The holidays and Thanksgiving are fast-approaching, and it feels like the music world has been trying to cram stuff in before everyone takes some time off, because this past week has been stacked with big announcements. In the past few days alone, so many major albums were announced (Beach House, Mitski, Jack White, and Korn, to name a few), not to mention several tours and the Shaky Knees lineup.

There's also a slew of solid albums out this week. I highlight six below, and Bill tackles Jon Hopkins, Pip Blom, Cocteau Twins' Robin Guthrie, and more in Bill's Indie Basement. And here's more honorable mentions: IDLES, The Dodos, Makthaverskan, They Might Be Giants, Konshens, 200 Stab Wounds, Silent Planet, Cave Bastard, Joell Ortiz, hackedepicciotto (mem Einstürzende Neubauten, Crime & the City Solution), Gov't Mule, Siem Reap (Oathbreaker, Wiegedood), Lionlimb, Casper Skulls, Delta Sleep, Lil Zay Osama, The Seafloor Cinema, Wise, Suntitle, Robert Sotelo, NOUS, Laraaji & Arji OceAnanda, Kramer, Claire Cronin, Joel Vandroogenbroeck, the Land of Talk EP, the Floating Room EP, the Fielded EP, the Snarls EP, the Holly Humberstone EP, the NNAMDI EP, the third Justin Courtney Pierre (of Motion City Soundtrack) EP of 2021, the Amanda Shires Christmas album, the Dave Gahan (of Depeche Mode) covers album, the Susanna Hoffs (of The Bangles) covers album, the Devin Hoff Anne Briggs tribute album (ft. Sharon Van Etten, Julia Holter & more), Jonny Greenwood's Spencer score, the Lee Ranaldo instrumental acoustic album, Taylor Swift's Red (Taylor's Version) (ft. Phoebe Bridgers, Chris Stapleton & more), the Speedy Ortiz early works comp, the expanded 10th anniversary edition of A Very She & Him Christmas, the Bush Tetras box set, and the massive Nirvana Nevermind 30th anniversary reissue.

Read on for my picks. What's your favorite release of the week?

Courtney Barnett - Things Take Time, Take Time
Mom + Pop

In the past, Courtney Barnett filled her songs with wry remarks, sarcastic wit, and inside jokes with herself -- even when the songs were about serious topics -- but for her new album Things Take Time, Take Time, she's writing with a kind of bare, unsubtle honesty that we've never really heard from her before. One of its best songs, "If I Don't Hear From You Tonight," is a love song -- a rarity in Courtney's discography. The new approach suits her well, and it sounds like she needed a change. "By the end of the Tell Me How You Really Feel cycle, I was a bit down on myself, and exhausted — not exhausted of touring or music, but just of life," she said in press materials for the new album. There are also some noticeable production changes; Courtney made the album with Warpaint drummer Stella Mozgawa (who she also worked with on her collaborative album with Kurt Vile), and Stella's influence is clear. It's a very percussive album; a few songs have that propulsive rhythm that The War On Drugs helped popularize. Still, even given all of these changes, Things Take Time, Take Time is unmistakably a Courtney Barnett album. She maintains a singing and songwriting style that's unlike anyone else, and her new songs hit with the same impact that her instant-classic debut EP did nearly a decade ago.

Pick up Courtney Barnett vinyl in our store.

 

Damon Albarn - The Nearer the Fountain, More Pure the Stream Flows

Blur/Gorillaz leader (and more) Damon Albarn is back with his third solo album and first in seven years, The Nearer the Fountain, More Pure the Stream Flows. There's a lot of cool stuff on it -- including some songs that remind me of Blackstar-era David Bowie -- and it's really not like much else in his discography. Bill's got a longer review in Bill's Indie Basement.

