Monday, July 31, 2023

Jason Isbell has released his most perfect album yet

The new Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit album Weathervanes is the former Drive-by Trucker's magnum opus. He has had great albums before but this is his best alt-country display yet; 13 songs of pure perfection.

Weathervanes, recorded over just two weeks at the legendary FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama (pictured), was written and produced by Isbell, who has done an amazing job of taking control of his life and career after some very troubled years of substance abuse.

"Weathervanes," the name of the album and the title track, is of course a metaphor for the uncertainty and change that is often a part of life. 

If 2023 ended today, my top five rock releases would be Isbell then:
  • 2. Lil Yachty: Let's Start Here. (this starts out sounding like a cross of Pink Floyd and the best Funkadelic and never releases its sonic grip. The Atlanta mumble rapper graduates from his old style into a super slick batch of jazzy, dancey, and weird pop greatness. I don't want to stop listening)
  • 3. The Lemon Twigs: Everything Harmony (the band's fourth album is its best and most consistant, with pop and yacht and a lot of mellow at the end. Not a snoozer in the bunch)
  • 4. Geese: 3D Country (Brooklynites blast onto the scene with a freak-party jam that mashes up country and blues and soul with a heaping helping that lands somewhere between Ween and Radiohead)
  • 5. Alex Lahey: The Answer is Always Yes (this is the best non-Courtney Barnett Courtney Barnett album of the year. Lahey is a rock and roll songwriter who is thoroughly modern but could also fit in any era, such as the ones with The Strokes or Blondie)
Isbell has also made my year-end album lists in 2011 with How Will I Rest (#46); in 2013 with Southwestern (#77); in 2015 with Something More Than Free ("best of the rest"); in 2017 with The Nashville Sound (#49); and, most recently, in 2021, he made my list of Biggest Disappontments with Georgia Blue. So the new album is bit of a very pleasant surprise.

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