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

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

July has come to a close and August is now underway, proving that summer doesn’t last forever. However, that doesn’t mean we haven’t had plenty of sunny new tunes, plus much more to come. This past week saw the release of exceptional new albums from Ty Segall and Strange Ranger, plus fantastic new singles from Angel Olsen, HAIM and Honey Lung. The Paste Studio was on fire this week with searing appearances from Angie McMahon, The Get Right Band and more, and this week’s musical guest on The Paste Podcast was former Allman Brothers Band member Chuck Leavell. To close out July, we ranked our favorite songs and albums from the past month, plus had chats with Ben Folds and Ty Segall, and previewed two more summer festivals—Pickathon and Osheaga. Scroll down for the best songs, albums, features and more from the Paste music section.


Ty Segall: First Taste

If First Taste is your, well, first taste of Ty Segall, it might be easy to brush him off as self-indulgent noise rock. The album is overly-produced and as gaudy as a paisley shirt, sure, but it’s also immensely compelling, inventive and fascinatingly unhinged, all while still maintaining a tight control and an understanding of how to reign it all in to create an actual song from the mire of noise. And he does all of this without a single guitar. Not one. There are bouziukis and mandolins and kotos, but not a single guitar. And at no point do you miss it, because Segall has created something so otherworldly and lush. After 12 studio albums—not to mention a bevy of other collaborations with Fuzz, GØGGS and others—it would be easy to repeat yourself. But Segall doesn’t. The pomp-and-sneer of songs like “Fanny Dog” and “Every 1’s a Winner” from 2018’s Freedom Goblin is still present here, but this album grabs that sound and runs naked down the boardwalk waving it proudly. First Taste is an album that demands attention, but even if you look away for a moment, Segall keeps rocking on regardless. “I’d rather sound like me than try to sing my melody,” he croons on “I Sing Them.” He does, indeed, and no one sounds quite like him. —Libby Cudmore

Strange Ranger: Remembering The Rockets

Strange Ranger’s existence (so far) has been marked by restlessness and change. The band’s founding members, Isaac Eiger and Fred Nixon, have already called three states home since they initially bonded over their mutual love of Modest Mouse at a Bozeman, M.T. high school. In 2011, they moved to Portland, Ore., where they plugged into a fertile DIY rock scene, and just in the past year, they packed up their bags again, this time to Philadelphia. Along the way, they changed their band’s name (from Sioux Falls to Strange Ranger), as well as their musical style from release to release. Their 2015 full-length, Rot Forever, is packed with jittery post-punk jams, while 2017’s Daymoon is prettier and more patient, with a bit of shoegazey haze surrounding the songs. Depending on your perspective, then, it is either surprising or it’s expected that Strange Ranger’s new album Remembering the Rockets finds the band settling into a sound and settling down. It’s not like Eiger and Nixon were necessarily immature songwriters before, but it is still striking to hear a twentysomething indie rock band singing about life at its most mundane (doing the dishes) and its most consequential (having kids in the face of a climate crisis) against a backdrop of easygoing pop-rock. —Ben Salmon


Angel Olsen:All Mirrors

Angel Olsen’s new album All Mirrors is described as getting “its claws into you on both micro and macro levels,” a creeping feeling obvious on the album’s first cut. “All Mirrors” is big—a blustering, imposing arrangement of grim strings, sweeping synths and oscillating percussion. —Savannah Sicurella

Honey Lung:Nothing

Opening with light acoustic strums and sedating, backwards guitar whooshes, “Nothing” strikes like quicksilver with a guitar riff for the ages. Besides the riff’s obvious stickiness, the juxtaposition between the tender and the blistering is what makes this track a winner. Lead singer Jamie Batten’s vulnerable lyrics, trustworthy lead vocals, and gentle xylophone touches coalesce with layers of supercharged, hooky guitars. —Lizzie Manno

HAIM:Summer Girl

The telepathic compassion is all over the heartbreaking and vulnerable “Summer Girl,” which ebbs and flows with soft percussion, a languid, funky bass and a lilting saxophone riff dreamt up by Rostam Batmanglij. Danielle’s breathy vocals are almost whispered over the unembellished, barebones instrumental: “Under the freeway overpasses / The tears behind your dark sunglasses / The fears inside your heart’s deepest gashes / Walk beside me.” —Savannah Sicurella


Paste Podcast #18: Hobbs & Shaw and Chuck Leavell on The Paste Podcast

Rolling Stones keyboardist, solo performer, environmentalist and legend, Chuck Leavell joins us in the Paste Studio for a conversation and three songs. Plus host Josh Jackson watches his very first Fast & Furious movie, Hobbs & Shaw, and discusses the results with Paste’s Allison Keene.

Listen below, or better yet, download on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, Spotify or the new app from our podcast partner Himalaya, and subscribe!


The Get Right Band

The Get Right Band, an energetic indie-psych group from Asheville, N.C., put their own shiny spin on a classic Jeff Buckley tune in the Paste Studio this week. The Get Right Band also played “Requiem for the Chemical Memory,” from their 2016 LP Who’s In Charge?, plus two songs from a still-unreleased record, “Fire with Rain” and “Itchy Soul.” —Ellen Johnson

Angie McMahon

Angie McMahon showed up to the Paste Studio with just one electric guitar in hand, but that’s all she needed. The Australian singer/songwriter is having a big week. She released her debut LP, Salt, a stirring solo collection of riff-driven, honest ballads, this week, the same week she played the legendary Newport Folk Festival. —Ellen Johnson


