Notable Releases of the Week (8/27)
It's been a rough week in the rock world with the deaths of Don Everly of The Everly Brothers, Eric Wagner of doom metal legends Trouble, and the one that shook the music world the most: Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts. Charlie's style was deceptively simple, tight but loose; nobody in the world ever sounded like him, and he consistently powered the Stones for over 50 years straight. Music wouldn't be the same without him.
As for this week's new albums, there are a lot. I highlight seven below, Bill reviews Steve Gunn, The Hawks, Eyedress, the GOAT rarities comp, and more in Bill's Indie Basement, and here are even more honorable mentions: Chvrches, Westside Gunn (part one of a double album), Torment & Glory (Brian Cook of Botch, Russian Circles, Sumac), Mouse Rat, Nite Jewel, The Bug, Chubby and the Gang, Men I Trust, The Bronx (get it on orange vinyl), Marisa Anderson & William Tyler, Low Flying Hawks (Melvins, Mr. Bungle), Water From Your Eyes, Fluisteraars, Super Structure, Summer Dean, Belly (the rapper), Hooded Menace, allie, Nitty Scott, Curren$y, G Perico, Fotocrime, OhGeesy, Chet Wasted, Terence Blanchard, Our Place of Worship Is Silence, Bendik Giske, Teenage Bottlerocket, Sculptured (ex-Agalloch), Sons of Alpha Centauri (with Far's Jonah Matranga on vocals), the first Divine Horsemen album in 33 years, Graham Coxon's Superstate soundtrack, the Keaton Henson EP, the Born Without Bones EP, the Hold Down the Ocean EP, the Thief / Botanist split, and the New Order remix album.
Read on for my picks. What's your favorite release of the week?
Big Red Machine - How Long Do You Think It’s Gonna Last?
When The National's Aaron Dessner and Bon Iver's Justin Vernon released their first album as Big Red Machine in 2018, Justin's voice was the star of the show. There were famous guest singers (Phoebe Bridgers, This Is The Kit, Lisa Hannigan, The Staves, and others), but they largely had background roles. To quote my 2018 review of that album, "Not to discredit any of these very talented musicians, but you wouldn't necessarily know it was such a star-studded affair if you didn't read the liner notes."
Big Red Machine's sophomore album, How Long Do You Think It’s Gonna Last?, takes the opposite approach. Rather than feeling like a Justin Vernon and Aaron Dessner album, it feels like a highly collaborative album from the ever-expanding collective of musicians in Justin and Aaron's orbit. Justin was the lead singer on the first Big Red Machine album; here, he's one of many lead singers, including Aaron, who shows off his own lovely, plaintive vocals on "The Ghost of Cincinnati" and "Brycie." One of the album's biggest standout stars is Anaïs Mitchell, who collaborated with Justin way back on her famed 2010 album Hadestown, and who’s fresh off releasing one of 2020’s best albums as one third of Bonny Light Horseman, whose acclaimed 2020 self-titled debut album also featured contributions from Justin and Aaron and came out on their 37d03d label. Another major standout comes on "Phoenix" from Fleet Foxes' Robin Pecknold, an artist who defined the late 2000s indie folk boom alongside Bon Iver, yet who somehow never actually collaborated with Justin until now. When Robin's warm voice makes way for Justin's trademark falsetto (and harmonies from Anaïs Mitchell), it sounds like an indie folk dream come true.
Other lead vocal turns come from a heavily auto-tuned Naeem on "Easy to Sabotage," a soaring La Force (aka Ariel Engle, who's also in Broken Social Scene) on "8:22am," and a crooning Ben Howard on "June's A River" (with fellow British artist This Is The Kit on harmonies). There's also a song where Sharon Van Etten, Lisa Hannigan, and My Brightest Diamond's Shara Nova provide backing harmonies to Justin ("Hutch"). But the biggest star who's now in the 37d03d orbit is Taylor Swift, who joined the team when Aaron co-produced her two 2020 albums folklore and evermore, both of which featured duets with Justin Vernon. Taylor sings backup on "Birch" and takes lead on "Renegade," the latter of which sounds as much like a hit as anything on folklore or evermore. It became the first Big Red Machine song to chart in the Hot 100, and though it's clearly much more pop than the rest of this album, it'll be a big win for the indie folk world if that song leads to people picking up Bonny Light Horseman and Fleet Foxes records. A rising tide lifts all boats.
How Long Do You Think It’s Gonna Last? is a little long (no pun intended), and it's not as tight or cohesive as Big Red Machine's debut, but that feels like the point. Aaron compared this album to The Last Waltz, The Band's live album with a variety of all-star guest singers, and it really does feel like the modern-day indie rock equivalent of that album. Big Red Machine no longer feels like an underrated side project; it now feels like a place where just about any musician and any idea is welcome. The possibilities of what Big Red Machine might do next seem endless.
Turnstile - Glow On
Hardcore visionaries Turnstile are back with their most ambitious and best album yet, an album that pushes hardcore to its limits without abandoning the genre's unique thrills. Read my review.
