Another week, another batch of new releases to check out. As we sink into the middle of the year, with summer festivals and tours in full swing, the release schedule once again ebbs a bit, but even if some of the biggest blockbusters are being saved for later this fall, there’s a lot of great stuff to dive into today, including some pastoral acoustic beauty, lo-fi punk, evocative doom metal and more. Check out the must-hear releases of the week.
Hayden Pedigo – The Happiest Times I Ever Ignored
Back in 2021, Hayden Pedigo told us that he makes a point to “never put anything out that’s half-assed.” Which is a humble way of saying his style of instrumental acoustic guitar music, heavy on American primitivist influence, is pristine and meticulous. The Happiest Times I Ever Ignored is intricate but uncluttered, evocative and beautiful—even soothing. His fingerstyle guitar playing lends itself to a certain atmospheric, wide-open beauty that immediately conjures picturesque images of the great expanse of the west. But it’s also, simply, beautiful music played by one guy with a guitar, and that sort of thing never loses its appeal.
Sweeping Promises – Good Living Is Coming For You
Lawrence, Kansas duo Sweeping Promises built up a lot of buzz with their debut release, 2021’s Hunger For a Way Out, and on their sophomore album—which is currently our Album of the Week—they continue to find thrilling avenues of exploration in their lo-fi punk rock approach. In our review of the album, Elliot Burr said, “Continuing to embrace the art of making music for the pure joy it brings its creators, this just so happens to capture the intricate and rustic beauty of the lo-fi recording process too, with resulting earworms aplenty.”
Divide and Dissolve – Systemic
Australian doom metal duo Divide and Dissolve return with Systemic, their follow-up to 2021’s Gas Lit, which continues their exploration of dismantling systems of oppression and colonialism through purely emotional, instrumental sounds rather than more explicit lyrical addresses. It immediately scans as one of their most eclectic and affecting sets of music, juxtaposing massive squalls of doom against disorienting loops, mournful saxophone ambience and thornier noise rock exercises. As a live band, the group overwhelms with sound in a thrilling and cleansing way, but there’s more space between the eruptions here, more reflection and beauty within the din. They only keep getting better.
Joanna Sternberg – I’ve Got Me
There’s an immediate warmth to I’ve Got Me, the second album by singer/songwriter Joanna Sternberg. Following their debut Then I Try Some More, which was released on Conor Oberst’s Team Love label, Sternberg makes their Fat Possum debut with a set of songs that feel at once novel and familiar, at times embracing a homespun acoustic pop sound and at others taking on a piano-driven tin-pan alley pop that recalls the likes of Randy Newman. It’s music that’s direct and unpretentious, imbued with genuine feeling but not unnecessary drama. It’s a breath of fresh air.
Klara Lewis & Nik Colk Void – Full – On
Klara Lewis’ solo recordings are immersive tape-loop pieces that feel like you’ve been submerged into a rich sonic world, whereas Nik Colk Void—whether with Factory Floor or collaborating with Chris & Cosey of Throbbing Gristle—tends to make that sonic world feel like a minefield. Their collaborative album Full – On is as fluid a merger between those ideas as you’d imagine, delivering richly hypnotic and snarlingly abrasive sounds like the caustic repetitions of opener “Say Why,” Lynchian grooves on “Junk Funk,” and dub techno grandeur on “Pop.” Individually, these pieces are brief and occasionally fragmentary, but the duo connects them in service of an overall picture that feels like a grand and shadowy metropolis. A worthwhile tour through some strange and magnificent industrial-electronic creations.
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.