Round-Up, May 28th-June 3rd

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Black Midi – Cavalcade

★★★★

Released May 28th, 2021 on Rough Trade Records

The British post-post punk band (or New New Wave, depending on what you want to call this chaotic emerging genre) takes the careening jazz-punk sound they made a name with on 2019’s Schlagenheim and largely subtracts the punk part, mostly. There’s much more of a prog-fusion vibe going on between the lines, and although tracks like the all-out “Chrondomalacia Patella” bring the skronk, there’s much more of a (smashed apart and scattered to the wind) sense of melody and more introspective digging. Also of note: the nascent scene has it’s first Difficult Second Album (unless you count Fontaines D.C. in this genre, I guess) and that makes me, a certified fan of Difficult Second Albums, quite happy.

Sweet Trip – A Tiny House, In Secret Speeches, Polar Equals

★★★

Released May 28th, 2021 on Darla Records

Glitched-out shoegazy dream pop that has some really good teenage yearning moments but gets a little buried under a morass of midtempo snoozers.

Bachelor – Doomin’ Sun

★★★★

Released May 28th, 2021 on Polyvinyl Records

Spry and melodic but dry as the desert for all of that, Melina Duterte of Jay Som and Ellen Kempner of Palehound make a peculiarly California indie rock record.

Sugar Candy Mountain – Impression

★★★☆

Released May 28th, 2021 on Org Music

Traditional California psychedelic pop mixed with frenetic Tropicalia sounds, like doing acid in the richer parts of Brazil.

Lou Barlow – Reason To Live

★★★

Released May 28th, 2021 on Joyful Noise Records

The Dinosaur Jr., Sebadoh, and Folk Implosion guru goes all-in on very little, turning out a minimalist album that’s pretty much just him and his acoustic guitar, with some noise textures to fill in the gaps. It’s a very nice idea, and there’s a salty Atlantic sound to some of these tracks, but 17 songs of it is a bit much.

UV-TV – Always Something

★★★

Released May 28th, 2021 on PaperCup Music

The Queens band namechecks Parquet Courts and Screaming Females but is far more lightweight than either of those bands.

Easy Life – Life’s A Beach

★★☆

Released May 28th, 2021 on Island Records

Laid-back and probably sounds good stoned by the pool, but it has nowhere near enough heft to sustain the meh band name and the crappy album cover.

NOV3L – Non-Fiction

★★

Released May 28th, 2021 on Tin Angel/Flemish Eye

Remember back in 2005 where all you had to do was combine Joy Division and Gang Of Four and you were suddenly an indie darling? Those were the days, weren’t they?

True Loves – Sunday Afternoon

★★★★

Released May 28th, 2021 on Color Red Records

Searing jazz-funk stepping whole and dripping out of the dankest parts of the Seventies.

Neighborhood Brats – Confines of Life

★★★☆

Released May 28th, 2021 on Dirt Cult Records

Sometimes all you want out of punk rock is a band to go barrel-assing off at high speed for two minutes at a time.

T-Tops – Staring At A Static Screen

★★★☆

Released May 28th, 2021 on Magnetic Eye Records

Raw and scuzzy like an open wound bleeding out in a dank alleyway somewhere abandoned, like parts of London, Ontario or Niagara Falls, New York. Good for scratching that deep-seated garage-punk itch or, like, crabs.

White Moth Black Butterfly – The Cost Of Dreaming

★★

Released May 28th, 2021 on Kscope Records

There are strong currents of Tears For Fears, Chvrches, and Depeche Mode, and absolutely nothing original.

Mustafa – When Smoke Rises

★★★★

Released May 28th, 2021 on Regent Park Songs

The artist formerly known as Mustafa the Poet sings out his passionate grief for dead friends and his gentrifying home of Regent Park; it’s close-knit and intimate, but filled with niches and spaces to air out your own grief as well.

Masayoshi Fujita – Bird Ambience

★★★☆

Released May 28th, 2021 on Erased Tapes

Gentle, layered ambient music centered around the vibraphone, of all things.

Ioscil – Clara

★★★☆

Released May 28th, 2021 on Kranky Records

All of the sounds here originally came from a 3-minute composition by a 22-piece orchestra in Budapest. This is what you can do when you have drive, vision, and a lot of time on your hands.

Penelope Trappes – Penelope Three

★★★

Released May 28th, 2021 on Houndstooth Records

Dark, surreal, and ambient, the third record in the singer’s Penelope trilogy is a worthy rounding-off point to her work thus far.

Aquarian Blood – Bending The Golden Hour

★★★

Released May 28th, 2021 on Goner Records

A husband-and-wife psych-country duo that writes songs like Leonard Cohen in an uptemo doom mood.

The Datsuns – Eye To Eye

★★★

Released May 28th, 2021 on Hellsquad Records

The Datsuns have always been a Seventies proto-metal band masquerading as a garage punk band and their first album in seven years is no exception. In fact, here it borders on lighter stoner metal, a la the last few The Sword records.

RXK Nephew – Slitherman Activated

★★☆

Released May 28th, 2021 on Towhead Recordings

Mostly by-the-numbers cluttered coke rap, but “Beam On Ya Toes” is pretty out-there nonetheless.

DMX – Exodus

★★★

Released May 28th, 2021 on Def Jam Records

As far as posthumous cut-and-paste albums, I’ve heard much worse before. The guests are pretty much what you’re coming for, of course, and here they do their thing pretty well (especially the Griselda tag-team match on “Hood Blues”). At the same time, what the hell is Bono doing on this record? Honestly.

Alastor – Onwards and Downwards

★★★☆

Released May 28th, 2021 on RidingEasy Records

Doom rock that pulls no punches and slings riffs made out of molten sludge.

Portal – Avow

★★★

Released May 28th, 2021 on Profound Lore Records

Brutal, guttural ambient/noise death metal, the kind that grinds and grinds until there’s nothing left.

Bloodbound – Creatures Of The Dark Realm

★★★☆

Released May 28th, 2021 on AFM/Avalon Records

When they call something “power metal” there are a number of things they’re saying but mostly it’s about how close to classic Iron Maiden the band sounds. Thus, if this is our metric, Creatures Of The Dark Realm is a stellar power metal album.

Burning Witches – The Witch Of The North

★★★☆

Released May 28th, 2021 on Nuclear Blast Records

I think “valkyrie metal” might already be a thing, but if it isn’t then this shotgun blast of Judas Priest and Iron Maiden from five Swiss women defines it. Headalong headbanger shit.

Noctule – Wretched Abyss

★★★

Released May 28th, 2021 on Church Road Records

Like me, Svalbard frontwoman Serena Cherry equates Skyrim with black metal. Unlike me, she decided to do an entire melodic black metal album about it.

The Flight Of The Sleipnir – Eventide

★★★

Released May 28th, 2021 on Eisenwald Records

Thick slabs of crushing blackened stoner metal, whalloping you again and again.

Savanah – Olympus Mons

★★★☆

Released May 28th, 2021 on StoneFree Records

Sludgy and heavy, like millions of tons of molasses crawling like death through the streets.

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