It's officially December, and that means year-end list season is in full swing. But the year is not over yet, and good albums are not done coming out. I highlight seven (technically ten) new releases below, Bill reviews Ultimate Painting offshoot Modern Nature and the Can live in 1975 album in Indie Basement, and here are some honorable mentions: Gas, Eldovar (aka Elder + Kadavar), Tom Morello (ft. Manchester Orchestra, IDLES, Jim James, Alex Lifeson, Kirk Hammett, Andrew McMahon, Rodrigo y Gabriela & more), Pile of Love (members of State Champs, The Story So Far, Drug Church), So Hideous, Rid of Me, YUNGMORPHEUS, J.U.S., Berner, Wreckage Manner (Styles P & Havoc), Jamire Williams, EST Gee, Rival Consoles, DJ Harrison, To Forget, Nardo Wick, Heiress, CRIMEAPPLE, No Bragging Rights, Old Sport, No Rome, the Beauty Pill EP, the Corroded Spiral (mem Sepultura, Integrity) EP, the Overo / Zochor / Punch On! / Coma Regalia split, the Confines EP, the Broken Vow EP, the Cozz EP, the Samia comp, the Nils Frahm rarities compilation, Skatune Network's Counter Intuitive Records covers comp, the Baxter Dury comp, the For Your Health remix album, the Polo G deluxe edition, The Doors' L.A. Woman 50th anniversary reissue, and the Chamberlain tribute album (ft. members of Dashboard Confessional, Taking Back Sunday, Rise Against, The Gaslight Anthem, My Morning Jacket, and more).

Read on for my picks. What's your favorite release of the week?

Arca
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Arca - Kick ii, iii, iiii & iiiii
XL

Last year, Arca released KiCk i, the first installment in a series of Kick albums that's now up to five... four of which were released this week. Four albums by one artist is a lot to take in at once from any artist, especially one whose music is as intense and demanding as Arca's, but even if it takes you a while to get through it all, everything she released this week is worth hearing. Across the ii, iii, and iiii albums, Arca moves between IDM, glitch, art pop, reggaetón, rap, and more, and usually it's a nearly-impossible-to-pin-down mix of three or four of those things at once. It's largely a challenging, experimental set of albums, but there's one song that sounds like it could get played on the radio: the Sia-featuring "Born Yesterday." (Other guests include Oliver Coates, Planningtorock, No Bra, and Garbage's Shirley Manson.) And for kiCK iiiii, Arca changes things up and delivers a primarily ambient album, with help on one song from ambient legend Ryuichi Sakamoto. If you listen to all five albums in order, iiiii is a welcome comedown from the brain-itching trip that the first four take you on.

Marissa Paternoster Peace Meter
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Marissa Paternoster - Peace Meter
Don Giovanni

When people talk about Screaming Females, much is made about Marissa Paternoster's shredding guitar heroics, and as awe-inspiring as her fretwork is, Screaming Females endure because of the impactful songwriting and the eerily stirring quality of Marissa's voice. That comes across loudly and clearly on her debut solo album, Peace Meter. These songs are a far cry from Screaming Females' shreddy punk, but Marissa's singing and songwriting are as distinct as ever. At times, Peace Meter favors dark, psychedelic folk songs fleshed out with cello by Lung's Kate Wakefield, and at other times, it embraces bright, upbeat, synthy pop songs. They're two very different sides of Marissa, and they pair together a lot more naturally than it might sound on paper. As good as Screaming Females (and Marissa's other project Noun) is, Peace Meter is some of Marissa's most refreshing music in a while because it's a thrill to hear her occupy such new territory. And though this is her first time releasing music like this on a mass level, you wouldn't know it from listening. She sounds like a seasoned master of every style of music represented on this LP.

