New albums coming in 2015: Modest Mouse, Decemberists, Dylan, Madonna

Written by Scott Mervis on .

As soon as the label publicists get back to work, new record announcements are going to come fast and furious.

What we know so far is that the first quarter of 2015 will bring new music from the likes of Modest Mouse, The Decemberists, Bob Dylan,  Fall Out Boy, Madonna and Joey Bada$$. (Dates are subject to change)


January 13
ronsonMark Ronson, “Uptown Special”: Fourth album from the Grammy-winning musician and producer (Amy Winehouse) was written and produced with Jeff Bhasker (Kanye West, Drake). It comes with lyrics written by Pulitzer-winning American novelist and former Pittsburgher Michael Chabon and a single, “Uptown Funk,” featuring Bruno Mars.
Justin Townes Earle, “Absent Fathers”: After recording “Absent Fathers” as part of a double album with “Single Mothers” (released in September), the bluesy Americana singer-songwriter (and son of Steve) decided to split this off as its own record.
Panda Bear, “Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper”: On his fifth album and first since 2011’s “Tomboy,” Animal Collective member Noah Lennox leaves “airy minimalism” for a more “dense and playful” sound.
Jazmine Sullivan, “Reality Show”: Third album from the Philly native and Best New Artist nominee reunites her with Grammy-winning producer Salaam Remi (Nas, Amy Winehouse).

January 20
decemberistsThe Decemberists, “What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World”: First full-length studio album since 2011’s chart-topping “The King Is Dead,” was produced by Tucker Martine (My Morning Jacket, Neko Case) and is promised to be “the group’s most varied and dynamic work yet.” It includes a song, “12/17/12,” that frontman Colin Meloy wrote after watching President Obama address the nation following the Newtown school shootings.
Fall Out Boy, “American Beauty/American Psycho”: Fall Out Boy’s comeback record, “Save Rock and Roll,” was a surprise chart-topping success in 2013. The pop-rock band follows it with a sixth record that will feature a different version of “Immortals,” the song that appeared in the movie “Big Hero 6.”
Sleater-Kinney, “No Cities To Love”: The first record in a decade from the Pacific Northwest riot grrrls was produced by longtime Sleater-Kinney collaborator John Goodmanson and, according to Corin Tucker, “we went for the jugular.”
Belle & Sebastian, “Girls In Peacetime Want To Dance”: The first album in five years from the Glasgow indie-pop darlings was recorded in Atlanta with producer Ben Allen (Deerhunter, Animal Collective) and finds the band trying on some danceable beats.
Marilyn Manson, “The Pale Emperor”: Manson collaborated with film composer/producer Tyler Bates (“Guardians of the Galaxy,” “300,” “The Watchmen”) who is also joining the band on “The Hell Not Hallelujah Tour.” Manson told NME, ““This album is real rock and roll, and it happened naturally.”
Joey Bada$$, “B4.DA.$$”: Debut from the Brooklyn rapper and Pro Era collective member is being released on his 20th birthday. Pronounce it “Before Da Money.”
The Waterboys, “Modern Blues”: The 11th album from the veteran UK folk-rock band is its first recorded in Nashville.


January 27 

FIFTHHARMONYFifth Harmony, “Reflection”: Full-length debut from the “X Factor” girl group is led by the singles “Boss” and “Sledgehammer.”

Ne-Yo, “Non-Fiction”: The smooth R&B singer worked Dr. Luke, Juicy J, Candice, David Guetta, Jeezy, Charisse Mills, Schoolboy Q and T.I on this album in which every song is derived from a true story, some submitted by fans on Twitter and Instagram.
Doomtree, “All Hands”: The latest from the Minneapolis hip-hop collective that includes Cecil Otter, Dessa, Lazerbeak, Mike Mictlan, P.O.S, Paper Tiger and Sims.
Howlin Rain, “Mansion Songs”: Acclaimed psych-rock band set out to make a record that was “very San Francisco” and “showed raw nerves in the end.”
Napalm Death, “Apex Predator - Easy Meat”: Fifteenth album from British grindcore legends.
The Dodos, “Individ”: Sixth album from San Francisco indie-rock duo Meric Long and Logan Kroeber.
Funeral For A Friend, “Chapter and Verse”: Seventh album from the UK hardcore band is led by the single released the track ‘You’ve Got A Bad Case of The Religions’
Pond, “Man It Feels Like Space Again”: Second album from the Australian psych band that features members of Tame Impala.


