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Next Week in Music | February 20-26 • The Short List: 13 Titles You Want to Hear

Lucero, Wild Billy, Algiers, Phil Selway, Gorillaz, Steel Panther & the rest of the best.

Talk about doing more with less: Even though we’ve got a four-day week coming up, the music biz is clearly working overtime, cranking out another slate of must-hear sounds. Granted, the big names are few and far between. But that just gives you more time to spend with some deserving artists and albums that might otherwise fall through the cracks. Such as:



THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Shook is Algiers‘ first new music since 2020’s There Is No Year, a heady concoction of post-punk, ‘60s soul and political insight. It features contributions from Rage Against The Machine’s Zack De La Rocha, Boy Harsher’s Jae Matthews, Big Rube, Billy Woods, Backxwash, and many more. Stacked with guests spanning icons through to future stars, Shook is a lightning rod for an elusive yet universal energy and feeling. A plurality of voices; a spiritual and geographical homecoming; a strategy of communion in a burning world; the story of an end of a relationship; an Atlanta front porch summer party. Ultimately, it’s a 17-track set of the most mind-expanding and thrilling music that you are likely to hear anytime soon. Algiers have always been unflinching, but SHOOK is at the same time notably joyous and celebratory. The guest contributions deftly reshape and recontextualize the notion of being Shook from a variety of perspectives, occupying shifting roles as oracles and narrators. Says drummer Matt Tong: “It very much deepens and broadens the world of Algiers.”

Powder Blue

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Powder Blue is the sophomore album from Winnipeg singer-songwriter Begonia (Alexa Dirks) and the followup to 2019’s Fear, which was nominated for both the Polaris Music Prize and a Juno Award. On the album’s name, Dirks says, “Powder Blue is more of an emotion. It makes me think of my baby blanket, the colour of the virgin mary’s shawl at the church Christmas play, the airiness of clouds on a summer day, chlorine filled water in a hotel pool, Elvis in the 70s wearing an ill-fitting jumpsuit, the wallpaper in my room growing up, the collection of faded denim jackets in my basement.” As Begonia, Dirks is bold, brazen with her florid, surprising pop that is tempered with sensitivity and wisdom. In her music, Begonia leans hard into a sense of arrival. Whether it’s learning to come into her own or processing a brutal heartbreak, Dirks’ intimate lyrics and audacious sound allows for her audience to relate to the messiness of life with an honesty that is refreshing.”

Nature Morte

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:BIG|BRAVE, the elemental ensemble of guitarist/vocalist Robin Wattie, guitarist Mathieu Ball, and drummer Tasy Hudson, harness an earthen heaviness composed of distorted and textural drones, austere bombast, and Wattie’s heart-rending voice. Like recent collaborators The Body, BIG|BRAVE are at the forefront of reconfiguring the landscape of heavy music. The trio brandish sparseness and density like weapons, cast tense atmospheres with languid tempos and mutate feedback into eruptions of enveloping tempests. Nature Morte sharpens BIG|BRAVE’s ferocity and expansive sound into emotional elegies for the disenfranchised, wringing abstracted textures and pure fervence into songs of unfathomable mass. Across the album’s six pieces BIG|BRAVE create a tension between immediacy and patience, invoking the essence of disquiet, while conveying anguish through inventive arrangements and nuanced performances. Nature Morte captures BIG|BRAVE at their heaviest and their mournful fury is at its zenith, an album where each moment is so immense and consuming that it possesses its own gravitational pull.”

Gina Birch
I Play My Bass Loud

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “London’s Gina Birch began her storied career in music in 1977 when she formed the feminist punk band The Raincoats with fellow Hornsey School of Art student Ana da Silva. Gina and Ana witnessed an early performance by The Slits and although neither of them knew how to play any instruments, they knew they had to start a band. Just months after they picked up their instruments they were on stage doing their thing around London and the U.K. in the fledgling and groundbreaking punk rock scene. The Raincoats quickly developed a large and loyal groups of fans and supporters, among them Red Krayola, Swell Maps and Geoff Travis and his new record label, Rough Trade. The Raincoats went on to record three albums that are frequently found on lists of the most important records of the punk rock era and are still name checked as influences by artists today. In September of 2021, Gina released her first solo single Feminist Song on Third Man Records in celebration of the opening of their brand new London location. Third Man will release Gina’s first solo album I Play My Bass Loud, recorded by Martin “Youth” Glover from Killing Joke and featuring Thurston Moore from Sonic Youth.”

