We’re already starting to see year-end lists come in, but there’s still more than a month and a half left in 2022 and many great albums still to come, including a handful that are out this week. I highlight eight new ones below, and Bill covers more in Bill’s Indie Basement, including Plaid, Jeb Loy Nichols, Breanna Barbara, Blinker the Star, the John Hughes box, and more.
On top of that, this week’s honorable mentions include: Bruce Springsteen (soul covers album), Nas, Gold Panda, DRAM, Homeboy Sandman, AKAI SOLO, DJ Muggs & Jay Worthy, Black Eyed Peas, Headie One, Tony Shhnow, FaltyDL, Franz Nicolay, Drowse, Hyd, OSHUN, City of Industry, Haavard (ex-Ulver), Ben LaMar Gay, Rejection Pact, Morris Day, Craig’s Brother, Fell Ruin, Fitz and the Tantrums, Sweet Cobra, Heather Trost, Duval Timothy, Colin Stetson, Bill Nace, Tobias, Dominic Angelella, Fenella (Jane Weaver), Anxious Arms, S.C.A.B., Soul Blind, Black Cross Hotel, Dumb, Smut, Nicolas Bougaïeff, Yung Bleu, Murs, The Grouch & Reverie, Jimmy Edgar, SoFayGo, Ernest Hood, Dickie Landry & Lawrence Weiner, the Busta Rhymes EP, the Pile of Love EP, the Envy EP, the David Knudson (Botch, Minus the Bear) EP, the Actress EP, the Jordana EP, the Sarah Mary Chadwick EP, the Izzy Spears EP, the Sophia Hansen-Knarhoi EP, the Thank You Driver EP, the Caravela EP, the Cass McCombs + Weak Signal 7″, the MGMT live at the Guggenheim album, the all-Latin Run the Jewels re-imaginings album, the Billy Joe Shaver tribute LP (ft. Willie Nelson, Lucinda Williams, Miranda Lambert, Margo Price, Steve Earle, Nikki Lane & more), the Bright Eyes reissues & guest-filled companion EPs, the deluxe edition of Sharon Van Etten’s We’ve Been Going About This All Wrong, the import edition of Defcee & BoatHouse’s For All Debts Public and Private, and the Undeath live album.
Read on for my picks. What’s your favorite release of the week?
L.S. Dunes – Past Lives
For anyone with fond memories of early/mid 2000s emo and post-hardcore, L.S. Dunes feels like a band you’d dream up when you and your friends are fantasizing about potential supergroups. The newly-formed band is fronted by Anthony Green (Circa Survive, Saosin, The Sound of Animals Fighting), with My Chemical Romance’s Frank Iero and Coheed & Cambria’s Travis Stever on guitar, and Thursday’s rhythm section (bassist Tim Payne and drummer Tucker Rule). Lineups like that are often better on paper than they are in execution, but with L.S. Dunes, the music actually exceeds expectations. In a way, L.S. Dunes’ debut album finds these five musicians getting back to their roots, returning to the style of music they made just as their now-famous bands were starting out. It’s exactly the kind of record that fans of albums like Full Collapse, The Second Stage Turbine Blade, Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge, and Juturna are predetermined to fall in love with, but it also never sounds like any one of their bands in particular. At the same time, Past Lives is also some of the freshest music that the involved members have made in recent memory. Anthony Green’s been on a roll this year, with a great new solo album, a great Circa Survive EP, and a new Sound of Animals Fighting EP on the way, and as with all of those projects, Past Lives finds him writing personal, impactful music that he could only have written right now. These aren’t the kinds of songs you write because you’ve got the bragging rights of forming a star-studded new lineup; these are songs you write because you’ve got something to say, and Anthony sings (and screams) them with the same hunger he had on his classic records 15-20 years ago. With production from Will Yip — the most in-demand emo/post-hardcore producer of the past decade — Past Lives also sounds fresh and current. Forget all the cynical ideas you have about supergroups or nostalgia or any of that; Past Lives is an urgent, modest, and flat-out fantastic record from five people who just so happened to put out hit records two decades ago.
