Stream of the Crop: 6 New Albums for Heavy Rotation

New albums from Animal Collective and Mitski top this week's list.
August 18, 2018, 7:42am

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.

Animal Collective: Tangerine Reef

Animal Collective’s first full-length sans Panda Bear—the perennially stoned, pop-minded gooey center of this merry band of experimental tricksters—is nevertheless one of the most delightful downers they’ve ever released. Intended as the accompaniment to some (weirdly sexual?) footage of coral organisms, this collection of sounds—c/o the remaining Animals Avey Tare, Geologist, and Deakin—rarely rises above a watery whisper, allowing synth sequences to swirl in surreal and otherworldly arrangements. There’s a hint of anxiety around the proceedings, a haze that blankets even the most beautiful moments, which is fitting given the state of the oceans right now: temperatures rising, chemicals coalescing, and everything else dying. If you’re after a soundtrack for the impending environmental collapse, this is as good a record as any to blare as the ship goes down. —Colin Joyce

Mitski: Be the Cowboy

Mitski's new album packs a lot in. Though many songs on the record linger around the two-minute mark, their brevity allows Mitski to experiment—to throw up an idea, let it perforate the air, then move onto the next without anything ever feeling jarring. As such the record is fantastic exercise in varied yet impactful songwriting. Mitski will punch you in the heart. She will make you want to dance. You might feel a little less alone. And it'll all be over so quickly you'll want to do it again, and again, and again, joining her as she waltzes in-and-out of deeply nuanced feeling.—Ryan Bassil

AceMo: AceMo EP

One of the most malleable DJs from the New York underground follows up the grimy basement techno of the stellar 2017 record Black Populous, with something far more weightless. On this EP for the Michigan label Vanity Press, Ace cycles through all sorts of skybound styles; there’s garage-gone-celestial on the “The Essence” and speed-demon drum programming on “Jam 1212.” But for the most part this one’s take on technoid locomotion hovers in a sort of space-station funk, skittering between between bulkheads, and using its own weight to propel it forward. The opener “R.E.M. Dance” exemplifies the EP’s best characteristics well, using otherworldly synth pads as the launchpad for a six-and-a-half-minute head nodder, the sort of track that comes on as the sun starts peeking through the club windows, and you feel your feet start to leave the floor. —Colin Joyce

Death Cab For Cutie: Thank You For Today

For 20 years, Death Cab for Cutie has been indie rock’s reliable constant, never going more than a few years without a new album. They’re about to release their ninth studio record, Thank You for Today, and, like most of the albums in their catalog, it is rooted in the elements fans have come to love about the band while still exploring new territories. Gibbard is most proud of the fact that it’s got something for everyone, from the fans who discovered the band on The O.C. to the more recent admirers of their work. "For the first time ever, we’ve really bridged the aesthetic people have attached to the band in the early aughts with some of the stuff we’ve done over the last couple of records which have worked well," he says. —Dan Ozzi, Ben Gibbard Ranks Death Cab for Cutie's Eight Albums

Ariana Grande: Sweetener

As a person nursing a more or less physiological dependence on diet soda, there is no debate I’m more tired of having than whether or not artificial sweeteners will speed up my ultimate demise. I mean on one hand, of course they will, why do you think I drink so much of the stuff? On the other, it makes me happier so whatever! Ditto for the new album by Ariana Grande, which I’ve spent this morning binging on—for those keeping track at home, I’m up to four spins of this record and two Diet Cokes. It too is pleasantly bubbly, cool, and refreshing as Grande drips through fizzy production from longtime collaborator Max Martin and Pharrell, among others. Few working pop stars are as capable of evoking pure love and light with just the jagged lilts of their own voice, but that’s what she does on tracks like the standout “everytime” carving neon trails through negative space. Another plus, it probably won’t even fuck up your digestive system as much as aspartame does. —Colin Joyce

Oh Sees: Smote Reverser

The Oh Sees are one of those bands that, from a distance, seem nearly impossible to latch onto. They have all the markings of being difficult, both for casual fans as well as their diehard supporters. They’re prone to changing their name, having done so a handful of times, often to mark a musical evolution, but not always. Even then, their albums are often amalgams of different sonic endpoints, stitching together garage, punk, psych, prog, folk, and pop in whatever ways they see fit. They’re notably prolific, having released 20 albums since forming in 2003, with their twenty-first, Smote Reverser, due August 17. But it’s by getting up close to them, and embracing that the Oh Sees are not a band in the traditional sense of the word, that everything falls into place. —David Anthony, The Oh Sees’ 20 Albums Are Weird and Diverse. Here’s Where to Start

Follow Noisey on Twitter.