February 3
shadows-cover-newBob Dylan, “Shadows In The Night”: Believe it or not, an album of Frank Sinatra covers from a legend whose voice has weathered over the years. Dylan commented: “I’ve wanted to do something like this for a long time but was never brave enough to approach 30-piece complicated arrangements and refine them down for a 5-piece band. That’s the key to all these performances.”
Diana Krall, “Wallflower”: Jazz diva teamed with noted producer David Foster on a collection of pop covers including the Dylan title track, “California Dreamin’,” “Desperado,” “Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word” and “I Can’t Tell You Why.” It also features previously unreleased Paul McCartney tune “If I Take You Home Tonight.”
Ricked Wicky, “I Sell The Circus”: Guided by Voices frontman Robert Pollard calls his new project “a sophisticated arena rock band.”
Butch Walker, “Afraid Of Ghosts”: Seventh album from the power-pop star was produced by Ryan Adams, features guest spots from Johnny Depp and Bob Mould and leads with a track called “Chrissie Hynde.”
American Aquarium, “Wolves”: Raleigh, NC, roots-rock band calls it “an ode to last calls, lost love and long horizons.”
John Carpenter, “Lost Themes”: The legendary horror movie director refers to his debut solo record as a “soundtrack sampler.”


February 10
fatherjohnFather John Misty, “I Love You, Honeybear”: A new concept from former Fleet Foxes member Josh Tillman comes with the song “Bored in the USA” that he performed with a string section on “Late Show With David Letterman.”

Fat Mike, “Home Street Home”: Punk-rock concept album from NOFX frontman about teen runways written with “Avenue Q” creator Jeff Marx and Fat Mike’s dominatrix girlfriend Soma Snakeoil.
The Dreaming, “Rise Again”: New band reunites Stabbing Westward’s Christopher Hall and Walter Flakus and adds guitarist Carlton Bost (Orgy, Deadsy), bassist Brent Ashley (Static X) and one-time Stabbing Westward drummer Johnny Haro.
Melissa Manchester, “You Gotta Love the Life”: First album in a decade from the “Midnight Blue” singer features special guests Al Jarreau, Dave Koz, Keb’ Mo’, Joe Sample, Dionne Warwick and Stevie Wonder and includes a cover on the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby.”


February 17
earleSteve Earle & The Dukes, “Terraplane”: New blues album produced by R.S. Field (Buddy Guy, John Mayall) takes its title from the 1930s Hudson vehicle, which also inspired the Robert Johnson song “Terraplane Blues.”

Kate Pierson, “Guitars And Microphones”: Solo debut from The B-52s singer features collaborations with Sia and Strokes guitarist Nick Valensi.
Estelle, “True Romance”: Fourth album from the British R&B star who has worked with Kanye West and John Legend.
BADBADNOTGOOD & Ghostface Killah, “Sour Soul”: Collaboration between Toronto jazz trio and Wu-Tang Clan rapper.
The Juliana Hatfield Three, “Whatever, My Love”: Indie rocker from the Blake Babies teams with drummer Todd Philips (Lemonheads) and bassist Dean Fisher (Tanya Donelly, Dylan in the Movies) for a sophomore album that arrives more than 20 years after the 1993 debut.


February 24
kidrockKid Rock, “First Kiss”: Kid Rock follows 2012’s “Rebel Soul” and the accompanying “$20 Best Night Ever Tour” with his first album for Warner Bros. Records, which he produced at his studio in Michigan.
Gang of Four, “What Happens Next”: For the follow-up to 2011’s “Content” frontman Jon King has been replaced by John “Gaoler” Sterry and guest vocalists, including Alison Mosshart (the Kills/Dead Weather), Herbert Grönemeyer and the Big Pink’s Robbie Furze. Guitarist Andy Gill is the only remaining member of the band ... but he's pretty good.
The Pop Group, “Citizen Zombie”: First album in 35 years from the post-punk band was produced by Paul Epworth (Coldplay, Adele, Florence & the Machine).
All That Remains, “The Order Of Things”: Seventh album from the Massachusetts metal band was helmed by Josh Wilbur (Lamb Of God, Gojira)
Dan Deacon, “Gliss Riffer”: Baltimore electronic musician who opened for Arcade Fire on recent tour returns to a simpler way of writing and recording, similar to that of 2007’s “Spiderman of the Rings.”
Screaming Females, “Rose Mountain”: The New Jersey DIY-punk trio actually worked with a producer, Matt Bayles (Mastodon, the Sword), on this sixth LP that celebrates 10 years as a band.


March 3
ModestModest Mouse, “Strangers To Ourselves”: First album in eight years from the indie legends is led by the single, “Lampshades on Fire.”
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, “Chasing Yesterday”: First album written and produced by the Oasis star was influenced by everything “from West Coast rock to classic rock ’n’ roll and even some space jazz (!).” On producing he said, “It was a major pain in the arse.”
Of Montreal, “Aureate Gloom”: Thirteenth full-length album from the indie-rock band reflects “a very stormy period in my life,” according to frontman Kevin Barnes, who recorded it at Sonic Ranch near El Paso, Texas.
Moon Duo, “Shadow Of The Sun”: Droning psychedelic side project from Wooden Shjips guitarist Ripley Johnson and musician Sanae Yamada.


