Stream of the Crop: 5 New Albums for Heavy Rotation
Photo: Theo Wargo / Getty Images
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.
David Byrne: American Utopia
Byrne’s new album, American Utopia, falls right in line with his discography. It’s a record that effortlessly moves through his signature harmonies and floating songwriting. At times, he sings from the perspective of a dog in paradise (“Dog’s Mind”); others, he’s musing on whether something should be considered “this” or “that” (“This Is That”), whatever the hell that means. Initially created in tandem over email with Brian Eno, who provided him some electronic drum tracks made by an algorithm (of course), Byrne wrote his lyrics “quickly,” and soon the project morphed into his own. — Eric Sundermann, As the World Burns, David Byrne Is in His Office Laughing
Judas Priest: Firepower
Firepower heads into enemy territory from the onset, and the band doesn’t let up for a moment throughout its 58 minutes. This is the kind of album that longtime Priest fans have been clamoring for: polished, speedy, gargantuan, and theatrical down to its very core. The cover, which was painted by Chilean/Italian artist Claudio Bergamin, is a vision of classic Priest-ly bombast, and is a perfect advertisement for what lies inside. Halford and his compatriots have always thrived on a certain kind of drama (think the Scottish Play, not Real Wives) and they’ve delivered it in spades on this new release. Firepower marks the band’s 18th full-length album since their debut single “Rocka Rolla” hit in 1974; it’s the first studio album since 1988's Ram It Down to be produced by Tom Allom, and is the band’s first go-around with co-producer Andy Sneap, who is also currently enlisted as a touring guitarist for the band following iconic lead guitarist Glenn Tipton’s diagnosis with Parkinson’s earlier in 2018. — Kim Kelly, The Enduring Humanity of Rob Halford, Metal God
Inner Travels: Yonder
Steve Targo, long a mystically minded, nature-obsessed synth tinkerer, does as the J-card suggests and stares straight into the setting sun on his latest tape as Inner Travels. He has a way of conjuring impossibly bright patches out of his chosen electronics, which cast their glimmering god rays across the smattering of other instruments found here: some singing bowls, djembe, rainsticks and the hazy voice of the Canadian composer YlangYlang. It’s misty-eyed ambient music at its very best—sentimental and melancholic, but full of a strange, unshakeable warmth. — Colin Joyce
Various Artists: Physically Sick 2
Discwoman and Physical Therapy return with a sequel to last year’s wonderfully all-over-the-place charity comp Physically Sick, with another rangy collection of tracks from the world’s best club-dwellers. Somehow, the 40-some tracks on this one cover even more ground, ranging rom teetering drum-only exercises (Elysia Crampton’s “Oscollo”) to breakbeat rap (Le1f’s “Zone Angel Freestyle, April 2014”) to bleak industrial techno (Ciarra Black’s “By Design”) to gurning IDM excursions (Varg’s “B__H_I : 247”), and a seemingly impossible number of other realms. Every track’s a gem and it works surprisingly well as a cohesive journey through dance music’s grim underground. And hey, all of the proceeds go toward the Brooklyn Community Bail Fund, an organization that fights for New Yorkers who can’t afford cash bail, with the ultimate aim of proving that the practice is unnecessary and unjust, which is incredibly cool. — Colin Joyce
Lil Yachty: Lil Boat 2
While the album’s title suggests that it’s a sequel to Yachty’s breakout 2016 mixtape Lil Boat, very little of his new album picks up where that left off. Hard-hitters laden with funny one-liners take place of serenading rap lullabies. He conveys a palpable backlash coming from the widely expressed disappointment in Teenage Emotions. To counter naysayers on Lil Boat 2, Yachty spends most of his time leaning on his finances and success as the reasons why people resort to criticizing him. Inaccurate as that thinking may be, it inspires some of the best moments on the album. On “BOOM!” which enlists Ugly God, he hilariously snaps, “your career rocky like ridges.” The album opens with the woozy “Self Made,” where he goes on to ensure “hating on a nigga ain’t gon’ make a better you.” — Lawrence Burney, Lil Yachty Raps Much Better When He's Not Trying to Be Everybody's Friend
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