Photo: Paul Bergen/Redferns
Neil Young Shares Details Of 2020 Archival Releases
The iconic, GRAMMY-winning "Heart of Gold" singer/songwriter plans to release 'Way Down in the Rust Bucket' and 'Greendale Live' this year
Neil Young delivered details on some of the archival projects he promised to release in 2020 via a New Year's Day letter to his fans on Wednesday, Jan. 1.
The iconic GRAMMY-winning "Heart of Gold" singer/songwriter plans to release Way Down In The Rust Bucket and Greendale Live this year. The latter 2003 performance with his band Crazy Horse will include a live album and a theatre release Young wrote.
"Greendale is a monster!" he said in his note. "Currently in the final editing stages, this performance from Toronto with a cast of 50 plus is like a Broadway show."
Not much information was released regarding Way Down In The Rust Bucket. News of the performance was first shared in September.
The releases are a part of an effort that Young has been working on for years. In 1991, the singer/songwriter told Rolling Stone he wanted to release "18 to 20 albums' worth of unreleased material." He first started the archives when he was working on Ragged Glory in the '90s. The archives include music and performances.
"The pieces are a labor of love," Young said in his 2020 note.
Young created the Neil Young Archives website and a subscription-based high-res streaming service to bring his music to his fans. Last month, he shared his urgency to release much of the archives in 2020, laying out how he would drop them on his site.
"Of course we will have to have to try to make sure [the archives] do not escape into the internet while they are exclusive to NYA. If we can figure this out we will release many of them in 2020," he said on the site. "It's a race against time."
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.
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.
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 , 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.
(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.
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.
(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.
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."
(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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
RINI - UltraViolet
Release date: December 2
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
NCT DREAM - Candy
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
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.