ALBUMS OF THE WEEK: The Watkins Family Hour and The Mystery Jets

I am happy to say that I’ve been proven wrong in my belief that Mystery Jets would never surpass the quiet drama of their debut album, Making Dens. That album captured perfectly the movement from indie rock to mainstream and the merging of DIY folk with classic psychedelia that was prominent in so many other records of its time. And now, with A Billion Heartbeats, the band has once again perfectly encapsulated the current shift in rock and roll.

Rock has drifted away from protest music for quite some time, but with this album, it comes roaring back. 2020 will be remembered as the year of COVID-19, but the question is open whether it will also be remembered as the point in time when angry, disenfranchised youth finally pushed out the likes of Boris Johnson and Donald Trump–when the truly common people’s rejection of the religious right became mainstream. “You say you got God on your side/But you ain’t why Jesus died.” “I’m becoming a ghost of who I used to be.” “History has its eyes on you.” Line after line, song after song, this album screams rebellion but does it in the soothing rhythms and harmonies of modern indie rock.

It’s perfect. It’s a perfect album.

My other pick for Album of the Week is the new 2020 release by Watkins Family Hour.

Long hailed as a terrific live act, this sibling duo comes out with the aptly titled, Brother Sister. It’s gentle folk/Americana, with wonderful melodies and crisp, simple production. Much of it is just an acoustic guitar, their incredible harmonies, and a fiddle for flavor.

There’s even a great cover of Warren Zevon’s “Accidentally Like a Martyr.”

Runner up:

Also a solid 2020 album I heard recently: Superstar by Caroline Rose. It’s not quite as good as her last album, but if you liked that one you’ll enjoy Superstar too. A very nice listen.

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