Notable Releases of the Week (11/5)
It may seem hard to believe, but we're officially in November. Halloween is in the rearview, Christmas music is already filling the air, temperatures are dropping, and year-end lists will be here before you know it. But it's not time to check out from new music just yet, especially not during a great week for new music like this one. I highlight six new albums below, and Bill tackles Hard Feelings (Hot Chip's Joe Goddard + Amy Douglas), Penelope Isles, Munya, A Certain Ratio, and Nation of Language in Bill's Indie Basement.
More honorable mentions: ABBA, Diana Ross, Limp Bizkit, Terrace Martin (ft. Kendrick Lamar & more), Aimee Mann, Aminé, Lee "Scratch" Perry & New Age Doom, Bent Knee, Springtime (mem Tropical Fuck Storm, Dirty Three, The Necks), Ben Chasny (Six Organs of Admittance), Curtis Harding, Dion (ft. Bruce Springsteen, Billy F Gibbons, Peter Frampton, Mark Knopfler & more), Sloppy Jane, OMB Peezy & Drum Dummie, Hana Vu, Tasha, Wendy Eisenberg, Webbed Wing (Superheaven), FPA, Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats, Dijon, Glassing, Jennifer O'Connor, Summer Walker, Beanz, Joan As Police Woman, Dave Okumu & Tony Allen, Connan Mockasin, Chime School, Mortiferum, Churchburn, Black Label Society, Debt Neglector, Youth Fountain, the Jaga Jazzist remix album, the serpentwithfeet EP, the Hyd (QT) EP, the Cheval Sombre EP, the Ladipoe EP, the Holly Humberstone EP, the Barry Adamson (Magazine, Bad Seeds) EP, the Gaahls Wyrd mini album (get it on vinyl), the Brian Fallon album of classic hymns, the Psychic Ills tribute album (ft. Hope Sandoval & more), the expanded Mountain Man reissue, and the Gary Numan 7" box set.
Read on for my picks. What's your favorite release of the week?
Snail Mail - Valentine
Snail Mail (Lindsey Jordan) had one of the most buzzed-about debuts in recent memory with the modest, skeletal, three-piece indie rock of 2018's Lush, but for its Brad Cook-co-produced followup Valentine, she's going for something much bigger. She makes that clear off the bat with the title track, which opens the album and was released as a lead single. It's the kind of big, crashing alternative rock single that's become a dying breed within the current indie mainstream, with loud, crunchy guitars and a stadium-sized hook that'll take you right back to the '90s and early 2000s without feeling overly retro. It's the only song like it on Valentine, which proves to be a more musically diverse album than its predecessor. There are gentle folk songs ("Light Blue," "c. et. al."), grand string arrangements ("Mia," also "Light Blue"), shinier pop moments ("Madonna," "Ben Franklin," "Forever [Sailing]"), and a revised version of the '90s-style indie rock found on her debut ("Glory"). Throughout it all, Lindsey remains a commanding vocalist, with melodies that pop and words that convey bare honesty. In a world where buzzed-about debuts like Lush often lead to sophomore slumps, Valentine suggests Snail Mail is only getting better.
Pick up Snail Mail's new album on black or gold vinyl in our store.
Portrayal of Guilt - CHRISTFUCKER
Run For Cover
Portrayal of Guilt already released one of the year's best heavy albums with We Are Always Alone back in January, and now they've followed it with their second album of 2021 (and first for Run For Cover), CHRISTFUCKER. We Are Always Alone found the screamo/hardcore/black/death/metal/noise blenders writing some of their most catchy, accessible songs yet (all things considered), but as you may expect from the title, CHRISTFUCKER takes the opposite approach; it's the band's most confrontational release to date. They continue to blur genre lines to the point where you don't even know what subgenre this album best fits into, but whatever you call it, it's the darkest, heaviest thing they've ever done. Even when they nab their most high-profile guest appearance yet (Touche Amore's Jeremy Bolm on "Fall From Grace"), it still sounds hellish and antisocial. It might be a little tougher to penetrate than the band's other material, but once you do get into it, it's just as effective as their music has always been. It constantly changes shape, covers tons of musical ground, and it's truly intense music.
Pick up Portrayal of Guilt's new album on limited-to-300 red splatter vinyl, exclusively in our stores.
