Gillian Welch’s partner delivers a sophomore jewel.
Recorded on analogue tape, Dave Rawlings Machine’s Nashville Obsolete blends timeless tones with classic songwriting that’s both familiar and surprising. Rawlings’ guitar work shines (especially in 11-minute-long epic “The Trip”), but his uncanny chemistry with Welch best exemplifies why they received a Lifetime Songwriting Achievement Award at the 2015 Americana Music Association Awards. –Eric Shea
Psychedelic threnodies and dismal euphonies.
On their third album, Windhand expand even further on the lumbering dirge-doom of their debut, crafting a songsuite of lysergic heaviness that often sounds more like a heavier, slower, female-fronted Alice In Chains. The molten metal of Grief’s Infernal Flower flows hypnotically beneath Dorthia Cottrell’s haunting croon, conjuring up a bewitching doom metal otherworld. –Andee Connors
French producer Onra pimps his beats combining hip hop and slow jams.
‘80s drum machines layered with synths creates a bed for Black Milk, Daz Dillinger and Do Or Die to lay rhymes on. Say goodnight as “Love Tip,” “Vibe With U” and “Like You Miss Me” twinkle in your head. On Fundamentals, Onra masters fusing the past and future. –J Boogie
Ladrona que roba ladrón.
Carla Morrison is a sensual lady. It’s a sensuality that transmits with stark clarity in her music. Her skill lies in an innate ability to express female sexuality and desire in an honest, forthcoming and wholly beautiful way. Tantalizing with the anticipation of what’s lies ahead, Un Beso is the first glimpse of her latest work. –Marcos Juarez
In this follow-up to 2013 album Home Game, comedian/actor Davis jokes about his youthful good looks, interracial dating and all the ways a college education is a scam. Davis’ tight writing and engaging delivery on his sophomore release flag this NYC comic as one to watch. –Kelly Anneken
CHVRCHES shine with renewed clarity.
When they emerged back in 2012, many lumped Scottish trio CHVRCHES in with the darkwave trend. But on their thrilling sophomore album Every Open Eye, they’re more straightforward and confident. Precise, major-chord synth melodies recall the best of Yaz, and singer Lauren Mayberry’s voice rings triumphant: “Bury it, and rise above!” –Party Ben
Tousle-haired troubadour sings Taylor Swift through an Americana filter.
Back in 2001, Mark Kozelek reinterpreted Bon Scott era AC/DC on What’s Next To The Moon before his band Sun Kil Moon reinvented Modest Mouse songs on 2005’s Tiny Cities. Somewhat similarly, Ryan Adams covered Taylor Swift’s album 1989, shoehorning her post-adolescent pop lyrics into his signature style of radio-friendly roots-rock. –Eric Shea