David Crosby On His New Album 'For Free' & Why His Twitter Account Is Actually Joyful

David Crosby

Photo: Anna Webber


David Crosby On His New Album 'For Free' & Why His Twitter Account Is Actually Joyful

David Crosby has had a rough go of it recently, losing his income, a child and nearly his house. So why does his new album, 'For Free,' sound so springy, joyful and enamored with the gift of human existence?

GRAMMYs/Jul 23, 2021 - 12:23 am

The music community murmurs about David Crosby's Twitter account like it's a mythical sea monster. To many people online, he's the consummate curmudgeon, an octogenarian sourpuss who shares his dislike for hip-hop and shared his disapproval of the Phoebe Bridgers guitar smash on TV. (Bridgersretort: "Little b.") While that vibe is certainly present, a cursory look at Twitter reveals the opposite: An 80-year-old rolling around with his dogs, digging into tacos by the pool and giving thanks for the gift of life.

"It's a game I'm playing, really," Crosby tells from his Santa Ynez, California, home on a "stunning" day. "I love my friends and my family and I'm trying to be a decent member of society. I've got no problem with me right now. Since I am here today, all I want to do is use today to do whatever I can to make stuff better." Despite a series of recent, brutal tests, he sounds lighter than ever over the phone — and his new music is his bounciest and most galvanized to date.

We're talking about For Free, his new album which arrives July 23 and represents the brightest star in his recent constellation of albums. (In the 2010s, he put out the good-to-excellent CrozLighthouseSky Trails and Here If You Listen.) Aside from the elegiac closer, "I Won't Stay For Long," the mood is inexhaustibly upbeat, whether he's covering his beloved Joni Mitchell on the title track or teaming up with his hero Donald Fagen on "Rodriguez for a Night."

Ahead of his performance at the GRAMMY Museum, spoke with Crosby about what Twitter teaches him, why he recently sold his catalog and why he's not really a grumpy contrarian, but a man enamored with music and human beings.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

How are you, David?

Elderly and confused! No, I'm fine, man. I'm sitting up here in central California and it's a stunning day. I'm a very happy guy. How are you?

I'm good. I'm originally from around your area. Is the heatwave still happening?

No, it's not real drastic, no. It's OK. It's in the 70s someplace.

Some people tend to paint your Twitter account as being cantankerous, but I find it to be the opposite. It's all about appreciating life as you just described it. It's a very joyful account to me.

To me, it is too, man. Every once in a while, I take a shot at somebody I don't like when they get really pretentious and blown-up. The Kanye Wests of this world, I'll occasionally stick a pin in their balloon. But mostly, I'm not trying to be Howard Stern. I'm really trying to just have fun here. I like people. I think they're fascinating. I like communicating with people.

The other thing about Twitter is that if someone tries to pick a fight, you just delete them. You don't have to deal with it. I don't have to engage in a fisticuffs battle with someone who thinks QAnon is real, for God's sake. If you're that dumb, I don't have to waste my time with you! I like that a lot. It makes it more fun.

It's interesting that you willfully open yourself up to both good people and the lowest common denominator of your fanbase.

Well, some of them are fascinating. You've got to remember: There are both kinds on here. There are Trumpers and other kinds of people who just don't understand what's going on. But there are a ton of fascinating people there too, man. People I've found up being friends with. That's where I met Steve Silberman, my friend from San Francisco. I met him on the Net.

You do meet people. It takes a while. You have to watch what they say and then you get a glimpse of who they are. Then, you test them out. You send something, they respond to it and you eventually suss out who's who. I have actually found some very fascinating people there, and I enjoy it. I like it.

I've seen Steve's tweets. He seems like a sweet guy.

He's a really bright guy. He used to write for Wired. He wrote the best book that anyone's ever written on autism. It's called NeuroTribes. It's a very scientific book, but it's written so well. It reads like a mystery novel. He won some awards with it and stuff. If you're interested in autism, I highly recommend it.

You recently sold your catalog to Irving Azoff. I've seen a lot of opinions out there as to why artists are doing this in droves, much of it misguided. Beyond the financial reality of it, what do you think this deal might do for your catalog and legacy?

It doesn't enrich my catalog or my legacy. I didn't want to do it. I did it because I had to. Here's what happened: We had two ways of making money: Touring, records. Streaming came along; streaming doesn't pay us. It's like you did your job for a month and they paid you a nickel. You'd be pissed. We're pissed. It's a wrong thing.

They threw half of our income away. Half. Gone. So then, we're trying to keep our heads up and we say, "OK, we'll be grateful we can still play live because we're paying the rent and taking care of our families. It's all good." And then, here comes COVID-19, and we can't play live!

What the hell was I supposed to do? I've got a family. I've got a home. I didn't want to lose my house. I don't want them to throw me out in the street. Are you kidding? I take this responsibility seriously. I love these people. I'm trying to do my job. So I did the one thing I could do: I sold my publishing.

Now, the reason everybody did it at the same time is a little more prosaic. A little more grubby. Everybody did it when they did it not because they were out of money like me, but because they know their taxes are all going to be different next year. In the case where you're doing a deal like $300 million, well, you're talking a $10, $20 million difference in taxes. So of course, they did it when they could get that advantage.

Regarding streaming, do you think the other shoe will drop?

I do not. I do not think it will change. I think all content — audio and video — will be streaming.

What happened, man, is they thought the technology up. They went to the record companies and they said, "Imagine no physical object." The record companies, who are not stupid, said "That'd be wonderful! No packaging? No pressing plants? No shipping! No returns! Nothing! We just send a signal and collect the money?"

They said, "What do we have to do to do that?" The streamers said, "You have to change the pay structure. You're paying all that money to these rich rock stars. You have to pay it to us instead." The record companies said, "We can do that! All you'd have to do to get us to do that is give us a piece of your company!" And they did. 

The reason the record business is doing just fine on paper is they're making a f*ing ton of money. Except they're not sharing it with the people who make the music. So, that's why we did it. I didn't want to. That's the one thing that I own. I didn't want to sell it. Of course, I didn't.

The Cameron Crowe documentary Remember My Name showed how you live modestly in a comfortable home. You don't live in the lap of luxury.

Yeah. It is comfortable, and you're right, it's not grandiose. I live in a little adobe house in the middle of a cow pasture, in the middle of a clump of trees. But it's really pretty and really peaceful and really sweet. We've been planting these plants and trees for 25 years and we love it a whole lot. So, yeah, we didn't want to lose it.

Clearly, having to sell your sailboat was heartbreaking.

Yeah, that hurt. I've had a lot of painful stuff in the last couple of years. Things couldn't go right.

Leaving CSN, I feel, was a very good thing, but very hard. I didn't like the guys. Nash and I were really not getting along at all. 

So, I'm kind of glad I did it, but the following couple of years have been hard. Financially hard, physically hard — a lot of physical stuff going on. I lost a son, which was just painful to a level that's hard to describe. And I, frankly, am very worried about my country. I think we're in a lot of trouble. I think it's better than it was, but I think we've got some real problems.

But, you know, I'm not whining and sniveling here, man. I'm lucky that I'm alive. Let's start there. There's a very good chance I wouldn't be. And I am, and I'm grateful for it. I'm lucky that I get a family that's wonderful, and I love them. 

