Notable Releases of the Week (6/24)
It's now officially summer, and this week is absolutely loaded with new albums (probably because next weekend is Fourth of July weekend and has a lot less releases). We've got a total of 20 album reviews going up today, with nine right here and 11 more in Bill's Indie Basement where you'll find Martin Courtney (Real Estate), Hollie Cook, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, BOAT, Automatic, Art d'Ecco, Stealing Sheep, Young Guv, JB Dunckel (Air), Tim Heidecker, and the Wire demos comp.
And even with 20, we're still leaving off some heavy hitters. Honorable mentions include: Porcupine Tree, Coheed & Cambria, Damien Jurado, Petrol Girls, Katie Alice Greer (Priests), Katie Bejsiuk (Free Cake for Every Creature), MUNA, Short Fictions, Mikey Erg, Lupe Fiasco, Juicy J & Pi’erre Bourne, French Montana & Harry Fraud, Giveon, BLK ODYSSY, Luke Combs, Nervus, Scout LaRue Willis, Goose, Arthur Brown, Kristeen Young, Axioma, Sessa, Glenn Jones, Vintage Crop, Elcamino, Caleb Nichols, Elizabeth King, Noah Reid, Chaotian, Radian, Dumb Waiter, Félicia Atkinson, Ibrahim Maalouf & Angélique Kidjo, the Weezer EP, the Empress Of EP, the Katrina Ford (Celebration) EP, the Speed EP, the Vicious Blade EP, the Jessica Boudreaux EP, the Volcandra EP, the LIMBS EP, the sadie EP, the Greet Death EP, the Graywave EP, the Braxe + Falcon EP (ft. Panda Bear), the Half Waif piano EP, the Wolf Alice "lullaby" EP, the World Peace / Blame God split, the Third Eye Blind unplugged album, the Elvis soundtrack (ft. Doja Cat, Eminem, Kacey Musgraves, Denzel Curry, Jazmine Sullivan, Jack White, Stevie Nicks & much more), and the deluxe edition of Arooj Aftab's Vulture Prince.
Read on for my picks. What's your favorite release of the week?
Soccer Mommy - Sometimes, Forever
Soccer Mommy (aka Sophie Allison) has become one of the most beloved indie singer/songwriters around since her early home recordings stirred up buzz in the mid/late 2010s. Now on her third proper album, she felt the need to shake things up, and to help her do so, she recruited Oneohtrix Point Never (aka Daniel Lopatin) to produce the album. 0PN makes wacky electronic music on his own, and as a producer, he's helped artists like ANOHNI, FKA twigs, and his new frequent collaborator The Weeknd achieve their art pop dreams. He's already having a great year, having co-produced The Weeknd's Dawn FM, which is deservingly showing up on most major mid-year lists, and Sometimes, Forever has been shaping up to be another of the year's most acclaimed albums. Though the two may seem an unlikely pair to some, they prove to be natural collaborators and bring out the best in each other. Sophie's songwriting still has the folky indie quality that it's always had, but 0PN helps steer it in other directions with the creepy art pop of "Unholy Affliction," the airy glitchiness of "Darkness Forever," and other more out-there moments. At the same time, when the song calls for something more organic and traditional, 0PN reels the weirder production in and lets Sophie's voice and guitar do the talking. It's kind of like if Radiohead had an album that was half Kid A, half The Bends, and it's nice to hear an album that mixes the familiar and the unknown like this one. It's also nice to see an artist that's nearing indie rock's A-list go in a more outré direction than ever, when so many others in Soccer Mommy's position tend to start getting more radio-friendly and easily digestible. Sometimes, Forever arrives as one of the most unpredictable big ticket indie rock albums of 2022 so far, and it's also some of Sophie's best songwriting yet.
Pick up our exclusive milky clear vinyl variant of the new Soccer Mommy album.
Joan Shelley - The Spur
As exciting as it is to watch artists evolve over time, there's also something to be said for an artist who can spend their career honing a single sound and remain captivating the entire time. That's what Joan Shelley has been doing with the faithful take on Laurel Canyon-style folk that she's been crafting for over a decade. Her overall vibe never really changes, but each subsequent album is as arresting as the last -- if not more so. "She writes songs that don’t feel like they’re trying to do something," Bill Callahan -- who sings with her on "Amberlit Morning" off her sixth solo album The Spur -- told The New York Times. "You’re never really sure if the tide is going in or going out." It might sound like a backhanded compliment, but it's not, and it describes Joan's music and her new album well. The Spur isn't the kind of thing that necessarily reaches out and grabs you; it's more the kind of album that's off in its own world, open to whichever visitors choose to stop by. And when you do open yourself up to it, it frequently stops you in your tracks.
