designed to be listened to that way. This music presentation defies shuffling, digital organization, separation. Only for listening. That says it all."

And another wrinkle: Although it's not billed as such, there are signs that the album was recorded live, with a few overdubs added in post — which he's done before, on albums like Rust Never Sleeps and Earth. Not only does the tracklist hew closely to the setlists from his West Coast solo tour last summer, but crowd noise is faintly audible in several spots, and the credits declare the recording location to simply be "USA."

As usual with this most mercurial of artists, Before and After seems simple, but there are layers of Youngian mystery. But where these songs initially hail from is no mystery at all. Here's a quick breakdown of exactly what we're hearing on Before and After.

"I'm the Ocean" (Mirror Ball, 1995)

A warts-and-all collaboration with Pearl Jam recorded in record time, Mirror Ball's actual songs have always had a hard time peeking through what Young described as "a big smoldering mass of sound." (Well, except the undeniable, immediate "Downtown" — perhaps the exception that proves the rule.)

But although its songs were written entirely in the span of the four-day recording session, the passage of time and a fair amount of dedicated listening — will bear out their merits. The Before and After version of "I'm the Ocean" is proof positive: What sounded a bit like an interminable garage-rock workout reveals itself to be a "Thrasher"-esque folk epic.

"I'm not present/ I'm a drug that makes you dream/ I'm an aerostar/ I'm a Cutlass Supreme," Young evocatively sings. "In the wrong lane/Trying to turn against the flow/ I'm the ocean/ I'm the giant undertow."

"Homefires" (Neil Young Archives Volume II: 1972-1976, 2020)

No doubt, it was a treat to hear Homegrown, one of Young's whitest whales. Recorded in 1974 and '75, it was shelved until Young finally released it in 2020 — the tip of the spear for a lot of unreleased material in its wake.

But for those steeped in Young lore, it seemed like there was a lot missing: where's "Give Me Strength"? Where's "Frozen Man"? Where's "Homefires"? Clearly, he didn't forget about the latter; there's a perfectly lovely version here.

But take it under advisement to seek out the original recording, which is deliciously vibey and aching as so much early Young music was.

"Burned" (Buffalo Springfield, 1966)

All these decades on, the bond between Young and his Buffalo Springfield/CSNY partner Stephen Stills is ironclad: if nothing's changed since early 2023, the musical brothers still get together to jam every Wednesday.

Young's devastated, precocious "Burned," from the eponymous first Springfield album, has lost none of its sting; it's downright thrilling to hear Young lay into it. Buffalo Springfield may have come out 57 years ago, but burned out on these tunes he is not.

"On the Way Home" (Last Time Around, 1968)

The studio recording of the yearning "On the Way Home" always felt a little incongruous with its sunshine-pop production; the solo, acoustic version on 2007's Live at Massey Hall 1971 always seemed like the take.

While that possibly remains true, this version acts as a worthy bookend, the after to the before: "Though we rush ahead to save our time/ We are only what we feel," Young sings, summing up his entire career.

**"If You Got Love" (dropped from Trans, 1983)**

Decades of snickers later, the electronic Trans has been redeemed in the critical aggregate.

It was never a thumbed-nose, label-baiting genre excursion like some of his other '80s albums. Rather, it was an honest response to parenthood of a nonverbal son. (And, it must be said, his burgeoning love of — bordering on a fixation on — Devo.)

While outtake "If You Got Love" lacks the aggressive vocoder of its Trans brethren, it remains shockingly commercial and soft-rock for this artist: Young himself called it "wimpy."

While your mileage may vary on the OG version, Young's Before and After take corrects that perception; performed alone on his trademark, rickety pump organ, reveals it to be blindingly pure and simple, a harbinger of Young's hymnlike, borderline childlike material in the new millennium.

"A Dream That Can Last" (Sleeps with Angels, 1994)

The largely muted Sleeps with Angels might be the most underrated album in Young's catalog. In terms of evocative songcraft, brooding atmosphere, and smoldering performances from Crazy Horse, it belongs near the top of the heap.

Two of its highlights are its bookends, both on sonorous tack piano: "My Heart" and "A Dream That Can Last." And this version sounds as emotionally naked as its predecessor, as Young revisits his vision of heaven: "The cupboards are bare, but the streets are paved with gold."

"Birds" (After the Gold Rush, 1970)

This slightly deeper cut from After the Gold Rush has followed Young around forever; perhaps the simplicity and companionability of this piano ballad has rendered it timeless.

And as always, it's moving to hear a 78-year-old Young still drawing power from something he sang as a twenty-something in coffeehouses.

