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New Albums to Stream Now: Jake Shears, Nicki Minaj and More Rolling Stone Editors’ Picks

Dave Grohl’s 23-minute opus, Shooter Jennings’ return to outlaw territory, The War and Treaty’s healing harmonies and more albums to stream now

jake shears nicki minaj 10 albums to stream

Jake Shears and Nicki Minaj

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EDITORS’ PICK: Jake Shears, Jake Shears
For his first solo album, the Scissor Sisters frontman “moved to New Orleans, wrote himself out of a cataclysmic breakup, and then recorded in Louisville, Kentucky,” writes Barry Walters. “The result overflows with the opulence of orchestral Seventies pop – as if ELO and the Bee Gees got together to make a Muppet fantasia of Cajun rock.”
Read Our Review: Jake Shears’ Self-Titled Album Overflows With Opulence
Listen: Amazon Music Unlimited | Apple Music | Spotify | Tidal

Nicki Minaj, Queen
The brashly insouciant rapper’s fourth album arrives just as a host of contenders — in particular, Cardi B — threaten to force her abdication from hip-hop’s throne. Queen is mostly about bona fides; even though Minaj is a perennially under-acclaimed pop star, she’s also a Smack DVD-era battle rapper, and on the best cuts here — like the jiggly, Mike Will Made It-produced “Good Form” – she reaches wildly zany lyrical heights. She tacitly places herself on Biggie’s level on “Barbie Dreams,” a response to the Notorious B.I.G.’s “Dreams”; she responds to online hives’ increasing vitriol by pantomiming Scarface‘s “say hello to the bad guy” rant on “Chun-Li”; the much-missed Foxy Brown pops up among the chiming bells and ragga rhythm of “Coco Chanel.” Of all Minaj’s major albums, Queen may be the first where pop gambits like the Ariana Grande-assisted “Bed” seem like an afterthought to unrepentant showcases for her rapping ability. Whether or not it’s the classic that Minaj wants — actually, needs — to secure her legacy, though, she definitely comes out swinging. Mosi Reeves
Listen: Amazon Music Unlimited | Apple Music | Spotify | Tidal

Dave Grohl, Play
Inspired by seeing his kids learn music, Dave Grohl challenged himself, channeling his inner schoolboy and recording this 23-minute instrumental. “[Music] is a lifelong obsession – but at the end of the day, just like any kid, the reward is just to play,” he says in the attendant documentary. The result of Grohl’s learning process is a driving, multi-movement rocker in the vein of the songs he writes for the Foo Fighters; the lack of vocals, though, allows for a little more dramatic ebb and flow, with vibraphones chiming in a quieter section and piano accompanying some gentle headbanging. A few proggy, funky moments rise up here and there, but “Play” is most impressive when Grohl hits on a wailing melody and wrings it out. The track’s video manages to fit several Grohls on the screen at one time, which conjures the uncanny effect of them looking at their mirror-image others for approval. They shouldn’t be so worried; the song works. Kory Grow
Listen: Amazon Music Unlimited Apple Music | Spotify | Tidal

Shooter Jennings, Shooter
The son of Waylon is a notoriously ambitious musician: His last LP was an immersive tribute to Eighties music visionary Giorgio Moroder filled with all sorts of hidden samples and Easter eggs. But Jennings reins himself in on this eponymous album, a return to straight-ahead country that reunites him with producer Dave Cobb, who oversaw his 2005 debut. Inspired by the bravado and boogie of Hank Williams Jr., Jennings revels in the self-referential, singing about jamming with Guns N’ Roses on the rollicking “Bound ta Git Down” and cementing his Bonnie & Clyde bond with wife Misty on “I’m Wild and My Woman Is Crazy.” Shooter excels on the slower numbers: “Living in a Minor Key,” a version of which first appeared on Jennings’ 2014 George Jones tribute EP, is a forlorn weeper, and “Denim & Diamonds” is a smoky salute to aging barflies. Jennings may be most comfortable in front of a synth or computer, but on Shooter, he proves he’s never too far from his rootsy outlaw heritage. Joseph Hudak
Read Our Feature: How Shooter Jennings Mixes Outlaw Country, Nerdy Cool on New Album
Listen: Amazon Music Unlimited | Apple Music | Spotify | Tidal

The War And Treaty, Healing Tide
Husband-and-wife duo Michael and Tanya Trotter overwhelm with a message of positivity and love on their debut. Produced by Americana luminary Buddy Miller, Healing Tide centers the Trotters’ joyous, gospel-style harmonizing with superb country-soul arrangements and powerful statements of devotion like “Are You Ready to Love Me,” where they happily allow themselves to become intertwined. In the slinky “Jeep Cherokee Laredo,” they admonish a nosy person for interrupting a moment of passion, while in the righteous Sly & the Family Stone-style rave-up “All I Wanna Do,” they promise to walk to the ends of the earth together. Whether in a quiet hymn of adoration like “Hearts” or the soul-stirring “Love Like There’s No Tomorrow,” the Trotters’ deep affection for one another informs every aspect of this album, and shines like a beacon in troubled times. Jon Freeman
Listen: Amazon Music Unlimited | Apple Music | Spotify | Tidal

