K A G, Fly by The Dixie Chicks Self-Released
The funny thing about this track-for-track cover of The Dixie Chicks’ 10-times-platinum 1999 album is that if you removed singer Katie Alice Greer’s voice from these pummeling, charmingly hissy trappings and inserted it into a Nashville studio, she might actually sound like a Dixie Chick. The Priests singer banged out these renditions by herself in less than a week, singing and playing everything (except for, on two tracks, some extra guitar from Hothead, aka Laurie Spector). As it turns out, material and interpreter benefit from each other: We now know what The Dixie Chicks would’ve sounded like if their primary influence had been Pussy Galore or This Heat, and that Greer’s serrated, full-bodied wail may have always been a little bit country.
RiYL: Reassessing the songs of your youth.
Blacks’ Myths, S/T Atlantic Rhythms
Your favorite art-rock band wishes it had this rhythm section. The duo of Luke Stewart (bass) and Warren G. “Trae” Crudup III (drums) makes looping, gloomy instrumental explorations—maybe it’s jazz, maybe it’s ambient, maybe it’s both and more—that feel at once technical and soulful. You could read what you want into the sinister, strangely zen vibe, but with song titles like “Country Ghetto,” “Lower South,” and “Black Flight,” Crudup and Stewart clearly have race, geography, and their tense intertwining on their minds.
RiYL: Minimalist jazz. Jazzy minimalism.
The Caribbean, “Vitamin Ship”Self-released
This single from the long-running ex- perimental-pop band may have begun as a solution to a problem—what to do with “an insistent melody in the brain,” as the group puts it—but once the trio solved it, they decided to scramble the formula. “Vitamin Ship” opens with a sunny, Nuggets-y guitar riff, but it quickly moves into weirder waters, an astral gloop that the melody slowly accommodates itself to, like it’s succumbed to the oxygen deprivation coveted by elites in the song’s chorus. Like most Caribbean yarns, this one depicts a pocket universe you wouldn’t want to visit but which you’re happy to give some voyeuristic attention.
RiYL: Trips to the Star Trek mirror universe.
Mock Identity, ParadiseSelf-released
Resistance and defiance music, well-calibrated for our moment but smart, artful, and spritely enough that it’ll still sound fresh in the next one. The band—particularly guitarist Jeff Barsky—is twitchy but galloping, executing a mathy post-punk that carries frontperson Adriana-Lucia Cotes’ piercing meditations on our sexual and social politics like a missile. She’s a stunning singer in English, but the Spanish-language “Nación de Opresión”—about life under you-know-who—is the standout, a rallying cry in a week when you’re worried your country might not make it.
RiYL: A better America than the one we have right now.