10 New Albums to Stream Today

Today (Aug. 20), first and foremost, is the Lorde’s day. The artist born Ella Yelich-O’Connor has released her stylistic swerve of a third album, Solar Power, delivering on years of fan anticipation—but there are plenty of new records you ought not let languish in its shadow. From Deafheaven’s career-redefining Infinite Granite to the posthumous full-length debut of Philadelphia emcee Chynna and a roots-music concept album from Sturgill Simpson, this New Music Friday shines awfully bright. Grab your shades and take a long look below.

Alien Boy: Don’t Know What I Am

Portland, Oregon’s Alien Boy—guitarist and songwriter Sonia Weber, drummer Derek McNeil, and a rotating cast of PDX scene mainstays—make punchy West Coast guitar rock aglow with a sense of yearning that will make your heart ache, in a good way. Their debut album Don’t Know What I Am is riddled with “Dreams and Queer Feeling,” the motto the band spray-painted on a banner they hung onstage during a series of defining 2018 shows. “Dear Nora” is a passionate, overwhelmingly earnest expression of affection and gratitude: A melodic lead riff surfs waves of whammied shoegaze fuzz, only receding to make space for Weber’s lovesick vocals: “You’re everything, you’re everything,” she sings, gushing, “I adore you so, you adore me in the way I always wanted.” Alien Boy wield these emotions with an urgency that emanates through your speakers, like on opener “The Way I Feel,” when Weber sings, “The way you love me hurts too much / The way I feel / The way you make me feel, won’t come around again.” The intensity of feeling on Don’t Know What I Am would be almost too much to bear if Alien Boy weren’t so adept at shredding through the heartache. —Scott Russell


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Badge Epoch: Scroll

Max Turnbull is a man who wears many hats, most notably as a member of U.S. Girls and as solo act Slim Twig. Taking all he has learned, Turnbull’s Badge Epoch has released Scroll, an amalgamation of his prior forms to create one masterful project. He takes much inspiration from fellow collage musician J Dilla, whose flips of samples pasted together brought a new life to the tracks with each listen. For Turnbull, Scroll feels like the other side of Dilla’s same coin as he crafts brilliant songs that meld together freeform jazz with electronic elements. Improvised live instrumentation is dubbed over with more improvised artificial elements, giving Scroll a hypnotic, otherworldly quality that is transcendent and simply magical. —Jade Gomez


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Bnny: Everything

After signing to Fire Talk Records in May, Chicago rock quintet Bnny—featuring bandleader Jess Viscius, her twin sister Alexa Viscius, and their best friends Tim Makowski, Matt Pelkey and Adam Schubert—announced their debut album Everything in June. Jess Viscius wrote Everything in several years’ worth of sessions while processing the death of her partner—a press release evocatively describes the album as “a field recording taken from the lone country of grief.” On “Ambulance” and “Time Walk,” the songwriter struggles to leave her painful past behind, singing in the former, “I’ll never forget those flashing lights,” and in the latter, yearning to tell her lost love “all the things I couldn’t.” And on “August,” she looks to the future, breathily intoning, “Some people never change / But I’ll change one day,” over soft, undulating electric guitar and shuffling drums. Recorded at Jamdek Studios in Chicago and in “various bedroom closets” with producer Jason Balla (Dehd), Everything is a deceptively bold debut that opts to do more with less, relying on polished rock minimalism and the raw emotion of Jess Viscius’ songwriting to land its knockout blows. —Scott Russell


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Chynna: drug opera

Philly rapper Chynna was one of rap’s most promising acts before her tragic passing in April 2020 while she was working on her first full-length album, drug opera. At her family’s request, the album has finally been released with minor changes, staying true to the late rapper’s vision. From the start, it sets itself apart from the blatantly money-hungry sorts of releases made after an artist’s death, hastily slapped together with features not approved by the artist. Much like the posthumous release of Legends Never Die by Juice WRLD, drug opera is a heavy listen in the context of these young stars’ addictions that ultimately lead to their deaths. It is dark, uncensored and rough around the edges. However, it is also what made Chynna such a magnetic presence, demonstrating her radical vulnerability as she parses her struggles with mental health and addiction, finding solace in her music. Chynna’s cold demeanor casts a tough, menacing shadow on her limber raps over eclectic production from the likes of electronic musician Jimmy Edgar and emo-rap mainstay Nedarb, best-known for his collaborations with fellow tragic hero Lil Peep. Released alongside a short film of the same name, drug opera is a powerful monument to Chynna’s legacy. —Jade Gomez


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Deafheaven: Infinite Granite

Deafheaven have made two albums since Sunbather: 2015’s New Bermuda and 2018’s Ordinary Corrupt Human Love. Both are very good, and each one inches away from black metal and toward post-rock and shoegaze. Infinite Granite ditches the inching and dives into the deep end of Deafheaven’s softer, prettier predilections. Gone, mostly, are the blast beats and gone, mostly, are vocalist George Clarke’s howls and growls, which appear most prominently in the last three minutes of the album’s stunning final song, “Mombasa”—a classic closing number that begins with quietly intertwined acoustic and electric guitars, and evolves into a dream-pop lullaby before crescendoing into chilly calamity. “Travel now where they can’t let you down,” Clarke screams, delivering Infinite Granite’s most unintelligible lyrics. “Where you can’t fail them now.” The road to “Mombasa” is paved with eight tracks of buoyant and beautiful post-rock and shoegaze that, even with the context of their past material, paints Deafheaven in a whole new light. —Ben Salmon


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Leon Duncan: Fuck a rosetta stone for my brain waves

