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.