Happy November! Spooky Season is over, and that means we're already getting Christmas music (looking at you, Future Islands), and it also means we ran down the best punk and rap of October. There are also a lot of great albums out this week; I highlight ten below, and Bill's got 12 in Bill's Indie Basement, including SAULT, Special Interest, Carla dal Forno, Daniel Avery, µ-Ziq, La Femme, the Spoon & Adrian Sherwood dub album, Old Fire (ft. Bill Callahan, Julia Holter & others), and more.

And for even more, honorable mentions: Drake & 21 Savage, Phoenix, Turnover, First Aid Kit, MorMor, Okay Kaya, Tom Skinner (Sons of Kemet, The Smile), The Hanged Man (Dungen, Viagra Boys), Pohgoh, Hawa, Laura Jean, Surf Gang, Carly Commando (Slingshot Dakota), Horse Lords, Yonatan Gat, Caleb Landry Jones, R.A.M.B.O., Black Anvil, Devin Townsend, Actor Observer, Rayland Baxter, Magnolia Park, Rose's Pawn Shop, Born Without Bones, Gold Dust, Dean Fertita (QOTSA, The Dead Weather), Jason Collett (ex-Broken Social Scene), Joji, Tenci, Ging (fka Frank Dukes), CEO Trayle, Froglord, Michael Love Michael, Julien Chang, Hans Pucket, Ynys, The Welcome Wagon, Ghost Orchard, Coco & Clair Clair, Brothertiger, Marvin Tate’s D-Settlement, the Voivod EP, the Sharptooth EP, the Kaiju Daisenso EP, the Morbid Visionz EP, the Jeff Rosenstock & Laura Stevenson Neil Young covers EP, the Black Panther: Wakanda Forever soundtrack, the PJ Harvey b-sides/demos/rarities comp, the first official release of Tinariwen's 1992 cassette, and the Billy Joel live at Yankee Stadium album.

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

Ezra Collective Where I'm Meant To Be
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Ezra Collective - Where I'm Meant To Be
Partisan

Ezra Collective have been on an upwards trajectory since debuting in the mid/late 2010s, and their new album -- and Partisan Records debut -- Where I'm Meant To Be is their most expansive project yet. Across 14 songs, they trek through jazz, hip hop, reggae, Afrobeat, funk, R&B, salsa, and more, and it all plays out like a journey where every stop is just as important as the last. They get help along the way from guest rappers Sampa the Great and Kojey Radical and guest singers Emeli Sandé and Nao, and the album is full of musical references to classics ranging from Fela Kuti to Ini Kamoze, all of which Ezra Collective make their own. The multi-genre approach may sound like a lot on paper, but it feels entirely natural in execution. Where I'm Meant To Be hearkens back to a time where genres were less strictly defined than they are in the era of Spotify playlists, and when it was normal to hear musicians incorporate all different styles of music throughout a single album or performance. Ezra Collective's lively, organic sound feels like something that could've come long before the internet era too, but they still deliver it with a freshness and dig up old sounds without coming off like a retro act.

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RAP Ferreira
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R.A.P. Ferreira - 5 to the Eye with Stars
Ruby Yacht

R.A.P. Ferreira is a rapper who exists in his own world, and with 5 to the Eye with Stars, he's inviting you into it. Since his days as milo, he's carved out a lane in underground hip hop that's entirely his own -- adjacent to collaborators like Armand Hammer and Open Mike Eagle but increasingly unlike just about any other artist around. On this LP, the only guest that shows up is Future Islands vocalist Samuel T. Herring under his rap moniker Hemlock Ernst, but he doesn't rap, he sings a hook. Otherwise, the only voice you hear is R.A.P. Ferreira's own, as he dishes out poetic, stream-of-consciousness screeds that fit snugly within a soundscape that varies between warm jazz, classicist boom bap, and futuristic electronics. It's virtually the polar opposite of rap that's made for the radio or the club or big festivals, but it never feels unwelcoming. The door to this album is wide open, and once you're in it, it keeps you coming back again and again.

