Photo: Yasmin Than
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'
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."
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 Walker, Exit 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.
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 Byrds, the 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.
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.
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.
"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?
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.
Photo: Michael Putland/Getty Images
Inside The Alternate Universe Of Neil Young's 'Chrome Dreams'
Neil Young's 'Chrome Dreams' was shelved in 1977; nine of its 12 tunes made it to ensuing albums. How would its release have altered Young's creative arc?
In the mid-2000s, Neil Young dropped an artifact at fans' doorsteps that was strange even by his standards. It was a new album, Chrome Dreams II — a sequel to that titular album from 1977. The wrinkle? That album didn't exist.
Well, not officially. While perplexed consumers wondered if they'd been unwitting recipients of the Mandela Effect, Chrome Dreams was a known quantity to the heads.
As Jimmy McDonough explained in his 2002 biography of Young, Shakey, Chrome Dreams was an acetate — a proposal of what his next album could be. It even had a cover: a sketch by producer David Briggs of the front end of a '55 Chrysler, blending into a woman's face.
But Chrome Dreams wasn't to be; what the public got was 1977's rowdy, eclectic American Stars 'n Bars. Despite containing the classic "Like a Hurricane" among other luminous deep cuts like "Star of Bethlehem," American Stars 'n Bars feels more like a mixtape than a proper album. McDonough himself called it a "haphazard snapshot."
As part of a deluge of archival releases, Chrome Dreams is finally available in its original form as of Aug. 11. Despite being shelved, most of Chrome Dreams' 12 tunes made it to the public, in one form or another; many of them became bona fide Young classics.
Five tracks destined for Chrome Dreams made it on American Stars 'n Bars, including "Star of Bethlehem" and "Homegrown." "Pocahontas," "Sedan Delivery" and "Powderfinger" appeared on Rust Never Sleeps two years later. A handful of others would surface on various albums, culminating with "Stringman" on 1993's Unplugged.
Now that Chrome Dreams II has a I, a tantalizing question arises: if this album came out as planned, how would Young's discography be fundamentally altered? In some instances, it wouldn't be too far gone. In others, everything would change.
From Homegrown to Hitchhiker to Toast — from 1975, 1976 and 2000-2001, respectively — Young's long-shelved, recently revealed albums have proven to be inextricably linked to the ones we all know.
As such, they provide fascinating windows into his creative process — as well as what-ifs to puzzle over. Here's a guide to every song on Chrome Dreams, and how Young's discography would change if they were initially released in this form.
We've heard this non-overdubbed "Pocahontas" before.
In 2017, Young released the stunning Hitchhiker, a document of a single session in 1976, when Young terminated a tour with Stephen Stills, celebrating the 10th anniversary of their band Buffalo Springfield.
Under a full moon, he holed up in Briggs' Malibu studio with various intoxicants, and ran through some recent songs, alone and unadorned. Despite the bracing intimacy of this setting, Reprise executives shrugged it off as a collection of demos.
If "Pocahontas" had been released on Chrome Dreams, could it still have appeared on Rust Never Sleeps, perhaps in a different format? Unlikely, as that was an album of new material; a tune from just two years prior would have been a sore thumb.
A Rust Never Sleeps without "Pocahontas" would be one with a crucial chunk missing; it's one of the most evocative songs he ever penned, bar none. And it's difficult to think of a potential replacement on its level.
"Will to Love"
The inclusion of "Will to Love" on American Stars 'n Bars accentuates that album's aggressively piecemeal vibe.
There's no analog for "Will to Love" anywhere in his catalog. A seven-minute ballad recorded in front of Young's crackling fireplace, the lo-fi oddity recounts the journey of a trout upstream as a cosmic metaphor. (Critics remain divided; some believe it's one of his most majestic songs, others dismiss it as an indulgent mess.)
On Chrome Dreams, "Will to Love" fits a bit more snugly amid the acoustic material; on American Stars 'n Bars, it's an ugly duckling.
Without five Chrome Dreams tunes on it — three of them the most substantial on the album — American Stars 'n Barscould have succeeded, and perhaps been more consistent, as an album of barroom-ready ragers.
"Star of Bethlehem"
"Star of Bethlehem" was slated for a previously shelved album: Homegrown — recorded in 1974 and 1975, unreleased until 2020.
Because that album didn't see the light of day, the inclusion of "Star of Bethlehem" on Chrome Dreams — and on his 1977 compilation album Decade — would arguably leave its history unaltered.
