If you’re anything like us, you’re probably overwhelmed by the sheer number of albums being released on a weekly basis.
Popdust’s weekly column, Indie Roundup, finds the five best albums coming out each week so that you don’t have to. Every Friday, we’ll tell you what’s worth listening to that might not already be on your radar.
Adrianne Lenker, songs / instrumentals
songs / instrumentals is a pair of new albums from singer-songwriter Adrianne Lenker, better known as the vocalist of beloved indie folk ensemble Big Thief. After Big Thief triumphed last year with not one, but two critically acclaimed full-length albums, songs / instrumentals offer a stunningly pared-down musical escape. Recovering from a heartbreak in early quarantine, Lenker holed up in a tiny Massachusetts cabin and recorded these songs directly to tape; a few of them were written on the spot. While songs features only Lenker’s voice and guitar, instrumentals incorporates piano and the soothing twinkle of a windchime. The result is a breathtaking collection of music that flows like a direct line to Lenker’s psyche.
For fans of Grouper, Sufjan Stevens, and Angelo De Augustine.
I Love Your Lifestyle, No Driver
Hailing from Malmö and Gothenburg, Swedish rock band I Love Your Lifestyle are making waves across the pond with their contagious energy and massive hooks. Blending the twinkly guitars of midwest emo with the frenetic energy of pop-punk, their third album No Driver sees the five-piece band at their most polished sonically. Their lyrics present a more tongue-in-cheek twist on their genre’s traditional tropes: “I’m so amazingly pathetic / I finally see how ironic it is,” goes opening track “Stupid.” “We are so easily read / And everything we’ve ever done has been nothing but stupid.” Self-deprecation aside, I Love Your Lifestyle are a promising group gaining well-deserved international attention.
For fans of Oso Oso, Macseal, and Prince Daddy & the Hyena.
Jeff Tweedy, Love Is the King
With Wilco’s 2020 tour cancelled for obvious reasons, frontman Jeff Tweedy put together Love Is the King as a way to fill his free time, less than a year after releasing his last solo album Ode to Joy. While there are similarities between the two records, Love Is the King hits especially close to home, being a family affair in the truest sense of the phrase. Tweedy’s sons, Spencer and Sammy, both co-wrote and performed on much of the album, after setting a quarantine goal of writing and recording one song per day until they had a full album on their hands. Love Is the King bears a familiar rootsiness that’ll please Wilco fans, with an additional homespun charm.
For fans of Justin Townes Earle, Bonny “Prince” Billy, and the Felice Brothers.
Junglepussy is the stage name of Shayna McHayle, the New York City rapper best known for her grocery-loving TikTok hit “Trader Joe.” Namechecking Erykah Badu and Missy Elliott as some of her biggest inspirations, Junglepussy takes cues from the melodies and textured depth of classic R&B and funk. On her new studio album, JP4, she levels up by pairing her laid-back flow with transfixing, layered beats. While there’s blips of her trademark sense of cheeky humor, JP4 comes wrapped in a sense of relief, representing Junglepussy in her peak form. “I do this so nobody sleeps on the awkward black girl never ever again,” she says.
For fans of Rico Nasty, Princess Nokia, and Le1f.
Magik Markers, 2020
Bold of Magik Markers to name their new album after the most doomed year in recent history. Whatever connotations you associate with 2020, the year, 2020, the album, is tailor-made to drown out the terror. Though the trio became known for their rambunctious noise-rock earlier in their career, 2020 presents a softer side to Magik Markers. Tracks like “You Can Find Me” still maintain a walloping garage-rock flair, but it’s juxtaposed with songs like “Born Dead” that recall the homey twang of ’70s folk heroes. On both sides of the spectrum, 2020 still exemplifies what make Magik Markers great; often unpredictable, but predictably exhilarating.
For fans of No Age, Liars, and Lightning Bolt.