Notable Releases of the Week (11/19)
We're a week away from Thanksgiving and major music publications are already rolling out their year-end lists, so it may be feeling like the year is just about over, but there's definitely still more music to come. Not only does today have some crucial new albums, it's one of the most stacked weeks of the entire year. I highlight 12 new albums below, Bill looks at Mr. Twin Sister, Elbow, Fine Place (Frankie Rose), Papercuts, and more in Bill's Indie Basement, and there are still some heavy hitters on top of that.
Honorable mentions: the Cassandra Jenkins outtakes/demos album, the Bruised soundtrack (ft. Cardi B, Saweetie, Latto, City Girls, Young M.A, Flo Milli, Rapsody & more), the Snoop Dogg compilation (ft. Mount Westmore, Benny the Butcher, Jadakiss, Redman & Method Man, and much more), Ovlov, Body/Head/Dilloway, Smile (Björn Yttling of Peter Bjorn and John + Joakim Åhlund, ft. Robyn), Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, Willie Nelson, Sting, Exodus, Clams Casino, Khemmis, The Darkness, Modern Nature (ex-Ultimate Painting), Stalley & Apollo Brown, Jimmy Lo Fi (of The Sonder Bombs), Fred Again, Maybeshewill, Ben LaMar Gay, Holy Other, Der Weg einer Freiheit, Nobody's Flowers, Chris Liebing, Swansea Sound (mem The Pooh Sticks, Heavenly), Plebeian Grandstand, Atom Driver (mem Deadguy, ex-Good Clean Fun), Phil Cook (Megafaun), Jim Lindberg (Pennywise), Bears In Trees, The Temple, Noir Disco, John Thayer (of ARP), States of Nature, Avenues, µ-Ziq & Mrs Jynx, the Projexx EP, the Angel Haze EP, the Eye Flys EP, the Mandy, Indiana EP, the Same Side (The Story So Far) EP, the Lars Frederiksen (of Rancid) EP, the Sennen live EP, the Beach Fossils piano album, the Jessy Lanza DJ-Kicks mix, the Double Double Whammy compilation, and The Return Of The California Takeover (ft. Earth Crisis, Snapcase & Strife).
Read on for my picks. What's your favorite release of the week?
Converge (with Chelsea Wolfe, etc) - Bloodmoon I
Converge have let a more atmospheric, melodic side show through their music at times in the past, but they really leaned hard into that side during a very special set at 2016's Roadburn Festival called Blood Moon. It featured an expanded lineup of the band including Chelsea Wolfe, Chelsea's frequent collaborator Ben Chisholm, and Cave In's Stephen Brodsky, and they played re-imagined versions of Converge songs, with a greater emphasis on atmosphere and clean-sung vocals. Over five years later, that same expanded lineup of Converge have released an album, Bloodmoon I, featuring 11 entirely new songs written in the style of that 2016 Blood Moon performance. Throughout the album, you can hear similarities to various other Converge, Chelsea Wolfe, and Cave In releases, but Bloodmoon I is overall a much different beast than anything any of these artists have released previously. It's almost entirely void of Converge's usual hardcore roots, instead offering up a highly inventive interpretation of post-metal. "Post-metal" is so often synonymous with "sounds like Neurosis and Isis," but Bloodmoon I is not that. It uses similar ingredients (post-rock, sludge, folk, etc) and similar contrasting ideas (heavy yet beautiful, dark yet uplifting), but it fuses these things in ways that feels genuinely innovative. It's the start of yet another new chapter from a band who never stop reinventing themselves at every turn.
Pick up 'Bloodmoon I' on black/navy/neon purple vinyl or "clear navy cloudy vinyl" (with the Revolver x Converge winter issue) in our store.
Adele - 30
It's been six years, but just in time for Thanksgiving (just like last time), Adele has finally released her highly anticipated fourth album, 30. You've probably heard that the album is about her highly publicized divorce, and you probably know you can expect Adele's voice to be as powerful and stunning as ever, which it certainly is. It's also full of melancholic piano, sweeping, dramatic string arrangements, some nice electronic flourishes, and one song that changes up the pace with percussive acoustic guitar ("Can I Get It"). I haven't heard it enough times to give a full assessment, but on my first couple listens, I'm not sure I hear anything as immediate as "Hello" or "Rolling in the Deep" or "Set Fire to the Rain," but it could very well be a grower. (It's already gotten almost entirely rave reviews across the board.) It seems to lean a little more into her jazz side and less into her pop side, and maybe the idea was to do something a little more serene, something that sneaks up on you rather than stopping you in your tracks. At this point in her career, she's certainly earned the right to try it.
