Did ya miss us? Here at Paste, we have a heavy release load to work with as we keep up with what’s new to inform our wonderful readers. However, we can’t get to everything. Sometimes we want to curl up with our favorite album from high school, or there’s that one band we’ve been talking everyone’s ear off about. Today we resurrect the beloved Staff Picks column to shine a light on our musical obsessions, regardless of form, era or genre. Enjoy some of the Paste staff’s favorite music of the week, and maybe you’ll find something to take with you.
Nine Inch Nails: “Survivalism (Saul Williams Remix)”
I am a simple woman. I sit back on the couch with my crochet projects while blasting Nine Inch Nails as I wait for my seventh Grubhub order of the week. Revisiting Nine Inch Nails’ overlooked ‘00s releases is a treat, especially 2007’s Y34RZ3R0R3M1X3D, which features reworked tracks from Year Zero. The songs are endlessly malleable, with rapper Saul Williams expanding upon his backing vocals on “Survivalism” to create a glitched-out, dystopian hip-hop anthem. The remix laid out the groundwork for Williams’ brilliant Trent Reznor-produced album The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of NiggyTardust!, showing how well Williams’ poetic cadence mixes with Reznor’s brooding soundscapes. —Jade Gomez
I’ve been circling back to a classic this week in 1991’s Screamadelica, which has been a particularly prominent point of influence lately. The most high-profile Primal Scream standard-bearer of the moment is Lorde, whose road to Solar Power was paved with uncharacteristic singles and confusion. Parquet Courts also cited the album as an influence on their forthcoming Sympathy for Life, even going so far as to emulate its self-sampling-centric approach, starting with jams they then constructed into the record we’ll hear in October. For me, Screamadelica scratches the same dance music itch as acts like Caribou, Bibio or Groove Armada, chopping and looping organic instrumentation to make songs that have the unnatural slickness of electronica, but with the human warmth of rock, pop and world music. It’s a great writing record that can fully entrance you just effectively as it can ease into the background, roiling water under the bridge of your thoughts. —Scott Russell
If you’re looking for a grim narrator for these times, you really can’t do much better than Scott Walker. If you’re looking for an album full of long sections of silence, tortured characters, and fart sound effects, you can’t do much better than Bisch Bosch. The legendary composer and songwriter’s final album is a sonic manifesto that challenges his own previous work, as well as the conventions of traditional musicality. Littered with historical, mythological and pop culture references, Walker’s crooning baritone charts the path of Attila the Hun’s hopeless court jester on “SDSS14 + 13B (Zercon, A Flagpole Sitter” and points out biblical contributions on “Tar.” The emphatic string orchestral arrangements that defined his earlier work aren’t absent, but mangled, re-contextualized, and accentuated by elements of harsh noise and blaring rock influence. It’s hard to imagine a greater statement for the artist to have left his career on, marking him as a perpetual influence in the world of experimental music. —Jason Friedman
FX’s Reservation Dogs hasn’t just been one of the freshest and funniest things I’ve seen all year, the show’s also been a push to revisit the films of Sterlin Harjo and dig deeper into some of the Indigenous artists featured on its soundtrack. The Halluci Nation’s “R.E.D.” has a nasty electronic beat enhanced by the traditional vocals of Black Bear and Yasiin Bey’s methodical funny-sharp lyricism (“I’m out they corny riot garments, top-5 Dylan-in’ on ‘em / Superfly Snuka top rope, eagle diving on ‘em”). When Narcy blazes in on his feature … it’s all over. The show also highlights StenJoddi’s “ReZdReamZ,” but even better than the rapper’s twangy, aspirational song is a track from his 2016 album The 7th Generation Prophecy. “Red Revolution” samples clips of John Lennon talking to Dick Cavett about injustices perpetrated towards Native Americans before ripping into the album’s best beat and Thomas X’s growled baritone bars. It’s pissed and energetic, and just a few songs later, you can find “One Ride,” which features the smoky flows of Reservation Dogs’ Lil Mike and Funny Bone. —Jacob Oller
I’ve listened a few times this week to a preview stream of the forthcoming live album from Auckland indie-pop powerhouses The Beths, Auckland, New Zealand, 2020, which lands Sept. 17 in the U.S. on Carpark Records. The recording catches the band at their bubbly best, playing a comforting hometown show during the middle of the pandemic after having to cancel international touring in support of their sparkling 2020 sophomore album Jump Rope Gazers for obvious reasons. Hope for the future radiates from the live recording, as band members sum up the highs of their career to date while taking the occasional aside to address the crowd on important topics like the game of cricket or New Zealand’s native birds. There actually do sound like some nerves as well, as tracks like opener “I’m Not Getting Excited” feel like the band’s pace is galloping so far ahead of singer Elizabeth Stokes that she sounds like she’s having a hard time keeping up. The Beths settle quickly around Stokes as their rock-solid and endearing centerpiece, however, delivering beautiful versions of both up-tempo Future Me Hates Me classics like “Whatever,” or Jump Rope Gazers standouts like “Mars (The God of War).” In particular, the title track of their sophomore album plays like a majestic, swooning indie anthem in the live setting, making me excited to hear it live for the first time when the band kicks off their U.S. tour in support of the live album in January. —Jim Vorel
I Am Here for a Moment is a misnomer. Gardener’s new album is yawning and endless, like when you’re floating in a pool and lose all track of time. Dash Lewis’ minimalist synth washes might fade in and out and have specific run times listed next to them on Bandcamp or Spotify, but it feels less like they stop and start and more like they’re always there, always in the atmosphere, ready for you to dial into them at any point, but otherwise totally ambivalent about your existence. Pushing play on I Am Here for a Moment is like opening the door to La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela’s Dream House. Lewis’ warm, soothing, tuneful soundscapes create a prolonged, suspended state of euphoria you’ll want to immerse yourself in. —Garrett Martin