Albums: Spring/Summer 2016 catch-up

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Remember when I wrote about albums a bit more often on this blog?

I’ve admittedly fallen down a Spotify playlist rabbit hole in the last few months, especially with all the team travel I did as a missionary. It isn’t bad, and I’ve found some great music that way, but it’s come at the expense of spending quality time with full-length albums and actually buying them. I haven’t bought a CD in months, which kind of bums me out (yeah, yeah, I still buy CDs, I’m old-fashioned, I’m a hipster, whatever). But several of my favorite artists have been putting out new albums over the last few months, so I’ve started getting into albums a bit again. It felt a bit silly dedicating separate blog posts to these favorite albums, since at this point they’re several weeks old (one of them months old), so I’ve lumped them into one post. I hope these make your ears happy!

Lucius, Good Grief

Leave it to an indie pop group to make me realize that pop music can actually be really good (did I just reveal my hipster-ness again? Whoops.). Lucius’ upbeat, sunny sound and frontwomen Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig’s bold harmonies made me fall in love with their 2013 debut, Wildewoman. In March they released their brilliant follow-up, Good Grief. The album’s oxymoronic title sets the stage for the songs that follow, a narrative of the euphoric highs and shattering lows of a relationship gone bad, from those initial butterflies (“Something About You”) to fighting and relentless blaming (“Gone Insane”) and attempts to reconcile (“Truce”). Even though some of the songs deal with tough subject matter, the album is still downright danceable (see “Born Again Teen” and “Almighty Gosh”). Good Grief is a smart, infectious album from one of the most underrated, understated acts out there. Please check out Lucius and then fangirl over them with me so I’m not alone in my undying love for them.

Mudcrutch, 2

Perhaps the name “Mudcrutch” has you scratching your head and wondering “who the heck is that?” Before Tom Petty formed The Heartbreakers, he started Mudcrutch in 1970. The band only stayed together for about five years and didn’t release any albums before they disbanded. Petty went on to form the Heartbreakers with, among other members, Mudcrutch-ers Benmont Tench and Mike Campbell. In 2007, however, Petty, Tench, and Campbell reunited Mudcrutch with Tom Leadon and Randall Marsh to record their long-overdue debut album, which was released in April 2008. They toured briefly and then disappeared. Thankfully, they came back this year with another excellent album, simply titled 2. Petty and Mudcrutch aren’t really doing anything new on this album (apart from writing every song on this album, whereas some tunes on their debut were covers), but it’s sure to please any Tom Petty and/or southern rock fan. Check out “Victim of Circumstance” and “Welcome to Hell” for a good dose of that southern flare.

The Avett Brothers, True Sadness

I jumped on the Avett Bros train shortly after becoming obsessed with Mumford & Sons a few years ago, but their last two albums left something to be desired for me. I was cautiously optimistic when they announced a few months ago that they would be releasing a new album this summer. Its leading single, the bleacher-stomping, Gospel-tinged “Ain’t No Man,” raised my expectations for the album, and when it was finally released, my expectations were met, if not exceeded. True Sadness, the Avett’s ninth studio album, feels all grown up and is the band’s most revealing, vulnerable album yet. Songs capture things like the pain of a broken marriage (“Divorce Separation Blues”) and the disillusionment with life that comes with aging (“Smithsonian”) while bringing back the eclectic sound that just wasn’t present in the band’s last two albums. Try the bluegrass-tastic “Satan Pulls The Strings” and the electronic-infused “You Are Mine” for a taste of this album’s unique assortment of sounds.

What about you? What are some of your favorite albums from the last few months? Feel free to tell me in the comments!

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