Every Friday, Attendee.com takes a look at some of the week’s best new albums from across the musical spectrum. Whether you need some tunes to unwind with after work or a hot track to play at a party … we’ve got you covered.

Connie Constance — English Rose

English Rose feels like Britain’s answer to SZA’s “Ctrl.” Constance’s songs, like “Blooming in Solitude,” feel genetically attached to SZA’s melancholy bangers, like “Drew Barrymore.” Both albums have a certain kind of subtle swagger to them, but both artists feel deeply vulnerable despite their confidence. However, while American R&B is more influenced by hip-hop, Constance and her English counterparts — Suzi Wu, Westerman, Nilufer Yanya — seem to be impacted by London’s robust electronic and punk histories. The title track is, after all, a sensitive cover of The Jam’s 1978 track English Rose. Many songs on English Rose have similar tone shifts to jungle or dubstep tune, like on “Bloody British Me,” where the song’s production opens with sensitive organs, segways into a breakbeat rhythm while its synths shifting from quaint, echoing pecks to slashing, scuzzed riffs. The end of the song feels like the end to a Tame Impala song. But Constance isn’t all flashes and bangs. She also is deeply sensitive and complex. “Bad Vibes” is a powerful, minimalist ballad that finds her cockney accent yearning for better company. Point being, English Rose is a multifaceted album that relies on the heterogeneous nature of its creator.

 

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Shlohmo — The End

The late cultural theorist Mark Fisher often spoke about the “hauntology” of modern electronic music; which is to say, a “confrontation with a cultural impasse: the failure of the future.” When culture is frozen in a nostalgia-based trance, what is the direction we go in? Is anything new or are we simply gerbils on a wheel of artistic repetitions?Shlohmo, the LA based lo-fi producer, attempts to reconcile this on his latest record. The End has the dreary, exhausted textures of sick computer gasping its last breaths. Since electronic music often feels cheap and marketed, why not go in the complete opposite direction? It’s an album that feels haunted, the title track has dulled trap production set to a freaking creepy glockenspiel riff. Unlike Shlohmo’s previous records, “The End” relies on multiple analog instruments. “Hopeless” might be the first time I’ve heard Shlohmo’s voice before, even if it is just a looped recording of him groaning into a microphone. “Headache of the Year” opens with “Stranger Things”–like synths and crackling glitches before hitting its stride with distorted guitar solos and doom-metal (another hauntology genre) chords. It feels like the soundtrack to the decay of global civilization.

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billy woods — Hiding Places

Sometimes an album’s cover doesn’t match the implications of its title. This is not the case for billy woods’s brooding and frustrated album Hiding Places.The cover is a condemned house that looks like it could have been a drug den. A place where poverty and desperation keeps its secrets from the lavishness of modern urban life. “Spongebob,” the record’s opening track, paints a sonic picture of a decaying neighborhood. At the end of the song, an automatic telephone operator says: “You have 10 dollars, twenty two cents remaining in your account. Please enter the telephone number you wish to dial now.” The New York rapper has always styled his music around an aggressive, filthy aesthetic, but he’s never been this literal. Menacing bass lines, detuned pianos, and guitars that thrash like Albini permeate the production of an album hellbent on destroying SoundCloud rapper hegemony. Despite its performative callousness, Hiding Places has its heart in the right place. The exasperation that woods expresses is not misplaced, and in fact is very much warranted. As gentrification takes its toll on low-income black communities; where will its humanity, its art, its culture be able to exist?

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KÁRYYN — The Quanta Series

KÁRYYN’s formal arrival — as far as the experimental pop community is concerned — has had “Chinese Democracy” levels of anticipation. The difference is that The Quanta Series was well worth the wait. In 2017, she garnered major press coverage despite a very limited sample size. (Queen) Bjӧrk named her as an influence. She collaborated legendary performance artist Marina Abramović. Despite her humble origins, “Born in Alabama. Baptized in Aleppo,” KÁRYYN very quickly entered the upper echelons of the art world. The Quanta Series is the amalgamation of several years of music releases and video projects. As a fully formed album, it’s an absolute stunner and utilizes sound like organic fibers. KÁRYYN is a weaver, threading distance calls and intimate instrumentation into cohesive pop melodies; like on “BINARY,” perfectly fused soundscapes jettison sleeking auros of light swirl like orcas around KÁRYYN’s fluid, Gregorian vocals. Looped whispers are used as supplements for percussion. While some might compare her to Björk, she’s much less visceral. She’s more a chimera of This Mortal Coil and Beyonce; the track “YAJNA” sounds like RISD interpretation of Destiny’s Child. “PURGATORY” is as if Jackson Pollock produced a Sarah McLachlan single. That’s the point, really; KÁRYYN seems to want to make the obtuse more accessible.

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Mdou Moctar — Ilanna (The Creator)


Mdou Moctar began his musical career as a wedding musician and you can tell. His music has a certain celebratory but meditative quality to it. It is the sort of rock music that offers energized reflection. Moctar is a Tuaregian guitarist who hails from Niger, so his music has a psychedelic, Saharan twang. Unlike his first view albums, which sound like they could have been ripped from “Music from Saharan Cellphones,” Ilhana (The Creator) is very straight-to-the-point desert rock n’ roll. (Unsurprisingly, Moctar’s label also released the “Cellphones” compilation.) Songs like “Anna” are mixed to perfection, the hallowed and vibrant vocals blending seamlessly with Moctar’s sharp pentatonic shredding. Despite the high production value, this LP has a hazy quality to it. Songs drift in and out like the shade on a cloudy day: lo-fi mini-explorations like “Takamaba” bleeding into the pristine, bluesy jams of “Takamba.” Ilana (The Creator) picks up where contemporaries like Bombino and Tinariwen left off in 2017–2018, when they brought Tuargian music stateside.   

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Anticipations

 

Yohuna — “Mirroring”

 

“Indie” Pop has always been seen as an obtuse sort of music. Drawn out, overly complicated and elitist. Yohuna makes sonically complex but straightforward pop music that perspires a je ne sais quoi kind of moodiness. It’s clear since her 2016 freshman release, she’s been grinding the midnight oil at the studio. “Mirroring” sounds like a synth pop song with guitar swashes, but it’s somehow entirely comprised of only guitar parts san drums. Despite such investments in its production, “Mirroring” goes for the jugular. It’s two minutes of A-B-A-B bliss.

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Pile — “The Soft Hands of Stephen Miller”

 

“The Soft Hands of Stephen Miller” has a battle axe of a guitar opening. A single thudding chord driven into your skull. It makes sense because lead singer Rick Maguire has to axe to grind. “Usually, it’s difficult for me to concentrate much vitriol on one person, especially one I don’t know personally, but Stephen Miller is the exception,” he said in a press release. The song is a vicious critique of Trump’s snotty and vile advisor Stephen Miller, who has overseen the administration’s immigration policy. So you can thank him for the concentration camps. Left-wing polemicist Alexander Cockburn would ask his staff writers: “Is your hate pure?” Maguire’s certainly is and that’s what makes this punk anthem so rupturous and exhilarating.

Purchase your tickets here to see Pile in Chicago next month.

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