Notable Releases of the Week (7/21)

Hey, hope you’ve had a good week. Are you seeing Barbie and/or Oppenheimer tonight? Maybe you’ve noticed things look a little different around here. It’s been a busy week for us and it’s the busiest week in Notable Releases in a while, with 11 new albums highlighted below. Bill also tackles more in Indie Basement, including Guided by Voices, Strange Ranger, and Miss Tiny.

On top of those, this week’s honorable mentions include Andrew Bird, Nas, Nils Lofgren, Oxbow, Restraining Order, Babyface Ray, Cady, Half Japanese, Samuel Locke-Ward & Mike Watt, Outta Pocket, Black Milk, Upper Wilds, Mort Garson, Gorgon City, Los, Somnuri, Zoh Amba & Chris Corsano & Bill Orcutt, Lori McKenna, Lauren Auder, Mother Tongues, Ageless Summoning, Azanti, Paris Texas, Greta Van Fleet, the Burial & Kode9 EP, the Bloc Party EP, the Death Bells EP, the Big Boss Vette EP, the Inhuman Nature/Ninth Realm split, the Smiley EP, the ODESZA & Yellow House EP, Barbie the Album, and Ludwig Göransson’s Oppenheimer soundtrack.

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

Allegra Krieger – I Keep My Feet On The Fragile Plane
Double Double Whammy

NYC folk singer Allegra Krieger has been turning a lot of heads lately, but she’s far from a new artist. She self-released her 2017 debut album Circles back in 2017, and followed that with two albums for Northern Spy, 2020’s The Joys of Forgetting and 2022’s Precious Thing, the former produced by Landlady’s Adam Schatz and the latter produced by Here We Go Magic/Art Feynman’s Luke Temple, with multiple other collaborators fleshing out both of those albums with strings, horns, synths, pedal steel, and more. Precious Thing caught the attention of Tomberlin, who named it one of her favorite albums of 2022. I Keep My Feet On The Fragile Plane is Allegra’s fourth album and first for Double Double Whammy, and it already seems poised to be her breakthrough. The pre-release hype for this album has been her loudest yet, and other established likeminded artists continue to take notice–Allegra will open two shows for Angel Olsen this fall.

Allegra’s back catalog is already remarkable, but if I Keep My Feet On The Fragile Plane ends up being a lot of people’s introduction to her music, it’s a great place to start. Like its predecessor, it was made with Luke Temple and it’s fleshed out by all kinds of added ornamentation. A student of the ’70s-era folk of Joni and Judee, her songs shine with just the warmth of her voice and strummed guitar alone, and the arrangements only add to them even more. An observant songwriter, she recounts vivid scenes from New York City, where 5th and Avenue A “smelled like piss and garbage” (“Lingering”), to Los Angeles, where she says she wrote “Nothing In This World Ever Stays Still” “in a tumultuous time in my life” spent there. Her way with words is as deft as her way with melodies and mannerisms, making for pin-drop moments and songs that stand tall next to timeless classics. [A.S. & A.H.]

For more on this album, read Allegra’s list of influences behind. it.

blur - the ballad of darren

Blur – The Ballad of Darren

The Ballad of Darren is Blur’s first album since their 2015 comeback LP The Magic Whip, but Damon Albarn calls it “the first legit Blur album” since 1999’s 13. And in Bill’s review for BV, he also calls it the best Blur album since 13. In his ranking of Blur albums that also just went up, Bill calls the album “uniformly great” and says that “Albarn delivers some of his most personal, moving, introspective lyrics since 13.” Read both the review and the ranking for more.

Ice Spice – Like..? (Deluxe)
10K Projects/Capitol

Ice Spice’s six-song debut EP Like..? from earlier this year may be brief, but it already feels monumental–just about all of its songs have been inescapable hits all year, and after breaking out with song of the summer “Munch (Feelin’ U)” last year, Like..? affirms that Ice Spice is not just a hot new rapper but one who’s truly doing something unique, refreshing, and new. Six months out from the EP’s original release, she’s keeping the momentum going with a deluxe edition that tacks on four new tracks and replaces “Princess Diana” with the version that features Nicki Minaj. All four of the new songs are produced or co-produced by her frequent collaborator RIOTUSA, and they all feel as instantly-satisfying as the original EP. “Deli” is loaded with the kinds of knockout one-liners that have become Ice Spice’s calling card (“Hunnit bands in Chanely/but I’m still shaking ass in the deli,” “He want the WAP but I just want the fetty”), and “How High?” finds her branching out from drill and further exploring the synthpop vibes that made her PinkPantheress collab such a world-conquering hit. Especially given the brevity of the original Like..? EP, this seems like a deluxe edition that’s destined to quickly become the new standard.

