There’s a lot of new music this week, but before I get to it, I’d just like to take a minute to say everyone at BrooklynVegan stands in direct opposition the recent rise of racism against Asian American Pacific Islander communities, and if you’d like to show your support, you can make a donation to Stop AAPI Hate, the AAPI Community Fund, AAPI Women Lead, the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, and other organizations that are fighting against anti-Asian racism. Will Yip and Saint Vitus Bar co-owner David Castillo are also doing raffles with a lot of cool prizes that benefit AAPI rights organizations, and the Bruce Lee Band released a new song this week benefitting Stop AAPI Hate.
As for this week’s new music, I highlight ten new albums below, but first, some honorable mentions: The Antlers (which we’ve got on limited vinyl), Tune-Yards, Lost Girls (Jenny Hval & Håvard Volden), Xiu Xiu‘s duets album (ft. Sharon Van Etten, Chelsea Wolfe, Circuit des Yeux & more), DJ Muggs x Flee Lord, Death From Above 1979, Rod Wave, Young Dolph & Key Glock, Clark, Dr. Lonnie Smith (ft. Iggy Pop), James McAlister (Sufjan/Dessners collaborator), Renée Reed, Kali Masi, Yawning Sons, Celestial Sanctuary, Space Cadet (The Explosion), Floatie, Chris Corsano & Bill Orcutt, STR4TA, Dntel, Vic Mensa, SNAFU, The Juliana Theory, El Michels Affair, ’68, Anna Fox Rochinski (Quilt), The Peacers, Tim Cohen (The Fresh & Onlys), Antonioni, Tex Crick, TUNS (Sloan), Young Mountain, Stepson, Personal Space, Cathal Coughlan, Civic, Writhing Squares, Early Riser, Liquid Tension Experiment, Blindfolded and Led to the Woods, the Nervus, Potty Mouth, Full On Mone’t, Solstice Rey and KOJI split, the Real Estate EP, the Courtesy Drop EP, the Joe Strummer comp, and First Aid Kit‘s Leonard Cohen tribute album.
We’ve also got some new records up for pre-order in our store, including Rise Against (on limited black/clear vinyl), Manchester Orchestra (on transparent blue vinyl), Wolf Alice (on transparent green vinyl), Japanese Breakfast (on clear w/ yellow swirl vinyl), Monster Magnet (on neon yellow vinyl), and more.
Read on for my picks. What’s your favorite release of the week?
Armand Hammer & The Alchemist – Haram
Armand Hammer and The Alchemist is a match made in underground rap heaven. Armand Hammer (the duo of ELUCID and billy woods) have released some of the most beloved records in this genre of the past few years (including last year’s Shrines, one of our favorite albums of 2020) and the individual members have done so separately as well, and The Alchemist is constantly behind so much of the best left-of-the-dial rap music, including last year’s Freddie Gibbs and Boldy James albums, both of which he entirely produced and both of which also cracked our year-end list. Sometimes dream pairings like these sound better on paper than they do in execution, but not in this case. Haram is exactly what you’d hope an Alchemist-produced Armand Hammer album would be.
The Alchemist creates a gorgeous soundscape that sounds like it pulls from warped jazz and soul samples, psych-rock guitar, trippy film scores, and more. It feels vintage, but it’s too abstract to qualify as boom bap or any other subgenre that actually existed during rap’s golden age. It sounds like The Alchemist catering to Armand Hammer’s usual sound, but still putting his own spin on it. And his own spin is just a little brighter, livelier, and more direct than the production on Shrines, and it seems like woods and ELUCID have responded to that by rapping in a way that’s just a little harder and more direct than their verses on Shrines. Some of the Shrines guests reprise their roles on this one (Earl Sweatshirt, Quelle Chris, Curly Castro, and Fielded), and KAYANA and Amani joined the party this time too. It should come as no surprise that those guests all fit perfectly within Haram‘s world (especially Earl, who is not only a recurring guest for Armand Hammer but also a frequent Alchemist collaborator), and as on Shrines, woods and ELUCID share the spotlight with their talented friends in ways that benefit the album as a whole. Haram isn’t just a well-executed Armand Hammer/Alchemist collaboration; it’s a showcase for the greater world of underground rap.
Genghis Tron – Dream Weapon
I’m just gonna get this out of the way: I’m not sure why Hamilton Jordan and Michael Sochynsky even decided to call this a Genghis Tron album. Vocalist Mookie Singerman was replaced by Tony Wolski (who’s drummed in The Armed and Old Gods), their drum machine was replaced by Nick Yacyshyn (who’s also drummed in The Armed, as well as Sumac and Baptists), and they sound nothing like the chaotic post-hardcore (or, “cybergrind”) of their first two albums. There’s not even a single song with screaming. It’s a drastically different lineup, a drastically different sound, and it follows a ten-year-long breakup. It feels very literally like a different band.
