The Week In Music: The Best Albums, Songs, Performances and More

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The Week In Music: The Best Albums, Songs, Performances and More

We’re not really sure how it’s already May, but for now, we’re just going to go with it. The first of May also marks the first New Music Friday of the month, which means plenty of new albums. Speaking of which, you should purchase some new music on Bandcamp for today’s promotion—the site is waiving their revenue shares for the first Friday of the next three months and giving them directly to artists. We’ve listed some of our favorite new music below from the likes of Happyness, Pure X, Khruangbin, Retirement Party and others, plus more of the best Paste music content from the past week.

BEST ALBUMS

Pure X: Pure X

After quietly reforming in 2018, Austin, Texas four-piece Pure X have now returned with their first album in six years—their self-titled album, out digitally now and out physically on July 3 via Fire Talk Records. It’s an album of open space and an open fire—their lightly-charred guitars mingle with warm lead vocals and cozy grooves. It might be a bit sad to listen to a wonderfully grizzled album, perfect for the summer, but there’s never a bad time for a pensive, smoky rock record. “Middle America” finds them at their fuzziest with majestic guitars flapping in the wind, the slick “Making History” is a slow trip down a languid road and “Fantasy” is a pretty slice of mid-tempo melancholia—the perfect soundtrack to cleaning up all the beer bottles at the end of a porch party at dusk. —Lizzie Manno

Happyness: Floatr

Now a two-piece led by founding members Jonny Allan (vocals) and Ash Kenazi (drums), London outfit Happyness have shared their third album Floatr, which follows 2015’s Weird Little Birthday and 2017’s Write In. They describe the years since Write In as “the best and worst years of our lives,” which included the departure of original member Benji Compston and an unannounced hiatus. The band’s return was marked by Kenazi’s onstage emergence as a drag queen and a new five-piece lineup featuring Max Bloom (Yuck), Anna Vincent (Heavy Heart) and Scott Booker Roach (Social Contract). Floatr sees them rev up their slacker rock engines once more, but as usual, their idiosyncratic touches keep things fresh and their heartfelt yearning still cuts deep. “Bothsidesing” features Allan’s heavenly whispers, “Seeing Eye Dog” is powered by gorgeous guitar bluster and “Milk Float” melds snug lo-fi with a vague aura of mystery. —Lizzie Manno

BEST TRACKS

Tenci:Joy

Tenci, the moniker of Chicago-based musician Jess Shoman, has announced the details of her debut album, My Heart Is An Open Field, out June 5 on Keeled Scales. Shoman also shares the music video for “Joy” and “Joy 2,” melded into a seven-minute display of intimate sketches of friendship and idle traveling. The lyrics also evoke the sensation of associating a time, place and aura to a specific person or moment in time, with Shoman singing: “I’m gonna find you here and there / In the trees / In the air / In the lines / In my hands.” —Natalia Keogan

Retirement Party:Compensation

Following their lead single “Runaway Dog,” Chicago three-piece Retirement Party have shared another new track from the album of the same name, out on May 15 via Counter Intuitive Records. “Compensation” contemplates how to remain authentic and well-intentioned in a world that’s almost always the opposite, and this weighty question is paired with propulsive, good-natured indie rock. If only for a few minutes, their vibrant guitar jolts make life’s baked-in hurdles feel like a mirage—and they are driving through a desert after all. —Lizzie Manno

Khruangbin:Time (You and I)

Khruangbin shared news of their upcoming new album titled Mordechai. Khruangbin also shared a video for the album’s lead single “Time (You and I).” The video, directed by Felix Heyes and Josh R.R. King, is a funky throwback with a goofy spirit. It’s perfect for the stylish soul Khruangbin are known for. —Austin Jones

The Paste Happiest Hour

This week we caught up with Taylor Goldsmith (Dawes), Lilly Hiatt and more. Watch every episode—future and past—on our YouTube page.

