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 past week revolved around the return of Sleater-Kinney. Not only have they shared their first new music since 2015’s No Cities to Love, their forthcoming album was also produced by none other than Annie Clark (aka St. Vincent), which only adds to the hype. On top of that, this week also brought new music from Welsh artist and producer Cate Le Bon, Nashville singer/songwriter Justin Townes Earle, Kentucky rockers White Reaper and more. Recent noteworthy performers in the Paste Studio included Foo Fighters’ lead guitarist Chris Shiflett and Los Angeles indie-pop outfit Mini Mansions, and this week’s musical guest on The Paste Podcast was Coheed & Cambria’s Claudio Sanchez and his wife and co-writer Chondra Echert. Scroll down for Paste’s latest weekly music roundup.

BEST ALBUMS

Cate Le Bon: Reward

Cate Le Bon’s Reward cleaves into two distinct halves, one that pulses with ideas and legible emotions and another that wanders, sputters, and jars under a pretense of free-associative experimentation. In her previous work, the Welsh musician has purveyed left-of-center, dreamy yet slightly discordant psych-folk. Blessed with both a classically gorgeous voice and an ear for friction and quirk, Le Bon uses her silken vocals like a decoy, teasing low-key balladry while guitars, horns and xylophones abrade together in the production. Reward’s more illuminating songs clock the malaise of living in a techno-capitalist proto-dystopia, our psyches warped by devices through which we send nudes but don’t talk. It’s a status quo that’s both decaying our souls and reigning very much supreme, and these songs register ambient anxiety that pricks the brain like a migraine that won’t go away. Thanks to her zeal for odd sonic experiments, Le Bon effectively transposes that jarring state of consciousness into sound. —Annie Galvin

Justin Townes Earle: The Saint Of Lost Causes

Justin Townes Earle  has never been one for fetishized country songs about trucks and the gal who did ‘im wrong. But even by his own rubric, The Saint of Lost Causes is his darkest, moodiest album yet, stretching beyond the implied limits of his chosen genre and deeper into the roots of Americana. Opening with a smoky blues crawl, the title track has a slow-swinging Asylum-era Tom Waits feel to the keyboards and a tangy guitar solo that hangs on long after the strings have stopped humming. It’s not the darkest tune on the album, but it’s a more elaborate sound for a long-time fan and lets a new listener know that this is not your pretend-country barbeque music. The album is more introspective than 2017’s Kids in the Street, heavy on strings and light on the rock-and-ramble. Even the easy sway of “Flint City Shake It” is a little laid back, with a low set of call-and-response backing vocalists set back in the mix, like they’re singing like they’re in a tin can recording booth. It’s a deliberate and delightful touch to give the album a distinctively retro feel without dipping into cowboy-shirt-style pastiche. Like a prayer, The Saint of Lost Causes best listened to alone and deliberately. It’s too close and intimate to put on when there are others present unless they also plan on listening in silence. It’s a lot to ask the modern, harried soul to lay low and meditate on a record, but listen any other way and it’s all, well, a lost cause. —Libby Cudmore

BEST TRACKS

Sleater-Kinney:Hurry On Home

Sleater-Kinney  is back with the holy, loud and vulnerable “Hurry on Home,” the band’s first new music since 2015’s No Cities to Love. Produced by Annie Clark (aka St. Vincent), the single is brassy and obsessive, and finds the band exploring a different sonic direction. “Disconnect me from my bones! / So I can float, so I can roam,” Corin Tucker cries, confessing that she’s uptownable, unfuckable, unlovable, unwatchable—and really, really wants her lover to please, please come home. —Savannah Sicurella

White Reaper:Might Be Right

After announcing their signing to Elektra Records, the Kentucky rockers have shared their first new music since 2017’s The World’s Best American Band. In White Reaper’s new track, Tony Esposito’s amplified vocals coincide with Nick Wilkerson’s turbulent beats, Sam Wilkerson’s pounding bass lines, Ryan Hater’s lively keyboard chords and Hunter Thompson’s dynamic electric guitar shreds. Elements of nu-disco and pop intermingle with the band’s signature garage-punk sound. —Marissa Matozzo

Julia Shapiro:Shape

Taken from Shapiro’s forthcoming solo debut Perfect Version (out June 14 via Hardly Art),“Shape” is an illusory song, keeping its muddied bass and guitars just out of grasp. Shapiro’s vocals are similarly like a mirage, a siren beckoning you on your endless journey, as she sings detached lyrics yearning for connection: “And in my dream / things were just as they seemed / we were on the phone / and your thoughts were my own.” —Harry Todd

THE PASTE PODCAST

Good Omens’ Neil Gaiman, Jon Hamm, David Tennant & Michael Sheen

On the latest episode of The Paste Podcast, we’re joined by Good Omens writer and executive producer Neil Gaiman, along with cast members David Tennant, Michael Sheen and Jon Hamm. And Coheed & Cambria’s Claudio Sanchez and his wife and co-writer Chondra Echert stopped by the Paste Studio for a special acoustic performance of “The Gutter” from last year’s The Unheavenly Creatures.

