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

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Today is Valentine’s Day, and I don’t know what feelings you have towards this particular holiday, and to be quite honest, I don’t really care. It’s as much a reason to celebrate your loved ones as it is for the CEO of Brach’s to take a vacation to Saint Kitt’s—emotionalism and consumerism remain partners in crime, I guess! So whether you’re going all-in on Hallmark cards today or just spending quality time with friends and family, hopefully you’ll feel fulfilled at the end of this Feb. 14. No matter your stance on Valentine’s Day, your stance on music is probably a positive one, and for that, we love you! Below you’ll find a roundup of the last seven days in the world of music and Paste. I’ll end this arbitrary introductory paragraph with a little poem: Roses are red / violets are blue / the new Tennis album will make you feel things / and Cam’s song will too. You’re welcome!

BEST ALBUMS

Tennis: Swimmer

Rarely when uttering the words “for better or for worse” on their wedding day do couples really consider the latter half of that sentiment. Most of life’s darkest days often occur after two people have committed themselves to one another: loved ones fall ill or die, responsibilities mount and any number of unexpected catastrophes may land on your doorstep. You’re not seeking a partner for a pleasure cruise, but rather for an intrepid, Magellan-style circumnavigation, in which sailors get scurvy or fall overboard because they mistook a manatee for a mermaid. There are moments of wonder and discovery, but often those are bookended by rough seas. Married duo Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley, better known as Tennis, have recently endured one of the most difficult stages of their life, but found solace in each other throughout. Following the commercial success of Yours Conditionally in 2017, Moore wound up in the hospital with a bad bout of the flu, Riley’s father Edward died of cancer and his mother Karen was hospitalized “on the brink of a stroke,” Moore recalls. Swimmer was borne from this heart wrenching period of time, a fitting name considering the sailing motif in Tennis’ discography (Cape Dory recounts their post-college sailing trip along the East Coast, and most of Yours Conditionally was written during their journey at sea from San Diego to the Sea of Cortez). Moore herself never learned to swim, just as most of us are not taught how to navigate the choppy waters of grief and strife. —Clare Martin

Beach Bunny: Honeymoon

Sometimes the simplest feelings are the most universal. When Beach Bunny lead singer Lili Trifilio sings, “You love me / I love you / You don’t love me anymore, I still do / I’m sorry / I’m trying / I hate it when you catch me crying” on “Rearview,” a slow pop-punk ballad that builds to a thrilling, hands-in-the-air finish, it’s hard not to think back to some time where you, too, have felt the exact same way. It’s a cliché to say that this record’s lyrics read like a diary entry, but Honeymoon truly does: With the same raw energy as Camp Cope’s Georgia Maq or Best Coast’s Bethany Cosentino, Trifilio sings—and occasionally screams—of her innermost desires and heartbreaks over some of the smartest and catchiest pop-punk songwriting in quite some time. It’s easily the most fun album I’ve heard so far this year, a record that’s just begging to be played at parties once winter finally ends. —Steven Edelstone

BEST TRACKS

Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit:Be Afraid

“Be Afraid” is an immaculately produced, Southern rock call to arms that exhorts Isbell & The 400 Unit’s fellow artists to be courageous and take action in the face of injustice. “Be afraid, be very afraid / Do it anyway, do it anyway,” Isbell cries in the song’s galvanizing choruses, insisting that those fortunate enough to have a voice speak up for those who don’t. At times, Isbell is introspective, reminding himself that many people, namely his own daughter, see him as a role model, and attempting to reckon with that responsibility. —Scott Russell

Pom Pom Squad:Red With Love

“Red With Love” is reminiscent of Soccer Mommy and Patience-era Mannequin Pussy, but it also holds its own. Pom Pom Squad frontwoman Mia Berrin’s wry, breathy vocals add an extra layer of charm and grit to the song, which perfectly contrasts the haute designer dresses Berrin wears in the video and the gleam of pom poms strewn around the crowd. —Natalia Keogan

Cam:Till There’s Nothing Left

Firecracker country singer Cam’s new single “Till There’s Nothing Left” looks at love from a different angle than her 2017 track “Diane.” Cam wrote the new song for her husband, and it’s about going all in on a relationship. “My husband and I will go drive and have a quickie in the back of the car,” she divulges. “Why am I embarrassed to sing about that? ‘Till There’s Nothing Left’ is a commitment. It’s saying—I am gonna love you with everything I have, physically, spiritually, I’m so in.” We’re so in, too. —Ellen Johnson

THE PASTE PODCAST

The Paste Podcast 41: The Lone Bellow & The Outsider

It’s almost impossible to throw a creepy clown doll these days without hitting another Stephen King adaptation. And while they’ve ranged from kind of trashy to frighteningly brilliant, the latest from HBO, The Outsider is turning out to be one of the better ones. TV editor Allison Keene drops by the podcast to talk about why. And special guest The Lone Bellow plays us three songs from their brand new album, Half Moon Light.

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

BEST PERFORMANCES

Mercy Bell

Progressive folk singer Mercy Bell graced our studio this week, following the late-2019 release of her sophomore, self-titled album. Bell, a self-made artist who worked two jobs to pay for the album herself, has a magnetic stage presence. She treated us to four songs from the record: “Chocolate Milk & Whiskey,” “Skip to the Part,” “All Good Cowboys” and “Black Dress.”

