The Strokes

The New Abnormal

(Sony)

The Strokes have just released the best album—of 1982, that is. Though I’m not complaining, the adage “everything old is new again” certainly applies here. The New Abnormal sounds like it should be played on rock and pop radio between classics by Modern English, Thompson Twins, A Flock of Seagulls, and The Psychedelic Furs. The Strokes’ sixth studio record, and first since 2013, was produced by Rick Rubin and features previously released tracks “Bad Decisions,” “At the Door,” and seven additional new songs. A fun listen throughout, it will take older listeners on a trip back in time when new wave was the rage and MTV was in its infancy and actually played music videos.

Pearl Jam

Gigaton

(Monkeywrench/Virgin EMI)

An album that more than lives up to its pre-release hype, Gigaton contains some of Pearl Jam’s catchiest songs in decades. The aggressive “Superblood Wolfmoon,” “Seven O’Clock,” and “Retrograde” all have radio-hit potential. Sure, the album’s title refers to the amount of ice lost at the artic poles and predictably, its lyrics are an urgent, call-to-arms about climate change and the Trump regime. During these uncertain times, however, these words are strikingly poignant and on target. Most impressive about this album is its uncharacteristic songs. “Buckle Up” has a country-tinged gallop, and the ‘80s alternative pop-influenced “Dance of the Clairvoyants” sounds like the band jamming with Depeche Mode! During the pandemic, too many quality records have been criminally ignored. Hopefully, Gigaton won’t suffer a similar fate. Maybe it will break through and help kick off an explosive, virus-free summer.

Morrissey

I Am Not a Dog on a Chain

(BMG)

Yes, Morrissey has aged into a curmudgeon. His recent politically incorrect comments have alienated a lot of people, including some of his ardent, long-time fans. Although inappropriate, I compare his cantankerous rantings to that of an elderly man yelling at neighborhood kids to get off his lawn. So, instead of turning our collective backs to, and noses up at Moz, let’s embrace him and appreciate that we still have him. Especially when he is capable of creating an album that some may eventually mistake for a latter-day greatest hits collection. Yes, the blunt, “in your face” I Am Not a Dog on a Chain is his best work in decades. Working again with long-time collaborator Joe Chiccarelli, Moz delves into all his musical sides. From the ‘80s alternative pop of “Jim Jim Falls” to the trademark Morrissey melancholy of “Love is on Its Way Out,” there seems to be a potential hit at every turn. And the soulful “Bobby, Don’t You Think They Know?” is quickly becoming my favorite Morrissey solo recording. Lyrically, Moz remains stubborn and steadfast in his ways, taking occasional swipes at his critics and the media, especially on the hysterically indignant, but infectiously catchy title track. While “Knockabout World” is Moz confronting himself in the mirror over his recent controversy, “What Kind of People Live in These Houses” could have easily lived on a Smiths’ album. Now what could be more appetizing than that? 

Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real

Naked Garden

(Fantasy)

Why isn’t Lukas Nelson a bigger star? He has all the tools: good looks and more musical talent than anyone deserves. And his voice bears an uncanny resemblance to his father, the iconic Willie Nelson. Yet, he and his cohorts seems to be better known as Neil Young’s sometime backing band. Hopefully, that will soon change. Although Naked Garden is an odds and ends collection of alternate takes and previously unreleased tracks from the band’s 2019 Turn Off The News (Build A Garden) recording sessions, it packs more than enough of a punch to stand on its own. Mixing influences, Nelson & Promise of the Real have created their own unique blend of Southern California country rock and folk. The disc’s epic opener “Entirely Different Stars” is destined to become the band’s signature live encore, while “Couldn’t Break Your Heart” and “Movie in My Mind” would have found a home on most artists’ regular releases. While much of today’s new music is passionless, dull, and basic retreads of old ideas, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real’s Naked Garden is a refreshing breath of promising musical air.

Dinosaur Eyelids

Sticker Famous

(Dinosaur Eyelids)

Will their sixth release be the charm for New Brunswick’s Dinosaur Eyelids? They certainly deserve it. Dinosaur Eyelids continue to play a brash brand of do-it-yourself indie rock that has been compared to everyone from Nirvana, Blind Melon, Soundgarden, The Pixies, Mudhoney, and Neil Young. In other words, this pure rock ‘n’ roll band is original. Check out such Sticker Famous tracks as “Shake,” “Nogward Spiral,” and the not safe to broadcast at work “Shot to Shit” for proof. The album is available now at Spotify, Bandcamp and similar streaming platforms.

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