Playlist: The Shins and 10 More New Albums to Hear Right Now - Rolling Stone
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The Shins, Valerie June and 9 More New Albums to Hear Right Now

Also, Soundgarden’s new ‘Ultramega OK’ reissue, Greg Graffin’s ‘Millport’ and Rhiannon Giddens’ ‘Freedom Highway’

Friday New Music ThrowdownFriday New Music Throwdown

Listen to new albums from the Shins and Valerie June.

Nikki Fenix, Danny Clinch

Rolling Stone Recommends

Valerie June, The Order of Time
June’s second LP is louder and more confident than her beguiling debut, steeped deep in electric blues and old-time folk, gilded in country twang and gospel yearning, with a hypnotically gnomish voice that suggests a brawnier Joanna Newsom. Near-perfect front to back, its politics are subtle and sly, mostly implicit and matter-of-fact, transmitted through sketches of lovers and other strugglers.
Read Our Review: Valerie June and the Intersectional Protest Folk LPs Defining Nu-America
Hear: Spotify / Apple Music / Tidal

Rhiannon Giddens

Rhiannon Giddens, Freedom Highway
On her second solo LP, Rhiannon Giddens of the Carolina Chocolate Drops shifts focus from song curating to songwriting. In a musical analog to Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad, many of her songs are slave narratives. At the Purchaser’s Option” finds a woman pondering the fate of her newborn, extraneous property in the sale of her person. In “Julie,” a mistress begs her slave to stay with her, presumably as the Union army closes in, the latter forsaking her with triumphant composure. Her songs are wise and deeply-felt, her singing powerful and refined, her embellished string band arrangements elegant.
Read Our Review: Valerie June and the Intersectional Protest Folk LPs Defining Nu-America
Hear: Spotify / Apple Music / Tidal

The Shins, Heartworms
James Mercer has been doing his amiably anxious alt-pop nice-guy thing since the Shins’ strummy-sad 2001 debut, Oh, Inverted World, expanding his sound without diluting his signature shy intimacy. Heartworms has more of a home-brewed feel, heavy on Beach Boys grandeur, New Wave kicks, squiggly synth- pop and warm-weather soft rock – with lyrics tenderly balanced between midlife malaise and youthful romanticism. The result is some of most charming music he’s ever made.
Read Our Review: The Shins’ ‘Heartworms’ Is a Tender, Home-Brewed Charmer
Hear: Spotify / Apple Music / Tidal

Greg Graffin, Millport
Millport is my exploration of the paradox between getting older and remaining relevant,” concludes Greg Graffin, frontman for legendary punk band Bad Religion, about his forthcoming “old-time music” meets Seventies California country-rock solo album. “There’s a great amount of symbolism in that idea,” continues Graffin, who has led Bad Religion for almost four decades since the band’s start in 1979. “It goes along with me being an aging punk rocker that’s coming to terms with my own mortality and humanity. Somehow, we persist in the face of modernity and things always trying to move past us.”
Read Our Feature: Bad Religion’s Greg Graffin on New Country Album, Punk Persistence
Hear: Spotify / Apple Music / Tidal

Elliott Smith

Elliott Smith, Either/Or: Expanded Edition
Conjuring a dream of what Kurt Cobain might’ve done following the Nirvana MTV Unplugged sessions, the 12 songs on Elliott Smith’s song-crafting breakthrough Either/Or was recorded in apartments, houses and studios up and down the West Coast between 1995-1996. With signatures like “Angeles” and “Between The Bars” (which would both turn up on the Good Will Hunting soundtrack), this remaster sounds as stunning as ever. The bonus disc makes the rewind even more essential: Live versions from a 1997 show in Olympia, Washinton, a chill-inducing demo of “I Figured You Out” (a gorgeous song about shyness, disconnection and fame that Smith gave to Mary Lou Lord), and a radically different version of “Bottle Up and Explode,” this one about a kid dying inside while “Crimson and Clover” plays into dust on the turntable. It’s a bittersweet miracle of a record, and extensive liner notes just deepen it. Will Hermes
Hear: Spotify / Apple Music / Tidal

Your Old Droog, Packs
New York rap enigma Your Old Droog is the swiftest punchline MC in the contemporary landscape: a modern reinvention of MF Doom, Sean Price and Big L for the age YouTube wormholes and Wikipedia searches. On his second album, his jabs are as left-of-center as ever (“While I was making sure every bar was hard/You herbs was playing Pokemon chasing Charizard”) but now tells more stories in the Nineties Raekwon or Kool G Rap vein. A throwback to hard-hitting Timbaland-and-jokes New York rap, but with the breezy post-modern reference bank of an internet enthusiast. Christopher R. Weingarten
Hear: Spotify / Apple Music / Tidal

Laura Marling

Laura Marling, Semper Femina
This wordy folk-soul queen ditches male pronouns to focus on women’s relationships with one another. It’s a timely set, especially for a Brit who makes the U.S. a part-time home.
Hear: Spotify / Apple Music / Tidal

Also of Note

Soundgarden, Ultramega OK (Expanded Reissue)
Soundgarden’s 1988 debut full-length is the loosest and downright grungiest album in their catalogue thanks to the heavier-than-everything anthem “Beyond the Wheel” and the lumbering swagger of “Incessant Mace.” This reissue cleans up the sound a bit, thanks to remixing by engineer Jack Endino, and it includes the band’s 1987 demo tape that includes short and long versions of “Mace” as well as a somehow heavier-sounding “Wheel.” Kory Grow
Hear: Spotify / Apple Music / Tidal

Jay Som, Everybody Works
The slow-moving dream-pop of the Oakland-based songwriter born Melina Duterte is currently the toast of the indie-rock press.
Hear: Spotify / Apple Music / Tidal

Shobaleader One, Elektrac
On this manic live record Tom Jenkinson, a man that Flea called “the best electric bass player on the earth,” cobbles together a full band to create astounding, high-velocity mostly analog versions of his skittery IDM project, Squarepusher. The setlist sticks mainly to the warm Nineties records before he fell down the harsher digital wormhole of 2001’s Go Plastic, drawing a thicker line between those records and the thrash-metal-ready churn of bands like Weather Report (especially via the bonkers rhythm section). It’s substitution for the brittle breakbeats of vintage Squarepusher, but is a certain delight for ears currently open to current wave of jazz fusion lead by Kamasi Washington and Thundercat or the groove-minded jam-swirls of the Camp Bisco set. Christopher R. Weingarten
Hear: Spotify / Apple Music 

Tennis, Yours Conditionally
Husband-and-wife duo Tennis based their 2011 debut Cape Dory on a boating expedition they took together. For their latest, they took the high seas again and came back with a set of bright girl-group and bubblegum-soul inflected indie-pop. Highlights like “Fields of Blue” and “In the Morning I’ll be Better” suggest the Cardigans in a happy piña colada haze. Jon Dolan
Hear: Spotify / Apple Music / Tidal


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