Japanese Breakfast – Jubilee
Released June 4th, 2021 on Dead Oceans
Michelle Zauner hits her stride in a big way in 2021, with her memoir Crying In H-Mart hitting the bestseller lists and her third record providing the greatest evidence to date of her particular songwriting strengths. Equal parts alt-rock and city pop, Jubilee is nearly 40 minutes but practically demands to be restarted almost as soon as the squalling coda of “Posing For Cars” comes to an end.
Wolf Alice – Blue Weekend
Released June 4th, 2021 on Dirty Hit
Wolf Alice have always been a band that has been unafraid to switch between a variety of genres in the course of following an album-long muse. Blue Weekend is a journey through a shifting landscape of anthemic art-pop, thickly sliced alt-rock, Eighties pop balladry and stone-skipping folk. The one constant is vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Ellie Rowsell, whose voice takes center stage on many of these songs; her willingness to fill in empty sonic space has expanded greatly and in places, most notably the shiver-inducing “Lipstick On The Glass” and the slow-burning pop masterpiece “How Can I Make It OK?”, it’s reminiscent of the power of Kate Bush in her prime.
Rostam – Changephobia
Released June 4th, 2021 on Matsor Projects
I like to make light fun of Rostam and Vampire Weekend for being upper-middle-class Ivy leaguers – the band formed in the Columbia dorms ferchrissakes – but he has a good ear for ways to experiment with bringing different sounds into his fresh-faced Eighties-laced pop ideals. Here, he brings brassy good-time coffeehouse jazz in to lend an air of dreamy intimacy.
Liz Phair – Soberish
Released June 4th, 2021 on Chrysalis
Liz Phair was an alt-rock frontrunner before hitting any stumbling block she could come across in the aftermath of two good albums. 2003’s eponymous record was her nadir – bizarre straight pop performances, like she thought she would a crossover diva. Jewel though the same thing, of course. Now we’re apparently onto the AOR portion of her career, where she would have videos that got played on Much 2, if such a channel still existed.
Night Beats – Outlaw R&B
Released June 4th, 2021 on Fuzz Club
Grimey Sixties-indebted psychedelic garage rock. As it turns out, you can make pretty good music just by sifting through the Nuggets collection.
Mndsgn – Rare Pleasure
Released June 4th, 2021 on Stones Throw
Much like recent superduo Silk Sonic, L.A.’s Mndsgn trade in smooth Seventies funk-pop, bedroom anthems for a yearning generation. Unlike said superduo, however, their instincts just aren’t on point and everything tends to overlap itself.
Greentea Peng – Man Made
Released June 4th, 2021 on Picadilly
She’s a wild one – she recorded this album in the A4 = 423Hz tuning rather than the standard 440 – and her debut record is a jumping mixture of jazz, soul, and lysergic psychedelia.
Loraine James – Reflection
Released June 4th, 2021 on Hyperdub
The production is eerie and on point but this is one of the rare albums where the guest features actually bring the whole thing down a notch.
Part Chimp – Drool
Released June 4th, 2021 on Wrong Speed
You know, I was just thinking the other day that nothing had come out this year to fill the Pissed Jeans-shaped hole in my heart but then along comes Part Chimp sounding like the bastard offspring of No Age and the Melvins.
Various Artists – The Problem of Leisure: A Celebration of Andy Gill & Gang of Four
Released June 4th, 2021 on Gill Records
The problem with tribute records – and this one is a decent example of one – is that I inevitably just end up wanting to listen to the original artist.
Tristen – Aquatic Flowers
Released June 4th, 2021 on Mama Bird Recording Co.
She calls these “new folk econo jams” but the only thing econo about them is the instrumentation – these are big, fully-realized songs that draw from a number of almost-tangible influences while retaining a voice all their own.
Crowded House – Dreamers Are Waiting
Released June 4th, 2021 on EMI UK
The one-time Eighties hitmakers are three albums into a 14-year reunion spiel and the latest is honestly pretty good. Normally mainstream bands from back in the day just can’t hack it in the modern world but Crowded House manages to sound smooth and sort of timeless. It helps that Neil Finn’s voice still works properly, unlike many of his contemporaries.
Hildegard – Hildegard
Released June 4th, 2021 on section1
Viciously contemporary alt-pop, heavy on production and light on songwriting.
James – All The Colours Of You
Released June 4th, 2021 on Nothing But Love
James are a British indie band famous for a song about a girl that could only cum when she was on top. This album won’t change that.
EXUM – Xardinal Coffee
Released June 4th, 2021 on ücke
Former NFL players rarely go on to be big in anything outside of sports admin/announcement/charity stuff, but Antone Exum Jr. might prove to be an exception to that. He takes cues from Prince, of course, but rather than the slavish imitation you might imagine he basically takes the music of the late Purple One as a jumping-off point to explore the sounds that are banging around in his own head. It slaps impressively.
