Best Albums to Stream Now: Arcade Fire, Vic Mensa and more - Rolling Stone
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10 New Albums to Stream Now: Rolling Stone Editors’ Picks

Arcade Fire’s ever-expanding universe, Ben Gibbard’s Teenage Fanclub tribute, Elvis’ Tupelo recordings and more.

Arcade Fire; Vic MensaArcade Fire; Vic Mensa

Arcade Fire and Vic Mensa have new albums you can hear now.

Elvis Presley, A Boy From Tupelo: The Complete 1953-1955 Recordings
This set includes the Memphis Recording Service acetates Presley had cut on his own dime ($3.98 a pair, to be exact); the entire legendary Sun Sessions, aborted takes and all; and every known concert and radio recording from the period. The sound quality is likely as good as it’ll ever get, and the performances are musical bedrock. Five versions of “Blue Moon,” with slight variations on its clip-clop falsetto-moan conjuring? More’d be fine. Ditto the Louisiana Hayride live recordings here, which show a 19- and then 20-year-old galloping headlong into fame’s stratosphere. Will Hermes
Hear: Amazon Music Unlimited | Apple Music | Spotify | Tidal

Arcade Fire, Everything Now
Montreal indie-pomp collective Arcade Fire “have it both ways on Everything Now, zeroing in on our modern malaise while taking inspiration from more concise dance-pop styles,” writes Will Hermes, who cites Bruce Springsteen’s “57 Channels (And Nothin’ On),” U2’s Achtung Baby period and “Satisfaction” as thematic touchstones for the band’s fifth album. “The title track evokes Abba’s earworm laboratory, with dizzying melodic ascents and a curveball pygmy-flute solo by Afropop scion Patrick Bebey. … Ultimately, Everything Now is about having a cultural banquet on offer and still feeling hungry.”
Read Our Review: Arcade Fire Deepen Their Grooves and Confront Our Toxic Culture on an Epic LP
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Vic Mensa, The Autobiography
Writes Christopher R. Weingarten: “In the plainspoken, autobiographical style of songs like Kanye West’s ‘Through the Wire,’ Mensa lays out his life, from the kid who was pulled off his bike by cops at age 12 (‘Memories on 47th Street’), to the adult struggling with his drug and alcohol intake (‘Rolling Like Stoner’) and struggling with his relationships with women (‘Homewrecker,’ featuring guest vocals from Rivers Cuomo, tweaks Weezer’s 1996 ‘Good Life’ until it sings like MC Lyte’s ‘Poor Georgie’).” 
Read Our Review: Vic Mensa Pulls You Into His Complex Life on The Autobiography
Read Our Feature: Vic Mensa Talks His Intensely Personal EP, The Autobiography
Hear: Amazon Music Unlimited | Apple Music | SoundCloud Go | Spotify | Tidal

The Isley Brothers & Santana, Power of Peace
“Clap your hands-uh! Stomp your feet-eh!” begins Ron Isley on a hot remake of the Chamber Brothers’ “Are You Ready,” paying utterly convincing tribute to James Brown even though the 76 year old is a soul godfather in his own right. The set list on this soul-rock summit is inspired, as are most of the jams: Swamp Dogg’s 1970 “Total Destruction To Your Mind” morphs from brassy Sly Stone-style workout into a Funkadelic guitar display; Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground” gains heavy metal bulk and a spirited if lumpy rap involving Dr. J slam-dunking the future. But while Santana’s guitar shines – Ernie Isley’s, too – brother Ron’s the lodestar, his pliable tenor donning a falsetto smoking jacket for Eddie Kendricks’ proto-disco “Body Talk,” and investing even the Bacharach/David corndog “What the World Needs Now Is Love Sweet Love” with sweet, earned gravitas. Will Hermes
Read Our Feature: Inside Santana and the Isley Brothers’ Uplifting Joint LP
Hear: Amazon Music Unlimited | Apple Music | SoundCloud Go | Spotify | Tidal

Cage the Elephant, Unpeeled
Cage the Elephant are Sixties-loving garage-rockers who understand digital-age studio splendor. So maybe it’s no surprise that this live album – which culls 18 songs from throughout their career and adds three covers – seems more about discovering new sonic detail than onstage alchemy. String-heavy renderings of Merseybeat-style tunes like “Sweet Little Jeanie” and “Cold Cold Cold” collapse the British Invasion into the Summer of Love, and singer Matt Shulz delivers songs by Seventies pub-rocker Wreckless Eric, the Stranglers and Daft Punk like they’re his own obsessive creations. Jon Dolan
Hear: Amazon Music Unlimited | Apple Music | SoundCloud Go | Spotify | Tidal

