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19 New Albums To Listen To This Spring: Playlist

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Here are the album reviews from our April/May 2018 issue! We're featuring new music from artists like Frankie Cosmos, Jean Grae and Quelle Chris, and Sunflower Bean.  And we've got a Spotify playlist for you, too:

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FRANKIE COSMOS
Vessel
(Sub Pop)

Whether she’s writing about eating leftover rice late at night, her phone dying, or wasting time on a train, Frankie Cosmos songwriter Greta Kline has a knack for weaving poetry out of small, simple moments. Though she’s moved away from home recording, the prolific songwriter (Vessel marks her 52nd release and 3rd full-band studio album) still maintains the intimacy and playful sensibilities of an artist who got her start recording indie pop songs in a bedroom.

The 18 songs on Vessel, some of which fall under the 1-minute mark, feel like walking around in someone’s mind. No track centers on specifically one thing—each one bleeds into the next, carrying themes of quiet heartache and meditations on personal growth that float by like thought clouds in a daydream, often morphing and taking lyrical left turns into unexpected places. “Our love is my world but so is my heartache,” Kline sings gently on “Jesse,” a song that starts with the image of a late-night heart-to-heart with a friend and meanders through dreams of scorpions and complicated love. Kline’s honeyed harmonies and tender lyrics are backed up by a lively band that feels influenced by K-Records twee, providing an energetic, minimal background of clean guitars, drums, keyboard, and the occasional laugh left on the tape. Ultimately, Kline’s head is a pleasant place to hang out in—full of sweet melodies and thoughtful observations that form gentle, poetic pop songs. 4/5 –Robin Edwards

 

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BRITTANY CAMPBELL
Stay Gold Part 2
(Self-Released)

Brittany Campbell’s Stay Gold is 14 tracks of smooth sailing, as Campbell brings melodies that strike a balance between sultry and sexy. There’s no better example than the title track, as she coos over the cut about regrouping and getting right after heartache. Of course the opposite is present, as the airy “I Just Wanna Love You” is effortlessly romantic, much like “Still In Love.” While there’s no lack of mid-to-down-tempo tracks, only a few songs like “Buzz” and “All Because You Let Me Go” pick up the pace a little. Stay Gold is perfect for falling in love, falling out of love, and falling back in love again. 3/5 –Kathy Iandoli

 

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GOAT GIRL 
Self-Titled
(Rough Trade)

London’s own Goat Girl is not playing around with its self-titled debut. It has a whopping 19 tracks, though all but two clock in under 3 minutes. The quartet’s sound is equal parts dreamy indie and psychedelic guitar and there’s no denying that they do it well, though they stick to what they know (apathetic vocals that lead to loud guitars) for nearly every track, leaving little variety from start to finish. “Cracker Drool” and “Burn the Stake” are worth a listen for those interested in checking out the record. 3/5 –Kathryn Hensch


 

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JEAN GRAE AND QUELLE CHRIS 
Everything’s Fine
(Mello Music Group)

Everything’s Fine, the inaugural offering from rappers Jean Grae and Quelle Chris, combines hilarious tongue-in-cheek sketches (Hannibal Buress makes an appearance on the track “OhSh”) and mild-yet-lethal social observations that sneak up like carbon monoxide. The line, “You can be the things they say to be and get killed,” on “Gold Purple Orange,” exemplifies Grae’s skills at stealth assassination. The track “My Contribution To This Scam” throws a witty side-eye at cultural gentrification; “House Call” brings Parliament-reminiscent funk; and “Waiting for the Moon” is a rap-ballad beauty featuring Mosel and Anna Wise. Overall, Everything’s Fine proves to be a triumph for this pair of virtuoso blerds. 5/5 –Camille Collins

 

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GWENNO
Le Kov
(Heavenly Recordings)

Formerly of the all-female British doo-wop/pop group the Pipettes, Gwenno’s sophomore album reveals a sustained interest in pop-music history. Written entirely in the artist’s native Cornish language, Le Kov is a moody collage of retro influences that are the perfect atmospheric soundtrack to a night drive. With an overarching theme of psychedelia, Le Kov draws from baroque pop (“Aremorika”) euro disco (“Eus Keus?”) and 1960s French pop (“Hi a Skoellyas Liv a Dhagrow”). The result is a sultry, sophisticated sound that will appeal to fans of Serge Gainsbourg, Lush, and Chromatics. 4/5 –Sarah C. Jones

 

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HINDS
I Don’t Run
(Mom + Pop)

On I Don’t Run, Madrid foursome Hinds releases its second collection of fearless commentary on love and sex by way of jangly, fuzzed-out pop. “The Club” opens the album with blistering guitar in a straightforward pop-punk vein, but soon expands into successions of layered vocals that continue throughout the course of the record and truly prove to be their secret weapon. A complicated relationship status is processed in “Tester” via call-and-response gang vocals (think a rougher Sleater-Kinney or more collaborative Black Lips). Although the band has spent the last few years dabbling in mainstream ventures (like performing the title track to the Spanish version of Disney’s Cars 3,) they stay true to their original ’60s-garage sound with songs you could imagine coming out of your coolest BFF’s basement show. 4/5 –Bree McKenna

