Is this the busiest album week of the year so far? It might be! I highlight 17 new releases below, and Bill tackles eight more heavy hitters in Bill’s Indie Basement, including Destroyer, Aldous Harding, Loop, Young Prisms, P.E., Ibibio Sound Machine, Jarvis Cocker, and Ex-Vöid.
On top of all that, there are a lot of other albums to honorably mention: Nigo (ft. Tyler the Creator, A$AP Rocky, Clipse, Pusha T, Kid Cudi, A$AP Ferg & more), Machine Gun Kelly, Maren Morris, Placebo, Guerilla Toss, Rema, Fivio Foreign, Abbath, Ed Schrader’s Music Beat, Blind Girls, Daddy Yankee, Stove God Cooks & Superior, Tha God Fahim, Barrie, Kavinsky, Emily Jane White, Subjective (Goldie & James Davidson), Whatever the Weather (Loraine James), 8 Kalacas, Jensen McRae, Bellows, Freakons (Mekons + Freakwater), Sundowning, Desolate Shrine, Mares of Thrace, Gridiron, Eichlers, Jana Rush, Gabriel Kahane, The Asteroid No.4, Ensemble Dal Niente, Susanna, Ignite, Damokles, Don’t Worry, ginla, Laibach, Helpless, Fana Hues, Walter Martin (The Walkmen), U.S. Highball, Nightwraith, Sum of R, Spill Your Guts, NITE, Animals As Leaders, Supa Bwe, Jay Worthy & Larry June, Wallows, parts 2 & 3 of The Cool Kids‘ triple album, the Emma Ruth Rundle EP, the Killing Joke EP, the Whitmer Thomas EP, the Talker EP, the Chelsea Wolfe & Tyler Bates soundtrack to X, the Thou and Gewgawly I video game soundtrack, the Cowboy Junkies covers album, the Leon Vynehall Fabric mix, the Suicide compilation, the Tindersticks compilation, the David Comes to Life era Fucked Up rarities comp, the expanded Bon Iver, Bon Iver reissue, the deluxe edition of Charli XCX’s Crash, and the deluxe edition of The Killers‘ Pressure Machine.
Read on for all my picks. What’s your favorite release of the week?
Denzel Curry – Melt My Eyez See Your Future
Denzel Curry’s 2019 album ZUU felt like the end of an era. It was an effortlessly great victory lap after the ambitious, three-part concept album TA13OO released one year earlier, and after ZUU came the Unlocked and Unlocked 1.5 EPs with Kenny Beats, lower-stakes releases that found Denzel making eccentric left turns rather than following the trajectory he had been on since his breakthrough LP Imperial. Now, having gone three years and a pandemic without a full-length, Melt My Eyez See Your Future is here and it feels like the start of a fresh new era for Denzel. It fuses the ambition of TA13OO with the effortlessness of ZUU, and it also feels like entirely new ground for Denzel. It’s a cohesive album that wows from start to finish, and the songs feel monumental on their own too, with distinct vibes that stop the album from ever blurring or dragging. Guest appearances are well-picked and well-executed (from slowthai, Rico Nasty, JID, Saul Williams, T-Pain, Robert Glasper, and more), memorable hooks bleed right into in-depth verses, and production ranges from organic jazz to futuristic electronics. It raises the bar for an artist who’s already released a string of classics, and this just might be another one.
Get the Denzel album on vinyl, cassette and CD.
Soul Glo – Diaspora Problems
Soul Glo’s first full-length for Epitaph is a boundary-pushing punk album that bridges the gap between hardcore and hip hop, emotions and politics, and more. It’s full of cool guests from various musical backgrounds (including rappers Mother Maryrose, McKinley Dixon, lojii, and Zula Wildheart, vocalist Kathryn Edwards of Nashville hardcore band Thirdface, and Philly-via-London producer/DJ BEARCAT), and they all fit right in because Soul Glo are about finding the shared roots of various musical traditions, not drawing lines between them. It’s both a big step up for the already-great Soul Glo and one of the most impactful punk albums released this year. Read much more about it in our new feature/interview about the album.
