Round-Up, April 16th-April 22nd

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The Armed – ULTRAPOP

★★★★

Released April 16th, 2021 on Sargent House Records

There’s eight of them, they’re fit as hell, they aren’t afraid of doing weird, out-there shit, and they craft music that feels like hardcore punk, death metal, synthwave, and indie rock (seriously, “A Life So Wonderful” is a ragged Cloud Nothings song, isn’t it?) got thrown into a wood chipper. Detroit, baby. Motor City.

Spencer Krug – Fading Graffiti

★★★★

Released April 16th, 2021 on 7 e.p. Records

If you’re used to Krug’s prolific output with Wolf Parade, Sunset Rubdown, Moonface, and Swan Lake, nothing on Fading Graffiti will come as a complete surprise. This is him under his own name, however, and it presents a version of his songwriting that has tightened all the buckles and shaved off all of the sometimes painful rough edges. It’s hard to think of Krug going pop (and country), but this is as close as it’ll likely get.

London Grammar – Californian Soil

★★☆

Released April 16th, 2021 on Ministry of Sound Records

“Lord It’s A Feeling” was a good single but the rest of the album fails on the same problem that said single had: it’s all been done before by Florence + The Machine, and better.

Nick Hakim & Roy Nathanson – Small Things

★★★☆

Released April 16th, 2021 on NYXO Records

A groovy little neo-soul record with a heavy emphasis on lurching good-time jazz. Nick Hakim previously scratched “Bet She Looks Like You” into my soul and while nothing in this collab with saxophonist Roy Nathanson hits those heights, it’s still a little garage party.

Cory Hanson – Pale Horse Rider

★★★★☆

Released April 16th, 2021 on Drag City Records

Tough-wrought country-cut folksongs shot through with psychedelic guitar work that shines like starfire. A rework of the L.A. country-rock aesthetic that roots it squarely in the apocalypse, making it an album made perfectly for the age in which it is released.

Jeff Rosenstock – Ska Dream

★★★★

Released April 20th, 2021 on Polyvinyl Records

It’s 2020’s No Dream but re-imagined as a total ska-punk record and dedicated to a pile of bands including the Bosstones, NOFX, Leftover Crack, The Specials, Toots and the Maytals, Fishbone, and Mr. Bungle “if I’m being honest.” If you only need one ragged-edge punk classic reimagined as a ska-punk extravaganza, this is the one.

Born Ruffians – Pulp

★★★

Released April 16th, 2021 on Wavy Haze Records

Indie rock bands from middle Ontario are automatically suspect but Born Ruffians manage to keep it together long enough to at least not make a complete dog’s dinner of it. The length helps.

Still Dreams – Make Believe

★★★

Released April 16th, 2021 on Elefant Records

Too gossamer by half, but they cop all the right melodies from the sad, danceable Eighties.

Misty Coast – When I Fall From The Sky

★★★☆

Released April 16th, 2021 on Fysisk Format Records

Affable psychedelic indie rock that sounds like a dreamier, tamer take on early Unknown Mortal Orchestra and Tame Impala.

Eomac – Cracks

★★★☆

Released April 16th, 2021 on Planet Mu Records

Eerie industrial noise-making sits comfortably beside eerie four on the floor techno structures. Did I mention the word eerie?

Doused – Murmur

★★☆

Released April 16th, 2021 on Flesh and Bone Records

We do not need My Bloody Valentine tribute bands, society has progressed beyond the need for My Bloody Valentine tribute bands.

Plague Skater – Plague Skater II

★★★☆

Released April 16th, 2021 on Flea Collar Records

About as early lo-fi noise Wavves as you can get without actually being Nathan Williams in 2008.

Autogramm – No Rules

★★★☆

Released April 16th, 2021 on Nevado Music

Classic Vancouver New Wave with a dogged punk twist.

Beach Youth – Postcard

★★★☆

Released April 16th, 2021 on Music From The Masses Records

Summer is so close you can taste the questionable decisions dripping off of every chord change.

Conway The Machine – La Maquina

★★★★

Released April 16th, 2021 on Griselda Records

Last year I was hype for Benny the Butcher and sleeping on Conway the Machine. But 2021 is all bets off. Grimy, with hard-hitting beats and the dope-nose fantasies of the Rust Belt desperate.

Young Thug & Young Stoner Life – Slime Language 2

★★★☆

Released April 16th, 2021 on Young Stoner Life

With all the label guests, solid pro beats, and general dancing exuberance, it’s hard to tell that Slime Language 2 is basically another victory lap for one of the most prolific and influential hip hop artists of the era. Thugger, Gunna and friends don’t do anything particularly new, but they’re vibing on their own plane of existence and goddamn if they don’t sound good doing it. Plus “Slatty” is such a banger.

Yelawolf & DJ Paul – Slumafia

★★★☆

Released April 16th, 2021 on Slumerican Records

Yela can be pretty cheese sometimes but this is not one of those times. Hard-banging southern rap that would have lit a bonfire twenty years ago and now merely sounds like a great example of the genre.

Greta Van Fleet – The Battle At Garden’s Gate

★☆

Released April 16th, 2021 on Lava Records

Greta Van Fleet get a lot of hate for being a terrible Led Zeppelin cover band, but that’s not really fair. They’re a terrible Led Zeppelin cover band with a piss-poor Geddy Lee impersonator singing for them.

Motorpsycho – Kingdom of Oblivion

★★★

Released April 16th, 2021 on Rune Grammofon Records

I’ve you’ve missed the first 26 Motorpsycho records, this one actually provides a decent hands-on guide for you. Or you could just hit up Baronness or, I dunno, classic Tull.

Intonate – Severed Within

★★★

Released April 16th, 2021 on Willowtip Records

Prog death metal, so it’s heavy as hell but tends to meander a bit much.

Cannibal Corpse – Violence Unimagined

★★★☆

Released April 16th, 2021 on Metal Blade Records

Rest assured, this is the fifteenth time they have engaged in brutal wholesale slaughter, and they have become exceedingly efficient at it.

Spectral Wound – A Diabolic Thirst

★★★★

Released April 16th, 2021 on Spectral Lore Records

Look at that album cover. You know exactly what you’re getting into here. Minus any crypto-fascist bullshit politics, thankfully.

Crown – The End Of All Things

★★★☆

Released April 16th, 2021 on Pelagic Records

Elder Millenials may remember a time between The Downward Spiral and The Fragile where all sorts of little darkwave light-industrial angst-pop bands ruled segments of the airwaves. This was the time of your Gravity Kills and your Stabbing Westward – bands that an angst-ridden 16 year old could really sink their teeth into. Those bands still toil in the underground and The End Of All Things is one of the best examples of the genre I’ve heard in two decades.

Endseeker – Mount Carcass

★★★

Released April 16th, 2021 on Metal Blade Records

Metal Blade had a busy Friday, releasing not only the latest gorefest from death metal overlords Cannibal Corpse but also this nifty little album from Germany’s Endseeker. In the endlessly Balkanized world of metal there is a genre called death ‘n’ roll which in my more cynical moments I would just call death metal with choruses but officially incorporates aspects of 70s hard rock into the standard blastbeat-and-buzzsaw sound of death metal. Endseeker presents here a fine death ‘n’ roll record, full of gutter-scraping death scraps with vocals that at times remind me of the guy from Obituary when he was young. At the same time, there are actual melodies here and there, and the whole thing is very much indebted to Entombed and Carcass. Which ain’t necessarily a bad thing.

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