LOADING ...

5 new releases we love: A pop revolutionary returns, an L.A. rapper bounces back, and more

Kelsey J. Waite Apr 27, 2019. 16 comments

There’s a lot of music out there. To help you cut through all the noise, every week The A.V. Club is rounding up A-Sides, five recent releases we think are worth your time. You can listen to these and more on Spotify.


FKA Twigs, “Cellophane”

[Young Turks, April 24]

FKA Twigs’ 2014 debut album, LP1 , reshaped pop music. It showcased a fully-formed artistic polymath unafraid to diverge from common-time percussive patterns, who crafted songs equally minimal and overpowering. She followed it with the astounding, trunk-rattling EP M3LL155X in 2015 and the cautiously joyous 2016 ballad “Good To Love.” This week’s “Cellophane,” Twigs’ first song since, mournfully reignites the sparsity of “Good To Love.” This is Twigs at her most devastating, where chiffon whispers, yearning falsettos, and ghastly vocal fragments meet slowly dissipating pianos and tense bass drums. The song’s video , too, is another breakthrough from the established visual mastermind. As Twigs pole-dances, fights demons, and spends more than a full minute dramatically falling into a primordial clay pit, she emerges from romantic tragedy (“All wrapped in cellophane / The feelings we had”) a stronger figure, an artist teasing a second album potentially as revolutionary as her first. [Max Freedman]


Nick Murphy, Run Fast Sleep Naked

[Downtown/Future Classic/Opulent, April 26]

Nick Murphy is king of the bleeding heart. He lets us know in plain speech just seconds into his new album, Run Fast Sleep Naked, as a prologue; practically a warning label on the outside of a box wrapped in scarlet red text: “Fragile: Handle with Care.” This tenderness and vulnerability permeate Murphy’s latest release, his first full-length since 2014’s Built On Glass under his former just-add-water pop-star moniker, Chet Faker. While the new album reaffirms Murphy’s inherent knack for exceptional songwriting with tightly constructed alt-folk hits like “Sanity” and “Dangerous,” it also displays a man forcibly caught between both worlds and personas. On “Some People,” Murphy’s gentle crooning devolves into a thumping, glitchy soundscape which feels violently dissonant for the sake of it. “Believe (Me)” seems to borrow from Bon Iver’s 22, A Million where yearning via vocoder heightens emotional pitch, but sometimes at the cost of rhythm itself. Ultimately, Run Fast Sleep Naked is Murphy’s unbridled catharsis, vacillating between starry-eyed epiphany and startling heartache. It’s a bumpy ride, but still one worth taking. [Adam Isaac Itkoff]


Aldous Harding, Designer

[4AD, April 26]

Aldous Harding’s 2017 album, Party , was an intensely spare affair that mostly subverted its title, feeling more like a party of one staying in with the curtains drawn. At the same time, it confirmed Harding as one of folk’s most captivating performers, with a singular vocal command and a knack for surreally stirring lyrics. With producer John Parish (PJ Harvey) back behind the boards, third LP Designer throws the shades open with fuller, bolder arrangements that cast Harding’s off-kilter charm and skill in full, glorious daylight. From the outset, Designer feels more ambitious: Harding’s tender lead vocal on opener “Fixture Picture” is complimented by panoramic CSNY harmonies and twisting string parts, while her playful subversions of form on “Designer” are backed by a warm blend of hand drums, wind instruments (or Mellotron?), and xylophone. More than just capture the performer this time, Designer reflects her surplus of personality. It’s thrilling to witness an artist this at-home in their craft. [Kelsey J. Waite]


We’re collecting our A-Sides recommendations over on a Spotify playlist updated every Friday. Tune in and subscribe here.


