Notable Releases of the Week (9/23)
It's officially fall, and this final season of 2022 looks like it's gonna be loaded with good music. We recently posted a list of over 80 albums we're anticipating before the end of 2022, and a handful of those heavy hitters (and much more) are out today. I highlight nine new albums below, and Bill talks about even more in Bill's Indie Basement, including Beth Orton, The Casual Dots, Lande Hekt, Khruangbin & Vieux Farka Touré, Pale Sketcher (Justin Broadrick), Tim Burgess, The Soft Moon, and the NEU! 50th anniversary box set (including a tribute LP ft. The National, IDLES, Mogwai, Alexis Taylor & more).
On top of all that, honorable mentions: Buzzcocks, Alex G, Cam'ron & A-Trak, Razor, Dr. John (posthumous), BLACKSTARKIDS, Sunny Sweeney, Petbrick, The Lord & Petra Haden, Future Teens, Intensive Care, Peter Matthew Bauer (The Walkmen), Marisa Anderson, Lucki, DreamDoll, Young Devyn, Divino Niño, Nils Frahm, Raw Breed, Altopalo, Maya Hawke, Sofie Royer, Expert Timing, Eerie Wanda, Kendell Marvel, Caroline Shaw & Attacca Quartet, Ellen Arkbro & Johan Graden, Death’s Dynamic Shroud, John Luther Adams, Douglas Andrew McCombs, Bloods (ft. Laura Jane Grace), Sector, Arkells, Editors, Venom Inc, Herman Hitson, Alhaji Waziri Oshomah, The Cradle, VISUALS, June Jones, Ckay, the Billy Idol EP, the Weezer EP, the Remember Sports EP, the Talk Show EP, the Ransom & Mayor EP, the Lakeyah EP, the Mewn EP, the Silvana Estrada EP, the Iceage outtakes & rarities comp, the Tallest Man On Earth covers album, the "lost" Smithereens album, the deluxe edition of Magdalena Bay's Mercurial World, the New Riders of the Purple Sage live album from the Grateful Dead's Europe '72 tour, and the Joni Mitchell 1972-1975 box.
Read on for my picks. What's your favorite release of the week?
Protoje - Third Time's The Charm
There might not be anybody doing more for the development of reggae on a broad, international scale in the past 10 years than Protoje. As a label owner, curator, and tastemaker, he's constantly shining a light on new cutting edge artists, his own music remains some of the best in current reggae, and he's got an answer for everything. If you think reggae has turned into a retro genre where everything sounds like an imitation of the '70s, Protoje's music challenges that. If you think reggae has gone too far in the direction of embracing modern pop music, Protoje's music challenges that too. His sixth album Third Time's The Charm -- the conclusion to his recent Time trilogy -- arrives with a lot of anticipation, and it meets and exceeds expectations in a way that sounds almost effortless. Its locked-in grooves and super tight musicianship frequently rival the greats of the '70s, and Protoje seamlessly weaves in elements of hip hop and electronic music that propel these songs into the future. Protoje also brings his gift for curation to the album, tapping likeminded reggae singers (Lila Iké, Jesse Royal, and Samory I), some of the best producers in current reggae (Iotosh, Ziah .Push and Zion I Kings), and UK soul singer Jorja Smith to help him achieve his vision. And all of the ingredients of this album come together to create some of the finest modern reggae around.
Nikki Lane - Denim & Diamonds
New West Records
Nikki Lane's been at the forefront of alt-country for years, her last album (2017's Highway Queen) is one of her best, and she's fresh off doing lovely duets on Lana Del Rey's Chemtrails Over the Country Club and Spiritualized's Everything Was Beautiful, so it's great news that she's finally back with her first new album in over five years, Denim & Diamonds. The album was produced and mixed by Josh Homme, and was made with a band featuring Josh's Queens of the Stone Age bandmates Alain Johannes (guitar), Dean Fertita (organ), and Michael Shuman (bass), plus drums from Josh's pal Matt Helders of Arctic Monkeys and Autolux/Jack White member Carla Azar, and Nikki's pedal steel player Matthew Pynn. There are times when Josh's influence is clear, like on the especially QOTSA-y title track, but for the most part, this all-star cast just knew how to play an excellent supporting role to Nikki's distinct voice and songwriting. The album casually moves between swaggering rock and earthy country/folk, and it's got some of Nikki's most personal songwriting yet, with topics ranging from self-worth to the world beating you down to falling in love. Like a lot of the best country music, it revels in nostalgia but it's also urgent. And as has always been the case with Nikki Lane, great songwriting is at the core of all of these songs. Regardless of mood or themes or subgenre, Nikki just always makes sure to deliver great songs.
The Wonder Years - The Hum Goes On Forever
The Wonder Years' first album in over four years is also singer Dan Campbell's first since becoming a father of two, and themes of anxieties surrounding fatherhood are all over this album. It's also an album where the genre is just: The Wonder Years. It's the culmination of everything they've ever done, from their early pop punk days through the musical departure of 2018's Sister Cities, and everything is connected as seamlessly as possible. The album is the perfect example of how The Wonder Years grow with their music and their fans and theirselves, rather than grow out of anything or stay in a constant state of adolescence. It's a very powerful record from a band who seem to make nothing but powerful records, and you can read our new feature on the album and listen to our new podcast interview with Dan for much more.
