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WDIY's Top 10 Albums of May 2024

The halfway point of 2024 is right around the corner. But before we get too carried away, lets enjoy the moment and take a look at what was played the most on air in May 2024!

Want to hear something specific on air? Feel free to call WDIY's studio line with a request at 610-694-8100 x1 or leave your picks on our Facebook, Twitter/X, Instagram, or Threads pages.

#10
Madeleine Peyroux
Let’s Walk
Just One Recording
June 28, 2024

Similarly to some of the other albums featured this month, this one isn’t even released yet and is already making waves. The critically-acclaimed jazz singer, songwriter, and interpreter Madeleine Peyroux is releasing first album in six years by the end of June. This is also her ninth album overall, and the first album in which she co-wrote every song with longtime collaborator Jon Herington. Lyrically, a lot of the record seems to be driven by the sudden social upheaval that stemmed from 2020; her more serious tracks deal with everything from the murder of George Floyd to sexual assault and her own emotional grapplings with it all. However, she also includes more lighthearted moments in the record as well, all culminating in the most widely varied and yet sonically cohesive album in her repertoire.

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#9
Real Estate
Daniel
Domino Recording Co. LTD
February 23, 2024

Yes, they really did name their album Daniel (and no, it’s not a funny band name like this author originally thought). Real Estate’s sixth full-length album was recorded in a nine-day spree in Nashville with GRAMMY-winning producer and songwriter Daniel Tashian. In 11 brand new soft rock songs, they connect the essence and youthfulness of their earliest work with the wise perspective of adulthood. The result is something laid-back, 1990s in vibes, lean, clean, and overall just fun and whimsical. All five members of Real Estate were discussing titles one day in between recording sessions when someone suggested “Daniel,” simply because it seemed funny to bestow a human name upon a record. Similar to oddly inanimate names for pets, the joke certainly landed. Was it inspired by Daniel Tashian? Perhaps. Or was it the sign of a band that has been making music together long enough to be able to giggle at themselves and not take their perception too seriously?

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#8
Nada Surf
Moon Mirror
New West Records
September 13, 2024

This album has managed to find a home in this month’s rankings based on just one single. The upcoming album is the first in four years and marks the 30th anniversary of their debut single. For the past 30 years since that first single, Nada Surf has had the same core lineup from start to end of the creative process. However, to celebrate their record at New West Studios, this is also the first time they put out an album that was produced with someone else, that mythical title bestowed on Ian Laughton in Wales. Sonically, the songs on the upcoming album projected to be all about the human experience and all of the highs and lows and absurdity in between. There’s love, confusion, grief, loneliness, doubt, wonder, joy, and hope. There is hard-fought and hard-won wisdom in these tracks, as exemplified by the one song we do already have.

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#7
Dina Hall
Firefly
Red Rock Recording
February 26, 2024

Firefly is the sophomore album by local legend and WDIY host herself Dina Hall (no, we don’t pick favorites like that, she’s just that talented). She is a songwriter, singer, guitarist, percussionist, recording artist, and something of a local celebrity, hailing from Bethlehem. However, she hopes to branch a bit out of state with her newest record. The album aims to take a reminiscent, honest, and raw look at the struggles we’ve all experienced at some point in our life. Dina hopes to coax the listener to be both the forgiver and the forgiven in whatever troubles them in their own life journey. And on the cusp of summer, an album and a song from the album so aptly named after one of the strongest local symbols of summertime and optimism brings the whole message home (no pun intended). The record was, of course, just as she is, recorded locally out of Saylorsburg.

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#6
Iron and Wine
Light Verse
Sub Pop
April 26, 2024

Light Verse is the seventh studio album by the American singer-songwriter Iron & Wine, and the fifth album released under Sub Pop. While we have written tales of artists and musicians finding exceptional productivity during the pandemic, Sam Beam felt the opposite. He has claimed to be paralyzed during the lockdown, even though his loved ones came out the other end relatively unscathed. In place of creativity was a sense of domesticity that the singer hadn’t felt in a long time, and although it reaped its own rewards, making music was not one of them. His creative juices started flowing again after a trip to Memphis to record a handful of Lori McKenna tracks and two short post-covid tours, one of them being an entirely acoustic set in small venues called the “Back to Basic” tour. After the tours, he joined forces with engineer and mixer Dave Way, a 24-piece orchestra, and a slew of equally talented musicians to help him, like Fionna Apple.

