Tons of big artists have plans to release new music, and some of my favorites (who aren’t quite so huge) do, too.
Let’s take a look and a listen. Many of them already have new singles out.
The Lumineers, “III” — The Lumineers will be back with foot-stomping folk, and this time there’s a concept surrounding the whole thing. It should be interesting. Listen to this: “Left For Denver”
Charli XCX, “Charli” — For her third album, the pop singer has teamed up with Lizzo, Troye Sivan, Sky Ferreira, Haim and others. It’s full of head-bobbing jams. Listen to this: “Blame It On Your Love” (feat. Lizzo)
Brittany Howard, “Jaime” — For years, I’ve loved watching Howard front the blues-rock band Alabama Shakes. Now she’s doing her own thing, taking complete control over her first solo album. Listen to this: “He Loves Me”
Sturgill Simpson, “Sound & Fury” — You wouldn’t expect the country star to stick to the formula, would you? Simpson’s always done his own thing, and his new album, more of a steamy rock record than a traditional country thing, is more of the same. (Or not, I guess.) Anyway, it’s coming out with an associated anime film, of all things, on Netflix. This one will be wild, and I already love what I’ve heard. Listen to this: “Sing Along”
The New Pornographers, “In the Morse Code of Brake Lights” — As indie rock supergroups go, The New Pornographers are fantastic. A.C. Newman, Neko Case, John Collins, Blaine Thurier, Todd Fancey, Kathryn Calder, Joe Selders and Simi Stone are back at it with another classic pop-inflected rock record full of densely layered music and gorgeous harmonies. More please. Listen to this: “The Surprise Knock”
Tegan and Sara, “Hey, I’m Just Like You” — This time around, the indie-pop singing sisters are reaching way back for their new material. A new memoir, “High School,” traces the beginnings of their musical career when they started writing songs in Calgary, and the new album is full of those songs from their teens. Listen to this: “I’ll Be Back Someday”
Wilco, “Ode to Joy” — For the first time in a while, Wilco is turning pretty hard back to its roots as an alt-country outfit. “Ode to Joy” is very much a big, folky record, and I really love the first single. Listen to this: “Love Is Everywhere (Beware)”
The Avett Brothers, “Closer Than Together” — I never thought I’d be tapping my feet to a synthesizer-filled pop song from the Avetts, but here we are. Of course, the same song also has fiddle and the boys’ distinct harmonies. It’s something new and something classic all at once. Listen to this: “High Steppin’ ”
Big Thief, “Two Hands” — The indie rock band has jumped Saddle Creek for 4AD, but I’m no less excited about Adrienne Lenker’s songs. It follows only a few months after the band’s last record, but that’s what happens when you’re inspired. Listen to this: “Not”
Kim Gordon, “No Home Record” — Formerly of Sonic Youth, Gordon’s coming with her first solo record. The blistering first single, “Sketch Artist,” is a hard-hitting, pitted landscape of buzzing bass sounds. Listen to this: “Sketch Artist”
Neil Young & Crazy Horse, “Colorado” — Young and his long-running band will release their first new music in years with this record. The current lineup — Young, Nils Lofgren, Ralph Molina and Billy Talbot — made the album in Colorado. Listen to this: “Milky Way”
Hootie and the Blowfish, “Imperfect Circle” — Back at one time, Hootie and the Blowfish was one of the most popular acts around. “Cracked Rear View” is one of the most popular albums ever. Anyway, they’ve been on hiatus for a decade while Darius Rucker had a killer solo career. (Just, y’know, six No. 1 country songs and 10 total top 10s. Not bad.) Now they’re back with new music for the first time in nearly 15 years. They haven’t released any songs yet, but it should be a big deal when they do.
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1. “Omaha,” Waylon Jennings
“Omaha, you’ve been weighin’ heavy on my mind”
On a tune written by Billy Joe Shaver, Jennings sings about leaving Omaha for better places only to realize it was a mistake. After some jailtime in California, the song reckons that it’s time to return to Nebraska.
2. “Christmas Card From a Hooker in Minneapolis,” Tom Waits
“I went back to Omaha to live with my folks”
As the titular prostitute notes, everyone she used to know is either dead or in prison. In this tune, Omaha represents its own kind of prison, so she moves back to Minneapolis. Oof. (Of course, the truth we find in the song’s last line is rougher than anything.)
3. “Omaha Stylee,” 311
“Omaha stylee, did not think there was one”
The Omaha-bred rock band dishes about how it comes from a town where “the shows are more fun.” For years, 311 has used this song as its concert opener as a salute to its hometown. “We’re proud of where we came from, and we know how we feel and we kinda want to write a song that there’s no doubt where this band is from,” drummer Chad Sexton told The World-Herald about writing the song.