Makaya McCraven - Deciphering The Message
Re-imagining other artists' material has been a tradition in jazz that's lasted almost as long as the genre itself; however, as jazz entered the world of academia, standards often became homework rather than the source material for innovation. Albums like 1996's The New Groove: The Blue Note Remix Project, 2003's Shades of Blue: Madlib Invades Blue Note, and 2004's Blue Note Revisited included remixes of classics from the Blue Note catalog by hip hop producers and helped introduce them to a generation of music fans who were getting exposed to jazz via samples. More recently, various artists in the current UK jazz scene did a similar thing on last year's Blue Note Re:Imagined. And now, Makaya McCraven -- one of the leaders of Chicago's thriving jazz scene -- has done it with Deciphering The Message. It's a remix album of Blue Note classics, and Makaya's remixes take these songs and make them fit right in with modern-day hip hop, electronic music, and the most forward-thinking styles of jazz, without losing the enduring power of the originals. Like Madlib and J Dilla and other likeminded artists before him, Makaya is bridging the gap between classic Blue Note and modern music, proving the endurance of the classics to the new generation and proving to the old guard that today's jazz musicians have something to say.
Leo Nocentelli - Another Side
Light In The Attic
Not long after New Orleans funk legends The Meters started to take off, guitarist Leo Nocentelli recorded Another Side, a mostly acoustic solo album that wasn't too far removed from soul/folk crossover artists like Bill Withers and Terry Callier. Leo recorded it between 1970 and 1972 with his Meters bandmates George Porter Jr. (bass) and Zigaboo Modeliste (drums), as well as legendary New Orleans pianist Allen Toussaint and frequent Allen Toussaint drummer James Black. It sounds like an album that would be regularly referred to today as a classic, except it never came out. Leo decided to focus on The Meters instead of his solo career, so he shelved the album, and it remained in the vault for nearly 50 years, until finally getting released by Light In The Attic today. Long lost, forgotten, and/or rediscovered classics became a pretty big thing when the internet finally made these albums accessible to people, but it's been a while since I've heard a totally unknown album shake up my world the way Another Side does. With nine beautiful originals and a unique cover of Elton John's "Your Song," Another Side feels on par with -- or better than -- any handful of the singer/songwriters whose careers did take off in the early 1970s. Leo Nocentelli could've been a household name if this came out at the time, and though you can't change history, you can be glad the world is finally hearing this true gem.
The Lurking Fear - Death, Madness, Horror, Decay
At The Gates frontman Tomas Lindberg has had a very busy 2021. At The Gates released their seventh album in July, his grindcore supergroup Lock Up will release their new album next week, and today his old school style death metal band The Lurking Fear release their sophomore album, Death, Madness, Horror, Decay. The band also features fellow At The Gates members Adrian Erlandsson and Jonas Stålhammar, along with guitarist Fredrik Wallenberg (of Skitsystem), and the new album features a guest vocal appearance by OSDM legend Chris Reifert (Autopsy, Death) on the song "Kaleidoscopic Mutations." At The Gates helped pioneer a more melodic style of death metal that defined Swedish metal in the '90s (and also left a huge impact on American metalcore), but obviously their influences included stuff like Death and Autopsy (and Possessed and Morbid Angel and Repulsion, etc), so it's fun to hear Tomas and his talented friends paying homage to those influences all these years later. "We have all played in various other bands for over 25 years and we just want to spew out the music that we want to hear," the band said when they released their first album in 2017, and that's the vibe here too: four icons diving back into the music that they grew up on and coming out with some genuinely great songs of their own in the process.
Weakened Friends - Quitter
On their 2018 debut album Common Blah, Portland, Maine's Weakened Friends did so much justice to '90s alternative rock that the song featuring J Mascis felt like a collaboration with a peer, not a hero. Now they're back with a followup, Quitter, and it's bigger, bolder, and better than Common Blah in every way. Even with a crowded sea of modern bands repurposing the sounds of '90s alt-rock, Weakened Friends stand out. Nearly every song on Quitter sounds like it could've landed on rock radio 25 years ago, and yet the record sounds urgent and current, not like a retread of old ideas. Quitter hits those loud, cathartic choruses the way the best actual '90s bands did, and sometimes it even succeeds in ways those bands didn't. It taps right into the heart of that era, and avoids whatever aspects might seem outdated today.
