The Week In Music: The Best Albums, Songs, Performances and More

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The Week In Music: The Best Albums, Songs, Performances and More

Happy spooking season! It’s October and, as ever, it’s a scary-good month for new music. Today (Oct. 4) in particular is a real showstopper with new albums out by Angel Olsen, Wilco and Danny Brown. Also this week, we hosted Tiny Ruins and The Menzingers in our NYC studio, and we rounded up some of our favorite musical moments on TV this year for all you cock-a-roaches. Now find somewhere quiet, queue up the new Angel Olsen album and prepare yourself to be fully wrecked. Onward!

BEST ALBUMS

Angel Olsen: All Mirrors

From her very earliest recordings, Angel Olsen has mined drama from her relationships with physically present but psychologically absent partners. Across her often-brilliant catalog, the Asheville singer/songwriter has sung candidly about staying with these partners despite recognizing their awful qualities. Her fascination with this unhealthy dynamic, in addition to her unmistakable, showstopping vibrato, has tied her songs together across multiple genres, from haunting lo-fi folk (2010’s Strange Cacti EP, 2012’s Half Way Home) to scorching rock (2014’s Burn Your Fire For No Witness, 2016’s My Woman). Olsen still deals with bad partners on her fourth album, All Mirrors, but this time around, she escapes their destruction and finds not just happiness, but catharsis. She narrates her journey alongside a 14-piece orchestra, with string co-arrangement from Ben Babbitt and conductor-arranger Jherek Bischoff (and co-production from the ever-busy John Congleton, who also co-produced Burn Your Fire). Her newfound embrace of violins, violas and cellos elevates her shadowy, often synth-infused rock to extraordinarily goosebump-inducing heights, making All Mirrors her third consecutive (and likely best) masterpiece to date. —Max Freedman

DIIV: Deceiver

It’s easy to oversimplify the path that recovering addicts must take toward rehabilitation. From the outside, the objective is simple: Stay clean long enough and the monkey on your back eventually hops off. But the reality is that breaking the cycle of addiction is a Sisyphean endeavor that keeps those undergoing it in an eternal state of recovery—only those on the inside can fully understand its tribulations. Zachary Cole Smith—the central voice behind DIIV—has long been on the inside of addiction. After the group released their sophomore album, Is the Is Are, Cole entered a long-haul inpatient treatment for heroin addiction, a struggle that became public in 2013 when he and his then-girlfriend Sky Ferreira were busted for possession. Cole’s experiences in rehab became the inspiration for the group’s latest record, Deceiver, and while the album displays the group’s darkest sound yet, it also ends up being their most earnest. The wider, dynamic sound texture across Deceiver is one of the most apparent improvements from past records with a clear, crisp approach that avoids sterility. The album’s epic closer, “Acheron,” shows just how much life good production can breathe into a song when it explodes into a gigantic finale of fuzz. The sound matches the scope of blackgaze contemporaries like Deafheaven—who DIIV have toured with—without crossing the threshold into metal. Nonetheless, the lush, sometimes crushing instrumentation speaks to the daunting task Cole has undergone to restore himself. —Hayden Goodridge

BEST TRACKS

Black Marble:Private Show

Despite the exclusivity implied by its title, “Private Show” finds Chris Stewart’s synth-pop project Black Marble reaching out in all directions, examining the common links between people—the desires, fears and fantasies that make us who we are. “Everybody’s on their way to heaven / Everybody’s gotta die to get there / Everybody knows the only way to go / is to set up a private show,” muses Stewart over rapid-fire drum machines, the song’s steady stream of bass notes overlaid with flurries of synth and sparing guitars, a torrent of mesmerizing melody. Emily Edrosa lends additional guitar to the track, Stewart’s sole collaboration on Bigger Than Life, the new album out later this month. —Scott Russell

Danny Brown:3 Tearz

From Brown’s fifth studio LP out today comes this incredible Run The Jewels collab, produced by JPEGMAFIA (a key collaborator across the album). It’s the third single off the album, following songs “Dirty Laundry” and “Best Life,” which hit radio waves earlier in September. “3 Tearz” premiered on Brown’s Twitch channel Tuesday —Rachita Vasandani

