“Vol. II,” Watkins Family Hour (Family Hour Records)
Tom Petty’s pianist plays “Tennessee Waltz,” an Ernest Tubb classic rides a Bo Diddley beat, and a deep cut by the ’60s band the Zombies becomes a Disney-style lullaby.
Bella Poarch, “Dolls” (Warner Records)
In theory this should work. With her massive TikTok following, Bella Poarch clearly needed to strike while the iron is hot and release a studio EP. “Dolls” is that album.
NEW YORK (AP) — There's a moment in Post Malone’s new concert film when its star confesses to how surreal his life has become: “Sometimes I feel like I’m not a real person.”
Fans will get no clarity on that astounding statement after watching Amazon's “Post Malone: Runaway,” a limp, uninspiring 60 minutes of flash with no substance.
Calvin Harris' last star-studded funk album in 2017 sported several hits but left listeners wanting more. Now, the DJ from the UK has delivered a second volume, titled “Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 2," featuring even more tracks and big names, but bigger doesn’t always mean better.
“Cover to Cover,” The Brother Brothers (Compass Records)
Identical twins Adam and David Moss are easy to tell apart on their charming new album of cover tunes.
That’s usually David singing the high part, his gentle harmonies with Adam doing a distinctive dance that can only result from plenty of practice and shared genes.
"Renaissance," Beyoncé (Columbia Records)
Beyoncé has been reborn again; this time it’s on a shimmering dance floor.
But in her seventh studio album, "Renaissance," she has subverted the public's perception of her hitmaking history.
“Hold on Baby,” King Princess (Zelig Records/Columbia Records)
In “Hold on Baby,” King Princess’ second album, there’s something emotionally relatable for all her listeners. Mikaela Straus, the 23-year-old musician behind King Princess, had a viral breakout hit with “1950,” which has over 20 million views on YouTube.
“Surrender,” by Maggie Rogers (Capitol Records)
It's all there in the title. Do as Maggie Rogers asks. Give in to her.
The 12-track “Surrender” is the follow-up to “Heard It in a Past Life,” her 2019 debut album that announced a major talent.
“The Last Goodbye,” ODESZA (Ninja Tune)
EDM fans, hold on to your glow sticks and rave goggles – ODESZA is back and more experimental than ever. The duo of Harrison Mills and Clayton Knight released an immersive album Friday after four quiet years of speculation that the electronic magic-makers had disbanded or were done for good.
“Birds in the Ceiling” by John Moreland (Old Omens/Thirty Tigers)
John Moreland has more questions than answers these days, and he's OK with that.
On his new album, “Birds in the Ceiling," Moreland presses ahead in the gentle, thoughtful style that has distinguished the Oklahoma native from other Americana artists through six albums now.
“Special,” by Lizzo (Atlantic Records)
Singer and rapper Lizzo wasn’t kidding when she came out with the title for her latest album — it truly is a journey to get to your most “Special” self.
“Peculiar, Missouri,” Willi Carlisle (Free Dirt Records)
Coming from a queer, 6-foot-4, 300-pound former high school football captain who went on to sing Midwestern punk rock, pursue poetry in New York and then earn a fellowship to teach literature in the Ozarks, this album is what you’d expect: different.
“About Last Night...” Mabel (Capitol Records).
If you've ever sent a “So, about last night" text, Mabel's newest album is for you. A follow-up to the English singer's 2019 debut album, “About Last Night...” is a blend of disco, dance and pop that captures every emotion experienced during a cathartic night out.
“Petrichor,” Sam Reider (Slow & Steady)
Jazz pianist Sam Reider can sound reflective or restless, pensive or playful, sometimes in adjacent measures.
“Petrichor” is the solo debut album from Reider, who sings and plays accordion for the jazz-bluegrass group Human Hands.
“Formentera” Metric (Metric Music International)
Even Canadian rock stars are looking introspectively – and existentially – at their role and the meaning of it all in today’s seemingly crumbling world.
“Mercury — Act 2,” Imagine Dragons (Interscope)
If you were hiding under your bed after listening to the last album by Imagine Dragons, it's time to come out. The second volume of “Mercury” is upbeat, often Caribbean-spiced and throbbing.
“Life Is Yours,” Foals (Warner Records)
Indie-pop art rockers Foals gave us more than enough to process with their last offering. Now they seem to want us to dance. And dance we must.
