FRESH MUSIC OVERVIEW - AUGUST 2021
Updated: Sep 3, 2021
Lorde - Solar Power
A third album from Lorde has been long-awaited and is probably the tentpole music release for August. After a brilliant debut as a teenager and a mature sophmore album, Solar Power might not live up to some people's lofty expectations for Lorde. While her writing is sharp as usual, the amorphous sound of her newest project makes it her least exciting. The uniform production chosen for this album is sunny and breezy, but doesn't make for a particularly exciting 40 minutes. Still, Lorde's personality shines through in her lyrics and keeps her as an exciting, verbose popstar. But judging from reception on the internet, it's not likely an album that's going to become a favourite like her previous efforts.
Glaive - all dogs go to heaven
Glaive is just 16 years old, and while his melodramatic break-up anthems might give away his age, his natural talent still shines beyond his years. This new EP lacks some of the scrappy charm of his home recorded debut EP Cypress Grove, but massive, busy hyperpop production and some genuine lyricism position him as an exciting up and coming gen-Z popstar. The three song punch of synopsis, i wanna slam my head against the wall and bastard end up this EP's highlight though generally its short length makes sure this doesn't outstay its welcome.
CHVRCHES - Screen Violence
Scottish synth-pop trio and haters of the letter 'U', CHVRCHES, are back with their fourth album. I really enjoyed their first two, they felt like really fresh takes on synth-pop and frontwoman Lauren Mayberry's vocals were excellent. Their third album felt like they were dying to go commercial, but couldn't commit, making a boring album that had mainstream sensibilities but not in a compelling way. Screen Violence is definitely a more compelling album, with some interesting synth-work and less focus on overblown choruses fit for festival stages. While the horror aesthetic of the album art and some song titles like "Violent Delights" and "Final Girl" doesn't really translate to the sound, it has uniformly strong production and nice lyrics. CHVRCHES employ their first feature here as well with The Cure's Robert Smith making a great appearance.
Still Woozy - If This Isn't Nice, I Don't Know What Is
Releasing a steady stream of singles since 2017, this is singer-songwriter Still Woozy's debut album. His brand of lightly psychedelic indie-pop music has proven popular, with a few of his singles going viral on streaming services. This album is an ideal August release, it's very sunny sounding, pretty chill and laidback. It's not stepping outside his comfort zone, but for people converted to Still Woozy's brand of indie-pop, this'll be unlikely to disappoint and can soundtrack some of your summer days.
Trippie Redd - Trip At Knight
Trippie Redd's fourth studio album (but tenth overall project) has a uniform bouncy, sugar-sweet production that seems ready for the return of festivals and shows. While often inconsistent, as his pendant to showcase his versatility leads to uneven albums, this one has a pretty consistent party vibe. A lot of the production draws comparison to late '00s or early '10s electro pop music ...a bit like Ke$ha. While at 17 tracks and almost 50 minutes long, the track list is ripe for some trimming, this is still the best Trippie Redd project in a while. Good feature choices are present as well, picking from a lot of his contemporaries like Playboi Carti and Lil Uzi Vert. Highlights come in from his collaborations with the latter mentioned as well as some electric chemistry with the late rapper Juice WRLD.
The Killers - Pressure Machine
The Killers could just stop releasing new music and live off of Mr. Brightside residuals and greatest hits tours. But the past couple years they've been productive, with an album last year and now another one this year. Last year's Imploding the Mirage was a nice surprise, 16 years into their career The Killers were proving they could still deliver exactly what made them so popular initially. Pressure Machine is a bit less crowd-pleasing and so then it's maybe a bit unconfident on the part of The Killers or their label, this new album comes paired with an accompanying "abridged version" which trims almost every song down a bit. This is the most personal album for The Killers, drawing from Brandon Flowers' childhood growing up in Vegas. It's lacking the large scaled pop swagger that made The Killers such a success, making this what will likely end up a deep cut album in the discography, but just one year after the suitably bombastic Imploding the Mirage, the variety is appreciated.