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#5
Joe Cirotti Trio
Joe Cirotti Trio
Independent release
December 9th, 2023

As a band, the Joe Cirotty Trio is a string group with roots of American folk, jazz, country, and bluegrass based out of New Jersey. They joined musical forces after bonding over blue-collar lifestyles, a deep love of their region’s musical influences, and a thirst for whiskey. The result of the musical union is a group that knows how to keep it traditional but also but a unique and modern twist on everything they do. The group is primarily composed of the namesake Joe Cirotti on guitar, Pete Lister on upright bass, and Timmy Coyle on mandolin and guitar. The group also occasionally plays as a 4/5-piece ensemble, adding banjo, fiddle, dobro, percussion, or even more mandolin, often joined by founding member Mike Alexander. Joe Cirotti as a singular person is a multi-instrumentalist based in Hackettstown, New Jersey. After working for a while with a similar sound, Cirotti's songwriting took a turn towards acoustics last year, and the result was his second solo album "Mood Swings.” The band formed officially in 2015, and his most recent solo work was released the following year.

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#4
Old 97's
American Primitive
Virgin Music Group
April 5, 2024

For this alt-country band’s 13th studio album, the group decided to team up with producer Tucker Martine to celebrate three decades as a musical band of brothers, and they came in hot with zero pre-production leading up to the creation of the record. They chained themselves as prisoners to the present and let the spirit of improvisation take over, their musical instincts leading the way. The result was a similar music tonality that longtime fans will find familiar and comforting while also banging out songs in record short time. Nothing overstays its welcome, but it still breaks the door down and shakes things up before it goes. They embraced the spirit of rock-and-roll and opted to be big, loud, and messy. Beyond the musicality, the lyricism demands a similar presence; they ponder life and death and relationships and futility of life, but never take themselves too seriously.

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#3
Khruangbin
A LA SALA
Dead Oceans/Night Time Stories
April 5, 2024

The title of the record is straight from a pivotal memory out of bassist Laura Lee Ochoa’s childhood. Meaning “to the room,” in Spanish, she used to rally her family together with that one simple phrase. In a way, she’s also now calling the band back together and the fanbase back together as well. The 12 songs were crafted out of long-forgotten shreds of recordings and long-winded lyrical ramblings, forcing them to finish a lot of what they had started previously. They’re back to the basics with their fourth studio album, working exclusively with longtime engineer Steve Christensen and featuring minimal overdubs and stripped-back instrumentals. After a decade of working together, they’re using this moment as a way to collect themselves in the calm before the storm before they launch headfirst into their bright future. For now, they’re taking a moment to refine their skills and work on their familial bonds, to create something that might seem out of bounds to some and perfectly on track for their true fans.

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#2
The Black Keys
Ohio Players
Easy Eye Sound
April 5, 2024

After a five-year hiatus, The Black Keys have decided to compensate for their time gone by releasing four albums in under half a decade. Their 12th studio album overall got its name from the legendary Dayton, Ohio, funk band of the same name. This is also potentially their most collaborative album yet, featuring work from their close friends such as Dan “The Automator'' Nakamura, Beck, Noel Gallagher, Greg Kurstin, among others. The inspiration for the new record came from The Keys saying they wanted to recreate the feel of their “record hangs,” DJ parties they’ve thrown in the past to blow off steam and gage new material in front of a live audience. There’s tangible influence from multiple decades within the songs, almost as if a peak into what the band would have been if formed in a different time period, but it all cohesively blends together to demonstrate a rich working career of over 20 years.

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#1
Richard Thompson
Ship to Shore
New West Records
May 31, 2024

This release is his 20th solo album overall, coming five years after 2018’s 13 Rivers. As is with most performers, the pandemic is to blame for about two and a half years of his delay, as he has said himself. The result from that is a 12-track collection that uses various styles, genres, and eras, but remains unmistakably Richard Thompson. Everything from motown and rock to even some cabaret-inspired melodies. Even regional influences like traditional British music, Irish music, Scottish music, and African music are cited. The musical stylings also serve as a purposeful juxtaposition to the dark and foreboding lyrics. “I like the idea of having a seductive surface where the listener gets sucked in by a fairly pleasant melody,” Thompson explained in an interview. “But then, there are hidden sharks in the water.” Dubbed one of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time by Rolling Stone, this singer-songwriter and guitarist has been on a vast musical journey for over a half century, from his days in the ‘60s as a pioneer of British folk rock, to the experimental and deeply emotional music of the solo career that we have been blessed with ever since.

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