Notable Releases of the Week (10/21)
It's another big week in the music world. Botch and Joni Mitchell both just announced their first proper shows in over 20 years, and this weekend finally brings the much-talked-about When We Were Young Festival to Las Vegas. It's also yet another stacked week for new releases, as just about every week this fall has been so far. I highlight 13 new albums below, and Bill's Indie Basement is filled with even more reviews, including Dry Cleaning, Robyn Hitchcock, King Gizzard, The Soft Pink Truth, Sloan, Goat, Hagop Tchaparian, and more.
On top of all that, honorable mentions include: Tegan & Sara, Frankie Cosmos, Their / They're / There, Whitmer Thomas, Exhumed, Twain, Armani Caesar, Bibio, a-ha, MVW, Simple Minds, Roshambo, Lowertown, Arny Margaret, Dave Harrington & Tim Mislock, Mt. Oriander, Persher (Pariah + Blawan), CARM, Elite Gymnastics, They Are Gutting A Body of Water, Cumulus, 84 Tigers (Small Brown Bike, The Swellers), Pearla, Ariel Zetina, Jesse Tabish (Other Lives), Bedouin Soundclash, Nick Hakim, YoungBoy Never Broke Again, Snoop Dogg & DJ Drama, Jeezy & DJ Drama, Snow Tha Product, Uji, iLe, Jordaan Mason & Their Orchestra, Ibises, Architects, the Burial EP, the Full of Hell EP, the Circuit des Yeux & Claire Rousay EP, the Serj Tankian EP, the Kathryn Mohr EP, the Cages EP, the Roid Rage EP, the Jobber EP, the Loshh EP, the Duckwrth EP, the Oversize EP, the Terre & Maggie Roche album of previously unreleased & live recordings, the deluxe edition of Militarie Gun's All Roads Lead to the Gun, and the Sleater-Kinney tribute LP (ft. St. Vincent, Wilco, Courtney Barnett, Jason Isbell & Amanda Shires, Low & more).
Read on for my picks. What's your favorite release of the week?
Pinkshift - Love Me Forever
The same weekend we get the much-talked-about When We Were Young Festival with headliners My Chemical Romance and Paramore, we also get the debut album by Pinkshift, a much-talked-about newer band whose great 2021 debut EP has been compared to both of those bands on multiple occasions. As good as that EP was, Love Me Forever takes a massive leap forward. It's one of the strongest debut albums to come out of the punk scene in quite some time.
On Love Me Forever, Pinkshift expand upon those mid-aughts emo/pop punk influences, leaning even harder into their love of '90s grunge, looking to the music that their contemporaries and peers are currently making, and looking outside of punk too. (They made us a list of music that influenced the album, which ranges from Nirvana to Arctic Monkeys to Turnstile.) And Pinkshift have also really come into their own in a big way since that already-great debut EP. They've fused all of these influences into a sound that already feels unique to Pinkshift. Ashrita Kumar's voice is huge and expressive, Paul Vallejo busts out the kind of heroic guitar riffs that the modern punk scene could use a lot more of, and the whole band nails a balance between antagonizing aggression and welcoming melodies. Pinkshift said that many of these songs deal with "the confusion, hopelessness, and fear that the pandemic brought in the wake of graduating school," as well as "the injustices and failings of the government that were revealed during the peak pandemic years," and these angry, sneering songs are the perfect vessels to convey all of that. At the same time, these are pop songs, and really catchy ones at that. The big, beefy production (by Will Yip) makes them sound both heavier and catchier than they did on their EP. There are moments that are nearly in metal territory, and there's also "in a breath," an emotional piano ballad that's just as effective as their harder stuff. What they really have in common with the likes of Nirvana and Turnstile -- more so than any borrowed melodies that may exist -- is a knack for writing pop music that you can rock the fuck out to.
Pick up Pinkshift's new LP on black vinyl.