Candy - Heaven Is Here
Candy became one of hardcore's buzziest bands with 2018's Good To Feel (Triple B Records), which led them to signing to Relapse (and putting out a two-song single) the following year. Since then, a pandemic happened, the entire genre of hardcore's profile rose significantly, and Candy remained relatively quiet, save for a few support tours. Needless to say, the world that Candy are releasing Heaven Is Here into is much different than the world they released Good To Feel into, and Candy are a much different band now too. It was safe to call Good To Feel a hardcore album, but Heaven Is Here defies genre entirely, moving seamlessly between hardcore, punk, thrash, sludge, noise, industrial, electronics, and more. It's an album that shares DNA with anything from Converge to Full of Hell to Code Orange to Power Trip, and it's just as uncompromising as all of those bands.
Alexisonfire - Otherness
Nostalgia for early/mid 2000s emo is at an all-time high right now, but Alexisonfire's comeback has nothing to do with nostalgia. Otherness is their first new album in 13 years, and it picks up where their more experimental later releases left off, and pushes the band in all kinds of new directions, with barely a trace of their early sound. "We’ve been given the opportunity where people are actually listening, but what are we going to do with that?," co-vocalist Wade MacNeil said to SPIN when the new album was announced. "I’m going to make something that’s odd and try and work with artists and people on the record that can help elevate that and push it in a different direction. The fact that someone’s listening is an opportunity to do something bizarre and cool. And any band that uses an opportunity to go middle of the road? I just don’t know why they’re a band."
That's an admirable M.O., and Otherness walks the walk. It finds AOF offering up a bluesy, sludgy, psychedelic version of post-hardcore that sounds like if Kyuss got their start in the early 2000s emo scene. Genres like punk and emo are generally so youth-oriented, and the expectation is often that you'll release your best music early on and then break up or fade away, only to do a 10th or 20th anniversary tour down the line. But Otherness is what happens when a band is certain they haven't reached their full potential, and have come back to do so. Nobody could have predicted an album like this in the self-titled/Watch Out! era, and it's inspiring to see them making one 20 years later. Otherness is a reminder that you can never really be sure what an artist's future will hold, even when you think you've got them pegged.
Pick up 'Otherness' on vinyl.
Fairweather - Deluge EP
The last song on Fairweather's 2003 sophomore album Lusitania found the Virginia emo band offering up ten minutes of celestial post-rock, suggesting Fairweather were on a path towards something much grander than most of their early 2000s emo peers. Instead, they broke up that same year, and when they reunited and put out their 2014 self-titled album, they largely focused on a faster, punchier sound. Now, almost 20 years since Lusitania's release, Fairweather are back with a new EP, Deluge, and it picks up where that last song on Lusitania left off. They recruited a third guitarist (Nick Barkley, who played in Fairweather offshoot Olympia) to beefen up their sound, and the result is a collection of sludgy, atmospheric, post-rocky songs that are among the band's most stunning to date. It's just four songs, but they clock in at a total of 20 minutes, and Deluge feels like one of the band's most monumental releases. Fairweather were kind of always one of those perennially underrated emo bands that the world was never really ready for, and now that you can hear their ahead-of-its-time sound echoing in many of today's indie/art/post-rock leaning bands, the timing is perfect for one of their most ambitious releases yet.
