Vince Staples – Vince Staples
Released July 9th, 2021 on UMG Recordings
On Vince Staples’ previous two records, 2017’s Big Fish Theory and 2018’s FM!, the production took big departures from the usual hip hop sound. On his 2021 self-titled EP he brings it back to minimalist hip hop, with decidedly mixed results. The themes he touches on walk a thin line between slice-of-life confessional and gang life realism, but his finessed delivery on the monochromatic production renders some of it hookless.
Half Waif – Mythopoetics
Released July 9th, 2021 on ANTI- Records
Nandi Rose makes the absolute most of her allotted sonic space, crafting exquisite melodies on top of meticulously crafted minimalist production.
Tkay Maidza – Last Year Was Weird, Vol. 3
Released July 9th, 2021 on 4AD Records
Another year, another EP of alt-R&B albeit one that plays it safer than last year’s installment. “Kim” is a banger though.
The Goon Sax – Mirror II
Released July 9th, 2021 on Matador Records
The Goon Sax offer a deconstructed, broken-down-engine take on the hungover confessionals of Los Campesinos that gets messy here and there but still leaves you feeling clean in the end.
Inhaler – It Won’t Always Be Like This
Released July 9th, 2021 on Polydor Records
Lest the success of Fontaines D.C. trick you, proof that the Irish are not superhuman. Killers-inflected indie rock perfect for teen dramas where the showrunners have never met a teenager in their lives, or for would-be hip but ultimately dorky breweries to book for promo shows.
Drug Store Romeos – The world within our bedrooms
Released July 9th, 2021 on Fiction Records
Digs up the legacy of Broadcast but doesn’t change enough to make it more than a pale imitation.
Royal Canoe – Sidelining
Released July 9th, 2021 on Paper Bag Records
Imagine if Imagine Dragons had to do their thing without their big slick studio bag of tricks. It wouldn’t be stellar by any means, but it would be fine – charming here and there, even. Anyway, that’s Royal Canoe.
Moin – Moot!
Released July 9th, 2021 on AD 93 Records
Partly built from samples and partly from live instrumentation, Moin is a side project of members of Raime, Blackest Ever Black, Tomaga, and Vanishing Twin. While it doesn’t exactly light the world on fire, it delivers solid concrete post-punk grooves studded with disquieting sample work.
Koreless – Agor
Released July 9th, 2021 on Young Records
A tension-filled blast of ambient and classical music that actually blends really well if you put it on right after Midsommar. Specific, I know.
Hybrid – Black Halo
Released July 9th, 2021 on Distinctive Records
An exercise in murky late-90s singer-songwriter stuff built around carefully crafted downtempo loops.
The Little Unsaid – Lick The Future’s Lips
Released July 9th, 2021 on REVEAL Records
Delicate, fragile pop rock that’s more than a little haunted by what feels like the ghost of the Rolling Stones.
Charlie Charlie – Little Things
Released July 9th, 2021 on International Feel Records
Low key electronic pop that prefers to stretch out and sketch landscapes than make any big bold gestures.
DZ Deathrays – Positive Rising Part 2
Released July 9th, 2021 on I OH YOU Records
Sometimes heavy rock can get away with cheese by way of attitude, humour, or skill. This is not one of these times.
Twin Shadow – Twin Shadow
Released July 9th, 2021 on Cheree Cheree Music
George Lewis has always dealt more in style than substance and while his self-titled fifth album – the first not for an indie heavy or major label – does the same, there’s a sense that he’s coming into something. A sort of realization about himself, perhaps, and the weight that life experience can pull in one’s own songwriting. It’s a start.
Arushi Jain – Under The Lilac Sky
Released July 9th, 2021 on LEAVING Records
Equal parts tension and wonder, a drone excursion that manages to remember the human.
Bad Luck – Summer Of Pain
Released July 9th, 2021 on Take This To Heart Records
Pop punk like it’s the MySpace scene all over again. That’s not necessarily a good thing.
Muck Spreader – Abysmal
Released July 9th, 2021 on Brace Yourself Records
Experimental but not in any coherently ear-catching way, Abysmal is comprised of good parts strung together with amiable wandering. At times it’s almost like tossed-off-and-forgotten Suitcase sketch Guided By Voices, and at others it’s like a throbbing amateur punk band fronted by some kind of half-man, half-hound mutant.
Xasthur – Victims Of The Times
Released July 9th, 2021 on Lupus Lounge
Stolid goth folk that’s too busy lecturing and mourning to find a decent tune.
Attacca Quartet – Real Life
Released July 9th, 2021 on Sony Music Entertainment
A neoclassical string quartet that plays chamber music laced with 21st Century electronic production touches. Provides a classy touch to this neon dystopia cyberpunk story we’re in the first chapter of.
Arthhur – Occult Fractures
Released July 9th, 2021 on Back To The Light
The Chicago octet missed their peak moment by seventeen years or so but still manage to craft an interesting blend of motorik, soul, and post-punk sounds. It’s just that, you know, !!! happened already.
Meggie Lennon – Sounds From Your Lips
Released July 9th, 2021 on Mothman Records
Sometimes you come across records that you know for a fact are only interesting when you’re stoned. This slow-waltz sludge-pop record is one of them.
Tom Odell – Monsters
Released July 9th, 2021 on Sony Music Entertainment
Low-key piano singer/songwriter pop that’s surprisingly heartfelt and effective, given it’s major label status.
Mariah The Scientist – RY RY WORLD
Released July 9th, 2021 on RCA Records
Lightweight hooks but decent enough songwriting, fits squarely within the also-ran niche of modern alt-R&B but is also kinda nice with it? What I’m saying is she’s no SZA but she works it ok.
Rejjie Snow – Baw Baw Black Sheep
Released July 9th, 2021 on 300 Records
The light jazz production and the sometimes hallucinatory wordplay are a treat, but he’s reaching for something here that he isn’t quite hitting and as such the delivery can be unfortunately clunky.
IDK – USEE4YOURSELF
Released July 9th, 2021 on Warner Records
Decent enough major label production but dude has a voice like Kanye but without the insane level of control or the gonzo mentally ill charm. Also the Jay Electronica verse is something else, and not a good something else.
Mountain Caller – Chronicle: Prologue
Released July 9th, 2021 on New Heavy Sounds
Instrumental prog metal that eschews wankery for good, solid heavy riffing and ambient textures.
Powerwolf – Call Of The Wild
Released July 9th, 2021 on Napalm Records
Instrumentally it’s fine, but the vocalist just doesn’t have the personality or presence to carry a power metal outfit with this kind of ambition.
Ruadh – Eternal
Released July 9th, 2021 on Northern Silence Records
Atmospheric black metal with an unfortunate tendency toward ham-handed power metal gestures.
Night Crowned – Hädanfärd
Released July 9th, 2021 on Noble Demon Records
Loud and in-your-face death metal, with a production budget and a hell of a drummer.