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Next Week in Music | Feb. 17-23 • The Short List: 10 Albums To Hear Instead of BTS

I'd rather listen to these discs from Ozzy, Lee, GBV, Sarah and more. Sorry, Jungkook.

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For a couple of years now, an optical outlet in my local mall has maintained a weirdly large BTS shrine in the their display window, and plays videos of the K-pop superstars on a monitor in the store. I don’t know if it’s some sort of weird marketing campaign (do they sell BTS eyeglass frames?) or if someone in the place is a megafan or what. Truth be told, I probably don’t want to know. Whatever the case, I presume they’ll be thrilled that Jin, Suga, J-Hope, RM, Jimin, V and Jungkook will drop their new album Map Of The Soul: 7 this week. As for me, I’d rather listen to the 10 albums below. Sorry, Jungkook.


Best Coast
Always Tomorrow

THE PRESS RELEASE: “Los Angeles, California’s Best Coast — comprised of Bethany Cosentino (guitar, vocals) and Bobb Bruno (guitar) — release their fourth studio album. Always Tomorrow, produced by Carlos de la Garza with additional production by Justin Meldal-Johnsen (Paramore, M83), is the band’s first album of new studio material since their acclaimed 2015 record California Nights. The band previewed a new song from Always Tomorrow, entitled For The First Time, to an incredible response this past fall; their video for Everything Has Changed, directed by Ryan Baxley, features a number of people from one of Bethany’s favorite shows — Vanderpump Rules.”


Greg Dulli
Random Desire

THE PRESS RELEASE: “For the last 30 years, Greg Dulli, frontman of The Afghan Whigs and The Twilight Singers, has been the poet laureate of the bizarre whims and cruel tangents of desire. A foremost authority on the sell-your-soul rewards of carnal lust, the high voltage epiphanies of chemical enhancement, and the serotonin lows left in their wake. Therein lies Random Desire, the first solo album under Dulli’s own name. Clocking in at a lean 37 minutes, Random Desire is a clinic put on by a veteran master operating at the height of his powers, offering evidence of the hard-fought and weary wisdom learned from setbacks and victories alike. A lucid, confident and self-assured document of the songs of experience, the perils of existence, and the possibilities that offer themselves anew with each breath. Another death and rebirth from an outlaw who has seen it all and somehow lived to tell.”


Grimes
Miss_Anthrop0cene

THE PRESS RELEASE: “It’s a concept album about the anthropomorphic Goddess of climate Change: A psychedelic, space-dwelling demon/ beauty-Queen who relishes the end of the world. She’s composed of Ivory and Oil.” If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard that one …


Guided By Voices
Surrender Your Poppy Field

THE PRESS RELEASE: “Starting off the year with a 100-song marathon in Los Angeles on New Year’s Eve, Robert Pollard is setting a mighty high bar for Guided By Voices in 2020. Following three acclaimed and stylistically distinct full-length albums in 2019, Surrender Your Poppy Field, is a head-spinning tour de force: a bit of everything… plus more! And hands down the most adventurous GBV album ever. There are lo-fi four-track tape recordings, there are songs recorded with a single microphone in a basement, there are big studio fully-produced hook-laden pop songs, and there is a lot in between. Seemingly, the guiding concept of Surrender Your Poppy Field was to make the songs sound as different from one another as possible: sudden shifts in mood, tempo and rhythm, unexpected chord progressions, false endings and codas, string orchestrations, mysterious voices… It’s an exhilarating and dizzying trip to an inventive world of strange characters: Andre the Hawk, Queen Parking Lot, the Cul-de-Sac Kids, the Hard Hitter, the Steely Dodger, the Stone Cold Moron, A Man Called Physician, A Man Called Blunder… Not content with their usual mastery of the 4 P’s (punk, pop, prog, psych) Professor Pollard pushes the envelope on Poppy Field, and continues to redefine GBV from a myriad of angles. Anyone who thinks that he’s gotten complacent after 104 albums hasn’t been paying attention! Don’t miss out.”


Sarah Harmer
Are You Gone

THE PRESS RELEASE: “Multi-award-winning, platinum-selling singer-songwriter and environmental activist Sarah Harmer will release Are You Gone, her first album in a decade. A deeply personal and political collection of songs motivated by the beauty of life, the urgency of the climate crisis, and the question of loss, Sarah called the album a spiritual successor of sorts to her acclaimed 2000 debut, You Were Here, which made many year-end critics’ lists. Its simple title, Are You Gone, is a meditation on the idea of presence, and a bookend to the questions posed on You Were Here — a sharpened, more electric confrontation with the realities of nature and human nature. The result of an unshakeable inclination to make music in conflict with a lifestyle more attuned to privacy, quiet, and activism, Sarah wrote Are You Gone gradually over the last decade as she traded music for grassroots organizing as her “day job.” Between co-founding the citizen’s organization PERL (Protecting Escarpment Rural Land) and leading the coalition’s successful efforts to prevent a quarry from being built on the Niagara Escarpment, she became a fixture in local politics and advocacy, while keeping her musical chops fresh by writing and playing casually with friends. Finally, in 2019, while pondering the “ghosts” of loss, capitalism’s gluttony and music’s potential as a public platform, Sarah got to work on Are You Gone, her most sophisticated record to date.”


