Iggy Pop “Free” (Lorna Vista/Caroline) Never one to be pinned down or cornered, Iggy explores new territories on his 18th solo album. Although the most straight-ahead track on this record “Loves Missing” could fit right in with many of his post Stooges records. This one adds trumpet and electronic beats which make for an interesting experiment. Not unlike David Bowie’s jazz-inspired “Blackstar,” Iggy has incorporated avant-garde guitarist Noveller, aka Sarah Lipstate, and jazz trumpeter Leron Thomas. With some spoken word tracks mixed in, including a reading of “Do Not Go Gentle Into The Night,” the success of this new record is that at the age of 72, Iggy is still exploring and stretching out. Fresh off the heels of his collaboration with Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme, there are indeed a few nice treats on this one. The guy has certainly had nine lives and we are lucky to have new material from him. Key tracks are “Free,” “Sonali,” and “Loves Missing.”
Bon Iver “i, i” (Jagjaguwar) Led by Justin Vernon, this new effort, the band’s fourth, brings the trademark out to vocals front and center. For this release, tracks were released hour by hour in early August. The signature Bon Iver sound is all here, but they have reassembled the parts like a cubist collage to great success, buoyed by Vernon’s familiar subtle baritone. There are acoustic guitars, horns, and piano included in the mix all adding to create a fresh new sound. Vernon sings with more texture and conviction than ever before. This new work is enjoyable from start to finish. Key tracks are “Naeem,” “iMi,” and “Faith.”
Lana Del Rey “Norman F…ing Rockwell“ (Polydor/Interscope) On her 6th release, Lana Del Rey has produced a record that is elegant and complex while continuing to push boundaries; all done with a sly sense of humor. Not unlike other records, Del Rey seems always to be continually facing criticism for being close to the mainstream but always operating just outside of it. That’s exactly where this record works on so many levels. The new record is rooted in the classic sound of the Laurel Canyon scene and produced by Jack Antonoff. The album demands a lot from the listener but the rewards are there. She continues to successfully push her troubled femme fatale persona on this new release. It’s her best work alongside her record “Ultraviolence,” which she did with The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach. Key tracks are “Norman F…ing Rockwell,” “Doin’ Time,” and “Cinnamon Girl.”
Jesse Malin “Sunset Kids” (Wicked Cool) This new album is full of some guilty pleasure pop perfection. The set of songs finds the New York troubadour reflecting on life’s precious and fleeting moments. The album is produced by Americana Chanteuse Lucinda Williams and her husband, Tom Overby. It’s the presence of Lucinda Williams that ties the collection of songs together. She is a master lyricist and helps Malin refine and focus his words. There is some repetition on the album. Three of the tracks have appeared on various forms on past solo projects, but only fans who’ve followed Malin’s career will notice. It’s a great introduction to his work if you haven’t followed him in the past. Key tracks “Meet Me at the End of the World,” “Room 13” (featuring Lucinda Williams), and “Shining Down.”
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