Emma Ruth Rundle – Engine of Hell
Released on Sargent House Records
After COVID put her professional life into a scramble, Emma Ruth Rundle did what many of us did: spiralled into the dark parts of herself and drank/drugged entirely too much. Unlike most of us, though, she decamped to Wales to process and came out with a stark, highly confessional record that is equal parts Kate Bush and Nick Cave.
Snail Mail – Valentine
Released on Matador Records
Raw and emotional, with all the ‘whatever’ stuff from Lush stripped away to make a breakup album that stands alongside the modern day pantheon of indie rockers as opposed to merely playing catch-up.
Bent Knee – Frosting
Released on Take This To Heart Records
Another album that puts hyperpop into its psych-rock calculations, with intriguing results.
Hana Vu – Public Storage
Released on Ghostly Records
Some decent indie pop gestures on here but comes off too often as derivative of other, bigger artists like Mitski and Florence + The Machine.
Sloppy Jane – Madison
Released on Saddest Factory Records
Her weirdo theatrical piano pop is odd and at times off-kilter, but it’s never boring.
Gnod – La mort du sens
Released on Rocket Records
Slamming noise rock that manages to take Metz-esque near-metal and smash it out of shape even further.
Penelope Isles – Which Way To Happy
Released on Bella Union Records
Creamy smooth blend of indie pop aesthetics and Seventies-vintage harmonies.
Nation Of Language – A Way Forward
Released on [PIAS]
Kraftwerk-inspired retro-synth pop that doesn’t do much to evolve beyond those old sounds.
Glassing – Twin Dream
Released on Brutal Panda Records
Decent enough blackgaze that gets over on passages that manage to be crushingly heavy.
Jaala – Gap Tooth
Released on Heavy Machinery Records
Ramshackle indie pop with a good sense of melody and atmosphere.
Foxx Bodies – Vixen
Released on Kill Rock Stars
Messy punk rock that gets histrionic at times but always manages to ground itself in brutal honesty.
Webbed Wing – What’s So Fucking Funny?
Released on Memory Music
What’s fucking funny is taking influence from bands like Lit in this the Year of Our Lord 2021.
bliss3three – I’m Gonna Miss You
Released on No Agreements Records
High-flying dream pop shattered with repeated hammer blows and then smeared with vaseline.
Chime School – Chime School
Released on Slumberland Records
Drawing from the lighter side of C86 (ie Byrds fans), Chime School provides some high energy alongside that old overused descriptor, “jangly.”
Connan Mockasin – Jassbusters Two
Released on Mexican Summer Records
Ambient guitar stuff with some vocal snatches here and there. File it under music to make pretentious Italian dishes to.
feeble little horse – Hayday
Released on Julia’s War
Lo fi indie rock, the kind the Crutchfield sisters started off on, or like a home recorded type of Hop Along record.
Curtis Harding – If Words Were Flowers
Released on ANTI- Records
Trad soul, to be sure, but it hits hard and brings the heavy emotions without being over-the-top.
Hard Feelings – Hard Feelings
Released on Domino Records
Affable enough dance music with those old Nineties house vocals.
portrayal of guilt – CHRISTFUCKER
Released on Run For Cover Records
An unrelenting blend of hardcore noise, power electronics, and doom metal that feels like a bloodied and broken nose.
Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats – The Future
Released on Stax Records
The band continues their winning merger of Motown soul, country-boy rock ‘n’ roll, and slick Rolling Stones moves. It may not be particularly new, but the presentation is fiery and the hooks are barbed.
MØL – Diorama
Released on Nuclear Blast Records
A lethal combination of full-tilt death metal and guitar-heroic rock melodies. That sounds like a working definition of deathcore, but it isn’t. I’m just not totally sold on the singer’s vocals – they screech where they should roar.
Mortiferum – Preserved In Torment
Released on Profound Lore Records
Meat-and-potatoes death metal, nothing to write home about but also lots to bang your head to.