10 New Albums to Stream Today

It’s amazing how long a short week can be, isn’t it? We had one less post-Labor Day day to spend anticipating this week’s new releases, but today’s haul is full of albums we’ve long been looking forward to, including Kacey Musgraves’ much-anticipated Golden Hour follow-up, Low’s latest electronic mind-bender HEY WHAT and the first new Sleigh Bells record in four years. Spend your regular-length weekend with the complete list below.

Amyl and The Sniffers: Comfort to Me

Melbourne, Australia punk quartet Amyl and The Sniffers are back with their barn burner of a sophomore album, the follow-up to their 2019 self-titled debut. Amy Taylor and company co-produced Comfort to Me with Dan Luscombe, writing their new record during Australian Bushfire season, not to mention COVID-19 quarantine. The result is ferocious, melodic punk rock that seems to push in every direction at once, but the band’s explosive energy belies a surprising degree of heart: “I’m not looking for trouble / I’m looking for love,” Taylor sings on “Security,” somehow managing to maintain a pocket of serenity in the eye of the band’s chaotic storm. “This album is just us—raw self expression, defiant energy, unapologetic vulnerability,” Taylor said in a statement. “It was written by four self-taught musicians who are all just trying to get by and have a good time.” —Scott Russell

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Art School Girlfriend: Is It Light Where You Are

On her stunning, glossy debut Is It Light Where You Are, singer, producer and multi-instrumentalist Polly Mackey (aka Art School Girlfriend) uses her thoughtful and gentle approach to writing electro-pop as a guiding light out of the darkness. Built following the dissolution of a relationship, the album’s 10 tracks are rich in dimension, texture and emotion—a dynamic blend of cinematic, synth-filled pop and often ambient, glitchy productions bolstered by Mackey’s powerful lyricism. Exemplified by the title track, which calls its subject back to reality in the midst of an emotional crisis, Art School Girlfriend’s first full-length serves as a meditative reflection of one’s circumstances and how they can become something beautiful. —Jason Friedman

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Bomba Estéreo: Deja

Fusing the soul of indigenous Afro-Caribbean sounds with the pulse of dance music, Bomba Estéreo have grown tremendously within the electro cumbia sub-genre that they helped craft. Now on their sixth album, Deja, they’re building on their bombast with a purpose. “Ahora” is nothing short of a perfect production from Simon Mejia, with birds chirping over tropical synths while singer Li Saumet delivers her usual energy-driving vocals. There’s an intentional interconnectedness within the album’s four elemental movements of “Agua” (Water), “Aire” (Air), “Tierra” (Earth) and “Fuego” (Fire), and a commitment to unity through movement on the multi-dimensional drums of the aptly titled “Tamborero” (Drummer). Few can reproduce the energy of Bomba Estéreo and Saumet says it’s an authentic expression of their bond with the natural world around them: “We made this album so you can dance to it at a club, but at the same time it has a profound meaning.” —Adrian Spinelli

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Matthew E. White: K Bay

The first solo album from Matthew E. White in six years, K Bay is the Richmond, Virginia singer/songwriter’s second LP of 2021, following his full-length Lonnie Holley collaboration Broken Mirror: A Selfie Reflection. White’s Fresh Blood follow-up, bold, yet crafted with care, puts his impressive range on full display, from the celebratory, stuttering funk of “Let’s Ball” to the celestial art-rock of sprawling opener “Genuine Hesitation” (on which he quips, “I’ve been gettin’ old since I was very young”) and the intimate Americana balladry of “Shine a Light for Me.” There’s a certain quality to albums like K Bay that you can spot from a mile off, the freedom that emanates from an artist who’s marshaled the strength to follow their vision without fear or hesitation. —Scott Russell

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Kacey Musgraves: star-crossed

For as long as Kacey Musgraves has been writing great songs, she’s been delivering the dark with the light, the good with the bad. You can hear that juxtaposition on “Merry Go ‘Round,” the bittersweet melody about universal letdowns from her high-kicking debut Same Trailer Different Park, or within Golden Hour’s cautiously optimistic “Happy & Sad.” So it shouldn’t be a surprise—or a disappointment—that on star-crossed, her follow-up to 2018’s boundary-smashing Golden Hour, Musgraves dwells a bit more on the dark. What she calls a “modern tragedy,” star-crossed chronicles her divorce from fellow country auteur Ruston Kelly in three acts: their relationship’s demise, the dismantling, and then the path forward. She again recruited Golden Hour producing pair Daniel Tashian and Ian Fitchuk to work their magic on star-crossed, and while the result can’t quite touch the otherworldly iridescence of Musgraves’ magnum opus and Grammy Album of the Year winner (though, to be fair, few albums can), star-crossed is still a hell of a listen. And more importantly, it finds Musgraves chasing what it seems like she ultimately wants most: unbridled creative freedom. —Ellen Johnson

