Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Coachella-bound artists shine on latest album releases

Adam Granduciel of The War on Drugs performing at Coachella
in Indio, CA on Friday, April 13, 2018. Photo courtesy of Coachella.

Whether you want to get familiar with top-tier rock artists before you head out to Weekend 2 of Coachella or are simply interested in adding some great titles to your own music library, here are some recent album releases worth exploring.

Artist: The War On Drugs
Title: A Deeper Understanding (Atlantic)
You might like if you enjoy: Ryan Adams, Neil Young, Band of Horses
Tell me more: The War on Drugs' hour-long set at Coachella on April 13 proved to be one of the highlights of weekend 1. No wonder; a good deal of singer-songwriter/lead guitarist Adam Granduciel and company's set came from the band's latest album A Deeper Understanding (which won Best Rock Album at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards held in January 2018). The songs here are bewitching, with Granduciel's Tom Petty-meets-Ryan Adams lead vocals drenched in layers of his dazzling guitar work and the band's hypnotic rhythms. Every song is outstanding with the potent "Pain," entrancing "Holding On" and psychedelic-tinged heartland rocker "Nothing To Find" among the masterful songs on the 10-track A Deeper Understanding. Information: TheWarOnDrugs.net.

Artist: David Byrne
Title: American Utopia (Nonesuch)
You might like if you enjoy: Talking Heads, Peter Gabriel, David Byrne
Tell me more: One of the thrilling developments surrounding this year's Coachellafest lineup was the inclusion of genre-defying singer-songwriter/multi-instrumentalist David Byrne in a high-profile Saturday night spot. Byrne's performance on April 14 proved to be the best set this writer caught that day. Byrne's latest album American Utopia (released on March 9, 2018) continues to push and expand the diverse sonic universe explored by the 65-year-old artist since his groundbreaking approach with Talking Heads in the 1970s and '80s. The new album is filled with thought-provoking tracks including the ballad-meets-industrial rocker "I Dance Like This," the faith-minded "Every Day is a Miracle" offered up via a Caribbean soundscape and the sweeping feel-good standout "Everybody's Coming To My House." Other terrific songs featured on American Utopia include "Gasoline and Dirty Sheets" and "It's Not Dark Up Here." Information: DavidByrne.com.

Artist: Fleet Foxes
Title: Crack-Up (Nonsuch)
You might like if you enjoy: Fleet Foxes, the Moody Blues, Darlingside
Tell me more: Fleet Foxes' latest album Crack-Up is one of the more ambitious albums in memory, and the disc's track listing really finds the Seattle-spawned folk rock group pulling a myriad of progressive musical elements into their sound. From the sparse baroque-tinged acoustic stylings of "I Am All That I Need / Arroyo Seco / Thumbprint Scar" and subtle otherworldly vocals-enriched path painted during "Cassius" to the piano-anchored surge "On Another Ocean" and gorgeous immersive vocals-rich title track,  Fleet Foxes' third full-length album is an effort of artistic design and lush beauty. The ensemble's performance at Coachella on April 14 was spellbinding to be sure. Information: fleetfoxes.co.

Artist: Alvvays
Title: Antisocialites (Polyvinyl Records)
You might like if you enjoy: Japanese Breakfast's "Soft Sounds From Another Planet," Nushu, Waxahatchee
Tell me more: An album that blends dream pop, indie rock and shoegaze styles with perfection, Antisocialites is the must-hear sophomore effort from Toronto, Canada-based Alvvays. With singer Molly Rankin's lovely vocals and clever lyrics leading the way, Alvvays' material is always  (no pun intended) inviting and infectious. "Antisocialites" is bolstered by a mix of neo-New Wave driving indie rockers ("Plimsoll Punks" is sheer joy), wistful indie pop ("In Undertow," "Dreams Tonite"), power pop ("Your Type"), evocative ballads ("Already Gone") and art damage rock ("Hey," "Saved By A Waif"). Information: Alvvays.com.

Artist: Pvris 
Title: All We Know Of Heaven, All We Need Of Hell (Rise Records)
You might like if you enjoy: Florence + the Machine
Tell me more: Pvris' latest album All We Know Of Heaven, All We Need Of Hell is filled with emotionally-charged and powerfully-delivered songs. With singer Lynn Gunn's emotive soprano helping spearhead the fervent material, the songs on Pvris' second album are anthemic in scope even while mining the deepest of emotions. "Heaven," "Visualette" and "No Mercy" are among the selections that drive hard without sacrificing nuances that give them more depth. Other material is more quiet, including the expansive "Anyone Else," faraway "Separate" and yearning "Walk Alone." To be sure, get to Coachella early on Friday and catch the Lowell, Massachusetts-spawned band's early-afternoon appearance. Information: pvris.com.

For more information on when the artists featuring in this column are performing at Coachella Weekend 2 (April 20-22), visit Coachella.com.

Robert Kinsler

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