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10 New Albums to Stream Now: Kurt Vile, Ella Mai and More Editors’ Picks

Kurt Vile’s stoner whimsy, Ella Mai’s assured belting, Elvis Costello’s latest set of short stories and more new albums to stream this week

Kurt Vile and Ella Mai

Kurt Vile and Ella Mai

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EDITORS’ PICK: Kurt Vile, Bottle It In
“This indie guitar hero is a master at chill fingerpicking and dry stoner whimsy,” writes Jon Dolan. “The 10-minute ‘Bassackwards’ is lazy, cobweb-minded heaven, and ‘Loading Zones’ big-ups his gift for finding good parking.”
Read Our Feature: Kurt Vile Abides

Ella Mai, Ella Mai
“The ‘Boo’d Up’ singer breaks through her collaborators’ sometimes-monotonous material on her debut LP,” writes Elias Leight. “If the arrangements sometimes sound automated, Mai is adept enough as a singer to enliven them,” he writes. “In particular, she’s comfortable in her lower register at a time when many young acts neglect that part of their range. So on ‘Good Bad,’ her voice dips twice during the line, ‘I just spent about a day doing my hair/ Still ain’t fuckin’ with it, I ain’t going nowhere,’ invigorating a couplet that many vocalists would sing straight and move past. And few singers sound as good as Mai when she’s knitting syllables into gloriously alliterative refrains.”
Read Our Review: Ella Mai Shows “Boo’d Up” Is No Fluke on Debut LP

Elvis Costello & the Imposters, Look Now
“Costello’s first new album in five years finds him squaring his restless artistic impulses with his storied past,” writes Jon Dolan. “He says it’s an attempt to connect Imperial Bedroom, where he essentially combined McCartney-esque compositional brilliance with Lennon-esque lyrical bite, and 1998’s Painted from Memory, on which he collaborated with iconic pop songwriter Burt Bacharach. … [A] dead-end sense haunts the people he sings about on much of Look Now; they’re further down the road of life yet just as troubled because, as always, a satisfied person in an Elvis Costello feels like someone who got off at the wrong bus stop.”
Read Our Review: Elvis Costello & the Imposters’ Sharp, Sophisticated Look Now

St. Vincent, Masseducation
Annie Clark’s reworking of her 2017 pop breakthrough Masseduction features her and pianist Thomas “Doveman” Bartlett playing stripped-down versions of that album’s dense art-pop. In contrast to the process behind Masseduction, which was the culmination of years’ worth of writing and star-studded recording sessions, Clark and Bartlett (who also played on Masseduction) put together its “reimagining” in a flurry of instinctual activity. That seat-of-the-pants energy jolts some of the reinventions: “Sugarboy” is transformed from hopped-up dancefloor chaos into a gorgeous showcase for Clark’s formidable soprano, with musical tension coming courtesy of a chewed-nails piano counterpoint; Masseduction opener ‘Hang On Me,’ this set’s closer, flips from a come-hither beckoning to a better world into a let’s-stay-together plea. Maura Johnston
Read Our Review: St. Vincent Sits Down At the Piano on Masseducation

Colter WallSongs of the Plains
The genre used to be called Country and Western, and cowboy songs have always been essential to the music’s roots. Wall, actually from Saskatchewan, pays tribute to the tradition here, with production help from period-conjurer Dave Cobb, soaking Wall’s mighty baritone in reverb and setting it in hauntingly sparse landscapes ghosted by steel and harmonica. The gems include “Calgary Round-Up,” with its soulful yodeling; the timeless druggie drifter tale “Manitoba Man;” and the traditional “Tying Knots In The Devil’s Tail,” a campfire drinking song about two cowboys that get wasted, then rope and brand Satan — a metaphor for the politician of your choice. Will Hermes

Jess Glynne, Always In Between
This British belter’s second album “once again bridges the gap between bouncy pop-EDM and feisty soul,” writes Maura Johnston. “[Always In Between] somehow manages to shake off the malaise that’s struck too many of her playlisted peers, letting Glynne serve as a one-woman rooting crew for herself and, by extension, anyone in need of a peppy pick-me-up.”

Tom Morello, The Atlas Underground
The Rage Against The Machine guitarist understands sick beats, activist rhymes, and weaponized noise; this project, matching rappers and rockers with EDM producers, brings all the above. It doesn’t always gel, but when it does — see the Killer Mike, Big Boi and Bassnectar collab “Rabbit’s Revenge,” which updates Ice T’s “Cop Killer” and N.W.A.’s “Fuck Tha Police” for the Black Lives Matter generation — it revises the RATM game plane for a newly-fucked world order. Will Hermes

Dave DaviesDecade
“This compilation collects 12 songs the Kinks guitarist recorded between 1971 and 1979,” writes Kory Grow. “It’s a bit of a relief for me to get these songs out because they’ve been nagging at me for all these years,” said Davies in a recent interview with Rolling Stone. “It was quite a lonely time,” he added. “You can absolutely crash and be with people and still be very lonely. I was struggling through, just making my way. These days [making music] is such a fabulous way of working through psychological, spiritual and creative problems. Music helped save me many, many times, when I look back.”

Tyshawn Sorey, Pillars
The jazz drummer’s latest release is “a sprawling, mysterious and at times thrilling new three-disc set that runs to nearly four hours,” writes Hank Shteamer. “Pillars is all about stillness, gradual shifts and the skillful use of negative space, closer to Sorey’s work alongside legendary Art Ensemble of Chicago member Roscoe Mitchell. Even more than past Sorey efforts like 2016’s strings-heavy, contemporary-classical-leaning The Inner Spectrum of Variables or 2017’s lovely, expansive piano-trio effort Verisimilitude, this record resists any kind of genre-based interpretation. Is it exploratory improv? Electro-acoustic ambient? Ritualistic drone? Maybe all or maybe none; the album simply unfolds — sometimes with Sorey’s own playing featured but very often without — revealing its brilliance in moments of deeply dialed-in interplay.”
Read Our Review: Tyshawn Sorey Forges an Immersive Soundworld on the Category-Defying Pillars

Terrorizer, Caustic Attack
Pete Sandoval, the drummer for death-metal stalwarts Morbid Angel and self-proclaimed pioneer of the blast beat, is “blasting once again” with a revamped lineup of his L.A. grindcore band, writes Hank Shteamer. “As ‘Caustic Attack’ handily demonstrates, more than 30 years later, the results of [Sandoval]’s DIY research still have the power to stun.”
Read More: Song You Need to Know: Terrorizer, “Caustic Attack”

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