Schoolboy Q, Crash Talk

[Top Dawg Entertainment, April 26]

It’s been three years since Schoolboy Q released his beloved, sprawling Blank Face LP—so what’s he been up to? To hear him tell it, descending into an abyss of downers and weed, recording and discarding some three albums in a Calabasas myopia. But Crash Talk’s not about the fall; it’s about the bounce-back. Q’s still an oddball MC, his delivery rounding into phlegmatic leers and unexpected yips, but here it’s channeled into sober ruminations (“Black Folk”) and gliding, night-on-the-town largesse (“Lies”) as much as, you know, songs about fucking (“Chopstix”). Aside from Pusha T, no other rapper has benefited as much from hip-hop’s newfound obsession with concision; at under 40 minutes, this is Q’s shortest effort by a mile. Some will miss his traditional late-album, acid-fried wanderlust, but its absence signals a trimmer, more focused MC: both hands on the wheel and barreling down the highway. [Clayton Purdom]


Mountain Goats, In League With Dragons

[Merge, April 26]

The Mountain Goats earned some nerd cred when they announced In League With Dragons at a Wizards Of The Coast event, the D&D makers’ headquarters serving as the perfect setting for an album that began as “a rock opera about a besieged seaside community called Riversend ruled by a benevolent wizard.” That narrative, though, only threads through about half of the finished product, and some of In League With Dragons’ best songs are either entirely divorced from the fantasy elements or only tangentially related—“Passaic 1975,” for example, is a lovely, heart-swelling ode to a young Ozzy Osborne, while baroque Seven For Australia sequel “Going Invisible 2” finds transcendence in fire that could very well have spilled from a dragon’s mouth. In League With Dragons remains a vibrant listen, though, with the squealing saxophone of “Younger” and the gnarly riffage of “Cadaver Sniffing Dog” giving a serrated edge to the album’s stately base of piano and percussion. And, as he’s proven in songs about Beowulf’s Grendel and, believe it or not, Super Mario’s Toad, songwriter John Darnielle knows how to mine genuine resonance from even the most ridiculous characters, his troubled wizard exuding pastel shades of hope at the “huge wings blotting out the sun” of the melancholic title track. [Randall Colburn]

16 Comments

Other Kelsey J. Waite's posts

First-ever Red Bull Music Fest Chicago to feature Nas, Pusha T, Cupcakke, and more First-ever Red Bull Music Fest Chicago to feature Nas, Pusha T, Cupcakke, and more

Following residencies in cities like Sao Paulo, New York City, Tokyo, Johannesburg, and Berlin, Red Bull Music Fest has announced it will set up shop in Chicago for the month of November, with a lineup heavy on hip-hop, electronic, jazz, and experimental music. True to form, the monthlong curation of talks and performances will spotlight its host city’s musical...

Robyn finally confirms new album, Honey, out next month Robyn finally confirms new album, Honey, out next month

It’s been eight long years since Robyn’s career-defining Body Talk LPs, and though she’s released a handful of collaborative singles and shorter projects in the meantime, the wait for a new solo full-length from the Swedish pop artist is almost over: Honey will arrive October 26 via Interscope and Robyn’s own label, Konichiwa. In addition to previously released songs “Honey”...

Marianne Faithfull returns with a gorgeous new Nick Cave duet Marianne Faithfull returns with a gorgeous new Nick Cave duet

Two weeks ago, British folk-rock icon Marianne Faithfull announced her 21st studio album, Negative Capability, will arrive November 2. And today she’s shared its first single, “The Gypsy Faerie Queen,” written with and featuring Nick Cave. It’s the latest in a long-running creative relationship between Faithfull and Cave, who previously worked together on 2005’s Before The Poison and a...

The best music of 2019 so far The best music of 2019 so far

Just six months into a great year in music, we’ve seen strange, galactic records from R&B innovators Solange and Flying Lotus. In the crowded field of hip-hop, emerging talents like Denzel Curry, Little Simz, and Zelooperz have separated from the pack—not to mention Tierra Whack, whose five singles widened the view of her singular, surreal world. In indie and rock,...

Suggested posts

Elvis Presley ain't nothing but a hound dog (and a superspy, apparently) in new animated series Elvis Presley ain't nothing but a hound dog (and a superspy, apparently) in new animated series

Here’s an odd one: Sony Pictures has teamed up with Priscilla Presley and John Eddie for Agent King, an adult animated comedy where Elvis is both Elvis and a superspy with a jetpack. We have no idea who asked for this, but there’s hope: Mike Arnold, a veteran of FX’s excellent Archer, will serve as showrunner. That’s an inspired...

