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Lil Nas X's 'Old Town Road' Follow-Up and 11 More of the Week's Best Albums

This week's essential listening also includes a grand Gucci Mane record and a couple of scrappy punk LPs.

by Noisey Staff
Jun 21 2019, 4:30pm

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.

Lil Nas X, 7

7 sits awkwardly between the spaces of adolescence and adulthood, just like Lil Nas X who, at 20, is old enough to choose the leader of the free world, but not old enough to order a drink at the bar. The 8-track EP (despite the number "7" its title boasts) experiments with genres with tracks that cater to Gen Z's 8-second attention span. The EP's longest song, "F9mily (You & Me)," doesn't even reach the three-minute mark. For Lil Nas, a former meme maker, this is by design. "Me making 'Panini' short to increase streams," he tweeted shortly after releasing the sub-two minute song yesterday. While there are some already who consider his 18-minute EP a failed follow-up to "Old Town Road," Lil Nas X has again proven that he's self-aware about what it takes to survive and thrive in the streaming era. —Kristin Corry

Gucci Mane, Delusions of Grandeur

Forget delusions, the ornamental production and star-studded cast of Gucci Mane's new album makes for a listen that is truly grand. He knows it too. "Special"—aided by Puerto Rican chart-destroyer Anuel AA—is a colorful, self-assured exploration of Gucci's inherent worth. Does he need all these diamonds, he asks himself, to have value, talent, respect? Of course not, but he's gonna wear 'em anyway, and roll up in a Rolls Royce to boot. That's kinda the approach he flexes throughout the record. He's proven in the past that he doesn't need expensive-sounding beats or Justin Bieber features to thrive, but he can have them, so why not? Even the East Atlanta Santa deserves to treat himself every now and then. —Colin Joyce

Titus Andronicus, An Obelisk

It’s hard to predict how the Titus faithful will receive An Obelisk. It doesn't swing as big as the 92-minute rock opera that was the band's 2015 album, The Most Lamentable Tragedy, but it's certainly more cohesive than their scrappy 2008 debut, The Airing of Grievances. An Obelisk falls somewhere in the middle, with its strongest asset being that it's unafraid to lean on Stickles' undeniable skills at crafting fast, down-and-dirty punk songs (with an assist from producer Bob Mould of legendary Hüsker Dü fame). It feels like, after years of expanding the space in which they reside, Titus Andronicus is allowing themselves the simple pleasure of rocking out in it. Stickles is proud of the album, but again, his opinions often differ wildly from the popular consensus, so who knows? —Dan Ozzi, "Titus Andronicus' Patrick Stickles Ranks All of the Band's Records"

Mannequin Pussy, Patience

Since the early 2010s, Philadelphia's Mannequin Pussy have subtly and consistently tweaked their frenetic punk rock into something grander. Their new album Patience feels like the culmination of the band's sound, a full-throated and meaty exploration of loud rock music. It's a mostly chaotic and relentless ten songs, especially felt Marisa Dabice's fiery delivery of lines like "I was standing in the gates of my hell" on single "Cream." But when the band operates on a lower volume, it's just as resonant. The gauzy and shoegaze-inflected "Fear/+/Desire" highlight’s Dabice's ability as a singer to indulge in delicate moments just as intensely as she would scream on one of the LP’s many rippers. —Josh Terry

black midi, Schlagenheim

It's tough to describe what the buzzing U.K. quartet black midi sounds like for the simple reason that their debut LP Schlagenheim is nine songs of sensory overload. There are all the hallmarks of post-punk with guitars clanging and unexpectedly careening throughout, booming bass, and off-kilter time signatures, but it’s done so unorthodoxically it feels like they are happily ripping apart the genre. While some songs are so unexpected it's disorienting, like the sweeping eight-minute "Western" and the relentlessly pummeling "Near DT,MI," the band's technical skills as musicians are the only threads that manage to hold everything together. —Josh Terry

Trina, The One

On her first album in nine years, Trina returns with confident and raunchy bars like she never left. But on The One, the Miami rapper makes it clear that she gets vulnerable, too. While the first half of the album is appropriately drowned by tracks on which Trina rhymes about her disapproval of men while making a vow of loyalty to money, the latter half is painted with more R&B songs as she uses the album as a makeshift diary to express her pain. The record is an emotional rollercoaster, but you still come away with a sense that she’s still, as she famously rapped, “da baddest.” —DeAsia Paige

