Beyoncé's Live Spectacle and 16 More Albums for Heavy Rotation
From pop bliss to field recordings of bridges to ice-cold synth raves, there's all kinds of great music out this week.
Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Coacha
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.
Beyoncé: HOMECOMING: The Live Album
The world tends to stop when Beyoncé releases a new album—and it did earlier this week, even though HOMECOMING: THE LIVE ALBUM isn’t exactly new. The nearly-two hour live album, recorded during her historic performance at last year’s Coachella, is filled with songs from the Houston singer’s 22-year career. The album is backed by a band mimicking the marching bands of the southern tradition of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Bey’s songs are given new life as medleys that make the original versions seem tame. The transition between “Sorry” and “Me, Myself, and I” is seamless, and the horns on OT Genasis’ “Everybody Mad” add new dimensions to the sequencing between “Diva” and “Flawless.” HOMECOMING: THE LIVE ALBUM is a masterclass of black tradition. Blue Ivy is credited on the tracklist for her rendition of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” the black national anthem (often sang at HBCUs), and Beyoncé covers Frankie Beverly & Maze’s “Before I Let Go,” the unofficial last song at black functions. HOMECOMING: THE LIVE ALBUM may not be full of new material, but it feels like a new experience with each listen.— Kristin Corry
03 Greedo and DJ Mustard: Still Summer in the Projects
03 Greedo and DJ Mustard are such a natural fit, it’s a wonder they haven’t collaborated on a project before. Still Summer in the Projects is a tight 11 songs that leave you wanting more from the duo. It’s got strip club anthems (“Wasted” featuring their L.A. bud YG), songs made for cruising in the car with the windows down (“Trap House”), and Mustard’s funk-injected production that is his signature. “Bet I walk into the pen with all these diamonds on me,” Greedo spits on “Bet I Walk,” reminding listeners that although this project feels like a breakout moment for the Watts rapper, he is currently serving 20 years in a Texas prison for a drug trafficking charge. That seems to have done nothing to stilt the rise of the Wolf of Grape Street, who aimed to make 30 albums before he began his sentence in July. While his incarceration was thought to halt his rise as the future of West Coast rap, Still Summer in the Projects is proof he’s still in the running.— Leslie Horn
Lizzo: Cuz I Love You
Lizzo opens Cuz I Love You with a track that feels like a drunken karaoke night. “I’m crying ‘cause I love you,” she sings with hysteria running through her vocals. Throughout the opener, she forces herself to reckon with a love she didn’t know existed. It seems like a reflection on a romantic love at first. “I remember when I was a hoe / Now I don’t even wanna hoe no mo’,” she sings. But once you’ve digested the other 10 tracks, it’s possible “Cuz I Love You” is just a preamble to the self-love anthems she peppers throughout the album.
“Soulmate” and “Jerome” find Lizzo basking in the glow of her past relationships. “True love isn’t something you can buy yourself / True love only happens when you by yourself,” she raps on “Soulmate.” On “Jerome,” where she takes aim at the nonchalance of dating in 2019. “I’m sorry, 2AM photos with smileys and hearts / Ain’t the way to my juicy parts,” she raps. Cuz I Love You is a rambunctious reminder of the value of never settling—not even with the love you give yourself.— Kristin Corry
Kelsey Lu: Blood
