Short Reviews of Recent Albums #1
Bully, Jason Isbell, KAYTRAMINÉ, and some other shit I've been (mostly) liking
Howdy, and welcome to the music newsletter formerly known as Paramore For Dummies. I recently rebranded and am writing about just, like, music in general. If you originally subscribed for Paramore updates, don’t worry—I do have more Paramore content lined up!
Here’s a new thing I’m occasionally doing that I’m going to call Short Reviews of Recent Albums. It’s exactly what it sounds like.
Bully - Lucky For You
As soon as I put it on, Lucky For You became my album of the summer. “What a wonderful life / my heart’s breaking on the bathroom floor” - the opening lines of the third track nail how I’m feeling with one satisfying smash.
One of this album’s many draws for me is the rare juxtaposition of angst and adult problems (see: lyrics of “Ms. America”): it perfectly captures how it feels to be a thirty-something teenager in a world gone to hell. I’ll be spinning this one for a long time.
Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit - Weathervanes
I’ll admit, I haven’t listened to this record all the way through yet, but it’s not because I don’t think I’ll like it—it’s because I haven’t yet had the emotional bandwidth for it. It needs my full attention.
Few artists in the past few years have captivated my whole spirit the way Jason has. He checks a few of my biggest boxes as a music enjoyer: lyrics, guitar, innovative Americana, personal lore. Jason’s music is more than just music to me; it’s a roadmap, and from what time I’ve been able to dedicate to Weathervanes so far, I think it’ll pick me up where his last one left off (i.e., emotionally destroy me).
Jess Williamson - Time Ain’t Accidental
I’ve listened to Jess Williamson for almost 8 years now, and it’s been such a rare, fun experience to go from “this EP is interesting but weird” to “listening to this album feels like I’m hanging out with a close friend.” Speaking of artist lore—I feel weirdly adjacent to this album’s subject matter, having spent a lot of time in Marfa, where Time Ain’t Accidental is essentially set. Jess’s new boyfriend is a local who I’ve met at the St. George Hotel pool, where he hangs out every day before driving out to the hills to make a cocktail and watch the sunset. I’ve seen him! I’ve seen these places! I feel like I know her! But until she and I are real-life friends, I’m content to hang out with this record.
Saya Gray - QWERTY EP
Since Saya Gray’s 19 Masters, one of my fav releases of 2022, I’ve been anxiously awaiting more music from her—and this EP does not disappoint. Weird, theatrical piano and electric guitar riffs volley with warped cymbals in the opening track, setting the scene for a wacky, melodic, delightfully melodramatic 7 songs. I’ve always loosely compared her to Sufjan in terms of whimsy and pseudo-classical instrumentation, and in that analogy, this would be her Age of Adz.
KAYTRAMINÉ - KAYTRAMINÉ
Ah yes, my close personal friend Aminé (I met him once for 2 minutes at a work thing in Portland)! This isn’t my typical fare, but I’d heard good things so I gave it a try, and have ended up loving it. Like the album art insinuates, it’s the perfect summer album, interspersing laid-back beats with funky instrumentation for an impossibly *cool* sound. Like, this is what I want to be caught listening to when I’m stuck at a red light.
Greg Mendez - Greg Mendez
This one isn’t as recent (it came out early May), but I wanted to give it a shoutout because I’ve been loving it. Mendez got his degree from Elliott Smith College, with a minor in Blind Pilot earnestness. I like all the songs on the record, but if you want to dip your toe in, “Goodbye / Trouble” is a good one to start with.
Juan Wauters - Wandering Rebel
I looooooove Juan Wauters’ 2019 album La Onda De Juan Pablo, so I’ve been really looking forward to this release. Unforch, it’s a bit hit-or-miss for me, with the English tracks being the main misses (maybe his lyrics are always this weird and it just doesn’t bother me when I can’t understand them?). However, there are a few really vibey tracks (namely, the more chill ones) that would be great on a summer playlist, including “Nube Negra” and “Mensaje Codificado.”
feeble little horse - Girl With Fish
Okay… I had high hopes for this one, and it’s just not hitting for me, as a whole. I really love the pretty guitar parts on “Slide,” and I think I was expecting a little more of that elsewhere on the album? However, I do still like the album and thought it was worth a mention. This band (whose name I kind of irrationally hate??) is doing some really interesting shit that no one else in indie rock currently is.
Radiator Hospital - Can’t Make Any Promises
That’s a wrap on Short Reviews of Recent Albums #1. I’m hoping to be more active here in the near future—we’ll see how it pans out. These days, I think about writing quite often, but it’s rare that I have the mental space to do it (2023 truly has been the year from hell and a lot of my energy has been spent just trying to get through). So, I’ve been taking it slow when it comes to Good and Good For You, but it’s still very much alive—just semi-hibernating. Thanks for your patience and, as always, for being here.