Notable Releases of the Week (2/25)
2022 has already felt like a very big year for new music, and this week might be the biggest yet. I highlight 12 new albums below, and Bill talks about even more heavy hitters in Indie Basement, including Johnny Marr, Superchunk, King Hannah, ADULT., Bambara, and Holodrum (members of Yard Act, Hookworms). And for more on Johnny Marr, Bill just did a list of his best collaborations.
On top of all that, here are a bunch of honorable mentions: Kanye West's Donda 2 (only available on Kanye's Stem Player), Tears For Fears (first album in 17 years), Swamp Dogg, SASAMI, caroline, Basia Bulat, In Angles, KRS-One, Mom Jeans, The Afterglows (Radiator Hospital, The Goodbye Party), T.F., Binker & Moses, Tangerine Dream, Nicolas Jaar's Weavings, Firebreather, Yonder Mountain String Band, ABRAHAM, Tuskar, String Machine, Bakar, Central Cee, Eight Bells, Shape of Despair, Caroline Loveglow, Matchess, Deserta, Abandoncy, death insurance, Scorpions, Emily Wells, Daisy Glaze, Borts Minorts & Hug Victim, En Garde, Hajino & Duncecap, HammerFall, L.I.B., Gábor Lázár, Huerco S, the Blood Incantation ambient album, the Guns N' Roses EP, the Rauw Alejandro EP, the Magic Grehlin (Teenage Halloween, Algernon Cadwallader) EP, the Na-Kel Smith EP, the Sevdaliza EP, the NOBRO EP, the Homeboy Sandman EP, the Downward EP, the Graphic Nature EP, the Spirit Adrift EP, the Arny Margaret EP, the Corey Taylor (of Slipknot) B-sides album, and the Come Peel Sessions LP.
Read on for my picks below. What's your favorite release of the week?
Gang of Youths - Angel In Realtime
Gang of Youths' 2017 sophomore album Go Farther in Lightness was a 74-minute indie rock album that gained comparisons to ambitious mid-aughts indie bands like Arcade Fire and The National, and heartland rockers like Bruce Springsteen and The Gaslight Anthem. It swung for the fences, it was overwhelmingly sincere, and it was the kind of album that caused a whole lot of people to say "they don't make 'em like this anymore." It's also the kind of album that puts a lot of pressure on its followup, especially when you wait nearly five years to release that followup. But Gang of Youths are finally back, and they've done it again. Angel In Realtime is the ideal followup; it marks a noticeable progression from its predecessor without straying too far from the charm that fans expect. Listening to it feels like falling in love with Gang of Youths all over again.
While writing Angel In Realtime, frontman David Le'aupepe had been grappling with the death of his father, and he also learned that, before his father moved to Australia where David was born, he had left behind a past life and a previous family, and abandoned his Samoan heritage. All of that looms large over this album, which finds David reclaiming that heritage through samples of indigenous music and contributions from Pasifika and Māori vocalists and instrumentalists, and David frequently confronts these themes head-on with some of the most candid lyrics of his career. The album opens with David grieving for his father on the gorgeous "You In Everything," and the album's centerpiece is "Brothers," a bare-bones, show-stopping piano ballad that goes into great detail about David's newly-learned family history ("Our father's love was unmistakable and he gave us everything he had/And I guess that meant pretending he was half white to give his kids a better chance"). It touches on other aspects of David's life too, like the love he has for his wife ("The Angel of 8th Ave") and being disillusioned by the music industry ("Returner"), but the unifying theme throughout is that Angel In Realtime feels like David Le'aupepe holding up a mirror to his life, being as honest and authentic as possible.
Angel In Realtime doesn't rock as hard as Go Farther In Lightness, and it tones down the bombast a bit too, though it's not without its arena-sized moments. Instead, it favors twitchy, glitchy rhythms that recall The National at their most experimental, or The 1975's art rock side. And the heartland rock stuff on this one veers a little closer to a propulsive War On Drugs-y shuffle than Springsteen worship. David remains not just a commanding lyricist but also a hooksmith, and these songs feel just as destined to incite singalongs as the band's earlier singles. It's an album that shows both musical and lyrical growth, and even if parts still warrant comparisons to Gang of Youths' biggest influences, it's also an album that finds Gang of Youths continuing to carve out their own space in the music world. On their last album, it felt like Gang of Youths were trying to prove that sincerity is okay, and unselfconscious maximalism is okay, and that this band has the chops needed for all of it. On Angel In Realtime, those things are a given. It's not about proving they can do that; it's about finding new, interesting things to do within the world of open-hearted rock music that they'd already willed their way into.
p.s.you'redead - Sugar Rot
Buffalo's p.s.you'redead have just released their debut album Sugar Rot, and it's one of the most remarkable debut albums of the whole recent mathcore/sasscore/whitebelt/etc revival. It has a chaotic hardcore side that pulls from bands like The Locust and The Number Twelve Looks Like You, as well as a dancey side inspired by bands like Death From Above 1979, and it puts a fresh spin on these 15-20 year-old influences. Read more about the album here.
