10 New Albums to Stream Today

Featuring Arlo Parks, Goat Girl, Madlib and more

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10 New Albums to Stream Today

If you’re wondering what to spend all those GameStop stock profits on … might we suggest some new music? The last week of January is awash with notable releases, from the debut of one of the best new artists of 2020 to unexpected new efforts from a couple of veteran acts. Your Paste Music pals have combed through everything arriving this week to highlight 10 choice selections, so consider the below your latest New Music Friday playlist.

Arlo Parks: Collapsed in Sunbeams

Arlo Parks has already accomplished one of her biggest goals. The 19-year-old British musician, born Anaïs Oluwatoyin Estelle Marinho, has said that she writes her songs “to feel both universal and hyper-specific.” The high-profile fans—Phoebe Bridgers, Billie Eilish, Michelle Obama—whom Parks has accrued since her 2018 emergence certainly attest to her music’s broad relatability, and her music itself displays her talent for intimate, you-had-to-be-there details and unyielding, wise-beyond-her-years empathy. On Parks’ long-awaited debut album Collapsed in Sunbeams, her narratives remain vivid and often crushing. Likewise intact is her vibrant fusion of rock, jazz, folk and hip-hop, a combination both dedicated to her idols Frank Ocean and Radiohead (she namechecks Thom Yorke on “Too Good”) and sprinkled with a blueness distinctly her own. Her sound is compelling enough that, even when her lyrics regress into platitudes, her music remains stirring and intense. —Max Freedman

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The Besnard Lakes: The Besnard Lakes Are the Last of the Great Thunderstorm Warnings

Montreal psych-rock quintet The Besnard Lakes are through the looking glass on their sixth album, which is both their first full-length since 2016’s A Coliseum Complex Museum, and only their second released by anyone but Jagjaguwar. The two-time Polaris Prize-nominated band’s bio suggests that their having “sworn off compromise” played a part in their split from their longtime label, and there’s nothing compromised about their latest, a 72-minute wall of sound on which The Lakes continue to combine the transcendent drone of noise-rock mainstays like Spiritualized with the vocal harmonies of a ‘60s pop hit. Nearly doubling their latest album in length, The Besnard Lakes Are the Last of the Great Thunderstorm Warnings finds songwriters (and spouses) Jace Lasek and Olga Goreas tossing commercial appeal aside in favor of mesmeric fearlessness, following their sonic explorations over the horizon. The double album is split into four sections titled “Near Death,” “Death,” “After Death” and “Life”—having both lost parents in recent years, Lasek and Goreas were driven to consider life and what lies beyond, swathing their cosmic contemplation in psychedelia that both soars and soothes, usually within the same song’s space. —Scott Russell

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Celeste: Not Your Muse

A rare pandemic-era success story, British-Jamaican soul singer/songwriter Celeste’s star has risen exponentially over the past year, from her 2020 BRIT Awards performance to today’s release of her debut album via Interscope Records. Not Your Muse collects her acclaimed 2019/2020 singles “Strange” (the stunner she performed at the BRITs), “Stop This Flame” and “A Little Love,” slotting them in aside nine new tracks, while the album’s deluxe edition features nine others, including an extended edit of “Strange,” Celeste’s duet with Jon Batiste for Pixar’s Soul soundtrack “It’s All Right,” and her song for Aaron Sorkin’s The Trial of the Chicago 7 “Hear My Voice,” which is expected to contend for a 2021 Best Original Song Oscar. Celeste’s voice alone makes her many accolades self-evident—she is an Adele-level talent who will floor you with the emotive force of her voice, while the timeless soul and R&B instrumentation that surrounds her provides a lush, lounge-like sense of immersion. Considering that her songwriting still has room to grow, Celeste is a surefire star we’ll be hearing from for years to come. “Not Your Muse is the power I found when I felt powerless,” she says of her debut. “In making this album I have allowed myself to arrive at a place where I feel empowered, fiercely wide-eyed and fulfilled.” —Scott Russell