The 15 Best Songs of July 2019

July marked the welcome return of five indie mainstays—Angel Olsen, Wilco, DIIV, Vivian Girls and Chastity Belt—but there were plenty of newbies who put out great new tunes as well. Among the many acts we vibed with this month were Dolly Valentine, Ducks Unlimited, Honey Lung, Young Guv and Black Country, New Road. Plus, we heard show-stopping numbers from country supergroup The Highwomen, Alabama Shakes’ Brittany Howard and garage rocker Ty Segall. Hear 15 of Paste’s favorite tracks from July, listed alphabetically by artist. —Paste Staff

The 10 Best Albums of July 2019

July may have been a slightly quieter month for new album releases (apart from the new Chance The Rapper album, which didn’t quite impress), but that doesn’t mean we didn’t enjoy listening to heaps of new records from the past 31 days. Some of our favorites included the debut LP from David Berman’s Purple Mountains, an indie-folk wallflower from Florist, a Greek myth-influenced record from Drab Majesty, a spunky live album from New Order and many more. Read about 10 albums that stuck out to us from the past month. —Paste Staff

Your Guide to Pickathon 2019: Music, Food, Live Stream and More

Festival season is nearing its end, but there’s another notable music event happening in the whimsical woods of Oregon this weekend. Pickathon, which got its start in 1998 as a bluegrass and roots festival, has aged in those 21 years like a fine wine. The annual festival, which happens every August in Happy Valley, Ore. outside Portland, has grown to a much more musically diverse happening. You’re just as likely to hear an indie rock band or jam hero as you are a country star or roots trio at one of Pickathon’s famously artsy stages. This year, you’ll hear all four—and so much more. Like other discovery-oriented festivals, Pickathon is a great place to find your new favorite band. Artists like Courtney Barnett, Kevin Morby, The Avett Brothers and Margo Price have all played the fest early on in their careers—each on the cusp of breaking it big. Who knows—some of the more unfamiliar artists on this year’s lineup—like Miya Folick, B Boys and Black Belt Eagle Scout—could be headlining in just a few years. —Ellen Johnson

On His New Album, Ty Segall Goes Into Battle Without Guitars

Ty Segall and the electric guitar were made for each other. Whether you fell in love with the metallic, overdriven garage rock of Emotional Mugger, the sprawling guitar chameleon Manipulator or last year’s rock ’n’ roll funhouse Freedom’s Goblin, Segall has melted his fair share of faces over the years. He’s been a mainstay in California’s rock scene for just over a decade, playing in countless bands like GØGGS, Sic Alps and The C.I.A., but he’s best known for his lengthy solo discography, which has established him as one of America’s finest cult garage acts alongside Thee Oh Sees and The Black Lips. While Segall’s fire-breathing, surefire rock music is still intact on his new solo album First Taste, there’s something missing here, even if you don’t notice what it is at first. —Lizzie Manno

The 10 Best Spoon Songs

Last Friday, Spoon released Everything Hits At Once: The Best of Spoon, a greatest hits album by a band without a single Billboard 200 song to their name. It’s nearly impossible to argue with any song on the tracklist, one that weaves in and out of every era of the band, beginning with 2000’s Girls Can Tell all the way up to a new song released along with the compilation, “No Bullets Spent.” But they mostly opted for singles, so it’s also tough to see them leave off certain songs. Spoon, as one of the most consistently great American rock bands of the 21st century—maybe even the best—has endless amounts of “fan favorites,” loads of which didn’t make the greatest hits record. Of the 10 songs we included on our list of favorites, only three made the cut for Everything Hits At Once, showing the depth of the perpetually cool Austin band’s back catalogue. Though it was hard work for us to narrow down an initial list of 30 songs to 10, you can only imagine how much more agonizing the process was for frontman Britt Daniel, who had to find it within him to shut out standouts like “Stay Don’t Go” and “Jonathan Fisk.” Here, we attempt that same Herculean task, creating our own list of Spoon’s greatest hits, deep cuts, and fan favorites. —Steven Edelstone

10 Acts to See at Osheaga 2019

Osheaga Festival is arguably Canada’s best music festival. Held in Montreal across three days, it features major international touring acts—big and small—and it offers a taste of everything from electronic, hip-hop and latin to rock and pop. This year’s festival has been moved to Parc Jean Drapeau, the newly-renovated original site, and it’s a walk or bike ride away from Jacques Cartier Bridge in downtown Montreal. According to the festival, this move “offer[s] more comfortable and spacious festival grounds than ever before, our iconic side-by-side main stages, activities, spectacular art installations and assorted culinary options.” Last year’s festival lineup included Travis Scott, Arctic Monkeys, Florence + The Machine, The National, James Blake, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and more. The 2019 edition will host The Chemical Brothers, Childish Gambino, Tame Impala, The Lumineers, Janelle Monae, Interpol, Kurt Vile and more. As Paste gears up to cover this year’s fest (Aug. 2-4), we’re studying up on our French and loading up our Spotify playlists with artists on the 2019 lineup. We’ve listed 10 performers we’re most excited to catch at Osheaga. Stay tuned for a recap of festival highlights and video clips on Paste’s Instagram stories. —Lizzie Manno and Annie Black

This is Your Life: Ben Folds on His Autobiography, A Dream About Lightning Bugs

Understanding Ben Folds’ creativity is the crux of his book. Unlike the artists who hid their musical education and background while he was growing up, Folds wrote his memoir to tell that story: how he learned how to play instruments, why he stuck with it and what creativity truly means to him. Without that incredibly detailed background, he says it’s impossible to fully understand his career and his creative approaches. It’s why he mentions every music teacher from kindergarten through college by name, spelling out how every class and every music lesson led to his accomplished back catalogue. He doesn’t even mention the formation of Ben Folds Five until page 163 of 311. —Steven Edelstone

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