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

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

As always, it’s been a good week for music. This week will see the release of the final album by the late producer and musician Richard Swift. This week also brought new albums from Darren Jessee and Drive-By Truckers’ Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley as well as bright new singles from Miya Folick and Kate Teague. Check out the best of Paste’s music section this week below.

BEST ALBUMS

Darren Jessee: The Jane, Room 217

The solo debut from Ben Folds Five drummer Darren Jessee seems like it could get snapped in two if handled too roughly or blown halfway around the world if hit by a strong gust of wind. The 47-year-old musician plays and sings with the delicacy of a glass figurine or a thin sheet of rice paper. A far cry from the maximalist pop of his band Hotel Lights and the bombast of BFF. As it becomes more clear that Jessee is singing, primarily, about love and heartbreak, the weight of The Jane, Room 217 becomes almost too much to bear. He often directs those messages to some unnamed person in his life dealing with an emotional trauma, giving listeners a glimpse of the details but more often using his platform as singer-songwriter to urge them forward. The last two songs on the album, in particular, are like salves placed on the burned spirit of someone emerge from the wreckage of a relationship. Jessee allows us space to let the tears flow and not avoid the darkness. “Let the healing begin,” he sings, with hushed fortitude on “Go On Baby Break Down.” It’s good advice made all the more poignant by the soft musical cushion it is laid upon. —Robert Ham

Adam’s House Cat: Town Burned Down

Drive-By Truckers have always been a political band, an enlightened stab at Southern rock and a socially aware take on country, but they haven’t always been the Drive-By Truckers. Before moving to Athens, Ga., frontmen Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley, along with drummer Chuck Tremblay, were making music in a then-sleepy Muscle Shoals, Ala., as Adam’s House Cat, named for the quirky southern colloquialism, “I wouldn’t know him from Adam’s house cat.” It’s a miracle this album ever secured a release—one iteration of the record was destroyed in a tornado in 2011, and Tremblay nearly died in a heart attack in 2017. Despite all the odds, this almost 30-year-old record is making its long overdue debut, and Southern rock is better for it. While Drive-By Truckers would later go on to speak for a sea of voices, Adam’s House Cat were mainly concerned with amplifying their own. Town Burned Down is a record made possible by youthful anger, but it’s not too hot-headed for its own good. Had this album been released in 1990 following its original recording, I reckon it would have a place among the decade’s best country-adjacent albums. —Ellen Johnson

BEST TRACKS

Richard Swift: Sept20

Richard Swift’s final album, The Hex, drops tomorrow, Sept. 21 through Secretly Canadian. Swift, a longtime collaborator of The Shins, The Black Keys and more, died in July at the age of 41. Listening to Swift’s final song, “Sept20,” is an experience in epiphany. It goes something like this: You listen to the song, a vaguely melancholy piano ditty elevated by Swift’s eerie falsetto, and maybe you feel a bit thrown off by the show tunes-y chorus. You might puzzle over where you’ve heard his name before. The first realization comes with seeing that today is Sept. 20, and that this song is supposed to be some microcosm of today. Then you see the single artwork, a scrawled note, and as you read along, you find Swift speaking the words into being. There’s scratches, cross-outs. It’s his lyric sheet. —Justin Kamp

Miya Folick: Stop Talking

Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter Miya Folick has shared the details of her debut album, Premonitions, out on Oct. 26 via Terrible Records and Interscope. Her debut album will follow two EPs, 2015’s Strange Darling and 2017’s Give It To Me. She previously released two singles from her forthcoming album, “Stock Image” and “Deadbody.” The album was recorded in Los Angeles and was co-produced by Justin Raisen (Charli XCX, Angel Olsen). Thursday, she dropped another new track and video from her album, “Stop Talking.” The track is a bubbly pop track, laced with funky guitars, silvery synths and Folick’s spirited, heavenly pipes. The track is a triumphant pop wake-up call that’s best suited for dancing late at night with a few of your closest girlfriends (or as an elaborately choreographed dance routine, as shown in the song’s video). These three album tracks prove Folick is firmly next in line for pop stardom with her rare, innate vocal talent, unforgettable melodies and painfully relatable, timely lyrics. —Lizzie Manno

