Ghosts Of West Virginia (New West) is the 20th studio album from two-time MAGNET cover star Steve Earle. Like many of his best LPs, it has a theme, in this case, the coal-mine explosion that killed 29 workers a decade ago in the Mountain State. Seven of its 10 songs were written for and performed in Coal Country, a play about the disaster that was staged at NYC’s Public Theater and that earned Earle a Drama Desk Award nomination.
With Temple (Ribbon), Thao & The Get Down Stay Down continues its streak of must-hear records that are as sonically adventurous as they are deeply personal. But on album number five, Thao Nguyen ups the ante, not only producing the groove-heavy Temple herself (with help from longtime collaborator Adam Thompson, who co-wrote five songs) but also coming out publicly as queer.
Jon Langford is a living legend. His work with the Mekons over the past four-and-a-half decades is not only staggering in its longevity but also in its consistent quality. Aside from his solo career, the Britain-born, Chicago-based Langford fronts Skull Orchard and the Waco Brothers, whose latest is Resist! (a vinyl-only LP on Bloodshot that compiles their political anthems from the past 25 years). Langford also has a series of singles coming out this year on the Tiny Global label.
Not even a pandemic can slow Jesse Malin down. Still riding high on last year’s critically acclaimed, Lucinda Williams-co-produced Sunset Kids, the perpetually youthful-looking New Yorker has been hosting The Fine Art Of Self-Distancing livestream every Saturday from his East Village apartment. He’s currently finishing new album Lust For Love, due out later this year and also co-produced by Williams.
Ride’s This Is Not A Safe Place is so nice, they released it twice. The album, the British quartet’s second since reforming in 2014, initially came out last year and has now received a stunning remix/reimagining treatment courtesy of Pêtr Aleksänder: Tom Hobden (Noah And The Whale) and producer Eliot James (Two Door Cinema Club, Kaiser Chiefs). Clouds In The Mirror (Wichita) is further proof the music that Ride—Andy Bell, Mark Gardener, Laurence Colbert and Steve Queralt—is creating now is just as vital as the landmark recordings these Oxford shoegazers made three decades ago.