Robert Glasper - Black Radio III
For nearly two decades, Robert Glasper has been breaking down the walls between jazz, hip hop, and soul, and he does this most directly with Black Radio, a series of guest-filled albums that are equally devoted to all three of those genres. Today he unleashes Black Radio III, arriving just three days shy of the first installment's tenth anniversary and over eight years since the second. Like the previous two, it's loaded with impressive guest rappers and singers (Killer Mike, Big K.R.I.T., Q-Tip, Common, Esperanza Spalding, Yebba, BJ the Chicago Kid, H.E.R., Meshell Ndegeocello, Ty Dolla $ign, India.Arie, and more), and Glasper and his band provide a futuristic jazz backdrop as those guest vocalists do what they do best. It's one of his most widely accessible albums; even if you don't know or care about jazz in the slightest, this just plays out like a great hip hop/soul compilation. But once you do immerse yourself in the instrumentals, it's easy to hear how organic and complex they are. (Glasper played on multiple tracks on Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp A Butterfly, and that album definitely shares some DNA with this one.) It has some major standouts, from the bulletproof Killer Mike verse, to the Esperanza Spalding-led psych-jazz of "Why We Speak," to the gorgeous Yebba-sung neo-soul of "Over," to an inventive cover of Tears For Fears' "Everybody Wants To Rule the World" with Lalah Hathaway and Common, but as tempting as it may be to skip to the tracks with your favorite guests, the album is best heard as a whole.
Dashboard Confessional - All The Truth That I Can Tell
Dashboard Confessional's new album is Chris Carrabba's most primarily solo acoustic, personal, and honest record in about 20 years. It's a clear return to form, but not a regression. He has grown a lot as a songwriter since those first two albums, and that's reflected in the maturity of this one. Read my full review.
Avril Lavigne - Love Sux
Avril Lavigne taps Travis Barker, Mark Hoppus, Machine Gun Kelly, and more for Love Sux, which is not just a great reboot of her early 2000s pop punk days but her most full-on pop punk album ever. It's a lot of fun, and you can read my full review for more.
Carson McHone - Still Life
Austin alt-country singer Carson McHone follows 2018's Carousel with her third album and Merge debut, Still Life, which was produced by likeminded artist Daniel Romano and features arrangements, drums, guitars, bass, and backing vocals by him. Mark Lalama (accordion, piano, organ) and David Nardi (sax) helped out too. It's Carson and Daniel's first time working together, and they already sound like natural collaborators. Both know how to channel classic country but both know how to defy it too, and that shows on Still Life, which is just as much of an indie rock or indie folk album as it is a country album. Genre aside, Still Life works so well because Carson is such an affecting songwriter, no matter what style she's working in. She has an old soul, and these songs often feel like they could be lost '60s or '70s gems, but it never sounds like Carson is trying to be retro, or trying to copy her heroes. She balances her knowledge of the American songbook with her own experiences, and the result is an album that couldn't have come from anyone else.
Conway the Machine - God Don't Make Mistakes
Buffalo rapper and Griselda member Conway the Machine has been talking about his Shady Records debut since 2020, and he's stayed prolific throughout its delays, releasing multiple projects since first announcing the album. (In fact, he just dropped a new mixtape on DatPiff this past weekend.) He's put out a lot of great material on those lower-key releases too, but the anticipation's remained high for his major label debut, an album that's been poised to give Conway a long-overdue break from the underground. And indeed, there are moments on God Don't Make Mistakes that make Conway more mainstream-friendly than ever, like the collab with Lil Wayne and Rick Ross ("Tear Gas"), which should help introduce Conway's gritty rhymes to a much larger audience. But mostly, this album finds Conway doing what he's always done. It's got a few other bigger-name guests (Jill Scott, Beanie Sigel, and the disgraced T.I.), but it's also full of rappers and producers from within Conway's inner circle (7xvethegenius, Jae Skeese, Keisha Plum, The Alchemist, Daringer, Beat Butcha, and Conway's Griselda pals Benny the Butcher and Westside Gunn), and some of the most memorable moments come from those artists. Conway himself is in fine form too. The major label involvement hasn't caused him to water down his sound one bit, and it's impressive that he's still got so many one-liners in his arsenal and so many personal, detailed stories even after putting out so many releases in such a short time. It can feel underwhelming that, after building up so much anticipation for it, God Don't Make Mistakes is largely more of the same. But Shady's involvement should hopefully help turn new people onto Conway, and if this is your first time hearing him, it'd be a fine introduction to the sound he's spent years crafting.
