Blood Orange's Lush, Low-Key Mixtape and 6 More of the Week's Best Albums

David Berman's long-awaited return, unreal goth-pop, and beautiful ambience fill out this week's essential listening.
Chicago, US
Queens, US
July 12, 2019, 5:05pm
Blood Orange live photo

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.

Blood Orange, Angel's Pulse

The mixtape-length "epilogue" to Blood Orange's already handmade-feeling 2018 album is full of the jagged edges of short song fragments and gleeful jumps between styles. It helps that Dev Hynes' style remains so pillowy and lush—even as you make unexpected jumps, you just land in another cushiony track, greeted by a surprising guest like Arca, Toro y Moi, or Tinashe (to name just a few of the many friends Hynes gathered for this project.) In a press release, Hynes said this project is reflective of the sort of work he always does between proper album cycles, trying out new ideas and high-speed. We're lucky he decided to release this one, but you have to wonder what kind of material is back in the vaults. —Colin Joyce

AceMoma, AceMoma

AceMo and Moma Ready, two of the DJ/producers pushing New York dance music to more exciting places, finally team up on record as AceMoma offering up four low-key tracks befitting of their status as the city's most effortless party starters. If you're lucky enough to live in New York, you can catch one or both of them playing almost every night, showing off their vast knowledge and love for all the corners of the dancefloor. They dabble in a few different styles here—ear-splitting acid, hazy ambience, anarchic breaks—making each track its own unique rave up. It's "nothing crazy," argues one track title, but they're just being humble. —Colin Joyce

Purple Mountains, Purple Mountains

“Things have not been going well / This time I think I finally fucked myself," sings David Berman on "That's Just The Way I Feel" the first song from his first album in 10 years. After Silver Jews' sudden end in 2009, Berman kept to himself, largely gave up music, and went through rocky times. But with his new band, Purple Mountains, he returns clear-eyed, bracingly personal, and self-lacerating. Songs like "Margaritas at the Mall" dive into the mundanity of self-destruction and others like the breathtakingly simple "I Loved Being My Being My Mother's Son" stunningly deals with grief. It's a dark album but it's also Berman's most obviously inviting—tracks like "Snow is Falling in Manhattan" stand as one of his most beautiful offerings yet. —Josh Terry

KAINA, Next to the Sun

KAINA is part of a new generation of relentlessly collaborative Chicago artists who dissect their own identities and upbringings as much as they do the genre tropes of soul and hip-hop. Like her peers Noname and Jamila Woods, the 23-year-old spent time with youth literary organization Young Chicago Authors and her writing and arrangements reflect both her city as well as her Venezuelan and Guatemalan background. On the standout closing track "Green," latin-tinged percussion accents her floating voice and seamless harmonies while the other clear highlight is "Could Be A Curse" a heartfelt duet with Chicago-based hip-hop/jazz artist Sen Morimoto that's brimming with chemistry. —Josh Terry

Drab Majesty, Modern Mirror

The retrofuturist guitar pop act Drab Majesty embraces a glistening unreality on their new album, Modern Mirror. There are obvious reference points for their sound, like New Order and the the slow ooze of your more downcast shoegaze groups, but none of those bands ever really fully had to grapple with a world as burned out and automated and on the verge of collapse as we did. Is real human connection possible in apocalypses? Of course it is. Of course it isn't. Drab Majesty sort out all those feelings and more, with a shimmer and a smirk. —Colin Joyce

Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, Tracing Back the Radiance

Lately Jefre Cantu-Ledesma's take on ambient music has edged ever closer to pop. Across his last few solo records, his wheezy melodies were getting to be something like something like snowblind shoegaze, conjured out of synthesizers and drum machines. Tracing Back the Radiance, however, returns him to more vaporous forms. There are few concrete elements—a piano line here, a malleted percussion instrument there—mostly it floats and oozes in this wonderfully cloudy way. It's more mood than melody, but it's lovely. —Colin Joyce

Amaal, Black Dove

On Black Dove, the Toronto singer Amaal analyzes her relationships from a bird's eye view. The six-track EP chronicles the different phases of love she's faced with her partner, tracing it from its courting stage on "Let Go" to a bond broken on "So What." The singer explores the concept of "struggle love," which is often defined by its hardships on "Later." "If I wait it out, you'll change your behavior / So I'll wait it out and you'll love me right," she sings. The EP is an easy listen and works as a chaser for hard conversations—Kristin Corry