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

Let's review: Langhorne Slim, Superchunk, Blitzen Trapper, The Clash and lots more.

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

Here at Paste, we had the fantastic Lost at Last Vol. 1 by Langhorne Slim (pictured above) on heavy rotation this week, with breaks here and there to absorb Angel Olsen’s new rarities collection, plus great new songs by Superchunk, Joanne Pollock and Drive-By Truckers. We also hosted a slew of inspiring live sessions in our New York studio, and talked to Jessie Ware and Evanescence’s Amy Lee about their new music. Catch up with Paste’s favorite albums, songs, live performances and feature stories of the past five days.

BEST ALBUMS
Langhorne Slim: Lost at Last Vol. 1
Cat Stevens once said, “I let my music take me where my heart wants to go”—an idea that inspired Langhorne Slim (real name Sean Scolnick), and lies at the center of his new album. The conviction of the message is bolstered by the music—mandolin, stand-up bass and backing vocals from real, live humans—but also spelled-out explicitly in lyrics like “Let’s fall in love with our telephones off” (“Never Break”) and “What a gift it is just to be still” (“Bluebird”). It’s all supported by a through-line of warm, cozy production that imbues the album with a pleasant nostalgia, the kind we’ve come to expect from Slim and his reworking of dug-in American genres like folk, country and blues. —Madison Desler

Angel Olsen: Phases
Angel Olsen’s legion of fervid fans has steadily grown with each subsequent release, a trajectory that mirrors the evolution of her sound—and the size of her band—from the stark, indie-folk of 2012’s Strange Cacti, to the expansive, swirling soundscapes of last year’s My Woman. It’s this moment, plus a nonstop year on the road, that’s created the opportune time for Olsen to release Phases, an album of b-sides and home demos from the past several years of her flowering career. As wide-ranging in feeling as it is in recording style, Phases serves as more material for rabid fans, but also a comprehensive sampler of Olsen’s discography for newbies. —Madison Desler

Shamir: Revelations
After making a splash with his debut LP, Ratchet, Las Vegas musician Shamir (real name Shamir Bailey) experienced what, from the outside, looked like a dream scenario of overnight success. His album was critically acclaimed, he was signed to one of the most well-respected labels around (XL) and he had his face on a Times Square billboard. But he wasn’t happy, spending what should have been his victory lap feeling like an imposter. While bedroom indie-rock is a beast Shamir has yet to master, it’s Revelations’s message of survival and optimism that sticks with you. And so one hopes Shamir finds his way, fully realizing the album’s flashes of greatness. —Madison Desler

BEST SONGS
Superchunk: ‘What a Time to Be Alive’
Superchunk  released a song for charity in October, but beyond that, they’ve stayed clear of the radar, save for their plans to release new album What a Time to Be Alive on Feb. 16 via Merge. The name of the new album, as well as the title track, came from the post-apocalyptic embers of last year’s election cycle, spurring band members Mac McCaughan, Laura Ballance, Jim Wilbur and Jon Wurster to close the gaps between albums (they recorded What a Time to Be Alive almost entirely between November 2016 and February 2017). —Hannah Fleming

Joanne Pollock: ‘Carnival’
A couple of years ago, when Canadian producer/artist Joanne Pollock was working on the material that would become her debut full-length, Stranger, she found herself, as she puts it, “at one of the lowest points in my life,” and decided to write the song “Carnival” to speak to that nadir. It’s not the usual subject matter for a song, but it’s something that so many of us can relate to: that feeling of rootlessness and despair that gets projected onto another person or place. So much of Pollock’s electronic pop follows a similar tack, tapping into something universal through a prismatic yet personal lens. —Robert Ham

Drive-By Truckers: ‘The Perilous Night’
Patterson Hood  and company are picking up where their acclaimed 2016 album American Band left off, airing their political grievances in a scathing new single, “The Perilous Night.” The song will be released as a limited-edition 7-inch with “What It Means (Live at Newport Folk Festival),” which is exactly what it sounds like. Hood described the band’s undaunted new single as “the darkest song I’ve ever written.”

PASTE STUDIO
Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams
Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams have been called the First Couple of Americana ever since they embarked on their own recording and touring journey after decades of marriage and seven years working closely with the late Levon Helm—Campbell as bandleader and producer (for which he won three Grammys), and Williams as singer. The couple’s new album, Contraband Love, follows the duo’s critically lauded 2015 debut LP. The songwriting has taken a darker turn, with three of the eight new tunes exploring themes surrounding addiction, but the musicianship and passion is as strong as ever.

Blitzen Trapper
The the songs on Blitzen Trapper’s new album, Wild and Reckless, served as the soundtrack for a musical production the band staged earlier this year in their hometown of Portland, Ore. They weaved a full set of songs amid bits of storytelling courtesy of bandleader Eric Earley and performances from the professional actors who made up the cast. The resulting album tells the story of two sci-fi kids as they navigate a futuristic vision of Portland’s past, combining a set of unreleased songs with staples from the Blitzen Trapper oeuvre, including “Black River Killer” (from Furr) and “Astronaut” (from 2010’s American Goldwing).

The Coronas
Irish rockers The Coronas formed as teenagers back in 2003 and have enjoyed a steady upward trajectory ever since, leading up to Trust the Wire, their fifth album and first on their own imprint, So Far So Good Records. The album explores age-old themes of disappointment and disillusionment, sometimes at the hands of the fickle music industry, and features the band’s trademark soaring vocals, driving guitar rhythms and pointed, sometimes poignant lyrics.

FEATURES
The 10 Best Songs About the End of the World
The 10 best songs about the apocalypse aren’t all about nuclear war, but with certifiable psychos now in charge of North Korea AND the United States, it does seem like the subject du jour. And not coincidentally, they were all written and recorded between 1963 and 1987—right in the pocket of Cold War paranoia. Some look ahead to it, others look back on it. Some get all patronizing about it. A few say, “bring it.” Of course, in this modern age of ever more destructive floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, rising tides and forest fires, the odds seem stacked against us like never before, even if it’s just us humans complacently choking the life out of Mother Nature. So let’s get this list out of the way before it’s too late. —Matthew Oshinsky

Evanescence’s Amy Lee Chats About Synthesis, Performs a Solo ‘Good Enough’
Evanescence are back—again. Six years since their last album and 14 since their Grammy-winning breakthrough Fallen, the Southern gothic returned this week with their most unusual project to date: Synthesis, an album featuring orchestral arrangements of some of their best-known and most-loved songs, with Amy Lee’s unmistakable voice out front as always. “That is the basic idea of the title of everything: Synthesis,” said Lee, who joined Paste at Steinway Hall in Manhattan for an exclusive listen to Synthesis. “Those two seemingly opposite things married together in a very beautiful way, where it’s not about contrast, but about them actually working together.” Watch Lee talk about the album and perform “Good Enough” on piano. —Claire Greising

Jessie Ware’s ‘Glasshouse’ Is Stronger Than Ever
There was a recent period when the British chanteuse Jessie Ware believed that she’d lost her mojo. So much so that her producer, Benny Blanco, after scanning the early tracks she’d composed for her new third album, Glasshouse, had to sit his protégé down and tell her that he just didn’t hear the magic that had rippled through her 2012 debut, Devotion. “Write what you know” became the mantra, and she began to find inspiration in her new life as a mother. What she arrived at with Glasshouse is a reflective, no-holds-barred confessional that, through careful song sequencing, unwinds the saga of parenthood and all of its attendant pleasures and pitfalls. —Tom Lanham

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