Editor’s Note: Do you think we “missed” an album this week? Click here.
Each month, we always seem to come to the same conclusion when it comes to our Editors’ Picks column: Friday release days open the floodgates and unleash a seemingly endless stream of quality new music. But while some of our Editors and Contributors sit down gleefully each week to dive into this newly stocked treasure trove, others find themselves drawing a blank at the end of the month due to the breakneck pace needed to keep up to date with what’s been released. Which brings us to this Heavy Blog PSA: a weekly roundup of new albums which pares down the week’s releases to only our highest recommendations. Here you’ll find full album/single streams, pre-order links and, most importantly, a collection of albums that could very well earn a spot on your year-end list. Enjoy!
Bokassa – Molotov Rocktail (hard rock, stoner punk)
As hyped as I was on Bokassa’s first album (which I swear I wrote about once?), their second album, 2019’s Crimson Riders, never clicked with me. I don’t know why, but even though that record is packed from back to front with massive, anthemic hooks, none of the songs, outside of “Captain Cold One” ever stuck with me. Conversely, each and every song on Molotov Rocktail has been stuck in my head since the moment I heard them (which was a couple of months ago now), and still haven’t worn out their welcome.
With their third record, the Norwegian “stoner punks” lean fully into the melodic side of their sound, to great effect. If the new Don Broco album wasn’t coming out in a couple of weeks I’d be ready to declare “Careless (In the Age of Altruism)” hands down the best chorus of the year, and the rest of the record isn’t far behind. There is one glaring let down on the album, however, which is the unfortunately titled “Pitchforks’R’Us”. The song itself is decent enough, but its lyrical attack on “cancel culture” is not only misguided but pretty amateurish and insubstantial as well. This lone drawback aside, Molotov Rocktail remains one of the most fun and uplifting records of the year, while showcasing some strong musical development from the much touted power trio.
See Also: Fierce Deity – Power Wisdom Courage (groovy psychedelic stoner metal); Legend of Zelda-themed “stoner power metal” that sounds more like Spiritual Beggars on psychedelics with Zakk Wylde on guitar.
Closet Disco Queen & The Flying Raclettes – Omelette Du Fromage (instrumental prog, noise rock)
I’ve been following Closet Disco Queen‘s Luc Hess & Jonathan Nido since their days with The Ocean. It was a sad day when I found out they left the band, marking the end of the most consistent lineup the band had ever seen during which time they released three peak quality albums.
If you’re like me, and you’ve checked out their output since 2014, that part hasn’t been disappointing at all. With Louis Jucker, also a former The Ocean member, they formed Coilguns, and Hess and Jucker also formed Kunz (and Red Kunz, with two members of Red Fang). A bunch of wildly different projects, from each other and The Ocean, with a few more I haven’t mentioned. All to say that it’s worth checking out these guys at anything they do, and they don’t seem to be slowing down.
Closet Disco Queen is their most progressive project, and this newest album was recorded in collaboration with Kevin Galland & Chadi Messmer, who are billed here as The Flying Raclettes. The quartet of Swiss musicians was brought together and provided space in an abandoned school by the Palp Festival and recorded an instrumental adventure loosely (or not) inspired by a Dexter’s Laboratory episode. I’ll leave that last part open to interpretation…
Last Week’s Album of the Week: Straytones – Magic Green River Swimmin’ & Stunning Tarzanka Experience (garage rock, heavy psych)
Little Simz – Sometimes I Might Be Introvert (UK hip-hop, conscious hip-hop)
Look, I don’t want to make this blurb all about the fact Little Simz is a woman operating in a male-dominated genre. After all, Grey Area (2019) is one of my favorite hip-hop albums of the last several years, regardless of gender, style, or location. That said, she joins emcees like Noname and Sa-Roc as the torchbearers for a new wave of women proving they can make a statement about gender in hip-hop without letting it define them completely. Yes, they all talk about issues of toxic masculinity and misogyny in hip-hop, but they’re also fantastic lyricists with great presence on the mic, regardless of the topic at hand. Based on the lead singles, Sometimes I Might Be Introvert only continues that trend.
TRNA – Istok (blackgaze, post-metal)
Saint Petersburg based Trna have been a valuable commodity over the past five years for listeners wanting the smothering melancholy of blackgaze, without the potentially isolating harsh vocals. Their ability to conjure that snowy, bleak atmosphere without the addition of wailing black metal vocals is a relatively rare sight these days, but it offers a shortcut into the genre for those perhaps coming from non-extreme metal backgrounds such as post-rock or shoegaze. You’re still getting the heavier extremes on the drumming side, with plenty of blast beats and enigmatic fills, as well as rich textural distortion from the guitars.
As in most blackgaze it’s the melodic sensibilities that make a band stand out or not, and for me, Trna have always excelled at this. There’s a frequent ebb and flow of the dark and light, like a harsh snow squall blanketing the skies, before the clouds break and thin rays of sun begin to pierce through in heavenly, optimistic exuberance. Not too unlike post-rock, their song structures use these dips and valleys to stretch out tension with layering and repetition. They at times hit that jovialness of a Sunbather with uplifting tracks like “Shining” featuring the lone vocals on the album, a guest appearance from one of the better modern black metal bands out there right now – Gaerea. All in all, there should be a lot here to entertain fans of blackgaze and black metal, as well as post-rock and even shoegaze, in what is one of the stronger instrumental metal albums of the year.
See also: Nuummite – Celestial Triarchy (post-metal, blackgaze)