Indeed, lines like "When you see me fly away without you" feel poignant in light of the numberless friends and loved ones — many indispensable to his creative arc — that Young has said goodbye to. When comparing original Horseman Danny Whitten to steel guitarist Ben Keith to his ex-wife, Pegi Young, "Birds" still feels elegiac to the maximum.

"My Heart" (Sleeps with Angels, 1994)

The aforementioned "My Heart" kicks off Sleeps with Angels with capacious canyons of silence and windswept lyrics: "When dreams come crashing down like trees/ I don't know what love can do/ When life is hanging in the breeze/ I don't know what love can do."

In reverse order, these two Sleeps with Angels tunes still carry potency and import — although nothing beats the dramatic arc of the original album, which all Young fans must seek out if they haven't.

"When I Hold You in My Arms" (Are You Passionate?, 2002)

Eyeballing the title, this writer figured "When I Hold You In My Arms" was a deep cut from Storytone, his 2014 paean to new love — and now wife and frequent collaborator — Darryl Hannah.

Rather, it's from 2002's Are You Passionate?, Young's curious team-up with Booker T. and the MGs. (Before tracking that one, a handful of its songs — some under different names — ended up on the long-shelved Toast, which Young finally released in 2022.)

But it could just as easily exist on that album-length tribute to new love: "When I hold you in my arms/ It's a breath of fresh air/ When I hold you in my arms/ I forget what's out there." And that's partly what renders this deeper-than-deep cut still resonant on Before and After.

"Mother Earth" (Ragged Glory, 1990)

Back in 1990, the chief ecological concern arguably wasn't global warming, but the hole in the ozone. Still, "Mother Earth" feels prescient — not only due to current climate woes, but as per Young's catalog itself, which has come to be saturated with climate-centric songs.

But Young's topical songs have always been most powerful when they sound deeply personal, too — and this fragile, organ-led version of "Mother Earth" sounds like a devotional by the Lorax.

"Mr. Soul" (Buffalo Springfield Again, 1967)

Like fellow Buffalo Springfield stone classic "Burned," "Mr. Soul" still feels bluesy and badass, best delivered with a heavy dose of spite. (Young's solo version on 1991's Unplugged, for which he was in the mother of bad moods, is stormy and unforgettable.

The kinder, gentler version on Before and After, though, is no less indispensable, for how ancient it sounds behind the organ — as if Young dredged it from the earth as a young man and it shines eternal.

"Comes a Time" (Comes a Time, 1978)

The ambling "Comes a Time" and its attendant, eponymous album have always been fan favorites: that rootsy 1978 album is where Young crossed a rubicon of earned maturity.

And despite Young's declaration that "I don't want to come back and do the same songs again" on said West Coast tour — if, in fact, this was drawn from that — "Comes a Time" feels like a requisite greatest hit. Which doesn't mean it's not good to hear it — quite the opposite.

"Don't Forget Love" (Barn, 2021)

Young bringing out an aged and grizzled Crazy Horse for three albums in a row — 2019's Colorado, 2021's Barn and 2022's World Record — might come across as a declaration to rawk

But paradoxically — as Young has always been — these albums have featured some of the most restrained performances by the Horse since Sleeps with Angels

Colorado concluded on a whisper-light note with "I Do," and Barn does the same, with the dreamlike "Don't Forget Love," performed here on upright piano.

These 13 songs may span seven decades, but Young is immutably Young — and if he gets to add more decades of work to his voluminous songbook, he will remain so. That's the thing about this prestige artist: most of us celebrate the Before, but the After is arguably even more interesting.

15 Must-Hear Albums December 2023
(Clockwise) Tate McRae, Pink, Peter Gabriel, Nicki Minaj, ATEEZ, Atmosphere, Alicia Keys, Chief Keef

Photos: Baeth; Jeff Hahne/Getty Images; Elena Di Vincenzo Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images; Rodin Eckenroth/WireImage; courtesy of KQ Entertainment; Dan Monick; Manny Carabel/WireImage; Prince Williams/WireImage

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15 Must-Hear Albums This December: ATEEZ, Nicki Minaj, Neil Young & More

Just in time to soundtrack your festivities and welcome in an inspiring new year, press play on these 15 releases from Peter Gabriel, Tate McRae, Alicia Keys and others.

GRAMMYs/Dec 1, 2023 - 06:37 pm

December is a time for rejoicing and reflecting. How did this year go? And what will come next? As we look back on the meteoric 2023 and start planning for 2024, there’s a sundry of new music to usher in this journey.