In a recent conversation with Skrillex for Interview Magazine, the cellist and composer suggested that she might one day like to play a show on Mars. Or at least in outer space. It seems a wild suggestion when you look at it on paper like that, but when you consider the music she’s made over the last couple years—twisting and warping weightless vocals, otherworldly synth work, and dense cello lines around one another—something about it makes sense. She knows something about gravity at least, that much is clear on her new album Blood, a dizzying and grave collection of pieces that manage to recall the best of both a generation of surreal art pop acts (like The Knife for example) and pleasure-minded R&B. It’s beautiful but there’s something off in a delightful way—even its most straightforward songs like “Due West” are layered, complex and unearthly, like they might have the power to just float off into the stratosphere — Colin Joyce
Drugdealer: Raw Honey
Michael Collins has always been fascinated with deconstructing the sunny hues of ‘70s rock, first under the monikers Salvia Plath and Run DMT and now more skillfully with his band Drugdealer. Their sophomore album Raw Honey is his most fully-realized experiment yet building on the highlights of 2016’s The End of Comedy like the Weyes Blood’s Natalie Mering-featured “Suddenly.” She guests again on the country-tinged “Honey” meshing seamlessly with the Laurel Canyon-evoking arrangement and slide guitars. Elsewhere, “Lost In My Dream” conjures up peppy Harry Nilsson harmonies while “Fools” goes straight yacht-rock with what might be the breeziest single of 2019 so far. For fans of subtle adjustments to the bright and psychedelic pop music of that decade, Collins and Drugdealer are masters at capturing and revamping a moment in time. — Josh Terry
TR/ST: The Destroyer - 1
If the ice-cold synth-rave project TR/ST’s last album Joyland was a burst of high-energy darkwave set directly beneath a disco ball, their new one, The Destroyer – Part 1, is what you’d hear in the darkened hallway in between rooms, under a flickering light. In a press release, TR/ST principle Robert Alfons says that in making The Destroyer, he learned a “lesson of slowness” from the agave plants outside his house, which bloom only once every 20 or 30 years. The album lifts off with the suitably slow-building “Colossal,” a pulsing space anthem fit for a sci-fi soundtrack, but finds its catharsis on the singalong chorus of “Grouch” and the uncharacteristically tender “Control Me.” While TR/ST’s dance sensibilities still permeate, the focus has shifted a bit, foregrounding the brutalist, post-apocalyptic synths and putting Alfons’ signature, sneering voice at the center. — Hilary Pollack
Field Medic: fade into the dawn
The 27-year-old songwriter Kevin Patrick has been quietly and thrillingly tweaking folk music’s formula as Field Medic. After releasing a handful of Bandcamp-only mixtapes and compiling the best offerings in his Run for Cover debut Songs from the Sunroom, Patrick’s first official album fade into the dawn is his clearest statement yet. Like a Woody Guthrie for the too-online twenty something, Patrick sings about his generation's malaise: going out too much, navigating the gig economy, and finding true love. And while song titles like “everydayz 2moro” or “mood ring baby” suggests he cloaks his songs in ironic distance, heart and earnestness come through more than anything. On opener “used 2 be a romantic,” Patrick even manages to make a depressing and funny tour song feel resonant when he sings, “I need a cigarette / Those fuckers talked over my whole set” before adding, “I used to be a romantic / Now I'm a dude in a laminate.” — Josh Terry
Wand: Laughing Matter
It’s been less than two years since the Los Angeles quintet released their last album Plum, but starting with the soft, scratching opening notes of “Scarecrow,” they seem to be leaning out of that (also excellent) record’s waves of jammy garage rock and embracing a sound made for a bigger stage and a warmer breeze. Wand is unmistakably born of Southern California psychedelia, but in listening to Laughing Matter’s singles, an uncanny familiarity hit me—frontman Cory Hanson’s wheezy croon sounds unmistakably like a young Thom Yorke.
