Notable Releases of the Week (3/12)
It's another hugely stacked week for new music, but before I get to all of that, I just want to give a quick mention to some of the older music we highlighted on BV this week. We ran a list of classic 2000s metalcore albums, many of which have become influential on a great new wave of metalcore bands (one of which has a debut album highlighted in this week's Notable Releases). In honor of our list, we were also able to add some metalcore classics to our store. We also looked back on UK punk veterans Cock Sparrer's timeless, hugely influential 1982 album Shock Troops in a retrospective review (which you can also get a new, limited splatter vinyl variant of), and we reminisced on NOFX's 2006 EP Never Trust A Hippy in honor of that finally coming to vinyl.
As for this week's new albums, I highlight 11 below and Bill covers more in Bill's Indie Basement. Here are some honorable mentions: Pino Palladino & Blake Mills, God's Hate, World Peace, DJ Muggs, Rob Zombie, Dollar Signs, Hanalei, Slope, Cory Hanson (Wand), Sean Paul, the Future Teens EP, the Selena Gomez EP, the Mausoleum / Anatomia split, the Conan live album, the Caribou remix album (ft. Four Tet, Floating Points, Toro y Moi, Jessy Lanza & more), Lorenzo Wolff's Judee Sill tribute album (ft. Bartees Strange & more), the Perfume Genius remix album (ft. A.G. Cook, Jenny Hval, Actress, Danny L Harle, Jim-E Stack, Katie Dey & more), the toe live (at Le Poisson Rouge) album, the Matt Berninger deluxe album (with covers of The Velvet Underground, Morphine, and more), the Madness best-of, and the Gang of Four box set (which you can now buy from us).
Read on for my picks. What's your favorite release of the week?
Really From - Really From
At the risk of sounding hyperbolic, I really can't think of another band like Really From. The Boston four-piece -- who used to be called People Like You and include former members of I Kill Giants -- are equally indebted to Midwestern-style emo, vintage jazz, math rock, and post-rock, and they make it all sound a lot more seamless than seems possible. The term "jazz" gets tossed around loosely in the rock world when horns and atypical chords show up, both of which this album does have, but Really From's instrumentals can genuinely go up against the Blue Note catalog, while their hook-fueled choruses rival anything in the emo canon. The band is led by the dual vocals of Michi Tassey and Chris Lee-Rodriguez, who sing very differently but complement each other perfectly, and it allows them to cover a wide range of vocal styles, from hushed singer/songwriter stuff to airy dream pop to shouted punk. They're also both incisive lyricists, and as they spoke about in a lengthy interview with Ian Cohen for Stereogum, these songs tackle culture and identity and blend the personal with the political and they're as impactful lyrically as they are musically. The album is dizzyingly complex and is always doing so many things at once, but it remains accessible throughout. You don't need a jazz degree to be interested in what they're doing; for all the intricate, twisted patterns on this album, these are just great, tuneful rock songs.
Valerie June - The Moon and Stars: Prescriptions For Dreamers
It's hard to talk about Valerie June without talking about her uniquely powerful voice. You'd think by her fifth album, it'd just be a given or something you take for granted, but her pipes manage to bowl me over every time she puts out a new song. Like her previous albums, The Moon and Stars: Prescriptions For Dreamers is built upon a foundation of folk, soul, and blues, and it picks up where 2017's The Order of Time left off and continues to push Valerie's sound in exciting directions without departing from the sound she won everyone over with on her 2013 breakthrough Pushin' Against A Stone. The Order of Time added a more modern, atmospheric vibe to Valerie's decades-old influences, and this new album takes that even further; it's Valerie's most ethereal music yet, and it gets a little psychedelic at times too. It also continues to embrace the string and horn and arrangements that filled The Order of Time, but those arrangements are even grander on this album. The Moon and Stars is full of big, sweeping, classic balladry, and it feels instantly timeless. These are songs that could've worked in almost any era of pop music, and they feel like comfortingly familiar without ever feeling like imitation.
