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Next Week in Music | May 18-24 • The Short List: Six Albums You Want to Hear

Cults, coal miners, Conditional Forms and more — we're rocking in the key of C.


From coal-mining disasters and religious cults to comebacks and Conditional Forms, this week’s biggest albums are apparently brought to you by the letter C. See what’s what below:

The Airborne Toxic Event
Hollywood Park

THE PRESS RELEASE:Hollywood Park is The Airborne Toxic Event’s sixth LP and first new music in half a decade. It arrives alongside a new literary work of the same name (due May 26) by Airborne Toxic Event founder and frontman Mikel Jollett. Hollywood Park sees Jollett chronicling his extraordinary personal journey, from his early childhood in one of the most infamous cults of the 1970s, through a childhood of poverty and emotional abuse, before finding his voice as an artist among the confusion of an adult life spent nursing the wounds of childhood, and the redemption which came from looking inward and an acceptance of self and the fierce love of family. Produced and mixed by the band’s longtime collaborator Mark Needham, Hollywood Park serves as both companion volume and musical soundtrack to Jollett’s remarkable memoir, adding vivid sonic color to his wrenching and ultimately life-affirming personal chronicle. Indeed, both the album and book were fueled in large part by the untimely death of Jollett’s father. Devastated to his very core, he withdrew from both the world and his work for nearly a year before ultimately finding the strength to begin anew. “I spent the better part of the last four years locked in this little room in my basement writing. I’ve never loved something I’ve worked on so much. I’ve never worked so hard on something, to the point of exhaustion and near mental collapse. This has been a daily twelve-hour toil for nearly four years. People have asked me what I hope others will take away from this project. I guess there are some fancy things I could say about emotional resonance, landscapes of the mind, and that little sob in the spine of the artist-reader (that’s how Nabokov put it) but any first-time author is lying who doesn’t simply say, I really hope people like my book. (And in this case, the soundtrack to it).”

Badly Drawn Boy
Banana Skin Shoes

THE PRESS RELEASE:Banana Skin Shoes is Damon Gough‘s ninth album. The album is comprised of 14 tracks including previously released track Is This A Dream? Always one to wear his heart on his sleeve, Gough’s ninth album is a truly personal & heartfelt collection of songs, a huge statement of intent & the most glorious, colourful warming, honest pop record you’ll hear this year.”

Steve Earle & The Dukes
Ghosts of West Virginia

THE PRESS RELEASE:Ghosts of West Virginia centers on the Upper Big Branch coal mine explosion that killed 29 men in that state in 2010, making it one of the worst mining disasters in American history. When asked about what drove him to craft his deeply evocative new album, Steve Earle says, “I thought that, given the way things are now, it was maybe my responsibility to make a record that spoke to and for people who didn’t vote the way that I did,” he says. “One of the dangers that we’re in is if people like me keep thinking that everybody who voted for Trump is a racist or an asshole, then we’re fucked, because it’s simply not true. So this is one move toward something that might take a generation to change. I wanted to do something where that dialogue could begin.” In 10 deftly drawn, roughly eloquent, powerfully conveyed sonic portraits, Earle and his long-time band The Dukes explore the historical role of coal in rural communities. More than merely a question of jobs and income, mining has provided a sense of unity and meaning, patriotic pride and purpose. “I said I wanted to speak to people that didn’t necessarily vote the way that I did,” he says, “but that doesn’t mean we don’t have anything in common. We need to learn how to communicate with each other. My involvement in this project is my little contribution to that effort. And the way to do that — and to do it impeccably — is simply to honor those guys who died at Upper Big Branch.”

Indigo Girls
Look Long

THE PRESS RELEASE: “On their 16th studio album, Indigo Girls tell their origin story. They have reunited with their strongest backing band to date to create Look Long — a stirring and eclectic collection of songs that finds the duo of Amy Ray and Emily Saliers chronicling their personal upbringings with more specificity and focus than they have on any previous song-cycle. These 11 songs have a tender, revealing motion to them, as if they’re feeding into a Super 8 film projector, illuminating a darkened living room: Saliers and Ray are tackling the mechanisms of perspective. “We’re fallible creatures shaped by the physics of life,” says Saliers. “We’re shaped by our past; what makes us who we are? And why?” In this moment of delirious upheaval, Look Long considers the tremendous potential of ordinary life and suggests the possibility that an honest survey of one’s past and present, unburdened by judgement, can give shape to something new — the promise of a way forward. With the energy of an expanding, loyal audience beneath their feet, a weather eye toward refinement, and an openness to redefinition, Indigo Girls exemplify that promise.”

The 1975
Notes On A Conditional Form

THE PRESS RELEASE:The 1975 deliver the follow up to the BRIT Award Album of the Year winner A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships. The band’s fourth album Notes On A Conditional Form is set to be already the most anticipated album of 2020 and features the lead single People and the Greta Thunberg call to arms album opener The 1975. The band are working to reduce as much plastic as possible on the manufacture of product, as such the albums will not be shrink-wrapped.”

Throwing Muses
Sun Racket

THE PRESS RELEASE: “‘Sun Racket is the brand-new album from legendary Boston trio Throwing Muses, consisting of Kristin Hersh, David Narcizo and Bernard Georges. The follow up to 2013’s Purgatory/Paradise is an outpouring of modal guitars, reverbed shapes, echoey drums and driving bass set behind Kristen Hersh’s well-thumbed notebook of storylines. A 10-song opus of suitably wrought tales set against a wall of sound that’s at once calm and ethereal before building into glorious cacophonous crescendos. When Throwing Muses wrote their last album, they were shattered. Pieces were coming and going, elements repeating and charging the whole. “It sounded beautiful jumping around like that.” Two-minute songs reappearing as twisted instrumentals or another song’s bridge. They mimicked the effect live which kept them on their toes. Whatever was happening was already over in other words. Sun Racket is the opposite. It refused to do anything but sit still. It says, “sit here and deal”. “All it asked of us was to comingle two completely disparate sonic vocabularies: one heavy noise, the other delicate music box. Turns out we didn’t have to do much. Sun Racket knew what it was doing and pushed us aside, which is always best. After 30 years of playing together, we trust each other implicitly but we trust the music more,” says Hersh. And so, they continue. Business unusual.”