Music News: Maggie Rogers, Sharon Van Etten, Alice Merton lead new releases

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Maggie Rogers portrait at The Current
Maggie Rogers poses for a portrait at The Current. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
Maggie Rogers, Sharon Van Etten, Alice Merton lead new releases
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There are a bumper crop of new releases this week! Jay and Jade spotlight new music from Maggie Rogers, Sharon Van Etten, Alice Merton, Toro y Moi, James Blake, and Deerhunter. Plus, a tribute to the late Germs bassist Lorna Doom.

This week's new releases

Alice Merton, Mint

Where is Alice Merton from? There's a reason her breakout single was called "No Roots": she's only 25, and she's already lived in New York, London, Berlin, Ontario, Munich, Connecticut, and Bournemouth. That means two continents get to fight over claiming her as a native daughter, and everyone wants to as the singer-songwriter prepares to release her highly-anticipated debut album, Mint. The album has a great cover, but lead single "Learn to Live" is a distinct original. When her huge voice hits a crunchy riff and then takes off for a soaring chorus, you might think Adele meets Led Zeppelin...and those are two fairly popular artists, for good reason. (Jay)

Sharon Van Etten, Remind Me Tomorrow

This is not the Sharon Van Etten that so plaintively wore her heart on her sleeve in her 2009 debut album Because I Was In Love. In fact, this album wasn't supposed to happen. Van Etten wanted a break from music and planned to go back to school. That plan was pushed back when she was cast in the television show The OA. Then she had to make a pit stop in Twin Peaks, because who on Earth would say no to David Lynch? Followed by a film score she was putting together...oh, and she fell in love and had her first child.

With that wealth of new life experience, and inspired by some time on the road with Nick Cave, Van Etten decided to make Remind Me Tomorrow as a series of love letters to her partner and the father of her child. She wanted to explain love in the ways it really felt. This translates to songs that pulse with the anticipation of holding hands, the stomach drop of realizing you love someone, the tension in your throat that doesn't want to say the words out loud, the shiver along your spine that says maybe this is real. It's exhausting. It's raw. And it's beautiful. Take a listen to "Seventeen." (Jade)

Toro y Moi, Outer Peace

Remember chillwave? That was the tag slapped on South Carolina native Chaz Bundick, who records as Toro y Moi. When he released his debut album Causers of This nearly ten years ago, he became a cult sensation in the era of Hipster Runoff, but he proved to be far more than a flash in the pan. In six studio albums, he's explored musical territory from dance to R&B to experimental sounds. His new album, Outer Peace, might just teach the world to chill. When he spoke with NPR recently, he said his current favorite song on the album is the pop-friendly "50 50," featuring Instupendo. (Jay)

Hear the whole album with NPR's First Listen.

Deerhunter, Why Hasn't Everything Already Disappeared?

With Deerhunter's eighth album, Why Hasn't Everything Already Disappeared?, Bradford Cox leads the band through the horrors of history in grim detail. There's stories of the rise of far-right nationalism, the world-ending terror of climate change, and, in "Death in Midsummer," the Atlanta, Georgia band tackles the Russian Revolution. The music lulls you with beauty while the lyrics smack you with the hard truths of the world. (Jade)

James Blake, Assume Form

Since we were talking chillwave a minute ago, let's try another 2011 pop quiz. Remember dubstep? Okay, now remember post-dubstep? If so, there's one name in your mind: James Blake. The master of the haunting low end and the heart-fluttering falsetto, Blake is back with his fourth studio album, and it's...happy? Strange but true, folks. Blake is living a life of domestic bliss with the BBC DJ Jameela Jamil, and Assume Form finds him in relatively sunny pop form. Of course, this is still James Blake, so it's not like anyone's going to confuse him with the Partridge Family. Here's "Mile High," a collaboration with Travis Scott and Metro Boomin. (Jay)

Maggie Rogers, Heard It In a Past Life

The story behind Maggie Rogers's viral fame is one that she feels "tore her soul in half," which doesn't sound exactly pleasant, but it's allowed many people to discover her music and kick-started her career. The story, short: Rogers was in her NYU recording class when Pharrell Williams stopped in to listen to some music. His eyes teared up as he listened to Rogers's blend of folk and electronica in her song "Alaska."

Suddenly, she was being courted by multiple labels and fast-tracked to a SNL appearance and topping charts. In the New York Times she describes the album as "an attempt to process everything she's experienced since 2016 and take back control of the narrative around her career." You can hear that struggle throughout her new album, Heard it in A Past Life, in songs like "Light On." (Jade)

Remembering Lorna Doom of the Germs

Bassist Lorna Doom has died of undisclosed causes, reports Rolling Stone. She played in the Germs, an L.A. band that released exactly one album, lauded as a punk landmark. The album, (GI), was produced by Joan Jett; after a short but unforgettable run, the band dissolved in 1980 after singer Darby Crash took his own life.

The band were featured in the classic punk documentary The Decline of Western Civilization, and were the subject of a 2007 biopic called What We Do In Secret. They then re-formed with actor Shane West, who played Crash in the movie, serving as frontman. Did they play the Warped Tour? You know it. Twice. (Rolling Stone)

Here's the Germs' best-known song, "Lexicon Devil."

Audio sampled in podcast
Jahzzar: "Comedie" (CC BY 4.0)
Alice Merton, "Learn to Live"
Sharon Van Etten, "Seventeen"
Toro y Moi feat. Instupendo, "50 50"
Deerhunter, "Death in Midsummer"
James Blake feat. Travis Scott and Metro Boomin, "Mile High"
Maggie Rogers, "Light On"
The Germs, "Lexicon Devil"

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