Notable Releases of the Week (12/6)
The year is winding down and Best of 2019 and Best of the Decade seasons are in full swing (as is holiday music season), and though less albums are coming out each week, there is still a pretty good amount this week.
I highlighted five this week, but first some honorable mentions: The Who's first album in 13 years, Lee "Scratch" Perry (which features Brian Eno), Yann Tiersen (featuring Blonde Redhead, Stephen O'Malley of Sunn O))), Gruff Rhys, John Grant, and more), Kansas City emo vets Giants Chair's first album in 23 years, Camila Cabello, the IDLES live album, Pop. 1280, Emily Yacina, Marijannah, By Surprise, Fat Joe, Roddy Ricch, the Cro-Mags EP, the Avey Tare EP, and the Madison Mcferrin EP.
Check out my five picks below. What was your favorite release of the week?
Georgia Maq is best known as the singer of the great Australian indie-punk band Camp Cope (whose sophomore album How to Socialise & Make Friends was our favorite album of 2018), and she's also been to known to release some acoustic singer/songwriter stuff on her own. For her debut solo album -- which was surprise-released yesterday -- though, Georgia goes in a much different direction. It's lo-fi bedroom synthpop that she made with help from underground electronic pop artists Katie Dey and Darcy Baylis, and though Camp Cope are often known for being a very political band, the main theme of Pleaser is love. “I don’t want to be talking about those [negative] things all the time," Georgia told The FADER. "Everyone deserves to feel happy.”
I'm sure it's exhausting to not only sing about social/political issues on stage every night, but to be expected to sing about that, so it's no surprise that Pleaser feels like a breath of fresh air for Georgia. It's a lightweight, simple, fun album (in a good way), and its eight songs whip by like the wind on a windows-down joyride. And though the instrumentation is drastically different for Georgia, her distinct singing and songwriting style remains unchanged. These are very different songs than Camp Cope on the surface, but at their core, they hit the same pleasure points. The album is more proof that Georgia is just one of those natural-born songwriters. It doesn't really matter what the style of music is, Georgia just has a way with her melodies and words.
Burial does everything on his own terms. He doesn't ever play live, and the decision kind of makes sense. As cool as it would be to hear Burial's music over a great sound system with great visuals, he isn't a DJ, he doesn't make dance music, and there isn't really any aspect of his music that could be performed "live." So rather than sacrifice his sound or do a pointless click-play-and-sit-there set, he just refrains from concerts entirely. He has also stopped making albums since releasing his 2007 sophomore album Untrue, which is widely regarded as one of best electronic albums of its time and which continues to have a lasting influence thanks to Radiohead, James Blake, and several other established artists taking notes from it. But just because he stopped making albums doesn't mean he stopped making music. Burial has been insanely prolific this decade, having released EPs and singles almost every year, and due to the growing length of his songs, some his EPs are as long as other artists' albums. Maybe Burial no longer sees albums as the most appropriate way to show the world his music, and as with live shows, that means he's just not going to do them. But we as consumers still like the way albums keep things organized, and if you still buy physical media it's probably helpful to be able to have all the songs Burial released this decade in one place, which makes Tunes 2011 to 2019 a lot more essential than an average compilation. If you wish Burial made a third album, this is probably it. (Given its length and the fact that it's a double album, this might be his fourth album too.)
Tunes 2011 to 2019 was also sequenced by Burial in the way that he thinks sounds and flows best, so there's also an artistic angle to this compilation beyond "here it all is in one place." It's worth listening to even if you've already heard all of these songs, and if you haven't heard these songs, this is the perfect place to jump in. Since Untrue, Burial has remained at the top of his game and has continued to write innovative music that is a clear step forward from his early material but retains enough of the distinct Burial sound that you always know who you're listening to. The songs have gotten longer, darker, weirder, and more experimental, yet they still contain moments of immediate bliss. Hearing Tunes 2011 to 2019 start to finish is a time-consuming, sometimes-taxing experience. But it's worth every second.
Long Island has a long, rich history of hardcore, and the LIHC scene remains alive and well thanks to newer bands like Hangman, The Fight, and the one this blurb is about: Rule Them All. Dreams About... is their third EP and first for the trusty Flatspot Records, and it's a ripper. Rule Them All's approach is simple -- they basically take the aggression of classic NYHC and the melodic side of Revolution Summer-era DC and package it together into something that's both pulverizing and fun to listen to -- and even if you're very familiar with those two sounds, you'll probably find that Rule Them All combine them in a way that feels new. They also sound like they've got their sights set on more than just the very niche hardcore scene. These super catchy songs could easily win over people who listen to poppier punk and alternative rock, and they sound clear and crisp, thanks in part to a mix by Brian McTernan, who's helped bands like Hot Water Music, Thrice, The Movielife, and tons of others make powerful punk with crossover appeal (and who coincidentally released the debut 7" by his new band Be Well, who also feature members of Fairweather, Bane/Converge, and Darkest Hour, on Equal Vision this week). And most importantly of all, Dreams About... is just a blast to listen to. It might not be the most original thing in the world, but a lot of modern bands are channelling these same influences and only few do it right. Rule Them All do it right.
'90s metalcore has been back in fashion lately, and if you crave more of that sound, this debut LP from Richmond newcomers Division of Mind is a must-hear. They share members with Enforced, Red Death, Bent Life, and Noseleed, but they've got their own sound that separates them from all of those bands. Division of Mind make sludgy but forceful metalcore that hits you like a sack of bricks, calling to mind stuff like Integrity and early Hatebreed (who, along with Life of Agony and Cold As Life, is one of the bands DOM has been known to cover at shows) but doing it in a way that feels fresh. They bring new perspective to a tried-and-true sound, and every song on this LP kicks ass in a way that should make their forebears proud.
Courtney Barnett is one of the many modern musicians who keep the spirit of Nirvana alive, and like Nirvana, she has now released an MTV Unplugged album. Also like Nirvana, her MTV Unplugged album features guest musicians, covers, a cellist (Lucy Waldron), and doesn't just rely on her biggest hits. she brought in veteran Australian musician Paul Kelly, her Milk! Record labelmate Evelyn Ida Morris, and New Zealand's Marlon Williams, and she worked in covers of Archie Roach's "Charcoal Lane," Seeker Lover Keeper's "Not Only I," and a gorgeous take on Leonard Cohen's "So Long, Marianne" which closes the album. She also used the performance to debut a new song, "Play It On Repeat." It's a powerful, melancholic song that Courtney plays with just her acoustic guitar and voice, and that minimal arrangement is enough to stop the show.
You can also watch the full concert on Milk! Records' YouTube page. Here's "So Long, Marianne":