The upbeat, very funky and always brilliantly layered, 11-track “Life Is Yours” captures a band between clouds, the perfect slice of summer fun.
“Dark Enough to See the Stars,” Mary Gauthier (Thirty Tigers)
Mary Gauthier’s weekly Sunday afternoon livestreams at the pandemic’s peak were a lot like church, with confessions, contemplations and a welcome spirit of communion.
“Cruel Country,” Wilco (dBpm Records)
Wilco goes country as only it can on “Cruel Country,” an immensely rich 21-track, roughly 80-minute deep dive into America that is a raw and engaging take on our tumultuous times.
Harry Styles, “Harry's House” (Columbia Records)
If the 13 tracks of Harry Styles’ third LP are the walls in which he lives, “Harry’s House” is a place of self-expression, happiness and healing.
Mavis Staples & Levon Helm, “Carry Me Home” (ANTI-Records)
Some efforts to bring musical legends together feel contrived, like they were cooked up for a between-albums payoff. Occasionally, though, when the convergence isn't calculated, the moment just needs to be preserved.
“Heart on My Sleeve” by Ella Mai (10 Summers/Interscope Records)
British singer, Ella Mai, is back with even more R&B bridges in her second album, “Heart on My Sleeve.”
While this album radiates Mai’s finger-snapping tracks and smooth melodies similar to her debut, it’s also more passionate and sung by someone who’s a little older and wiser.
“Back From the Dead” by Halestorm (Atlantic)
Lzzy Hale, the lead singer and guitarist for the heavy metal band Halestorm, is that rare breed of wild child whose path you cross at your own peril, and her aggressiveness soaks through her music.
“A Walk Around the Sun," Erika Lewis (Independent)
There's a sense of urgency in the lyrics of “A Walk Around the Sun," a hidden gem of a country-Americana project by a singer-songwriter known previously as the singer in a brassy French Quarter busker band called Tuba Skinny.
NEW YORK (AP) — When Broadway's revival of “Funny Girl” begins, star Beanie Feldstein sits in a Broadway dressing room, getting ready to go on. She wonders nervously to her assistant: "You ever feel like there’s someone watching from the shadows?"
“Paint This Town,” Old Crow Medicine Show (ATO Records)
Due to the group’s name, good-timey tempos and comically frantic vocals, Old Crow Medicine Show can be mistaken for a hee-hawing string band not to be taken seriously.
“First Generation American,” Elliah Heifetz (Self-released)
Singer-songwriter Elliah Heifetz’s debut album is a cheerful reminder Americana has roots in many countries.
Heifetz was raised on food stamps in Philadelphia as the son of Soviet political refugees, and his melting pot musical mix ranges from Eastern European folk and Yiddish theater to Jimmy Buffett and John Prine.
NEW YORK (AP) — The very setting of Neil Simon’s “Plaza Suite” is under threat, right from the opening scene.
The mighty Plaza Hotel — an elegant castle overlooking Central Park — has a date with the wrecking ball.
NEW YORK (AP) — The new, splashy Broadway musical about Michael Jackson is going to moonwalk across America next year.
“MJ,” packed with dozens of songs by the King of Pop and others, plans to hit 17 major cities over two years starting in 2023.
“Jacob’s Ladder,” Brad Mehldau (Nonesuch Records)
Brad Mehldau’s new album includes a cover of the Rush song “Tom Sawyer,” which brings to mind Mark Twain, which brings to mind a quote attributed to Twain regarding the music of Mahler: “It’s better than it sounds.”
“Get It!,” Rick Holmstrom (LuEllie Records)
Guitarist Rick Holmstrom’s new album is an all-instrumental collection of toe-tappers, thigh-slappers and finger-snappers. There’s an irresistible backbeat, and the mood is upbeat.
"Love Sux” Avril Lavigne (DTA Records)
Avril Lavigne is known for being a pillar of pop-punk in the early 2000s, who paved her own path in the male dominated alt-rock world. It’s been almost 20 years since her debut album “Let Go,” was released in the summer of 2002.
“Radio Waves,” Joan Osborne (Womanly Hips Records)
Homebound during the pandemic, Joan Osborne began combing through dusty shoeboxes in her closets, and what she found was still fashionable, because good music never goes out of style.
