1. Cassandra Jenkins - Hard Drive
The lead single from Cassandra Jenkins stunning new album ‘An Overview on Phenomenal Nature’ begins with what sounds like a phone recording of an unnamed narrator telling us that the following are “real things that happened.” What follows are a series of kaleidoscopic vignettes that are just as lyrically and sonically intimate as that introduction suggests. The writing here doesn’t feel like verse, but rather private voice memos Jenkins is leaving herself that happen to coincide with a theme. She lilts into a melodic sigh toward the chorus but otherwise relays the lyrics in a droll almost sardonic voice. This performance only lends to the vulnerability of the words being relayed. Throughout the track Jenkins let’s us in on a series of conversations; the characters that speak to her are vast and complex, all lending different ideas and points of view to the singer as she attempts to ease her mind and accept the beauty around her even in such dour times. The final words of the track are a repeated mantra she learns from a psychic who had attempted to “put [her] heart back together.” As the lush sophisti-pop instrumental builds to a beautiful and jaw dropping climax, you get the feeling that the mantra may have worked after all.
2. Denzel Curry & Kenny Beats- So.Incredible.pkg (Robert Glasper Version) [feat. Smino]
Denzel and Kenny are back this time teasing a new remixed version of their 2020 collaboration “Unlocked” with a new take on standout track “so.incredible.pkg” featuring Robert Glasper and Smino. As those familiar with Glasper might expect this version has a much jazzier feel than the original; taking Curry’s hard hitting bars and moving them to a smoother backing with arranged vocals, thick bass, and light jazzy keys. Smino’s feature truly wows as he rides the new beat a bit better, but then of course it was written specifically with this beat in mind. This version also manages to shine a new light on Curry’s excellent hook making for an inspired take on what was already a standout track from one of last years defining rap projects.
3. Iceage - Vendetta
The newest single for their upcoming album “Seek Shelter," this track is a barn burning, fuzzy, and filthy new single from the Danish art punks. While certainly on the scuzzier side, it’s hard not to fall for this track with its instantly infectious hook, exhilarating performances, and outstanding production. It remains busy without ever sounding overworked. The song also accounts for some of the grooviest and spaciest noise the band has ever made, perhaps suggesting a surprising new sound by the time the full record drops.
4. Black Dresses - PEACESIGN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Internet-core noise pop duo Black Dresses returned this week with new record “Forever in Your Heart,” despite still apparently being broken up. That strangeness aside, it’s always good to hear new music from Devi and Ada who have proved to be two of the most exciting voices in music right now. The first track to their newest and harshest release yet, “PEACESIGN” acts as kind of a statement piece for the entire record. The song, recorded throughout the hell hole that was 2020, asks whether or not something beautiful can be made in a world with “no hope." Sonically, Black Dresses comes through with some of their strongest vocal performances yet; though, notably, most of the pop appeal found on their most recent effort has gone by the wayside, replaced with more faithful noise and industrial influences for a somewhat brutal yet earnestly emotional intro cut.
5. Bill Callahan and Bonnie “Prince” Billy - The Wild Kindness (feat. Cassie Berman)
Bill Callahan and Bonnie “Prince” Billy continue their cover series with this impassioned tribute to the late David Berman. A cover of the closing track to Silver Jews' (Berman’s previous band) seminal album “American Water,” the track features not only Berman's widow but about a dozen other friends and collaborators who all lend their voices to a consistently present chorus. The result is a noisy, cacophonous but still somber and sweet send off to the late Berman from two of his fellow Drag City mainstays.