 

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HOP ALONG
Bark Your Head Off, Dog
(Saddle Creek)    

The chief aesthetic virtue of Hop Along has always been its ability to wed a raggedy garage sensibility with a preternatural instinct for writing wonderfully refined, irrepressible melody lines. Their third studio album, Bark Your Head Off, Dog maintains this equilibrium, but augments Hop Along’s standard guitar-drums-bass configuration with production that manages to be both sleek and understated. Lead singer Frances Quinlan’s voice—itself a thing of feral beauty—is nestled in a bed of honeyed strings (“How Simple,” “Not Abel”) and starbursts of harp (“How You Got Your Limp”). Album closer “Prior Things” is a six-minute pop cantata that never once feels weighty. BYHOD cements Hop Along’s place as our main manufacturers of keen, stirring rock music. Long may they reign. 5/5 –Sam Chapman 

 

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 IRREVERY
Irrevery Volume I
(Self-Released)

Irrevery is a Brooklyn-based, country-punk multimedia project led by Paige Johnson-Brown, whose raw emotions boil over into twangy noise arrangements with occasional hints of Primus and the Residents. “Desert Song” begins with three minutes of ominous spoken word before launching into rockabilly stomp churning around acerbic lines like, “Tie me up with string/And fucking pump me full of lead/I’ve got a shotgun for a mouth and a bullet for a head.” (The album also has an accompanying chapbook of visceral illustrations by various artists for each track’s lyrics.) Songs like “One Toned Chord” and “Just Like Me” balance the tumultuous energy with intricate guitar work and lilting twang. 3/5 –Emily Nokes

 

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LA LUZ
Floating Features
(Hardly Art)    

On La Luz’s third full-length release, the surf-rock girl gang plummets listeners into an ominously sun-drenched day at the beach. From the ripping instrumental title track, guitars nimbly wrap around sinister melodies. When the lyrics come in, they add another unsettling layer—like in “California Finally,” with the hollering refrain, “Do what I wanna do/what I wanna do” in urgently minor, drug-hazed tones, suggesting that what you wanna do is more along the lines of Natural Born Killers than Gidget. Forget Lana Del Rey, with Floating Features, La Luz can handle all your 2018 beach goth needs. 4/5 –Julia Bembenek

 

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LUCIUS
NUDES 
(Mom + Pop)    

Lucius strips down with 10 acoustic tracks for its third studio album, shining a spotlight on the twin vocal magic of co-lead singers Holly Laessig and Jess Wolfe. NUDES includes three new songs, three covers, and four pared-down compositions from the band’s back catalog. A rendition of Gerry Rafferty’s “Right Down the Line” is bolstered with a build of mesmerizing harmonies; “Tempest” (from their 2013 album Wildewoman) highlights the entire band’s collective vocal cohesion; and the reworked “Something About You” (from their 2016 album Good Grief) proves you don’t need to be plugged in to keep it snappy with creative percussion and a touch of distortion. The album closes with a sweetly informal cover of folk standard “Goodnight, Irene,” with Pink Floyd co-founder Roger Waters. 4/5 –Emily Nokes

 

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CAROLINE ROSE
Loner
(New West Records)    

On Caroline Rose’s Loner, we are taken on a rollercoaster ride of feelings and moments, with songs that transcend genre and era. Sometimes Rose is poignant and observant—evidenced on opener “More of the Same” and “To Die Today.” Other times, she’s belting badass tunes that make you dance with a message attached (“Cry!,” “Money,” “Jeannie Becomes A Mom”). Whether it’s the soulfully subdued closer “Animal” or the sassy “Bikini,” Caroline Rose crafts music that makes you want to gravitate towards her. After the world gets a taste of her latest, it’ll be impossible for her to be a loner any longer. 4/5 –Kathy Iandoli 

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THE SHACKS
Haze
(Big Crown)    

After a chance reunion at a studio in their N.Y.C. hometown, high-school friends Shannon Wise and Max Shrager formed the Shacks. On their first full-length effort, they experiment with sounds of the past, dabbling in R&B, psychedelic pop, and doo-wop with such skill that they seem wise beyond their years. On the dreamy title track, Wise’s sleepy, whisper-soft voice fall into a catchy chorus; on “Cryin,” Shrager joins Wise on vocals creating a pleasing juxtaposition of their differing sounds; and the cheerful, toe-tap worthy “So Good” is reminiscent of 1960s pop. While some tracks are stronger than others, the Shacks definitely prove themselves to be a name to remember. 4/5 –Adrienne Urbanski

 

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SHANNON AND THE CLAMS
Onion 
(Easy Eye Sound)    

