Every Friday our NoiseTrade New Music Tip Sheet highlights three recommended picks from that week’s batch of new releases that we think are worth checking out at your local record shop or via your preferred online music distributor of choice.
Although last year’s Together At Last was billed as the first solo record from Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy, the enjoyable album felt more like an acoustic greatest hits package that featured the eclectic troubadour reworking songs from his multi-band back catalog of Wilco, Golden Smog, and Loose Fur tracks. By contrast, his newest solo album WARM contains all original material and feels much more like a “solo debut” outing in its adventurous approach. Wilco fans will find so much to love here – “The Red Brick” contains some Yankee Hotel Foxtrot weirdness, “Some Birds” rumbles along on a Sky Blue Sky acoustic-forward groove, “Let’s Go Rain” sounds like a folksy Mermaid Avenue singalong – but WARM truly stands on its own two feet. It’s less a continuation of anything and more of an amalgamation of everything he has previously done; resulting in something new and fresh to the ears that is anchored by Tweedy’s infectious-and-invitational vocals.
Undun (Vinyl Reissue)
Def Jam’s vinyl reissue of Undun, The Roots tenth studio album originally released in 2011, is a welcomed resurfacing for one of the most ambitious LPs from the ridiculously talented hip-hop band’s iconic catalog. Undun has been categorized as an “existential concept record” and uses a reverse chronological structure to tell the tragic death-to-life story of the fictional character Redford Stevens – a name inspired by the song “Redford (For Yia-Yia & Pappou)” from the 2003 Sufjan Stevens album Michigan. Stevens’ version of the song also appears in full on Undun as the opening track of a four-part instrumental suite that closes out the album. While Black Thought’s unparalleled lyrics and delivery and Questlove’s drumming and producing are the main stars of the show, special guests Big K.R.I.T., Bilal, Dice Raw, Phonte, Aaron Livingston, and Truck North all show up on various tracks as well.
Songs for Judy
1976 was a pretty busy year for Neil Young – he recorded an entire solo acoustic album (Hitchhiker, which remained unreleased until last year), he recorded the Long May You Run album with Stephen Stills (under The Stills-Young Band moniker), tried to tour with Stills (Young abruptly ended the tour after just 22 shows), he participated in The Band’s legendary The Last Waltz all-star concert, and he ended the year touring with Crazy Horse. He opened those full-band Crazy Horse shows himself with just an acoustic guitar and his newest archival release Songs for Judy captures 22 of those “one guitar, one mic” performances. While many of Young’s most classic songs are sprinkled throughout the treasure trove tracklist – “Heart of Gold,” “The Needle and the Damage Done,” and “After the Gold Rush” – there are quite a few deep cuts and rarities mixed in as well, including “No One Seems to Know” (which has never before appeared on an official Young release in any capacity). The CD and digital versions are out today and the vinyl will be released on December 14.