I'm lucky that I can still sing. That's sheer luck. I did everything wrong. There's no excuse. And yet, here I am and I can sing. What do I do? I don't know if I've got two weeks or 10 years. I do know that I'm here right now. And if I concentrate on that, I can still have a lot of fun right now, today, making art that's good.

Frankly, man, the world is in kind of s* shape. There's a lot of stuff wrong. Music's a lifting force. It makes things better.

That's what I feel when I listen to For Free. The music is so bouncy and galvanized. It seems like a tribute to the way music can be a counterweight to boredom and suffering.

Yeah, that's the idea. Yes, the record does feel like that, mostly. We didn't have a plan, man, but we certainly like it. That's what we certainly want to do: Be as joyful as we possibly can.

The best song on the record isn't joyful. It's thoughtful and sad and spooky and beautiful: "I Won't Stay For Long." There's a joy to that, too: That's how good [my son and collaborator] James [Raymond] has grown up to be.

And that seems like another part of the record's essence: Your love and admiration for your family, friends and fellow musicians.

It's a thing that happens to me, man. I wrote "Wooden Ships" with Stephen Stills and Paul Kantner. At the time, it just sort of happened. But in retrospect, I realize that's really a good thing. The other guy always thinks of something you didn't. It widens your palette of colors. It widens the possible reality that you're addressing. It's an excellent idea.

Most people take all the credit and all the money and they play it that way. [affects smarmy tone] "I'm the one who did it. Just me." I think my willingness, my joy at writing with these other people have extended my useful life as a writer for about 10 years, 20 years. And that's really a good thing, because here I am. I'm 80 years old, I've got a really good record ready to drop and I'm working on two more.

How has James developed as a songwriter and musician over the years?

He's written a ton of good songs with me. Frankly, a lot of the best stuff I've done in the last 20 years — Crosby & Nash; Crosby, Stills & Nash; the Croz record; the Sky Trails record; and now this record. He's matured as a writer. That's the best song on the record, "I Won't Stay For Long." No question.

It gave me shivers earlier.

Oh, my god. It's a beautiful song. He nailed it. Am I proud of him? Yes, I am. Am I grateful that he's still my joyful pal? Yes, I am. I just got off the phone with him. We're a really good match. The only weird thing about the relationship with James is that he's the adult and I'm the kid.

How's that?

Well, there's a rumor that I was going to grow up, but it just didn't really pan out. I'm not really a very adult person. I'm sort of like the nine-year-old in the relationship and he's the 30-year-old. He's the designated driver. He's a much more serious person than I am and definitely smarter.

David Crosby performing with the Byrds in 1965. Photo: CBS via Getty Images

On the topic of your family — and feel free to not broach this at all — I was thinking about Beckett and the saddening news about him. Losing a child is tragic on any level, but I was thinking that it must have kicked up extra-complicated emotions since another couple raised him.

Yeah, very tough. He was a nice kid. If you'd have known him, you would have been devastated, because he was a shiny, brainy, funny, laughing, curious, sweet, extremely bright kid. He and his sister, that was me and [my wife] Jan [Dance] trying to be good human beings and share the joy that we had.

We had Django; that was a stunning kid. Melissa [Etheridge] and Julie [Cypher] came to visit us and said "Oh my god, how do you get one of those?" Jan pointed at me, and they said "Wha… you kidding?" And she said, "No, he'll do it." I thought it over and I said "Yeah." We liked them a lot. They had been together for nine years or something. They looked stable and good. It seemed to us that lesbians have just the right to have kids as anybody else.

So, we volunteered to do that and the kids were stunners. Bailey [Jean Cypher] is just an absolutely brilliant girl, and beautiful. Beckett was the same. Bright and beautiful. Well, it didn't go well for that family. They wound up fighting each other, Melissa and Julie. That's not good, and he wound up being unhappy and he went out in the world and ran into some fentanyl that killed him.

It's a bitter pill, man. There's nothing you can do to make it light or funny or good. It's just awful.

Well, the joyful thing I can think of is in Beckett's life. You mentioned your insatiable curiosity about the human condition, which stretches through your work. I imagine the apple didn't fall from the tree with those kids, since you describe them as so brilliant.

Mm-hmm. Yep. The visits here were a lot of fun. They got along very well with Django and we were a joyous bunch together. 

From Croz to Lighthouse to Sky Trails to Here if You Listen to For Free, the throughline, to me, is you holding onto life kicking and screaming: "Please give me more years on the planet. Don't take music away from me. I love my house and family and dogs and horses. The world is largely a beautiful place."

That's a really clear read on it, man. That's good. You can do my eulogy. It is like that. It's just like that. I'm very grateful and I'm going to keep working until I drop. It's more fun than sitting around waiting to drop.

All these people are like, "Crosby's such a bitter old man!" and I'm like, "What are you talking about? He's more positive than anybody my age!"

I try to be, man. There's a certain curmudgeon thing that's fun to do. To be a crabby old man. [affects geriatric voice] "You kids don't know nothin'!" That kind of thing. It's fun and I'll do it to a degree, but it's a game I'm playing, really. 

I feel good. I feel good about the choices that I make and I feel good about my life. I feel good about what I think is valuable. I'm behaving relatively sanely. I have a good time. I smoke a little pot; it doesn't seem to hurt anything. I love my friends and my family and I'm trying to be a decent member of society. I've got no problem with me right now. Since I am here today, all I want to do is use today to do whatever I can to make stuff better.

We're arguably living through the most turbulent era since the '60s, but back then, someone like CSNY would write "Ohio" and it'd be on the radio within days. It doesn't seem like culture is stepping up to produce work that reflects or shapes the times. Do you feel that way, and if so, is it frustrating to watch?

Yeah, to a degree, I do feel that way. I wish the art were addressing the situation more. You see people being very brave. This Greta Thunberg girl is so brave out there telling the truth. 

You think, "Geez, why aren't the adults going along?" Well, we've got a whole bunch of people in our government who don't even believe global warming's real and couldn't care less anyway. They want power, and they're going to try to stop everything Joe Biden and the Democrats want to do to address it. Not because it's wrong, but because they want to stop everything the Democrats want to do. It's about power. It's not about the subject at all. 

And in so doing, they're ruining us and the rest of the world, many of whom are trying to do the right thing. It's a tough situation. Tough. I don't know how it's going to play out. The point is, if you can read and think, you'd better get down to your voting office and vote as often and as responsibly as humanly possible.

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Remembering Wayne Shorter: 7 Gateway Tracks From The Jazz Titan's 1960s Run
Jazz Musician and composer Wayne Shorter in 2018

Photo: Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post via Getty Images


Remembering Wayne Shorter: 7 Gateway Tracks From The Jazz Titan's 1960s Run

The pioneering composer and tenor and soprano saxophonist passed away on March 2. His influence and legacy spans decades and permutations of jazz, but for the uninitiated, here are seven highlights from his 1960s leader albums.

GRAMMYs/Mar 3, 2023 - 10:57 pm

When the world learned of the pioneering saxophonist and composer Wayne Shorter's death on March 2, it did so partly through a quote from the maestro itself: "It's time to go get a new body and come back to continue the mission." 