Arctic Monkeys - The Car
As Bill writes in his review, The Car is even more luxuriously loungey than Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino, trading in synthesizers for an actual string section that surrounds them on nearly all 10 of the album's songs. “Rather than strings on top of rock,” Alex Turner told The Guardian, “I was interested in switching the ‘rock band’ bit on and off.” There are swooping discotheque strings and soulful orchestra hits, but most of The Car is dripping with autumnal violins and cello that ache of regret, heartbreak and melancholy. Read Bill's full review.
Pick up Arctic Monkeys' new album on custard vinyl.
Taylor Swift - Midnights
Taylor's out of the woods. After making two folky albums that were largely produced by The National's Aaron Dessner, she's made a pop album again with Midnights, which was made primarily with longtime collaborator Jack Antonoff. It's not the kind of maximalist pop that she was making prior to folklore/evermore though; it's more of a moody, atmospheric electronic album that finds a middle ground between her Top 40 tendencies and her love of "indie," and it doesn't really sound like any other album she's made. (There's a hip hop quality to some of the production, so it's fitting that frequent Kendrick Lamar collaborator Sounwave worked on a couple tracks.) Taylor, Jack, and their other collaborators build an undeniably gorgeous backdrop of programmed drums, ethereal synths, pitch-shifted backing vocals, and the occasional string arrangement, and Taylor does what she does best over it, with her trademark vocal tics and layered harmonies and some of her most personal songs yet. Lana Del Rey, who Taylor's "indie" side has been compared to many times, makes a well-fitting and much-deserved appearance on "Snow On The Beach," and that's not the only track that sounds inspired by Lana. Judging by "Vigilante Shit," I'd guess Taylor has been taking some cues from Billie Eilish lately too.
Along with Midnights comes seven bonus tracks, dubbed the "3am Edition," and those include three songs written with Aaron Dessner: "The Great War," "High Infidelity," and "Would've, Could've, Should've." "Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve" also features The National's Bryce Dessner and Bryan Devendorf, "High Infidelity" features Big Thief drummer James Krivchenia, and Doveman (aka Thomas Bartlett) contributed to all three. Even the Dessner-aided tracks are pretty much cut from the same cloth as the rest of Midnights (though the drumming on "Would've, Could've, Should've" is very National), and they're all great but it's easy to see why Taylor made them bonus tracks. Midnights feels really cohesive and has a great flow to it with just the core 13 tracks. It makes sense why she's dropped her last three albums without any pre-release singles; she's clearly in her album-oriented era.
Dawn Richard & Spencer Zahn - Pigments
Since launching her solo career in the early 2010s, Dawn Richard has explored a variety of different styles of music, from experimental R&B to lively funk to New Orleans brass bands to futuristic dance beats, and now she's teamed up with Spencer Zahn for something much different, an album that pulls from jazz, ambient music, and modern classical. Spencer's core influences range from the ECM Records catalog to Talk Talk vocalist Mark Hollis' solo album, and you can definitely hear that coming through in his shimmering compositions, which are fleshed out by synths, strings, horns, and more. It's a lot more meditative than Dawn's own albums, but her airy R&B/soul-infused vocals fit these songs perfectly. It toes the line between a pop-centric jazz album and an experimental pop album, and songs this purely gorgeous should appeal to fans all across that wide spectrum.
