What to Listen To This Week

The Residents’ “George & James” pays tribute to two of the great American composers, George Gershwin and James Brown.

SOMETHING OLD

During the hiatus of legendary British band Slowdive, a few of its members recorded 1995′s Ask Me Tomorrow, an album of stately, road trip-friendly songs as Mojave 3 that treat country music as a form of shoegaze. Their reserved, European distance from their American influences defines their approach—just as Led Zeppelin treated the blues as a sound rather than the genre, Mojave 3 zeroes in on the way steel guitar, ethereal vocals and ungodly amounts of reverb can evoke wide-open landscapes and late-night melancholy.

SOMETHING NEW

The post-Beatles focus on writing one’s own songs has led to some real brainworms in the music world: Covers are frowned on, interpreters are undervalued, and musical merit is equated with elbow grease. Thank God for Jake Xerxes Fussell, who sings traditional folk songs as if unlacing them from his brain. His new collection, Good and Green Again, is his best and most beautiful yet—and he’ll be opening for the Magnetic Fields, themselves enthusiastic plunderers of America’s musical heritage, at Aladdin Theater on April 19 and 20.

SOMETHING LOCAL

Lockdown 2020 led to the loss of precious rehearsal time for countless rock bands, but The Macks had the advantage of living together, getting tighter and tighter in order to record their third album, Rabbit. Ben Windhem’s spurts of guitar scatter pell-mell across the music, and though Sam Fulwiler’s sharp tenor takes some getting used to, he’s a commanding and charismatic frontman. He struts the stage with abandon, with no commitment to playing an instrument; his antics aren’t to be missed when The Macks play Polaris Hall on April 2.

SOMETHING ASKEW

George & James pays tribute to two of the great American composers, George Gershwin and James Brown—but this being a record by the long-running, anonymous band of pranksters The Residents, there’s a twist. Their version of “Rhapsody in Blue” slows that jubilant piece down to a depressive dirge, but the real attraction is the Brown half, which takes 1962′s almighty Live at the Apollo and turns down the power 30%. Brown becomes an arthritic robot, the horns are tinny blasts of greeting-card noise, and the only thing left unscathed, hilariously, are the backing vocals.