Notable Releases of the Week (10/9)
The music world was shaken this week by the deaths of legends Eddie Van Halen, Johnny Nash, and Bunny Lee, and things weren't looking so hot outside of the music world either, thanks to a vice presidential debate marred by lies, noncommittal responses, and a reminder that the current VP is a pro-lifer who thinks systemic racism is a myth. (P.S., today is the last day to register to vote in New York. Vote! Vote early! And vote blue!)
Meanwhile, life in 2020 somehow goes on and there's a lot of new music out this week. I highlight seven new albums below, and here are some honorable mentions: Future Islands, METZ, Jay Electronica, Dinner Party (ft. Snoop Dogg, Rapsody, Herbie Hancock, Cordae, Buddy & more), BlocBoy JB, Fielded, Get Dead, Yatra, Dizzee Rascal, Machinedrum, Greg Puciato, Reason, Papoose, Gunn-Truscinski Duo, Seized Up (mem B'LAST, Good Riddance, Distillers), Travis, Budos Band, Kronos Quartet, The Green Child (Total Control, Grass Widow), Sun Ra Arkestra, The Goodbye Party, Hundredth, DFMK, Mina Tindle, Slow Pulp, Garcia Peoples, Josh Johnson, Jon Snodgrass, Gargoyl (Revocation), R.I.P., Coastlands, Crippled Black Phoenix, Emmy the Great, Drew Citron, Supercrush, Peach Kelli Pop, the Yo La Tengo EP, Zao's compilation of early recordings, The Replacements' Pleased to Meet Me deluxe edition, Linkin Park's massive Hybrid Theory 20th anniversary reissue, and the Sade box set (which we happen to be giving away a copy of).
Read on for my seven picks. What's your favorite release of the week?
Touche Amore - Lament
Touche Amore celebrated the 10th anniversary of their debut album last year. It feels weird to say it, but they're basically veterans at this point, and while a lot of hardcore bands would be losing steam at this point, they keep pushing forward, constantly looking for something new to shake up their sound. For new album Lament, one of those somethings was producer Ross Robinson, who's worked on everything from post-hardcore classics like At the Drive-In's Relationship of Command, Glassjaw's Worship & Tribute, and The Blood Brothers' ...Burn, Piano Island, Burn, to The Cure's self-titled 2004 album, to like almost every major nu metal album. "This time around, we need to take a chance with the unfamiliar. Someone who would take us out of our comfort zone," frontman Jeremy Bolm said when they first announced the partnership. "Enter Ross Robinson."
In the four years since 2016's Stage Four (one of three Touche Amore albums that we included on our list of the 100 best punk & emo albums of the 2010s), guitarist Nick Steinhardt also perfected his pedal steel skills, and that instrument brings a twangy atmosphere to Lament that Touche Amore have never had before. Jeremy also seemed to approach his lyricism more freely than he had on recent albums, like Stage Four which found him processing the death of his mother and its 2013 predecessor Is Survived By which found him grappling with the idea of his own legacy. "There was a freedom that came with not tying myself to one specific thing," he recently told Emma Garland in an interview for Vice. "I’m not writing songs about my mother anymore, and I’m not writing songs about necessarily specific grief. I’m writing songs about what my life is and how it’s been changed since that record, or what’s happening in this world since that record."
His words on this album vary from introspective ("Lament") to imagery-inducing metaphors for love ("Come Heroine") to political ("Reminders") to a song that sounds like a diary entry set to music ("A Forecast"). And Jeremy's greater lyrical variety is matched by the most musically varied album Touche Amore have written yet. Jeremy continues to hone his singing voice while offering up plenty of his trademark screams, and some of his talented friends show up to widen the scope of the album's vocals too. Manchester Orchestra's Andy Hull provides dual lead vocals with Jeremy on the climactic alternative rock of "Limelight," while Julien Baker lends backing harmonies to the melodic punk of "Reminders" and Trapped Under Ice/Angel Du$t's Justice Tripp aids the throat-shredding post-hardcore of album opener "Come Heroine." Elsewhere on Lament, Touche work in everything from piano balladry ("A Forecast") to alt-country ("A Broadcast") to blastbeats ("Savoring"). It sounds all over the place on paper, but it doesn't come off that way at all when you listen. Touche Amore have a way of making everything they touch sound like Touche Amore; some of these songs could fit right in on the early records, most couldn't, and yet the result is a cohesive album that no other band could've written.