Outer Heaven

Outer Heaven – Infinite Psychic Depths

In a sea of death metal bands regurgitating the same ’80s and ’90s influences, Douglassville, Pennsylvania’s Outer Heaven continue to stand out. Their second album (and first in five years) knows no bounds, moving from fast-paced death metal fury to slower death-doom-leaning stuff to the grindy tech-death of album closer “From Nothingness To Eternity.” Some moments lean punk/hardcore, like the breakdown in “Pillars of Dust” and the chugs in “Fragmented Suspension”; some moments lean trippy and ethereal, like Tabitha Rudy‘s airy clean vocals on “Unspeakable Aura” and the psychedelic interlude on “Rotting Stone / D.M.T.”; and some moments lean classic heavy metal, like the many shredded solos throughout. Joining Outer Heaven on this journey is a cast of incredible guests that range from veterans to bright new voices, including guest vocals from Morbid Angel’s Steve Tucker (“Starcrusher”), Pig Destroyer’s JR Hayes (“Pillars of Dust”), and Undeath’s Alexander Jones (“Pallasite Chambers”), as well as guitar solos from Dave Suzuki (Churchburn, ex-Vital Remains) (on “Rotting Stone / D.M.T.”) and former bassist Derrick Vella of Tomb Mold/Dream Unending (“Liquified Mind” and “Unspeakable Aura”), who also played bass on this album before officially departing the band. Not that you can really understand Austin Haines’ subterranean growls (nor is Death Metal English easy to interpret), but themes reportedly range from societal collapse to hallucinogens, and this music is the perfect backdrop for that exact venn diagram.

Molly Tuttle

Molly Tuttle & Golden Highway – City of Gold

Last year, Molly Tuttle and her band Golden Highway helped inject new life into bluegrass with their album Crooked Tree, which became one of the year’s most widely acclaimed Americana albums–at the Grammys, she was nominated for Best New Artist and won Best Bluegrass Album. Just a year later, she’s already back with a followup. Like its predecessor, City of Gold was largely co-written with Old Crow Medicine Show‘s Ketch Secor. This one is less guest-filled than Crooked Tree, but there is one big-name vocalist on there: Dave Matthews sings with Molly on “Yosemite.” The record picks up right where its predecessor left off, with songs that honor the time-tested tradition of bluegrass in a way that sits nicely next to modern-day indie folk, and thematically, it’s a love letter to the California-born musician’s home state. City of Gold “celebrates the music of my heart, the land where I grew up, and the stories I heard along the way,” Molly says.

Fatboi Sharif – Decay

Fresh off appearances on recent albums by billy woods and Moor Mother, NJ rapper Fatboi Sharif releases his own expansive new album Decay on woods’ Backwoodz label, entirely produced by Steel Tipped Dove. The production is hazy and claustrophobic, and Sharif lives inside these beats, churning out mind-melting rhyme schemes and metaphors that only make the experience more of a trip.


Mizmor – Prosaic
Profound Lore

Portland blackened doom/sludge one-person-band Mizmor has over a decade of albums, splits, and EPs, but Prosaic sounds like a new beginning. “I wanted to make an album that was less precious and obsessed-over,” he says, “more honest and real; less grandiose and more human.” That goal comes through in these four lengthy songs (that clock in at a combined 46 minutes), which–as far as underground extreme metal goes–feel pretty down to earth. They’re also intense, sprawling, ruthlessly heavy, and constantly unpredictable songs that are just as remarkable and overwhelming as Mizmor’s established fan favorites.

