New Music Roundup, September 17th-September 23rd

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Lil Nas X – Montero

★★★★

Released September 17th, 2021 on Columbia Records

Most of the time, when someone like Lil Nas X comes along and releases a song that crosses over hard and becomes one of THOSE songs, their subsequent career is nothing much to talk about. Look at the guest on the remix, after all: Billy Ray Cyrus, whose career can be summed up as “Achy-Breaky Heart” and his daughter, who was much more successful than her old man ever was. Lil Nas X is no Billy Ray, though, despite some early indications. The EP he put out after “Old Town Road” became such a massive hit was iffy at best, and it honestly looked like he might have been a one-hit wonder. Between then and now, though, he’s become someone whose melodic sense has sharpened extensively. This is an album of hooks, and not cheesy ones either. “Montero (Call Me By Your Name” and “Industry Baby” you’ve probably heard by virtue of their being on the radio every five minutes. Most of the rest of the album is just as good, and probably a good deal more absurd as well. Rather than being an artist you’ll wonder about five years down the road, Lil Nas X looks to be the kind of artist who’ll still be putting out new stuff into the world five years from now.

Mild High Club – Going Going Gone

★★★☆

Released September 17th, 2021 on Stones Throw Records

Jazzy, psych-tinged pop music from a group that is so far best known for their collaboration on King Gizzard’s third album of 2017, Sketches Of Brunswick East. Here they settle into a comfortable sort of middle range – a mild high if you will – and explore the nuances of their music.

José González – Local Valley

★★★☆

Released September 17th, 2021 on City Slang Records

Rich folk songs for rainy day listening, with warm tones and cozy confines.

Moor Mother – Black Encyclopedia Of The Air

★★★★

Released September 17th, 2021 on ANTI- Records

The Philly experimental rapper/poet has popped up everywhere in the last two years, including several collaborations with billy woods, Mental Jewlery, and her own Irreversible Entanglements group. Her latest record for ANTI- is her strongest yet, a smoky collection of tracks that take hip hop as their starting point before veering off into the esoteric and the profane.

Bad Bad Hats – Walkman

★★★

Released September 17th, 2021 on Don Giovanni Records

About as middle-of-the-road as you can get in spiky, spunky indie rock and still get offered a mid-afternoon festival slot.

Thrice – Horizons / East

★★★

Released September 17th, 2021 on Epitaph Records

The veteran post-hardcore band continues to not really innovate on their sound eleven albums in. The flip side of this, of course, is that there’s no noticeable decline in quality, either.

Alicia Walter – I Am Alicia

★★★☆

Released September 17th, 2021 on Sooper Records

Lighthearted, freewheeling Seventies-styled soul music, in that soul is pretty much where I’m landing on average given these songs. There’s more than a little bit of far-out musical theatre stuff going on here, so between it, the funk, the stiff-armed robot electronic touches, and the off-the-wall melodic sections its hard to accurately convey what this record is really about. It’s about its creator. That’s the best I can do.

Mono – Pilgrimage Of The Soul

★★☆

Released September 17th, 2021 on Pelagic Records

A post-metal record that doesn’t really let go until the fifth track, so maybe take a nap while you’re waiting for it to crest.

Breathe Panel – Lets It In

★★

Released September 17th, 2021 on Fatcat Records

One of those indie records you can fall asleep to three songs in, wake up near the end,, and not miss a thing in the duration.

Yvette – How The Garden Grows

★★★

Released September 17th, 2021 on Western Vinyl Records

Clattery noise pop that presents a thousand ideas and never really completes any of them.

Adia Victoria – A Southern Gothic

★★★☆

Released September 17th, 2021 on Atlantic Records

Spooky southern folk from a self-described blues poet, A Southern Gothic is the chronicle of living in the south from the perspective of a young black woman trying to reclaim a certain Faulkner-esque literary heritage that too often tries to shunt out people who look like her.

Bikini Death RaceRefrigerator

★★★

Released September 17th, 2021 on Negative Gain Records

Spiky New Wave-influenced synth punk that provides a pretty good time even if it does start to sound the same by the end.

Jordan Rakei – What We Call Life

★★★

Released September 17th, 2021 on Ninja Tunes Records

Contemporary R&B gussied up with some electronic/downtempo style production; the album has good texture but none of the outsized hooks that would take the project to the next level.

Noah KahanI Was / I Am

★☆

Released September 17th, 2021 on Republic Records

Remember that really obnoxious period of time when indie artists tried to do English folk and Irish folk and had names like Mumford & Sons and Of Monsters And Men and you could almost predict the “hey!” chant in their songs? Noah Kahan certainly remembers.

The Felice Brothers – From Dreams To Dust

★★★★

Released September 17th, 2021 on Yep Roc Records

Part Bruce Springsteen circa The Wild, The Innocent & The E Steet Shuffle, part Leonard Cohen in his golden age, and leavened with a good sense of humour and an eye for the quotidian details that make up the absurdity of life.

Tion Wayne – Green With Envy

★★★

Released September 17th, 2021 on Atlantic Records

Usually UK rap is pretty sus but Green With Envy makes a case that it can be just as pop-centric and bland as anything the Americans can put out.

ZillaKami – Dogboy

★★★☆

Released September 17th, 2021 on Republic Records

ZillaKami takes his most direct influence from Denzel Curry, but instead of merely hinting at metal in his sample choice and delivery, ZillaKami layers big distorted guitars and actual metal riffs under his hectoring, vicious trap flow. Someone dig up Ernie C and get him to produce this motherfucker’s next album. Apparently he’s a huge Slipknot fan, but don’t hold that against him too much.

Mozzy – Untreated Trauma

★★★☆

Released September 17th, 2021 on Mozzy Records

Slick, soulful trap that avoids most of the pitfalls of the genre except for the sort of lifeless, generic beats.

Curren$y & Kino Beats – Matching Rolexes

★★★

Released September 17th, 2021 on Jet Life Records

Laid-back, inoffensive rich boy rap from one of the form’s greatest living practitioners, a guy who made a couple stellar albums like ten years ago and then settled down into this forevermore.

Spiritbox – Eternal Blue

★★★☆

Released September 17th, 2021 on Rise Records

Soaring, melodic djent with great choruses and lots of fun splashy studio tricks laced into it.

Employed To Serve – Conquering

★★★

Released September 17th, 2021 on Spinefarm Records

Harrowing groove metal whose singer is just on the wrong side of atonal and shrill. Still, some intricate, slamming grooves going on here.

Candlebox – Wolves

★★★

Released September 17th, 2021 on Pavement Records

Candlebox were one of the original big grunge bands, spawning a bunch of hits including “You” and “Far Behind.” Despite this, they were largely a one-album wonder; their second album Lucy went gold but then after a disappointing third album they broke up, only to do the nostalgia reunion tour thing ten years later. Since then they’ve put out four albums, all of them okay for what it’s worth. This is the same: a record from an ageing grunge band that lays it on a little too thick but will still wow the diehards that never left the era behind.

Carcass – Torn Arteries

★★★☆

Released September 17th, 2021 on Nuclear Blast Records

One of the finest old death ‘n’ roll bands around, and on their seventh album proving to everyone around that they’ve got this metal thing down pat.

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