Last week was a holiday week so things were a little quieter, but this week has a ton of heavy hitters. I highlight six below, and Bill tackles even more in Bill's Indie Basement, including Built To Spill, The Afghan Whigs, Preoccupations, Greentea Peng, and more.

Honorable mentions include: Ozzy Osbourne, Oliver Sim (The xx), Bloodbath, Flogging Molly, Sonnyjim & The Purist, Revocation, Yeat, NAV, John Legend, Armor For Sleep, Marlon Williams, Black Soprano Family, 38 Spesh, Gabe Gurnsey (Factory Floor), Sarah Davachi, Derek Hoke, Charley Crockett, Beacon, Slugcrust, Coby Sey, Son Little, Bumsy and the Moochers, Crippled Black Phoenix, Madison Cunningham, Timeshares, Jake La Botz, Daniel Romano, Cappadonna & Stu Bangas, Calboy, George Riley, Rocky Votolato, Moral Panic, Craig Wedren, Julian Lennon, Parkway Drive, Stray From The Path, No. 2 (ex-Heatmiser), Scone Cash Players, Yarn/Wire, OHMA, Suzi Moon, Cigar, The Garden, I AM, The Deer, Curleys, Freedy Johnston, Howard Jones, the END/Cult Leader split, the Miya Folick EP, the JR Slayer (Blood Brothers) EP, the Guilty Party EP, the Jonathan Terrell EP, the A Vulture Wake EP, the Late Bloomer EP, the Zachary Ross and the Divine (ex-Man Overboard) EP, the L.I.B. / Rejoice split, the Cults B-sides & remixes EP, the Charles Stepney compilation of home recordings, and the deluxe edition of Rosalía's Motomami.

Read on for my picks. What's your favorite release of the week?

Sudan Archives
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Sudan Archives - Natural Brown Prom Queen
Stones Throw

Natural Brown Prom Queen is Sudan Archives' second album, following 2019's Athena, and she has EPs dating back even further than that, but it feels like an arrival. It's a loud, bold, fearless blend of hip hop, R&B, funk, soul, art pop, and more that finds Sudan sounding more powerful than ever as she tackles macro topics like race, gender, and sex on a micro level, and takes on the character of Britt, a "girl next door from Cincinnati who drives around the city with the top down and shows up to high-school prom in a pink furry bikini with her thong hanging out her denim skirt." (Sudan was born in Cincinnati and her birth name is Brittney.) It's an album that's brimming with self-confidence, and even the parts that deal with insecurities sound incredibly self-assured. The music ranges from lush orchestral arrangements to futuristic electronics, and it constantly changes shape and blurs the line between genres. It's an album that's fun and carefree but also full of purpose and attention to detail. It remains to be seen if it'll make her much more popular than Athena did, but if it does, Sudan deserves it. She already sounds like a star.

Pick it up on orange dream vinyl.

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Santigold
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Santigold - Spirituals
Little Jerk Records

Santigold recorded most of her new album during 2020 lockdown, and she said she called it Spirituals "because it touched on the idea of Negro spirituals, which were songs that served the purpose of getting Black people through the un-get-throughable," adding, "In the absence of physical freedom, spirituals have traditionally been music whose sound and physical performance allow its participants to feel transcendental freedom in the moment. That’s what this record did for me." And if she didn't name it that or provide that explanation, you'd be able to hear how free Santigold sounds on this album. It feels like one of the most effortlessly great albums she's written, and it flies by without a single lull, begging for repeated listens. She collaborated virtually with a slew of other musicians -- including Rostam, Boys Noize, Dre Skull, P2J, Nick Zinner, SBTRKT, JakeOne, Illangelo, Doc McKinney, Psymun, Ricky Blaze, Lido, Ray Brady, and Ryan Olson -- and even with over a dozen musicians who weren't in the same room together, it's one of Santigold's most cohesive albums too. It finds her doing what she's done best since her instant-classic debut -- blurring the lines between punk, new wave, dance music, pop, and more -- and the result is an album that only Santigold could've made. Sometimes it takes you right back to her classic, breakthrough era, but even the most nostalgia-inducing songs feel as fresh as possible.

Pick it up on picture disc vinyl.

