Ishkode! Ishkode!: Jonathan Richman’s first new album in five years arrives next month


In the years since Jonathan Richman released his last solo album, 2010’s O Moon, Queen of Night on Earth, heavy efforts have been made to name his ’70s cult classic anthem “Roadrunner” the official state rock song of his native Massachusetts. The campaign has hit a few road bumps and snags, but hope is not totally lost for the Modern Lovers track.

As we dive deeper in the new year, however, Richman will have some new music for us, and songs that are as far away from “Roadrunner” as humanly possible. On February 8, he’ll release Ishkode! Ishkode! on his new home, Cleveland based record label Blue Arrow Records. A vinyl pressing is expected to follow in May.

According to Blue Arrow (and Google), “Ishkode” means “fire” in the Ojibwe language.

“[That] reflects the temperature of this release,” Blue Arrow writes, “a slow simmer, sensory anticipation, and a pleading desire to address the complete range of possibilities that we can extend ourselves.”

They continue:

In the title track, “Ishkode! Ishkode!”, Jonathan Richman’s angular guitar contrasts with the slinky shuffle of the song. Richman “opens up” on an elementary level and sets the tone for the rest of the album; explorations in experiences. “Wait! Wait!”, a joyous romp, leads us down the path to the revelation that there is a primal beauty in simplicity. Richman’s voice is emotive and plaintive, with the backup vocals acting as conscience, inner voice made audible to affirm these thoughts and desires.

“In Let Me Do This Right!” and “Outside O’Duffy’s”, Richman sings “love, love, love” as a mantra. These themes of love are woven through all the songs; universal love, personal love, romantic love. We are faced with the manifesto of someone completely enamored with the human experience. Without pretense we are exposed to an earnest love letter to the universal. Jonathan Richman unburdened.

None of the songs off Ishkode! Ishkode! have surfaced online just yet, but the cover art has been made public. Check that out below, as well as a handful of West Coast dates just after the album’s release.

Jonathan Richman 2016 Live Dates
13 Feb 2016 The Catalyst Santa Cruz, CA
14 Feb 2016 The Observatory Santa Ana, CA
15 Feb 2016 The Observatory Santa Ana, CA
16 Feb 2016 The Observatory North Park San Diego, CA
17 Feb 2016 The Observatory North Park San Diego, CA