The Week in Music: Paste's Best Songs, Albums, Performances and More

A look back at our favorite music and writing of the past five days.

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The Week in Music: Paste's Best Songs, Albums, Performances and More

Even with the pause for Independence Day, this week offered a wealth of great music and writing here at Paste, from all corners of the operation. Here’s a look back at the best songs, albums, live performances and feature stories from the past five days, all in one place!

Albums of the Week
Jay Z: 4:44
Even if the Beyoncé-Jay Z marital saga falls short of being a feminist revelation, there are plenty of instances where Jay Z pushes mainstream hip-hop narratives forward: For instance, he sweetly celebrates his mother, an out lesbian, on “Smile.” And while other rappers boast about fast money, he discusses the importance of investing in order to create lasting wealth for generations to come. What makes 4:44 powerful is that Jay Z isn’t preaching from a gilded throne: He’s speaking from the position of someone who’s overcome numerous struggles and wants to give others the keys to do the same. — Nastia Voynovskaya

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JAY Z

The Beach Boys: 1967: Sunshine Tomorrow
After Smile was dismantled and the most useable pieces reconfigured to make Smiley Smile, the band decamped to Brian Wilson’s Malibu home to record what would become Wild Honey—a short, weird, minimalist affair that attempted to draw from their collective interest in the soul and R&B of the era. Urged forth by a wrinkle in U.K. copyright laws, the album has been remastered with fresh stereo mixes and surrounded by a wealth of bonus material for 1967: Sunshine Tomorrow. To complete the picture, this two-CD collection tacks on material that came from the same year, including a smattering of tunes from the Smiley Smile sessions and the oft-bootlegged Lei’d In Hawaii, a “live” album featuring Brian Wilson on organ and vocals. — Robert Ham

Will Beeley: Gallivantin’/Passing Dream
By this time next year, the larger community of alt.country and Americana fans might be singing the praises of Will Beeley. Or at least marveling at how such a talented singer-songwriter, now pushing 70 years old, could have slipped under their radar for so long. With 40+ years of hindsight in his sails, Beeley is perfectly poised for discovery beyond the crate-diggers who have paid upward of $400 for original copies of his LPs. And what they’ll find is a fully-formed talent, indifferent to the trends of the times. As well, these two albums provide a quick snapshot of how far this singer-songwriter from Texas evolved in the span of just eight years. — Robert Ham

Songs of the Week
Violet Sands: Coming Back (Through the Labyrinth)
Violet Sands, the newest project of Deidre Muro (formerly of Savoir Adore), brims with luscious electro-pop, all guided by Muro’s silky coos and, appropriately, woos. On “Coming Back (Through the Labyrinth),” laser sounds excavate through the musical forest like machetes before the drums and main melody kicks in simultaneously. — Hilary Saunders

Ryan Keberle & Catharsis: The Times They Are A-Changin’
Trombonist Ryan Keberle’s quintet has been the talk of the jazz scene for the past few years on the strength of their unapologetically emotional albums and an embrace of everything from jagged experimentalism to pure Latin grooves. Left reeling by the results of the 2016 election, Keberle and his band responded with music that reflected their fear and anger, as well as the slivers of hope they were grasping. One of the most impactful statements on their new record, Find the Common, Shine a Light, is Keberle’s arrangement of the peerless protest anthem “The Times They Are A-Changin’” that brings out the gentle beauty of Bob Dylan’s words and melody. — Robert Ham

BIRDS: Scatter
Brooklyn’s BIRDS are readying their debut album, Everything All at Once, for an Aug. 18 release. Lead single “Scatter” rumbles for less than three minutes but manages to melt faces. Reynoza’s bass line keeps everyone in line, while some effects-laden riff that sounds like a distorted electric violin sweeps overhead in between verses. It’s a perfect slice of beefy fuzz-pedal magic that sounds sloppy but is actually tight and precise. — Hilary Saunders


BIRDS

Rhye: Please
It’s been four long years since R&B duo Rhye introduced themselves with their debut LP Woman, but we haven’t forgotten about them. Back in 2013, we called Woman “a masterful illustration of sensuality and intimacy” that “strays far away from the conventions of contemporary R&B.” Now, we’re happy to have new Rhye music in the form of a writhing, sensual single, “Please.” Fusing an analog beat and tempered piano, “Please” leaves its fancy clothes on the floor, stripping back layers to find frontman Milosh (yes, that’s a guy singing) pleading to a lover in his best Sade falsetto, “Ooh, you don’t need to hold your head so low.” — Matthew Oshinsky

Paste Studio Session of the Week
Camila Meza
The Chilean jazz guitarist and vocalist Camila Meza stopped by Paste Studios in NYC on Thursday to perform songs from her acclaimed album, Traces, along with the talented jazz pianist Shai Maestro. The duo played soulful renditions of “Para Volar” and “Away,” as well as two gorgeous covers of “Amazon Farewell” by Djavan, and “Cucurrucucú Paloma” by Caetano Veloso. The four-song set showcased Meza’s gift for composition as well as her skills as an improvisational guitarist. You can catch her live at the Stanford Jazz Workshop later this month. — Katherine Logan

Stories of the Week
BTS and the Shunning of Asian Pop Stars in America
On May 21, viewers around the world watched with mostly disbelief as Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, Selena Gomez and Shawn Mendes had to concede the Top Social Artist award at the 2017 Billboard Music Awards to BTS, the winners in a landslide. The South Korean pop group garnered more than 313 million votes—75 percent of the total tally—to halt a six-year winning streak by Bieber. So why have BTS and their fellow Asian pop stars had so much trouble getting a foothold in the US market? And given the chilly reception they often get here, do they even want one? — Martin Tsai

Happy 40th Birthday My Aim Is True: The Best Elvis Costello Performances
Elvis Costello  burst onto the music scene 40 years ago this month with what was then, and is still now, regarded as one of the best rock ‘n’ roll debuts ever, My Aim Is True. The album, released July 22, 1977, offered a reprieve from the excesses that were emblematic of the genre in its day. To mark 40 years since My Aim Is True’s release, we scoured the bottomless Paste Cloud and found great audio and video footage of Costello performing the songs from the album, mostly on his first American tour in 1978. — Michael Salfino

The 5 Best Albums of June 2017
We gathered up our favorite albums from the month of June, from the Outlaw Country of Steve Earle to the Northwest jangle-pop of The Parson Red Heads. — Hilary Saunders

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