This evocation of reincarnation not only speaks to Shorter's elaborate psychospiritual universe — he followed Nichiren Buddhism for half a century — but his multitudes as an artistic behemoth. In his 89-year life, Shorter irrevocably altered so many sectors of jazz and related forms that he seemed to inhabit many bodies at once.

To trace the 12-time GRAMMY winner's artistic evolution is to tell the story of the music as it evolved and propagated through the latter half of the 20th century. He was a member of two of the most crucial groups in jazz history: the brilliant, hotheaded drummer Art Blakey's unofficial jazz academy the Jazz Messengers and Miles Davis' so-called Second Great Quintet. 

But even that's just the tip of the iceberg. After an astonishing run of leader albums on Blue Note — including all-timers like JuJu, Speak No Evil and The All Seeing Eye — Shorter formed Weather Report, a fundamental group in '70s and '80s jazz fusion. Along the way, he also collaborated with AOR legends — Joni Mitchell on a slew of mid-period records, and on the title track to Aja, Steely Dan.

In the 21st century, he continued hurtling forward as a composer, and work only seemed to grow more eclectic and multifarious, arguably culminating with (Iphigenia), an expansive opera co-created with bassist and vocalist Esperanza Spalding. At the 2023 GRAMMYs, he won Best Improvised Jazz Solo alongside pianist Leo Genovese for "Endangered Species," a cut on Live at the Detroit Jazz Festival, which also features Spalding and drummer Terri Lyne Carrington.

In 2015, the Recording Academy bestowed upon him a Lifetime Achievement Award. "Wayne Shorter's influence on the jazz community has left an indelible mark on the music industry," Harvey Mason jr., CEO of the Recording Academy, said in part. "It's been a privilege to celebrate his contributions to our culture throughout his incredible career."

As bandleader Darcy James Argue put it, "There isn't a jazz composer today who does not owe an absolutely immeasurable debt to Wayne Shorter. Whether you assimilated his harmonic language, or consciously rejected it, or tried to thread a path somewhere in between, his influence is as unavoidable as the elements."

But with this vast cosmology established, how can Shorter neophytes find their own way in? To traverse the universe of the self-dubbed Mr. Weird — from a line about person or thing X being “as weird as Wayne” — one need not enter it at random.

Arguably, the gateway is Shorter's aforementioned '60s run as a leader; from there, one can venture out in a dozen directions and be rewarded with a lifetime of cerebrality and majesty.

So, for those looking for a way in, here are seven essential tracks from that specific period and component of Shorter's culture-quaking legacy.

"Night Dreamer" (Night Dreamer, 1964)

Shorter was terrific as a leader from the jump, but he arguably came into his own with his fourth album under his own name, Night Dreamer. Much of this had to do with paring down his compositions to their haunting essence. "I used to see a lot of chord changes, for instance, but now I can separate the wheat from the chaff," Shorter said at the time

Immerse yourself into the fittingly crepuscular title track, which Shorter crafted for a nighttime brood. "The minor keys often connotes evening or night to me," he wrote in the liner notes. "Although the beat does float, it also is set in a heavy groove. It's a paradox, in a way — like you'd have in a dream, something that's both light and heavy." 

"Juju" (Juju, 1965)

Night Dreamer and Juju feature a rhythm section closely associated with John Coltrane — the classic Olé Coltrane one, composed of pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Reggie Workman and drummer Elvin Jones.

As a tenorist influenced by Coltrane, Shorter invited comparisons to his inspiration. But alongside Trane's accompanists, he had developed his own style — with the raw, unvarnished quality of said legend, but a barer tone and more elliptical sense of articulation. Juxtaposed against his accompanists' dazzling, shattered-glass approach, the side-eyeing Shorter is enchanting.

"House of Jade" (Juju, 1965)

After the rainshower of piano notes that initiates "House of Jade," Shorter demonstrates his inimitable way with a ballad, hung on Jones' weighty swing and sway. As jazz author and columnist Mark Stryker put it in an edifying Twitter thread compiling the best of Shorter at a gentler pace: "The ballads are everything. It's all there, now and forever."

"Indian Song" (Etcetera, rec. 1965 rel. 1980)

Featuring bassist Cecil McBee, drummer Joe Chambers, and harmonic mastermind Herbie Hancock — Shorter's lifelong ride-or-die — on piano, Etcetera was recorded the same year as Juju but remained on the shelf for a decade. Better late than never: it stands tall among Shorter's Blue Notes of its time.

All five tracks are fantastic — four Shorters, one Gil Evans, in "Barracudas (General Assembly)." But regarding its final track, "Indian Song," one reviewer might have hit the nail on the head: "At times the rest of the album seems like a warm-up for that amazing tune." 

Across more than 11 minutes, "Indian Song" expands and retracts, inhales and exhales, on a spectral path into the unknown. Want an immediate example of how Shorter and Hancock twinned and intertwined their musical spirits to intoxicating effect? Look no further.

"Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum" (Speak No Evil, 1966)

As per compositional mastery, evocative interplay and plain old vibe, Speak No Evil represents something of an apogee for Shorter — and many in the know regard it as the crown jewel. 

The majestic, mid-tempo "Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum" is just one highlight of this quintessential, classic-stuffed Blue Note. Hear how Hancock's elusive harmonic shades and Shorter's simple yet impassioned approach just gel — with support from trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, bassist Ron Carter and drummer Elvin Jones.

"Wayne isn't playing the changes, but plays around the composition—he's creative within the composition," saxophonist David Sanchez once explicated. "[It's] distinct from a lot of other Blue Note recordings of the period on which, generally speaking, people would improvise on the changes once the head or theme was over."

But you don't need to know what's under the hood to hear how this classic thrillingly pushes and pulls.

"Infant Eyes" (Speak No Evil, 1966)

"Infant Eyes" is a Shorter ballad of almost surreal atmosphere and beauty: on a compositional and emotional level, it's difficult to compare it to much else. It's "doom jazz" decades before that was ever a thing. 

Down to Shorter's sheer note choices and the grain of his tone, "Infant Eyes" will make your heart leap into your throat. As per Stryker's Twitter litany of enchanting Shorter ballads, the combination is stiff — but if one is supreme, it's difficult to not pick this one.

"Footprints" (Adam's Apple, 1967)

This loping waltz-not-waltz from 1967's Adam's Apple is one of Shorter's most well-known tunes; even without close analysis of its sneaky rhythms, it's downright irresistible. And talk about gateways: it's a launchpad for any young musician who wants to give his tunes a shot.

"Footprints" continues to be a standard; it titled his biography; the Facebook post announcing Shorter's death bore footprint emojis. Shorter may have transitioned from this body, but his impressions are everywhere — and we'll never see the likes of Mr. Weird again.

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Remembering David Crosby: 5 Tracks That Define The Rock Storyteller's Thoughtful Craft & Social Commentary
David Crosby performs in 2018

Photo: Burak Cingi/Redferns


Remembering David Crosby: 5 Tracks That Define The Rock Storyteller's Thoughtful Craft & Social Commentary

Rock icon David Crosby passed away Jan. 19 at age 81. His discography, like his reputation, is an immense and disparate jaunt that doubles as a music history lesson.