Headie One - Edna
UK rapper Headie One's Fred Again-produced mixtape GANG (ft. FKA twigs, Sampha, and Jamie xx) from April is one of our favorite rap albums released this year so far, and we're not the only ones who like it. Brian Eno remixed a song off GANG shortly after its release, and Drake released a song with Headie, saying at the time: "I had to go hard, especially on a track with one of the best drill artists in the world. Scratch that—the best drill artist in the world." Headie also went on to ink a major label deal (with Epic Records), and now he releases his major label debut, Edna, featuring that Drake collab and 19 other songs. Drake's not the only big-name guest on this -- Future, Stormzy, Skepta, AJ Tracey, and others show up as well -- but despite the major label and the major guests, Headie One doesn't abandon his roots on Edna. If anything, he just continues to live up to the superlative bestowed upon him by Drake. At 20 songs, it's more than twice as long as GANG and longer than anything he's released yet, but Headie holds your attention the whole time and there's no obvious filler. He continues to hone both a dark, hard-hitting side and a more somber, introspective side, and he continues to make music that's accessible without being "pop." When Headie released GANG, he still felt like this well-kept secret, this guy whose music could attract FKA twigs and Sampha and Jamie xx and Brian fucking Eno yet who still somehow felt under the radar (at least in the US). With Edna, the cat's out of the bag.
Cut Worms - Nobody Lives Here Anymore
Cut Worms (aka Max Clarke) makes a nostalgic blend of country rock and baroque pop that's gained him deserved comparisons to The Everly Brothers, The Byrds, The Kinks, The Beatles, Phil Spector, and other mid 20th century acts, and he's got the voice, the chops, and the songwriting to really sell it. His new double album Nobody Lives Here Anymore is also a little like the last Weyes Blood album, not just in sound but also in the way it puts a fresh spin on such nostalgic sounds. Read more about the new album in Bill's Indie Basement.
Mary Lattimore - Silver Ladders
Mary Lattimore just might be the most in-demand harpist in underground music right now. She's released collaborative albums with Superchunk's Mac McCaughan and Heron Oblivion/Espers' Meg Baird, and she's played on recent albums by Jonsi, Julianna Barwick, Kevin Morby, Soccer Mommy, Hop Along, Marissa Nadler, Kurt Vile, and more. She does an excellent job embellishing other people's music, but she also makes great music on her own, and her new LP Silver Ladders (produced by Slowdive's Neil Halstead) is no exception. Mary's solo material is more ambient and textural than her collaborations with other artists, and as the best ambient music does, Silver Ladders can function as serene background music, but it can also suck you in when you're in the right mindset. Sometimes, the songs on this album leave you hanging on every single plucked string.
The Troops of Doom - The Rise Of Heresy
The current lineup of Sepultura released a new album this year, and the Cavalera brothers are always busy with something, but the best Sepultura album we've heard in a minute just might be the debut EP by The Troops of Doom, the new band of Jairo “Tormentor” Guedz, who played guitar in Sepultura for 1985's Bestial Devastation EP and their 1986 debut LP Morbid Visions, and took part in the early writing process for 1987's Schizophrenia (including the 1990 bonus track "Troops of Doom," this new band's namesake). This EP includes new versions of two Guedz-era Sepultura songs ("Troops of Doom" and "Bestial Devastation"), plus four original songs that intentionally hearken back to that band's early thrash/proto-death metal style (and Sepultura's own influences, like Celtic Frost), and Troops of Doom do it with extreme conviction. Guedz leads the band, but also credit where its due to the perfectly filthy vocals of bassist/vocalist Alex Kafer (Enterro, Explicit Hate, ex-Necromancer). You can read more about the EP here.
Sarchasm - Sarchasm
Berkeley punks Sarchasm have been at it for a decade, but if you haven't caught on yet, let their new self-titled album pull you in, because it's an undeniable melodic punk record. They've been co-signed by some of the most trusted figures in the punk community -- they're signed to the great, long-running DIY punk label Asian Man Records and they were the one band to actually perform at 924 Gilman, when the iconic venue did a livestream festival earlier this year -- and it's easy to see why. Sarchasm share a lot of musical DNA with the scrappy yet catchy sounds of the '90s punk universe that both Asian Man and 924 Gilman helped shape, and they make it feel fresh. Sometimes they recall even older bands, like with the Dead Kennedys/Agent Orange style surf punk of "Green Hornet," and sometimes they remind me of modern-day punk greats PUP, like on "Scorpio Texas Ranger." But Sarchasm always make it their own, thanks in part to a songwriting style that feels too honest and personal to ever come off as derivative.
Andy Bell - The View from Halfway Down
Since reuniting, shoegaze greats Ride made not one but two new albums, and now co-frontman Andy Bell has released his first-ever solo album. It's not a million miles away from Ride; Andy recently spoke to us about the album's influences, and he named a lot of stuff you can also hear in Ride like Can, Neu!, The Stone Roses, Spacemen 3, Big Star, and more, and as you may expect from a list like that, this album is full of hypnotic, tuneful psychedelia. Bill writes more about it in Bill's Indie Basement.
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.