Mac DeMarco’s This Old Dog and 8 Other Albums to Listen to Now

Mac DeMarco. Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for FYF

Every week, Vulture gathers new albums you can listen to right now. We don’t have a problem admitting it: Keeping track of everything that’s released can be overwhelming, but finding out about interesting music doesn’t have to be work. Read our picks below, and share your thoughts in the comments.

Mac DeMarco, This Old Dog (Captured Tracks)
At 27, Mac DeMarco is already having a midlife crisis. Or at least that’s the sense you get from This Old Dog, the wise-beyond-its-years new LP from the king of baked guitars. Album opener “My Old Man” puts DeMarco in front of a mirror with its first line: “Look in the mirror / Who do you see?,” and he stays in front of that mirror for the rest of the album. What he sees changes, though: sometimes, it’s his dad. Other times, it’s the face of a failed lover, or simply a face with more lines on it than there were yesterday. As with his previous records, DeMarco plays all the instruments here (guitars, synths, bass, drums, harmonica … ), a technique that lends itself particularly well to this kind of self-reflection. And as far as reflecting goes, Mac needn’t worry: He’s aging as gracefully as his synthesizers. —Gabe Cohn (@gabescohn)

Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Best Troubador (Drag City)
Under his Bonnie “Prince” Billy alias, Will Oldham has been making off-kilter folk tinged by darkness for decades. His voice perpetually cracking over idiosyncratic lyrics about death and loss and all the life that exists in-between those spaces. Over the years, though, he’s moved a bit more to the center. It’s not that he’s playing it safe, exactly, it’s just that he’s tapping into the roots of folk and country and finding new angles in classic ideas. To that end, Best Troubador is an album made up entirely of Merle Haggard covers. They’re not organized chronologically, and they don’t focus on any single period of Haggard’s career — instead, they’re a selection of Oldham’s favorites, many of which he plays completely straight, but still: You can hear the weight of the entire world in Oldham’s weary voice, and he sings these songs like they’re his own. —Sam Hockley-Smith (@Shockleysmith)

Perfume Genius, No Shape (Matador)
It’s not hyperbole to say No Shape is the biggest — and absolute best — album of Perfume Genius’s career to date. It’s also his riskiest: This is an album about being alive and feeling seen, and making your own spaces in a world that decided there’s no room for you. It’s a radical act that also takes its toll. Mike Hadreas is either shrieking or letting the multiple instruments he’s invited onto his sonic palette for this album shriek for him, like the crash of violins on “Choir,” or collapsing into himself under the weight of all this living. He’s also loving in extremes, willing to give his last breath to his lover on the seductive “Die 4 You” and all that’s left after that is album closer, “Alan,” a song dedicated to his longtime boyfriend. Even when there’s a guest like Weyes Blood on the magnetic duet “Sides,” this is still Perfume Genius’s world. Escape in it. —Dee Lockett (@Dee_Lockett)

Pond, The Weather (Marathon Artists)
Australia’s gloriously chaotic Pond have always been considered the goofy cousin to the meticulously detailed psych and pop stylings of Kevin Parker’s Tame Impala project, with which it shares a few members. But it’s time to stop calling Pond a side project, not only because this is the band’s seventh (!) album, but because The Weather is the best and most accessible distillation of Pond’s unhinged appeal. Take “Sweep Me Off My Feet,” an unabashedly campy groove that satisfyingly places the drum snaps and the requisite “oohs” in the exact right places. It sounds like a sexy throwback tune with hints of R&B, until you hear what the always-mischievous frontman Nick Allbrook is saying: “Between my penis and my chin / is Camembert and shame.” Not exactly the traditional way to woo a lady, but I’m still charmed. —Samantha Rollins (@SamanthaRollins)

The Afghan Whigs, In Spades (Sub Pop)
In Spades operates in much the same way as its predecessor, Do to the Beast: It sounds fresh and current, a testament to the band’s enduring influence in alternative and indie rock. There’s a lot of variety here, particularly for an album that clocks in at only 36 minutes; the record straddles grunge, R&B, funk, classic rock … There’s even a string section. In Spades is sort of like your cool uncle who you don’t want to admit is actually cooler than most of your friends. —GC

Chris Stapleton, From a Room: Volume 1 (Mercury Records)
How do you follow up a debut album like Traveller, which won Chris Stapleton attention from the mainstream and, eventually, some Grammys? Simple: Go about your business like nothing’s changed. From a Room: Volume 1 is the first of two albums that we’re getting from Stapleton this year, but don’t worry about oversaturation. The first installment is a brisk nine songs that barely covers half an hour. (The traveler still hasn’t settled, it seems.) There are boisterous rockers to get acquainted with like “Second One to Know,” but that’s not why you listen to Stapleton. You come to hear him wail and, for that, I point you to “Either,” which contains the vocal moment of the year. If it was any longer, his voice might just give out. This album, like Traveller, also has a cover: Willie Nelson’s down-on-your-luck ballad “Last Thing I Needed, First Thing This Morning,” which Stapleton and his wife Morgane inject with more soul than the original ever had. –DL

Forest Swords, Compassion (Ninja Tune)
Forest Swords’ haunting marriage of natural and synthetic sounds has always made me prefer listening to his music during times of inclement weather and emotional turmoil. With Compassion, electronic producer Matthew Barnes’s third album as Forest Swords, conveying a sense of bellicose unease seems intentional: Barnes describes making the album as his attempt to create his own “light at the end of the tunnel” when he felt hopeless in the current political climate, and he says the album’s themes include things like “autocratic rallies and drapes” and “masculinity and male borders.” There are beats that sound like war drums, distorted vocal samples that sound like disembodied battle cries, and french horns and saxophones that cut through the noise. It’s a unique combination of sounds that, like the record’s title, accurately conveys dark feelings of hopelessness while allowing just enough light to peek in through the despair. —SR

Slowdive, Slowdive (Dead Oceans)
Why do bands reunite? The cynical answer is that it is always, always for the money, but I suspect it’s a lot more complicated than that. Imagine spending your formative years making music that soundtracked hundreds of thousands of fans’ formative years, and then imagine feeling like you’d lost that spark. What happens when it comes back? Can it come back? With this self-titled record, their first in 22 years, Slowdive definitively prove that some bands have enough creative juice to get back together and make some incredible music. The spark is still there. It probably helps that they’re working with a formula they helped perfect: a dense shoegaze drone that shifts at exactly the right moment. Can music that sounds thick also soar? Turns out it can. —SH-S

At the Drive-in, in•ter a•li•a (Rise Records)
It’s hard to explain how weird it was to watch 2000’s Relationship of Command make waves in real time. At the Drive in, a math-rocky, willfully obtuse band came at a time when nu-metal was still the dominant force in rock music, so when they scored a hit off a song that sounded like it was written as found poetry, I wasn’t really sure what was going on. Maybe the band wasn’t either, because after that record they splintered into the alt-rock band Sparta, and the bloated prog-funk of the Mars Volta. Both bands had their moments, but they couldn’t capture that collision of style and fury that ATDI embodied so well. Now that they’re back together, they’re checking all the boxes. They sound like the band I loved, but they’re lacking the energy that made them so vital in the first place. Is there a place for this band in 2017? I think so. Is this the record that will introduce a new generation of fans to their music? I’m not so sure, but if you read this far, you’re probably already listening to find out. —SH-S

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