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

Let's review: Steve Martin, Angel Olsen, Bruce Springsteen, Wand, and plenty more.

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

New albums by Wand, Shilpa Ray and Rust Dust were on heavy rotation this week at Paste, as were Angel Olsen’s B-sides and Brian Owens’s Johnny Cash cover. We welcomed The Barr Brothers, Banda Magna, and Jazz at Lincoln Center to our studio, and we talked to Steve Martin and Rufus Wainwright about their new projects. Catch up with our favorite albums, songs, live performances and feature stories of the past five days.

BEST ALBUMS
Wand: Plum
Rating: 9.1
It’s hard to believe that the band who came flailing headlong out of the gate with Golem just two short years ago is the same band behind Plum, one of the most thoughtfully dynamic albums to come out in 2017. The creative arch of the Los Angeles band is rooted in the grime-y sonic sludge of the Ty Segall/Meatbodies/Mikal Cronin set. It would have been fine to have regarded Wand as yet another good band living under the punk-y parasol of the neo-psych-garage revolution. But Plum has separated them completely from the fray. —Ryan J. Prado

Shilpa Ray: Door Girl
Rating: 8.3
With her commanding presence and a penchant for spectacle, punk Shilpa Ray is a perfect fit for the job of assessing life in New York City. The title makes reference to the time she spent working the door at Pianos on the Lower East Side. The album finds Shilpa Ray struggling to make ends meet and hold onto her humanity. She does so with humility, humor and punk roar to be reckoned with. —Ian Thomas

Rust Dust: Diviners and Shivs
Rating: 8.2
Jason Stutts, aka Rust Dust, just can’t keep from crying. On his new album, the South Carolina singer-songwriter struggles with pain, heartache and redemption, spinning modern tales of the world heard through the historical filter of vintage Americana music. Through traditional gospel and folk covers and his original work, Rust Dust leads the listener through spirited stories of drugs, guns, loneliness and love. —Emily Reily

BEST SONGS
Angel Olsen: ‘Special’
Olsen is preparing to release a collection of B-sides and rarities called Phases on Nov. 10, and the first taste is “Special,” to say the least. On this reverb-drenched unreleased song from the My Woman sessions, she laments: “Too many like us run out of the steeple / guess you could say I’ve lost some faith in people.” —Matthew Oshinsky

Brian Owens: ‘Cry, Cry, Cry’
Back in May, Owens and the band teamed up with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra for an evening of music called “The Soul of Cash: A Tribute to the Music of Johnny Cash,” part of a series that pays tribute to the legends of soul and gospel. It went so well, he decided to make a whole album of Cash songs. “Cry, Cry, Cry” beautifully illuminates parallels between country and gospel. —Hilary Saunders

Gregg Kowalsky: ‘L’Ambience, L’Orange’
This L.A. composer is prepping L’Orange, his first solo album in eight years, and it couldn’t come at better time. The long drones and fluttering, Terry Riley-like melodies are a great backdrop for soulful rumination or watching the natural world shift and sway as the cold weather starts to creep in. And when the political landscape starts to get a little too much to bear, it’s a great soundtrack to drown out the cacophony of hot takes and raw nerves. —Robert Ham

PASTE STUDIO
The Barr Brothers
The Montreal folk-rockers visited the Studio on Wednesday to play songs from their forthcoming album, Queens of the Breakers, and dove right in to the swirling, elegant title track.

Banda Magda
This New York quintet combines South American rhythms with jazz improvisation, cinematic arranging, mid-century classics, and world “chansons” sung in six languages. On Monday, frontwoman Magda Giannikou and five-string bassist Andres Rotmistrovsky filled the Studio with sound.

Handful of Keys
Jazz at Lincoln Center’s in-house label, Blue Engine Records, just released this recorded tribute to jazz piano, with a handful of virtuosos paying tribute to Fats Waller, Thelonious Monk and others. Paste welcomed two of those performers, Isaiah J. Robinson and Helen Sung, for a masterclass on piano. Watch Sung’s stunning rendition of McCoy Tyner’s “Four by Five.”

FEATURES
Steve Martin Talks About His New Album and How He Tells Stories in Song
Every song on Steve Martin’s new album, The Long Awaited Album, which is out Friday on Rounder Records, is credited to both Martin and The Steep Canyon Rangers, and it’s clear that many of the musical garnishes—the outsize bass and drums on “All Night Long,” the racing mandolins and fiddles on “Office Supplies”—come courtesy of the deeply versatile Rangers. But the album stands apart from the bluegrass of yore thanks to Martin’s predictably inventive and vivid lyrics, as much as to his work on the banjo. He spoke with Paste about how The Long Awaited Album came together, and where he sees bluegrass headed. —Joshua Miller

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Watch a Young Bruce Springsteen Play Songs That Were Left Off ‘Darkness on the Edge of Town’
On Sept. 20, 1978, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band were about halfway through their grueling 151-show Darkness on the Edge of Town tour when they played the second of three nights at the Capitol Theatre in Passaic, N.J. This hometown stretch would go down in history among the greatest performances of Springsteen’s career, with a besotted local crowd savoring every note and word of the anthemic music overflowing from 1975’s Born to Run and Darkness, which had just come out in June. Watch this rare footage of the Boss at his performing peak. —Matthew Oshinsky

Rufus Wainwright Is Going to Cuba Before It’s Too Late
Rufus Wainwright  is traveling to Cuba for four days and nights, from Sept. 21 to Sept. 25, and inviting fans to share the culture with him via “Wainwright Libre: Rufus in Havana.” Paste recently caught up with the 44-year-old singer/songwriter to discuss his inspiration for the trip, his love of Cuban culture and why it’s important for Americans to “keep a dialogue going” with the country. —Bonnie Stiernberg

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