Notable Releases of the Week (5/19)
How was your week? You see that Riot Fest lineup? Hear the new Blur song? Pretty awesome stuff! Also a good week for new albums. I highlight eight below, and Bill tackles even more in Bill's Indie Basement, including Bar Italia, La Femme, Pozi, Mega Bog, Andy Bell & Masal, and more.
On top of those, honorable mentions: the surprise Khanate comeback album, Graham Nash, Sufjan Stevens, Timo Andres, & Conor Hanick, Tinariwen, Kid Lightning (Save Face, Mom Jeans, Joyce Manor), Yes, Dave Matthews Band, Kesha, Tanlines, Hannah Jadagu, Temps, Wande Coal, Steady Hands, Paper Bee, Horse Jumper of Love, Garden Centre, Botanist, Mindwar, Galen Ayers & Paul Simonon, The Milk Carton Kids, Brandy Clark, The Ocean, The Used, Califone, Alex Lahey, Sir Chloe, Downside, Belly (the rapper), Setting Sun, Robert Ellis, Stella Rose, Rich Aucoin, Salami Rose Jou Louis, The Murlocs, Isolée, Vnder A Crvmbling Moon, Pink Mexico, Estee Nack, B-Lovee, Matt Espy, Decent Criminal, Slowspin, The Telescopes, Elder Jack Ward, PONY, Summer Salt, Cinema Stare, Eyes of Others, Spirit Award, Shy Martin, the LCY EP, the Blawan EP, the Lockstep EP, the Ephemeral EP, the Shroud EP, the Lambrini Girls EP, the Summer Walker EP, The Dare EP, the HotWax EP, the quickly, quickly EP, the Ghost covers EP, the Khruangbin & friends live album, and the deluxe edition of Moor Mother's Jazz Codes.
Read on for my picks. What's your favorite release of the week?
Kaytraminé - Kaytraminé
CLNB LLC/Kaytranada/Venice Music
West Coast rapper Aminé and Montreal electronic musician Kaytranada have worked together multiple times over the years, and now they've made an entire album together as Kaytraminé. They've clearly got a lot of chemistry, and they really bring out the best in one another. Both of them have strong backgrounds in traditional hip hop, but neither artist is content with repeating the past or conforming to norms, so the result is a futuristic, innovative, electronic rap album that goes down smoothly but defies easy categorization. It's fitting that the first single featured Pharrell; the way Pharrell approached hip hop in the late '90s and early 2000s helped pave the way for an album like Kaytraminé to exist now. Other guest appearances include a torch-passing moment from Snoop Dogg, rock-solid verses from Freddie Gibbs and Big Sean, and some helium-voiced singing from Ghanaian-American experimental pop artist Amaarae on the Afrobeats-leaning "sossaup." Every move made on the album, from the production choices to the lyrics to the guest appearances, feels carefully considered and done in the interest of making Kaytraminé a concise, cohesive record.
Frozen Soul - Glacial Domination
Fort Worth, TX's Frozen Soul took the world of hardcore-laced death metal by storm with their 2019 demo and then their 2021 debut LP Crypt of Ice, so needless to say, a followup has been highly anticipated. That anticipation only rose when we learned that Frozen Soul recruited some familiar faces to help them achieve their vision on Glacial Domination--including co-producer Matt Heafy of Trivium, guest vocalists John Gallagher of Dying Fetus and Reese Alavi of Creeping Death, and guest guitarist Blake Ibanez of Power Trip and Fugitive--and now the record is here and it meets and exceeds expectations. It's got everything that was great about the debut but it's bigger and better in every way. It works in John Carpenter-inspired synth interludes, everything feels both harder-hitting and more carefully crafted, and it feels less limited to a specific subgenre than Crypt of Ice without departing from the band's self-described "cold school death metal." Like many death metal albums, Glacial Domination has its fair share of absurdism, but there's also a very personal and serious side. Vocalist Chad Green's younger brother Cory tragically passed away while Frozen Soul were writing the album, and that grief manifested itself in the lyrics of these new songs, particularly "Death and Glory" and "Arsenal of War," both of which Chad wrote with input from his other brother, Josh, who also does vocals on both tracks. "Writing this record helped me cope with loss, especially writing lyrics with my brother Josh," Chad said. "There were times while making this record where I didn’t think I was going to be able to get through it. Luckily, I had my band and family to have my back." Chad also adds that Cory's "spirit is all over this record," and you can feel it in his delivery. Especially on the songs that are directly about his brother, he screams with the kind of passion you can only harness when the subject matter is this close to home.
Paul Simon - Seven Psalms
With more than six decades as a performer and 20 studio albums between his solo career and Simon & Garfunkel, Paul Simon is still finding new ways to approach music. His new album Seven Psalms is presented as one 33-minute, seven-piece composition that's meant to be listened to as one continuous piece. It was recorded entirely with acoustic instruments and often features little or nothing more than Paul and his guitar, but there are some vocal contributions from British vocal ensemble VOCES8 and Paul's wife, singer/songwriter Edie Brickell, along with a few other musicians contributing strings, percussion, and more. Paul says that the idea for the album came to him in a dream, and that he'd wake up between 3:30 and 5 AM two or three nights a week and lyrics would come to him. It makes sense; the quiet, drifting tone of the album feels dreamlike, and feels like something you can picture Paul plucking away at in the middle of the night. As the title hints, the album was inspired by and borrows some lyrics from King David’s Psalms, and Paul has always had a gift for taking cues from traditional folk music or Biblical sources and turning them into something of his own. There are moments on Seven Psalms that you could picture hearing from Paul Simon in the 1960s, and others that only could've happened at this point in his career. Especially considering how many of Paul's '60s-era peers have long since become nostalgia acts, or retired entirely, it shouldn't be taken for granted that Paul Simon refuses to do either.
