Every Friday, Attendee.com takes a look at some of the week’s best new albums from across the musical spectrum. Whether you need some tunes to unwind with after work or a hot track to play at a party … we’ve got you covered.

Album in Focus: Big Thief-  “U.F.O.F.”

 

Appalachian hills, rust stains, lonely nights, dive bars, pit stops, yearning for better weather, losing an old friend you haven’t spoken to in years:  these are the flavors of Big Thief’s gorgeous Americana record. There’s something antique about this latest release from folk rock’s most prominent up-and-comers. Something that feels stripped of any sense of the digital world. The only signs of the modern world are the presence of highway lanes and old cans of Schlitz. This isn’t pastiche or appropriation. The images conjured up by front woman Adrianne Lenker feel shot in real time, on an old Brownie camera. Even though Big Thief is based in Brooklyn, Lenker was born and raised in Minnesota and recorded her first music in Nashville. She then studied music at Berklee College of Music. She has traveled down an assortment of paths, worn many hats and observed a thousand conversations. “Just like a bad dream, you’ll disappear, another map turns blue, mirror on mirror, and I imagine you, taking me outta here, to deepen our love, it isn’t even a fraction,” she sings on the album’s title track. It’s pure, naked poetry set over tender guitar parts and percussive accoutrements. Neil Young appears to be the biggest influence on Big Thief. On previous records, the band seemed set on recreating “Zuma” with their hardy, grinding rock ballads. “U.F.O.F.” is more “Harvest Moon.” A deeply personal walk through pine forests as old as heartbreak itself.

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Tink – “Voicemails”

 

Tink’s “Voicemails” begins a new chapter by reflecting on the past. The latest record by the Chicago the singer-rapper finds her moving on from her Winter Diary tetralogy and away from her more verbose rap styles. Tink has always invoked Jill Scott as much as she has Lil Kim, but “Voicemails” is pure rhythm and blues — save a few trap beats. Her throwback, sensual bangers are intertwined with voicemails that seem genuine. That’s the vibe of this record; it feels naked and honest despite being a heavily produced piece of music that seems destined for radio play. However, the intimacy and sensualness of Tink’s voice provides a perfect counterweight to contemporary production that isn’t particularly groundbreaking. This isn’t a knock against “Voicemails,” but rather indicative of Tink’s strength as a songwriter. She doesn’t need elaborate instrumentation to express her desires, struggles and cultural circumstances. Her voice is what gives her power.

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ALASKALASKA – “The Dots”

 

The pop zeitgeist has been aching for a dance rock group to fill the void that LCD Soundsystem left behind a few years back. Could ALASKALASKA fill that void? Their debut record makes a strong case. “The Dots” feels like a Talking Head DJ set: serene, crisp beats run the gauntlet while raging saxophones and intricate vocal melodies use such grooves to propel themselves forward. Even more relaxed songs, like “Arrows,” manage to be deeply methodical without being too experimental. Guitar and synth licks are gummy, but accessible. The percussion relies on a healthy contrast of analog and Midi. Sometimes lead singer Lucinda Duarte-Holman shrouds her voice in reverb or autotune, other times she’s bare-bones sing-talking. “Who gives a shit about retribution?” she smirks over moody disco hymns. ALASKALASKA isn’t sure if they want to be anthemic, a club staple or an art pop band. That’s fine when you’re still growing as a group. “The Dots” is a good way to tinker with who you want to be.

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Shana Cleveland – “Night of the Worm Moon”

 

A decade ago, garage rock and surf rock was the nostalgic trend in rock music. Now it’s country folk. This cultural trajectory seems tailored to Shana Cleveland’s personal journey. Cleveland is a part of the stellar pop-rock quartet La Luz, but “Night of the Worm Moon” allows her to explore a more singer-songwriter path. “Night of the Worm Moon” is carved out of the northwestern quarry that Cleveland calls home. Every track on “Night of the Worm Moon” is covered in a floating moss and surrounded by scenic canyon ledges. It’s a deeply maternal and natural record that has a sort of vagabond feel to it. Cleveland is on a solitary odyssey through both terrestrial landscapes and an uncertain millennium. “Oh, in another realm, I can feel you, now I know, what you know, In another realm, though I can’t hold your hand, I know that you won’t let me go,” she sings on “Another Realm,” a track that is indicative of the record. It feels like a slow moving caboose heading towards the uncolonized Western front. It’s destiny uncertain, but enjoying the ride all the same.


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Anticipations:

 

Lana Del Rey – “Summertime (Doin’ Time)”

 

Pop singer and international songstress Lana Del Rey has released a snippet of her cover of Sublime’s “Summertime (Doin’ Time).” Her version, as to be expected, is a dreary and moody rendition. “Norman Fucking Rockwell,” her forthcoming record, is expected to come out at the end of this year. She already released the singles “Mariners Apartment Complex,” “Venice Bitch,” and “hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have – but i have it.” The brief sample of the cover features Lana captured on Super 8 film and the caption “Coming Soon.”