Today’s the first new release Friday in 2023, and here are the best new releases out today—as well as a handful of late entries from last year you should check out.
Iggy Pop – Every Loser
With 2019’s Free, Iggy Pop steered away from the high-octane rock and punk that defined his career for five decades, feeling at times aligned with his late friend and collaborator David Bowie’s Blackstar, though without the dark sense of gravity that carried. Four years later, with Every Loser, Pop moves closer to the echoes of Berlin heard on Post Pop Depression with a bit more garage rock snarl and punk rock attitude. From opening track “Frenzy,” Pop unleashes a foul-mouthed screed that’s as fun as any of his rowdiest post-Stooges material. It’s a solid kickstart to what amounts to some of his most fun material since the ’90s, as well as some of his most good-humored, less concerned with reflection or musical experimentation than simply tearing it up and having a blast. It’s certainly some of the most fun I’ve had listening to an Iggy Pop record in a while.
Nag – Human Coward Coyote
After the frenetic goth-punk of 2021’s Observer (an early 2022 discovery for us), Atlanta’s Nag descend deeper into the more shadowy aspects of their sound, offering a set of deathrock while retaining all of their most jagged edges. With slower tempos and (slightly) longer songs, the group allow a little more space and eerily haunted atmosphere into their post-punk nightmares. Yet they still manage to pull it off in just around 20 minutes—this is punk rock, after all. An excellently abrasive start to the new year.
Frank Ene – Cruel a l’amour
Bay Area artist Frank Ene has played with the likes of Wymond Miles, Warm Soda and The Fresh & Onlys, but as a solo artist his approach leans away from psych jangle, his synth-driven, late-night dirges more aligned with Leonard Cohen’s I’m Your Man or Serge Gainsbourg with a vintage Roland. His smoky rasp lends a certain seedy romanticism to each song, while the bright flashes of synth-melody provide a shimmering contrast, like still-lit neon signs glowing in the stillness of a pre-dawn haze. And while an undercurrent of the more artfully strange side of ’80s pop runs through it, there’s nothing particularly nostalgic about Cruel a l’amour—this kind of aesthetic melancholy is timeless.
Plus a handful of late 2022 albums to hear…
Little Simz – No Thank You
Little Simz proved with 2021’s Sometimes I Might Be Introvert that she’s every bit the artist adept at pulling off something sprawling and conceptual as she is the more gritty and concise rapper heard on 2019’s Grey Area. With the surprise late 2022 release of No Thank You, she offers something in between, not quite as scrappy and immediate as the latter, but considerably more scaled back than the former. Still meditating on identity and biography, Simz does so with fewer grand overtures and more of a soulful approach, the string-laden samples and low-key atmosphere fit for late night spins and deep listening.
MIKE – Beware of the Monkey
MIKE’s music has often carried the unbearable weight of grief, even as its overall charms feel warm, even comforting at times. With Disco! that began to ease up a bit, and with Beware of the Monkey, he feels the most at ease and comfortable simply making some great rap music as he has in years. Songs like “As 4 Me” move with an immediacy and undeniable confidence, while the magnetic “Stop Worry!” includes a guest appearance from dancehall legend Sister Nancy. These are some of MIKE’s most fully realized songs, less fragmented and more richly soulful—and without extending the track lengths all that much. Ten albums into his career, MIKE’s hectic pace doesn’t relent, but his strengths as both a producer and emcee only continue to grow.
Augenwasser – The Big Swim
The third album by Swiss artist Augenwasser is our Album of the Week. In our review of The Big Swim, we said, “Augenwasser’s turns at oddball folk and space-age pop jam sessions have given way to a more romantic and sleek late-night synth-pop reminiscent of a slightly more hedonistic The Blue Nile and all the rain-streaked windshields reflecting oncoming headlight glare that might entail.” It probably goes without saying, but it’s currently our favorite new album.
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Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.