Notable Releases of the Week (2/5)
Hope everyone's having a good February so far, and if you're in the Northeast, hope you've been weathering this week's snowstorm. I know time feels like it doesn't exist anymore, but believe it or not, this weekend is the Super Bowl. The Weeknd is playing the Halftime Show (and released a greatest hits today), Jazmine Sullivan and Eric Church will be singing the National Anthem, H.E.R. will sing "America the Beautiful," Mike Myers and Dana Carvey's Wayne's World characters are reuniting for an Uber Eats ad, and Green Day will play the NFL Honors telecast on Saturday on CBS. Metallica are playing a special Super Bowl Weekend edition of Colbert on Sunday. And that's not the only music-related stuff on national television this weekend: Phoebe Bridgers makes her SNL debut on Saturday!
As for this week's new music, there's a lot of it. I highlight nine below, and here are some honorable mentions: Foo Fighters, Jane Birkin, Sarah Mary Chadwick, Joeboy, Peace Chord, Black Coffee, Guy Blakeslee, Sarin, TV Priest, The Staves, John Carpenter, Femi & Made Kuti, Psychedelic Porn Crumpets, Pooh Shiesty, Nana Yamato, Dequisitor, Danny Kroh (The Gories), the Leno Banton EP, the Miss Grit EP, the VanJess EP, and last but definitely not least, the J Dilla Welcome 2 Detroit 20th anniversary box set. (Donuts also turns 15 this weekend.)
Today is also a Bandcamp Friday, which means Bandcamp is waiving their cut from any purchases made between midnight and midnight Pacific, and giving 100% of profits to artists and labels. Check out our list of today's Bandcamp-exclusive releases for even more new music. As always, the embeds in this post are Bandcamp embeds when applicable.
Read on for my picks. What's your favorite release of the week?
Black Country, New Road - For the first time
Producer Dan Carey's Speedy Wunderground label continues to be a reliable incubator for young, talented, art rock bands, a few of which have really started to take off. black midi signed to Rough Trade and released the hugely acclaimed 2019 debut LP Schlagenheim, Squid signed to Warp and their anticipated debut LP Bright Green Field arrives this May, and Black Country, New Road teamed up with Ninja Tune, who have just released their debut LP, For the first time. These three bands all sound very different, but they all have a likeminded approach. They all employ post-punky talk-singing, they're all fearlessly experimental, and they all unveil their wildest musical dreams over the course of lengthy songs. In Black Country, New Road's case, those ideas include freeform jazz, climactic post-rock, screeching noise, propulsive klezmer, and more, all presented within a context that can still accurately be called "indie rock." Isaac Wood's vocals go from hushed and melodic to sardonic and apathetic to desperate and suspenseful, and his words are filled with pop culture references (Phoebe Bridgers, Kanye West, Scott Walker, Richard Hell, "thank u, next," and his friends black midi) as well as attempted sarcasm and wit. I'm not sure if they always pull it off with conviction, but I appreciate the impulse to try out every crazy idea, even if it isn't perfect. The amount of talent and ambition this band has is over the top, and this is just their first album (and four of its six songs were already released as singles, one of which came out over two years ago). If they're already this skilled and inspired now, I am very optimistic about their future.
Hayley Williams - FLOWERS for VASES / descansos
Paramore's Hayley Williams follows her 2020 debut solo album Petals For Armor with FLOWERS for VASES / descansos, which was recorded entirely by Hayley alone and is much more somber and stripped-back than Petals For Armor. Read my full review of it here.
The Weather Station - Ignorance
Having released four Laurel Canyon-style folk albums as The Weather Station, Tamara Lindeman (and her now-seven-piece band) went in a different direction on their fifth album and first for Fat Possum, Ignorance, channeling '80s sophisti-pop and coming out with the most fleshed-out music of their career. Read Bill's review for more.
Cult of Luna - The Raging River
Red Creek Recordings
Cult of Luna took some time off after releasing 2013's Vertikal and then did a collaboration with Julie Christmas before making a strong comeback on 2019's A Dawn To Fear, which rivaled the peaks of their classic 2000s era. They're now keeping that momentum going with the five-song The Raging River EP, which the band says "feels more like a bridge. A midpoint that needs to be crossed so we can finish what we started with 2019's A Dawn to Fear." We look forward to finding out what's on the other side of the bridge (a new full-length?), but meanwhile, these five songs are as towering as anything on A Dawn to Fear. Cult of Luna are masters at sludgy post-metal that's as heavy as it is beautiful, and these songs are no exception. The first two and the last two tracks find them doing what they've always done best, but there's a much different treat in the middle: "Inside of a Dream," a somber, atmospheric song with guest lead vocals by the legendary Mark Lanegan. Taken on its own, you'd never guess it was a Cult of Luna song, but as the centerpiece of this EP, it works perfectly within the context of their trademark intensity. Cult of Luna are a great band on their own, but as proven on that Julie Christmas LP and again with this Mark Lanegan song, they really know how to take a backseat and turn the spotlight over to someone else when the moment calls for it.
