Notable Releases of the Week (7/12)
Hope everyone's having a good summer, staying cool, and back on track after the holiday week. Did you use the long weekend to catch up on some movies, like maybe Beatles movie Yesterday? If you've seen it, check out our rundown of the best and worst parts.
Some big news this week (especially if you like loud guitar bands): the reunited Misfits are finally playing NYC (with Rancid and The Damned), and Slayer announced their very last tour (with Primus, Ministry, and Phil Anselmo playing Pantera songs). (Incidentally, Misfits' current drummer is former Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo.)
I picked six new albums out this week to highlight below, but first some honorable mentions: Kool Keith, False, Batushka (the other one), Bleached, Imperial Teen, Gauche (mem Priests, Downtown Boys), Black To Comm, Nomad Stones (mem Cave In), Drab Majesty, Penelope Isles, Tycho, Mr. Muthafuckin' eXquire, Pere Ubu, Joanna Sternberg, the Frightened Rabbit tribute album, the New Order live album, and the METZ rarities album.
Check out my six picks below. What was your favorite release of the week?
When Converge screamer J Bannon first conceived Wear Your Wounds as a way to further explore the quieter, cleaner influences that had been sneaking their way onto Converge records in recent years, it was still safe to call it a solo project. His 2017 debut album WYW did have a handful of full-band songs, but plenty of them had a "solo singer/songwriter" vibe and Bannon was the clear star of the show. In the time since that debut album, Bannon solidified Wear Your Wounds' lineup -- Mike McKenzie (The Red Chord, Stomach Earth, Unraveller, etc), Adam McGrath (Cave In, Nomad Stones, etc), Sean Martin (Twitching Tongues, ex-Hatebreed, ex-Kid Cudi), and Chris Maggio (ex-Trap Them, ex-Sleigh Bells, etc) -- and did plenty of touring, and for Wear Your Wounds' sophomore album Rust On the Gates of Heaven, they've really evolved into a tight-knit unit. It no longer sounds like Bannon's solo project with backing musicians; it sounds like a band. The other members' fingerprints are felt just as much as Bannon's are on Rust, and it's a louder, tighter, and better album than its predecessor. It's still much quieter than Converge, and it still sees Bannon sticking to clean vocals, but it's by no means a "solo singer/songwriter" album. It touches on everything from Nick Cave/Swans-y dirges to soaring post-rock that Explosions in the Sky would be jealous of to majestic post-black metal of the Alcest/Deafheaven variety to roaring sludge that recalls Bannon's old pals Neurosis. And, for all the album's dark, relatively modern sounds, it's also loaded with stank-face-and-air-guitar-inducing prog solos that manage to not even border on cheesy. There's no easy way to pigeonhole the album, but it's also not all over the place for all-over-the-place's sake. There's a real sense of focus and control to these songs. Every risk Wear Your Wounds take is executed with expertise. WYW was a very cool side project that I'd recommend to any Converge diehard, but Rust On the Gates of Heaven turns Wear Your Wounds into a force of their own, rivaling much of the recent work Bannon has done with Converge. Rust is the calm after Converge's storm, and it's also stirring and powerful in its own way.
Related: Wear Your Wounds' Adam McGrath's band Nomad Stones' new album is also out today.
Torche are one of those bands who mostly stick to a formula, just changing it up ever so slightly from album to album, and they keep finding enough new things to say with their tried and true sound that each new album is a winner. In Torche's case, the formula is songs with the weight and intensity of sludge metal but the sweet, sugary melodies of pop. On paper, they aren't the only band doing this kind of thing -- and some of the bands who fit that description are much more popular than Torche -- but Torche are so distinct that nobody really sounds like them. And people have tried. Like all of their albums, their latest album Admission is unmistakably Torche, but Admission puts a lot of new, exciting twists on the Torche sound. "Times Missing" sees Torche pulling off the kind of Hum/Quicksand-inspired sludgegaze that's been in fashion for the past few years. The title track veers into '90s emo. Closing track "Changes Come" is the closest Torche have ever come to sounding a little like U2 (but don't worry, it's not that close). And then there are classic Torche rippers like "Submission" and "Slide." And Torche do everything on this album with exactly the kind of passion, power, and precision you'd expect from a well-oiled machine like this one. Sometimes when bands stay consistently reliable like this, you lose the excitement you once had for them. But as long as Torche are still cranking out killer rock records like this one, we're gonna stay excited.
