Stream of the Crop: 13 New Albums for Heavy Rotation
New albums from Robyn, Julia Holter, and IAN SWEET top this week's list.
L: Jason Merritt/Getty Images
R: Caitlin Mogridge/Redferns via Getty Images
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.
[ Honey] sounds like nothing she’s released before. True to its title, a stickiness and softness and sensuality permeates the whole thing; the synths are warmer, the beats less clinical, her vocals easy, gliding and humming above them. Gone are the jagged electric thwacks that pound on songs like “Don’t Fucking Tell Me What To Do,” replaced instead by a deep and syrupy glow. She’s still encouraging you to lean into your feels, but this time she’s also saying: ease up a little bit, slow down, let it go. “I’m never going to be broken-hearted, ever again,” she sighs on the closing track, later winking: “that shit got so lame.” — Daisy Jones, The Enduring Cult of Robyn
Julia Holter: Aviary
I should have seen this coming when Julia Holter said she was trying to get at the "cacophony of the mind in a melted world." There are few if any half-mainstream artists with the range, ambition, and sheer number of instruments under their mastery as Holter, and certainly none as unafraid to use all three when necessary. Aviary is a 15-song, 90-minute-long epic that opens with a warped orchestra and Holter howling to "a high vast and empty distance." You don't need to understand each and every literary allusion— Bernart de Ventadorn, Etel Adnan, Sappho, etc.—to be moved by Holter's dismembered poetry. "Frequent missile talk / Slurping on the words I heard from the wretched zone / Fortune throwing candy slow in a death crawl / Face me gliding like a serpent and smile," she sings on "Words I Heard," a truly apocalyptic song with all the sweeping, terrifying grace that the end of the world deserves. Treasure this one. — Alex Robert Ross
IAN SWEET: Crush Crusher
Like on past records, Crush Crusher finds Medford tracing the complex network of social relations in which all humans find themselves intertwined. On the album’s lead single “Hiding,” she mulled the responsibility she has to other people that she loves, taking comfort in the idea that it’s OK to hide away to preserve herself on occasion. On that track—and throughout the record—her interpersonal musings come accompanied by tempestuous guitar parts, and gnarled chord voicings lending a heaviness and a discomfort to the musings, a sense that whatever conclusions she comes to aren’t totally settled, just the best she can do for now. — Colin Joyce, IAN SWEET’s Self-Probing Indie Rock Is Totally Crushing
The record hovers, tethered to nothing but Ashlyn’s astounding voice, which sounds like a mix between late-era David Bowie and Zola Jesus. There are elements of goth and industrial music to Unreality, but every subgenre she explores is filtered through this notion of ambiguity and confusion that comes with staggering loss. — Will Schube, SRSQ's Floating, Abstract 'Unreality' Mines Grief You Can't Talk About
HUSH X Hudson Alexander: You're Just Miserable
“Intelligent trap music” isn’t a thing yet, but You’re Just Miserable could be its flagship work. A joint venture between rapper HUSH. and producer Hudson Alexander, both based out of Toronto, the tape glitters with unusual beats and party-starting raps that offset that experimentation. It’s not a gawky, intentionally off-putting weirdness: songs like “DOA” and “Stiles” feel like someone mashed up the gentle keys of Lullatone with Quality Control’s roster of Atlanta talent. HUSH. raps about his rough coming-of-age in the streets of Brazil, and the dialogue between his melodic performances and Alexander’s oddball sensibilities makes sense. — Phil Witmer
Nicholas Krgovich: Ouch
The songs started flowing out of Vancouver-based Nicholas Krgovich after a grueling breakup last year, leaving him with a record that's as painfully lonely as it is wry and self-effacing. As ever, it's the type of record that you could leave on in the background, Krgovich's languid vocals, soft bass, slide guitar interludes, and occasional horn solos lapping up like waves on a sparsely populated beach. But you'd be missing out on Krgovich's wit, the type of lines that come from a guy who, after experiencing heartbreak for the first time, said that "life became hilariously heavy and impossible feeling." "Whatever this was / Now resembles a joke," he sings on "Goofy" before trying to get specific: "I hate this room and I hate this coffee and I hate this food." There's a weird thrill in hearing a songwriter as restrained and vibrant as Krgovich, 16 years into his career trying to get to grips with emotions that most people process in their teens. He's genuinely shocked that most people have to do this shit at least once a lifetime. — Alex Robert Ross
Booker Stardrum: Temporary, etc.