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Backxwash
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Backxwash - His Happiness Shall Come First Even Though We Are Suffering
Ugly Hag Records

Backxwash says that her new album His Happiness Shall Come First Even Though We Are Suffering concludes a trilogy that began with 2020's God Has Nothing To Do With This Leave Him Out Of It and continued with 2021's I Lie Here Buried With My Rings And My Dresses, and it sounds like her next album may not come together as quickly as these three did. "If I keep going on at this pace it will be a detriment to my mental stability," she said in a statement accompanying the new album. "These songs take me to a very dark place and writing about these topics at times is not an easy task." The entirely self-produced album finds Backxwash dealing with an array of soul-baring topics -- like paranoia, suicide, racism, gender dysphoria, and other personal demons -- in the form of abrasive, experimental, industrial-tinged rap songs. The dark, aggressive setting is perfect for what's discussed within, but for all the pain and internal battles that informed this album, it actually seems to end on a hopeful note. "I wanna tell you that I made it alive," Backxwash raps over some uplifting chipmunk soul, the only production on the album that sounds anything like traditional hip hop. It suggests that maybe, after trekking through all this darkness, Backxwash has found some light.

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Mount Kimbie
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Mount Kimbie - MK 3.5: Die Cuts | City Planning
Warp

Mount Kimbie have taken a page out of OutKast's book and made a double album where each half is actually a solo album by each of the duo's two members. And like when OutKast did it, MK 3.5: Die Cuts | City Planning exposes the different directions that Mount Kimbie's members have been heading in. Dom Maker moved to LA and has been working more and more with rappers and R&B singers, and that's very much reflected on his half, Die Cuts, which features slowthai, Danny Brown, Liv.e, Wiki, James Blake, KeiyaA, Kučka, Choker, Reggie, and Nomi, and sounds more like a hip hop producer's beat tape than a classic Mount Kimbie album. Meanwhile, Kai Campos has been diving even deeper into the heady beatwork of London's underground electronic scene, and that comes across loudly and clearly on his half, City Planning. The two albums couldn't be more different, but they're both great in their own right and it's fascinating to see the ways Dom and Kai have evolved since dropping their instant-classic early releases over a decade ago.

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The Sawtooth Grin Good
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The Sawtooth Grin - Good.
self-released

It's a very good time to be a fan of underrated 2000s chaotic hardcore bands from New York suburbs. Just one week after getting the first Dr. Acula album in ten years, we get the first Sawtooth Grin album in twenty one years, the followup to their influential 2001 debut LP Cuddlemonster. And similar to that new Dr. Acula album, Good. actually improves upon what The Sawtooth Grin were doing back in the day and seems to take itself a lot more seriously without toning down any of the original chaos. Cuddlemonster is raw, scrappy grindcore/mathcore that probably sounds like nails on a chalkboard to most people, but struck a chord with the small amount of people who actually find this shit entertaining, and it continues to influence a lot of bands that exist in the weirder niches of the post-hardcore and metalcore underground. On Good., the production is a lot more crisp (it was engineered by former Dillinger Escape Plan member Kevin Antreassian, who's also worked with The Number Twelve Looks Like You, Trophy Scars, and other bands of that ilk), and the band sounds noticeably tighter too. (They've still got original vocalist Rich Lombardi and guitarist Jason Springman, but their rhythm section has shifted around a bit and now includes former Number Twelve drummer Jon Karel and current Number Twelve bassist DJ Scully.) On Good., The Sawtooth Grin sound less like they're trying to empty out the room and more like a band intent on making focused, serious, experimental hardcore. They haven't lost their irreverence, they've just channelled it into something that's even more powerful than their cult classic debut.

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Fleshwater
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Fleshwater - We're Not Here To Be Loved
Closed Casket Activities

Vein.fm's sophomore album This World Is Going to Ruin You has reigned supreme as one of the year's best hardcore/metalcore albums since its release in March, and now before the year ends, we get the debut album from Fleshwater, which features Vein vocalist Anthony DiDio on vocals/guitar, Vein guitarist Jeremy Martin on bass, Vein drummer Matt Wood on drums, and non-Vein member Marisa Shirar on vocals. Vein have been known to break up their onslaught with a shoegazy side here and there, and Fleshwater basically flip the script. Throughout We're Not Here To Be Loved, they go all in on shoegaze and grunge, coming out with a rock-solid selection of songs that sound like they could've been minor hits in the late '90s, and they add in just enough screamy parts to remind you that Fleshwater come from the hardcore scene. It's a treat to hear more of Anthony's clean-singing voice, which has always been an underrated aspect of Vein, and his hazy delivery pairs well with Marisa's more soaring style -- it's her voice that often elevates these songs from moody shoegaze to would-be alt-rock hits. Marisa and Anthony fuel these songs with melodies that quickly click, and drummer Matt Wood drives them home with a busy attack that so many shoegaze bands don't bother to incorporate. They're a rare shoegaze/hardcore hybrid that actually sound like both a shoegaze and a hardcore band.