"Like a Hurricane"
Whether this Young classic was released on Chrome Dreams or another '70s album would be beside the point.
The legacy of this majestic rocker isn't its inclusion on American Stars 'n Bars, but its windswept majesty — especially live. (Its versatility, too; the solo rendition on Unplugged, performed on pump organ, is unforgettable.)
"Too Far Gone"
On Freedom, Young's late-'80s comeback album addressing Reagan-era urban decay, "Too Far Gone" is a throwback; he'd originally recorded it in 1975, with Crazy Horse guitarist Frank "Poncho" Sampedro on mandolin.
The song, about the fallout from a chemical-fueled tryst, fit Freedom like a glove; it works perfectly along seedy yarns like "Crime in the City (Sixty to Zero Part I)." Freedom could have been basically intact without it, but its messaging would lose a personal edge.
"Hold Back the Tears"
Fitting with the rest of side A, the version of "Hold Back the Tears" on American Stars 'n Bars has a lovesick, rootsy quality, deepened by Linda Ronstadt and Nicolette Larson on backing vocals.
On Chrome Dreams, it's starker and more eye-to-eye — just Young alone, harmonizing with himself, a little keyboard and percussion filling out the soundfield.
Both versions are terrific, but if this demo-like take was the released version — without Ronstadt and Larson behind him to really sell it — something would be missing.
In any form, "Homegrown" is a mirthful, stoned trifle; paradoxically, it would have served as the title track to one of Young's most revealing and personal albums.
The Chrome Dreams version — the one with Crazy Horse — is the one available for decades on American Stars 'n Bars; whichever album it appeared on would be irrelevant to its legacy.
That said, the version initially slated to appear on Homegrown is a wonder — on that later take, Young's backed by Tim Drummond of the Stray Gators, go-to lap slide guitarist Ben Keith, and Karl Himmel, who frequently backed Young throughout the decade.
Where the Horse version of "Homegrown" is a goofy romp, the later version is slippery and strange, befitting an ode to marijuana; if that one had come out, it may have stuck in the craw more.
The version of "Captain Kennedy" on Hawks and Doves is the same one on Hitchhiker and Chrome Dreams — they all come from that single, stony session with Briggs.
Excised from the lumpy and politically contradictory Hawks and Doves, it would be a pleasing enigma — Young's crack at a faux-traditional folk ballad, inspired by the real-life mariner Lou Kenedy.
On that 1980 album, though, it takes on shades of patriotism and nationalism, especially near tunes like the proletariat anthem "Comin' Apart at Every Nail."
In that jingoistic context, the uninitiated listener might even think it's not a seaman's ballad at all, but an extended metaphor for a certain doomed president.
One of the primary revelations of Chrome Dreams is a studio version of "Stringman," one of Young's most emotionally incisive songs.
He wrote it for producer and Stray Gators pianist Jack Nitzsche, who was undergoing an agonizing divorce. Young takes a birds-eye view of the trauma, examining the trauma through metaphorical lenses: a sergeant laying down his weapons, sun-kissed lovers rendered as smut.
On Unplugged, with years under his belt, Young delivers with maximum pathos and gravitas.
But if this earlier version had been in fans' ears, it could only have enriched "Stringman"; it'd be a clinic in how a song can develop an emotional patina with age.
Fitting for an album that begins with an evocation of Johnny Rotten, Rust Never Sleeps is charged with a flippant, punky energy for its latter half.
Accordingly, the version of "Sedan Delivery" out since 1979 is far more uptempo than the one on Chrome Dreams. As such, it tends to blur into the sonic violence of its lovably lunkheaded neighbor, "Welfare Mothers."
This more natural tempo and execution suits "Sedan Delivery," and allows space to absorb its harebrained lyrical images; if the world knew it like this, perhaps it'd be more than a race to the end of Rust Never Sleeps.
Is "Powderfinger" more powerful as an acoustic or electric song?
Most fans regard the latter with something like religious awe; it's the ultimate marriage of Young's penetrating songwriting with the string-popping frenzy he demonstrates with the Horse.
But there's a case that the solo version on Chrome Dreams and Hitchhiker has just as much impact, just from a different angle.
The Young classic's about a young man attempting to protect his family from an approaching gunboat; when the arrangement can breathe, the story takes on weight and dynamism.
Indeed, when the shot rings out, and the protagonist's "face splashe[s] in the sky," Young's hushed delivery renders the image that much more darkly unforgettable.
