The following are some of the releases we’re most excited for, but it is not a comprehensive list. There are just too many awesome releases to cover all of them! To take a look at available new releases, click HERE.
Deftones – Ohms
Available on LP and CD!
Deftones’ vocal force Chino Moreno has a habit of retrospectively reassessing the band’s albums. He reportedly revealed that 2006’s Saturday Night Wrist has since become unlistenable, citing his own lack of confidence. Of 2016’s Gore – the predecessor to this ninth studio release – he accepted a lack of shared direction within the band. In response, it’s not surprising then that ‘Ohms’ presents itself with such clarity, speaking of rebirth and balance in its opening track, and returning production duties to Terry Date – the man behind Deftones’ widely celebrated initial quartet of powerhouse releases.
Date’s production brilliantly re-establishes the rawness that underpinned his previous works, marrying it with the musical unpredictability that Deftones have spent the best part of three decades making their own, and delivering a fresh assuredness within the carefully crafted tension between brutality and fragility. If any of Deftones’ previous records are guilty of lacking focus (you decide), Ohms is certainly safe from future vitriol.
In a pandemic-free world, Meath and Sanborn — the musical duo now beloved as Sylvan Esso — would soon be trotting out their third album, Free Love, to massive festival crowds around the world. Instead, they’re Zooming from Durham today (Meath from their home, Sanborn from his car in a parking lot several miles away, en route back from their studio) and plotting their most DIY rollout since 2014… Free Love is somehow prescient and nostalgic in the same breath. It traffics in intimacy and self-preservation in the face of opening oneself up to love.
Part of Sylvan Esso’s draw is uncompromising pop music presented as pop music, but pop music that doesn’t talk down to its listeners. The duo also willingly offer multiple points of entry. They beckon to fans who want to dance, and they warmly embrace folk devotees looking for contemplative and nuanced songwriting that doesn’t pander. At first glance, their songs could seem straightforward, with recurring themes of love, intimacy, friendship, solitude, and breaking conventions. Listeners who approach them on that level alone will find plenty to be thrilled with. But those looking to dig deeper will find Meath’s tongue-twisting choruses (“Sainted halo, underworld goth vibes/You’ll do fine/For tonight,” Meath sings on “Ferris Wheel”), which walk hand-in-hand with Sanborn’s vibrant, supportive production.
For a band that’s leveled up with every release, it’d be too low-hanging a fruit to say the sky’s the limit for Sylvan Esso. The arenas will (god-willing) still be there next year, though. For them, right now, success is in the small things. Success is in learning the other’s language and using it to grow. Success is building upon an expanding legacy. Success is never compromising for the sake of a win. Success is making one of the year’s most resonant, warm, necessary albums.
Prince – Sign O’ the Times (Deluxe Remastered Editions)
Available on standard and deluxe CD and LP!
Ultimately, this set isn’t concerned with what-might’ve-beens. It’s more about making Prince’s ambitious, magnificent masterpiece even grander. It does this by including over a dozen songs that never appeared on any of the nascent versions of Sign O’ The Times. While much of the material earmarked for Camille and Crystal Ball was released commercially in Prince’s lifetime, a healthy chunk of Dream Factory hasn’t been widely heard outside of bootlegs. And even people who’ve illegally downloaded bootlegs of Dream Factory—a record that went through several iterations before it was scrapped altogether—never got a copy that included some of these new songs, like the bouncy ’70s-style AM pop ditty “Everybody Want What They Don’t Got” or the sweetly swinging ballad “Adonis And Bathsheba.” Both of them have a playfulness and grace that exemplify what that album was aiming to be.
Like Neil Young, Stevie Wonder, Brian Wilson, and many of pop music’s other legendary studio rats, Prince conditioned himself to converse through song, turning whatever was going through his head on any given day into music… and then recording it right away, while the feeling was fresh. The Sign O’ The Times special edition contains fully arranged, performed, and produced songs—thrilling ones, too, like the ecstatic call-and-response jumper “When The Dawn Of The Morning Comes”—that Prince stuck in his vaunted Vault and never revisited. He tossed releasable music aside, knowing he could make more.
Public Enemy – What You Gonna Do When the Grid Goes Down?
Available on LP and CD!
