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

Let's review: Rainer Maria, Kesha, Acid Tongue, Chuck Berry and more.

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

Paste heard fantastic new music from musicians young and old this week. We reviewed stellar new albums by Kesha and Rainer Maria, as well as fresh tracks from Acid Tongue and Mattiel. We also hosted the legendary jazz guitarist Bill Frisell and the once-in-a-lifetime blues duo of Taj Mahal and Keb’ Mo’ in our New York studio, and updated our list of the best albums of 2017 so far. Check out the week in music here at Paste.

BEST ALBUMS
Kesha: Rainbow
Since the release of Kesha’s first new track in four years “Praying,” she’s made a point of showing that her latest songs are catharsis, personal therapy. It’s no secret her ongoing legal battles with producer Dr. Luke have taken a toll on her life and career. And without naming names, she tells her story her way, but focuses her gospel-fueled lyrics on being the better person (and by giving you chills with her rallying cry). What’s most incredible is the fact that Kesha’s. “Praying” is without a doubt the standout song on the album, which isn’t often the case for singles. —Ilana Kaplan

Shelby Lynne & Allison Moorer: Not Dark Yet
Not Dark Yet works beautifully. Featuring nine covers and one devastating original, this lovely longplayer spotlights the sisters’ tangy harmonies, with Lynne’s saltier vocals and Moorer’s sweeter singing intertwining gracefully, evoking ancient traditions of family music-making. Sympathetic producer Teddy Thompson crafts settings of understated elegance, incorporating a full band into the mix while generally emphasizing piano, often by Benmont Tench, suggesting their polished yet fervent duets would be equally effective in stripped-down versions. —Jon Young

Rainer Maria: Rainer Maria
The beloved Madisonites are back with their first new music in 11 years. Fittingly, the album is self-titled, marking a new beginning for the power trio. And really, the best compliment it can be given is that it doesn’t sound like the band took a decade-long hiatus: Rainer Maria’s songs feel as natural as anything else in the band’s catalog, from the slow-burn of opening track “Broke Open Love” (complete with a rubberband bassline) to the push and pull of minor and major keys in “Forest Mattress” to the howled chorus of “Lower Worlds,” which finds both Caithlin De Marrais and Kaia Fischer trying their hand at yelling, “Slam shut!/The doors!” —Scott Heisel

BEST SONGS
Mattiel:Whites of Their Eyes
In fewer than three minutes, Atlanta-based newcomer Mattiel Brown channels some of the best names in modern blues-rock. With its Big Muff-flavored tone, her lead single “Whites of Their Eyes” has the punch of Thickfreakness-era Black Keys, the tension of The White Stripe’s tour supporting Icky Thump and the vocal wiles of Sally Ford & The Sound Outside circa 2013’s Untamed Beast. —Hilary Saunders

Jordan Raf:Better Now
Jordan Raf is doing his damndest to not let the sun go down. The POW Recordings-signed singer drops blue sky-tinged vibes of passion on his latest single, the John War-produced “Better Now.” Raf is an Iranian-American, grew up in Dallas and San Diego, but now calls LA home. And for all the Don Juan bravado of “Better Now,” the debonair auteur wants to shatter mainstream tropes. —Adrian Spinelli

TRØN & DVD:Vigilantes
This family affair—the group is made up of brothers Norvin and Darian Van Dunk—have been bubbling under the hip-hop scene in their native New York for the past few years, releasing a bevy of mixtapes and solo efforts along the way. But they are about to receive a big boost with the help of Kiam Records and its owner Jennifer O’Connor. She is not only releasing the duo’s full-length Afraid of the Dark on October 20th through her label, but she helped co-produce the record, and guests on a track. —Robert Ham

Acid Tongue:If I Really Loved Her
Brooklyn-via-Seattle garage-psych band Acid Tongue’s debut album, Babies, isn’t out until Oct. 13 on Freakout Records, but the group released its first single, “If I Really Loved Her.”It’s a catchy, laidback ode to devotion that reminds us to hang on to the ones who’ll stand by us no matter what. “Don’t I know it, I’m hard to love,” frontman Guy Keltner sings. “Being funny is not enough.” —Bonnie Stiernberg

PASTE STUDIO
Taj Mahal & Keb’ Mo’
The two blues giants performed three tracks from their new album, Tajmo, which spans the history of the blues: “Diving Duck Blues,” a traditional made famous by Sleepy John Estes; “Life Is Beautiful,” a new composition; and the reggae-infused “Corrina,” from Taj Mahal’s second record, 1968’s The Natch’l Blues.

Bill Frisell & Thomas Morgan
Jazz guitarist Bill Frisell was joined by bassist Thomas Morgan to perform songs off their collaboration record, Small Town. The virtuosic duo performed “Pearl,” “Small Town” and a cover of the James Bond theme “Goldfinger” from the album, in addition to a Thelonious Monk tune, “Epistrophy.”

Luke Elliot
In anticipation of the American release of his first full-length album, Dressed for the Occasion, soulful singer and pianist Luke Elliot and his band visited Paste to perform a few new tracks. The New Jersey-based musician performed “Get ‘Em While They’re Hot,” “”Let It Rain on Me,” “Trouble” and the title track, “Dressed for the Occasion.”

FEATURES
The 25 Best Albums of 2017 (So Far)
This tumultuous year around the sun is more than halfway over, and luckily there’ been a ton of great new music to keep us going. Regardless of genre, the best albums released from January through August have seemed to reflect our current range of emotions—angry to ambivalent, bloated to bombastic, sentimental to sardonic. So from the highly anticipated to the surprise released, here are the 25 best albums of 2017—so far. —Paste Staff

Happy Birthday ‘Maybellene’: The Best Chuck Berry Performances
Maybellene” was soaring up the charts 62 years ago this month, forever altering the popular music that would arrive in its wake and securing Berry’s place on the Mount Rushmore of rock ‘n’ roll. Twelve years later, in 1967, Berry wasn’t charting singles anymore, but he was still in peak form and touring with a local band with which he had historic chemistry—so much, in fact, that he had uncharacteristically decided to continue playing with them rather than rotate backing bands at each tour stop. That band would go on to carve its own place in rock history as “The Steve Miller Band. But nothing they’d do would ever match the importance of documenting Berry’s sound so capably throughout 1967. Two of the most famous stops on that tour, both at Winterland in San Francisco and nine months apart, are captured here in the Paste Vault. —Michael Salfino

Emily Saliers on Her Adventurous Solo Debut and What’s Next for Indigo Girls
We met up with Saliers at Watershed, the restaurant she founded in the Atlanta neighborhood of Decatur before moving it to swankier digs in Buckhead. Fortunately it was Wednesday, when Watershed offers the fried chicken for which it’s famous. Over a long lunch, Saliers seemed anything but shy, opening up about the three-year journey to get Murmuration Nation made and her ambitions going forward.— Josh Jackson

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