Mac DeMarco's Goofy Simplicity and 11 More Albums for Heavy Rotation
From drone metal to sugary R&B, there's a little something for everyone out this week.
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.
Mac Demarco: Here Comes The Cowboy
As Mac Demarco’s popularity has grown over the past 7 years, his albums have gotten more restrained and bare-bones. The ease and simplicity with which he writes songs has been his strongest asset, one that makes his modest fourth LP Here Comes The Cowboy a compelling albeit low-stakes listen. Though much of the conversation surrounding this album has been a trumped up “controversy” about whether he copied a similarly titled yee-haw-minded Mitski full-length, the actual songs deserve closer attention. The opener title track settles into a bluesy amble while delightfully goofy “Choo Choo” chugs along with several nods to Haruomi Hosono. There’s a casual warmth and familiarity with Demarco’s voice that also makes for some resonant moments on the LP’s most stellar songs like “Finally Alone” and “All of My Yesterdays.” This may not be his fans' immediate favorite, but there are enough inviting and ramshackle tunes to make this a grower. —Josh Terry
Jamila Woods: LEGACY! LEGACY!
For the past few years, Jamila Woods has been wrestling with how to prevent the legacy of individuals like Nipsey [Hussle] from disappearing. To that end, she decided to pay homage to a different Black creator on each of the album's 13 tracks, summoning the energy of poets, musicians, and writers whose fingerprints can be found all over her stirring resistance songs. The track-list reads like a roll call, with names like "ZORA," "EARTHA," and "MILES" marking themselves present. It's an example of the magic that happens when the careers of Black people are given the grace of eternal life.—Kristin Corry, “Jamila Woods Wants You to Stop Rewriting Black History”
Young Nudy & Pi’erre Bourne: Sli’merre
Young Nudy goes expensive but tasteful on this full-length collab with producer Pi’erre Bourne, himself known for grimy contributions to the catalogs of Playboi Carti and Lil Uzi Vert. Across 12 tracks, Nudy flexes and contorts his voice over shimmery Bourne beats. That’d be enough on its own, but he also has a couple bright guest spots from old buds like Uzi, his cousin (!) 21 Savage, and some of rap’s rising stars, DaBaby and Megan Thee Stallion. The best moments come low-slung and heavy-lidded, like “Black Hippie, White Hipster” on which Nudy professes a love for big-ass blunts amid some catchy threats: “Your mama find you on the news.” Maybe he is a slimeball after all. —Colin Joyce
Ari Lennox: Shea Butter Baby
As Dreamville's first woman signee, Ari Lennox is no stranger to the ways the music industry can be seen as a "boys' club." On the opener to her debut album, "Chicago Boy," Lennox has a directive for any men who may be listening: "[...]Leave, please. On the count of three, because I need to talk to my bitches." From then on, Shea Butter Baby is as intimate as girl talk, with Lennox journeying through the milestones of adulthood, celebrating the freedom of walking around naked on "New Apartment" and penny-pinching on "Broke." Following her provocative 2016 single "Backseat," Lennox fills Shea Butter Baby with moments of sensuality—both subtly and explicitly. You can expect the acronym "BMO" to permeate the text threads for your summer shenanigans. "Break me off / That gitchy gitchy yaya when the lights is off," she sings on the Total-inspired song. Shea Butter Baby cements Lennox's voice as a leading voice of R&B's new class. —Kristin Corry
Holly Herndon: PROTO
For her PhD thesis, Herndon—alongside her partner and collaborator, the philosopher and digital artist Mat Dryhurst, as well as artist and software developer Jules LaPlace—built and trained an AI named Spawn to make music. It took a minute to figure out the best technique, but they finally landed on a voice-modeling approach. First, Herndon and Dryhurst trained Spawn on their voices, and then they invited a “willing public” of about 300 people to perform and record what would be a data set of vocals to feed the AI. The artists Martine Syms, Jenna Sutela, Jlin, Colin Self, Evelyn Saylor, and Annie Garlid also contributed to the making of PROTO. Herndon calls this group of participants “the ensemble.” The resulting work is sometimes eerie, but more often rhapsodic and choral. Its roots are digital, but it's exuberantly primal. —Leah Mandel, “Holly Herndon's New, AI-Spawned Album Is Full of Humanity”
Emiranda: My Face
Like their solo works, this collaboration between the boundary-pushing producers Mechatok and Toxe is emotive, dramatic, and full of high-gloss sounds warping and rending around one another. The big surprise, I guess, is just how...pleasant it is. It’s full of the experimental contortions you’d expect from them, but it doesn’t overshadow any of the luminescence that gleams off of these brilliant synthetics. “SXF” revolves around a pretty classic rave energy, lighting up the dancefloor in a wondrous neon. It’s pure pleasure stuff—which we all need sometimes. —Colin Joyce