Eyehategod - A History of Nomadic Behavior
When Eyehategod returned in 2014 with a self-titled album -- their first new LP in 14 years -- it wasn't just a good comeback; it was some of the most fired-up music in their discography. Eyehategod's Southern-fried take on sludge metal helped define the genre in the 1990s, and it seems like the more people consider them pioneers, the more they like to remind us where they came from. As most sludge fans know, the genre came from punk, and if you ask EHG frontman Mike IX Williams what he's listening to or what he's influenced by, he's more likely to start naming off punk bands than metal ones. Eyehategod's self-titled album was more overtly punk than just about anything the band released in the '90s, and the new A History of Nomadic Behavior picks up right where the last album left off. It's still got plenty of fuzzed-out, Southern, bluesy vibes, but it recalls the proto-sludge of Black Flag's My War more directly than it recalls the '90s sludge metal that EHG themselves helped create. Not many legendary bands feel even more punk 30 years into their career than they did on day one, but not many bands are Eyehategod.
Pupil Slicer - Mirrors
UK trio's Pupil Slicer's new album is out now on Prosthetic (and features contributions from members of The Callous Daoboys, Frontierer, and more), and it's one of the year's most dark, intense metalcore/mathcore debuts. You can read my full review of it here.
You can also pick up Mirrors on awesome-looking red/black swirl vinyl in our shop.
Closer - Within One Stem
In the time since Brooklyn screamo band Closer released their 2018 debut LP All This Will Be, vocalist/drummer Ryann Slauson moved to Philly and also started another screamo band, 소나기 aka Sonagi, who released a killer split with Obroa-skai, Indisposed, and Coma Regalia last year, while guitarist Matthew Van Asselt relocated to Pittsburgh (and released another album with his indie rock band Real Life Buildings), leaving bassist Griffin Irvine as the band's remaining Brooklynite. Even with all that and a pandemic, Closer regrouped to record their sophomore album Within One Stem, and it's even better than their already-great debut. Like the debut, Within One Stem is obviously indebted to classic '90s/early '00s screamo, but while a lot of screamo leans towards black metal or emo/post-hardcore, Within One Stem has a warmer, cleaner, more spacious sound. Ryann Slauson's screams are sharp as knives, and they're contrasted against a musical backdrop that owes as much to '90s indie rock as it does to '90s screamo. They have a knotty, sprawled-out sound that's almost like Slint, Unwound, and Off Minor in a blender, but honestly, Closer feel so exciting because it's not easy to compare them to anyone. They're probably too indie rock for screamo purists and definitely too screamo for indie rock, and they're better off that way. Closer sound like they'll follow through on any idea they have, without any regard for scenes and subgenres, and that's when the most interesting music gets made.
Enforced - Kill Grid
Enforced's 2019 debut LP At The Walls quickly positioned Enforced as one of the most promising new bands of the crossover thrash revival, and with their sophomore LP (and Century Media debut) Kill Grid, they sound better, bolder, and heavier than ever before. Like their debut, the new album was mixed/mastered by Power Trip collaborator Arthur Rizk, and Kill Grid fits in with the modern-day crossover trash of bands like Power Trip, Red Death, and Iron Reagan as much as it fits in with the current wave of death metal-infused hardcore bands like Frozen Soul, Gatecreeper, Creeping Death, etc. Like all of those bands, the '80s influences are undeniable (some definite Slayer influence on these riffs and whammy bar solos), but Kill Grid really sounds like a modern record. It's in the same spirit as '80s classics from crossover bands like D.R.I., Corrosion of Conformity, Cro-Mags, etc -- bands who riffed as hard as thrash bands but favored a hardcore bark and kept the guitar solos brief -- but it never sounds as vintage as those bands do now. It feels fresh and exciting and Knox Colby has the kind of guttural scream that didn't really come into fashion until after the original crossover era. Kill Grid doesn't pull ideas out of thin air, but it looks at old ideas through a modern lens and it connects dots that weren't always connected 35 years ago. It also rips so hard that, once you click play, you really won't be worrying who else it might sound like.
You can also pick up Kill Grid on black vinyl in our shop.