Cold War Kids

Radio indie rockers Cold War Kids shared a new album last year. It’s called New Age Norms 1, and they stopped by the Paste Studio ATL this week to play a few songs from it: “Dirt in my Eyes,” “Waiting For Your Love” and “Complainer,” plus “Who’s Gonna Love Me Now.”

FEATURES

All 158 Taylor Swift Songs, Ranked

Taylor Swift’s decade of success can’t be a fluke. Some folks allow their enemies to live rent-free in their minds, but Taylor Swift uses hers to pay the rent. While Swift’s own sensitivity may come at the expense of her well-being at times, her keen understanding of emotions help people understand feelings they can’t narrate themselves. She’s been accused in the past of only writing breakup songs, but combing through her entire body of work proves that she can write at least 50 different types of love and other types of songs, easily. She’s written about a bereaved mother and her son, a septuagenarian husband and wife and an eccentric multi-hyphenate musician, to name a few. Following the release of Swift’s new Netflix documentary Miss Americana, directed by Lana Wilson, we took on the nearly impossible task of ranking Swift’s every song. Our residential Swiftie, Jane Song, compiled and ranked every song in her discography—including cuts from her seven LPs, her takes on holiday classics, covers, duets and features on other artists’ songs, like John Mayer. Assistant music editor Ellen Johnson also contributed blurbs. Without further ado, here is every single Taylor Swift song, ranked. —Jane Song & Paste Music Staff

Nathaniel Rateliff Keeps Hanging On

Nathaniel Rateliff  decided to record much of his new album in the late Richard Swift’s Oregon studio, even in his absence, and polish it off in Rateliff’s own home outside of Denver, Colo. And It’s Still Alright is tagged a solo record, but in reality it was made with a village: Night Sweats drummer Patrick Meese and Beach House drummer James Barone, who both engineered and mixed the record, are just a few of the folks who worked on this release. The album is ultimately about finding pockets of joy and light in grief and darkness. On the title track, Rateliff sings, “They say you learn a lot out there, how to scorch and burn / Only have to bury your friends, then you’ll find it gets worse.” But the final verse drives home the album’s central message: “Your idle hands are all that stands / From your time in the dark / But it’s still alright.” We spoke with Rateliff on the phone to talk about the meaning behind some of the songs, his memories of his friend Swift and finding inspiration from Harry Nilsson, among other places. This conversation has been edited for length. —Ellen Johnson

The 15 Best Tame Impala Songs

If you’re not a Tame Impala fan, you may have a certain preconception about the Australian psych-rock/pop act. But know this: Tame Impala may be good music to get high to, but they’re way more than stoner rock. Kevin Parker, the one constant and mastermind in Tame Impala, makes technically precise, emotionally ambivalent and stylishly produced music full of swirling synths and thumping basslines. Indeed, it’s great music for perpetuating certain vibes, but it’s also some of the most impressive music of any genre released in the 2010s. Following 2010’s Innerspeaker, 2012’s Lonerism and 2015’s Currents, Tame Impala are finally back with their fourth LP, The Slow Rush, out Friday. To commemorate the long-awaited release, we’re counting down our favorite Tame Impala tunes. Here are the 15 best Tame Impala songs, as chosen by the Paste music staff. —Paste Music Staff

Norah Jones’ Puss N Boots Is Music to Soothe the Troubles

Art, it’s said, should always please the artist first. But every once in a while—either by design or mere happenstance—an artist produces exactly what the audience is needing at that particular moment. Take Sister for instance, the new sophomore set from nine-time Grammy winner Norah Jones and her playful side project with Sasha Dobson and Catherine Popper, Puss N Boots. It’s a perfect feel-good panacea that blends Jones’ dusky murmur with Dobson’s airier warble and Popper’s warm, bluesy rumble somewhere in the middle, on loping, comfortably-paced folk/R&B/country originals like “Lucky,” “Sister,” “You and Me,” and “It’s Not Easy,” augmented by smartly-chosen covers by Tom Petty (“Angel Dream”), Johnette Napolitano (“Joey”), Dolly Parton (“The Grass is Blue”), Paul Westerberg (“It’s a Wonderful Lie”), and Dobson’s aunt, Helen Rogers (”Same Old Bullshit”). —Tom Lanham

The 10 Best Romantic Comedy Soundtracks

Can you imagine the Say Anything boom box scene without Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes,” or that final fist pump in The Breakfast Club without Simple Minds’ “Don’t Forget About Me?” It’s difficult to process, because those songs are so crucial to the scenes, characters and moods that are at play in those classic romantic comedies. Music is important in almost any film, but it can serve a special purpose in the flicks we like to call “rom-coms.” There’s usually someone falling in (or out of) love as the film progresses, and the soundtrack is a great tool to track characters’ blossoming (or crumbling) relationships. Some movies on this list aren’t your typical “rom-com”; maybe they’re a little more serious. But they all fit under the larger “romantic” and “comedy” genre umbrellas, and they all are filled with really great music. In honor of Valentine’s Day, let’s take a look back at some of the best soundtracks in rom-com history. Don’t forget your boom box. —Ellen Johnson & Lizzie Manno

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