Ezra Furman announces new album ‘Twelve Nudes’ + shares ‘Calm Down’ video

Ezra Furman press shot

Ezra Furman returns with ‘Twelve Nudes,’ yet another incendiary and inspiring classic from the singer/songwriter/guitarist/bandleader. The album will be released worldwide on August 30th via Bella Union. To celebrate the announcement, Furman has shared an animated video for the album’s lead track Calm Down, which wad directed by Beth Jeans Houghton. You can check it out via YouTube below.

This is our punk record,” says Ezra Furman. “We made it in Oakland, quickly. We drank and smoked. Then we made the loud parts louder. I hurt my voice screaming. This was back in 2018, when things were bad in the world. The songs are naked with nothing to hide.” Immediate proof is offered by Calm Down (aka ‘I Should Not Be Alone’), the album’s insanely catchy opening track and lead single, bound up in a compact two minutes and 22 seconds. “Calm Down is so desperate, and not what I want to say about the world,” says Furman. “I think we curate our reactions to current news because we’re overwhelmed by how bad it is, and I noticed I was suppressing how bad I truly felt. I wanted music that gave me permission to feel how it felt to live in a broken world, which punk rock does.

Furman’s preceding album, 2018’s ‘Transangelic Exodus,’ was “an angry and fearful and pent-up reaction to events too,” he recalls. “But it was a carefully written and recorded version; we took a lot of time with edits and overdubs. I knew I wanted I make this album quickly and not spend time thinking how to play the songs. Twelve Nudes is a ‘body’ more than a ‘mind’ record – more animal than intellectual, And by affirming negativity, it gives you energy, to reject stuff. There’s more space for positivity.

Far from being defeated by a world in turmoil, Furman’s productivity has only increased the worse things have got – and he’s taken up different disciplines to boot. Between ‘Transangelic Exodus’ and ‘Twelve Nudes,’ the 33⅓ imprint published his deeply personal, thoughtful and incisive book on Lou Reed’s legendary 1972 album ‘Transformer’, before Furman scored the soundtrack to Netflix’s acclaimed comedy Sex Education (it aired in January), which showcased the tender side of his songwriting.
But all his pent-up energy had to be channelled somewhere: hence ‘Twelve Nudes’, which Furman and band recorded in October and November 2018 before the album was mixed by the venerated producer John Congleton (Sharon van EttenSt Vincent, John Grant). Furman says the album has two spiritual heroes – the late great punk rock rocker Jay Reatard, and Canadian poet, philosopher and essayist Anne Carson. “She’s one of my top three living writers,” he says. “Anne had these visions, or meditations, to deal with the intense pain in her life, which she calls ‘nudes’, and similarly these songs are meditations on pain and recognising what’s there if you go digging around in your anger and fear and anxiety. So, my album is called ‘Twelve Nudes.‘”

The record is political,” says Furman, “but it offers an emotional reaction rather than being specific or partisan.” Furman’s Jewish identity shapes ‘Rated R Crusaders,’ triggered by the Israel/Palestine conflict and its complex web of refugee trauma. Trauma, meanwhile, seethes with the spiritual malaise brought on by watching wealthy bullies accused of sexual assault rise to power. America, Furman well knows, is balanced on a knife-edge between white male supremacy and the dream of universal opportunity; hence the references to Mexico, slave-owners and US ‘founding father’ Ben Franklin in ‘In America’. As Furman sings, reiterating the spirit of punk rock, and positivity, “Put it all in a two-minute pop song / A really-mean-it-a-lot song for America.

One of my goals in making music is to make the world seem bigger, and life seem larger,” he concludes. “I want to be a force that tries to revive the human spirit rather than crush it, to open possibilities rather than close them down. Sometimes a passionate negativity is the best way to do that.

Ezra Furman Twelve Nudes cover artwork

‘Twelve Nudes’ tracklist
1. Calm Down aka I Should Not Be Alone
2. Evening Prayer aka Justice
3. Transition From Nowhere to Nowhere
4. Rated R Crusaders
5. Trauma
6. Thermometer
7. I Wanna Be Your Girlfriend
8. Blown9. My Teeth Hurt
10. In America
11. What Can You Do But Rock’n’Roll

‘Twelve Nudes’ will be released August 30th via Bella Union and is available to pre-order here.

Furman has also announced news of an extensive international touring schedule – see list of dates below. The full list of dates can be found via his website.
Tuesday 28th May – Hay on Wye – Hay Festival
Wednesday 29th May – Norwich – Waterfront
Thursday 30th May – Sheffield – Foundry
Sunday 2nd June – London – All Points East Festival
Sunday 21st July – Benicassim, ES – Benicassim Festival
Tuesday 23rd July – Cork – Cyprus Avenue
Wednesday 24th July – Dublin – Button Factory
Thursday 25th July – Galway – Galway Festival
Sunday 28th July – Topcliffe – Deer Shed Festival
Thursday 5th September – St. Paul’s, US – Turf Club
Saturday 7th September – Chicago, US – Lincoln Hall
Sunday 8th September – Detroit, US – El Club
Monday 9th September – Toronto, CA – Lee’s Palace
Tuesday 10th September – Montreal, CA – Bar Le Ritz
Wednesday 11th September – Cambridge, US – Sonia
Thursday 12th September – Brooklyn, US – Warsaw
Sunday 15th September – Philadelphia, US – Underground Arts
Monday 16th September – Washington, US – Union Stage
Saturday 16th November – Cologne, DE @ Luxor
Sunday 17th November – Berlin, DE @ Festsaal Kreuzberg
Tuesday 19th November – Paris, FR @ La Maroquinerie
Friday 20th November – Brussels, BE @ Botanique / Rotonde
Saturday 21st November – Amsterdam, NL @ Paradiso Noord
Monday 23rd November – Hamburg, DE @ Molotow
Tuesday 24th November – Copenhagen, DK @ Vega
Wednesday 25th November – Gothenburg, SE @ Pustervik
Thursday 26th November – Stockholm, SE @ Debaser Strand