Best New Releases, February 2: J Mascis, Burial, and more

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J Mascis

February’s here and so are the new releases. What initially seemed like it might be a slower start to the month has turned out to be a pretty fertile week for new music. Of course any release day with new records from Burial and J Mascis will do that, but in addition we’ve got some amazing indie up-and-comers, a post-hardcore veteran, a stunning jazz record, one of the most intense metal albums we’ve heard this year, and more. Check out our picks for this week’s best new releases.

Sub Pop

J Mascis – What Do We Do Now

Since the release of 2007’s Beyond, Dinosaur Jr. has been on an active streak that hasn’t let up in 17 years. But for the moment, frontman J Mascis is taking a moment to focus on his own solo material—which, to be fair, isn’t that far removed from what he does with his full-time band, just with acoustic guitars and pianos. From the standout opener “Can’t Believe We’re Here,” Mascis is in top form on What Do We Do Now, delivering lush, laid back and just a little bit folksy indie rock that reverberate with the folkier side of ’70s Neil Young. Folks, J’s still got it. More on this one soon.

Listen at Bandcamp
Buy at Amazon (vinyl)


meth. – Shame

Chicago’s meth. introduced themselves as an outstanding mathcore group on their 2019 debut Mother of Red Light, but they’ve evolved into something much more complex and intense. Infusing a greater degree of noise-rock grind into their vicious approach while delivering deeply personal emotional exorcisms, Shame isn’t for the faint of heart. It is, however, awesome, and one of the first truly outstanding metal albums of the year (which is already having a pretty good year, for what it’s worth). The group carve out weaponized sonic textures that shriek and sear, and the experience grows more harrowing throughout the duration of the album. It’s terrifying and uncompromising—it’s amazing. We’ll have more on meth. soon.

Listen at Bandcamp
Buy at Amazon (vinyl)


Vijay Iyer/Linday May Han Oh/Tyshawn Sorey – Compassion

After collaborating with Arooj Aftab and Shahzad Ismaily on last year’s outstanding Love In Exile, jazz pianist Vijay Iyer reconvenes with bassist Linda May Han Oh and drummer Tyshawn Sorey for their follow-up to 2021’s Uneasy. Compassion is gorgeous and intricate, with songs inspired by social justice as well as a unique take on Stevie Wonder’s “Overjoyed.” It’s in moments such as “Maelstrom” and “Tempest” where the trio shines brightest, balancing a quiet intensity with darker atmospheric textures. At its core, this is a jazz trio album in the classic sense, but there’s very little about Compassion that feels traditional. We’ll have more on this one soon.

Listen at Spotify
Buy at Amazon (vinyl)

best new releases - Liquid Mike

Liquid Mike – Paul Bunyan’s Sling Shot

Michigan power pop group Liquid Mike have released at one new record per year since 2021, when they released their debut Stuntman. They’ve evolved a bit since then—they’re a little a little less pop punk, a little more rock. But on Paul Bunyan’s Sling Shot, the hooks are exactly where they need to be: front and center. If the indie offerings this year haven’t quite been catchy enough for your tastes, then we’ve got good news for you: Liquid Mike deliver the goods. Paul Bunyan’s Sling Shot is big, crunchy, catchy-as-hell power pop with more than a little grunge in its DNA, and the kind of songs that’ll end up on repeat in your regular rotation.

Listen/Buy at Bandcamp

best new releases - J Robbins

J. Robbins – Basilisk

Following a couple rounds of Jawbox reunion tours and a debut solo album in 2019, J. Robbins offers up his sophomore release with Basilisk, a more pop-driven indie rock record that still carries a lot of the intricate details and dynamism of his post-hardcore past. Songs like “Exquisite Corpse” showcase his dexterous ability to balance instrumental prowess with nuanced arrangements but impossible-to-ignore hooks. And moments like “Last War” could fit in comfortably on either of his records with Burning Airlines. But moments emerge throughout that find Robbins incorporating more surprising elements, like a heavier dose of synths throughout, and a moody blanket of Rhodes piano on “Not the End.” It’s one of Robbins’ most rewarding projects in years, a great set of songs that builds on an already great catalog with a balance of abrasion and immediacy that have become his signature.

Listen/Buy at Bandcamp

best new releases Ariel Kalma
International Anthem

Ariel Kalma, Jeremiah Chiu, Marta Sofia Honer – The Closest Thing to Silence

Jeremiah Chiu and Marta Sofia Honer’s previous collaboration, Recordings from the Åland Islands, found the two electronic musicians crafting ambient pieces around field recordings from an autonomous archipelago off the coast of Finland. Their follow-up to that collection finds them working with French artist Ariel Kalma, a new age veteran with a body of work that dates back to the mid-’70s, in creating a set of progressive electronic pieces that swirl woodwinds around synth arpeggios in a harmonious fusion between electronic and organic sounds. Though it’s often soothing, this isn’t ambient music—it’s interesting but never ignorable, each piece radiating energy and riding a vibration that connects Terry Riley to Klaus Schulze to Emeralds. Gorgeous, animated yet understated, and a wonderful set of compositions all around.

Listen at Bandcamp
Buy at Amazon (vinyl)

Burial new EP Dreamfear

Burial – Dreamfear/Boy Sent From Above

Since the release of 2007’s Untrue, Burial’s only released EPs or singles, though that’s steadily built up into a pretty ample set of tracks, and an increasingly unpredictable set of directions. Following his recent foray into more ambient soundscapes, the UK producer cranks up the energy again on his latest 12-inch single (out digitally now, vinyl out next week) which finds him offering up an intense, high-energy set of breakbeats on the A-side, while the B-side feels a little more connected to Burial’s ghostly, soulful productions from years before, albeit with a bit more electro synth. Though early leaks found some fans a little befuddled, the new EP is an excellent addition to a continuously evolving canon, with a welcome B12 shot at that.

Listen at Spotify
Buy at Turntable Lab (vinyl)

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