It’s a new year, and after only five days, new music is already starting to trickle in. This week’s list of essential new albums is perhaps abbreviated, but it won’t stay that way for long—after all, our list of the most anticipated albums of winter is pretty stacked with great new albums on the way. The best new releases out this week include the latest from one of our favorite bands of the past decade, a debut from a buzzy Dublin band, and a compilation from a prolific electronic producer.
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Sprints – Letter to Self
Dublin post-punk outfit Sprints make their debut with the intense, driving Letter to Self, following a handful of strong EPs and singles with a fully realized statement that showcases their immediacy and versatility. Vocalist Karla Chubb is at once commanding and brooding, a dark ringleader for the group’s circus of abrasion, her tense delivery often rising up into a full-throated scream. In their best moments, the group is reminiscent of Savages at their most feral, or a supremely pissed off Dry Cleaning, kicking off 2024 with a dose of energy and adrenaline.
Pile – Hot Air Balloon
Pile’s new EP Hot Air Balloon, which comprises material recorded during the sessions for last year’s All Fiction, is our Album of the Week. In our review of the album, we said, “each piece spiritually connected to those on the band’s prior full-length as well as showcasing the depth and maturity of their songwriting after a career spent honing their barnburners into songs with a greater sense of nuance and atmosphere.”
Kinoteki – Faith and the Vessel
New York producer Kinoteki has built up a sizable catalog of rhythmically complex recordings over the past six years, his sixth album in just three years arriving this week with Faith and the Vessel. An atmospheric but lively hybrid of IDM, footwork and bass, Faith and the Vessel has a hauntological but ecstatic quality, merging the ethereal with the corporeal. Certain moments, like “BB/Heart+Soul”, can feel like Burial played on 45, but by and large Faith and the Vessel is a splendid showcase for Kinoteki’s imaginative and tuneful approach to beat-driven urgency.
Skee Mask – C
One of the most consistently creative figures in techno and IDM right now, Berlin’s Skee Mask has been releasing compilations of previously unreleased material made between 2016 and the present, first with A in 2022 and then B last year. C, naturally, follows, and despite the odds-and-sods assortment of material, what’s here is remarkably rich and interesting. Given that his last album, 2021’s Pool, was a triple album, it’s astonishing how much was left on the cutting room floor, but even more astonishing is just how strong so much of that material is, whether the sedate groove of “Bassline Dub,” the space-age pulse of “Keygruv,” the subtle brooding of “Aktif Garbon” or the bass heavy thumps of “Minitx.” And to sweeten the deal, he’s released it as a name-your-own-price download.
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.