Scarlxrd's Unreal Scream-Raps and 10 Other Albums for Heavy Rotation

Caustic metal, moving trap, and plastic electronics fill out this week's essential listening

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Mar 15 2019, 6:24pm

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.

Scarlxrd: INFINITY

UK noisenik Scarlxrd’s shredded take on trap tropes has long felt like an attempt at proving that the artistes who populate soundcloud with tales of malcontentedness and death drives are little more than fangless fake fucks. INFINITY’s his latest salvo in that long-standing battle—12 brutal tracks that each hit like heavy artillery. His garbled screeching is the reason to tune in here, few in music—rap or otherwise—possess an instrument so fine-tuned for evoking anxiety, depression, and death. His words are hard to make out, though you can make out telling lines at various points—like the bar that opens “LIVING LEGEND”: “FUCK YOURSELF TIL YOU BLEED. Even if you don’t catch much of the rest of what he’s screaming, you can get the gist, as another barrage of 808 blasts punches straight into your sternum. This is what pain sounds like. — Colin Joyce

Stephen Malkmus: Groove Denied

After almost three decades of indie rock trailblazing with Pavement and the Jicks, Stephen Malkmus diving into electronic music for Groove Denied, his first official solo album since 2001, sounds pretty jarring on paper. It is actually jarring with opener "Belziger Faceplant" a disorienting number that boasts manipulated vocals, distorted drum blasts, squirrely synths and the moody and deeply weird "Forget Your Place." However, even though it scraps having a full-fledged rock band and adopts new tools in the studio (he recorded all the instruments himself), much of Groove Denied is classic Malkmus. "Come Get Me" wouldn't feel out of place on Wowee Zowee while songs like “Rushing The Acid Frat," "Bossviscerate," and "Ocean of Revenge" are some of his strongest solo songs yet. —Josh Terry

Lil West: Vex Part 1

As one of the most inventive rappers of the Soundcloud underground Lil West’s known to slam together sounds and styles, but he plays things a little straighter on Vex, a new 7-song project produced entirely by New York aesthetes Take a Daytrip. The mood is generally low-key and low-lit, with West floating lithely above Daytrip’s minimal beats. But even without the genre-flouting experimentalism, West’s still a moving writer, ruminating on the perils of unexpected teenage success (“Sometimes I wish I didn’t drop out of school,” he muses on “No L’s”) and of romantic dissolution and and other downer shit. He sounds confident, and in the pocket—a change from the anxious freaky shit he’s done over his career—but it suits him well. It’s good to grow up sometimes. —Colin Joyce

Dexter Story: Bahir

If Story’s latest album Bahir, out Friday via Soundway Records, feels like it boasts an academic’s attention to detail, it’s because he literally studies Africa and Ethnomusicology at UCLA’s graduate school. The 13 songs on the LP, which is titled after the Arabic, Hebrew and Ethiopian Amharic word for “sea,” were inspired by Story’s time in East Africa. Throughout, the LP takes cues from the genres and traditions from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, and Sudan, fusing it with American soul and funk like the Hailu Mergia-influenced “Electric Gurage.” It’s a wonderful and borderless blend that Story fleshes out with a wealth of guests. —Josh Terry "Dexter Story’s Stunning ‘Bahir’ is a Love Letter to East African Music"

Matmos: Plastic Anniversary

The master prankster-conceptualists celebrate their own wedding anniversary with Plastic Anniversary—a record that samples and otherwise evokes the many sounds of consumer grade polymers. It’s a gesture to some of the most urgent problems of our times—that our environment is quickly being overcome by masses of industrial waste, that more resources are dedicated toward policing and military spending than trying to fix it, and that we all are, in our own small ways, complicit. There’s one track that’s built from the plucked shards of old records by the band Bread (cheekily titled “Breaking Bread”) and another that’s constructed from the duo drumming on a riot shield. It’s funny, inventive, and it’ll get you thinking about the things that really matter—like how we’re all going to die unless we can convince huge corporations and the governments that enable them to stop destroying the planet. And how we still might die anyway. — Colin Joyce

