Stream of the Crop: 11 New Albums for Heavy Rotation

New albums from Kurt Vile, Quavo, and Yowler top this week's list.

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Oct 12 2018, 5:39pm

L: Prince Williams/ Getty Images
R: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for Stagecoach

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.

Kurt Vile: Bottle It In

Bottle It In is classic Vile style. You know it when you hear it, but words I’ve written and deleted while trying to describe it include “introspective,” “psychedelic,” “funny,” “epic,” “drone-y,” “heady,” “weird,” “gritty,” and, my personal favorite (for being bad), “kickass.” What this evolving, fumbling process—along with his own fucked up, endless (and at times, oblique) descriptions of his music—taught me is that Vile’s art is essentially a reflection of the way life always rolls onward, a process you’ve gotta cruise on a bit before you can even begin to grapple with its ups and downs. Tracks like "Bottle It In" or "Come Again" demonstrate his ability to find a groove and let it ride, amplifying whatever your current mood is. In Vile’s view of life, everything’s a circle: The more you live, the more you understand, and the more you understand, the more your live. — Eric Sundermann, Kurt Vile Is All Greased Up

Quavo: QUAVO HUNCHO

Quavo’s debut solo album is 19-tracks of the Migo trying his best to cover all bases. He tries his hand at an Afrobeat-inspired track with Normani and Davido, and even taps Madonna on “Champagne Rose.” QUAVO HUNCHO is star-studded, with assists from Drake, Travis Scott, and Lil Baby, which is where Quavo thrives. He prospers in collaboration. “Huncho Dreams,” one of the few standout solo tracks, is a retort to Nicki Minaj’s claims about what really happened on “MotorSport.” Whether Quavo’s version of the story is true or not, the Atlanta rapper is fully aware of what’s provocative. — Kristin Corry

Yowler: Black Dog In My Path

There’s quietly strummed ghost stories like “Sorrow,” but there’s also lumbering, feedback-laden document of existential distress like “Where Is My Light,” which shares as much in common with doom metal and slowcore as it does with the traditions of solemn indie rock songwriting with which Jones is most often associated. Those two tracks follow one another, and are soon succeeded by rumbling post-punk (“WTFK”) and a “straight up love song” (“Petals”). This might sound disjointed, but it speaks to Jones’s view of the world, the ways in which all these feelings are intertwined, and the gravity that comes when they butt up against one another. It’s heavy, but that’s cause life is. — Colin Joyce, Yowler's Tumultuous New Album Is One of 2018's Best Indie Rock Records

Ella Mai: Ella Mai

On her self-titled debut, Ella Mai is determined to show that she’s more than the viral success of “Boo’d Up.” For 55 minutes, the London singer drips her take on the millennial love song in the West Coast stylings of executive-producer DJ Mustard. She sets up Ella Mai as an acrostic poem with each letter of her name representing a different mood. On “Shot Clock,” a song about waiting for a guy to shoot his shot, she interpolates Drake’s “Legend,” for an edgy departure to her usual saccharine songs that teeter on the brink of pop. Ella Mai is her best when she takes risks, as she does on “Own It,” where she samples Adina Howard’s “T-Shirt & Panties.” Ella Mai is a brief look the range the London singer could do if she chooses. — Kristin Corry

St. Vincent: MassEducation

A year on from Masseduction, Annie Clark's glossy art-pop juggernaut, the stripped-down MassEducation reimagines those songs as muted piano ballads. Here, "Slow Disco" is an even more sweeping and graceful thing, "Smoking Section" is a croaking, late-night slice of desperate melancholy, and "New York," which only had Clark and a piano in the first place, has its few remaining decorations removed. What's really impressive, though, is the way Clark's taken less obvious songs and made them fit so seamlessly. "Savior," "Masseduction," and "Pills," all of which came with a pretty thick sheen last year, retain all of their cheek and wit with Thomas Bartlett, who records as Doveman, on the piano. Clark's voice is, at its best, impossible to resist. But above all this is proof that, despite our collective skepticism when Jack Antonoff was revealed as Masseduction's producer, the songs were always strong. — Alex Robert Ross

