The best new music of the week: Carrie Underwood, Rod Stewart, Drake and more

By Nicholas Jennings

As music columnist for, each week I’ll bring you my selections for the best and most notable new music, albums you’re going to want to add to your collection plus a five-song playlist to try out. Happy listening!

Scroll down for playlist…


Carrie UnderwoodStoryteller
From heart-tugging power ballads to hard-hitting revenge anthems, the latest from the biggest country female artist since Shania Twain has it all. On “Dirty Laundry,” Carrie takes a cheating guy to task for his tawdry infidelities, while “Church Bells” does the same thing to an abusive husband. There are plenty of engaging narratives, including the fugitive song “Mexico” and the courtroom drama “Choctaw County Affair,” which has a little “Ode to Billie Joe” to it. A wife to hockey star Mike Fisher and mother to baby Isaiah, Carrie saves her most personal stories for tributes to each of them on the ballads “Heartbeat” and “What I Never Knew I Always Wanted.”

Rod StewartAnother Country
Even at 70, Rod the Mod can still summon youthful vigor, celebrating the hellraising of his past without apology on “The Drinking Song” and cheering his beloved Glasgow soccer team on the stadium rousing “We Can Win.” He’s at his soulful, funky best on the punchy “Please” and channels Bob Marley on the island-themed “Love and Be Loved,” in which he opines “In a world divided by indifference, we must teach our children the meaning of commitment.” There’s a stirring Celtic feel to the opener “Love Is” and patriotic feelings expressed on “Way Back Home” and the title track. Being the father of eight children by five different mothers, Rod also dabbles in dad-rock on “Batman Superman Spiderman.”


DrakeHotline Bling
Can Drizzy dance? Find out in the video for his summer hit “Hotline Bling,” which has Canada’s Grammy and Juno winning rapper shimmying and shuffling across the screen on a futuristic, pastel-hued set. The song, which borrows liberally from both D.R.A.M.’s “Cha Cha” and Timmy Thomas’s “Why Can’t We Live Together,” has already been covered by Erykah Badu, Nick Jonas and Sam Smith and that can only mean one thing: “Hotline Bling” will become as ubiquitous as GIFs of Drake’s slinky dance moves.


Bruce SpringsteenThe Ties That Bind: The River Collection
The Boss’ classic 1980 double album The River gets the box-set treatment, with four CDs and three DVDs that include a documentary, a concert film, rehearsal footage, a book and such previously unreleased songs as “Party Lights” and the euphoric “Meet Me in the City.”

Joanna NewsomDivers
The talented harpist and wife of comic actor Andy Samberg, whose music was once described as “freak folk,” adds harpsichord, mellotron, piano and a wealth of richly melodic, inventive songs like “Goose Eggs” on her first album since 2010’s epic Have One On Me.

5 Seconds of SummerSounds Good Feels Good
The Aussie teenage pop-punk band scored a hit off its debut with “She Looks So Perfect” and now follows it up with the crazily catchy “She’s Kinda Hot,” which makes being losers, lazy and mentally unstable with low self-esteem sound like causes for celebration.

Marinas TrenchAstoria
The fourth album from Vancouver’s emo-rockers finds the four-piece band mining more of a pop sound on songs like the ballad “One Love,” not altogether surprising since frontman Josh Ramsay was Carly Rae Jepsen’s co-writer on “Call Me Maybe.”


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