While Undivided Heart & Soul explores both the past and the future of roots music, McPherson shines brightest when he blends both influences to stay rooted in the present.
Not Dark Yet works beautifully. Featuring nine covers and one devastating original, this lovely longplayer spotlights their tangy harmonies, with Lynne’s saltier vocals and Moorer’s sweeter singing intertwining gracefully, evoking ancient traditions of family music-making.
Soul Of A Woman offers up a piece of everything that made Jones a powerhouse up to the very end.
Wand’s many talents are given full plumage on Plum. It will be interesting to see in what directions the band surveys in future albums. For now, this is about as interesting a new rock record you could hope to listen to.
OMNI remains a band that’s best at its most berserk ... Multi-task hits its high marks when the band is doing as much as it can, or, if you will, multi-tasking.
Fleet Foxes’ third album, Crack-Up, is at once sumptuous and ambitious, a serpentine journey from the center of harmony-drenched folk-pop out to the edge of Pecknold’s brain and back. It is lovely, strange and generous, and ultimately a very welcome return for the Seattle band.
Hot Thoughts is crisp, arch and flowing, proving Spoon to be among Bowie’s most astute heirs in spirit.
Cramming what should be an unworkable heap of concepts and sounds into a deliciously volatile 35 minutes, Nothing Valley is a bracing blend of scraping noise and tender melody, not unlike the recipe used by Speedy Ortiz.
Swear I’m Good At This is the now-21-year-old’s coming-of-age story, and it’s an engaging one, full of awkward moments, breaking hearts, insecurity and a discovery of power.
On MASSEDUCTION, Clark remains as unpredictable as ever, though there’s one thing fans will have gotten right: so far, at least, Annie Clark has proven incapable of writing anything less than a knockout pop song.
While far from a masterpiece, Ty Segall provides a neatly packaged summary for why the singer is a modern rock ‘n’ roll treasure.
Like a great folksinger, she has created an album of songs whose sounds and sentiments are much weightier than they appear on the surface, providing entry to somewhere much more wondrous and strange and troubling than it first appears.
Moonshine Freeze is the peak of an uphill path Stables has traced since her earliest recordings at the turn of the decade.
As a twenty-something woman who’s been single in the age of social media, SZA’s confessional debut album CTRL is strikingly relatable. But what’s remarkable about it is that she has spun her personal experiences into a soulful, touching R&B record with broad appeal beyond her particular demographic.
After invoking Our Holy Spirit of Not Reading The Comments and just listening to Witness with open ears and hearts, Booker’s music emerges as defiant, insightful and both intimately and communally self-actualizing.
There are clear dynamic voids, tension shifts forgotten, something hollow or maybe alien about the patent, polished delivery of the band’s production and performances that, when not enjoyed in the live setting, seems destined to be relegated to the mire of music to listen to while doing other shit.
The record is an absolutely evil stunner from front to back, top to bottom, head to toes and everywhere in between, and whips up the same kind of radiant, strange awe that the band’s overdriven catalog has so generously perpetrated album after wicked album.
By chance or by design, Nothing Feels Natural might well be the first great punk album of the Trump presidency.
Morby has said Singing Saw is Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell, while City Music is Lou Reed and Patti Smith, and you can’t draw a much brighter line between two things than that.
On this new record Meath and Sanborn dispense with many of the freeing and expansive sounds of their debut, opting, with varying degrees of success, to play instead with feelings of tightness, darkness and enclosure.
The interplay among tune, lyrics and production rewards repeated listens with ever more intricate emotional textures.
Slowdive, the band’s first album in 22 years, is here, and it’s good in that pleasingly familiar way. The record does not pick up where Pygmalion left off. If anything, it sounds as though it could have been recorded in 1993.
The production is a bit clearer and less sludgy than on 2015’s White Reaper Does It Again, and the songs comprise the quartet’s most confident collection to date.
Through matter-of-fact lyrical acuity, Isbell peels back layers of cultural abstraction to reveal the grit of the human experience on The Nashville Sound, and renders it much more inclusive than the title’s regional attribution might make it seem.
While The New Pornographers’ appealing quirks abound, their melodic gifts rightfully steal the show.
They are beautifully and simply arranged, but it is not an entertaining album to listen to in any conventional sense, nor can it be shaken off easily. It is, however, the kind of album that makes all others seem frivolous while you’re hearing it.
Alvvays was a mid-June perfect summer day; Antisocialites is a little cloudier, with a bit of a cold breeze blowing through. But, hey, it’s still summer after all.
With Need To Feel Your Love, the band broadens its horizons without losing what made ‘em so promising in the first place. That’s always a tricky line to walk, and Sheer Mag does it with gritty grace.
RTJ3 is an excellent bookend to 2016, but it’s best used as a guide to the future, 2017 and beyond.
Pure Comedy lives up to its title. It’s a comedy in every sense of the word. Absurdity is the order of the day. There are jokes around every turn. The central joke being the perfectly dissonant balance of sincerity and sarcasm conveyed by music and lyrics alike.
With DAMN., Kendrick Lamar plays by the rules and then sets the rule book on fire, and continues one of the most impressive run of albums of any artist in recent memory.