Five Notable Releases of the Week (1/11)
We’re still slowly inching our way into 2019, music-wise. Next week is when it really picks up, with a lot of hugely anticipated albums all set to come out at once, but there are still a few worthy, more under the radar releases out this week (and one very interesting album from last week included in this post that I almost missed when catching up on late-2018 releases). While album release schedules have still been slow, music festival lineup announcements have not. In case you missed them, head here to catch up on the newly-announced lineups for Coachella, Bonnaroo, Governors Ball, Boston Calling, and more.
Check out my picks for this week’s Notable Releases below. What was your favorite release of the week?
Last year, The Get Up Kids made a major comeback with the Kicker EP, their first release in seven years, and — probably because it sounds a lot more like their classic ’90s material than their 2011 reunion album — their most widely-loved release in a long time. It was just four songs, but the guys have a lot more where that came from. Don’t let their new offering pass you by, though, ’cause it isn’t called “The Get Up Kids.” Get Up Kids co-frontmen Matt Pryor and Jim Suptic are also two of the three singers in new supergroup Radar State, along with The Anniversary’s Josh Berwanger, and their debut album Strays sounds even more ’90s than Kicker does. (The lineup is rounded out by drummer Adam Phillips of The Architects/The Gadjits.) The Matt Pryor and Jim Suptic songs kinda sound like the middle ground between Four Minute Mile and Something to Write Home, not quite as raw as the former but not as fleshed-out as the latter. And while Berwanger’s songs sound just a bit more grizzled in comparison, they fit in perfectly with Pryor’s and Suptic’s. Save for the slow-burning album closer, Strays may actually be the most dedicated to driving, punchy punk that any of these guys have ever been for the length of an entire album. They sound like they’re having a lot of fun, getting back to the basics without turning this into some calculated “back to the basics” attempt. Before emo bands played arenas, before Fall Out Boy started calling The Get Up Kids an influence and Jim Suptic apologized for helping to create the world of mainstream emo, Matt Pryor, Jim Suptic, and Josh Berwanger were just punk kids playing punk shows in small, unconventional venues, and this Radar State record reminds you they haven’t forgotten where they came from one bit.
Bay Area hardcore crew Tørsö formed back in 2013 by members of Punch, Holy, and more, and they’ve been grinding ever since, with a couple EPs, their 2015 debut full-length Sono Pronta a Morire (Sorry State Records), appearances at beloved hardcore fests like Not Dead Yet, Sound and Fury, and Damaged City, a recent tour with American Nightmare, and more. For their latest EP Build and Break, they signed to the venerable Revelation Records, they once again worked with Jack Shirley (who’s in Everybody Row with Jasmine and works with Deafheaven, Gouge Away, Loma Prieta, and a bunch of other bands), and they came out with seven crushing minutes of D-beat-infused hardcore that, to quote Rev, “tackles issues of veganism, politics, mental health, displacement, and feminism at a time when the world needs it the most.” I haven’t read Mae’s lyrics, and it’s not easy to understand them, but she sounds as pissed-off as you need to be to front a menacing hardcore band like this one, and you can just feel the power and the passion coming through with every strained shout. It’s dark, heavy, and a total whiplash of hardcore fury that leaves you wanting more the second it ends.
Krallice are rarely this brief. Even when Krallice releases have just three songs, they tend to be very long songs, but the new Wolf EP is five tracks that are over and done with in about 15 minutes. The only time they ever did anything close to this in length was their covers EP. So, it’s not often that you hear NYC’s finest black metal experimentalists trimming the fat like this (one song on Wolf is actually 15 seconds long), and it’s fun to hear them giving this approach a shot. Their complex sound has always been conducive to long song lengths, but it’s impressive to see how much they can fit into Wolf‘s short running time as well. The title track sees them offering up towering doom that sounds more like Krallice collaborating with Neurosis than Krallice collaborating with an actual member of Neurosis did. From there, they offer up their usual mix of raw, old school black metal and the eccentricities of the NYC avant-garde scene, sounding — as always — chaotic yet controlled. Krallice have long been masters of the off-kilter and the dissonant, so perhaps Wolf‘s most surprising moment is closing track “Time Rendered Omni,” where Krallice succeed at dishing out sweet, ear-candy riffs that rival crossover-metal acts like Baroness or Kvelertak. It’s an unexpected yet welcome conclusion to an EP that’s otherwise firmly rooted in the brutal and bizarre.
Angelo de Augustine initially won us over with his 2017 sophomore album (and first for Sufjan Stevens’ Asthmatic Kitty label), Swim Inside the Moon, which was recorded entirely alone in his house, mostly with just one microphone. It’s a raw, quiet, melancholic album that would easily appeal to fans of early Sufjan Stevens (or, especially because of his angelic falsetto, fans of early Bon Iver), and it’s no surprise that Angelo has risen in the world since its release. Sufjan has continued to take Angelo under his wing, having performed with him in a few live session videos leading up to the release of his new album Tomb, and Tomb is also Angelo’s first album to be done in a proper studio with an outside producer. He made it at New York City’s Reservoir Studios with Thomas Bartlett (aka Doveman), and he and Doveman figured out the perfect way to make Angelo’s sound glisten more than ever without losing the intimacy of his home-recorded material. Its main drawback is that it’s a little one-note, though that note is a very gorgeous note and it’s worth treasuring anytime you come across a musician who can make music this instantly stunning. It’s also clear that Angelo continues to move forward; Tomb is a noticeable progression from Swim Inside the Moon, and if Angelo keeps progressing at this rate — and figures out how to shake things up a little more — he seems destined for something truly great.
I admit that I don’t know a lot about Finnish death metal band Festerday, but this seems to be the gist of it: Named after the Carcass song of the same name, Festerday formed in 1989, released a few demos and a split in the early ’90s, and then proceeded to change their name and lineup a handful of times over the course of the next two decades, existing as Cardinal, Peacefrog, Raw Energy, …And Oceans, and Havoc Unit. They revived the Festerday moniker in 2013, released a couple EPs and another split in 2018, and just last week put out the first-ever full-length Festerday album, Iihtallan. And a quick listen to the members’ more recent bands seems to confirm that Iihtallan is not just their latest project but truly a return to what Festerday began creating three decades ago. Unlike albums by …And Oceans and Havoc Unit, this sounds like raw, old school death metal, and Festerday still do it as convincingly as they did on those early demos. And as with a lot of early death metal bands, you can hear elements of a lot of other subgenres on this album too: thrash, hardcore, early black metal, even a little sludge. It’s a super raw album, and one that just bulldozes along, never overstaying its welcome and almost never letting up on the high-speed whiplash. Even without the backstory, Iihtallan succeeds as some of the most purely thrilling metal released in recent memory.