The Week In Music: The Best Songs, Albums, Performances and More

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The Week In Music: The Best Songs, Albums, Performances and More

This week’s best new music includes the biting psych-metal of Oh Sees, the swirling rock melancholia of Lala Lala, the shining Americana of Amanda Shires, the intimate folk-pop of boygenius and more. Speaking of boygenius, the powerhouse supergroup was born this week featuring Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus—and frankly, we are not worthy.

BEST ALBUMS

Oh Sees: Smote Reverser

The word smote is the past tense of smite: to hit, to strike, to attack. If there’s one thing the latest album from the latest incarnation of John Dwyer’s Oh Sees does, it’s that—smiting and smoting all over the goddamn place. But while there’s always an attack, an aggression, a precision to every second of Smote Reverser, the psych-rock turned every-genre-imaginable outfit explore all kinds of territory over the album’s 11 tracks, as variable takes on ‘70s prog rock and proto-metal morph into Dwyer’s own unpredictable brand of acid-rock-free-jazz-fusion. —Madison Desler

Amanda Shires: To The Sunset

Along with nine new songs on Amanda Shires’ latest album lurks an older gem. “Swimmer” is a reworked version of a tune she first recorded on her 2010 album Carrying Lightning. It’s also the throughline that belies all the buzz about how To the Sunset represents a radical departure for Shires. Really, her new album is the expansive next step she’s been working toward all along. It’s not that To the Sunset finds Shires wandering further—it’s that she’s digging deeper, with the same diligence and abundance of talent she’s been drawing from all along. —Eric R. Danton

BEST SONGS

boygenius: Bite The Hand

The good people at Matador Records have finally pulled back the curtain on the new supergroup made up of Lucy Dacus, Julien Baker and Phoebe Bridgers. “Bite The Hand” is Dacus’ chance to shine, an unflinching declaration of independence that would have fit right in on Historian. What sets it apart from her solo work, however, is its choruses, on which Dacus, Baker and Bridgers harmonize to drop-dead gorgeous and increasingly powerful effect, warning an unwanted partner, “I can’t love you how you want me to.” The song closes on their voices, with nothing but bare conviction against the silence. —Scott Russell

Lala Lala: Water Over Sex

The song is a woozy end-of-summer jam, driven by flanged guitar lines and singer Lillie West’s hazy, submerged vocals. The song is thick with that feeling of being submerged, or perhaps teetering on the edge of being overwhelmed. “You think I’m good, well I’m soil in a sifter,” West sings. “A stone won’t fall through, it just keeps getting thicker.” The track is off their forthcoming sophomore album The Lamb, out Sept. 28 through Hardly Art. —Justin Kamp

PASTE STUDIO

Gold Connections

Charlottesville, Va. indie rockers Gold Connections, the solo project of singer-songwriter Will Marsh, released their debut LP, Popular Fiction, this summer via EggHunt Records. The band stopped by the The Daytrotter Studios to play some new songs off their latest release.

Papercuts

San Francisco dream pop band Papercuts are due to release their new album, Parallel Universe Blues, on Oct.19 through Slumberland Records. Frontman Jason Robert Quever and co. came into the Paste Studio to perform tracks from their forthcoming record like “How to Quit Smoking” and “Laughing Man.”

FEATURES

Amanda Shires: A Poet, a Fiddle and a Party

Amanda Shires wrote the bulk of her new album, To The Sunset, in a closet, on the floor, armed only with her journal, a paper shredder, an autoharp—a petite, triangular chordophone famously wielded by June Carter—and quasi-invisibility. As long as she stayed in the closet, which she often did for 10 and 12 hours at a time, she could evade distraction. The closet’s ear-expanding powers worked wonders for Shires’ fifth studio album—perhaps her sharpest, most illuminating yet in 32 minutes of southern rock swagger, new-age fiddle and deeply affective anecdotes on motherhood, relationships and dancing through dark times. —Ellen Johnson

The Curmudgeon: How an English Song about an English Motorcycle Became an American Classic

Thompson, a huge fan of older American music, had deliberately set out to write a song about an outlaw who rides a motorcycle rather than a horse—and to make the story as British as possible. The motorcycles mentioned aren’t American models but British: Vincents, Nortons and Greeves; the only place name in the song is Box Hill, a summit in Surrey’s North Downs and a popular cycling destination. McCoury changed the journey’s destination to Knoxville, but he left the names of the motorcycles alone—Harleys are never mentioned—and yet the song has become a bluegrass classic. —Geoffrey Himes

The 15 New Liverpool Bands You Need to Know in 2018

Liverpool, England has become synonymous with The Beatles, but that’s just the beginning. Gerry and the Pacemakers, Echo and the Bunnymen, The Teardrop Explodes, A Flock of Seagulls, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, The La’s, The Coral and so many others have called the city home. Merseyside venues like The Cavern Club and Eric’s became cultural hubs during the city’s lively Merseybeat, punk and post-punk scenes. The ’90s brought Britpop bands like Cast and The Boo Radleys while the ’00s saw the success of rock groups like The Zutons and The Wombats. To catch you up to speed with all the exciting music coming from one of the world’s most celebrated music cities, here are 15 new Liverpool bands you should know. —Lizzie Manno

Rubblebucket Talk Through Their Joyous New Breakup Album, Sun Machine

Despite making a new album full of joyful, sparkly pop zest, Rubblebucket have had to overcome several tough personal hurdles these last few years. The Brooklyn-based experimental pop and dance funk duo has experienced an unusual number of life-changing experiences in a very short period of time. Band members Kalmia Traver and Alex Toth were romantic partners for 11 years, but their relationship came to a grinding halt amidst Traver’s ovarian cancer diagnosis and Toth’s fight against alcoholism. But their troubles didn’t keep them away from music for long. After taking time to get healthy and sort themselves out, they knew they wanted to remain friends and that their musical journey together wasn’t over. —Lizzie Manno

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