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Big Joanie
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Big Joanie - Back Home
Kill Rock Stars

British punk trio Big Joanie expanded their sound and honed their vision on their triumphant sophomore album. Back Home explodes out of the gate with brash guitars and strong, immediate harmonies, then swerves into dark, retro synths on songs like standout final track "Sainted." "We’re a DIY band, but this is an ambitious album," drummer Chardine Taylor-Stone told The Guardian; "we wanted to be a bigger Big Joanie and to sound more rounded out and to have it sound like it’s not just us playing our three instruments," singer and guitarist Stephanie Phillips elaborated to The Skinny, "but to almost sound like an orchestra." Their sights were set just as high for their lyrics, which discuss ideas of home, queer love and friendship, and the pressure of "existing to be pretty on the internet." [Amanda Hatfield]

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Emily Nenni
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Emily Nenni - On the Ranch
Normaltown/New West Records

California-born, Nashville-based country singer Emily Nenni had been on the rise after I Owe You Nothin', her 2019 collaborative EP with Teddy and the Rough Riders, began to take off, and its success helped ink her a deal with New West imprint Normaltown Records. Then, of course, COVID hit, and Emily escaped the busy Nashville for something a little more socially distanced, a ranch in Colorado where her producer Mike Eli's wife worked. ("She's a legitimate cowgirl," Emily says.) It was there that she got the inspiration to write her first album for Normaltown, On the Ranch. She fills its 10 tracks with rousing honky tonk anthems and a couple sentimental ballads that hearken back to roughly half a century ago. There's also an earnest cover of ABBA's 1979 hit "Does Your Mother Know," and the album ends with "Get On With It," which finds her diving into cosmic country rock. She's actually got an upcoming hometown show with Joshua Hedley, and that's a great match because fans of his acclaimed new album who don't already know her will probably find that Emily's a kindred spirit. Like his new record, On the Ranch looks to country music's past to help reshape its future.

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AVOID
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AVOID - Cult Mentality
Thriller Records

A lot of current underground rock bands have been tapping into the sounds of heavy music's unpredictably popular late '90s / early 2000s era lately, but few bring back the obnoxiousness and the fun-ness of that era as unabashedly as AVOID do. Throughout their sophomore album Cult Mentality, they vary between sounding like a rap-less Linkin Park, Nine Inch Nails at their most metallic, and one of the catchiest pop-metalcore bands around. And they don't filter their radio-rock ambitions through a lens of punk or hardcore; they actually sound like they want to play stadiums. They aren't afraid to brush up against stuff that some fans of heavy music might consider cheesy, and they're better for it. You don't write choruses as catchy as the ones on this album if you're too self-conscious about it.

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Boldy James
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Boldy James & Futurewave - Mr. Ten08
WAVGODMUSIC

Detroit rapper Boldy James has been extremely prolific and on fire these past few years. The Futurewave-produced Mr. Ten08 is his third full-length of 2022 -- following the Nicholas Craven-produced Fair Exchange No Robbery and the Real Bad Man-produced Killing Nothing -- and it does nothing to slow his momentum. His smooth yet hardened storytelling sounds great as ever, and Futurewave's lush, laid-back production is exactly the kind of backdrop that Boldy sounds best over. The album has just one guest appearance (from 2100 Bagz), otherwise it's just Boldy holding it down and never running out of steam.

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For more album reviews, head to Bill's Indie Basement to read about SAULT, Special Interest, Carla dal Forno, Daniel Avery, µ-Ziq, La Femme, the Spoon & Adrian Sherwood dub album, Old Fire (ft. Bill Callahan, Julia Holter & others), and more.

Looking for more recent releases? Browse the Notable Releases archive or scroll 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.

Get Up Kids
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