Notable Releases of the Week (3/15)

The weather in NYC this week really makes it feel like spring is on the way, and warm, sunny days like the ones we’ve been having are perfect times to open up the windows and throw on an album, so it’s good news that we’ve got some great ones out this week. I highlight eight below, and Bill tackles more in Bill’s Indie Basement, including The Dandy Warhols, Pete Astor, Yoo Doo Right, and more.

This week’s honorable mentions include (Dan) Boeckner (of Wolf Parade), The Messthetics & James Brandon Lewis, Earth Flower (Ruth Garbus, Sam Gendel, & Philippe Melanson), Justin Timberlake, Sum 41, The Black Crowes, Bktherula, Night Verses (ft. Anthony Green, Author & Punisher, Tool’s Justin Chancellor, Incubus’ Brandon Boyd), DragonForce, Sean Ono Lennon, Devon Welsh, Elcamino, Sweat (ex-Graf Orlock), Brother Dege, Peter Garrett, Lustmord, Amirtha Kidambi’s Elder Ones, Charles Lloyd, Pettersson, Sunday Cruise, Marla Hansen, Nemzzz, Reaper Mook, Chief Keef & Mike Will Made-It, Kenny Mason, Germ, Jay Critch, Yung Lean & Bladee, bedbug, Dancer, Grieving, Heavee, Potato Beach, Beige Banquet, Bob Junior, The Dread Crew Of Oddwood, While She Sleeps, Luke Dick, Lenny Kravitz, Scott Stapp, the Simulakra EP, the Sawtooth Grin EP, the Nascar Aloe EP, the Holly Humberstone EP, the Comeback Kid EP, the Cusp EP, the Dominic Angelella EP, the Canyons and Locusts EP, and the dj gummy bear (Montell Fish) EP.

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

Gouge Away – Deep Sage
Deathwish Inc

Deep Sage is Gouge Away’s best album yet, and it almost didn’t happen. As they were demoing the followup to 2018’s Burnt Sugar, COVID lockdown hit and the band was forced into hiatus. The band wasn’t sure what would end up becoming of the material they’d been working on, but they finally regrouped and started writing again at the literal tail-end of 2021 (on New Year’s Eve), and then they made a surprise return to play two songs in the middle of a Militarie Gun set in Portland about a month later. The energy from that show convinced them to finish the record, and now their masterful, wide-ranging third LP is here.

The 11 songs on Deep Sage seamlessly weave between abrasive hardcore rage, catchy anthemic choruses, indie rock melodicism, grungy dream pop, and the sprawl of post-hardcore and Sonic Youth-y noise rock, and every song sounds like a crucial part of one complete whole. The four pre-release singles successfully showed off the album’s range, but it’s less about the musical variety itself and more about the way everything comes together when you listen to Deep Sage in its entirety. It’s a journey through hardcore-informed, ambitious guitar rock that scratches so many different itches at once. The band’s knack for genre-defying experimentation was already clear on Burnt Sugar, but they really tie it all together on Deep Sage in a way they never have before. It’s an album to bounce around and shout along to as much as it’s an album to sit back and lose yourself in; an album with purely infectious moments as well as moments that might provoke or challenge. There’s darkness in both the music and Christina Michelle’s lyrics, and Gouge Away navigate darkness and contradictions and mood shifts in a way that’s an absolute joy to listen to.

Kacey Musgraves - Deeper Well

Kacey Musgraves – Deeper Well
MCA Nashville/Deeper Well

As Kacey Musgraves gears up for her biggest arena tour yet, she’s just released an album of her most intimate folk music yet. It finds the Texas-born, Nashville-based artist connecting the dots between Laurel Canyon, Greenwich Village, and the British folk revival, circa 1967-1972, with an entirely modern shine. Greenwich Village is also where Kacey went to record it–at the historic Electric Lady Studio–for that exact reason. “Sonically, I’ve been craving classic American songwriting,” she says. “Real songs. No gimmicks. The color palette of where those songs came from was everything I felt pulled to. New York is one of the places that kind of record came from. Simon & Garfunkel, the Greenwich Village clubs, fingerpicking and James Taylor. Social commentary. Storytelling.”

Great storytelling is all over this album, with small details like hitting a gravity bong or thinking about Miyazaki animation set against deeper sentiments about life, death, love, and the divine. The songs are heavily acoustic, usually with just some light drumming and a few other minor embellishments, and hearing a larger-than-life artist like Kacey in this modest, simplistic setting is a treat. Obligatory comparisons to artists like Joni Mitchell and Sandy Denny are very fitting here, and the way Kacey brings that type of artistry to the forefront of modern popular music is nothing short of remarkable.

