Stream of the Crop: 11 New Albums for Heavy Rotation
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.
Troye Sivan: Bloom
From heart-shattering films like 120 BPM, about AIDS in the 90s to the complex and defiant records from Perfume Genius and serpentwithfeet, the backbone of queer art seems fortified by anger and heartbreak. But Sivan’s Bloom is, by contrast, about the simplicities of being young, queer and in love (not unlike Luca Guadagnino's Call Me By Your Name), and the enlightening experience of exploring those parameters. Minus shitty break-up songs and sonic ‘fuck yous’, the album's a perfectly-formed collection of tracks about Sivan looking at the boy he cares about, and professing how much he means to him. In fact, it’s teeming with so much hope that it could, in essence, help closeted kids face the prospect of embracing their queer selves instead. To see there’s a wealth of ways in which they can embrace happiness, relationships and resolution beyond the fight. — Douglas Greenwood, Troye Sivan’s ‘Bloom’ Makes Queer Love Blissful
Anna Calvi: Hunter
One of Anna Calvi's greatest weapons is the lone plucked string. "Suzanne and I," the operatic first single from her Mercury-nominated, self-titled debut, showed that the London-raised artist had a bombastic voice, but the rumble of her guitar stood in for an entire orchestra. Hunter, her third LP, is her most refined effort yet, a sensual and sensuous trip into sexual desire, freedom, and fluidity. ("I’ll be the boy you be the girl I’ll be the girl you be the boy I’ll be the girl," she sings on "Chain" before backing herself up with a satisfied "wonderful feeling.") Again, Calvi's predilection for sweeping drama, and her ability to wring it out of every note and chord and wobble of vibrato, is the glue. If you've ever had (or wanted) a sexual awakening in an opera house… — Alex Robert Ross
SahBabii has always been out of this world. He got our attention with "Pull Up With Ah Stick," but took us to another dimension on "Marsupial Superstars." Now, he’s taking us to an unusual world on Squidtastic, which sounds like his take on Spongebob’s Bikini Bottom. For 33 minutes, SahBabii is going barnacles, and he isn’t afraid to experiment with his sound along the way. On "Behind the Scenes" he mutates his voice, channeling the throaty quality of Young Thug. The Atlanta rapper’s sound often mimics a video game console, and it’s no different on tracks like "Boyfriend" and "Sunny Days." Throughout Squidtastic, SahBabii is having as much fun as he wants to. He says some pretty off the wall lines like “Bitch, I’m the shit like flatulence,” on "Aunt Pat." "Honey Bees" is Squidtastic’s lo-fi gem, where Sah makes an incredibly placed Winnie the Pooh reference. The project isn’t only filled with amusing punchlines, but "Tall" fills the space as Sah’s underdog anthem. "I swear I used to hate being tall," he raps, "Now these racks lookin’ tall than a motherfucker." Squidtastic is a mixed bag of SahBabii’s charismatic charm. — Kristin Corry
Today, Thou released their latest masterwork, Magus, a sprawling, epic dirge that follows a busy year of lauded EP releases and incendiary festival appearances. At this point, one would assume that the reliably excellent, perpetually prolific Baton Rouge-turned-scattered doom entity would be incapable of surprising us; one would be incorrect. While this fifth album slots neatly alongside lumbering earlier works like Heathen and Summit, Magus catches listeners off guard once again via Emily McWilliams' ghostly vocals, which add a gentle fragility to Thou's anti-authoritarian sonic battering ram. As always, Thou is perfect. — Kim Kelly
Various Artists: Studio Barnhus Volym 1
The first compilation from this airy Swedish imprint helmed by three of the countries most esteemed DJs—Kornél Kovács, Petter Nordkvist and Axel Boman—digs deep on what they do best, dance music with its head in the clouds. They mostly keep it in the family, drawing delightful from each of the founders and many longtime friends (even DJ Koze, who may seem like a bit of a coup for those not following closely, has a long working relationship with Boman). New buds offer the most surprises (see: Phoenix-resident Qaadir Howard’s seasick and sleepy pop-house stunner “Bloodied and a Mess”). But, as he does in most situations, Baba Stiltz steals the show, using the computer blues slow jam “L.O.V.E.” as further proof of his ability to squeeze every ounce of charisma out of whatever form he chooses. Turn it on, drift away, dance a little. Do whatever the spirit moves you to. — Colin Joyce
Big Red Machine: Big Red Machine
The debut LP from this collaboration between Bon Iver's Justin Vernon and The National's Aaron Dessner glitches into life, daydreams along on falsetto murmurs, flies off into the air with some soulful bursts, and occasionally parachutes back down to the snowy earth with some familiar plucked post-folk. Though it's more polished than most of the demos on PEOPLE, the ephemera-heavy platform that the two helped to co-found earlier this year, it's plenty experimental. "Gratitude" and "Forest Green" is loose and airy; "Hymnostic" and "People Lullaby" have the type of rich harmonies that Vernon used to fall back on when there wasn't a band and a MacBook on hand; "OMDB" could be chopped up a little and used on the next Kanye West record (and very well might be). The closing crescendo on "Melt" is earned, but the tautological refrain—"YOU ARE WHO YOU ARE!"—feels like empty calories. Which is fine, really. When Dessner and Vernon gel, they can bring out brief moments of brilliance. When they don't—in those moments moments when Vernon seems to be singing over a Sleep Well Beast B-side—it's easy enough to see Big Red Machine as its own, occasionally fallible, experiment. — Alex Robert Ross
Armand Hammer: Paraffin
The beats on Paraffin—the new album from the Voltron-like assemblage of rap underground long-gamers Elucid and billy woods—feel like stumbling into a house on a VHS dub of Hoarders. Covered in a layer of grime and analog static, samples are stacked densely and precariously, if at any moment one of the members of Armand Hammer might lean on the wrong spot and send whole tracks toppling over. It’s well suited for the sort of live-from-the-gutter self-probing they engage in. A number of downcast metaphors could serve as the record’s mission statement, but I’ll leave you with the desperation they pack into the loping "Hunter": "My last meal was my own heart." — Colin Joyce
R.A.N.: Şeb-i Yelda
Istanbul-born and Berlin-based artist R.A.N. excavates the musical traditions of her once and future homes, fusing traditional Turkish instrumentation and rhythms with scalding ambience and atonal distortion. The title of this one translates to “the longest night,” which more or less suggests what you’re getting from the four tracks, bleak, wispy, otherworldly music intended as a soundtrack for the days you suspect you might not see the dawn. — Colin Joyce
JK Flesh: New Horizon
Listen at: The Wire
Justin Broadrick—perhaps best known as the driving force behind noise-metal originators Godflesh, but also architect of a million other avant projects—has described his work as JK Flesh as the “angry, hateful, disenchanted side” of his electronic efforts. New Horizon, his new full-length on Electric Deluxe, is no exception to this rule, offering eight tracks of rumbling techno occluded by static, disorder, and shame. Last weekend, I saw Broadrick perform in a loft in Brooklyn during one of the hottest days of the summer—as he strung together his jittery, busted tracks, the room got to that uncomfortable level of hot where you can feel yourself breathing other people’s evaporated sweat. That’s always a...pretty disgusting sensation, but it means people are dancing—which is also a good way of understanding this new JK Flesh record. It’s gross, it’s humid, but most importantly, it’s alive. — Colin Joyce
Four mutant hardcore bangers from one of the techno offshoot’s most exciting new producers. This is put-your-fist-through-a-wall-type stuff, so hit play, but please keep some plaster on hand. — Colin Joyce
Alkaline Trio: Is This Thing Cursed?
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