Jimmy Buffett, Equal Strain on All Parts
It’s well-documented at this point that everyone’s favorite beach-bum singer-songwriter knew he wasn’t terribly long for this world when he entered the studio to record this album, and when the single “Bubbles Up” was released only a few days after his death, it was such a strong, poignant tune that fans immediately started champing at the bit to hear what Jimmy had cooked up in his final weeks. Featuring a plethora of guests, including Paul McCartney, Emmylou Harris, Angelique Kidjo, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Will Kimbrough, and Lennie Gallant, all reports indicate that it’s a final chapter that will prove melancholy, yes, but ultimately extremely satisfying. — Will Harris
Semisonic, Little Bit of Sun
The return of Dan Wilson, John Munson and Jacob Slichter – collectively and formally known as Semisonic — brings with it a welcome breath of joyful togetherness. Little Bit of Sun, their fourth studio album (and the first in 22 years), showcases the spirited delivery and canny storytelling that frontperson/songwriter Wilson is known for. “The Rope” has all the chonky guitar riffs and driving rhythms you need, and yet the narrative is slyly sardonic. If you’re looking for a little bit of nostalgia, a little bit of smart pop, A Little Bit of Sun is right around the corner. — Amy Hughes
Micky Dolenz, Dolenz Sings R.E.M.
As the last Monkee standing, it’s unlikely that our man Micky is going to doing anything other than release albums on his own, but if there’s one thing he’s proven with his occasional solo career over the years, it’s that he has limited interest in writing original material, instead preferring the fun and/or challenge of interpreting other artists’ material. In 2021, he recorded an entire LP of Michael Nesmith songs, which makes perfect sense, what with Nesmith having been his former bandmate, but to follow that with an EP of R.E.M. covers? We definitely didn’t see that coming, but nor are we complaining about it. Micky’s take on “Shiny Happy People” changed the arrangement in such a way that it made the song his own, and we anticipate that something similar will take place on these other three tracks from the back’s back catalog. — W.H.
Drop Nineteens, Hard Light
What does a band sound like that had their highest high 30 years ago and then disappeared? Drop Nineteens have come back and answered that by way of Hard Light. Coming from a music era labeled ‘shoegaze’ may not resonate for listeners who weren’t even born when the band had Radiohead opening for them. A celestial blend of whooshing guitars and the burr-like vocals of frontperson Greg Ackell and guitarist Paula Kelley have not diminished in the years since their acclaimed debut Delaware in 1992. Dreamy layers of guitars and Ackell’s and Kelley’s vocals introduce the title track. If you consider this a second debut intro or a spiritual cousin coming to visit, Hard Light will have done its job admirably. — A.H.
Lol Tolhurst x Budgie x Jacknife Lee, Los Angeles
What do you get when you team the drummer for The Cure (Lol Tulhurst) with the drummer for Siouxsie and the Banshees (Budgie), put them in a studio with producer Jackknife Lee, and hit “record”? Well, apparently you get this album, but only after you also throw a whole bunch of guest stars into the mix, including U2’s The Edge, Primal Scream’s Bobby Gillespie, and James Murphy from LCD Soundsystem. With a lineup like that, it’s hard not to be intrigued even before you’ve heard a single note of the music, but once you’ve heard it, it’s appropriate to ramp up the excitement even more. — W.H.