2021 has wasted no time getting right into the good new music, and there's much more to come; we just recently posted a list of albums we're anticipating in 2021 plus a bunch of metal albums we're looking forward to as well. Some of the albums we'd been anticipating this year are out this week. I highlight seven of them below, and you can head to Bill's Indie Basement for reviews of Sleaford Mods, Shame, and Insides (first in 20 years).

More honorable mentions: Hospital Bracelet, the Samia covers album (with covers by Bartees Strange, Anjimile, Palehound, Remo Drive, and more), Dale Crover, Five Iron Frenzy, Matthew Sweet, Molten, the Frank Iero EP, the Beach Bunny EP, the Pixies live at Coachella album, and the This Will Destroy You live album.

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

Emma Thou Sorrow

Emma Ruth Rundle & Thou - The Helm of Sorrow EP
Sacred Bones

Emma Ruth Rundle and Thou released one of our favorite metal albums of 2020 with May Our Chambers Be Full, and now they're releasing an expanded "diehard edition" of the album with three other original songs and a Cranberries cover, and those four new tracks have also been released on their own as this EP, The Helm of Sorrow. Like on the album tracks, Emma and Thou bring out the best in each other, with Emma pushing Thou's sludge metal in more melodic directions and Thou pushing Emma's dark songwriting in heavier directions than ever. The Cranberries cover couldn't be more perfect for them -- Thou are masters of '90s alternative rock covers and Emma has the explosive voice you need to take on Dolores O'Riordan -- and "sludge metal Cranberries cover" kind of describes the original songs too. The whole EP is every bit as good as last year's full-length, so if you dug that you should not sleep on these four new songs by one of heavy music's most exciting new collaborations.

Buck Meek Two Saviors

Buck Meek - Two Saviors
Keeled Scales

Adrianne Lenker is the face of Big Thief and is the member with the most high profile solo career, but her bandmate and longtime collaborator Buck Meek (who she's been releasing music with since before Big Thief formed) has been proving to be a force of his own too, and his sophomore album Two Saviors is the best thing he's done on his own yet. He made the album with some of his usual collaborators (including Mat Davidson of Twain, whose pedal steel and slide guitar is a big part of this album's appeal), and Adrianne took the photo on the album cover and co-wrote one of the songs with Buck ("Candle"), but it's Buck's own words and melodies that make Two Saviors such a strong record. It's a little more haunting and ethereal than his 2018 self-titled LP, with better production and a bolder delivery from Buck, who has really come into his own as a singer. When he sighs a line like "It's a miracle I'm alive," it's genuinely moving.


Gatecreeper - An Unexpected Reality
Closed Casket Activities

Gatecreeper made a surprise return this week with their don't-call-it-an-album An Unexpected Reality, which -- inspired by Black Flag's My War -- is split into two distinct halves. Side one has seven short, fast, grindy songs and side two has one long 11-minute death-doom song. The whole record is killer and you can read more about it here.

Terminal Bliss

Terminal Bliss - Brute Err/ata

Terminal Bliss is the new band of pg.99/Pygmy Lush vocalist Chris Taylor and guitarist Mike Taylor, ex-City of Caterpillar bassist Adam Juersko, and ex-City of Caterpillar/ex-Darkest Hour/Iron Reagan drummer Ryan Parrish, and this week they surprise-released their debut EP Brute Err/ata, which features 10 songs of whiplash-inducing noisecore. Read more about it here.

Nyck Caution

Nyck Caution - Anywhere But Here
Pro Era

If you've been following New York rap for the past decade or so, Nyck Caution is not a new name. He's been doing high-profile features since appearing on fellow Pro Era member Joey Bada$$' breakthrough mixtape 1999 in 2012, and he put out a great solo EP in 2016, the Nyck @ Knight album with Kirk Knight in 2017, and he was one of the many rappers on the Beast Coast supergroup album in 2019. That all said, he hasn't released his proper debut solo album until now, and Anywhere But Here was worth the wait. Longtime collaborator Joey Bada$$ has a standout guest verse on "How You Live It," and the album also boasts appearances by Denzel Curry, Flatbush Zombies' Erick The Architect, Kota The Friend, theMIND, Pro Era's CJ Fly, and others, but the album also demands that Nyck be taken on his own terms. (On the song "What You Want," which is one of the album's best, it explicitly demands this.) Nyck uses the album to tell some of his most personal stories yet, and it branches out from boom bap revival to include a variety of sounds from rap's past, present, and future.

Midnight Sister

Midnight Sister - Painting the Roses

"Midnight Sister" may sound like it came from a late 2000s indie band name generator, but don't hold their generic moniker against this Jagjaguwar-signed LA duo, because their music is anything but. Their sophomore album Painting the Roses follows 2017's Saturn Over Sunset, and like its predecessor, it sounds like an amalgamation of the history of pop music. Throughout Painting the Roses, you can hear the experimental '60s psychedelia of The United States of America, whimsical George Martin-esque arrangements, dramatic Nancy Sinatra/Bond theme strings, T. Rex-ified glam, thumping '70s disco, dusty lounge and jazz-pop, and more, and Juliana Giraffe's deep voice can sound like anything from Nico to Kate Bush. Midnight Sister also bring to mind contemporaries like Weyes Blood and U.S. Girls, not because they necessarily sound like them, but because they share a knack for viewing all these classic pop influences through a uniquely modern lens. There are parts of the album that sound half a century old, but the end result feels refreshingly new.

Runkus IN:SIDE

Runkus - IN:SIDE
Runkus Music/Delicious Vinyl Island

Kingston, Jamaica's Runkus (son of reggae veteran Determine) has been a fast-rising voice in reggae/dancehall for the past few years, thanks to his promising 2016 EP Move In; collaborations with Royal Blu, The Skints, Ras-I, Luciano, Iotosh, and others; and a slew of great singles, including 2020's much-loved "5Gs" (ft. Jesse Royal, Royal Blu, Kabaka Pyramid, and Munga Honorable). That song joins nine others (and guest appearances by Naomi Cowan and Tarrus Riley) on Runkus' just-released project IN:SIDE, which is yet another offering of forward-thinking reggae. IN:SIDE owes as much to modern trap production and The Weeknd-style R&B as it does to reggae and dancehall (and it prominently samples "If I Ruled the World" on "$$$"), and Runkus fuses all that stuff to the point where you're not sure if this album should be considered reggae or hip hop. If you've been curious about all the exciting stuff happening in Jamaican music right now but you're more of a rap person, IN:SIDE would be a great way to bridge that gap.


Looking for more recent releases? Browse the Notable Releases archive or keep scrolling down for previous weeks.

More From Brooklyn Vegan