Men I Trust - Untourable Album
Genre: Indie, Dream-pop
Men I Trust snuck up on a lot of people, after reshuffling the band in 2016 to be centred around singer Emma Proulx. They were a true unsigned indie band, releasing singles and touring up until the release of the mammoth album Oncle Jazz which compiled a lot of their singles from 2016-2019 as well as plenty of new material. Out of nowhere here's their second album, more focused and shorter this time around. Its dreamy sound has an incredibly inviting atmosphere. Relaxing music that's never boring. They've really struck gold with the pairing of Proulx's vocals with such pleasant synthy production. Despite its labelling as "untourable", it's not exactly a challenging album, the title more so applies to the slower pace and lack of hooks, but it's great for at home listening.
Deafheaven - Infinite Granite
Genre: Rock, Shoegaze
Deafheaven's stylistic switch-up on this album is one that's not totally unexpected, as they're no strangers to shifting genres. But to listen to a song from their breakout black-metal album Sunbather and then to most tracks of this one could make you do a double take that this is even the same band. More uplifting than their usual material, though still sometimes leaning back on some crushing black-metal riffs and screams. For the most part though this is a big scale shoegaze record that isn't leaning on nostalgia or emulating classic artists in the genre like My Bloody Valentine or Slowdive. As a fan of the distorted and dreamy take on rock music that shoegaze provides, this was brilliant listen. Very technical and showy at timers, but in a way that felt earned. Some massive tracks and proves Deafheaven have some great longevity if they're still so exciting seven years after their breakout.
Lantlôs - Wildhund
Genre: Rock, Shoegaze
Coincidentally, as Deafheaven release their new album of shoegaze slammers, their German black-metal contemporaries Lantlôs have also brightened up their sound. An enthusiastic and bombastic set of rock songs. Leaning more towards shoegaze than metal, but still packing a wonderful punch. This is their first album in seven years and feels like a triumphant return. Anthemic shoegaze with catchy choruses and massive riffs. This album is a ton of fun and scratches a particular itch for distorted rock music. Highly recommended! It's very exciting to have two new entries into the shoegaze canon in one month.
$uicideboy$ - Long Term Effects of SUFFERING
Hip-hop duo $uicideboy$ have had a prolific career of making exciting, and edgy southern inspired rap songs for the terminally down. With honest approaches to mental health and drug abuse, over inventive production and with hard hitting rap flows, the two have become underground hip-hop staples. This is their second studio album, though they have countless projects under their belt at this point. While this one doesn't offer too many surprises for those in tune with their music already, it's another good project. The sort of brutal honesty is much appreciated. Some typically fun song titles on offer here too like "If Self-Destruction Was an Olympic Event, I’d Be Tonya Harding".
Hippo Campus - Good Dog, Bad Dream
Hippo Campus took a real step up with their 2018 album Bambi and now it feels like their on the cusp on something even better with this EP. Jake Luppen's frontman performance and self-aware, honest lyricism is at its best here. There's some generally funny moments paired with some dense indie-pop production, which feels more experimental than any of their previous output. It's a really fun little EP and shows promise for their next full-length whenever that turns up.
HEALTH - DISCO4+
Genre: Electronic, Industrial, Rock
HEALTH is one of my favourite bands, if not my favourite, so I always have to shout out their releases. With each studio album, they follow it up with a "DISCO" album with remixes. Their fourth album's DISCO follow-up though was actually part one of a new album made up entirely of new collaborative songs. Now this album is remixes of those new songs, as well as songs from their fourth album back from 2019. Confusing, but always good to hear new material. Interesting takes on the songs from mostly underground industrial, electronic and other alternative genre artists.
Gorillaz - Meanwhile EP
Genre: Alternative, Reggae
Three new tracks from Gorillaz, more collaborations following their Song Machine album which was made up entirely of collaborative efforts. As the EP's title suggests this is likely just scraps to feed fans while the next big project is in the works. It's a fairly unremarkable set of songs, I would've though an AJ Tracey collab would've had far more promise than what ended up here. Regardless the title tracks is pretty good and if you like Gorillaz, why not check out a cursory project like this?
Binki - MOTOR FUNCTION
Binki's making fun genre-defying music that sounds like pop-minded '00s indie-rock like Bloc Party or Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Bringing back these sort of instrumentals but with a laidback hip-hop inspired delivery, which I'd still hesitate to call rapping. This sort of sound is gaining popularity with acts like Teezo Touchdown and Jean Dawson also going for it. This is a promising EP and I'm keeping watch for whatever Binki does next. Cool art for the EP too!