Fuck a rosetta stone for my brain waves, the latest album from Kenyan experimental producer Leon Duncan, is as dizzying and mystifying as it is brilliant. Recalling a distorted take on the intense rhythmic chaos of East African club music, each of the album’s nine tracks is rife with stuttering, yet danceable beats and elements of noise that, after being repeated enough times, become unshakable melodic elements. The album uses several tricks to make the songs even more radical and immediately visceral than they initially come across, such as the use of natural samples in the song “Digital Drug” intended to activate the human fight or flight response, livening the experience in a thrilling way. Fuck a rosetta stone for my brain waves is a unique snapshot of experimentation, with Duncan inviting the listener to join his wild ride as he traverses uncharted sonic terrain. —Jason Friedman


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Lorde: Solar Power

Let’s set the record straight: Solar Power isn’t the Melodrama sequel everyone spent almost a half-decade pining for. Though Lorde was inspired by her chagrin with fame on her sophomore release, she instead used it to chronicle her first breakup. On Solar Power, she nosedives fully into escapism, touting her Antarctica getaway as inspiration for her departure from superficial lyrics once primed for the limelight. Refusing to copy the same transgressions as other pop stars on autopilot, Lorde marks a tonal shift in her short discography with a record honing in on her influences of ‘70s Laurel Canyon pop, ditching the goth electronics of Melodrama. Solar Power is psychedelic in sound and intent, especially when producer Jack Antonoff’s thin, shimmering guitar tones pair with Lorde’s vocal displeasure for the surroundings forced onto her by the industry. It’s a modern take on Joni Mitchell’s Court and Spark, with less masterful takes on romantic inadequacy, but just as much warm replayability. —Matt Mitchell


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Morly: ‘Til I Start Speaking

Katy Morley excels at taking her time. The Minneapolis-born singer’s unhurried approach has given Morly ample opportunity to hone her songs, paring them down to their essentials: piano, a glimmer of percussion and her languorous vocals. Though her musical arrangements tend toward spare, it’s not a minimalist aesthetic she’s after on ‘Til I Start Speaking, her first full-length release. Rather, Morly’s songs are as rich as they are subdued, and the effect is a collection of slow-burning songs that seem to radiate heat. She and her frequent collaborator Chris Stracey (of the Australian electronic duo Bag Raiders) have a keen understanding of how subtle touches can frame a song. On opener “’Til I Start Speaking (I & II),” it’s the resonant thump of a kick drum that cuts through twinkling piano and hazy, drifting electronics midway through the song, as if Morly is interrupting a sweetly drifting reverie to refocus attention on the present. Later, on “Superlunar,” it’s the barely there bassline that almost escapes notice as it comes and goes under a clacking beat and gossamer synthesizers, while Morly sings in a bewitching murmur, double-tracking her voice into harmony vocals on the final verse. If Morly’s willingness to take her time is uncommon enough in a culture built on instant gratification, her ability to sit still, be silent and simply listen until her heart speaks is a rare gift indeed. —Eric R. Danton


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quickly, quickly: The Long and Short of It

Inspired by J Dilla and the Stones Throw catalog, 20-year-old producer Graham Jonson (aka quickly, quickly) finds a vivacious, organic sound on his debut full-length The Long and Short of It. Playing nearly every instrument featured on the album, including drums, keys and guitar, the young songwriter puts an authentically unique touch on the sound of his influences, maintaining their soulful, jazzy spark while adding elements of atmospheric experimentation and smooth vocal melodies. The densely layered arrangements of tracks like standout single “Shee” and the luminescent “I Am Close to the River” feel enveloping, as though swallowing the listener in the airy chords and light string arrangements. The Long and Short of It is a huge step forward for quickly, quickly—a portrait of an auteur who is only just getting started. —Jason Friedman


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Sturgill Simpson: The Ballad of Dood & Juanita

Grammy-winning country singer/songwriter Sturgill Simpson’s output has been anything but predictable since his 2016 standout album A Sailor’s Guide to Earth, from his 2019 samurai anime accompaniment Sound & Fury to his 2020 bluegrass surprises, Cuttin’ Grass Vols. 1 and 2. His fifth record, The Ballad of Dood & Juanita, is as unexpected as we’ve come to expect, a country/bluegrass concept album Simpson and the Hillbilly Avengers, his Cuttin’ Grass band, wrote, recorded and mixed in under a week. The LP draws inspiration from Willie Nelson’s Red Headed Stranger (and features the outlaw country legend himself on “Juanita”), while its Appalachian romance/adventure story centers on Dood and Juanita, a pair of characters modeled after Simpson’s grandfather (an Air Force veteran and coal miner) and grandmother—the former “left the varnish off his words / feared no beast, nor man,” the latter “with black hair so long, soft eyes so blue.” Simpson told Rolling Stone this is “the last Sturgill record” before he starts up a band, ensuring his next era will be as surprising and unfettered as ever. —Scott Russell


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And don’t forget to check out… Anderson East: Maybe We Never Die, Angel Olsen: Aisles EP, Between the Buried and Me: Colors II, Connie Smith: The Cry of the Heart, Daneshevskaya: Bury Your Horses EP, David Duchovny: Gestureland, girlpuppy: Swan EP, James McMurtry: The Horses And The Hounds, The Joy Formidable: Into the Blue, Justus Proffit: Speedstar, Kool & the Gang: Perfect Union, Mae Powell: Both Ways Brighter, Maggie Rose: Have A Seat, Martha Wainwright: Love Will Be Reborn, Orla Gartland: Woman On The Internet, Pile: Songs Known Together, Alone, Shannon & The Clams: Year Of The Spider, Sierra Ferrell: Long Time Coming, Switchfoot: Interrobang, Telethon: Swim Out Past The Breakers, Tropical Fuck Storm: Deep States, Villagers: Fever Dreams, Wolves in the Throne Room: Primordial Arcana

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