Notable Releases of the Week (2/12)
It's been a rough week in the music world with the loss of such legends as Mary Wilson and Chick Corea. Both are artists whose impact is still widely felt today, and if you haven't done so already, I recommend revisiting some of their classic works this weekend.
On a lighter note, there are a lot cool livestreams this weekend (some because of Valentine's Day). We'd like to invite you to tune in to Manchester Orchestra's virtual concert tonight (2/12) and the BrooklynVegan-presented fan Q&A happening beforehand at 7:45 PM ET (which I'm hosting/moderating), as well as the BV-presented Laura Stevenson Sit Resist (At Home) livestream on Saturday (2/13) at 8 PM ET, during which she'll perform Sit Resist in full for its 10th anniversary. Laura spoke to us about the music that influenced that album earlier this week.
And speaking of stuff we're doing that you can watch, BrooklynVegan has a show on Vans' new "community radio meets public access TV" livestreaming platform Channel 66. Our first show is February 18 at 11 AM ET with special guest Ric Leichtung (AdHoc Presents, NYC Nightlife United), and I'll be hosting that too. Tune in!
Now onto this week's new music. I highlight six new albums below, and here are some honorable mentions: the Judas and the Black Messiah soundtrack (ft. Jay-Z, Nipsey Hussle, Nas, Black Thought, Rakim, Rapsody, H.E.R., Smino, Saba, A$AP Rocky, Pooh Shiesty, Polo G & more), Caithlin De Marrais (Rainer Maria), Paul Leary (Butthole Surfers), Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Django Django, Claud, R+R=NOW live album, Mush, Ad Nauseam, God Is An Astronaut, Marlon Craft, Heligoland, Sia, Rat Columns, Virginia Wing, Chris Crack, the Loathe ambient LP, the A.A. Williams covers LP, The Obsessives EP, the Snacking EP, the JPEGMAFIA EP, and the deluxe edition of Dua Lipa's Future Nostalgia.
Read on for my picks. What's your favorite release of the week?
Calyx - Stay Gone
Stay Gone is Calyx's first album, but they've been around for six years, released two EPs and a single, and built up a reputation as one of the best newer bands in Pittsburgh's punk scene, so Stay Gone is less an introduction and more a culmination of everything they've spent a half-decade building towards. However, if it is your introduction to Calyx, it's a damn good introduction. It's by far the best thing they've released yet, with much better production (by The Superweaks' Evan Bernard) than their EPs, along with even stronger songwriting and tighter musicianship than they had in the past. Guitarist/vocalist Caitlin Bender has a soaring voice and she writes indie/punk songs with a folky quality, sort of the vein of early Hop Along. Her words and melodies are impactful, and her songs are distinct enough to make Stay Gone stand out in the crowded indie-punk subgenre. Bassist Jon Ahn and drummer Garrett Cassidy (who both also play in the post-hardcore band Edhochuli) contrast Cailtin's songwriting with a heavier rhythm section. Garrett's razor-sharp snare rolls are as attention-grabbing as Caitlin's choruses, and Jon -- who fronts Edhochuli -- brings his own gravelly punk roar into the fold a few times, making for a nice complement to Caitlin's cleaner voice. The result is an album that's grittier than your average indie rock record and more tuneful than your average punk record. It's constantly pushing and pulling itself in different directions, from folky singer/songwriter stuff to raging post-hardcore to anthemic punk, and its inability to ever fit neatly in one place is a big part of what makes it so unique.
slowthai - TYRON
slowthai arrived fully formed on his 2019 debut LP Nothing Great About Britain, the kind of bold, fearless debut that demands to be heard and truly feels like something new. It's a rap album that owes as much to punk as it does to hip hop, and as its title implies, it has a political angle that hit hard in the era of Brexit and the election of Boris Johnson. slowthai instantly took off, playing bigger and bigger shows and landing collabs with artists like Gorillaz and Disclosure, and now he follows his debut with his sophomore album TYRON, an expansive double album that proves Nothing Great About Britain was only the beginning.
