The Week In Music: The Best Albums, Songs, Performances and MorePhoto by Bobbi Rich Music Features The Week in Music
These are truly wacky times we’re living in, but we can at least take comfort in the fact that some parts of normal life will continue to go on. Artists will release albums, people will fulfill their daily career duties (even if from home) and Netflix will still share new shows. This week was a crazy one for everyone, but at least we were treated to new albums by Porridge Radio and Dogleg, plus terrific new singles from Margo Price and Fenne Lily. Here’s all the music news you have missed from the last seven days.
Porridge Radio: Every Bad
Tension-building holds a whole new meaning when Dana Margolin utilizes it. As lead singer of Brighton quartet Porridge Radio, Margolin emotes such unbridled theatricality that every song becomes a vigorous hurricane. Her raw vocal oscillations are menacing, compassionate and sultry—often at the same time. There’s a fire burning underneath their raucous guitar-pop, and it’s made of desire—a desire to understand and be understood, to love and be loved and to cast aside bitterness, cynicism and judgment. That sentiment coupled with Margolin’s animalistic vocals and majestic yet unhinged strings on “Lilac,” and we’re not only presented with the album’s pièce de résistance, but a modern-day anthem of radical kindness. Following the band’s compelling 2016 self-recorded debut Rice, Pasta and Other Fillers and their recent signing to Secretly Canadian, their bold, tantalizing new LP Every Bad makes them one of the most exciting new bands on the planet. —Lizzie Manno
As song titles go, “Kawasaki Backflip” rolls off the tongue quite nicely. It has a certain rhythm—you can imagine it as a punchline delivered by Will Ferrell’s George W. Bush. Somehow, it evokes a carefree thrill and a display of skill, both at the same time. Perhaps it’s no coincidence, then, that those descriptors can also be applied to “Kawasaki Backflip,” the opening track on Detroit rock quartet Dogleg’s debut album. A powder keg packed into just under two and a half minutes, the song is a bundle of heavy artillery snare cracks, buzzsaw guitars and singer Alex Stoitsiadis’ demolition dreams, delivered with a perfect balance of throat-shredding desperation and melodic know-how. More or less, those sonic qualities course through Melee’s 10 tracks, and they’re the reason Dogleg has built considerable buzz within the punk and emo communities. Formed in 2016, the band is brawny enough for the former and catchy enough for the latter, walking a line previously mastered by bands like ’90s Midwestern heroes Braid or more recent emo-revival flagship The Hotelier. At this point in their career, at least, Dogleg go faster than both those bands. In fact, they very rarely reach for the brake pedal on Melee, choosing instead to approach a thrash pace on standout songs like “Fox,” where drummer Parker Grissom and bassist Chase Macinski establish themselves as solid, speedy foundation-layers and a group of 11 people expertly provide backing gang-vocals. “Any moment now, I will disintegrate,” Stoitsiadis barks as the din swirls around him. “You’ll make your move and I will fade out.” Here, Dogleg sounds a lot like another band of Rust Belt scorchers: Cloud Nothings. —Ben Salmon
Fenne Lily: “Hypochondriac”
“Hypochondriac” is a buoyant and at times ambient indie-rock ballad, full of loping guitars and criss-crossing drum beats. With a little of TORRES-style slanted vocal delivery and a jammy rock flair, “Hypochondriac” is far more upbeat than the song’s subject matter may suggest. In the bridge, Fenne Lily continually tells herself, “Look alive,” before a chorus and a startlingly pretty key change take center stage. She ends the song with the relatable (especially during potentially overwhelming times such as these) line, “I’m waiting for a moment to stop and not feel so much.” —Ellen Johnson
Margo Price: “Twinkle Twinkle”
Margo Price’s new single is “a stinging indictment of nostalgia and the illusory nature of success,” while ”the video, in all its kaleidoscopic glory, was inspired by a four-hour-long free-associative text thread between Price and Siskin,” according to press materials. And the video feels that way: Images of Mona Lisa’s smile and newsreel slide on and off the screen in slipstream to lyrics like “If it don’t break you, it might just make you rich,” and a wry, “Sweet Sixteen, that kiss of death.” —Isabella DeLeo
Flume feat. Toro y Moi: “The Difference”
Can you believe Flume and Toro y Moi have never worked together? The two sound like a natural match on “The Difference,” a track shared Wednesday morning. The track is featured in an Apple AirPods Pro commercial and comes coupled with its own respective music video directed by Jonathan Zawada. Harley Streten (Flume) said of the collaboration, “We made this song between a day at my place in L.A. and a day at Chaz’s spot in Oakland. This was our first time working together, I’ve been a Toro Y Moi fan for a while. His song ‘Talamak’ is a longtime favorite. I listened to that one a lot when I first started Flume as a project.” —Austin Jones
Southern-based alternative country band LANCO stopped by our Atlanta studio outpost this week to play a handful of songs from their warm discography: “What I See,” from a 2019 EP called “Lessons Learned,” “Greatest Love Story” and “Born to Love You,” both from their 2018 debut album Hallelujah Nights.