March 10
Madonna - Rebel Heart Official Album CoverMadonna, “Rebel Heart”: The Material Girl has already charted with the singles “Living for Love,” “Devil Pray” and “Bitch I’m Madonna (featuring Nicki Minaj),” among others. The full album, recorded in London, Los Angeles and New York, features production from Diplo, Kanye West, Billboard, DJ Dahi and Blood Diamonds.
Will Butler, “Policy”: Debut solo album from Arcade Fire member was recorded in one week in Jimi Hendrix’s old living room (upstairs at Electric Lady Studios).
Cancer Bats, “Searching For Zero”: Fifth album from the hardcore-punk-metal band was produced by Ross Robinson (At The Drive-In, Slipknot).

March 17
Twin Shadow, “Eclipse”: Third album from Los Angeles-based George Lewis, Jr., aka Twin Shadow, is led by the single “To The Top.”

March 24
Laura Marling, “Short Movie”: The 24-year-old British singer-songwriter who’s drawn comparisons to Joni Mitchell is on a Ryan Adams-style pace with her fifth album in eight years.

March 24
Vetiver, “Complete Strangers”: Sixth album by the San Fran indie-folk band led by Andy Cabic.


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The Sicks: Pure Pittsburgh punk!

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sicksThe debut single from The Sicks — “Pretty Plastic”/“Dose” — is one of the year’s most authentic-sounding punk rock releases, but that shouldn’t come as a surprise given the pedigree.

The members of the Pittsburgh quintet have roots that go back decades, including stints in such heavy-hitters as The Bats, Crow Flies, Aus Rotten, Caustic Christ, Direct Action and Kim Phuc.

The band, which formed two years ago, couldn’t have happened without Kim Phuc splitting, freeing up, for one, roaring frontman Rob Henry.

As veteran punk guitarist Sam Matthews explains, “Rob and I were hanging out a lot together, listening to records and stuff, and at some point realized we’ve known each for years and we’ve never played music together. So, we thought, oh, we should start a band and we’ll just — purity of punk — play all the instruments. Rob doesn’t even play instruments, but I figured I’ll just throw instruments in his hand and we’ll create something.’ That led to us, saying, ‘Oh, we’ll start a band.’ ”

They assembled some of the guys who hang out and talk/argue music at Mind Cure Records on Saturday nights. Joining them in this punk-rock supergroup are guitarist Eric Good and Corey Lyons (both of Caustic Christ and Aus Rotten; Corey also played in Kim Phuc) and drummer Mark Miller (Crow Flies), who has since been replaced by Nick von Krusenstjerna.

“The concept Eric and I had about this is we wanted to be a band that has verses, choruses, middle parts and guitar solos, because it seems like a lot of stuff we’re hearing is people pretty much doing the Nirvana thing: you know, play quiet, play loud, same riff over and over,” Matthews says. “We wanted to go back to what punk was about, to us: sing-along choruses, good riffs, that kind of stuff.”

The guitarist says The Sicks don’t neatly fit into a punk category, and that might be true, but the shorthand here is that “Pretty Plastic” is pure blast of Pistols and “Dose” has the darker shadow of Joy Division.

“We called that ‘Joy Division’ at first until Rob came up with words for it,” Matthews says. “The way we describe ourselves, which started as a joke, but I think it’s really true: proto-punk/punk-rock/post-punk rock, because we’re really just a rock band in a way.”

The Sicks have become the go-to punk band to open for the likes of Negative Approach, Subhumans and Mike Watt, and now the single comes out on Austin-based Fair Warning Records, with a release show Saturday at Gooski’s.

Prepare for the Sicks to be a quick adrenalin jolt. They rage for 20 minutes and Matthews gauges the intensity by “the pile of dead microphones on the floor in the front of the stage.”

The Sicks play Gooski’s, 3117 Brereton St., Polish Hill, at 10 p.m. Saturday with Gotobeds and Blood Pressure. 412-681-1658.


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Local promoter Drusky apologizes for Facebook posts

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Prominent Pittsburgh promoter Brian Drusky issued an apology on his personal Facebook page Monday for posts over the weekend that were perceived as making light of recent protests over the deaths, at the hands of police, of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and Eric Garner in Staten Island, NY.

On Friday Mr. Drusky, of the regional Drusky Enterprises, wrote a series of posts that included “The Steelers lost last week. I’m going to lay down in the middle of grant street by the courthouse to protest!” and another about getting the wrong order at McDonald’s.

