New music this year is coming thick and fast already. Pedro The Lion, Sharon Van Etten, Steve Gunn, Junius Meyvant, and The Twilight Sad all have new albums out, and there are singles out from Strand of Oaks, Cherry Glazerr, Rosie Tucker, Teen Daze, and Wintersleep. New collaborations have been announced as well. Karen O and Dangermouse have a single out together, and there’s the new Malibu Ken project between Aesop Rock and Tobacco that I’ve been loving this week.
Tim Showalter went through a difficult period after the release of the last Strand of Oaks record, Hard Love. The album was a follow up to 2014’s breakthrough record, HEAL, and was thus under more public scrutiny than past work. It was this not quite satisfying experience that led to a low period for Showalter. As has become more public now, he went through a severe period of depression to the point that he seemed convinced that he would not make music again. His friends from the band My Morning Jacket heard that he was not well, and made themselves available during a break on their tour. They contacted him offering to be his backing band on the next Strand of Oaks tour. There’s a reminder in here for everyone. You know people who are struggling, and sometimes they really need someone to reach out. In this case, My Morning Jacket may have indeed saved a life. The new single, Weird Ways, has been something I’ve found more impactful than any Strand of Oaks song before it. The album is set for release in March.
One of the weirder and most interesting albums so far this year is Malibu Ken. The project is a collaboration between indie-rap vocabulary king, Aesop Rock, and psychedelic electro-mastermind, Tobacco. If you’re familiar with the previous works of these two, then you’ll find a lot of familiar sounds here. Neither artist has needed to compromise much to make something totally different here. The music sounds like Tobacco, and the rapping sounds like Aesop. That said, the music tyipical of Aesop’s previous work doesn’t sound at all like this, and Tobacco hasn’t previously had anyone rapping over his songs. It sounds so unlike other hip-hop, and it sounds so in the wheelhouse of each artist. They landed on something special here, but it might be a bit weird for mainstream adoption. In any case, I’ve been enjoying it a lot.
Other favorites here include Junius Meyvant, Sharon Van Etten, and Cherry Glazerr. What’s your favorite new music in 2019?
Aurora – Gentle Earthquakes
The Cranberries – All Over Now
Rosie Tucker – Gay Bar
Priests – The Seduction of Kansas
Cherry Glazerr – Wasted Nun
Pond – Daisy
Teen Daze – Spring
Sharon Van Etten – No One’s Easy To Love
Malibu Ken – Sword Box
BVA, Leaf Dog, Illinformed, Smellington Piff – Fanning the Flames
Karen O & Dangermouse – Woman
Antonioni – Creature Feature
Wintersleep – Beneficiary
Pedro The Lion – Clean Up
The Twilight Sad – Keep It All To Myself
Broken Bells – Shelter
Strand of Oaks – Weird Ways
Steve Gunn – Morning is Mended
Junius Meyvant – Across the Borders
Son Volt – Devil May Care
Los Bonsais – No Quiero Salir!
Malibu Ken – Tuesday