It's day whatever of quarantine, and we hope you're all still staying healthy and hanging in there. As we've said before, we need music now more than ever, and thankfully there's still so much of it coming out every day. The livestreams keep coming, and we've been posting some of our favorite live videos every day, and today's Friday so that means new albums, of which there are many today.
I picked nine that I highlighted below, but first, some honorable mentions: Jarboe, EOB (Radiohead’s Ed O’Brien), R.A. the Rugged Man, Kenny Mason, Buddy/Kent Jamz, Blakk Soul, Vile Spirit, dvsn, Howling Hex, RJD2, Gerry Cinnamon, Rina Sawayama, Berner & B. Real, Fuse, Funeral Leech, Sir Richard Bishop, Soul Asylum, Abysmal Dawn, Mick Harvey, the Chucky73 & Fetti031 EP, the Khemmis EP, the Dave Smalley & the Bandoleros EP, the Aborted EP, and the Beverly Kills EP.
Read on for my nine picks. What was your favorite release of the week?
Fiona Apple - Fetch the Bolt Cutters
Fiona Apple's last album, The Idler Wheel..., was our 6th favorite album of the 2010s, so it goes without saying that we are very excited that her followup to that eight-year-old album is finally here! (And it already got a 10 on Pitchfork.) We've got a full review coming soon, but in the meantime, join us in streaming Fetch the Bolt Cutters.
Update: review HERE.
Lido Pimienta - Miss Colombia
It's been four years, but Colombian-born, Toronto-based artist Lido Pimienta has finally released a followup to her 2016 Polaris Prize-winning debut album La Papessa. Like her debut, Miss Colombia mixes traditional Latin folk styles with modern art pop, but compared to the more experimental and subdued La Papessa, Miss Colombia is bigger, bolder, louder, and more extreme in every direction. Miss Colombia more fully embraces the traditional sounds, and it's more pop (in a good way) too. It makes sense when you learn she rides for Cardi B, SZA, M.I.A., and Nelly Furtado as much as porro and cumbia, and you can hear all of those influences swirling together on this uniquely appealing album. The arrangements -- which combine acoustic ensembles with electronic music and were all conceived by Lido, who also co-produced the album (alongside Matt Smith aka Prince Nifty) -- sound huge and lively, and they provide the perfect backdrop for Lido's voice, which sounds even more grand on this album than it did on her debut. The lyrics mostly are in Spanish, but to get an idea of the powerful stuff Lido is singing about, English speakers should read NPR's in-depth feature on the album. Here's an excerpt:
"Resisto y Ya" is Pimienta's last statement song on the album, and it means what she says: I resist, and that's it. "There's this weird pressure that brown artists have to be spokespeople," she says; to go to every march and lift each middle finger in the name of activism. As a queer, Indigenous, Afro-Colombian mother, Pimienta determines the path of her own resistance. "The mere fact that I have to walk in this body and be judged by just the way that I look is resistance," she says.
Whether or not you understand the lyrics, you can feel the resistance in this album. You can hear Lido ignoring expectations and trends, and you can join her on her journey by just enjoying the music, which defies language barriers and should be instantly satisfying to anyone who likes any kind of adventurous pop music.
Hexvessel - Kindred
I've been a big cheerleader of Finland's Hexvessel for a bit, and each new album they put out refuels my excitement and makes me even more convinced that they deserve to be like 20 times as popular as they are. Because of founder Mat “Kvohst” McNerney’s past playing in metal bands, Hexvessel's hype seems to be contained within the metal world, but there is truly nothing metal about Hexvessel. This is psychedelic folk rock that, as I've written before, should be heard by fans of anything from Fairport Convention to Jefferson Airplane to Jethro Tull to The Decemberists and Fleet Foxes. And in the case of at least one song on this album ("Magical & Damned"), they kinda sound like Nick Cave. (The album also has a hauntingly beautiful, folk-tinged Coil cover.) That's a pretty wide array of bands, but Hexvessel really do cover all that ground, especially on Kindred, which is a louder, more rock-oriented album than its somber predecessor All Tree. And like pretty much every Hexvessel album, Kindred avoids ever just sounding like retro psych/folk revival. Hexvessel make it sound fresh, and they've got the songs to make for an album as strong as a lot of their '60s/'70s forebears.
Oranssi Pazuzu - Mestarin kyns
Speaking of bands from Finland's metal scene that non-metalheads also need to hear, Oranssi Pazuzu are back with a followup to 2016's Värähtelijä, which we included in our list of the best albums of the 2010s and wrote: "Who made the best psychedelic rock album of the 2010s? King Gizzard? Tame Impala? It just might have been Finnish black metallers Oranssi Pazuzu." Unlike Hexvessel, Oranssi Pazuzu are actually a metal band, and if you don't think you like black metal vocals by a guy who sounds like he's gargling snake venom, you might not wanna listen to Mestarin kyns. But, instrumentally, this album warrants descriptors like "trippy" and "jammy" and other words more commonly associated with psych rock than black metal. It's hypnotic and intense in a way that's almost Swans-like, and like that band, Oranssi Pazuzu's songs are so easy to lose yourself in that they never feel as long as they are (the shortest song on this album is over seven minutes). Like its predecessor, Mestarin kyns is a complete fusion of the evilness of metal and the mind-bending, transportive feeling of psychedelia. Some of the other "psychedelic metal" bands to stir up buzz in recent years keep their psych parts and their metal parts separate, but not Oranssi Pazuzu. They stand out by being so good at doing both at exactly the same time.
