Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Inbox Update: Aimee Mann, Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Third Day, Steven Curtis Chapman, ASIA

There is a little bit of everything in today's post, with most of it centered on upcoming releases. But I do want to note that today marks the release of Aimee Mann's long-awaited album Charmer (which you can listen to in its entirety at NPR Music today too) on her SuperEgo label. Aimee kicks off her tour in support of Charmer with a show at The Coach House here in Orange County, California on Thursday night, Sept. 27. You can visit her site at www.AimeeMann.com for more details.

And read on if you want to know what else is on the horizon for later this year...

Neil Young & Crazy Horse reveal cover art for 'Psychedelic Pill'

As previously noted in another post, Neil Young & Crazy Horse will release their second set of new recordings on Oct. 30, 2012, titled PSYCHEDELIC PILL. This is the band's second new album this year following the June 5, 2012 release of AMERICANA. PSYCHEDELIC PILL features all new original compositions and is their longest album set of recorded music in their long-celebrated history as a band, taking the listener further into new sonic terrain as its title suggests.

The original album artwork recently revealed has been revised and taken on a stronger, more direct image to reflect the commanding and expansive music heard on the two CD or three vinyl disc sets.

The double-CD is available for pre-order here. The triple-vinyl, which will be available on Nov. 23, is also available for pre-order here.

Once again, the track-listing for Psychedelic Pill is as follows:

Disc One:

1 Driftin' Back (27:36)

2 Psychedelic Pill (3:26)

3 Ramada Inn (16:49)

4 Born In Ontario (3:49)

Disc Two:

1 Twisted Road (3:28)

2 She's Always Dancing (8:33)

3 For The Love Of Man (4:13)

4 Walk Like A Giant (16:27)

Bonus Track:

5 Psychedelic Pill (Alternate Mix)

Third Day makes 'Miracle' happen on new album
Acclaimed Band Teams With Legendary Producer Brendan O’Brien For Nov. 6 Release

If you’re a band that’s sold millions of records, taken home multiple awards in every genre, toured the world to record numbers of audiences, graced the cover of Billboard magazine, been interviewed by “60 Minutes” and performed on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” where do you go next?

For the members of Third Day, it meant joining forces with a new creative partner: veteran producer Brendan O’Brien (Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam, Train, The Killers). Third Day, known for its riveting rock sound, looked toward a new voice to help drive band members to their best offering yet.

The band set up shop in its Atlanta-based recording studio, The Quarry, for sessions that spanned several months. Together, the band and producer began the focused creative process toward an evolution of sound. According to bassist Tai Anderson, “Brendan O’Brien brought an incredible element of quality control, and really challenged each member of the band to bring his “A game” to the studio each day.”

What was birthed was Miracle, a 12-track simmering brew of potent rock anthems infused with the substantive, life-affirming lyrics that have always been the bedrock of the Third Day’s music; it’s a place where faith, passion and good old fashioned rock ‘n roll swagger coalesce.

“To have something new to say and to say it in a different way is really exciting,” says lead vocalist Mac Powell. “It’s reinvigorated us as a band.” Indeed, Miracle finds the band exploring new sonic and lyrical territory.
In addition to the impactful songwriting listeners have come to expect from Third Day, they will encounter new sonic splashes -- layered guitars and harmonies, sing-along gang vocals, and so on – not heard from the band previously. The signature rock foundations remain; they’ve just been infused with a modern-day flair.

“We wanted [this record] to have a brightness, a grandness to it, and Mac can certainly do that,”

O’Brien says, “but we wanted to have a little different sound from the lead voice. I’m a huge fan of ’70s music that has great big background vocals. I thought this music lent itself to that, so Mac and I did most of that and it was fun.”

Miracle also features plenty of musical bombast, as the album’s opening track “Hit Me Like A Bomb” attests. Guitars that both growl and jangle, snares that blast in your ears and Powell’s signature from-the-gut vocal style highlight a song about impactful love destined to be a new live show favorite. “Kicking And Screaming” showcases the band’s versatility, underpinning the track with an up-tempo acoustic pop feel we’ve not heard from them often, but fits perfectly today.

The album’s title track was inspired by a conversation the band had with a couple in New Jersey after a concert. “Their son was in a really depressed place in life. He drove way into the woods and was going to commit suicide,” Powell recounts. “He was going to kill himself, but he turned on the radio and he heard ‘Cry Out To Jesus’ (from the band’s 2005 record Wherever You Are). It literally changed his heart and gave him encouragement to keep going. When you hear a story like that, it just blows you away.”

Powell took the essence of that story and penned the song, “I Need a Miracle,” the new project’s first single, out at radio now. “This is one of my top five favorite songs that I’ve ever written. There’s just something powerful about it. I’m really excited about this song getting out and encouraging people,” Powell says. “It’s about the power of music and how God can use it to speak to people’s hearts, minds and spirits. That’s why it’s so important.”

