It's been an insanely busy week here in the world of music news, with over 100 new songs, tons of tour announcements, and more, and today's another stacked album release day. I highlight six below, Bill tackles Dean Wareham (Luna, Galaxie 500), GLOK (Ride's Andy Bell), Dark Mark (Lanegan) & Skeleton Joe, Vanishing Twin, and Gone To Color (ft. mems of Lambchop, Liars, Tortoise, Wilco, Martina Topley-Bird & more) in Bill's Indie Basement.

For even more, here are a bunch of honorable mentions: Coldplay, Young Thug, Hayden Thorpe (Wild Beasts), Tom Morello (featuring Bruce Springsteen, Damian Marley & many more -- get it on orange splatter vinyl), Julia Shapiro (Chastity Belt), Dave Monks (Tokyo Police Club), Zack Fox, Virginity, Payroll Giovanni, Kælan Mikla, Offset Jim, Halogens, Fire-Toolz, PinkPantheress, ONETWOTHREE (ex-Kleenex, LiLiPUT), Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes, Heart & Lung, Namesake (fka Honduras), Grafh & DJ Shay, Dos Santos, Scott von Ryper (The Black Ryder), sir Was, Gold Dust, Surfbort, Misanthur, Remi Wolf, Hate, Buffalo Nichols, Le Ren, Finneas, Santana, the Melvins acoustic album, the Norah Jones holiday album, the Johnny Marr EP (part 1 of his four-part double album), the Robin Guthrie (Cocteau Twins) EP, the Field Music EP, the Wrong Move EP, the Cherubs EP, the A.A. Williams orchestral EP, the Disclosure DJ-Kicks mix, The dB's' early demos compilation (get on green vinyl), the Charlatans compilation (get in various vinyl configurations), the Halloween Kills score by John Carpenter & co (get the orange vinyl), the expanded 50th anniversary edition of David Crosby's If I Could Only Remember My Name, the expanded 50th anniversary edition of The Beatles' Let It Be, and The Armed concert film.

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

Xenia Rubinos - Una Rosa
ANTI-

It's been five years since Xenia Rubinos released her very good sophomore album Black Terry Cat, and in that time she's grown both as an artist and in popularity. The anticipation has been building and building for her third album Una Rosa, and now it's finally here, and it's unlike anything else she's done. The album's named after its title track, a modern-day reimagining of the classic Puerto Rican danzón by José Enrique Pedreira that soundtracked her great-grandmother's wind-up music lamp (and the lamp itself inspired the album cover). From there, Xenia pulled influence from old Cuban boleros and rumbas, as well as from current electronic music. Xenia, who went to school for jazz, previously favored acoustic instrumentation, but here she embraces synths, drum machines, and auto-tune, in a way that only she could. She sings both in English and Spanish, she references Bob Marley and Biggie, and she tackles topics that plague the world at large, as well as personal loss. It's an album full of boundless ambition and experimentation, but it's all done within the context of pop music. Like her previous albums, Una Rosa is impossible to pigeonhole but easy to like. The hooks stick with you, and Xenia ties her seemingly disparate influences together in a way that feels entirely natural.

 

Knocked Loose - A Tear in the Fabric of Life
Pure Noise

Knocked Loose cemented themselves at the forefront of the current metalcore revival with their excellent 2019 LP A Different Shade of Blue, and in the time since then, the genre's latest wave has grown exponentially. As it's continued to expand, it's started to make room for some of the poppier elements that defined the genre's early 2000s boom, but with their new EP A Tear in the Fabric of Life -- surprise-released earlier this week alongside an accompanying film directed and animated by Magnus Jonsson -- Knocked Loose are going in the opposite direction. They've always been one of the darker, heavier bands in modern metalcore, but here, they're diving even deeper into the death metal/hardcore crossover movement that's been bubbling up in the underground thanks to bands like Knocked Loose's recent tourmates Gatecreeper. A Tear in the Fabric of Life is the most haunting, abrasive thing this band has done yet, and the new direction sets them even further apart from their peers, reaffirming them as trailblazers. And even as they get more and more aggressive, Knocked Loose balance that out with a tasteful, artsy side, peppering the EP's brutality with atmospheric interludes and an eerie sample of The Beach Boys' "God Only Knows." Combined with the conceptual storyline about grief that runs through both the EP and the film, A Tear in the Fabric of Life is a truly multi-faceted piece of extreme art.

 

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit - Georgia Blue
Southeastern

Back in November, Jason Isbell promised that if Biden won Georgia, he'd record an album of covers of his favorite Georgia songs and donate the money to charity. Biden won, Jason made good on his promise, and he really went all out in doing so. For a project that came together in just a few months, Georgia Blue is very ambitious, with 13 well-executed covers and appearances by Julien Baker, Brandi Carlile, Amanda Shires, Béla Fleck, Chris Thile, Brittney Spencer, Adia Victoria, and other guests, some of whom Jason hands lead vocals over to. Proceeds will benefit three different organizations: Black Voters Matter, Stacey Abrams' Fair Fight, and Georgia STAND-UP.

