Notable Releases of the Week (8/21)
Deftones season approaching! After way too many teases, the news of album nine is finally real and we got the first single today. We can't wait to hear more of that, but meanwhile, there are a whole lot of great new albums out today.
I highlight eight below, and here's a bunch of honorable mentions: Nas, Fireboy DML, Matmos (ft. Yo La Tengo, Oneohtrix Point Never, members of Pig Destroyer and tons of others), Guided by Voices, Secret Machines, Erasure, H.C. McEntire, Mulatto, Sophia, The Front Bottoms, Cut Copy, Everything Everything, Bent Arcana (mem Oh Sees, TVOTR, Gang Gang Dance), Flee Lord x 38 Spesh, Dikembe, Old 97's, No Joy, Tuning, Sally Anne Morgan, Xythlia, Ars Magna Umbrae, Atramentus, Expander, Self-Hypnosis (mem Esoteric, Lychgate), Lotus, The Waterboys, The Lemon Twigs, Alex the Astronaut, Gull, AFI side project Blaqk Audio, Fruit Bats' covers album of The Smashing Pumpkins' Siamese Dream, the Buried Alive EP, the Vic Mensa EP, and the Reserving Dirtnaps EP.
Read on for my eight picks. What's your favorite release of this very stacked week?
Bully - SUGAREGG
Bully (the project of Alicia Bognanno) isn't shy about how directly she borrows from '90s grunge. She wrote the music for the Hole-esque band in Her Smell, covered Nirvana, signed to the label that helped turn grunge into a phenomenon (Sub Pop), recorded her new album SUGAREGG in the studio where Nirvana recorded In Utero and PJ Harvey recorded Rid of Me (Pachyderm Studios), and you can't deny the similarities between the artwork for SUGAREGG and Nevermind. It's all dangerously close to being too on the nose, but it works for Alicia Bognanno because she's really got the songs to pull it off. SUGAREGG is a good 25-30 years too late to be part of the alternative rock zeitgeist, but it rivals a lot of the bands who were part of the '90s alt-rock boom.
Having produced her first two albums herself, Alicia made this one with John Congleton, whose work with Cloud Nothings, Cymbals Eat Guitars, and Manchester Orchestra has already established him as a good fit for '90s-style rock bands, and together Alicia and John came out with one of Bully's best sounding records. Like many of the best grunge classics, it sounds big and bright and loud but never overly polished. And matching the great production is a great batch of songs, including some of the strongest ones Alicia has written yet. She pulled lyrical inspiration from some heavy topics, like dealing with her bipolar II disorder and the pressures women face in society to become mothers, and she delivers her words with some of the most immediate hooks she's written yet. It's hard to say yet if SUGAREGG has any individual song as show-stealing as "Trying" or "I Remember" from her debut, but it's perhaps her most overall consistent album, with song after song that just makes you wanna crank the volume a little more each time.
Bright Eyes - Down in the Weeds, Where the World Once Was
Bright Eyes are reunited and back with their first album in nine years, which is also one of the most ambitious records they've ever made, with an orchestra, a choir, bagpipes, Flea on bass, and more. You can my read full review of it here.
The Killers - Imploding the Mirage
The Killers tapped The War On Drugs' Adam Granduciel, Weyes Blood, Lindsey Buckingham, in-demand indie producers Shawn Everett & Jonathan Rado, and more for Imploding the Mirage, which channels War On Drugs-y heartland rock and is The Killers' best record in at least a decade. You can read my full review of it here.
Mach-Hommy - Mach's Hard Lemonade
Mach-Hommy's new album actually came out two weeks ago, but the social media and interview-shy rapper gave it a release on a weekend without much promotion, and put it out digitally as a TIDAL exclusive and physically as a digipack CD for $99.99 (which is already sold out), a jewel case CD for $111.11, vinyl for $222.22, and deluxe vinyl for $444.44, so it's not too surprising that it's taken Mach's Hard Lemonade a little bit of time to catch on. If you still haven't heard it, better late than never, because it's one of the strongest releases yet from this already-great, extremely prolific rapper/producer.