Gumm - Slogan Machine
We recently put together a list of 13 great songs from the current wave of bands mixing hardcore and alt-rock sensibilities, including some very visible names like Turnstile, Angel Du$t, Drug Church, Scowl, and Militarie Gun, as well as a slightly smaller band who's on the come-up right now, Gumm. The Chattanooga, Tennessee band have three EPs under their belts, and today they release their debut album on Convulse Records, a label that's been on fire lately with new releases from Gel, MSPAINT, Public Opinion, Entry, and more (not to mention a couple early Miltarie Gun EPs). It's hard not to compare Gumm to Drug Church, given their shared approach to gritty anthemicism, but Slogan Machine also reminds me of other stuff ranging from '80s/'90s Dischord to early Touché Amoré. And after a few listens, you won't really be thinking about who Gumm sound like; you'll just be yelling along and looking up the next time you can see this band bring their unbridled energy to a stage near you. (Pro tip: they're opening part of the Drain/Drug Church tour and they've got a DC date with 7Seconds and One Step Closer.) They've got passion and hooks and they sound genuinely explosive--all the makings of a band too good to be ignored.
J. Navarro & The Traitors - All Of Us Or None
Bad Time Records
Jason Navarro is a real lifer, and he's been very busy these past few years. His beloved and influential ska-punk band The Suicide Machines released a comeback album in 2020 and a split with Coquettish last year, and they've got tour dates on the horizon too. Meanwhile, he's also just now released the second-ever album by his band J. Navarro & The Traitors. Compared to The Suicide Machines' ska-infused punk and hardcore, the Traitors are more of a punky reggae party. All Of Us Or None is primarily fueled by traditional ska, reggae, and rocksteady rhythms, but The Traitors deliver it with the grit of a street punk band--and sometimes there's some straight-up punk in the mix too. Like The Suicide Machines, The Traitors are a socially and politically conscious band, and you don't need a lyric sheet to pick up on the fact that All Of Us Or None is a record by a band with contempt for the state of the world. It's both angry and inspiring, and it's also a ton of fun to listen to.
Kerosene Heights - Southeast of Somewhere
Last year, I got an email with the subject line "LITERALLY BETTER THAN SUGAR RAY." Interest fully piqued, I opened it, and inside was "Tired of Me," the debut single by a new Asheville, North Carolina emo band called Kerosene Heights. It was stuffed with familiar tricks (noodly Midwest emo riffs, shouty and kinda-off-key singing), and you could tell right off the bat that Kerosene Heights knew exactly how to deliver these thrills. An EP, a four-way split (with Drunk Uncle, Rose Ceremony, and Thorn Tire), and a couple other miscellaneous tracks later, Kerosene Heights are now signed to No Sleep (Balance and Composure, La Dispute, etc) and their debut LP is here. The self-described "emo revival revival" band are still relying on familiar tricks, but they're even better at it now than they were a year ago, and it feels like they've gotten a lot more invested in songs you can really sing along to. ("Growing" and "Kathryn" seem like they're gonna be real crowdpleasers at shows.) There are moments that kinda sound like Cap'n Jazz, but there are also moments that kinda sound like The Wonder Years, and Kerosene Heights' ability to tap into all of that in such a natural way is what makes Southeast of Somewhere such a fun listen.
Wiki - Papiseed Street Vol. 1
Wiki is a constant force in NYC's underground rap scene, and now, less than a year after releasing his excellent Subjxct 5-produced album Cold Cuts, he returns with a surprise six-song EP (and its "Vol. 1" title suggests maybe more is coming). Four of its songs were produced by Juju Merk (including "Casa Del Sucio," which finds Wiki rapping over a loop of Future's "The Percocet & Stripper Joint"), and the other two were co-produced by Laron (fresh off helming the new Jadasea album) and Luca Beats. One of the Laron/Luca Beats tracks is with NYC rapper Niontay (fresh off releasing his debut project Dontay's Inferno on MIKE's 10k label) and one of the Juju Merk tracks is with Big Ouee and Papo2oo4 from NJ's 2oo4 crew, both of whom appeared on Cold Cuts. It's a brief release, and it doesn't sound like Wiki overthought anything, but even something quick and dirty like this shows how reliable and unstoppable Wiki is. As soon as he opens his mouth to rap, he's got command over whatever room he's in.
Mandy, Indiana - i've seen a way
Bill's Album Of the Week in Indie Basement this week is the debut album by Mandy, Indiana, and to quote his review, "They're a guitar band who don't play chords, an electronic band who only occasionally want you to dance, but present a vivid, tableau with their music which is often unsettling and confrontational." Read the rest in Indie Basement, and read about what influenced the album.
Read Indie Basement for more new album reviews, including Bar Italia, La Femme, Pozi, Mega Bog, Andy Bell & Masal, and more.
Looking for more recent releases? Browse the Notable Releases archive or scroll down for previous weeks.
Looking for a podcast to listen to? Check out our new episode with Drain.