Notable Releases of the Week (4/2)
Time still moves in that weird way it has the entire pandemic, but -- believe it or not -- we're officially a quarter of the way through 2021, and to help recap some of the great music we've already gotten this year, I put together a list of 20 punk, emo, hardcore, etc albums not to miss from winter 2021 earlier this week. I also did lists of the best punk/etc songs and best rap albums of March.
There's also already no lack of great music in the first week of April. I highlight seven new albums below, and Bill talks about Dry Cleaning, Major Murphy, La Femme, and more in Bill's Indie Basement. And here are some more honorable mentions: the surprise Eleventh Dream Day double album, Ryley Walker, the Bryce Dessner classical album, Lume, Culture Shock, Lil Tjay, Bankroll Freddie, The Natvral (Kip from The Pains of Being Pure at Heart), Be All End All, Flock of Dimes, Kishi Bashi, Amulets, Tenue, Bridge Burner, Elizabeth King, Co-ed, Bones of the Earth, The Deathray Davies, Fishboy, GHLOW, Fuoco Fatuo, al Riggs, Cat Positive, The Queen Guillotined EP, the Tiana Major9 remix EP, and the Field Medic EP.
Read on for my picks. What's your favorite release of the week?
Godspeed You! Black Emperor - G_d’s Pee AT STATE’S END!
When post-rock titans Godspeed You! Black Emperor made their long-awaited comeback on 2012's 'Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!, it felt almost unbelievable that they'd not only made a new record, but that it was completely on par with the three near-flawless albums that they put out during their initial run. Some bands make a huge comeback like that and then go right back to taking it slow (see: My Bloody Valentine), but Godspeed just kept moving along as an active band, and with G_d’s Pee AT STATE’S END!, they've now put out more full-length albums during their second act than they did during their first. And if you're waiting for them to run out of steam, don't hold your breath. The four songs on this album -- two gargantuan 20-minute-ers and two six-ish minute ambient pieces -- are just as towering, gorgeous, unique, and powerful as anything Godspeed put out in the late '90s and early 2000s. For a band without vocals, they've got an incredibly distinct sound, and you'd know this was a Godspeed album even without looking at the artist name. That they continue to make such thrilling, moving music that sounds unmistakably like no other band is no small feat.
Pick up a vinyl copy in our store.
Wode - Burn In Many Mirrors
20 Buck Spin
UK black metallers Wode are back with a followup to 2017's Servants of the Countercosmos. It's their third album overall, first in four years, and first for 20 Buck Spin, and it's also a major leap forward from everything else they'd done previously. They used to sound like a relatively traditional black metal band, but on Burn In Many Mirrors, they're pushing the limits of the genre and often defying them entirely. The album still owes a lot to '90s black metal, but it also dives deeper than Wode ever have into Slayer-esque thrash, classic heavy metal, revved-up punk, and more, and M. Czerwoniuk's vocals are catchier than ever without sacrificing any of his usual venom. Burn In Many Mirrors reminds me in spirit of Tribulation's modern classic The Children of the Night, an album that perfectly fused the extremity of black & death metal with the melody and theatrics of classic rock. Burn isn't just another album hopping on the arena black metal trend though. Wode put their own spin on it, and the result is some of the most fun, creative, and vicious metal I've heard all year.
Various Artists - Bushido
Mello Music Group
If you follow underground rap, Mello Music Group needs no introduction. It's one of the best -- if not the best -- current labels in the entire genre. They take influence from veteran indies like Loud, Stones Throw, Rhymesayers, and Def Jux, and they're as crucial today as those labels all were in their primes. I can say, without any exaggeration, that every single album MMG has released in the past who-knows-how-many years is worth checking out. They also sometimes apply their curatorial skills to compilations, like the new Bushido, which is just as essential as the label's albums by a single artist.
Bushido isn't a "label sampler"; all of the songs are exclusive to this disc, and it's full of exciting collaborations that you won't find anywhere else, with a mix of staples from MMG's roster and underground legends like Kool Keith and B-Real. Production comes from The Alchemist, Apollo Brown, Georgia Anne Muldrow, The Lasso, Oddisee, L'Orange, Quelle Chris, !llmind, Nottz, and more, and verses come from Open Mike Eagle, Homeboy Sandman, Oddisee, Quelle Chris, Namir Blade, Skyzoo, Joell Ortiz, Cambatta, Murs, Solemn Brigham, and more, and the result is song after song of captivating left-of-the-dial rap music. It's still a compilation, but it's sequenced well and there's a good flow to it; it's not the kind of comp that makes you wanna skip around. It functions as a showcase for so much of the great rap music happening outside of the mainstream right now, and it also just functions as a great album in its own right.
Hit Like A Girl - Heart Racer
Montclair, NJ's Hit Like A Girl (the project of Nicolle Maroulis) have two albums and a two-song single dating back to 2017, and they've now released their third LP, Heart Racer, which is home to some of their biggest, cleanest, and best sounding songs yet. If you're unfamiliar with HLAG, they're part of the Fest-friendly punk scene, but Heart Racer is really only "punk" in spirit. In terms of sound, it's a soaring, atmospheric indie pop record, and maybe just a little emo, if only because of how impassioned Nicolle's voice and lyrics are. Picture like a more dream pop version of Tigers Jaw and you might have a pretty good idea. The album's also got some cool guest appearances, including vocals by Petal's Kiley Lotz, Bartees Strange (who has a very prominent role on "Monsters"), and The Sonder Bombs' Jer Berkin (who also drummed on the album), and trumpet on closing track "Boomerang (Why Won't You Just Let Me Go)" by Jeremy Hunter (JER, Skatune Network, We Are The Union). Those artists are all fairly different, but they all fit perfectly within the casually complex world of Heart Racer.
Incisions - BLISS
There's a ton of different, amazing things happening underneath the punk umbrella this year, but if you're looking for a pissed-off, no-frills, kickass, classic-style punk record, there aren't many better options than Incisions' sophomore LP BLISS. They pull influence from all throughout punk history, from early American hardcore to UK82 to '90s skate punk to the current hardcore scene, and they casually connect the dots between all of those sounds and eras. They remind you that, no matter what subgenre of punk is most trendy at the moment, it's all coming from the same place. BLISS is also a fired-up, political album at times and an honest, personal one at others. It's fast, ferocious, and it's catchy without being "poppy." It's just about as good as straight-up punk gets.
Steel Bearing Hand - Slay In Hell
It took six years, but Dallas death-thrashers Steel Bearing Hand finally released their second album, and it rips. The thrash riffage hits like a bolt of lightning, the solos are shredding but always crisp and melodic, and the gnarly vocals go from a blackened hardcore bark to a burly death metal growl with plenty of venomous variety in between. Read more about it here.
Pinkshift - Saccharine EP
Last year, we profiled Baltimore's Pinkshift and called them one of 2020's most vital new punk bands, and we included their debut EP in our list of albums we were anticipating in 2021. Today, they've finally released it. Read more about it here.
For more of this week's new albums, Bill reviews Dry Cleaning, Major Murphy, La Femme, and more in Bill's Indie Basement
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.
And check out what's new in our shop.