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Next Week in Music | May 17-23 • The Short List: 12 Titles You Want to Hear

Chrissie, Robert, John and Jerry, Mdou, Gary and the rest of the latest names.

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Chrissie Hynde sings Bob Dylan, John Hiatt and Jerry Douglas join forces, Monster Magnet journey to the past, Gary Numan intrudes, Reigning Sound return to reclaim their throne, Twenty One Pilots book another flight and more — these are your plays of the week (in alphabetical order):

 


Chai
Wink

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Like all musicians, Chai spent 2020 forced to rethink the fabric of their work and lives. But Chai took this as an opportunity to shake up their process and bring their music somewhere thrillingly new. Having previously used their maximalist recordings to capture the exuberance of their live shows, with the audiences’ reactions in mind, Chai instead focused on crafting the slightly-subtler and more introspective kinds of songs they enjoy listening to at home — where, for the first time, they recorded all of the music. Amidst the global shutdown, Chai worked on Garageband and traded their song ideas — which they had more time than ever to consider — over Zoom and phone calls, turning their limitations into a strength. Their third full-length, Wink contains Chai’s mellowest and most minimal music, and also their most affecting and exciting songwriting by far. While the band leaned into a more personal sound, Wink is also the first Chai album to feature contributions from outside producers (Mndsgn, YMCK) as well as a feature from the Chicago rapper-singer Ric Wilson. Chai draw R&B and hip-hop into their mix (Mac Miller, the Internet, and Brockhampton were on their minds) of dance-punk and pop-rock, all while remaining undeniably Chai. Whether in relation to this newfound sense of openness or their at-home ways of composing, the theme of Wink is to challenge yourself.”


Robert Finley
Sharecropper’s Son

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Sharecropper’s Son is the career-defining album from Robert Finley, “the greatest living soul singer” who in a bizarre twist, found overnight success after 67 years of hard work. Following Finley’s semi-finalist appearance on America’s Got Talent, he returned to the studio to follow-up his critically acclaimed record Goin’ Platinum! The resulting Dan Auerbach produced album is a soulful masterpiece, rooted in the vintage sounds of southern harmony, rhythm and blues. Recorded at Easy Eye Sound studio in Nashville with legendary music studio veterans, Finley’s formidable vocals and lyrical stylings take centre stage, sharing personal stories inspired by his Louisiana country childhood during the Jim Crow-era south. His tales of pain and joy uplift as Finley reflects on his belief that you are never too young to dream and never too old to live.”


John Hiatt with The Jerry Douglas Band
Leftover Feelings

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:John Hiatt with The Jerry Douglas Band’s Leftover Feelings was produced by Douglas and recorded at Historic RCA Studio B in Nashville. A meeting of two American music giants in a legendary setting, Leftover Feelings is neither a bluegrass album nor a return to Hiatt’s 1980s days with slide guitar greats Ry Cooder and Sonny Landreth. There’s no drummer, yet these grooves are deep and true. And while the up-tempo songs are, as ever, filled with delightful internal rhyme and sly aggression, The Jerry Douglas Band’s empathetic musicianship nudges Hiatt to performances that are startlingly vulnerable.”


Chrissie Hynde
Standing In The Doorway: Chrissie Hynde Sings Bob Dylan

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Standing In The Doorway: Chrissie Hynde Sings Bob Dylan includes stunning new interpretations of such Dylan songs as You’re a Big Girl Now, Love Minus Zero / No Limit, Don’t Fall Apart on Me Tonight and Every Grain of Sand, recorded last year during lockdown by Hynde and her Pretenders bandmate James Walbourne. The nine-track collection was made almost exclusively via text message, with Walbourne recording an initial musical idea on his phone and then sending it off to Hynde to add her vocal. “A few weeks into lockdown last year, James sent me the new Dylan track, Murder Most Foul,” Hynde says. “Listening to that song completely changed everything for me. I was lifted out of this morose mood that I’d been in. I remember where I was sitting the day that Kennedy was shot — every reference in the song. Whatever Bob does, he still manages somewhere in there to make you laugh because as much as anything, he’s a comedian. He’s always funny and always has something to say. I called James and said, ‘Let’s do some Dylan covers,’ and that’s what started this whole thing.”


Lambchop
Showtunes

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Kurt Wagner’s signature brittle baritone is back, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to get a nostalgic alt-country album. Showtunes is a continuation of Lambchop’s explorations of new sound worlds and opens up another chapter. Each track is an exciting journey with an uncertain destination. In late 2019, Kurt was experimenting with something new. He took simple guitar tracks and converted them into midi piano tracks. It was a revelation that from those conversions he was able to manipulate each note and add, subtract, arrange the chords and melody into a form that didn’t have any of the limitations he had with his previous methods of writing with a guitar. Removing these limitations led to a surprising new sound, something akin to showtunes but with edges sanded down and viewed through Kurt’s own specific lens.”


Lord Huron
Long Lost

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Lonesome Dreams is the debut album from rising pop experimentalists Lord Huron, led by Michigan-born songwriting prodigy Ben Schneider. A joyous collision of Appalachian percussion, rustic guitars and sumptuous harmonies lit up by lens-flare flashes of electronics, it’s a record inspired by the rust coloured canyons and characters of the Wild West, with the emphasis on wild. Tales of the great American outback have always been an inspiration, according to Schneider. “Sometimes I feel like I’m living in one of those stories,” he confides. “I wanted to look at my life and lives close to me as though they were tales from some frontier novel.”


