The Week in Music: Paste’s Favorite Songs, Albums, Performances and More

Let's review: Old Crow Medicine Show, Lucy Dacus, Lake Street Dive, Half Waif...

Music Features
The Week in Music: Paste’s Favorite Songs, Albums, Performances and More

It was an exciting week here in the New York offices of Paste Music. We interviewed one of our favorite young songwriters, Lucy Dacus, dove into Record Store Day, and hosted a handful of amazing artists in our studio including Lake Street Dive, Nels Cline, Julian Lage and Half Waif. We also loved new tracks by Courtney Barnett and Laura Jane Grace, and raved about the new albums by Old Crow Medicine Show (pictured above) and Rival Consoles. Catch up with what we’ve been writing about and listening to for the past seven days.

Joshua Hedley: Mr. Jukebox
With his voice as centerpiece, Joshua Hedley spends all of Mr. Jukebox exploring the basic forms of his chosen field. Most of these songs are about love, or more precisely, the end of love. “Counting All My Tears” is a classic heartbreak ballad built on a subdued piano part and embellished with choral vocals. Harmonica and tic-tac bass color “These Walls,” a paean to a stumble-home bar by “a man who can’t move on” from a woman. In “This Time” and “Don’t Waste Your Tears,” on the other hand, it’s the man who’s ending the relationship. But that’s where the similarity ends: the former is a twangy traditional country song, while the latter is one of the album’s highlights, thanks to its heavy dose of steel guitar and high string-section drama. —Ben Salmon

Old Crow Medicine Show: Volunteer
While some outfits might opt to broaden their base and alter their approach, Old Crow Medicine Show took the opposite option, choosing instead to go back to basics. Consequently, Volunteer is an album that projects its rustic references, all etched with nostalgia and songs that offer reasons for return to the pleasures of front porch existence. “Child of the Mississippi,” “Dixie Avenue” and “A World Away” celebrate the joys of home and the hearth, and the sheer celebration that comes with knowing there’s a place where one belongs.—Robert Ham

Rival Consoles: Persona
The evolution of Rival Consoles, the solo electronic project of producer Ryan West, has been a steep one. After a pair of albums that played around with acid house elements, he began shifting gears into more expansive and lusher compositions. The dancefloor throb and wobble was still there, but laid into a cottony bed of enveloping synth drones and melodies that felt suspended in midair. For his latest album Persona, West nuzzles deeper into these soft, billowy ideas while slowly, happily pulling on a stray thread in his work that is helping to unwind his aesthetic. His interest in ambient is starting to come in to focus with stray echoes of his arpeggiated past still swimming into view on tracks like the gorgeous “Untravel” and the fluttering ungrounded pulse of “Be Kind.” —Robert Ham

Laura Jane Grace: ‘Park Life Forever’
Against Me! frontwoman, author and activist Laura Jane Grace shared on Thursday a lighthearted new song called “Park Life Forever.” Recorded alongside the musician’s eight-year-old daughter Evelyn, “Park Life Forever” is a loving new tune that captures the relationship between this dynamic mother-daughter team. The slice-of-life song follows the duo as they explore the park on a summer day.—Abdiel Vallejo-Lopez

Courtney Barnett: City Looks Pretty’
“City Looks Pretty” takes Barnett’s new album, Tell Me How You Really Feel, in an entirely new direction than the past two singles have suggested. Barnett’s rhythmic guitar speeds through the first half of the song, leading into an exhilarating hook. This dynamic drive continues until the song’s false ending—afterwards, Barnett slows the tempo down, with her smooth vocals preceding a guitar solo that’s worthy of raising up a cigarette lighter. —Abdiel Vallejo-Lopez

Iceage: ‘The Day the Music Dies’
“The Day the Music Dies” combines raunchy brass, frontman Elias Bender Rønnenfelt’s sassy lead vocals and driving keyboards into a theatrical, Rolling Stones-esque stomper with Rønnenfelt drowning in anxiety (“How can one kill an impulsion / When it’s still kicking and breathing”) and restlessness (“The future’s never starting / The present never ends”). —Lizzie Mano

Lake Street Dive
The Boston soul-rock collective is back with a new album, Free Yourself Up, on May 4, with all the grooves, jams, and vocal majesty (courtesy of the great Rachael Price) you’ve come to expect. Watch them perform first single “Good Kisser” below, and check out the full session here.

The Nels Cline 4
Guitar gods Nels Cline (who’s been Wilco’s lead man since 2004) and Julian Lage (who paired up with the great Chris Eldridge last year) have been operating as a duo for a few years now. For their new release, Currents, Constellations, they added an equally insane rhythm section. Allow the quartet to melt your brain with “Imperfect 10,” and watch the entire session here.

Half Waif
Brooklyn songwriter Nandi Rose Plunkett leads the exquisite folk-pop trio Half Waif, whose new album, Lavender, arrives April 27. watch the entire session. Watch them perform the lovely album opener “Lavender Burning,” and be sure to check out the full session here.

A Guide to America’s Best Music Festivals of 2018
Coachella is underway in California, signaling the start of the annual parade of music festivals across the U.S. We all know the main characters—Bonnaroo, Governors Ball, Lollapalooza and Firefly, among them. But the truth is, there are so many festivals these days covering so many different kinds of music that it can be hard to figure out where to spend your hard-earned beer money. With this guide, we’ve broken down 20 of the best and newest festivals happening in the U.S. this year that may not already be on your radar. There’s probably one within 100 miles. —Catherine Araimo

Lucy Dacus Is a ‘Historian’ of the Future
A long and hectic, albeit fruitful, year is just getting going for 22-year-old Lucy Dacus, following the March 2 release of what is decidedly her breakthrough LP, Historian, on Matador Records. Where her first LP, No Burden showcased her talent for embedding meditative lyrics inside approachable rock songs, Historian is a major artistic stride. We talked to her about stepping gingerly into the spotlight, finding the poignant silences in the cacophony surrounding her breakout album, and how she feels she can use her new platform to help others. —Adrian Spinelli

Record Store Day Is Riding Vinyl Wave to New Heights, but Not Everyone Is Convinced
Record Store Day, which arrives this Saturday, April 21, has become a bona fide event, with independent shops “in every continent but Antartica” (as their PR copy says) offering a wealth of exclusive releases, which this year include a cassette reissue of AC/DC’s Back in Black to a vinyl pressing of the soundtrack to the 1973 horror film Ganja and Hess. But it hasn’t survived a decade without some bumps in the road. Check out our list of 10 gems to pick up at this year’s Record Store Day. —Robert Ham

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