Dream Unending - Tide Turns Eternal
20 Buck Spin
Dream Unending is the new collaborative project of two great modern death metal musicians, Tomb Mold's Derrick Vella and Innumerable Forms' Justin DeTore, but their debut album Tide Turns Eternal is much different than anything Derrick and Justin have made in their main bands. It's full of purely gorgeous instrumentals that pull from post-rock, prog, psych, atmospheric sludge metal, and other ethereal, melodic subgenres, and that beauty is offset by subterranean death growls. I've seen the band referred to as "death-doom," and they do cite the Peaceville Three as influences, but I don't think the term "death-doom" really captures all that this album offers. It feels more to me like Cult of Luna gone death metal, or Ulcerate gone Explosions in the Sky. Dream Unending aren't the first band to blur the line between beauty and ugliness, but they do it in a way that feels startlingly new.
For much more on this album, read Jon Rosenthal's new interview with Dream Unending for Invisible Oranges.
Taking Meds - Terrible News From Wonderful Men
Sometimes you want a record that just rips. You don't have to think too hard about it; you just click play and it goes straight to your bones. Terrible News From Wonderful Men, the latest album from NYC punks Taking Meds, is that kind of record. I referred to lead single "Lifesaver" as kind of a cross between Jawbox, Superchunk, and Dinosaur Jr, and that vibe definitely comes across in a handful of other songs too, but the album definitely isn't one-note. "Tangerines" sounds like it could've been one of the biggest punk songs of 1994, and it never really sounds like one band in particular. "Moving the Stash" channels the slow-paced heavy rock of a band like Failure, and album closer "Tame" channels the cleaner sounds of '90s emo. Taking Meds have clearly absorbed a whole lot of classic records from that decade, from the depths of the underground to the top of the charts, and they spit it back in a way that, again, just rips.
Scowl - How Flowers Grow
Santa Cruz hardcore band Scowl's debut album How Flowers Grow proves they're a force. The band bust out fuzzy power chord riffs that toe the line between classic hardcore and garage punk, and Kat Moss tops it off with a vicious bark that avoids typical hardcore clichés. She also has a clarity to her delivery that makes Scowl's songs accessible without veering into "melodic hardcore." Read my full review -- and Kat's track-by-track breakdown of the album -- here.
Pick up the Scowl album on limited orange vinyl in our store.
Crash The Calm - A Town Named Nowhere
Long Island post-hardcore band Crash The Calm are swinging for the fences. Their 2017 debut LP How've You Been? showed a lot of promise, but it couldn't have prepared you for the ambition of its followup. It offers up soaring, anthemic post-hardcore that brings to mind anything from Thrice to Manchester Orchestra to Balance & Composure, and its presented as a three-act concept album set in the drought-stricken Southwest of the 1930s, with a narrative arc that follows in the footsteps of bands like Coheed & Cambria and The Dear Hunter. Most of the bands A Town Named Nowhere reminds me of released significant records in the mid 2000s, and this can often feel like a lost album from that era, but it also reminds you that the art rock-leaning emo and progressive post-hardcore of that era is still full of untapped potential. That was an exciting, unique era, where bands that benefitted from the pop punk-friendly emo boom wanted to do something a little more experimental, and that wave died down just as it was getting really interesting. Crash The Calm feel less like a revival, and more like a continuation.
Dan Campbell - Other People's Lives
Loneliest Place On Earth
Dan Campbell helped push pop punk to its limits as the frontman of The Wonder Years, he explored his folkier side as the frontman of Aaron West & the Roaring Twenties, and now he's leaning even more into his folky side with his debut solo album, Other People's Lives. The album pulls from influences like Neutral Milk Hotel and The Mountain Goats, but no matter what you compare it to, it's unmistakably the work of Dan Campbell. He's spent over a decade developing one of the most powerful, recognizable voices in the alternative rock world, and whether he's belting a pop punk banger at the top of his lungs or softly singing a folk song, you know exactly who you're listening to. And it's not just Dan's voice that's memorable; it's his words too. Dan's always had a knack for filling his songs with detailed, impactful storytelling, and this album is no exception.
Brian Wilson - At My Piano
Brian Wilson's At My Piano is an album of instrumental, solo piano versions of Beach Boys classics, including big hits like "God Only Knows," "In My Room," "California Girls," "Wouldn't It Be Nice," and "Good Vibrations," as well as a Smile medley and some more underrated songs like "Till I Die" and "Friends" (the latter of which Brian calls one of his favorite Beach Boys songs). Instrumental piano versions of classic songs might not seem like the most exciting thing on paper, but this is actually a gorgeous album. Especially if you're already a big Beach Boys fan, it's a treat to hear these familiar melodies in a new way. Even all these years later, there's something wondrous about the way Brian plays these songs. For more on this album, read my Q&A with Brian.
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.
And check out what's new in our shop.