Longtime British post-punk rockers Wire stopped by the Paste Studio in New York City this week just after the release of their new 2020 album Mind Hive. They played songs from the record, plus a just-released single “Small Black Reptile,” which we featured this week as a Daily Dose.
In late January, one Twitter user saw a certain viral Bernie Sanders meme as an opportunity to reminisce on a favorite 2010s indie pop gem. This, of course, is referring to the song “Tongue Tied,” a single from indie-pop/rock band Grouplove’s 2011 debut album, Never Trust A Happy Song, an especially funny title considering 75% of the album is jubilant, at times outrageous, folk-pop that rarely feels dishonest. The song itself could have come across as an aimless assortment of sweet nothings: Lyrics like “I’ll get real high / slumber party, pillow fight” and “Marmalade, we’re making out” might imply another “Last Friday Night”-style keg anthem. So almost 10 years after its release, you may not be interested in resurrecting this relic from the “hipster” era, but “Tongue Tied” is actually a bit of a rarity for a few reasons, even still today. Grouplove, feverishly fronted by husband/wife pair Hannah Hooper and Christian Zucconi, are releasing their fourth LP, HEALER on Friday, so, please, take me to your best friend’s house, and take some time to remember why this song is such a banger. —Ellen Johnson
Harry Styles’ latest release Fine Line was a reminder that this former boy band member has really taken his solo career by storm. However, some former boy band members’ solo careers really tanked. Maybe they just didn’t have it in them without their fellow dudes. But some solo careers—like Styles’—have really skyrocketed. Even fewer became even more successful than the band or group itself. So let’s look at those in the latter camp. Here’s a list of the top 10 former boy band solo albums, ranked. —Daniella Boik
The Dixie Chicks recently shared their first new song in 14 years, the fierce and calculated “Gaslighter,” and announced an album of the same name out May 1. This is exciting news for any and all fans of the trio featuring lead singer Natalie Maines and sisters Martie Erwin Maguire and Emily Erwin Robison, but it’s also fantastic news for pop culture at large. It’s been more than a decade since we’ve been privy to the outspoken rhetoric of country music’s loudest and proudest band, not to mention their moving ballads, breakup songs, revenge anthems and straight-up bluegrass bangers. More than 15 years after they expressed their dislike for former president George W. Bush and, as a result, were all but abolished by the conservative country establishment, it’s pretty clear that most music fans are pretty pleased with their comeback. To commemorate the return of one of the most simultaneously controversial and beloved country groups of all time, we rounded up our favorite songs by the Dixie Chicks (Spoiler: we love the new song so much, we had to include it here). Without further ado, call up the Mary Anne to your Wanda, spin your Dixie Chicks album of choice in solidarity and behold a dozen of their best songs here. —Ellen Johnson
It’s becoming more and more clear that COVID-19, the infection caused by the new coronavirus outbreak, isn’t going to go down quietly. Because of SXSW’s cancelation due to the virus, there are now films searching for a new festival home and musicians from all over the world without a place to share their art with potential labels, managers, writers and publicists. Thousands of independent and grassroots artists count on SXSW each year for these opportunities, not to mention there are now innumerable dollars lost from flight and tour cancellations. This is the first time SXSW has ever been cancelled in its 34 years of existence, and it has caused a ripple effect across the music industry. This is nothing short of a massive loss for independent music. However, just because we won’t be officially gathering in Austin this year doesn’t mean we can’t support the independent artists who were scheduled to perform. Paste won’t be traveling this year, but we’ll still be scouring the slated SXSW lineup for our favorite new artists, just as we would have if we’d been present. So here’s our SXSW preview anyways. We’ve also included each artist’s tour dates, so, barring any further coronavirus cancellations, maybe you can still catch them on the road or buy a t-shirt or two. Happy listening, and don’t forget to wash your hands. —Ellen Johnson & Paste Music Staff