Today is Friday, the most wonderful day of the week for music lovers because it’s the day when new albums are released. Let’s celebrate by highlighting some of today’s new records.
American Utopia (Todomundo/Nonesuch)
It’s been six long years since David Byrne released his last album, Love This Giant, a collaborative affair with St. Vincent. It’s been longer still since his beloved Talking Heads has been regularly active. So when the art rock hero releases a new album, it’s something of a big deal. American Utopia sees Byrne reaffirming his credit as a master of the mundane. “Doing the Right Thing” is a meditation on the idiosyncrasies of life as an aging hipster, delivered in the matter-of-fact way Byrne has built his legacy mastering. But that’s not to say Byrne has lost his taste for experimentation: From glitchy composer Oneohtrix Point Never to emerging U.K. soul singer Sampha, American Utopia features a variety of collaborators (although notably zero women, which Byrne spoke about this week after being called out on it). And if you like American Utopia, well, there’s more where that came from. It’s part of a larger multimedia project called “Reasons to Be Cheerful” that’s meant to find a little levity in these seemingly pitch black times. Byrne will visit the Orpheum Theater on May 16.
Listen on: Apple Music | Spotify | Tidal
Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats
Tearing at the Seams (Stax)
The fact that Nathaniel Rateliff is signed to Stax Records should say a lot for his chops. At the legendary record label, the Colorado-based soul singer finds himself in the company of genre giants like Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes and Booker T. And listening to Rateliff’s rootsy take on blue-eyed soul, it’s not hard to understand why. His second full-length with his band, The Night Sweats, Tearing at the Seams is another helping of introspective throwback soul in which Rateliff pulls double duty as both a reflective brooder and dance-on-the-bar rabble-rouser. In one instance he can be diving into his relationship with his mother (and subsequently, his father’s death) on “Hey Mama,” while in the next he’s sprinkling cheery electronic flourishes into “You Worry Me.” Rateliff is certainly a traditionalist, but Tearing at the Seams shows a willingness to update and experiment with those traditions.