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

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Today marks the meatiest music release date of the year so far and we hope your mouth is watering just as much as ours. There are new album releases from Sharon Van Etten, Deerhunter, The Twilight Sad, Maggie Rogers, Pedro The Lion, Steve Gunn and more, and we’ve got our headphones on hand, ready to let a whole new wave of music wash over us. This week boasted some great new singles as well from The Drums, Yola and Flat Worms, who are all dropping either full-lengths or EPs later this year. The Paste Studio up in New York City had a hefty schedule this week with especially notable performances from Dodie and Circles Under the Sun. To get you caught up on this week’s new music, Paste has neatly packaged our favorite albums, tracks, live performances and features from the past seven days for you below.

BEST ALBUMS

Sharon Van Etten: Remind Me Tomorrow

Singer/songwriter Sharon Van Etten has experienced a lot of change since the release of her last album, 2014’s Are We There, and they’re the kind of life-altering shifts—newfound romantic partnership, motherhood, career advancements—that are all but destined to reveal themselves in one’s art. And here, on her fifth studio effort Remind Me Tomorrow, those evolutions are apparent in a powerful sonic swerve, and in Van Etten’s desire to explore both nostalgia and rebirth, and maybe even how they intertwine. Remind Me Tomorrow is the first great rock album of the year, and it would behoove any and all of Van Etten’s fans, even those who staunchly prefer her folk-leaning material, and rock ‘n’ roll aficionados of all stripes to open their ears (and their hearts) to this beautifully executed pivot. And for all its bold sonic upheavals—the addition of drum machines and electric shred and cavernous synth—Remind Me Tomorrow maintains Van Etten’s gothic sensibilities. Sharon Van Etten was already one of the great lyricists of the ’10s, but with this breathtaking new project, she’s proved an artistic pliancy her contemporaries may not possess. She hit her stride with Are We There, but here she’s not even on the ground. —Ellen Johnson

The Twilight Sad: It Won/t Be Like This All The Time

Within seconds of hitting play on track one, it’s obvious that The Twilight Sad are changing things up on It Won/t Be Like This All The Time, the fifth studio album from the long-running Scottish post-punk band. Louder and more direct than ever, the initial hard-hitting and pulsating synths of “[10 Good Reasons for Modern Drugs]” are as in your face as anything lead singer James Graham and co. have released prior. A reintroduction of sorts similar to what the alien guitar feedback on Yeezus intro track “On Sight” did for Kanye West back in 2013. It Won/t Be Like This All The Time plays like the record The Twilight Sad were aiming to make with 2012’s No One Can Ever Know, an album that served as the band’s first attempt to go back to the drawing board after releasing Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters and Forget the Night Ahead, two records a bit too similar for their own good. Here, guitarist/producer Andy MacFarlane twists up the volume and pushes the tempos into overdrive, creating a dizzying and urgent tone that barely ever lets up. As a result, this is their most listenable album, one that dials back the heavy-handed metaphors and overwhelming musical gloom for something more danceable and upbeat, though still dour as ever lyrically. —Steven Edelstone

BEST TRACKS

The Drums:Body Chemistry

This week, The Drums shared the details of their new album, Brutalism, out on April 5 via ANTI- Records, and they’ve also unveiled the lead single, “Body Chemistry.” Brutalism is their fifth studio album and it follows their 2017 LP, Abysmal Thoughts, the first Drums album with Jonny Pierce as its sole member. “Body Chemistry” was the first song written for the album, and on the track, Pierce addresses his depression and outside forces urging him to change his life. Pierce ponders what he really wants and to what extent his personal shortcomings are innate. Featuring a healthy mix of The Drums’ much-loved indie-pop spunk and bright new textures, The Drums sound as musically confident and lyrically woeful as ever. —Lizzie Manno

