A special two-week edition of the NMR, owing to the fact that the first week of January is traditionally a wasteland for releases. Traditionally.
The Weeknd – Dawn FM
XO / Republic Records
The Weeknd, still chasing the high of 2020’s massive hits and that Super Bowl performance; Oneohtrix Point Never and Max Martin meeting in the middle by conjuring up their best synthwave; Calvin Harris, Swedish House Mafia, Tyler, the Creator, and Lil’ Wayne. Jim Carrey as the DJ for the radio station in Purgatory. A sublime, cohesive, and absolutely captivating collection of synth pop bangers, the absolute best vibes of the Eighties distilled into something that sounds utterly modern. It’s January 7th, and we may as well pack the year in now. Better luck for everyone else in 2023.
FKA Twigs – CAPRISONGS
Released on Atlantic Records
It’s Twigs and so everything is immaculate but the mixtape nature of the project renders it missing the gravitas of her past work. This may not be a bad thing, per se; her collab with the Weeknd has all the markings of a hit and so this may bring us a new, poppier version of her glitched-out songwriting to ingratiate itself with the charts.
Earl Sweatshirt – SICK!
Released on Warner Records
The pandemic finds Earl drinking less, being a little clearer, and learning to be a father. After two records of cutting-edge, hazily experimental hip hop SICK! comes up to the surface for air and delivers some of his most serious bars in ages as a result. It’s still short as hell, but he’s always made a habit of hitting it right and then dipping out real quick before it gets old. He comes across as mildly happier, too, which is ironic: in the midst of covid circulating, he wants to do shit, he wants to go outside.
Bonobo – Fragments
Released on Ninja Tune
Way way back in the year 2010 Bonobo made me remember that I liked electronic music with Black Sands. Twelve years later he’s a fixture but still makes head-nodder shit like this with tons of air and light worked in to make downtempo beats come alive.
foxtails – fawn
Released on Skeletal Lightning
Driven by drums and a mournful violin, foxtails’ brand of post-hardcore both draws inspiration from and redeems the sins of the genre from which they spring. If you’ve grown out of what often gets derisively labeled ‘screamo’, maybe try again.
Broken Social Scene – Old Dead Young (B-Sides & Rarities) ★★★☆ (Arts & Crafts)
(So you can dig up “Canada vs. America” but you can’t find the fast version of “Major Label Debut”? Come on, man)
The Wombats – Fix Yourself, Not The World ★★★ (AWAL)
Fickle Friends – Are We Gonna Be Alright? ★★★ (Cooking Vinyl)
Orlando Weeks – Hop Up ★★☆ (PIAS)
Cat Power – Covers ★★★ (Domino)
Anna von Hausswolff – Live At Montreaux Jazz Festival ★★★☆ (Southern Lord)
(Doomy Kate Bush is just as good live as she is on record)
Russian Girlfriends – Russian Girlfriends ★★★☆
Punch Brothers – Hell On Church Street ★★★ (Nonesuch)
Garcia Peoples – Dodging Dues ★★★ (No Quarter)
Dope Lemon – Pink Rose Cadillac ★★★☆ (Angus Stone / BMG)
gupi – you’re it ★★★
Spector – Now Or Whenever ★★★ (Moth Noise)
Soichi Terada – Asakusa Light ★★★☆ (Rush Hour)
Los Days – West Wind ★★★ (Too Good)
Jim Jones – Gangsta Grillz: We Set The Trends ★★★☆ (VL Records)
Nick Grant – Welcome To Loveland ★★☆ (Kids Make Money)
Kota the Friend – Lyrics to GO, Vol 3 ★★ (Fitbys LLC)
(This mf really responds to allegations of sexual abuse and grooming by claiming ‘nuh-uh that’s what she did‘ like bro read the room)
DJ Muggs & Rigz – Gold ★★★☆ (Soul Assassins Records)
Token – Pink Is Better ★★★ (Atlantic)
Cordae – From A Bird’s Eye View ★★★☆ (Atlantic)