Radiohead - KID A MNESIA
In alternative music circles, Radiohead's 2000 album Kid A probably needs no introduction, but just in case, it is perhaps the most significant "rock" album of the past two decades, and those scare quotes are because it's not really a rock album. Radiohead changed the world with OK Computer, the '90s rock equivalent of something like Sgt. Pepper's or Dark Side of the Moon and probably the only '90s rock record to rival Nirvana's Nevermind in terms of cultural significance. It spawned countless copycats, including megastars like Coldplay and plenty of bands who quickly became relics of the used-CD-bin era, and instead of continuing down the path they created, Radiohead made a hard left turn towards experimental electronic music, shifting the landscape of alternative and even pop music in the process. The following year, Radiohead released Amnesiac, which was recorded during the same sessions as Kid A, but which was (and still is) an excellent, distinct, significant album in its own right. It had a more pronounced jazz and avant-garde influence, but it also had some of the best guitar rock songs of Radiohead's career ("I Might Be Wrong," "Knives Out"), and one of their most purely gorgeous piano ballads ("Pyramid Song").
Now, for the 20-ish anniversary of both albums, Radiohead have compiled them as KID A MNESIA, which comes with a third bonus disc featuring unearthed songs from those same sessions, as well as "alternate versions and elements" of Kid A and Amnesiac songs and B-sides. And as with Radiohead's 20th anniversary OK Computer reissue OKNOTOK, the bonus material on KID A MNESIA make it worthwhile, even if you already own both original albums. "If You Say The Word," which went entirely unreleased for over 20 years, marries Thom Yorke's soaring voice to clean, arpeggiated guitars in a way that's just as gorgeous as something like Kid A's "How To Disappear Completely." "Follow Me Around," which became a long-sought-after song after the band was filmed working on it in the 1998 documentary Meeting People Is Easy, is among the band's most rustic, earthy, stripped-back material. The alternate versions are genuinely great too. "Pulk/Pull (True Love Waits Version)" combines the eerie, experimental "Pulk/Pull Revolving Doors" with vocals from Radiohead's cult-fave song "True Love Waits" (which had been in the band's repertoire for decades before they finally released a studio version on 2016's A Moon Shaped Pool), and it's an appealing look into an alternate reality where those two songs could have been one. "Like Spinning Plates ('Why Us?' Version)" adds live piano and vocals from Thom Yorke to the electronically-manipulated "Like Spinning Plates" from Amnesiac, turning it into something much more lush and organic. "Fog (Again Again Version)" is a warmer, more spacious version of "Fog," which would appear on 2003's Hail to the Thief. There's also some other sketches on there, including familiar elements from Kid A/Amnesiac songs, and though that stuff might be most appealing to completists and diehards, the proper songs on the bonus disc really add to the overall Radiohead catalog.
Emma Ruth Rundle - Engine of Hell
As far as dark singer/songwriters go, Emma Ruth Rundle is one of her generation's best, and whether she's singing over the spacious post-rock instrumentation of her solo records or her former band Marriages, the pastoral psychedelia of her former band The Nocturnes, or the heavy post-metal from her collaborations with Thou, her voice never gets drowned out. Still, she's taken a different approach for her new solo album Engine of Hell, stripping away most of the instrumentation except for soft acoustic guitar or piano, an instrument she's rarely relied on in the past. And as great as her full-band records are, hearing her in this format can be even more stunning. This is the kind of music where, if you were to see it live, you could picture an entire room of people sitting in complete silence, utterly entranced. Similar to last week's Marissa Nadler album (which Emma appears on), it's gripping in its minimalism. People throw around this phrase, but it rarely gets more hauntingly gorgeous than this.
Pick up a vinyl copy of Emma's new album in our store.
SeeYouSpaceCowboy - The Romance of Affliction
Sasscore purveyors SeeYouSpaceCowboy's sophomore album is their most genre-defying, most confessional, and loaded with impressive guests (including Every Time I Die's Keith Buckley and Underoath's Aaron Gillespie), and the band says it's the album they've wanted to make since day one. Read my full review -- and interview with frontwoman Connie Sgarbossa -- here.
Pick up SeeYouSpaceCowboy's new album on limited-to-300 clear/green/yellow splatter vinyl, exclusively in our stores.
Heart Attack Man - Thoughtz and Prayerz EP
Pantera, Fugazi, and Godflesh all get namedropped as influences on Heart Attack Man's new EP, which is their heaviest and most lyrically direct release yet, but still retains their usual power pop/punk charm. Read my full review, and frontman Eric Egan's track-by-track breakdown, here.
Pick up a vinyl copy of Heart Attack Man's new EP in our store.
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.