Alice Cooper, Paranormal
Shock-rock trailblazer Alice Cooper has always fancied himself a Vaudevillian cross between Boris Karloff and Bob Hope – a golf club-swinging villain with a dark sense of humor. As such, his 27th LP is a series of twisted vignettes that range from mini-Twilight Zone episodes like “Fireball” (a man dreams of the apocalypse, only to wake up and witness it) to hard-rocking one-liners like “Fallen in Love” (“I’ve fallen in love and I can’t get up”). It’s a loose and fun affair thanks to producer Bob Ezrin, who helmed Alice’s Seventies hits, as well as guest appearances by members of U2, ZZ Top and Alice’s original band, the last of whom play on the anarchic standout “You and All of Your Friends” and socially tone-deaf “Genuine American Girl,” which sort of makes fun of trans women. That track aside, Paranormal is one of Cooper’s strongest and most entertaining efforts in years; smartly arranged rockers like the friendly-ghost-themed “Paranormal” and creepy “The Sound of A” sound all the better if you can appreciate his shtick. Kory Grow
Hear: Amazon Music Unlimited | Apple Music | Spotify | Tidal

Ben Gibbard, Bandwagonesque
Ben Gibbard’s love of the Scottish indie-rock firebrands Teenage Fanclub has always come through in his crystal-clear singing style, as well as his band Death Cab for Cutie’s penchant for poppy, vocals-first hooks. Now he’s taken on the task of reconstructing every soaring twist and turn of the group’s practically perfect third LP, Bandwagonesque – a record that cast the mold for Weezer as much as Death Cab. Gibbard’s Fanclub fandom never leads him to recreate the album note-for-note, making this project feel more like a fun solo detour. He shows restraint on the anthemic sing-along outro to “The Concept,” he turns what was a rocking intro for “Pet Rock” into a gospel-inflected, almost Beach Boys-like vocal meditation and the bass-heavy “Is This Music” gets a slower-paced, electro-folk reworking. Gibbard’s Bandwagonesque is what a good covers album should be: deferential, yet personal. Kory Grow
Hear: Apple Music | Spotify | Tidal

Fairport Convention, Come All Ye – First Ten Years
Following last year’s revelatory I’ve Always Kept a Unicorn: The Acoustic Sandy Denny comes this seven-disc anthology of Britain’s greatest folk-rock group, on the occasion of their 50th anniversary. It’s heavily (and rightly) weighted toward the Denny era(s), mixing classic recordings with alternate takes, BBC broadcasts and live discoveries, dozens previously unreleased, most top-shelf. Richard Thompson’s Excalibur guitar leads gleam, and with deep songbook dives into North American folk’s heavy-hitters (Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan) alongside originals and traditionals, it’s a gloss on a very English band’s never-fully-consummated transatlantic love affair. Will Hermes
Hear: Apple Music | Spotify | Tidal

Billie Eilish, Dont Smile at Me
Halsey and Lorde notched chart-topping albums in the past six weeks, so the moment is ripe for a new generation of alt-pop ingenues – preternaturally smart singers who can combine youthful energy with the seen-it-all wisdom of their elders, and put it over a beat. This four-song collection by ’00s baby Billie Eilish foregrounds her whispery soprano over stuttering drum machines and stark landscapes, with the sinewy poison-pen excommunication “Copycat” landing with the iciness of a Facebook unfriending and the pouting “My Boy” taking on a “sus” paramour. “My boy loves his friends just like I love my split ends and by that I mean/He cuts them off,” Eilish vamps in one of the best arguments for deep conditioner ever recorded. Maura Johnston
Hear: Amazon Music Unlimited | Apple MusicSpotify | Tidal

Luke Christopher, Tmrwfrvr
This 24-year-old jack-of-all-trades’ debut is a confident yet open collection of R&B-tinged hip-hop – or hip-hop-tinged R&B, depending on the way you look at it. On “Complicated,” he channels the full-body bellows of Seventies soul men over a beat that’s jittery yet pillow-soft, its sprawled-out synths punctuated by piano jabs. “Can’t Sleep” pulses like an insomniac’s 4 a.m. heart, with beamed-in falsettos echoing his pre-booty call anxiety. “Jameson” updates the sparse house-R&B of Ne-Yo’s “Closer,” adding in a glinting guitar solo for a dancefloor breather, and the closing track “Lot to Learn” is a lazy-day love song that foregrounds its vulnerability. Christopher’s loose, swaggering flow pegs him as a member of the post-Drake generation, but his lyrics’ forthrightness, his varied influences and the impeccable detail he gives his productions hint at a bright, limitless future. Maura Johnston
Hear: Amazon Music Unlimited | Apple Music | SoundCloud Go | Spotify | Tidal


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