Best Albums to Stream Now: Yo La Tengo, Hot Snakes and more - Rolling Stone
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10 New Albums to Stream Now: The Decemberists, Meshell Ndegeocello and More Editors’ Picks

Hot Snakes’ fiery comeback, Scotty McCreery’s triumphant return and more albums to stream now

The Decemberists, I’ll Be Your Girl
Colin Meloy’s literary-minded outfit looks past the idea of crossover, instead deciding to “stick closer to what used to be called ‘the left of the dial,’ when there was a dial,” writes Will Hermes. “The highlight may be ‘Rusalka, Rusalka/The Wild Rushes,'” he adds, “a bifurcated 8-minute prog-folk-rock ballad about a moony young lover following a siren’s song to a watery grave. It’s what might be labeled a Decemberists stock-in-trade, with no apologies needed.”
Read Our Review: Decemberists Shake Up Their Artisanal Folk Rock on I’ll Be Your Girl
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Yo La Tengo, There’s a Riot Going On
It takes chutzpah to steal a Sly Stone album title, and it takes even more to write such a mellow, easy-breezy LP and call it There’s a Riot Going On. The 15th album from these indie-rock lifers is lulling, sweet and ponderous – and one of their better recent offerings. “Shades of Blue,” a gentle, almost country-tinged ballad on which percussionist Georgia Hubley sings about depression amid muted guitar and tambourine, is an exercise in restraint that harkens back to the Velvet Underground’s third album, and “She May, She Might” echoes like a folky Pink Floyd number. Loops, which skitter on “Above the Sound” and float on “Ashes,” simmer but never really bubble over; “Forever,” with its placid “shoo-wop, shoo-wop” refrain, repeats until it fades into static. Yo La Tengo keep a steady flow that maintains a certain beauty and prevents Riot from outstaying its welcome. Kory Grow
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Scotty McCreery, Seasons Change
The former American Idol winner comes out from behind the show’s shadow with an album full of songs that flaunt his deep voice, love of traditional country and songwriting polish, including the poignant chart-topper “5 More Minutes.” “There aren’t too many rebirths that happen here,” McCreery told Rolling Stone
Read Our Feature: How Scotty McCreery Shed His Innocent Image and Proved Music Row Wrong
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Meshell Ndegeocello, Ventriloquism
The neo-soul pioneer revisits the music that informed her youth with this tribute to R&B and funk tracks from the Eighties and Nineties, when she was a teenage bassist playing in Washington, D.C. go-go bands. Here, Ndegeocello transforms familiar songs with bracing inventiveness (recalling her 2012 Nina Simone homage Pour Une Âme Souveraine), lending a loping jazz-funk tone to George Clinton’s “Atomic Dog” and turning Al B. Sure!’s “Nite and Day” into an ambient alt-soul whirl. Her tribute to Prince, a cover of his 1986 elegy “Sometimes It Snows in April,” sounds especially poignant. Mosi Reeves
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The Oak Ridge Boys, 17th Avenue Revival
Though the current lineup of the Oak Ridge Boys is primarily known for its string of Seventies and Eighties pop-country hits, earlier iterations of the group had deep roots in gospel music. The quartet’s new album, produced by Dave Cobb and recorded in Nashville’s historic Studio A, aims to reacquaint them with that history, mixing newer compositions from Jamey Johnson and Brandy Clark with classic tracks. Reverend Charlie Jackson’s “God’s Got It” gets a rockabilly makeover, with reverb-drenched electric guitar weaving in and out of call-and-response passages by the Oaks. A rolling, Floyd Cramer-style piano ushers in the Johnson-penned “There Will Be Light,” while the traditional hymn “Walk in Jerusalem” offers a foot-stomping showcase for Richard Sterban’s impossibly deep vocals. It may be hard to reconcile the idea of Clark’s “Pray to Jesus” immediately following “Where He Leads Me I Will Follow,” but there’s a common thread linking the two tracks, and gospel music in general: Humans locating the hope to be transported somewhere better. Jon Freeman
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Hot Snakes, Jericho Sirens
