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

It’s the first Friday of 2019, and though today’s album releases are still few and far between, some exciting new tracks have already begun to surface. New singles from Noname, Michael Chapman and more caught our attention this week as well as an eight-disc box set from Bobbie Gentry. We also rounded out some of our final year-end lists, including best Paste Studio and Daytrotter sessions of 2018, and we highlighted 30 albums that we’re excited to hear this year. Check out the best new music and features from the past week below.

BEST ALBUMS

Bobbie Gentry: The Girl From Chickasaw County: The Complete Capitol Masters

Bobbie Gentry finally getting her due is one of the more positive storylines to come out of the past decade of the music industry. The multi-hyphenate artist from Mississippi had been long relegated to the cutout bins, resurrected only through easy listening stations keeping her #1 hit “Ode To Billie Joe” in regular rotation and Reba McEntire’s successful 1991 cover of “Fancy.” Because Gentry vacated the limelight in the early ‘80s to live a quiet life rather than retiring to Branson, Missouri or risking her legacy by trying to keep up with the times, her work fell slowly out of favor. That has all changed with the rise of country stars Kacey Musgraves and Miranda Lambert, artists that have namechecked Gentry as an influence, and an archival culture that is constantly digging through crates for gems to claim. This slow growth has culminated in the shining jewel that is The Girl From Chickasaw County, an eight-CD boxed set that gathers together nearly everything Gentry recorded between 1967 and 1972. It’s an overindulgent buffet that, even without the copious notes from archivist Andrew Batt, tells the story of how a fickle pop marketplace failed to appreciate her febrile creative mind even as she tried to gamely bend to its will. —Robert Ham

BEST TRACKS

Noname:Song 31

Noname has fulfilled her promise to share new music following her run of sold-out New Year’s Eve shows in Chicago by releasing “Song 31,” her first new song since the release of Room 25, which we at Paste ranked among 2018’s best hip-hop albums (not to mention its best albums, period). The song is as festive as the Chicago rapper is willing to get, calling out the capitalistic origins of Christmastime and all that it entails. “I sell pain for profit, not propaganda / I know cancer’s origin linked to Santa / I know Santa’s origins linked to money / Mass production of cattle / Slaughtering for the yummy,” she raps over smooth-soul beats from producer Phoelix. —Justin Kamp

Michael Chapman feat. Bridget St. John:After All This Time

When it comes to Michael Chapman’s discography, the word “prolific” doesn’t even begin to cover it. The 77-year-old British songwriter and guitarist has released something like 50 albums in his 52-year career, and he’s preparing to release another, True North, on Feb. 8 via Paradise Of Bachelors. That’s a boggling number, but Chapman has always found new topics to write about as he’s aged. On the second single from True North, “After All This Time,” fellow English folkster Bridget St. John joins Chapman on the song and the subject at hand is ruinous love, examined from a wizened perspective. “After All This Time,” which also features Steve Gunn adding another guitar to Chapman’s, is devastating if you listen closely. In songs about relationships, you rarely hear tales of falling out of love, but Chapman ruminates on that very phenomenon as ambient guitars infiltrate the dreary yet composed mood: “Which can cause the distance between two people, once so close?” St. John’s gritty charms pair well with Chapman’s, and a brief solo by Sarah Smout adds even more depth to the tune. In yet another layer, renowned pedal steel guitarist BJ Cole flexes and the whole thing glows like a weepy country song. —Ellen Johnson

YBN Cordae:What’s Life

After releasing a few memorable solo tracks throughout 2018—such as the trap-heavy “Kung Fu” and somewhat-controversial call-out “Old N****s”—and a mixtape with the YBN rap collective, YBN Cordae has made his way onto a handful of best new artist and best of hip-hop year-end lists. Reflecting on his year on the rise and closing out 2018, Cordae has released one final single for the year, titled “What’s Life.” Scaled-back production, soulful backing vocals, a piano and horns each get their own moment to shine before Cordae takes the spotlight. Throughout the track, he raps about the year he’s had, trying to isolate what truly matters (“What’s life without friends / Who remain genuine / Don’t care about the money / Or what type of crib you in / Who can withstand the test of time?”) while getting ready to head into 2019. —Emma Korstanje

BEST PERFORMANCES

Gato Preto

Dusseldorf, Germany dance duo Gato Preto paid a visit to the Paste Studio to perform songs from their 2017 album, Tempo. The pair (producer Lee Bass and vocalist Gata Misteriosa) fuses intensely rhythmic world music with electro club beats, resulting in a dynamic, vibrant, late night sound. Listen to the duo perform three songs—”Tempo,” “Dia D” and “Banze.” —Lizzie Manno

