As every Friday brings new music, Tomorrow’s Verse brings you our top picks for the week. Here are our favorite records from March 16.
By: Alex Wood
The Dean Ween Group – rock2
Deaner is back and as brown as ever. The Ween guitarist released his sophomore record with the Dean Ween Group, aptly titled rock2, and it’s as eclectic, weird and as hard rocking as you could hope or expect. One of the most impressive and melodic guitarists in the scene, the tracks never falter musically, despite constantly shifting ideas and moods. With influences ranging from metal and hard rock to country to funk, rock2 is an unpredictable journey connected primarily by the wailing guitars.
The Decemberists – I’ll Be Your Girl
On I’ll Be Your Girl, The Decemberists’ eighth studio album, the band explores new territory, abandoning the comfort zone of their usual folk-rock sound in favor of electronics. While Colin Meloy’s lyrics are great as ever, it’s immediately jarring as a long-time fan to hear his nasal vocals over layers of synthesizers and pulsing beats. In truth, these experiments work more often than not, but can occasionally sound forced. Regardless, the record maintains an upbeat tempo, solid musicianship and outstanding but pessimistic lyrical content, so even if it’s strange for the band, I’ll Be Your Girl is a success as a whole.
Yo La Tengo – There’s A Riot Going On
The latest from long-standing indie trio Yo La Tengo is a muted, calm affair, its style standing in direct opposition to the political climate that inspired it. Though quieter than some of their past work, it’s anything but simplified, each song retaining a conscious density. The band’s musicial abilities are especially evident here, perhaps due to the record being pieced together in the studio instead of written prior. Layers of reverbed guitars and pianos stand in the back of the mix, giving a feeling of infinity beneath the gentle vocal delivery. Lyrics match this introspective and reflective feel. It’s classic Yo La Tengo, and a gorgeous record as a whole.
Dungen & Woods – Myths 003
Once a year, record label Mexican Summer hosts a Texas festival called Marfa myths, which includes a collaboration of multiple artists. Prior to last year’s festival, Dungen and Woods were invited to collaborate for this year’s series. Between Dungen’s knack for psychedelic instrumentals and Woods undeniable abilities for clean songwriting and pysch solos, the pairing feels too good to be true. The result, Myths 003, is as stunning a set of slow-baked psychedelic rock tunes as one would expect, a dense, massive sound focusing on Woods’ distinctive vocals and Dungen’s ingenious instrumental prowess. It’s everything one could want from psych-rock.
Mount Eerie – Now Only
Mount Eerie’s follow-up to A Crow Looked At Me, my personal favorite record of 2018, finds songwriter Phil Elverum still working through his emotions following the death of his wife to cancer. The lyrics are again poetic but specific, using storytelling and imagery to describe his grieving process in painful detail. The record retains the sparse acoustic format of his last, but introduces the occasional distortion, piano, drums or other instrumentation to add jarring textures to the delicate songs. With six songs in 43 minutes, it’s a depressing yet enlightening listen that Elverum’s diehard fanbase will be happy to have.
Bill Frissell – Music IS
Extremely talented guitar aficionado Bill Frissell returns with a new solo album today, and it’s his first in years of performing his own compositions, his last proper solo record being 2000’s Ghost Town. Spacious but melodic, emotionally charged and consciously composed, the songs resonate as pure Frissell, the 67-year-old musician performing as only he can. Fans of impressive guitar work won’t want to sleep on this one.
Stone Temple Pilots – Stone Temple Pilots
A big step forward for alternative rock legends Stone Temple Pilots, their new, self-titled record is the band’s first without singer Scott Weilend, who died in 2015. Jeff Gutt fills in as vocalist, a previous X Factor contestant and nu-metal singer. Gutt continues to channel the original singer’s presence, and does a fine job of it, with past influences like Led Zeppelin or the Clash still appearing, massive stadium-ready riffs in place. STP remain one of the finest examples of alternative rock to date, and clearly don’t intend to end the legacy here.