Maybe the answer to the above question is a toss-up. But the acoustic version "Powderfinger" provides a crucial side-window into this magnificent song.
"Look Out for My Love"
The hypnotic fan favorite "Look Out for My Love" has a way of getting under your skin; it's an unquestionable highlight of 1978's Comes a Time, and does a mesmerizing job as the closer to Chrome Dreams.
"Look Out for My Love" is exquisite by its own merits; the only difference would have been that Comes a Time would lose a pendulum-like classic.
If the world knew and loved Chrome Dreams, the point of Chrome Dreams II would have clicked immediately — its acoustic-electric yin-yang is spiritually in dialogue with these songs.
But that's Young — if he didn't work in mysterious ways, we'd all want our money back.
In a way, his younger self is his primary collaborator these days; he's on a mission to preserve fleeting visions and headspaces of yore. And in return, his fans have a will to love.
Photos: Foxxatron; Prince Williams/WireImage; SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images; Bob Wolfensen; Francis Specker/CBS via Getty Images; JYP Entertainment; Gus Stewart/Redferns; Matthew James-Wilson; Jim Dyson/Getty Images; Tor Stensola
15 Must-Hear Albums This August: Jon Batiste, Jihyo, The Hives & More
For lovers of rock 'n' roll, K-pop, R&B and blues, August has no shortage of gems. Read on for a list of long-awaited comebacks,exciting debuts and groundbreaking endeavors coming out in August 2023.
While peak summer heat may slow down daily activities, August music releases are keeping 2023’s pace running, with an overflow of music releases for the most varied tastes. There’s long-awaited comebacks and exciting debuts, classic rehashes and groundbreaking endeavors, and — most of all — plenty of exciting sounds to discover.
For the lovers of good ol' rock 'n' roll, this is a busy month: bands like the Hives, Public Image Ltd. and virtual outfit Dethklok make their return after many years in the shadows. In more indie domains, Hozier brings forth his third studio album, Unreal Unearth, and The Band CAMINO is back with their sophomore record, The Dark. In other genres, both R&B singer Victoria Monét and K-pop girl group TWICE’s leader Jihyo will release their debut albums, Jaguar II and Zone, respectively. Meanwhile, Dan Auerbach’s label Easy Eye Sound will issue Tell Everybody!, a compilation of the best stars across all strands of blues.
As there is much more to explore and little time to lose, check below for GRAMMY.com’s guide for the 15 must-hear albums dropping in August 2023.
Neil Young - Chrome Dreams
Release date: Aug. 11
Back in 1977, legendary singer and songwriter Neil Young planned to release Chrome Dreams, though the project was ultimately shelved. However, several bootlegs of the original 12-song acetate circulated around in the past decades, deeming its content as one of Young’s strongests.
Almost 50 years later, Chrome Dreams will finally receive justice with a debut release via Reprise Records. The tracklist is filled with classics recorded between 1974 and 1976, such as "Pocahontas" and "Sedan Delivery," and includes four originals never released on vinyl before. On his official website, the album is described as coming to life "exactly how Young perceives it" and of having a "sense of monumentality about it that conveys a place in history."
Chrome Dreams is the latest in Young’s recent string of archival records, following 2022’s 50th anniversary reissue of 1972’s Harvest, the release of 2001’s shelved album Toast with Crazy Horse, and the fourth installment of his Official Release Series.
The Band CAMINO - The Dark
Release date: Aug. 11
The Band CAMINO will give us another dose of their infectious pop-rock on their sophomore album,The Dark.
Comprising 11 tracks — including singles "Told You So," "Last Man In The World," "See You Later," and "What Am I Missing?" — the album expands on the Nashville-based trio’s thrilling energy and lyrics about the highs and lows of love. "It's no secret we suck together / I tell myself that it's for the better / So why does it keep getting worse?" they wonder in "What Am I Missing?"
In support of the release, The Band CAMINO has also announced a North American tour starting Sept. 14 in Philadelphia, and wrapping it up on Oct. 21 in Nashville.
Public Image Ltd. - End of World
Release date: Aug. 11
Marking their return after eight years, post-punk British band Public Image Ltd. will release their 11th studio album, End of World, next month. The record is dedicated to vocalist and former Sex Pistols member John Lydon’s late wife, Nora Forster, who passed away in April after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease.