That all said, Dream Weapon is a fantastic record, so who cares what they decided to call the band? You can’t go into this expecting another Board Up The House, but if you just take the album for what it is, you might find that it’s just as good as their older albums in a totally different way.
At its heaviest (the title track, “Great Mother”), Dream Weapon sounds like a proggier, tech-ier version the whole Hum-gaze thing (or Spiral Shadow-era Kylesa), but more often it’s a heavily electronic album that channels psychedelic pop, krautrock, synthwave, and more, and Tony Wolski’s vocals are clean, boyish, and almost shockingly catchy. Genghis Tron had synthy prog/psych and some clean vocals on the last album, but it feels impossible to have predicted they’d embrace that sound for the length of an entire LP. Instead of sounding loud and in-your-face like Genghis Tron have sounded in the past, Dream Weapon is hypnotic. The album starts and ends with the same synth pattern, and if you listen to it on loop, it sounds like a continuous blissful trip that you never want to end. If I had to compare it to anything, I’d sooner say Dream Weapon sounds like the last two HEALTH albums than like previous Genghis Tron albums, and it also — conceptually — makes me think of Daughters’ 2018 comeback album You Won’t Get What You Want. Like Genghis Tron, Daughters made some of the finest chaotic, grindy post-hardcore of the early/mid 2000s, and when they returned after a long break with a clean, melodic new album, it was a total reinvention that sounded as thrilling and urgent in 2018 as Canada Songs did 15 years earlier. Once it, settles in, I have a feeling that people will be saying the same thing about Dream Weapon.
Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders & The London Symphony Orchestra – Promises
Pharoah Sanders is a spiritual/avant-garde jazz legend who played as a sideman on several of John Coltrane’s classic mid ’60s albums as well as classics from that same era by Alice Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, Sun Ra, and more, and he released his own landmark albums in the ’60s and ’70s like Karma, Jewels of Thought, Black Unity, and others. Floating Points is a modern-day electronic wiz who also made a foray into jazz with 2015’s Elaenia and with his 11-piece live band. Pharoah Sanders hadn’t released a new album in over a decade, but he finally changes that with Promises, which is a collaboration with Floating Points and The London Symphony Orchestra. Since Sanders’ most classic works are big, maximalist pieces and Floating Points is a beatmaker, you might expect Promises to be a clamoring, percussive album but it’s just the opposite. It’s some of the most meditative, ambient music that either artist has released, and it’s suspenseful in its minimalism. Even in its most bare-bones moments, it feels stirring.
Citizen – Life In Your Glass World
Run For Cover
Citizen are always changing things up, and they’re often doing the unexpected. For their fourth album Life In Your Glass World, they’ve infused their usual post-hardcore sound with the danceable post-punk of early/mid 2000s bands like Bloc Party and Interpol. It’s their most jarring shift since the Jesus Lizard-esque Everybody Is Going to Heaven, and it’s some of their best music yet. Read more about it (including a list of influences by guitarist Nick Hamm) here.
You can also pick up the album on limited galaxy blue/green swirl vinyl in our store.
serpentwithfeet – DEACON
serpentwithfeet is back with a followup to his 2018 debut LP soil, one of our favorite albums of that year. Like on that album and the blisters EP that came before it, serpentwithfeet’s new album is lush, appealing music that feels equally indebted to Brandy’s R&B, Bjork’s art pop, the church music he grew up with, and the classical music he was trained on. The difference is that, this time, he’s happy. “I’ve done the heartbreak stuff, and I think I’ve done a pretty good job of at least saying that I was heartbroken,” he told The Guardian. Instead, DEACON is about “the joys of dating men, and dating Black men specifically. I’ve dated Black men and been in love with Black men, and there’s just a certain way I feel really taken care of and held by them. There’s a certain trust. It warms my heart just thinking about it.” It is indeed a warm, joyful sounding album. serpentwithfeet’s voice is as passionate and sensuous as you’d expect from someone as devoted to classic R&B as he is, and the experimental musical backdrop is where the Bjork influence comes in. It’s an ambitious, impressive album, but it never feels overly brainy. These songs come straight from the heart.
