This final week of summer (or at least, before school starts) was dominated by the buildup to the release of LCD Soundsystem’s momentous return, American Dream, and it didn’t disappoint. But there was plenty of great music to go around, from new albums by Downtown Boys and The Pains of Being Pure at Heart to new tracks from Wolf Parade and Jeffrey Martin. We also welcomed Citizen Cope and Gogol Bordello to our New York recording studio, and dug into features on John Lennon and Glen Campbell. Check out Paste’s favorite albums, songs, live performances and feature stories of the week.
LCD Soundsystem: American Dream
Post-hiatus records are often be mediocre attempts to rejuvenate the enthusiasm of the past. Fans probably applied this to James Murphy’s band, wondering how American Dream, the first LCD Soundsystem in seven years, could live up to 2007’s Sound of Silver or 2010’s This Is Happening. Thankfully, it’s a beautiful work of art about aging, regret and an arduous search for meaning. Although the album is more soft-spoken as a whole, listeners can still find the disco-punk from LCD Soundsystem’s past in tracks such as “Other Voices” and “Tonite.” Chanted lyrics, omnipresent cowbells and driving bass recall “Us V Them” and “One Touch.” —Grant Sharples
Downtown Boys: Cost of Living
On 2015’s Full Communism, this Rhode Island-based punk quintet stood up against white supremacy and heteronormative hegemonic structures. Cost of Living, Downtown Boys’ third full-length, was written before this year’s inauguration, but its battle cries over centuries of injustices for marginalized people who have been left out of historical (and musical) narratives feel timeless. With the help of Fugazi’s Guy Picciotto, Downtown Boys haven’t toned down their demands or volume. Instead, they’ve tightened their burly brass melodies, lengthened some tracks and incorporated new instrumental additions. —Natalia Barr
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart: The Echo of Pleasure
The fourth LP by New York dream-rockers The Pains of Being Pure at Heart is an exquisite—if also occasionally too familiar—entry into the modern landscape of retro synth pop. Led by the big-hearted, idealistic songwriting of frontman Kip Berman—and fleshed out by a variety of players and singers, plus producer Andy Savours—the album bursts with breezy and tight arrangements, meditative melodies, and beautifully poignant lyricism, making it simultaneously a boyish and mature exploration of love, longing and everything in between. —Jordan Blum
Becca Richardson: ‘Right Now’
Becca Richardson has mastered the (anti) love song. On her new single “Right Now,” the Nashville-based singer addresses the plight of so many young single people searching for commitment and/or meaning within such a construct. It sounds like a ballooning pop song with the sincerity of an indie singer/songwriter. While the synths swell, Richardson’s cooing voice keeps everything level and present. With lyrics that seem to mutate depending on the listener’s mood, “Right Now” becomes both homage for martial love and bummed-out ballad for those who feel like they’ll never find it. —Hilary Saunders
Wolf Parade: ‘You’re Dreaming’
Wolf Parade exited the scene seven years ago after the release of their third album, Expo 86, and it looked like they might never return. Then last year they emerged with a self-titled EP, and now we’re eagerly anticipating their “comeback” album, Cry Cry Cry, which is set for an Oct. 6 release. Second single “You’re Dreaming” is a bright, uptempo rocker with an infectious staccato organ out front. So far, so good from the rejuvenated Wolf Parade. —Matthew Oshinsky
Jeffrey Martin: ‘Billy Burroughs’
Back in 1951, while living in Mexico City, William S. Burroughs accidentally shot and killed his common-law wife Joan Vollmer. As the story goes, they were attempting a drunk William Tell act—she with a highball glass on her head—and he aimed low. his Jeffrey Martin’s song about the incident and its aftermath, his weary delivery and the slow tumble of his country-leaning pop make it clear that he’s weighing his own faulty decisions, wondering what combination of factors brought him to this point in his life: singing dusty odes to the ghosts of American literature. —Robert Ham
David Wax Museum: ‘Your Mother, the Ghost’
Comprising core members David Wax and Suz Slezak, David Wax Museum combines elements of folklore, ethnomusicology and nontraditional instrumentation to craft a funky folk sound. Their new LP, Electric Artifacts collects 10 B-sides and rarities. One of them, “Your Mother, the Ghost,” begins as a sparsely accented ballad of narrative verses. The nearly seven-minute track opens with quiet piano chords, but as it progresses, crashing drums fill the space along with muted horns, Slezak’s fiddle creaking like floorboards and a squiggling guitar solo. —Hilary Saunders
The New York Gypsy punks are back with a new record, Seekers and Finders, inspired by everything from immigration to intoxication. Eugene Hütz and Co. visited Paste on Wednesday to perform three songs for us.
The veteran troubadour is putting the finishing touches on his first album in five years, which he’s calling Heroin and Helicopters (he’ll explain why). Listen to a couple of new songs, as well as an old favorite, “Sideways,” in this intimate performance.
Durand Jones and the Indications
These Indiana upstarts bake their old souls into some electrifying new R&B numbers. You won’t find a better voice in music right now than that of Durand Jones, whose aching tenor recalls James Brown and Otis Redding in equal measure. Do not sleep on Durand Jones!
Exclusive: Listen to John Lennon’s Last Full Concert Performance
On Aug. 30, 1972, John Lennon headlined the “One to One” benefit concerts at Madison Square in what turned out to be his last full concert performance. (There were two shows that day, one in the afternoon and one at night.) Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono had just released their overtly political album Some Time in New York, but the two “One to One” shows were actually organized in support of the Willowbrook Home, a facility for learning-disabled children, and Lennon agreed to appear. Listen here to five exclusive recordings from that historic night: “Mother,” “We’re All Water,” “Come Together,” “Imagine” and “Give Peace a Chance.” —Matthew Oshinsky
Glen Campbell Really Was a Guitar God—Here’s the Proof in Five Videos
In the three weeks since country-music legend Glen Campbell died, some tributes have referred to him as “one of the greatest country guitarists.” It has the ring of hyperbole, the sort of thing you say about someone after he’s died and history takes a backseat to homage. But we’re here to tell you: It is true. Campbell was undoubtedly one of the greatest guitarists who ever lived, in any genre of popular music, and you’re going to enjoy discovering (or rediscovering) that fact thanks to these fantastic videos. Check this one out for starters:
10 of the Most Progressive Songs in Country Music
This year marks the 25th anniversary of Garth Brooks’s “We Shall Be Free.” In 1992, the controversial song received limited airplay on country radio thanks to its progressive stance on a multitude of issues including racism, marriage equality, indigenous rights and the environmental protection. Although it may seem stereotypical to lump radio-friendly country music together by themes of Southern identity and patriotism, there’s some truth to genre’s history of conservatism: A 2004 Gallup poll found that 60 percent of country fans identify as Republicans. When country artists offer songs or views that contradict a long-standing narrative or opposing political viewpoint, it can come as a shock to fans. Here are 10 of the most progressive country songs of all time. —Alexandra Fletcher