But even setting aside his doppelgänger vocals, Laughing Matter has a fair amount in common with OK Computer. Beneath millefeuille layers of silvery percussion, guitars that squawk and drone and belch, ambient interludes, and all manners of clicking, tapping, and bubbling that seem to float in from beyond, there’s a classic alternative rock sensibility that feels wholly accessible. There’s a sense of dystopia on the otherworldly “Xoxo,” and a “Karma Police”-like anthemic cacophony on the kaleidoscopic “Thin Air.” But true to Wand’s form, its less claustrophobic than that suggests. Laughing Matter seems designed to waft out of the stereo of your van when you’re parked in the desert, watching the sunset—no computers in sight. — Hilary Pollack
Pivot Gang: You Can’t Sit With Us
Pivot Gang is the prolific Chicago rap collective that boasts brothers Saba and Joseph Chilliams. But while those two have had the most success with the former’s 2018 album of the year contender Care For Me and the latter’s charming and masterful The Plastics EP, the whole squad has been crucial to their collective rises. On You Can’t Sit With Us, the debut studio album from the group that also includes brothers Frsh Waters and squeakPIVOT, along with rapper MFnMelo and producer daedaePIVOT, the 13 songs on the LP give them ample opportunity to collectively show off. Saba gives a particularly docile and slinking hook on the menacing “Bible” while Joseph Chilliams raps “Move that ass like a realtor gentrifying the hood” on the memorable “Clark Kent.” But it’s not a Pivot Gang-only affair as guests Mick Jenkins provides one of his best verses in years on “No Vest,” while the Smino-assisted “Bad Boys” and the Kari Faux appearance on “Mortal Kombat” are clear highlights. — Josh Terry
Caroline Shaw: Orange
Like almost everyone Kanye West encounters, Caroline Shaw’s discography has been cast in shadow by her work with the towering MC. Having produced songs on The Life of Pablo and Ye, in addition to an outstanding rendition of “Say You Will,” Shaw’s career as a wildly accomplished violinist and composer positions her as another addition in a long list wildly talented Kanye West collaborators. But Shaw is too talented, too enigmatic an arranger, to let anyone anyone steal her show.
On Orange, her new LP performed by the Attacca Quartet (out today on Nonesuch Records), Shaw continues to prove she’s one of the best composers working. Arranged exclusively for strings, Orange is a masterclass in tension and resolve, expansive melodies shrinking into themselves to reveal the details that transcend the moments in which they’re performed. It’s a staggering work that comes across effortlessly, with Shaw again performing an overseers role in an outstanding performance. This time, it’s her name in lights.— Will Schube
Dead to a Dying World: Elegy
The Texan band Dead to a Dying World continue their dedication to unsettling epics on Elegy, crafting a narrative (per a press release) of a lone wanderer in whatever age follows the fall of the Anthropocene. They survey the wreckage of the modern world and imagine what life might spring from the cracked concrete—if any. Sonically, it’s as shredded and lonely as that sounds—swaying from doomy drones to shredded squeals and gothic balladry. The gloom’s pretty unrelenting—they often stretch their end-times expositions well past the 10-minute mark—but it feels fitting for the state of things. It’s pretty rough out there, and there’s no easy escape. Why not dive into the darkness? — Colin Joyce
Sarah Mary Chadwick: The Queen Who Stole the Sky
The Melbourne-based songwriter took a seat behind a church organ that’s nearly 150 years old and grappled with her mortal soul. Across the 11 songs that make up The Queen Who Stole the Sky, she sings and mumbles in this plainspoken way about the pain of existence and the way that eternal fulfillment is an illusion. She seems relatively at peace with all of this, but willing to acknowledge that it sucks anyway. The mission statement of sorts comes on “On the Make,” when she sings “I accept that living hurts but I can’t deal with the suffering.” Throw this one on when you’re feeling the same, which, for me, is quite often. — Colin Joyce
Matthew Sullivan: Matthew
Composer-collagist Matthew Sullivan has been party to some wonderful and strange releases over the last couple of years on the L.A. label Recital Program. He contributed to both a project called Simple Affections and spiritually similar ensemble project about a saint, each of which welded together bits of audio detritus—both sacred and profane—into these wonderful tile mosaics made from precious metals and beautiful trash. His new solo effort is similarly dispositioned, and similarly singular, layering distant chorals with answering machine beeps, field recordings of busy streets, affected transit screeching, and other earthly source material that manages to seem otherworldly. He’s given this record a mononym, his own name, which lends to reading this as a sort of audio diary—a depiction of what his world sounds like. I’d love for mine to have a fraction of the magic. — Colin Joyce
Wiley from Atlanta: Blue Don’t Make Me Cry
Wiley from Atlanta is a hip-hop and R&B artist from the city—the real, ITP city—whose star is just beginning to rise. His first full-length album, Blue Don’t Make Me Cry, is a doozy: nine songs that punch you in the gut and demand your attention. It’s striking to see an unsigned newcomer’s first project come out so refined and so affecting, but this isn’t really Wiley’s first outing. He’s been releasing singles for years with his longtime collaborators Oliver Blue—who produced the album, alongside Malik Drake—and Jarrod Milton. Milton, another Atlanta artist and one of Wiley’s closest friends, died of leukemia at 23 last year; his life, and death, serve as a major inspiration for much of Blue. You can hear Milton himself on the album’s first cut, “Cashmere,” his voice muttering sibilantly over synths and soft, barely audible clicking. It’s the sound of machines pumping medicine into his bloodstream; the recording was made in his hospital room.