This month, artists like Alicia Keys and the Killers will celebrate 20-year anniversaries with The Diary Of Alicia Keys 20 and Rebel Diamonds, respectively. Others will bring forth much-awaited sequels, like Nicki Minaj’s Pink Friday 2 and Chief Keef’s Almighty So 2. Adding to that, live performances by Pink and Khruangbin will get immortalized, while rising star Tate McRae will release her sophomore effort, Think Later, and Dove Cameron will debut Alchemical: Vol. 1.

Below is a guide to all the must-hear releases of December 2023, just in time to soundtrack your festivities and welcome in an inspiring new year. Read on for big releases from ATEEZ, Peter Gabriel, Neil Young, and more.

Dove Cameron - Alchemical: Vol. 1

Release date: Dec. 1

Following Dove Cameron's viral, platinum-certified 2022 hit "Boyfriend," expectations were high for the artist's first studio album. The singer and actress will release Alchemical: Vol. 1 at the top of the month.

"I wrote Volume 1 during a period of deep healing and space to process that I had never given myself. I hope you feel yourself in these songs as much as I do. Part 1: tear down. Part 2: rebuild," the singer shared on Instagram, teasing Vol. 2 of the collection (release date yet to be announced).

A follow-up to Cameron’s 2019 debut EP Bloodshot / Waste, Vol. 1 features eight tracks. Aside from "Boyfriend," she has revealed singles "Breakfast," "Lethal Woman," and "Sand," building up a sultry sound and an alluring mystique that prompt her as one to watch.

Dillon Francis - This Mixtape Is Fire TOO

Release date: Dec. 1

Eight years after This Mixtape Is Fire, Dillon Francis' latest "turned out better than I could have ever imagined," the DJ and producer shared on Instagram about his forthcoming album, This Mixtape Is Fire TOO.

"The whole goal of this album was to make amazing songs with artists I love and respect," he added. The 14-track record features several 2022 singles, such as "Free" with Alesso and Clementine Douglas, "LA On Acid" with Good Times Ahead, "Pretty People" with INJI, "Don't Let Me Let Go" with Illenium and Evan Giia and "buttons!" with Knock2.

Aside from collaborating with some of dance music’s biggest names, Francis seems intent on having fun. His latest single, "I’m My Only Friend" with Arden Jones, demonstrates that by pairing up his characteristic high-octane beats with an amusing music video featuring actor Billy Zane in an impromptu road trip adventure.

ATEEZ - THE WORLD EP.FIN: WILL

Release date: Dec. 1

K-pop’s favorite pirates ATEEZ are getting ready to release their second Korean full album: THE WORLD EP.FIN: WILL. The record will conclude the trilogy that began with EPs The World EP.1: Movement and The World EP.2: Outlaw.

With a slew of teaser pictures and a mysterious black-and-white trailer, the eight-member boy band continues to further their lore and leave fans eager to decipher their next chapters. In addition, a tracklist and an instrumental preview of the album’s upcoming 12 songs, including title track "Crazy Form," were revealed, promising exciting twists to their thunderous beats.

EP.FIN: WILL also brings a surprise in its unit and solo songs, all with lyrics co-written by the members: Jongho brings his powerful vocals to "Everything," "Youth" is a duet by Mingi and Yunho, "It’s You" is performed by Yeosang, San, and Wooyoung, and "MATZ" is the long-awaited collaboration between the band’s two eldest members, Hongjoong and Seonghwa.

Khruangbin - Live at Sydney Opera House

Release date: Dec. 1

After a yearlong series of live albums in partnership with other artists (Toro y Moi, Men I Trust, Nubia Garcya and others), Khruangbin will close out 2023 with the upcoming Live at Sydney Opera House — this time on their own.

The double LP was recorded in November 2022, and compiles their three-night residency at one of Australia’s most prestigious venues. With the announcement, the Texas trio also shared a new version of their 2015 hit, "People Everywhere (Shifting Sands Remix)."

The setlist also includes classics like "So We Won’t Forget," "A Calf Born in Winter" and "Friday Morning," attesting to the band’s expertise in highlighting the best of their career while giving tracks a fresh, unexpected spin.

Alicia Keys - The Diary Of Alicia Keys 20

Release date: Dec. 1

The end-of-year celebrations will start early for Alicia Keys and her fans. On Dec. 1, the 15-time GRAMMY winner will release a special version of her multiplatinum sophomore album, The Diary of Alicia Keys, in order to celebrate its 20th anniversary.

The 2023 LP will feature 24 tracks, including nine bonus songs including the previously unreleased "Golden Child." Keys also uprezzed four music videos from that era on YouTube: "Karma," "You Don’t Know My Name," "If I Ain’t Got You" and the live version of "Diary" with Tony! Toni! Toné! and Jermaine Paul.

