Notable Releases of the Week (7/5)
Hi, hope everyone had a good Fourth of July! With the Fourth on a Thursday this year, this is a long weekend for a lot of people (in the US), so there aren't too many albums out this week, but there are still a few worth checking out. And with this long weekend possibly filled with BBQs and parties or just more free time than usual, what better time than now to throw on some new music? (If you're having a BBQ, might I recommend the recently-released Mark Ronson album, which is the kind of easily-listenable album that music snobs and radio listeners can all agree on.) Also, if you're looking to see live music in NYC this weekend, check out our 4th of July Weekend 2019 NYC event guide.
I highlighted six albums below, but before I get to those, some honorable mentions: Westside Gunn, Joey Cape (of Lagwagon/Bad Astronaut), Joanna Sternberg, Mark Mulcahy (of Miracle Legion/Polaris), CFM (Charles Moothart of Ty Segall's Freedom Band and Fuzz), Trash Kit (mem Shopping), and the Kelly Lee Owens 12".
Check out my six picks below. What was your favorite release of the week?
There are of course exceptions, but it feels like -- more often than ever -- rock and metal bands tie themselves to highly specific subgenres. It makes it hard to evolve or do something unique or interesting, because you limit yourself to a predetermined set of strict rules of what does and doesn't fit inside your genre. Immortal Bird are one of the exceptions. The Chicago band's new sophomore album Thrive on Neglect bounces freely between black and death metal, grind, doom, post-hardcore, and more, and Immortal Bird pull it off so naturally that you might forget that lines between those genres even exist at all. They don't sound like an overly ambitious band trying to fit too many different sounds into one album; they just seem like they haven't set themselves any limits, and they'll play whatever feels right. They don't sound much like Converge (though they don't sound nothing like Converge), but if you're a Converge fan, you'll probably like this album too. Both bands share a knack for pulling heavy sounds from all over the place while staying incredibly focused, and coming out with good melodies in the process. Thrive on Neglect is also a great sounding record, thanks to producer Dave Otero (Khemmis, Cobalt, Cattle Decapitation, etc), who really knows how to help metal bands sound clean and crisp without sacrificing any of their aggression.
Jesca Hoop had been building up a worthwhile catalog for over a decade by the time she made the jump to Sub Pop and released the collaborative album with Iron & Wine in 2016 and her Sub Pop solo debut Memories Are Now the following year. We said Memories Are Now was arguably her best work yet, so, needless to say, we were excited about the news of its followup. And Jesca delivered once again. The new album is on UK label Memphis Industries, it was produced by PJ Harvey collaborator John Parish, and features guest vocals from Lucius, This Is The Kit, and Rozi Plain. You can feel Parish's fingerprints on the album (there are a few moments that remind me of PJ Harvey), but as is always the case with her albums, Jesca's words and melodies are the driving force of Stonechild. It's a more political album than she usually writes, as she explains: "Current politics is fucking disturbing. I write from personal perspective, about relationships mostly and I don’t find much music in politics, but as hate crimes increase, women’s rights are being rolled back, and the two nations I call home are building walls… well, the political has become deeply personal." Jesca sings with a clear, folk singer-style delivery that really helps the album's powerful lyrics resonate, and her voice is also as soaring as ever. Memories Are Now was a late-career creative peak, and Stonechild proves that Jesca continues to push forward.
J Cole's Dreamville label is back with the third edition of their Revenge of the Dreamers compilation series, and it's got the label's whole roster of JID, Bas, EarthGang, Cozz, Ari Lennox, Omen, Lute, and of course Cole himself, plus some of their talented friends like Kendrick Lamar (who makes an uncredited appearance on the first song), Vince Staples, DaBaby, Maxo Kream, Smino, Saba, T.I., Buddy, Reason, Dreezy, and more. I haven't heard the whole thing yet (because of the holiday week), but the singles have all been great and Dreamville's been on a role lately. Cole's last album KOD was one of his best and JID has been emerging as the label's next breakout star (for good reason). This is the first ROTD since JID joined the label, so that alone is reason enough to listen. Not to mention anything Kendrick Lamar and Vince Staples show up on is worth paying attention to.
As the guitarist and vocalist of Immortal, Abbath Doom Occulta released some of the greatest black metal albums of all time, including 1993's highly influential Pure Holocaust. He left Immortal in 2015 (and last year they released an album without him), and then he started his own project Abbath and released his totally killer self-titled debut in early 2016. It was all the proof we needed to know that Abbath was doing just fine on his own, and it's made the anticipation pretty high for this new sophomore album. He made this one with an entirely different lineup than he made the last one (guitarist Ole André Farstad, bassist Mia Wallace, and drummer Ukri Suvilehto), and every member of the current band brings their A game to this record. The album still has plenty of Abbath's usual black metal style (including a Bathory cover), but it also sees him pulling sounds from NWOBHM and other classic metal more than he did on his debut. It's a more melodic, more fun record, and yet another stunning late-career project from a guy who left his unwavering mark on music history over 25 years ago.
Press releases on LA industrial band 3TEETH like to point out that they were "handpicked" to open for Tool and Rammstein and that they've also opened for Danzig (including the festival he curated), and 3TEETH also work with producer Sean Heavan, who mixed the first two Nine Inch Nails albums and co-produced the first three Marilyn Manson albums. For a small-ish band who only formed a few years ago and seemingly came out of nowhere, they seem to be in suspiciously huge hands so it would be understandable if you got a little cynical about them, but if they are making albums as easily enjoyable as METAWAR, they deserve the success. It's their third album overall and first for Century Media, and it sounds like the kind of album that would have made 3TEETH stars in the late '90s or early '00s. It's equally rooted in NIN/Marilyn Manson-style industrial rock as it is in chugging nu metal, and 3TEETH don't shy away from mainstream appeal at all. There are a lot of cool industrial bands and nu metally hardcore bands making noise in the underground right now, but 3TEETH's album very intentionally sounds like it was built for the mainstream. "I wanted to make an album that could appeal to 20,000 people who all wanted to rock out at the same time," said vocalist Alexis Mincolla. Again, it can be easy to get cynical about a comment like that, but that's what all the bands who influenced them did and all of those bands are great. There will never be another metal band as big as Metallica if we turn our noses up at every band who tries to be. And besides, 3TEETH have been supporting a lot of those cool underground bands with their increasing fame. One of their recent headlining tours was opened by industrial rap group Ho99o9 (who they also released a collaborative single with) and industrial punk duo Street Sects. Their upcoming tour will be opened by the great industrial one-man-band Author & Punisher and synthwaver GosT. Author & Punisher and Street Sects released two of the best industrial albums of last year, so if 3TEETH are writing super catchy songs and helping to introduce the world to great, challenging, underground bands, more power to them.
Rachel Goswell has been on a role lately. Her band Minor Victories (with members of Mogwai and Editors) released their very solid debut in 2016, she reunited with Slowdive and made one of the very best albums of 2017, and then she lent her voice to this year's excellent American Football album. Now she's releasing the debut album by her new project The Soft Cavalry, which is a collaboration with her husband Steven Clarke. Bill is reviewing the album for Bill's Indie Basement today so head there to read his review.