Judy Collins - Spellbound
Legendary folk singer Judy Collins has been releasing music pretty consistently since the early 1960s, with nearly 30 proper studio albums to her name. Many of her best-known songs have been covers -- including material written by Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Stephen Stills, Sandy Denny, and more -- but she eventually began including some of her own gems on her albums, like "Since You Asked" (from 1967's Wildflowers), "My Father" (from 1968's Who Knows Where the Time Goes), and "Nightingale" (from 1970's Whales & Nightingales), before penning a significant chunk of 1973's True Stories and Other Dreams. Still, she continue to primarily record covers or work with other songwriters, until the pandemic gave her some extra time to flesh out an album's worth of her own songs. And now, at 82 years young, she releases Spellbound, her first-ever album of entirely original material. "I always knew I was going to be a late bloomer," she said.
The songs on Spellbound capture that same charm as her late '60s and early '70s compositions, and her voice has the same fluttery warmth that it did back then too. The record has the same timeless feeling as her classics, and it should appeal equally to longtime Judy Collins fans and fans of newer artists like Weyes Blood, whose voice has been compared to Judy multiple times. The world of popular music tends to favor youth, but an album like Spellbound reminds you that you really never know when the inspiration to write a great record will strike, and that it's never too late to try.
EarthGang - Ghetto Gods
Atlanta rap duo EarthGang are back with their new LP Ghetto Gods, and it's some of their most powerful stuff yet. It's a musical triumph that blurs the lines between modern trap and lush, organic soul, and it nails a lyrical balance between heavier topics like religion and politics and a more fun, lighthearted side. Guest appearances come from Future, Musiq Soulchild, Smino, Baby Tate, Ari Lennox, and more, and all of those artists fit right in with EarthGang's multi-faceted sound. EarthGang have been rising like crazy since their 2019 Dreamville debut Mirrorland, and Ghetto Gods proves they're not just getting bigger, but better too.
Bitter Branches - Your Neighbors Are Failures
Bitter Branches is the latest band fronted by Tim Singer, who also leads the reunited Deadguy, and the band also features guitarists Matt Ryan (Calvary) and Kevin Sommerville (Lighten Up!), drummer Jeff Tirabassi (Walleye), and the legendary Dan Yemin (Lifetime, Kid Dynamite, Paint It Black) on bass. Deadguy helped invent metalcore as we know it, but Bitter Branches finds Tim looking to an earlier period of heavy music, pulling from a variety of noise rock, post-hardcore, and early grunge bands like The Jesus Lizard/Scratch Acid, My War-era Black Flag, Mudhoney, and Bleach-era Nirvana. It's not as groundbreaking as Tim's most famous band, but it's a sound that never goes out of style, and it should come as no surprise that the legends and lifers who make up this band know exactly how to pull it off.
Corpsegrinder - Corpsegrinder
Perseverance Media Group
Cannibal Corpse's 15th album, 2021's Violence Unimagined, was widely received as one of the best metal albums of last year and a high point for the veteran band, and now frontman George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher keeps the momentum going with his self-titled debut solo album. The spark for the album came when Corpsegrinder lent his vocals to a track on Hatebreed frontman Jamey Jasta's 2019 solo album The Lost Chapters, Vol. 2. As Corpsegrinder has said in multiple interviews, Jamey reached out to Corpsegrinder about doing an entire record together, and he already had Nick and Charlie Bellmore (the same backing band as the Jasta album) on board, and Corpsegrinder was into it. It was Jamey's idea to call the album Corpsegrinder, which Fisher was initially hesitant about, "because I always thought maybe one day I would do my own thing," but he eventually figured "why not?" and went with it. With Corpsegrinder in the forefront and Jamey and Nick co-producing, it ended up being sort of a mix of death metal, thrash, metalcore, and more, with a few blasty Cannibal Corpse-esque parts in there (like on opening track "Acid Vat," which features current CC guitarist Erik Rutan) but a lot of slower grooves too. It strikes a good balance between scratching the CC itch and giving Corpsegrinder the chance to do something new, and it results in a record that's as loud, brash, and fun as you hoped it'd be.
In Angles - Cardinal
Choke Artist/Cloud Eater
It's a big week (and year) for 2000s Warped Tour nostalgia with those new Avril Lavigne and Dashboard Confessional albums, but there are also some new bands that scratch that itch with banger albums out today, like the aforementioned p.s.you'redead and Cardinal by In Angles. The NJ band makes mathy, proggy post-hardcore in the spirit of bands like The Fall of Troy and Protest the Hero, with dizzying guitar leads, soaring hooks, and some genuinely heavy shit in there too. It's all very 2005, but In Angles hit every pleasure point so effectively that you won't care what year it is.
Head to Bill's Indie Basement for reviews of the new Superchunk, Johnny Marr, King Hannah, 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.