Mdou Moctar
Afrique Victime

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “With Afrique Victime, the prodigious Tuareg guitarist and songwriter rips a new hole in the sky ­— boldly reforging contemporary Saharan music and “rock music” by melding guitar pyrotechnics, full-blast noise, and field recordings with poetic meditations on love, religion, women’s rights, inequality, and Western Africa’s exploitation at the hands of colonial powers. Mdou Moctar’s home is Agadez, a desert village in rural Niger. Inspired by traditional Tuareg melodies and YouTube videos of Eddie Van Halen’s six-string techniques, he mastered the guitar and created his own burning style. A born charismatic, Mdou went on to tell his story as an aspiring artist by writing, producing, and starring in the first Tuareg language film: a remake of Purple Rain called Akounak Tedalat Taha Tazoughai – which translates to Rain The Color Of Blue With A Little Red In It – winning the approval of his family and his community. The word and the sound travelled across West Africa via mobile phone data cards, a popular form of local music distribution. Grueling DIY world tours and albums followed, including 2019’s landmark Ilana: The Creator, which earned Mdou an ecstatic international audience.”


Monster Magnet
A Better Dystopia

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Take a trip inside the mind of psychedelic rock legend Dave Wyndorf with Monster Magnet’s A Better Dystopia — a delightfully psychotic selection of proto-metal and late-era psych songs that fit the band like a glove! With wonderfully obscure song choices and excellent sequencing, the mighty Magnet pay homage to some of their favorite songs of all time, crafting another exciting and unique listening experience alike what they’ve become famous for. While the album marks a new frontier for Monster Magnet as their first covers record, this is not your typical set of standards released to pass time. Wyndorf is at the top of his game on A Better Dystopia — howling, crooning, speaking… whatever it takes to get the emotional message of these very special tunes across, delivering each lyric in his own inimitable style.”


Gary Numan
Intruder

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Intruder is Gary Numan’s 18th solo studio album and follows 2017’s Savage: Songs From A Broken World, which became his highest-charting set in almost 40 years. Whereas Savage depicted earth as a barren wasteland in which humanity and culture had been largely crushed by the effects of global warming, Intruder presents a fresh but complementary narrative. It’s a philosophical examination of a potential future apocalypse: the planet can only survive by purging its inhabitants. Numan explains: “‘Intruder’ looks at climate change from the planet’s point of view. If Earth could speak, and feel things the way we do, what would it say? How would it feel? The songs, for the most part, attempt to be that voice, or at least try to express what I believe the earth must feel at the moment. The planet sees us as its children now grown into callous selfishness, with a total disregard for its well-being. It feels betrayed, hurt and ravaged. Disillusioned and heartbroken it is now fighting back. Essentially, it considers humankind to be a virus attacking the planet. Climate change is the undeniable sign of the Earth saying enough is enough, and finally doing what it needs to do to get rid of us and explaining why it feels it has to do it.”


Reigning Sound
A Little More Time with Reigning Sound

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:A Little More Time, Reigning Sound’s seventh proper full-length, is the original lineup’s first in-studio collaboration since 2005’s Home for Orphans LP, which was reissued last year. Ultimately, that 2020 reissue laid the groundwork for the outfit’s reunification. Cartwright explains, “We booked a little string of shows with the original lineup. We still love to get together and play every couple years.” The short reunion tour wrapped just as pandemic hit the United States. Soon after, Cartwright found himself with a batch of new songs. With Reigning Sound’s current lineup based in New York City, then a COVID-19 hotspot, Cartwright made the decision to produce the new record back in Memphis. “It was not something I anticipated, making a record with the original lineup again.”


Gruff Rhys
Seeking New Gods

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Seeking New Gods is Gruff Rhys’s seventh solo album. The concept was originally meant to be the biography of a mountain, Mount Paektu (an East Asian active volcano). However, as Gruff’s writing began to reflect on the inhuman timescale of a peak’s existence and the intimate features that bring it to mythological life, both the songs and the mountain became more and more personal. “The album is about people and the civilisations, and the spaces people inhabit over periods of time. How people come and go but the geology sticks around and changes more slowly. I think it’s about memory and time,” he suggests. “It’s still a biography of a mountain, but now it’s a Mount Paektu of the mind. You won’t learn much about the real mountain from listening to this record but you will feel something, hopefully.”


Twenty One Pilots
Scaled And Icy

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Written and largely produced by Tyler Joseph in isolation over the course of the past year at his home studio, with Josh Dun engineering the album’s drums from across the country, Scaled And Icy is the product of long-distance virtual sessions and finds the duo processing their upended routines along with the prevailing emotions of 2020 — anxiety, loneliness, boredom, and doubt. The duo had to forgo their normal studio sessions but reached a new of level of introspection in the process, adopting a more imaginative and bold approach to their songwriting. The result is a collection of songs that push forward through setbacks and focus on the possibilities worth remembering.”