"Nora loved the album, she wouldn’t have wanted us to postpone it or change any of our plans," Lydon said in a statement. Smooth lead single "Hawaii," which works as a love letter to Forster, is "the most personal piece of songwriting and accompanying artwork that John Lydon has ever shared," according to the same statement. But that doesn’t mean PiL’s raucous essence is amiss;l singles "Penge" and "Car Chase" are welcome punches of enthusiasm as only they can deliver.
PiL started working on the album in 2018 during their 40th anniversary tour, but had to pause activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Ever since they got back to the studio, the band was hit with a "massive explosion of ideas," according to Lydon. They will embark on an extensive UK and Europe tour this September.
The Hives - The Death of Randy Fitzsimmons
Release date: Aug. 11
It’s been 11 years since the Swedish rockers of the Hives released new material. With their upcoming sixth studio album, The Death of Randy Fitzsimmons, on the horizon, they prove that time only did them favors.
Led by pre-release singles "Bogus Operandi" and "Countdown to Shutdown," The Hives’ electrifying, demanding energy is back for another round. "There’s no maturity or anything like that bulls—, because who the f— wants mature rock’n’roll?" asked frontman Pelle Almqvist in a press release. "Rock’n’roll can’t grow up, it is a perpetual teenager and this album feels exactly like that, which it’s all down to our excitement."
With a title that refers to the supposed death of the band’s mysterious (and never publicly seen) sixth member, manager, and sole songwriter, it also represents a new chapter. What will the Hives do if Randy Fitzsimmons is indeed gone for good? No one knows. But for now, they are focused on making some noise around the world: the band is booked for concerts and festivals all over Europe and the U.S. throughout the rest of the year.
Chief Keef - Almighty So 2
Release date: Aug. 11
After several delays following its announcement in October 2022, Chief Keef’s well-awaited mixtape Almighty So 2 will finally come out on Aug. 11.
A sequel to 2013’s Almighty So, the mixtape features 17 tracks. Two singles have been released so far: "Tony Montana Flow" and "Racks stuffed inna couch." Also a follow-up to Keef’s latest studio album, 2021’s 4NEM, it sees the Chicago rapper continue his prolific run of releases, which includes four studio albums, four EPs, and over 30 mixtapes since his beginnings in 2011.
Last year, Keef announced his new label 43B in partnership with BMG, and his first signing with Atlanta rapper Lil Gnar. He also released an updated version of his debut album Finally Rich, celebrating its 10th anniversary.
Easy Eye Sound - Tell Everybody! (21st Century Juke Joint Blues From Easy Eye Sound)
Release date: Aug. 11
A 12-song compilation uniting legends and rising stars alike across the blues spectrum, Tell Everybody! is Nashville label Easy Eye Sound’s latest tour de force. The compilation was produced by the label’s founder and the Black Keys’ member Dan Auerbach.
Besides featuring Auerbach’s own band and solo work, the anthology also holds names like GRAMMY-nominated R.L. Boyce and Jimmy "Duck" Holmes, as well as newcomers like Nat Myers, Moonrisers, and Dan Carter.
Said to draw influences "from acoustic anthems to roiling rock n’ roll" in a press release, Tell Everybody! "continues a commitment to upholding and preserving the blues that sits at the core of Easy Eye Sound’s mission." For a taste of what’s to come, they have shared Robert Finley’s eponymous title track.
Les Imprimés - Rêverie
Release date: Aug. 11
Les Imprimés is a one-man band created by Norwegian singer and songwriter Morten Martens. Blending R&B and soul with a definite modern twist, the project stands as a dreamy refuge to life’s harsh realities.
"It’s soul music, but I don’t exactly have the soul voice," Morten explains on Big Crown Records’ website. "But I do it my own way, in a way that’s mine." Martens’ unique efforts are brought together in his debut album, Rêverie. In the tracklist, a slew of ethereal, captivating singles like "If I" and "Love & Flowers" promise a stirring listening experience, sure to put him on the radar of 2023’s greatests.
Bonnie "Prince" Billy - Keeping Secrets Will Destroy You
Release date: Aug. 11
On Will Oldham’s (a.k.a Bonnie "Prince" Billy) Bandcamp page, his forthcoming record Keeping Secrets Will Destroy You is described vaguely as "a tale as old as time," or simply "an album" whose songs are "by and for people together."
