Notable Releases of the Week (9/16)
It's another very busy week for new albums; I highlight eight below and Bill tackles even more in Bill's Indie Basement, including The Beths, Suede, Marina Allen, Crack Cloud, The House of Love, No Age, Whitney, and more.
On top of all that, here are tons of others out this week: Mura Masa, Gogol Bordello, EST Gee, Michelle Branch, Marcus Mumford, Rina Sawayama, Symba, Rhys Langston, Innumerable Forms, Sumerlands, The Black Angels, Clutch, Long Knife, Jessie Reyez, BLACKPINK, Rhett Miller, Blaqk Audio (AFI), Ondara, Jesca Hoop, Mortuous, Phobophilic, Al-Qasar (ft. Lee Ranaldo, Jello Biafra & more), KXNG Crooked & Joell Ortiz, Fake Palms, Butcher Brown, The Darling Fire (ex-The Rocking Horse Winner, Further Seems Forever, etc), Gloria de Oliveira & Dean Hurley, Rundown Kreeps, The Murlocs, Disco Doom, Lissie, Fletcher, Heaven For Real, Pink Frost, Molly Lewis, Starcrawler, Tenka, The Brazen Youth, The Proclaimers, Behemoth, Djo (Joe Keery of Stranger Things), Noah Cyrus, the Blood Orange EP, the Little Dragon EP, the Ringo Starr EP, the Jennifer Loveless EP, the Suntouch House demo/EP, the Daniele Luppi & Greg Gonzalez (Cigarettes After Sex) EP, the Iron & Wine EP of Lori McKenna covers, the They Are Gutting a Body of Water / A Country Western split, the Rochelle Jordan remix album (ft. Kaytranada, Kingdom, Machinedrum & more), the Cosey Fanni Tutti score for Delia Derbyshire: The Myths And The Legendary Tapes, the Miles Davis compilation of rare & unreleased recordings, the Lou Reed compilation of previously unreleased recordings from 1965, and the Joe Strummer box.
Read on for my picks. What's your favorite release of the week?
Mindforce - New Lords
Mindforce have felt like a secret that only the hardcore scene was in on for the past five or so years, but with their second full-length album New Lords, they seem poised to break out into any number of other areas. It's everything they were already great at, but leaner, meaner, and flat-out better, and it's a record that seems destined to unite hardcore kids, metalheads, and anyone else with even a passing interest in big, loud, guitar-based rock music. It's equal parts thrash and hardcore, but I hesitate to call it "crossover thrash" because that usually implies something more niche and specific than what you get here. On New Lords, it sounds like Mindforce have bottled up the best riffs from Ride the Lightning, siphoned them into two-minute hardcore songs, and topped them off with a New York Hardcore-style bark from Jay Peta that's as tough as it is damn near catchy. You can namedrop any handful of '80s/'90s bands they sound influenced by (Leeway, Cro-Mags, Merauder, All Out War...), but New Lords feels like a modern record, one that sits even more nicely next to forward-thinking thrashy hardcore bands like Power Trip and Drain than it does next to bands from 30 or 40 years ago. And there's a fun brightness to these songs that fans of early Turnstile might not wanna sleep on too. New Lords has riffs for days, the entire band and Jay's vocals sound sharper than ever, and every second of this album counts. It feels like they've trimmed these songs down to the point where not a single ounce of fat remains. Every song is a banger, and before you know it, the next one's already started. It's the kind of album that ends and all I wanna do is click play all over again.
Pick up our exclusive splatter vinyl variant of the new Mindforce album.
The Mars Volta - The Mars Volta
Sometimes when a long-defunct band finally reunites for a new album -- especially if the members stayed active with other projects in the interim -- you may expect a return to the sound that the band is best known for; that's what Cedric Bixler Zavala, Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, Paul Hinojos, and Tony Hajjar did when At the Drive-In released their reunion album in·ter a·li·a in 2017. So it may be initially jarring to some that the first Mars Volta album in 10 years sounds nothing like any other album in the Mars Volta catalog. It also -- besides Cedric and Omar -- doesn't have the same band lineup as any other Mars Volta album, so you might even wonder why Cedric and Omar even decided to call this a Mars Volta album, when maybe it could've been released with their abandoned Antemasque project, or something else entirely. But all of that said, I'd actually argue that it makes perfect sense to make these 14 new songs into a new Mars Volta album, and I'd also say it's the most interesting Mars Volta album in a while.
