Artist: Liza Anne
Album: Fine But Dying
Quick Description: Calling this a pop record feels like it's selling it short.
Why You Should Listen: Come for the apt title we can all agree with, stay for the great songs.
Overall Thoughts: While the title of this album feels incredibly apt for our times, what is interesting for this is how Liza Anne deftly straddles the poppy and radio-friendly singer-songwriter angle with some interesting choices (such as the blasts of sound in “Paranoia,” a sneaky great song). I feel like if Allison Weiss found a harder edge instead of a synthesizer, it would sound like Liza Anne, but I’m finding this to be one of my favorite recent listens and is likely to battle Lucy Dacus with a lot of my listening time soon.
Recommendation: Easily the favorite of the week.
Album: Have fun
Quick Description: An odd, lovely little indie album.
Why You Should Listen: You're seeking something that you feel like only you will understand, but everyone else will a few years later.
Overall Thoughts: Smerz makes me feel like I felt the first time I discovered Kitty. There’s something strange and raw here that feels not fully formed, but is still worming its way out. I enjoyed this quite a bit because of the way this made me feel about its potential and the little bits that expose themselves in the record (especially in the middle bits) as something special. The style may not work for everyone, but it worked a lot for me.
Recommendation: Definitely worth some time this week.
Album: Face the Brutality
Quick Description: Dance rock for the masses.
Why You Should Listen: You miss your Norwegian Euro rock acts.
Overall Thoughts: It’s been a minute since we heard from Datarock, and it’s been some time since I listened to them. They feel like a more serious Junior Senior, which is a dated reference in and of itself but also speaks to how ubiquitous the techno-rock hybrids have become. Datarock isn’t forging new ground, but this is very much like that hip party record that we don’t see much of these days.
Recommendation: Worth a listen.
Artist: Martha Ffion
Album: Sunday Best
Quick Description: Indie singer-songwriter stuff with a familiar feel.
Why You Should Listen: It's one of the better releases of the week.
Overall Thoughts: Another singer-songwritery effort, this one is definitely less poppy, but has a sort of happy, jangly streak to it. A lot of this won me over early, but “Lead Balloon” seals it both as a representation of what’s here and what’s possible. A fun record you should find time for this week.
Recommendation: A must-listen.
Artist: Elle Mary and the Bad Men
Album: Constant Unfailing Light
Quick Description: Quiet music with a distinct voice.
Why You Should Listen: Everything out up to this point has been a little more on the mainstream side.
Overall Thoughts: I think the surprise here is how quiet this is compared to the name of the act and the album. Elle Mary is not forging any new paths with her light touch here, but that’s okay – we have strong songwriting and a unique voice that is a great listen on a whole and just risks being lost in the shuffle in a week like this one.
Recommendation: Don’t let this slide under the radar.
Artist: Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats
Album: Tearing at the Seams
Quick Description: The band's first album since their breakthrough.
Why You Should Listen: They have been a fairly consistent act for a while.
Overall Thoughts: Rateliff had his big hit with the infectious “S.O.B.,” and it would have been entirely justified for him and his band to lean into that entirely. I enjoyed his previous album enough, and this new one continues along those same lines in a really solid way. If you’ve liked what you’ve heard beyond the hit single, you won’t be disappointed here.
Recommendation: Make some room for this one.
Artist: Albert Hammond Jr.
Album: Francis Trouble
Quick Description: Latest solo effort from the Strokes guitarist.
Why You Should Listen: You're interested in post-garage rock?
Overall Thoughts: The Strokes guitarist has done his share of solo albums and this one is pretty solid in terms of what he’s put out there. He knows how to make a melody, and there’s enough interesting guitar work here to keep the record fresh, but I just spent a lot of time wondering why this wasn’t a Strokes record and being exhausted by the whole thing. Alas…
Recommendation: Skip this.
Album: It Will Come To You
Quick Description: Nostalgia rock.
Why You Should Listen: You are always looking for ways to get back to the 80s.
Overall Thoughts: A couple weeks ago we got a band straight out of the 1980s and Actors, in many ways, replicates that somewhat. It’s an okay album, and I might be higher on it if I liked the aesthetic or wasn’t so high on other releases this week, but as it stands? It might scratch that specific itch you have. You’ll know pretty quickly if that’s the case.
Recommendation: You'll know if you like this pretty fast.
Quick Description: The first in a while from the British art rockers.
Why You Should Listen: They haven't burned all their goodwill from their early work yet.
Overall Thoughts: I had optimism for Editors with the new single, but I regretfully say that the new album doesn’t work for me. A little too plodding, a little too dull. Skip this one this week unless you’re a big fan.
Recommendation: Not worth the time.
Artist: David Byrne
Album: American Utopia
Quick Description: Talking Heads legend with his latest solo effort.
Why You Should Listen: Byrne is proving himself to be as essential as ever.
Overall Thoughts: David Lynch and David Byrne occupy a similar headspace for me for reasons that are not completely insane, so with my recent interest in Lynch, this new album had some added urgency for me. Thankfully, we lead off with "I Dance Like This" which feels like a song that's meant to get all the mainstream listeners to turn the record off before they can get to the really good stuff. By the time lead single "Everybody's Coming to My House" lands, I was completely and fully on board. Definitely one of the best of the week, and might have some true staying power both artistically and otherwise.
Recommendation: Listen to this.
Artist: Of Montreal
Album: White is Relic/Irrealis Mood
Quick Description: The latest release from the indie rockers.
Why You Should Listen: This is a different take for a band known for always shaking it up.
Overall Thoughts: At only six songs, but all of them quite long, it's hard to say whether this is an album or an EP, but the way Of Montreal approaches things doesn't really matter. Kevin Barnes is at a creative spot right now that is probably as good as it's been in a decade. While the indie pop is long gone, these are the closest things to club bangers we'll get and that should be enough to make you want to listen anyway.
Recommendation: A solid listen.
Album: Bobby Tarantino II
Quick Description: New mixtape from a rapper having a breakout year.
Why You Should Listen: You like modern rap.
Overall Thoughts: This is a solid listen, although perhaps a little more mainstream than what one might expect. Still, this is probably more of a victory lap for him than anything else, and the album last year was so good that this is worth your time.
Recommendation: Not a bad listen at all.
The Punk Corner
* Suicidal Tendencies - Get Your Fight On: A band around this long shouldn't still be this solid on a whole.
* The Men Who Will Not Be Blamed - Double Negative: This sounds old and grizzly, but was still a good time.
Also out this week:
* Acid Dad - Acid Dad
* Oneida - Oneida