Following 2022’s Blind Date Party with Bill Calahan and 2019’s I Made a Place, Keeping Secrets consists of 12 tracks that put Billy "at the nexus of all the kinds of music he can summon, with friends, with family, and community. All roads roll though him. There can be no holding back. A million billion moments are on the line."
The Louisville singer shared two pre-releases as idiosyncratic as the rest of his oeuvre: "Bananas" and "Crazy Blue Bells." Starting September, he will embark on a U.S. tour through November.
Jon Batiste - World Music Radio
Release date: Aug. 18
"World Music Radio is a concept album that takes place in the interstellar regions of the universe," said multihyphenate Jon Batiste on Instagram about his upcoming 7th studio record. "The listener is led through the album by an interstellar traveling griot named Billy Bob Bo Bob, who takes you sonically all around the world at the speed of light."
A follow-up to We Are, his 2021 GRAMMY-winning Album Of The Year, World Music Radio will feature collaborations with stars from all corners of music, including Lana Del Rey, Lil Wayne, and Kenny G. "I created this album with a feeling of liberation in my life and a renewed sense of exploration of my personhood, my craft, and of the world around me unlike anything I ever felt before," Batiste shared further about the 21-track effort.
The album is preceded by lively singles "Calling Your Name," "Drink Water" featuring Jon Bellion and Fireboy DML, and Coca-Cola collaboration "Be Who You Are (Real Magic)," featuring Cat Burns, J.I.D, Camilo, and NewJeans.
Jihyo (TWICE) - Zone
Release date: Aug. 18
Seven years down the road, TWICE — one of the most acclaimed K-pop girl groups in history — have started branching out their skills into solo careers and sub-units. Starting last year, eldest member Nayeon released her EP Im Nayeon, followed by July’s MISAMO (a Japanese sub-unit formed by Mina, Sana, and Momo) and their Masterpiece EP. Now, it’s time for leader and main vocalist Jihyo to show the world her unique colors.
Known for her passionate, energetic performances and a powerful voice, Jihyo’s debut EP, Zone, features lead single "Killin’ Me Good" and six other tracks, including a duet with K-R&B singer Heize. Until the date of release, Jihyo will release a series of spoilers and special contents that will keep fans anticipating the visual and musical direction chosen.
In June, TWICE made history by becoming the first girl group from any country to sell out Los Angeles’ SoFi stadium for their Ready To Be world tour. Still ongoing, the tour includes 38 shows across North America, Asia, Oceania, and Europe.
Hozier - Unreal Unearth
Release date: Aug. 18
Like so many of us during the pandemic lockdown, Irish singer Hozier took the extra time to pick up on his readings, including Dante Alighieri’s epic Inferno. The literary classic ended up inspiring him so much that his upcoming third studio album, Unreal Unearth, is also arranged into "circles" — a concept that Dante used to depict the nine realms of hell in his work.
In an interview with Rolling Stone UK, Hozier explained that "the album can be taken as a collection of songs, but also as a little bit of a journey. It starts with a descent and I’ve arranged the songs according to their themes into nine circles, just playfully reflecting Dante’s nine circles and then an ascent at the end." As for what it sounds like, the singer said it is "quite eclectic" and reflects "something of a retrospective in what the sounds lean into."
Hozier released the EP Eat Your Young in March as a teaser for Unreal Unearth, featuring an eponymous single and tracks "All Things End" and "Through Me (The Flood)" — all of which appear on his forthcoming release. A second single, "Francesca," came out in June. Hozier will embark on a North American, UK, and Europe tour starting September.
Shamir - Homo Anxietatem
Release date: Aug. 18
In a press release, singer/songwriter Shamir revealed that he felt a lot of anxiety during the first quarter of 2020. "I was fresh out the psych ward and had quit smoking weed and cigarettes cold turkey. I spent the first couple months of 2020 knitting this huge baby blue sweater. It’s basically a wearable security blanket that I used to channel all my anxiety into."
The sweater turned into inspiration for indie pop single "Oversized Sweater," off Shamir’s upcoming ninth studio album, Homo Anxietatem. Although the title translates from Latin into "anxious man," the album is meant to depict "what happens when one of the most prolific songwriters of a generation calms down a bit: the search for meaning becomes mundane."
Homo Anxietatem follows 2022’s Heterosexuality, and is also described as a "perfect pop-punk-rock record." On Oct. 2, the Las Vegas singer will play a sole concert in Paris and then hit up the UK for a short tour across 10 cities.
