Sleigh Bells – Texis
Released September 10th, 2021 on Mom + Pop Records
The loudcore duo spends their sixth album putting more trad melodies into their former shouty full-clip guitar attack. The results are agreeable, if somewhat indicative of the inevitable slowdown into middle age.
Low – HEY WHAT
Released September 10th, 2021 on Sub Pop Records
Reduced to two members, the ultra-veteran slowcore group continues to evolve their sound along the cutting edge, building their signature slow-burn evocations with elements of glitch and noise alongside their usual 90s era indie clatter. Let no one tell you that you have to grow old placidly: you can continue to get weird with it as long as you like.
박혜진 Park Hye Jin – Before I Die
Released September 10th, 2021 on Ninja Tune Records
“Rapper-Producer” is really the new take on the singer-songwriter designation that has existed since forever. L.A. rapper-producer Park Hye Jin displays the usefulness of the designation by presenting her own languid, sharp-edged take on the meaning of hip hop in 2021.
Amyl And The Sniffers – Comfort To Me
Released September 10th, 2021 on Rough Trade Records
An album that solidifies the Melbourne band as the best Aussie punk band around, and therefore the most exciting punk rock band on Earth today.
King Krule – You Heat Me Up, You Cool Me Down (Live)
Released September 3rd, 2021 on True Panther Records
All too often live albums are a stopgap for bands who owe albums to their label but aren’t planning on doing a new studio album for some time. Other times, live albums serve as a way to show the depth, range, and power of a band on the touring circuit, in order to bring in the crowds. King Krule’s newest live record is very much the latter – a document of the power of the experimental indie band as they are in 2021, and a way to show how the weird things KK do on record can translate to the real world.
We Were Promised Jetpacks – Enjoy The View
Released September 3rd, 2021 on Big Scary Monsters Records
The Edinburgh band has changed fairly little from their late-00s/early-10s peak: they still play brash mid-00s indie rock drawing from the well of Frightened Rabbit and the Twilight Sad to make a case of sorts for Scots indie, whether or not such a thing really exists.
Sarah Davachi – Antiphonals
Released September 10th, 2021 on Late Records
Comfortable autumn drones made for rainy day contemplations.
Sneaker Pimps – Squaring The Circle
Released September 10th, 2021 on UNFALL Records
Look, Sneaker Pimps will always be my first electronic crossover love. I have done my best to impart to my children that, if nothing else, Armand Van Helden’s ‘dark garage’ remix of “Spin Spin Sugar” is the proper indication for the point in a club set where shit’s about to get real. This ain’t it, though; it sounds like the Antlers being produced by some balding downtempo producer who bikes to his city government job when he’s not poring over his Caribou records. The Simmone Jones tracks are a little better, but there’s nothing here they weren’t doing better in the Nineties.
Saint Etienne – I’ve Been Trying To Tell You
Released September 10th, 2021 on Heavenly Records
Built largely out of samples for the first time since 1993, Saint Etienne stretches out their indie club stuff into clouds that roll by in an idyllic blue sky where nothing much is happening but everything seems better than it ever did before, and ever will again.
Heartless Bastards – A Beautiful Life
Released September 10th, 2021 on Sweet Unknown Records
The opening track is one of the biggest cringe songs I’ve ever heard, a six-minute pastiche of Dylan with a self-importance usually only reserved for when a major rock band discovers cocaine. Elsewhere they get better, although it’s still heavily derivative of people like Neil Young and the Grateful Dead.
slothrust – Parallel Timeline
Released September 10th, 2021 on Dangerbird Records
At its best, a searing collection of guitar-heavy tunes that weave old jams in and out of new hooks. At it’s worst, sub-Joy Formidable indie slogs.
Colleen Green – Cool
Released September 10th, 2021 on Hardly Art Records
It takes her a while to get going here – god, isn’t that true of all of us these days – but when she kicks into gear you remember what made her such a great listen in the first place. Over a decade later it’s impressive what can be wrestled from a guitar, a drum machine, and a bag of weed.
Spencer. – Are U Down?
Released September 10th, 2021 on 4AD Records
Slow-grind bumping modern R&B that outlines both the rise and fall of love in the city while providing a good debut showcase for the artist’s skills both as a singer and as a producer.
The Vaccines – Back In Love City
Released September 10th, 2021 on AWAL Records
I’m anti-vaxx, in that I hate this fucking band.
Trophy Scars – Astral Pariah
Released September 10th, 2021
Heavy psych-blues with a good sense of songcraft, but a singer who gets a little muddy around the middle.
Manic Street Preachers – Ultra Vivid Lament
Released September 10th, 2021 on Sony/Columbia
After Richey Edwards disappeared, Manic Street Preachers became a big band; his presence still haunts the band, though. They still set a microphone out for him at every live show; I’m convinced that one day he’ll show up and take it, and it’ll probably be the triggering sign of the apocalypse. Lord only knows what he’d think of latter day MSP. It’s slicker than it ever was in his day, but just as strident and biting.
Injury Reserve – By The Time I Get To Phoenix
Released September 15th, 2021
In a decade this will probably be seen as the Great Leap Forward for experimental hip hop; well, this and Some Rap Songs I guess.