David Brewis
The Soft Struggles

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “After three albums as School of Language, David Brewis’s next contribution to the ever-expanding Field Music universe is this jazz-inflected acoustic record. It will also be the second album release on Field Music’s newly formed Daylight Saving Records label, intended as the home for the Brewis brothers’ extra-curricular projects. The Soft Struggles veers away from Field Music’s eclectic palette and instead leans into the luminous spontaneity of Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks and the breathy, string-laden chamber pop of Colin Blunstone’s One Year. Several of the tracks were built around a single day of live recording at Field Music’s studio in Sunderland, with David’s brother Peter on drums, Sarah Hayes on piano and flute and Faye MacCalmanon clarinet and saxophone. “There’s something a bit magical about a bunch of musicians together in a room being thrown in at the deep end,” says David, “So many of my favourite records were made quickly by musicians sitting a few feet from each other, playing songs they’d never even heard before the session began. That’s what I tried to do with this album. A chord sheet, a set of lyrics, a brief chat about tempo and then, okay comrades, see you at the other side.”

Wild Billy Childish & CTMF
Failure Not Success

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “The new studio album by Wild Billy Childish and CTMF features Billy at his songwriting best. It includes covers of Richard Hell and Jimi Hendrix songs, along with a newly recorded version of Bob Dylan’s Got A Lot To Answer For. Speaking to the album title, Childish says: “If The Pop Rivets (the first group I was in in 1977) had been “successful” in the formal sense, then it would have been a disaster — no learning about sound, growth, and independence. Luckily, we considered ourselves successful from the outset by doing what we wanted the way we wanted. We believed the hype of punk rock — do-it-yourself and lived it, unlike the “successful” leaders of the movement. I’ve always wanted small gigs where your open and exposed. The same with recording — excitement, mistakes, humour, and hopefully joy. The reason to become “successful” is to cut yourself from your origin and roots. In short, we’ll decide what success is, not a critic, the world, or public opinion.”

Death Valley Girls
Islands In The Sky

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “For the better part of a decade, L.A.’s scrappy rock ’n’ roll mystics Death Valley Girls have used their music as a means of tapping into a communal cosmic energy. On albums like Glow In The Dark (2016), Darkness Rains (2018), and Under The Spell Of Joy (2020) the band challenged the soul-crushing banality of modern society and celebrated “true magical in­nite potential” through a collage of scorching proto-punk riffs, earworm melodies, far-out lyrics, and lysergic auxiliary instrumentation. But on their latest album Islands In The Sky, Death Valley Girls’ songwriting mastermind Bonnie Bloomgarden uses the band’s anthemic revelries as a guidebook to spiritual healing and a roadmap for future incarnations of the self. And while these may be the loftiest aims of Death Valley Girls to date, the resulting music is also by far their most infectious and celebratory.

Cracker Island

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Cracker Island is the eight studio album from Gorillaz, an energetic, upbeat, genre-expansive collection of 10 tracks featuring yet another stellar line-up of artist collaborators: Thundercat, Tame Impala, Bad Bunny, Stevie Nicks, Adeleye Omotayo, Bootie Brown and Beck. Recorded in London and L.A. earlier this year, it is produced by Gorillaz, Remi Kabaka Jr. and eight-time Grammy-winning producer / multi-instrumentalist / songwriter extraordinaire Greg Kurstin. Title track kickstarted the new campaign this summer, hitting the charts across the globe with a top 10 video racking up 10 million views in 10 days. The virtual band exploded onto TikTok, gaining over 2.1 million followers in the space of a few months, where they continue to innovate, taking virtual characters where no character has been before.”

