Stream of the Crop: 12 New Albums for Heavy Rotation

A strong Chief Keef effort and the latest from the most reliable crew of metal expressionists head up this week's list of essential releases.
July 13, 2018, 6:39pm
L: Tim Mosenfelder/ Getty Images
R: Johnny Nunez/WireImage

Every week, the Noisey staff puts together a list of the best and most important albums, mixtapes, and EPs from the past seven days. Sometimes it includes projects we’ve written about on the site already; sometimes it's just made up of great records that we want everyone to hear, but never got the chance to write about. The result is neither comprehensive nor fair. We hope it helps.

Sean Henry: Fink

If Fink's lead single "The Ants" is any indication, is a fuller, more realized version of his quiet, slow-moving songs. Henry sings in tense, foreboding tones of killing the vermin that give the track its title, whispering with an startling self-possession as the song swells around him. The chorus is more or less ecstatic, by his standards, a single-minded mantra that goes, simply "Goodbye, all of my problems." Henry says the track was inspired by a real life infestation, during which he was forced to do some large-scale ant murder.

Rendered in more high fidelity realms, these creepy, crawly tracks become even more impactful than they might have otherwise been—the clear and constant thrum of an acoustic guitar giving the instrumental passages an unsettling sleepwalking energy. But there still remains this haze around the production, which gives the proceedings a mystery to them, a sense that you're uncovering each of these songs under a thick coating of cobwebs, unclear of what dangers may also lurk there.—Colin Joyce, Sean Henry's New Single Is a Creepy Ballad About Ant Murder

Lotic: Power

Once lumped in by observers—myself included—as part of a loosely affiliated movement of producers fracturing dancefloor tropes as a means of articulating fractured life experiences, the Berlin based producer Lotic pushes far beyond the mundane spaces of the club on their debut full-length power. Applying those same tools—stretching, slivering, and stuttering samples among other production-tools-turned-compositional-tricks—Lotic conquers other worlds here, the orchestral conservatory, the jazz lounge, the nu-metal basement, the heavens themselves. Other producers play with these sounds, but most are keen to let them crash sidelong into one another. Lotic stitches the disparate worlds together more delicately, offering complexity and comfort in equal measure.—Colin Joyce

Deafheaven: Ordinary Corrupt Human Love

Black metal expressionists Deafheaven announced their third LP, Ordinary Corrupt Human Love, with a 12-minute-long, sepia-toned song called "Honeycomb." It borrowed more from the twinkly, half-paced musings of emotionally fraught late-90s suburb-dwellers than it did from the morbid and frostbitten Scandinavians who inspire frontman George Clarke's deathly shrieks. It was, in one sense, a giant fuck you to the crowds of purists who resent the band's perceived sullying of the genre. Clarke's lyrics are always difficult to discern, and his voice is usually buried behind towers of noise anyway, but reading through his words didn't suggest that there was a cold heart behind the sonic uplift: "I'm reluctant to stay sad / Life beyond is a field / A field of flowers."

If "Honeycomb" annoyed you, Ordinary Corrupt Human Love will make you furious. It's Deafheaven's most melodic, most accessible, and occasionally most sentimental album yet. It trades more in post-rock prettiness than it does in primal fury; it's more sunset than midnight. Even on "Glint," one of four songs here that top 10 minutes, when Daniel Tracy's double-kick flicks into action and Clarke's voice conjures up a storm, things still arc over a major key. The haunting Chelsea Wolfe, who turns up on "Night People," stays somewhere near the earth here. This is a black metal album that promised "jazz-inspired percussion and intricate piano melodies." This is an album lifts its title from a Graham Greene novel. But if you want to hear an emotive, considered, occasionally melancholy rock record from a band who seem to have gleefully done away with needless conventions, it's a treat. —Alex Robert Ross

Birds In Row: We Already Lost the World

Hailing from Laval, France, Birds In Row adopt a few American hardcore influences without picking up any of the toughguy posturing. With its dire sense of urgency and shrieks that sound downright desperate at times, their new LP We Already Lost the World would fit more at home among the emotional grinders of Level Plane than the fist-swinging meatheads of Victory Records. No breakdowns, just chaos. —Dan Ozzi

Former Member: Old Youth

Former Member, the surprise new project from Jason Shevchuk, is a bit of cheeky moniker since Shevchuk will forever be tied to his past work in the seminal acts Kid Dynamite and None More Black. And while his new album Old Youth is marked by the unmistakable vocal sensibilities that made him a legend to fans of both pop punk and hardcore, Shevchuk tries out a few new tricks here. At times the album swings into classic rock territory that borders on outright hair metal riffs. Old Youth is an album for the stagedivers who grew up and realized there was some fun to be found in those big rock and roll records they were told to shun. —Dan Ozzi

Inner Travels: Heartswell

A few months ago, the Wisconsonian synthesist Steve Targo released Yonder, a dewy distillation of the years of misty-eyed ambient work he’s made as Inner Travels. But, because prolificity seems to be one of his truest callings, he couldn’t let his most fully realized work sit for long. Heartswell finds Targo turning over the reins to the centerpiece of Yonder to a pal who records as Channelers, who stretches that 7 minute piece out over 20 minutes, turning the shimmery vocals (℅ the artist YlangYlang) into metallic mile-long streamers tangling together in this beautiful, breathtaking mess. The flip, a 25-minute solo piece by Targo, is no less stunning—a lengthy exploration of the sunny synth-work he favors. That it will also soon be followed by more, more, more music in the same relaxing vein is mostly trivial. No such thing as too much of a good thing.—Colin Joyce

