The best albums of the week, from The Strokes, Hamilton Leithauser, and more
The musical event of the weekend, Trolls World Tour, may not qualify as a new release in this space, but there are plenty of other albums worth checking out today. Instead of seeking out the kids movie’s stance in the age old poptimism vs. rockism wars, there are new records from The Strokes, Laura Marling, Hamilton Leithauser, and many more to stream as a diversion. It's still an ideal time to purchase a download or merch from these artists if you're able, as the impact from lost touring revenue is still being felt for any working artist.
The Strokes — The New Abnormal
I’m not sure if a band’s coasted on the goodwill of its early successes quite like The Strokes. After re-orienting indie rock around the turn of the millennium with Is This It, Room on Fire, and sure, First Impressions of Earth, they’ve put out a run of floundering albums and an EP with some stray moments of brilliance. The new album, presciently titled The New Abnormal, was positioned as a return to form by Julian Casablancas, and while it delivers on that promise in spurts, it’s at times more unhurried and disinterested than usual. That said, a bummer closer called “Ode to the Mets” will always find a place in my heart.
Eerie Gaits — Holopaw
Wild Pink frontman John Ross was probably the quiet kid in the back of class brimming with ideas and wry observations. He’s already shared a number of them on two revelatory Wild Pink albums, each further widening their canvas. But Eerie Gaits, his side project of instrumental guitar music, is equally essential for anyone who dug those transitions and interludes. The first collection under that name, Bridge Music, was a pastoral Windham Hill-affected slice of ambient dreamscapes. Holopaw takes its name from a small, isolated community near where Ross grew up in Florida, and the result is some of his most majestic compositions yet. Ross sharply oscillates from sky-scraping builds to patient droning passages. It’s ostensible background music that demands your full attention.
Laura Marling — Song For Our Daughter
The folk veteran Laura Marling was planning to release her latest album further out in the summer, but felt she had service to provide in the short term. “In light of the change to all our circumstances, I saw no reason to hold back on something that, at the very least, might entertain, and at its best, provide some sense of union,” she said in a statement paired with its lead single “Held Down” earlier this week. It’s something of a short-notice surprise release, and acts as a balm that reaffirms her place as one of our most underappreciated songwriting greats.
Hamilton Leithauser — The Loves of Your Life
I Had a Dream That You Were Mine, Hamilton Leithauser’s joint LP with former Vampire Weekend studio wizard Rostam Batmanglij, was a breakthrough for both artists. The former Walkmen frontman found the right production to modify his spin on mid-century pop standards. He moves further away from that work on The Loves of Your Life without the help of Rostam, but still crafts a few stomping mid-tempo numbers that could comfortably slot into any of the last five or six decades of radio. Still one of the best voices going.
Elvis Depressedly — Depressedelica
Mat Cothran was originally planning to release the new Elvis Depressedly record last October, but sidelined the release to seek professional help for bipolar disorder, depression, and alcoholism. In a candid note today to fans, he revealed that he felt prepared to share his latest record with the world. "I am still recovering and while there is always more work to be done, we now feel I’m in a place to share this record with you as part of this life long process of recovery," he wrote. Depressedelica works as a sort of culmination of his past decade of bedroom recordings and extraneous projects. Cothran hopscotches genres and instrumentation for a loose, but unified effort of his strengths.