Every month Uproxx Cultural Critic Steven Hyden compiles a playlist of his favorite songs from new albums.
Lana Del Rey, “Venice Bitch”
LDR is, above all, an old-world-style rock star, and one of the only artists of the ’10s who is unafraid to shamelessly mythologize herself. The extended, experimental vamp “Venice B*tch” is a stone-cold Jim Morrison move, building and drifting to a dreamy climax on waves of profound ridiculousness and ridiculous profundity. All hail the lizard queen.
Jeff Tweedy, “Some Birds”
Ever since Sukirae, the 2014 solo project he recorded with his son Spencer, Jeff Tweedy has turned out a series of pared-back, middle-of-the-night folk-rock records (including Wilco’s underrated double-shot of 2015’s Star Wars and 2016’s Schmilco) infused with humor and more than a little existential dread. Tweedy’s forthcoming solo record WARM (due November 30) follows in a similar vein, which you can hear in “Some Birds,” a slice of soft-rock rumination laced with low-key, slow-rising weirdness.
Kurt Vile, “Bassackwards”
“Some people don’t really have that in their brain, that you can play one chord infinite different ways,” Kurt Vile told me when I interviewed him earlier this month. He was referring to songs like “Bassackwards,” one of the longer, most exploratory tracks on his forthcoming album, Bottle It In (due October 12). While Vile before has made songs that have stretched toward the 10-minute mark, they’ve rarely been as meditative or hypnotic as “Bassackwards,” a tragicomic epic about undying wanderlust.
Ryley Walker, “Busted Stuff”
This Chicago psych-folkie is one of the most hilarious interviews around, but his album-length cover of The Lillywhite Sessions, an abandoned 2001 album by the Dave Matthews Band, is no joke. Walker is a true Matthews fan, though his version of The Lillywhite Sessions isn’t overly reverent to the original. Instead, Walker applies his own, jazzy sensibility to Matthews dour, depressive songs, including this moody take on “Busted Stuff.”
Line & Circle, “Full Disclosure”
This L.A.-based dream pop band has been operating on the margins of indie rock since the early ’10s. I didn’t discover their previous work, including 2015’s Split Figure and 2017’s Vicious Folly, until this month, but it’s been in constant rotation for me ever since. As the new single “Full Disclosure” suggests, Line & Circle are acolytes of ’80s indie, especially early R.E.M. and the Smiths, though their oft-breathtaking melodies are absolutely timeless.
This long-running Minnesota band has effectively mined narrow sonic terrain for decades — they either make really pretty slow-paced guitar music, or relatively aggressive slow-paced music. But the new Double Negative is something else entirely. It verges on ambient music, running the trio’s delicate dynamics through various effects that sound like a cassette tape being eaten alive — or your own brain cells evaporating. Anyway, that is an endorsement!
Antarctigo Vespucci, “White Noise”
This semi-supergroup pairs punk-rock wise guys Jeff Rosenstock and Chris Farren, turning down the volume and aggressive for a collection of nervy, melodic new wave tunes on Love In The Time Of E-Mail (out October 26). In spite of the title, “White Noise” is pure power-pop sweetness.
The Dirty Nil, “Bathed In Light”
This band rocks so hard and so unironically that of course they’re from Canada.
Doug Paisley, “Drinking With A Friend”
On the opposite end of the Canadian chill spectrum, Doug Paisley specializes in rustic, campfire folk-rock that evokes the wintery introspection of Gordon Lightfoot. After releasing a series of lovely, evocative records in the late ’00s and early ’10s, he returns November 2 with his first album in five years, Starter Home.
This veteran Connecticut band sounds like a compendium of prime-era indie rock bands, with the fuzz of Dinosaur Jr. laying over slack Pavement melodies. It’s perfect beer-koozie music for the eve of the weekend. Enjoy!