This is an extremely stacked week for new music. I highlight 11 new albums below, Bill tackles 10 in Bill’s Indie Basement (including Kelly Lee Owens, Röyksopp, Melody’s Echo Chamber, Dany Placard & Julie Doiron, Honeyglaze, Scalping, Shilpa Ray, Astrel K of Ulrika Spacek, and more), and we’ve got nearly 60 honorable mentions.
Here they are: Future, Bloc Party, Toro y Moi, Frog Eyes, Kehlani, Rammstein, Psy (the “Gangnam Style” guy), Tomberlin, Girlpool, Helms Alee, Frontperson (New Pornographers, Woodpigeon), The Head and the Heart, Pierre Kwenders, Devil Master, Dälek, Congotronics International (Konono Nº1, Deefhoof, Juana Molina, etc), Willie Nelson, William Basinski & Janek Schaefer, Lola Kirke, Oumou Sangaré, Ransom, Seratones, Courtney Swain (Bent Knee), Gaika, NoCap, Carla Morrison, Diane Coffee, Market, Flora Purim, Steven Lambke (Constantines), Charles Watson (ex-Slow Club), Last Wishes, Lou Roy, KMRU & Aho Ssan, Louie Vega (ft. Robyn, Honey Dijon & more), Sofi Tukker, Corb Lund, Golden Apples, Many Voices Speak, Fox Lake, Caution, Blossoms, Erica Eso, PJ Morton (ft. Stevie Wonder, Nas, Chronixx, Wale & more), Hand Model (Wreck and Reference), MJ Lenderman (Wednesday), Ann Wilson (Heart), V.C.R (ft. Pink Siifu, Sudan Archives & more), Unexplained Aerial Phenomenon (ft. Open Mike Eagle, Lil B, Fat Tony, Chester Watson & more), the Kirk Hammett EP, the Buzzcocks EP, the Dumb Numbers/Melvins EP, the Scout Gillett EP, the Raw Plastic EP, the Apostles of Eris & Gossip split, the Faye Webster orchestral EP, and the new versions of Jens Lekman albums.
Read on for my picks. What’s your favorite release of the week?
Miranda Lambert – Palomino
Sony Music Nashville
The line between pop country and the various forms of “alt” country grows wider and wider, but if there’s one person who straddles that line more naturally than anyone else it’s gotta be Miranda Lambert. She is a genuine country superstar, but her music continues to appeal even to the people who turn their noses up at pop country, because her songs are just that good. On her new album Palomino, that’s as true as ever. Miranda co-produced it with Jon Randall and Luke Dick, and it follows last year’s The Marfa Tapes — the pandemic-friendly album that Miranda, Jon, and Jack Ingram made with just two microphones and two acoustic guitars in the middle of the desert in Marfa, Texas — and it features full-band, studio versions of a few standouts from that album, including “In His Arms,” “Geraldene,” and “Waxahachie.” But even if you heard that album, it couldn’t prepare you for the totally reinvented versions that appear on Palomino. “In His Arms” remains a folky ballad that recalls the Marfa Tapes version, but Miranda turned “Waxahachie” into driving heartland rock, and even if “Geraldene” didn’t namedrop “Jolene” in the first verse, it would feel like a sequel to the Dolly Parton classic. Palomino also includes “If I Was A Cowboy,” the instant-classic crossover hit that Miranda dropped last fall, and elsewhere on the album, she offers up swaggering, bluesy songs like “Actin’ Up” and “Country Money,” breezy country pop songs like “Tourist” and “Strange,” the animated singalong “Music City Queen” (which features The B-52’s), a country-rockin’ cover of Mick Jagger’s “Wandering Spirit,” the melancholic balladry of “That’s What Makes the Jukebox Play,” and more. Palomino‘s varied sequencing keeps you on your toes, and almost every song feels memorable enough to become Miranda’s next big single. She clearly knows how to write a surefire hit, but also remains committed to breaking the boundaries of standard pop country, and that’s a big reason this album endures throughout its 15-song runtime. Even the songs with the most undeniable hooks are full of surprises.
