Notable Releases of the Week (3/4)
February is a wrap, which we means we looked back on some of the best music of last month, including the 12 best punk/emo/etc songs, the 10 best rap albums, and the Bill's Indie Basement picks for the month's best albums and songs. It's also another great week for new music, with no lack of new albums worth checking out. I highlight five below, and Bill talks about even more in Indie Basement, including Guided by Voices, Charlotte Adigéry & Bolis Pupul, Wah Together (members of The Rapture, LCD Soundsystem, etc), and more.
But wait, there's more. Tons of cool honorable mentions this week, including Band of Horses, Cloud Cult, El Ten Eleven, Kristine Leschper (fka Mothers), BabyTron, Kojey Radical, Your Old Droog, The Cool Kids, Wounded Touch, ORESKABAND, Cruel Santino, RZA & DJ Scratch, Cy Dune (Akron/Family), Stereophonics, Stromae, Just Friends, KAINA, Luna Li, Midnight, Sylvaine, Izthmi, Hath, Scott Hardware, Cécile McLorin Salvant, Beachheads (Kvelertak), Belmont, Annie Jump Cannon, the posthumous King Von album, the LEYA mixtape (ft. Julie Byrne, Eartheater, Claire Rosay, Actress & more), the Madi Diaz EP (ft. Waxahatchee, Angel Olsen, Courtney Marie Andrews & Natalie Hemby), the MONO EP, the Vio-lence EP, the Fatima & Joe Armon-Jones EP, the Smash Your Enemies EP, the Baseline EP, the BENEE EP, the Babehoven EP, the Morgan Reese EP, the Volcano (mem Sanguisugabogg) EP, the Beirut rarities comp, and the deluxe edition of Tinashe's 333.
Read on for my picks. What's your favorite release of the week?
Nilüfer Yanya - Painless
Nilüfer Yanya's 2019 debut album Miss Universe made her a breakout indie star, one who was apparently referred to by one record label executive as "the next Lily Allen." Nilüfer rejects that comparison, and she rejects the music critics who referred to her as R&B, which she chalks up to being mixed-race rather than because of what her music actually sounds like. "I’ve always felt that it’s rock," Nilüfer told The Independent. "I don’t get why some people can’t get that."
With her sophomore album Painless, she seems even more intent on making sure people know she's a rock musician. In an era where so many indie musicians of Nilüfer's stature are pivoting to '80s synthpop, Painless is decidedly a guitar-driven rock record. From shimmering arpeggios to twitchy math rock to driving chords, Painless is like a patchwork quilt of modern indie songs that proudly put the guitar in the forefront. It reminds me at various points of a handful of mid/late 2000s UK art rock records -- anything from Bloc Party to Klaxons to In Rainbows -- but really Nilüfer has developed a style of her own, one that you can't really pigeonhole or accurately compare to anyone in particular. And it's not just that she's an inventive guitarist; she's also an increasingly great singer and she fills this album with melodies that hit right away and keep you coming back for more. It feels smaller and less pop-friendly than her debut, and the decision to make something that sounds a little more insular has resulted in an even better record.
Pick it up on blue vinyl.
Vein.fm - This World Is Going to Ruin You
Closed Casket Activities
Vein.fm's (fka Vein) 2018 debut album Errorzone was an instant-classic of the then-burgeoning metalcore revival, and now, four years, a name change, a remix album and two side projects later, they've finally released their much-anticipated sophomore album. This World Is Going to Ruin You was worth the wait; it does everything that you've come to expect from Vein.fm and more, and it proves that Vein.fm have not fallen behind the times one bit. In the four years since Errorzone, the current hardcore and metalcore scenes have produced a handful of modern classics and achieved a lot of crossover success, and with This World Is Going to Ruin You, Vein.fm are once again on the cutting edge of their genre(s). As on their debut, this record sounds like all the best parts of late '90s / early 2000s metalcore but in an entirely futuristic way. It's in touch with metalcore's hardcore punk roots, and it's also unafraid to flirt with nu metal (among other things, Vein.fm have a member whose role in the band is providing samples). It's chaotic, intense, and bone-crushingly heavy, but Vein.fm also continue to work in the more atmospheric, melodic side that they showed off with "20 seconds : 20 hours" from their remix album, and their Fleshwater side project. "Wherever You Are" is fueled by melancholic piano and airy, hummed clean singing, "Magazine Beach" puts a metallic hardcore twist on melodic alt-rock, and the album's towering final tracks, "Wavery" and "Funeral Sound," make good on the promise of "20 seconds : 20 hours" with some of the best Deftones-y rock in recent memory. They also embrace their accessible side by bringing in Thursday's Geoff Rickly to sing the hook on "Fear In Non Fiction," and Vein.fm's ability to fuse the accessible and the antagonizing is a big part of this album's appeal. It's an album that breaks down barriers between different genres, moods, and eras in consistently exciting ways, and it raises the bar for an already-great band.