Kate Teague: Gilly

Kate Teague’s debut album won’t arrive until 2019, but the indie singer-songwriter out of Oxford, Miss., is sowing the seeds of a standout release, the latest of which is her heartwarming new single “Gilly.” The deeply personal track finds Teague reaching out to console a loved one, doing her best to be there for her from afar. Teague sings softly over a bright, yet restless lead guitar line that roams both high and low, not unlike the peaks and valleys of a life. She reassures her heartbroken sibling that the best is yet to come, promising, “Gilly, you’ll be alright / Let it end / Don’t let your willful heart win / Tomorrow’s man will be all in.” The song is a moving attempt to bridge the kind of gap that can’t help but exist between two adults, with Teague reminding the song’s namesake that when she needs a loving sister to lean on, there’s no distance too far. —Scott Russell

BEST PERFORMANCES

Cory Wong
Vulfpeck collaborator and all-around goofball Cory Wong released his second solo LP last month, a follow-up to 2017’s Cory Wong and the Green Screen Band. It’s called The Optimist, which seems an appropriate title for music so effortlessly cheery. Wong and his talented crew swung by the Paste Studios in New York City on Thursday to play three tracks from the record, but their set morphed into a full-blown jam session, complete with plenty of bandmate banter and jazzy undertones. —Ellen Johnson

Joyce Manor

California pop-punk outfit Joyce Manor will release their fifth album, Million Dollars to Kill Me via Epitaph this Friday. The band came to the Paste Studio to play six songs—”Think I’m Still in Love With You,” “Million Dollars to Kill Me,” “Wildflowers,” “Fuck Koalacaust,” “Chumped” and “5 Beer Plan.”

The Joy Formidable

Welsh alternative trio The Joy Formidable are set to release their fourth studio album next week, AAARTH. The band stopped by the Paste Studio to perform four tracks—”The Wrong Side,” “Dance of the Lotus,” “Little Blimp” and “The Better Me.”

FEATURES

The 50 Best Supergroup Albums of All Time

When Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus announced that they’d recorded an EP together under the supergroup name Boygenius, we were thrilled. There’s something intriguing about seeing some of your favorite artists combine their talents into something new. The following list looks at the history of the supergroup, from Cream and Crosby, Stills & Nash in the 1960s to last month’s Big Red Machine. We chose a single album from each supergroup—defined as a band featuring two or more established musicians. Compiling this list of the best supergroup albums, we realized that some musicians are habitual collaborators (Danger Mouse, Josh Homme, Jack White and Jenny Lewis jump to mind). These albums proved that the whole could be greater (or at least compellingly different) than the sum of its parts. —Josh Jackson

The Myth of Sex, Drugs and Rock ’n’ Roll is Not an Excuse For Being A Terrible Person

While the music world is still yet to have its full-fledged #MeToo moment of reckoning, there have been a few instances where an artist has actually faced consequences as a result of their actions—though unfortunately, nowhere near enough. One of the reasons that rock music’s abusers and harassers remain unscathed is because the myth of sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll is still often seen as an acceptable excuse for this behavior. —Lizzie Manno

Mothers’ Kristine Leschper is a Maker of Many Things

Kristine Leschper is, first and foremost, a maker. She writes poems and lyrics, creates visual art and produces albums, but what she’s really doing is making stuff. And it’s the art of making something—and the feelings tied to that experience—that inspired her latest work, Render Another Ugly Method, the sophomore LP from Leschper’s band Mothers, which is out now. —Ellen Johnson

15 Washington D.C. Bands You Need To Know in 2018

Washington, D.C., is one of the most influential music cities in the country, especially for hardcore and punk music. Its famous hardcore scene flourished in the ’80s thanks to independent labels like Dischord Records and bands like Bad Brains, Teen Idles, Minor Threat and The Faith. Home to venues like the 9:30 Club, The Anthem and Black Cat, the District of Columbia is still a hub of rock music, particularly with its DIY punk and indie-rock circles. Paste chose 15 new bands from the city to prove just how tight-knit and talented D.C.’s music scene is. —Lizzie Manno

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