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Goat Girl: On All Fours

Any attempt to describe Goat Girl feels like a disservice to them, so the barest must do. They are a London band made up of Lottie Cream (vocals, guitar), L.E.D. (guitar, vocals) Holly Hole (bass, replacing former member Naima Jelly) and Rosy Bones (drums). It’s tempting to define their talent in terms of how young they are (they were signed to Rough Trade Records at just 18), but their output proves impressive for a group of any age. Following their celebrated eponymous debut LP, Goat Girl recorded their new album On All Fours in October 2019. Goat Girl remain just as captivating as they were amid the spiky guitar and haunting harmonies of their first album, but have made incredible strides in just a couple years. On their sophomore effort, the four-piece deepen their established energy, stretching out songs and keeping up a stirring momentum. Goat Girl’s 19 tracks varied in length from 40 seconds to just under four minutes. On All Fours finds them more confident, giving themselves more room to breathe on tracks but never wasting a second. The frenetic energy that made their debut so memorable is still here and Goat Girl control it with unparalleled skill, always keeping you wanting more. Never is this more apparent than on the single “Sad Cowboy.” Hypnotic synth gives way to twitching cowbell, which is overwhelmed with chugging guitar and eventually replaced by stabs of ‘90s-esque club synths. The momentum ebbs and flows, bending back on itself in a kaleidoscopic way: seemingly unpredictable, but part of some greater design that only Goat Girl understand. —Clare Martin

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Langhorne Slim: Strawberry Mansion

Sean Scolnick, aka Langhorne Slim, had an especially fraught relationship with the excessive alone time brought on by the early days of social distancing. Having struggled with addiction in the past (but now sober), Slim felt added discomfort without the distractions of the Before Times: touring, the physical support of family and friends, the busyness of normal life. But as he described in a short film for mental health collective Sound Mind, the newfound downtime also brought forth a welcome creative surge after more than a year of writer’s block. After accepting a friend’s challenge to fulfill a daily writing exercise, Slim finished more than 20 songs between March and May 2020, which eventually became the bones of Strawberry Mansion, the indie-folk veteran’s hopeful seventh studio album, per the press materials for the new release. Slim—beloved by Americana listeners for his frank, rugged folk songs—delivers perhaps his most serious work yet on Mansion. Yet he packages those heavy themes of mental health, addiction, loneliness and spirituality into a lively collection of music that feels especially suited to these strange times. —Ellen Johnson

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Madlib: Sound Ancestors

The idea of Madlib and Four Tet joining forces is unbelievably enticing. Both are forward-thinking artists who are admired in their respective musical corners—one is hip-hop’s undisputed beat king and the other is an acclaimed electronic musician. So it won’t come as a shock that their collaborative record, Sound Ancestors, sounds like decades of mastery went into it. Madlib, who’s famously mysterious and prolific, and has collaborated with greats like MF DOOM, De La Soul and Erykah Badu, sent Kieran Hebden (aka Four Tet) hundreds of files over several years, consisting of various beats and live instrumentation, and he allowed Hebden to distort and curate them as he saw fit—however, Hebden decided he wouldn’t add anything of his own. The result is an ambitious, versatile LP that displays their wide range of tastes, from left-field flute and bass odysseys (“One For Quartabê/Right Now”) and minimal, groovy psych-rock à la Unknown Mortal Orchestra (“The Call,” “Road of the Lonely Ones”) to Spanish guitar fingerpicking (“Latino Negro”) and dramatic organ noodling (“The New Normal”). The record is also sprinkled with Madlib’s various record scratches, artful bells and enigmatic samples, and though it might sound like sensory overload, there’s actually plenty of space in these songs, allowing listeners to latch onto the album is if it’s one hypnotizing, ever-changing groove. To call this album inspired would be an understatement. —Lizzie Manno

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PJ Harvey: Is This Desire? – Demos

