It’s hard to believe it’s been two decades since the Dears released debut album End Of A Hollywood Bedtime Story. The revolving-cast, Montreal-based outfit—led by husband/wife duo Murray Lightburn and Natalia Yanchak—hasn’t disappointed in the 20 years that have followed, and the winning streak continues with Lovers Rock (Dangerbird). As 2003’s excellent No Cities Left was ideal listening in the unsettled post-September 11 world, the new LP feels like it just was made for these times.
If and when we ever grow up, we want to be Scott McCaughey. For the past four decades, this Amerindie treasure has collaborated with all those listed above. And many more. McCaughey suffered a life-threatening stroke in 2017 and came back with the Minus 5’s Stroke Manor—possibly his best work to date—two years later. His most recent release is the No Ones’ The Great Lost No Ones Album (Yep Roc), which teams McCaughey up yet again with his pal Peter Buck, along with Frode Strømstad (I Was A King) and Arne Kjelsrud Mathisen (Heroes & Zeros).
Cute band alert! In case you hadn’t already noticed, Diet Cig is the cutest band ever. And Do You Wonder About Me? (Frenchkiss), the second album from guitarist/vocalist Alex Luciano and drummer Noah Bowman, is further proof that musically, this Richmond, Va., pop/punk twosome is the real deal. Diet Cig will being touring this fall in support of Do You Wonder About Me?, and since you’ll be desperate for a really fun night out by then, you don’t want to miss them.
Quickies (Nonesuch)—out now digitally and on vinyl, with a CD release June 19—is the 12th album from the Magnetic Fields. As you might guess from the title, the often-theme-driven Stephin Merritt made a record consisting of very short songs—28 of them, in fact, ranging from 13 seconds to two-and-a-half minutes. The Magnetic Fields will play residencies at City Winery in seven U.S. cities starting in January.
Moby and Sigur Rós aren’t the only MAGNET-friendly musicians soothing Calm users these days. For the past month, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith’s latest, The Mosaic Of Transformation (Ghostly), has been helping those of us embracing mindfulness via the ultra-popular meditation/sleep app. The eighth album from this L.A.-based synth composer is, on many different levels, electric, exploring the relationship between musical and physical movements, culminating in epic, 10-and-a-half-minute closer “Expanding Electricity.”