King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – Butterfly 3000
Released June 11th, 2021
Another Gizzard left turn, this one into buzzing, vaguely-Asian inspired major key pop music that sounds like (and probably is) the result of discovering a new instrument and blending it in over and over until it just becomes part of the gonzo-prog group’s overall sound. It’s an out-there album in a discography chock-full of out-there albums, but the excited discovery of a new musical voice leads to said voice being shoehorned in everywhere and as such a lot of the tracks tend to run together.
Dean Blunt – BLACK METAL 2
Released June 11th, 2021 on Rough Trade
OK, two things. First, we can all see that the album art is just an edit of Dre’s 2001 right? Second, this is a decent collection of rough-cut sour-faced folk/dream-pop hybrid music, but it doesn’t live up to either the first Black Metal record or to Blunt’s own clear peak, 2013’s The Redeemer. Still worth listening to, though.
Sleater-Kinney – Path Of Wellness
Released June 11th, 2021 on Mom+Pop
Once upon a time Sleater-Kinney were one of the greatest (maybe the greatest) bands in rock ‘n’ roll – a power trio capable of slash-and-burn howling theatrics at the same time as they brought barbed hooks and, at key moments, a softer sensibility that sacrificed none of their raw power. When they came back in 2013 after a long hiatus they had that same power and confidence. What happened? It’s easy enough to blame Annie Clark or the departure of drummer Janet Weiss, but really I think the key problem here is age and complacency. Once upon a time they sounded as though they wanted to set the world on fire, and now they sound like they need to wrap the gig up by 9 because if they don’t get enough sleep they’ll be hurting the next day. I even tried turning it up, thinking that maybe it just sounded muted because of my headphones. Nope, it’s a general lack of confidence, passion, and those knotted, gnarled hooks that Carrie Brownstein used to toss off with abandon.
Garbage – No Gods No Masters
Released June 11th, 2021 on Infectious Records
Shirley Manson, Butch Vig, and Co. feel alive and seething for the first time since 1998’s Version 2.0, which is honestly nice to hear. The slow creep of eerie electronic noisemaking into pop (and, let’s be serious, the creep of disturbing imagery and damage into pop music now) brings Garbage full circle. Once upon a time they seemed like stodgy also-rans from the alternative era; now they sound fresh again. Funny how that works.
Cold Cave – Fate In Seven Lessons
Released June 11th, 2021 on Heartworm Records
Cold Cave is a synth-only dollar store version of The Cure and Depeche Mode. Plus the album cover is a dead ringer for New Order’s Power, Corruption and Lies. If you are reading this in a future Black Mirror dystopia where you have been blocked from listening to Seventeen Seconds then I guess you could take some stoic comfort in Fate In Seven Lessons, but aside from that unlikely scenario this is a skip.
Islands – Islomania
Released June 11th, 2021 on Royal Mountain
Slinky and always moving, L.A.’s Islands present a fun take on indie rock punctuated here and there with light sax work. It’s nothing new, but it’s done so well you might not notice.
Handsomeboy Technique – Technique
Released June 11th, 2021 on Second Royal
Plunderphonics af, so if your heart is hurting and you need something like old Avalanches but more life-affirming, dinner is served.
Quivers – Golden Doubt
Released June 11th, 2021 on Ba Da Bing
The R.E.M. influence is no surprise – one of their more recent releases is a full-album cover of Out Of Time, after all – but they amalgamate it in such a way that their own songwriting style comes through regardless.
Joana Serrat – Hardcore From The Heart
Released June 11th, 2021 on Loose Records
Eighties-tinged heartland rock that sounds pretty while managing to be completely unsurprising.
Jim Ward – Daggers
Released June 11th, 2021 on Dine Alone Records
Damn, Dine Alone. That takes me back to a time when the label wasn’t based out of two major cities and instead was operating out of downtown St. Catharines, Ontario. The S.C.E.N.E. was hot in those days – alexisonfire, you know – and…well, anyway, nostalgia was once classified as a mental illness. Jim Ward, we’re talking about Jim Ward – formerly of Sparta and At The Drive-In. Daggers is surprisingly straightforward – big power pop/rock songs from a guy whose voice is weirdly reminiscent of Bono minus the pretentious arena-reaching effect.
