Botch are back! Well, they're not reuniting, but they did finally put their catalog on streaming, so that's something. Mitski is back too! Converge's Jane Doe is a mystery no more. Eve 6 and We Are The Union made Punk Twitter dreams come true by covering Operation Ivy together. And Pitchfork admitted to 19 album scores they've given that they'd like to change. What a week.

As for this week's new albums, I highlight four below, Bill tackles Taraka (ex-Prince Rama), Karen Paris (of The Innocence Mission), and more in Bill's Indie Basement, and here are a bunch of honorable mentions: James Blake, Magdalena Bay (get red vinyl), Porches, Shannon Lay, BADBADNOTGOOD, Billy Bragg, Lala Lala, Curren$y, Lute, Bronze Nazareth & Roc Marciano, Efterklang, Destroy Boys, Guilty Simpson & Gensu Dean, Don Toliver, Steel Tipped Dove (ft. billy woods, KeiyaA, Pink Siifu & more), Ladyhawke, Church Girls, The Rememberables, POORSTACY, We Are Scientists, Karloff, Atræ Bilis, Astral Swans, Møtrik, Shy, Low, Low Hum, I Like Allie, Natalie Hemby, Atmosphere, Sam Fender, W.H. Lung, the Creeping Death EP, the Spiritual Cramp EP, the Fauness EP, the Local H covers album, the Nothing b-sides comp, the Kevin Morby demos album, the John Coltrane A Love Supreme live album (get the vinyl), and the Faust box set.

Read on for my picks. What's your favorite release of the week?

Kowloon Walled City - Piecework
Neurot Recordings/Gilead Media

Having started out as a caustic sludge metal band in the late 2000s, Kowloon Walled City have spent their career moving towards something more refined, and that continues on their fourth album -- and first in six years -- Piecework. At this point, they sound like a cross between Slint and Neurosis, blurring the lines between post-rock, post-hardcore, and post-metal in a way that sounds entirely bleak. There's a beauty to the production and the crisp musicianship, but the songs never sound bright or uplifting. The music feels as apocalyptic as recent works by Swans and Daughters, and like those bands, Kowloon Walled City are proving to have serious longevity. There's not a whole lot of variety in this album -- every song kind of sounds the same -- but the repetitiveness adds to the overall feeling of dread. Listening to Piecework feels like being trapped inside a hell you can't get out of.

 

The World Is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die - Illusory Walls
Epitaph

The World Is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die admittedly started to fall into a too-familiar routine on 2017's Always Foreign, but for this new record, they pushed themselves to do something they'd never done before, and the result is their darkest, most complex album yet. Read my full review of the truly stunning LP -- and interview with guitarist/producer Chris Teti -- here.

Pick up TWIABP's new LP on silver vinyl.

 

The Alchemist - This Thing of Ours Vol. 2 EP
ALC

Earlier this year, the great hip hop producer The Alchemist put out his new EP This Thing of Ours, which features songs with Earl Sweatshirt, Navy Blue, Boldy James, Maxo, Pink Siifu, and Sideshow. Now he follows it with a sequel, this time featuring Vince Staples, MAVI, MIKE, ZelooperZ, and Bruiser Brigade (aka Danny Brown, JUS, Fat Ray, and Bruiser Wolf), and it scratches the same appealing itch as its predecessor. Alchemist has been active for decades, but his current interest in jazzy, psychedelic boom bap revival has been defining the current wave of '90s-style underground rap, and it's a treat to hear all of these rappers entering his world. They all have their own ever-evolving sounds, but they know an Alchemist track requires you to rap your ass off in the traditional sense, and that's what all of them do. Across both EP's 10 songs, Alchemist collaborates with 15 different rappers, and it's a testament to Alchemist's style and vision that the whole thing sounds like one cohesive work. It seems like just about everything he touches turns to gold lately, and these star-studded solo releases are up there with any of the albums he's produced lately (like Freddie Gibbs, Armand Hammer, Boldy James).

 

The Last Gang - Noise Noise Noise
Fat Wreck Chords

LA punks The Last Gang are back with a followup to their 2018 breakthrough album Keep Them Counting, and for this one, they've injected their raspy-voiced punk with a strong reggae influence, taking inspiration not just from The Clash's reggae-infused punk classic London Calling, but from the stuff they were listening to, like Toots and the Maytals, Lee "Scratch" Perry, and Trojan Records comps. It's not all reggae-influenced though -- the album's still got plenty of straight-up punk rippers -- and though the music is nostalgia-inducing, the lyrical content is urgent and topical, taking on a lot of the topics that came to the forefront of American society in recent years, especially in the past year. For more, read the track-by-track breakdown that vocalist Brenna Red made us earlier this week.

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