Roosevelt – Polydans
Released February 26th, 2021 on City Slang Records
German producer/DJ Marius Lauber has crafted a banger of a disco record that draws on the best of “The Eighties” which is, let’s be honest, less of a decade and more of a genre now. We’re a whole decade into our extended 80s vacation, which Lauber knows all too well, having collaborated with chillwave spearhead Washed Out among other Neo-80s groups. There’s splashes of neo-disco, yacht rock, house, and that stuff they play in the chillout room when the molly gets too intense. See “Forget” for a trip back to a Depeche Mode that was. A definite keeper for the summer, in hopes that we can all get together and enjoy it.
Balthazar – Sand
Released February 26th on PIAS Records
Balthazar inhabits the same sonic territory as alt-J and Foals. However, I hate alt-J and Foals and I like Sand. The difference is the funk. Balthazar brings it.
Altın Gün – Yol
Released February 26th, 2021 on ATO Records
Anatolian psych-rock that explores the same kind of microtones as King Gizz but from a much more grounded base of experience. Unfortunately it’s not quite as inventive or jazzy as Gizz; half of it sounds like those old lo-fi cassettes you used to be able to pick up from Turkish vendors, and the other half sounds like it’s meandering towards that ideal.
Danny J Harle – Harlecore
Released February 26th, 2021 on Mad Decent Records
OK sure it’s bubblegum and happy hardcore – the hyperest of hyperpop, in other words – but get this: it’s March again. No, read that again. It’s March again. We all need to escape into something blissful right now.
Glitterer – Life Is Not A Lesson
Released February 26th on ANTI- Records
If the songs were any longer they’d be insufferable (and probably indistinguishable from, say, Cold Cave). As it stands, though, the former Title Fight member has absorbed the proper lessons from classic Guided By Voices and presents short song-sketches that manage to hit the right note and quit before they start to drag. Bedroom synth rock that manages to make it out of the bedroom.
Jimmy Edgar – Cheetah Bend
Released February 26th, 2021 on Innovative Leisure Records
Jimmy Edgar has spent the last decade quietly amassing a hell of a list of production credits, including one of my favourite Vince Staples tracks (“745”). His last solo collection, 2012’s Majenta, wasted a lot of time reveling in a sort of Prince-level horniness that was over-the-top even by modern standards. Cheetah Bend, by contrast, feels more like a sizzling demo reel of his capabilities, complete with some fairly impressive guests. Fellow Motor City icon Danny Brown shows up here, as does Hudson Mohawke and Toronto singer Rochelle Jordan. On a sadder, or at least more poignant, note, SOPHIE guests on “Metal” and it’s hard to hear her voice without regretting her all-too-recent demise.
Melvins – Working With God
Released February 26th, 2021 on Ipecac Records
We’re closing in on ten years since the Melvins 1983 lineup reunited and somehow the band is still rolling along doing hard rock better than basically anyone else on the planet. The band’s warped sense of humour is also on full display; the album kicks off with a profane cover of “I Get Around” and “Brian, The Horse Faced Goon” is probably the best weirdo Melvins rocker since Stag. Death, taxes, and Melvins.
Smerz – Believer
Released February 26th, 2021 on XL Records
Sprays you with structured string work and lumpy workmanlike beats but nothing really sticks.
Flyying Colours – Fantasy Country
Released February 26th, 2021 on Poison City Records
The Melbourne psych-shoegaze band returns five years later at the top of their game, delivering a soaring record that sounds as though The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart never got slow and lame.
Maxïmo Park – Nature Always Wins
Released February 26th, 2021 on Prolifica Records
Once, a year after Toxicity dropped, one of my friends tried to get another friend and I hyped about some chud rock album by like Flaw or someone. It was so generic to post-nu-metal heavy grunge that I clearly remember giving up on the genre entirely. I was done, free of the need to pretend to like Seether or be okay with radio stations that play Alice In Chains 64 times a day. Nature Always Wins is like that, but for wiry British indie rock. I don’t have to like Two Door Cinema Club. I don’t like Two Door Cinema Club. Or Bombay Bicycle Club. Or any club. No club but soda.
A Winged Victory For The Sullen – Invisible Cities
Released February 26th, 2021 on Ninja Tunes Records
Gorgeous, moody ambient compositions that don’t overstay their welcome and don’t fall into the all-too-easy trap of crest-and-release. Great soundtrack for late-night brooding.
Holy Monitor – Southern Lights
Released February 26th, 2021 on Blackspin Records
Sludgy stoner psychedelia that can mine a crisp groove but never manages to bust out its wings and take flight. The title track has a cutting coda but elsewhere the band seems content to plod rather than impress. It reminds me more than anything of tossed-off Dead Meadows, if that says anything to you. The extra half-star is because I’m like 60% positive I’ll come back around on this album later in a different mood.
The Muckers – Endeavor
Released February 26th, 2021 on Greenway Records
It’s always a red flag when press releases and positive reviews push a band’s story over the band’s music. Sure, the fact that Muckers frontman Emir Mohseni is an Iranian emigre in an era when the U.S. is hellbent on continuing their 40-year most-hated-enemy status with that country makes for a good story. The band doesn’t make for good music, though, so it’s a real shame. It’s safe psych-rock: 80s junk-pop choruses, guitar riffs that were written by committee, songs for government functions. If I wanted to listen to “Take Me Home Tonight” I would just listen to it.
Sydney Sprague – Maybe I Will See You At The End Of The World
Released February 26th, 2021 on Rude Records
Kerrang! gives this tagline for pop-punk newcomer Sydney Sprague: “Raised on Avril Lavigne, forged in the Trump era.” There’s something to this, but a closer touchstone might be former buzz girl Colleen Green. Both share a love of 90s-influenced workmanlike pop-punk numbers, although Sprague presents a sound that is much slicker than Green ever managed. Whether that’s a good thing is up to you, but either way Maybe I Will See You At The End Of The World is a solid debut from a woman who by all rights should be an up-and-comer.
Nightshift – Zöe
Released February 26th on Trouble In Mind Records
A first-wave inspired art punk album a la the Slits et al that never really makes it out of second gear but is still exceedingly listenable despite that.
Sad Night Dynamite – Sad Night Dynamite
Released February 26th, 2021 on Spinning Records
A pair of UK siblings who very clearly grew up on Gorillaz records. This is not necessarily a bad thing.
Plankton Wat – Future Times
Released February 26th, 2021 on Thrill Jockey Records
The word “lysergic” gets thrown around all too often but honestly, there’s few other words that more accurately describe the work of Eternal Tapestry member Dewey Mahood. Spin three and give it a listen, you won’t be disappointed.
Jetty Bones – Push Back
Released February 26th, 2021 on Rise Records
Existence is suffering. The origin of suffering is wanting badly to be Haim.