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The 12 pop and rock albums you should be listening to

Punk? Rancid. Hard Rock? Rival Sons. Elegant pop? Sorry Girls. Trap? Duki. If you want variety, check out our selection of the best records of June 2023

Rival Sons
Rival Sons performing at The Fillmore in Detroit, Michigan, in January 2023.Scott Legato (Getty Images)
Carlos Marcos


Cover of 'Tomorrow Never Comes', by Rancid.
Cover of 'Tomorrow Never Comes', by Rancid.

- Rancid, ‘Tomorrow Never Comes’

Who are they? The American punk of the 1990s is back: NOFX is offering a massive farewell tour, Bad Religion is playing festivals all over the world and Rancid has just released a new album. All that remains now is for Green Day to get going, which they will.

Is Tomorrow Never Comes that good? More Motörhead than The Clash; more The Pogues than Sex Pistols. Some of the ska we used to hear in their early days and a lot of angry punk. For their tenth album (the first in six years) they squeezed 16 songs into 29 minutes. Imagine just how fast this goes, how energizing it is.

Cover of 'Weathervane', by Dennis Schocket.
Cover of 'Weathervane', by Dennis Schocket.

- Dennis Schocket, "Weathervane"

Who is he? A veteran musician from Baltimore who has been a member of the power pop band Starbelly for over 20 years.

Is Weathervane that good? If Starbelly leans more towards the guitars, what Schocket seeks as a solo act is subtlety. You might remember Jeff Lynne’s ELO (a thing of wonder) and, by extension, Paul McCartney or Roy Orbison. The festive tracks get you off the couch and the ballads are moving. Highly, highly recommended.

Cover of 'Bravo!', by Sorry Girls.
Cover of 'Bravo!', by Sorry Girls.

-Sorry Girls, "Bravo!"

Who are they? A Canadian duo made up of a girl on vocals (Heather Foster Kirpatrick) and a guy on instruments (Dylan Kinrad Obront). This is their second album.

Is Bravo! that good? Indie is looking more and more to the 1980s, even the 1970s. The new Sorry Girls album may remind you of Suzanne Vega and even Steely Dan; good references. The duo does not shy away from any musical form, and if a Supertramp-style sax is necessary, then so be it. Although this record opens with a ballad, the other tracks are beautiful mid-tempos, pop chiseled with basic instrumentation, no overdone productions. A delight.

Cover of ‘Lover’s Game’, from The War and Treaty.
Cover of ‘Lover’s Game’, from The War and Treaty.

- The War and Treaty, ‘Lover’s Game’

Who are they? A duo from Michigan consisting of a married couple: Tanya and Michael Trotter. When they were looking for a name to launch their career, they got into an argument defending their preferences; that is, until Tanya said, “This isn’t war, Michael, so let’s come to some sort of treaty here.” Hence the name: The War and Treaty. Sometimes things work out this way. This is the duo’s fourth album.

Is Lover’s Game that good? The album kicks off as if they were Ike and Tina Turner in the 1970s: a frenetic beat, sung by both, that causes a rock and roll storm. Then everything calms down for the next nine songs, where the Trotters offer a lesson in sensual soul, country soul and pop ballads.

Cover of 'Consequences Coming', by Glen Matlock.
Cover of 'Consequences Coming', by Glen Matlock.

-Glen Matlock, 'Consequences Coming'

Who is he? A legend – and the bass player of the Sex Pistols, before he was replaced by the ill-fated Sid Vicious. Matlock, 67, has played with Primal Scream, Blondie, Iggy Pop and even the reformed Faces. A good musician who can do it all.

Is Consequences Coming that good? One of the rock and roll albums of the year. We are talking about rock and roll in the most classic sense of the term: vibrant guitar riffs, a badass voice, attitude, desire to dance, touches of soul and, above all, good songs. These experienced rock lovers with nothing to lose sure can make great records.

Cover of 'I Thought I Was Better Than You', by Baxter Dury.
Cover of 'I Thought I Was Better Than You', by Baxter Dury.

- Baxter Dury, 'I Thought I Was Better Than You'

Who is he? The son of the great Ian Dury, the man who imbued punk and new wave with funk. Baxter already has eight albums.

Is I Thought I Was Better Than You that good? Hearing Baxter’s cockney accent, one can’t help but think about his father. However, musically speaking, they do not have much in common. Baxter raps (or just speaks) over some interesting percussive bases while a female choir builds beautiful melodies; the contrast between Baxter’s raspy voice and the lovely tones of his companions results in a seductively atmospheric record.