Oozing Wound: High Anxiety

It’s impossible to miss the caustic snark dripping from Oozing Wound frontman Zack Weil when he screams, “Oh man, I really love your band” on the Chicago metal band’s raucous single “Tween Shitbag.” Weil, who also works at iconic local venue Empty Bottle, has admitted in interviews that he thinks of entitled acts playing the club like Julian Casablancas and the Voidz when as he sings, “It's all you've got now that the fad's gone / I'm so sick of rock n roll.” It’s the sort of fearlessness and shit-stirring that’s the trio’s calling card on their fourth album High Anxiety, which also takes aim at conspiracy theorists (“Birth of a Flat Earther”) and fucking idiots (“Surrounded By Fucking Idiots”). —Josh Terry

CHAI: PUNK

PUNK, the ridiculously fun sophomore LP from Japanese rockers CHAI, barrels in at a frenetic pace and doesn’t let up over 10 tracks. Densely-crammed with infectious pop hooks, the songs burst with punk energy, incorporating elements of glitch-pop, hip-hop, and dance music. The band has dubbed their ethos as “Neo-Kawaii,” which they’ve explained in interviews as a declaration of self-acceptance and self-empowerment. Those sentiments are obvious throughout, “Fashioinista” and “N.E.O.” skewer materialism while “Gyaranboo” celebrates body hair. It’s the sort of inclusive and electric LP that feels as necessary as it is totally thrilling. —Josh Terry


Elizabeth Colour Wheel: Nocebo

The Lilys nod in their band name tells you a little bit of what you can expect from this crew of Massachusetts punks. Their music is weightless and otherworldly, but the beautiful thing about their debut full-length Nocebo is that it’s totally crushing too. Tracks like “23” are built around this push and pull between melody and noise, riffs and chaos, light and dark. Shoegaze and metal have collided a lot over the last couple of years, but it’s rare that a band has been able to take the best bits of both and put them in conflict with one another. It’ll lift you up, it’ll drag you down, but mostly its a reminder that most of life is lived somewhere in the middle of those two poles, doing your best to stay afloat amid the chaos. — Colin Joyce

Dis Fig: Purge

Making this record was an attempt to excise some of the stress and pain that the producer and DJ Dis Fig’s body was holding onto—to release it all in one big go. What that means, musically, is by and large pretty ugly. PURGE is the sound of industrial runoff, of sludgy instrumentation bubbling and swirling—sometimes literally, as in the case of the sickening splashes that fill “Watering.” Melodies creep through the ooze, but by and large, the record’s nine tracks consist mostly of bleak electronics. “I feel like something that’s super melodic and ‘perfectly’ written already feeds you an easily digestible story—lays it all out for you,” she says. “Whereas something that’s less decipherable allows more room for different feelings, which actually tells more of the full story.” —Colin Joyce, “Dis Fig's Debut Album Is a 'Purge' of a Lot of Heavy Shit

Josh Pan & Dylan Brady: This Car Needs Some Wheels

Josh Pan and Dylan Brady are two of the most inventive producers operating in the periphery in the hi-gloss world we once called EDM. But neither has ever been the type to be hemmed in by the borders around genres, so their debut collab—released on Skrillex’s label OWSLA—is, of course, a record of rock n’ roll road jams. There’s still all sorts of electronic flourishes in the margins, but this is a guitar record, open-hearted and rambling, like a car down an empty highway. It’s got a bit of a Badlands thing to it, the feeling of two people bound together on the run, leaving something behind in search of the promise of what lies beyond the horizon. What’s next? Who knows? — Colin Joyce

Girl K: For Now

Girl K's short career so far has been a constant and consistent evolution of frontwoman Kathy Patino becoming one of Chicago's most exciting indie rock songwriters. Since she formed the project in 2017, it's become a full-fledged four-piece with the promising debut Sunflower Court, which took cues from the city's emo-rockers Ratboys and indie poppers Varsity (the latter of which Patino cites as a big influence). But the band's sophomore album, For Now, is a tightly-wound and irresistibly charming collection of songs that easily carves out their own spot among their local peers. The title track has ample jangle while "Wish You Were Right" practically floats with its twinkling chorus. But the finest song of the bunch is the closer, "Just Kids," an indie rock jam that's so immediately lovable from its first chords. —Josh Terry