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JENNY LEWISOn The Line(Warner Bros.) On the Line, Jenny Lewis’ fourth solo album, features help from an arsenal of pro friends including Ringo Starr and former Tom Petty keyboardist Benmont Tench. Since her first solo release in 2006, Lewis (formerly of the ’00s band Rilo Kiley) has progressed easily from indie-folk to country to alt-pop, now stepping confidently into the realm of classic rock. “Red Bull & Hennessey” is a top-down anthem that evokes the Heartbreakers backing a Stevie Nicks hit, hinting that this may be...

EX HEXIt’s Real(Merge)    It’s Real, Ex Hex’s second album, is energetic without being messy, and it’s indicative of the band’s approach to music: big and raucous, but carefully crafted. The record starts strong with “Tough Enough,” which features lead singer/guitarist Mary Timony’s signature tight riffs. As with their 2014 debut, Rips, the D.C. trio evokes ’70s rock bands like the Runaways, packing a punch with songs like the booming single “Cosmic Cave” and the summer-montage-worthy track “Diamond Drive.” A three-piece may be traditionally considered small, but make no mistake: Ex Hex...
They say that there is nothing new under the sun. But, they, surely had not heard of Taali yet. Taali, the singer-songwriter-producer is nothing short of refreshing. Having written for other pop singers in Los Angeles, Taali is here, delivering her debut album, “I Am Here” with a polished sound all her own: Contemporary Jewish Pop. Full of thoughtfulness, genuine intentions, powerful imagery, and airy harmonies, the 15-track album, is proof that Taali and her much needed positivity, are here to stay. Below, Taali opened up...
  Meg Mac finds it impossible to effectively describe the sound of her music. Instead of searching for words to illustrate her unique tone, Mac says that she wants her live concerts to speak for themselves. She tells BUST in the middle of her US tour, “Performing live is the best part of it all. Touring and traveling. The best way to gain an insight [into my work] is to come to one of my shows. My live performance offers a much deeper understanding of what...
  AMANDA PALMERThere Will Be No Intermission(Cooking Vinyl) Amanda Palmer’s crowdfunded new solo album is about life now. Her lyrics refer candidly to motherhood (“A Mother’s Confession”) and the deeper meanings we put on inanimate objects (“The Thing About Things”). Survival is key on this 20-track album, making it hard to get through in one sitting. This is not necessarily a bad thing, though, since pausing to take in “Drowning in the Sound,” a panic-driven climate-change tale, feels necessary. “The Ride,” an over-10-minute ghostly opus, compares life...
  PATTY GRIFFINPatty Griffin(PGM Recordings/Thirsty Tiger) Singer-songwriter Patty Griffin has just released her 10th studio album eponymously titled Patty Griffin. Since her last release, 2015’s Servant of Love, Griffin has collected songs written during and in the aftermath of her defeat of cancer. This ordeal is reflected in the very personal lyrics and stripped-down sound of just Griffin and guitar, seasoned with little other instrumentation.  As usual, Griffin offers an eclectic mix of styles to enjoy. There’s the whimsical blues of "Hourglass," the straight-up americana sound of "Bluebeard," the haunting piano...
HELADO NEGROThis Is How You Smile(RVNG Intl.) Helado Negro, the musical project of Roberto Carlos Lange, unravels the threads of Lange’s identity in a cloud of electro-anchored Tropicalia. His Ecuador/Miami/New York ties create a framework for This Is How You Smile, which Lange describes as, “the soundtrack of a person approaching you, slowly, for 40 minutes.” The dream-like journey magnifies scars and snapshots, uncovers auras, affirms familial bonds, and validates existence as a Latinx in America. “Brown won’t go/Brown just glows,” he sings on the flickering,...
  STELLA DONNELLY Beware of the Dogs (Secretly Canadian)     Stella Donnelly’s debut full-length, Beware of the Dogs, blends the personal and the political (which, for many—including Donnelly, one can assume—there is often little separation). The Australian singer/songwriter’s voice is clear and welcoming with a touch of gentle vibrato, but she doesn’t sugarcoat lyrics—unless you count the sweetened guitar that carries them. From the ethereal title track (“There’s no parliament/Worthy of this countryside”), to the cutting “Old Man” (“Your personality traits/Don’t count if you put your dick/In someone’s face”),...
  THE COATHANGERSThe Devil You Know(Suicide Squeeze) The Coathangers’ latest effort, The Devil You Know, is everything we’ve come to love about one of the best bands in contemporary punk rock. While the majority of the wrecker bears the bite mark of the signature Coathangers sound (see track “F the NRA”), the band also finds success in its forays into newer sonic territory. “Bimbo,” the album’s opener, and lead single, is sweet and sour in unmistakably pop, wow “Lithium,” the closer, is a stripped-down, melancholic ode/ballad/plea to...

  Folk and country have had a recent resurgence in modern pop culture. From Dumplin’s popular Dolly Parton soundtrack to folk and country groups/singers like The Wailin’ Jennys, Brandi Carlile, Hozier, the Fleet Foxes, Iron & Wine, and a smattering of small Seattle-based groups, the genre seems to be making a comeback. A number of women who helped define the genre have been overlooked in recent decades, one whose music wasn’t “discovered” until the mid-2000s. Here’s a list of four women folk singers you need to...