With next week’s extended holiday weekend, our lengthy sequence of New Music Fridays gets a welcome break, just in time for us to begin unveiling our favorite music of the year—which we already kicked off with our Summer/Fall Albums You Might Have Missed. (Plus the launch of our holiday gift guides.)
This week’s offerings are more abbreviated but contain some must-hear records from a pair of rap legends (one of which isn’t a rap record), plus a cool new electronic collaboration and an Americana record that defies easy categorization. Check out this week’s best new releases below.
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André 3000 – New Blue Sun
Earlier this week, André 3000 announced he’d be releasing his first solo album—an instrumental flute record as opposed to a hip-hop album. It’s fair to say this caught most listeners and even the press by surprise considering André Benjamin’s history in one of the greatest hip-hop duo’s of all time. That said, New Blue Sun is actually a very cool ambient record that’s meditative, soothing, even beautiful. The album comprises 87 minutes of gentle, spiritual music (with pretty silly track titles!) that reveals a side of André’s music that we’ve never really heard before, and it’s a fascinating thing to hear.
Danny Brown – Quaranta
Danny Brown already released one new album this year, his collaboration with JPEGMAFIA, Scaring the Hoes. Only eight months later he returns with the more subdued and introspective Quaranta, which begins with the veteran rapper saying “This rap shit done saved my life and fucked it up at the same time.” It’s a more sobering and haunted set of rap that finds Brown in reflective mode rather than the more playful surrealism of his recent collaboration. Its beats are sparser, its sound a little darker, its verses more vulnerable and honest. And while Quaranta is relatively brief at just over a half hour, it offers a lot to process and some of Brown’s most starkly stunning songs. More on this one soon.
Daniel Bachman – When the Roses Come Again
With last year’s Almanac Behind, Daniel Bachman took his atmospheric Americana through its most unexpected terrain, layering together recordings of his own guitar and banjo playing with field recordings, radio broadcasts, drone and distortion for something that felt almost like a radio in perpetual dial shift through a long drive. When the Roses Come Again eases back a little on that concept, giving his acoustic instrumentation more space even when set against some of his noisier soundscapes. It’s some of his most beautiful, fascinating and strange music, and he only grows more complex and versatile as an artist. We’ll have more on this one soon.
Ali Sethi & Nicolás Jaar – Intiha
The collaboration between musician and novelist Ali Sethi and Nicolás Jaar began a few years ago, when Sethi used music from Jaar’s Telas as sketches for voice notes featuring vocal improvisations and Urdu poems. Jaar said that it was what “Telas had been missing,” and the end result is something that feels richer while remaining atmospheric and intricate. Moments like “Nazar Se” and “Muddat” showcase the depth of the collaboration, juxtaposing Sethi’s emotional, moving vocal performances against ambient passages and beat-laden exercises. We’ll say 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.