This would’ve been an eventful music week during any year, but it was especially exciting coming in at this point in 2020. Fleet Foxes surprised us with their fourth LP Shore on Tuesday just as the autumnal equinox was taking place, which is just about the most on-brand thing they could’ve done. In other news, Kurt Vile shared a duet with the late John Prine, Kevin Morby shared two more singles from his forthcoming album Sundowner and Tré Burt shared a new Black Lives Matter anthem, just two days before the cops involved in Breonna Taylor’s death avoided getting charged in the case. Keep scrolling to hear all these songs and more.
On Shore highlight “Sunblind” (which pleasantly bleeds together with “Wading In Waist-High Water’’ in the tracklisting), Robin Pecknold is forthright in dedicating the song to his late musical heroes: John Prine, David Berman, Bill Withers, Judee Still, Elliott Smith and Richard Swift are all called out by name, with the latter two providing the soundtrack to a weekend respite (“I’m going out for a weekend / I’m gonna borrow a Martin or Gibson / With Either/Or and The Hex for my Bookends / Carrying every text that you’ve given”). The list goes on as he namedrops Jeff Buckley and Arthur Russell, singing “I’m loud and alive / singing you all night,” as if to say “I won’t let anyone forget you” to each of those artists who left us too soon. —Ellen Johnson
Estonian outfit Holy Motors have shared “Trouble”—the final single ahead of their second album Horse. Like other album cuts, “Trouble” packs twang and sparkle. Eliann Tulve’s dreary vocals cascade over warbling vibrato guitars, and it’s clear that this is a song of the night, but not one of playful roguery—this is for stargazing and cycling through one’s hopes and fears. —Lizzie Manno
Kevin Morby released two more songs from his forthcoming album Sundowner, out Oct. 16, this week. “Wander” is a strong blend of indie and country that would make for a perfect road-trip soundtrack. On the flip side, “Don’t Underestimate Midwest American Sun” is a lengthier, slightly more somber track, but the calmer acoustic instrumentals make it just as enjoyable. ”’Don’t Underestimate Midwest American Sun’ is my favorite song off of the new album, and the one I’m most proud of,” Morby said. “I consider space to be a prominent instrument on the song – and here it is as important as anything else you hear on the track.” —Lexi Lane
Kurt Vile shared a duet and cover of John Prine’s “How Lucky,” featuring the late country legend himself. Vile and Prine take different verses at first, but join forces at the end, with their vocals complementing each other quite nicely. It’s a glimpse of his forthcoming EP Speed, Sound, Lonely KV, out on Oct. 2 via Matador. —Lexi Lane
Rituals of Mine (aka Terra Lopez) released a new single this week titled “Trauma.” It’s the latest release from her forthcoming album HYPE NOSTALGIA, out today via Carpark Records. The song takes on an eerie electronic feel, as Lopez quietly relays lines like “Maybe it’s in my blood / Maybe it’s yours now.” The music video propels the song’s power, even timing the flickering lights and scene shifts to the instrumentals. —Lexi Lane
Sacramento-based artist Tré Burt shared a new protest song called “Under The Devil’s Knee,” which features Our Native Daughter’s Allison Russel and Leyla McCalla, as well as L.A. songwriter Sunny War. Sept. 22 is historically significant because on that day in 1906, dozens of Black people were murdered in the streets of Atlanta by armed mobs of white Americans. The Black Lives Matter-inspired track was written about the murders of George Floyd, Eric Garner and Breonna Taylor. The racist violence that is ever-present today is precisely what Burt is calling to attention here. —Paris Rosenthal