GRAMMYs/Jan 20, 2023 - 08:18 pm

David Crosby was a 1960s folk-rock star, a '70s singer-songwriter marvel and a contemporary creative who simply couldn’t stop churning out new music. Crosby died on Jan. 19 at the age of 81, leaving the world with a massive body of work that helped shape multiple generations. Many rightfully remember him as a rock icon.

"GRAMMY Award winner and 10-time nominee David Crosby left an indelible mark on the music community and the world," said Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason, jr. "As a co-founder of legendary groups the Byrds and Crosby, Stills & Nash, he created some of the most influential rock music in his multi-decade career. His incredible legacy will be remembered forever, and our thoughts are with his fans and loved ones during this difficult time."

Crosby has multiple entries in the GRAMMY Hall of Fame, though his only GRAMMY win came in 1970 with a Best New Artist golden gramophone for his work with Crosby, Stills & Nash. (He was nominated for the same award in 1966 for his work with the Byrds.) Crosby's most recent nomination at the 62nd GRAMMY Awards for his 2019 documentary, Remember My Name.

In a Facebook post, Graham Nash recalled the "pure joy of the music we created together, the sound we discovered with one another, and the deep friendship we shared. David was fearless in life and in music."  Neil Young echoed that sentiment in a statement, reflecting on how Crosby's "voice and energy were at the heart of our band. His great songs stood for what we believed in and it was always fun and exciting when we got to play together."

Crosby’s discography, like his reputation, is an immense and disparate jaunt that doubles as a lesson in music history. From his most recent slate of solo singles — which dabbled in folk and jazz — to his groovy work with the Byrds that made him famous, and his sometimes tumultuous collaborations with Stephen Stills, Nash and Young, here are five essential tracks that paint an aural picture of the music legend.

"Turn! Turn! Turn!" (1965)

Crosby helped concoct this anthem while a member of  folk-rock group the Byrds, and it's difficult to imagine protests, happenings and fashion of the hippie generation without hearing "Turn! Turn! Turn!"

Folk heavyweight Pete Seeger borrowed the bulk of the lyrics from the Bible's Book of Ecclesiastes, though the Byrds made the song a hit. Crosby's rhythm guitar and backing vocals give the song a mystical quality (along with Roger McGuinn’s 12 string Rickenbacker, of course). Synonymous with the activism that engulfed the conflict in Vietnam, "Turn! Turn! Turn! went to No. 1 just as that war in Southeast Asia was at the top of public consciousness.

"Guinnevere" (1969)

Written by Crosby for Crosby, Stills & Nash's self-titled debut album, the tender, heart-wrenching "Guinnevere" tells the story of three women — among them, a girlfriend he lost in a car accident — opening with the plaintive, "Guinnevere had green eyes" before transitioning into a haunting line: "She shall be free."

Subsequently covered by Miles Davis on The Complete Bitches Brew Sessions, a live version of "Guinnevere" was also one of the very last songs Crosby released. Speaking to Music Radar, Crosby said the torch song "could be his best" — quite a statement, considering the scope of his mighty career.

"Almost Cut My Hair" (1970)

Crosby wrote this irreverent yet poignant ode to the counterculture for Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's Déjà vu.  The song takes Crosby’s famously stubborn nature and transposes it to the fading days of the hippie movement, long hair and all.

"If you’re writing a song like 'Almost Cut My Hair,'" Crosby said in his final interview, just two weeks before his death, "[And it’s] something where you feel like you have a point to make, then that anger can come in there but you’ve got to be careful with that s—." Aside from the of-the-moment lyrics (in which he proclaims he feels like letting his "freak flag fly"), Crosby takes center stage musically. His voice is the only one heard, as Still, Nash and Young pitch in on instrumentation.

"Cowboy Movie" (1971)

Foreshadowing his future career, Crosby was deep in his collaboration with CSNY when he released his debut solo album If I Can Only Remember My Name. Featuring friends such as Joni Mitchell, and members of Santana and the Grateful Dead (they called their band the the Planet Earth Rock and Roll Orchestra), the album was maligned upon its release but has been reassessed to acclaim.

"Cowboy Movie," with the Dead’s Jerry Garcia and Phil Lesh on guitar and bass, is a tribute to the tales of the Old West. "Now I'm dying here in Albuquerque," Crosby sings as the song comes to a close. "I must be the sorriest sight you ever saw."

"She’s Got to Be Somewhere"  (2017)

"Whatever time I have left on this planet should be dedicated to making the best music I can," Crosby said in 2018 "It’s the one contribution I can make. Music helps things; it makes things better." Crosby did just that, going on a creative tear where he released a bevy of solo albums.

On 2017's Sky Trails, the man who helped pioneer folk and psychedelic rock is almost unrecognizable. The cool and crackling "She’s Got To Be Somewhere," a co-production between Crosby and his adopted son James Raymond, is an exploration of jazz fusion. "It’s ingrained in me and it’s ingrained in my son James," Crosby said of his jazz influences during a 2019 conversation with Jazz Times, citing jazz titans Dave Brubeck, Chet Baker, Gerry Mulligan and Bill Evans.

David Crosby On His New Album 'For Free' & Why His Twitter Account Is Actually Joyful

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Photos (from left): Ebet Roberts/Redferns via Getty Images; Mairo Cinquetti/NurPhoto via Getty Images; Gary Miller/Getty Images; Brian Rasic/WireImage.


Songbook: Inside Neil Young's Latest Decade And Change, From 'Americana' & 'Psychedelic Pill' To 'Barn' & 'World Record'

Neil Young's resonance and relevance extends far past his '70s commercial heyday; his past decade of albums have been some of the most rich and rewarding of his career. And his GRAMMY-nominated documentary 'Barn' shows that.

GRAMMYs/Jan 20, 2023 - 04:39 pm

In Conan O'Brien's eyes, Neil Young has done the impossible.

"He's managed to stay completely authentic and raw in a way that almost seems impossible to me," O'Brien told Howard Stern last year. "What he was doing with Buffalo Springfield in [1966], he's still going for that. He hasn't calcified. He hasn't crusted over. He's still going for that. So that guy blows me away.”

It's not the first time Young has blown O'Brien's mind. When the two sat down for an interview a few years ago, the comedian expressed his admiration for Young's ability to "not give a s—." To which Young replied, "If somebody doesn't like something, that's just as exciting as them liking it." O'Brien's response? "My head just came off." 

Such are the twin halves of the two-time GRAMMY winner's artistic journey in his 70s: indomitable will and an almost supernatural ability to brush off criticism.

Powered by undiluted passion, moral will-to-power and an unscratchable creative itch, Young is always hurtling forward, prioritizing honesty and raw feeling over all else. ("There's a lot of people who do like it, and they'll like it even more if you didn't guard the edges," Young told O'Brien in the same interview — cogent advice for every creative person in the self-censoring 2020s.)

