Notable Releases of the Week (7/15)
It's been a pretty big week in the music world - Unwound announced their first tour in 20 years, Archers of Loaf announced their first album in 24 years, and much more. We also put up a couple lists here in BrooklynVegan land: 10 more older songs we want to see make viral comebacks à la “Running Up That Hill” and 16 of Waxahatchee’s best cover songs.
As for this week's new albums, I highlight 8 below, and Bill talks about Interpol, Belief, Working Men's Club, Arp, and MISZCZYK in Bill's Indie Basement. On top of those, honorable mentions: Kode9, …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, The A's (members of Mountain Man and Sylvan Esso), Elf Power, Superorganism, Richard Reed Parry & Susie Ibarra, Lloyd Banks, Mabel, Goon, JayWood, Lawn, Antigama, The Wind in the Trees, Piri Reis, Hissing, Ben Shemie (Suuns), DoomCannon, Maul, Irreal, Lynyn, Ronnie Foster, Scarcity (mem Pyrrhon, Glenn Branca Ensemble), Xenoglyph, Tulip, Spring Summer, Stephen Mallinder (Cabaret Voltaire), Tami Nielson, Cheri Knight, M. Geddes Gengras, Madeleine Cocolas, Nightlands, Mantar, Inhuman Condition, Rowdy Rebel, Yo Gotti/CMG, Sheff G, Nick Dunston, Rexx Life Raj, Her Head's On Fire (Garrison, Small Brown Bike, etc), Ian Blurton's Future Now, Launder, Vladislav Delay, Ne-Yo, Senses Fail, the Carbonite EP, the Tombs EP, the Gleemer EP, the IAN SWEET EP, the Gordi EP, the Melii EP, the Rachel Bobbitt EP, the Yambag EP, the MILES EP, the Secret Machines EP, the Eat Your Own Ears EP comp (ft. Four Tet, Mount Kimbie, Robert Smith & more), The Armed live album, the God Is An Astronaut live-in-studio album, and the Orbital comp.
Read on for my picks. What's your favorite release of the week?
Lil Silva - Yesterday Is Heavy
UK artist Lil Silva began his career as an electronic beatmaker over a decade ago, and over a series of EPs and singles, he gradually began finding his voice as a singer too. He's only just now getting around to releasing his first full-length album, Yesterday Is Heavy, and it's a grand statement that was worth the wait. He seamlessly bounces between art pop, R&B, IDM, funk, grime, and more, and he ropes in a handful of amazing guest vocalists, including Sampha (on two songs), Little Dragon, Ghetts, serpentwithfeet, Skiifall, Charlotte Day Wilson, and Elmiene (as well as guest instrumentalists BADBADNOTGOOD). This and the new Kendrick Lamar album are both reminders that we are in desperate need of new Sampha music, but more than anything else, Yesterday is Heavy shows how much of his own starpower Lil Silva has harnessed over the years. The songs where he sings lead are some of the best, and the whole album really shows you who Lil Silva is as an artist and all that he's capable of. Sometimes I roll my eyes at a "debut album" coming over a decade into an artist's career, but Yesterday Is Heavy is truly a proper introduction.
Arlo McKinley - This Mess We're In
Oh Boy Records
Ohio alt-country singer Arlo McKinley released Die Midwestern, his breakthrough album and his first for the late John Prine's Oh Boy Records, at the height of 2020 lockdown, and now that we're kind of on the other side and Arlo's been touring again, he returns with a followup, This Mess We're In. It was produced by Matt Ross-Spang (Margo Price, Jason Isbell, etc) and made with a band including former Wilco drummer Ken Coomer, Lucero keyboardist Rick Steff, and guitarist Will Sexton, and the album title might make you think it's about the state of the world, but it's actually about issues that are a little closer to home, like addiction and mental health, and the loss of family members and close friends. Arlo cites Nick Drake and Nick Cave as influences on the album, and you can feel those influences melding with Arlo's country tendencies, making for a more somber, melancholic album than Die Midwestern. It's the perfect backdrop for the darker lyrical content, and these are also Arlo's best songs yet. He sounds more distinct than ever on this album, and more somber doesn't mean less accessible; he delivers these personal stories with hooks you can't stop humming along to.