Wiki & Subjxct 5 - Cold Cuts
Wiki could probably have been a huge rapper if he wanted to, but he seems way more interested in sticking with the underground, and his latest self-released mixtape is yet another great underground rap release. Lately he's been doing projects entirely produced by a single producer, like 2021's NAH-produced Telephonebooth and the especially great Navy Blue-produced Half God, and this new one was helmed by NJ producer Subjxct 5, who's been on the rise thanks to putting a modern spin on early 2000s style East Coast production. The project follows Wiki appearing on tracks off two Subjxct 5-produced 2021 albums: Papo2oo4 and DJ Lucas' 2021 Dirty Designer and Reed & Hunnaloe's SRH, and all four of those rappers also appear on Cold Cuts, alongside past Subjxct 5 collaborators Afrikillz and YL, the aforementioned Navy Blue, and Wiki's old pal Slicky. So the whole thing is a very close-knit affair, and Subjxct 5's production style is perfect for Wiki, who's also an old East Coast soul as well as a forward-thinker. "I feel like we do it a certain way where it's still old school, but it's a new twist on it," Subjxct 5 recently told The FADER, after citing Swizz Beatz, Timbaland, Pharrell, DJ Premier, and Just Blaze as his core influences. He's clearly got a distinct vision, but he also knows how to cater to the rappers he's working with, and he goes for something a little hazier and more laid-back on Wiki's album than he did on other releases, and Wiki really excels over beats like this. It makes a lot of sense why these two decided to do a whole project together; they really seem to bring out the best in one another.
Wiki, Papo2oo4, and DJ Lucas celebrate the album in NYC at Bowery Union on 10/28.
Brutus - Unison Life
On their 2019 sophomore album Nest, Belgian trio fully perfected the stunning unique mix of post-hardcore, post-rock, sludge metal, punk, and pop that they'd been honing since forming five years earlier, and its followup Unison Life keeps that going. It's cut from the same cloth as its predecessor and filled with songs that swing for the fences. Drummer/vocalist Stefanie Mannaerts fuels these songs with her soaring melodies while simultaneously holding down Brutus' thunderous rhythm section alongside bassist Peter Mulders, and guitarist Stijn Vanhoegaerden crafts layers of heavy beauty with his remarkable guitar work. Brutus blur genre lines so casually that you never really know where they fit, and it works to their benefit. More than ever, Brutus are in a lane of their own.
Pick up the new Brutus LP on black vinyl.
Loyle Carner - Hugo
Speaking recently to The Guardian about his single "Hate," UK rapper Loyle Carner said he "finally felt allowed to discuss race," a topic he'd touched on in the past but never this explicitly. "I hadn’t really been able to do it before – to be mixed race," he said. "It’s a weird thing because you’re between these two absolutes … up until very recently, it wasn’t really accepted to openly discuss feeling oppressed." He later added, "The white side of my life is something I’ve known my whole life, it’s something I've been deeply connected to – I’ve been to Scotland, I grew up with my mom. It didn’t really need any more development or understanding. The thing I wasn’t able to understand was where I sit in the world as a Black man." "Hate" is the opening track on Hugo, and it starts the album out on a very high, powerful note that it remains on throughout. His production tends to pull from warm, twinkling jazz and militant, psychedelic soul, both of which are very fitting backdrops for an album of personal tales and protest music. The arrangements are stunning, and Loyle leaves you hanging on every word.
The Otolith - Folium Limina
Blues Funeral Recordings
With their mix of doom/sludge, progressive rock, folk music, and violins, SubRosa were one of the most interesting metal bands of their time, and they've been much-missed since breaking up in 2019. But fortunately, four of their members are now playing together in a new band, The Otolith (while Rebecca Vernon now has a new band called The Keening), and their debut LP Folium Limina pretty much picks up where SubRosa left off. They're pulling from the same mix of styles as their previous band (and they also have great violin parts), and like SubRosa, the result is somewhere between Black Sabbath-meets-Fairport Convention and Jethro Tull-meets-Coven, with a modern twist. The songs are haunting and immersive, the riffs weigh a ton, and the melodies are otherworldly.
