Every Friday our NoiseTrade New Music Tip Sheet highlights three recommended picks from that week’s batch of new releases that we think are worth checking out at your local record shop or via your preferred online music distributor of choice.
It’s no secret that a covers album will live or die on a few critical criteria: song selection, believability of delivery, and how the artist/band connects with the material. The Lemonheads have always been a band that adapts themselves perfectly with their cover songs thanks to frontman Evan Dando’s seemingly effortless reinvention and genuine admiration for the songs he’s tackling. Throughout The Lemonheads catalog, Dando has successfully been able to turn covers into genuine hits (“Mrs. Robinson,” “Luka,” “Into Your Arms”), EP fodder (“Different Drum,” “Step by Step”) and full-on albums (2009’s Varshons). Coming in at just under a decade since the original installment, The Lemonheads once again offer a warm and inventive end-to-end alt-rock tribute with Varshons 2. This time around, Dando magically weaves his relaxed guitar style and world weary croon around 13 tracks originally performed by artists like Yo La Tengo, Lucinda Williams, John Prine, The Eagles, and Nick Cave.
Live in London
Long ago, legendary soul singer Mavis Staples transformed from mere otherworldly talent to mythical force of nature and her new album Live in London serves as another snapshot reminder of this undisputable fact. Recorded over two nights at London’s Union Chapel, Live in London captures Staples’s booming vocals and charismatic personality as her gospel-grounded, social justice-minded repertoire slinks, explodes, and soars across the incendiary setlist. Tracks like “No Time for Cryin’,” “You Are Not Alone,” and the Ben Harper-penned opener “Love and Trust” are perfect samplers but you can trust that this whole album is worth a listen from beginning to end. While Staples has an iconic back catalog to pull from, her collection of songs on Live in London center around her most recent releases produced by Jeff Tweedy and M. Ward.
Whether it’s been with his bands Hüsker Dü and Sugar or as a tireless solo artist, Bob Mould has been continually serving up raucously powerful guitar rock for the last four decades. Sunshine Rock is Mould’s 13th solo album and the luminescent title is no sarcastic twist. After a trio of albums that were marked with more melancholic material (two of them were written in the wake of the loss of each of his parents), Mould intentionally infused his new songs with more optimism and brightness. Even just looking through the tracklist, song titles like “Sunny Love Song,” “Camp Sunshine,” Western Sunset,” and the title track are clear indication of the cloudless brilliance awaiting within the album’s inescapable shine. Wonderfully backing Mould on the album are his frequent collaborators Jason Narducy (Spilt Single) on bass and Jon Wurster (Superchunk, Mountain Goats) on drums.