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Next Week in Music | Aug. 24-30 • The Short List: 4 Releases Besides Smile

Forget Katy & try the Avetts, Bettye LaVette, Metallica & Angel Olsen instead.

The biggest album of the week — as far as the pop charts and youngsters are concerned, anyway — will doubtlessly be Katy Perry’s sixth studio release Smile. And I’m sure it will be every bit as cute and playful and sweet and entertaining as all her other albums. But it won’t be at the top of my playlist. I’ll be paying attention to these releases instead. With any luck, they’ll put a smile on my face (and possibly yours):


The Avett Brothers
The Third Gleam

THE PRESS RELEASE:The Third Gleam was finished before a virus and its carnage swept through humankind in the spring of 2020. It was finished before the most recent injustices against black lives inspired outrage and a much-needed call for social reform and revolution. Through the fever pitch of fear over the pandemic, outcry in the wake of widely observable bigotry, and mourning over the death caused by both, we are united in conflict…put to task in the arenas of our fortitude, our morality, indeed the strength of our own souls, individually and collectively. It is a time of heightened experience; heightened response; heightened resolve. If you are reading or hearing this statement now, you are a part of it. Isolation, resilience, frustration, confusion, contemplation and hope are here, both in regards to our own lives and as a consideration of the human experience in general. There is humor and love, both for life itself and as it binds a pairing of people. We touch on historical prejudice, faith, economic disparity, gun violence, incarceration, redemption, and as is increasingly standard with our records, stark mortality. This is by no means a record defined by any specific social or cultural goal, nor is it informed by a singular challenge posed to humanity. It is merely the sound of my brother and I in a room, singing about what is on our minds and in our hearts at the time…sharing it now is about what sharing art is always about: another chance that we may partake in connecting with our brothers and sisters of this world, and hopefully joining you in noticing a speck of light gleaming in what appears to be a relatively long and dark night.”

Bettye LaVette

THE PRESS RELEASE:Blues Hall of Fame inductee Bettye LaVette will release a new album, Blackbirds, featuring songs primarily popularized by some of her peers, other iconic women in music, who she personally loved, respected and admired. The album finds LaVette in top form, delivering powerful renditions of songs that touched her personally. From Dinah Washington’s Drinking Again, Nina Simone’s I Hold No Grudge, Billie Holiday’s Strange Fruit, Nancy Wilson’s Save Your Love For Me and more, all delivered in LaVette’s rich and raspy tone and a touch of the blues. Bettye Lavette is a native of Detroit who made her first recording in 1962 at the age of 16. She later toured with the James Brown Review and charted with such singles as He Made A Woman Out Of Me and Do Your Duty. Since then she has recorded 10 albums. Her most recent album Things Have Changed was released in 2018 and received two Grammy nominations.”


THE PRESS RELEASE:Metallica and San Francisco Symphony’s Sept. 6 & 8, 2019 S&M2 concerts were historic on multiple levels: They served as the grand opening of San Francisco’s Chase Center, reunited the band and Symphony for the first time since the 1999 performances captured on the Grammy-winning S&M album, and featured the first-ever symphonic renditions of songs written and released since those original S&M shows. The sold out shows were rapturously received by the 40,000 fans who traveled from nearly 70 countries. S&M2 is a landmark release in the Metallica catalogue, both sonically and visually. Produced by Greg Fidelman with James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich, the S&M2 live album captures more than two and a half hours of James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett and Robert Trujillo joining forces with the nearly 80-strong SF Symphony, legendary Musical Director of the orchestra Michael Tilson Thomas and conductor Edwin Outwater.”

Angel Olsen
Whole New Mess

THE PRESS RELEASE: “The time had come, Angel Olsen realized in the fading summer of 2018, to take her new songs out of the house. Olsen’s 2016 marvel, My Woman, had been a career breakthrough, but it catalyzed a period of personal tumult, too: a painful breakup, an uneasy recovery, an inadequate reckoning. At home in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, Olsen penned songs that finally grappled with these troubles, particularly love — how forever is too much to promise, how relationships can lock us into static versions of ourselves, how you can go through hell just to make someone else happy. These heartsore explorations shape Whole New Mess, Olsen’s first solo album since her 2012 debut and an emotional portrait so intimate and vulnerable you can hear her find meaning in these crises in real-time. At least nine of the 11 songs on Whole New Mess should sound familiar to anyone who has heard All Mirrors, Olsen’s grand 2019 masterpiece that earned high honors on prestigious year-end lists and glossy spreads in stylish magazines. Lark, Summer, Chance — they are all here, at least in some skeletal form and with slightly different titles. But these are not the demos for All Mirrors. Instead, Whole New Mess is its own record with its own immovable mood, with Olsen working through her open wounds and raw nerves with just a few guitars and some microphones, isolated in a century-old church in the Pacific Northwest. If the lavish orchestral arrangements and cinematic scope of All Mirrors are the sound of Olsen preparing her scars for the wider world to see, Whole New Mess is the sound of her first figuring out their shape, making sense for herself of these injuries.”