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

Whether you watched fireworks, watched Midsommar or, like Padma Lakshmi and her protest pie, used the holiday as an opportunity to speak up about some of our government’s malfeasances, here’s hoping you celebrated July 4 in the best way you knew how. And whether you’re still in vacay mode or back at your desk, you came to the right place if you’re in the mood for some new music. This week we reviewed Freddie Gibbs’ and Madlib’s latest stroke of collaborative genius, heard new songs by Long Beard and Parsnip and rounded up all the best music from June. We also launched a new version of an old favorite, The Paste Sampler. Starting now, each month we’ll choose 10 tracks from our favorite studio performances and arrange them in a nifty package available to stream or download. Listen to and download the June sampler over on NoiseTrade, or check out the full performances here, on our YouTube channel or via our podcast. For everything else worth hearing, keep scrolling.

BEST ALBUMS

Freddie Gibbs & Madlib: Bandana

“Situations,” a track from Freddie Gibbs’ and Madlib’s second collaborative album Bandana, samples one Thaddeus Matthews, aka the “Cussing Pastor” who rose to fame in a 2018 Instagram video. “Fuck You Friday was such a great holiday that I thought I would extend the holiday season, and let’s call it ‘I Don’t Give A Shit Saturday,’” he says. Gibbs, one of the preeminent contemporary gangsta rappers, and Madlib, an ultra-serious experimental beatmaker, may not seem like the two best messengers for a “we all need to lighten up and have fun” sort of decree, but Bandana proves otherwise. Smoother and more relaxed than ever, the duo, while still exploring favorite topics like drug deals gone wrong and police brutality, dare us to loosen up and enjoy ourselves on our own “I Don’t Give a Shit Saturdays.” Though the Matthews sample may sound out of place at first on “Situations,” a song about gang life and murders, it actually makes complete sense that the duo would use it here, pushing us all to live our lives to the fullest despite the hands we’ve been dealt. Freddie Gibbs and Madlib are two of the best at their individual crafts, both involved in some of the best hip-hop records and singles of the past decade plus. Their styles couldn’t be more different, but if Bandana and Piñata are any proof, they’re truly best when working together, especially in the same room. —Steven Edelstone

Summer Cannibals: Can’t Tell Me No

“There’s no saving, just had to get the fuck out,” sings Jessica Boudreaux on Can’t Tell Me No’s title track. The story goes that Summer Cannibals’ Can’t Tell Me No, their first LP since 2016, was written after the original album—finished and ready for release for over a year—was entirely scrapped in order for frontwoman Jessica Boudreaux to prevent an abuser from profiting from their work. What followed were 14-hour days creating what became the band’s first entirely self-engineered and produced album, recorded and mixed in Boudreaux’s home studio. The result is an album that balances the brave with the raw and takes no shit. Summer Cannibals’ songs are a little more melodic than fellow punk feminists The Coathangers, but their lyrics join a long and honorable tradition of women raising their voices to tackle the patriarchy. It’s confessional without being gossipy, easily applicable to the listener’s own life without ever feeling like one specific woman’s biography. There’s an art to being angry. There’s a trick to taking revenge. We may never hear that locked-away Summer Cannibals’ album, but what we have in its place is an album that might just inspire the girl who hears it to, as “Into Gold” goes, “Pull myself out of the darkness and into gold.”—Libby Cudmore

BEST TRACKS

Long Beard:Sweetheart

“‘Sweetheart’ is a nostalgic song that shifts between the distant past and the present. It’s a letter to someone you’ve lost touch with from a long time ago, finding some small connection to their life with regards to yours—how the thought of them resurfaces every once in a while and how they may have shaped the person you’ve become while wondering if you’ve had a similar impact on them,” Bear told The FADER. “It’s a jangly/indie-pop song reminiscent of the 90s with a chimey lead guitar that weaves in and out. It’s written almost as a stream of consciousness with a heavy daydream mood.” —Marissa Matozzo

Peaer:Don’t

Each instrument on “Don’t” is treated like a rhythm section; a dry guitar lick plays in time with eager-to-explode drums, while a murky bass line drifts in and out of the ether and buries itself under your skin. “Don’t” is so tightly wound that its several moments of quiet catharsis are genuinely surprising; stripping the song of its feedback effects and allowing Peaer frontman Peter Katz to coo instead of scream is unsettling, building to the climax the song deserves via carefully crafted bridges. —Harry Todd

Parnsip:Lift Off

Maybe it’s not surprising that a young band named after a root vegetable make music that sounds whimsical, but that doesn’t diminish their joyful catchiness. Their new single “Lift Off” has waggish keyboards and jubilant shared vocals, interjecting with colorful shouts of “Ba-da-bup-ba!” Though there’s a childlike spirit here, the theme of wanting to getting the hell out of wherever you are is pretty damn universal. Meshing garage-y guitars, carefree twee-pop vocals and oddball keyboards, Parsnip gallivant in a strange, kaleidoscopic field of punk-pop, and you’ll want to grab your overalls and join them. —Lizzie Manno

THE PASTE PODCAST

Paste Podcast #15: The Best TV Shows of 2019 (So Far)

On the latest episode of The Paste Podcast, host Josh Jackson and Paste TV editor Allison Keene talk about 10 of the best TV shows of the year (so far), along with a broader discussion of the state of TV, from the dominance of the half-hour show to great shows on smaller platforms that get lost in the shuffle.

Plus Portland indie-pop band Ages and Ages share a new song.

