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

This week, the Yeehaw movement persisted. On Monday, Mac DeMarco appeared at Jenny Lewis’ celeb-heavy On The Line shindig in full cowboy attire, only to announce a new album titled Here Comes The Cowboy two days later. He also shared a characteristically chilled-out single called “Nobody” (If you were wondering, Mitski isn’t mad), and its weird-as-hell accompanying music video, in which DeMarco moonlights as a man-lizard-cowboy hybrid. But we liked the song, just one of many great ones (by Bedouine, Kate Teague, Laura Stevenson and more) released this week. In other news, The Black Keys are back, and Vampire Weekend shared the next two singles from Father of The Bride, plus its curiously simplistic cover art. We also rounded up our favorite female friendships in music, just in time for International Women’s Day. You can dig into all the week’s new music and stories below—we hope it’s the yee to your haw.

BEST ALBUMS

The Coathangers: The Devil You Know

There have always been angry women in music, but these days, an album like The Devil You Know feels like dressing a wound on the battlefield—exactly what you need in order to carry on the fight. It is angry but never ugly, melodic without ever being syrupy, addressing gun violence, street harassment and more, all without ever becoming overbearing or preachy. Right off the top, “Bimbo” sets the tone, a hard-candy contrast between guitarist Julie Kugel’s sweeter vocal stylings and Stephanie Luke’s Johnette Napolitano-esque growl. Don’t be fooled by the honey-coated harmonies – these girls are not here to be simply listened to. They’ve got a world to save. More political than party, songs like “Hey Buddy,” mark the girls in a position to use their stage as a soapbox, taking on catcallers, street preachers and the entire lot of people who condemn people for just trying to live their lives, whether they’ve got on a short skirt or are holding hands as a same sex couple. “It ain’t me/it is only your fear.” The Devil You Know is striving to be an an immensely inclusive record; advocating for anyone who needs advocating for, rather than just themselves. Maybe there will be a day when we don’t need songs telling the NRA to “suck my dick.” But until then The Devil You Know masterfully walks the line between politically charged while remaining , perhaps tragically, timeless. But it’s also an immensely listenable album, a fully realized emerging of the band’s true power in crafting edgy, electric songs. —Libby Cudmore

Hand Habits: placeholder

placeholder wishes people were on the same wavelength, but unfortunately, it’s just never that simple. Hand Habits’ second LP sees Meg Duffy illustrating the messiness of relationships—paralyzing emotions, romanticized memories, questions of forgiveness and everything in between. After their self-produced and self-recorded debut album Wildly Idle (Humble Before The Void), the singer/songwriter and former Kevin Morby guitarist brought their second album to a studio with a group of collaborators—giving placeholder more sonic weight. The biggest weight bearers are Duffy’s sweet harmonies and lyrical meditations on queer relationships and the deep human complexities that can make or break any type of relationship. placeholder fills the emotional gaps that so many other relationship records leave untouched. Meg Duffy’s humble, comforting vocals will help cushion the blow that will inevitably come with any relationship, and their poetic aptitude results in a record that’s just as therapeutic and affecting on the written page as it is in sung form. —Lizzie Manno

BEST TRACKS

Mac Demarco:Nobody

Mac DeMarco  is a weirdo through and through, and nothing solidifies it like the video for his lackadaisical new single “Nobody.” Looking like a jaundiced Voldemort or an extra from a particularly low-budget episode of Doctor Who, DeMarco puffs away on a cigar in a white cowboy hat as he sings, “I’m a preacher / A done decision / Another creature / that’s lost its vision.” Our biggest hope is that the young men aping DeMarco’s style with their baseball caps and cigarettes now start assembling their greasy lizard get-ups. “Nobody” is the lead track off DeMarco’s fourth full-length record Here Comes The Cowboy, out on May 10. The titles of his forthcoming project and this latest track may have you thinking of Mitski (“Nobody” preceded her latest album Be The Cowboy), but the songs could not sound more different. DeMarco’s tune has none of the urgency of Mitski’s “Nobody”; like much of his slacker rock, it seems happy to simply be. —Clare Martin

Bedouine:When You’re Gone

Azniv Korkejian has returned to share her first new original music as Bedouine since the summer 2017 release of her acclaimed self-titled debut. Out now on Spacebomb Records, “When You’re Gone” continues the Aleppo-born, Saudi Arabia- and America-raised musician’s collaborative partnership with Gus Seyffert (Beck, Norah Jones, Michael Kiwanuka), who produced the single in his Los Angeles studio. Bedouine shot her “When You’re Gone” video (dir. Tom Salvaggio) in Iceland during annual Reykjavík festival Iceland Airwaves, as well as at Capitol Studios in L.A., where the song’s strings were recorded. The video cuts between those locales while the song evokes the tranquil yearning of a lonely lover: “Drag my finger round the rim / drag around a phantom limb when you’re gone,” Bedouine sings, her delicate vocals and fingerpicked guitar flurries accompanied by orchestral flourishes that lend them a gentle grandeur befitting the video’s breathtaking natural imagery. —Scott Russell

