Stream of the Crop: 5 New Albums for Heavy Rotation

New albums from Field Music, Mukqs, Ezra Feinberg, Rhye, and Russell Haswell make this week's list of essential albums.
February 3, 2018, 5:22pm

Every week, the Noisey staff puts together a list of the best and most important albums, mixtapes, and EPs from the week just gone. Sometimes that list includes projects we’ve written about on the site already; sometimes they're just 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.

Field Music: Open Here

Sixty percent of people in Sunderland, the northern English city that brothers Peter and David Brewis call home, voted to leave the European Union in 2016. And while Field Music's fourth studio album—with its lush strings and woodwind skipping into jaunty electronic drums and almost kitschy horns—is as direct a response to that cataclysm as you'll find in art-pop (or anywhere), it is compelling because it doesn't pretend to know precisely what the hell happened. These are masterfully constructed songs that wrestle with themselves lyrically as much they burrow into the listener melodically. Take the danceable rumination on privilege in "Count It Up" (influenced by the American economist Joseph Stiglitz, for what it's worth) or the jaunty, filtered funk of "Goodbye to the Country," in which David Brewis sings from the perspective of a refugee in a northern town, noting—and he needs to—that "there's a real war on" elsewhere. Or just start at the beginning, with fear and irony on Wearside: "Couldn't sleep last night? Me too. Do you think that proves we need to stick together? Or is sympathy too serious a thing to take seriously?" — Alex Robert Ross

Mukqs: 起き上がり

From where I sit, the innovation with 起き上がり, is that there are tracks that could have played at both the parties we hit in Detroit bound together on one tape. There’s moments like the anxious, nauseating sample panning of “Marble Gallery”—which, per Allison, consists of samples of various video game soundtracks, including Legend of the Dragoon, Castlevania Symphony of the Night and Paper Mario. But there’s also “ベヘリット” which leans on several intersecting synth melodies to craft a slippery, dense electro exercise full of both dancefloor ecstasy and the wide-eyed fragility of the early synth pieces that populate the “MOOG” grab bag at your local record store. Somehow it feels natural to transition between these two modes, or at least as natural as it did to take a cab from one strange club night to the next. — Colin Joyce

Ezra Feinberg: Pentimento and Others

This is Feinberg's debut solo album, though he built a formidable back catalog fronting the ambitious, acid-inspired rock band Citay in the Bay Area in the '00s. That band came to a close in 2012 before Feinberg moved to Brooklyn, started a family, and concentrated on his work as a psychoanalyst. Pentimento and Others is a meditative album in the truest sense, designed to lull the listener into some cosmic relaxation, its looping acoustic guitars and swelling synths always overlapping but never interrupting each other. It could lift you into all the same places that Citay tried to in the first place. If nothing else, it will chill you out. — Alex Robert Ross

Rhye: Blood

Tucked into a pew at Toronto’s Church of the Redeemer, where Milosh used to perform on cello for recitals as a child, he laughs and becomes pensive when I ask if he thinks Blood, Rhye’s sophomore album released this week, is his comeback. "I don’t think of it as a comeback. I guess I think about things differently than people perceive." Which is true: Milosh seems quiet in person but he’s engaging, ready to gently battle back any perceptions we (media, his audience, etc.) have about his work. He continues: "I’ve been touring the world, playing tons of concerts. It doesn’t feel like a comeback. I didn’t retire and then come back. I’ve been going on this pace that I’m on. I also don’t let people dictate the pace that I’m on. I go with what feels right for me." — Sarah MacDonald, Rhye's 'Blood' Runs Warm

Russell Haswell: Respondent

The most reliably freaky of those reliable freaks operating in the outer realms of electronic music is back with a five-track mini-LP apparently recorded in tribute to his period of discovering music as a kid in the mid-80s. While there’s nothing that sounds much like the music he was into at the time—Factory Records, Warp, and Chicago house were major players—it is run through with a spirit of naive discovery that most experience in their teenage years, where every new sound is gleaming, precious, and utterly alien. Like much of Haswell’s discography, it’s playful, noisy, and absurdist, but there’s still new wrinkles. On the 10-minute “Special Long Version Demo” he works with a vocalist for the first time (Sue Tompkins formerly of Life Without Buildings) to craft a machinic monster that stutters and yawns as if constructed from broken servos, chipped gears, and rusty pistons that might otherwise power a footwork track. That Haswell gets it up and moving at all is testament to his strange talents. — Colin Joyce

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