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Sampa the Great - As Above, So Below artwork
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Sampa The Great - As Above, So Below
Loma Vista

Over the course of a few EPs/mixtapes and her great 2019 debut album The Return, Zambian-born rapper Sampa The Great established a sound that pulled equally from African music and American hip hop, and she takes that even further on her sophomore album As Above, So Below, which embraces her birthplace's homegrown music genre Zamrock, a combination of traditional African music and psychedelic rock that was established in the 1970s by bands like W.I.T.C.H., who Sampa recently learned counted her uncle as a member early on. The current lineup of W.I.T.C.H. appears on the song "Can I Live" on the new album, and that's not the only track that embraces Zamrock. Also featuring appearances that range from US rappers Denzel Curry and Joey Bada$$ to UK rapper Kojey Radical to Zambian rapper Chef 187 to Australian singer Mwanjé to Afrobeat legend Angélique Kidjo, As Above, So Below is constantly fusing sounds from across different continents, eras, and styles of music. One minute it sounds like a deep cut off '90s American hip hop radio, the next it's full-blown Afrobeat. Speaking about recent single "Lane" (the song with Denzel Curry), Sampa said, "We’re not going to stay in one lane, we’re going to create multiple ones... My truest self encourages me to explore different lanes, and go beyond what I think I know of myself." It's a quote that could double as the M.O. for this album overall.

Pick it up on black vinyl.

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Holy Fawn
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Holy Fawn - Dimensional Bleed
Wax Bodega

Holy Fawn's 2018 sleeper-hit breakthrough album Death Spells introduced the world to all of this band's tools -- shoegaze, black metal, post-hardcore, emo, post-rock, electronics -- but its new followup album Dimensional Bleed fuses those elements more seamlessly than any of Holy Fawn's previous releases. The result is like if Deafheaven made their clean-vocal album without toning down their heavy side, or if Thrice played their sludge metal songs and their electronic art pop songs at exactly the same time (both bands Holy Fawn have toured with), but really it just feels like Holy Fawn fully coming up with their own sound and even their own genre. It's as dark musically as the often-death-inspired songs are lyrically, as heavy as it is beautiful, and above all else, truly intense. When you're listening to Dimensional Bleed, you aren't thinking about this genre or that genre or what other bands they do or don't sound like; you're just fully immerse in the overwhelming experience of the music.

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Ari Lennox
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Ari Lennox - age/sex/location
Dreamville/Interscope

Ari Lennox appeared on two of last year's best R&B songs (Jazmine Sullivan's "On It" and Queen Naija's "Set Him Up"), and now she returns with her own new album (and second overall), age/sex/location. Speaking about the title, Ari said, "I remember the countless times I was kicked out of dating apps because they didn’t think I was really myself, it reminded me of those age/sex/location days where I actually wasn’t being myself in those chat rooms. No more tip toeing. No more docile. Providing grace and compassion to myself. Blocking those that no longer serve me or just literally not responding. Blocking the resistance to heal. Allowing accountability and maturing. Allowing growth to happen. Allowing self worth and self love and inner work to happen." The album offers up 12 tracks of airy R&B, full of soulful melodies, impressive vocal runs, lush harmonies, and warm, multi-layered production that toes the line between '70s soul, '90s R&B, and contemporary sounds. Guest appearances come from Chlöe, Lucky Daye, and Summer Walker, the latter of whom has been on fire lately and joins Ari for the towering closing track "Queen Space." At just 12 songs in 41 minutes, age/sex/location is an easy listen that never overstays its welcome, but if you do want more, the companion EP Away Message that Ari put out last week is very good as well.

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jockstrap-album I Love You Jennifer B
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Jockstrap - I Love You Jennifer B
Rough Trade

Jockstrap, the UK-based duo of guitarist/singer Georgia Ellery (who plays violin in Black Country, New Road) and producer Taylor Skye, follow up a run of EPs and singles with their debut album, I Love You Jennifer B, a 10-song collection of glitchy and orchestral art pop that grabs your attention off the bat and has no trouble holding onto it. It's Bill's album of the week, so hit up Bill's Indie Basement for his review.

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Read Bill's Indie Basement for more new album reviews, including Built To Spill, The Afghan Whigs, Preoccupations, Greentea Peng, 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.

And check out what's new in our shop.

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