Kesha, Rainbow (RCA) —
Since Kesha has been defined for four years by her battle with former producer Dr. Luke, it’s no surprise this album opens with “Bastards.” But everything else is unexpected, from the country-rock flavor enhanced by guests like Dolly Parton, to the exuberant optimism infusing all 14 tracks. Even if the Autotune stays heavy, Kesha tries many new styles on Rainbow
, and makes most of them work.
Downtown Boys, Cost of Living (Sub Pop) —
Downtown Boys, Cost of Living
Rhode Island’s women-dominated punk quintet Downtown Boys has dialed down the politics ever so slightly from 2015’s Full Communism
, but the rage inherent in “The Wall” and “Violent Complicity” suggests Fugazi or Rage Against the Machine. Beloved saxophonist Adrienne Berry has been replaced by Joe DeGeorge, but the manic wails of vocalist Victoria Ruiz still keep the band on top of its game.
Guided by Voices, How Do You Spell Heaven (Fire) —
Guided by Voices, How Do You Spell Heaven
The double-disc August by Cake
early this year featured group efforts by the newest GbV members, but How Do You Spell Heaven
returns to a Robert Pollard-dominated affair, recalling the band’s best mid-1990s efforts. Riff-filled tunes are enhanced by guitar interplay from Doug Gillard, Bobby Bare Jr., and Mark Shue, making this album a power-chord manifesto.