Pick it up on black smoke & green splatter vinyl.
The Weather Station - How Is It That I Should Look At The Stars
Last year, The Weather Station branched out from the folk rock style of her early work for the sophisti-pop-leaning Ignorance (one of our favorite albums of 2021), and now she has released another new album, How Is It That I Should Look At The Stars, which she says was written at the same time as Ignorance and draws upon many of the same lyrical themes, but which sounds entirely different. While Ignorance was her most multi-layered album yet, this is her most stripped-back, with little more than Tamara Lindeman's voice and piano. It's an entirely different side of The Weather Station, and it's some of her most purely gorgeous music yet.
Browse our selection of Weather Station vinyl.
Crowbar - Zero and Below
After several delays, sludge metal legends Crowbar are finally back with their first album in six years, Zero and Below. It was actually finished about two years ago, but they kept it shelved due to the pandemic, and now it finally sees the light of day the same day Crowbar began their tour with Sepultura and Sacred Reich. Crowbar are over 30 years and several lineup changes into their career (frontman Kirk Windstein is the only original member), and they still know how to churn out sludge bangers that rival the band's classic '90s era. Crowbar's version of sludge metal has always stayed connected to the genre's hardcore roots, and it's always shared DNA with the sludge-adjacent genre grunge too. Musically speaking, there's no reason Crowbar couldn't have had a few big hits in the grunge era, and if you miss those days, you may find that Crowbar are scratching the itch in 2022 a lot more effectively than a lot of the bands who did. It's equal parts heavy and melodic, and Kirk's roaring voice and amplifier-busting riffs sound as killer as ever. And even though Crowbar tend to not fix what ain't broke, they do still know how to switch things up, like when they go into psychedelic territory on "Denial of the Truth." It's just enough to not only provide some familiar comfort, but keep you on your toes too.
Pick up our exclusive, limited-to-300 "blue & black ice" splatter vinyl variant.
Kill Your Idols / Rule Them All - Split 7"
In the late '90s and early 2000s, when hardcore was being pushed in a whole lot of (often mainstream-friendly) directions, along came Long Island/NYC band Kill Your Idols, whose 2000 album title No Gimmicks Needed said it all. Here was a band who channelled raw, no-frills, '80s hardcore and made it feel totally fresh at a time when that sound was already long in the rearview. They eventually released splits with bands like 7Seconds and Poison Idea, who were of course huge influences, and it was probably a mutually beneficial thing, a chance for KYI's younger fans to hear where hardcore came from, and a chance for '80s heads to discover a new favorite band. Now, over 15 years since KYI released new music, they're doing the same kind of thing, only now they're the vets. They've got a new split out with Rule Them All, an excellent Long Island hardcore band who formed a few years ago, and this multi-generational split finds both bands bringing their A game. KYI's two songs make it sound like no time has passed since their last record, and they embrace slightly more modern production without tampering with their time-tested sound. The genre that gave us Youth Crew and "Young Till I Die" is not an easy genre to age gracefully in, but KYI have done it; these songs are crucial additions to their catalog. On the other side of the split, Rule Them All continue to make a case for themselves as a new hardcore band with something to say. Like on their great 2019 EP Dreams About..., they've got a slightly melodic sound (in a Dag Nasty kind of way), but they also sound tough as shit. If the post-Turnstile era has you on the hunt for more newer hardcore bands with a little melody, RTA belong in your rotation.
Pick up our exclusive, limited-to-150 ultra clear vinyl variant.
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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