This just might be the most amount of albums BV has ever reviewed in one week. I highlight 10 below, Bill tackles 13 in Bill's Indie Basement (Parquet Courts, Jarvis Cocker's French pop covers album, Helado Negro, Deerhoof, Guided by Voices, Hand Habits, Tricky's guest-filled Lonely Guest album, Clinic, La Luz, Dinner, Tonstartssbandht, Black Marble, Omni's Philip Frobos), and Gordon Phillips did a big feature on all the post-LVL UP projects that reviews the new Trace Mountains and Spirit Was albums that are out today. 25 reviews!

On top of all that, here's an insane amount of honorable mentions: Elton John (ft. Stevie Nicks, Stevie Wonder, Eddie Vedder, Dua Lipa, Miley Cyrus, Lil Nas X, Brandi Carlile, Gorillaz, Glen Campbell, Young Thug, Nicki Minaj, Rina Sawayama, 6LACK & more), JPEGMAFIA, Duran Duran, Big D and the Kids Table, Hawthonn, KIRA (ex-Black Flag), Lone, Ross From Friends, Wet, Jackson+Sellers, Ms Banks, Wale, Slow Crush, Ouri, Xeno & Oaklander, Skinny Lister, Massacre, Dream Theater, Dave Hause, The Copyrights, Clockwise On Fire (mem Good Old War), Together Pangea, Jerry Vessel (ex-Red House Painters), Mess Esque (mem Dirty Three), Phew, The Exbats, C Trip A, Abbreviations, Worm, Power Supply (Mikey Young), Herbert, Belaver, Super American, Mildred Maude, Stian Carstensen (ft. Mike Patton), 1914, Apparition, 500 Miles to Memphis, Orquesta Akokán, Feral Season (Chrch, Occlith), Loose Buttons, Dummy, the Dua Saleh EP, the F16s EP, the Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash deluxe 40th anniversary reissue, The Rolling Stones' Tattoo You deluxe 40th anniversary reissue, the 10th anniversary edition of Wye Oak's Civilian, and the Pistol Annies Christmas album.

That enough music for one week? What's your favorite? Read on for my picks below...

Grouper - Shade
Kranky

When we music fans/critics/nerds/whathaveyou look at artists' careers, we often look for some sort of progression, some sort of story to tell about the trajectory the artist's music has been on from album to album. Grouper kind of makes you throw that out the window. Her new album Shade was recorded at various points over the past 15 years, and as far as I can tell, she doesn't tell you which songs were recorded in what years. So if you notice that several songs on Shade share a folky acoustic vibe with 2008's beloved Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill, that doesn't necessarily make this a "return to form" or whatever. It's very possible those songs were recorded around the same time. Ultimately, none of this matters, and that's kind of the beauty of Grouper. Her music defies and transcends the way many of us usually listen to and think about music -- especially in the modern, fast-paced, internet-driven world -- so it makes sense that even her approach to recording/releasing music is unique. Like all Grouper albums, Shade is devastatingly quiet and somber, full of songs that force you to tune out everything else happening around you. Shade is an album that you need to make time for, and the payoff is always worth it. Even its most barely-there moments are genuinely transportive.

 

Lana Del Rey - Blue Banisters
Interscope/Polydor

Where do you go after making the most monumental album of your career? In Lana Del Rey's case, the answer is increasingly smaller. Her 2019 album Norman Fucking Rockwell was deservedly recognized as one of the best albums of the 2010s, but its 2021 followup Chemtrails over the Country Club was more intimate, minimal, and freeing, seemingly less concerned with impacting the canon the way NFR did. Blue Banisters, her second album of 2021, feels even less concerned with that. It's a more tucked-away album, one that finds Lana making the music she loves to make with seemingly little regard for how it'll be perceived in the mainstream. It has some real standout moments -- the horns on "If You Lie Down With Me," the yelling on "Dealer," the raw, organic feeling of the acoustic "Nectar of the Gods," the affecting piano ballad "Living Legend" -- but more often than not, Blue Banisters feels content to lurk in the background, rather than jump out at you. It can feel a little predictable for Lana's standards at times, but even when it does, it captures the distinct vibe that Lana has been bringing to the table since the Born To Die days. She's spawned countless imitators, and even this more modest album reminds you there's nothing like the real thing.

Get Lana's new album on double vinyl in our store.

 

Circuit des Yeux - -io
Matador

Circuit des Yeux follows 2017's very good Reaching for Indigo (Drag City) with her sixth album and first for Matador, -io. The album was inspired by grief and the pandemic, and it was made during lockdown, which meant main member Haley Fohr and her 13 collaborators couldn't all be in the studio at once, but they were still able to come out with the biggest-sounding Circuit des Yeux album yet. It moves between string-laden art rock, discordant avant-folk, stirring orchestral balladry, Spaghetti Western, and more, and even the quieter songs feel grander and more majestic than anything Circuit des Yeux has done prior. Sometimes the album sounds very pretty ("Oracle Song"), and other times it's sinister ("Vanishing"), but in both scenarios it's utterly intense. Haley's operatic voice soars over the arrangements like a hawk; every performance she gives is show-stopping.