Let’s Eat Grandma – Two Ribbons
When naming Let’s Eat Grandma’s sophomore album I’m All Ears one of the best albums of 2018, we called it a “weirdo pop masterwork.” But the duo open LP3 with an onslaught of songs that drop the “weirdo” from that description, offering up a POP pop sugar rush that recalls anything from ’80s pop radio to more modern torch-carriers like Robyn and Charli XCX. And this new version of Let’s Eat Grandma sounds big and catchy enough to stand tall next to any of those things. Those looking for something a little less radio-friendly are in luck too, though. About halfway through the album’s literal centerpiece, “Insect Loop,” the track changes from a driving pop song to an acoustic ballad, and the second half of the album has three more largely acoustic ballads and two ambient interludes. The two halves are polar opposites on paper, but the transition between them is seamless, and the duo pull off both expertly. And even on the songs that sound big, danceable, and communal, the lyrics are deeply personal, addressing death, heartbreak, sexuality, and other intimate topics with the kind of introspection that’s rarely heard on pop radio.
Action Bronson – Cocodrillo Turbo
When Action Bronson released his 2011 breakthrough debut album Dr. Lecter, he emerged as a ’90s-rap devotee who was entirely at odds with the mainstream rap of the time, but he continued to rapidly rise and signed an unlikely major label deal just a few years later. But the pop-rap world never fully suited Bronson, who returned to an indie label a few years ago, and even as his chart presence decreased and reviews of his music got less enthusiastic, Bronson’s fanbase remained strong, as evidenced by the many large shows he’s played recently. He’s always stuck to his guns, even when it wasn’t trendy to do so, and that seems like it’s paying off. Likeminded artists that have long been in Bronson’s inner circle like Griselda, Roc Marciano, and The Alchemist have been getting more attention than ever lately, and Bronson’s new album Cocodrillo Turbo fits squarely into that world, with production from The Alchemist, Roc Marciano, in-house Griselda producer Daringer, and Bronson himself, and appearances from Roc, Griselda’s Conway the Machine, Bronson’s longtime collaborator Meyhem Lauren, and Meyhem Lauren’s equally talented, equally ’90s-sounding brother Hologram. All of the guests are in fine form on this thing, as is Bronson himself, who sounds as invigorated here as he did a decade ago.
Hey, ily! – Psychokinetic Love Songs
Lonely Ghost Records
Genre-defying emo band Hey, ily! put out one of the best punk releases of 2021 with the Internet Breath EP, and in the time since then, main member Caleb Haynes expanded Hey, ily! into a five-piece band and recorded their first full-length album, Psychokinetic Love Songs. The album has an even wider palette of sounds than the EP, pulling from chiptune, IDM, screamo, thrash metal, classical, waltz, new age ambience, jazz, synth-funk, choral music, and more, all within the context of DIY emo, and the razor-sharp full band ties everything together even more seamlessly than Caleb did as a solo artist. It risks coming off as weird for the sake of weird, but it works because Hey, ily! always have powerful songwriting at the core of these songs. It may seem quirky on the surface, but as song titles like “Intrusive Thoughts Always” and “Stress Headache” suggest, the album addresses serious topics like mental health. It’s music that ends up being fun, impactful, and innovative all at once.
Dana Gavanski – When It Comes
Dana Gavanski is a Canadian-Serbian artist currently based in London who released her debut album Yesterday Is Gone in March of 2020, just as the world had gone into lockdown, and followed with the Wind Songs covers EP later that year. “Yesterday Is Gone consisted of straightforward pop songs,” Dana said, but her new album When It Comes “is about searching for something to excite me back into songwriting.” It also came after she lost her voice, and the healing process inspired her to focus more on her singing than ever before. “It’s very connected to vocal presence, which extended into an existential questioning of my connection to music,” she said. “It felt like a battle at times, which I frequently lost.” The album feels rooted in ’60s/early ’70s era baroque pop and folk music, and Dana modernizes those sounds in a way that recalls contemporary greats like Weyes Blood and Julia Holter. The focus on her voice makes for songs that stick with you right away, but the instrumental arrangements are also more ambitious than on her debut. She apparently wrote the songs using a toy Casiotone, but you’d never know it from listening. This album is lush, layered, and truly gorgeous from start to finish.