For The Mars Volta, Cedric and Omar drastically tone down the heavy, riffy prog side that came to dominate their later records, and instead deliver the lightest and most concise songs of their career. It's still a psychedelic record at times, but it's only rarely even a rock record, and it finds Cedric and Omar heavily embracing their Latin music roots. It's fearless and unpredictable the way those early Mars Volta records were, and it's a very strong batch of songs. The Mars Volta taught you to expect the unexpected, even if by the end, they'd sort of fallen into a familiar pattern. So really, making a Mars Volta reunion album that sounds nothing their previous material is the most Mars Volta thing they could do.
Death Cab For Cutie - Asphalt Meadows
When COVID lockdown turned everyone's worlds upside down, we all needed to find new ways to adapt and keep ourselves busy, and for a certain niche of indie rock fans, you could find solace in the fact that once a day (and eventually once a week) Ben Gibbard would do an acoustic livestream from his home studio, during which he'd play deep cuts from all over his career, cover songs that inspire him, and more. He's said in multiple interviews that part of the reason he did it was just to have somewhere to be once a day, and it had the same effect on those of us who watched every one. It was an up close and personal way to see Ben's many classic songs in a new light, and I'm probably not alone in saying that the livestreams made me fall in love with Ben's music all over again. He tells NME that revisiting all the old material for those livestreams gave him new perspective on the band's 25-year-long catalog, and that -- combined with a much-needed break from the constant demands of band life -- helped inspire many of the songs that would eventually make up Death Cab's tenth album, Asphalt Meadows. It's their first album with producer John Congleton (Angel Olsen, Sharon Van Etten, Cloud Nothings, etc), following two consecutive albums with Rich Costey (and all the ones before that with former guitarist Chris Walla), and Ben also said in that same NME interview that "it feels like we’re just starting to tap the potential of this particular line-up," which includes new guitarists/keyboardists Dave Depper and Zac Rae, who officially joined Death Cab in 2016 after Walla's departure. So Asphalt Meadows is a record that's both full of new direction for this long-running band, but also very in touch with their long history. If the instrumental of the spoken word track "Foxglove Through The Clearcut" sounds like something Death Cab might've written for one of their first couple records, that's because it's based on an unfinished instrumental that Ben had recorded to a four-track tape back in 1998. Meanwhile, the stammering, pandemic-induced anxiety of "Roman Candles" is as 2022 as it gets. It's a record that feels fresh and nostalgic, distinctly Death Cab but also not quite like any other Death Cab album. It's a treat to hear a band a quarter-century into their career sounding so refreshed.
Young Jesus - Shepherd Head
Over the years, Young Jesus have evolved into an expansive indie rock band with long, sprawling, guitar-led excursions, but their new album Shepherd Head is something different. Main member John Rossiter spends a lot of the album diving into his love of electronic music, incorporating dance beats, glistening keys, warped loops and samples, and more. Some parts feel tight and hyper-focused, while others are looser and more improvisational. And he mixes it up between synthetic sounds and organic ones, like when he brings in the fluttery acoustic guitar of the title track or what I assume are pounding live drums on album opener "Rose Eater." Some songs lean more in the direction of experimental sound pieces, but he also has some of his best traditional songwriting yet on this album, like with the gorgeous art pop of "Ocean," which features guest vocals from his Saddle Creek labelmate Tomberlin. There's a lot to like and a lot to take in, and the album only gets better with more and more listens.
For more on this album, John spoke to us about the influences behind it.
Hippie Trim - What Consumes Me
German band Hippie Trim's first-ever show was in 2019 opening for Drug Church in their home country, which was followed shortly by the release of their debut LP Cult (featuring a song that Drug Church's Patrick Kindlon sings on), and then it wasn't long after that before the world went into COVID lockdown. Not an ideal situation for a band who were only just finding their footing, but Hippie Trim took the extra time at home to buckle down and write an even stronger record than their debut, What Consumes Me. The new record finds Hippie Trim stirring a melting pot of hardcore, post-hardcore, emo, grunge, and shoegaze, and though it's a genre combo that's become increasingly common, Hippie Trim fuse this stuff in unpredictable ways and this album is full of surprises. It's a record that can recall anything from Drug Church to Higher Power to Quicksand to Clarity-era Jimmy Eat World. It's aggressive, sludgy hardcore one minute, and soaring pop bliss the next, and Hippie Trim blur it all together seamlessly. The record also sounds great, thanks in part to producers Jon Markson (Drug Church, Regulate, etc) and Adam Cichocki (Soul Blind, Kaonashi, etc), who help Hippie Trim land on a sound that's heavy and raw but can still pop when it needs to.