“Manticore,” Shovels & Rope (Dualtone Music)
Fans of Shovels, Rope or both need not be alarmed by “Divide & Conquer,” a wrenching breakup song on the new album “Manticore.” It’s compelling but fictional, and happily, Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst are still going strong as husband and wife and Shovels & Rope.
“PREY//IV," Alice Glass (Eating Glass Records)
Alice Glass is the blueprint for hyperpop — the new music genre loved by Gen Z and trending on TikTok. In her long-awaited solo full-length album, “PREY//IV,” the queen of electro-punk is back and asking, “Where would you be without me?"
NEW YORK (AP) — Hugh Jackman is playing one of musical theater's greatest con men on Broadway these days but he's not fooling anyone: He's the real deal.
As Harold Hill in a glorious and exuberant new revival of “The Music Man,” Jackman is like a coiled spring, effortlessly leaping onto desks, two-stepping with kids, tossing books into the air and pounding out a rhythm on his thighs.
“Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You,” Big Thief (4AD)
Brooklyn-based indie rock band Big Thief seems to draw from a bottomless well of creativity. After releasing two records in 2019, the band’s fifth LP, “Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You,” is a sprawling 20-track double album.
NEW YORK (AP) — The new, splashy Broadway musical about Michael Jackson begins with the King of Pop plotting an ambitious tour to reclaim his throne. He's facing financial ruin, swirling rumors and an addiction to pain pills.
“And Now Let’s Turn to Page…” Brent Cobb (Ol’ Buddy Records)
Brent Cobb’s discography tells a story — and with his first gospel album “And Now Let’s Turn to Page…” the country singer’s narrative takes a turn toward the spiritual.
“Set Sail,” North Mississippi Allstars (New West Records)
It takes hard work to sound this relaxed.
The North Mississippi Allstars have mastered their métier and pin the meter on “Set Sail.” The 10 tunes from brothers Luther and Cody Dickinson and their casual collective are loose but tight, playful and joyful, high-flying but grounded in a groove.
Ryan Culwell, “Run Like a Bull" (Missing Piece Records)
Ryan Culwell is as Texan as an El Camino with a rusty tailgate. His Panhandle roots infuse everything he does.
That's as true as ever on Culwell's new album, “Run Like a Bull," the Americana singer-songwriter's third LP.
“Olly Olly,” Penny and Sparrow (I Love You / Thirty Tigers)
In the first few unassuming bars of Penny and Sparrow’s new album, “Olly Olly,” it is not immediately apparent that this collection of songs signifies a shift for duo Andy Baxter and Kyle Jahnke.
“Ghost Stories,” The Whitmore Sisters (Red House Records)
Sibling harmony can be a contradiction in terms.
It also makes for lovely music, and that’s the case here.
“BRIGHTSIDE,” The Lumineers (Dualtone Records)
It will be hard for The Lumineers to top their immersive 2019 masterpiece “III” — a three-part concept album and accompanying short film exploring the cycle of addiction through generations.
“Delta Man,” Bobby Allison and Gerry Spehar (Independent)
The new album by longtime songwriting collaborators Bobby Allison and Gerry Spehar includes an exuberant self-assessment on “Bubba Billy Boom Boom & Me,” a tune as entertaining as its title.
Jamestown Revival, “Young Man" (Thirty Tigers)
The list of really good Americana roadhouse bands that have emerged from the Texas music scene over the years is a long one. The list of those that distinguished themselves by doing something fresh and original, not so much.
“Dawn FM,” The Weeknd (XO/Republic Records)
Since releasing “After Hours” in March 2020, The Weeknd has, like the rest of the world, lived through an isolating pandemic. His latest album, “Dawn FM,” carries listeners out of that darkness into a dance-worthy '80s fantasy.
“KEYS,” Alicia Keys (RCA Records)
In Alicia Keys' latest album, the R&B artist gives us an inside look at the duality of her creative process. With her album titled “KEYS”, the 15-time Grammy-winning artist breaks down her album into two versions giving listeners the chance to take in her classical side with “Original” and the more upbeat songs on “Unlocked” featuring producer Mike Will Made-It.
“Barn,” Neil Young & Crazy Horse (Reprise Records)
Ever wonder what Neil Young and his longtime bandmates Crazy Horse would sound like in a restored 19th century barn out in the middle of nowhere under a full moon?