Each week Release Day Picks profiles new LPs and EPs Team JamBase will be checking out on release day Friday. This week we highlight new albums by The Killers, Watchhouse (formerly Mandolin Orange) and Devendra Banhart & Noah Georgeson. Read on for more insight into the records we have all queued up to spin.
The Killers – Pressure Machine
The Scoop: The Killers’ new album Pressure Machine arrived today via Island Records. The follow-up to the rockers’ 2020 LP Imploding The Mirage sees frontman Brandon Flowers and company teaming back up with Shawn Everett and Foxygen’s Jonathan Rado to co-produce the new record. Pressure Machine is a “quieter, character-study-driven album,” press materials noted, revolving around the small Utah town of Nephi where Brandon Flowers spent his formative years. Flowers’ reflection on his hometown grew out of the silence that came from the pandemic.
“Everything came to this grinding halt,” Brandon said of the pandemic in a statement. “And it was the first time in a long time for me that I was faced with silence. And out of that silence this record began to bloom, full of songs that would have otherwise been too quiet and drowned out by the noise of typical Killers records.”
While The Killers didn’t release any advance singles, the band previously shared a number of trailer and teaser videos as well as releasing the tracklist, which revealed a collaboration with Phoebe Bridgers on the song “Runaway Horses.”
Watchhouse – Watchhouse
The Scoop: Andrew Marlin and Emily Frantz, the duo formerly known as Mandolin Orange, have released Watchhouse through Tiptoe Tiger Music/Thirty Tigers. The eight-track follow-up to 2019’s Tides Of A Teardrop shares its name with the pair’s new moniker. Marlin co-produced Watchhouse with Josh Kaufman. “We’re different people than when we started this band,” Andrew explained of the decision to change the band’s name after 10 years and five albums as Mandolin Orange. “We’re setting new intentions, taking control of this thing again.”
Watchhouse created their self-titled album with longtime bandmates drummer Joe Westerlund, bassist Clint Mullican and guitarist Josh Oliver in cabin at Smith Mountain Lake, located at the foot of the Appalachians. “These nine songs are both personal and political, touching upon Marlin and Frantz’s newfound parenthood as well as climate change and caustic online interactions as they parse out how to live a kinder, more decent life on their own terms,” notes press materials heralding the release of Watchhouse.
Devendra Banhart & Noah Georgeson – Refuge
The Scoop: Longtime collaborators Devendra Banhart and Noah Georgeson released their first ambient album, Refuge as part of Secretly Group’s Friends Of…. series. The seeds of the project trace back to the recording of Banhart’s Georgeson-produced 2019 album, Ma, when the pair decided to explore their respective roots with ambient music. Both were exposed to the new age subculture while growing up in the 1980s that incorporated meditation, Eastern music and the instrumental sounds of new age labels like Windham Hill Records.
“We’ve been talking about it for so long,” Banhart stated. “It’s kind of been 20 years in the making.”
Though living within a short drive of each other’s Los Angeles homes, the COVID-19 pandemic kept the pair apart as they worked remotely on Refuge. Guests who appear on the album include harpist Mary Lattimore , pedal steel guitarist Nicole Lawrence, pianist Tyler Cash, bassist Todd Dahlhoff, horn player David Ralicke and Vetiver’s Jeremy Harris on synthesizer and additional production. Banhart, who studies Vajrayana Buddhism, enlisted spiritual teachers to appear on Refuge including meditation pioneer Sharon Salzberg, founder of the Escuela Valores Divinos Sri Mataji Shaktiananda and Banhart’s Bhutanese teacher Neten Chokling Rinpoche. The track “Asura Cave” incorporates field recordings of Buddhist ceremonies recorded by Banhart while visiting Nepal.
Compiled by Scott Bernstein, Nate Todd and Andy Kahn.