Each week, a batch of new albums is released spanning all sorts of genres and aimed at a bevy of different musical tastes.
Here are five notable ones from last week, along with my thoughts on them, to help listeners sift through and narrow down what tunes they might want to add to their playlists.
The Decemberists “I’ll Be Your Girl”
This popular indie rock band has dropped their eighth studio album and it feels like a bit of a departure from what fans might be used to. The Decemberists’ desire to search for a new sound comes with mixed but admirable results.
The highlight is the lead single, a catchy synth-heavy track called “Severed.” But for every success, there’s a dud like “We All Die Young,” an ineffective and uninspired anthem.
And then there’s the ambitious “Rusalka, Rusalka/Wild Rushes.” This song is a slow-builder that asks for a lot of patience, as the eight-minute journey does not shift into higher gear until midway through. This is not one of the band’s stronger efforts, but there is some good on display here and at the very least it’s cool that The Decemberists are trying something new.
Hot Snakes “Jericho Sirens”
The punk rock group hasn’t released a lot of music since the mid-2000s, so this brand-new, full-length album almost feels like a reunion of sorts.
Fans will be very happy to see the group back together and there’s a genuine feeling of energy and excitement on display. That rings especially true in the album’s first tune, “I Need a Doctor.”
But the best song in this collection has to be “Death Camp Fantasy” with its intense drums and guitar riffs.
Hot Snakes won’t be for everyone, but this is a very inspired return and let’s hope they don’t disappear again for many years.
Scotty McCreery “Seasons Change”
Originally becoming a star thanks to his “American Idol” win in 2011, Scotty McCreery looks for a new big hit right after his huge independently released single, “Five More Minutes.”
“Seasons Change” sounds like the kind of album that will play very well with country music fans, fitting right in his wheelhouse.
There’s nothing particularly innovative in this new album, but songs like “This is It” are effective because they draw inspiration from his own experiences (this song, for example, is about his proposal to his girlfriend). If you’re not a country fan, “Seasons Change” is not likely to change your mind, but McCreery won’t disappoint the already converted with these tracks.
Stone Temple Pilots “Stone Temple Pilots”
This group has been through a rough couple of years after their lead singer Scott Weiland died of a drug overdose in 2015, and then replacement singer Chester Bennington of Linkin Park fame committed suicide last year.
With a new vocalist in Jeff Gutt, it was unclear if Stone Temple Pilots would be able to recapture the magic. Fortunately, Gutt is wise to bring a style of his own, which creates a nice blend of new and old for the band.
Some of the better tunes include the emotionally powerful “The Art of Letting Go” and the extremely catchy “Thought She’d Be Mine.” Some songs are more memorable than others, but overall this album is a truly triumphant return for Stone Temple Pilots.
Yo La Tengo “There’s a Riot Going On”
The 15th album from Yo La Tengo offers up a relaxing sort of indie rock that is perfect for a peaceful afternoon listen.
Its title, referencing an early 70s album from a band called Sly and the Family Stone, seems to suggest that music can be temporary escapism from difficult problems.
Yo La Tengo encourages listeners to get lost in songs like “For You Too,” which is effective in putting the listener at a bit of an ease.
For music lovers who prefer to be soothed rather than roused, “There’s a Riot Going On” will get the job done.