Dream Unending – Song of Salvation
20 Buck Spin
Derrick Vella (Tomb Mold, Outer Heaven) and Justin DeTore (Innumerable Forms, Sumerlands, The Rival Mob, Boston Strangler, Mind Eraser, etc) are both very prolific with their various projects, and they make some of their most expansive, purely gorgeous music when they come together as Dream Unending. Their 2021 debut LP Tide Turns Eternal is one of the most beautiful metal albums in recent memory, and it turns out it was no fluke. Almost exactly one year later, they’re back with their sophomore album Song of Salvation, and it’s even grander in every way. On this album, the clean, shimmering, melodic parts are even prettier than on the first LP, and the passages of death and doom metal are even heavier. Dream Unending sound even better at segueing between their two extremes, and also at doing both at once; the 14-minute title track has some of the most infectiously melodic doom riffing this side of the first Pallbearer album. Expanding Dream Unending’s music even further are guest vocal appearances from former Sumerlands singer Phil Swanson (also in Solemn Lament with Justin), Tomb Mold’s Max Klebanoff, and past Dream Unending collaborators McKenna Rae and actor Richard Poe, as well as trumpet from Leila Abdul-Rauf (Hammers of Misfortune, Vastum, etc) and piano/synth by Derrick’s dad David Vella. The music itself has a much wider range on this album than its predecessor, and the various voices — which vary between brutal growls and soaring clean singing — make that range even wider. Song of Salvation isn’t the only modern metal album to incorporate post-rock, prog, psych, and even dream pop, but Dream Unending combine these things in ways that stand out from most bands that do something similar on paper. I don’t know who would’ve predicted that two people living in separate countries and playing in multiple other bands would’ve come together during a pandemic to create one of the most forceful post-metal bands in recent memory, but Dream Unending did it and they just keep getting better.
Smidley – Here Comes The Devil
Foxing singer Conor Murphy’s 2017 self-titled album as Smidley gave him the chance to dive into traditional indie rock, following the heart-on-sleeve emo and deep post-rock of Foxing’s first two albums, and since then Foxing have pushed themselves in a variety of disparate directions, from towering art rock to roaring post-hardcore to shiny synthpop. It’s hard to imagine a style of music that wouldn’t work on a Foxing album, but Conor’s still got some ideas to explore on his own, as heard on Smidley’s sophomore album Here Comes The Devil, the weirdest music Conor’s released yet. Conor played almost every instrument and engineered/produced it himself, and he calls it a “concept record about a journey through hell” that was inspired by Dante’s Inferno. “In letting it become a thematic record, it freed the record to become more personal,” he said. “I wrote about the death of a friend, getting engaged, contemplating having a child, aging rapidly, etc.” Conor sings about those topics over a shapeshifting backdrop that ranges from dirgey ballads to sax-fueled sophisti-pop to demonic experimental rock songs. Devil has some of his darkest, most clamoring music yet as well as some of his softest, and a whole lot of unpredictable stuff in between.
GloRilla – Anyways, Life’s Great…
Memphis rapper GloRilla had been dropping singles since 2019 and she struck gold this year with “F.N.F. (Let’s Go)” and its video, which went viral and has endured as one of the most undeniable rap singles of the year. The buzz inked her a deal with Yo Gotti’s CMG label, on which she continued to drop more singles (including the especially great “Tomorrow 2” with Cardi B), and now she releases her debut EP, Anyways, Life’s Great…. “Tomorrow 2,” which already has more Spotify streams than “F.N.F.,” proved she’s no one hit wonder, and the rest of Anyways suggests she’ll continue to have staying power. Her loud, booming voice and her knack for subtle hooks came across loudly and clearly on her breakthrough singles, and the other tracks on this EP show an artist who’s growing and honing her craft, not content to coast on the success of a couple popular songs.
