The Delta variant continues to rise, and it's of course affecting the entertainment world; it was just revealed that NYC will now require COVID vaccine proof to attend any indoor performances (or movies, dining, etc). Meanwhile, outdoor shows are still going on as planned, for the most part. I just caught Green Day and Weezer at Citi Field this week, though Fall Out Boy had to drop off the show at the last minute due to a member of their team testing positive for COVID. It's a great feeling to get back out there and see live music again, but the future remains uncertain.

As for this week's new music, I highlight 7 new albums below, and Bill touches on Ty Segall, Liars, The Umbrellas, and more in Bill's Indie Basement. More honorable mentions: Tinashe, Modest Mouse, Kississippi, Naked Raygun, Shannon and the Clams, RZA, Nas, Damon & Naomi, Geoffrey O'Connor (Crayon Fields), Pray U Prey, Young Nudy, Fredo Bang, Queen Key, Vacation, Grand Collapse, Liam Kazar, Retch & V Don, Unreqvited, Hawak, the Fenne Lily EP, the Become One EP, the Aesop Rock-produced Homeboy Sandman EP, the Little Dragon remix EP, the Khruangbin remix album, and Triple B Records' America's Hardcore Volume 5 comp.

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

Laura Stevenson - Laura Stevenson
Don Giovanni

Laura Stevenson's new album is her sixth overall (including the two credited to Laura Stevenson and The Cans), and usually if an artist releases a self-titled album this far into their career, it signifies some sort of new beginning. I don't know for sure if Laura intended this album to be one, but it certainly sounds like one. It's one of the most powerful and immediate albums she's ever released, and it doesn't really sound like anything she's done before. Produced by John Agnello (Dinosaur Jr, Sonic Youth) and featuring Laura's longtime collaborator (and former Bomb the Music Industry! bandmate) Jeff Rosenstock, it's got a warm, clean sound, which acts as the perfect vessel for one of Laura's best batches of songs yet. The album opens up with its lead single "State," a climactic, explosive, and stunning rock song that's an outlier not just in Laura's discography but on this album. From there, it makes a turn towards folk, alt-country, and folky indie rock, and the earthy tone is matched by Laura's vivid lyricism. The words flow out of her both conversationally and poetically, and it's not just what she says but how she twists her melodies and how she sings each syllable. The way she expands her range when asking "And if I told you that I needed it to end?" on "Moving Cars," or the way her delivery takes a sullen turn as she sighs "And the locust din was wearing thin in the evening I suppose" on "Continental Divide," is goosebump-inducing. The attention to detail in her delivery is breathtaking, and the same can be said about the instrumentation, which is full of subtle flourishes that really add to the songs without cluttering up the album's appealingly bare-bones approach.

 

Foxing - Draw Down The Moon
Grand Paradise/Hopeless

Foxing seemingly pushed themselves as far as they could go on 2018's masterful art rock opus Nearer My God, but with its followup Draw Down The Moon, they've managed to continue to move forward and break boundaries. It's their poppiest album yet, but still in an innovative, experimental, and unmistakably Foxing kind of way. You can read my full review of it here.

 

Catbite - Nice One
Bad Time Records

Since forming in 2018, Philly's Catbite have become one of the best and most prominent bands within ska's latest generation. They've got an appealing sound that pulls from 2 Tone, power pop, garage rock, and more, without ever feeling retro, and their highly anticipated sophomore album Nice One lives up to expectations. I recently spoke to the band for a feature about the album, and you can read that here.

We've also still got some remaining copies of our cyan blue vinyl variant of Catbite's album, which is limited to 100. It's the last first-pressing vinyl variant remaining.

 

Pink Siifu - GUMBO'!
Dynamite Hill

Pink Siifu cannot be pinned down. He broke through in the late 2010s with some lo-fi rap records, before going full noise-punk on 2020's NEGRO, and then exploring a more straightforward boom bap vibe on his collaborative album and EP with Fly Anakin. Now he's back with another new solo album, and it's a bigger, cleaner rap record than his early releases -- one you can often dance to -- but still mind-bending and psychedelic. It features a handful of equally boundary-pushing collaborators, including Georgia Anne Muldrow, Liv.e, Maxo, Nick Hakim, Big Rube, Lance Skiiiwalker, The Alchemist, Butcher Brown, iiye, Ahwlee, Turich Benjy, BbyMutha, and more, and Pink Siifu often puts four or five guests on the same song, coming out with a sound that's multi-layered and multi-faceted. With 18 songs that clock in at nearly an hour, it's a real journey of an album, and it's one where your patience will be rewarded.

 

Lingua Ignota - Sinner Get Ready
Sargent House

Lingua Ignota's music is not supposed to make you feel comfortable. She sings in great detail about topics like physical pain and abuse, and on her excellent 2019 album Caligula, she communicated that pain with blood-curdling screams and an abrasive musical backdrop that pulled from noise, industrial, and black metal. The album also had an element of opera and musical theater, and for Caligula's followup Sinner Get Ready, she fully embraces that side of her, almost entirely toning down the metallic side. Sinner Get Ready may not be heavy music in the traditional sense, but it's arguably even more abrasive than Caligula. With Lingua's clear, operatic vocals, every word she sings is pushed to the forefront. If it really was turned into a theatrical production, you can picture the entire crowd watching in horror. The lack of screaming might be seen by some as a move towards more accessible music, but Lingua Ignota's music is meant to confront, and Sinner Get Ready is a whole lot more confrontational than Caligula 2 would have been.

 

Raccoon City - For Nobody, Nowhere
Dog Knights

Underrated Australian screamo/post-hardcore band Raccoon City (fka Raccoon City Police Department) went on hiatus after releasing their very good 2014 debut LP Nightlife, but now they're back seven years later with a slightly different name, a slightly different lineup, and an even more powerful sound than they had on their debut. For Nobody, Nowhere mixes screamo fury, melodic post-hardcore hooks, post-rocky climaxes, and gleaming production in a way that not many bands are doing right now. The album sounds like a cross between Pianos Become The Teeth and Thursday, but it's also in touch with the harsher screamo bands who paved the way for those bands, and it sounds as fresh as the genre's current wave. It's truly some of the best and boldest sounding post-hardcore I've heard all year and I really can't recommend it enough. For more on the album, read the band's track-by-track breakdown.

 

Abstract Mindstate - Dreams Still Inspire
YZY SND

Back before Kanye West was famous, he contributed production to a track on underground Chicago rap duo Abstract Mindstate's (aka E.P Da Hellcat and Olskool) 2001 debut album We Paid Let Us In!, and also to two tracks on their planned sophomore album Still Paying, which never ended up seeing the light of day. Abstract Mindstate disappeared after that, but Kanye has helped coax them out of retirement for their first new album in 20 years, Dreams Still Inspire. Kanye produced the entire album himself, and he also sings the hook on "The Brenda Song." While Kanye's own music career has recently been full of elaborate pranks, delayed albums, and musical duds, Dreams Still Inspire reminds you that Kanye can still kill it when he buckles down and produces a straight-up rap record for someone else. (Pusha T's 2018 album DAYTONA reminded us of this too.) The record doesn't find E.P Da Hellcat and Olskool straying very far at all from their classic sound, and two decades later, it's refreshing to hear an album in that early 2000s backpack-rap style that hardly exists anymore, especially one that's done this well.

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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.

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