Notable Releases of the Week (12/2)
It's December, which means year-end list season is in full swing, and it also means there aren't that many new albums coming out for the rest of the year. This week is certainly a light one (but still with a few great releases), but that also means now is a good time to catch up on some of the music from this year you haven't heard yet. If you missed that UK rapper Stormzy dropped his new album This Is What I Mean last week when most of us in the US were busy with Thanksgiving, give that a listen. Also check out last week's Indie Basement for reviews of the new Fievel Is Glauque, Les Big Byrd, and more, or for some Thanksgiving week recommendations that get a little heavier: proggy hard rockers Elder and crossover thrashers High Command dropped new LPs last week too. Or, catch up on stuff from earlier in the year by browsing the Notable Releases archives for reviews of hundreds of great albums that came out this year. As flattered as we'd be if you already read them all, we'd be willing to bet there's some stuff in there you missed. (And we're always looking for stuff we missed too -- leave us any recommendations you've got in the comments.)
As for this week's release, I highlight four below, and Bill tackles more stuff in Bill's Indie Basement, including the guest-filled Metronomy deluxe album (ft. Katy J Pearson, Bolis Pupul & more), the SAVAK remix album (ft. Mogwai, Plus/Minus, Dan Friel & more), and more. On top of that, some honorable mentions: the surprise Boris album, White Lung, NOFX, Metro Boomin, Hammers of Misfortune, Sarchasm, Other Half, Yungeen Ace, Curren$y, TOBACCO, Sophie Jamieson, Micah P. Hinson, Burning Strong, Leftfield, Chris Abrahams, Galcher Lustwerk, SUSS, the surprise 100 gecs EP, the Årabrot EP, the Divorce EP, the Silithyst EP, the Rabbit EP, the Piglet EP, the Kadhja Bonet holiday EP, the Georgia Maq (of Camp Cope) Live At The Sydney Opera House EP, and the Ryuichi Sakamoto tribute LP (ft. Thundercat, Devonté Hynes, Cornelius, Fennesz, David Sylvian, Hildur Guðnadóttir & more).
Read on for my picks. What's your favorite release of the week?
Babyface Ray - MOB
Detroit rapper Babyface Ray had a much-deserved mainstream breakthrough with last year's Unfuckwithable, and he's kept that momentum going this year, first with January's FACE and now with his second album of 2022, MOB. From bangers like "Wonderful Wayne & Jackie Boy" with Lil Durk to R&B slow jams like recent single "Spend It" with Blxst and Nija, MOB has its radio-friendly moments that add fuel to the fire of his newfound fame, but for the most part, MOB favors somber production and shows off Ray's pensive, introspective side. The album proves that Ray continues to be a rapper with increasingly wide range, one you can't pigeonhole after just hearing a couple of his biggest singles. The 18-song album is an immersive listen, a journey that hooks you off the bat and keeps surprising you.
Massa Nera - Derramar | Querer | Borrar
Zegema Beach Records
It's been a big year for OG screamo, with new albums from City of Caterpillar and Gospel and Saetia reunion shows, but there are also newer bands keeping that style of screamo alive, and one of the best ones around is NJ's Massa Nera (who opened one of the Saetia shows). Across one full-length, two splits, two EPs, and years of phenomenal live shows, Massa Nera built up a reputation as one of the most commanding, uncompromising, and ferocious bands in the genre's current wave, and their new sophomore LP Derramar | Querer | Borrar is their most expansive project yet. The band co-produced it with Saetia/Off Minor member Steve Roche, and it's a concept album with recurring themes and lyrics throughout, songs that segue directly into each other, and a drone at the beginning and end of the album that turns it into a seamless loop if you're listening on repeat.
Throughout the album, all four members trade throat-shredding screams that largely deals with struggling to exist "within a system that has seemingly eradicated any and all hope for an alternative to capitalism." They offer up pure screamo fury, towering post-rocky sections, grand string arrangements, and a hypnotic electronic interlude that breaks up all the chaos. It's a remarkable album; some moments fire you up with Massa Nera's raw, unfiltered anger, and other moments are simply breathtaking. It's as abrasive as it is beautiful, as sprawling as it is intimate. Derramar | Querer | Borrar honors various traditions of the screamo genre without ever sounding like rehashed genre worship; it feels urgent and fresh, just like Massa Nera's forebears did 20-30 years ago.
Yung Kayo - Nineteen EP
Yung Kayo's distinct take on rage rap has made him one of the best new rappers around, and after kicking off 2022 with his great debut album DFTK, he now wraps up the year with a new seven-song EP. It's largely cut from the same cloth as the album, with slurred, auto-tuned raps, druggy atmospheres, and blissful melodies. It's the kind of rap that focuses more on the overall vibe than knockout punchlines, but Kayo has a subtle knack for lyricism that reveals itself over multiple listens.
Your Spirit Dies - Our Saints Drown In Ash
Acrobat Unstable/The Coming Strife
South Carolina's Your Spirit Dies made noise within the metalcore revival with their 2020 debut EP The Process of Grief, and they've since signed to Acrobat Unstable and The Coming Strife and linked up with producer Greg Thomas (Misery Signals, END), who they credit with "[pushing our] capabilities" while recording their sophomore EP, Our Saints Drown In Ash. It's everything that made their debut EP great but more: clearer production, crisper riffs, more punishing chugs, more musical variety, and a more expressive vocal delivery (with just a hint of clean vocals too). The whole thing is very late '90s / early 2000s, but Your Spirit Dies also have a freshness that aligns them with newer bands like Foreign Hands and Dying Wish.
Short week, so browse the Notable Releases archives now for reviews of hundreds of great albums that came out this year that you may have missed.