CD YO LA TENG
This Stupid World / Yo La Tengo
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.
CD NICKEL CRE
Celebrants / Nickel Creek
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
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
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.