Like his other recent projects, Mach's Hard Lemonade favors brevity (the line between "album" and "EP" is very blurred when it comes to Mach-Hommy), and there's something very effective in our information-overload times about a 9-song, 22-minute album that never lets up and lends itself to replays. Mach-Hommy's production sounds bolder and richer than usual on this album, and his rapping is louder, clearer, and more attention-grabbing, but he hasn't abandoned the psychedelic, radically left-of-center sound that's made him such a cultishly loved artist in today's rap underground. ("Squeaky Hinge," the one song that's streaming outside of TIDAL, is a huge highlight production-wise.) Mach-Hommy wrote and produced the bulk of the music himself (with some co-writing by Preservation, whose great new album also features Mach-Hommy), and Mach is joined by guest verses from usual suspects like Earl Sweatshirt, Your Old Droog, Tha God Fahim, and Navy Blue. All the guests sound like naturals within Mach's universe, but the one who fits in most seamlessly is Your Old Droog, who goes line for line with Mach on "Pour House" and shows off the kind of chemistry that only happens when a yin finds its yang.
Nubya Garcia - Source
Saxophonist and flautist Nubya Garcia has become one of the leaders of the UK jazz renaissance that's been underway for a few years and which continues to expand in new, exciting ways. She's a member of the groups Maisha and Nérija, she's played as a sidewoman on such acclaimed albums as Ezra Collective's Juan Pablo: The Philosopher and Makaya McCraven's Universal Beings, and she's got a couple EPs under her belt, but Source is her first full-length album as a bandleader, and it marks yet another major milestone in her career. Like a lot of the best records Nubya has played on, it's an album that can't be pigeonholed. It mixes the freeform, avant-garde side of jazz with the warm, chilled-out side. It looks outside of jazz and incorporates bits of reggae, Afrobeat, cumbia, soul, and other styles of music, and it includes some guest vocalists who add even more variety. Its psychedelic, genre-defying sound recalls the early '70s fusion era, but Source is an album that feels fresh and modern. Like many of her closest peers and collaborators, Nubya Garcia makes a convincing case that jazz is a genre that's still full of innovation.
Be Well - The Weight and The Cost
Battery frontman turned famed punk producer Brian McTernan (who's helmed classics by Converge, Cave In, Thrice, Circa Survive, Hot Water Music, Strike Anywhere, and more) has returned to singing and songwriting for the first time in nearly 20 years with his new band Be Well, whose lineup also includes current and former members of Fairweather, Darkest Hour, and Bane/Converge. Their debut album is full of kick-ass melodic hardcore songs that nail the balance between unfiltered aggression and good hooks, and Brian drives them home with the kind of confessional, vulnerable lyrical content that's so raw and real that it could only come straight from the heart. Read more about it (and an interview with Brian) here.
Mulatto - Queen of Da Souf
Nothing's been the same since "WAP" dropped, and one of the many things "WAP" did was shine a light on Mulatto, the extremely promising Atlanta rapper who made a cameo in the video. Mulatto had a few EPs and mixtapes under her belt when "WAP" was released, but now she just released her debut studio album, and it's very, very good. Like "WAP," Queen of Da Souf is full of sex-positive anthems that are overflowing with charisma and confidence, and like both Cardi and Megan, Mulatto's a great rapper who fits in with modern trap but clearly takes notes from the louder, brasher late '90s / early '00s era. (Her album title presumably nods at T.I.'s "King of Da South," and these songs would very much appeal to fans of classic T.I.) Guest appearances come from stars like City Girls, Gucci Mane, and 21 Savage, the fast-rising Detroit rapper 42 Dugg, and early 2000s icon Trina, and Mulatto shines next to all of them. "Tried to sign Mulatto, but she was signed already," Gucci Mane raps on "Muwop," which flips his 2007 single "Freaky Gurl" and turns it into a right-now anthem, and it's easy to see why he's already kicking himself for snoozing and losing. She's got star power, great songs, and as she proves on the more serious, introspective "No Hook," she's no one-trick pony.
Unreal City - Cruelty of Heaven
Closed Casket Activities
Back in 2007, Pittsburgh metallic hardcore band Unreal City released their crushing debut album Ephemeral Subsistence, and in the time since then, guitarist Rob Orr became Dwid Hellion's core collaborator on the early 2010s Integrity albums (until Dom Romeo took over that role in 2014) and vocalist Joe Sanderson turned his focus towards his band Eternal Sleep (and also guested on a Code Orange song). Jon, Rob, and the rest of the shifting Unreal City lineup regrouped over the years for the Masks (2014) and Oath (2017) EPs, and now they're finally back with their second full-length album, nearly 13 years after their debut. Unreal City have only gotten crisper and heavier over the years, and Cruelty of Heaven makes good on the promise of the darker, heavier Oath EP. Rob's chunky metal/punk riff style made him a perfect fit for Integrity, and as good as Eternal Sleep is, it's nice to have Joe barking over Rob Orr riffs for the length of an entire album again. It's heavy as all hell, a blast to listen to, and a nice addition to a year that's been full of great hardcore/metal crossover.
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.