Key figures in Young's life and career — like filmmaker Larry L.A. Johnson, pedal steel guitarist Ben Keith, former wife Pegi Young, and manager Elliot Roberts — have passed away in the last decade and change; in decades past, he lost producer David Briggs and Crazy Horse guitarist Danny Whitten, among so many others. These losses haven't thrown Young off the rails, but seemingly added momentum to his runaway creative train.

This alchemy — his innate ability to process trauma, negativity and loss into quantum motivation — popped up in 2019, when an anonymous fan wrote a letter to Young's quirky online newspaper, the Times-Contrarian. The fan talked about their "Uncle Eddie," concerned that the ailing 76-year-old won't live to hear all of the archival music Young promised he has in the can.

"He wants to know why you don't just put all this material out now. Just dump it all out on the NYA website," they entreated. "He wants you to know that he can't buy it if he's dead." Young sprang into action, and there's now a plethora of lost recordings out there — Homegrown, Summer Songs, Toast — with an untold ocean of music to come.

Amid the archival deluge, Young's latest decade-plus of music making has been one of the most satisfying epochs of his long career — his lyrical messages heartfelt and probing, his production raw and wooly, his electric guitar playing more twisted and brain-bending than ever.

These components of his current run are fully on display in the documentary Barn — which captures the recording process for 2021's Barn — for Best Music Film at the 2023 GRAMMYs. From that rustic jumping-off point, here's a rundown of each album, from a logical entrypoint: his first LP with Crazy Horse in 16 years.

Americana (2012)

(with Crazy Horse)

Young has long had a preoccupation with the taxonomy of song.

He tends to revisit unreleased songs — and albums — from decades ago. Diehards have murmured for years about an abandoned '70s album of songs named after well-known hits. (One contender, "Born to Run," recently emerged — it's not Springsteen's.)

Young took this to an extreme with Americana, his and the Horse's album of public-domain schoolyard bops like "Oh Susannah," "Clementine" and "She'll Be Coming 'Round the Mountain." 

Although it may be tempting to pigeonhole it as a mere on-ramp to the masterpiece that followed it, Americana aged well. The melodic swoops on "Clementine," the goofy R&B cover "Get a Job," and the barreling momentum of "Travel On" are alone worth the price of admission.

Plus, winking renditions of Woody Guthrie's "This Land is Your Land" and British royal anthem "God Save the Queen" break the fourth wall, in a sense. Young isn't merely dealing in schoolyard chants, but wry commentary on what being American truly means.

Psychedelic Pill (2012)

(with Crazy Horse)

What's the greatest album Young ever made with Crazy Horse? It's logical to jump out for the first one they ever did together, 1969's Everyone Knows This is Nowhere. But it lacks the raw, wooly production everyone associates with this collaboration. 

There's a case to be made for 1975's Zuma, but that discourse tends to hang on a single song: "Cortez the Killer." Same for 1979's Rust Never Sleeps, but its nature — live recordings supplemented with overdubs — muddies the waters.

Obviously, there's no objective answer. But 10 years later, it's time to introduce Psychedelic Pill into the debate. This is the Horse, unfiltered and unadulterated — and guitarist Frank "Poncho" Sampedro's final ride with the band.

This was the year Young released his bloggy, discursive autobiography Waging Heavy Peace, and Psychedelic Pill's 27-minute(!) opening track, "Driftin' Back" reflects that in more ways than one. It's not just that he references "writing [in] his book"; over its hypnotic, chord-looping runtime, Young muses about crummy bitrates, potential paganism and his pending hip-hop hairdo. 

All-time performances by the Horse roll on, married to terrific songs. 

"Ramada Inn" is a pathos-laden character study of a moldering, alcoholic marriage; '80s salvage "For the Love of Man" touchingly resonates with Young's experience of raising two sons with physical disabilities; and "Walk Like a Giant" explodes Tonight's the Night's post-'60s cynicism to Godzilla proportions, complete with speaker-rattling amplifier crashes at the end.

With all genuflection to the old Horse, the band demonstrably reached peak potency in the 21st century. Kick back with something strong and meander down this twisted road.

A Letter Home (2014)

Young recorded A Letter Home in Jack White's Voice-o-Graph vinyl recording booth, where a signal is translated directly into vinyl, to primitive-sounding results. It's all covers.

While classics like Bob Dylan's "Girl from the North Country," Willie Nelson's "Crazy" and Tim Hardin's "Reason to Believe" are certainly luminous, the most emotionally heart-stopping moment comes at the very beginning, when Young dictates a message to his mother in heaven.

"Hi mom! Hey, it's great to be able to talk to you," Young exclaims through moon-landing-grade audio. I haven't been able to talk to you in a really long time, and my friend Jack has got this box that I can talk to you from."

"So, I'd like to be able to send you this message and tell you how much I love you and also tell you that I think you should start talking to Daddy again," he continues. "Since you're both there together, there's no reason not to talk.”

Young rambles on to his mom about "weatherman" Al Gore from there, but it's the following track that hits the solar plexus. He then covers Phil Ochs' "Changes," which should resonate with anyone who's lost a parent. In this damaged and warped presentation, it's almost unbearably moving to hear.

"Your tears will be trembling, now we're somewhere else/ One last cup of wine we will pour," Young croons through brambles of distortion, seemingly reporting from another plane of existence. "And I'll kiss you one more time, and leave you on the rolling river shores of changes."

The rest of this unconventional covers album rolls on; whether you can roll with the "production" for its entire runtime comes down to the ears of the beholder. But that intro, leading into "Changes," comprises the beating heart of A Letter Home.

There's much more than technological gimmickry at play. Through the lens of "Changes," the  fuzz is a metaphor for distance and loss.

Storytone (2014)

Young followed A Letter Home with its polar opposite, fidelity-speaking: Storytone, where every one of its earnest tracks was augmented with an orchestra or big band.

This maximalism should be no surprise to the Young-initiated; his orchestra-abetted tracks, like "A Man Needs a Maid" and "Such a Woman," are proof positive of such.

That said, no Young album has felt quite this Hollywood; even as the gorgeous "Plastic Flowers" recalls the classic "After the Gold Rush" with its yearning melody, the string embellishments take center stage. Ditto the romping big band on "I Want to Drive My Car," which pushes the simple, bluesy composition into deep Vegas territory. 

Upon its release, Young seemed fascinated by how he could pull Storytone in different directions. Not only did he release the embellished and unembellished versions; we have Mixed Pages of Storytone, which shuffles the tracklist and offers a bit of both.

Whatever your Storytone is, the songs are cozy and livable — and reflect the dawn of a new love. (The singer began dating his now-wife, actress and filmmaker Daryl Hannah, that year.) 

The Monsanto Years (2015)

(with Promise of the Real)

Young has a long track record of being shaken to his core by a cause, writing in haste and rushing into the studio.

He did it back in 1970 with Crosby, Stills and Nash's "Ohio," their outrage bomb about the Kent State shootings. And he did it in 2006 with the raw and immediate Living With War, which takes shots at Dubya and the war machine.

This time, agrochemical and agricultural biotech company Monsanto is in the crosshairs, and Young's got new aural weaponry: Promise of the Real, a band helmed by Willie Nelson's sons Lukas and Micah, who actually named themselves after Young's song "Walk On."

