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New Music Friday: Mitski, Ash, and the Pretenders Lead a Week of Welcome Returns

Source: Mega

Mitski, the Pretenders, and Corinne Bailey Rae are back with new music.

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Mitski, The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We

Five years after her fifth album, Be the Cowboy, brought Mitski the sort of intense fan adoration that is usually reserved for mainstream pop stars, and just a year after her divisive, putatively “final” LP Laurel Hell, the indie standard-bearer is back with the disarmingly warm, welcoming The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We. As spiky and challenging as her previous works could often be, the singer-songwriter’s melodic instincts have always been evident, and never before has she given her songs this much room to breathe, bringing country-style arrangements to lush, lovelorn lullabies like “My Love Mine All Mine” and “Bug Like an Angel.” - Andrew Barker

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Ash, Race the Night

Although their fame on this side of the pond has never even remotely reached the levels that they’ve achieved at home, it’s still always a blast to see a new album’s worth of material from this Northern Irish punk-pop band, especially since it’s been five years since their last full-length effort. Having teased the impending LP with songs like the title track and “Like a God,” it’s clear that the band’s sound hasn’t shifted dramatically in the intervening half-decade, and that’s not a bad thing. It only means that they’re just as melodic and filled with the same level of catchy, crunchy hooks as ever. -- Will Harris

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The Pretenders, Relentless

After 40-plus years in the music biz, Chrissy Hynde’s signature brand of razor sharp guitar buzz, coupled with her undulating purring on classics like "Precious," "Talk Of The Town" and "Middle of the Road,” are ingrained in the DNA of rock. The Pretenders’ newest album, Relentless, gives us a truckload of melodic rock and a swirl of nostalgia: pre-release single "Let The Sun Come In" chugs along with a dedicated guitar riff and Hynde's biting commentary on why her generation does not have to "fade to black.” On the other hand, the album's concluding track, "I Think About You Daily," is firmly ensconced on ballad terra firma. Clocking in at 6:25, it's the longest song on Relentless, featuring an other-worldly string arrangement from Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood that matches the tone. However, it's a surprising downward ending (perhaps intentionally so) to Relentless. -- Amy Hughes

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Corinne Bailey Rae, Black Rainbow

For anyone who still associated Corinne Bailey Rae exclusively with her 2006 megahit "Put Your Records On" (which is surely still playing at a Starbucks somewhere at this very moment), the opening chords of her June single "New York Transit Queen" likely came as a shock. An unholy amalgam of Toni Basil and Bikini Kill, the quick-and-dirty single seemed to indicate a dramatic new direction for the British singer. The surprises kept coming with the following single, "Peach Velvet Sky," a mournful six-minute piano ballad that is as delicate as its predecessor is brash. And those two curveballs were just an appetizer for the anything-goes stylistic diversity to be found on Black Rainbow, the singer's most adventurous album yet. -- AB


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