Artist: V. V. Lightbody
Album: Bathing Peach
Quick Description: Debut solo project from a Chicago-area singer-songwriter.
Why You Should Listen: You wish Lucy Dacus would tone it down a bit?
Overall Thoughts: This is an album that is a little hard to describe. It's kind of folky, but has some edge to it? The project of Vivian McConnell, she clearly has some great songwriting chops that make you pay attention from the first few notes, and this kind of came out of nowhere for me in terms of how much I liked it. If you like the folky stuff, or even the more contemplative singer-songwriter efforts of late, you should give this a listen.
Recommendation: Best release of the week.
Artist: The Carters
Album: Everything is Love
Quick Description: Surprise-yet-anticipated collaboration between Beyonce and Jay-Z.
Why You Should Listen: Love it or hate it, this is what people will be talking about for the next month.
Overall Thoughts: I'm not one to subscribe to the "it's not for you, so you shouldn't be talking about it" critique of criticism. But with Everything is Love, much like Lemonade, Beyonce and Jay-Z are making musical messages that are both relevant to a specific audience and musically superior. I am sure I'm missing a lot of nuance with this one, but taken solely from the musical parts, this is definitely something special that will mean more to a lot of other people who aren't me.
Recommendation: Required listening (at least until it gets pulled from Spotify).
Artist: Arthur Buck
Album: Arthur Buck
Quick Description: Collaboration between Joseph Arthur and R.E.M.'s Peter Buck.
Why You Should Listen: Both artists are basically must-listen musicians in their own right.
Overall Thoughts: Joseph Arthur has always been an interesting artist to me, and Peter Buck played guitar in my favorite band. I am glad that this collaboration exists, not only because the two very clearly compliment each other, but because there are a number of solid songs here. The album probably never reaches the height that it starts off with again on “I Am the Moment,” but fans of one or both of the artists will absolutely hear what they want from this.
Recommendation: A solid listen overall.
Album: Magic Gone
Quick Description: New album from a buzzworthy singer-songwriter.
Why You Should Listen: There is a lot here to love.
Overall Thoughts: The way this album kicks off, you’re almost certain you’ll be off on a ride, especially with some of the great songs from Petal’s previous album. The full effort here? Solid songwriting with a lot of great moments, but it’s just that – a collection of moments rather than a truly cohesive package.
Recommendation: Not a priority listen this week.
Artist: Sun June
Quick Description: Unique-yet-familiar indie songwriting.
Why You Should Listen: You're looking for something that scratches a specific singer-songwriter itch.
Overall Thoughts: If 2017 was the year of the alt-rock revival, the quality level of female singer-songwriter releases this year cannot be overstated. If Lucy Dacus is leading the charge, albums like this one from Sun June do an amazing job of helping carry the load. If a song like “Young” doesn’t grab you, I’m not entirely sure what to tell you.
Recommendation: You’re missing out if you don’t give this a shot.
Artist: John Parish
Album: Bird Dog Dante
Quick Description: British songwriter with a new album.
Why You Should Listen: Parish has been involved with some very important work in his time.
Overall Thoughts: Best known for his collaborative work w/PJ Harvey, this is a solo album that definitely feels unique and different. Not surprising given the source, but the way it feels out of place and time is especially interesting in the current musical climate, and you don’t expect a man pushing 60 to put out something so weird and different.
Recommendation: It’s a good listen, although it may not be straightforward enough for everyone.
Album: Sorpresa Familia
Quick Description: New album from the heavier-than-expected post-punkers.
Why You Should Listen: If Mourn came into their own in their last album, this one shows how good they can be.
Overall Thoughts: I love this album, unabashedly so. It's got a lot of great moments, some memorable moments ("Fun at the Geysers" is one of the better songs I've heard this year period), and an aesthetic that isn't breaking any boundaries while still feeling unique and fresh. If you're into heavier fare? Check this out.
Recommendation: Absolutely worth your time.
Artist: Melody's Echo Chamber
Album: Bon Voyage
Quick Description: New album from the experimental project.
Why You Should Listen: It's not quite the same, but you're jonesing for new King Gizzard content that isn't coming.
Overall Thoughts: Melody of this project had an accident or illness of some sort that took her out of commission for a time, so this new album achieves a few things beyond being a great album. As a comeback of sorts, it shows an intensity and immediacy that wasn't in her previous efforts (which I also liked), but as a pure work of art? This was nearly my release of the week (I'm already breaking my "7 songs is an EP" rule for this one) because of how interesting and expansive the whole package is. I'm glad they chose to lead with "Desert Horse" in a way, because it really gets the whole thing together in a nutshell.
Recommendation: A must-listen for this week.
Other releases of note:
* Gin Blossoms - Mixed Reality (This would be the hottest indie record of 1989 if it weren’t 2018. Instead, it feels like a band in continual regression.)
* The Mighty Mighty Bosstones - While We're At It ("Pretty good for a modern ska/punk record” sounds like an insult, but it’s really a compliment for a solid listen.)
* Mad Caddies - Punk Rocksteady (This is a cover album that sounds like a trendy beach bar band trying to be a little too cute. This is not necessarily a bad thing.)
* English Beat - Here We Go Love (You won’t expect this to be as fun as it is.)
* Johnny Marr - Call the Comet (You already know whether you'll like this or not.)
* Fantastic Negrito - Please Don't Be Dead
* Girls Names - Stains on Silence
* Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever - Hope Downs
* Blushh - Thx 4 Asking (Give this a listen)
* Nas - NASIR (This week's Kanye collaborative release)
* King Princess - Make My Bed (Another goodie)
* Protomartyr - Consolation EP (Featuring Kelley Deal!)
* Nick Lowe - Crying Inside
* Deaf Poets - Change and Bloom
* Foxtrott - Meditations I
Also out this week:
* Wilko Johnson - Blow Your Mind
* Madball - For the Cause
* Chromeo - Head Over Heels