Steve Lacy - Gemini Rights
Not long after Syd released one of the best albums of the year so far, her Internet bandmate Steve Lacy returns with his own sophomore solo album, Gemini Rights, the followup to 2019's Apollo XXI. Steve -- who's also made significant contributions to albums by Tyler the Creator, Kendrick Lamar, Vampire Weekend, Solange, Thundercat, Blood Orange, Ravyn Lenae, and more -- has become one of the leading voices in futuristic funk/soul/R&B, and Gemini Rights only reinforces that. Just about everything you hear on this album was written, produced, and performed by Steve, and these songs reaffirm that he's got an infectiously soaring voice, he's an inventive songwriter/producer, and he's a virtuoso. It's not hard to see why some are calling him the heir to Stevie Wonder and Prince. The album is fun, smart, sexy, personal, and so much more all at once. It's not defined by genre or mood. It's just Steve Lacy making the music that feels right to him, no matter how unorthodox it might seem to someone else, and he's already proven time and time again that he's onto something.
Zach Bryan - Summertime Blues
One of country music's biggest rising stars at the moment is Zach Bryan, whose recently released major label debut American Heartbreak is also one of the year's best country albums. It has a whopping 34 songs, but it never drags, and the whole thing is endlessly listenable. Zach has clearly been on a creative hot streak, because now -- less than two months after American Heartbreak's release -- he returns with nine more songs, Summertime Blues. He's calling it an EP, even though it's longer than some artists' full-length albums, but hey, when your LPs have 34 songs, your EPs can have 9. Like the album, these songs are instantly-satisfying and effortless to listen to. Zach's a great storyteller and he really knows his way around a hook, and his songs are often deceptively breezy. Even the ones that sound carefree on the surface have layers of depth. Also a nice touch is the duet with Charles Wesley Godwin (who's opening for Zach on tour this year) on "Jamie."
black midi - Hellfire
"If Cavalcade was a drama, Hellfire is like an epic action film," black midi's Geordie Greep says of the band's third album, and it certainly is action-packed. Mathy chaos, discordant melodies, and showtunes-level theatricality abound!
beabadoobee - Beatopia
UK artist beabadoobee returns with her sophomore album Beatopia, and it picks up where the rising indie stardom of her 2020 debut LP Fake Flowers and subsequent Our Extended Play EP left off. It was made with an impressive cast including members of The 1975, PinkPantheress, Bombay Bicycle Club, Jockstrap, and more, and it fuses together folk music, bedroom pop, and '90s alt-rock with an entirely modern, Gen Z-era perspective. It sits as nicely next to "Soak Up the Sun" era Sheryl Crow as it does next to contemporaries like Soccer Mommy and her frequent collaborators The 1975, and Bea's strong voice and inviting hooks make it all go down easy.
Lizzo - Special
As the world becomes an increasingly terrible place, Lizzo just wants you to feel good. The universally crowdpleasing disco revival of her recent hit "About Damn Time" is the most "they're gonna play this at every wedding" song released in a while, and Special is full of easily-digestible, nostaglia-inducing songs like that one. (She also knows the nostalgia-inducing power of a familiar sample, and offers those with Lauryn Hill's "Doo Wop [That Thing]" on "Break Up Twice" and Coldplay's "Yellow" on a song called "Coldplay." Not to mention the feminist anthem "Grrrls" finds her subversively singing over a melody from Beastie Boys' "Girls.") The music is all feel-good, and as we've come to expect from Lizzo, just about all of the lyrics are meant to encourage and empower.
DJ Premier - Hip Hop 50 Volume I
Mass Appeal launched the #HipHop50 initiative in honor of hip hop's 50th birthday, and that initiative includes a series of 10 EPs, each curated by a different producer. The first one is from DJ Premier, one of the pioneers of boom bap and one of the greatest hip hop producers alive, and he roped in an amazing cast of rappers: Joey Bada$$ on track one, Remy Ma & Rapsody on track two, Nas on track three, Run The Jewels on track four, and Slick Rick & Lil Wayne on track five. Preemo still knows how to crank out the kind of hypnotic production that he helped revolutionize rap with in the '90s, and he knows how to bring out the best in people. You don't wanna show up to a DJ Premier beat with weak bars, and it sounds like everyone involved with this EP knows that.
Read Bill's Indie Basement for more new album reviews, including Interpol, Belief, Working Men's Club, Arp, and MISZCZYK.
Looking for more recent releases? Browse the Notable Releases archive or scroll 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.