Recommended Listen has not been quiet about how it’s been a really, really rough year staying atop of all its favorite new albums being released on a weekly basis as artists who’d been holding out across the pandemic are finally ready to let their art live in the wild. The good news is that the catch-up feels imminent. For now. Here’s eight more from recent weeks, and as always, past editions of Listen to These. can be found here with full album reviews here.
Aldous Harding – Warm Chris [4AD]
Warm Chris isn’t a flashy listen and is built around a folk implosion, but in its own idiosyncratic way, Aldous Harding has interpretive her instruments’ traditionalism into angles more unique than might be suggested. The collection of songs from the New Zealand songwriter’s latest full-length are inverted tales of emotional restlessness and descript observations of the relational variety, and while they rarely crest over the energy of last year’s outstanding single “Old Peel”, Harding’s emphasis on atypical vocal deliveries and more tedious, distorted designs of piano, brass, and a soft psychedelia of guitar pop make it so that the interpretation of them is in the ear of its beholder, always reshaping itself in any lapse of time with each listen.
billy woods – Aethiopes [Backwoodz Studios]
billy woods late-blooming career peak in the underground rap world may be one of the decade’s best underdog success stories. These days, today’s listeners are probably more familiar with his art of flow as one half of Armand Hammer, but Aethiopes, his latest solo effort recorded alongside underground producer Preservation (Yasiin Bey, Ka) deservedly reaps what woods began to sew a decade ago in NYC’s alternative rap scene with an even finer skill set in beautiful rhymes and progressive beat-making that highlights him as a continued force of its future. The listen is nearly gothic in its darkness, with beats creaking in with minimalist structure as well as global influences expanding its universal canvas, all while woods’ verbose way with words sets scenes fictional yet blurred to past and present realities. This time around, we see the gift in it all more clearly.
Camp Cope – Running With the Hurricane [Poison City / Run for Cover Records]
The anger, the confusion over sex, and the whelming self-doubts are still mildly apparent on the tongue of Georgia Maq throughout Running With the Hurricane, the third full-length effort from Camp Cope. Since the release of 2018′s breakthrough sophomore outing How to Socialise & Make Friends, the world has given the Melbourne indie rock trio even more kerosene to douse on what once a sound on the brink of being consumed by inner fire, but instead, they’re approaching life’s messiness with a kindness for the self that’s reflective in more room to breathe and a sunset pastel jangle. Still wildly punk and feeding off the emotional, except it’s all being contained within Camp Cope’s inner storm.
Caracara – New Preoccupations [Memory Music]
New Preoccupations is nearly fragile to the touch. A document of Caracara frontman Will Lindsey hardened road to sobriety and recovery, the Philly indie rock four-piece approach their long-awaited sophomore effort with the kind of unassuming gratitude or life’s rougher teachers through a patience and clarity that can only be obtained upon understanding why those lessons on falling down are set for us in the first place. Sonically, Caracara also discover precision in their own sound that compliments these realizations, with these tracks representing a clarified turn toward the early stages of commercial emo, with Jimmy Eat World and Sense Field being obvious touchpoints in the way they can maneuver through cornered electronic rock and a post-hardcore roar that is enlightenment.
Guerilla Toss – Famously Alive [Sub Pop]
In the Guerilla Toss world of sound, nothing has ever been uncomplicated. Noise, psychedelic powers, and flashes of pop have long permeated the New York band’s music over the years. It’s a fitting irony that on Famously Alive, their first album since joining the esteemed indie Sub Pop, they would find a sense of clarity and balance in it all, created across some of the most chaotic times of our modern existence. Their synesthesia explodes vividly and the hooks stick like Gak to the ears, all while vocalist Kassie Carlson confronts existentialist dread head on with empowering messages of reclaiming ownership of one’s fate in anthem. If the Apocalypse is near, Guerilla Toss make its fire and brimstone burst feel more like of blast of confetti that is hellbent on taking back the moment.
P.E. – The Leather Lemon [Wharf Cat Records]
Quite aptly but not intentionally, P.E.’s 2020 debut Person dropped right before a global pandemic began, and the formless nature of their avant noir pop became accidentally reflective of those days uncertain chaos. Reactively, the Brooklyn quintet’s follow-up The Leather Lemon reassembles sound through the pieces of the world we continue to pick up in its aftermath. For that, they focus on their strongest pop points amid the asymmetry, filling deeper grooves where absent pockets once were with body contortion and skin-on-skin contact. The turbulence of these times still exists within the context of these songs, though this time around, P.E. are working with them to connect emotionally, sensually, and physically rather than add to the discord.
oso oso – sore thumb [Triple Crown Records]
Instead of merely honoring bandmate and cousin in guitarist Tavish Maloney, Jade Lilitri decided to memorialize him as his presence was always felt in the transcendent Long Island emo rock band’s music. sore thumb, the follow-up to oso oso’s 2019 breakthrough basking in the glow, was recorded across a month before Maloney‘s passing last year, and furthers his spirit in the sound by embracing their inner weirdness more
outwardly here through. Tripped out by pandemic times, it’s a crucial hang that lets a lot of the weight of the world basking on the glow shouldered by letting loose and revealing the band’s pop-centricities still get lit in lieu of adulting’s stranger surroundings.
Sonic Youth – In/Out/In [Three Lobed Records]
Even in their post-mortem, Sonic Youth still remain among one of the most innovative sculptors in noise rock whose ideas remain unparrel in our current existence. A decade removed from their final bow, In/Out/In – a collection of several mostly instrumental tracks unearthed from their early Aughts era – moves seamlessly in its own distinct singular waveform despite being created in disconnect. It renders Sonic Youth in their jammiest formation yet, with the static becoming a transfixing groove.
Vince Staples – Ramona Park Broke My Heart [Blacksmith / Motown Records]
The passion of Vince Staples is even more illustrious on Ramona Park Broke My Heart, the counterpart to the Long Beach rapper’s excellent eponymous self-reflection last year. Since becoming a critical darling in the hip-hop space, Staples has been taking his time with his thoughts on his first two albums since joining Motown Records in working through his conflicted past in resolve with his celebrity present. These beats shift away from the overt rumination of last years Kenny Beats production in a more finessed sense despite working with a collective of names familiar and not in the studio. It compliments the richness in rhyme and flow from Staples as he continues letting his life story from the darkened street corners he grew up on out into the open world.