FEATURES

The 10 Albums We’re Most Excited About in May

It’s been a bit of a task trying to figure out what albums are still coming out as planned. Release dates have been shifting around due to the pandemic, but despite many delays until late summer and fall, this month will still bring us quite a few exciting releases. Among the albums slated for May are two critically-acclaimed giants of their respective genres—Jason Isbell and Perfume Genius—plus fresh faces poised to release their first full-lengths—Buscabulla and Nation of Language. If you need something with a tangible date to look forward to, look no further than this list of our most highly-anticipated albums of May. —Paste Staff

What the Paste Staff is Listening to This Week

We’re not sure when it will be safe to hug our friends or gather in public again, so that means you likely have more free time on your hands than normal—and perhaps more than you’d like to have given that we’re all stuck inside. The Paste HQ in Atlanta has been closed for almost two months now, which means our writers have had to keep ourselves occupied and sane while we work from home. Here are a few music releases that have brought us joy or eased our minds while we aggressively type away. —Paste Staff

The 15 Best Car Seat Headrest Songs

The new publicity photos of beloved indie band Car Seat Headrest feature Will Toledo in a space-age gas mask and a high-visibility jacket. It’s a long way away from the scruffy lo-fi rock aesthetics he built his career upon. Surely Toledo knew nothing of the impending pandemic when he decided to don this apocalyptic gear for his new album Making a Door Less Open, out this Friday (May 1) on Matador Records, but it adds a sort of ominous wisdom. Does Toledo know more than us? Did he know just how good he was when he started uploading music to Bandcamp a decade ago? As a matter of fact, his first Bandcamp release, 1 was also released on May 1, exactly 10 years ago. Since his days in the DIY scene at Virginia’s William & Mary College, he signed a record deal, toured the world, released widely-adored albums and has been informally crowned as a 2010s indie staple. Though perhaps an unlikely rock star and emblematic millennial figure, his songs vividly and cleverly capture why his entire generation feels like they’re drowning. While singing about self-doubt, death and anxiety over rousing indie rock songs almost certainly worthy of stadium-rock status, he’s also a master of cultural references—folding in nods to classic literature and religious texts, plus everyone from Frank Ocean to Daniel Johnston. To celebrate the release of Car Seat Headrest’s new album—a sharp left-turn into synth-pop and his first new material since 2016—we’re sharing a Will Toledo primer to get you in the zone. —Lizzie Manno & Paste Staff

The Best Folk Songs of 2020 (So Far)

The vastness of folk music is the perfect escape from anything pandemic-related. While we may be confined to the indoors (or at least to strict solitude) right now, music is a kind of journey that doesn’t require any movement at all. And, as it happens, many of the songs on this list can be best enjoyed in stillness. Sit down, pour yourself a hot beverage and just listen. But the folk music that occupies this list isn’t just coffeehouse music you can tune out and work to—it’s thought-provoking, hearty music for curious listeners. While popular “folk” music has long evolved past its 1960s definition and is one of those genres that becomes more and more difficult to define with every passing year, there are still plenty of artists who undeniably fall somewhere on a venn diagram containing its base sounds and characteristics. Some of these artists may lean more country or rock, or maybe bluegrass or old-time, but, together, they make a list of folk songs. It’s far from comprehensive, but this list seeks to highlight some of the many wonderful songs released during a strange year. Here are the best folk songs released in 2020 so far. —Ellen Johnson

The 15 Best Songs of April 2020

Yet another month has passed us by without much fuss. There’s nothing I can say about our current situation in this arbitrary introductory paragraph that you don’t already know, so I’ll spare you the summary. But I won’t spare you the many wonderful songs that arrived in the last 30 days—those are all waiting for you below, and in a Spotify playlist we put together just for you. April brought new songs from old friends like The Beths, Faye Webster and Ohmme, as well as stand-out tracks from stalwarts like Fiona Apple and the 1975. Enjoy! —Paste Staff

The 10 Best Albums of April 2020

April 2020 has unceremoniously come and gone. Spring is here, the pandemic rages on and there’s not much else to say other than that. It can be a bittersweet time for many as canceled dates for live music, weddings and graduations pass by, but, thankfully, there’s still a lot to celebrate—including these 10 incredible releases. April brought us great new albums from artists like Hamilton Leithauser, Ashley McBryde and Thundercat, as well as the current frontrunner for album of the year: Fiona Apple and her Bolt Cutters. So fetch your own pair, and start listening. —Paste Staff

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