Remi Wolf – Juno
Released on Island Records
Line of Best Fit coined a phrase that I think is absolutely apropos for this record: hyper indie. Remi Wolf channels the winsome whimsy of hyperpop while grounding it in thick indie pop constructions. She picks through the detritus of the last 20 years to craft songs like humanitarian mission houses: sturdy, built out of trash, full of tight spaces and heat.
Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit – Georgia Blue
Released on Southeastern Records
Speaking from the perspective of someone with a graduate degree in Political Science elections are always a big deal, regardless of where they take place. The U.S. Presidential elections are basically the Super Bowl of the field and the 2020 election was more intense than usual. Leaving aside the Manichean narrative of it, the sheer length of time it took was exhausting. In the middle of it, Alabama’s favourite son Jason Isbell promised on Twitter that if Georgia went blue he would put out an album of covers of his favourite Georgia songs. On little sleep and powered by far too much coffee, I thought this was the greatest idea I’d ever heard. It of course did go for Biden, thanks in great part to the efforts of future President Stacy Abrams, and it turns out that Isbell was being serious. Georgia Blue is pretty good, too. Bookended by R.E.M. covers, there’s also some great takes on Drivin’ and Cryin’, a suitably lengthy Allman Brothers jam, and of course Gladys Knight’s “Midnight Train To Georgia”, which served as an unofficial anthem of sorts as we all waited for the Georgia results to crawl in. The secret weapon here, though, is assuredly the chef’s kiss version of Cat Powers’ “Cross Bones Style”, featuring Amanda Shires taking the lead vocal.
Xenia Runinos – Una Rosa
Released on ANTI- Records
Fresh, hyper global pop with a penchant for hard drums and glitched-out synths.
Vanishing Twin – Ookii Gekkou
Released on Fire Records
Like a trippier take on old Broadcast songs, slinky and mysterious.
Dean Wareham – I Have Nothing To Say To The Mayor Of L.A.
Released on Double Feature Records
There are some interesting and even poignant moments but most of this is basic psych-pop played without any real flair.
Hayden Thorpe – Moondust For My Diamond
Released on Domino Records
Tries to play it cool and breezy but it’s too haunted by its inspiration in Seventies glam wannabe melodies.
Julia Shapiro – Zorked
Released on Suicide Squeeze Records
Chastity Belt’s Julia Shapiro presents some gothy doom rock whose guitar tones wander from deep-cut Nineties alt to dream pop to pure Hum-level walls of gain.
Starflyer 59 – Vanity
Released on Velvet Blue Records
Nearly 25 years after “Fell In Love At 22” Starflyer 59 still trades consistently in slowcore-influenced doom pop, and if he’s slowed a little in age you’d never be able to notice.
Le Ren – Leftovers
Released on Secretly Canadian Records
Rustic, yearning folk music that tears at heartbreak, longing, and death.
Tunic – Quitter
Released on Artoffact Records
Some hardcore bands adopt a claustrophobic tone, making their slamming noise tracks seem paranoid. Winnipeg’s Tunic takes the opposite approach, going wild and wide-open.
Porto Geese – Duck
Released on Sheep Chase Records
A noisy blend of industrial space rock with extraordinary amounts of groove.
Sungazer – Perihelion
Progressive, inventive, ultimately uneven electro-jazz that isn’t afraid to devolve into trash Eighties balladry.
Postcards – After The Fire, Before The End
Released on T3 Records
Grungy dream pop, just like mom used to make.
Illudium – Ash Of The Womb
Released on Prophecy Records
A heavy, gloomy, downright beautiful in parts record written in the glow of the California fire season of 2020. Fire seasons, baby: that’s not a train tunnel you’re staring into, it’s the barrel of a gun.
Buffalo Nichols – Buffalo Nichols
Released on Fat Possum Records
Soulful folk blues, played loose and honest.
Young Thug – PUNK
Released on 300 Records
Thugger can do what he wants now, and he does: standard (albeit) contemporary rap tracks, smooth R&B shit, experimental campfire songs. It’s like whatever.
Chelsea Cutler – When I Close My Eyes
Released on Republic Records
When I put on this album I was impressed by the kickass funk and hip hop sounds it was presenting. It seemed both very fresh and very old school simultaneously. Then when a commercial for a local business came on I realized I had my radio app open and I was listening to a show on the local college station. As it turns out, this album is basic as fuck!
Payroll Giovanni – Giovanni’s Way
Released on EMPIRE
Local business-ass hip hop, with sights set appropriately low and petty.
Gucci Mane – So Icy Boyz
Released on Atlantic Records
Gucci’s 1017 roster comp hits surprisingly hard; these kinds of records don’t always work out well but So Icy Boyz shows off a collection of trap stars in the making.
Dom Kennedy – From The Westside With Love 3
Released on OpM Records
Cleaner boom bap than I’d typically go for (the drums need that dust) but his flow is pretty good and he outlines a philosophy of rap that’s pretty close to what I like.
City Morgue – City Morgue Vol. 3: Bottom Of The Barrel
Released on Republic Records
Fifteen years ago rap metal was a dirty word associated with white frat boys and the people who had raped and rioted at Woodstock ’99. Now a new generation of mostly-Black artists has arisen to take up the cause that Body Count first raised.
She Said Destroy – Succession
Released on Mas-Kina Records
Most bands coming off of an eight-year hiatus struggle to find themselves and recast their sound in the contemporary world. Norway’s She Said Destroy are not most bands. This is blackened death metal at its finest, a dank blast of necromancy full of putrid grave fumes.
Vildhjarta – maastaden under vatten
Released on Century Records
Progressive djent – or thall, as the band calls it. It’s their first album in a decade and comes after personnel changes; despite this, the Swedish band still hits with explosive force. Maybe they won’t take ten years to make a follow-up this time?
Noltem – Illusions In The Wake
Released on Transcending Obscurity Records
Fifteen years ago Noltem was a one-man folk metal band that fell apart when a label deal failed to come to fruition. After some twists and turns, and the addition of a full band of musicians, the group have finally released a debut album that betrays a much more atmospheric black metal influence, but one that isn’t afraid to punch through the borders of the genre when necessary.
Misanthur – Ephemeris
Released on Season of Mist Underground Activists
A few too many meandering mid-tempo passages spoil an otherwise solid black metal record that is capable of delivering a surprise or two.
Tom Morello – The Atlas Underground Fire
Released on Mom + Pop Records
The RATM guitar wizard brings on a pile of guests, and the quality of the songs are determined entirely by the guest and their abilities and aesthetic. The Boss and Eddie Vedder doing “Highway To Hell” is kind of a treat, though.
Zetar – Devouring Darkness
Released on Spirit Coffin
Kvlt black, classic death, and more obscure SF references than you can count – what else from a band named for an original series episode?
Deviant Process – Nurture
Released on Season of Mist Records
Straight ripping brutal French-Canadian death metal. If you know the type, you’re getting exactly what you’re expecting.
Rothadas – Kopar hant…az alvilag fele
Released on Pulverized Records
In high school, a friend / the band’s manager used to say, of his love for Black Sabbath and Type O Negative over, say, Megadeth and Cannibal Corpse, that he preferred “the slower, more natural heavy metal.” Lord only knows what he would have thought of Rothadas – probably would have orgasmed on the spot and died with a smile on his face.