Riverby – Absolution
Take This To Heart
Riverby slowly but surely stirred up buzz with their home-recorded 2020 debut LP Smart Mouth, and as good as that album was, they’ve severely stepped up their game with new album Absolution. The Philly indie-punk band made this one with producer Jim Wirt, who’s worked with big names like Something Corporate, Incubus, and Fiona Apple, and Jim helped the band grow and strengthen their sound without abandoning the appeal of their raw DIY roots. It has loud, vicious indie-punk songs that find band leader August Greenberg tearing down abusers and assholes, and those songs sound more furious and defiant than anything on Smart Mouth. It’s also full of intimate, folky songs that recall Riverby’s days as August’s solo project, and those songs are among the most tender that they’ve written yet. Absolution pushes Riverby’s sound to various extremes, and they’ve gotten better at everything they do. These are not just the most impactful songs August has written to date, but some of the most commanding indie rock songs released this year so far. It feels like a breakthrough in the making.
Koffee – Gifted
Over the course of an EP and various singles dating back to 2018, Koffee established herself as one of the most forward-thinking new voices in Jamaican music, with songs that pulled from reggae, dancehall, and hip hop but could never be tied down to any of those worlds. Now she finally releases her debut album Gifted, which features a couple of the singles she had been rolling out over the years, along with eight other songs. The album feels split into two halves, with her American pop crossover side represented on the second half (early singles “West Indies,” “Pull Up,” and “Lockdown” close out the album), and a much more traditional reggae vibe in the first half. The second half achieves more crossover bliss with the electro-reggae-funk of “Run Away” and the skittering, hip hop-leaning “Where I’m From,” while the first half favors bright, uplifting, major-key melodies, acoustic guitars and pianos, and sunny throwback vibes. She usually retains enough modern elements to keep from going full retro, like with the slight hip hop cadences on the “Redemotion Song”-referencing opener “x10” and the trap-inspired drums on the otherwise trad-style “Shine,” but when she does fully commit to the vintage bit, she knows exactly how to do it; “Lonely” feels like a lost ’70s reggae gem. The first half also feels happier, but as with a lot of great reggae, the lyrics don’t always match the tone of the music. “Shine” sounds bright and uplifting, but it’s actually about crime and violence in Jamaica. “I love reggae because of its messages,” she recently told NPR. “Bob Marley sings so many positive, impactful songs, he raises people’s consciousness. Artists like Chronixx, Protoje and Jesse Royal can teach you important things that you may not know about otherwise. So, I feel like I should keep the messages with a certain potency so that people will know, yeah, this is reggae, we nah join nuh folly, and we still looking out for our youth, for ourselves.”
Kevin Devine – Nothing’s Real, So Nothing’s Lost
Kevin Devine has become one of the most reliably consistent songwriters across folk, emo, and indie rock for the past 20 years, and if you think you’ve got him pegged at this point, you’d be wrong. Nothing’s Real, So Nothing’s Wrong, Kevin’s first proper album in six years — following a variety of miscellaneous releases in between — is like nothing he’s ever released before, and it’s his most musically adventurous LP yet. After favoring a more stripped-back indie rock approach on 2016’s Instigator and 2013’s Bubblegum/Bulldozer, this new one is a heavily atmospheric record that makes room for synths, baroque pop arrangements, a hint of psychedelia, and all kinds of little nuances that keep things unpredictable. It reminds of the late 2000s era of indie rock when unbridled ambition was fueling the zeitgeist, and it sounds just as timeless now as it would have then. And even with all the new ground covered, it still sounds like Kevin Devine. His emotive, songwriting style is fully intact and his voice sounds as distinct as ever.
Caracara – New Preoccupations
Kevin Devine’s new album isn’t the only emo-adjacent album out today that recalls the era of ambitious indie rock; New Preoccupations, the first Caracara full-length since their 2017 debut LP, scratches that itch too. Produced by Will Yip and released on his Memory Music label, the album is very emotional but it isn’t really “emo.” Singer/guitarist Will Lindsay has a folky quality to his voice, and he and the rest of the Philly band channel that into a delivery of U2-sized proportions. And things get even more climactic when frequent Will Yip collaborator Anthony Green (Circa Survive, Saosin, The Sound of Animals Fighting) adds his ethereal voice to “Colorglut.” It’s also a very personal album that chronicles Will Lindsay’s relationship to alcohol. “We wanted to examine the journey toward it–to show the ominous weight of the lowest moments, woven in with the rapturous highs that make the lows easier to turn away from,” Will says.
