Decorative image of woman holding guitar; background image of faded sheet music scattered about; text reads New Music on compact disc May 2023, Yo La Tengo, Nickel Creek, Shame, Gorillaz.

Music Recommendations: May 2023

This Stupid World / Yo La Tengo

Album cover image displays a night scene of a grassy area with a white pickup truck in the distance

The indie rock lifers return with their 17th album titled This Stupid World. Yo La Tengo has been around for nearly forty years, and have seemingly covered as many styles in that time. This album is taut and sharply-focused, inviting fans into a blissfully downcast world on tracks such as “Tonight’s Episode,” “Fallout,” and the album’s opener, “Sinatra Drive Breakdown” (named after a street in Hoboken, New Jersey, the band’s hometown).

This album feels a bit more urgent than their recent offerings, and fans can always trust that Yo La Tengo will be consistent and deliver their always-iconic sensibilities to guide them through a rarely decipherable universe.

Celebrants / Nickel Creek
Repair/Thirty Tigers

Album cover image features the two male and one female members of Nickel Creek in the aftermath of a very raucous party

Beloved Americana ensemble Nickel Creek (comprised of Chris Thile and siblings Sara & Sean Watkins) have come back to us after almost a ten-year break from studio recordings with Celebrants. As the title suggests, what results is a gorgeous collection of tunes from old friends. To paraphrase Thile (and as we have all learned in one of the hardest ways), there is no substitute for spending time together.

The synergy between the members (and new collaborator Mike Elizondo on bass) is striking on songs such as “Strangers,” “Going Out…” and “Stone’s Throw.” At precisely the right time, the group has convened to offer listeners a sturdy raft in this world often flooded with chaos and malaise.

Food for Worms / Shame
Dead Oceans

Album cover image displays a painted nighttime image of a woman in the foreground, with three beings behind her-all at least chest- or waist deep in a body of water

Food for Worms is the youthful UK post-punk band’s third album, following 2021’s Drunk Tank Pink. Ever confident, the five-piece appear ready to stretch out from their beloved influences and onto new vistas. “Fingers of Steel” is great as an album (and perhaps live show) opener. Pointed, powerful observational songwriting can be found throughout the record, as highlighted on “Adderall” and “Burning by Design.” The album closes with “All the People,” a perfectly anthemic and heartwarming ending. Shame is a great band establishing their rightful place in the modern rock landscape.

Cracker Island / Gorillaz

Album cover image features four animated members of Gorillaz sitting in front of a building, presumably on the "Cracker Island" of the album's title

Gorillaz, a Damon Albarn side project that has now existed for a quarter of a century, present Cracker Island (produced by Greg Kurstin). The fictional outfit usually offers a range of guests, and on the island Beck, Thundercat and Bad Bunny, and more are figuratively ashore.

It could be argued that Albarn and co-conspirator Jamie Hewlett have fallen into routine within the last decade, but they always produce at least a few gems, as fans are treated to “Tormenta” (with Bad Bunny), “New Gold” (with Tame Impala), and “Oil,” which they managed to convince Stevie Nicks to sing on. The album is enjoyable, even as it seems Albarn and Hewlett’s efforts seems increasingly indiscriminate.
Also available on Hoopla in regular and deluxe editions.

DF: 5/23