Searching for something to listen to this weekend? Yahoo Music has you covered with a rundown of some of this week’s biggest and buzzing releases, including Sheryl Crow, Ray Davies, Brad Paisley, and more. Check back every Friday for a fresh list of albums to help fuel your weekend playlists.
Sheryl Crow: Be Myself (Warner). Fans of Crow’s music tend to gravitate toward her thoughtful yet candid approach (plus, her knack for picking deceptively simple but catchy singles doesn’t hurt either). On her ninth album, she doesn’t disappoint, returning to her rock roots after forays into the country realm. Crow adds a bit of snarl and swagger to her latest brew, a welcome touch that is just enough and not too much.
Ray Davies: Americana (Legacy Recordings). Davies, who is, of course, the legendary former frontman of the Kinks, returns with his first new solo material in nearly a decade. As the title suggests, Davies focuses on his five decades living in America, spotlighting with a wry wit both the uniqueness and blandness of the nation. Also peppered throughout are spoken-word readings from his 2013 memoir of the same name, and he’s backed fittingly by a beloved band of the Americana genre — the Jayhawks.
Brad Paisley: Love and War (Arista Nashville). In a town brimming with accomplished musicians, Nashville’s Paisley manages to stand out, as both a stunningly competent guitarist and a master of various moods ranging from wry wit to heartfelt confession. He diverts considerably from his usual strength, humor, on this album, but his rock-solid musicianship holds strong. He’s also helped along by a few dazzling guests, namely big surprise Sir Mick Jagger and the less surprising but exceedingly formidable John Fogerty.
Barry Manilow: This Is My Town: Songs of New York (Verve). Manilow, a New York native, decided to pay homage to his beloved hometown by putting together a collection of songs spanning various genres — pop, jazz, rock, R&B, and Broadway — with the result being as diverse as NYC itself. A highlight is a virtual duet, “The Brooklyn Bridge,” with the late Mel Torme.
Big Star: Thank You, Friends: Big Star’s Third Live and More (Concord Bicycle Music). The collective Big Star’s Third, featuring members of legendary influencers Big Star, the Posies, R.E.M., Semisonic, Wilco, the dB’s, Let’s Active, the Old Ceremony, and Yo La Tengo — along with Kronos Quartet, Skylar Gudasz, Brett Harris, Robyn Hitchcock, and Jessica Pratt — was filmed during one of their 2016 shows in California for a special documentary detailing Alex Chilton and company’s legacy. The resulting soundtrack shows off just how brilliant ’70s powerpop was and could be.
Robin Hitchcock: Robin Hitchcock (Yep Roc). Hitchcock has officially made Nashville home, and he recorded his first full-band studio album since 2008 in town with the Raconteurs’ Brendan Benson. Here, he utilizes a psych-rock vibe that hearkens back to his days with the Soft Boys; he also employs some weighty guest appearances from artists such as Grant-Lee Phillips, Gillian Welch, and Pat Sansone.
Maxïmo Park: Risk to Exist (Daylighting/Cooking Vinyl). On their sixth album, indie rockers Maxïmo Park attempt to mix protest — with requisite descriptions of the grit of current world affairs — and cleanly presented ’80s-ish funk and disco. The results are, predictably, a bit manic, but overall the band executes confidence in their brew.
Incubus: 8 (Island). It’s not too hard to figure out that this is the eighth album by Southern California rockers Incubus. On it, frontman Brandon Boyd works out the frustration of a long-term love relationship’s demise, resulting in an understandably tense — but consistent — overall feel. For the most part the set sticks to straight-ahead rock; however, an unexpected and fun turn comes from a song mixed and twisted around by none other than DJ Skrillex.
Procol Harum: Novum (Eagle). Well known for their brilliant debut single, “A Whiter Shade Of Pale,” Procol Harum went on to help define progressive rock in the early ’70s and beyond. This, their first album in 14 years, also marks their 50th anniversary in the business, and shows off yet more of the band’s signature thoughtful — and thought-provoking — lyrical and musical directions.
Ron Sexsmith: The Last Rider (Compass). Sexsmith has always been lauded as a master songwriter/storyteller, a talent that is well held up by his catalog of a dozen fine releases. This, his latest, continues to show off his craft, taking the listener on a journey of 15 songs chronicling a simple, truthful approach to various emotional highs and lows.
Steps: Tears on the Dancefloor (Steps Music LLC). Celebrating their 20th anniversary with a bang, British dance-pop group Steps releases their first album in five years — which features songwriting from some of pop’s biggest names, including ABBA’s Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus. If you want to get down, this is exactly the solid dance record you need.
Imelda May: Life Love Flesh Blood (Decca). May has noted that this album is, simply, “the story of my life,” which is quite a statement. However, the set holds up to that weighty challenge by being the most autobiographical she’s released; it’s also wildly diverse stylistically and makes a bold splash with appearances from Jeff Beck and Jools Holland.
Junkyard: High Water (Acetate). Junkyard built its reputation splashing out in metal-soaked late ’80s Hollywood, but after releasing a major-label debut in 1989, the band faded away from the limelight except to play occasional shows. They’ve since engineered a reunion (along with subsequent reunion tours), which has garnered much attention, resulting in their first new album in 26 years. The sound is not merely ’80s rock revivalist — it has more of a punk edge than might be expected, and it calls to mind the live shows that put them on the map to begin with.
Texas: Jump on Board (Liberator Music/BMG Rights Management). Scottish band Texas has always had a knack for a catchy tune, and on their ninth album, they utilize this talent — albeit with no surprises. This is a straight-ahead, well-executed collection of exactly what has made the band popular so many years running.