Victoria Monét - Jaguar II
Release date: Aug. 25
Singer Victoria Monét — who became known through her songwriting for artists such as Ariana Grande, BLACKPINK and Fifth Harmony — is releasing her debut studio album, Jaguar II, on Aug. 25. "I feel like I’ve been behind the bushes and in the background, and I think jaguars themselves live in that way," she explained in a Billboard interview. "They find the right moment to attack — and get what they want."
The record is a sequel to her breakthrough 2020 EP Jaguar, diving further into her R&B roots and exploring a variety of sounds that go from dancehall to Southern rap. Some of these influences can be seen in the pre-releases "Smoke" with Lucky Daye, "Party Girls" with Buju Banton, and "On My Mama."
To celebrate the album, Monét has announced a slew of dates across North America starting Sept. 6 in Detroit and ending with two November shows in London.
Dethklok - Dethalbum IV and Metalocalypse - Army of the Doomstar (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Release date: Aug. 22 and Aug. 25
After nearly a decade, the most vicious virtual metal band is back. Dethklok, from Adult Swim’s TV series "Metalocalypse," will release not one, but two full-length albums next month.
The first is Dethalbum IV, the band’s long-awaited fifth studio record, out Aug. 22. Written by "Metalocalypse" creator Brendon Small, it features 11 tracks, including the merciless single "Aortic Desecration."
Three days later comes the official soundtrack to new film Metalocalypse: Army of the Doomstar’s turn. Also written and directed by Small, the movie boasts a star-studded cast with the likes of King Diamond, Metallica’s Kirk Hammett, and Evanescence’s Amy Lee. It will also offer a closing chapter for the show, which was canceled in 2015.
Dethklok will kick off their U.S. tour with Japanese band Babymetal on Aug. 30 in Houston, TX, and cross a slew of cities until the final concert on Oct. 11, in Los Angeles.
Bebel Gilberto - João
Release date: Aug. 25
"More than a tribute to her father, the unforgettable João Gilberto, the album is a visit to Bebel's most fundamental musical memories," says Bebel Gilberto’s website about her upcoming studio album, João.
Also described as a "musical love letter" to the renowned father of bossa nova, who passed away in 2019, the album was produced by pianist Thomas Bartlett, and comprises 11 songs carefully selected by Bebel. Among her choices are classics such as "Ela É Carioca" and "Desafinado," but also "Valsa," a track also known as "(Como São Lindos os Youguis) (Bebel)" and one of João Gilberto’s few compositions dedicated to his daughter.
Bebel shared an emotive first single off the project, "É Preciso Perdoar," and announced tour dates across North America, Asia, the UK, and Europe starting next month.
Photo: John Shearer/MTV VMAs 2021/Getty Images for MTV/ViacomCBS
10 Albums On Divorce & Heartache, From Fleetwood Mac's 'Rumours' To Kelly Clarkson's 'Chemistry'
Divorce albums have been a staple of the music industry for decades. Take a look at some of the most notable musings on a breaking heart, from Kacey Musgraves, Kanye West and more.
Divorce can be complicated, messy, and heartbreaking. But those feelings are prime fodder for songwriting — and it's something that artists of all genres have harnessed for decades.
Writing through the pain can serve many benefits for an artist. Marvin Gaye used Here, My Dear as a way to find closure in the aftermath of his divorce. Adele told Vogue that her recording process gave her somewhere to feel safe while recording 30, a raw account of the aftermath of her marriage ending. And Kelly Clarkson's new album, chemistry, finds her reclaiming herself, while fully taking stock of everything that happened in her marriage, good and bad.
As fans dive into chemistry, GRAMMY.com has compiled a list of 10 divorce albums from all walks of music. Whether you need to cry, vent, or maybe even laugh, there's a divorce album that has what you need.
Tammy Wynette, D-I-V-O-R-C-E (1968)
During her life, Tammy Wynette was a prolific country songwriter and singer, releasing numerous albums exploring all aspects of love. She was also deeply familiar with divorce, with five marriages throughout her adulthood.
The most intimate album on the topic is her bluntly titled 1968 project D-I-V-O-R-C-E, which explores how sensitive the topic was to speak about. The title track is a mournful tune about hiding a separation from her children, but also conveys the general difficulty of discussing the topic with anyone. Elsewhere on the album, "Kiss Away" is a longing ballad about wishing for a more tender resolution when words have failed.