Is This Desire?, the fourth studio album by English singer/songwriter PJ Harvey, was originally released in 1998 to immense critical acclaim, ultimately landing Harvey a Grammy nomination for Best Alternative Music Performance that same year. Her biggest asset, aside from intensely descriptive songwriting skills, has always been her sumptuous vocals. Harvey’s 1992 debut album, Dry, showcased all of her promise right out of the gate. It set the bar high for an artist whose career would span three decades. And while her follow-up LPs, Rid of Me (1993) and To Bring You My Love (1995), showed Harvey’s sonic and lyrical expansiveness, Is This Desire? honed in on her grand ambitions with its subjugated undertones. A new reissue featuring the demos for Is This Desire? is out today (Jan. 29), and will remind fans of the magic Harvey effortlessly brings to each and every one of her projects. —Candace McDuffie

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The Sonder Bombs: Clothbound

Led by powerhouse vocalist, guitarist and ukulelist Willow Hawks, Cleveland quartet The Sonder Bombs are back with the follow-up to their buzzed-about 2018 debut MODERN FEMALE ROCKSTAR. As its title suggests, Clothbound—produced in quarantine by Joe Reinhart (Hop Along, Beach Bunny, Modern Baseball)—finds the band interweaving a multitude of ideas, both lyrically and instrumentally. On “k.,” Hawks delivers biting kiss-offs like “Treat your pearls like shit / You’ve always been entitled to it / Run your morgue mouth quick / Parseltongue and electric tips” amid bright ukelele and a pop-punk chug that would make Paramore proud, building to a hardcore breakdown. Standouts like “The Brink” and closer “Play It By Fear” blend hard-charging punk and hushed pop, excelling in both aspects without selling either short—Clothbound is at its best in this sweet spot, with Hawks wearing her emotions on her songwriting’s sleeve (“Feeling is fine / You don’t need to be tough / All of the time ’/ We could hit Netflix and a box of wine,” she sings on single “Crying Is Cool”) and couching them in bittersweetly ebullient, multidimensional rock. The Sonder Bombs take aim at the sophomore slump on Clothbound and let loose with both barrels. —Scott Russell

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Terry Gross: Soft Opening

It’s not every day you encounter a full-length album with only three tracks, but reader, you just did. The 38-minute debut LP from Bay Area-based rock trio Terry Gross (not to be confused with NPR’s Fresh Air host, but you just try telling Google that) is a krautrock odyssey of epic proportions, and a sustained rock ‘n’ roll explosion you can’t help but move to. Guitarist and vocalist Phil Manley (Trans Am, Life Coach), bassist Donny Newenhouse and drummer Phil Becker co-own San Francisco’s El Studio together—it’s there they started jamming, primarily so as to put the studio itself through its paces, but one thing led to another, and the result is Soft Opening. Near-20-minute opener “Space Voyage Mission” is a roving, sci-fi-inspired motorik chug that speeds and slows like a HIIT workout for your ears, ending in a psychedelic bit of studio wizardry that sounds as if the song has narrowly escaped being sucked into a black hole. “Worm Gear,” too, is a like watching a flame flicker in slow-motion, with ever-shifting, serrated guitars atop Newenhouse and Becker’s pulsating, pounding low end. Closer and single “Specificity (Or What Have You)” is Terry Gross at their most accessible, but by then, you’ll have long since left the ground, riding Soft Opening into the stratosphere. —Scott Russell

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Weezer: OK Human

Rivers Cuomo and company are back with their 14th studio album, and it ain’t Van Weezer. The band’s riff-rock tribute is still set for a 2021 release—May 7, to be exact—but it’s now preceded by OK Human, a maximalist, orchestral-pop album with outsized ambitions to match its widescreen instrumentation. Weezer drew inspiration from all-time albums including The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds and Harry Nilsson’s Nilsson Schmilsson, incorporating strings (a 38-piece orchestra, to be exact) for the first time in their four-decade career, with Cuomo using the piano as his primary songwriting platform. Don’t put much stock in the album’s Radiohead-referencing title; OK Human is concerned with similar issues of technology and its power to (dis)connect us—the band dedicates entire songs to bemoaning both “Numbers” and “Screens”—but Weezer stick with analog equipment, managing an album that is somehow charming even at its cheesiest. OK Human is worth your time if only as a big, bright panacea for COVID cabin fever, or just as the latest entry in a singular band’s long-running career—the war over Weezer rages on.

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