Harmony Woods - Graceful Rage
Philly indie-punk singer/songwriter Harmony Woods (aka Sofia Verbilla) is back with her third album, Graceful Rage, though it's largely cut from a similar cloth as her two previous albums, it also feels like the biggest leap forward in her songwriting yet. It's an album that finds time for driving emo-punk anthems, grungy alternative rock, somber folk, string-laden chamber pop, and more, and Harmony's soaring voice and descriptive lyrics feel more powerful than ever. It's got big, warm production (courtesy of Bartees Strange) and really finds Sofia opening up her sound and coming out with her most spacious, multi-layered music yet.
Speaking about the new album, Sofia says, "At its core, Graceful Rage is a record about confronting the emotional rubble that this trauma leaves in its wake. Graceful Rage is the result of burying the feelings you'd much rather forget. The messy, complicated, fucked up ones. The ones that fill us with guilt and shame. The ones that we have no choice but to acknowledge in order to put ourselves on the path towards healing."
Ship Thieves - Irruption
Hot Water Music co-frontman Chris Wollard took a hiatus from music for a few years, but he's back in a big way. His band Ship Thieves recently resurfaced on a split with Reconciler, a little birdie tells us he's back full-time in Hot Water Music, and now Ship Thieves have released their first album in five years, Irruption. Hot Water Music have gone in a slightly more alternative rock direction in recent years, and their newer material is great in its own right, but if you miss the version of Chris Wollard who gave us roaring punk anthems like "Trusty Chords," you're gonna be very happy with Irruption. It's a total return to form, and Chris doesn't sound like he had any rust to shake off. Aided by Chad Darby (Samiam), Addison Burns (Quit, The Enablers), and Bobby Brown (The Enablers), Chris isn't the only notable punk veteran in Ship Thieves, and on Irruption they play with the fervor of a new band looking to get signed. They make aging gracefully look effortless.
Justin Courtney Pierre - An Anthropologist On Mars EP
Because Motion City Soundtrack had a few popular songs in the mid 2000s and played Warped Tour several years in a row, they got lumped in with the emo/pop punk boom but they were really always more eccentric and indie rock-friendly than most of the bands they were grouped with. They almost definitely would've went over better with indie rock critics if they formed a decade later, when indie/emo crossover started to regularly grace the homepages of Pitchfork and NPR, and while they might one day return with new music, vocalist/guitarist Justin Courtney Pierre has just released a new solo EP, and it reminds you what he was really all about since day one, while serving as proof that he's very much still got it. The songs on An Anthropologist On Mars owe as much to '80s/'90s power pop and jangle pop as they do to driving indie-punk, and they sound as fresh today as I Am the Movie did in 2003. If you're a longtime fan, this EP should feel refreshingly familiar, and if you're someone who has warmed up to the emo world more recently, it's a good place to check in and introduce yourself to one of the more unique and consistent singer/songwriters of the past couple decades.
Dan Wriggins - Mr. Chill
Dan Wriggins has led the Philly indie band Friendship for years, but in early 2021 he put out his first single under his own name, and his solo material proved to be some of his most gripping music yet. Now he's back with a solo EP, featuring five new songs (with the two songs from the single as cassette-only bonus tracks), and the whole EP scratches the same appealing itch that those singles did. As a solo artist, Dan makes plainspoken somber folk music that falls somewhere in the Neil Young/Will Oldham realm, and this is some of his most attention-grabbing lyricism yet. It can seem casual and unassuming at first, but before you know it, you're hanging on his every word.
Chika - Once Upon A Time EP
We named Alabama rapper/singer Chika's eventual debut album one of the albums that we're anticipating in 2021, and while she hasn't put out a full-length yet, she did just put out this six-song EP. It includes her 2020 single "FWB" and an assist from BJ the Chicago Kid on track one ("Fairy Tales"), and the EP offers up a seamless blend of soul, funk, hip hop, and R&B. It shows off a more subdued side of her than last year's Industry Games EP, and together those two EPs portray Chika as an increasingly versatile artist. Both EPs are brief and leave you wanting more, but they keep Chika's momentum going as we wait for her to hopefully release that proper debut album.
Looking for more recent releases? Browse the Notable Releases archive or keep scrolling down for previous weeks.
For even more metal, browse the 'Upcoming Releases' each week on Invisible Oranges.
And check out what's new in our shop.