Valee & Harry Fraud – Virtuoso
SRFSCHL/Fake Shore Drive

Chicago rapper Valee seemed like a potential Next Big Thing when he and Sheck Wes were both signed to Kanye West’s GOOD Music label in 2018 surrounding the release of big singles from each rapper, “Womp Womp” and “Mo Bamba,” respectively. Valee never really took off the way a lot of people thought he would, but now he’s out of his major label deal and has a new project made entirely with underground producer Harry Fraud. Virtuoso reasserts Valee as a force, and it does so without making any sacrifices for the mainstream music industry. Harry Fraud fills the album with woozy, pillowy production, and Valee’s permastoned delivery suits it perfectly. Other underground heavy hitters like Action Bronson, Saba, MAVI, and RXK Nephew come along for the ride, and it turns out Valee makes a lot of sense in this company. Virtuoso finds both Valee and Harry Fraud pushing each other outside of their usual comfort zones, and the result is an album unlike much else that we’ve heard from either artist.


Agriculture – Agriculture
The Flenser

Agriculture refer to their music as “ecstatic black metal,” a phrase Liturgy also used in their early days, and as their band name suggests, they’re also really into nature. So it’s kind of fitting that the first thing you hear on their self-titled debut full-length–which follows last year’s The Circle Chant EP–is warm, twangy slide guitar. Right off the bat, Agriculture let you know that they’re not just another darkness-obsessed black metal band. That opening track, “The Glory of the Ocean, Pt. 1,” evolves into soaring instrumental post-rock. It’s only on followup track “The Glory of the Ocean, Pt. 2” that we get introduced to the band’s black metal side, and it does indeed sound inspired by early Liturgy. Track three, “The Well,” is a total about-face; it’s an emotive, clean-vocal song that sounds like it could’ve come from Agriculture’s Flenser labelmates Have A Nice Life. It’s not metal at all, and it’s one of my favorite tracks on the record. That song segues seamlessly back into another onslaught of black metal fury, with the “Look” trilogy and album closer “Relier.” In interviews, Agriculture talk about their intent on making music that invites people to have a good time, and–like Liturgy before them–rubbing black metal purists the wrong way is probably part of the point. Black metal is supposed to be provocative, and Agriculture seem like a band who would provoke the people who already like it and the people who dont.

Kitba - Kitba

Kitba – Kitba

Having appeared on recordings from Cassandra Jenkins, JG Thirlwell, and mmeadows, Brooklyn-based harpist and singer/songwriter Rebecca Kitba Bryson El-Sale began the songwriting process for their self-titled debut album as Kitba with a song-a-day project that featured other friends and musicians. Eventually they hit the studio with co-producer Zubin Hensler, who also worked on Kitba’s 2020 EP Break Through Arrive Here, and they assembled a band that includes drummer Jason Burger, upright bassist Carmen Q. Rockwell, guitarist/bassist Ryan Weiner, and guitarist Gregg Belisle-Chi. Ryan also played in Alena Spanger’s band Tiny Hazard, who Kitba cited as an influence on this album, and Zubin has worked multiple times with Half Waif, who Kitba says is “a northstar for me when writing and making music.” Kitba’s classical training comes through in their chops on this record, but they also know that sometimes less is more. The album ranges from fuzzed-out indie rock to gentle folk music to intricate art pop, and Kitba’s soaring voice and contemplative lyricism ties everything together. [Amanda Hatfield]

For more on this album, read Kitba’s list of influences behind it.


Stateside – It’s What We Do EP
New Morality Zine/Extinction Burst

California hardcore-infused emo band made a grand introduction with recent single “Crash Course (Nosedive to Nowhere)” (ft. Rachael Braverman of Anklebiter) (one of the best punk songs of May), and this EP has much more where that came from. Three of its other four songs are revved-up emo rippers with hardcore energy and backing screams, and the centerpiece is “Wharf St. Part Two,” an acoustic song that balances out all the fury with a genuinely pretty side. With engineering, mixing, and mastering by Zach Tuch (Initiate, Touché Amoré, Trash Talk), it also sounds fantastic and the production helps make this a clear leap from the demo. If you’re into anything from Can’t Slow Down-era Saves The Day to Kingston-era Title Fight to contemporary stuff like Anxious and Koyo, don’t miss out on Stateside.

Read my Q&A with the band for more.

Read Indie Basement for more new album reviews, including Guided by Voices, Strange Ranger, and Miss Tiny.

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 the latest episodes of The BrooklynVegan Show.

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