Dark Time Sunshine - LORE
Fake Four Inc
Underground rap duo Dark Time Sunshine (Seattle rapper Onry Ozzborn and Chicago producer Zavala) are back with their first album in nine years, and it features R.A.P. Ferreira, Homeboy Sandman, Hail Mary Mallon (aka Aesop Rock, Rob Sonic, and DJ Big Wiz) and Ceschi. The long gap between albums has left the duo sounding totally refreshed, and if you're unfamiliar with DTS, the cast of guests on this album should give you a good idea of what to expect. LORE connects the dots between Aesop Rock's early 2000s alt-rap classics and R.A.P. Ferreira's current version of left-of-the-dial rap music, and it's no surprise that both of those greats fit in perfectly here. Read more about the album here.
Sun June - Somewhere
Run For Cover/Keeled Scales
Austin's Sun June released their debut LP Years in 2018 on Keeled Scales (a label primarily known for folk music) and they recently also signed to Run For Cover (a label first known for punk/emo but that's been branching out lately), and their sophomore LP Somewhere was a joint release by both labels. Those two labels are usually associated with entirely different scenes, but Sun June are the kind of band that can break down barriers between those two worlds. Laura Colwell has the kind of classic folk-singing voice that never goes out of style, and Sun June have a muscular indie rock rhythm section that stands tall next to classic RFC bands. It makes for a record that fits right in with the growing trend of folky indie rock (Angel Olsen, Lucy Dacus, Julia Jacklin, etc), and I have a feeling that fans of those artists will find Somewhere very promising.
Editrix - Tell Me I'm Bad
Exploding In Sound
Editrix is one of several projects led by the uniquely talented singer/guitarist/songwriter Wendy Eisenberg (who released the very good solo album Auto on Ba Da Bing last year), and their Exploding In Sound-released debut LP Tell Me I'm Bad scratches a similar itch as Eisenberg's solo career but goes in a slightly harder, louder direction too. Its 12 songs are fueled by math rock twitchiness and off-kilter melodies, falling somewhere between mid '90s Dischord, Deerhoof, and former EIS band Speedy Ortiz (whose Sadie Dupuis is a big fan of Auto). It's an album that entirely ignores conventional pop songwriting but still channels all of its eccentricities into something compact and digestible. It takes a very talented band to go off the rails like this and still come out with something you can hum along to, and that's exactly what Editrix have done.
Conway The Machine & Big Ghost Ltd - If It Bleeds It Can Be Killed
Big Ghost Ltd
Conway The Machine (who seemed to recently shut down rumors that he was leaving Griselda) is gearing up to release his Shady debut God Don’t Make Mistakes this year, but first he reunited with producer Big Ghost Ltd (who helmed last year's No One Mourns The Wicked EP) for a new 10-song project, If It Bleeds It Can Be Killed. As on their last collab, Big Ghost Ltd blesses Conway with some of the most ominous production he's ever rapped over, while also finding plenty of time for the kinds of warm, soul sample-fueled beats that exist right at the center of Conway's comfort zone. Ghost knows exactly how to deliver in both cases, and Conway remains an A+ spitter who still has plenty of detailed stories to tell.
The Ruins of Beverast - The Thule Grimoires
To quote what Joe Aprill wrote over at Invisible Oranges:
The Ruins of Beverast, the creation of lone composer Alexander von Meilenwald and perhaps the grandest jewel in the pantheon of German black metal, returns with its sixth full length in The Thule Grimoires. The project has long kept fans guessing at what direction their sound will take next and last album, 2017’s Exuvia, surprised most of all with its sonically overwhelming atmosphere and ritualized performances, akin to a hallucinogenic spirit journey with the music playing the role of shaman. So it was no surprise to again be intrigued when coverage of lead single “Kromlc'h Knell” emphasized connections to long-buried goth metal legends Type O Negative. Such a comparison isn’t unfounded, given the inclusion of near-baritone clean vocals, Beatles melodies wrestled into gloomy melancholy, and probably the overall vibe the green tinted album cover conveyed as well.
Read the rest of Joe's 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.
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