The San Diego rockers’ first album in 14 years (and first since their 2011 reunion) is just as sharp and catchy as their early Aughts recordings – it’s even a little punkier. Where Hot Snakes occasionally indulged rockabilly and dramatic surf-guitar washes on past releases, Jericho Sirens overall is a straightforward garage-rock record that allows singer-guitarist Rick Froberg to shred his vocal chords over the jagged chord changes he plays alongside longtime foil John Reis. On opener “I Need a Doctor,” Froberg bellows the title over a string of stabbing chords, and on the mellower single “Six Wave Hold-Down,” he manages to summon formidable grit in his voice, particularly for a song that’s ostensibly just about riding some totally tubular waves. On every track, the band – which now features two drummers, not that it’s noticeable on the record – sounds refreshed, anxious and out for blood, making Jericho Sirens the rare reunion record that lives up to a band’s legacy while offering something new. Kory Grow
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JB Dunckel, H+
One-half of French electro-pop chill-room vets Air reboots the brand with a set of synth-wrapped piano ballads sung in his cyborg-androgyne high tenor. The emblematic single is “Love Machine,” whose robo-purrs of “I’m your sugar-daddy” and “Let’s do it, do it, do it again” recall Air’s 1998 signature “Sexy Boy,” conjuring a space-station boudoir where holograms of Barry White, Michael McDonald and Jacques Brel flicker amidst nag champa smoke plumes. Sure, it tilts towards the silly sometimes. But it’s no less seductive for it. Will Hermes
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Dungen & Woods, Myths 003
This collab between shapeshifting Sweden’s psych-prog adventurers Dungen and Brooklyn’s pastoral impressionists Woods (a by-product of the visionary Marfa Myths festival) is vape-cloudy folk-jazz fusion, largely instrumental, and studded with melody like marshmallows in a bowl of Lucky Charms. “Marfa Sunset,” an ambient swirl of flute and synth-tones, recalls Seventies Miles Davis, and while we have no clue what the singer of “Jag Ville Va Kvar” is going on about, it makes us wanna dervish-dance in a peasant skirt. Will Hermes
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Bill Frisell, Music Is
More than 35 years into a career that’s flowed freely between jazz, rock and Americana, Bill Frisell is a genre unto himself. The guitarist’s signature blend of warmth and weirdness is on handsome display on his first studio solo album since 2000, which feels intimate, but not spare, thanks to Frisell’s liberal use of loops. On “Thankful,” one of six new compositions that join nine reworked back-catalog titles, he starts with a tender melodic line and gradually layers on accompaniment to create an almost orchestral feel, with just a hint of fuzz. And on an update of his Eighties classic “Rambler,” he explores the folky melody with backing from quirky synth-like tones. Frisell packs the album’s pieces with plenty of tasteful ornament – in addition to acoustic and electric guitar, he also plays bass, ukulele and music boxes – but as usual, he steers clear of flash: The pleasure of Music Is lies in hearing a master player lose himself in the possibilities of strings, amps, effects and timeless melody. Hank Shteamer
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Dorothy, 28 Days In the Valley
Dorothy Martin has one of those lye-drenched voices that’s made for wailing about bruised hearts over bruising guitars, and that instrument has helped her cut a singular path through rock. On her eponymous band’s second album, she teams up with super-songwriter Linda Perry (P!nk, Christina Aguilera), and the results add just the right amount of pop appeal and lyrical vulnerability to Martin’s snarling blues-rock. The hip-shaking “Who Do You Love” and the psychedel-ish “On My Knees” boogie as they bleed. Here, though, Martin shines (and Perry’s influence is felt) on the ballads, which are made for tears and lighter-waving: “Flawless” is a biting rebuke to a dirty-dog ex with a rallying refrain; “Pretty When You’re High” is a pre-emptively regretful power ballad; and the piano-tinged “Ain’t Our Time to Die” pumps up its white-knuckle grit with a gospel choir. 28 Days gives Dorothy some spit and polish, but it doesn’t stifle their fire one bit. Maura Johnston
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