This week at Paste, we ended January with an important indie rock anniversary, and a look back at the best albums of the month. In the studio, we welcomed Jeff Rosenstock, John Oates, and Zakk Wylde. We also looked ahead to February, with new tracks from Girlpool and more. Here’s the best of what we covered this past week.
Ty Segall: Freedom’s Goblin
At 19 tracks and 75-ish minutes long, [Freedom’s Goblin] is a sure-footed expedition through Segall’s sprawling world of influences and interests, from psych, garage rock, pop and punk to soul, hard funk, heavy metal and beyond. And somehow, despite the run time and the diversity of sounds, Freedom’s Goblin never wanders for long. It’s thrilling, through and through. — Ben Salmon
Read: Every Ty Segall Album, Ranked
EXEK: Ahead of Two Thoughts
EXEK is a post-punk band in the truest sense of the term, lurching through the shadows and knocking shit over and sneering at innocent passers-by. Where many of their Melbourne mates draw obvious inspiration from the charming jangle-pop that came out of nearby New Zealand in the 1980s, EXEK bypasses that scene and draws a straight line back to fellow Melbourners The Birthday Party. — Ben Salmon
They Might Be Giants: I Like Fun
I Like Fun rocks unabashedly. Guitar-heavy tunes like “All Time What,” “An Insult to the Fact Checkers” and “The Bright Side” are among the best late-period John Flansburgh songs in TMBG’s catalog. And when you flip through the album’s peaks, a common thread emerges. “Let’s Get This Over With” opens the album with a barrage of handclaps and piano. “I Left My Body” is a gentle collision of cascading verses and honeyed aaaaahs. “Push Back the Hands of Time” is a jittery dance-rock jam, and the vividly creepy “When the Lights Come On” is about as close to punk as these Johns get. — Ben Salmon
Cut Worms: “Til Tomorrow Goes Away”
“Till Tomorrow Goes” is a sweet, ‘60s-influenced, country-tinged pop song marked by Max Clarke’s lusciously harmonious lead vocals. The new track is in a similar vein as his recent EP with Clarke’s layered, Everly Brothers-esque vocals that melt hearts as he sings of innocent, romanticized narratives alongside an acoustic guitar and retro keyboards. — Lizzie Mano
Dev Hynes contributed backing vocals, keyboards, guitars and mixing on “Picturesong,” which is Girlpool’s first new material since the May 2017 release of their sophomore album, Powerplant. Hynes’ most recent album as Blood Orange was 2016’s Freetown Sound. — Scott Russell
Thurston Moore: “Mx Liberty”
Moore’s musical response to Trump, “Mx Liberty” is a burner. Or as the label releasing it Blank Editions puts it, the tune “is a punk rock broadside to the current man-boys of the USA government in response to their mockery of democracy.” The song will soon be out on a 7” single to coincide with Not My Presidents Day, a day of resistance and protest set to go down on the holiday usually reserved to honor the former and current residents of the White House. — Robert Ham
This week garage rocker Jeff Rosenstock delivered a rousing studio performance, dissing the Grammys and the U.S. government in the process. He also discussed recording his new album, POST-, in a cabin in the catskills.
Zakk Wylde of Black Label Society also stopped by, playing some songs and also talking a lot about his passion for the Holiday Inn Express, for some reason. If nothing else, his fuzzy horn hat warrants a click.
John Oates performed songs from his new solo record, Arkansas, a modern take on classic rootsy sounds. He also talked a bit about his musical life before he became the Oates in Hall & Oates.
The 10 Best Albums of January
Our best albums of January 2018 list included Ty Segall, Shopping, Shame, First Aid Kit, and more.
In the Streaming Age, Musicians Scramble to Redraw the Touring Map
Appearing in major markets is a necessity for most artists, particularly when touring to promote a new album. And up-and-comers often have an easier time finding a receptive audience in big cities, where there tends to be a more extensive live-music infrastructure of venues and promoters. But musicians who want to make a living on the road risk oversaturating if they play the same handful of cities every time they hit the road. — Eric R. Danton
10 Years Ago, Vampire Weekend Redefined College Rock
Whether or not you believe there was more to Vampire Weekend than pastel polos, looking back now, it’s amazing to consider that it was their buttoned-down, literate take on indie rock that left the deepest impact of all the New York rock revivalists of the early aughts— more even than the fuck-it garage-rock attitudes of The Strokes and The Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Today, Vampire Weekend’s scholastic subjects and incisive lyricism have become more the rule than the exception. Walk into most shows in Brooklyn these days and the bands probably formed at NYU, the School of Visual Arts, the New School, or any number of New York higher-ed hubs. Most local acts that play around the city —LVL Up, Washer, Crumb and Yucky Duster, to name a few—write a lot more about post-grad anxiety than meeting people in awful Bowery bathrooms. — Loren DiBlasi