Sun Seeker – A Sunrise In A Basement
Released June 4th, 2021 on Misra
Bizarrely – given that they are from Nashville and not Halifax – Sun Seeker is a band that sounds uncommonly like what the Joel Plaskett Emergency would have ended up sounding like, or maybe uncommonly like the Park Avenue Sobriety Test.
Steven R Smith – In The Spires
Released June 4th, 2021 on Cold Moon
It’s hard to refer to In The Spires as ambient music because it is played very much in your face. Call it an eerie folk jamboree, if you will, or a haunted jam session. Whatever you call it, you’ll pay attention to it. It’s achingly sharp sense of tension and despair will demand that much, at least.
New Candys – Vyvyd
Released June 4th, 2021 on Little Cloud
Italian psych-rockers that borrow liberally from Primal Scream and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club; equal parts heavy stompers and Stone Roses-esque stretchers.
Sunglasses For Jaws – Everybody’s Made Of Bones
Released June 4th, 2021 on Pony Recordings
Weird, slinky, at times disturbing, London’s Sunglasses For Jaws craft a psychedelic album about insanity. The Thirteenth Floor Elevators once made an album about a schizophrenic person suffering a nervous breakdown too. Wait, hold on. No, that band was fronted by a schizophrenic person suffering from a nervous breakdown. That’s probably the difference between influencing and being influenced by.
slugabed – we have the window open at night
Released June 4th, 2021 on Activia Benz
Glitched-out and hummable melodies accompany some trippy beat production. Good stuff to get lost to, or at least to zone out to.
Lil’ Baby & Lil’ Durk – The Voice Of The Heroes
Released June 4th, 2021 on Quality Control
Two of the bigger names in the game come together to…put out a middle-of-the-road record undoubtedly meant to fuel additional sales from consumers desperate for more content before they move on to new artists.
Lloyd Banks – The Course Of The Inevitable
Released June 4th, 2021 on Money By Any Means Inc.
The one-time G-Unit elite has tumbled more than a few steps down on the fame ladder but he only seems to let it get to him a little. His first album in eleven years shows his particular flow has diminished, though, and he’s still got enough of a name to attract some decent guests, including the likes of Freddie Gibbs and Benny the Butcher.
Kool Keith – Keith’s Salon
Released June 4th, 2021 on Logistic/Telegraph
Anyone familiar with Kool Keith’s work over the years knows exactly what to expect here: bizarre, horny wordplay. It’s just unfortunate that the production seems oddly dated, as though it was lifted from early 90s New Jack Swing and then dialed down a bunch.
Smoke DZA – The Hustler’s Catalog 2
Released June 4th, 2021 on Cinematic
It’s a concise mixtape with a ton of guests and like most such projects it’s wildly uneven. Quality depends on who’s guesting, and sometimes that makes for great tracks (“Big Steppa”, “Ramadan”) and some forgettable stuff (“Take It Easy”).
Raheem DeVaughn – Lovesick
Released June 4th, 2021 on Mello Music Group
Smooth and silky, frank and earthy – Raheem DeVaughn encompasses all that was great about classic soul sounds but is backed on this recording by one of hip hop’s best and least recognized producers, Apollo Brown. If your Marvin Gaye sex music is getting a little worn, here’s a replacement.
Boss Keloid – Family The Smiling Thrush
Released June 4th, 2021 on Ripple Music
Mastodon knew from the get-go that you needed to spruce up the mysterious mid-tempo groove explorations with bangers. Boss Keloid still has to learn this lesson.
Flotsam and Jetsam – Blood In The Water
Released June 4th, 2021 on AFM
This band is old as hell but while their thrash isn’t as thrashy as it might once have been and their power is a little too generic to be notable in this brave year of 2021, it’s okay. It’ll fill the gap between Maiden records or whatever else you’re up to these days.
Bloody Head – The Temple Pillars Dissolve Into The Clouds
Released June 4th, 2021 on Hominid Sounds
Slamming, squalling noise rock that manages to keep it’s cool and not overstay it’s welcome.
King Buffalo – The Burden Of Restlessness
Released June 4th, 2021
When it comes to heavy stoner psych, there are few bands out there doing it better while toiling in the obscure underground than King Buffalo.
Circle of Sighs – Narci
Released June 4th, 2021 on Metal Assault
Narci is absolutely all over the place – it wants to be approximately three different records, all of which would be worthy of a single-album look. Pick through it and take from it what you will.
Red Fang – Arrows
Released June 4th, 2021 on Relapse Records
If music be the food of love, Red Fang is meatloaf. The ground beef is Melvins.