When news arrived last month that Public Enemy had re-signed to Def Jam Records – a cultural institution that they helped build with the likes of LL Cool J and the Beastie Boys – hip-hop fans got excited, and rightfully so. Back on the label that helped turn them into cult heroes, the radical rap group, whose current lineup consists of Chuck D, Flavor Flav and DJ Lord, also announced What You Gonna Do When The Grid Goes Down?, a new album made up of fresh material and a few recycled tracks from 2017’s Nothing Is Quick In The Desert.
The world is in a disorderly state – whether because of COVID-19, the killings of unarmed Black men and women at the hands of police, or voting controversies surrounding the upcoming US election – and often people find themselves hopping online to make sense of it. We’re in an age where the internet is king but fake news runs circles around the less informed like a digital Wild West.
The group’s 15th studio album is somewhat of a party in the face of disaster. They call upon pals like Cypress Hill, George Clinton, Ice-T, Nas, and Black Thought of The Roots to join the fight. But owing to their return to Def Jam, there’s one collaboration that shouts louder than most.
With help from Run-DMC and former Def Jam label mates Mike D and Ad-Rock of the Beastie Boys, the group take a trip down memory lane on ‘Public Enemy Number Won’. Complete with the Bomb Squad’s galvanising sample flip of Fred Wesley and The J.B.’s ‘Blow Your Head’, the group rework their classic 1987 track ‘Public Enemy No.1’ while toasting to their success and longevity in an industry quick to chew up its inhabitants and spit them out. Lord knows, they’ve earned it.
Still bringing the noise after being in the game for over 30 years, ‘What You Gonna Do When The Grid Goes Down?’ is Public Enemy’s best effort since 1998’s ‘He Got Game’. Continuing to hold leaders accountable in a time when it’s truly needed, the group’s fearless expressions of truth sound right at home pinned to a jet-fuelled backdrop of rip-roaring beats that hammer your eardrums and capture everything hip-hop should stand for.
Idles don’t care what you think. Or at least they don’t care what you think about them. Or they care enough to make sure you know theydon’t care. After a couple stunning punk albums (most notably 2018’s Joy As an Act of Resistance), the band found their natural backlash. It seems that Joe Talbot isn’t Joe Strummer (as if that’s what anyone was looking for), and rage and defiance are still subject to particular codes. IDLES, though, don’t have much to say to that, except to put out another furious album, expanding the scope of their protest while maintaining their wry view of the world for Ultra Mono.
The opener, “War”, goes to battle against war. Talbot vocalizes the sounds of destruction, naming them for us, as the band throws us into a sort of post-hardcore battle zone. The album doesn’t relent much; Idles move from opening salvo to energetic struggles, pausing just enough to march at a quick pace. “Do you hear that thunder? / That’s the sound of strength in numbers,” Talbot sings on “Grounds”. It’s the sort of rallying cry that draws fans and detractors, but its effectiveness lies in its sincere enthusiasm.
Idles know how hard it is out there, now more than ever, but that’s all the more reason for raised fists and unceasing resistance. Last time they did it joyfully, and before that, they did it brutally. Now those elements come together, whether for a fight or a moment of gratitude.
Just last year, Bob Mould was happy. He named a whole album Sunshine Rock, of all things. Can you imagine? A veteran purveyor of emotions ranging from pissed-off to angsty to deeply tortured was, after all these years, looking on the bright side. Of course, you could already get the sense from interviews that Mould had aged gracefully, finding some modicum of peace and exuding a warmer, more reflective persona than the pricklier reputation expected of him in past decades. And it’s not like he was lost in the clouds at the same time — when I interviewed him last year, he talked about old Hüsker Dü material like “In A Free Land” feeling, sadly, just as relevant in Trump’s America as it was in Reagan’s. He had plenty to say about the precarious state of the world, and maybe you could sense he would soon do that in song.
That brings us to Blue Hearts, arriving a mere 17 months after Sunshine Rock and yet existing on the extreme opposite side of Mould’s songwriting. Bob Mould is angry again. Righteously, volcanically angry. It’s good to have that version of him back.
Maybe a non-stop political screed from Mould would be, on some level, welcome on its own. And, sure enough, songs like “American Crisis” and “Forecast Of Rain” provide catharsis as much as they remind you that you should be very angry right now, that none of us can afford to become complacent. But ultimately, the album feels born from a place of compassion, the outpouring of an aging man who has seen cycles of trauma and history play out, but never quite like this before. For all the global and national levels on display across Blue Hearts, Mould’s biggest gut-punches come when he articulates the personal loss that occurs in tumultuous times.