Big | Brave: A Gaze Among Them
Loud and slow and dramatic enough to share stages with Sunn O))), this Montreal trio rachets up the drama on their fourth album, A Gaze Among Them. It consists of five weighty tracks (only one is shorter than seven minutes) each of which drone and repeat in the mystic way you might expect had you plumbed the inky pits of their past releases. But what’s most stunning about A Gaze Among Them is how vast and varied the environments they create are. Thunderous bass riffs and guitar squeals tear upwards out of the dusty ground like the mesas and chasms of the American west. If you look at it from a distance, it seems like a wide-open expanse, but it juts out in unexpected ways. Be careful out there. —Colin Joyce
Charly Bliss: Young Enough
Charly Bliss’ songs have always been bright and irresistible, loaded with hooks and rough-edged wit. But on the band’s slick and sunny sophomore album Young Enough, they’ve ditched the pop-punk fuzz of their debut Guppy for something more polished and soaring. Even without the grungy presentation, the Brooklyn quartet have always been a pop band at heart and here they enthusiastically lean into sugared melodies and big, arena-sized choruses. But even though the production values are ramped up, these songs still have bite. “Chatroom” cathartically and directly deals with the trauma of sexual assault, while single “Hard To Believe” is an anthemic kiss off to toxic relationships. —Josh Terry
Ona: Full Moon, Heavy Light
For Full Moon, Heavy Light, Ona picks apart the formula they started with, ditching their inside joke of "What Would Neil Young Do?" for a warmer and less orthodox sound. As they became a more polished live band, landing tours opening for [Tyler] Childers as well as Ohio’s Caamp, their songs spread out and settled into a groove...At its core, Full Moon, Heavy Light is full of breezy and wistful songs. Take the single "Young Forever." The track is moonlit and nostalgic, showcasing the band's newest member, keyboardist Brad Goodall, giving the song twinkling nuance and Jenkins assuringly singing, "If I messed you up, if I made you cry / I know you’ll carry on." The song builds to a romantic organ-led crescendo, complete with an extended guitar solo jam that never seems gratuitous. —Josh Terry, “Ona Could Be the Next Great Rock Band.”
Boogarins: Sombrou Dúvida
Brazil’s Boogarins make psychedelic rock that feels fresh, innovative, and alive in 2019. They’re not content to recycle grooves from the past on their new album Sombrou Dúvida, a forward-thinking and fun collection. The songs here unpredictably expand and contract, like the slinking single “Invenção,” the year’s most colorful and exciting offering from the genre. Elsewhere, guitars patiently swirl over the slow burning “Desandar.” Elsewhere, the tracks hit with intensity like the climactic and atmospheric “Dislexia.” There’s a curiosity that seeps into the way the band meticulously constructs their songs, which results in the LP being their the most cinematic and impressive full-length yet. —Josh Terry
Tim Hecker: Anoyo
Tim Hecker’s 2018 Konoyo was a burning car crash, radiating a melted heat that felt both ambient and jarring. It’s beautiful in the way harsh things so often are, a desperate claim of humanity unfurling over seven extended tracks. Anoyo, the album’s companion follow-up, turns the entire method inwards, stripping elements with calculated abandon—a radical minimalism that moves from barely-registered whispers to instrumental yelps.
Anoyo is noisy, but not recklessly. Tim Hecker is as much a scientist as he is a musician, unflinchingly precise with every note and tool he accesses. Anoyo is another entry in one of the most ecstatic and exciting discographies in electronic music, a collection of records that move from raucous and broken to dreamy and melodic. Anoyo is all of those things at once. —Will Schube
The promise of [Dehd's] first two releases has culminated in their electric debut album, Water. It’s not just that the 13 songs are their most confident and seamless yet; the LP’s mere existence is a triumph, because it came out of the Kempf and Balla’s messy breakup...While Water comes out of the ashes of romance, it's so optimistic and hopeful that it feels wrong to even call it a breakup album. Dehd's melodies have the same breezy and pop-minded feel of '60s girl groups, but performed by a raucous DIY punk band. Lead single "Lucky" nostalgically swoons with plenty of jangle as Kempf croons, "Is this the end shalalalala?" —Josh Terry, "Chicago's Dehd Made an Optimistic Album Out of a Messy Breakup."