Notable Releases of the Week (7/31)
It's been another busy week in the music world, full of virtual Porno For Pyros reunions and not-so-socially-distant concerts and all kinds of other stuff. We've had some very sad deaths -- Fleetwood Mac's Peter Green, The Roots' Malik B, Primal Scream/New Order collaborator Denise Johnson, and not music but Regis Philbin. If you haven't already been doing so, maybe revisit some of their work this weekend. If you're looking for some suggestions on what Peter Green-era Fleetwood Mac to dive into, we made a list of 16 essential early Fleetwood Mac songs, including several by Green.
As for new music, I highlight eight new albums below, but first, here are some honorable mentions: the Beyonce visual album/deluxe edition of The Gift, Land of Talk (who also spoke to us about the music that influenced the album), Makaya McCraven, Alanis Morissette, Thanya Iyer, Madeline Kenney, Gillian Welch, Mike Polizze (of Purling Hiss, ft. Kurt Vile), Brandy, Shezmu, Question, Charles Tolliver, Charley Crockett, Daniel Blumberg, Ghetto Kumbé, Shoreline Mafia, City Morgue, Chris Crack, the Wicca Phase Springs Eternal & Darcy Baylis EP, the Wye Oak EP, the !!! EP, the Moon Tooth acoustic EP, the HURAÑA EP, the Backxwash EP, the Sleepy Hallow EP, and the Nyck Caution EP. (Update: the lost Thelonious Monk live album was due out today but its release has been postponed.)
For even more, Bill reviews the first Psychedelic Furs album in 29 years (and more) in Bill's Indie Basement.
Read on for my eight picks. What was your favorite release of the week?
Liv.e - Couldn't Wait To Tell You...
In Real Life
LA-via-Dallas psychedelic neo-soul artist Liv.e has collaborated with Earl Sweatshirt, Pink Siifu, Maxo, Black Noi$e, and others, but perhaps the most important musician relationship Liv.e has is with Erykah Badu, who considers the 22-year-old Liv.e her protége and who threw a virtual listening party for Couldn't Wait To Tell You. "What better artist to highlight as an extension of what I am creating?" asks Badu. "I’ve known Liv as family since forever. She was this young shy, creative girl who found her way into my heart. We graduated from the same arts high school years apart. Liv is of the same tribe. I can’t wait to see her do her thang."
Liv.e's new album -- her first full-length following a series of EPs -- does indeed sound indebted to Erykah Badu's music, but Liv.e puts her own spin on it. Like Badu, Liv.e makes genre-defying psychedelic soul, but she also sorta fuses it with the warped, collage-like sounds of the last two albums by her collaborator Earl Sweatshirt (one of which she appears on). She incorporates jazz, spoken word, funk rhythms, hip hop beats, meditative ambience, and more. She fuses the electronic with the acoustic, and she makes all these ingredients feel part of the same retro-futuristic world. Couldn't Wait To Tell You also pairs well with one of this year's most acclaimed debut albums, KeiyaA's Forever, Ya Girl. Like that album, it seems small and lo-fi on the surface, but the more you dig in, the more you hear how fleshed-out and ambitious it is. Like that album, Couldn't Wait To Tell You uses very old, very familiar sounds, but in a way that feels new and exciting. Liv.e may sound clearly influenced by Erykah Badu, but Erykah Badu sounded clearly influenced by Minnie Ripperton and Billie Holiday. Erykah made it her own, and now Liv.e is doing the same.
Classics of Love - World of Burning Hate EP
While half of Operation Ivy's members remain very active in Rancid, frontman Jesse Michaels has been a little more elusive. (And drummer Dave Mello is in Kicker with Pete the Roadie and members of Neurosis and Dystopia.) The last thing he released was the 2012 debut album by his band Classics of Love (aka Jesse plus all three members of Hard Girls), but that band broke up amicably that same year, and Jesse once again removed himself from the spotlight, only popping up sporadically to appear on songs by Leftover Crack, Rise Against, and his former Op Ivy bandmate Tim Armstrong (who he also co-wrote a song with for Grade 2's 2019 album).
Now he's back with his first new music in eight years and a new Classics of Love lineup: Jesse with Sharif Dumani (Exploding Flowers, Alice Bag Band) and Peter John Fontes (Los Nauticals). The first Classics of Love album was a killer ska-punk record and the most Op Ivy-sounding thing Jesse had done since Op Ivy broke up in 1989, but World of Burning Hate is something much more abrasive. Across these five songs -- which clock in at under 10 minutes -- Jesse embraces straight-up hardcore, and it should be no surprise that he's a beast at this kind of thing too. Op Ivy were obviously influenced by this kind of stuff, but I don't think Jesse has ever gone full-on gnarly, whiplash-inducing hardcore like this. Hints of the more melodic side he's usually known for show up on "Crime Pays" and "Walking With the Lost," but even those songs are total scorchers. The whole EP rips, and Jesse somehow sounds even more throat-shredding on this than he did over 30 years ago in Operation Ivy. Who says punk is a young person's game?
