Notable Releases of the Week (7/30)
It's been a pretty rough week in the music world, with the deaths of three icons: Slipknot's Joey Jordison, ZZ Top's Dusty Hill, and Metal Church's Mike Howe. All of them left behind rich legacies. Spin some of their music this weekend in their honor.
It's also been a confusing time with the comeback of large music festivals coinciding with the rise of the Delta variant. Hopefully everyone at Lollapalooza is safe this weekend, and that means you too, Fred Durst and your new look.
As for this week's new music, there's a lot. I highlight nine new albums below, and Bill looks at Dot Allison, Bloodslide (members of Protomartyr and Preoccupations), and more in Bill's Indie Basement. More honorable mentions: Yola, Sonny & The Sunsets, Los Lobos, Dave East & Harry Fraud, Young Dolph & Paper Route Empire, Toosii, Tink, Horsey, Cookiee Kawaii, Son Volt, Electric Six, Bleachers, Dam-Funk, Praise The Plague, Partial Traces, Tombstoner, Skirts, the Skepta EP, the Shirley Collins EP, the Mayson's Party EP, the Sparing EP, the Voices EP, the Brain Cave EP, the Tubs (ex-Joanna Gruesome) EP, the Obits live album, the second "lost" Alan Vega album of 2021, the latest previously unreleased Prince album, and the Beach Boys' Sunflower & Surf's Up sessions box.
Read on for my picks. What's your favorite release of the week?
Torres - Thirstier
"Thirsty" has kind of taken on a negative connotation, but Torres does indeed sound thirstier on her new album of the same name, and in the most positive, uplifting way. Her career thus far has been fascinating, and not without its roadblocks. After releasing two great albums in the early 2010s, she inked a much-deserved deal with the massive 4AD label and she took the opportunity to embrace intricate, uncompromising art rock on 2017's Three Futures. The album received good reviews, but unfortunately, 4AD dropped her less than a year after its release (Torres said the label said she was "[not] commercially successful enough"). Torres persevered, signed to Merge, and released her fourth album Silver Tongue in 2020. Silver Tongue is a very good album, but it's an album that feels relatively small and tucked-away. That's not the case at all on Thirstier, which is the most commanding album she's ever released. This time around, she embraces anthemic heartland rock, searing grunge, and infectious power pop, and the result is an album that feels like it has more of an urge to be heard than any other Torres album. In other words, it's thirstier -- but not in a cynical way. These are some of the most sincere, open-hearted songs in Torres' catalog; they don't feel like they were written to attract a more mainstream audience, but if that does happen, it'll just be a much-deserved side effect.
Billie Eilish - Happier Than Ever
Billie Eilish's hugely anticipated sophomore album is here, and spoiler: it's really good. You can read my first-impressions review here.
King Woman - Celestial Blues
Kris Esfandiari is a very prolific, multi-talented musician who makes shoegaze as Miserable, industrial as NGHTCRWLR, trap-infused pop with Sugar High, and melodic sludge metal as King Woman. She's just released her second album as King Woman (and first in four years), and it may very well be the best thing she's done yet. Kris and her band (drummer Joseph Raygoza and guitarist Peter Arensdorf) worked once again with frequent Deafheaven collaborator Jack Shirley, but everything about Celestial Blues feels bigger than its predecessor. The cleaner production only makes the towering sludge riffs crash harder, and Kris' vocal melodies cut through the mix in a way they never have before. It's as heavy as a Neurosis record and as hauntingly catchy as a Chelsea Wolfe record, and it's got the metal-with-grunge-sensibilities vibe of a band like Thou -- the quiet-loud dynamics feel lifted directly from grunge, and the somber parts only make the loud climaxes feel even more explosive. And similar to both Thou and Neurosis, it's an album that should appeal to non-metal listeners without alienating metalheads. It's really just a great rock record, with heavy metal bona fides that are as undeniable as its pop hooks.
Pick up our metallic silver vinyl variant, limited to 200.
Isaiah Rashad - The House Is Burning
TDE has been relatively quiet lately, and while most eyes have been on the long-awaited new albums from Kendrick Lamar and SZA, the label has given us an even longer-awaited album: Isaiah Rashad's first album in five years (and second overall), The House Is Burning. It's been a long time, but Isaiah's Sun's Tirade followup finds him sounding just as sharp as he did on that album. A few tracks veer into danceable, party-friendly territory like the Lil Uzi Vert-featuring "From the Garden" and the Duke Deuce-featuring "Lay Wit Ya," but moments like those are outliers. It's an album you really need to immerse yourself in, with laid-back production, airy R&B hooks, and deep, conversational lyricism from Isaiah. Joining him for the ride are TDE labelmates Jay Rock and SZA (but not Schoolboy Q, who's on new single "Runnin'" which actually doesn't appear on the album), as well as Smino, Jay Worthy, 6LACK, Aminidi, Kal Banx (who also produced much of the album, alongside Devin Malik, Kenny Beats, and others), and more. It's a great sounding album, one that scratches the itch even if you aren't focused on Isaiah's lyrics, but when you do tune in, you're reminded that he has a story to tell, and he knows just how to tell it.