There’s a track at its center called “A Passage or Time in a Hanging Truth,” which explores dense clusters synth harmonies over the course of five-and-a-half minutes, calling upon the legacy of drone music to freeze the record’s momentum at its center, to bask for a moment in uneasy stillness. This turns out to be true even of the moments when Stardrum plays more recognizable rhythms, there is a slip-stream that occurs even when his playing is fast and scattered. He creates bubbles in which you can rest, moments of stillness amid the flailing. — Colin Joyce, Booker Stardrum Is a Master Manipulator of Time (And Drums)
Mr. Twin Sister: Salt
It’s surely no accident that one of the standouts on the new record from these pop retrofuturists is called “Alien FM,” these are pure extraterrestrial radio gems, beamed in from a world more crystalline and shimmering than our own. You may catch the elastic basslines and chanted vocals and wonder, “Hey did the 80s ever end in this galaxy far, far away?” But I remind you that it even takes light a long-ass time to get to Earth from way out there. So if you want to hear their strange vision of the future, you’ll just have to stay tuned. — Colin Joyce
Antarctigo Vespucci: Love in the Time of E-mail
Many people familiar Antarctigo Vespucci assume the band was borne out of the friendship between Chris Farren and Jeff Rosenstock, but that’s not exactly right. When the two started the project in 2013, they were relative strangers. It was in crafting their style of bedroom pop-rock that the two discovered how well their personalities blended, and they became fast friends. So the sound of Antarctigo Vespucci is not the product of their friendship, it’s the real-time documentation of its formation.
With a full-length and some EPs under their belt, the two are off and skipping on their sophomore record, Love in the Time of E-Mail, a flex of what their combined powers can do. The title is more than just an homage to Farren’s famous love of all things email (sending, receiving, forwarding, CCing, you name it—but also don’t forget BCC), it feels like an appropriate descriptor for their take on what it is to have feels in the internet age. It captures the emotions that come with being left on Read, waiting in agony for the three typing dots to produce an actual message, believing you’re being subtweeted, and putting your heart on the line via text only to get the shrimp emoji as a response and spending the entire day reading into its meaning. It sounds both nostalgic and the product of its time—maybe even ahead of its time. It sounds like the future, and the future is email. — Dan Ozzi
Makaya McCraven: Universal Beings
Crossing both state and international borders, the Chicago-based (but Paris-born, Massachusetts-raised, and generally geography-unconcerned) composer celebrates the vibrant state of jazz around the world with a 90 minute beast of a record. Each side was recorded with a different group of players in a different city (New York, LA, Chicago, London), but you wouldn’t necessarily be able to tell—they all share a language that’s celestial and strange, reaching heavenward with triumphant melodies and ecstatic rhythmic work. This is compounded by the fact that McCraven, a drummer by training, is also a whiz of an editor, cutting down the long improvisations that made up the recording into jagged rhythmic loops, giving the component jams—even the long ones—a slivered feeling that’s rugged and collagelike in the way that classic rap productions are. It’s a stunner from another universe, meant to break down divisions in our own. — Colin Joyce
Eris Drew and Octo Octa: Devotion
Two devotees to the spiritual side of dance music that they call “the motherbeat” embrace on this split EP on the Lisbon label Naive. Octo Octa has long proven herself once of house and techno’s most mystic producers, and her tracks here only shore up that reputation, but the real surprise comes from Eris Drew, a rave lifer and stunning DJ who debuts as a music-maker in her own right here. In both forms it appears on, “Hold Me” wraps a squirmy bell melody around a sooty drum break, eventually blossoming into an ascendant, slow-motion floor-filler. The best moment though comes on “Trans Love Vibration (Eris Goes to Church)” which plays loose and slow, speeding up and slowing down a minimal organ jam with all the unpredictability of Pentecostal worship, a true testament to the devotional, internal power that this kind of music can have. — Colin Joyce
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This article originally appeared on Noisey US.