New This Week: Gorillaz, Willie Nelson, Mary J. Blige, and More

Wendy Geller
Writer, Yahoo Entertainment

Searching for something to listen to this weekend? Yahoo Music has you covered with a rundown of some of this week’s biggest and buzzing releases, including  Gorillaz, Willie Nelson, Mary J. Blige, and more. Check back every Friday for a fresh list of albums to help fuel your weekend playlists.

Gorillaz: Humanz (Warner/Parlophone). It’s been a long seven years since their last album, but the beloved animated quartet are back with a much-hyped set of infectious grooves. Dazzling special guests are a given with Gorillaz projects, and this one doesn’t disappoint, offering up Carly Simon, Mavis Staples, De La Soul, Grace Jones, Vince Staples, Danny Brown, Kelela, D.R.A.M., Popcaan, Peven Everett, Anthony Hamilton, and more.

Willie Nelson: God’s Problem Child (Legacy). Nelson never fails to delight audiences, be they composed of country fans or hipsters. This is his first collection of all-new songs since 2014, and contains collaborations with Jamey Johnson, Tony Joe White, and perhaps what might be the late, great Leon Russell’s very last recording. The final song is a tribute to another lost country great, Merle Haggard.

Mary J. Blige: Strength of a Woman (Capitol). Blige certainly knows how to harness heartbreak and turn it into musical gold; as she aptly proves on her latest album, which delves into personal emotions mostly of the negative kind. The set features a heavyweight guest list, including appearances from Missy Elliott, Kanye West, and DJ Khaled.

Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2: Awesome Mix Vol. 2 (Hollywood). Peter Quill’s awesome ’70s mixtape from the original Guardians installment was ridiculously easy to love; the sequel’s collection of classic tunes is yet another slam-dunk sure to win fans all through the cosmos. Cheap Trick, Fleetwood Mac, George Harrison, ELO…it’s as good as Groot.

BNQT: Volume 1 (Dualtone). This indie supergroup features five vocalists — Ben Bridwell of Band of Horses, Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand, Fran Healy of Travis, Jason Lytle of Grandaddy, and Eric Pulido of Midlake. Their highly anticipated debut delivers lush, melodic, sumptuous, and buoyant harmonies sure to please any fan of ’70s-style rock.

Lea Michele: Places (Columbia). Glee star Lea Michele makes considerable strides in growth on her second solo album, pulling out all the stops on emotional delivery but with a modicum of control that keeps it all together. This is a heart-wrenching set, closing out with a tear-inducing song in memory of her former boyfriend and co-star Cory Monteith, who died in 2013.

Feist: Pleasure (Interscope). Six years after her last album, four-time Grammy nominee Feist returns with a new collection of material that completely reinvents her former stylistic approach. This record is remarkably stripped-back, but kept interesting by unexpected touches such as darkly rich vocals, creative instrumentation, and a guest spot from Jarvis Cocker.

John Mellencamp feat. Carlene Carter: Sad Clowns and Hillbillies (Republic). Mellencamp’s collaboration with Carlene Carter (the daughter of June Carter Cash) predictably leans in a country direction, an angle that he wears with ease. Heavenly-voiced Martina McBride appears on the single “Grandview” to sweeten the deal.

Mew: Visuals (PIAS America). Danish rock outfit Mew return to the scene as a trio (founding member and guitarist Bo Madsen left in 2015) with their seventh album. While fans might fret that the loss of Madsen would affect the band’s sound negatively, Mew proves they are just fine, producing a set that is simultaneously spare, direct, inventive, and catchy.

Kasabian: For Crying Out Loud (Columbia). British five-piece Kasabian take a massive approach on their latest album, laying on the psychedelic guitars and adding dramatic touches such as shouts, lots of grooves, and touches of gospel.

Mark Lanegan Band: Gargoyle (Heavenly Recordings). The latest work from former Screaming Trees frontman Lanegan is predictably gritty, showcasing his melancholy, bluesy vocal style. Guest appearances include Josh Homme, Greg Dulli, and Duke Garwood.

The Cranberries: Something Else (BMG Rights Management). This marks the Irish rock band’s first album since 2012 — it features “unplugged” versions of their past hits, as well as three new songs. The entire set is buoyed by the inclusion of a string quartet from the Irish Chamber Orchestra.

Sylvan Esso: What Now (Loma Vista Recordings). The sophomore offering from this electronic pop duo makes a giant leap from its lo-fi debut, resulting in a bigger, more powerful, more immediate, and overall much more ambitious collection. Most commendable, especially for a group so new.

Juliana Hatfield: Pussycat (American Laundromat Records). Boston singer-songwriter Hatfield was inspired mightily for her latest release, taking a mere 12 1/2 days to complete from start to finish. Perhaps it went so quickly due to her self-controlled approach: she produced the set and played every instrument on it save drums.

Trombone Shorty: Parking Lot Symphony (Blue Note): There’s no question that Troy Andrews (aka Trombone Shorty) is from the Big Easy, especially when listening to his latest set. Here, he pays homage to NOLA traditionalism by meandering through ’70s funk, R&B, instrumentals, and pop; putting his take on Ernie K. Doe’s “Here Come The Girls” and the Meters’ “It Ain’t No Use.” The album also includes co-writes from Aloe Blacc and Alex Ebert.

New Found Glory: Makes Me Sick (Hopeless). Pop-punk pioneers New Found Glory are back to celebrate their 20-year anniversary as a band. While the sound of their latest album is familiar — catchy, hooky punk anthems — the group manages to balance keeping this beloved vibe while still acknowledging the passage of years and refinement of tastes.

Robert Cray & Hi Rhythm: Robert Cray & Hi Rhythm (Jay-Vee). Legendary bluesman Cray has won five Grammys, and it’s easy to see why: His work is consistently a tough act to follow for anyone in the genre. Here, he recorded in blues-soaked Memphis with members of the legendary Hi Rhythm Section.

All That Remains: Madness (Razor & Tie). A metal band covering Garth Brooks? Yes, here you will find a cover of the country superstar’s “The Thunder Rolls,” as well as a deliberate direction into increased electronica influences. Still heavy? Yes again.

Vamps: Underworld (Eleven Seven Music). Japanese rock band Vamps push their already edgy envelope with their fourth album, which blasts forth 11 new songs including a collaboration with Finnish orchestral rockers Apocalyptica.

Garland Jeffreys: 14 Steps to Harlem (Luna Park/Rough Trade). Veteran NYC singer Jeffreys new set features guest appearances by his daughter Savannah and Lou Reed’s widow Laurie Anderson; he offers up interesting originals as well as covers: a ballad-style version of the Beatles’ “Help” plus a funky take on Reed’s “Waiting for the Man.”