Halsey - If I Can't Have Love, I Want Power
Halsey's new album, which was produced by core Nine Inch Nails members Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, is the darkest, most unconventional-sounding album that Halsey has released yet, but it doesn't feel out of left field for Halsey, who's always snuck heavier rock influences into her extremely successful pop music. It feels like a long time coming. Read my review.
Pick up a vinyl copy in our store.
Madi Diaz - History Of A Feeling
Madi Diaz has been putting out music since the late 2000s, but History Of A Feeling feels like a reintroduction. It's her first release for ANTI- and full-length album in seven years (though she remained active with a brief EP and various collaborations in between), and it sounds nothing like her last album, 2014's Phantom. Phantom took a turn towards electronic pop, while History Of A Feeling returns to the folky, sometimes countrified singer/songwriter material she made early on. And with frequent Big Thief collaborator Andrew Sarlo co-producing the album, it has a modern sound that fits right in with the latest wave of indie folk. It has the hunger of a debut by a promising new artist, mixed with the wisdom that only a seasoned artist like Madi could develop.
History Of A Feeling not only comes after a long break between albums, it also comes after a momentous change in Madi's life. "The bulk of this music came from dealing with a kind of tsunami clash of compassion, both for my former partner while she was discovering a deeper part of her gender identity long hidden, and my own raw heartache over having lost the partner I knew," Madi said. The result is an album that's devastatingly personal. It's at times confessional ("I'm not proud of kicking in your bathroom door, or screaming at you 'I don't know you anymore'" on "Man In Me"), conversational ("I could be sitting on the M train going back to Brooklyn, I could be crossing the street somewhere and not looking, I could be drunk at a party laughing out loud" on "Crying In Public"), and bluntly honest ("I hope you fuck her with your eyes closed and think of me" on "Think of Me"). It's obvious that this album was written after Madi went through some shit, and it really makes you feel something. As gorgeous as the songs sound on the surface, the real impact comes from the entirely tangible pain that lies deeply within them.
Indigo De Souza - Any Shape You Take
"I don’t feel that I fully embody any particular genre—all of the music just comes from the universe that is my ever-shifting brain/heart/world," North Carolina artist Indigo De Souza says of the meaning behind the title of her sophomore album (and Saddle Creek debut), Any Shape You Take. And the music on the album lives up to that description, with everything from quiet singer/songwriter stuff to explosive rock to discordant noise to glossy '80s pop to futuristic auto-tune and more. Indigo has a firm grasp on all of it, as well as a stadium-sized vocal delivery that sets her apart from artists who might seem similar on paper. And it's not just her approach to genre that's shapeshifting, it's her approach to mood and vibe and lyricism too. She can sound casual and funny, singing about barking dogs keeping her up at night or throwing away dirty dishes instead of washing them, but she can also stop you in your tracks with a dead-serious line, like on "Real Pain," when she pleads "I wanna kick, wanna scream, I wanna know it's not my fault," or on "Die/Cry," when she shouts "I'd rather die before you die." Because the album can feel so lighthearted at times, those heavier moments feel even more overwhelming.
Pick up the album on yellow vinyl.
Filth Is Eternal - Love Is A Lie, Filth Is Eternal
Quiet Panic/Church Road
Love Is A Lie, Filth Is Eternal is Seattle hardcore band Filth Is Eternal's first new LP since changing their name from Fucked and Bound, and their name isn't the only thing that changed. Love Is A Lie is a better, stronger album than their 2018 debut LP Suffrage in every way. The production is much sharper than the lo-fi Suffrage, and the crisper sound really lets this band's talents shine. The D-beating rhythm section hits you like a ton of bricks, and Lisa Mungo's bark sounds even more vicious. Suffrage proved that this band can make one hell of a racket, but Love Is A Lie proves that they channel it into something much more deliberate.
Flee Lord & Roc Marciano - Delgado
The extremely prolific Flee Lord put out one album per month in 2020, followed by the DJ Muggs-produced Rammellzee earlier this year, while fellow New York rapper Roc Marciano put out his own great album Mt. Marci last year and also produced Stove God Cooks' 2020 debut LP Reasonable Drought. Now, Flee Lord has released another new album, this time entirely produced by Roc Marciano. Roc, who helped pioneer the type of noir-ish post-boom bap that's taken off in the Griselda era, does what he does best across these ten songs, and Flee sounds as fiery and charismatic as ever. Even with this being Flee's 14th album in less than two years, he still has a lot to say, and he never sounds like he's running out of a steam as a performer. Guest verses come from three other rappers within Flee Lord and Roc Marciano's inner circle -- Ransom, Stove God Cooks, and Conway The Machine -- and each one is a show-stopper. With a lean ten-song tracklist, a clear intro and outro, and Roc's production giving the songs a consistent vibe throughout, Delgado feels like one of the more cohesive albums that Flee has released in the past two years. His catalog is already tough to penetrate, but this one stands out as a strong entry point.
Stove God Cooks and Conway both also appear on the just-released part one of Westside Gunn's double album #HWH8: Sincerely Adolf.
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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