Before we talk about Kacey Musgraves’ new song I want to tell you to go listen to Chvrches’ new album, Screen Violence, which dropped today. I would have written about that, but I’ve already had New Music Friday posts on the first two singles from the album so I thought it would be excessive to write about it again. It is the new music I am actually most excited about today. I really, really need people to go get vaccinated so that case rates go down and I can feel comfortable going to an indoor concert with 6,000 other people at the end of November to see them in concert. They are so good live, and I really don’t want to not go. I do have to say that I’m a tiny bit sad that they are about to go on tour to promote the new album since it means that Lauren Mayberry will no longer be at home to post quality cat content on Instagram of her two cats, Cactus and Poppy.
Anyway, now let’s turn to the song we’re actually here to talk about which is the first single off of Kacey Musgraves’ forthcoming album star crossed. It’s going to be her break-up album about her divorce from Ruston Kelly after their short-lived marriage. I always find break-up albums a little weird because it’s taking something extremely personal and making it super public in a way that most people’s break-ups aren’t and of course it’s always a very one-sided perspective on it. I’m not necessarily opposed to them and sometimes they are incredible (hello Rumours), but especially if that’s not the headspace you’re currently in sometimes I find them a little hard to connect to like I did The Chicks’ newest album, which was a whole lot about Natalie Maines’ divorce.
That being said I do like the first song, “justified”, off of Kacey Musgraves’ break-up album. I think she is at the forefront of trying to subvert what genre is and people’s insistence in trying to stick artists into a little box. Her music is definitely not constrained by a single musical genre. She just lets whatever influences her inspire her music no matter where it’s coming from. I’m excited to explore that aspect of the album when it comes out if nothing else.
“Living Proof” is the first single off The War on Drugs’ forthcoming album I Don’t Live Here Anymore. It will be their first album in four years. This song has been out for about a month. I wasn’t into it the first time I heard it, but it’s been growing on me. It wasn’t exactly the more guitar heavy sound I was used to from their previous album and unlike their previous music which even if it started slow would eventually burst wide open. This song does the exact opposite of that. It starts slow and somehow goes even further into itself at the point you would expect that release. Right now it’s starting to feel perfect though as I start to burrow further back into hibernation instead of experiencing that wide open freedom we all thought we were going to have earlier in the summer. It also just feels perfect for this very gloomy, rainy day I’m experiencing as I write this. It will be interesting to see what the rest of the album sounds like when it comes out.
If there was actually something called musical addiction and a 12 step program to treat it, it’s days like today that I would need to consider going to one. I know I’m lucky if the people who read this blog listen to the one or two songs I post on a weekly basis, so I usually try and limit myself. But today I just can’t. There is too much good music out this week and I must write about it. It doesn’t help that I still have the song I was going to post about last Friday but didn’t because I had a rough start to the day and just never got the will to actually write anything after that. It’s been one of the worst weeks I’ve had in a very long time between work stress and life stuff, but at least there’s lots of good new music. As much as I’m going to write about here this isn’t even all of it. There is still a whole new Jade Bird album that released today that I haven’t had a chance to listen to and a fun new single from Elton John and Dua Lipa that I’m not going to write about but that you should listen to.
Magnolia Blues by Adia Victoria
I don’t actually have a lot to say about this song other than I like it. Adia Victoria is doing a lot of work in her music and excellent podcast, “Call and Response” digging into what it means to be a Black woman from the South. This song and video are a perfect example of that. I look forward to the full album whenever it comes out.
Little Things by Big Thief
Big Thief is a band I have tried to like without success for a long time now. All the people at NPR Music seem to love them and would put them at the top of their favorite artist lists, but I just haven’t ever been able to find a way into their music. I even saw Adrienne Lenker, the lead singer, at the Newport Folk Festival and that didn’t help. I’ve tried listening to the albums when they get featured on NPR, but I have never connected with the music and it’s not something I have ever listened to more than once. I really do like their new song “Little Things” though. There is a lot going on sonically, and it’s not always stuff that should make me like it but somehow it works. There is a nice repetitive guitar riff in the background that sort of propels you through the song but there are enough other changes in the music that there’s also interesting things to hear along the way. There’s a lot of distortion in the vocals and guitar work that is normally not my thing but it works for me here as do some of the vocal affectations like heavy breathing and a little roar at one point. IF you asked me about any of these things individually I’d say no thank you, but the sum of the parts combine into something that I dig.
Worry No More by Amos Lee
Amos Lee wrote a new album over a year ago that he intended to release last year at some point, but then of course we all know what happened and he put it off until he could really tour behind it. He finally announced that it’s going to be released in February 2022 and released the first single, “Worry No More” earlier this week. It’s actually a song I already feel intimately familiar with because for the first year of the pandemic he played a show on Instagram Live every Thursday night and this song made frequent appearances. I have to say that I prefer the solo acoustic guitar version I got during those shows to this actual recorded version from the album. I don’t love the sort of background chorus behind his main vocals for the most part. It kicks in at parts in ways that I really like, but the overall use of it isn’t something I’m loving. I’m sure I’ll get more used to hearing it in this form and then I won’t even think about it. It is a song that I still like and certainly the message is something I need right now. It’s a little funny to think that he wrote this song before we all even knew how much we were going to have to worry about.
Nothing Else Matters by Phoebe Bridgers
Metallica is going to be rereleasing The Black Album for it’s 30th anniversary (man that makes me feel old) in September. Along side it they’ve also created a project of covers called The Metallica Blacklist in which there are 53 different covers of various songs from the original album. They’ve been trickling out over the last month or so and I’ve thought about writing about a couple of them but haven’t. Phoebe Bridgers’ version of “Nothing Else Matters” finally got me because it’s a near perfect cover in my opinion. It does everything I want a cover song to do. It puts a whole new spin on it while also still being wholly recognizable as a cover of the original.
Runaway Horses by The Killers (featuring Phoebe Bridgers)
The Killers released a new album called Pressure Machine today. I wasn’t originally planning on writing about it today because I haven’t had a chance to really dig into it yet. From what I know about it, it’s more of a concept album in which Brandon Flowers digs into the experience of growing up and living in a small town as he did growing up in Nephi, Utah. It’s much quieter and not your typical sort of arena rock Killers music. The songs, as this one does are surrounded by audio excerpts of people from the town talking about their lives there. It felt like something I need to really sit down and listen to instead of just having on in the background while I’m working. I heard this song on WXPN this morning on my drive into work today though and decided to go ahead and include it because I really like it and also it features it features Phoebe Bridgers, and you can never have too much Phoebe Bridgers. Much to my own surprise I have really become a big Killers fan in the past year and I’m looking forward to getting to listen to this full album when I can devote my attention to it.