King Krule
Man Alive!

THE PRESS RELEASE: “Like any great artist on the rise, Archy Marshall’s life is moving fast. There’s a lot to catch up on, after 2017’s sprawling masterpiece, The OOZ, broke through amid Mercury Prize nominations and mind-blowing media plaudits. Unlike that record, Man Alive! doesn’t aim to present any kind of narrative thread, or Brexit-era state-of-the-nation address, just a collection of snapshots and stories, artfully sequenced into a dazzlingly coherent whole.”


Sonny Landreth
Blacktop Run

THE PRESS RELEASE:Sonny Landreth’s new album Blacktop Run mixes genres and styles across a landscape of lyricism and rootsy grooves. A percussive burst of acoustic resonator guitar pushes the narrator on a journey “between the life I left and the edge of next” in the title cut. As the singer feels the wind at his back, a rising bass line intersects Landreth’s vocalizing to stretch the fingerpicked tune into Far Eastern melodicism.The south Louisiana artist’s groundbreaking work has long mixed familiarity with experimentation, and his latest ten-song collection stretches from hard-edged electric instrumentals to wistful acoustic ballads. The project’s range is the fruit of a renewed collaboration. Producer RS Field – who helmed Landreth’s trio of breakout albums – joined the six-stringer and co-producer Tony Daigle to finish the record.”


Mondo Generator
Fuck It

THE PRESS RELEASE: “Hell Guys!! Mondo Generator are back!!! Eight years since the last record…this is a dream for all the fans of the band! A mixture of speed rock, American punk and hardcore with the typical Nick Oliveri style. You can hear the old school roots of Black Flag and Dead Kennedys with a pinch of heavy rock and sometimes shades of stoner. You can feel the dust and the sand of the Californian desert mixed with the rotten smell of a dirty basement used as venue! The songwriting is never ordinary and keeps the listener alive for the duration of the entire album. The vocal melodies are always interesting and give the music its trademark sound. You can definitely hear the punk attitude of QOTSA, with whom Nick played for long time. The album is recorded at Pink Duck studio owned by Josh Homme and engineered and mixed by Ian Watt.”


Ozzy Osbourne
Ordinary Man

THE PRESS RELEASE: “There’s a line in Ordinary Man where I sing, ‘I don’t want to die an ordinary man,’ which I don’t think I will,” Ozzy says with a laugh. “It was a lot of fun to do though it’s a lot different from my other albums. We recorded it quickly, which I haven’t done since the first Black Sabbath album. This made it a different process, which I actually enjoyed.” Recorded in Los Angeles, the album features producer Andrew Watt on guitars, Duff McKagan (Guns N’ Roses) on bass and Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers) on drums. Beyond the core band, Ordinary Man, features a who’s-who of friends and collaborators including Slash, Elton John, Post Malone, and Tom Morello. “It all just came together,” Ozzy explains of the guest stars. “Slash is a dear friend of mine, as is Elton. When I was writing Ordinary Man, it reminded me of an old Elton song and I said to Sharon, ‘I wonder if he would sing on it?’ We asked and lo and behold, he agreed and sings and play piano on the song.”


Lee Ranaldo &
Raül Refree

Names of North End Women

THE PRESS RELEASE:Lee Ranaldo and Raül Refree worked together on Ranaldo’s last solo album, Electric Trim. Soon after, the pair returned to the studio to record the follow up and realized that Names of North End Women would become what Ranaldo describes as “the beginning of a new partnership, a new configuration.” For Ranaldo – a cofounder of Sonic Youth and one of the greatest guitarists of his generation – and Refree, an artist reinventing traditional flamenco guitar (his album with Rosalía continues to grow internationally), this is an album that features tracks with little or no guitar. Instead, the duo composed using marimba and vibraphone, samplers, a vintage 2-inch Studer tape recorder and a modified cassette machine Ranaldo had previously used in performances 25 years earlier. The album’s title, and the title of the lead track, came from an experience Ranaldo had walking through a neighborhood in Winnipeg. All the streets were named after women: Lydia, Kate, Dagmar, Harriett, Juno, etc – first names only, which implied something anonymous, or universal. Who these women are or were is not indicated, which lends their choice a certain mystery… Men are often named in our society with their full names, but these anonymous names were perhaps stand-ins for the many unrecognized or un-specified in our society. Ranaldo jotted the names down, in poem format, and explains, “somehow it became an impetus for the lyrics in terms of the people that drift in and out of one’s life, some significant, some fleeting.” He continues, “I had this idea of using given names as a device that could inform some of the lyrics. It doesn’t play through all the lyrics, but quite a few employ this idea.”