Black Math Horseman - Black Math Horseman EP
After releasing their beloved 2009 debut album Wyltt, gothy post-metal band Black Math Horseman called it quits, and vocalist/bassist Sera Timms since stayed busy with Ides of Gemini, Black Mare, and her art pop solo project LVXURI. Now Black Math Horseman are back with their first new release in 13 years, a self-titled EP. Sera wondered if it would be a much different style of music than their debut, since she had mostly stopped playing and listening to heavy music, but that's not what happened. "When we started jamming again, we didn’t sound any different," she said. "We discovered that the music that comes from us four together is something that we have no control over. It just happens. It’s a recipe that’s beyond us." That recipe is in fine form on this new EP, and the band have just as much chemistry as they did over a decade ago ago. Sera's voice is as eerie and ethereal as ever, and it's perfectly supported by the band's heavy, hypnotic backdrop. If you didn't know any better, you'd never guess that 13 years had passed since they wrote and recorded music together.
Knifeplay - Animal Drowning
Knifeplay began five years ago as the bedroom solo project of Philly musician Tj Strohmer but eventually expanded into a five-piece band, and after self-releasing a series of EPs and their 2019 debut album Pearlty, they signed to Topshelf and linked up with producer Jeff Zeigler (The War On Drugs, Kurt Vile, Nothing, etc) for their sophomore album Animal Drowning, which is proving to be a breakthrough. Falling somewhere between shoegaze, dream pop, and slowcore, these are gorgeous songs that take their time to reveal themselves and require a bit of patience. They're fleshed out with string arrangements, horns, and piano, and they're often very tender, but things can get a little heavy at times too. And though shoegaze and dream pop are genres that are often focused on texture, Tj's a vulnerable singer/songwriter and there's a lot of personal emotion in these songs too.
Carly Rae Jepsen - The Loneliest Time
It's been over a decade since Carly Rae Jepsen had a massive hit with "Call Me Maybe," and while she may never ascend to that level of viral popularity again, she's still crafting some of the best, most appealing pop music around. Her new album The Loneliest Time contains plenty of evidence of her love of Max Martin's maximalist styling -- starting with first track "Surrender My Heart," an undeniable banger with punchy, shimmering, synth-driven hooks -- but it's much more than that, too. There are the tropical stylings of "Far Away," "Joshua Tree" with its bold bassline and R&B-sweetened harmonies and chorus, the warm shimmery vibes of first single "Western Wind," and the pure disco ecstasy of "Shooting Star" and Rufus Wainwright duet "The Loneliest Time," which closes the album with the convivial cheer of a Christmas carol. Talking to The FADER, Carly said the move to branch out was intentional: "being in my 30s and being in this career for over a decade," she said, "I felt more freedom to not have to define myself as one thing. The theme of the album became more important: loneliness and the extreme reactions that come from being really in solitude." While the subject sounds like a downer on paper, in Carly's expert hands it's a compelling topic for catchy pop music.
Pick up the new CRJ on black vinyl.
Archers of Loaf - Reason In Decline
North Carolina's Archers of Loaf were one of the defining bands of '90s American indie rock, and they've become one of the most influential too -- they're constantly cited by newer bands today. Since their 1998 breakup, singer/guitarist Eric Bachmann has been busy with Crooked Fingers and other solo projects, but now they finally return with their first album in 24 years. There are moments that hearken right back to Archers' classic era, but there's a lot of new stuff in there too; this is clearly not just a rehashed version of what Archers of Loaf did in the '90s. Bill's got a longer review in Indie Basement.
Inclination - Unaltered Perspective
Louisville straightedge band Inclination (who share guitarist Isaac Hale with Knocked Loose) follow up their promising EPs with their debut full-length Unaltered Perspective, a focused, cohesive record that conveys vocalist Tyler Short's straightedge values without relying on sloganeering or clichés. For much more on this record, Hugo Reyes interviewed Tyler for a new feature.
Pick up our exclusive orange/black vinyl variant of Inclination's new LP, limited to 250.
Read Bill's Indie Basement for more new album reviews, including Dry Cleaning, Robyn Hitchcock, King Gizzard, The Soft Pink Truth, Sloan, Goat, Hagop Tchaparian, 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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