Best New Releases, April 14: Feist, Jesus Piece, and more

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The music event that’s sucking up all the air in the room today is the beginning of the first of two Coachella weekends, but there’s a lot happening outside the polo fields in Indio today. There’s a lot of great new music hitting record store shelves and digital providers, including the highly anticipated return of a Canadian singer/songwriter great, an encore performance from another favorite singer/songwriter, the leveling up of a powerhouse hardcore band, an outstanding hip-hop team-up and more. Here are this week’s best new releases.

best new releases Feist

Feist – Multitudes

Leslie Feist has never been anything less than an author of beautifully affecting songs, and at times even those that rise to the level of an honest pop hit, as “1 2 3 4” did 15 years ago. Multitudes most certainly has its share of the former, such as the gentle, acoustic ballads “Forever Before” and “Love Who We Are Meant To.” But on her fifth album, Feist also explores more richly arranged and sometimes wonderfully odd pieces such as the electronic warbles of “I Took All My Rings Off,” the subtle orchestral beauty of “Become the Earth,” or the majestic art rock of “Borrow Trouble.” With six-year gaps between her last three albums, the release of a new Feist album always seems to feel like the beginning of a new era, and Multitudes is one worth welcoming with open arms.

Listen/Buy: Bandcamp | Merchbar (vinyl)

Jesus Piece So Unknown
Century Media

Jesus Piece – …So Unknown

Five years after their bruising debut album Only Self, Philadelphia hardcore outfit Jesus Piece make a crushing return on …So Unknown, a crushing 27 minutes of brutal riffs, menacing atmosphere and top-notch songwriting. As they’ve made the transition to a bigger label (Century Media), they’ve brought with them an even greater ambition. In our review of the album, Elliot Burr said, “There are sheer volumes of noise, claustrophobia, unpredictability and apprehension, although it feels more eager than fearful; it’s never long before the band jumpstarts you into another mosh-ready passage.” Yep, it’s a ripper.

Listen/Buy: Spotify | Merchbar (vinyl)

best new releases Black Thought
Big Crown

El Michels Affair & Black Thought – Glorious Game

Last year Black Thought delivered a stellar full-length album, Cheat Codes, that found him matched by a fitting producer foil in Danger Mouse. And fresh off that best-of-year collaboration, Tariq Trotter is once again in good company with his new team-up with El Michels Affair, Glorious Game. Black Thought, a perennially dynamic emcee whatever the circumstances, is given an immersive, analog, psychedelic soul backing from Michels, soaking these 12 tracks in more of a surrealist atmosphere. It’s rich fodder for headphones and hifi alike, as much about bars as it is hypnotic ambience.

Listen/Buy: Bandcamp | Merchbar (vinyl)

Angel Olsen new EP Forever Means

Angel Olsen – Forever Means

Angel Olsen’s been making a habit of following up her major releases with an encore of sorts (with All Mirrors she did it twice, first with the stripped-down Whole New Mess and the ’80s covers EP Aisles). And so it goes with Forever Means, the 16-minute follow-up to last year’s stunning, country-influenced Big Time. The four-song set is a bit less grand but no less luxurious than those on the LP that preceded it, with a surprisingly eclectic set of sounds covered here, from saxophone-accented balladry (title track), shimmery new wave (“Time Bandits”) and a climactic rock anthem (“Holding On”). Given the aesthetic mode of Olsen’s stunning previous album, it’s perfectly understandable why these didn’t end up on the tracklist, but it’s by no means a question of quality. As this proves, as did 2017’s Phases, Olsen’s emerged as an artist for whom the b-sides and outtakes are just as impressive as the hits.

Listen/Buy: Bandcamp | Turntable Lab (vinyl)

Voidceremony threads of unknowing
20 Buck Spin

VoidCeremony – Threads of Unknowing

California death metal group VoidCeremony made their debut in 2020 with Entropic Reflections Continuum: Dimensional Unravel. Which, if you didn’t guess based on the title, comprises a half-hour of progressive, technically proficient death metal with a yen for sci-fi conceptualism. Threads of Unknowing builds on that foundation with an intricate and knottier set of riffs and spacescapes, the group’s chops sharpened and songwriting sensibility even stronger amid structures that feel at times like roller coaster rides, particularly on the epic 11-minute closer “Forlorn Portrait: Ruins of an Ageless Slumber.” It might take a few listens to crack its code, but Threads of Unknowing is a rewarding even as it overwhelms.

Listen/Buy: Bandcamp | Merchbar (vinyl)

Penelope Trappes Heavenly Spheres
Nite Hive

Penelope Trappes – Heavenly Spheres

In describing the process of making her new album Heavenly Spheres, Australian-born, UK-based artist Penelope Trappes says she went on “psychedelic walks” and “channeled ghosts on tape.” Both of which are apt descriptions of the beautifully otherworldly music she makes on her fourth album, a sparse and chilling set of pieces that reflects both the solitude in which the record was made and what imagination can do to fill the darkest corners of that open space Heavenly Spheres was made primarily through voice, piano and old reel-to-reel equipment, and the result is something that feels at once ageless and ancient, like spirit photography captured in sound. Artists like Grouper and Tim Hecker come to mind while listening to this album, though Trappes’ style is her own uniquely furnished haunted house, stark and sublime.

Listen/Buy: Bandcamp

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