New The Weeknd Single
Quick turnaround for The Weeknd who is seemingly already onto his next music project after last year's hugely successful album After Hours. It's another sure-fire hit for the megastar, typically catchy song-writing over a dark-ish synth-pop beat. As a lead single for an album it feels appropriate, but I think for the best tracks we'll have to wait to see if the album has some killer deep cuts like After Hours did.
New Baby Keem Single (with Kendrick Lamar)
Nepotism has never sounded so good, as Kendrick Lamar's up and coming young cousin Baby Keem, gears up for his new album. Another excellent visual and a return to form after some previously sleepy singles from Baby Keem. Also a return for Kendrick Lamar, as it's his first feature in years coming soon after an announcement his new album is on the way. While Baby Keem's core contribution to this song is great, it's mainly a marvel due to how excellent and unfamiliar Kendrick Lamar can still sound so far into his career. No doubt one of the most exciting modern artists.
New Kevin Abstract Single
Nice lovesick pop song from BROCKHAMPTON member Kevin Abstract. Gearing up for what's said to be his most commercial album yet, this still retains a lot of the character that makes Kevin and BROCKHAMTON's music so good. Though maybe the star here is featured artist Ryan Beatty whose chorus is killer. Until the last third of the song and the beat switches and Kevin goes all out with some personal rapping. Promising for an upcoming album!
New Oliver Francis Singles
Oliver Francis has been casually dropping some of his best tracks recently. Impeccably produced, chill cloud rap songs. Excited for a new project to come from him soon, potentially.
FRIENDS and PMW are well worth checking out. Both have been addictive this month for me. Oliver deserves recognition as he self-produces all his music and even directs his own music videos.
New Injury Reserve Single
Rap trio Injury Reserve were one of the very best underground hip-hop acts, however tragically, one of their two rappers Stepa J. Groggs passed away last year. Leaving just rapper Ritchie With a T and producer Parker Corey. As it turns out, prior to Groggs' passing they has mostly recorded a new album while touring Europe. Knees is the lead single for what could be the finale for Injury Reserve, with a sombre music video that highlights Groggs' absence. The group has gone in a artsy direction for this song and it's very exciting as much as it is haunting. Their second studio album By the Time I Get to Phoenix is releasing September 15th and based off of this single, it's sure to be a highlight of next month.
New Aries Single
He's been dropping some of his best produced music all summer long, with August's offering being KIDS ON MOLLY which is a typically fresh sounding pop song with a fun music video. Probably the least interesting of his series of singles so far, at least to my ears. But the pop-punk influence combined with his regular hip-hop and pop sensibilities make this a nice track.
New Yung Lean Single
Always a good month when Yung Lean drops music. This has one of his best choruses in a while, though it feels mostly like it could be a B-side from his previous album. No sign of if it's attached to an upcoming project or if it's just a loosie. Still, hard to deny that he's still one of the most exciting underground hip-hop acts. One whose style has evolved so much the hip-hop tag seems to be less relevant each time he releases new music.
New ABRA single (with Playboi Carti)
Checking out this track for Playboi Carti, who's giving a rare feature on a pop song. Fun beat, but maybe it's the fanboy within me, but Playboi Carti's typically animated appearance here feels a lot more exciting than ABRA's singing. Feels like something that could've been fleshed out more, but regardless, a nice song.
New Poppy Single
Poppy's already released an EP this year, but now we have this single for a 32 minute project titled Flux out in September. Compared to her EAT EP which seemed to build off her flirtation with harsher sounds to become a full-on metal act, this song and previous singles for the project are dialling things back. More Paramore than Slipknot, which is fine, but sadly not quite as exciting as the aggression on display previously.
Rina Sawayama covers Metallica
One of the best and most creative pop-stars just shy of the mainstream right now is Rina Sawayama. While she's experimented with pop-rock before, her take on Metallica's Enter Sandman still feels like a strange prospect, but one that's sold to you within a minute of listening. Obviously not going to replace the original, but it's a sleek take on the classic track that respects the original while still offering something that sounds fresh and beyond a novelty.