Heriot – Profound Morality
The very hard-to-pin-down UK heavy band Heriot debuted in late 2020 with their first single “Cleansed Existence,” and they put out an increasingly good string of singles (and a Machine Head cover) in 2021, solidifying themselves as one of the best new heavy bands around. Two of those songs now appear on their debut EP Profound Morality, which covers even more ground than this band ever has before and further cements them as a force to be reckoned with. They’re calling it an EP, but with eight songs that clock in at around 20 minutes, it’s still a pretty hefty release, and it finds them offering up a blend of metalcore, industrial, noise, sludge, darkwave, and more, often combining this stuff in ways that feels startlingly original. The blunt force of their music is matched by the dual vocals of Jake Packer and Debbie Gough, both of whom have ferocious screams, and Debbie also has a soaring clean voice that brings to mind something like Chelsea Wolfe or Emma Ruth Rundle. Heriot also get frequently compared to bands like Code Orange, Knocked Loose, and Vein, and those comparisons are well-earned not just because they scratch the same itch, but also because this debut EP already feels as unique and inventive as those bands. It fits in with the current metalcore revival, but Heriot are already transcending that.
Squint – Feel It
Sunday Drive Records
Squint is a new St. Louis band fronted by Soul Craft’s Brennen Wilkinson that also features current and former members of Time and Pressure, New Lives, and Choir Vandals, and they cite pioneering melodic hardcore bands like Turning Point and Rites of Spring as influences, alongside classic ’90s indie rock bands like Sugar and Seaweed. It results in a kind of indie-friendly post-hardcore that sits nicely next to bands like Drug Church, Fiddlehead, One Step Closer, and Title Fight, and if you’ve been enjoying the moment that that sound has been having lately, you need Squint in your life. Read more about the EP here.
No/Más – Consume / Deny / Repent
Closed Casket Activities
Four years after their debut album Raíz Del Mal and three years after their Last Laugh EP, DC band No/Más are back with another concoction of grind, death metal, thrash, and hardcore and they sound more punishing than ever. With production from Taylor Young (Regional Justice Center, Drain, etc), Consume / Deny / Repent sounds bigger, bolder, and clearer than any of No/Más’ prior releases, and the band also aimed to make a record that was “really riff-heavy and catchy,” and the added clarity and tunefulness only makes them sound even heavier. It’s the perfect backdrop for Consume / Deny / Repent‘s lyrics, which take on everything from widespread political issues to inward-looking personal ones, and like a lot of recent albums, the band says the pandemic left an undeniable mark on this one too. Even if you can’t make out all the growled vocals, the intensity of this record just feels like the perfect antidote to these stressful times.
Pyrithe – Monuments to Impermanence
Pittsburgh experimental sludge trio Pyrithe have released their first full-length, featuring guest vocals from their former singer Vicky Carbone (on lead single “Glioblastoma”) and Pyrrhon’s Doug Moore, found percussion from Jason Cantu, Max Johnson (Noltem), and Shalin Shah (Noltem), and artwork by Caroline Harrison. Jon Rosenthal wrote up the album and interviewed the band for Invisible Oranges, and you can read that here.
Ockham’s Blazer – Ockham’s Blazer
Fake Four Inc
Ockham’s Blazer are a new seven-piece group fronted by underground rapper PremRock (also of ShrapKnel), and their self-titled debut album takes you on a journey through jazz and psychedelia, and PremRock’s alt-rap style goes perfectly with the stirring backdrop. Read more about it here.
Caroline Spence – True North
Singer/songwriter Caroline Spence follows her great 2019 album Mint Condition with a new album, True North, and like her last album, it’s a gorgeous collection of songs that blur the lines between folk and country, and this one has even more of an atmospheric, ethereal feel than its predecessor. Read more about it here.
Read Bill’s Indie Basement for more new album reviews.
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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