If you have yet to listen to Shannon and the Clams, do yourself a favor and pick up Onion. The Oakland band has always specialized in bringing the sounds of yesteryear—be it surf-rock or doo-wop—to today. This time around, they’ve added a little more soul to the mix. Shannon Shaw’s vocals are phenomenal, especially (and crushingly) on “Did You Love Me?”. Other highlights include “Backstreets,” “The Boy,” and what is likely the best song that will ever be written about the vegetable, “Onion.” This LP is a shining example of Shannon and the Clams’ at its absolute best. 5/5 –Kathryn Hensch

 

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SOCCER MOMMY
Clean
(Fat Possum)    

Sophie Allison won’t be “your fucking dog,” but she might be your favorite new artist of 2018. In her first full Soccer Mommy LP (her DIY EP, Collection, dropped last year) she’s coming clean and into her own. The 20-year-old has traded her bedroom for a studio to craft a mellifluous post-breakup breakdown that feels all the nuanced feels. She’s vulnerable on the aforementioned “Your Dog,” and self-loathing on the aloof sing-along “Cool.” But it’s “Flaw”—a meditation on romantic regrets—echoing Elliott Smith’s signature melancholy, that will have you following her like a lovesick puppy dog. 5/5 –Shannon Carlin

 

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SPEEDY ORTIZ
Twerp Verse
(Carpark Records)    

After striking out on her own with the solo project Sad13, Sadie Dupuis is back with her band Speedy Ortiz on Twerp Verse, and their sound is bigger than ever. Where Sad13’s Slugger was relatively low-key, Twerp Verse is full of sharp-edged bangers that could (and should) fill an arena. But while the sound has expanded, the band’s attention to emotional minutiae remains as intense as ever, especially on songs like “Can I Kiss You?” and “Lean In When I Suffer.” Come for the riffs, stay for the lyrics that are so relatable you’ll feel like they were pulled directly from your brain. 4/5 –Eliza Thompson

 

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SUNFLOWER BEAN
Twentytwo in Blue
(Mom+Pop)    

Following 2016’s upbeat psychedelic rock album Human Ceremony, Sunflower Bean—a New York-based trio led by frontwoman/bassist Julia Cumming—delivers blissed-out beach-folk with Twentytwo in Blue. Produced with help from Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s Jacob Portrait and Friends’ Matt Molnar, the album is carried by dreamy tunes broken by staccato guitar riffs and the harmonies of Cumming and singer/guitarist Nick Kivlen. “I Was a Fool” feels like driving at sunset with your first love: the bouncy bass conveying nostalgic intimacy, lyrics summoning bittersweet naiveté. “Crisis Fest” highlights Cumming’s resonant, well-rounded voice, evoking rock goddesses Stevie Nicks and Karen Carpenter. 4/5 –Kelli Ebensberger

 

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TRACEY THORN 
Record
(Merge Records)      

For her fifth solo release, Tracey Thorn delivers, in her own words, “nine feminist bangers,” all of which come wrapped in a festive electro-pop sound. “Queen” is an upbeat dance track in which Thorn’s unmistakable, earthy voice asks, “Do I ever find love/Or am I still waiting?” Thorn reminds us what a consummate songwriter she is on songs like “Smoke,” “Face,” “Air” (featuring U.K. pop singer Shura), and the soulful “Sister” (featuring U.K. singer/songwriter Corinne Bailey Rae). After a seven-year hiatus, Record is a much-welcomed return for the great Tracey Thorn. 4/5 –Michael Levine

 

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ERIKA WENNERSTROM 
Sweet Unknown
(Partisan Records)    

Heartless Bastards ride-or-dies, this one’s for you. Erika Wennerstrom’s solo debut infuses everything we love about the band’s smoke-and-grit energy into a record that’s intimate, open-throated, and still rollicking as hell. It’s notable that so much of Sweet Unknown was inspired by Wennerstrom’s travels through the Amazon; the seven-minute mini-epic “Extraordinary Love” really does feel like an ayahuasca mind opener while the sunset blues of “Like a Bird” slides by like scenery past a train window. Even traditional stompers like “Letting Go” have something of the wild unknown about them. 4/5 –Mollie Wells

 

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YO LA TENGO
There’s a Riot Going On
(Matador)   

There’s a Riot Going On may be the name of Yo La Tengo’s latest LP, but you’d never know by listening. Memorable melodies, dreamy pop, and soft, slow songwriting are their forte, and this album beckons listeners to bliss out on the calmness. “Polynesia #1” begins with beachy surf guitar while Georgia Hubley sings “I’m going to Polynesia/I’m going at my leisure.” The concept of leisure, of taking one’s time and slowing down a bit, is accented by the lengthy instrumental intros and interludes between vocal-led songs on the album. On “Let’s Do It Wrong,” Hubley and Ira Kaplan’s voices blend beautifully in harmony while a subdued bossa-nova beat propels things forward. The entire album is a cohesive experience to enjoy in one long listen. 4/5 –Cindy Yogmas

This article originally appeared in the April/May 2018 print edition of BUST Magazine. Subscribe today!

top photo: Frankie Cosmos

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