Should’ve Learned By Now

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “It would be difficult to find a band that is more self-aware than longtime touring band Lucero. Since forming in Memphis in the late ’90s, Lucero’s base musical hallmarks have remained similar to the band’s initial sound established with their first record The Attic Tapes. In the history of their expansive discography, Lucero has evolved and embraced everything from southern rock to Stax-inspired Memphis soul, whilst simultaneously maintaining their distinctive sonic foundations. Years later, dedicated fans of the group still flock to hear the band’s punchy driving rhythms, punk-rooted guitar licks, and lyrics that evoke the whiskey drenched sentimentality of Americana singer-songwriters. For their 12th record, Should’ve Learned By Now, Lucero drew on a lot of work from their past. Literally. By adapting songs and guitar parts that had been left over from the group’s previous two albums, Lucero was able to construct one of its most comprehensive works to date. “I had a particular sound I was looking for on each record and there was no room for any goofy rock & roll or cute witticisms or even simply upbeat songs.” Said primary lyricist and frontman, Ben Nichols. “But now finally, it was time to revisit all of that stuff and get it out in the world. That’s how we got to the appropriately-for-us-titled album Should’ve Learned by Now. The album is basically about how we know we are fuckups and I guess we are OK with that.”

Philip Selway
Strange Dance

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “When Philip Selway approached some of his favourite musicians to play on his third solo record, he said he imagined it as a Carole King record if she collaborated with the pioneering electronic composer Daphne Oram and invited him to drum on it. Unsurprisingly, they were all sold, and so began the bringing together of an extraordinary number of gifted people, including Hannah Peel, Adrian Utley, Quinta, Marta Salogni, Valentina Magaletti and Laura Moody. Foregrounding this remarkable union of musical voices were 10 songs written by Selway at home on piano and guitar that show him at the height of his songwriting powers. Strange Dance sees Selway using all the craft and learning he has gathered over the last decade of solo work outside of Radiohead. This rich sonic broadness is constructed with a blend of strings, brass and synthesised sounds. “The scale of it was very deliberate for me, from the outset,” he says. “I wanted the soundscape to be broad and tall but somehow get it to wrap around this intimate vocal at the heart of it.”

Food For Worms

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “On the one hand, Shame’s new album Food for Worms calls to mind a certain morbidity, but on the other, it’s a celebration of life; the way that, in the end, we need each other. The album is an ode to friendship, and a documentation of the dynamic that only five people who have grown up together — and grown so close, against all odds — can share. For the first time, the band are not delving inwards, but seeking to capture the world around them. “I don’t think you can be in your own head forever,” says frontrman Charlie Steen. A conversation after one of their gigs with a friend prompted a stray thought that he held on to: “It’s weird, isn’t it? Popular music is always about love, heartbreak, or yourself. There isn’t much about your mates.” It’s through this, and defiance, that the band have continually moved forward together; finding light in uncomfortable contractions and playing their vulnerabilities as strengths: The near-breakdowns, identity crises, Steen routinely ripping his top off on stage as a way of tackling his body weight insecurities. Everything is thrown into their live show and the best shows of their lives are happening now.”

The Shootouts

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:The Shootouts didn’t expect to be back in the studio so soon after the release of their Top 10 Americana album Bullseye. But when one of country music’s most legendary artists agrees to produce your next record, you don’t say no. That’s what happened when a mutual friend introduced the band to Ray Benson — longtime frontman and 10-time Grammy-winning founder of Asleep At The Wheel. Just months after the April 2021 release of Bullseye, The Shootouts found themselves hard at work with Benson and co-producer Sam Seifert on Stampede. While it may have come together quickly, the sessions resulted in the group’s strongest album yet. Stampede is steeped in all things country music — an energetic fusion of Americana, honky tonk and Western swing that Shootouts fans often refer to as “country music for people who don’t like country.”

Steel Panther
On The Prowl

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “On the heels of the recent addition of Spyder as their full-time bassist, California rock legends Steel Panther are back with their sixth studio album On The Prowl. From the opening synth intro of Never Too Late (To Get Some Pu**y Tonight) to the thunderous outro of Sleeping On The Rollaway, On The Prowl delivers all with the infectious riffs, pounding drums, unforgettable vocals and witty humor that have earned them a global audience. Songs like On Your Instagram, Magical Vagina and One Pump Chump are sure to fit in on the biggest live stages next to the band’s most-memorable songs. 1987 is an incredible retro look at that unforgettable year and the band even slows things down on the reflective Ain’t Dead Yet.”