Angel Olsen:What It Is

“What It Is” is a pop song dressed up to go to the orchestra. The most upbeat thing Olsen has written in a long time, it’s deceptively simple at first, featuring just a basic drumbeat (one that almost recalls Kanye West’s “Black Skinhead”), a plodding bassline and Olsen’s voice. But suddenly, some in-your-face strings enter the mix, throwing you completely for a loop as Olsen repeats her “It’s easy when…” refrain a dozen or so times over. Describing a hypothetical “carefree” relationship from the other side of a breakup, Olsen is almost mocking those in love, singing with a snarky smile knowing that every couple’s honeymoon period will eventually end—just like the staccato “Daydreaming” by Radiohead-esque strings that interrupt the pop bliss of the first half of the song. “It’s easy if you tell the truth / But knowing what it is, it’s not enough / And knowing that you love someone doesn’t mean you were ever in love” might be one of Olsen’s most biting lyrics to date. —Steven Edelstone

BEST PERFORMANCES

Tiny Ruins

New Zealand folk outfit Tiny Ruins (mainly the project of one Hollie Fullbrook) released one of the most delightful and underrated acoustic records of the year, Olympic Girls, in February. Fullbrook is now in the midst of a massive solo tour and swung by the Paste Studio in NYC on Monday. She performed the title track from that album, plus three more songs.

The Menzingers

Punk rockers The Menzingers are back today (Oct. 4) with their sixth album, Hello Exile, on Epitaph. They visited the Paste Studio NYC to preview a few of the new songs, including “Strangers Forever.”

FEATURES

The Best Music Moments on TV This Year

What’s Russian Doll without “Gotta Get Up,” Big Little Lies without its precosious seven-year-old DJ, Derry Girls without its spot-on ’90s soundtrack? Shells of shows, that’s what. Music brings TV to life, and this has been an especially colorful year for sonic moments on the small screen. From all-star music supervision that pairs the perfect song with the most emotional scene to hilarious satires and original numbers, these are all TV events that have stayed with us long after the season finale. Enjoy a dozen of 2019’s best music moments on TV, ranked. —Paste Staff

Record Time: New & Notable Vinyl Releases (September 2019)

Record Time is Paste’s monthly column that takes a glimpse into the wide array of new vinyl releases that are currently flooding record stores around the world. Rather than run down every fresh bit of wax in the marketplace, we’ll home in on special editions, reissues and unusual titles that come across our desk with an interest in discussing both the music and how it is pressed and presented. This month that includes a reissue of a hip-hop masterpiece, some fresh jazz from a young visionary and a handful of psych rock gems. —Robert Ham

The 15 Best Songs of September 2019

The past month in music was ruled by heavy-hitters like The Highwomen, Angel Olsen and Sturgill Simpson, but some fresher faces made their mark too, like Corridor, Kate Teague and Sports Team. Featured below are memorable new tunes, song-of-the-year contenders and, possibly, your favorite track you’ve never heard. Dive into our 15 favorite songs from September, as chosen by the Paste music staff and listed alphabetically by artist. Listen to the Spotify playlist right here. —Paste Staff

The 10 Albums We’re Most Excited About in October

Next to these 10 albums, we could throw in candy corn, seasonal spooking and temps below the mid-90s as things we’re excited about in October. The first full month of autumn is finally upon us, and what tends to be a heavy month for music releases is likely going to live up to its reputation. October is top-heavy with new Angel Olsen, Danny Brown, Wilco and Nick Cave and more arriving in the first week. During the second half, we’ll dig our fangs into a highly anticipated new record from FKA Twigs, plus new Vagabon, Grace Potter and Mikal Cronin. In other words, October 2019 is all treats, no tricks. —Paste Staff

The 15 Best Angel Olsen Songs

If Burn Your Fire was her breakthrough, then Angel Olsen’s third album My Woman cemented her as one of the most gifted contemporary vocalists and emotional wielders. Olsen threw herself more fully into the vintage rock ‘n’ roll that surfaced on her previous LP, but she expanded it with girl-group sensibilities, jangly fuzz, reckless energy and intoxicating individualism. Paste contributor Matt Fink summed up this artistic shift best: “This is an artist going widescreen.” Now set to release her new album, All Mirrors, tomorrow (Oct. 4), Olsen has pushed her vision even further, bringing in a 14-piece orchestra, embracing shimmery synths and still wringing out guttural theatrics from her fluttering, show-stopping vocals. In celebration of Olsen’s latest installment, which Paste’s Max Freedman dubbed “her third consecutive (and likely best) masterpiece to date,” we ranked our 15 favorite Olsen selections, which portray an artist who continues to blossom and bewitch before our very eyes. —Lizzie Manno & Paste Staff

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