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

Gabrielle Marlena

Garbielle Marlena takes the “singer/songwriter” genre (if there is such a thing) and turns it upside down. Much like Stella Donnelly, the young artist can hold a room with nothing but an electric guitar, a turned-down amp and her witty-yet-sad lyrics, which is exactly what she did in our studio on Wednesday. Her latest collection of songs, Manners, dropped last week. She treated us to three songs from the record: “Anxiety Dreams,” “Like a Riddle” and “Older Than Me,” plus “Sorry I Ever Fucked You,” from her 2018 EP Easier Love.

Des Rocs

Des Rocs may be a relatively young rock artist, but he’s already secured opening gigs for some of the biggest names in the biz, including The Rolling Stones and The Struts. His discography consists of an EP and a handful of singles, but his live performances are enough to satiate fans while waiting for an album. He played stripped-down versions of two of those songs, “Let Me Live / Let Me Die” and “Used to the Darkness,” plus an unreleased track, “Hold On,” this week in the Paste Studio.

FEATURES

The 10 Best Black Keys Songs

The Black Keys  have taken many a turn since their early days as scuzzy garage rock rascals. They’ve bounced from the blues to psychedelia to classic, good ol’ fashioned rock ‘n’ roll, and so many of their most interesting tunes bring all those elements together. That’s why many of the songs on this list are those that stray from whatever you consider the ordinary Black Keys formula to be: Patrick Carney thrashing on the kit, Dan Auerbach shredding away on guitar. Throughout their near-20-year career, which has transformed them from indie nobodies to one of the biggest rock bands working, Carney and Auerbach have worn many hats, including producer on their new album Let’s Rock, a no-frills rack of pure, searing rock. To celebrate the release, here are our 10 favorite songs by the band. —Ellen Johnson, Steven Edelstone & Molly Schramm

15 Incredible Performances From Glastonbury’s History

Make no mistake—Glastonbury is the world’s greatest music festival. Since its inaugural year in 1970, Worthy Farm in Somerset, England has been home to the legendary Pyramid Stage, John Peel Stage and various others, which have been graced by the world’s biggest rock and pop stars. It holds the title of the world’s largest green-field music and performing arts festival, and it welcomes about 200,000 camping festival-goers to its notoriously muddy grounds each day of the annual event. Bets are placed on the next year’s headliners and rumors swirl for months about potential secret sets, which rarely fail to disappoint. Those hoping to snag tickets have to do so many months in advance, and only those among them who violently smash their computer’s reload button will likely succeed in scoring a golden ticket. The 2019 festival just wrapped up, with a lineup of The Killers, Stormzy, The Cure, Vampire Weekend, Janet Jackson, Lauryn Hill, Tame Impala and many more. To celebrate this year’s fest, Paste rounded up 15 great performances from the festival’s lengthy history that remain in our memory (and for which we could track down decent YouTube footage). —Lizzie Manno

The 10 Best Albums of June 2019

So far, summer 2019 has brought forth albums as cool and inviting as an air-conditioned movie theater in the middle of a scalding June afternoon. We dipped our toes in Mark Ronson’s slick collaborative album, waded through Freddie Gibbs’ unfurling verses and Madlib’s distinct production and basked in the charmed pop of Hatchie’s first LP. Thom Yorke surprised us with a impeccable new solo effort, and newcomers black midi confused and amazed us with a one-of-a-kind debut. We marked 2019’s halfway point with a ranking of the year’s best albums so far, and we flashed back to the best music of 1989, just in time for another crunchy, ’80s inspired season of Stranger Things. So roll down the windows, find a frozen treat and dive into our favorite albums of June. —Paste Staff

The 10 Albums We’re Most Excited About in July

July is now upon us which means summer is in full swing, so you’ll probably be needing some new tunes to soundtrack this sometimes exhilarating, sometimes woeful season. This month has plenty of records for both moods. A talented cast of musicians like Julien Baker, Craig Finn, Daughter, Lauren Mayberry and Ben Gibbard are teaming up for a Frightened Rabbit tribute album, Austin rock veterans Spoon are unleashing a greatest hits record featuring a brand new song, and most notably, Chicago’s Chance The Rapper is releasing his highly-anticipated, currently untitled “debut owbum,” what will be his first traditional release. Here’s the scoop on all the records we’re most looking forward to in July. —Paste Staff

The Haxan Cloak’s Midsommar Score Is a Topsy-Turvy Terror

Unless you’re jonesing for a freakout, you probably won’t want to throw Bobby Krlic’s (aka The Haxan Cloak’s) Midsommar score on the turntable. It’s neither a comfortable nor a smooth listen, and independent of the visuals it’s still nearly as jarring as watching the film itself. But the experimental composer’s arrangements also radiate a peculiar beauty, one that pairs tremendously well with Ari Aster’s grotesque Hereditary follow-up. It’s no wonder the script seems uncannily suited to the score—Aster wrote the whole thing while listening almost exclusively to The Haxan Cloak, namely the British artist’s bold and foreboding 2013 album Excavation, which is itself sparse, twisted and sounds ripe for the screen. Ari and Krlic worked closely together to craft Midsommar’s distinct brand of paganism—they studied Swedish folklore, sampled traditionally Nordic instruments like the Hurdy Gurdy (yes, it’s real) and the key harp and even stitched together old Icelandic and Nordic texts, among others, to create their own tribal language, one that’s equal parts gorgeous and unsettling. The entire movie is a sonic experience. Screams, grunts and sharp breaths (the ones you’ve likely seen in a trailer or meme by now) are as important as dialogue, and cryptic ceremonial songs performed by choreographed commune-dwellers provide some of the film’s most visually striking segments. —Ellen Johnson

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