5 Albums Worth Your Time That Dropped Today
Posted: by The Editor
Late July is, somewhat arbitrarily, a limbo period for music releases. At this point in the year, most of the Summer Albums have already dropped, and despite the bundle of great records we always get in mid-late August, most press and label energy is being spent gearing up for the always-fertile fall. But of course sweeping observations about the music industry at large aren’t all-encompassing.
Here are five albums that dropped today (7/27) that buck statistical engagement trends by just plain ripping, regardless of their playlistability. Ewgh. Wash out that foul industry jargon with one (or all) of these records—and on the double!
Clearance—At Your Leisure
At Your Leisure is as much a directive as it is a musical mantra. The sophomore record from Chicago’s Clearance is a half-hour of Sunday morning post-punk songs that neither linger nor express any dire concern about getting a move on. In that sense, the album falls somewhere between the yawny, even more tired after the nap sensibility of Sunbathing Animal-era Parquet Courts, and the brisk yet casual stride of Pavement. The latter is worth referencing for the uninitiated, but also the easiest and laziest comparison to make about Clearance’s music—which is neither easy nor lazy. At Your Leisure is mostly sub-three-minute pop songs that jitter, jangle, and bend themselves without ever losing their initial shape. It’s an album that sounds like it was made and meant for consumption during leisure, by musicians who spend their leisure getting really good at playing rock music. It’s a tough one to write about because writing is work, and this one’s for those precious moments when you completely forget work exists.
Mathew Lee Cothran—my first love mends my final days
In 2017 Mathew Lee Cothran, the man behind Coma Cinema and one-half of Elvis Depressedly, concluded the Coma Cinema project with one of its best installments, Loss Memory. But earlier in the year he quietly released his first full-length under his own name, titled judas hung himself in america. The eight-track album was as dark and mysterious as anything he ever made, so much so that it didn’t sound particularly distinguishable from any given Coma Cinema release—despite his assertion that it was a completely separate musical venture. my first love mends my final days is the second eponymous release of his, but it’s the first to sound radically different from any of his previous endeavors. Synth-pop opener “naomi y” features lead vocals from fellow Asheville, NC artist Indigo De Souza, Cothran douses his voice with auto-tune on “little more time,” and he uses distorted guitar on “soul removal (river phoenix)” and “ain’t going nowhere” to reach a volume Coma Cinema never did. It’s one of the most beautiful and heartbroken (which is a feat, considering how dismal his lyrics have been since the beginning) projects he’s ever released, which is a testament to livelihood of his career nearly ten years in.
Tony Molina—Kill The Lights
Tony Molina has a 60’s, Beatles-esque sway to his one-and-a-half minute pop numbers. Kill The Lights, his latest offering, is akin to classic-minded contemporaries like Mo Troper and Kevin Morby, but with the musical palette of someone who’s heard every single Guided By Voices song. Dusky folk-pop may be his sweet spot, but Molina plunks down a bar anthem, a couple mournful psych-rock solos, and a swift highway rocker or two to offset the prettiness. Every song is just as long as it needs to be, and the lack of bulk is refreshing like a break in the shade on a hot summer stroll. Pop your earbuds in and do just that, because that’s how this record is meant to be heard.
Thin Lips—Chosen Family
Thin Lips’ Chosen Family is another great addition to the latest wave of anti-Warped Tour-ian pop-punk. That is, bands playing catchy-as-hell pop-rock that rallies against the bro-centric narrative that long-defined the genre. Songwriter Chrissy Tashjian also plays in Hop Along, and Chosen Family has the ambition and tightness of Bark Your Head Off Dog, the punk immediacy of Illuminati Hotties or Remember Sports, and the lyrical bite of Camp Cope. Like the title of their 2016 debut, Thin Lips riff hard on Chosen Family, but it’s the clever vocal alterations, bombastic harmonies, and knotty arrangements that set them apart within the scene’s legitimate renaissance.
AJJ continue their reign as the masters of self-deprecating folk-punk on Ugly Spiral. It’s a compilation of new, old, and alternate songs that’s a gift to both fans and tangential followers. Few bands can drop a record full of b-sides that sound like essential listens for stans and semi-fans alike, but everything AJJ have been putting out since 2016’s The Bible 2 has been career rejuvenating. It’s been impressive to see them balance their lo-fi folk origins with their new interest in synth-driven rock outbursts, a stylistic dynamic that most songwriters would execute clumsily. But Sean Bonnette can sing, “I’m not that big of a fan of Brian Wilson / my favorite Beach Boys songs are written by Charles Manson,” and garner a smirk from both sides of the aisle. AJJ’s charm is only ripening with age, and we should consider ourselves lucky to be there for it.
Eli Enis | @eli_enis
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