Rounding up and highlighting four notable albums that came out on Friday:
CARTALK, “Pass Like Pollen”
Cartalk’s debut album seems only a well-run indie-label campaign away from wide acclaim. Don’t sleep on it. Songwriter Chuck Moore’s self-released affair, produced and engineered by Sarah Tudzin of Illuminati Hotties and made with a cast of L.A. luminaries, finds its emotional heft in ’90s-style crunch, touches of wistful Americana and handled-with-care pop hooks, no artificial sweetener needed. Start with “Noonday Devil,” go deep with “Los Manos,” “Wrestling” and “Sleep.”
DEATH VALLEY GIRLS, “Under the Spell of Joy”
“This is heaven now and all the time,” Bonnie Bloomgarden sings on “Bliss Out,” a song whose fuzzy exuberance captures the essence what she calls the band’s “space-gospel” record. If the title track is music to start a cult to, “The Universe” and “Hold My Hand,” are part of the sermon, too, psych-rock scriptures yellowed by the sun but reverberating with emotion. It’s not that we thought this kind of joy weren’t possible right now, it’s just we didn’t think it could sound like this. Catch some faith healing at the band’s virtual in-store on Amoeba Hollywood’s Instagram at noon Wednesday.
DAWES, “Good Luck With Whatever”
Like the denim jacket you wore to see Jackson Browne and Bruce Springsteen in the ’70s, Dawes’ preternatural feel for filtering triumph and tragedy through classic rock wears well. On Dawes’ seventh album, songwriter Taylor Goldsmith shows how he can “Still Feel Like a Kid” while trying to make sense of the many ways he isn’t. A more streamlined affair than 2018’s “Passwords,” “Good Luck” finds the band — Goldsmith, his drummer/brother Griffin, bassist Wylie Gelber and keyboardist Lee Pardini — humming like a well-oiled machine, whether dispensing a little attitude (“Who Do You Think You’re Talking To?”) or allowing Taylor to engage in some poetic nostalgia (“St. Augustine at Night”). Tickets remain for Dawes’ drive-in show on Oct. 17 at the Grove of Anaheim.
ELVIS PERKINS, “Creation Myths”
Adorned by strings, horns, pedal steel and acoustic wizardry, Perkins’ fifth album draws listeners on a typically painterly journey, infusing his elliptical narrations with a wry effervescence. The songwriter has a way of playing tag with the familiar (the Beatles, for instance, on “See Monkey”) but never becoming rooted in well-tilled soil. Right down to its aching closer, “Anonymous,” “Creation Myths,” produced by Sam Cohen (Kevin Morby, Rhett Miller, Guster, Benjamin Booker), is an album that doesn’t play, it unfolds.