After the tragic death of Tom Petty last week, we really needed music to lift us back up this week, and man, did it ever. It’s not often you get new music by Beck, St. Vincent, Courtney Barnett, Kurt Vile and Sufjan Stevens all in one week, so we’re thinking of it as a cosmic rebound from the sadness we’d been feeling. Paste hosted some of its finest Studio sessions in a while, with exclusive live performances by Nai Palm (pictured), Chicano Batman, RAC and more, and we also explored the exploding music scene in Detroit and celebrated Thelonious Monk’s centennial. Catch up with our favorite albums, songs, live performances and feature stories of the past five days.
King Krule: The Ooz
Archy Marshall’s debut album as King Krule, 6 Feet, was a profound creative statement, belying his unassuming appearance and youth. So his second record, The Ooz, comes with expectations, however unfair. But he more than rises to the occasion. Partly due to Marshall’s incredibly low register, songs on The Ooz take on frightful undertones, as howls and shrieks are riddled atop meditative musical ambience, like a Lynchian fever dream. —Ryan J. Prado
Kurt Vile & Courtney Barnett: Lotta Sea Lice
In a year fraught with emotional intensity and existential drama, the lighthearted Lotta Sea Lice is a welcome change of pace. Rooted in the artists’ mutual admiration, the album finds the Aussie Barnett and American Vile celebrating one another in a way that highlights increasingly revealed common ground. What began as an idea for a split single evolved into a full-length, and that evolution is on full display on Lotta Sea Lice. The duo’s piecemeal approach to recording—eight days in the studio over almost 15 months—is heard in the uneven final product, but what the album lacks in structural consistency it repays in undeniable chemistry. —Ian Thomas
Over the course of Beck’s 25-year career, he’s tapped into a multitude of styles, including lo-fi avant-garde, country, alt-rock, hip-hop, funk, orchestral, and singer/songwriter. It’s only fitting, then, that his latest collection, Colors, reveals yet another persona. True to its name, it’s a jovial psychedelic mixture of ‘60s rock, ‘80s synth pop and modern electronic that, like many of its predecessors, finds Beck channeling the current musical zeitgeist while also maintaining his trademark sensibilities and personality. Although it’s sustained templates make it a tad repetitious overall, it’s still a very pleasing, cohesive and imaginative sequence. —Jordan Blum
Gabrielle Papillon: Keep The Fire
Having released five wonderful studio albums over the last 15 years, Gabrielle Papillon stands alongside artists like Greg Laswell, Tori Amos, Ben Folds and Joanna Newsom as one of today’s best singer/songwriters. Indeed, her mixture of sweetly cautious singing, graceful lyricism, and sophisticated folk/rock tapestries makes her a highly distinctive, moving, and consistent creator. In other words, hers is a sound of bittersweet, luscious empowerment, and her latest offering, Keep the Fire, is her greatest observation yet. Filled with both charming introspections and catchy outcries—all of which are delivered via engrossing, ambitious and dynamic arrangements—it’s a true gem in the genre. —Jordan Blum
Sufjan Stevens: ‘Wallowa Lake Monster’
Carrie & Lowell was a huge addition to Sufjan Stevens’s catalog in 2015, so it’s no surprise that he’s revisiting the record to compile the outtakes, remixes and demos. Aptly named The Greatest Gift, Stevens’s new compilation will be out Nov. 24, and lead single “Wallowa Lake Monster” ripples into a medley of breathy vocalizations and echoes of whomping horns, making up seven minutes of ethereal contemplation. —Lisa Nguyen
Hound: ‘Welcome to the Land of Bad Magic’
Hound brings forth a massive sound that boils heavy rock down to its meatiest, most throbbing essentials. The members clearly have the abilities to get virtuosic, but prefer to keep things simple. “Welcome to the Land of Bad Magic,” the penultimate track on their forthcoming album Born Under 76, showcases a psyched-out sound that would make a nice soundtrack for a fantasy-world battle between good and evil or just some fine background music for sharing a blunt with your buddies. —Robert Ham
St. Vincent: ‘Pills’
is essentially gifting her heart to the world with her intoxicating new album MASSEDUCTION, which comes out Friday. On third single “Pills,” Annie Clark chants medicated verses in the tune of a whimsical jingle about drug dependency, culminating with a bluesy, decelerated outro that evokes a comedown. Clark enlisted a star-studded team to back her up on the track: Cara Delevingne and Jenny Lewis on vocals, Kamasi Washington on saxophone and beat production from Sounwave. —Lisa Nguyen
The ridiculously talented Hiatus Kaiyote frontwoman is stepping out with her solo debut, Needle Paw, which strips away much of the band’s lush future-soul instrumentation in favor of a guitar and a voice. Watch her cover Jimi Hendrix’s “Have You Ever Been (To Electric Ladyland).”
Chicano Batman mix psychedelic soul, funk, tropicalia, and oldies on their new album, Freedom Is Free, and it not only foregrounds the soul and R&B elements of the band’s sound, but speaks volumes in this political climate. Watch the band play the title track from the album.
Andre Anjos started out as a professional remixer whose electro interpretations of tracks by The Shins, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Weezer and others often rivaled the originals. Now his group, RAC, mixes programmed beats and synths with folky guitars and harmonies for a warm, enveloping sound.
In Detroit, Artists Rebuild with the City or Get Squeezed Out
If there’s been one constant in Detroit through its many transitions, it has been artists. Detroit has been a relatively affordable place to live for creative souls, reflecting its people’s hustle to endure. The city’s music, in particular, has broadcast that resilience to the world: Motown in the 1960s; the proto-punk of the Stooges and the MC5 in the ‘70s; the hugely influential Detroit techno scene in the ‘80s; the garage-rock revival led by The White Stripes and the mainstream rap domination enacted by Eminem in the late ‘90s and early 21st century. Now as the city rises again, its artists find themselves in a volatile position: rise with it, or be squeezed out. —Adrian Spinelli
Celebrating 100 Years of Thelonious Monk: Listen to a Rare Recording From 1959
Tuesday marked the centennial of the birth of pianist Thelonious Monk (1917-82), one of the most idiosyncratic stylists and influential composers in the annals of jazz. His staggering output includes several tunes that are regarded as foundations for the music that followed—”’Round Midnight,” “Blue Monk,” “Straight No Chaser,” “Epistrophy,” “Pannonica” and “Bemsha Swing,” to name just a few. To celebrate Monk’s 100th birthday, we dug into the Paste Vault, which includes the archives of the Newport Jazz and Folk festivals, and emerged with his breathtaking performance at the 1959 Newport Jazz Festival. Listen here. —Paste Staff
The 15 Best Iron & Wine Songs
In August, Sam Beam released his sixth LP, Beast Epic, as Iron & Wine. This week, the full-band version of his project sets out on tour with two sold out dates at Thalia Hall in Chicago. From there, Iron & Wine traverses North America through November, before jetting to Scandinavia, Europe and the United Kingdom in early 2018. With this worldwide tour kicking off soon, we decided to take a look at the best Iron & Wine songs (excluding collaborations with Calexico, Ben Bridwell of Band of Horses, Jesca Hoop and others). —Hilary Saunders