Yola:Faraway Look

To fall into the warmth of a long overdue embrace is to hear Yola’s delivery of her new single, “Faraway Look,” the opening track from her forthcoming debut album, Walk Through Fire. With her stunning vocality, Bristol’s soul singer on the rise has the ability to transport the listener away from the moment they’re in and into Yola’s. For Yola, the new track represents how she was encouraged to “stay in [her] lane and be thankful for [her] lot,” she says, while still trying to find her footing as a female artist. Mere moments into the Dan Auerbach-produced track, it becomes apparent just how high Yola will soar in the new year. There is an unmistakable comfort in her voice that simultaneously feels like it’s been around forever and is the thing we’ve been missing all along. —Montana Martin

Flat Worms:Shouting at the Wall

Los Angeles punk trio Flat Worms announced the release of a new EP titled Into The Iris, out on Feb. 8 via Drag City imprint GOD? Records. This new release follows their 2017 self-titled debut album and last year’s single, “The Apparition” / “Melt The Arms.” This week, they shared their first cut from their six-track EP, “Shouting at the Wall.” Featuring Tim Hellman (Thee Oh Sees), Justin Sullivan (Night Shop, Kevin Morby) and Will Ivy (Dream Boys), Flat Worms have consistently churned out murky garage punk with an energy level that parallels an eight-year-old with a sugar rush. Their zippy ripper of a new single is a call to keep your eyes on the prize in an era of relentless distraction and nonsense—after all, social media really is just a glorified, public avenue for people to shout at walls. With a wave of twitchy, heavily distorted guitars, lead vocalist Will Ivy exudes a stark, smirking calmness amongst the electrifying storm. Into The Iris was recorded by Ty Segall in his home and, according to a press release, “is a persistent, determined response to an apocalyptic era, one that sees deserted strip malls and surreal headlines.” —Lizzie Manno

BEST PERFORMANCES

Dodie

English pop singer/songwriter Dodie became a huge YouTube sensation with her ukulele and keyboard covers and original songs. Her videos have been watched by hundred of millions and in 2016, she began releasing her own music. Though she doesn’t have a full-length album out yet, this Friday, she’s releasing her third EP, Human, which will be released independently, as were her first two EPs. She performed four tracks in the Paste Studio, all from her new EP—”Monster,” “If I’m Being Honest,” “Human” and “She.” —Lizzie Manno

Circles Around The Sun

Psychedelic instrumental outfit Circles Around The Sun are promoting their latest album release, 2018’s Let It Wander, and they stopped by the Paste Studio to perform three tracks—“On My Mind,” “One for Chuck” and “Halicarnassus.” Featuring members of Chris Robinson Brotherhood, this psych-funk quartet formed out of a shared love of The Grateful Dead as their guitarist was tasked with making intermission music for The Dead’s 2015 reunion tour, which was later released as Interludes for the Dead. These guys have the funky grooves and crazy finger skills to match their already impressive psych jam credentials. —Lizzie Manno

FEATURES

10 Milestones from 1969: The Year That Transformed Music

If 1967 and 1968 were years of innovation and invention as far as popular music was concerned, then without doubt 1969 could be considered the watershed year when everything was transformed completely. The message and meaning of rock as a force to be reckoned with—a rallying cry—changed completely. The influence of drugs and psychedelia, along with rock’s heavy-handed approach to pushing the parameters, began to give way to purer intentions and a need to consolidate those gains as a way forward. It was the year of extremes—the return to a sense of communal responsibility as represented by Woodstock, and the harsh realities wrought by violence and division typified by Altamont and the ongoing trauma of a faraway war. Here then, in chronological order, are the 10 events that defined that year musically and significantly for the decades to come. —Lee Zimmerman