LUMP - Animal
Laura Marling has spent most of her career making really convincing updates on classic folk rock, but with LUMP -- her collaborative project with Tunng's Mike Lindsay -- she's able to try on a variety of different hats. "LUMP is the repository for so many things that I’ve had in my mind and just don’t fit anywhere in that way," Laura said when the duo's sophomore album Animal was announced. "They don’t have to totally make narrative sense, but weirdly they end up making narrative sense in some way." On their 2018 self-titled debut, they experimented with folktronica, psych-rock, krautrock, and more, and Animal touches on all of that and more. It's an album where the organic meets the synthetic, where darkness meets light, where weird meets pop. It sounds almost nothing like the music Laura Marling releases under her own name, but her always-powerful voice has the same appeal on Animal that it does on her solo albums. When the first album came out, it was hard to tell if Laura and Mike intended it to be a one-off thing or a continuous band, and I'm glad to now know it's the latter. It's always a treat to hear very popular artists exploring something way out of left field, and with LUMP, Laura Marling does that in a way that's increasingly effective.
LUMP is also Bill's pick for Album of the Week, and you can read his longer review.
VIAL - Loudmouth
Get Better Records
Minneapolis' VIAL put out their debut LP Grow Up in late 2019, not long before the pandemic hit, and even though they were quickly deprived of the opportunity to play shows, they still drastically evolved over the past two years. Their second album (and first for Get Better Records) Loudmouth is bigger, tighter, louder, and bolder than their debut in every way. It reminds me of that moment in the '90s when punk, grunge, and power pop were all intermingling with each other (stuff like The Muffs, Veruca Salt, etc), and VIAL do that in a way that sounds totally fresh. Their pop side can be sugary sweet, their punk side can be totally raucous, and their lyrics always jump out at you, whether they're delivering scathing takedowns of abusive men or reveling in the joy of a queer love song.
Lantlôs - Wildhund
Germany's Lantlôs cemented themselves at the forefront of the post-black metal subgenre in the late 2000s and early 2010s, but on 2014's masterful Melting Sun, they followed in the footsteps of their collaborator Neige's band Alcest and wholly embraced the shoegaze influences that were always in post-black metal's DNA. (We included "Azure Chimes" from that album on our list of 30 essential heavy shoegaze songs.) Seven years later, Lantlôs is finally back with a followup to Melting Sun, and it picks up right where that album left off. There are only traces of metal on Wildhund; it's more often a heavy, shoegazy rock record in the vein of bands like Hum and Failure, and Wildhund has all the big riffs and big choruses needed to make music like this stand out in the increasingly crowded heavygaze genre. And Lantlôs' ability to seesaw between the different ends of the heavygaze spectrum makes them sound entirely unique. It still feels more metal than Hum and Failure, but it's also way more alt-rock than Alcest and Deafheaven, yet still too decidedly underground to warrant Deftones and Smashing Pumpkins comparisons. Wildhund is always darting around between all of that, never staying in one place long enough for anyone to pigeonhole them.
Section H8 - Welcome To The Nightmare
Hardcore has never gone away, but there's been more widespread attention on the genre these past few years than there has been in a long time, and it's starting to seem like there's a new hardcore band primed for crossover success every week. One of those bands is Section H8, who built up a following over the past few years off the strength of two EPs and their intense live show. Now they've just put out their debut album Welcome To The Nightmare on the trusty Flatspot Records, and if you're wondering just how much crossover potential it has, consider it features guest vocals from Rancid's Tim Armstrong, who said, "Section H8 are an incredible new band. I love them! At times, they harken back to the rawness of 1980s Agnostic Front Cause For Alarm era hardcore, while at the same time documenting what’s around them in 2021." That description does them a lot of justice; Welcome To The Nightmare harnesses the brutal attack of '80s hardcore, but it doesn't feel retro because its sights are set on the political climate that we're living in right now, and the impact that it has on the Los Angeles communities where Section H8 live. "The goal isn’t to change the world, but to give you a glimpse into our world," vocalist Mexi said. (Also keeping things sounding modern is excellent production from Taylor Young, who's fresh off helming one of the year's best hardcore records.) Big-name guest vocalists like Tim Armstrong aside, Welcome To The Nightmare has crossover appeal just because it rips that hard. It sounds as pissed-off as you could ask for, and the songs leave an impact. It's easy for a band to get lost in the shuffle with how fast hardcore's been moving lately, but you won't forget listening to Section H8.
Time and Pressure - Halfway Down
Safe Inside Records
Another, much different kind of hardcore album out this week is St. Louis melodic hardcore band Time and Pressure's rippin, purposeful sophomore LP Halfway Down. We premiered a stream of it last week and you can read much more about it 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.
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