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Rostam Batmanglij is just trying to make a great album—one that's truly his. Until now he's spent his career collaborating, doing a stint with the Dirty Projectors a decade and a half before bandleader David Longstreth turned the project into a personal journal entry. From there he co-founded Vampire Weekend, played on the band's seminal Contra and helped produce Modern Vampires in the City, released some stellar solo tracks, and helmed songs for Charli XCX, Carly Rae Jepsen, Haim, and Frank fucking Ocean. With the release of his solo debut, Half-Light, he's trying to show the world what these collaborators already know: that Rostam might be a pop genius.
— Will Schube, Rostam Might Be a Pop Genius
Deer Tick: Vol. 1 & Vol. 2
It's been four years, by far their longest break between releases, since Deer Tick released Negativity, their fifth and latest in a catalogue that has consistently blended lovelorn, country-inflected folk with rowdy barroom punk. It was arguably the band's "grown up" album: it added tighter songwriting and 70s-inspired arrangements and the press cycle mainly dealt with McCauley overcoming his issues with drinking and drugs. But with Deer Tick's sixth and seventh albums, the acoustic Deer Tick Vol. 1 and the electric Deer Tick Vol. 2, it's the first time in the band's history each member is settled down, married, and not getting fucked up every night. Because of that, it's also the Deer Tick's most optimistic effort yet, a masterclass in newfound maturity not losing what made the band so likeable in the first place.
— Josh Terry, Deer Tick Survives, Somehow
Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton: Choir of the Mind
Memory and one's harmony (or struggle) with it make up a significant thematic part of Haines' latest album, Choir of the Mind, out later this week. After an 11 year break from her solo project, Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton, Haines returns with an elegant, at times harrowing, record;that tackles the internal work one faces as they grow-up. The part about "adulting" that people never focus on when they use that godawful word is existential excavation is truly at the heart of it all, not just self-congratulations because you finally learned how to iron a shirt. For Haines, her continued growth, especially when working on this album, was coming to terms with remembrance and her own stories. "On this record, I had this completely different sense of how I felt about [memory]. Instead of feeling trapped by it, I felt like this was where all the good stuff is," she says, as we sit in the cozy Giant studio, operated by her Metric bandmate Jimmy Shaw, where she wrote and recorded Choir of the Mind. "I have access to those memories and places and I'm still here in the present but I have all of those layers."
— Sarah Macdonald, Metric's Emily Haines Frees Her Ghosts
Benjamin Clementine: I Tell a Fly
The material for I Tell A Fly came quickly and cohesively once he began working, and soon he was composing in his head a loose conceptual play or, dare I say it, opera. Certainly from the delicate musical spider's web of opener "Farewell Alien" through to the valedictory "Ave Dreamer", there are ideas as mad as contemporary opera and tunes as whistleable as those of Puccini. I Tell A Fly is artsy, ostentatious and often abstruse, with themes of duality and splashes of political commentary, it arrives at a time when David Lynch's third season of Twin Peaks is America's most lauded show (and comparisons between the two certainly wouldn't be wide of the mark).
— Jeremy Allen, Benjamin Clementine: A Rolling Stone Gathering Moss
Foo Fighters: Concrete and Gold
The ninth studio album from Dave Grohl's band of cool dad-age rock dudes has a political edge. "It happened at the perfect time," he told Rolling Stone. "I was inspired by what was going on with our country—politically, personally, as a father, an American and a musician. There was a lot to write about." Great! But the most important thing here is that he's been drinking whiskey in a parking lot with Justin Timberlake and, when Timberlake asked to sing backing vocals on Concrete and Gold, Grohl obliged.
Open Mike Eagle: Brick Body Kids Still Daydream
Alt-rap icon Open Mike Eagle's latest project is a tribute to the Robert Taylor Homes, a housing project on Chicago's South Side that was demolished in 2007. Michael W. Eagle II uses that as a foundation to talk about America in 2017 in all of its harrowing surreality. Features come from Sammus and Has-Lo. You can listen to Open Mike Eagle discuss the record on this week's episode of Noisey Radio on Beats 1, too.
Michael McDonald: Wide Open
"The impetus on us as a humanity is that we have to really redefine freedom all the time and raise the bar of what freedom is so we can actually get around to knowing what love is. Because religion, governance, occupations do a really good job of killing the possibility that we'll really understand the primary job of being human, which is to experience love."
— Michael McDonald, speaking to Andrea Domanick, A Smooth Conversation with Michael McDonald
The Cool Kids: Special Edition Grand Master Deluxe
Six years after releasing their debut, When Fish Ride Bicycles, The Cool Kids return with their second LP. As Hannibal Buress reminds us on the introduction to "The Moonlanding,"they're still cool. Sir Michael Rocks and Chuck Inglish have brought in Syd, Travis Barker, and Jeremih on Special Edition Grand Master Deluxe, and it's fun as hell.
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