Cover of 'Casanova', by Recycled J.
Cover of 'Casanova', by Recycled J.

- Recycled J, 'Casanova'

Who is he? Jorge Escorial Moreno, a 29-year-old from Madrid and one of the mainstays of the Spanish urban sound.

Is Casanova that good? Like C. Tangana or Rels B, Recycled J evolves from trap and hip hop to a much more accessible pop concept. After following along this line for some time, Casanova is his definitive step, an album that makes its way with electronic music, smooth Latin rhythms and straight pop. Hip hop too, but integrated into a concept that is not at all exclusive.

Cover of 'Darkfighter', by Rival Sons.
Cover of 'Darkfighter', by Rival Sons.

- Rival Sons, 'Darkfighter'

Who are they? An almost 15-year-old California band that, along with Greta Van Fleet and others, represents the new generation of hard rock.

Is Darkfighter that good? The album opens with Mirrors, a song where Jay Buchanan displays a vocal tone similar to that of Paul Rodgers: powerful and meaty. The song is fantastic, almost progressive. Rival Sons reaches its seventh album in great shape. The heavy guitar chords of 1970s rock are their base, but they know how to infuse them with today’s sounds. Everything in rock has been invented; all that remains is to update the lyrics and look for your own personality, which is exactly what these guys manage to do.

Cover of 'Joy'All', by Jenny Lewis.
Cover of 'Joy'All', by Jenny Lewis.

- Jenny Lewis, 'Joy'All'

Who is she? Jenny Lewis celebrates two and a half decades of musical career, first fronting Rilo Kiley and then in a solo career that reaches its fifth album with Joy’All.

Is Joy’All that good? You cannot not like Jenny Lewis’ music. It’s impossible, because she composes songs with a pleasant rhythm (some with harsh stories, mind you) and sings them with a charming voice. Her new album integrates almost exclusively mid-tempo tracks with some country inflection, a folk-country-pop mixture that Lewis masters perfectly.

Cover of ‘Hey!’, by The Guapos.
Cover of ‘Hey!’, by The Guapos.

- The Guapos, ‘Hey!’

Who are they? Three Mexicans and a Spaniard with an uninhibited attitude and a great sense of humor.

Is Hey! that good? In The Guapos everything is light, carefree and minimal. Leiva, Adán Jodorowsky, Jay de la Cueva and David Aguilar recorded a bona fide rock and roll record from the 1950s/1960s. Connoisseurs of rock en español will recognize Los Sirex, Micky y Los Tonys, Enrique Guzmán’s Teen Tops and even Dúo Dinámico. Do The Guapos contribute something to the history of music? No. But they are a lot of fun and inspire us to look for the old songs of the Spanish-language rock pioneers.

Cover of ‘In Times New Roman…’, by Queens of the Stone Age.
Cover of ‘In Times New Roman…’, by Queens of the Stone Age.

- Queens of the Stone Age, ‘In Times New Roman…’

Who are they? The band of Josh Homme, a tough guy who has fallen apart in recent times: a nasty divorce, the death of his friend and musician Mark Lanegan and cancer. This album is the result of all that turbulence, the first by Queens of the Stone Age in six years.

Is In Times New Roman… that good? Both Foo Fighters and Queens of the Stone Age have released albums at the same time, but we lean towards the one from Homme’s band. Beyond the value of some lyrics that feed on the dark times of the singer and guitarist, there is that incandescent atmosphere that can be found in the band’s productions. At 47 minutes, it’s a record that can easily be heard in one sitting, the best way to enjoy the fury it proposes. When it all ends with a Straight Jacket Fitting that is clearly influenced by The Doors, all you want to do is start again from the beginning.

Cover of 'Before Ameri', by Duki.
Cover of 'Before Ameri', by Duki.

- Duki, 'Before Ameri'

Who is he? The most distinguished figure of urban music in Spanish; a boy who came from hip hop battles and today fills stadiums. The real name of this 27-year-old Argentine is Mauro Ezequiel Lombardo.

Is Antes de Ameri that good? This Argentine musician is a new kind of pop star that shatters traditional concepts while he sings about artificial intelligence and clones. Duki focuses his new album on the trap (a derivative rap) of his beginnings. He makes aggressive rhymes and creates witty and intelligent lyrics that speak of our times from the perspective of one who had nothing and now has everything.

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