Upstate

N.Y. collective Upstate stopped by the Paste Studio to promote their forthcoming album Healing, due out on Feb. 8. The band’s name is an ode to their upstate New York hometown and their mix of folk, jazz and R&B is a woodsy, soulful collage of sounds. They played three tracks from their new record—”Healing,” “I’ll Be Fine” and “Young.” —Lizzie Manno

FEATURES

The 30 Most Anticipated Albums of 2019

Last year was a bountiful one for music, and 2019 is shaping up to be just as promising. In the current musical economy, albums often arrive with no warning, completely out of the blue. So while most of the albums on this list have solid release dates, others have only been announced, but with no details other than a 2019 arrival. Despite various degrees of speculation, we feel fairly certain the records on this list with a “TBD” date will debut in the next 12 months. Plus, we have lots of great music to keep us occupied while we wait. Here, in alphabetical order, are the 30 most anticipated albums on the way in 2019. —Ellen Johnson & Paste Music Staff

The 10 Best Cover Songs of 2018

The art of the cover song can sometimes be as difficult as writing originals. Sure, writing new material requires creating something from nothing, but performing those songs in a way that stands out comes with its own challenges and tripwires. As soon as you approach a cover song, you encounter that pivotal question of whether to stay true to the original or put your own spin on it. While keeping the arrangement of the original is always a safe move, turning the song into something fresh and new can result in something even more enthralling, though there’s one big caveat—you have to plan and execute it with care in order to stick the landing. When approaching a cover song, you want to avoid butchering the original version at all costs in order to preserve the song’s integrity. These artists not only preserved the integrity of the original versions, but came out on the other side, smelling like a rose. Listen to our 10 favorite cover songs from 2018, as chosen by the Paste music staff. —Lizzie Manno & Paste Staff

The 20 Best Daytrotter Sessions of 2018

Watching or listening to Daytrotter sessions on a regular basis in 2018 was like hearing a fantastic opening band every single day. Maybe the band was fairly obscure, with nothing but two singles and a t-shirt to their name, but they nonetheless struck a chord (or several), causing us to do a deep-dive of their microscopic discography. The people who play Daytrotter sessions are often established artists, but other times, like opening bands at show, they’re uncharted, up-and-coming bands just trying to get their name out there. That’s what’s magical about Daytrotter. It’s first and foremost a platform for discovery, and on most any given day you can tune into a live session that’s almost guaranteed to impress, or you can browse our expansive log of recordings by well-known and on-the-rise bands alike. Daytrotter is the place where you can hear Fleet Foxes play songs from their debut album the same year it was released. And it’s also the place where you can find your new favorite band without leaving your house, and the lead singer of that band just might be Kevin Bacon. This year, we transitioned to primarily video sessions recorded in our Davenport, Iowa studio, bringing a fresh, new way to visually experience Daytrotter. With more than 200 sessions recorded in 2018, there was a lot to choose from, but we rounded up 20 of our absolute favorites and listed them by date. —Ellen Johnson & Lizzie Manno

The 20 Best Paste Studio Sessions of 2018

The Paste Studio in New York City had its fair share of magical musical moments in the past year. With hundreds of musicians from all walks of life loading in and out of those studios, we witnessed the unifying, uplifting power of music in many forms. We had performances from plucky rookies, buzzed-about up-and-comers and seasoned veterans, and from just about every genre you can think of. Whether it was the smoky blues of Fantastic Negrito, the teary-eyed folk of Tomberlin or the headstrong indie rock of Soccer Mommy, we saw a lot of performances that gave those of us in the Atlanta office the urge to spring out of our desk chairs and hop on a high-speed jet to NYC. Paste is excited to share our 20 favorite Paste Studio sessions of 2018, listed by session date. If you enjoyed these sessions, you can subscribe to our podcast, Live at Paste Studio, where you can hear staff-selected sessions each week, or subscribe to our YouTube channel for daily sessions. —Lizzie Manno & Paste Staff

ReSlacktions: How Paste Writers Feel About the 2019 Coachella Lineup

Welcome to Paste’s new column, ReSlacktions, where a handful of Paste’s editors and contributors all hop on Slack to argue about the news of the day and give our reactions. For our second edition, we’re going to talk about last night’s Coachella lineup reveal and what it means for the 2019 festival circuit. The transcript has been edited for clarity, saving you from tangents like trying to figure out what Idris Elba’s DJ set will be like. —Steven Edelstone & Paste Staff

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