Lola Kirke, Heart Head West
The Mozart in the Jungle star’s debut showcases her husky, dusky voice on tunes that split the difference between Dusty-inspired blue-eyed soul and country rave-ups. Kirke is the daughter of Bad Company drummer Simon Kirke, and sibling to Girls star Jemima and singer Domino, but she establishes her own style on opening track “Monster,” on which she sings about a bruised relationship amid weeping guitar and a gently strolling drumbeat. “Sexy Song” laments a fight and more sad than seductive, but the way her teary-eyed voice fades into its church organs, breathy background vocals and slightly restrained guitar touches adds a beguiling touch. Sometimes Heart Head West‘s songs, each imbued with muted tones and pensive moods, blur into one another. But in small doses, Kirke’s magic is potent. Kory Grow
Listen: Amazon Music Unlimited | Apple Music | Spotify | Tidal

The Beths, Future Me Hates Me
A wonderful little record that never lets up, piling on unassumingly buzzy fun until you start realizing you might be in the presence of a true power-pop monument. The Beths are from New Zealand, so singer-guitarist Elizabeth Stokes’ accent might make you think of Courtney Barnett a little – especially when she’s firing off auto-critical logorrhea like “you’re in my brain taking up space / I need for remembering pins and to take out the bins / And that one particular film that that actor was in I see your face superimposed over everything / It ain’t right.” But the Beths are more a band-band and a song-band than a singer-songwriter-band, brilliant at bright guitar frenzy, instantly memorable melodies and tune-mad group sing-alongs with the joy of Sixties bubblegum rock; there’s a love of pop formula here (they’ve got a song called “Uptown Girl,” for gosh sake), but they never lose the sense of discovery at heart of rock and roll. Stokes sings about the usual self-doubt and affliction without getting bogged down in the sads, punching through pain on songs like “Great No One,” “You Wouldn’t Like Me” and “Happy Unhappy” with the help of lead guitarist Jonathan Pearce, whose sunny squall suggests a ritual sweetening of Bob Stinson’s AOR god-barf. On “Whatever” love gets her so mixed up she threatens to swerve her car and you with it right into the water (“and wait for the maker”) but the song is as sleek as, well, the Cars themselves. Jon Dolan
Read Our Feature: The Beths on the Sly Humor and Irresistible Hooks of Their Debut Album
Listen: Amazon Music Unlimited | Apple Music | BandcampSpotify | Tidal

Liz Cooper and the Stampede, Window Flowers
A yearning for natural beauty and transcending one’s surroundings permeates this Nashville singer-songwriter-guitarist’s debut. Cooper and her two bandmates push her strand of folk rock deep into psychedelic territory by merging her idiosyncratic vocal style with a sharpened guitar attack, incorporating swirling atmospherics, hypnotic drones and lacerating solos that feel dusted with otherworldly magic. The influence of the Grateful Dead looms large, with songs like the mystical “Dalai Lama” stretching to the 7-minute mark and putting emphasis on the band’s skillful interplay. “Hey Man” ratchets up the intensity, repeating a confident come on like a mantra while the band bashes away in a squalling frenzy, while “Kaleidoscope Eyes” is as dreamily multi-hued as its name suggests, with Cooper tentatively embracing her budding desire. Jon Freeman
Read Our Feature: Singer-Guitarist Liz Cooper Talks Psychedelic Debut Album
Listen: Amazon Music Unlimited | Apple Music | BandcampSpotify | Tidal

Haunt, Burst Into Flame
In metal as in many other styles, retro reigns. Bands and labels are falling all over themselves to evoke the Heavy Metal Parking Lot golden age via studiously old-school production values and cover art that screams 1987, right down to the cheesy font choices. A lot of the results look the part but falter when you actually hit play. Haunt’s debut LP is a noteworthy exception for one simple reason: Impeccable old-school trappings aside, bandleader Trevor William Church – who also heads up the more Sabbath-indebted Beastmaker – writes great songs. His readymade anthems combine the ornate riffs, thundering rhythms and wailing vocals of cult Eighties bands like Grim Reaper and Angel Witch with the world-weary pathos of Thin Lizzy. (Clearly the guitarist-vocalist also took a few cues from his dad, Bill “The Electric” Church, who played bass for Montrose and Sammy Hagar back in the day.) Church isn’t simply mimicking the past; with Burst Into Flame, he’s bringing it back to life. Hank Shteamer
Listen: Bandcamp

Tomberlin, At Weddings
Sara Beth Tomberlin is a Louisville singer-songwriter with a voice like new-ish copper – still bright, with a patina of reverb and hurt. Her debut’s songs are hushed confessionals, aching for connection and striving for optimism, and set to her acoustic guitar with analog synth colors by Arcade Fire associate Owen Pallett. It’s amorphous in the best way, inviting repeated listens – it’s as if Tomberlin herself is taking shape along with the songs. Will Hermes
Listen: Amazon Music Unlimited | Apple Music | BandcampSpotify | Tidal

Steve Coleman, Live at the Village Vanguard, Vol. 1 (The Embedded Sets)
This saxophonist-composer’s musical inspirations range from the flight patterns of bees to the chatter of monkeys in the Amazon rainforest to – on his latest release, a live double album recorded in May 2017 at New York’s legendary Village Vanguard – the transliteration of Egyptian hieroglyphics. Esoteric stuff, but the sounds that result can be downright exhilarating. If you’re new to this vast musical universe, Live at the Village Vanguard, Vol. 1 is an excellent entry point: It features Coleman, a key influence on younger luminaries like Vijay Iyer, getting down with four of his most trusted collaborators on a series of new and old pieces. Listening to the band dig into one of its leader’s patented prog-funk workouts, like the stunningly nimble, fiercely kinetic “Djw” or “Njr,” feels akin to watching the Harlem Globetrotters work their head-spinning magic on the court. Hank Shteamer
Listen: Apple Music | Bandcamp

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