Young Jesus: The Whole Thing Is Just There

The Whole Thing Is Just There is, on the surface, an incredibly ambitious indie rock record, six songs that sprawl out over 50 minutes, oscillating between affirmations ("It’s not enough to hate the world we live within") and wry, quasi-spiritual, quarter-life angst ("I have begun seeing with my third eye / I have begun investments with my dad"). But at times it's not an indie rock record at all. Swaths of the The Whole Thing are given over to improvisation and deconstruction, and few of its tracks conform to any recognizable verse-chorus structure. It concludes with a 20-minute-long song called "Gulf," only six minutes of which were written before they got into the studio. It's strewn with anthemic moments, but they always spiral out into stretches of near-chaos. — Alex Robert Ross, Young Jesus Are Indie Rock's Great Anarcho-Impressionists

Colter Wall: Songs of the Plains

On “Plain to See Plainman,” the first track from Colter Wall’s Songs of the Plains, the Saskatchewan born, Nashville living singer sounds like a late-career Johnny Cash. This is odd for two reasons, the first being that Wall’s 2015 debut, Imaginary Appalachia, peddled in the sort of alt-stomp-clap folk that’s been invading sunset festival slots—although last year’s self-titled record was a more straight-shooting folk record—and also, more importantly, Wall is a 23-year-old Canadian and not an old man covering Nine Inch Nails. But the way Wall’s deep, haunted voice echoes the story of a Canadian man wanting to live and die in the place he loves recalls troubadours of eras past, ghosts of the Western plains. Despite this vintage approach to storytelling, the song is still autobiographical, for Songs of the Plains is about the history of the West, a world that wholly informs Wall’s style. — Will Schube, No Man Has a Voice Like Colter Wall

Puce Mary: The Drought

After a few years spent collaborating and woodshedding, the Danish sound artist Puce Mary returns with a record that firmly establishes her as one of noise music’s masters of calculated chaos. The Drought, Frederikke Hoffmeier’s first full-length under-the-moniker since her tightly coiled 2016 effort The Spiral, shows great restraint, plodding along at a mucusy pace as layers of field recordings and air-raid drones overlap in varying degrees of opacity. It’s music that’s easy to overdo, to pile more and more sounds on top of one another until the thicket blocks out the sun, but Hoffmeier values space too. She realizes that the echo of an empty room can be just as foreboding as the swell of static. — Colin Joyce

Eli Keszler: Stadium

There’s something that feels at once programmatic and mystifying about Eli Keszler plays the drums. Earlier this year Oneohtrix Point Never called his work “bacterial,” which sorta gets at the spirit of it; his playing it subdivides and consumes the sounds around it in an almost biologic way. But to me his new album Stadium requires a more simple metaphor. Across 12 tracks, he arranges samples and synthetic melodies in these sharp, geometric ways, then punches through them with asymmetrical rolls and teetering microrhythms. It has a minimal elegance, like the patterns that come when you make paper snowflakes—clean, controlled, and still totally surprising. — Colin Joyce

Mary Jane Leach: (f)lute songs

The textural character of the woodwind drones that Mary Jane Leach has compiled for Modern Love stands in contrast with the grayscale minimalism that the label often chooses for its record covers. Her work here is slow and somber, to be sure, but it’s vibrant too. There’s something about the way her overlapping melodies and oblong harmonies billow out into empty space that reminds me of the pungent-yet-pleasant scent of multiple essential oil diffusers running in the same room. Sometimes you catch a little bit more of one smell than another, but most often they swirl together in overwhelming sensorial delight. — Colin Joyce

Machine Girl: The Ugly Art

A neural network trained on Industrial Strength 12”s, G.I.S.M. riffs, breakcore mixes, Sonic OSTs, and r/DeathGrips starts a circle pit at the cyber-rave, screaming about the end of the world and trying to smash an SM-57 straight through its forehead. The club kids are all terrified, as they should be. It’s a terrifying reminder that the machines are always going to win in the end. — Colin Joyce

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