This June, a flurry of attention-grabbing music was released – which means many happy fans and listeners. Of course, there are hundreds of music releases in each genre daily, and tracking or listing them all would be quite a feat – and superfluous. A few of this month’s drops stood out to me. Multi-platinum singer-songwriter Laura Pergolizzi (better known as LP) dropped “Golden” from the new album “Love Lines,” which will be available at the end of September. A few days ago, she released “One Like You.” Announcing the new album, LP said, “This is the essence of me and what I’ve spent my life doing and cultivating and trying to understand and figure out. Even as a human, I feel like I just keep getting more and more dense; concentrated. I’m more me every fu**ing year. I’m like that coffee that you got to add water to that’s like 15 times the strength.”
The Foo Fighters are back on the scene with “But Here We Are” after the loss of drummer Taylor Hawkins. Avenged Sevenfold released “Life is But a Dream” 7 years after their last studio album; their musical evolution in this album is pleasantly frenzied. Janelle Monáe returned with “The Age of Pleasure,” with her usual emotional honesty: tunes that are deep but fit for a dance party. Nelly Furtado lends her vocals to Dom Dolla’s “Eat Your Man.” Nelly’s voice has been missed, and this song is destined to crowd the clubs – side note: the references to Nelly’s hits in the lyrics are so cool. Speaking of a dance club music vibe, another pop-y drop is “Is This Love?” by Dutch Pip Blom in a collab with Alex Kapranos.
Last but certainly not least, Yusuf/Cat Stevens released his 17th album, “King of a Land,” a couple of weeks ago, though the first single, “Take the World Apart,” has been around since March. Stevens said, “Looking at the jagged journey of my music, beginning as I did in the 60s, I would say this new record is a mosaic. A very clearly defined description of where I’ve been and who I am.” And indeed, it is. Olivia Rodrigo, Taylor Swift, and Big Freedia are due to release in the next few days, while I am waiting for Kylie Minogue and PJ Harvey and their new endeavors in July.
Since my music interests are incredibly varied, some artists and their creations may not be at the forefront of radio and streaming platforms, yet they deserve at least a listen. Some have become overnight sensations through social media, like Corinne Savage, aka Corook, with their song “If I Were a Fish.” The song received 1 million views in two hours and 16 million the following month. After its official release, the song became a BBC Radio 1 Top Pop Pick. The Billboard charts list them at #16 on Hot Alternative Songs and #19 on Hot Rock Songs — quite the success for Corook and their girlfriend, Olivia Barton. In an ABC interview, Corook said, “I just write about my experience as a queer, non-binary, twenty-something year old trying to stay positive in this really, really scary, difficult world.”
Mid-June, Queens of the Stone Age released the album “In Times New Roman….” The American alternative rock band departs a bit from their original style, but their material’s freshness indicates a path of exploration and discovery centered on songwriting. They are angry songs interspersed with humor and sardonic introspection. I like the second half of this album more than the first five songs. Though generally well-received by critics, the almost 30-year-old band seems to be slipping in finding a stable direction. Let’s not forget that QOTSA has been nominated seven times for a Grammy Award in various Best Hard Rock and Best Rock categories in their career. “Carnavoyeur” and “Emotion Sickness” are worthwhile listening to.
Speaking of Grammy Awards – Lucinda Williams has won 3, been nominated for 17, and received numerous awards over the last three decades. Who can forget “Right in Time,” “Passionate Kisses” (made famous by Mary Chapin Carpenter), and, most importantly, “Can’t Let Go”? The solo guitarist has always successfully combined rock, pop, country, and folk and is proud that no one could pin her down to one genre. Now, at 70 (after a stroke in 2020 impacted her ability to play guitar and walk again), she is about to release her new album, “Stories from a Rock n’ Roll Heart.” The single “New York Comeback” sees a duet with The Boss, Bruce Springsteen. The album was written during Williams’ recovery, and several well-known backing musicians, songwriters, producers, and vocalists collaborated. Side note: Lucinda Williams’ memoir, “Don’t Tell Anybody the Secrets I Told You,” became a New York Times bestseller and is pleasant to read, prompting quite a few bouts of laughter and moments of reflection on vexing events that dotted her life. It is a true and gritty how-I-did story that is meaningful and inspiring.
The final mention goes to Sarah Reeves, the American musician/singer known for her Christian pop-style songs. Today, Sarah released “Get Back Your Fight,” a song she wrote and produced herself. Reeves said in her release announcement, “I posted the verse and chorus the day I wrote it, and you guys blew this one up [on social media]. It came from a deep place in my heart. I’ve had to find my strength and fight this year after going through the hardest season of my life. I shut out the voices, dug deep into my soul, and found the Sarah I didn’t even realize was there all along. She’s alive, she’s confident, and she got her fight back. If I can do it, you can too. I hope this song inspires you and shows you that you will overcome the pain that life throws at you. You are stronger than you feel and smarter than you think. I believe in you.”
Happy Friday! And Good Listening.