Lizzo is America’s Inaugural Bop Star

First, for the uninitiated, a quick crash course on bops: Loosely derived from “bebop,” the phrase “bop” implies a certain, rarely achievable level of catchiness and danceability in music. A bop is a song so flawless and funky, there’s simply no other word to describe it, except maybe “banger” or “jam,” but those are something else entirely. A bop by any other name would not sound as dope. You just know one when you hear it. The nomenclature is confusing, I know, but maybe if I supply an example of the word used in a sentence, it’ll make sense. Here goes: “Every song Lizzo has ever written is a bop.” Melissa Jefferson, a.k.a. Lizzo, a rapper and bop connoisseur, has made a career out of writing these kinds of songs—tracks you can work out to, dance to or laugh to—but rarely cry to. Except her songs aren’t just bops. You’ll do plenty of dancing when you listen to them, yes, but that’s not all—Lizzo wants you to feel good, about yourself and the world around you, while doing it. Spreading joy is her first priority. —Ellen Johnson

Deerhunter’s Bradford Cox Wants You to Enjoy Humanity’s Plunge into Chaos

Bradford Cox is one of the last few provocateurs left in indie rock. Though he likely wouldn’t fashion himself as a “provocateur” and his distaste for the term “indie rock” has been well-documented, the Deerhunter lead singer has never shied away from sharing his attention-grabbing opinions, but underlying it all is a genuine interest in big-picture ideas. Interviewing Cox is like participating in a mentally exhausting chess match with a jaded, skilled player, and his desire for an equally competent opponent is evident. It’s not hard to understand Cox’s default cynicism and general pessimism—towards the press, the streaming-driven music industry and a populace that’s too addicted to their phones to engage in the real world or too distracted to solve its problems—all of which is captured in Deerhunter’s new album, Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared? Their new LP and eighth studio album sweeps away any remaining traces of autobiographical writing and directs its focus towards humanity’s current predicament—all through a spacey sound and science-fiction-like lyrical bent. —Lizzie Manno

The 10 Best Sharon Van Etten Songs

Sharon Van Etten  has a way of making the romantic feel doomsy, the everyday feel precious. Throughout her discography, consisting of four—soon to be five—sublime studio albums, the singer/songwriter has consistently merged the dark and the dazzling, proving herself to be one of the best lyricists of the 2010s. Her story begins in 2005 in New York City, where she worked at Astor Wines and then as a publicist at Ba Da Bing, the label that would eventually release her second album, Epic, in 2010. She pivoted to Jagjaguwar for her next album, Tramp, and has remained at the label since. But in the years since 2014, when that fourth record, Are We There arrived, something happened. Actually, a lot of things happened: Van Etten started a romantic relationship with her once-drummer and now-partner Zeke Hutchins, went back to school at Brooklyn College, secured a recurring role on the Netflix show The OA and had a baby—in that order. She’ll deliver album number six, Remind Me Tomorrow, this week, one of our most anticipated albums of 2019. It’s an exciting display of rock ’n’ roll and a noticeable break from her folk-leaning beginnings, but we can’t forget about the rest of Van Etten’s catalogue, even the quietest parts. Here’s a look back at some of our favorite songs she’s written over the last decade. —Ellen Johnson

Globalfest: Music from All over the World

I’ve seen the future of New Orleans music and its name is Cha Wa. Some forms of New Orleans music, such as trad-jazz and second-line funk, have spread throughout the world. But other forms, such as Mardi Gras Indian chants and street-parade brass bands, remain largely centralized within Orleans Parish. Now a young local, J’Wan Boudreaux, has mashed the latter two genres into one band, named Cha Wa after one of the chants that the Indians shout as they go striding down the street. And on Jan. 6, the octet was in midtown Manhattan on the second-floor stage at the famous Copacabana as part of the annual Globalfest. But this was not Barry Manilow’s Copa. Boudreaux and his spyboy took the stage in full Indian regalia: 20-inch plumes in a Sioux-like headdress, beaded jackets, breast plates, aprons and leggings—the likeness of a dancing brave beaded against a dark red background and the profile of a chief beaded against a glittery silver background. —Geoffrey Himes

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