Can you believe we're already one month in 2023? Do you have any favorite albums of the year yet? Check out our lists of the best punk, rap, and indie of January for anything you may have missed, and dive into this week's great new albums, of which there are quite a few. I highlight six below, and Bill tackles more in Bill's Indie Basement, including Robert Forster (The Go-Betweens), The WAEVE (Blur), The Go! Team, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, and Ibex Clone.

On top of those, honorable mentions: Shania Twain, Ellie Goulding, The Men, Brit Taylor, David F. Bello (of TWIABP), P.E., Fantastic Negrito, Justine Skye, Russkaja, Endorphins Lost, Jonatan Leandoer96 (Yung Lean), M(h)aol, Historically Fucked, Babyfang, Teether & Kuya Neil, Loscil & Lawrence English, Will Epstein, Acid Arab, King Slender, Crawl, JayDaYoungan, 2KBABY, SKECH185, Osiah, Fvnerals, EYES, Act of Impalement, the Year of the Knife EP, the Tropical Fuck Storm EP, the Guitar Fight from Fooly Cooly EP, the Rose Gray EP, the John Frusciante electronic albums, and the Say Hi instrumental album.

Read on for my picks. What's your favorite release of the week?


Parannoul - After the Magic

"This album is not what you expected, but what I always wanted." That's how the mysterious South Korean musician Parannoul introduced After the Magic, which follows two other full-lengths and and a few EPs and splits (both with fellow South Korean artist Asian Glow, and one also a three-way split with Brazil's sonhos tomam conta), as well as releases under other monikers like laststar and Mydreamfever. Those early releases helped build Parannoul a cult fanbase, and it's one that's existed almost entirely on the internet; some of Parannoul's loudest cheerleaders come from across the globe, and this all started to happen during COVID lockdown, before anyone had seen Parannoul live. (As far as I can tell, Parannoul has only rarely performed, and never outside of South Korea.) The ingredients that make up After the Magic are similar to the ones on Parannoul's earlier releases, but this record feels bigger, cleaner, and less lo-fi. It fits in somewhere between the electro-shoegaze of aughts-era M83, The Notwist's glitch pop, and The Appleseed Cast's soaring vocal-oriented post-rock, with fluttery arrangements that wouldn't feel out of place on a Sufjan Stevens album. In other words, this is deeply beautiful music, and it's full of feeling.


The Young Fathers Heavy Heavy

Young Fathers - Heavy Heavy
Ninja Tune

A lot of what you'll read about Young Fathers talks about how often they hop from one genre to the next, and I'm about to be guilty of this too, because it's hard not to notice that their new LP Heavy Heavy goes from Afrobeat to driving post-punk to experimental rap to ambient pop in its first four songs. But the Scottish trio tells DIY that their goal was less about combining a bunch of different stuff, and more about tracing everything back to a shared source. "With this album there was a lot of analysis on an ancient kind of level," Graham Hastings says. "When you look at streams of music from around the world – Aboriginal Australians using didgeridoos, or drones in Celtic music, or this documentary I saw about this little community in Louisiana on the edge of mainline society – there’s this string that goes across all of them that’s since turned into pop music, and even stuff like Kraftwerk. It’s stripping things right down to the bare bones. There’s something that all humans need to soothe themselves. You can trace it back to Africa. Back to the source." And focusing on that shared source is probably what makes Heavy Heavy sound as cohesive as it does. It's impressive that Young Fathers have the ability to do so much, and the constantly-shapeshifting album always keeps you on your toes and never gets boring or repetitive, but it also just sounds entirely natural. When you just listen to Heavy Heavy without trying to frame a narrative around it, it's just interesting, impactful music.


Sunny War

Sunny War - Anarchist Gospel
New West

The remarkably unique singer/songwriter Sunny War has been steadily touring and releasing music for over a decade, but Anarchist Gospel seems poised to be her biggest breakthrough yet. It's got bigger-sounding production thanks to Andrija Tokic (Alabama Shakes, Hurray for the Riff Raff, etc) and it's getting a bigger push thanks to New West Records--in fact, it's already led to her making her TV debut on CBS Saturday Morning. Sunny pulls from a variety of different styles of American music--punk, blues, folk, soul, gospel, etc--and she turns it into something that feels steeped in tradition but also startlingly new, all topped off by her stunning raspy voice. Anarchist Gospel, which Sunny tells Paste is not religious but spiritual, is an album that deals with addiction, and it's also a breakup album, which is actually why it has a cover of Ween's "Baby Bitch." "'Baby Bitch' is the ultimate petty, super-bitter break-up song," Sunny said in that same Paste interview. "I’ve listened to that song on repeat after every break-up I’ve ever had." She fully makes that song and the album's other cover (Dionne Farris' "Hopeless") her own, reminding you that she's not just a great songwriter and storyteller but also a great interpreter of others' work. Even when she's singing someone else's words, her singularity comes through.



Sanguisugabogg - Homicidal Ecstasy
Century Media

"Everything became more legit. The musicianship, the production, the lyrics – which delve much more into horror and body horror – are more thought-out. It's not just a bunch of dick and fart jokes," says vocalist Devin Swank of the new album by his Ohio death metal band Sanguisugabogg, whose last album included a song called "Dick Filet." Not that it's easy to make out a brutal death metal band's lyrics anyway, but you can just tell overall that Sanguisugabogg seem to be taking things a little more seriously these days, and I'd argue that Homicidal Ecstasy lives up to this band's hype (which, as far as death metal bands go, has been pretty loud from the start) more than their earlier material did. It's tighter, heavier, and more intense than the debut, but still with all the gruesome gore that we've come to expect from these guys.


All Out War Celestial Rot

All Out War - Celestial Rot
Translation Loss

With all the death metal-influenced hardcore we've been getting lately, it's a good time to acknowledge the influence of All Out War, the New York metalcore pioneers who have actually gotten heavier and more into extreme metal over time. Their latest LP Celestial Rot comes over 30 years after their debut EP, and it's genuinely one of the heaviest things they've put out yet. From its modern production to Mike Score's still-bloodthirsty-after-all-these-years screams, it's as hungry and urgent as anything AOW did in the '90s, and it rivals the new generation of bands that's taken after them.



Memoriam - Rise To Power
Reaper Entertainment

Legendary UK death metal band Bolt Thrower broke up in 2016 after the death of drummer Martin Kearns, but vocalist Karl Willetts quickly formed the new band Memoriam with Benediction bassist Frank Healy, and they've been incredibly prolific. Rise to Power is their fifth album in six years, and it finds Karl continuing to carry the Bolt Thrower torch. As in that band, his lyrics in this one are inspired primarily by warfare (see song titles like "Never Forget, Never Again [6 Million Dead]" and "Total War," the latter of which is about the current war in Ukraine), and the music is pure old school death metal played by some of the genre's pioneers. Rise To Power ranges from slower, groove-based songs to whiplash-inducing fury, and Karl tops it off with anthemic screams that beg to be yelled along to whenever the band tour next.


Read Bill's Indie Basement for more new album reviews, including Robert Forster (The Go-Betweens), The WAEVE (Blur), The Go! Team, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, and Ibex Clone.

Looking for more recent releases? Browse the Notable Releases archive or scroll down for previous weeks.

For even more metal, browse 'New Metal Releases' each week on Invisible Oranges.

And check out what's new in our shop.


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