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Next Week in Music | July 27-Aug. 2 • The Short List: 9 Releases Worth Checking Out

This latest must-hears run the gamut from Alanis & Beyonce to Iggy & NOFX.

Just like last week, there’s an avalanche of new music arriving in the coming days — at least 400 albums, EPs, singles, LPs, reissues and box sets, to be more precise. Unlike last week, however, there are several titles I’m actually looking forward to hearing. These, to be more precise:


Black Is King

THE PRESS RELEASE: “The visual album Black Is King is written, directed and executive produced by 24-time Grammy Award-winner Beyoncé. Black is King will premiere globally on Disney+ and will arrive on the heels of the one-year anniversary of the release of The Lion King. Black Is King is an affirmation of a grand purpose, with lush visuals that celebrate Black resilience and culture. The film highlights the beauty of tradition and Black excellence. Based on the music of The Lion King: The Gift, and starring the album’s featured artists and some special guest appearances, Black Is King is a celebratory memoir for the world on the Black experience. The film is a story for the ages that informs and rebuilds the present.”

Lana Del Rey
Violet Bent Backwards Over the Grass

THE PRESS RELEASE: “The recording includes 14 poems performed by Lana Del Rey accompanied by music from Grammy Award-winning songwriter/producer Jack Antonoff. Says Del Rey: “Violet Bent Backwards Over the Grass is the title poem of the book and the first poem I wrote of many. Some of which came to me in their entirety, which I dictated and then typed out, and some that I worked laboriously picking apart each word to make the perfect poem. They are eclectic and honest and not trying to be anything other than what they are and for that reason I’m proud of them, especially because the spirit in which they were written was very authentic.”


Fontaines DC
A Hero’s Death

THE PRESS RELEASE: “Barely a year after the release of their hugely acclaimed debut album Dogrel, which earned a Mercury Prize nomination and Album of the Year 2019 at both BBC 6Music and Rough Trade record store, Dublin’s Fontaines D.C. have returned with an intensely confident, patient, and complex follow up album. A Hero’s Death arrives battered and bruised, albeit beautiful — a heady and philosophical take on the modern world, and its great uncertainty.”

Thelonious Monk
Palo Alto

THE PRESS RELEASE: “In the fall of 1968, a 16-year-old high school student named Danny Scher had a dream to invite legendary jazz pianist and composer Thelonious Monk and his all-star quartet to perform at his high school in Palo Alto, CA. In a series of twists and turns, against a backdrop of racial tension and political volatility, that concert happened and was recorded by the school’s janitor. “That performance is the one of the best live recordings I’ve ever heard by Thelonious,” says T.S. Monk, son of the pianist/composer maestro, drummer and founder of the Thelonious Monk Institute. “I wasn’t even aware of my dad playing a high school gig, but he and the band were on it. When I first heard the tape, from the first measure, I knew my father was feeling really good.” The vibrant 47-minute album spotlights Monk’s steady touring band (tenor saxophonist Charlie Rouse, bassist Larry Gales, drummer Ben Riley) and features his touring repertoire, which were his finest compositions.”

Alanis Morissette
Such Pretty Forks In The Road

THE PRESS RELEASE:Such Pretty Forks In The Road is singer-songwriter Alanis Morissette’s ninth album. Such Pretty Forks In The Road will be Morissette’s first original album since 2012’s Havoc and Bright Lights. Since 1995, Morissette has been one of the most influential singer-songwriter-musicians in contemporary music. Her deeply expressive music and performances have earned vast critical praise and seven Grammy awards. Morissette’s debut Jagged Little Pill was followed by nine more eclectic and acclaimed albums. She has contributed musically to theatrical releases and has acted on the big and small screen.”

The Psychedelic Furs
Made Of Rain

THE PRESS RELEASE: “Highly influential post punk stars, The Psychedelic Furs will release their new album, their first in nearly 30 years, Made Of Rain. From its exhilarating opening bars, Made Of Rain sounds like The Psychedelic Furs and them alone. It’s a joy to hear again, fresher than ever. Their peerless permutations of art, aggression and ambience drive the dynamics, and it’s always been this originality which has set them apart, a cut above. The album was produced by Richard Fortus, whilst mixing duties were handled by Tim Palmer (David Bowie, U2, Robert Plant).”

The Stooges
Fun House 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition

THE PRESS RELEASE: “This year marks the 50th anniversary of The Stooges’ iconic Fun House record, now being reissued in a numbered compendium on a whopping 15 LPs. Featured are a newly remastered 2-LP version of the album, the vinyl debut of The Complete Fun House Sessions (EDITOR’S NOTE: Read my review of that box HERE) and Have Some Fun: Live At Uungano’s, a recording of The Stooges performing live in New York City in August 1970, just as Fun House was released. Rounding out the music in this deluxe set are two mixes of the single Down On The Street/I Feel Alright. The first is the mono single edit released in France, and the other is the unique single mix that was unreleased until the original 1999 boxed set. Each one is pressed on 7-inch vinyl and presented in a sleeve with reproduction artwork. Beyond the music, the collection also includes a 24-page booklet with rare photos and new liner notes, featuring an essay by Henry Rollins and testimonials penned by an extensive list of rock ’n’ roll luminaries including Clem Burke, Flea, Joan Jett, Shirley Manson, J Mascis, Duff McKagan, Thurston Moore, Tom Morello, Karen O, Andy Partridge, and Steven Van Zandt, among others, plus posters, prints, a slipmat, and a 45 adapter.”

Frank Turner Vs. NOFX
West Coast Vs. Wessex

THE PRESS RELEASE: “Just how often does the leader of one of your favorite bands ask you to do a split album? One where his band covers your songs? It’s the situation Frank Turner found himself in last year, when Fat Mike of NOFX asked if he wanted to do a split covers album. “And I shit the bed and said, ‘Fucking of course I do! That sounds incredible’,” Turner recalls. West Coast Vs. Wessex does sound incredible: NOFX filtering five songs from Turner’s sizeable solo back catalogue through their singular sensibility, with Turner reciprocating to record five of his personal favorites from NOFX’s 37-years-and-counting career. But these aren’t simply double-time versions of Turner’s folk-punk tunes or acoustic re-workings of NOFX’s iconic SoCal punk anthems – both took time to play with the possibilities each other’s music presented. “Everything he picked was from the ’90s, so I took that as it’s okay to mostly do his early stuff too,” says Fat Mike, who channeled ‘90s NOFX for their interpretations.”

Gillian Welch
Boots No. 2: The Lost Songs, Vol. 1

THE PRESS RELEASE: The new collection is unearthed from a cache of home demos and reel-to-reel recordings and is the second release of archival music from the vault of Gillian Welch and David Rawlings. This remarkable 48-song collection, spread over three volumes and produced by Rawlings, was recorded between the making of Time (The Revelator) and Soul Journey. It is an intimate glimpse at the artist’s sketchbook, containing some lifelong themes as well as some flights of fancy. The versatility and quality shown here greatly expand the Welch/Rawlings canon, and confirm that the acclaimed studio albums from the pair have never been an accident, but a clear artistic choice. Said the duo about the release, “We stashed these recordings away years ago. Their shortcomings, real or imagined, technical or compositional, no longer seem bothersome today. Hearing them now is like seeing snapshots that captured moments the more formal portraits missed. So here we are hurrying them for release before the next tornado blows the whole shoebox away.”