The electronic leanings near the song’s opening scared me at first, but this song is relatively enjoyable. I’m still not the biggest fan of the synth that was invoked into the vocal at most points, but McGraw handles himself well given his dealings with the modern country devil – at least it isn’t thematically encompassing trucks, or, you know, turning a cornfield into a party. A mellow, everyman love song that I’m sure could light up country radio pretty strongly given McGraw’s status as a mainstay. I wouldn’t ever outwardly choose to listen to it, but I wouldn’t necessarily change the dial if it were to come up either. Like the song’s disposition, my reaction is nondescript towards it all.—JONATHAN FRAHM [5/10]
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Nashville artist Steve Lewis is set to release his latest album Creepers & Vines, and if it’s anything like its opening track “Off This Rock”, it’ll be a must-hear when it comes out in three weeks. With roaring guitars that echo Neil Young and Crazy Horse, sparkling harmonies reminiscent of glam David Bowie, and an undeniable sense of fun, it’s a blast of rock ‘n’ roll that shames any white male indie rock that’s come out this year. Crank it with the windows down.
Michigan duo IAMDYNAMITE will release their new album Wasa Tusa this week, and the new track “Liz”, which you can stream below, is a terrific indication of what you can expect. A taut and very catchy mix of 1980s blue-eyed soul and especially early Police, it’s a brisk track that burns brightly for its entire two and a half minutes.
Nearly two decades after “Mother Mother”, Tracy Bonham is now a mother herself. She and her husband adopted a Ethiopian boy, and the arduous process of international adoption and the joy of raising a young son, who is now five, serves as the inspiration for Bonham’s fifth album, and first in five years. Brooding, whimsical, and loving, Wax and Gold is a vibrant piece of work, and the track “Black Tears”, which you can hear below, veers more towards the melancholy side, with Bonham offering comfort like only a mother can.
Carly Rae’s forthcoming Emotion is the pop album of the year so far, the very evocation of late ‘80s era pop music that Taylor Swift’s 1989 failed to pull off. What sets it apart from so much vapid music that did come out of the late ‘80s is that underneath the high gloss lurks a slight sense of darkness, of gravitas in the thrumming synth arrangement by producer Rostam Batmanglij (yeah, the Vampire Weekend guy). But like the rest of the record it’s all about Jepsen’s immensely likeable personality, which hints at sadness early on but evokes such kindness the more it goes on. It’s one thing for a starlet to sound sexy, but it’s so rare to hear genuine compassion and sincerity. It’s one of 12 perfect or near-perfect single-worthy songs on a glorious record. ADRIEN BEGRAND [9/10]