Tierra Whack WORLD WIDE WHACK Album Artwork by Alex Da Corte

Tierra Whack – World Wide Whack

At this point, the best way to describe Tierra Whack’s is to admit you can’t. If you’re totally unfamiliar, she makes some version of lively, off-kilter, hip hop-infused pop music, but that combination of words barely scratches the surface of what you actually hear when you listen to World Wide Whack. It follows 2018’s Whack World, a project with 15 one-minute songs, as well as her 2021 EP trilogy Rap?, Pop?, & R&B?, but she considers World Wide Whack her first proper full-length. It’s definitely her longest and most fleshed-out project yet–not that Whack World wasn’t maximalist in its own way–but it also still has the spontaneity, the quickness, and the brevity that made her past work so immediate. The album’s range is wide, but more important than that is how uniquely Tierra approaches each stylistic shift. Nobody does militant rap the way she does on “X,” or smooth and soulful the way she does on “Mood Swings,” or whimsical and bubbly the way she does on “Shower Song.” It walks the line between outsider art and mass appeal, a very difficult task that Tierra Whack pulls off so well.

Sweet Pill - Starchild

Sweet Pill – Starchild EP

Sweet Pill took the underground emo world by storm with their 2022 Topshelf-released debut LP Where The Heart Is and their undeniable live show, but it’s clearly just the beginning. They recently made the jump to Hopeless Records, and their four-song Hopeless debut Starchild contains their best and most musically diverse material yet. The Philly band have been generally known for combining intricate, math rock-infused instrumentals with powerhouse singer Zayna Youssef’s soaring hooks, and Starchild takes those ingredients in a few different directions. The title track is their most direct, catchiest, hardest-hitting song yet; it mixes Midwest emo, chunky post-hardcore, and blissful pop in a way that would probably make Bleed American-era Jimmy Eat World proud. On the other end of the spectrum, “Eternal” leans into the clean, slowcore-ish side of ’90s emo, sounding like one of the best crosses between American Football and Hayley Williams since the actual cross between American Football and Hayley Williams. Somewhere in the middle are “Chewed Up” and “Sympathy,” songs that sound a little closer to Where The Heart Is but also make clear improvements upon the form. The EP may be brief, but the leap it makes from its predecessor is monumental. It’s the kind of EP that sets the bar very high for this band’s next album, and all signs point to Sweet Pill continuing to deliver.

BRAT Social Grace

BRAT – Social Grace

BRAT refer to themselves as “barbiegrind” and “bimboviolence” because of their pink, Barbie-friendly aesthetic, but the point is to not judge a book by its cover. Vocalist Liz Selfish knows that some people might take one look at her and assume she couldn’t name three metal songs, and she responds by fronting a genuinely badass death metal band. Rather than reflecting the aesthetic, the music itself pretty much stands in opposition to it. It’s just a fast, ferocious death metal album that’s full of brick-heavy riffs, brutal screams, and negative lyrics. It’s gravely serious music from a band with a grin-inducing sense of humor.

Chuck Strangers A Forsaken Lover's Plea

Chuck Strangers – A Forsaken Lover’s Plea
Lex Records

Chuck Strangers has been around, but he’s not usually the type to reach for the spotlight. When he emerged as a member of Pro Era, he was a guy producing tracks on Joey Bada$$ albums and occasionally rapping alongside him, but over time he became a force of his own. Like Joey, he’s long been a boom bap revivalist, but on his new album A Forsaken Lover’s Plea, he reminds me more of another one of his collaborators, Ka. Like his hometown Brooklyn hero often does, Chuck fills this album with eerie, minimal soundscapes and a quietly commanding lyrical style. Sometimes it sounds like the ’90s, other times it sounds like the future. As a producer himself, Chuck handles a handful of his own beats (the psychedelic acoustic guitar loop of “Sunset Park” is a highlight), and he also brings in The Alchemist, Animoss, and more, and Joey Bada$$, Flatbush Zombies’ Erick the Architect, and Remy Banks all provide guest verses.

Four Tet Three

Four Tet – Three
Text Records

Four Tet’s gorgeous, glistening beatmaking style is in full force on his latest LP, and Bill reviews this one over in Bill’s Indie Basement so head there to read more.

Flo Milli Fine Ho Stay

Flo Milli – Fine Ho, Stay

The release of this one admittedly snuck up on me, so maybe I’ll have a more proper review in the near future, but Fine Ho, Stay rounds out a trilogy that began with two of my favorite rap albums in recent memory, recent single “Never Lose Me” is great, and the album also includes a new version of that song featuring both SZA and Cardi B, so that’s exciting. Other guests on the LP include Monaleo, Anycia, and Gunna.

Read Indie Basement for more new album reviews, including The Dandy Warhols, Pete Astor, Yoo Doo Right, and more.

Looking for more recent releases? Browse the Notable Releases archive or scroll down for previous weeks.

Looking for a podcast to listen to? Check out our new episode with Ned Russin (of Glitterer and Title Fight).

Pick up the BrooklynVegan x Alexisonfire special edition 80-page magazine, which tells the career-spanning story of Alexisonfire and comes on its own or paired with our new exclusive AOF box set and/or individual reissues, in the BV shop. Also pick up the new Glassjaw box set & book, created in part with BrooklynVegan.

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