Notable Releases of the Week (9/22)

Happy fall! Summer is officially over and the weather (at least in NYC) is already starting to feel like it. And with the new season comes a bunch of great new records. I highlight nine below, and Bill tackles even more in Indie Basement, including Teenage Fanclub, CHAI, Das Koolies (Super Furry Animals), Devendra Banhart, Föllakzoid, Patio, Cupid & Psyche, Le Couleur, The Loving Paupers, Flat Worms, and the Replacements Tim and Breeders Last Splash anniversary editions.

On top of those, this week’s honorable mentions include Kevin Drew, KEN mode, Grails, yeule, Fielded (ft. billy woods, ELUCID, Fatboi Sharif, PremRock, They Hate Change & more), Brent Cobb, Kylie Minogue, Laurel Halo, Samantha Urbani, Will Butler + Sister Squares, Chappell Roan, Pkew Pkew Pkew, Charles Wesley Godwin, K-Trap & Headie One, Duffy x Uhlmann (Hand Habits), Final Gasp, 3TEETH, Gabe ‘Nandez, Another Michael, Roosevelt, Eartheater (which came out Wednesday), Colleen, Amindi, Arkells, Traindodge, Postdata, Buddy & Julie Miller, Jenny Owen Youngs, Aset, Paradime, Teenage Sequence, Grrrl Gang, Mad Honey, underscores, Bleach Lab, Kim Petras, Colbie Caillat, Chaver, the Soccer Mommy covers EP, the Choice To Make EP, the Arny Margret EP, the NZCA LINES EP, the LSDXOXO EP, the Mykki Blanco EP, the Bibio EP, the Still Alive EP, and the Wajatta (Reggie Watts & John Tejada) EP.

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

The Alchemist, Wiki & MIKE – Faith Is A Rock

“The Alchemist is on fire right now” is a sentence you could say at almost any point in the past 15 years, and probably even longer ago than that, but: The Alchemist is on fire right now. Just a few weeks after finally releasing his long-awaited album with Earl Sweatshirt, he arrives with another collaborative album from a similar musical universe: Faith Is A Rock with NYC rappers Wiki and MIKE. Wiki goes back with Earl for nearly a decade, since he appeared on Earl’s 2015 album I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside; MIKE has been a frequent inspiration to and collaborator of Earl’s ever since Earl went in a more psychedelic direction on 2018’s Some Rap Songs; and Wiki and MIKE have collaborations dating back to almost the beginning of MIKE’s career. MIKE’s on the Alchemist/Earl album and other Alc projects, and last year, MIKE, Wiki, and Alc dropped a three-song EP together called One More. The EP was full of magic, with Alchemist’s hypnotic production, MIKE’s abstract thoughts, and Wiki’s colder, harder delivery all coming together to create something genuinely greater than the sum of its parts. Those three songs and seven others now make up Faith Is A Rock, and that same magic continues all throughout this LP. All three of these artists have distinct styles, and Faith Is A Rock reminds you that all three are also very versatile. It goes from hazy to clear, from nostalgia-inducing to futuristic, from traditional to unconventional, and it makes these transitions feel seamless. It’s a triumph that stands out not just from everything these three have done in the past, but from the current landscape of underground rap in general.

Doja Cat Scarlet

Doja Cat – Scarlet

Before announcing Scarlet, Doja Cat publicly referred to the two very popular pop-oriented albums that preceded it as “cash grabs,” and you could tell from the pre-release singles that she’s been aiming to get back to her roots in rap (“Lots of people that were sleeping say I rap now,” she asserts on “Demons”). I think she’s being too hard on those albums, which are both great and unique interpretations of pop music, but I’m also excited about her decision to get back to rapping more. The singles did a good job of setting the stage for Scarlet, a consistently strong record that does indeed lean pretty heavily in a classic late ’90s/early 2000s style rap direction. It’s also got the theatrical, in-your-face moments that only an artist as charismatic as Doja Cat can pull off, and it still has plenty of R&B songs–it’s not really as drastic a departure as it’s sometimes being painted as. It has no guests, and when you’ve got as many different rapping and singing voices as Doja does, you don’t really need any. Scarlet is a reminder that Doja can rap, but even more so than that, it’s a reminder that Doja can do so much.

The National Laugh Track

The National – Laugh Track

After The National released their new album First Two Pages of Frankenstein in April, they quickly returned to the studio to record much of what became Laugh Track, which they’re considering the second half of a double album that began with Frankenstein. It’s almost as star-studded as its previously-released counterpart (no Taylor Swift but it does have returning guest Phoebe Bridgers, frequent collaborator Bon Iver, and veteran guest Rosanne Cash), and it largely feels cut from the same musical cloth. That cloth is The National doing what they do best in a way that sounds damn near second nature. It’s The National putting out the kind of gorgeously melancholic indie rock that you’d never mistake for any other band in the world. They aren’t breaking any new ground, but they aren’t losing steam either. They’re still making this music with the same passion and attention to detail that they’ve had for two decades straight.

