I’ll be honest—when I wrote this last month, I truly didn’t expect to still be writing from quarantine this month. I thought it would be a one-time thing and we’d be back to some sense of normalcy as we knew it by now. But I think we’re facing a change to the world in general. While I don’t want to live in fear, I do believe in being cautious when you don’t have all the information (and we don’t right now). I know in particular, professional musicians are hurting right now—their income is hit hard when they can’t perform, as are all the folks that help make the shows happen. How lucky are we for technology right now? That there is still creation happening? That there even is music to get us through the day?
With that said, let’s see who’s here this month to give us a gift to our ears and bring us in a time where so much else is being said to bring us down.
Hayley Williams – Petals for Armor
Release date: 5/8
Hayley is debuting as a solo artist on this one. Does anyone feel like she already did this and slightly shocked that this is the first full length to prove it? I mean, obviously you think Paramore for this girl, but she has always been a solo force to be reckoned with anyway.
So this was released initially as two EPs (I and II). I love this quote about the inspiration on this: “The best way for me to protect myself is to be vulnerable.” She described making this to be a scary and empowering experience, which I totally get—anything you break our of your shell to do will fall along those lines.
Now technically speaking, all of the tracks are out there in the form of EPs, but there are a few properly selected as singles. The first was “Simmer,” released in January. This does have that newer weirdly shinier Paramore sound, but there’s something… dark. Hayley isn’t belting her lungs out but there is a subtle power in her voice, and intensity. Such intensity.
“Leave It Alone” serves as the second single. This is a bit more flowing, with a more train-of-thought process around the melody. It’s a minor song, and I have to agree with the notes I tried to avoid in other reviews – this is very Radiohead reminiscent.
From what I can tell, “Roses/Lotus/Violet/Iris” is the following single. The first two dropped in January, with this not coming until March. Yet again, we get another sound. Still darker than you’re used to from this voice, this is almost airy and whimsical a bit. Yoko vibes anyone? It’s always interesting to see what artists will do when given freedom to take a new direction.
Other 5/8 releases:
Kenny Chesney – Here and Now
Norah Jones – Pick me Up Off the Floor
White Denim – World As A Waiting Room
Kehlani – It Was Good Until It Wasn’t
The Airborne Toxic Event – Hollywood Park
Lettuce – Resonate
RAC – BOY
Asking Alexandria – Like a House on Fire
Release date: 5/15
Almost about this time last year, the band released a new song, “The Violence” (a great-beated hard song that lives up to its very name). It wasn’t until December that we heard something different from them – a dupstep remix of the same song. I don’t like the idea of a singles-based world, so luckily, come February of this year, we got a new single that started leading toward the March announcement that yes, in fact, a new album as coming.
“They Don’t Want What We Want (And They Don’t Care)” is almost sort of fun at the beginning, and then the minor chord hits and you remember what you’re listening to. I love that this isn’t like so much of the harder rock we’ve gotten lately – it’s not overly produced to a clean feeling. This is grittier without losing quality. It has incredible part that you can’t help but imagine a crowd singing back at them.
In March, on the day they announced the new album, they released the third single, “Antisocialist.” Here’s where you get more of the microphone effects that newer studios can provide, with some echoing that serves its purpose. Man, this is actually really great.
Last month we got “Down to Hell,” and it’s just that right amount of party and power that is really driving home the anxiousness to get to the main whole album. Ready. To. Rock.
Other 5/15 releases:
Moby – All Visible Objects
Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit – Reunions
Charli XCX – How I’m Feeling Now
Rachele Lynae – Every Reason
Release date: 5/22
It has only been a few years since Rachele released a single, but it’s been six years since her debut album. Life has changed, the girl is married, and this album celebrates it all.
Almost three years ago we got an acoustic taste in a small pack of songs released that we’re about to hear in their full force. Let me just tell you – I was so excited the day the full version of “Running Out of Reasons” hit ears, and that feeling lasts through all the tracks. But I’m getting ahead of myself in my excitement here.
Rachele is this tiny but powerful country singer – I’ve been describing her that way for fourteen years now. Her voice will capture your attention at very first listen. I’ve heard it sing vindictiveness, praise, and pull people out to party, but the first single on this album has it singing fun and love. “Braggin on Ya” is a giggling song that is the perfect first taste into this girl’s new sound and life.
“Can You” continues the trend. Rachele took on a new production style on this album, fitting in some island-inspired flare and the brightness that the artwork around the album shines. It’s the fun way to look at the breakup, for a change, and will take you from the darkness to loving the kiss-off.
Now admittedly, I heard “Vinyl” at a pretty early stage, so I have had it sit on my heart and in my head for quite a while. The funny thing is, as the third single has surfaced to the world, I’ve heard different reactions from everyone – they all take something different away. For me (and yes, I’m going to keep this vague), it’s a sense of nostalgia. I will leave it at that because everyone should fully experience this song.
Rachele hasn’t slowed down yet this year though, and single number four, “Got It Bad” came out. If you couldn’t figure out that there is a pretty consistent sound to this album, this one will probably start to tie that together for you. Rachele hints way more at her country sound with the mix on this one too, proving this is no cross-over album, it’s an expansion on the already solid sound.
As one final taste, we got “Ground Me” to calm things down but just somehow grip you in even stronger. With an album timed with her wedding anniversary, this one just makes it so completely clear that this is a woman in love and leading a life we all get to benefit from because she’s giving us the great music inspired by it.
Other 5/22 releases:
KSI – Dissimulation
Indigo Girls – Look Long
The 1975 – Notes on a Conditional Form
Caligula’s Horse – Ride Radiant
Carly Rae Jepsen – Dedicated Side B
The Killers – Imploding the Mirage
Release date: 5/29
I somehow always forget that Brandon Flowers is the driving force of all of this. The band went back to Utah, the original place where he says he fell in love with music, to garner inspiration for this. The geography apparently played into this as well, and synthesizer music is resurfacing (yes, I am just reading articles at this point).
I remember when “Fire In Bone” came up on my Release Radar back in March, I remember specifically going “whoa! The Killers??” and being very excited. It’s kind of got an interesting disco vibe, but not in the obnoxious way that I can’t explain that makes me dislike disco.
“Caution” actually came before this, and in listening to it today is definitely full of the same vibe. This is a dancing album, from what I can tell. I get the synth reference now because, well, yeah, it’s definitely there. But when that chorus hits here, oh wow… more of this, please.
Other 5/29 releases:
New Found Glory – Forever and Ever x Infinity
Lady Gaga – Chromatica
Kip Moore – Wild World