New Music Friday — From Cryptic Imagery to Mystical Landscapes

With so much music that was released throughout the week, it can be overwhelming and difficult to determine what to listen to. We assembled a list of some of the best releases with brief reviews to make things easier for you. From BROCKHAMPTON's most commanding and poised record to date to Spirit of the Beehive's carefully curated and miraculously chaotic landscapes, here are some of the best releases of the week.

Saddle Creek / Question Everything / RCA

BROCKHAMPTON — Roadrunner: New Light, New Machine [Question Everything / RCA]

Over the last few years, there's been a lot of hype surrounding BROCKHAMPTON, America's favorite hip-hop boy band. However, after the innovative and chaotic eclecticism of their SATURATION trilogy in 2017, the immediacy and assertiveness to their deliveries and sonic boundaries haven't been quite the same, especially since Ameer Vann's removal over sexual misconduct claims in 2018. But even with the highs and lows to their musical development, BROCKHAMPTON have been undoubtedly more commercially successful on their last two releases, especially on the emotionally mature GINGER. But all of that will be coming to a close with the group's mastermind and leader, Kevin Abstract, revealing earlier this year that their latest effort Roadrunner and its follow-up (planned to drop later this year) will be the last two projects the hip-hop boy band will ever release. If that's true, they're certainly ending things on a high note, especially with Roadrunner's all-star cast of features from Danny Brown to A$AP Rocky. From the reflective and darkly-toned guitar-infused "THE LIGHT" to the high-energy and busy, warped soundscapes on "BUZZCUT," Roadrunner is BROCKHAMPTON'S most refreshed and self-assured album in years.

Stream the new album here.

Spirit of the Beehive — ENTERTAINMENT, DEATH [Saddle Creek]

The Philadelphia, shape-shifting electro-psych trio Spirit of the Beehive just delivered their highly-anticipated fourth studio effort and Saddle Creek debut ENTERTAINMENT, DEATH. This is the first release to be entirely self-recorded and produced by the newly modified trio, with founding members Zach Schwartz and Rivka Ravede now joined by new member Corey Wichlin. On their latest album, SOTB channel cryptic and explorative DIY-minded hypnagogic pop with tinges of electropunk, '60s psych rock and post-hardcore, a bit reminiscent of where this band came from. It also offers a deeper scope into the intricate and explorative pop sensibilities that surrounds this trio—think of it as their Strawberry Jam. There's a great attention to detail here and it's unlike any SOTB record that has come before—it's so good, it will ultimately keep you coming back.

Stream the new album here and be sure to check out their contribution to the massive 68-track compilation Through the Soil.

Damon Locks & the Black Monument Ensemble — NOW [International Anthem]

The Chicago-based multimedia artist and activist Damon Locks teams up once again with the Black Monument Ensemble for their second album together NOW. The follow-up to their superb 2019 debut Where Future Unfolds, addresses and explores Black liberation and consciousness through samples from archival multimedia recordings that overlay a collage of improvisational-guided jazz and spacey 808s beats—it's like a fusion of warm Afrofuturist gospel and Soul Train-styled R&B. The new effort was recorded in only a few takes, capturing the BME in an electric performance that spans many generations with Locks employing a cyber-punk palette with an all-encompassing nature. It's also the first time where members of BME had ever played or sang the tunes. Following months of pandemic-induced fear and isolation along with social unrest, Locks describes the new album as a new thought that resists the darkness. "It was about expressing possibility," Locks wrote in a press release. "It was about asking the question, 'Since the future has unfolded and taken a new and dangerous shape...what happens NOW?'"

Stream the new album here.

Foothands — Gentle but Firm [Self-released]

Erik Happ, the singer and guitarist of the beloved Rochester-based math rock trio False Pockets, is launching his new solo project today under the moniker Foothands. With the help of mastering engineer Joseph Chudyk, Happ's three-track EP

was recorded and mixed himself while recovering from a broken collarbone. The EP is an intimate glimpse into Happ's psyche and comprises of stripped-down compositions that carry a gentle haze over his intricate acoustic guitars and mystically, dark vocal tones. Speaking with Happ over email, he describes the recording of these tracks as a trip down memory lane, where he had some of these songs sitting for years, but was never able to record them. "With nothing to do for three weeks, I decided to launch my solo career with these songs," Happ said. "They were all recorded fully in my bedroom with passing cars in the background."

Stream the new EP here.

MILLY — Wish Goes On [Dangerbird Records]

The latest five-song EP from MILLY is considered to be a "rebirth" for the Los Angeles-based band. Wish Goes On was recorded with Corey Coffman of the noise pop band Gleemer in his home studio in Colorado following the band's 2019 tour. The EP is very '90s-influenced with its tinges of shoegaze, slowcore and dream pop, immersing in a style that's both comforting and harsh. On the track "Denial," there's a sweet and bouncy melody that's slashed into a wall of dense and fuzzy guitars, bringing out the hypnotic and wistful shoegaze atmospherics of band's sound.

Stream the new EP here.

Skullcrusher — Storm in Summer [Secretly Canadian]

Not too long after the release of her confessional and enthralling self-titled debut EP (one of my favorite releases last year) and gorgeous double-sided single, the LA-based musician Helen Ballentine is back with a mesmerizing collection of songs from her new EP Storm in Summer, where she channels her eclectic sonic palette of alt-folk, emo and shoegaze. There's a great sense of emotional clarity here too, especially on the captivating title track—"I wish you could see me start this storm," she sings in the chorus. Her voice is lavished with many acoustic intricacies that flourish all over this release, especially on the transcendent "Song For Nick Drake," where she pays homage to the late singer-songwriter. Ballentine's latest EP is immersed in the realm of vulnerability and the unknown, where she once again invites listeners into the depths of her personal and intense solitude.

Stream the new EP here.

Benny Sings — Music [Stones Throw Records]

The Dutch pop musician Tim van Berkestijn, aka Benny Sings, has often lent his songwriting skills to the work of others including Rex Orange County and Free Nationals, has unveiled his new ten-song project Music, which features a star-studded collaborative spirit that runs across many genres. His ninth studio album also brings his usual sticky melodies and sunny, hook-laden grooves that are filled with charm and endless positivity. Throughout the album, you'll hear laid-back lyricism, infectious synth-lines and breezy instrumentation, especially on the highlights "Here It Comes," "Run Right Back" and "Rolled Up," which features Mac DeMarco. On "Rolled Up," DeMarco updates his signature sound with the help of Benny, wallowing in melancholia over an elegant and loosely, heavy groove. Even with all these great features from DeMarco to Cautious Clay, the brightest light is on Benny himself, who's music is so carefully-curated and easy to fall in love with.

Stream the new album here.

For more new music, be sure to check out our New Music Friday playlist below.