Latto – 777
Two years after declaring herself the Queen of Da Souf on her debut album, Atlanta rapper Latto (fka Mulatto) is back with her anticipated sophomore LP 777. From brash, hard-hitting trap bangers to softer R&B-tinged stuff to the bright upbeat funk-rap of lead single “Big Energy,” 777 covers a lot of ground and Latto’s a master of all of it. Guest appearances come from Lil Wayne, Childish Gambino, Lil Durk, 21 Savage, and more, all of whom sound great but none of whom ever outshine Latto. She’s charismatic, she has bars, and her presence is always commanding.
Camp Cope – Running with the Hurricane
Run For Cover
Camp Cope made an album for the ages with the feminist indie/emo/punk of 2018’s How to Socialise & Make Friends (our #1 album of that year), and for its long-awaited followup Running with the Hurricane, they’ve gone in a different direction. They’ve almost entirely toned down their punk side, instead delivering lighter indie rock with a folk/country pop twist. “I finally embraced Taylor Swift rather than some cool underground band no one’s heard of,” singer Georgia Maq told Jenn Pelly in an interview with Pitchfork. “This album is empowering in a way that’s different from how How to Socialise was empowering,” she adds. “We’re so multidimensional, and I love to show that. There’s a lot of power in being soft.” Still, whether Georgia is making punk or straight up pop or the breezy music she’s making on this album, she remains an unmistakable vocalist, and she’s as commanding and distinct as ever across these 10 songs.
Pick it up on limited-to-300 clear/pink vinyl.
Carly Cosgrove – See You In Chemistry
Often times, the best emo bands sound caught between the raw, humble approach of the underground and arena-sized ambition, and that’s exactly how Carly Cosgrove sound on their debut album See You In Chemistry. The Philly trio get their band name and all of their album and song names from the Nickelodeon shows iCarly and Drake and Josh, which is both extremely silly and actually kind of impressive, but there’s nothing at all silly about their actual music. (Not that emo bands putting silly pop culture references in song titles is anything new, but this band really commits to the bit.) Taking cues from scrappy, knotty ’90s emo, the pop-centric 2000s era, and the fresh perspective of emo’s fourth and fifth waves, See You In Chemistry scratches so many different itches. It feels like the kind of thing that could appeal just as much to the people who casually hummed along to “The Middle” on the radio as to the people who frequent DIY basement shows.
Kilo Kish – American Gurl
Kilo Kish has made all kinds of music over the years — including synthpop, R&B, rap, and more — and on American Gurl, her first full-length since her 2016 debut LP, she fuses all of that and more into one big art pop melting pot. It’s loud, in-your-face maximalism, and it nails a balance between being defiantly weird and absurdly catchy. It has a few cool guest appearances (Vince Staples, Miguel, Jesse Boykins III, Jean Dawson), and when other people show up, they all feed the sensory overload that Kish spends this album creating. “I really wanted it to have this feeling of scrolling through media, or the way that we consume information,” Kish told NYLON. “You could read something about climate change and then the next thing is an ad for laser hair removal.” That feeling does indeed come through on this album, which is at times unsettling, at times euphoric, and kind of always brimming with nervous energy. It’s pop bliss that doesn’t function as escapism, because it’s just as paranoid as real life.
Anand Wilder – I Don’t Know My Words
Yeasayer changed their sound up a lot throughout their 15-ish year career, but at the heart of their songs, some things always remained the same. They always embraced psychedelia, whether they were doing tribal hippie shit or big synthetic pop songs, and even some of their poppiest songs sounded like they could’ve been folk songs, especially the ones sung by co-leader Anand Wilder. That folky, psychedelic vibe is what comes through most strongly on Anand’s debut solo album, which feels like the kind of album that Anand’s had in him for his entire career. It’s a true solo album that Anand wrote and recorded entirely himself at home during the pandemic, and part of the inspiration to make a more quiet album was born out of necessity, as he was recording vocals in the middle of the night and not wanting to wake anyone up. But much of the inspiration also just came from Anand getting back in touch with the music that comes most naturally to him. He’s namedropped artists like Fairport Convention, Cat Stevens, and The Beatles in press materials for the album, and I Don’t Know My Words captures the same kind of warm, nostalgic-yet-ageless feeling that those types of artists do. It’s not just the fresh start that Anand needed after Yeasayer’s demise; it’s also some of the most refreshing music he’s written yet.