That kind of power carries through the entirety of Blue, a tapestry of evocative, poetically specific images, alternately rapped and crooned by a 21-year-old who has known too much pain (and, probably, too many cigarettes) than anyone his age should, with a voice and a gift for songwriting that show it. In Blue, we hear a new artist from the South with something to say—about love, about heartbreak, about loss, about Atlanta—saying it well. — Drew Schwartz
L.O.T.I.O.N.: World Wide W.E.B.
There’s a 1990 British sci-fi horror movie called Hardware that I saw as a kid. I don’t remember most of the details except that it mostly takes place in a tiny apartment, a robot spends the entire movie trying to kill the lady who lives there, it was really gory, and there’s a cameo by Lemmy. Also, in my memory, the entire movie is shot in a claustrophobic red haze and is scary as hell. As a feverish teen, I loved it. According to Wikipedia, Iggy Pop is in it too. So, treachery of memory aside, Hardware feels like a pretty solid touchstone for World Wide W.E.B.—the blistering new album by New York City dystopian techno-punx, L.O.T.I.O.N.—out today on Toxic State.
L.O.T.I.O.N. is fronted by the artist Alexander Heir and made up of a who’s who of Nuke York subway dwellers (with members of Terrorist and Warthog), all who collaborate to make World Wide W.E.B. nine tracks of cunningly thuggish Wax Trax paranoia. The music throws distorted rants and threats, about the looming (or current) technocracy, over a cacophony of electronics and metallic noise-punk instrumentation, all held down with a house music-inspired single mindedness to the groove. The cumulative effect is akin to having a post-industrial apocalyptic robot trying to kill you within a confined space. But also the robot is kind of sexy. — Zack Lipez
Kate Carr: City of Bridges
The Australian label Longform Editions always releases music that requires you to lean in and listen closely. That’s part of their whole thing, to intimately focus on small differences in sounds, to find the magic in the mundane. Their new batch—which features stellar releases from Rimarimba, Lau Nau, and Lieven Martens—is no exception. Their philosophy has never been better demonstrated though, for my money, than on this new collection of sounds from Kate Carr, who in her career as a field recordist and sound artist has made her focus finding the sounds that are unique to specific spaces and locale. Per her artist notes, this 36-minute piece is specifically composed of recordings she made during a month in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan—the so-called “city of bridges”—during which she contemplated the strange vibrations made by its structures and people. It’s largely eerie and ghostly, which is all the more striking knowing the everyday sources from which these recordings were wrung. What horrors—what beauties—linger in your day-to-day existence if you just stop and pay attention? — Colin Joyce
The Yawpers: Human Question
Denver's rock’n’roll fire-starters the Yawpers really went for it on their last album, 2017’s Boy In A Well. It was a knotty concept LP that was produced by the Replacements’ Tommy Stinson and told the story of a mother who abandons her newborn in World War I-era France. Though they don’t have the same lofty narrative ambitions on their follow-up Human Question burns with the same intensity as their raucous live show (you don’t need a press release to realize these songs were tracked live). When the LP does slow down, albeit briefly, like on the simmering picker “Man As Ghost,” where lead singer Nate Cook sings, “My body has no violence left it give,” it stays heavy. Even when these full-throated rock songs come back to familiar genre tropes like the blues rock freakout “Earn Your Heaven” or the “down to the river” line on “Reason To Believe,” it’s performed with such earnest ferocity it effortlessly works. — Josh Terry