Five Notable Releases of the Week (8/18)
This has been a truly INSANE past 24 hours for new music. A surprise release of the first Brand New album in eight years, a surprise release of the first Alice Glass EP since she left Crystal Castles, the first Grizzly Bear album in five years, the first Rainer Maria album in eleven years… and the list goes on. There’s too much exciting and worthwhile music out today to process it all at once, and that’s a pretty great problem to have.
Check out my five picks below. What was your favorite release of the week?
Brand New’s long-awaited, surprise-released fifth album Science Fiction somehow manages to exceed the insane expectations that were set for it. You can read my full review HERE, and read an excerpt below:
It’s the perfect kind of album to be released into the world all at once with no pre-release singles, as it’s an album that’s best listened to start to finish. But if you’re looking for a could-be single, your best bet is probably “Can’t Get It Out.” It’s got verses with strummy acoustic guitar, a driving backbone, and just a hint of Pinkerton in the delivery, and it’s got the most classic-Brand New chorus on the album. After the third chorus, it kicks it up a gear into that level of catharsis that Brand New do so well, and Jesse Lacey hits you with one of his trademark gut-punchers: “I’m just a manic depressive, toting around my own crown / I’ve got a positive message, sometimes I can’t get it out.”
The moments like those are the moments that Brand New fans have come to love, and the most immediately satisfying thing about Science Fiction is that we finally have twelve more songs full of those moments. And while Science Fiction sounds like no other band in the world, it’s actually a very different album for Brand New. There are parts that echo Devil and God and Daisy, and just a few that echo Deja Entendu (nothing here really echoes Your Favorite Weapon), but it’s clearly a distinct chapter in the band’s career, as all four of their previous albums were.
Read the rest HERE.
The album isn’t streaming anywhere (yet?) but you can pick it up on vinyl, CD or digital at the Procrastinate! Music Traitors webstore.
UPDATE: The album is now officially streaming. Listen:
My full review of Painted Ruins, Grizzly Bear’s first album in five years, is HERE. Read an excerpt:
The most thrilling of them all is “Losing All Sense,” a jittery uptempo song that doesn’t resemble much else in Grizzly Bear’s discography and stands out as one of their more intriguing songs to date. They also sound pretty lively on “Mourning Sound” and “Neighbors,” both of which did drop as pre-release singles later on. The former is about as driving as Grizzly Bear ever get, and the latter is perhaps the most classic-sounding Grizzly Bear song on Painted Ruins. With Christopher Bear’s off-kilter drumming, Ed Droste and Daniel Rossen’s lush, overlapping voices, and the band’s ability to change pace at the drop of a hat, “Neighbors” puts you into the kind of trance that no band can seem to put you in quite like Grizzly Bear.
One of the album’s more remarkable traits is how dedicated it remains to psychedelia. Painted Ruins reminds you that Grizzly Bear are masters of it, years after the bandwagon jumpers moved on to other sounds.
Read the rest HERE.
When Rainer Maria said goodbye in 2006 after the release of their poppiest album, Catastrophe Keeps Us Together, who would’ve thought they’d return 11 years later with the heaviest music of their career? In the time since their initial breakup, co-singers Caithlin De Marrais and Kaia Fischer stayed active with some humble solo/side projects, and Rainer Maria started gaining an after-the-fact reputation as a highly influential band on today’s thriving indie-emo scene. S/T doesn’t try to fit in with that scene at all though. It’s got loud, discordant guitars and roaring vocals that are closer to ’80s post-hardcore than ’90s “Midwest emo.” While previous Rainer Maria albums caused you to closely examine the lyrics and get introspective about your own life, this one causes you to bang your head. See “Possession” for some truly Headbanger’s Ball-style guitar, and “Communicator” for the kind of stadium punk ripper that could’ve been a hit during Rainer Maria’s first run as a band. That said, the heavier approach is less an abandonment of their classic sound and more an expansion upon it. Take, for example, the chorus of “Forest Mattress.” The way Caithlin strains her voice to sing “I touuuch it” takes you right back to the band’s early ’00s era. Like Sleater-Kinney’s No Cities To Love and American Football’s LP2, S/T is a rare indie-punk reunion album that truly adds something new to the band’s discography, and could easily work as an entry point for newcomers. It was clear from the first time Rainer Maria set foot back on stage New Year’s Eve 2015 and it’s even clearer now — Rainer Maria are back.
August is busy for A$AP Mob, who are releasing three albums this month. The first was A$AP Twelvyy’s a couple weeks ago, and the second is A$AP Ferg’s today. Still Striving is technically a “mixtape,” and it keeps Ferg’s momentum going after last year’s Always Strive and Prosper. It’s often hard to differentiate between albums and mixtapes these days — especially when a mixtape is as expertly-produced and professional sounding as Still Striving is — but assuming Ferg wants his next proper album to be a grander statement, I can see why he’d give the “mixtape” title to this one. It’s less of a big, epic, cohesive thing, and more just a fast-paced collection of banger after banger, with Ferg reminding you that he’s an increasingly fun rapper. Early highlights are “Coach Cartier” (ft. Famous Dex) and a “Mattress” remix with A$AP Rocky, Playboi Carti, Rich the Kid, and Famous Dex, which feel like they’ll be instant crowd pleasers. Then of course there’s the “East Coast” remix, a giant posse cut which again has A$AP Rocky, plus Busta Rhymes, Dave East, French Montana, Rick Ross, and Snoop Dogg. Snoop’s verse is some real classic-sounding stuff (he’s been on a roll this year), Busta sounds crazy as ever, and Rocky is such a natural whenever he’s on a track with Ferg. It’s just nonstop killer rapping, with a hook that’s built to be screamed at festivals. Rocky may still be the group’s biggest star, but after he toned down his sound for the more psychedelic At. Long. Last. ASAP, Ferg has been emerging as the group’s best party starter.
Cloakroom arrived fully formed with their 2013 debut Infinity, one of the the first key albums in the recent boom of bands mixing shoegaze, emo, slowcore, and sludge metal. (It’s a scene that owes a lot to Hum, whose Matt Talbott later collaborated with Cloakroom.) Of all the bands in that scene, Cloakroom always seemed like they would appeal to metalheads — especially at their insanely heavy live shows — so it makes a lot of sense that they moved to Relapse for their new album Time Well, after releasing Infinity and 2015’s Further Out on Run For Cover. Time Well isn’t metal per se, but there’s a lot for fans of Relapse’s diverse roster to like here. And actually, while Time Well can often be very heavy, it’s actually home to some of the band’s lightest songs yet. “The Sun Won’t Let Us Go” and the title track utilize acoustic guitars, and they’re almost more Low or Red House Painters than Hum. They come a bit later in the lengthy album, and by the time you hear them after all the wall-of-sound distortion, it can really feel like an earthy comedown. Some of the best songs on Time Well hit you with the lightness and the weight all at once, like “Sickle Moon Blues” and “Hymnal,” which are gentle songs at their cores until that trademark Cloakroom crunch comes in. If one thing’s for sure, it’s that Cloakroom have mastered both extremes of the loud-quiet-loud formula. The constant dynamic shifts keep a slow-paced album like this one from falling into the background.