If you want to read even more about this head-trip of an album, check out Langdon's review on IO.
DaBaby - Blame It on Baby
DaBaby has been on fire since releasing two of the best albums of 2019, and today he returns with his third album in 13 months, which is called Blame It On Baby and comes with album artwork that features a photo of Baby in a medical mask. Blame It On Baby keeps Baby's meteoric rise and momentum going, and if you want more of the very fun music that filled Baby On Baby and Kirk -- rubbery basslines and loud, brash raps from DaBaby that recall the Southern rap boom of the early 2000s but can hang with the music on rap radio today -- you'll probably find that Blame It On Baby delivers. I listened a couple times this morning, and there are some definite standouts. DaBaby pulls off ballads better than you'd expect him to ("Find My Way," "Rockstar"), the title track reminds you how percussive Baby's voice is even without drums on the track, and "Nasty" reunites him with Megan Thee Stallion, the other fast-rising rookie of 2019 who sounds like the early 2000s meets today, and whose previous DaBaby collab "Cash Shit" was one of 2019's best songs. Megan has one of the best verses on the album, and making the song even more interesting, it features a hook by Ashanti, who has sung hooks on all kinds of classic songs that helped pave the way for artists like Megan and Baby. I hate to rush into negative criticism, but the downside is that with three albums in 13 months that all kinda sound the same, I'm probably not the only one getting DaBaby fatigue. I get why he rushed out two albums last year, and he sounded so fired-up on both of them that it didn't even matter that he mostly stuck to one sound, but at this point it'd probably do him good to not keep rushing out music until he's got an album that raises the bar once again. (Again, those ballads prove he does have another side to him.) And for a guy whose whole thing has been lighting a fire up under the ass of monotonous radio rap, Blame It On Baby is a little too overstuffed with the kinds of guests that seem to appear on every radio rap album (Quavo, Future, Roddy Ricch, A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, YoungBoy Never Broke Again). I get wanting some of that, but he's at his best when someone like Megan Thee Stallion challenges him at his own game, and unlike Megan did on her new EP, Baby doesn't sound like he's challenging himself right now.
Westside Gunn - Pray For Paris
The Griselda crew has been a force for a while, but last year they had their biggest break yet when they made their Shady Records debut with WWCD, which was also their first crew album, and I have a feeling Westside Gunn's new album Pray For Paris is gonna continue to attract Griselda attention from outside of the underground. WSG's gritty, '90s-style New York street rap sounds as great as ever on this LP, as do his fellow Griselda members Benny the Butcher and Conway the Machine on their multiple guest appearances, and it's loaded with exciting likeminded guests like Freddie Gibbs, Roc Marciano, and Boldy James. But on top of all that, big names like Joey Bada$$ and Tyler, the Creator lend their talents to this record (they're both on the song "327"), and coming off last year's experimental soul album IGOR, it's been a while since we've heard Tyler rap like this. (Tyler also produced the song "Party Wit Pop Smoke" and the album also features beats by DJ Premier, Alchemist, DJ Muggs, in-house Griselda producer Daringer, and more.) Griselda made the mainstream come to them by just being themselves for years, and now they're even bringing out the grittiest sides of actual mainstream rappers.
Shabazz Palaces - The Don of Diamond Dreams
Ishmael Butler is a true lifer. As a member of '90s group Digable Planets, he helped pioneer a type of jazzy alternative rap that's still influential today (you can hear its echoes in things like To Pimp A Butterfly and Noname), but instead of only reliving his glory days, Ishmael has spent the past decade continuing to push his music into more abstract and forward-thinking places than Digable Planets ever went. His first album with Shabazz Palaces, 2011's Black Up, was one of our favorite rap albums of the 2010s, and pretty much everything Shabazz has done since then has been great too. Their last project was a double album and the one before that was an 18-track, eight-part suite, but the new The Don of Diamond Dreams is a little more concise and a little more accessible. It's Shabazz Palaces so it still sounds like an outer space acid trip compared to most rap music, but it's the most compact and fat-trimmed thing Shabazz have released since Black Up. As much as I appreciate the sprawling epics, Shabazz are at their best when they channel all their ambition into a more tightly-packed album like this one.
The Black Dahlia Murder - Verminous
For a lot of bands and listeners, the early 2000s boom of American melodic death metal and metalcore bands worshipping at the altar of At the Gates was a passing trend, but The Black Dahlia Murder have kept going strong way past the genre's mainstream peak and they keep making killer records. Their last, 2017's Nightbringers, was seen as a high point in an already-rock-solid discography, and this new one Verminous sounds pretty damn great too. As you'd expect from TBDM, it's a huge helping of bright, melodic riffage that fuses together about 40 years of metal riff stylings (you can hear anything from Maiden to OSDM to the aforementioned At the Gates to the current death metal scene in this album's DNA, though also it just sounds distinctly like The Black Dahlia Murder), and the ultra catchiness of the guitars is balanced out by the, er, verminous screams of Trevor Strnad. It's a formula you've heard from this band before, but they know how to make it feel fresh each time, and this album is no exception.
Infant Island - Sepulcher
Acrobat Unstable/Zegema Beach
Virginia screamo up and comers Infant Island are releasing their sophomore album Beneath in May, but first, they surprise-released this mini LP today. It's great, and you can read much more about it here.
Looking for more recent releases? Browse the Notable Releases archive.
For even more metal, browse the 'Upcoming Releases' each week on Invisible Oranges.