Gone Now is the sophomore album from Jack Antonoff’s musical project Bleachers. The spirited, ‘80s‑leaning record is full of Antonoff’s signatures—bedroom production, anthemic energy, and unflinching sincerity. He sings about nostalgia and boisterous love, and his songs reveal how those feelings sound at their core. Some of Antonoff’s best work has been his songwriting and production for artists including Lorde and Carly Rae Jepsen, and the wholeheartedness that makes that work so great becomes even more personal as Bleachers. Gone Now is an album that celebrates the level to which we feel things—deeply, shamelessly, and always.
‑ Jane Morgan
First off, what a voice! Lili Blessing’s debut release is a presentation of rich melodies through intimate vocals that imbues the listener with a sense of hope, love and friendship in the hectic modern world. Her lyrics convey the optimism of youthful dreaming through the worldview of an old soul. Blessing is the daughter of accomplished songstress Sara Hickman, and the maturity of her muse leads one to believe the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. The musical settings are enhanced by the collaborations of Austin musicians, as well as vocal harmony arrangements that are almost orchestrations. Standouts include “Awake” and the title track. Think Norah Jones or even Adele.
‑ Bruce Salmon
City of No Reply
Coffman’s solo debut takes a more true‑to‑self approach to the pettiness and simulated confidence of many breakup albums. Through cutting, quiet ballads and R&B‑leaning pop songs, Coffman learns to stand on her own beyond her previous band, Dirty Projectors, and her ex‑boyfriend and bandmate David Longstreth. It is an album about hard fought autonomy, both creative and emotional. Her past lingers throughout the record as the falling outs of fraught relationships often do, but these moments shed light on the pain in a way that makes Coffman’s ultimate catharsis all the more palpable. City of No Reply reveals the complicated, emotional progression beyond toxicity to self‑reliance.
‑ Jane Morgan
Greta Van Fleet
Black Smoke Rising
After this EP dropped in April, Apple Music wasted no time touting Van Fleet as their new artist of the week. A respectable and well earned honor for sure, but this band is a dead ringer for classic rock, specifically the almighty Led Zeppelin. Listen to “Highway Song” and “Flower Power,” and prepare to be blown away by the truly uncanny similarity. But instead of sounding like trying‑too‑hard copycats, GVF’s music is unique and fresh, capable of fast tracking ear candy status all on its own. If you’re a fan of rock, new or old, this is one EP that will not disappoint.
‑ Joni Williams
Satie, Complete Piano Works Vol. 1
French pianist‑composer and archetypal eccentric Erik Satie gets meticulous attention from Horvath on Satie, Complete Piano Works Vol. 1. Twenty‑seven pieces drawn from Satie’s early years make up what I hope is only the first installment of more Satie from Horvath. Here, Satie is still trying on and shedding outside influences (Chopin, for one), and there’s a more formal, romantic, light‑classical feel to the pieces, with titles like “Sarabande.” Still, there’s a hint of the mature Satie, the sly archness and intellectual jokes that characterize later works like “Dried‑up embryos” and “Three pieces in the form of a pear.”
‑ Bruce Collier
Live from Jazz at the Bistro
Trumpet powerhouse Jones recorded this album live in 2015 at Ferring Jazz Bistro in St. Louis. Joining him on the stand are his quartet colleagues of some 12 years—pianist Orrin Evans, bassist Luques Curtis and drummer Obed Calvaire. Subbing for Calvaire on four tracks is Mark Whitfield Jr., and saxman Brian Hogans sits in on four tracks. Apparently Jones had been hungering to do a live record for years. If you’ve ever heard him live (I did once, with JLCO), you know that the heroic, hard bop stand‑and‑deliver trumpet style of Morgan, Shaw and Brown still lives.
‑ Bruce Collier
This (now local) husband‑wife duo has a story to tell about life, love and going after dreams. With light acoustic backing, Rachel Mosley’s airy voice is framed perfectly to shine. The Mosleys bring in some extra instrumentation for the full‑length album—dots of percussion and harmonica—but it’s songs like “Thicker Than Water” that pack an emotional wallop with only acoustic guitar and voice in place. Ordinary Time is full of soulful folk goodness and far from ordinary.
‑ Nikki Hedrick
Paw Paw’s Medicine Cabinet
The Great Room, Somebody Else’s Dream
When you are an unconventional band, it means you are open to unconventional ideas. Instead of releasing a debut full‑length album, Paw Paw’s Medicine Cabinet released two simultaneously, because why not? The new tunes showcase the band’s growth and evolution into their own genre‑bending sound. It’s Americana with some pop, a jam band with southern roots, it’s what happens when strong songwriters step out of solo gigs and into a band. Their music doesn’t fit neatly into a genre. But “neat” isn’t for music—music is about creating something with heart, and Paw Paw’s Medicine Cabinet knocks it out of the park.
‑ Nikki Hedrick
Listed on Spotify as a compilation, this album boasts the collective power of many of Beachcomberland’s hip‑hop artists. Whether it’s party songs or addressing social issues head‑on, each track features a different selection of Elevated Underground artists and friends like Strange Tang’s Obliq and Price, Chase Carter and Thaddaeus Royale. Make no mistake, there is a DJ Deezy at the helm, and #IAMDJDEEZY fearlessly makes a statement through art.
‑ Nikki Hedrick
EDITOR’S PICKS – OLD TIME ROCK ‘N ROLL
Chuck Berry, Chuck. Best album by a 90‑year‑old rocker ever.
Dion, Kickin’ Child: The Lost 1965 Columbia Album. One of rock’s greatest, and thank the lord he’s still with us. Over the past six decades, Dion has done a lot more than dabble in various styles—doo‑wop, gospel, blues (recently) and folk (here)—he’s mastered everything that’s caught his fancy. “Wake Up Mama” and “Two Ton Feather” are among the man’s finest compositions. And he “got” Dylan long before Ricky Nelson. Speaking of…
Bob Dylan, Triplicate. For those who (incorrectly) slighted the Maestro’s previous Great American Songbook albums, here’s a threefer you probably won’t like either. A nice mix of standards and obscurities, with Dylan in fine voice and the some strong guitar work, particularly on the third disc.
‑ Chris Manson
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