The songs on Miracle cover a rich musical and emotional landscape. “Your Love is Like a River” is a stirring worship anthem that is one of the band’s favorite new songs, while “You Are My Everything” is a gorgeous mid tempo love song that spotlights the warmth in Powell’s vocals. And on the opposite end of the vocal range spectrum, check out Powell’s use of falsetto on the choruses on “For The Rest Of My Life.” Yes, we said falsetto.

“As someone who is a natural baritone, I don’t sing falsetto very often. But sometimes as I’m writing these songs I hear in my head that is what the part should be. I talked to Brendan and he gave me the confidence to try it. This is just one example of how Brendan pushed me out of my comfort zone,” shares Powell.

“The Victory,” a bluesy Southern anthem featuring a fantastic “song-within-a-song” breakdown, also features a potent lyric carrying a theme at the heart of the album overall. “That song is about making a commitment,” says guitarist Mark Lee. “It’s about saying you’re going to see it through ‘til the end and I think that’s a big theme on this record.”

Miracle wraps up with a reinvention of “Morning Has Broken,” a vintage Methodist hymn that was a pop hit in the ’70s for Cat Stevens. The song gets a stunning new treatment here, anchored in Mark Lee, Tai Anderson and David Carr’s skilled musicianship and Powell’s earthy vocals. Scotty Wilbanks, a longtime member of Third Day’s road band, provides the eloquent keyboard intro.

The members of Third Day have been given a platform and it’s a responsibility they take seriously. Of course, they love to rock out and entertain, but most importantly they want to offer hope and encouragement. “If there is any overarching theme on the record, it’s about pressing on and holding on to faith in the midst of doubt,” says David Carr. “We have this unique opportunity once again to speak into people’s lives. We’re not here to give you all the answers. We’re here to say ‘Just hang on a little longer.”

“We have toured for so many years and feel like we owe any success we have to the fans that built Third Day. These songs are engaging musically and lyrically; we worked hard to stretch ourselves for the people who come to our shows and buy our music; we poured so much into this record because we wanted to bring our fans our very best. We are proud of Miracle and can’t wait for people to hear it.”

Third Day will be back on the road in support of Miracle with a headlining tour starting in spring 2013, followed by appearances at major festivals that summer. Visit the band's Web site at www.ThirdDay.com for more details on the album and upcoming tour.

1. Hit Me Like A Bomb

2. Kicking and Screaming

3. Your Love Is Like A River

4. I Need A Miracle

5. You Are My Everything

6. For The Rest Of My Life

7. I Want To Believe In You

8. The Victory

9. Take Me Back

10. Forever Yours

11. Time's Running Out On Me

12. Morning Has Broken

Steven Curtis Chapman to release 'Joy' on Oct. 16, 2012
Legendary Christian music artist Steven Curtis Chapman will release a brand new Christmas project, Joy, on Oct. 16. Joy will showcase seven new, original Christmas songs penned by Chapman and six classics. The lead single, “Christmas Time Again,” goes for radio adds on Nov. 16.

A collaborative effort with friend and producer Brent Milligan, this is Chapman’s third career

Christmas record following The Music of Christmas (1995, RIAA certified Gold), Christmas is All in the Heart (2003, a Hallmark limited, sold-out run of 400,000) and All I Really Want for Christmas (2005, RIAA certified Gold).

This Christmas CD, however, is particularly meaningful to Chapman: “Many know that the last few years have been a difficult journey for my family and me following the loss of our daughter Maria,” says Chapman. “So many have prayed for us and encouraged us, and having the opportunity to write, record and share this new music really feels like the beginning of a new season...a season of joy.”

“Even as hard as things have been, it’s like the sweet is starting to outweigh the bitter for us more and more,” Chapman explains. “Christmas is becoming a less hard thing for us each year. It’s not that it’s easier to get through because we are forgetting. It’s like we can remember now without it just being so painful and the memories can be sweet.”

Among the album’s 13 tracks are six new songs including first single “Christmas Time Again,” “Christmas in Kentucky,” inspired by Chapman’s home state, and “Christmas Kiss,” written for his wife Mary Beth. Recording Joy also gave Chapman a chance to record some of his longtime favorites like “Joy to the World,” “We Three Kings,” “What Child Is This?” and “Christmas Time Is Here,” from the animated classic “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” A complete track listing is as follows:

1. Joy To The World
2. Christmas Time Again
3. Christmas In Kentucky
4. Do You Hear What I Hear?
5. Christmas Kiss
6. Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!
7. Christmas Time Is Here
8. What Child Is This?
9. In The Bleak Midwinter
10. Christmas Card
11. We Three Kings
12. I Am Joseph (God Is With Us)
13. Happy New Year

*sequence subject to change

  ASIA celebrated at upcoming events  

Finally, ASIA will appear at a special event at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum as part of its "Legends" series on Oct. 9, 2012. The rock quartet will also be featured via a special performance from the Regency Theater in San Francisco distributed via AXS TV on Nov. 7.
Information: www.originalasia.com.

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