The album is split into two distinct halves; the first half is full of aggressive, chest-puffed rap songs that pick up where the debut left off, and the second half is calmer, more melodic, and more lyrically introspective. It makes sense that the album title is TYRON, slowthai's real first name. When the first album would look outwards, this one looks inwards. Even on the harsher first half, there's nothing as straight-up punk as NGAB standout "Doorman." The album is unmistakably the work of slowthai, who was able to quickly craft his own distinct style, but it marks a noticeable progression from its predecessor. slowthai takes his music in all kinds of new directions, and many of the album's best moments come on the more somber songs on side two. For an artist who established himself with loud, raucous music, he is pretty damn good at the exact opposite.
slowthai also continues to prove himself as a versatile collaborator. In addition to an appearance by Skepta, who was also on Nothing Great About Britain, TYRON features James Blake, Mount Kimbie, Denzel Curry, A$AP Rocky, Dominic Fike, and Deb Never, and slowthai and his guests always bring out the best in each other. slowthai has created a vast musical world on TYRON, one where in-your-face rappers, indie-R&B crooners, subwoofer-rattling rap beats, and ethereal electronics all fit in neatly. The album aims to make an even grander statement than slowthai's debut and establish him as an artist who can't be pigeonholed, and it does so without losing sight of why people fell in love with his music in the first place.
For Your Health - In Spite Of
For Your Health left a big mark on the screamo scene with their 2019 Death of Spring split with Shin Guard and Nosebleeds EP, and now they follow up that buzz with their first full-length, In Spite Of. It's a huge leap forward from anything they did previously, and way too much of a genre-defying post-hardcore record to be pigeonholed as "screamo." You can read much more about it in my recent feature on the album.
Anika Pyle - Wild River
Anika Pyle has done lots of solo work in between her time with Chumped, Katie Ellen, and Sheena Anika & Augusta, but she's never done a full-length solo album until now. It's called Wild River, and it's one of the most unique and powerful records she's ever written. You read more about it (and my Q&A with Anika) here.
Another Five Minutes - Fil Rouge
Another Five Minutes hail from the ever-thriving French screamo/post-hardcore scene, and they first made their mark with three EPs in the early/mid 2010s, before vocalist Julien Hermann left the band and Another Five Minutes went six years without new music. That finally changed this week with Fil Rouge -- their first-ever full-length -- which remaining members Seb, Flo, and Kevin recorded as a trio, with all three members handling vocal duties. The album has been in the making for the past five years, and it's a noticeable progression from the EPs. The band's usual screamo-informed post-hardcore style returns in top form, but they also cite such influences as Title Fight's shoegazy emo (on "Don't Follow Me"), Self Defense Family's experimental post-hardcore (on "Perpetual Calendar"), and early Taking Back Sunday's melodic emo (on "The King Stays King"), all of which you can definitely hear coming through. Not that A5M lacked melody in the past, but this album really pushes them in a cleaner, more accessible direction, without losing any of the grit of their early EPs.
Swampbeast - Seven Evils Spawned Of Seven Heads
LA death metallers Swampbeast follow up a demo and a split with Void Terror with Seven Evils Spawned Of Seven Heads, their first full-length. It's a death metal album with hints of black metal, grind, and hardcore, and that might describe a lot of bands lately, but Swampbeast stand out from the pack with crisp, memorable riffs and guttural barks that stick with you and beg to be screamed along to. Swampbeast also direct their hatred and anger in the right direction. Death is a theme, as it is on tons of death metal albums, but Seven Evils Spawned Of Seven Heads is more about the collapse of society than shock factor and gore. "We all agree that the current system of man and the way that the world operates is on the brink of complete collapse," says drummer/vocalist Marecov Mena. "This album is a depiction of what is to come if we continue on this path."
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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