 

Aesop Rock x Blockhead - Garbology
Rhymesayers

Aesop Rock's classic late '90s and early 2000s albums like Labor Days, Float, and Appleseed wouldn't have sounded the way they did without producer Blockhead, who worked on so many of Aesop's most beloved songs, including fan favorite singles like "Daylight" and "None Shall Pass." The last time Blockhead contributed to an Aesop Rock album was 2007's None Shall Pass, but now the two have reunited and they've put out Garbology, the first-ever Aesop Rock album entirely produced by Blockhead. Aesop Rock put out plenty of great music throughout the 2010s without Blockhead, but there's a certain chemistry that arises when these two get together, and Garbology fully recaptures the charm that Aesop Rock's albums had in the aughts. Blockhead's beats on Garbology sound as futuristic today as his beats on Labor Days sounded 20 years ago, and Aesop Rock sounds fully inspired. He's delivering the kind of surrealistic tongue-twisters that defined his classic era, and he sounds like he's having a hell of a good time doing it.

Pick up Aesop Rock vinyl, including new color pressings of his '90s/2000s classics, in our store.

 

Irreversible Entanglements - Open The Gates
Don Giovanni

Moor Mother embraced a more straight-up rap direction than she has in a while on this year's great Black Encyclopedia of the Air, but if you were still hoping to hear her explore her jazz side this year, you're in luck. Irreversible Entanglements -- the jazz group with Moor Mother on vocals, plus Luke Stewart, Keir Neuringer, Aquiles Navarro, and Tcheser Holmes -- have just followed last year's Who Sent You? with Open The Gates, and it continues down the appealing free-jazz-meets-beat-poetry path of its predecessor. The album was recorded in one day in January 2021, when lockdown was still in full swing, and you can feel the nervous energy of that time period, as well as the urgency that comes with recording an album this quickly. Like a lot of classic jazz albums, this captures Irreversible Entanglements in the moment. It doesn't sound like they tinkered with it much in the studio; it feels raw and alive. And as always, Moor Mother's vocals are truly commanding, and they clash wonderfully with the shapeshifting backdrop that the rest of the band crafts.

Pick up 'Open the Gates' on "sands of color" vinyl in our store.

 

Silk Sonic - An Evening with Silk Sonic
Aftermath/Atlantic

Anderson .Paak has built a career off the ability to toe the line between innovative and retro, while Bruno Mars seems almost entirely intent on reviving the sounds (and looks) of other artists. On paper, it's a little disappointing for fans of Anderson .Paak's more forward-thinking material that he made an entire album with Bruno Mars, and as anyone who's heard their omnipresent single "Leave the Door Open" knows, their Silk Sonic project is entirely retro. The song is to '70s soul what the Grease soundtrack is to '50s rock and roll. The album is now here -- featuring that song, an intro track, and seven others, plus narration by actual funk/soul legend Bootsy Collins and guest vocals on one song by Thundercat -- and the whole thing is cut from the same cloth as "Leave the Door Open." There's barely an ounce of originality involved, but if you don't worry about that, it's hard to deny that these songs are fun. An Evening with Silk Sonic is like a family-friendly movie; not the most riveting thing in the world but thoroughly enjoyable, and -- especially with Thanksgiving coming up -- it's nice to have something you can toss on in the background that people of all ages and music tastes can appreciate.

 

Burial Waves - Holy Ground EP
Dark Operative

Pianos Become the Teeth have been pretty quiet lately, but vocalist Kyle Durfey is staying busy with his newer band, Burial Waves, which also includes members of We Were Black Clouds, Deleted Scenes, Caverns, and more. It's easy to compare them to PBTT because of Kyle's unmistakable voice -- which scratches the same itch on this EP as it does on PBTT's clean-vocal albums Keep You and Wait For Love -- but musically, Burial Waves are much different. They operate in heavier post-metal territory that kinda sounds like Jupiter-era Cave In jamming with Russian Circles, and Kyle's voice goes great with it. Holy Ground is some of the rawest sounding music that Kyle has made since Pianos Become the Teeth's debut, but raw doesn't mean sloppy or shambolic. The band is razor-sharp, and their instrumentals are full of suspense, drama, and precision. I don't know if this is a one-off side project or if they've got more music planned, but I hope it's the latter; Burial Waves is the real deal.

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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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