Whatever your feelings on the company are — last year, they pled guilty to 30 environmental crimes — these songs about corporate avarice and food transparency ring true. 

And tunes like "People Want to Hear About Love," "Workin' Man" and "Rules of Change" capture the fire of Psychedelic Pill. "No one owns the sacred seed/ No man's law can change that," Young seethes in the latter song, cutting to the heart of the matter.

Peace Trail (2016)

Despite its stripped-down presentation — Young, bassist Paul Bushnell and drummer Jim Keltner Peace Trail might be one of Young's most avant-garde albums. In a great way.

Instead of landing somewhere near 2000's rootsy (and vastly underrated) Silver and Gold, Peace Trail feels nervy and unpolished, like the trio is recording it in first takes in your garage. (The scrawled album cover adds to the effect.)

The songs are some of Young's strongest of his current run; "Can't Stop Workin'" is an ode to imaginary-gun-to-your-head prolificity that would make Robert Pollard proud, and the smoldering "Show Me" recalls 1994's nocturnal Sleeps With Angels.

All the while, Bushnell leans back; Keltner often does the opposite. He doesn't merely keep time; he responds to Young's lines like Rashied Ali to John Coltrane on Interstellar Space.

Throw in some Auto-Tune, computer chatter and possible references to Amazon's Alexa, and you've got a wonderfully strange entry in Young's recent oeuvre. 

Often, the worn and craggy Peace Trail — in all its sonic imperfections and needling political commentary — amounts to Young's private war against the dehumanizing technocratic age.

The Visitor (2017)

(with Promise of the Real)

In 2017, Young beamed us back to 1976 with the long-lost archival album, Hitchhiker. Under a full moon in the late summer, a crossfaded Young sits alone in a Malibu studio, with David Briggs at the helm, and cuts a slew of future classics: "Pocahontas," "Powderfinger," "Campaigner." It's luminous.

Three months later, Young slammed his fans back into Trump-dominated, Twitter-poisoned reality with The Visitor, his second studio turn with Promise of the Real. The tunes deal with the nature of American-ness ("Already Great") and the rising of the young generation ("Children of Destiny").

When you get past the era-specific topicality, though, there's much to explore. "Almost Always" does mention a certain "game show host," its revisitation of the riff to his '90s tune "Unknown Legend" suggests there was more emotional terrain to trawl there.

Plus, there's no precedent in his vast catalog for something like "Carnival," a Tom Waits-level-bizarre excursion that rolls past the eight-minute mark. And the slow sunset of closing track "Forever" shows that Young still excels in the long form; his knack for hypnosis hasn't left him.

Colorado (2019)

(with Crazy Horse)

In 2018, old compatriot Nils Lofgren replaced guitarist Frank "Poncho" Sampredo in Crazy Horse; he had appeared on old classics like After the Gold Rush and Tonight's the Night, so he was the logical choice. His first outing as a proper Horseman was the following year's Colorado, recorded at 9,000 feet above sea level in the Rocky Mountains — as captured touchingly and hysterically in the documentary Mountaintop.

Read More: Living Legends: Nils Lofgren On His Guitar Philosophy, Staying Sober & Meshing With Iconoclasts Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young

At this point, Young's ecological concerns became even more of a focal point in his writing. But while a lesser writer would hector and lecture, Young is crucially able to turn this topic in the light and capture new facets every time.

"She Showed Me Love" frames this issue as a matter of betrayal; Mother Nature gave Young everything he has. "I saw old white guys trying to kill mother nature!" he reports in the stormy rocker; his anger spirals into the transfixing, endlessly repeating coda, where the Horse enter one of their trademark reveries.

While "Shut it Down" is like shattered glass against a wall, Colorado is, on the main, one of the Horse's gentler offerings. "Green is Blue," "Milky Way" and "I Do" are some of his most subtle and simmering songs in years.

But the arguable centerpiece is "Olden Days," for completely different reasons. It doesn't mention climate collapse at all; rather, it's about the people Young has loved and lost to death. "Something happened yesterday/ I need to talk to you," he sings in his fragile falsetto, seemingly singing to any and all of his late friends and colleagues.

And even though it's from the perspective of another character, it's bracing to hear the artist who arguably cares more than any other, singing these three resigned words: "Nothing matters anyway."

Barn (2021)

(with Crazy Horse)

Young used to walk away from the Horse for years between albums; now, we're on a roll, one that seems to continue unabated. Just as Colorado was recorded in Colorado, Barn was made in a barn; it's another case of Young's experimentation with location-specific vibes.

Within those century-old timber walls, Young sings of humanity making it work during challenging times — the "children of the fires and floods" navigating a global pandemic and a half-dozen other calamities. 

"Masked people walking everywhere," he notes in "Song of the Seasons," accompanied by Lofgren's rustic accordion. "It's humanity in my sights." Performances of all these songs and behind-the-scenes footage appear in the documentary of the same name, which is nominated for Best Music Film at the 2023 GRAMMYs.

Elsewhere, Young addresses his recent American citizenship ("Canerican"), turns in another winning example of his noir-ish slow burners ("They Might Be Lost") and stretches out on the chills-inducing, eight-minute "Welcome Back." 

Fans of the Horse at their most extreme might bemoan the quick runtimes; most of the tunes are four-and-a-half minutes or shorter. But Barn shows they excel in this economical setting. Best of all, they've proven to remain a potent force for good in a battered world.

World Record (2022)

(with Crazy Horse)

Three Horse albums in about as many years — there's no precedent for this.

Produced by Rick Rubin and recorded live in the studio, the production puts you right there on the studio floor; the interstitial chatter and noodlings weren't cut, but preserved.

Darker and more hymnal than Barn, World Record carries a tint of desperation, often throwing poetry aside in favor of ultra-direct pleas for reconciliation. In "The World (Is In Trouble Now)," Young grinds out the title chorus over gnarled knots of accordion. "No more war/ Only love," he and his accompanists keen in "Walkin' on the Road (To the Future)."

Fans who wished for longer songs than on Barn might have to wait a little longer; these runtimes are tight too. But the majestic, 15-minute workout "Chevrolet" should assuage any concerns.

Plus, the other tracks show Young's way with a haunting melody remains undimmed; the halting, ascendant bridge to "Overhead" and companionable chorus to "This Old Planet (Changing Days)" are unforgettable. 

Wherever these changing days ultimately lead us — to reclamation or disaster — let it be known that a 77-year-old Young has been a warning bell, a balm and a light in the universe.

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15 Must-Hear New Albums Out This Month: SZA, Neil Young, A Boogie Wit da Hoodie, NCT Dream & More
(L-R): A Boogie wit da Hoodie, SZA, Jacquees, Metro Boomin, Rivers Cuomo of Weezer

Photos (L-R): Joseph Okpako/WireImage; Tim Mosenfelder/FilmMagic; Prince Williams/Wireimage; Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for Justin Combs Events; Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images


15 Must-Hear New Albums Out This Month: SZA, Neil Young, A Boogie Wit da Hoodie, NCT Dream & More

Rounding out the year, here are the can't-miss releases and massive new albums dropping in December 2022 from Weezer, Metro Boomin, NOFX, Jacquees, Ab-Soul, and many others.

