Notable Releases of the Week (1/31)
Last weekend was the Grammys, and this weekend we’ll all gather around our TVs for another major televised event, the Super Bowl (with Jennifer Lopez and Shakira playing the Halftime Show, and hopefully some funny commercials). The other big music news this week was the announcement of the My Chemical Romance reunion tour, and we also got a lot of major music festival lineup announcements this week too.
Meanwhile, there’s no shortage of new albums out this week. I highlighted five below, but first, some honorable mentions: Lil Wayne, Drive-By Truckers, Squarepusher, Dan Deacon, Polica, Nathan Gray (Boysetsfire), Walter Martin (The Walkmen), Smoke Fairies, Squirrel Flower, Loving, youbet, Former Worlds, Yatra, Kesha, Ben Watt (Everything But the Girl), Big Scenic Nowhere (mem Fu Manchu, Yawning Man, Kyuss, etc), SQÜRL (Jim Jarmusch & Carter Logan), the late Daniel Johnston’s live album ft. Jeff Tweedy & more, the Outburst tribute album (with Power Trip, Higher Power, Fury, Wild Side, Krimewatch, and more), two Panopticon splits (one with Aerial Ruin, one with Nechochwen), Let The Rhythm Lead: Haiti Song Summit Vol. 1 (ft. Jenny Lewis, Jonathan Wilson, Jackson Browne, etc), the Gnaw EP, and the Wild Nothing EP.
Read on for my five picks. What was your favorite release of the week?
Frances Quinlan – Likewise
Since releasing their decade-defining 2012 album Get Disowned, Hop Along have continued to expand their sound in all kinds of different directions and their 2018 album Bark Your Head Off, Dog was their biggest-sounding and most fleshed-out record yet. Singer/guitarist Frances Quinlan is now releasing her first-ever solo album under her own name (though technically Hop Along’s 2006 debut album Freshman Year, which came out under the name Hop Along, Queen Ansleis, was also a solo album), but going solo doesn’t mean stripping back her sound in Frances’ case. Just the opposite. She and Hop Along guitarist/producer Joe Reinhart made this record together, and they used all kinds of instruments — including synths, drum machines, harps, strings, and more — to achieve a sound that’s just as grand as the recent Hop Along records. As ever, Frances remains a hell of a vocalist, with a larger-than-life voice that reels you in every time she opens her mouth, and she continues to match her ambitious arrangements with lyrical depth. It may not be a Hop Along record, but it doesn’t feel like a “side” project, just the next great thing in Frances’ increasingly interesting career.
Torres – Silver Tongue
Torres took a turn towards intricate, uncompromising art rock on her great 2017 album Three Futures, but unfortunately, she ended up parting ways with her label 4AD in the aftermath of the album and said the label dropped her “for not being commercially successful enough.” That could presumably really hurt an artist’s spirit, but Torres kept on moving forward, inked a deal with Merge, and has now released her followup to Three Futures, Silver Tongue. This one sees her sort of returning to the more straightforward songwriting style of her first two albums, but still utilizing the artier and synthier exterior of Three Futures. It’s sort of like a culmination of everything she’s done up until this point, and also noticeably different from every other record in her catalog. It’s one of her most accessible and consistently strong records too, with no real filler to speak of. It’s the sound of an artist persevering in the face of potential roadblocks, and still refusing to compromise her vision, no matter what anyone else might expect of her.
Destroyer – Have We Met
Destroyer made one of our favorite records of the last decade with 2011’s Kaputt, and he’s now back with a new album that Bill reviewed and said it’s “like the third cousin twice removed” to Kaputt. “Colder, louder, more bizarre, but still sexy.” Read Bill’s full review here.
Leeched – To Dull The Blades Of Your Abuse
It’s a pretty big week for indie, with not just the Frances Quinlan, Torres, and Destroyer albums but also the Polica and Dan Deacon albums that got honorable mentions in the intro. But if you’re looking for something a little less pleasant, you don’t wanna sleep on the new sophomore record by Leeched. This UK band takes punk-informed sludge, not-at-all-melodic metalcore, Streetcleaner-era Godflesh filth, and parts that feel like putting a power drill through your eardrum, and they gargle it all up and spit it out with pure venom. They never do anything to soften their blow, but they deliver all this abrasion with a precision and clarity that puts them in a league above your average noisemakers. Even compared to other metal and hardcore bands, these guys sound genuinely scary.
Tha God Fahim – Lost Kingz
Atlanta rapper Tha God Fahim comes from one of the circles of underground rappers that Earl Sweatshirt has been helping to boost up lately. Earl produced a track for Fahim in 2018, and Fahim frequently works with Newark rapper Mach-Hommy, who appeared on Earl’s 2019 project Feet of Clay. (Last year, Fahim also released a collaborative project with Cypress Hill’s DJ Muggs, who also continues to have his ear to the ground with underground rap and also released two projects with Mach-Hommy last year, both of which Fahim featured on.) Mach-Hommy is also on two tracks on Fahim’s new album Lost Kingz, and he’s the only guest besides underground vet Vinnie Paz of Jedi Mind Tricks. If you’re unfamiliar with Fahim but you’ve read this far, you probably have an idea of his vibe, and if you gravitate towards this kind of left-of-the-dial rap, you’re probably gonna wanna hear Lost Kingz. Compared to some of the more abstract-sounding stuff from this world, Fahim is actually a bit more straightforward. He offers up a psychedelic, modern update on ’90s boom bap, and his booming delivery cuts right through all the haze. (He may hail from Atlanta, home of the still-gigantic trap-pop craze, but he sounds way more like he’d be from New York.) He kinda sticks to just one sound, but at ten short songs and no filler, Lost Kingz never drags or starts to sound redundant. If anything, it leaves you wanting a little more — good thing Fahim is so prolific.
Looking for more recent releases? Browse the Notable Releases archive.
For even more metal, browse the ‘Upcoming Releases’ each week on Invisible Oranges.