Rauw Alejandro – Saturno
Duars Entertainment/Sony Music Latin
Rauw Alejandro is currently one of the biggest superstars in reggaetón and urbano, and for good reason. Saturno is his third full-length album in as many years (also following an EP from earlier this year), and even at the extremely prolific rate that he churns out songs, he continues to strike gold every time. The album moves seamlessly between a vast array of styles, from hard-hitting traditional reggaetón rhythms to freestyle to propulsive synthpop to modern trap-inspired production, and Rauw’s smooth voice and addictive melodies tie everything together seamlessly. At 18 tracks (including a few skits), it’s a lot to take in at once, but these songs already feel as instantly-satisfying as you’d expect from Rauw and I won’t be surprised if repeat listens are effortless.
Wizkid – More Love, Less Ego
In a few days, Afrobeats star Wizkid will become the second-ever Nigerian artist to headline Madison Square Garden (after Burna Boy became the first earlier this year), and just ahead of that he releases his fifth album, More Love, Less Ego. Like its 2020 predecessor Made In Lagos, it was largely made with trailblazing producer P2J (Burna Boy, Beyoncé, FKA twigs, Stormzy, etc), and it continues to follow the more chilled-out direction that Wizkid began on that album. As the title implies, love is the big theme here, and these feel-good songs are the perfect backdrop. Like Burna Boy and other likeminded Afro-fusionists, Wizkid’s music is a reminder the African diaspora led to the creation of hip hop, jazz, reggae, dancehall, R&B, dance music, and more, and the 13 songs on More Love, Less Ego incorporate all of those styles and tie them back to their roots in Wizkid’s home country. His guests on the album are similarly diasporic: Jamaican dancehall artists Skillibeng and Shenseea, UK rapper Skepta, US rapper Don Toliver, and fellow Nigerian artists Ayra Starr and Naira Marley. It’s both a cultural melting pot, and a rewarding, innovative pop album.
Christine and the Queens presents Redcar – Redcar les adorables étoiles
“Every record is a deep wave of transformation,” the artist born Héloïse Adélaïde Letissier recently told Zane Lowe on Apple Music 1, and it really is hard to think of another artist who reinvents themselves from album to album as drastically as he does. He went by Christine and the Queens on his instant-classic 2014 debut album, Chris on his 2018 followup, and now Redcar on his third album. Throughout all of it, he continues to bend the lines between gender, genre, and language, and Redcar les adorables étoiles is no exception. It’s a part French, part English art pop album that’s always caught between Redcar’s love of big, triumphant, crowdpleasing choruses and his love of experimentation. The ever-changing narrative surrounding Redcar/Christine and the Queens can sometimes take precedence over the music itself, but when you put all that aside and just listen to the songs on Redcar les adorables étoiles, you’re treated to inventive pop music that stands tall, regardless of context.
Action/Adventure – Imposter Syndrome
Action/Adventure named their debut album Imposter Syndrome because when their song “Barricades” went viral on TikTok and they started to pop off during the pandemic when no shows were happening, their sudden fame felt nearly impossible to grasp. “We’ve just been asking questions like is this real?,” said guitarist/vocalist Brompton Jackson. “Do we belong here? Is this even happening?” But the five members who make up Action/Adventure are not imposters at all; they’re one of the realest bands to arrive on the pop punk scene in a minute. Their version of pop punk is the glossy, radio-friendly kind in the spirit of anything from New Found Glory and The Starting Line to The Wonder Years and The Story So Far, and Action/Adventure have mastered their forebears’ formulas and thrown in a few tricks of their own. Imposter Syndrome‘s got a picture-perfect mix of mosh-ready rhythms and candy-coated singalongs, riffs for days, and a level of tightness that’s nearly inhuman. And unlike a lot of the pop punk bands they sound like, they’ve got a depth to their lyricism that never relies on juvenile clichés. “This might be our first album, but we’ve all been through the wringer, and I hope people hear that we have real stuff that we’re dealing with,” said lead vocalist Blake Evaristo, “whether that’s being in a band, being a person of color in the scene or chasing a dream that seems so hard and unattainable. I really hope people can feel what we’re feeling.” With an impassioned delivery like the one Blake has, you definitely can.
Read Bill’s Indie Basement for more new album reviews, including Plaid, Jeb Loy Nichols, Breanna Barbara, Blinker the Star, the John Hughes box, 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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