Sturgill Simpson – SOUND & FURY
Sturgill doesn’t care for your expectations. Every one of his four albums has come with a conceptual departure in sound but this fourth one is as drastic as it gets. It’s a scuzzy and sludgy rock record, full of searing electric guitar and swampy keys as Sturgill wraps his incredible voice around tunes of disillusionment towards society, artistic integrity in the face of capitalist overlords, and a little dystopian imagery as well just for the hell of it. But wait there’s more because there’s also an animated feature created by some of Japan’s finest on the interwebs as well, giving an alternate life to the vision. The songwriting is as immense as always even if the presentation is wildly different. Sturgill’s just on a whole other level right now and if you’ve been waiting to hear him truly shred on record then here it is, friend.
Caleborate - Hear Me Out
If rather hearty poetry on top of crisp production tickles your toes, Caleborate is hear to share his pain and journey through his latest EP Hear Me Out. Caleborate hails from Sacremento and brings a certain wholesome nature to his music, closer to the everyday joker’s tales than the bright lights many other artists are telling us about and that connection is likely to see Caleborate continue to trend positively. This is Caleborate’s fourth major project, so there are plenty to tunes to catch up on after listening to Heart Me Out.
Mermaidens – Look Me In The Eye
One of the more eagerly awaited local albums of the year, the Wellington hypno-rock trio did not disappoint. Along with their typically head-bobbing tunes and visceral lyrics they’ve also shown a bit more of an ear for experimentation here, expanding the ol’ sound and taking tracks to new places. LMITE is a little shiner than their last effort, though still deliciously weird. I Might Disappear and She’s Running are particular standouts while Bastards apparently got denied as a single in the UK because it’s a little too naughty, how cool is that?
Kiefer - Superbloom/Bridges
When Kiefer isn’t making music as part of the production duo Callum and Kiefer for funky artists such as Anderson .Paak, he is gracing us with his personal mix of various instruments and musical ideas. Jazzy stuff is present, with a hip-hop influence as well, Kiefer’s musical in general offers plenty of space for your own interpretation and thoughts, while setting the tone through carefully crafted music. Superbloom isn’t Kiefer’s first run through this, in fact Superbloom came in conjunction with Bridges that is equally as delightful and you’d be wise to lay some Kiefer on in the background as you do the dishes.
EarthGang - Mirrorland
The first album from EarthGang under J Cole’s Dreamville umbrella, comes after EarthGang and all their Dreamville comrades delivered Revenge of the Dreamers III along with numerous other collaborators. Mirrorland was in the works for a while and with a splash of momentum, Olu and WowGr8 drop the album which serves as a gate-way into their interpretation of Atlanta’s creative space. The fact that EarthGang can build what feels like an entire world via their craft is testament to their execution and the walk a line of blending in the immensely funky Outkast vibe with more modern slapping elements of Atlanta trap. Few features put the story-telling and poetry of Olu and WowGr8 on show, while the likes of DJ Dahi, Childish Major, Bink! and Elite help out on production. Listen and be transported to a new vibe.
Chelsea Wolfe – Birth of Violence
A couple things you can always expect from a Chelsea Wolfe album: stunningly beautiful vocals and darkly atmospheric gothic tracks. This is a more acoustic effort than the doom rock/shoegaze/electronic records she’s put out in the past but those same dynamics, the familiar post-apocalyptic mood. As such the usual intensity takes a step or two back in favour of a steadier burn. Not quite up there with her albums Hiss Spun or Abyss but it’ll take you places all the same. Dark places. Cold places. Places where pain and grief are shared and healed.
Moon Duo – Stars Are The Light
Ripley Johnson and Sanae Yamada have been blessing us with their psychedelic groove tones for several albums now but they’ve never quite sounded this pretty before. Tweaked out synths adorning a more melodic approach that’ll get plenty more repeat listens on those impending blissed-out summer dazes. There’s a sunniness here, a sort of joyful mysticism, that should put you at ease amongst the innumerable wonders of the universe.
Larry June - Out The Trunk
Very cheeky wee project this one from Larry June. Not a whole lot of substance or depth to Out the Trunk, but what it lacks in that department it makes up for with extreme background play value. Wavy, vibey and groovey as Larry spits mellow rhymes which puts you in the perfect space to enjoy a spring afternoon.
The Highwomen – The Highwomen
If you misread their name as Highwaywomen then you’re not alone… but the lead track works better without the extra syllable, y’know? It’s a reworking of that Highwayman track that Cash, Jennings, Nelson, and Kristofferson did back in the day and this excellent collection of modern country lasses have delivered a record for female empowerment and celebration. Brandi Carlisle, Maren Morris, Amanda Shires, and Natalie Hemby. In a genre that’s notoriously sexist as country tends to be, it’s a powerful and timely statement. Plus, of course, the tunes are every bit as classic as you’d expect from this quartet of song-writing excellence. If She Ever Leaves Me in particular is honestly just an incredible song.
Bat For Lashes – Lost Girls
The first thing you need to do is watch the classic and campy 80s vampire horror film The Lost Boys. Then come back and listen to the new BFL record Lost Girls and you’ll know exactly the kind of world she’s summoning up with her latest incantations of dark synth-pop. It’s dangerous and it’s romantic. It’s a little bit spooky. It’s very good.
If you rate the yarns on TNC then support us on Patreon to chip in towards the revolutionary vision
Smash an ad if you’ve been rocking a couple of these records lately yourself