Vampire Weekend's Freewheeling Pop Rock and 11 More Albums for Heavy Rotation

Ecstatic ambience and nimble raps make up the rest of this week's essential listening.
May 3, 2019, 4:53pm

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.

Vampire Weekend: Father of the Bride

Father of the Bride is freewheeling and idiosyncratic, it bounces from their trademark baroque pop to rock and country and folk, bending each new sound to their will. It has moody experimentalism (“My Mistake”) and shaggy, jittery psychedelia (“Sunflower”). It features no fewer than three sun-soaked Danielle Haim duets—one sounds like a Disney song in a good way (“We Belong Together”) and one in a bad way (“Married In a Gold Rush”). The third punctuates its verses with a stunning sample from Hans Zimmer’s score for The Thin Red Line. —Alex Swhear, "Vampire Weekend's New Album Is All Over the Place, In the Best Way"

Big Thief: U.F.O.F.

Big Thief’s first two albums 2016’s Masterpiece and 2017’s Capacity catapulted the New York band on the strength of their hushed intensity and overwhelmingly workhorse-like tour routing. Though 2018 found lead singer Adrianne Lenker and guitarist Buck Meek releasing solo albums but their third, the understated and near-mystical U.F.O.F. is their most fully-formed yet. The band has always excelled at finding emotional catharsis in intimate, quiet moments but here, the arrangements seamlessly flow through the tracklist. Their folk-rock palette expands into lusher, more atmospheric territory like on the plaintive “Open Desert” and the dirge-like “Jenni.” But on the title track, Lenker sings of alien disappearances and loss with, “she’s taking up root in the sky / see her flickering / her system won’t even try. It’s a stunning portrait of what’s Cosmic American Music can be in 2019. —Josh Terry

Tink: Voicemails

Voicemails is the Chicago artist’s follwup to 2018’s Pain & Pleaure, and it’s a solid reminder that Tink is the mixtape queen, with seven under her belt to date. This 12-track project finds Tink in a confessional state and at her most relatable. “You been on my bad side, but I ain’t even gonna act like I don’t want you here with me,” she sings on “Bad Side.” That line alone says a lot about what it’s like to be a woman in her 20s. Other highlights include “Ride It,” which features a verse from Dej Loaf ; “I Wanna Be Down,” an interpolation of Brandy’s 1994 debut single of the same name; and “Stabbed in the Back” which is an anthem for anyone who’s ever been scorned. Tink’s been there. And that’s why she’s so good at this. — Leslie Horn

Pile: Green and Gray

Green and Gray feels like a natural outgrowth of the sounds the band was exploring on 2017’s A Hairshirt of Purpose. But while there are more genteel abstractions throughout the record, it also features some of the band’s most disgustingly savage compositions in their history, as Maguire unleashes his pent-up political frustrations in a way that’s direct but not heavy-handed. Yet, at the same time, Green and Gray offers the most transparent view of Rick Maguire himself. Songs like “Firewood” and “My Employer” see him no longer using narrators as vehicles for his own emotions, as he plumbs the depths of his experience and puts the discoveries on full display. —David Anthony, "Pile’s Rick Maguire Gave Up Everything for His Band and He’d Do It All Again"

Barrie: Happy To Be Here

Barrie Lindsay, who fronts the New York City quintet Barrie, creates an expertly lush and candy-hued landscape of dream pop on the band’s debut album Happy To Be Here. The grooves and hooks that permeate throughout are so effortless these already obviously infectious songs unfold on deeper listens. “Darjeeling” bubbles with atmospheric synths and Barrie’s opening line “the city towed my car the first night I got in.” According to a press statement, her car was actually was towed but she surprisingly felt happy about it because she had just moved to NYC. It’s this optimism that drives the LP and makes it so inviting like on the funky “Geology” and the vibing “Chinatown.” —Josh Terry

Empath: Active Listening: Night on Earth

Empath present as punks, but their debut LP proves a truth hidden in the delirious fuzz of their early EPs: they’re great pop songwriters too. Their take on basement rock tropes is still utterly blown out—a decade ago we might have called this shitgaze—but they're able to wring these wonderful floaty melodies out of the static. One Noisey writer (hi Josh) compared the breathy melodies of "Roses That Cry" to Broken Social Scene, and I haven’t been able to get that comparison out of my head since. Like Kevin Drew, they couch desperate longing in labyrinthine guitar pop, finding ecstasy in the fail points—like when singer Catherine Elicson runs out of air or her voice slides from croon to scream. It's beautiful and broken. —Colin Joyce