Al Menne – Freak Accident
Double Double Whammy

Seattle band Great Grandpa swung for the fences with their fantastic 2019 sophomore album Four of Arrows, full of immaculate, big-hearted indie rock. Lead vocalist Al Menne wasn’t the primary songwriter on that project (guitarist Pat Goodwin was), but their own songwriting style comes to life on their solo debut Freak Accident. Exploring the more somber indie folk side of Great Grandpa’s universe, Freak Accident is well-seasoned with country twang, and like one of Menne’s influences on the album, Big Thief’s Adrianne Lenker, they have a knack for creating intimate songs that really pull you in. Contributing to the warm, gentle sound are Hand Habits’ Meg Duffy on guitar, producer Christian Lee Hutson, and engineer and mixer Melina Duterte (Jay Som). [Amanda Hatfield]

Slaughter Beach, Dog

Slaughter Beach, Dog – Crying, Laughing, Waving, Smiling
Lame-O Records

For his latest Slaughter Beach, Dog album, Jake Ewald dives into the world of cosmic country. These ten songs feel warm, timeless, and lived-in. They have twangy slide guitar, soaring harmonies from the very talented Erin Rae, and Jake’s most experienced storytelling yet. His stories are full of vivid imagery, conversational dialogue, Townes Van Zandt references, “sha la la”s, and My Chemical Romance t-shirts. He makes everything feel familiar, and he makes the familiar feel profound. Crying, Laughing, Waving, Smiling is the most divorced Jake’s songwriting has ever been from his past life as the co-leader of the generation-defining emo band Modern Baseball, and it stands tall on its own, completely separate from any of Jake’s past work. It feels like the beginning of an entirely new chapter.

For more, read Jake’s track-by-track breakdown of Crying, Laughing, Waving, Smiling.

Lydia Loveless

Lydia Loveless – Nothing’s Gonna Stand In My Way Again

Lydia Loveless’ last LP Daughter came out during the height of COVID lockdown, and since then Lydia ended a longterm relationship, returned to her home state of Ohio, and really hit reset on their life. “I was starting completely over post Covid,” they say. “I was so lost and aimless. I had to write my way out of it.” The result is Nothing’s Gonna Stand In My Way Again, which finds Lydia marching onwards through melancholy, grit, humor, and some remarkably catchy heartland rock songs.

Read Lydia’s list of influences behind the album for more, including Drive-By Truckers, The Pretenders, and Paul Westerberg.

Sincere Engineer - Cheap Grills

Sincere Engineer – Cheap Grills

Chicago punk band Sincere Engineer started as the acoustic solo project of Deanna Belos, and that piece of history makes a lot of sense when you listen to their third album Cheap Grills. It’s an explosive, fired-up punk album, but at the heart of these songs is the kind of songwriting that would command a room even without the added noise of a punk band. Sometimes it’s more overt, like the country-leaning “Landline and “Scratched,” the ballad-driven “Inside My Head,” and the chamber-folk closer “Blind Robin,” and other times it’s baked into Sincere Engineer’s punk fury. On past albums, you could hear echoes of Deanna’s hometown heroes like The Lawrence Arms and Alkaline Trio, which are still in her DNA, but on Cheap Grills, her own style is what comes through the loudest.

Cannibal Corpse

Cannibal Corpse – Chaos Horrific
Metal Blade

In case you haven’t noticed, we’re in the midst of a very exciting time for death metal, and a very large portion of the currently-thriving bands are very clearly influenced by Cannibal Corpse. And CC themselves are on a roll right now too. Their great and widely loved 2021 album Violence Unimagined was made after longtime producer Erik Rutan officially joined the band and helped breathe some new life (or death) into them, and Chaos Horrific was made shortly afterwards with the same lineup. Bassist Alex Webster says this album “feels sort of like a continuation” of its predecessor, and you can hear it. It has all the filth and exuberance that Cannibal Corpse had in their youth, with the power and precision that you develop when you never quit for 35 years straight.

Read Indie Basement for more new album reviews, including Teenage Fanclub, CHAI, Das Koolies (Super Furry Animals), Devendra Banhart, Föllakzoid, Patio, 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 Justice Tripp (Angel Du$t, Trapped Under Ice).

Also, BrooklynVegan launched pre-orders for its first-ever 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. Pick up yours in the BV shop.

Alexisonfire banner