The deeper we get into 2024, the more each New Music Friday is stacked with good stuff, and this week’s proof of that much. Among this week’s essential listens are both this week’s Album of the Week and last week’s Album of the Week (we got a little ahead of ourselves, but hey, what’s wrong with a little early enthusiasm?), plus the return of some indie rock MVPs, a phenomenal new jazz record, a box set from some underrated Chicago innovators and some epic, sludgy metal.
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Sleater-Kinney – Little Rope
The opening tension and roar of “Hell,” the first song on Sleater-Kinney’s 11th album Little Rope, offers the kind of explosive burst that reminds listeners just what kind of power and presence the band has at their absolute best. Though they’ve undergone some significant changes in recent years, parting ways with longtime drummer Janet Weiss and even including the presence of bass (?!) on Path of Wellness, Little Rope feels in many ways like a re-centering, even if it’s the product of emotional turmoil and grief, the likes of which permeates the album even at its most energizing. It’s somber and sobering listen even at its punchiest, and we’ll have more on this one soon.
Listen at Bandcamp
Buy at Amazon (vinyl)
glass beach – plastic death
The sophomore album by Los Angeles’ glass beach is an overwhelming and head-spinning experience, doubling down on the indie rock group’s progressive rock influences for something both virtuosic and visionary. It’s currently our Album of the Week. In our review of the album, we said, “It’s at once focused and pulled in countless directions; that sounds like an oxymoron, but glass beach’s muse follows a logical flight path, no matter how much of the map they might cover.”
Slift – Ilion
The first Sub Pop release from France’s sludgy space-rock outfit Slift is a sprawling odyssey full of epic rippers, and fits in neatly with the label’s long legacy of unique, heavy releases. It was recently our Album of the Week, and in our review of the album, we said, “Deceptively massive in its sound for being the work of a trio, Ilion filters the influence of Joseph Campbell and Homer’s Odyssey into eight sprawling tracks that waste precious little space in their seemingly limitless expanse.”
Mary Halvorson – Cloudward
Guitarist Mary Halvorson has been one of the most prolific jazz artists of the 21st century, having released or collaborated on dozens of albums over the past 20 years (including one that made our best jazz albums of 2022 list). Cloudward, true to its name, finds the guitarist creating heady and hallucinatory avant-garde jazz compositions with a number of collaborators that includes frequent collaborator Tomas Fujiwara on drums, Patricia Brennan on vibraphone, and even the legendary Laurie Anderson. Cloudward is a stellar early peak in jazz for 2024.
Lord Dying – Clandestine Transcendence
Portland’s sludge metal titans return after a five-year interval with Clandestine Transcendence, their longest album to date after ratcheting up the ambition and scope of their sound on 2019’s Mysterium tremendum. Clandestine Transcendence continues along that record’s path of progressive metal questing via a pathway paved in thick, murky sludge. The riffs haven’t gone anywhere—they’re as nasty and burly as ever. But the group’s sense of epic grandeur only continues to expand.
90 Day Men – We Blame Chicago
Between the late ’90s and early ’00s, Chicago’s 90 Day Men built a unique and strange sonic world of their own that yielded three great and increasingly more experimental records before their split—evolving from intricate math-rock to something more wildly psychedelic. Though underrated in their time, the group’s members only continued to build on that legacy, including Brian Case’s current band FACS and Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe’s electronic and film score work. We Blame Chicago compiles the band’s complete catalog, including rare and unreleased material, all of which is well worth exploring. Though it’s still in the stark elegance of records such as 2002’s To: Everybody where 90 Day Men’s intricate glory is at its best. We’ll have more on this one soon.
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.