Notable Releases of the Week (6/18)
As the vaccine rollout continues and Covid numbers continue to improve, the return of live music gets realer and realer, and as a result, it's an increasingly busy time for music news. The tour announcements came in like crazy this week, but it's actually kind of a lighter week as far as new albums go. I highlight six below, and here are some honorable mentions: Joan Armatrading, BERWYN, Gucci Mane, HRSMN (Ras Kass, Kurupt, Killah Priest & Canibus), GoldLink, Andrew Hung (Fuck Buttons), Matt Bachmann, Covey, Max Bloom (ex-Yuck), Francis Lung (ex-WU LYF), Moonshine, Cola Boyy, Arelseum, Ægir, Amythyst Kiah, Jesuslesfilles, Blurry the Explorer, Neckscars, Dead Witches, Heavy Temple, Mountain Movers, Peace Flag Ensemble, the Tom Morello & The Bloody Beetroots EP, the Lost In Society EP, the Lounge Society EP, the Hannah Georgas EP, the Country Westerns EP, the Noah Britton EP, the Interrupters live album, and the 10th anniversary edition of Lady Gaga's Born This Way.
Today is also Bandcamp's Juneteenth fundraiser, for which Bandcamp will donate all of their profits to the NAACP Legal Fund, so today's a very good day to pick up something from Bandcamp.
Also: the very good ME REX album is on streaming services (and Bandcamp) as of today. I reviewed it in Notable Releases two weeks ago when the band released it early on their website in the form of an auto-shuffled stream. (The album is intended to be listened to on shuffle.)
We also added several new records to our online record store this week.
Read on for my picks for this week's Notable Releases. What's your favorite release of the week?
Angélique Kidjo - Mother Nature
Afro-pop legend Angélique Kidjo has been making music for 40 years, and she's been having a serious late-career resurgence lately. Her 2018 reworking of Talking Heads' Remain In Light and her 2019 Celia Cruz tribute LP Celia were both highly acclaimed, and now she follows them with her first album of original music in seven years, Mother Nature. For an artist who's been making music for nearly half a century, it sounds incredibly modern -- thanks in part to guest appearances by current artists like Burna Boy, Sampa The Great, EarthGang, and Mr. Eazi -- but also thanks to Angélique herself. Her voice still soars, she still has the spirit and the urgency of a hungry new artist, and -- coming off two tribute/covers albums -- Mother Nature proves that Angélique is still a stunning songwriter. The album swirls together Afrobeat, pop, reggae, hip hop, and more, and it straddles the line between Angélique's roots and current pop music in a natural way. It was written during the past two years of global chaos, and it acknowledges that, but it's not a mournful album. It's a groovy, catchy, danceable, joyous album in the face of worldwide injustice and turmoil. "We’ve been here before, all the world’s up in flames, that don’t fix anything, must be some other way," Angélique sings at the very beginning of the album. It acts as a mission statement for the entire LP, and the ten subsequent songs all deliver.
Mykki Blanco - Broken Dreams & Beauty Sleep
The progression and evolution of Mykki Blanco's career has been fascinating. They emerged in the early 2010s as part of the short-lived but widely-influential cloud rap subgenre, and they helped pave the way for a growing queer presence within the genre. At one point, they considered retirement, but instead went on to release their first full-length album, Mykki, in 2016. Mykki has popped up here and there since the release of that album, but they never actually got around to releasing a new project until now, five years later, with Broken Dreams & Beauty Sleep. The album was almost entirely produced by FaltyDl, an underground New York electronic musician whose own career took off around the same time as Mykki's, with some additional production from Hudson Mohawke and Physical Therapy. It also features some of the biggest guests to ever appear on a Mykki Blanco project: Blood Orange, Jamila Woods, Kari Faux, Big Freedia. And not unlike Blood Orange -- or recent albums from Tyler, the Creator and Solange -- Broken Dreams is a genre-blurring mix of rap, pop, R&B, funk, soul, electronics, psychedelia, and more. Sometimes it's warm and organic; other times it sounds built for the dance clubs that FaltyDL frequents. Sometimes it's fueled by lush singing, and other times by cold, hard rapping. It's a true post-genre experiment, and it's one that yields thrilling results and leaves you wanting more.
Bossk - Migration
UK post-rock/post-metal band Bossk are back with their first full-length album and second overall, Migration. While recording their album, they found out at the last minute that their lead vocalist Sam Marsh wasn't going to be able to be on the album as he moved to LA and then ran into medical issues that prevented him from recording and rehearsing with the band, so they reached out to two very impressive guest vocalists to fill the role: Johannes Persson of Swedish post-metal giants Cult of Luna and Josh McKeown of UK post-hardcore band Palm Reader. Johannes and Josh are entirely different vocalists, but they both sound at home within the context of Bossk's heavy, beautiful, atmospheric music. The album also features guest instrumentation and noise manipulation from members of Endon, and the vocal-oriented tracks are interspersed with ambient noise pieces. The songs with Johannes and Josh made great singles, but in the context of this grand album, they pop even more.
H.E.R. - Back of My Mind
R&B/soul singer Gabriella Sarmiento Wilson adopted the moniker H.E.R. in 2016, and she proceeded to quickly get very famous. Even without really having a hit song, she won Grammy awards and was invited to perform at the Grammys, the Emmys, and the Super Bowl. And she used those appearances wisely, proving to the world that she was a powerhouse singer and a shredding guitarist. Cynics might raise eyebrows at all of this, but at the end of the day, she's just an extremely talented individual and she deserves the attention. Today brings the release of her first-ever full-length album, following multiple EPs, singles, and compilations, and it delivers on the promise that H.E.R.'s been making for years. Welcome guest appearances come from Thundercat, Lil Baby, Cordae, Ty Dolla $ign, Kaytranada, and Hit-Boy (and less welcome ones come from Chris Brown and DJ Khaled), all of whom know how to complement H.E.R.'s power rather than distract from it. As on those highly publicized TV appearances, H.E.R. shows off the ability to belt it and shred, but she also knows when to dial things back and embrace the kind of atmospheric R&B that's taken off in the post-Take Care/Beyonce world. 21 songs at nearly 80 minutes is a little long, but there are enough highlights to make Back of My Mind an album worth coming back to.
DE'WAYNE - STAINS
Somewhere between the hip hop-adjacent pop punk revival, the genre-less approach of Bartees Strange, and the industrial rap of Yeezus lies DE'WAYNE, a Houston-based rap, punk, and more artist who's been on the rise, recently made two songs with Anti-Flag, and now releases his debut album STAINS on the iconic Hopeless Records. DE'WAYNE can rap, sing, scream, and do plenty of the in-between, and his instrumentation constantly breaks down barriers between electronic production and a live rock band. Even in an era where more and more artists are merging rap and punk, DE'WAYNE stands out from his likeminded peers. His music fits naturally into both of those worlds, but doesn't sound like any particular artist from either one. Whether or not you like STAINS, you can't deny the innovation.
Kings of Convenience - Peace or Love
Norwegian folk pop duo Kings of Convenience are finally back with their first album in 12 years, which features their old friend Feist. To quote Bill, "despite the 12 year gap, things haven't changed much in the world of Kings of Convenience where quiet is still quiet." You can read much more about the album in Bill's interview/feature.
Looking for more recent releases? Browse the Notable Releases archive or keep scrolling down for previous weeks.
For even more metal, browse the 'Upcoming Releases' each week on Invisible Oranges.
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