No Devotion - No Oblivion
After Thursday broke up up, lead vocalist Geoff Rickly put out two solo mixtapes, a one-off EP by his short-lived post-hardcore band Strangelight, a new album by his antagonistic screamo band United Nations, and the debut album by his atmospheric rock band No Devotion. Not long after the No Devotion album dropped, Thursday reunited, and all of Geoff's other projects seemingly came to a halt. Thursday eventually publicly toyed with the idea of new music, though it hasn't happened yet, and as we speak, Thursday are on the road playing songs off a much older album, Full Collapse. But Geoff finally has an outlet for new music again; he re-activated No Devotion, and their sophomore album No Oblivion arrives today. As good as No Devotion's debut LP Permanence was, their vision feels a lot clearer on No Oblivion. Geoff isn't experimenting with different subgenres across multiple bands at the moment; he's putting his all into No Devotion, and No Oblivion feels like the record that fans of Thursday's 2011 swan song No Devolución have been waiting over a decade for Geoff to make. They've whittled their lineup down to a trio, and band member Stuart Richardson also produced the album (Dave Fridmann, who produced the last three Thursday albums and co-produced Permanence, mixed), and this trio has developed a ton of chemistry in the years since their debut. What may have once seemed like an unlikely collaboration (the other members of No Devotion used to play in the post-grunge band Lostprophets) has turned into a band whose members really feed off of each other's energy, and Geoff lands right in the sweet spot of No Oblivion's widescreen sound. Geoff's singing voice sounds stronger, more refreshed, and more full of passion than it has on any other post-Thursday project, and this really feels like the album he wants to be making at this point in his life. The idea of a new Thursday album would be exciting, but maybe right now the best thing to happen is the members exploring their own creative avenues. As Geoff releases this album, Thursday's rhythm section are getting their punky post-hardcore fix in the new supergroup L.S. Dunes, and both that band and this new album are full of life. So let out the breath you've been holding for Thursday LP7 and revel in the fact that we're getting two great new records from their members this year.
Tribal Gaze - The Nine Choirs
The hardcore-infused wave of death metal continues to grow, and one of the most promising new bands making noise in that realm is Tribal Gaze. In just two short years since forming, they've already sound themselves in great company -- they run in the same circles as fellow Texas bands like Creeping Death and Frozen Soul, they're signed to the consistently great Maggot Stomp label, and their debut LP The Nine Choirs was mixed by in-demand producer Taylor Young (Regional Justice Center, Drain, the Mindforce album mentioned above, etc) -- and it's easy to see why. Their 2021 debut EP Godless Voyage was very promising, and their new full-length The Nine Choirs is even better. McKenna Holland's howl is monstrous, and the rest of the band churn out a razor-sharp mix of chunky, curb-stomping riffs and infectiously bouncy grooves. They're not necessarily trying to be the most groundbreaking band in the world; they just do what they do really well, and these songs have that special something that makes you keep coming back to them.
Pink Siifu & Real Bad Man - Real Bad Flights
Real Bad Man
The clothing company and production team Real Bad Man have a series of guest-filled mixtapes called On High Alert, two albums with Boldy James, one with Smoke DZA, and now one with Pink Siifu, who's appeared on multiple volumes of On High Alert. It's Siifu's first project since last year's multi-layered, genre-defying GUMBO'!, and compared to that project, Real Bad Flights finds Siifu churning out hazy, head-nod-inducing, classicist rap music. He's joined by Boldy James, Armand Hammer, Ahwlee, Kari Faux, Chuck Strangers, lojii, and others, and Siifu and all his guests sound great over Real Bad Man's hypnotic beatwork.
Read Bill's Indie Basement for more new album reviews, including The Beths, Suede, Marina Allen, Crack Cloud, The House of Love, No Age, Whitney, and more.
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.
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