Notable Releases of the Week (3/10)
We're just a few days away from SXSW, and we hope to see you at the BrooklynVegan shows, but first, we've got some new albums to talk about. I highlight five below, and Bill tackles more in Bill's Indie Basement, including Sleaford Mods, Brix Smith (The Fall), Frankie Rose, Shana Cleveland (La Luz), Ulrika Spacek, H. Hawkline, and more.
On top of that, this week's honorable mentions include Lonnie Holley, Conway the Machine & Jae Skeese, Talib Kweli & Madlib, Meet Me @ the Altar, Shalom, Rarelyalways, King Khan, The Blaze, Godcaster, Lucias Malcolm (of Call Me Malcolm), The Nude Party, Altin Gün, G Perico & DJ Drama, Jim Jones & Hitmaka, Collapsing Scenery, Scree, Lichen Slow (Arab Strap, Team Leader), Plain Speak, Connections, Infinity Crush, the Fatima Al Qadiri EP, the Nia Archives EP, the Waste Man EP, the VNTAGEPARADISE EP, the Bleary Eyed EP, the Common Wounds EP, the Double Wish EP, the collection of previously unheard Ali Farka Touré material, and the acoustic version of Death Cab For Cutie's Asphalt Meadows.
Read on for my picks. What's your favorite release of the week?
MSPAINT - Post-American
Hailing from Hattiesburg, Mississippi, MSPAINT are not from one of the popular music locales, they're not backed by one of the big tastemaker record labels, and they're out of step with pretty much every trend happening in music right now, but those who have latched onto the band agree: MSPAINT is something very special. "When I first heard ‘Hardwired’ it felt like I was let in on a secret, like an undiscovered hit," said Militarie Gun vocalist Ian Shelton, referring to the opening track of the band's self-titled 2020 debut EP. Ian since formed a close relationship with the band; Militarie Gun took them on tour and collaborated with them, and Ian co-produced their debut album Post-American alongside Taylor Young, and he sings a verse on standout track "Delete It." The album has one other guest vocalist on "Decapitated Reality," Soul Glo's Pierce Jordan.
As evidenced by their collaborators, tourmates, and record label, MSPAINT have been embraced by the hardcore scene, but they're not a hardcore band themselves. In fact, the band maintains that the only preliminary discussions they had about what MSPAINT would sound like is that they wouldn't use any guitars. Not that the "rock band ditches guitars" narrative is anything new, but MSPAINT do it in a way unlike almost any other band I can think of. Rejecting the rock-goes-synth pipeline that so often results in something cleaned-up and radio-friendly, MSPAINT's synth-punk feels built for grimy, sweaty, poorly-lit warehouse parties. Their drum-and-bass rhythm section is pummeling, their synths are warped and distorted, and their charismatic vocalist--who goes only by Deedee--leads the band with barely-melodic shouts that are way catchier than they'll ever sound on paper. The songs are as jagged and aggressive as they are fun and infectious; it's pop music for the outcasts and freaks, and MSPAINT don't really sound like any of the other bands who fit that description.
Fever Ray - Radical Romantics
Fever Ray (Karin Dreijer) doesn't release often, but whenever they do, it's always worth the wait. Radical Romantics is their third album and it's another great offering of uncompromising art pop, featuring contributions from Karin's brother/The Knife partner Olof Dreijer, Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross, and more. Read Bill's full review for more.
Manchester Orchestra - The Valley of Vision
Manchester Orchestra have been in the midst of an exciting new chapter of their career since 2017's A Black Mile to the Surface and 2021's even better The Million Masks of God, and very shortly after releasing the latter, Andy Hull & co. got to work on their next project, The Valley of Vision. It's named after and at least partially inspired by a 1975 book of old Puritan prayers that Andy's mother had gifted him, it comes with an accompanying VR film, and it's just six songs in 27 minutes though the band does consider it a full-length album. According to Andy, none of the songs were written with the band set up in the same room; instead, they were gradually built from the ground up. There's not much guitar on the album--save for "Lose You Again," which immediately ranks among the band's most beautiful acoustic songs--as Manchester Orchestra chose to experiment more with piano and electronics, instruments they were less used to using, but that helped bring a sense of discovery to the songwriting. It makes for a record that's overall calmer than The Million Masks of God, but with a similarly atmospheric feel, thanks in part to working once again with Million Masks producers Catherine Marks and Ethan Gruska. It's a short release but it's an effective one; Andy's songwriting is as impactful as ever, and the whole record sounds genuinely gorgeous.
Pick up a vinyl copy.
Judiciary - Flesh + Blood
Closed Casket Activities
It's been over four years since Texas metalpunks Judiciary released their great debut LP Surface Noise, and they've severely leveled up on their sophomore LP Flesh + Blood. Like Surface Noise, the new album strikes a balance between modern metallic hardcore and classic '80s thrash, and Flesh + Blood makes the line even blurrier and hits even harder. The made it with the heavy music dream team of Arthur Rizk (producer/engineer) and Will Putney (mixing/mastering), the former of whom they worked with after being urged by the late Power Trip vocalist Riley Gale to do so, and that's a perfect pair for what Judiciary were going for on this LP. Arthur is the go-to guy from modern thrash and Will is that for modern metalcore; Flesh + Blood exists right in the middle. Like the production, the musicianship and the songwriting is bigger and bolder too. Guitarists Jimmy LaDue and Israel Garza stuff this record with riffs that would knock the Big Four on their asses, and Jake Collinson's hardcore bark is both more ferocious and more tuneful than it was on the last LP. It's tastefully crafted, and extremely hard--exactly what you want from a band like this.
Miley Cyrus - Endless Summer Vacation
I wasn't able to hear this one in advance so this isn't a proper review, but here are some things I know about it: its chart-topping lead single "Flowers" signaled a return to modern pop after her retro rock/new wave album Plastic Hearts, it has appearances by Brandi Carlile and Sia, and other contributors include James Blake, Mike WiLL Made-It, Tobias Jesso Jr, Greg Kurstin, Harmony Korine, and Low/Bon Iver collaborator BJ Burton. Miley says it's split into two parts, "AM" and "PM," and that it's a "love letter" to Los Angeles that was also inspired by recently spending time focusing on her mental and physical health. UPDATE: I heard it!
Read Bill's Indie Basement for more new album reviews, including Sleaford Mods, Frankie Rose, Shana Cleveland (La Luz), Ulrika Spacek, H. Hawkline, and more.
Looking for more recent releases? Browse the Notable Releases archive or scroll down for previous weeks.
Looking for a podcast to listen to? Check out our new episode about classic emo albums turning 10 this year.