Notable Releases of the Week (9/4)
It's a "holiday weekend" (whatever that means anymore), so there's slightly less new music out this week than usual, but there's still a fair amount of stuff worth checking out. I highlight seven new albums below, and here are some honorable mentions:
Big Sean, Thor & Friends (ft. Jarboe, Bill Callahan, Low & more), Lomelda, Soundwalk Collective & Patti Smith, Don't Sleep (Dave Smalley), Mike Huguenor (Hard Girls, Jeff Rosenstock's band, etc), The Bananas (first in 12 years), Deafkids & Petbrick, Sprain, Black Magnet, Foretoken, Yelle, Hannah Georgas, ROT, En Minor, Unurnment, Tangents, Jesse Draxler (ft. Chelsea Wolfe, Full of Hell's Dylan Walker, The Dillinger Escape Plan's Greg Puciato & many more), the Bummer/The Body split, the In Parallel (mem Hopesfall) EP, the Dirty Projectors EP, the William Tyler EP, the Zulu EP, the Marc Bolan/T. Rex tribute album produced by the late Hal Willner, and The Rolling Stones' expanded Goats Head Soup reissue.
Update: Ozuna released an album mid-day today too.
It's also a Bandcamp Friday (Bandcamp waives its cut of sales and gives all profits directly to artists and labels) so pick up your new music at Bandcamp if you can. We've also got a list of some of today's Bandcamp exclusives HERE.
If you need even more content to occupy your time this long weekend, maybe check out one of the many music documentaries we recommend, or the new Bill & Ted movie, or some of our favorite albums of 2020 so far.
Read on for my seven picks. What's your favorite release of the week?
Bill Callahan - Gold Record
Last year, Bill Callahan released his first album in five years, the 20-song, hour-long double album Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest, and he now returns just 13 and a half months later with ten more new songs, Gold Record. After taking so much time off before Shepherd, Bill must have really been hit with a creative spark, because he hasn't given us anything close to 30 songs in a one-year period since his Smog days in the mid '90s. And not only is he very prolific right now, he's on a roll quality-wise too. The Gold Record songs are at least as good as the Shepherd songs, and they're different enough to make Gold Record clearly its own distinct new album. Like its predecessor, these songs are minimal -- often with just Bill's voice, his acoustic guitar, and maybe a little light drumming or textural work in the background -- and Bill's delivery and lyricism is plainspoken and conversational. But each individual song is such a complete, compelling story on its own that they all feel like crucial additions to his catalog. It makes sense that Bill rolled this album out one song a week for ten weeks -- it's a cohesive album, but every single song stands tall on its own too.
As mentioned in the intro to this post, Bill Callahan is also on the new Thor & Friends album that's out today.
BUMPER - pop songs 2020
Japanese Breakfast hasn't released a new album since her 2017 breakthrough Soft Sounds From Another Planet and Crying haven't since their own 2016 breakthrough Beyond the Fleeting Gales, but thanks to the power of quarantine, JB leader Michelle Zauner and Crying guitarist/songwriter Ryan Galloway have put their heads together and surprise-released their debut EP as BUMPER this week. It's got four songs that pretty much find the middle ground between JB's indie/dream pop and Crying's unironic love of '80s pop and arena rock, and their styles go very well together. If you had to guess what it might sound like to combine Japanese Breakfast and Crying, you'd probably picture something like BUMPER. "I’ve always really liked Crying and I think Ryan as a talent is so underrated," Michelle told Rolling Stone. "I knew that he was such a guitar wizard and his influences are super bizarre, in my world anyway." Ryan adds, "Basically, her songs were made and were not obnoxious, and then I just added that element to it." There you have it.
Bbymutha - Muthaland
Chattanooga, Tennessee rapper Bbymutha first caught a lot of people's ears in the mid 2010s as a frequent collaborator of experimental Philly producer LSDXOXO, and she then went on to drop a ton of EPs throughout the latter half of the '10s before finally putting out her first proper album -- a double album -- at the tail-end of August. She also says Muthaland will mark the end of her rap career, and if that's true, that's a huge bummer. Throughout this 25-track album -- which features Yung Baby Tate, Zeeloperz, Liv.e, and others -- Bbymutha offers up some of her best music yet. She often favors abstract, psychedelic production, but Bbymutha's rapping is clear-headed, direct, and focused, and she remains an immensely skilled rapper. It's a long album, but it doesn't drag. The whole album is full of quality material, and if this really is her last project, at least she's leaving us with over an hour of great new music.
Code Orange - Under The Skin
We're living in totally unprecedented times, and it's obviously been tough on musicians, but Code Orange have really made the best of it and figured out ways to keep us continuously invested ever since their great new album Underneath dropped just days before the country started to go on lockdown. They had to cancel their release show (along with the rest of their tour), but they quickly got together with the incredible hardcore-scene videographer hate5six and at the last minute they turned their release show into a livestream which then became an awesome, vivid concert film. A few months later, they did another ambitious, hate5six-aided stream, this time dubbed Under The Skin and modeled after MTV Unplugged. Nirvana's and Alice In Chains' Unplugged performances in particular seemed like inspiration for Code Orange's, and they covered AIC's "Down In A Hole" during their performance too. That stream has now been properly edited (by hate5ix) and it comes out as a live album/film today. And as with Nirvana and Alice In Chains' Unplugged albums, Under The Skin is as essential as Code Orange's proper studio material. The set leaned most heavily on their most melodic material, which presumably was easier to translate into the "unplugged" style, but even so, these are all drastically reworked versions and they really breathe new life into these songs. Experimental interludes are weaved in throughout the album, and like Nirvana did with covers at their Unplugged performance, Code Orange really made the AIC song fit right in with their originals. Under The Skin marks the third time Code Orange put out an essential piece of work this year, and as much as things suck right now, hopefully one day we'll look back on this year and remember it also resulted in some monumental triumphs like the ones this band has pulled off.
Ian Isiah - AUNTIE
Before now, NYC R&B singer Ian Isiah recorded for the underground electronic label UNO NYC and often sang over the kind of experimental production that label is most known for, but his new project AUNTIE is out on Chromeo's label and and it was entirely produced by the Canadian duo, and it finds him fully embracing their slick, groovy electro-funk. AUNTIE is less "alt-R&B" and more like a fresh spin on '80s Prince, and Ian and Chromeo both do a lot of justice to that sound. (It may also remind you a little of Blood Orange, who Ian frequently collaborates with.) Ian and Chromeo prove to bring out the best in each other, and AUNTIE livens up Ian's career and proves he's no one trick pony. The only time it slows down is for "Bougie Heart," a ballad aided by the great NYC jazz group Onyx Collective, and they have no trouble adapting their chameleonic sound to fit the vibe of AUNTIE. It's only seven songs in 26 minutes, but they're all loud, bold, attention-grabbing songs, and if Ian's got more stuff like this up his sleeve, we already can't wait to hear what he does next.
Throwing Muses - Sun Racket
Throwing Muses helped invent indie rock as we know now it with their '80s and '90s classics, and they're now back with their tenth album (and first in seven years), Sun Racket, which finds Kristin Hersh & co. doing what they do best. Bill's got a longer review in Bill's Indie Basement.
Tricky - Fall to Pieces
Trip hop veteran Tricky continues a late-career hot streak with Fall to Pieces, made with vocalists Marta and Oh Land, and as Bill points out in his review, it's a lyrically heavy album, as it's his first since the untimely death of his 24-year-old daughter with Martina Topley-Bird, Mazy Mina. Read more in Bill's Indie Basement.
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.