To make the milestone even more special, Keys will perform the full album in an intimate, one-night-only concert at New York’s Webster Hall on the day of release. A portion of the earnings will be donated to the nonprofit organization she co-founded in 2003, Keep a Child Alive.

Peter Gabriel - i/o

Release date: Dec. 1

During every full moon this year, Peter Gabriel unveiled a new track off his upcoming studio album, i/o. It was a clever way to compensate fans for a lengthy wait. i/o is Gabriel’s first LP of new and original content since 2002’s Up, and has been in the works for almost three decades.

"I’m very happy to see all these new songs back together on the good ship i/o and ready for their journey out into the world," the British singer said in a press release. With 12 tracks "of grace, gravity and great beauty," the album tackles themes like the passage of time, grief and injustice, but never gives up on hope. Each track comes in three versions: the Bright-Side Mix by Mark ‘Spike’ Stent, the Dark-Side Mix by Tchad Blake, and the In-Side Mix by Hans-Martin Buff.

Gabriel also spent a good part of 2023 on the i/o Tour across Europe and North America. Attendees were lucky to witness the album played in full and some of the singer’s biggest hits, as well as the unreleased track "What Lies Ahead."

Atmosphere - Talk Talk EP

Release date: Dec. 1

From "Talk Talk (feat. Bat Flower)," a track off Atmosphere’s May album So Many Other Realities Exist Simultaneously, comes Talk Talk EP. According to a press release, the Minneapolis duo was so captivated by that song’s "vaguely alien and deeply human" sounds that they had to develop it into a ten-track deep dive.

In the album, rapper Slug and DJ/producer Ant "dart across threads of space-time" and become "titans of the electro-rap that was foundational to their youths," citing names like Kraftwerk and Egyptian Lover as inspirations. The press release also mentions that Talk Talk EP is a testament to rap’s connection to electronic music of the ‘70s and ‘80s.

That statement rings true, for instance, in the two singles they have released so far, aside from "Talk Talk": the sparkly "Rotary Telephone," and the haunting album closer, "Traveling Forever."

Pink - Trustfall Tour Deluxe Edition

Release date: Dec. 1

Following the smashing success of her ninth studio album, February’s Trustfall, and of her back-to-back Summer Carnival stadium tour and Trustfall arena tour this year, pop giant Pink will wrap it all up with the release of Trustfall Tour Deluxe Edition on Dec. 1.

The special record features six live recordings (from Summer Carnival), including "Cover Me in Sunshine" with her daughter Willow Sage Hart, as well as covers of Sade’s "No Ordinary Love" and Sinead O’Connor’s "Nothing Compares 2 U," with Brandi Carlile. It also includes July’s protest song "Irrelevant" and two new singles: "Dreaming" with Marshmello and Sting and "All Out of Fight."

As the unstoppable artist that she is, Pink has already announced a slew of 2024 Summer Carnival tour dates for Oceania in February and March, and the U.K. and Europe throughout June and July.

Tate McRae - Think Later

Release date: Dec. 8

"Here’s to 20 years old and figuring who the f[—] i am," celebrated rising sensation Tate McRae wrote on Instagram. Writing her sophomore album, Think Later, was "one of the most stressful, exciting, nerve racking, and fun things I’ve ever gone through. For the first time in my life I lived this year a little less with my head and a little more with my intuition — and I [really] hope [you] guys can feel that through the music," she added.

Produced by Ryan Tedder, the album dives into "the all-too-relatable feelings of falling in love and embracing the raw emotions that you experience as a result of leading with your intuition and heart," according to a press release. It is preceded by singles "Greedy" — of recent TikTok fame — and "Exes."

The Canadian singer has also announced an eponymous tour in support of the new album. McRae will visit Europe and North America from April to August 2024, bringing it to a close in Oceania throughout November.

Nicki Minaj - Pink Friday 2

Release date: Dec. 8

After several postponements, rap superstar Nicki Minaj is celebrating her birthday by bringing Pink Friday 2 to the world. The much-expected release marks Minaj’s first studio album since 2018’s Queen.

The album is a sequel to her acclaimed debut, 2010’s Pink Friday, and is supported by two singles, "Super Freaky Girl" and "Last Time I Saw You." During an Instagram Live on Oct. 24, as reported by People, Minaj shared that "this entire album will be the biggest gift I have ever given humanity thus far. I can stand by that. I will bet any amount of money that Pink Friday 2, the album, is going to make people fall in love immediately."

The Trinidadian American icon recently announced a 2024 tour in North America and Europe. Exact dates are yet to be announced, but the commotion was such that Minaj’s fandom, Barbz, crashed her website upon hearing the news.

