Stream of the Crop: 8 New Albums for Heavy Rotation
New albums from Propagandhi and Torres top this week's list.
Propagandhi: Victory Lap
In the present day, artists from all walks of life are vocal about their political beliefs, be it in their art or on their Twitter feeds. But where Less Talk, More Rock was a resonant time capsule, as Propagandhi prepares to release its seventh album, Victory Lap, they aren't afforded the same luxury. In the age of Twitter, dialogues move quicker than ever, as it's become a platform that both pushes us ever closer to nuclear war and allows dissenting voices to be amplified. In 1996, Propagandhi could release a song taking aim at Shell's politics and have it come across like a revelation. But now, everyone is already up to speed, the minute it happens. And Propagandhi is taking part in the conversation, too. "It gives us license to feel like we don't have to write a song about a trade agreement," says Hannah. "We can, up to the minute, chime in with some stupid, sarcastic remark and then it's done. I just filed that grievance away, now let's write a song about headbanging." —David Anthony, On 'Victory Lap,' Propagandhi Go from Political Punk Pioneers to Participants
Torres: Three Futures
This is the next step in the evolution of Torres. In the four years since she released her debut LP and moved to Brooklyn, Mackenzie Scott has turned from a raw singer-songwriter into a confounding art rock force, embracing a God-tinged mysticism. Three Futures, her third LP, sets out a new worldview. It's the sound of Scott moving further away from the strictures of the Baptist Church in which she was raised and with which she grappled on her her first two albums, Torres and Sprinter. Through a combination of industrial clatter and warm tones, Three Futures lays out a new spirituality, with the body as a conduit for the soul. —Alex Robert Ross, The Art Rock Rebellion of Torres
The second album from French-Cuban twin sister duo Ibeyi was produced by XL Recordings founder Richard Russell and features contributions from Mala Rodriguez, Kamasi Washington, Chilly Gonzales, and Meshell Ndegeocello. It follows their 2015 self-titled debut and last year's appearance in Beyoncé's Lemonade visual album.
Four Tet: New Energy
Kieran Hebden kept fans on edge before the announcement of his ninth studio album as Four Tet, sending out vague but promising tweets. The 14-track album features the previously-released singles "Planet," "Two Thousand and Seventeen," "Scientists," and "SW9 9SL."
Protomartyr: Relatives in Descent
The fourth album from grizzled, apocalyptic Detroit four-piece Protomartyr is also their first for Domino Records. They debuted the album last week by placing copies in the jukeboxes of four bars across America. Biting social critiques and post-punk brutality abound.
The World Is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die: Always Foreign
Connecticut's The World Is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die isn't for the faint of heart. The band's records are cinematic in scope, telling stories that don't have definitive endpoints, instead using ambiguity to pack an emotional punch. On their new album, Always Foreign, the band embraces that all the more, turning in songs that churn slowly, balancing soaring harmonies against moments that linger in the disquiet. In many ways, "Marine Tigers" is a perfect encapsulation not just of the band's music, but the lyrical content that makes up Always Foreign. —David Anthony, The World Is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die Tackle Xenophobia in "Marine Tigers"
Kamasi Washington: Harmony of Difference
The first project from jazz saxophonist Kamasi Washington since 2015's The Epic, Harmony of Difference is a taught six-track EP that roams around, toys with new rhythms, and builds to a 16-minute journey backwards through the record on the stunning closer, "Truth." For Washinton, who's become arguably the world's most prominent jazz-crossover musician after collaborations with Kendrick Lamar and Lauryn Hill, this short and intriguing burst should be enough to keep his fans satisfied.
J. Roddy Walston and the Business: Destroyers of the Soft Life
Four years is a long time when you're in a band. A lot can change, both within the framework of the band itself and the fabric of an ever-fickle, capricious music industry. But for Richmond, Virginia band J. Roddy Walston and the Business, more changed than they could ever have anticipated. Formed in 2002, the four-piece—Walston on vocals, piano and guitar, Billy Gordon on lead guitar and vocals, Logan Davis on bass and vocals, and Steve Colmus behind the drum kit—was more than a decade into their career when they released third album Essential Tremors in 2013, and if not stuck in their ways, then certainly comfortable with them. But between then and the making of new record, Destroyers of the Soft Life, that comfortable constancy began to crumble, partly by choice and partly because life just has a habit of making that happen. Spurred on by a creative restlessness induced by being on the road in support of Essential Tremors, the only way for them to move forward was to start everything from scratch. —Mischa Pearlman, Hear J. Roddy Walston and the Business Start Over on 'Destroyers of the Soft Life'
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