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After what sounds like a mechanical bull backfiring inside a hall of mirrors, Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker light the whole cow on fire and let it explode. On “White Horses,” the opener of Low’s 13th album HEY WHAT, Sparhawk’s voice and guitars are among the loudest and clearest they’ve been across 13 albums spanning nearly three decades, with Parker’s harmonies not far behind in heft and lucidity. If the ever-mercurial married duo (HEY WHAT is technically the first album Low created as a duo—Steve Garrington, their fourth bassist, departed last year) have long sounded listless and adrift amid myriad moments of personal and political uncertainty, HEY WHAT reimagines Low as a vehicle for powerhouse vocals, high-Richter-scale distortion and blink-and-you’ll-miss-it percussion. The duo’s recent fascination with 21st-century disconnection continues, but the bombast is louder and the tranquility is quieter, and in focusing on lucid melodies and unobscured fidelity, they’ve created their most visceral work yet. —Max Freedman

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Militarie Gun: All Roads Lead To The Gun II EP

Militarie Gun is the new project by Ian Shelton of Regional Justice Center. Both exist within the realm of hardcore, but take on vastly different influences, with the former being heavily influenced by the abrasion of ’80s and ’90s hardcore bands, and the latter taking pages from grunge and alternative rock of the same eras (plus a sprinkle of Fugazi). On their forthcoming EP All Roads Lead To The Gun II, Militarie Gun expand upon their reinvention of the expectations of hardcore to create something euphoric and brilliantly innovative. Threads of simple, melancholic guitar riffs unravel into a gorgeous blend of bass plucks and Shelton’s vocals that ooze of desperation and anger. Militarie Gun relish the uncomfortable in a time that makes it difficult to ignore, zeroing in on the strangeness of human nature with their truthful, refreshing aggression. —Jade Gomez

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Park Hye Jin: Before I Die

The full-length debut of South Korea-born, L.A.-based producer, rapper, singer and DJ Park Hye Jin, Before I Die follows one of 2020’s best EPs in How can I. Hye Jin wrote, produced and performed her debut album in full, synthesizing house, hip-hop and other aural influences into tracks like wistful opener “Let’s Sing Let’s Dance.” Before I Die is lonely (“Me Trust Me”) and horny (“Sex With Me [DEFG]”), as fit for crying as it is for the club: “I miss my mom, I miss my dad / I miss my sister, I miss my brother,” Hye Jin sings on the title track, while her opening lyric on the album, translated from Korean, is “I sing on sad days.” Listening to Before I Die feels like stepping into the artist’s interior world and finding the full range of her feelings and desires laid out before you on a dance floor. —Scott Russell

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Saint Etienne: I’ve Been Trying To Tell You

Thirty years on since Saint Etienne’s hypnotic debut Foxbase Alpha, the English band still find ways to reimagine their wistful trip-hop sound. Their 2021 offering I’ve Been Trying To Tell You is a nostalgic collection of elegant vignettes capturing the last period of optimism and peace in the U.K. from 1997 to 2001, according to band member Pete Wiggs. The result is euphoric, with vocalist Sarah Cracknell’s voice looping endlessly until it blends into the delicate keys and synths. Likewise, recognizable samples, such as some by Natalie Imbruglia, are chopped and reimagined into unrecognizable forms that still evoke a sense of familiarity. Saint Etienne manage to capture peace with an underlying sense of unease, offering a moment, a loop or a hook to meditate on in trying times. —Jade Gomez

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Sleigh Bells: Texis

“Aren’t you a little too old for rock and roll?” Alexis Krauss of Sleigh Bells asks at the end of their latest album opener, “SWEET75.” The answer is undoubtedly “no”—Krauss is only 35, after all—but it’s a fair enough question to ask over a decade after the duo burst onto the scene with their scorching debut Treats. On their new record Texis, Krauss and producer/guitarist Derek Miller revive their mile-a-minute noise pop with a carpe diem message that manages not to be trite. “SWEET75” kicks off with an intense Mortal Kombat beat and magical shivers of synth. Listening to it feels like arriving at a party that’s already in full swing, your overeager friend grabbing your hand and dragging you to the sweaty center of the crowd. The signature chunky Sleigh Bells guitar chugs through, heavy and upbeat. In many ways Texis harkens back to the bombast and sheer euphoria of Treats. Songs can shift from nerve-jangling to sugary within a few moments (“An Acre Lost” and “Tennessee Tips” particularly come to mind). Yet throughout the album, Krauss and Miller make life’s fragility inspirational. —Clare Martin

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And don’t forget to check out … Adeline: Adi Oasis EP, Andrew W.K.: God Is Partying, Baby Keem: The Melodic Blue, Colleen Green: Cool, Common: A Beautiful Revolution Pt. 2, Deb Never: Where Have All The Flowers Gone EP, Diana Ross: Thank You, Gully Boys: Favorite Son EP, Heartless Bastards: A Beautiful Life, Homeshake: Under the Weather, Jazz Cartier: Fleur Print, J Balvin: Jose, King Krule: You Heat Me Up, You Cool Me Down, Metallica: The Metallica Blacklist, Pokey LaFarge: In The Blossom Of Their Shade, Sarah Davachi: Antiphonals, Slothrust: Parallel Timeline, Spencer.: Are U Down?, The Stranglers: Dark Matters, The Vaccines: Back In Love City, Yebba: Dawn

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