Stream of the Crop: 7 New Albums for Heavy Rotation

In this week's roundup of essential new projects: Sleep get stoned, Sting and Shaggy visit an island, and Tess Roby summons spirits.

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 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.

Sleep: The Sciences

The blunted trio who once called on their listeners to “drop out of life with bong in hand” make their surprise return after over a decade in a puff of smoke on this, the highest of holidays. Even as they’ve been off pursuing other projects, the intervening years appear to have not tamed their affinities for laborious riffs, textured feedback, long, loud, and slow songs or, uh, their love of weed. There’s one song on here called “Marijuanaut’s Theme” and another that features the lyric "Marijuana is his life and his salvation." It’s goofy, cacophonous, and cool-as-hell, just like they always were. And if none of that does anything for you, we probably won’t be friends. — Colin Joyce


Sting & Shaggy: 44/876

The news that 66-year-old global megastar Sting and his 48-year-old new pal Shaggy would release this, their collaborative pop-reggae album, on 4/20, was met with a combination of ironic excitement and quiet exhaustion (not least by me). Nothing is truly shocking anymore, and you have to take the easy fun where you can get it. It was easier to burrow into the concept because "Don't Make Me Wait," 44/876's lead single, was breezy and enjoyable in its own midday-cocktail way. It even suggested that the two artists might have a rapport. It's a lot harder to back this up after listening to all 15 (fifteen!) of these songs. "Gotta Get Back My Baby" is a straight pop song that could have appeared on a Bruno Mars demo tape a decade ago and I'm fine with that. Elsewhere, things get rough, and it wasn't Shaggy. Here's Sting's first line: "I hear reggae music, it carries me away / And the ghost of Bob Marley, that haunts me to this day / There's a spiritual truth in the words of his song / And the Caribbean nation to which they belong." You're gonna need a bigger blunt. — Alex Robert Ross

Tess Roby: Beacon

Tess Roby, a classically trained alum of a Montreal children’s opera, made her debut album as a monument to grief. In 2015, after the death of her father, she and her brother wrote a collection of songs as a tribute to him and to all the times in their life they’ll never get back (the title Beacon is a reference to a landmark of the trips they took together in childhood, a monolith on a hill in the English countryside). Appropriately, the record is eight songs of glassine melancholy, conjured from droning synthesizers and spiderwebbing guitar lines. “Borders,” the record’s closer, is the one that’ll really catch in your throat, a cosmic “Song to the Siren” jam, in which Roby offers an abstract summoning, stretching out syllables, calling out to spirits unseen. — Colin Joyce


Kimbra: Primal Heart

Stick with her. "Top of the World," the second track on this Kiwi singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist's third LP, was co-written with and produced by Skrillex. It should be the hit, but instead it's a limp mass of minimal, supposedly tribal beats, punctuated Kimbra rapping about "being on top of the world." Ignore that. "Everybody Knows" has some refreshing, peak-era Kylie Minogue melodies; "Like They Do on the TV" is a late-night liberation anthem sung through pulsing synths; "Human" is a rangey thesis statement that showcases her dextrous voice. "Real Life" is the sort of ballad that Justin Vernon might've dreamed up in the midst of his Kanye phase. Kimbra is, as always, better when she's traversing her own strange paths, trying to find a sound that fits, even if it's only lasts a moment. — Alex Robert Ross

The HIRS Collective: Friends. Lovers. Favorites

The debut full-length from the HIRS Collective—a Philadelphia coalition of riffy torturers schooled on grindcore, hardcore, and death metal, among other razor’s edge forms of heavy music—fulfills the communitarian promise of their name, enlisting a vast assortment of radically minded punks to lend their voices to their chaos. Laura Jane Grace, Garbage’s Shirley Manson, Marissa Paternoster of Screaming Females, Martin Crudo of Limp Wrist, Sadie Switchblade (formerly of G.L.O.S.S.) and a whole host of other friends join in the din, proffering intertwined messages of vengeance in the face of oppression and collective unity. They squelch on the title track, ,"We truly feel that anything we've ever put out into the world is being returned in the sweetest way by the sweetest people," a suggestion that even amidst the violence of the world there’s moments of joy and light. — Colin Joyce


Duppy Gun Productions: Miro Tape

This one consists of 50 minutes of THX-quality fractalized, dancehall brilliance, courtesy a cohort of Jamaican vocalists and futurist producers largely drawn from the West Coast of the United States. D/P/I, Butchy Fuego, Big Flyte, Velkro and more provide spacey—but not too abstract—riddims for fiery verses and sunny-eyed melodicism from Sniper, I Jahbar, Sikka Rymes, Lyrical Wiz, and a host of others. There’s no more appropriate cliché than breaking out dancehall as soon as the sun comes out, so this release is perfectly timed, a vibrant, buoyant take on a familiar sound that feels like an invocation of spring. — Colin Joyce

Post Animal: When I Think of You In a Castle

This Chicago-based throwback-psych troupe write actual real-life songs, which is more of a relief than it ought to be. Their scuzzy, flannel-wearing, day-drunk aesthetic isn't there to throw you off the scent—these are weed-addled rock songs reconstructed from dad's record collection. But Post Animal don't feel the need to drown every last goddamn guitar in reverb, instead allowing tightly-wound, falsetto-leaning songs like "Ralphie" and "Special Moment" do their own work. And it bodes well that they neither take themselves too seriously nor insist on turning everything into a parody of itself. — Alex Robert Ross

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