Black Soprano Family - Benny the Butcher & DJ Drama Present Black Soprano Family
The Griselda Records label/crew has been one of the most dominant forces in rap this year, thanks in no small part the many verses that not-so-secret weapon Benny the Butcher has dropped on tracks by his groupmates Westside Gunn and Conway the Machine, likeminded peers like Boldy James, and stars like Lil Wayne. And while Gunn and Conway have been churning out projects at an extremely prolific rate this year, Benny hasn't released his own project since his excellent June 2019 EP The Plugs I Met, which still might be the best project to come from the Griselda crew yet. We're still waiting on a proper new Benny the Butcher release, but meanwhile, he did just release this new project by his group Black Soprano Family. Benny's in the driver's seat on this one; he raps on four of the eight songs, but his fingerprints are felt on all of them. He's not surprisingly the star of the show, but his BSF groupmates Heem and Rick Hyde are nothing to scoff at either, and they load these song with verses that cut just about sharply as Benny's. As you'd expect from Benny, this is cold, hard, no-bullshit, '90s-style rap, but even when Benny is doing exactly what you expect him to be doing, he still manages to keep you at the edge of your seat.
Flee Lord & Pete Rock - The People's Champ
Loyalty Or Death
If you want more gritty, '90s-style rap that pairs nicely with Black Soprano Family, here's the latest from Flee Lord, a Far Rockaway protégé of the late Prodigy of Mobb Deep who frequently appears on Griselda projects, and who's been dropping a new project every month this year. This one was produced by the legendary Pete Rock, one of the original architects of the '90s rap sound that Flee Lord's music is indebted to. Pete Rock does what he does best, and Flee is well-equipped with rhymes that fit the production perfectly.
Vein.FM - Old Data in a New Machine Vol. 1
Closed Casket Activities
In the press release for Vein.FM's (fka Vein) new collection of re-imagined songs, remixes, and demos, they write: "This is not a new album. It's unlike any remix album you've heard before. Yes, a new album is coming soon, so stay tuned." Fingers crossed that we find out more about the new album soon, but meanwhile, that simple description is a very accurate sell for Old Data in a New Machine Vol. 1. Do not let "demos and remixes" fool you into thinking this is something you can skip. Vein.FM approached this more like it's own work of art than like a rarities/outtakes compilation. Vein are a hardcore band who have always hinted at a love of nu metal, and this record further confirms it. The remixes of the songs from the band's 2018 debut LP errorzone show you what Vein.FM might sound like as an industrial band, and album highlight "20 seconds : 20 hours" -- a drastically reworked version of "untitled" from errorzone -- find Vein.FM in the atmospheric, melodic territory that Deftones perfected on White Pony. This record's also got three reworked tracks from Vein.FM's 2015 EP Terrors Realm, and the originals sound simplistic and primitive compared to these new versions. These aren't just re-recordings for the sake of better production quality; it's more like Vein.FM are covering themselves and taking the artistic liberty to totally reinvent the songs in the process. If this is a hint of where Vein.FM are headed on their next album, I am already excited.
Trevor Powers - Capricorn
After dropping the Youth Lagoon moniker, Trevor Powers released his first album under his own name in 2018 with the underrated Mulberry Violence, and this week he surprise-released a followup, Capricorn. Trevor likes to hop between genres and it's always seemed like his distinct voice is what ties everything together, but he barely sings on Capricorn and it still sounds distinctly like Trevor Powers.
Trevor has always had a knack for ambitious instrumentation, and that very much comes across on this album, which fuses together electronic music, field recordings, minimalist ambient music, bits of classical and jazz, and more. It's kinda similar to Nicolas Jaar, early Mount Kimbie, or Four Tet's folktronica era, and like all three of those artists, Trevor knows how to make captivating, gorgeous music without relying on words. Some of the songs are so minimal that they seem like they could easily fall into the background, but when you listen to Capricorn as a whole, that doesn't happen. The album finds a way to feel massive.
NOFX & Frank Turner - West Coast Vs. Wessex
Fat Wreck Chords
West Coast Vs. Wessex is a split album where NOFX and Frank Turner cover each other's songs, and they intentionally picked deeper cuts and less obvious songs to cover, and each cover is a genuine reinvention of the original. You can read much more about the album here.
Fontaines D.C. - A Hero's Death
Irish post-punks Fontaines D.C. are back with their sophomore album, A Hero's Death, and Bill says in his review: "The angst is still abundant but Fontaines D.C. have loosened up, feel more comfortable in their skin and, most importantly, are getting better as songwriters." You can read the full review here.
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.