Art School Girlfriend – Is It Light Where You Are
Released September 10th, 2021 on Wolf Tone Records / Universal
It’s a strictly middle-of-the-road dream pop record; if you’ve been hazy since ’09 or so, you’ve heard all of these moves before.
Matthew E. White – K Bay
Released September 10th, 2021 on Domino Records
He’s having a whole hell of a lot of fun, and – more importantly – so are you.
Sincere Engineer – Bless My Psyche
Released September 10th, 2021 on Hopeless Records
Part hyperactive electric punk rock, part folk punk angst trip, all energetic searing nostalgia circus.
Martina Topley Bird – Forever I Wait
Released September 10th, 2021
25 years ago or so she was the sultry, mysterious voice behind Tricky’s earliest work and his 1995 debut Maxinquaye. Here, on her first solo record in 11 years, she shows off what made her such a thrill in the first place.
Odd Beholder – Sunny Bay
Released September 10th, 2021 on Sinnbus Records
Her label calls Daniela Weinmann’s music on Sunny Bay a “negotiation between dream and reality” and I’m struggling to come up with a better description, to be perfectly honest. It has the haze and unsettling atmosphere of great dream pop but feels more grounded in material reality – nature, touching grass, all that good stuff. When the plane goes down in “Transatlantic Flight” it’ll be as though you’ve already dissociated; close your eyes and wait for the water to rush up to meet you.
Chrome Waves – The Rain Will Cleanse
Released September 10th, 2021
A heavy shoegaze record that contains some memory of Hum, like if homeopathic stuff actually worked this would have traces of Hum in it, and when you drank it you’d feel both bleak and empowered as your ear drums were shredded.
Gift Of Gab – Finding Inspiration Somehow
Released September 10th, 2021 on Nature Sounds
The former Blackalicious member died over the summer from kidney issues. His final album finds him going out on top, marrying his signature hard flow to some pretty good beats, and if the lyrics sound like the postings of a middle-aged man then he also went out being authentic to himself.
Domingæ – AE
Released September 10th, 2021 on Sacred Bones Records
It’s haunted digital doom, minimalist glitch movements that rest precariously on throbbing basslines. I guess I could have just said “it’s Sacred Bones.”
Kacey Musgraves – Star-Crossed
Released September 10th, 2021 on Interscope / UMG
The country crossover star divorced from her husband of nearly three years in September of 2020; predictably, Star-Crossed is a divorce album. With that firmly in mind, it’s quite good, continuing to explore sounds outside of the Nashville silo in the fashion that she established on 2018’s Golden Hour.
The Band CAMINO – The Band CAMINO
Released September 10th, 2021 on Elektra Records
This is the band that is touring through the city in a show when the characters have to go to a concert and drama arises. They play like an inoffensive rock band but they’re really a boy band at heart, and no one gets uncomfortable or disturbed by their music. Also someone does coke in the bathroom and it becomes A Thing.
Baby Keem – The Melodic Blue
Released September 10th, 2021 on Columbia Records
Usually when there’s a familial connection to a big artist it means that the relative is coasting on their famous relation’s fame. Keem is too good for that, though; he’s the cousin of Kendrick Lamar, sure, and K. certainly shows up here and there, but Keem can definitely hold his own, even if he plays it a little too safe in places.
ShooterGang Kony – StarShooter
Released September 10th, 2021 on Empire Records
Raw, gritty street rap that offsets a sort of one-note flow with an eye for detail and a good narrative, kind of like Snoop when he was 18.
AZ – Doe Or Die II
Released September 10th, 2021 on Quiet Money Records
Solid, middle-of-the-road hustle rap from a guy whose flow should keep him in business for a few years at any rate.
Common – A Beautiful Revolution (Pt. 2)
Released September 10th, 2021 on Loma Vista Records
It’s a decent enough record as far as it goes. You tend to know what you’re gonna get with Common: soul and jazz mixtures in hip hop, some conscious lyrics, a fair dollop of cringe. As it happens, the beats on this entry are more inventive than on his previous beautiful revolution, and there are no cheesy duets with Stevie Wonder to clutter things up. Instead you get Brittany Howard. Sort of a step up, in my books.
Andrew W.K. – God Is Partying
Released September 10th, 2021 on Napalm Records
20 years ago he was playing bone-headed but earnest party rock that shredded freshman from coast to coast. Now he’s playing mid-tempo power pop metal. Not everything from the past ages particularly well, have you noticed?
Aborted – ManiaCult
Released September 10th, 2021 on Century Media
This is not Aborted’s first rodeo, and they’ve learned how to dish out Obituary-level brutal death metal in a truly professional manner.
Black Mass – Feast At The Forbidden Tree
Released September 10th, 2021 on Redefining Darkness Records
They call it blackened thrash metal, but when they say ‘black metal’ they lean more toward Venom than Emperor. This is gutter-level thrash like they used to trade on cassettes in the mid-Eighties.
Dawn Fades – Ode
Released September 10th, 2021 on Metal Assault Records
A surreal dreamscape of post-metal, but don’t bear down too hard on that post- signifier – I think it’s only hanging on by a thread.
Hawkwind – Somnia
Released September 10th, 2021 on Cherry Red Records
Damn, how did this band outlive Lemmy? Anyway, if you’ve heard one Hawkwind record, this is like that but not as good.