Best New Releases, May 19: bar italia, Mandy, Indiana, and more

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bar italia band

Today’s a pretty massive day for new releases—in fact, all of May has been pretty overwhelming from where we’re sitting (even if we missed a week, shhhhh). But the list of new albums worth checking out extends well beyond the six included here. These, however, are the cream of the crop—the absolute best of the bunch. Which is to say start here (and most likely play this batch on repeat), but don’t by any means stop here. Among our favorites are an enigmatic London group, the unexpected return of an avant garde metal group, one of the best debut albums of the year from a rulebreaking group of Mancunians, and more.

Bar Italia new album Tracey Denim

bar italia – Tracey Denim

London group bar italia released a couple of records prior to signing with Matador, each one a fuzzy, psychedelic hidden gem laden with a kind of understated mystique and monochromatic cover-art sketches. Tracey Denim finds them making a significant step forward while retaining their enigmatic sensibility—most of the song titles are just one word, the album art still in black and white, and the members don’t do interviews. But what we do know is that they can write a hell of a song, the band’s masterful grasp of both melody and arrangement throughout Tracey Denim finding them navigating a captivating and weirdly unexplored space somewhere between late ’80s/early ’90s UK baggy and the understated parts of Sonic Youth’s late ’90s catalog. Their sparsest moments reveal layers with deeper listens, their densest feeling curiously intimate. I haven’t fully unlocked the enigma, but I just know I love it.

Listen/Buy: Bandcamp | Amazon (vinyl)

best new releases mandy indiana
Fire Talk

Mandy, Indiana – i’ve seen a way

After releasing a dazzling opening statement in 2021 with their first EP, Manchester noise-rock outfit Mandy, Indiana offer up their debut full-length, an overwhelming and intense rush of furious sonic thrust and urgent dancefloor pulse that instantly feels like a singular work. In our interview with singer Valentine Caulfield, she explained some of the unconventional techniques they used in making the album as well as some of the unexpected things that happened in the process, but the end result is thrilling and vital. We’ll have more to say on this one very soon.

Listen/Buy: Bandcamp | Amazon (vinyl)

Mega Bog End of Everything review
Mexican Summer

Mega Bog – End of Everything

Mega Bog’s End of Everything finds singer/songwriter Erin Birgy employing more prominent use of synths in a set of songs informed by grief, trauma and disillusion with the state of the world. It’s our Album of the Week, and indeed, it’s one of her strongest to date. In our review of the album, we said, “that its slow-burning but frequently climaxing air of tension and panic fits in so comfortably alongside the more streamlined pop moments here speaks to her command of both songwriting and aesthetic alike.” A poignant, pretty, and inspiring set of songs.

Listen/Buy: Bandcamp | Amazon (vinyl)

Khanate To Be Cruel
Sacred Bones

Khanate – To Be Cruel

Something most of us probably weren’t expecting in 2023: A new album from Khanate. The drone-metal project of Stephen O’Malley of Sunn O))), James Plotkin and Alan Dubin from Old, and Blind Idiot God’s Tim Wyskida initially existed for just a six-year span between 2000 and 2006, with one posthumous release arriving in 2009. But with To Be Cruel, arriving today via Sacred Bones, the group reconvenes for the first time in 17 years, with a level of abrasion and agony that naturally comes from their slow-moving dirges of panic and venom. Over an hour of it, in fact, none of which is any tamer than the blood curdling scrapes and nightmares of their self-titled 2001 debut. But there’s a freedom and strange kind of beauty to it as well, an improvisational sensibility on “It Wants to Fly” reminiscent of Sumac at their best, while the slow burn of the title track infuses a stunning dramatic arc to their terror and cacophony. With each track stretching beyond 20 minutes apiece, this is a hefty one to take in, but what a stunningly uncomfortable way to spend an hour this truly is.

Listen/Buy: Bandcamp

Hannah Jadagu Aperture
Sub Pop

Hannah Jadagu – Aperture

Singer/songwriter Hannah Jadagu makes her debut on Sub Pop with Aperture, a set of gorgeously written songs that are too eclectic to be characterized as, simply, indie pop. While the album opens with the gentle, folky plucks of “Explanation,” she incorporates elements of sunny psychedelia on “Six Months,” grungy heft on “What You Did,” and disco/post-punk on “Lose”—all of which are tied together by her keen melodic sensibility. It’s a wonderful debut album, and just the first of what sounds like the potential of a lot of great music to come.

Listen/Buy: Bandcamp | Amazon (vinyl)

Califone villagers
Jealous Butcher

Califone – villagers

Califone recently hit the 25-year mark as a project, having remained active and steadily releasing new music every few years since Tim Rutili first formed the group in 1997. And though it’s not a band anymore, so to speak, Califone’s first new album in three years, villagers, Rutili is once again in the company of frequent collaborators Brian Deck and Ben Massarella. At once immediate yet still rife with its share of curious, avant garde textures and aesthetics, villagers is the best of what Califone is capable of—soothing, immediate, disorienting and playfully askew all in one. More on this one soon.

Listen/Buy: Bandcamp | Amazon (vinyl)

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