Willie Nelson is "on the road again," spending next month touring the East Coast with Asleep at the Wheel and their new album of western swing. Austin's own Bismeaux Records releases Willie & the Wheel this coming Tuesday, an album that the late producer Jerry Wexler had been imagining for 30 years, now fully realized with his hand-picked song list. One selection, the 1927 instrumental favorite "South," features guests Vince Gill and Paul Shaffer. A deluxe edition is also available, with bonus postcards and stamps tucked in the digipack CD and vinyl LP.
Also due next week is To Willie, a new album of Nelson covers by Matthew Houck's one-man-band Phosphorescent on Dead Oceans Records. Selecting deep-album cuts and staying away from the classics, the 11 tracks sound like a hangover's a brewing, with "Reasons to Quit," "I Gotta Get Drunk," "The Last Thing I Needed (First Thing This Morning)" and "Too Sick to Pray."
Speaking of covers, two new CDs due next week take a jazz tilt on some surprising choices. Post-jazz pianist Marco Benevento first stunned audiences with his Hammond B-3 and Wurlitzer prowess, and now attacks and caresses piano, Farfisa, and Mellotron on his latest, Me Not Me on Royal Potato Family Records. Opening with a cinematic run at My Morning Jacket's "Golden" and Leonard Cohen's "Seems So Long Ago Nancy," other sly transformations include Led Zeppelin's "Friends," Beck's "Sing It Again," Deerhoof's "Twin Killers," and The Knife's "Heartbeats."
Vocalist Wendy Lewis joins The Bad Plus on their latest, For All I Care, on the Do the Math/Heads Up imprint. Mixing classical flourishes and progressive jazz, the result is wickedly smart and creepy cool, guaranteed to perk up your ears as Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb," Heart's "Barracuda," Nirvana's "Lithium," Yes' "Long Distance Runaround," and the Bee Gees' "How Deep Is Your Love" come wafting up in the lush mist.
The Tonight Show with Jay Leno hosts Franz Ferdinand on Thursday; The Late Show with David Letterman presents Graham Nash on Thursday and The Gaslight Anthem on Friday; Late Night with Conan O'Brien boasts Cold War Kids Wednesday overnight; Jimmy Kimmel Live features Disturbed Wednesday and Benji Hughes on Friday overnight; and Austin City Limits welcomes Nick Lowe and The Swell Season this weekend.
New Releases Coming Tuesday, February 3
The BPA - I Think We're Gonna Need a Bigger Boat (Southern Fried Records) Fatboy Slim/Norman Cook's warehouse party tapes see the light of day, created with a who's who of mirthful noisemakers including Pete York, David Byrne, Iggy Pop, Dizzee Rascal, and Olly Hite
Gene Dante & the Future Starlets - The Romantic Lead (Omnirox Entertainment) glam rock from the former star of stage productions Beauty & the Beast and Hedwig & the Angry Inch
Melinda Doolittle - Coming Back to You (Hi-Fi Recordings) new from the American Idol season-six finalist
Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes (Bella Union) reissue featuring the six-song Sun Giant EP
Fol Chen - Part One: John Shade, Your Fortune's Made (Asthmatic Kitty) recently composing instrumental music for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art's collaboration of textile designers and Machine Project audio
The Fray - The Fray (Epic) follow-up to the 2005 smash "How to Save a Life"
Hatcham Social - Postcard in Colours (TBD/ATO Records) six songs from the London trio, produced by Tim Burgess of The Charlatans UK and Faris Badwan of The Horrors
He's Just Not Into You - original motion picture soundtrack (New Line) with music by R.E.M., The Replacements, Corinne Bailey Rae, The Cure, and Talking Heads
Heartless Bastards - The Mountain (Fat Possum) newly transplanted to Texas from Dayton, Ohio, singer/songwriter Erika Wennerstrom recruited a new hometown bassist and drummer to join her
Ben Kweller - Changing Horses (ATO) old-school analog recording with a country feel
The Loved Ones - Distractions (Fat Wreck) CD EP of covers of songs by Joe Strummer, Billy Bragg, and Bruce Springsteen
Roger Joseph Manning Jr. - Catnip Dynamite (Oglio) new solo album from the Jellyfish and Imperial Drag popsmith, with bonus covers of Thomas Dolby's "Europa & the Pirate Twins" and Elton John's "Love Lies Bleeding" on the stateside issue
Graham Nash - Reflections (Rhino) three-CD box set collecting 40 years of solo material and time spent with The Hollies and CSNY, featuring an acoustic demo of "Right Between the Eyes"
The Nighthawks - American Landscape (Powerhouse Records) featuring the band's take on Tom Waits' "Down in the Hole," Bob Dylan's "She Belongs to Me," Marvin Gaye's "Try It Baby," and The Andy Griffith Show theme, "Fishin' Hole"
Nous Non Plus - Menagerie (Aeronaut) wild ride from a fun New York City band that sings in French, featuring former members of Les Sans Culottes and vocalist Céline Dijon
Mary Kate O'Neil - Underground (71/Nettwerk) third solo album of easy-beat indie pop from the former Piewackit vocalist, with songs co-written and co-produced with Jill Sobule
Pine Leaf Boys - Fomage Au Passe (Lionsgate) Grammy-nominated Cajan quintet featuring an English-to-French reinterpretation of Webb Pierce's "I'll Always Take Care of You"
P.O.S. - Never Better, February (Rhymesayers) featuring clever packaging with a variety of solid and transparent inserts that let you create your own layer CD cover
The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus - Lonely Road (Virgin) featuring an alternative cover gracing the vinyl edition
Josh Reichmann Oracle Band - Life Is Legal EP (Paper Bag) five-song CD EP from the former Tangiers vocalist, backed by funky drums, sax, and flute and channeling the soul of Marc Bolan
Rhythm Devils - The Rhythm Devils Concert Experience (StarCity/MRI) two-disc live DVD set from Mike Gordon of Phish and Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann of the Grateful Dead on their 2006 tour
Simply Red - Simply Red 25: The Greatest Hits (Razor & Tie) with a new cover of the Moody Blues' "Go Now"
Sole & the Skyrider Band - Remix LP (Black Canyon) with mix merchants Andrew Broder, Odd Nosdam, Bit Tuner, Thavius Beck, and Electric President
The Veronicas - "Untouched" Lost Tracks (digital-only) five-song EP with an unplugged spin on the single and three previously unreleased songs
The Von Bondies - Love, Hate, & Then There's You (Majordomo/Shout! Factory) with guest Nico Vega
Watch Out! Theres Ghosts - Ghost Town (Rise Records) two-man band on tour now with Cash Cash
The Whip - X Marks Destination (Razor & Tie) featuring four bonus remixes on the stateside pressing
various artists - Rough Trade Shops: Counter Culture 08 (Rough Trade) two-CD set released annually collecting the year's best indie releases, this year featuring Department of Eagles, Crystal Stilts, Indian Jewelry, Mark Stewart, Headless Heroes, and 39 other hand-picked gems
John James can be found via cyberspace at email@example.com.