GRAMMYs/Dec 2, 2022 - 07:20 pm

And just like that, 2022 is almost done — but not before we get another round of must-hear albums. December's slate of releases is set to send the year out on a high note, with something for all tastes.

This month heralds much-anticipated returns from R&B innovator SZA, with S.O.S., and rap super-producer Metro Boomin, with the mysterious HEROES & VILLAINS. December's riches also include Bad MFs from West Coast hip-hop supergroup Mount Westmore, indie-rock lifers Weezer dropping SZNZ: Winter and a loaded, possibly final album from punk-rock misfits NOFX. There's also new-generation R&B (RINI’s Ultraviolet EP and Jacquees' Sincerely For You), dark techno (Terence Fixmer's Shifting Signals), soul-baring indie (Sophie Jamieson's Choosing), and much more. 

Below, check out a guide to the 15 essential albums dropping just in time for the festive season. — Jack Tregoning

Contributed reporting by Ashlee Mitchell

SZA - S.O.S.

Release date: TBD

Five years after her GRAMMY-nominated debut album, Ctrl, it's about to be SZA season all over again. While details are still pending, the alternative R&B star is expected to drop her second album, S.O.S., this month, following the single "Shirt" and its teaser follow-up, "PSA".

In a revealing Billboard cover story, SZA spoke frankly about the pressure she feels to release the album while navigating the music industry and her fans' expectations. As always with SZA, the music itself speaks volumes, and the darkly seductive "Shirt" (accompanied by a music video co-starring SZA and Academy Award nominee LaKeith Stanfield in a riff on Bonnie and Clyde) suggests S.O.S. will be something to savor. — J.T.

Related: Ari Lennox's Age/Sex/Location Explores Online Dating, Never Settling & Old School Romance

Metro Boomin - HEROES & VILLAINS

Release date: December 2

To prepare fans for his new album, HEROES & VILLAINS, sought-after rap producer Metro Boomin went all-out on a short film starring his collaborators Young Thug and Gunna alongside celebrated actors Morgan Freeman and LaKeith Stanfield. Following that flex, the artist's first solo LP in four years is set to feature a who's who of rap, with an exact tracklist still to be announced.

Metro Boomin's previous album, 2018's Not All Heroes Wear Capes, featured the likes of Travis Scott, 21 Savage and Gucci Mane rapping over the producer's dark, trap-centric beats. This time around, he's keeping his cards close to his chest, slyly sharing a video of the studio sessions on his Instagram with the caption, "When the sequel is even better than the first." All will be revealed on Dec. 2. — J.T.

Related: For The Record: Kendrick Lamar's 'Good Kid, M.A.A.d City' Launched A New Era In Storytelling & West Coast Rap

Neil Young - Harvest (50th Anniversary Edition)

Release date: December 2

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Neil Young's seminal folk-rock album Harvest, released to great acclaim in 1972. Featuring indelible songs like "Heart of Gold," "Old Man" and "The Needle and The Damage Done," Harvest was the best-selling album of that year in the US.

To celebrate the milestone, Young is releasing a special anniversary edition, available in either CD or vinyl box-set. Extras include a new two-hour documentary called Harvest Time, an official release of Young's BBC In Concert performance , and a hardcover book featuring never-before-seen photos and notes by legendary rock photographer Joel Bernstein. Consider this the festive gift for the Neil Young completist in your life. — J.T.

After breaking out with his 2021 debut album, Constellations, RINI returns this month with the seven-track EP, Ultraviolet. The Filipino-Australian R&B talent, who now calls Los Angeles home, pairs his indelible voice with slinky, late-night production that pulls the listener close.

Ahead of Ultraviolet, RINI has released the singles "Haunt Me" and "Selfish," featuring GRAMMY-winning rapper BEAM, which pair his themes of love and longing with gauzy, head-nodding beats. "I want to be able to show the world and myself that I'm growing, not just in music, but as a person," RINI told Uproxx in May. On Ultraviolet, which also features the slick bedroom jams "Something to Feel" and "Your Eyes," that evolution is evident. — J.T.

Related: R&B Isn't Dead: Listen To 51 Songs By Summer Walker, Josh Levi & More Artists Who Are Pushing The Genre Forward

NOFX - Double Album

Release date: December 2

SoCal punk veterans NOFX have always kept up a prolific output, and this month the band returns with their 15th LP, Double Album. Following last year's Single Album, the conveniently titled Double Album features 10 new songs with perfectly NOFX titles like "Punk Rock Cliché" and "Is It Too Soon if Time Is Relative?" Lead single "Darby Crashing Your Party" showcases the band at their hard-riffing, rowdy best, with frontman Fat Mike clearly relishing lyrical volleys like, "A middle-class clown waging lower class war/A Beverly Hillbilly peeled off the floor."

In a statement announcing the new album, Fat Mike revealed the songs were recorded at the same time as Single Album, then finished off later. "I think it's a very enjoyable album, and maybe our funniest," he added. It could also be NOFX's parting gift — responding to a fan’s Instagram comment, Fat Mike announced that 2023 will be the band's "last year" after an "amazing run." — J.T.

Related: 5 Women Essential To Punk: Exene Cervenka, Poly Styrene, Alice Bag, Kathleen Hanna & The Linda Lindas

Terence Fixmer - Shifting Signals

Release date: December 2

French producer Terence Fixmer has been one of the most intriguing figures in the electronic music scene for well over a decade. Over six past solo albums, numerous EPs and standalone releases, Fixmer has perfected a dark, gritty sound that melds techno with the looser industrial spirit of electronic body music (EBM).

Fixmer's seventh album, Shifting Signals, continues in that vein while allowing for new textures to creep in. "On each album I aim for something different but I retain the core sound, which is always there and often dark and melancholic," the producer wrote in a statement. "Sometimes the balance tips slightly and on this album, I'm striving to be freer and open myself up more to melody."

That openness to different modes is showcased on the atmospheric, piano-led "Synthetic Minds," which evokes a John Carpenter film score, while fellow singles "Corne de Brume" and "No Latitude for Errors" are built for heady techno dance floors. — J.T.

Related: Going Underground: House DJ Claude VonStroke On Making Soul Decisions & Keeping Electronic Music Grimy

Sophie Jamieson - Choosing

Release date: December 2

On her debut album, Choosing, London-based singer-songwriter Sophie Jamieson doesn't shy from difficult or uncomfortable emotions. Lead single, "Sink" lays bare her push-pull relationship with alcohol over a lulling bed of piano and drums. That theme of emotional vulnerability carries through the LP's 11 songs, which foreground Jamieson's enchanting voice and plain-spoken lyrics.

"The title of this album is so important," Jamieson wrote in a statement. "Without it, this might sound like another record about self-destruction and pain, but at heart, it's about hope, and finding strength. It's about finding the light at the end of the tunnel and crawling towards it." Choosing arrives via Bella Union, the tastemaking label led by Simon Raymonde, formerly of Scottish dream pop band Cocteau Twins. — J.T.