Zola Jesus - Arkhon
As you may have heard, Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill" is having a serious moment right now, and if the song's resurgence has you on the hunt for more operatic art pop, you may be happy to learn that Zola Jesus has just released her first album in five years. For the uninitiated, Zola Jesus emerged in the late 2000s / early 2010s as a Kate Bush acolyte with a goth edge (her extended 2010 Stridulum release was one of the best albums of the decade), and over the years, she's (mostly) shed the comparison as she's grown into a sound so distinct that it sounds like no one else on the planet. Arkhon finds her doing what she does best, and it's also one of the most streamlined albums she's released, falling comfortably between her poppiest tendencies and her darkest, weirdest ones. The album also marks a first for Zola Jesus; having made most of her music on her own in the past, she allowed herself to get more collaborative, working with producer Randall Dunn (Sunn O))), Marissa Nadler, Anna von Hausswolff, etc), veteran session drummer Matt Chamberlain (Fiona Apple, Bob Dylan, Tori Amos, etc), a string and horn section, and more. "When I look back at my work, I see there's a theme where I fixate on my fear of the unknown," she said in the press materials for the album. "That really came into fruition for this record, because I had to let go of so much control. I had to surrender to whatever the outcome would be. That used to be really hard for me, and now I had no other choice." Maybe that's why, even though Arkhon scratches a familiar itch, it also feels like a fresh start. There may be an underlying fear of the unknown, but Zola Jesus sounds like she's at her freest and least self-conscious.
Regina Spektor - Home, before and after
Like a lot of recent albums, Regina Spektor's Home, before and after was entirely affected by the pandemic. She was set to work with producer John Congleton in NYC, but then COVID hit and she was in New York and he was on the West Coast, so they had to send each other ideas back and forth, something Regina was averse to at first. "The lesson that I keep learning is that limitations will sometimes make for exciting ways of trying something new," she told Rebecca Alter in an interview for Vulture. "I really love new experiences. I don’t want to have déjà vu and make the same record over and over again. That would drive me crazy and be depressing." And Home, before and after is definitely not the same record all over again, though longtime fans shouldn't expect a sharp left turn either. Her trademark piano pop is in fine form, along with some orchestral songs, some upbeat/direct pop songs, and more.
Final Light - Final Light
For the 2020 edition of Roadburn festival that never happened because of you-know-what, synthwave icon Perturbator (James Kent) was asked to do a collaboration with any musician of his choice. "I immediately thought of Cult of Luna," he said. "Even though my music is mostly electronic and synth-based, we both have a knack for creating atmospheres, so I thought it would be a very interesting match." Cult of Luna frontman Johannes Persson agreed to the idea, and once they began writing together, "it was immediate," James said. They called it Final Light, which finally debuted at this year's Roadburn festival, and they also turned the songs into an album. "We had almost an hour of interesting music, so it would’ve been a shame to simply perform it and not do anything with it afterwards," James added. The album basically sounds like the exact middle ground between Perturbator's synth explorations and Cult of Luna's towering post-metal, and their two sounds meld together beautifully. It's a collaboration that's truly greater than the sum of its parts, with some moments that recall the members' individual projects, but even more moments that come together to create something entirely new.
Pick up Final Light on vinyl.
onelinedrawing - Tenderwild
Emo/post-hardcore veteran Jonah Matranga initially launched onelinedrawing as a solo project in 1999, around the time his first successful band Far were breaking up, and he gradually expanded its sound over the years -- in the midst of working on other projects -- and then left the moniker behind after 2004's The Volunteers. He semi-revived it for the 2014 album Me and You Are Two, primarily solo acoustic LP released under the name Jonah's onelinedrawing, but this year's Tenderwild is the first official onelinedrawing album in 18 years. And at this point, onelinedrawing is less like a solo project, and more like a collective led by Jonah that acts as the culmination of his entire career. He made the album with help from members of all three of his most prominent bands: his Far bandmate John Gutenberger, his Gratitude bandmate Jeremy Tappero (also of The Gloria Record, Attention, etc), and perhaps most crucially, his New End Original bandmate Norman Brannon (also of Texas Is The Reason), who in addition to playing on the record, also acted as Jonah's sounding board. "At the end of the day, the album credit we decided on is probably the best description of what his initial offer essentially asked me to do: 'Creative Oversight and Second Guesses by Norman Brannon.' Which is to say that, basically, Jonah wanted me to be the annoying guy in the band who fights with the lead singer," Norman wrote in his lengthy, must-read essay accompanying the album. Jonah also roped in an amazing cast of peers, including Dashboard Confessional frontman Chris Carrabba (who sings on "Don't Give Up"), Minus the Bear's Jake Snider (guitar), Jimmy Eat World's Zach Lind (drums), and more. And this is definitely not an acoustic solo LP; it's a big, loud rock album and the grandest sounding thing that Jonah has released in a long time.
Read Bill's Indie Basement for more new album reviews, including Martin Courtney, Hollie Cook, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Stealing Sheep, Wire, 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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