Fleetwood Mac, Rumours (1977)
After recording 10 albums together, Fleetwood Mac were in disarray. During the recording of their eleventh record, the members of the band were going through affairs, divorces, and breakups, even some with each other. Against all odds, they created Rumours — and it became the band's most successful and iconic album.
The spectrum of emotions and sounds on the album is wide. "The Chain" is all fire and bombast, while the laidback acceptance of "Dreams" seeks to find peace in the storm. Fleetwood Mac sorted out their issues and are still going strong to this day, but their heartbreak created something special in Rumours.
Beck, Sea Change (2002)
Beck has had a prolific career, with 14 studio albums to his name. One of his most affecting is 2002's Sea Change, written in the aftermath of his engagement and nine-year relationship ending.
It's a deeply insular album, even by Beck's standards. Tracks like "Already Dead" are slow and mournful, while standout "It's All In Your Mind" finds him burrowing deep into his own thoughts to parse out how exactly he's feeling with his new life.
Open Mike Eagle, Anime, Trauma, and Divorce (2020)
Divorce isn't a topic that immediately brings laughter, but rapper Open Mike Eagle seemed to find humor in his personal story with his album Anime, Trauma, and Divorce. The album title gives a pretty good rundown of what inspired the project, and Mike's laidback rapping sells how silly the aftermath of pain can be.
"Sweatpants Spiderman" finds him trying to become a functional adult again, and discovering the various ailments of his aging body and thinner wallet that are getting in the way. The fed-up delivery on standout track "Wtf is Self Care" is a hilarious lesson on how learning to be kind to yourself post-breakup is harder than it sounds.
Carly Pearce, 29: Written In Stone (2021)
Heartbreak is a common topic in all genres, but country has some of the most profound narratives of sorrow. Carly Pearce added to that legacy with 29: Written in Stone, her 2021 album centered around her 29th year — a year that included both a marriage and a subsequent divorce.
The emotional whiplash of such a quick change can be felt all over the project, from an upbeat diss track like "Next Girl" to more poignant pieces like the title track, which finds Pearce reflecting on her tumultuous year. Her vulnerability resonated, as single "Never Wanted To Be That Girl" won Pearce her first GRAMMY, and her latest single, "What He Didn't Do," scored the singer her fourth No. 1 at country radio.
Kanye West, 808s & Heartbreak (2008)
Kanye West's fourth album 808s & Heartbreak came from a deep well of pain. Besides the end of his relationship, West was also in turmoil from the death of his mother, Donda. The result is one of the bleakest sounding records on this list — but also one of West's most impactful.
808s & Heartbreak is minimalistic, dark, and brooding, with a focus on somber strings and 808 drum loops (hence the album's title). West delivers most of his lyrics in a monotone drone through a thick layer of autotune, a stylistic choice that heightens the sense of loss. Besides being a testament to West's pain, the electronic sound pioneered on 808s & Heartbreak would serve as a foundational inspiration for the next several years of hip-hop.
Toni Braxton & Babyface, Love, Marriage, & Divorce (2014)
Toni Braxton and Babyface are two stalwarts of R&B in their own rights, and in 2014, the pair connected over their shared experiences going through divorce. Their bond sparked Love, Marriage, & Divorce, a GRAMMY-winning album that intended to capture the more universal feelings the life of a relationship conjures up.
Each artist has solo tracks on the record — Babyface wishing the best for his ex on "I Hope That You're Okay" and Braxton sharing her justified anger on "I Wish" and "I'd Rather Be Broke" — but where they shine is on their collaborations. The agonizing "Where Did We Go Wrong?" is heartbreaking, and the album ends with painful what-ifs in the soulful "The D Word."
Adele, 30 (2021)
Divorce is hard no matter the circumstances, but it gets even more complicated when children are involved. That was the reality for Adele, and it served as major inspiration for her fourth album, 30.
Like every album on this list, there's plenty of sorrow on the record, but what really sets it apart is just how honestly Adele grapples with the guilt of putting her son Angelo through turmoil as well. The album's GRAMMY-winning lead single "Easy On Me" addresses it in relation to her son, and standout track "I Drink Wine" is a full examination of the messy feelings she went through during her divorce.
Kacey Musgraves, star-crossed (2021)
As many of these albums prove, divorce triggers a hoard of emotions, from anger to sadness to eventual happiness. On star-crossed, Kacey Musgraves goes through it all.