 

My Morning Jacket - My Morning Jacket
ATO

Going into this new album, My Morning Jacket had been at it for over two decades, and they hadn't done a new album in years (2020's The Waterfall II was recorded in 2013-2014, the same time MMJ made 2015's The Waterfall), so they understandably needed to do something a little different and re-energize themselves. The result is a self-titled album -- something that usually signifies hitting the "restart" button when it happens this late in a band's career -- and their first album without an outside producer since 2003's It Still Moves. As Jim James told UPROXX, MMJ weren't even sure if they'd be making an album. They modeled the process after the way Miles Davis often made albums, where he and his band would jam in the studio for hours with the tape rolling and cut the recordings down to an album-sized portion of songs. It sounds like a very laid-back approach, and you can feel that energy coming through in the music. It's a relaxed, comforting album that finds MMJ churning out fine examples of the psychedelic pop/Americana blend that's been their staple for a while now. It serves as a reminder that, though they may not be as prolific as they once were, they're as reliable as ever.

Get MMJ's new album on double clear vinyl in our store.

 

Angel Du$t - YAK: A Collection of Truck Songs
Roadrunner

With their 2019 album Pretty Buff, Angel Du$t branched out from their hardcore roots (members also play in Trapped Under Ice and Turnstile) and dove headfirst into jangle pop territory. It was an appealing, well-executed 180, but it wasn't a total pivot to traditional jangle pop; Angel Du$t's hardcore roots still shone through. For that album's followup, YAK: A Collection of Truck Songs, Angel Du$t have moved even further away from those roots. It's the prettiest, most tender sounding music they've ever made. Angel Du$t say the album was "fashioned in the spirit of a playlist as opposed to a capital-R 'Record,'" and a handful of these tracks had already been released on recent EPs, so it does seem a little bit more like a compilation, but it also plays out really well when taken as a whole. It's got more of the upbeat, percussive jangle pop that became the band's calling card on Pretty Buff, but it's also got shambolic folk rock ("Fear Some"), lush baroque pop ("Love Is The Greatest"), Petty-inspired heartland rock ("Truck Songs"), and more. There's also a retro ballad called "Dancing On The Radio" with guest vocals by Rancid's Tim Armstrong, who seems to be an in-demand guest vocalist in the modern hardcore community lately, though this song is basically the polar opposite of that Section H8 song he's on. The album was produced by Rob Schnapf, who's best known for working with Elliott Smith but who also has a history of helping punk bands make prettier sounding albums (The Anniversary, Saves The Day, Joyce Manor), and that Rob Schnapf touch is perfect for these songs. The punk roots aren't totally gone, but they're incorporated in a way that feels a little more intentional. Pretty Buff sounded like a punk band making a jangle pop record; YAK sounds like a genre-less band doing anything they want.

Get a vinyl copy of Angel Du$t's new album in our store.

 

Every Time I Die - Radical
Epitaph

Buffalo metalcore veterans Every Time I Die are back with their ninth album and first in five years, and it's one of their best. It offers up 16 songs in 51 minutes and uses the longer runtime to piece together a more vast array of ideas than ever before, from some of the band's heaviest songs to some of their catchiest to some of their prettiest, and guest vocals from Manchester Orchestra's Andy Hull. Read my full review here.

Get ETID's new album on opaque lime vinyl in our store.

 

Maxo Kream - Weight of the World
Big Persona/88 Classic/RCA

Houston rapper Maxo Kream is back with his third album, and it's got some of his best material yet. Maxo's melodic, storytelling style just keeps getting stronger, and the album gets a boost from guest appearances by Tyler the Creator, Freddie Gibbs, A$AP Rocky, and Houston newcomer Monaleo. Read my full review here.

 

Necrofier - Prophecies of Eternal Darkness
Season of Mist Underground Activists

Necrofier hail from Houston and include members of Venomous Maximus, Insect Warfare, Oceans of Slumber, Night Cobra, and Church of Disgust, and Prophecies of Eternal Darkness is their debut album, following the three-song Visions In Fire EP from 2018. Prophecies is a real-deal black metal album, but Necrofier also have that punk-infused metal vibe that a lot of Texas metal bands do. If you can picture the middle ground between cold Norwegian black metal and Texas heat, that's kind of what Prophecies sounds like. It also has a little of that Tribulation-style hooky extreme metal in the mix. The songs are as catchy as they are evil, as lively as they are deadly. It's not impossible to spot some of Necrofier's influences, but Prophecies feels like a breath of fresh air for the American black metal scene. It's been a minute since a USBM debut was this precise, and this fun.

 

Circa Survive - A Dream About Love EP
Rise

Circa Survive are back with their first new release in four years, and it's the most drastic musical departure they've made in a while. It's also genuinely great, and you can read much more about it in my interview with Anthony Green.

 

Blackwater Holylight - Silence/Motion
RidingEasy Records

Portland band Blackwater Holylight's third album is their most expansive and genre-defying album yet, owing just as much to Black Sabbath as it does to Mazzy Star. It's also got a clear extreme metal influence, as well as some guests from that world. A.L.N. of Mizmor and Hell produced it, and he contributes guest vocals (on "Every Corner"), alongside Thou's Bryan Funck ("Delusional") and Inter Arma's Mike Paparo ("Every Corner"). Read more about it here.

 

Bedouine - Waysides
The Orchard

Also: I accidentally reviewed Bedouine a week early, as the release date was pushed back a week. Read my review in last week's Notable Releases.

--

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.

And check out what's new in our shop.