Tomahawk – Tonic Immobility
Mike Patton is a true lifer, and he’s been on a roll lately. Recent years have seen long-awaited and well-received comebacks from Faith No More and Mr. Bungle, as well as music with his great new band Dead Cross and other various projects, and now Tomahawk have made their own comeback with Tonic Immobility, the band’s first album in over eight years. Patton formed Tomahawk back in 1999 with The Jesus Lizard’s Duane Denison, and — with the exception of 2007’s Native American music-inspired Anonymous — they’ve always kind of existed somewhere between Patton’s usual freakiness and The Jesus Lizard’s hard-hitting post-hardcore. John Stanier (then of Helmet who had just broken up when Tomahawk formed, now of Battles) gives them the firm backbone they need, and while the rhythm section was once rounded out by bassist Kevin Rutmanis (Cows, Melvins), these days the low end is handled by Patton’s Mr. Bungle bandmate Trevor Dunn, who made his debut with the band on 2013’s Oddfellows. There may be eight years and tons of different Mike Patton projects in between Oddfellows and Tonic Immobility, but Tonic Immobility picks up right where its predecessor left off. It feels like classic Tomahawk; it’s loud, heavy, and some of Patton’s most straightforward work but still totally batshit. It also feels new and fresh. You wouldn’t mistake this for one of Tomahawk’s early 2000s albums; the production is warmer and more modern, and it reminds you that Mike Patton is constantly progressing as an artist. His classics never go out of style, and his new stuff doesn’t feel stale or rehashed. He’s always moving forward.
Esther Rose – How Many Times
Father/Daughter / Full Time Hobby
How Many Times is rooted in several of country music’s long-running traditions, fleshed out by lap steel, fiddle, and more, and featuring everything from lonesome ballads to rollicking anthems. It’s also an album that looks outside of country, though, fitting as nicely next to folk-pop legends like Joni Mitchell and Sandy Denny and more current indie rock-friendly folk like The Weather Station and Cassandra Jenkins as it does next to Esther’s beloved Hank Williams. You can read more about it here.
Drip-Fed – Kill The Buzz
Head2Wall/I, Corrupt Records
Somewhere between the punk n’ roll of The Bronx and Fucked Up and the melodic hardcore of Modern Life Is War and American Nightmare lies Austin’s Drip-Fed. Kill The Buzz is their second full-length, following their 2018 debut LP and various EPs and demos dating back to 2014, and they sound tighter, bigger, and cleaner than ever on this one. It’s a vicious, aggressive record, but it also feels bright and warm and, despite never utilizing clean vocals, it’s very catchy. Not to overly romanticize their hometown, but it feels very Austin to me. Austin’s a city where tons of the music venues have outdoor stages and where you can see entire music festivals dedicated to punk & metal and psychedelia, and all of that feels bottled up and spit back out on Kill The Buzz. There’s just a hint of garage/psych in the guitars, and of course plenty of punk & metal, and this record just feels like blaring half-stacks under the hot Austin sun. It’s no surprise that the hardcore community has already latched onto this band, but Kill The Buzz has serious crossover appeal too. If you’re into loud, ass-kicking rock of any kind, don’t miss this one.
Karol G – KG0516
Colombian artist Karol G named her 2017 debut album Unstoppable and she continues to live up to that tile. Now on her third LP, KG0516, Karol remains an ever-rising star — not just within Latin music but within pop music in general — and an increasingly ambitious artist. On the album, which marks her first time working as her own co-producer (in addition to writing or co-writing the entire LP, as she has since day one), Karol incorporates a vast array of musical styles, from current pop-reggaeton to traditional Latin folk music and plenty of the in-between. The album name is meant to be a mock airline flight, and as Karol said, it was inspired by the multi-genre journey that this album is meant to take you on. “Each song represents a connecting flight that takes you to a new place,” she said. “I experimented a lot with different sounds, genres and unique vibes.” The journey gets even more exciting thanks to appearances by fellow stars like J Balvin, Anuel AA, Ozuna, Nicky Jam, Camilo, Nicki Minaj, Ludacris, and more, all of whom add to the thrill of the music and never take away from Karol G’s vision.
YBN Nahmir – Visionland
YBN Nahmir emerged as the YBN crew’s breakout star with his 2017 single “Rubbin Off The Paint,” but after the group made their proper debut on 2018’s YBN: The Mixtape, it was YBN Cordae who found himself at the center of attention, and his fame only rose after he released his debut album The Lost Boy in 2019. Nahmir hasn’t necessarily been quiet since then — he’s released tons of singles — but he never got around to putting out his own debut album. Now it’s finally here, and though his momentum has died down a bit, Visionland proves that he’s become a more versatile artist in the years since “Rubbin Off the Paint.” Nahmir was always YBN’s most pop-minded rapper, and unlike The Lost Boy, Visionland is definitely pop rap, but there’s more to it than just radio bait. Nahmir can be an introspective lyricist when he wants to, like on the Ty Dolla $ign-assisted opener “Still (Family),” and he can also still crank out instant-classic hits like the 21 Savage-assisted “Opp Stoppa.” On first listen, it feels a little long, but that’s a minor gripe; it’s an overall strong project from an artist who could’ve ended up a one or two hit wonder.
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.
And check out what’s new in our shop.