With two must-hear albums — Ashley Monroe’s The Blade and Mas Ysa’s Seraph — out this week and tons of new tracks, the competition was tough this time around. Take a listen to who made the cut.
Ashley Monroe — “The Blade”
“The Blade” is the title track of Ashley Monroe’s new album, and its as heartbreaking as anything in the Nashville vet’s off-the-beaten-path catalogue of classic country songcraft. I could praise the ballad’s swooning slide guitar like every fairweather friend of cult and alt country, but instead let me just take a minute to praise Monroe’s lack of showiness while trotting out lines that give me chills. “You caught it by the handle, but I caught it by the blade” is how she characterizes heartbreak, and to some lesser extent, her career. Listen to The Blade and if you haven’t already, Monroe’s 2013 gem Like a Rose if you’re even a little bit interested in Kacey Musgraves-esque “in-between” country.
Mas Ysa — “Suffer”
The debut LP from Thomas Arsenault, the electronic musician who goes by the moniker Mas Ysa, is finally out this week, which means I can now urge you to go listen to it. Arsenault touches on many different and equally de rigueur styles on Seraph, ranging from jubilant synthpop to How To Dress Well-esque electro-R&B to M83’s cinematic drama to sparser experiments. The thing that keeps the album cohesive is the intense sincerity with which Arsenault speaks. Such an approach works wonders on a frenzied kiss-off like “Suffer,” where Arsenault rages bitterly atop what sounds like a pan flute: “All my long-lost girlfriends should… (*pause for emphasis*) suffer.”
Meg Myers — “Lemon Eyes”
There’s been a lot of early support across the board for Meg Myers, who’s opened for the Pixies and alt-J ahead of her debut, Sorry, being released this September. But I haven’t been sold on the Atlantic-signed rock singer-songwriter getting traction at alternative radio, until “Lemon Eyes.” The chorus’s heavy start-stop riffs and pounding percussion juxtapose nicely against Myers’ sweet, soaring vocals. I could see this being a huge one-off hit for Myers.
Pure Bathing Culture — “Pray For Rain”
The new single from Portland’s Pure Bathing Culture cuts through the yacht-pop duo’s gauzy, pastel-painted sound with more rawness than I’ve ever heard from them. I’m excited to hear Pray For Rain (the LP), out October 23 via Partisan.
Stefan Ponce — “Forever Julie”
Producer Stefan Ponce has helped Chance the Rapper, Childish Gambino, and Vic Mensa level up, but that vein of artist may not be what comes to mind when you hear “Forever Julie.” Led by a strong female vocalist who’d prefer to stay secret for now, the song is a low-key house banger à la Disclosure.
Bonus thing: the new Weezer video, for Best Coast collab “Go Away,” genuinely made me laugh while reminding me why I’m still rolling my eyes at those couple weeks I spent on Tinder.