Given how the pandemic and colder weather is quickly driving us all indoors, there is no better time to check in to see what kind of new music is coming out to make for quarantine-driven playlists.
Bruce Springsteen – Letter To You (Columbia)
The twentieth Springsteen studio album finds him reuniting with the E Street Band for the first time since 2014’s High Hopes. Regret, aging and dying are the themes you can expect to hear from these dozen songs, three of which were originally written prior to the release of the Boss’ 1973 debut Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J.
Elvis Costello – Hey Clockface (Concord)
New Wave’s original angry young man is 31 albums into his career and shows not signs of slowing down with these songs that are stylistically sprawling and encompasses jazz nuances, substantial ballads and a degree of cacophonous moodiness.
Midnight Oil – The Makarrata Project (Sony Music)
The band’s 12th studio outing continues to pound the drum of social consciousness. This time around, main songwriters Peter Garrett, Rob Hirst and Jim Moginie address indigenous issues and white relationships, framing it all in both a historical and contemporary context.
The Smashing Pumpkins – Cyr (Sumerian)
Self-produced by founding member Billy Corgan, this is the second double-CD studio album the band has released since 1995’s Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. Joining in on this sprawling 20-track opus are Pumpkins stalwarts James Iha and Jimmy Chamberlain.
Billie Joe Armstrong – No Fun Mondays (Reprise/Warner Brothers)
Blame the pandemic for this collection of cover songs the Green Day front man originally recorded for weekly release on the Green Day YouTube channel. Armstrong keeps it eclectic by delving into the canons of John Lennon, The Bangles, Johnny Thunders, Tommy James & the Shondells, The Wonders and Billy Bragg.
Neil Diamond & the London Symphony Orchestra – Classic Diamonds with the London Symphony Orchestra (Capitol)
Recorded at Abbey Road, these 14 songs are drawn from the Diamond songbook and include orchestrated versions of “Sweet Caroline,” “Heartlight,” “America,” “Song Sung Blue” and “I Am…I Said.”
Garth Brooks – Fun (Pearl Records)
Brooks’ long-awaited twelfth album features 14 songs that include a cover of “Shallow,” which was originally a duet between Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper in A Star Is Born. For this version, Brooks will be joined by fellow artist and spouse Trisha Yearwood.
Chris Stapleton – Starting Over (Mercury Nashville)
Straddling the worlds of George Jones and the Allman Brothers, the father of five returns with a collection of songs that finds him collaborating with Heartbreakers guitarist Mike Campbell on Stapleton’s fourth studio outing.
AC/DC – Power Up (Columbia)
Apparently, AC/DC’s demise was premature and greatly exaggerated. For the group’s seventeenth studio outing, guitarist Angus Young reunited with vocalist Brian Johnson has returned along with the Cliff Williams/Phil Rudd rhythm section. This is the band’s first album since the death of co-founder and rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young in 2017 and serves as a tribute to him according to brother Angus,
Jeff Tweedy – Love is the King (dBpm)
After the pandemic canceled Wilco’s tour dates, founding member Tweedy went into the studio with sons Spencer and Sam for a batch of sophisticated songs steeped in rock, folk and country music nuances.
The Allman Brothers Band – Final Note (Allman Brothers Band)
Recorded a dozen days before Duane Allman was killed in motorcycle accident on Oct. 29, 1971, this concert at Painters Mill Music Fair in Owings Mill, MD, was recorded by journalist Sam Idas who was there to interview brother Gregg after the show.
The Budos Band – Long In the Tooth (Daptone)
The Staten Island-based Afro-soul big band returns with the follow-up to last year’s The Budos Band V. Once described as sounding as if Quentin Tarantino was the music supervisor for a Bond film, Budos provides plenty of that vibe and more on this platter of psychedelic-soaked instrumentals.
Josh Groban – Harmony (Reprise)
Groban goes back to basics with this collection of mostly covers that include interpretations of “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” “Impossible Dream” and a duet with Sara Bareilles on the Joni Mitchell classic “Both Sides Now.”
Blue Oyster Cult – The Symbol Remains (Frontiers Records)
The first album since 2001’s Curse of the Hidden Mirror, the fifteenth BOC studio album marks the recording debut by long-time members Jules Radino and Richie Castellano.
Seth MacFarlane – Great Songs From Stage and Screen (Decca/Republic)
A major fan of the Great American Songbook, MacFarlane once again dives into these depths aided by members of the John Wilson Orchestra. The result is MacFarlane delving into manna by the likes of Henry Mancini, Rodgers & Hammerstein, Lerner and Loewe, Cahn and Van Heusen, Jerry Herman and Cole Porter.
Neil Young – Return to Greendale (Warner Records)
Don’t ever let it be said that this pandemic slowed Neil Young down. This live album consists of material recorded with Crazy Horse while touring in 2003 to promote the album Greendale and follows on the heels of The Times EP and Homegrown, which consists of material originally recorded between the release of 1974’s On the Beach and 1975’s Zuma.
Kylie Minogue – Disco (BMG)
For her fourteenth studio album, the latest creative pitstop by Australian pop star Minogue finds her looking to 1970s and 1980s disco for inspiration and fusing it with modern-day electronic dance music.
Sam Smith – Love Goes (Capitol)
The third album by this English singer-songwriter, Smith describes it as his “first proper heartbreak album.” Expect fewer ballads and plenty of poppier tracks.