Kate Teague:In Our Element

We’re still waiting for news of Kate Teague’s debut album, but with singles like these, how can we complain? Her latest is “In Our Element,” released via Muscle Beach Records Wednesday ahead of the Oxford, Miss., singer-songwriter’s first SXSW. “In Our Element,” fittingly, finds Teague inhabiting her twang-tinged indie-rock sweet spot, her rhythm guitar subdued and built upon by slow-burning, oft-bent lead notes. “It’s in my head, I’ll push it away / I’m glad to have you here anyway,” she sings. Teague explains that she “wrote this song in response to completely misinterpreting someone’s body language at a series of parties. I began falling in love with the idea that someone was falling in love with me, but I ultimately realized it was all in my head.” —Scott Russell

BEST PERFORMANCES

Yak

British rock trio Yak popped in the Paste Studio in New York City following their recent show at Rough Trade in Brooklyn. The band is promoting their second full-length album, Pursuit of Momentary Happiness, (out now via Third Man Records and Virgin EMI) which Paste featured on our list of 10 Best Albums of February. It serves as the follow-up to 2016’s Alas Salvation, one of the most scorching rock ‘n’ roll debuts to come from the British Isles in quite a while. Frontman Oli Burslem and co. performed three album cuts—”Words Fail Me,” “Layin’ It On The Line” and “Encore.” Electing not to perform any of their rambunctious singles is the kind of bold move that makes Yak so compelling. Throughout the session, Burslem sings into a plastic megaphone—giving off a wonderfully muffled, vintage effect. Before performing their final song “Encore,” Burslem expressed his wish to extend the session into the early hours of the morning. Fittingly, Burslem slightly altered the song’s lyrics to “You gotta leave when the internet audience wants more.” —Lizzie Manno

Ellis

On Thursday, Ontario’s Ellis recorded their first ever online session in the Paste Studio, which you can watch below. They played their new single “Something Blue,” sandwiched by cuts from their 2018 EP, The Fuzz: “What a Mess!” and “N.Y.E,” the record’s softer closing tune. On the first song, Linnea Siggelkow repeats the line “What a mess I’ve made of this,” but this session and her EP are anything but. The Fuzz feels like perfect winter music, and not just because there’s a shoegaze-y slow-burner on there called “Frostbite.” It’s a restrained, hazy listen, an ideal soundtrack for winter’s last, blistery gasp—which, at least in some parts of the country, feels rather drawn out. The Fuzz is blue music, but it’s not necessarily sad—Siggelkow has a way with moody melodies that seem to lift the listener up rather than drag them down. —Ellen Johnson

FEATURES

The 15 Best Songs of February 2019

From rap to rock to folk, February delivered a mixed bag of great new tunes from faces new and old. This month, musical vets Kevin Morby, Big Thief and Carly Rae Jepsen made their anticipated returns, and newcomers like Stella Donnelly and Hatchie shared singles from their forthcoming albums. Check out our 15 favorite tracks of February 2019 here, listed by release date and as chosen by the Paste Music Staff. For the best songs of January, go here. —Paste Staff

The Best Female Friendships in Music

As much as we love a good Mariah Carey “I don’t know her” shade sesh, it’s 2019, folks, and seeing female musicians support each other in an effort to make great music is far more gratifying than any amount of side-eye ever will be. Here, we’ve listed 10 of our favorite female friendships in music to honor the ladies who empower and inspire us. — Katie Cameron

In a World Upside Down, Foals Return with Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost—Part 1

For six or seven months, Foals lead singer Yannis Philippakis didn’t hardly pick up a guitar, let alone work on any new music. While that’s a lengthy stretch of down time for any typical band between album cycles, it’s particularly noteworthy for the London-based artist, whose band—one of the hardest working acts in the UK since its inception in 2005—has rarely even taken that much time off between shows. How Philippakis began to write, however, was wildly different this time around than at any point in his career—he largely worked in public, usually at pubs and beer gardens. This connection to the outside world changed the course of the lyrical content for what became Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 1, the first of two releases set for 2019. Finally not writing in the relative isolation indoors as he has in the past, Philippakis allowed himself to address the weighty issues of the day rather than write from an insular place, all influenced by the setting he wrote in where he was simultaneously surrounded by a sea of Londoners while hiding in plain sight. —Steven Edelstone

The 20 Artists We’re Most Excited To See at SXSW 2019

The most overwhelming, exciting, hectic week of the year is nearly upon us, which means more than 300,000 musicians, thinkers, artists, comedians and creative types of all stripes will soon flock to Austin, Texas for 10 days of music, panels, film and breakfast tacos. South By Southwest is the annual convergence of artists and industry folks that takes over Austin, and this year’s festival kicks off Friday, March 8, and continues on through Sunday, March 17. If you can’t make it to Texas this year, don’t fret: Paste will be there amid all the Lone Star consumption and 70-degree temperatures covering the action. We’re also relocating our NYC studio setup for the week to the Riverview Bungalow, where we’ll be live-streaming artist sessions straight to you from Austin. Subscribe to our YouTube channel and check back daily for all the best of SXSW 2019. In addition to our live sessions, we’ll be scouring the artist showcases in search of great new music. Below, we’ve rounded up 20 of the many, many artists (listed in alphabetical order) we’re excited to see at this year’s SXSW. Carve out an hour or two and check them out—you might even find your new favorite band.

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