Initially, the posts were greeted with laughter and “likes,” until it was pointed out to him by Justin Strong (AVA/Shadow Lounge owner), comedian Davon Magwood and others that the jokes were racially insensitive.

In his apology, Mr. Drusky wrote, “My remarks were an attempt to be funny. However, they were not funny to a lot of people because I made light of something that I didn’t understand fully.”

On Tuesday there were more than 400 comments reacting to the apology and debating the issues. The comments have since been removed.

Mr. Drusky, who has a history of hosting charitable events for a variety of causes, including a 2009 benefit concert for the Fallen Hero Fund and Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 1, has decided after talking to Mr. Strong to hold an event to address the racial issues.

He wrote, “...We are going to try to plan on doing a community sit-in at Altar [Bar] in the next couple weeks with members of law enforcement as well as leaders in the community heading up the protests."

Nonetheless, political punk band Anti-Flag has pulled out of a Drusky-promoted concert at Altar Bar on Feb. 6.

Anti-Flag posted a statement on its official web site that included, "Confronting bigotry and blind allegiance to power with education is something Anti-Flag believe in. We hope that Brian Drusky will have that education process happen in his future. While we believe in people’s ability to change and become educated, there must be consequences for the things that he said."

Frontman Justin Sane says some people have criticized the move on social media saying that the promoter has a right to free speech.  

"Anti-Flag defends everyone's right to freedom of speech and expression - including Brian Drusky. Anti-Flag has never said Mr. Drusky doesn't have the right to express himself. What we have said is we find his statements offensive therefore, until we see some evidence that he has grown and taken some action to prove that he has changed, we don't want to work with him."

The show is in the process of being moved to Mr. Smalls in Millvale.

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Jimmer Podrasky coming back for an encore

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Schwartz-and-PodraskyRod Schwartz and Jimmer Podrasky at the Winery in July.Jimmer Podrasky of the late-great Rave-Ups played his first Pittsburgh show in 20 years this summer, and it went better than anyone could have expected. In fact, it was flat-out amazing.

He returns for an encore at the Rex Theater, South Side, on Friday (Nov. 28) as Jimmer Podrasky and the Redd-Ups, backed by a lineup of local all-stars from 11th Hour, Aviation Blondes, Hector in Paris, etc. On this visit back home, Rob James of The Clarks will join Steve Seel on guitar, along with Gary Jacobs who plays pedal steel for The Clarks as well as Corbin Hanner. And Podrasky will do some bonus songs with Rob and Gary, plus The Clarks’ rhythm section Greg Joseph and Dave Minarik, whom he jammed with at Stage AE.

Says bassist/organizer Rod Schwartz, “I can promise you it will be even better as we have added more songs — we get a lot deeper in ‘Book of Your Regrets’ this time around.”

Podrasky, a Natrona Heights native and CMU grad, debuted in 1985 with the Rave-Ups on “Town and Country,” one of the great unsung Americana records, and exited the music scene after 1990’s “Chance.” He made a strong comeback earlier this year, picking up right where he left off with “The Would-Be Plans.”

Mark Dignam opens the show at 7 p.m. Tickets are $17 advance; $22 at the door.


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Cobra Starship, Jamie Lynn Spears to headline Light Up Night

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cobraLight Up Night won't have any shortage of lively with NYC dance-pop band Cobra Starship as the headliner on Nov. 21.

The band, best known for the songs

best known for the songs "Good Girls Go Bad" and "You Make Me Feel ...," had its biggest showcase here at the Warped Tour in July 2008. At the time, we wrote, "the New York City dance band's set was a blast and a colorful departure from the usual Warped grind ..."

In 2011, Cobra had Mac Miller as special guest on the track "Middle Finger," so a cameo by the Pittsburgh rapper isn't out of the question if he's in town.

Macy's, which always goes for something poppy, will have Jamie Lynn Spears on the stage on Smithfield Street. Britney's sister, who starred in the Nick show "Zoey 101," released her country debut EP, "The Journey," in May, but it has yet to take with country radio.

Rounding out the lineup will be local faves Joe Grushecky, Billy Price, Donora and Grand Piano.

Here are the main stages:

6:00 P.M. Grand Piano
7:00 P.M. Donora
8:30 P.M. Cobra Starship

5:00 P.M. Jeff Jimerson and Airborne Holiday
5:45 P.M. Countdown to 2014 Season of Lights
with Santa
6:00-9:30 P.M. Season of Lights
Show & Jeff Jimerson mini-concert (every half hour)

6:00 P.M.
Holiday Window Unveiling & Jamie Lynn Spears In Concert Smithfield Street Stage

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