Big K.R.I.T's had a lot of ups and downs throughout his career, but his latest album -- 2017's great 4eva Is A Mighty Long Time -- was his best album since his breakthrough 2010 mixtape K.R.I.T. Wuz Here and arguably his best in general. It was certainly the most ambitious album he'd ever done, a double album that channelled his usual Southern rap sound on disc one and classic gospel-soul on disc two. He follows that album today with K.R.I.T. Iz Here, which -- as the title makes clear -- is something of a sequel to his aforementioned 2010 breakthrough. Following the ambitious 4eva Is A Mighty Long Time, K.R.I.T. Iz Here is a return to his earlier days not just in name but in sound too. It's a more straightforward rap album, more reliant on trunk-rattling, electronic beats than on the lush instrumentation that its predecessor often had. (With a few exceptions, like the psychedelic P-Funk-inspired "Blue Fame Ballet," the shuffling jazz of "Life In The Sun," and the vintage, horn-fueled funk of "M.I.S.S.I.S.S.I.P.P.I.") That's not a bad thing though; K.R.I.T. remains at the top of his game as a rapper and that's very clear on K.R.I.T. Iz Here. Big-name guests include Lil Wayne and J Cole, the latter of whom offers up a real show-stealing verse on "Prove It," but mostly it's the K.R.I.T. show and he generally has no trouble holding your attention for the length of this 19-song, almost-hour-long album.
Title Fight haven't released a new album since their early-2015 LP Hyperview, but co-frontman Ned Russin had been busy putting out solo Bandcamp EPs under the name Glitterer, and now he signed the project to ANTI- Records (same home as Title Fight) and is releasing its debut album today. Glitterer is not Title Fight, but if you've spent the last four and a half years hoping for a new Title Fight album, it should do a pretty good job of scratching that itch. The album was co-produced by (Sandy) Alex G and Arthur Rizk (Power Trip, Code Orange, etc), both of whom worked on the earlier Bandcamp material, and Ned's Title Fight bandmate/brother Ben Russin drummed on the whole thing. (Their other brother, Alex, played the guitar solo on "Destiny.") Glitterer picks up where the shoegazy sounds of Hyperview left off, and takes Ned's songwriting down a bedroom/dream pop route and even further away from his punk roots, complete with pretty atmospheres and glistening bells. But like on Hyperview, Ned still sounds like a punk singer, and that's what makes Glitterer stand out from your average indie pop record. He takes the grit and energy of the hardcore bands he grew up on (he's wearing a Gorilla Biscuits hoodie on the album cover), and he mixes it with the kinds of tender sounds that make (Sandy) Alex G an apt collaborator. Ned's not the first punk to explore softer, prettier sounds, but he's doing it in a way that feels unique to him. He's not copying other punk-gone-pretty bands; he's forging his own path outside of the constraints of the genre.
Blood Orange (aka Dev Hynes) has followed last year's Negro Swan with a new mixtape, Angel's Pulse, which features Toro y Moi, Kelsey Lu, Ian Isiah, Project Pat, Gangsta Boo, Tinashe, Porches, Arca, Joba of Brockhampton, Justine Skye, and BennY RevivaL. Maybe because he's calling it a "mixtape," it does feel a little more stripped-back than his last two very ambitious albums, but it's not a tossed-off project or anything. That usual Blood Orange brilliance is on full display, and it actually feels a little more accessible than Negro Swan, which was his most "difficult" record yet.