For a covers album to really be worth repeated listens, you have to make it your own, and Jason and his many collaborators do. Jason sings R.E.M.s "Driver 8" and "Nightswimming," Indigo Girls' "Kid Fears" (with help from Julien Baker and Brandi Carlile), Now It's Overhead's "Reverse," and Vic Chesnutt's "I'm Through" like he wrote them. If you didn't know any better, you might really think they were Jason Isbell songs; they've got that same distinct vibe he brings to his own material. Plenty of standout moments come from other singers too. Jason's wife and 400 Unit bandmate Amanda Shires takes lead on a show-stopping version of Cat Power's "Cross Bones Style." Jason's recent tourmate Brittney Spencer proves to be an absolute powerhouse on covers of James Brown's "It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World" and Gladys Knight & the Pips' "Midnight Train to Georgia." And when nobody sings at all for the cover of The Allman Brothers Band's classic instrumental "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed," the 400 Unit do the Allmans proud with a rendition that channels the spirit of the original but really allows the 400 Unit to stretch their own jammy wings. It's a genuinely cool covers album, and the fact that it supports three genuinely great causes makes it all the more worth your while.

 

The Silver - Ward of Roses
Gilead Media

Horrendous are leaders of the modern, forward-thinking death metal scene, while Crypt Sermon channel the sounds of traditional doom, and now members of both bands have come together as The Silver, who sound entirely different than both Horrendous and Crypt Sermon. The band -- which includes brothers Matt and Jamie Knox of Horrendous, Enrique Sagarnaga of Crypt Sermon, and Nick Duchemin -- said that their goal was to start "a metal band where we weren’t hiding behind the typical metal tropes." "We wanted to do something rooted in black metal sounds without being a black metal band—and with more vulnerable lyrics. We collectively wanted to find the magic in regular human experience, both horrific and sublime."

Their debut album Ward of Roses is out today via Gilead Media, and it makes good on that promise. With a mix of blackened screams and gothic metal clean vocals, and instrumentation that embraces black metal, doom, post-metal, and just a bit of classic shredding, Ward of Roses presents familiar elements in an exciting, new way. And the lyrical themes based on human experience add to how authentic the music feels. The album pushes metal forward by honoring some time-tested traditions but never being afraid to branch out from them.

To get an even better feel of the album's lyrical content, the band gave us a track-by-track breakdown where they discuss the concepts behind each song, and you can read that here.

 

Bedouine - Waysides
The Orchard

Waysides is technically Los Angeles folk singer Azniv Korkejian's third album as Bedouine, but she calls it "LP 2.5" because she began work on it at home during lockdown and drew material from old demos of songs that never made it onto her first two albums. She eventually completed it with famed producer Gus Seyffert and a few guest contributors, and the result is kind of a cross between a new album and a not-so-new album. But if you didn't know that context, you wouldn't guess it from listening. It sounds as accomplished and as fresh as her last album did in 2019. Like that album, these are gorgeous, somber folk songs of the Nick Drake/Vashti Bunyan variety, and Bedouine has a warm, distinct voice and a compelling songwriting style that makes Waysides an album that often rivals its decades-old influences. Even its one cover -- a striking cover of Fleetwood Mac's "Songbird" -- goes beyond paying homage to the original. Bedouine gives the song a modern update without losing the appeal of the original, and she's got a voice big enough to fill Christine McVie's shoes -- no easy feat.

 

Starflyer 59 - Vanity
Velvet Blue Music

Jason Martin's Starflyer 59 project has come a long way since the heavy shoegaze of 1994's Silver and 1995's Gold. At this point, on Vanity -- their 16th album -- Jason employs a wearied baritone not unlike latter-day Nick Cave, and the band channels the post-post-punk vibes of something like '90s Cure. There's also a hint of jangly Americana in the mix, and the album opens with "Asunder," an instrumental piece that could score a Spaghetti Western. The album was made with the same team who made 2019's Young In My Head: it was produced by frequent collaborator (and former Pedro the Lion member and Jason's Lo Tom bandmate) TW Walsh, who also fleshes the album out with gorgeous synths, and it features longtime Starflyer 59 member Steven Dail on bass and Jason's son C. Martin on drums. The album's in a similar vein to its predecessor but even more somber and melancholic. On the last album, Jason sang about his time in music being up ("I had my turn/Stayed longer than most/Longer than I should have/'Cause I've never known how to let go"), and on this one he repeats, "Seems like I haven't changed at all." That's a good thing; if he's still gonna be writing songs this quietly devastating, we're lucky to have him around.

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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.

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