Makaya McCraven - In These Times
Makaya McCraven grew up around both jazz music and Eastern European folk music (his parents are jazz drummer Stephen McCraven and Hungarian singer and flutist Ágnes Zsigmondi), and when he got into hip hop in the '90s, he started to see how much of that music was sampling the jazz he had grown up around, and all of this comes through in his own innovative music. Improvisational, jazz-rooted passages cross paths with head-nod-inducing hip hop beats, and Makaya's multi-cultural upbringing is reflected in his shapeshifting, unpredictable approach to melody and tone. Since releasing his breakthrough 2018 double album Universal Beings, he put out a deluxe edition of the album with 14 additional tracks, reworked a Gil-Scott Heron album, and re-interpreted Blue Note Records classics for Deciphering The Message. Now he finally puts out his own proper new album in four years, and it continues his path towards honoring musical traditions in new, inventive ways. The album can be hazy and psychedelic at times and gorgeously crystal-clear at others. Sometimes it's powered by busy, complex jazz drumming and other times by the simplicity of boom bap. It's rooted in jazz but it's not just jazz, and it definitely isn't retro or boring or too scholarly or any other misguided stereotype about modern jazz. It's fueled by boundless creativity, just like the classic jazz records of the '50s and '60s and '70s were, and you don't have to be a seasoned jazz head to be swept away by its infectious grooves and hypnotic melodies.
The Comet Is Coming - Hyper-Dimensional Expansion Beam
Makaya McCraven isn't the only artist with a widely-anticipated, jazz-but-not-exactly-jazz album out this week. There's also Hyper-Dimensional Expansion Beam from The Comet Is Coming. The London trio's saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings (also of Shabaka and the Ancestors and Sons of Kemet) is perhaps the single most important musician in the current UK jazz renaissance, while keyboardist Dan Leavers (Danalogue) and drummer Max Hallett (Betamax) have a dancier, more electronic background, and that all comes through in this thrilling, futuristic new LP. It feels like a trippy prog excursion one minute and a full-on rave the next, and The Comet Is Coming blur everything together into one heady, elaborate sonic journey. With no vocalist, Shabaka assumes the frontperson role with his sax, which puts a jazzy tint on the songs, but it all comes together in a way that's more trance-like than jazz-like. It's music that's physical and mind-bending all at once.
Excide - Deliberate Revolver
New Morality Zine
If you're into the alt-rock-infused hardcore that bands like Turnstile and Higher Power have been bringing to prominence lately, a newer band you also need in your life is the Carolinas-based Excide. Since debuting in 2020, they've made a name for themselves across a three-song EP and a two-song single, and now they deliver their first full-length, Deliberate Revolver, an even stronger record than their early tracks hinted at. Like the band's early material, the album definitely scratches the Turnstile/Higher Power itch, and it also recalls a handful of classic bands in the post-hardcore/alternative/metal space -- anything from Quicksand to Jawbox to Snapcase to Earth Crisis to Helmet to Deftones to Glassjaw. Sometimes Excide wear their influences on their sleeves a little too visibly, but they're also great at fusing different subgenres of music together and they're super tight musicians; every riff and drum fill and vocal bark is delivered with power and precision. At certain points, Excide sound like a band that major labels would've gotten into a bidding war over in 1995, and with the right push, I could see this band stirring up a lot of buzz outside of niche hardcore circles in 2022 too.
The UpFux / Noise Complaint - Coastal Collapse
Bad Time Records
Ska-punk and ska-core in the vein of bands like Operation Ivy, Choking Victim, and Against All Authority is alive and well, and two of the best bands currently doing it are NJ's The UpFux and California's Noise Complaint, so it's very cool news that those bands have come together for a split LP. Coastal Collapse has six new tracks from The UpFux and five new ones from Noise Complaint, and all of them are raw, coarse, fast-paced rippers that take on topics ranging from addiction to police brutality. If you're still stereotyping ska as a goofy, Hawaiian shirt-clad genre, this split will knock the mozzarella stick meme right out of your Twitter fingers.
Chris Canterbury - Quaalude Lullabies
Rancho Deluxe Records
If the album title Quaalude Lullabies doesn't give it a way, Louisiana-born country singer Chris Canterbury's new album is a collection of stories that, to quote the press release, "[circle] around the challenges of addiction, depression, loneliness, and coping." It's a deeply honest, often dark album that looks candidly at these real-life struggles, and there's not always an answer or a moral to these stories. Chris just lays it on you with utter realness. Adding to the impact, Chris sets these stories to a raw, minimal, melancholic country-folk backdrop. There's often little more than Chris' gentle guitar work and a floating atmosphere; some songs don't have drums at all, and the ones that do keep things at a slow, simple place. If you like your country with mournful melodies and hard truths, this album is a must.
KEN mode - NULL
Noise rock is having a moment right now, thanks to fast-rising bands like Chat Pile and stacked noise rock festivals like No Coast Fest, and of course there are also the lifer bands who have been grinding away at this sound for decades, like KEN mode (who are also playing this year's No Coast Fest). The band's first album since 2018's great Loved is here, and it's just as fiery as its predecessor, delivering a furious blend of noise rock, sludge metal, and post-hardcore that never quits. It's got riffs for days, vocalist Jesse Matthewson sounds like he's spitting venom, and Jesse calls the angry, antagonistic record "a direct psychological reaction to the collective experience of the last two and a half years... a documentation of trying to not fall apart." The songs are vicious and forceful as they are artistic and expansive. It's everything that's always been good about KEN mode in a nutshell.
Read Bill's Indie Basement for more new album reviews, including Beth Orton, The Casual Dots, Lande Hekt, Khruangbin & Vieux Farka Touré, Pale Sketcher, Tim Burgess, The Soft Moon, the NEU! 50th anniversary box set, 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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