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

There’s only one more week of summer, which is bad if you like swimming pools but good if you like music. A flurry of new tunes arrived this week, and even more good stuff is on the way later this month. This week saw new singles from three of our favorite band-members-turned-soloists—Kurt Vile, Rostam Batmanglij and Adrianne Lenker—and excellent new albums from folks like Ruston Kelly and The Holydrug Couple. Two great New York City-based bands stopped by the Paste studios, and we were treated to features about St. Paul & the Broken Bones, Jessica Hopper’s new book and the sticky situation with the Orwells. You can check it all out below.

BEST ALBUMS

The Holydrug Couple: Hyper Super Mega

The new album by The Holydrug Couple, the decade-old musical project of Chilean musicians Ives Sepúlveda Minho and Manuel Parra, addresses the constant distractions of the world, whether they be technological, cultural or economical. According to a press release, the band was wandering with a sense of haphazardness, so instead they turned the loud world that caused their mental burnout into their inspiration.The record’s swirling layers of guitars, bass, vocals, percussion and synths are very dense, which works to both their advantage and disadvantage. The title track bursts with diverse, bright sounds, but “Ikebana Telephone Line” feels claustrophobic with its vocals overshadowed. As for the record’s instrumental interludes, “Lucifer’s Coat” charms with its clash of Medieval keys and electro beats, but the sci-fi flick vibe of “Western Shade” feels misplaced, as epic as it sounds. —Lizzie Manno

Ruston Kelly: Dying Star

Ruston Kelly’s debut full-length Dying Star isn’t the best album anyone will release in 2018. It isn’t even the best album his own household will release in 2018. That title goes to his wife, Kacey Musgraves, for her stunning Golden Hour. But Dying Star is a very impressive effort from Kelly, a heretofore little-known Nashville singer-songwriter with a perfectly fine-grit voice and a gift for pairing heavy lyrics with remarkably graceful melodies. Evidence of both appears all over the album, revealing an artist who is not only ready for a slice of the spotlight, but also capable of his own crossover someday.—Ben Salmon

BEST SONGS

Kurt Vile : Bassackwards

Vile recorded “Bassackwards” with engineer and producer Shawn Everett at The Beer Hole in Los Angeles, and his Bottle It In bio describes the track as “the album’s beating heart and Vile’s most compelling evocation of how he sees the world.” Vile is of two minds—and sometimes none at all—on the song, singing, “I was on the beach but / I was thinking about the bay / got to the bay but by then I was far away,” over dreamy backmasked guitars and gentle acoustic strums. The polarized instrumentation fits perfectly with the song’s refusal to settle on one direction—”Bassackwards” moves two ways at once, leaving us wondering which way is true North, or if there even is one.—Scott Russell

Rostam: In A River

Rostam Batmanglij is a man of his word: The Grammy-winning multi-instrumentalist who first came to fame as a member of Vampire Weekend recently teased the impending release of the first single from his forthcoming second solo album, and said single has indeed arrived. “In A River” is Rostam’s first new music since the September 2017 release of his acclaimed solo debut Half-Light, though the details of his follow-up album remain mostly under wraps. “In A River” opens only with bright mandolin chords and the idyllic intimacy evoked by Rostam’s vocals (“Slide into the cool mud / Underneath the pines / Somewhere to your right or left / Is my body you can find”), which are soon joined in the chorus by a thumping 808 beat. Like its eponymous body of water, the song slows and speeds at intervals, contracting and expanding its instrumental palette in a way that feels as unknowable as nature. The song’s core sentiment is as simple as its instrumentation is complex: “We are swimming / with no clothes on / in a river in the dark,” Rostam sings. “And I am holding / onto you, boy / in the faint light of the stars.”—Scott Russell

Adrianne Lenker: symbol

Lenker’s new single features the same breathy, close-mic’d vocals that fans of her work with Big Thief have come to love. But where Big Thief’s instrumentals are given space to sprawl, the guitar here is a densely knotted acoustic finger-picking figure with the faintest of motorik backbeats that Lenker rides through crest and valley alike. The end result is something hermetic, a hymnal that belongs more to the confession booth than the church altar.—Justin Kamp

PASTE STUDIO

Loudon Wainwright III

The patriarch of one of the most impressive musical families shared a song about being the patriarch of said family, along with several streaming-related jokes, along with his ever-incisive and relevant folk songs about our embarrassment of a president and our place in the universe.

Future Generations

Future Generations are releasing their sophomore LP this week, Landscape, the follow-up to their 2016 self-titled debut. The indie pop band swung by the Paste Studio to play three songs from the record, which is out now: “Caught Me By Surprise,” “Landscape” and “Suddenly.”

Lawrence

From Brooklyn, N.Y., Lawrence brought their jazzy brand of soul pop to the Paste Studio this week ahead of their new album’s release. They played three tracks from the new record,—Living Room, which is out today (Friday, Sept. 14)—”Probably Up,” “Make a Move” and “The Heartburn Song.”

FEATURES

Chicago Is Not Letting The Orwells Happen Again

There are plenty of reasons why we shouldn’t be surprised by the stories about the Orwells, but we can still be disheartened, because while the abusers may be gone from the public eye, the music scene they preyed upon is still here, left wondering how this happened, and what to do next. The story doesn’t end with the accusations. There’s still work to be done, trust to be regained, and a community to rebuild. In Chicago, the rebuilding is being done by the same group of women who first brought the accusations against the Orwells to light.—Justin Kamp

Jessica Hopper’s Night Moves is a Love Letter to Chicago’s Music Scene and The City’s Vivid Glimmers and Faults

Jessica Hopper’s forthcoming music memoir, Night Moves, available on Sept. 18, chronicles her time in Chicago where she was ingrained in the city’s underground music scene through her work as a music writer, DJ, occasional musician and as a general lover and consumer of music, enthralled with live shows and possessing a freedom that fed her boundless musical curiosity. Throughout the book, she embarks on a series of adventures (and misadventures), most often at night, under the glow of streetlamps, perched on top of a bike, with youthful invincibility and a like-minded group of friends she would do anything for. The book is a collection of personal journal entries from the mid to late ‘00s, many of them from her fanzines and blogs and taking place in punk houses, warehouse parties and other peculiar backdrops, though notably, these entries aren’t in chronological order.—Lizzie Manno

St. Paul & The Broken Bones Merge Fiction and Reality

St. Paul & The Broken Bones’ third full-length record, Young Sick Camellia is many things. It’s Paul Janeway’s self-reflective concept album, a disco experiment (the results of which are readily discernible on its juicy centerpiece, “GotItBad”) and the first record in a planned three-part series about Janeway’s family. It’s also something of a spoken-word manifesto via his late grandfather, whose voice tracks the album’s four interludes. Young Sick Camellia, whose title is a reference to Alabama’s state flower, was originally slated as the first in a trilogy of EPs, but after a lot of troubleshooting in the studio, the project bloomed into a full-length album.—Ellen Johnson

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