Divino Niño, Foam

On Foam, Divino Niño continues the streak of Latinx and Latin American bands like Inner Wave and Boogarins currently owning the psych-pop scene. And they're part of a fascinating movement of artists in American pop who are slowly filtering the sounds of their parents' birthplaces through new takes on more commonly familiar soundscapes. This new generation of musicians and artists are defining the music of this era through the lens of first and second-generation Americanhood. —Eduardo Cepeda, "Stream Divino Niño's 'Foam,' a Surreal Album of Psychedelia and 70s Pop"

Debit, System

Made by ripping up and reimagining the earthy schematics of a genre of Mexican dance music called tribal guarachero, DEBIT's new EP, System couldn't be much different from her last project. Her late 2018 release Love Discipline was a collection of shimmering and shivering ambience, conceived around the idea that love requires work. It was weighty, but placid, even at its most atonal moments. System—released by the label/collective NAAFI, who also ushered her debut into the world a little over a year ago—is a little more active.

Some press materials suggest all sorts of themes you can dig into, and that it's an interrogation of inherited and "unquestioned social phenomena." But even if you, dear listener, don't avail yourself of such information, you'll surely appreciate it in that this stuff just bangs. Full of crushed up techno-inflected beatwork and the growling electronics of more industrial influences, it's heavy and heated, meant to soundtrack crowded dancefloors in the year's humid months. —Colin Joyce

Hatchie, Keepsake

Dream pop upstart Harriette Pilbeam, who performs as Hatchie, has had one of the most enviable recent ascents of anyone currently making lush guitar songs that evoke Cocteau Twins, Slowdive, and Mazzy Star. The 26-year-old Australian's first EP, Sugar & Spice was endlessly repeatable and boasted "Try" a near-perfect single that got a remix from Cocteau Twins' Robin Guthrie. On her anticipated debut full-length Keepsake, Pilbeam doesn't just stick to shoegaze signifiers but maintains her timeless and inviting songwriting as she branches out to new wave, dance music, pop, and indie rock. "Unwanted Guest" especially feels like an arena-filler with its anthemic guitar riffs and it's rafters-reaching atmospherics. —Josh Terry

Rafael Anton Irisarri, Solastalgia

Irisarri has been meditating on questions of ecology, place, and humanity through a string of records for the often environmentally minded Australian label, Room40. The North Bend and The Unintentional Sea both took their influence from specific terrains—the Pacific Northwest and California respectively—before Irisarri expanded his gaze to encompass all of America on 2015’s A Fragile Geography. Like the blown-up audio palette of its predecessor, Solastalgia’s cataclysmic themes sound suitably big. It was constructed from layers of guitar, piano, synthesizer, voice, and field recordings manipulated to near unrecognizable states. The album recalls both the deep time and pressure of geological rock formations as well as the ocean's elemental horror. At its most affecting, Solastalgia sounds like a tsunami happening in slow motion. —Lewis Gordon, "Rafael Anton Irisarri's New Album Explores the Human Cost of Climate Change"

Sun Cop, The Levee

Andrew Humphrey has always excelled operating behind the scenes as an engineer and producer working with Chicago bands like Twin Peaks and Divino Niño. But as Sun Cop, he makes knotty and heady psychedelic rock that's just as rewarding. His second LP under that moniker, The Levee, is an exercise in studio experimentation. "Predator" starts as a fairly straightforward garage rocker but off-kilter vocal effects warp it into something much weirder. Other songs like "Tess" and "The Doorway" burrow into silky synth lines and airtight hooks. But the real highlight comes from the Chicago-politics minded "Give Us What We Want," which righteously laments the Laquan McDonald shooting and the plan for a new police academy in the city. —Josh Terry

Qualiatik, Discarnate

Qualiatik's music is deliberately disembodied. Discarnate, their debut EP, showcases the New York artist's chaotic approach. It's both weighty in its subject matter and weightless in its production. The sounds don't take recognizable shape or form—the wheezing synth passages and abstract synthetics are alien and amorphous. They writhe chaotically. At the center of the maelstrom of metallic whirring, they offer otherworldly melodies—the effects are something like pop music captured on radio telescope from a cosmic source. The music feels so unfamiliar because Qualatik is deliberately exploring themes that are hard to pin down. The word discarnate, according to their Bandcamp, refers to "noncorporeal entities in the psyche that have a life of their own." So it's fitting that the music is so murky and malleable, it's an attempt to trace the borders of feelings that aren't easily observable. —Colin Joyce

This article originally appeared on VICE US.