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.
Kacey Musgraves: Golden Hour
Inspired by LSD, at ease with the world, in awe of the beauty of everything, Kacey Musgraves finally has her country-pop masterpiece. For all of its carefully worked honesty, debut LP Same Trailer, Different Park only hinted at this sort of songcraft; on the follow-up, Pageant Material, Musgraves wasn't sure where she belonged. Here, on her third LP, she seems to have nothing to prove. There's plenty more to be written about Musgraves's talent and worldview but, for now, just listen to "Butterflies," "Happy & Sad," and "Golden Hour," three of the best pop-country-adjacent love songs of this or any other year. And definitely listen to "Rainbow," a stunner, which makes majesty out of familiar balladry. — Alex Robert Ross
Frankie Cosmos: Vessel
Kline seems content on Vessel to keep putting as much of herself out there as ever. The record consists of 18 songs, recorded like her last two albums with a full band and the producer Hunter Davidsohn, written over the course of a tense and tenuous time in her life. In the two years since her last album Next Thing, she’s ended up with a whole new band around her. Her long term relationship with Frankie Cosmos’ former drummer Aaron Maine (who also records as Porches) came to an end. She toured endlessly, spending eight to nine months out of each year on the road, with rarely more than two weeks at home. These things aren’t all in the songs literally, but Vessel carries the spirit of these trying times, the incredible lows of romantic dissolution and tour burnout channeled through brief, but potent indie pop songs plumbing the depths of her own psyche. — Colin Joyce, Frankie Cosmos Is Alive, Even If It Feels Like Shit
Mary Halvorson: Code Girl
Often, the seemingly spider-limbed avant guitarist Mary Halvorson makes music that feels like its spoken in another language. It’s melodies are abstract, passages fit together in ways that don’t entirely make sense, it just feels deliciously wrong. That’s great sometimes, but her new project Code Girl is an inclination of her more rock-oriented tendencies, which is nice for the jazz-curious listeners like me who’ve always scrambled for a way into her work. She made a playlist for The Wire suggesting that this new full band effort was inspired, in part, by the relatively straightforward songwriting of people like Yo La Tengo, Elliott Smith, and Fiona Apple. There’s comfort in the moments that lean that way, when vocalist Amirtha Kidambi is centered—which provides a nice ballast for the passages where Halvorson stretches out into barely tonal hinterlands. None of it’s easy, but the vibrant bursts of double-jointed playing have context, which only makes them hit harder. — Colin Joyce
Ryan Loecker’s new tape of damp and swirly drones is short—just under 20 minutes—but I’d argue that in a lot of ways that’s the perfect length to get to know an ambient project. Replaying it, you get to untangle it’s deceptively rich contours, conjured here through aqueous pads, twitchy concrete sounds, and other electronics collaged. Like a body of water you splash into over and over again, expecting to find the bottom, Enamel has a hidden depth. And then when it’s over, you can just dive right back in. — Colin Joyce
TRANS FOREVER: OUT OF FLUX WITH THE UNIVERSE
Some of the best hopes for the future of pop live on the internet, issuing compressed-to-hell missives of digitalist bliss and cheery chaos straight to Bandcamp. If you’ve not been keeping up, OUT OF FLUX WITH THE UNIVERSE—a new compilation of trans and nonbinary artists put together by the Toronto musician Girls Rituals—is a great showcase of a few of the best of this overstimulating scene. Tracing underexplored connections between abstract rap (KC Oritz’ “30 Dollar Coat”), acid gabber meltdowns (astrofolk’s “IDFWU [BOOTLEG GABBER MIX],” synthetic emo-ish balladry (Felix Astroblade’s “Demons), and a whole lot of other disparate forms, it’s a perfect document of pop music in the URL era. Katie Dey and osno1, two of my absolute favorites in this whole world of pitch-warped pop artificers, turn in some of their best works, the cosmic orchestra-synth exploration of “Darkness” and the morbid carol “creep 4 your bones,” respectively. On top of all that it’s free. Can’t beat that. — Colin Joyce
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This article originally appeared on Noisey US.