New music roundups are a monthly recap dedicated to covering the latest music in a series of short, descriptive reviews. This month’s edition includes new releases from Brittany Howard, The Highwomen, Men I Trust and more.
Adam Green – Engine of Paradise
Adam Green’s oddly charming poetry exudes of everything wonderful about the New York’s singer-songwriter scene, both past and present. An anti-folk hero of sorts, his wordy illuminations have never seemed pretentious, out of touch nor too faint during his multi-decade career. Now with ten solo albums under his belt, Green’s catalog proves him one of the modern day’s supreme poets, a fact reaffirmed with his latest effort Engine of Paradise. The gentle and colorful ambiance of tracks like “Freeze My Love” and “Wines and Champagnes” lays the groundwork for Green to narrate his way through whimsical and quietly compelling verses that deal with failed relationships and the end of humanity with the same lackadaisical brilliance. Jonathan Rado also lends a hand on production, giving the album a welcome gloss of nostalgia. – Roberto Johnson
Listen // Top tracks: Freeze My Love, Wines and Champagnes, Cheating On A Stranger
Brittany Howard – Jamie
Many people know Brittany Howard as the incredible singer from the American blues-rock band, Alabama Shakes, but it’s time that people begin recognizing Howard for the soulful artist she is and always has been, as she’s now stepping into an artistic revolution of her own. Her latest album Jamie is a great place to start. After being inspired by a cross-country road trip that found Howard traveling from Tennessee to California, Jamie is a collection of soul, rock, blues, and gospel all combined to create a sound so refreshing, new, and truthful that it would only make sense to say that it belonged to Brittany Howard. She reflects in her lyrics the reasons why she’s broken out as a solo artist this year and celebrates love, community, and resilience through the stories on the record. Mixed with heavy guitars, big drums, and bold melodies that can only be done in the way Brittany Howard can, Jamie is a record for those looking for a fix for the soul. – Erica Garcia
Listen // Top tracks: History Repeats, Short and Sweet, Presence
The Highwomen – The Highwomen
There is a long list of reasons why The Highwomen’s debut album is so great, but if you must boil it down to one statement, it is this. The Highwomen are four supremely talented women operating in various lanes of the country music world coming together to defy Nashville norms and deliver songs so rich and wholesome, it’s almost too good to be true. On their eponymous debut, the new super group, which features Americana veteran Brandi Carlile, acclaimed singer-songwriter Natalie Hemby, revered fiddler and singer-songwriter Amanda Shires and pop-country trailblazer Maren Morris, break country down to many of its core fundamental elements – memorable songwriting, simple song progressions with rootsy instrumentation, beautiful harmonizing – and execute them to perfection. Family, love and humility all lurk throughout each of the songs, each topic explored from a deeply human vantage point. There is little to say about this record other than it is infinitely enjoyable, highly replayable and an important moment for country music at the end of a tumultuous decade in America. – RJ
Listen // Top tracks: Redesigning Women, Loose Change, If She Ever Leaves Me
JPEGMAFIA – All My Heroes Are Cornballs
Who is more “hip-hop” than JPEGMAFIA in 2019? When it comes to combining a captivating persona with stellar output and an unmistakable internet presence, Peggy checks all the boxes. All My Heroes Are Cornballs, the follow up to his 2018 breakout Veteran, once again sees Peggy pulling from contemporary trap, noise, and even elements of R&B and modern pop to form a kaleidoscopic and abrasive brand of experimental hip-hop. His ability to stitch together such widely varying sounds into glitchy and blissful beats is a big part of why his style continues to gain traction among different crowds. While there are still plenty of hyped cuts on this project, the overall sound of the album generally feels more hazy, atmospheric and druggy than Veteran. It’s a welcome change of pace from one of rap music’s most creative burgeoning producers and vocalists.
Listen // Top tracks: Jesus Forgive Me, I Am A Thot, Thot Tactics, Post Verified Lifestyle
Men I Trust – Oncle Jazz
From slow jazz percussion to groovy bass licks, this French-Canadian trio has accomplished the ever sought-after skill of making their listeners feel like they are in a trance like state nearly every time they listen to their music. Much of that credit can be attributed to the hypnotic vocals from lead singer Emmanuel Proulx. Oncle Jazz is the group’s first full length album release in four years. Since 2015, they have put out singles to keep fans satisfied. Something else to appreciate about this album is the way they pay tribute to their background. Since the group formed in Canada, giving a nod to French themes throughout the album makes perfect sense, the title of the record being the first. “Oncle” is french for “Uncle,” and tracks like “Pierre” and “Poodle of Mud” also carry French inspiration. Although 24 tracks sounds like a pretty big number, the album as a whole is a quick and easy listen. Whether you’re a student cramming for exams or just need some good tunes for a long car ride, Oncle Jazz will suit all of your needs.
Listen // Top tracks: Found Me, Slap Pie, Show Me How (Album V)
(Sandy) Alex G – House of Sugar
The always eclectic (Sandy) Alex G continues his impressive run of boundary-pushing indie pop on his newest full length record House of Sugar. A champion of weaving strange autobiographical narratives into his manipulative lo-fi sound, Alex G’s music has gradually evolved into its own brand of indietronica that stands apart from many of his peers under the same label. House of Sugar is most impressive for its wide array of ideas. Hard-folk mixes with psychedelic-pop on the momentous “Gretel,” while “Walk Away” marches over a thumping mix of kick drums and ethereal synths. Elsewhere, “Southern Sky” and a live rendition of “SugarHouse” showcase Alex’s softer sensibilities with easy-going acoustics and soft jazz. The songwriting on this record leaves much to be desired, but it’s hard to deny the emotion Alex G packs into his quaint vocal style. On top of that, the pairing of sounds here is astounding and it comes together in a frantically beautiful way. – RJ
Listen // Top tracks: Southern Sky, Gretel, SugarHouse (Live)
Whiskey Meyers – Whiskey Meyers
Texas Southern rockers Whiskey Myers just released a self titled studio album following a three year hiatus following their most commercially successful record Mud, which featured tracks like “Stone,” once a Top 10 track on iTunes. Whiskey Myers starts off strong with “Die Rockin,” where the intro riff reminds listeners of Chris Stapleton’s “Midnight Train To Memphis.” The track serves as an anthem for the band because frankly, they don’t care if you don’t like their sound, they’re going to keep rockin’ until they’re in the ground. Lead singer Cody Cannon comes in hot on tracks like “Gasoline,” where he flexes his gritty vocals, and “Bitch,” where he shows off the band’s Southern and grunge influences. “Running” and “Bad Weather” see an impressive shift in tone, and offer a nice contrast to some of the harder hitting tracks on the record. – Alex Johnson
Listen // Top tracks: Die Rockin, Gasoline, Bury My Bones