This week just so happened to be a busy week for classic punk/hardcore, with the much-anticipated remastered reissue of 7Seconds' The Crew (which you can pick up on limited pink vinyl), the announcement of the Dischord box set, the photo essay with Fugazi, 7Seconds, The Jesus Lizard, and more that we ran ahead of the upcoming Punks In Peoria book, and our livestream show with Walter Schreifels (hope you tuned in!). We also added some Fugazi and Minor Threat records to our shop.

For some much newer music, I highlight seven new albums below, and here are some honorable mentions:: Juliana Hatfield, The Black Keys, The Chills, Johanna Samuels, Fightmilk, Big Jade, Unwed Sailor, Matt Berry (who Bill interviewed), Paul Weller, John Andrews & the Yawns, Holly Macve, Panopticon, The Ember The Ash, Dordeduh, Belvedere, Voodoo Glow Skulls, Fatima Al Qadiri, Skatune Network's Animal Crossing covers album, Babyface Ray, Kipp Stone, Marlon Craft & Yusei, Smol Data, Sarah Neufeld (Arcade Fire), Cake Pop (mem 100 gecs), Triggerman, Grave Miasma, Tomas Nordmark, Erika Dohi, the Zombi EP, the Sailor Down EP, the Carol EP, the Seefeel reissues, and the Crosby Stills Nash & Young box set.

St. Vincent - Daddy's Home
Loma Vista

Across her first five proper albums as St. Vincent, Annie Clark made increasingly futuristic music. She could accurately be described as indie rock, but she hasn't shied away from bringing in cutting edge electronics or working with hip hop producers. She's also ascended to guitar hero status, and she did so without ever relying on the tropes that we traditionally associate with guitar heroes. Now she's back with her sixth album Daddy's Home, and it marks the first time that she's explicitly looking backwards. From before the public heard a note of it, Annie had been talking about the influence of the 1970s on Daddy's Home, and now that it's here, you can hear that it's filled with references to the music of that decade. There's funk, jazz-rock organ, gospel choirs, and flashes of country twang; there's prog and psych and even a little jam, and it's almost always presented within a 1970s rock context. Artists like Bowie, the Stones, and Pink Floyd -- all of whom Annie's cited as influences on the LP -- come to mind when you listen. This time around, when Annie rips a solo, it is guitar heroism in the traditional sense. Still, even at its most pastiche, Daddy's Home sounds unmistakably like St. Vincent. She hasn't lost the ability to sound entirely distinct, and she also hasn't lost her knack for making albums with an emphasis on craft and precision.

 

J. Cole - The Off-Season
Dreamville/Roc Nation/Interscope

If you've been following rap criticism for the past decade or so, you probably know how J. Cole's new album is going to be received. Critics often tend not to like him, but he's extremely popular without really being "pop," and he's highly respected by countless other respected rappers. Cole can lean cheesy, so it's easy to see why so many critics turn their noses up at him, but he's also dedicated his life to perfecting the art of rap as it existed in the Illmatic era -- and gotten pretty good at it -- so it's also easy to see why he gets so much respect. As he continues to have a diehard fanbase, influence, longevity, and consistency, even his haters start to admit that maybe there's something there; he seems to get re-evaluated and re-debated with each new release. His last album, 2018's KOD, was considered a high point of his career by fans and critics alike, and at least on my first couple listens, The Off-Season feels like it's of a similar quality. From clever punchlines ("I got more M's than a Real Slim Shady video") to open-hearted introspection ("l e t . g o . m y . h a n d"), Cole's rapping is in fine form, and having produced about half the album himself, so are his beats. (Other producers include Timbaland, T-Minus, DJ Dahi, Boi-1da, and more.) He maintains his status as rap's middle child by turning the spotlight over to younger stars with standout verses from 21 Savage and Lil Baby, while honoring the vets with cameos from Cam'ron, Lil Jon, and Puff Daddy. He probably didn't need to brag twice that he'll do better numbers than rappers who overstuff their albums with 20+ songs, but it does work in Cole's favor that he continues to release concise albums. The Off-Season is a tight, well-sequenced 12 songs that clock in just below the 40-minute mark, leaving no time for any noticeable filler. Over ten years and six proper albums into his career, Cole isn't necessarily full of surprises at this point, but if nothing else, he continues to maintain his consistency. In a genre where even some of the best to ever do it have fallen off after LP2, that's a merit that can't be ignored.