Danny Elfman – Big Mess
Released June 11th, 2021 on ANTI-
Big – willfully big, purposely noisy – and pretty messy, as the name implies. Still a lot of fun for the most part, minus Elfman’s rather colourless vocals. Borders on industrial at times, settles into a sort of sub-These New Puritans level at its worst.
Mammoth WVH – Mammoth WVH
Released June 11th, 2021 on Ex1
Here we have an example of a cross between two of the most cringe-inducing genres of album: the “son of a famous musician” album and the “unrepentant meat-and-potatoes hard rock to satisfy Boomers and Boomer-adjacents” album. There is little to be said about the former; Wolfgang Van Halen was constantly hyped up by his guitar hero father but doesn’t really seem to show any flair for anything more than generic short noodling here. As for the latter, it could be worse. It could be Greta Van Fleet.
Red Ribbon – Planet X
Released June 11th, 2021 on Danger Collective
This album would likely have been ho-hum forgettable were it not for the production and mentorship offered by doom metal producer Randall Dunn, who did the boards for Sunn O))) among others. It’s pretty basic indie rock, but there’s something a little creepier about it than normal.
White Flowers – Day By Day
Released June 11th, 2021 on Tough Love Records
Shaded, relentless dream pop – in other words, a re-write of Depression Cherry.
Scientists – Negativity
Released June 11th, 2021 on In the Red Records
Well, the elderly can still noise-rock with the best of them, even if they are slowing a step in their age.
Alessandro Cortini – Scuro Chiaro
Released June 11th, 2021 on Mute Records
Atmospheric, chilly progtronica that has a dark but melodic undercurrent.
Migos – Culture III
Released June 11th, 2021 on Quality Control
They still have that street-smooth flow and some impressive guests but the beats are generic af. If you’re making Migos money surely you can afford a better class of production.
Pi’erre Bourne – The Life Of Pi’erre 5
Released June 11th, 2021 on Interscope Records
I’ll admit that I don’t know who really started that sing-song trap flow that’s been all over hip hop since time out of mind. The first time I consciously heard/enjoyed it was Future’s Honest back in 2014. Does it stem further back from Chicago drill? I don’t remember. Usually it takes a bit to impress me when it gets used – too many Lil’ rappers with bonehead lyrics doing the same thing over the same beats. Pi’erre avoids this in two ways: by having a half-decent sense of wordplay in his smirky flow, and by being a good producer in his own right. Big 808s and warbling little seasick synths is exactly my aesthetic.
Polo G – Hall Of Fame
Released June 11th, 2021 on Columbia Records
The Chicago rapper makes a case for the evolution of his style and career but falls short in terms of actually progressing.
Larry June – Orange Print
Released June 11th, 2021 on Empire Records
There are several parts of this record where he just straight up nicks style from early 90s West Coast rappers – Easy E mostly, but others as well. Great production, though.
Emotional Oranges – The Juicebox
Released June 11th, 2021 on Avant Garden Records
Solid, funky R&B in a group setting – always a favourite around here – and studded with some pretty good guest spots including Vince Staples.
Skyzoo – All The Brilliant Things
Released June 11th, 2021 on Mello Music Group
New York City rap studded with references to New York City rap. Solid beatcraft and dense, intriguing wordplay.
AFI – Bodies
Released June 11th, 2021 on Rise Records
Look, once upon a time AFI was a constant presence in the soundtrack of my life. “God Called In Sick Today” was an anthem for the year when I was more or less living in sin in a punk house in rural Ontario. This ain’t that, though, and beyond the need for bands to continuously prove that they’re still capable of putting out new music I don’t know what the purpose of this is.
Crypta – Echoes Of The Soul
Released June 11th, 2021 on Napalm Records
Traditional old-school death metal with some minor thrash tendencies. Played loud, played fast, played hard.
Eremit – Bearer Of Many Names
Released June 11th, 2021 on Transcending Obscurity Records
There is sludge metal. There is doom metal. And then there is Eremit. Easily the heaviest shit I have heard all year. Oozes, like mostly frozen syrup. The vocalist can howl like black metal wolves AND do the deep guttural growl a la Corpsegrinder, within the scope of the same half-hour suite. Like drowning through your ears.