He started Chess Records in 1950 with his brother Leonard. The company had previously been named Aristocrat Records and produced a wide variety of music style. With the name change, the company shifted focus to R&B music. The label released music by Howlin Wolf, Chuck Berry, and Willie Dixon, but was perhaps best known for launching the career of Etta James.
He retired in 1972 and the record label ceased operation not long after. He was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1995 as a non-performer.
Likely due to the Thanksgiving holiday, this was a very slow week for new album announcements. I was down in North Carolina for the holiday with my mom and boyfriend (his folks live down there). I hope that everyone had a great and safe holiday!
We didn't know it at the time, but this would be the last album that this musical genius would release during his lifetime. The 82-year-old singer and songwriter passed away on November 7 following a fall. He'd said some prophetic statements recently, but was in good health and just seemed like he should live forever. Thankfully, he graced us with another incredible collection of songs before he left us.
NxWorries is Anderson .Paak and Knxwledge. The duo first formed last year and released an EP, Link Up & Suede. 2016 has been a big year for both artists individually; .Paak released a highly-regarded fourth album, Malibu, and Knxwledge released several albums, and provided production for tracks by Ghostface Killah, Action Bronson, and Earl Sweatshirt.
This album is a meeting of Akron minds. The Pretenders are back after an eight-year gap with an album produced by Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys. In addition to providing production, Auerbach brings several members of his Arcs project to provide instrumentation on the record; Chrissie Hyndes and Martin Chambers are the sole original members that remain with the band.
The Radio Dept. always flies under my radar when I think about my favorite artists and albums over the past few years, but their 2010 record Clinging to a Scheme, is an album I can always come back to and enjoy. Running Out of Love is an amazing follow-up. The album is inspired by dance and techno music, though they employ a more understated version of the styles. They also add a healthy dose of politics to their music.
Weyes Blood is Natalie Mering, who started her career as the bassist for Jackie-O Motherfucker before going solo ten years ago. It wasn't until 2014 that she released her debut album, The Innocents, which debuted her 70s folk-inspired sound and use of distinct instrumentation. She doesn't stray far from the sound on her debut with this follow-up.
Earlier this week, Jonathan Barnbrook, the graphic designer for David Bowie's Blackstar, told fans that they'd barely scratched the surface in discovering the secrets hidden in the album's artwork. Previously, the known secret was that the sleeve revealed a galaxy when exposed to light, but the announcement prompted the discovery of a slew of new secrets. It's exciting to know that, even in death, this great artist can still surprise us!
You can view a more comprehensive list of upcoming albums over at my Upcoming Releases page!
This week, The Magnetic Fields announced their first new album in five years, 50 Song Memoir.
Yes, this new album will have a total of 50 tracks, each touching on a year in the life of frontman and songwriter Stephin Merritt, who turned 50 in 2015. Albums of such a colossal scale are nothing new for the band, who released an even longer album, 69 Love Songs, in 1999.
The album was announced on Thursday, with five tracks being released alongside the announcement.
50 Song Memoir will be released on March 3.
Also announced this week:
2Leaves - Every Ocean Tells a Story (out now)
Brian Eno - Reflection (January 1)
Dutch Uncles - Big Balloon (February 17)
Hodgy Beats - Fireplace:TheNotTheOtherSide (December 9)
Jesca Hoop - Memories Are Now (February 10)
Jessy Lanza - Oh No No No (December 9)
Jhené Aiko - “Maniac” (out now)
Julie Byrne - Not Even Happiness (January 27)
Serengeti + Sicker Man - Doctor My Own Happiness (December 9)
Sinkane - Life & Livin’ It (February 10)
Ty Segall - Ty Segall (January 27)
Xiu Xiu - FORGET (February 24)
Duchess Says is an electropunk band out of Canada who have been together for 13 years and three albums; the four member band is fronted by vocalist Annie-Claude Deschênes. On their latest record, they take inspiration from established punk and post-punk bands like the Dead Kennedys and Bauhaus, as well as electronic composers like John Carpenter.
Jamie Lidell had spent almost his entire career on the Warp label, but left recently to begin his own record label, Jajulin; this is his first album on that new label. With each subsequent record, the artist, who is known for expertly blending electronic and soul, moves further and further from the electronic elements of his music. Building a Beginning seems almost the culmination of that shift, with a sound pulling from gospel-inflected Southern soul.
Las Kellies is an all-female rock band from Argentina who formed in 2005. The Kelly comes from the surname of the band's frontwoman, Cecilia Kelly and each member of the band takes on the last name as their own stage name, hence Las Kellies (The Kellies). Friends & Lovers is their fifth album and first without founding member Betty Kelly. The album also sees them shifting away from funk and dub influences present on earlier work.
Swet Shop Boys is a trio made up of rappers Heems, formerly of Das Racist, and Riz MC, aka actor Riz Ahmed of HBO's The Night Of and the upcoming film Rogue One, along with producer Redinho. The project brings together three men of very different backgrounds. Heems is American of Punjabi descent, Riz is British of Pakistani descent, Redinho is a white British man. Their music often tackles issues of racism and profiling, perhaps a bit timely in our current political landscape.
Uni Ika Ai - Keeping a Golden Bullseye in the Corner of My Mind
Uni Ika Ai is a young band out of Brooklyn fronted by Maia Friedman, and made up of members of Bobby, Via Audio, and Lucius. Before this debut album, they had only released a handful of singles, but have already earned praise for their work from sources like Stereogum.