Crisis Sigil: Crisis Sigil

Rook, half the bleak pop duo Black Dresses, introduces a new project Crisis Sigil, with five short, shredded tracks. For fans of her band, this'll be familiar emotional territory—rage, abjection, fear—but Crisis Sigil uses new means to get there. Throughout she thrashes and grinds, crafting a cybernetic version of hardcore, all on her own. It's contorted and coated in digital grime in a way that reminds me of the noise-scuffed record Full of Hell made with Merzbow. But overall there's something even more ascendant about it, a reminder of the power you can find in negation. Turn the bullshit into fuel.— Colin Joyce

Drahla: Useless Coordinates

Their debut album Useless Coordinates on Captured Tracks is a 10-track collection of erratic, paranoid-feeling songs that feel guided less by structure than by pure nervous energy. The songs feel plotted, but loosely, like someone trying to draw a map to a riff from memory. Riggs seems to suggest that this is inherent to their approach.

“I find [the painter] Francis Bacon’s impulsive methods of working encapsulate creative energy in its purest form,” bassist Rob Riggs says. “His instinctive outbursts of emotion are captured directly to the canvass, uninterrupted for eternity. I think our approach to songwriting is very primitive and reactionary, there is no predestination.” — Colin Joyce, "Drahla’s Abstract Punk Songs Are Ecstatic About the Everyday"

Malci: Papaya!

Chicago rapper and producer Malci has been thriving on the local hip-hop community’s fringes for the past few years. His new tape Papaya! is his best, an entirely self-produced collection, that is adventurously weird and compelling. When he raps, he throws his voice around in unexpected ways, landing one liners with an erratic energy like on “Money Store,” where in its short runtime he masterfully sputters over a glitchy beat. Of the 17 tracks on Papaya! only two crack the three minute mark making for a blistering run of left-field production and heady pop culture references ranging from “Broken Social Scene,” “Trout Mask Replica” to “Legacy of Kain.” Malci doesn’t enlist any features and though he doesn’t get the cosigns of his more-established peers, he’s better as an outsider. —Josh Terry

Bathe: I'll Miss You

The New York-based duo Bathe's surf R&B draws from the inspiration of the Beach Boys, redefining who gets to enjoy the sun and sand. Their concept of summer music emulates the short-lived high of a vacation, with the truth that real life awaits you when the sun sets. I'll Miss You, a 7-track EP, follows Corey and Dev through the whirlwind of a summer romance that ends as quickly as it began: the meeting ("Dealer"), the fall ("Kimmi"), and the recovery ("Sure Shot"). "I won't spend no time, obsessing over signs / I don't regret the night I spent with you," Dev sings on "Kimmi." In the end, a summer without memories is not a summer well spent. —Kristin Corry

Caterina Barbieri: Ecstatic Computation

On her first record for the experimental institution Editions Mego, the Italian synthesist Caterina Barbieri lets her modular geometry blur lysergically. She’s long been a master of pristine, interlocking synth sequences—austere and striking like a Malevich painting—but what’s here is mistier and more diffuse. From the start of the albums opener "Fantas," her synth work bleeds and swells, less like marking out shapes on a canvas than dripping single drops of paint into puddles. There’s something special in that unpredictable fluid motion. —Colin Joyce

Various Artists: Pacific Breeze: Japanese City Pop, AOR & Boogie 1976-1986

City Pop, the saccharine, sleek, and endlessly listenable music from the economically prosperous years of ‘70s and ‘80s Japan has long been having a resurgence. Thanks to YouTube algorithms, vaporwave artists’ sampling, and record collectors discovering the genre, reissue labels like Light In The Attic have been crucial in re-releasing the country’s often rare and out-of-print offerings to U.S. artists. Their latest in their ongoing and essential Japan Archival Series compiles artists like Taeko Ohnuki, Hiroshi Sato, and Haroumi Hosono’s most danceable songs as well as a sprawling number from Minako Yoshida. The label puts it all in a gorgeous and expertly assembled package. Unfortunately, like a lot of Light In The Attic’s catalog, this release will only available on vinyl and CD, not on streaming platforms. —Josh Terry