4. “We’re an American Band,” Grand Funk Railroad
“Four young chiquitas in Omaha/Waitin’ for the band to return from the show”
There’s nothing quite like a hotel party after the show, and that’s what those chiquitas were after. They wanted to meet the boys in the band and, as the song says, “tear that hotel down.”
6. “Omaha,” Counting Crows
“Omaha/Somewhere in middle America”
Adam Duritz wrote “Omaha” long before the Counting Crows recorded it, but he thought his other bands could never quite get the feel right. He loved “Omaha” by Moby Grape as well as R.E.M.’s cover of it, and he loved the sound of the word.
7. “Turn the Page,” Bob Seger
"On a long and lonesome highway, east of Omaha"
Seger and his band were always annoyed that their long hair attracted so much attention.
“I wrote that song in 1971. We were in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and we got accosted by some traveling salesmen,” Seger told The World-Herald in 2011. “The salesmen were calling us girls and everything. ... (The Rolling Stones) were going through the same thing at the same time we were. They were in the South, but ours happened in the North, in Wisconsin.”
But why the Omaha mention?
“We didn’t get much west of Omaha because we weren’t very big at the time,” Seger said, laughing. “We were always east of Omaha!”
8. “Omaha,” Damien Jurado
“The land of Nebraska is beautiful at night”
An Omaha man hits the road with his three kids.
9. “Omaha, Nebraska,” Groucho Marx
“There’s a place called Omaha, Nebraska/in the foothills of Tennessee”
This silly song depicts a forlorn man who says his sweetie promised to love him precisely “when the snow falls in Montana and it’s raining in Peru.” So, never.
10. “Omaha,” Moby Grape
Listed as No. 95 on Rolling Stone’s list of the greatest guitar songs of all time, this tune doesn’t actually mention our city except in its title. But it is a seriously awesome jam with three guitarists battling it out. It also inspired Counting Crows' "Omaha."
11. “Omaha,” They Might Be Giants
“Sokol Auditorium/Party in the night time/...Sokol Auditorium/Psychedelic light show”
On its album, “Venue Songs,” They Might Be Giants provided 31 songs that were written and recorded at each venue of its 2004 tour.
13.“Hello in There,” John Prine
“John and Linda live in Omaha”
Growing old can be lonely, and Prine spells it out in detail, up to and including when his kids grow up and move to Omaha.
14. “(Ready or Not) Omaha Nebraska,” Bowling for Soup
“And now it’s two men on, two men gone, batter up/Ready or not, Omaha, Nebraska”
This is basically a song advertising baseball and Omaha that was commissioned for ESPN’s coverage of the College World Series. Bowling for Soup lead singer Jaret Reddick told The World-Herald that he wrote it in just a few minutes. “We do a bunch of stuff for film and TV and that sort of special-order thing,” he said.
18. “Letter From Omaha,” Josh Ritter
“Sent me a letter from Omaha”
Josh Ritter weaves a story about missing someone with lots of imagery of farm fields and sewing. We’re pretty sure Omaha just sounded cool.
19. “Uneasy Rider,” Charlie Daniels
“I wonder if anybody’d think I’d flipped/If I went to L.A., via Omaha”
Daniels’ poor experience in Mississippi causes him to rethink his route for next time.
20. “Shower,” The Mountain Goats
“The blackest storm I ever saw was coming in from Omaha”
As he frequently did, John Darnielle wrote about a dark day that could be washed away only by a shower.
21. “The Great Salt Lake,” Band of Horses
“Everybody listen we will be the next Omaha”
Frontman Ben Bridwell wrote this tune about a South Carolina reservoir and the people hanging out around there, and one of them posits that their town could one day reach the heights of Omaha’s music scene.
22. “The Simultaneous Occurrence of True Love and Nausea at an Omaha Burger King, Oct. 12, 1992,” Simon Joyner
“That’s love to me/It occurs every day in Burger Kings”
Joyner’s lo-fi acoustic composition sounds like every awkward crush we had in high school.
23. “Greater Omaha,” Desaparecidos
“Out west they’re moving dirt/To make a greater Omaha”
Conor Oberst circa 2002 sings about his home city and how commercialized everything has become. It’s not a good view.
24. “Leaving Omaha,” The Good Life
“I was moving up and out/Out of Omaha/Oh, it didn’t last”
As many high schoolers do, Tim Kasher dreamed of getting out of Omaha after graduation. He did, but he came back. That sounds like it was a bad thing, but he sounds happy about it by the end of the song: “I’ve got to get back over that bridge/...I guess that’s where I’ll stay.”
25. “The Execution of All Things,” Rilo Kiley
“Then we’ll go to Omaha, to work and exploit the booming music scene”
That’s kinda what the band did when it signed up with Saddle Creek Records.