Buddy – Superghetto
In the wake of George Floyd’s murder, a wealth of new protests songs were released, and one of them was Buddy’s “Black 2,” a sequel to his 2018 song “Black” that criticized the way non-Black people want to consume Black culture but turn a blind eye to racism. It’s one of the most enduring, powerful singles of the past couple years, and it’s one of 10 songs on Superghetto, the Compton rapper’s first full-length since his 2018 debut LP Harlan & Alondra. With assists from Tinashe, Ari Lennox, T-Pain, and Blxst, the album finds Buddy exploring the heavy topics of a song like “Black 2” but also making observations about party culture, dealing with personal demons, and singing about high school crushes. It’s just as diverse musically as it is lyrically, with traditional rap songs, soulful R&B songs, and a couple upbeat songs that veer towards rock band territory (“High School Crush,” “Bad News”). It’s an impressive, unpredictable followup to Harlan & Alondra that reminds you that Buddy refuses to be pigeonholed.
Absent In Body – Plague God
Absent In Body is the supergroup of Neurosis’ Scott Kelly, Amenra members Colin H. Van Eeckhout and Mathieu Vandekerckhove, and original Sepultura drummer Iggor Cavalera, and their debut album Plague God pulls from both post-metal and industrial, sharing some DNA with the members’ other projects but sounding like an entirely different beast than anything these four have done separately. For much more on this album, read Colin Williams’ interview with Colin H. Van Eeckhout over at Invisible Oranges.
Pick it up on limited splatter vinyl.
Ian Noe – River Fools & Mountain Saints
Kentucky country singer Ian Noe follows his excellent 2019 debut album Between The Country with River Fools & Mountain Saints. After making his debut with Dave Cobb (Jason Isbell, Chris Stapleton, Sturgill Simpson, etc), Ian made this one with Andrija Tokic (Alabama Shakes, Hurray for the Riff Raff), and his backing band for the album included The Raconteurs bassist Jack Lawrence and Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit keyboardist Derry deBorja. It covers more ground than his debut, making room for twang-fueled rock, traditional country and bluegrass, ethereal balladry, sweeping string-laden country pop, and more, and it seamlessly crosses boundaries between different musical genres, eras, and regions. Read more about it here.
Falls of Rauros – Key To A Vanishing Future
For their sixth album, Maine black metal band Falls of Rauros dialed back their folk influences, tapped more into their death metal and prog/art rock influences, and wrote songs that dove into “the concept of obligatory inheritance.” “We’re born into this world without giving consent, and we’re left to figure out how to navigate living in a world that doesn’t live up to its promise,” they told us in our new Q&A about the album. Head here to read more.
Proper. – The Great American Novel
Father/Daughter / Big Scary Monsters
To quote vocalist Erik Garlington, Brooklyn trio Proper.’s new Bartees Strange-produced album is “a concept album about how Black genius, specifically my own, goes ignored, is relentlessly contested, or just gets completely snuffed out before it can flourish. This record is a concept album that’s meant to read like a book; every song is a chapter following the protagonist through their 20s. Imagine a queer, Black Holden Caufield-type coming up in the 2010s.” Proper. communicate that with songs that blur the lines between anthemic 2000s emo and raw DIY indie rock. For more on this LP, the band broke down its influences.
Pick it up on bone & grey vinyl.
Phife Dawg – Forever
Phife Dawg of A Tribe Called Quest left us six years ago this week, and his estate finally released his long-talked-about posthumous album, Forever. The album features material recorded around the same time as ATCQ’s excellent comeback album We got it from Here…Thank You 4 Your service, and it features his ATCQ bandmate Q-Tip, as well as Busta Rhymes, Redman, Pos and Maseo of De La Soul, Little Brother, Rapsody, Lyric Jones, Dwele, Illa J, Renée Neufville, Angela Winbush, Darien Brockington, and Phife’s mother Cheryl Boyce-Taylor. Read more about it here.
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.
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