The Killers - Rebel Diamonds

Release date: Dec. 8

It’s been almost 20 years since the Killers burst into the rock scene with their 2004 debut Hot Fuss. To honor that achievement, the Las Vegas band will release Rebel Diamonds, a compilation of 20 hits encompassing all their seven LPs, plus new track "Spirit."

In the tracklist, fans will be able to take a trip down memory lane with singles like "Mr. Brightside," "When You Were Young," and "Human," among other classics. "See, it’s been said that what’s remembered, lives," frontman Brandon Flowers said in a trailer for the album. "And we’ve racked up stadiums full of memories the past 20 years, enough to fill lifetimes." 

Flowers continued: "It sounds a bit like Bowie. Or is it Brando? Or maybe it's somewhere in between? It always is with us. And to our legion of victims, thank you, thank you, thank you. And do not fear. There is more mining to be done." The Killers released another best of in 2013, Direct Hits.

Neil Young - Before and After

Release date: Dec. 8

"Songs from my life, recently recorded, create a music montage with no beginnings or endings." That’s how folk legend Neil Young described his upcoming 45th studio album, Before and After, in a press statement.

The record spans a collection of 13 solo acoustic re-recordings among Young’s favorites in his catalog. The statement adds that "each of the songs blend and create one continuous flow, clocking in at a 48-minute pure and intimate listening experience," with Young summarizing it as an experience where "the feeling is captured, not in pieces, but as a whole piece — designed to be listened to that way."

Young also co-produced and co-mixed the record, which includes the previously-unreleased track "If You Got Love," among classics such as 1966’s "Burned," 1970’s "Birds" and 1994’s "A Dream That Can Last." Before and After is the latest in a series of archival releases by Young, arriving just a few months after "lost" album Chrome Dreams

Car Seat Headrest - Faces From the Masquerade

Release date: Dec. 8

In March 2022, indie band Car Seat Headrest was playing a three-night residency at New York’s Brooklyn Steel. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they asked the audience to mask up, but also to "accoutre yourself in whatever further costumery you please" for an evening of "music, dancing, and identity loss," according to a press release.

The result of that experience is Faces From the Masquerade, CSH’s upcoming double album that will bring the magic of those nights to the world. "The 2022 Masquerade was a crazy tour that ignited with a particular ferocity once we touched ground on the east coast," said vocalist Will Toledo in a statement. "Our time in New York captures that momentary magic where we’re playing at our peak and the crowd is responding as one giant body."

Faces From the Masquerade features 14 of the band’s best tracks as rearranged, revamped live versions — for example, "Deadlines" went through adjustments "to turn it into the climactic dance monster it always wanted to be," added Toledo. The record has been described as "simultaneously a joyride through the greatest hits and a conversation with the devoted and ever-growing following that has formed around the band, their songs and live communions."

Michael Nau - Accompany

Release date: Dec. 8

Multihyphenate Michael Nau has been building an extensive indie discography since the mid-’00s, both as the frontman of bands Cotton Jones and Page France and as a soloist. Next month, he will add on to that by releasing his fifth studio album, Accompany.

The album came to be when producer Adrien Olsen (the Killers, Lucy Dacus) invited Nau to record at his Richmond, Virginia studio. "I didn’t have much of a plan before Adrien reached out, so I wrote some songs specifically for the session," Nau explained in a release. "It had been a while since I’d made music in a room with other people. We just sort of started playing and didn’t really talk about what was happening."

The record's 11 tracks "come together to paint a beautiful picture" with imaginative lyrics that manage to be "introspective, but vague and open-ended. Nau recently announced tour dates across the U.S. from February to April 2024.

Chief Keef - Almighty So 2

Release date: Dec. 15

Rumors about Almighty So 2, the sequel to Chief Keef’s revered 2013 mixtape of the same name, have been going on since 2018. The Chicago drill pioneer went as far as teasing the cover art on Instagram in 2019 — only to spend years without further updates. In any case, it seems like the wait is finally over: Almighty So 2 is scheduled to drop on Dec. 15.

In the beginning of November, Keef shared two new cover arts for the album on Instagram, under the caption "2 real soon." While there’s no further info, the album will feature 17 tracks, including 2022 singles "Tony Montana Flow" and "Racks Stuffed Inna Couch," according to Apple Music.

Almighty So 2 is Chief Keef’s fifth studio album, arriving after 2021’s 4NEM. Recently, the rapper was featured on the track "All The Parties" off Drake’s latest album, For All The Dogs. This collaboration increased speculations about a possible Drake feature on Keef’s album as well — the latter commented "Don’t forget them vocals, crody" on Drake’s Instagram back in August.

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