As March wraps up and we head into a holiday weekend, we’re celebrating the music we loved the most this week. March’s final stretch brought us career-best albums from Frankie Cosmos and Amen Dunes, as well as new songs from Hinds, Cardi B, and many more. In the studio, we got cozy in the Log Cabin with Rogue Wave, Lucy Rose, and Jesse McCartney. Check out everything you might have missed below.
Frankie Cosmos: Vessel
Vessel could easily beguile without this quirk through the delicate and slightly tense balances it maintains. It’s a dreamy rock album with lyrics that face unsatisfying relationships and inner turmoil with realism and flashes of warped humor. Greta Kline’s lyrics, underscored by offbeat, Phil Elverum-like vocal delivery, teeter on an exquisite line between goofiness and sharp honesty, mundanity and magic. In the end, it comes down hard on the side of magic. —Beverly Bryan
Amen Dunes: Freedom
On Amen Dunes’ new album Freedom, Damon McMahon finally shows himself fully, and the results are both charmingly raw and uncommonly lovely. His songs are captured cleanly and intimately, a credit to producer Chris Coady, known for his work with Beach House and Grizzly Bear, among others. His lyrics are more personal than ever before. He even put his own face on the cover for the first time—eyes averted, of course.—Ben Salmon
The Vaccines: Combat Sports
Combat Sports is a high-flying LP that attempts to recapture the days when The Vaccines’ songs were short and their guitar solos were loud — a reset button for the band and fans alike. The opening salvo of “Put It On A T-Shirt” and “I Can’t Quit” are all stomping kick-drums and soaring guitars, reminding us that The Vaccines know how to string together a fist-in-the-air anthem. Even Justin Young’s notoriously apathetic voice, once described as sounding like the “thud of a fist through a wet paper bag,” has a fresh bite to it, hungrily tearing into the latter song’s front-loaded phrasing. —Madison Desler
Hinds: ‘Finally Floating’
“Finally Floating” shows the band’s more outgoing side, as a dance-worthy beat lays the foundation for Carlotta Cosials’ and Ana Perrote’s intertwining vocals. They sing: “I’m feeling great ‘till I’m laying in bed and all these random melodies sound again. ” A press release accompanying the single describes it as “perhaps the most bold and confident we’ve heard Hinds yet.—Abdiel Vallejo-Lopez
Cardi B: ‘Be Careful’
Cardi B’s almost Drake-like lyrics slow down the artist’s usually in-your-face persona. We can even hear Cardi B sing a little during the chorus: “Be careful with me, do you know what you’re doing? / Whose feelings that you’re hurting and bruising? / You gon’ gain the whole world but is it worth the girl that you’re losing?” —Abdiel Vallejo-Lopez
Hit Bargain: ‘In Quiet Streets
The L.A. punk band’s latest, “In Quiet Streets,” was written about the darkness that lingers within the corners of American life. Singer Nora Singh calls the song “a quick study of the suburbs, where things like gun violence, racism and sexual abuse are tucked away neatly behind manicured hedges.” —Loren DiBlasi
Former teen idol Jesse McCartney is back with new music for the first time in four years. Now 30, Jesse is sharing a new side of himself with the world, but he did play an old fan favorite inside our studio.
California lo-fi rockers Rogue Wave dropped by the studio to celebrate the re-issue of their 2007 album, Asleep at Heaven’s Gate. Check out the band’s stirring rendition of early hit “Lake Michigan.”
English singer-songwriter Lucy Rose brought her haunting voice to the studio this week, playing songs from her most recent record, Something’s Changing. She also discussed the trip through Latin America that inspired the album.
Rock Star Julian Casablancas Seems to Be Struggling with the Modern Age
In 2018, an era when mainstream rock stars are all but extinct, Julian Casablancas is making his voice heard. Never known to be especially outspoken, he’s been talking a lot recently—from his meandering Vulture interview to Tuesday night’s uncomfortable appearance on The Late Show with James Corden. But what is he actually saying? As the Grammys, Coachella, and the mere existence of bands like Portugal. The Man and Imagine Dragons prove that rock music isn’t what it used to be, Casablancas is loudly calling for change. “I strive to build a world where The Velvet Underground would be more popular than The Rolling Stones. Or where Ariel Pink is as popular as Ed Sheeran,” he has said. But Casablancas, now 39, is still looking too far into the past while ignoring what’s right in front of him. —Loren DiBlasi
Record Time: New & Notable Vinyl Releases (March 2018)
Record Time is Paste’s monthly column that takes a glimpse into the wide array of new vinyl releases currently flooding record stores around the world. Rather than run down every fresh bit of wax in the marketplace, we’ll home in on special editions, reissues and unusual titles that come across our desk, with an interest in discussing both the music and how it is pressed and presented. This month, that includes reissues of albums by Annie Lennox and Rob Zombie, a chopped and screwed version of Thundercat’s latest and some offerings from a vinyl subscription service. —Robert Ham
Kate Nash Is Just Fine With Her Dragons and Mushrooms, Thank You
It’s been five long years since quirky English thrush Kate Nash released her last album, Girl Talk, her third. On Friday, she finally returns with the fizzy, confident new collection Yesterday Was Forever, which she self-financed through KickStarter, but she faced a lot of harsh realties during her time away, coming to grips with a few eye-opening truths. But pinpointing her most important self-discovery is easy for her in retrospect. “I’m just a big nerd,” the 30-year-old declares, enthusiastically. “And I really love nerds—they’re really good people.”—Tom Lanham