Clara! Y Maoupa: Meneo

With her mix series Reggaetoneras, the Spanish DJ Clara! has been responsible for crafting a sort of alternate history of reggaeton, foregrounding the role that MCs who happen to be women have had in putting together the genre’s wildest and wooliest sounds. Now, after years of doing that, she’s issuing her first original productions. In collaboration with the Belgium-based producer Maoupa Mazzocchetti, Meneo offers three jittery and unsettling (but still ecstatic) takes on reggaeton’s rhythms. Each track illustrates her gleeful disregard for the way the old guard approaches to familiar sounds, approaching them with clear appreciation but scuffing them up a bit, making them a little stranger. Keep this one on hand for all those summer parties that extend into the weird hours of the night.—Colin Joyce

Chief Keef: Mansion Musick

There are those artists who feel the need to act like assholes in the run-up to an album release, believing that all PR is good PR. Then there's Chief Keef, who's so prolific that barely even tweets about a new project now. Mansion Musick, released this morning, at least came with ten day's notice—more than can be said for The GloFiles Pt 1, The GloFiles Pt 2, The Leek Vol. 4, The Leek Vol. 5, and the Ottopsy EP, all of which came out earlier this year with next-to-no fanfare. (The 22-year-old Chicagoan's even run out of album titles; a Mansion Music mixtape came out back in 2014.)

This one feels a little more like a full album rather than a collection of loosies or a handful of club-ready half-hits, even if the mix seems uneven and the tracks occasionally blur into one. It's bookended by two anti-naysayer ballads in the Auto-Tuned "Belieber" and the hurriedly pretty "Letter." Between them there's "TV On (Big Boss)," a tribute to Keef's cousin, Fredo Santana, who died in January; a sloppy Playboi Carti collaboration on "Uh Uh"; and a grateful shot of energy on "Tragedies." Lyrically there's nothing radical—"Shoot them dice, hit your car / I need duct tape, bitch no Scotch"—and Keef probably could've cut this down to size. But he's never been in the mood for that. So you'll just have to sift through the 90-odd songs he's put out already this year and piece together something special yourself. —Alex Robert Ross

Cruel Diagonals: Disambiguation

Disambiguation, [Megan Mitchell's] debut album as Cruel Diagonals, is a captivatingly eerie wash of experimental electronic music. Each of its radon-heavy songs grew out of field recordings that Mitchell captured in the Pacific Northwest, usually by "activating the space," banging on a rusting sheet or swiping at a metal plate. The sounds that thrum through the tracks were recorded in abandoned environments—partly because they provide her with more interesting acoustics, partly because she got used to them growing up near a naval base in Alameda, California. On Disambiguation, noises either crawl into the mix and leave before the listener has a chance to guess at their origins, or they mingle to the point that focusing on anything else is impossible. —Alex Robert Ross, Cruel Diagonals' 'Disambiguation' Is a Lonely, Decay-Obsessed Wonder

Wilder Maker: Zion

Wilder Maker made their debut last year with a single on Saddle Creek, and now have a full-length, Zion, that’s an album of diminished-but-still-kicking hope. Zionis a collection of Rock and Roll songs for subway ridin’ and cryin’, kicking against the pricks when you’re not giving them the rent; living, if you can call it that, in the city. The press kit calls it scorching and now that there’s no money on the music industry field, why would they lie?[…] don’t expect Wilder Maker to make it huge on the Wilco revival circuit anytime soon. Too angry and too odd, more red-headed step-child than stranger, Wilder Maker will have to make it through this mean old world on their own. But like The Mekons performing Fear and Whiskey on an off night in Chicago, they’ll undoubtedly muddle through somehow. I’d end on an Urban Cowboy joke but I can never make it past the first twenty minutes. And I’ve made it all the way through the very excellent Zion about a dozen times! — Zachary Lipez, You Need to Listen to Wilder Maker's 'Zion,' an Americana Scorcher

Wiz Khalifa: Rolling Papers 2

Dirty Projectors: Lamp Lit Prose

After a long gap of half a decade between, Swing Lo Magellan and Longstreth’s 2017 solo release, he’s returned again, just a year later, this time with a full band, to release Lamp Lit Prose. Bassist Nat Baldwin has returned to the group, as has drummer Mike Johnson, but the women who arguably helped Longstreth pioneer the sound his band’s most known for, its harmonies, have been replaced. Now singing for the group are Felicia Douglass, Maia Friedman, and Kristin Slipp. Throughout Longstreth’s fifteen year career as Dirty Projectors, it’s become clear that we works best when he has musicians to write for. With a new band in tow, Lamp Lit Prose is a return to form. Now living in LA, Longstreth is a far cry from the musician who surprisingly sprung the enthralling Bitte Orca onto an already saturated Brooklyn scene. But now he’s back with a new army of ultra-talented musicians to write wonderfully colorful songs for. Some things never change.—Will Schube, The Guide to Getting Into Dirty Projectors

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