Listen below, or better yet, download on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, Spotify or the new app from our podcast partner Himalaya, and subscribe!

BEST PERFORMANCES

Chris Shiflett

Foo Fighters lead guitarist and singer/songwriter Chris Shiflett came into the Paste Studio to perform songs from his forthcoming fourth solo album Hard Lessons, out on June 14 via East Beach Records & Tapes/Thirty Tigers. Though best known for his pumping arena rock with Foo Fighters, Shiflett’s solo material is a rootsier and stripped-back venture—he cites a wide range of influences like Merle Haggard, The Replacements, Buck Owens and The Rolling Stones. Watch Shiflett perform four songs: “Welcome to Your First Heartache,” “This Ol’ World,” “Liar’s Word” and “Fool’s Gold.” —Lizzie Manno

Mini Mansions

Los Angeles rockers Mini Mansions are set to release their third full-length, Guy Walks Into a Bar…, on July 26 via Fiction Records. The trio, consisting of Michael Shuman (Queens of The Stone Age), Zach Dawes (The Last Shadow Puppets) and Tyler Parkford, came into the Paste Studio to perform three selections from their new album: “GummyBear,” “Hey Lover” and “Works Every Time.” —Lizzie Manno

FEATURES

Wisconsin Rockers Disq on Their Debut Album and Being a Buzz Band

There’s an aggressive purity to Disq’s music. The Madison outfit filters sincere, bittersweet songwriting through vast guitars, and the result is a whiplash of good-natured pop. The five-piece band, whose members range in age from 19 to 24, have generated noticeable buzz off the back of just one seven-inch single for Saddle Creek’s Document Series. After being profiled by Stereogum and tipped by NPR, Disq made their South By Southwest debut earlier this year, which drew praise from Paste, among others. Having previously supported acts like Whitney, Twin Peaks and Jay Som, Disq scored an opening slot for Shame on their recent U.S. tour. Paste caught Disq’s set in Atlanta, where they matched the sonic magnitude of their sturdy SXSW showing. Their new live material is anything but monolithic—you’ll find traces of feverish psych-rock, lustrous jangle pop, noisy post-punk, and bouncy twee pop—though you’ll notice a consistently vociferous energy thanks to their propulsive guitar triple threat. Paste chatted with Disq about their origins, forthcoming debut album and their reaction to being called a “buzz band.” —Lizzie Manno

The 10 Best Albums of May 2019

There’s a direct correlation between the increasingly frequent sunshine and the arrival of some of the year’s biggest album releases. Throughout the month of May, music fans were blessed with releases from modern musical giants like Tyler, the Creator, Carly Rae Jepsen and Vampire Weekend, plus impressive offerings from fresher faces like Faye Webster, Empath and Dehd. Between the experimental genre fusion of hip-hop/electronic producer Flying Lotus, the sugary pop/rock stylings of Charly Bliss or the devastating, mystical ruminations of Big Thief, you’ll find something to accompany your wait for that glorious first day of summer. Check out 10 exceptional albums from the past month. —Paste Staff

The 15 Best Songs of May 2019

This month, we heard long-awaited comeback releases from artists like Tyler, the Creator and White Reaper, but the artist who undeniably stole the spotlight was Sleater-Kinney with their St. Vincent-produced new single, “Hurry on Home,” their first new music since 2015’s No Cities to Love. If you can force yourself to stop listening to “Hurry on Home” on repeat, you should also check out recent standout tracks from Clairo, Ezra Furman, Flying Lotus, Idles and more. Check out 15 of our favorite songs from May, listed alphabetically by artist. —Paste Staff

10 New Albums to Stream Today

With Game of Thrones officially over, Last Watch documentary and all, have you found yourself feeling aimless? Bored? Maybe a little antsy? Good thing there’s a kingdom’s worth of new music to sink your teeth into on this glorious New Music Friday. It’s a heyday for indie nerds with new stuff out by Pittsburgh regulars The Gotobeds, Amsterdam exports Pip Blom and Atlanta newcomer Rose Hotel. There’s also a blockbuster country release courtesy of Thomas Rhett and a political think-piece by way of Kishi Bashi. And that’s only half this list. —Ellen Johnson & Paste Staff

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