5 new releases we love: Shura gets intimate, Ross From Friends has an epiphany, and more 5 new releases we love: Shura gets intimate, Ross From Friends has an epiphany, and more

There’s a lot of music out there. To help you cut through all the noise, every week The A.V. Club is rounding up A-Sides, five recent releases we think are worth your time. You can listen to these and more on Spotify.Don’t miss our featured reviews from this week, either: Sleater-Kinney returns with the St. Vincent-produced The Center Won’t...

And now for a short story told entirely through Blink-182 soundbites And now for a short story told entirely through Blink-182 soundbites

Nobody sounds quite like Tom DeLonge, which is presumably why that 10-hour loop of his verse from Blink-182's “I Miss You” went as viral as it did. Well, if you were a fan of that particular gag, it’s likely you’ll also dig this short clip from comedian Budd Anthony Diaz, who took it upon himself to make a short...

Ben Gibbard, Craig Finn, and more reflect on late Frightened Rabbit singer Scott Hutchison in new documentary Ben Gibbard, Craig Finn, and more reflect on late Frightened Rabbit singer Scott Hutchison in new documentary

As the music world mourned the loss of Frightened Rabbit’s Scott Hutchison, who took his own life last year , the remaining band members staged a stirring tribute to the late singer that gave way to a star-studded covers album honoring their breakout, 2008's The Midnight Organ Fight . Today, the memorials culminate with the release of a 23-minute...

Bauhaus' Peter Murphy cancels multiple residency shows after suffering heart attack Bauhaus' Peter Murphy cancels multiple residency shows after suffering heart attack

Peter Murphy , former lead singer of pioneering goth-rock outfit Bauhaus, was reportedly rushed to a New York hospital last night, where he was found to have suffered a heart attack. Per Pitchfork, Murphy is still currently in the hospital, with his condition being monitored; he has also canceled a number of shows from his current solo residency in...

Music lovers on Twitter are debating what band’s 3rd album was their best Music lovers on Twitter are debating what band’s 3rd album was their best

As the saying goes, you have your whole life to make your first album, and then about a year to make your second one, thus accounting for the dreaded “sophomore slump.” The third album, then, is a crucial litmus test, one when many artists hit their stride and prove if they’re really in it for the long haul. Testing...

Flea is dropping a dreamy, jazz-inflected memoir later this year Flea is dropping a dreamy, jazz-inflected memoir later this year

As noted by Loudwire, Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea is going to release a memoir later this year called Acid For The Children that reportedly clocks in at 400 pages. According to the book’s synopsis, it will take readers “on a deeply personal and revealing tour” of Flea’s “formative years,” from his childhood in Australia and the suburbs...

Opera star Placido Domingo accused of sexual harassment by multiple women Opera star Placido Domingo accused of sexual harassment by multiple women

Placido Domingo, one of the most successful and prolific opera singers of all time, has been accused by numerous women of sexual harassment, according to a new investigation by the Associated Press. The testimonies given by eight singers and a dancer, corroborated by dozens of colleagues, friends, and associates from within and without the opera world, provide an account...

(Sandy) Alex G's sumptuous "Southern Skies" shimmers in this offbeat animated video (Sandy) Alex G's sumptuous "Southern Skies" shimmers in this offbeat animated video

(Sandy) Alex G, the ever-inventive Philly songwriter who’s navigated his trek from the bedroom to the studio better than just about anyone, has dropped a third single from his upcoming House Of Sugar. “Southern Sky” rides along urgent acoustic strums, jaunty piano, and peals of violin that swirl around the rich vocals of singer Emily Yacina. Above, see a...

A$AP Rocky plays first show since temporary release from Swedish jail A$AP Rocky plays first show since temporary release from Swedish jail

In July, rapper A$AP Rocky was arrested in Stockholm, Sweden and charged with assault over an incident from back in June where he and two friends allegedly got into a fight with two other men. Rocky had been in jail in Sweden since then, but earlier this month—thanks to some diplomatic pressure from Donald Trump, because nothing in the...

Language