 

Sons of Kemet - Black to the Future
Impulse! Records

If Kamasi Washington has been leading the charge for the jazz renaissance in the US, then across the pond it's gotta be Shabaka Hutchings. Between his groups Shabaka and the Ancestors, The Comet Is Coming, and Sons of Kemet, he's released not just several of the best jazz albums of the past few years, but some of the best music, period. All three of his main projects are noticeably different, and Sons of Kemet has a more maximalist Afrobeat vibe than the others. And on their fourth album Black to the Future, they've made their most maximal music yet. This album brings in a handful of awesome guest vocalists, including Angel Bat Dawid and Moor Mother (both on "Pick Up Your Burning Cross"), Kojey Radical and Lianne La Havas (both on "Hustle"), Joshua Idehen, and D Double E, and their contributions make the album seem even more communal and more impactful than Sons of Kemet's music already did. It's an album that's constantly in motion, full of twists and turns that grab you by surprise, and it's also a socially/politically powerful album that was inspired by the mass unrest of 2020. "Black to the Future is a sonic poem for the invocation of power, remembrance and healing," Shabaka says. "It depicts a movement to redefine and reaffirm what it means to strive for Black power." "For humanity to progress," he adds, "we must consider what it means to be Black to the Future."

 

Jorja Smith - Be Right Back
FAMM

It's been three years since UK soul singer Jorja Smith released her excellent debut album Lost & Found, and she's kept the momentum going with non-album singles and collaborations, but she still hasn't gotten around to releasing her much-anticipated sophomore album. The eight-song Be Right Back isn't her album, but it is the most complete project she's put out since Lost & Found and it serves as a reminder that Jorja continues to get better and better. "It’s called Be Right Back because it’s just something I want my fans to have right now," Jorja says. "This isn’t an album and these songs wouldn’t have made it. If I needed to make these songs, then someone needs to hear them too." There are some real gems on here, so if Jorja's already sure that these songs wouldn't make the cut for her next album, that makes LP2 seem pretty promising. There's also a nice amount of variety for a short release like this: some rustic acoustic guitars, some glitchy electronics, some warm jazz. It's a low-stakes release, but not an inessential one, and it's really whetting our appetite for that next album.

 

AKAI SOLO & Navy Blue - True Sky
Break All Records/Freedom Sounds

AKAI SOLO and Navy Blue are two of the brightest voices in the psychedelic, underground New York rap scene, so it was very exciting when AKAI SOLO recently revealed Navy Blue would be entirely producing his next album True Sky. That album's release date was never revealed, but they surprise-released it this week, and it very much lives up to anticipation. If you've been following the careers of AKAI SOLO and Navy Blue (or likeminded artists like MIKE, Pink Siifu, Earl Sweatshirt, etc), you probably have a good idea of what to expect: warped, hazy production and poetic, stream-of-consciousness raps that are just as dizzying as the beats. There's been no lack of music like this coming out lately, and as long as the quality is this high, that's a very good thing.

 

SeeYouSpaceCowboy & If I Die First - A Sure Disaster EP
Pure Noise

SeeYouSpaceCowboy have been leaders of a new crop of bands helping to popularize sasscore for a new generation, and If I Die First are a scenecore supergroup featuring three emo-rappers (Lil Lotus, Nedarb, and Zubin) and two members of From First To Last (Travis Richter and Derek Bloom), and today they've released the split EP A Sure Disaster, featuring two songs from each band and one collaborative song. You can read more about it -- and listen to a playlist made by SYSC of songs that influenced it -- here.

 

Hundreds of AU - Acting From Remote Satellites
Patient Zero Records

Hundreds of AU is one of the many bands featuring screamo lifer Tom Schlatter (You and I, The Assistant, Capacities, Every Scar Has A Story, Lacrima, guest vocals on Thursday's Full Collapse, etc), and their great third album Acting From Remote Satellites channels the same type of '90s screamo that classic bands like You and I helped define, while also flirting with hardcore, black metal, post-rock, and more. Read more about it here.

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