After a week off we return with a six-pack of Essential Tracks, which kicks off with the towering new anthem from some heavy metal legends. Add in a dancefloor banger from a producer who mostly dwells in darkness, a banger of a rap track from an emcee who mostly keeps it chill, and more good stuff where that came from. Read about and queue up this week’s Essential Tracks.
Judas Priest – “Panic Attack”
Next year marks 50 years since the first Judas Priest album Rocka Rolla, which is long enough that they can pretty much coast if they wanted to—they’ve earned it through decades of being one of the greatest heavy metal band of all time. But lucky for us they aren’t doing that. Just as Firepower found them rocking as hard as ever, the first single from their upcoming album Invincible Shield is a stellar showcase of intricate guitar work, high-drama songwriting and Rob Halford’s immortal wail, which sounds incredible as ever. Priest is back!
From Invincible Shield, out March 8 via Epic
Actress – “It’s Me (G 8)”
One of the most consistently thrilling aspects of Darren Cunningham’s music as Actress is the mystique of it. The UK producer has never been one for straightforward dancefloor bangers, often cloaking his productions in darkness and static, minimalism or an eerie sense of space and distance. “It’s Me” doesn’t necessarily contradict that, but within the hypnotic loops and prevalent static, there’s a deep groove and chopped-up, pitched-up vocal samples lending an extra dose of soul to his deep caverns of haunted rhythm.
From LXXXVIII, out November 3 via Ninja Tune
MIKE – “African Sex Freak Fantasy”
New York rapper and producer MIKE is known for his insular, laid-back approach, maintaining the dreamlike surrealism of his songs by never going so hard so as to snap you out of the hallucination. “African Sex Freak Fantasy” finds him cranking up the intensity just a little bit, with dirtier, distorted beats that fall just this side of industrial. It’s an old-school banger of a song, brief but heavy on breathless bars and beats that knock that much harder. MIKE pulled out all the stops on this one.
From Burning Desire, out now via 10k
glass beach – “The CIA”
Los Angeles’ glass beach are a tricky band to pin down, tying together strains of power pop, emo, prog and too many other elements to mention in one brief blurb. To hear “The CIA” is to understand the anything-goes maximalism of this band, whose ambition is ably matched by their songwriting prowess. “The CIA” is an eye-popping thrill from the get-go, an art-rock brooder that swirls in electronics and intricate rhythmic shifts in an epic that goes for broke but absolutely pays off. I suppose you could call this “math rock” if you really wanted to, but that doesn’t come close to the kind of quantum dynamics at play here.
Out now via Run for Cover
Spiritual Cramp – “Better Off This Way”
It’s wild to me that Spiritual Cramp are just now releasing their debut album. The Bay Area punk group has delivered a handful of EPs and built up a reputation as one of the best live bands going. But they’re leveling up in a big way based on singles like “Better Off This Way,” which adds a crispness and fidelity to their raucous roar. A three-chord barnburner of a garage punk song, “Better Off This Way” is all power chords and hooks, exactly what you need from a rock ‘n’ roll song and then some. I can practically see the stage diving already.
From Spiritual Cramp, out November 3 via Blue Grape
Hotline TNT – “Out of Town”
Hotline TNT have already delivered a couple of easy best-of-year contenders in previous singles “Protocol” and “I Thought You’d Change.” With the third single from their upcoming album Cartwheel, the Brooklyn group kick up the tempo in a bright yet melancholy power-pop gem reminiscent of early ’90s Lemonheads filtered through several layers of fuzz. It’s a bittersweet, end-of-summer kind of indie song, catchy as hell but hanging heavy with emotion—and lots and lots of distortion.
From Cartwheel, out November 4 via Third Man
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.