Failure Wild Type Droid
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Failure - Wild Type Droid
Failure Records

Failure went from being an underrated '90s band to one of the era's pioneers, when their 1996 album Fantastic Planet became widely recognized as a precursor to the heavy / shoegaze crossover movement that really began taking shape in the 2010s. As Failure's influence became more widespread, the band reunited and they've so far released two more albums, 2015's The Heart Is a Monster and 2018's In the Future Your Body Will Be the Furthest Thing from Your Mind, which were their first since the '90s. The new albums weren't exactly a way to cash in on the newfound interest in their '90s material, though; they found Failure exploring an equally spacey but otherwise much different sound, looking forwards rather than backwards. And with their third reunion album, this year's Wild Type Droid, they've come out with a sound that strikes a balance between the progression made on their last two albums and the influential sound they helped pioneer in the '90s. In many ways, it feels like the quintessential version of 21st century Failure; it fits in with their classics, it fits in with the bands they influenced, and it breaks new ground too. It reminds me a little of the new Quicksand album, partially because sometimes it actually does sound a little like that album, but also because that, too, was an example of a '90s band nailing the balance between sounding like 2021 and sounding like themselves. That's exactly what Failure have done on Wild Type Droid, an album that won’t just appeal to longtime Failure fans, but to any fans of today’s heavy, atmospheric rock music.

Your Old Droog
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Your Old Droog - Space Bar
Nature Sounds

New York rapper Your Old Droog has been very prolific this year. He already released two albums with Tha God Fahim and his own new album TIME, and now he's back with his fourth full-length of 2021, Space Bar. With production from 88 Keys, Nicholas Craven, SadhuGold, and Elaquent, it's one of Droog's most psychedelic albums, instrumentally speaking, but his rhymes are as clear and focused as ever. As on all of his releases, Droog takes clear influence from '90s East Coast rappers but he's got the knockout punchlines and razor-sharp flow to compete with just about any of his forebears. The first half of the album is an onslaught of top-tier Droog bars, while the second half brings in some great guests. Tha God Fahim shows up on two songs, Nickelus F is on one, and the most show-stopping guest appearances come from Lil Ugly Mane and billy woods on album highlight "Meteor Man." It's one of those songs where everyone involved is operating at the top of their game, challenging and encouraging their collaborators at every turn.

Static Dress
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Static Dress - Prologue...
self-released

UK band Static Dress have become one of the most promising new post-hardcore/metalcore bands around off the strength of a series of singles that date back to 2019, and now they're finally releasing their debut project, Prologue... It's a comic book (written by vocalist Olli Appleyard and illustrated by Tanya Kenny) and it comes with a 9-song, 15-minute soundtrack that doesn't quite qualify as a full-length but feels much bigger than an EP. As on the singles, Prologue... finds Static Dress hearkening back to mid 2000s era Underoath and also fitting right in with newer bands like SeeYouSpaceCowboy. It goes from crushingly heavy to weird and experimental to bright and catchy, and Static Dress already have the precision and the confidence of a band on their third album. They sound (and look) like they would've been huge in 2005, and they make this kind of music feel just as exciting in 2021 as it was back then.

Genocide Pact
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Genocide Pact - Genocide Pact
Relapse

It's already been a great year for death metal, and here's one more death metal album getting released just before the year ends that's not to miss: the new self-titled LP by DC's Genocide Pact. It hearkens back to old school late '80s/early '90s death metal, and it's very much in touch with the genre's hardcore punk roots but still firmly a "metal" album. And though Genocide Pact's influences aren't hard to guess, they offer up much more than idol worship; Genocide Pact make these time-tested sounds feel fresh. And most importantly of all, this album just rips. Read more about it here.

Tierra Whack Rap?
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Tierra Whack - Rap? EP
Interscope

Tierra Whack has released countless singles since putting out her instant-classic 2018 debut project Whack World, and now she's put out the three-song Rap? EP, which is technically her first project since Whack World that's more than just one single at a time. All three songs are different and great in their own ways: "Stand Up" is the kind of bouncy art-rap that nobody does like Tierra Whack, while "Meagan Good" is much more pensive and introspective and "Millions" finds Tierra rapping over the kind of triumphant, soul sample-infused production that dominated rap in the early 2000s. Read more about it here.

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Looking for more recent releases? Browse the Notable Releases archive or keep scrolling down for previous weeks.

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