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.

Cate Le Bon – “Reward”

Over the past decade, Cate Le Bon has quietly become indie rock’s busiest musician. She has written countless compositions under her own name; in collaboration with White Fence under the moniker DRINKS; and with the improvisational jazz group BANANA. Le Bon has toured with St. Vincent and Perfume Genius, even performing on stage with the Velvet Underground’s John Cale. She made a cameo on Kevin Morby’s debut album and produced Deer Hunter’s most recent one.

 

In a way, all this work seems to have been leading up to “Reward. It’s a record that utilizes Le Bon’s most prominent abilities. Intricate, cross-pollinating guitar licks perform a waltz with sweeping horn sections. The Welsh musician has always had a skill for taking these complex melodies and mixing them with unique, precise percussion. It’s a juggling act that very few artists can pull off. This is showcased on songs like “Home to You,” when shakers and mallets sashay across the mix while a Cadillac guitar riff rumbles along. Le Bon does her best Nico impression as these variables collide. The craftsmanship is impeccable and subconscious. You can’t help but groove to the specifics.

To pin a specific sound or mode to “Reward” is to miscalculate its intentions. Le Bon has always sought to be defined by her particular voice. It’s a voice that is shaped by British post-punk (“Mother’s Mother’s Magazines”) as much as it is by baroque sensibilities (“Sad Nudes”). It’s a world that is occupied by both Gertrude Stein jazz cafes and seaside shanty towns. “Reward” is urbanism that favors the sporadic, unpredictable energy of nature.

 

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Megan Thee Stallion – “Fever”

 

 

 

Cultural feminism and modern rap culture have often butted heads. One side claims there is deeply misogynistic tropes about the genre. This is a valid critique. Conversely, hip-hop fans say that many of these lyrics are either critical or biographical. They aren’t necessarily advocating for violence against women. Okay, fine.

 

This intersection of female empowerment and street smart bars is where we find Megan Thee Stallion. Her breakout record, “Fever,” feels like what you would get if  Amanda Waller smoked blunts and hung out with Three Six Mafia. Her delivery invokes the Memphis triplet style that made MCs like Juicy J famous. Coincidently, he appears on the record. Stallion is also joined by fellow up-and-comer DaBaby, but she rides solo for the rest of the album’s 12 tracks.

 

While her flow isn’t particularly innovative, Stallion is great at managing her speed and inflection to match the velocity of her beats. On “Cash Shit,” she uses her bars like a scimitar to cut through the minimalistic bass and 808 repetitions. Further along, songs like “Money Good” and “W.A.B.” encourages the Houston rapper to accelerate through traditional trap house rhythms. “Old school” is an exhausted term, but Stallion’s style is clearly rooted in turn-of-the-century Houston hip-hop. Sinister piano riffs that sound like a “Friday The 13th” soundtrack are paired with the stinging clap of snares and high hats.

 

While Stallion is clearly a trap artist, her clear respect for the whole culture of hip-hop sets her apart. She’s just as much influenced by Lil Kim as she is by Azealia Banks. DJ Screw’s Houston roots are just as apparent as Project Pat’s verbal cues. The genre mixtures and Stallion’s arsenal cyphers on “Fever” make for tasteful turn-up music.

You can catch Megan Thee Stallion at some festivals the summer. Purchase your tickets via the links below.

Hot 97 Summer Jam

Made In America Festival

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Faye Webster — “Atlanta Millionaires Club”

Faye Webster’s world is a mess of contradictions. She rocks a signature wicker tennis visor while partying with Atlanta’s hip-hop elites. Her aesthetic and presentation are obviously contemporary, but music harkens back to archaic genres such as yacht rock, ‘70s country music and pop jazz. Webster seems restless even during her most intimate moments. It is these dialectics that synthesize the gorgeous “Atlanta Millionaires.”

 

Before her most recent release, Webster was in quite the opposite predicament. She seems uncertain of her voice. Her first record — a self-released country radio endeavor — is generic and derivative. Her second album sounds like Angel Olsen’s baby sister doing her best impression of Emmylou Harris song. It is on “Atlanta Millionaires Club” where Webster’s abilities are matched with the sort of organic, wholesome pop production that made Kacey Musgraves famous. But while Musgraves is a cut-and-dry country-pop act, Webster’s voice and writing seek out more postmodern specifics. Across 10 tracks, she describes minor details with a mix of murmured staccos and whimsical hushes: the way the gust from air conditioner alienates her, the scent of a lover on her neck. “This wasn’t supposed to be a love song . . . I guess it is now,” she sings on “Jonny.”

“Atlanta Millionaires Club” is deceptive. It hides the deepest emotions of its author in a swirl of cheesy sax, pedal steel guitar and thudding bass lines. It’s unironically in love and ironically obsessed with hotel bar organs. It’s a country heart with a hip-hop mind: Webster’s the only white person who’s ever pulled off a folk version of a rap song. She’s an old soul with new sounds.

Purchase your tickets to see Faye Webster here.

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Anticipations:

Clairo – “Bags”

From Internet pop icon to an unmistakable reverence for Elliot Smith; Clairo is proving nobody puts baby in a corner. Like we said last week when we covered her at Boston Calling, the Massachusetts native has a hard sound to pin down. She blew up with a pop song that sounded like it was recorded on a nursery school keyboard, then created some sultry, funky R&B singles to back up her virality. Now she’s announced her debut album, “Immunity,” by releasing a melancholy pop rock single called “Bags.” It’s just as personable, yet secretive as her other tracks. However, this time the instrumentation is much more reliant on guitar, an instrument that hasn’t really been at the core of Clairo’s sound. It rings like the downtrodden rock of the band Heatmiser, the chronically distorted yet cleanly vocalized project of the late Elliot Smith. Unlike Smith, Clairo has the pop sensibilities to make it both heartbreaking and desperately catchy.

“Immunity” will be released August 2.

 

Purchase your tickets here to see Clairo live.

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Bill Callahan – “The Ballad of the Hulk”

 

 

Prolific singer-songwriter Bill Callahan (formerly known by the moniker Smog) has released the first half of his new double album “Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest.” This is the first time Callahan has put out new material since 2014’s “Have Fun with God. The main single off the new record is “The Ballad of the Hulk,” a wholesome, striped-down track that sounds like it’s being played on a back porch at dusk. Callahan’s signature vocals, a baritone whisper that pulls at your soul in the tradition of Leonard Cohen, deliver lyrics on feeling ill-fit in one’s clothes. “You know I used to share a tailor with David Bruce Banner, that’s the Hulk, traveling jackets and traveling bags, future rags,” he murmurs. Acoustic guitar fidgets and the faint calls of lap steel swirl the background. It’s Callahan’s best work since “Dream River.”

 

Purchase your tickets here to see Bill Callahan live in concert!

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Banner Photo by Derek Hines