Related: Hear The 2022 Nominees For Best Alternative Music Performance At The 2023 GRAMMY Awards

White Lung - Premonition

Release date: December 2

Canadian punk rockers White Lung weren't expecting to take six years to follow up 2016's celebrated Paradise. As the story goes, the band got together in their hometown of Vancouver in 2017, expecting to rip out their final album before parting ways. In the studio, frontwoman Mish Barber-Way discovered she was pregnant with her first child — which, along with a global pandemic and another child, put the album plans on ice.

Fast forward to 2022, and White Lung's fifth and final album, Premonition, is finally here. With all that extra time to marinate, Premonition is a thrilling return from the trio, mining deeper themes with the same raucous, kick-down-the-door energy that fans expect. The album opens furiously with "Hysteric", and also features the singles "Date Night" and "Tomorrow," which match Barber-Way's impassioned vocals with muscular punk-rock riffing.

"We felt like this record was the right endpoint and we are happy the songs will finally be released," the band wrote in a statement. — J.T. 

Related: Like Turnstile And Code Orange? 10 More Bands Expanding The Boundaries Of Hardcore

A Boogie Wit da Hoodie - Me vs. Myself

Release date: December 9

New York's A Boogie wit da Hoodie has been steadily hyping the release of his fourth album, Me Vs Myself, throughout 2022. Originally scheduled for November, the album will drop this month, right in time for A Boogie's hometown album launch at the iconic Apollo Theater in Harlem.

Me Vs Myself was preceded by a pair of singles, "Take Shots," featuring Tory Lanez, and "Ballin," which both showcase the rapper's supremely confident flow and wavy beats. While the full tracklist is not yet confirmed, A Boogie's previous album, ARTIST 2.0, covered the R&B and rap spectrum with guests like Summer Walker, Khalid, Young Thug and Lil Uzi Vert, without pulling focus from the main star. The rapper has already lined up dates for the Me Vs Myself tour stretching into 2023, so it's a great time to bet on A Boogie. — J.T.

Related: Meet The 2022 Nominees For Best Rap Album At The 2023 GRAMMY Awards

Mount Westmore - Snoop, Cube, 40, $hort

Release date: December 9

When living legends Snoop Dogg, E-40, Too Short and Ice Cube formed the supergroup Mount Westmore, West Coast rap heads took notice. After several hints that a collaborative album was coming, Mount Westmore made the surprise decision to release their debut, Bad MFs, exclusively as an NFT via the blockchain-based platform Gala Music.

The album arrives on streaming services this month under a new title, Snoop, Cube, 40, $hort, featuring additional songs not included on the NFT version. A spirit of loose fun and ride-or-die friendship carries through all the singles released so far, including the swaggering "Bad MFs" and the bass-heavy, light-hearted "Big Subwoofer." As Snoop put it to HotNewHipHop, "You bring the legends of the West Coast together, something great will always happen." — J.T.

Related: Take The Power Back: How Rage Against The Machine's Debut LP Created Rap-Rock With A Message

Leland Whitty - Anyhow

Release date: December 9

Best known as a member of Toronto-based jazz ensemble BADBADNOTGOOD, Leland Whitty is a true multi-instrumentalist. On his seven-track solo release, Anyhow, Whitty oversaw all production and composition, moving deftly between guitar, synthesizer, woodwinds and strings.

Following his scores for indie films Disappearance at Clifton Hill and Learn to Swim, Whitty was inspired to combine cinematic composition with rock and jazz instrumentation in his own project. Lead single "Awake" perfectly strikes that balance with twinkling keys, mournful strings and an insistent drum beat, while follow-up "Glass Moon" conjures a similarly beguiling mood. Members of BADBADNOTGOOD and Whitty's musician brother also joined the studio sessions, making Anyhow a family affair. — J.T.

Related: Robert Glasper & Terrace Martin On Removing Their Egos And Creating Their GRAMMY-Nominated Collaboration Dinner Party: Dessert

Jacquees - Sincerely For You

Release date: December 16

On "Say Yea", the sultry bedroom anthem he dropped back in May, Jacquees croons, "Girl, you overdue for some romantic s—." That simple line is something of a mission statement for the R&B casanova, whose third album, Sincerely For You, drops this month.

The LP features "Say Yea" alongside 16 more R&B jams, including singles "Tipsy," which captures the singer's blurry plea to a lover, and the smoothly boastful "Still That." Elsewhere, Sincerely For You offers up guest turns from Future (who also executive produced the album), 21 Savage and Tory Lanez, plus the R&B dream team of 6lack and Summer Walker on "Tell Me It's Over." On his socials, Jacquees dedicated the album to "everybody who been there for me along the way" and promised to deliver only "real R&B." — J.T.

Related: Durand Bernarr's 'Wanderlust': The R&B Singer Explains Why He's "Constantly In A State Of Arriving"

Ab-Soul - Herbert

Release date: December 16

Six hard-won years after his last album, the divisive, conspiracy theory-heavy Do What Thou Wilt., Ab-Soul has found his drive again. The rapper from Carson, California returns this month with a deeply personal album that shares his birth name, Herbert.

Ab-Soul's new outlook was previewed in lead single "Do Better," which reckons with the scars of his past and looks to the future with powerful clarity. The next single, "Gang'Nem," featuring Houston rapper FRE$H and produced by fellow Top Dawg Entertainment mainstay Sounwave, also revisits his upbringing and pays respect to L.A. street culture over a woozy, hard-hitting beat.

For fans of Ab-Soul's dense lyrical style and gravelly flow, Herbert is an eagerly-anticipated return to the rap limelight. — J.T.

Related: From "Rap Sh!t" To "Pistol" And "Treme": 8 Must-See TV Series For Music Lovers


Release date: December 19

NCT Dream, the youngest sub-group of Neo Culture Technology (NCT), has seen exponential growth since they rebranded as a fixed unit in 2020. The septet is set to release a winter special EP called Candy on Dec. 19. The mini-album's six tracks, include lead single "Candy," which was originally performed by H.O.T. in 1996. The album will be the first holiday release for any NCT sub-group, following a slew of successful releases from NCT Dream this year.

The group released their second studio album, Glitch, in March 2022, followed by their repackaged Beatbox in May. Their first feature film, NCT Dream The Movie: In a Dream, released worldwide on Nov. 30 and Dec. 3 and documents the opening days of their tour in Seoul. The group will finish their tour in Japan by February 2023. — Ashlee Mitchell

Related: K-Pop Icon B.I Isn't Afraid To Explore Growth And Freedom On 'Love Or Loved Pt. 1'

Weezer - SZNZ: Winter

Release date: December 21

This has been a remarkably good year to be a Weezer fan. Always pleasingly prolific, in 2022 the band decided to release a four-EP series under the name SZNZ, each timed to coincide with a new season.

Following Spring, Summer and Autumn editions, SZNZ: Winter arrives just in time for peak coziness. While the complete tracklist is not yet known, Weezer performed the EP in full for an intimate crowd at the Troubadour in Los Angeles (using their favored alias Goat Punishment), with new highlights including "I Want A Dog" and "The One That Got Away."

While frontman Rivers Cuomo has described SZNZ: Winter as having a sad vibe that suits snowed-in days, you can always count on Weezer to cut the melancholy with some power-pop verve. — J.T.

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