There's the anthemic "breadwinner" about being better on her own, "camera roll" looking back on happier times with sorrow, and "hookup scene" about the confusion of adjusting back to single life. Star-crossed sees Musgraves continue to evolve sonically — incorporating more electronic sounds into her country roots — but ultimately, she comes out the other side at a place of renewed acceptance and growth.
Kelly Clarkson, chemistry (2023)
Kelly Clarkson's tenth album chemistry was born out of her 2020 divorce. In true Kelly fashion, she addresses the subject with thoughtful songwriting and a pop-rock vibe fans have adored for 20 years on.
Chemistry focuses not just on the pain of divorce, but on the tender feelings that many couples still have for each other even after the end. Tracks like "favorite kind of high" mirror the euphoria of love, juxtaposed with ballads like "me," in which Clarkson finds comfort in herself and her inner strength — an inspiring sentiment for anyone who has had their heart broken.
Photo Credit: CBS ©2022 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
How To Watch "A GRAMMY Salute To The Beach Boys," Featuring Performances From John Legend, Brandi Carlile, Beck, Fall Out Boy, Mumford & Sons, LeAnn Rimes, Weezer & More
The re-aired tribute to the Beach Boys will also feature performances from St. Vincent, My Morning Jacket, Norah Jones, Charlie Puth, and many others, as well as special appearances by Tom Hanks, Elton John, Bruce Springsteen, and more.
Updated Monday, May 22, to include information about the re-air date for "A GRAMMY Salute To The Beach Boys."
"A GRAMMY Salute To The Beach Boys" will re-air on Monday, May 29, at 9 p.m. ET/PT on the CBS Television Network, and will be available to stream live and on demand on Paramount+.
After six decades of game-changing innovation and culture-shifting hits, the Beach Boys stand tall as one of the most legendary and influential American bands of all time.
Now, the iconic band will be honored by the Recording Academy and CBS with a star-studded "Beach Boys party" for the ages: "A GRAMMY Salute To The Beach Boys," a two-hour tribute special featuring a lineup of heavy hitters, including John Legend, Brandi Carlile, Beck, Fall Out Boy, Mumford & Sons, LeAnn Rimes, St. Vincent, Weezer, and many more, who will perform all your favorite Beach Boys classics.
Wondering when, where and how to watch "A GRAMMY Salute To The Beach Boys"? Here's everything you need to know.
When & Where Will The Special Air?
"A GRAMMY Salute To The Beach Boys" will air on Monday, May 29, at 9 p.m. ET/PT on the CBS Television Network, and will be available to stream live and on demand on Paramount+.* A one-hour version of the tribute will air on MTV at a future date to be announced.
Who Will Perform, And What Will They Perform?
The following is a list of artists and performances featured on "A GRAMMY Salute To The Beach Boys":
Andy Grammer performing "Darlin'"
Beck performing "Sloop John B"
Beck & Jim James performing"Good Vibrations"
Brandi Carlile performing "In My Room"
Brandi Carlile & John Legend performing "God Only Knows"
Charlie Puth performing "Wouldn't It Be Nice"
Fall Out Boy performing "Do You Wanna Dance"
Foster The People performing "Do It Again"
Hanson performing "Barbara Ann"
Norah Jones performing"The Warmth of the Sun"
Lady A performing "Surfer Girl"
John Legend performing "Sail on Sailor"
Little Big Town performing "Help Me Rhonda"
Luke Spiller & Taylor Momsen performing "Surfin' USA / Fun Fun Fun"
Mumford & Sons performing "I Know There's an Answer"
My Morning Jacket performing "I Get Around"
Pentatonix performing "Heroes and Villains"
LeAnn Rimes performing "Caroline No"
St. Vincent performing "You Still Believe in Me"
Weezer performing "California Girls"
Who Are The Special Guests & Presenters?
What's The Context For The Special?
Filmed at the iconic Dolby Theater in Los Angeles after the 2023 GRAMMYs, "A GRAMMY Salute To The Beach Boys" airs during the year-long celebration of the Beach Boys' 60th anniversary. Counting more than 100 million records sold worldwide and recipients of the Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award, the Beach Boys are one of the most critically acclaimed and commercially successful bands of all time, and their music has been an indelible part of American history for more than six decades.
Keep an eye on GRAMMY.com for more exclusive content leading up to "A GRAMMY Salute To The Beach Boys."
*Paramount+ Premium subscribers will have access to stream live via the live feed of their local CBS affiliate on the service as well as on-demand. Essential tier subscribers will have access to the on-demand the following day after the episode airs.