Every Tuesday at WSUM, our Music Director, Amany, chooses her favorite new releases to add to our music library. Here are this month’s favorites, presented to you by WSUM’s Music Journalism Club.
Bug Moment, The Flying Toad Circus
HIGHLIGHT TRACKS: “carousel,” “dust mite,” “mosquito”
GENRE: Bedroom pop, dream pop
RIYL: Weatherday, Heccra
The Flying Toad Circus is the first LP from Milwaukee-based, self-proclaimed “emo-adjacent melancholia rock” band, Bug Moment, and it is a true testament to how the band has evolved since the release of their EP in 2021. Electronic elements on tracks like “slush” and “dust mite” balance out nicely with the more mellow indie rock tones of “carousel” and “little frog.” The album’s drums and gentle vocals build and blend together to create a mesmerizing listening experience. Bug Moment’s following has grown since the release of their EP, evident with their sold-out release show and there is no slowing down for the four-piece as they continue to impress with their first full-length album.
— Elliot Novak
HIGHLIGHT TRACKS: “Empty Heavy,” “Distance Song,” “Dead, Crashed”
GENRE: Slowcore, post-rock
RIYL: caroline, Duster, my bloody valentine
Following Yo La Tengo’s This Stupid World, I declared that 2023 was going to be the year for everything post-rock. Upon listening to the latest release from deathcrash, I have doubled-down on this claim. While post-rock is pretty loosely defined, Less incorporates many more ambient elements of the genre, moving away from the vibes of the scene popularized by post-rock staples Slint and Mogwai. This divergence does the album a service, especially where my personal favorite song on the album, “Empty Heavy” is concerned. The track utilizes a blend of both intense and gentle guitar moments, dipping into a shoegaze-adjacent sound almost to the likes of Deftones or my bloody valentine. The closing track “Dead, Crashed,” provides a weighty conclusion to the saga of melancholy listening provided by deathcrash. Overall the diversity in sound on Less is presented in a manner that allows it to be palatable to fans of Duster and Hum alike and it’s a great addition to the post-rock albums that have been released.
— Elliot Novak
HIGHLIGHT TRACKS: “Yum,” “Never Again,” “HAPPY”
GENRE: UK hip-hop
RIYL: Skepta, Little Simz
Slowthai has never been one to shy away from being very emotionally vulnerable in his music, but on UGLY, he brings it to a new level. One of the more potent examples of this comes on the song “Never Again,” which opens with a slow ballad more reminiscent of a folk song. It then slowly builds into a crushing rap verse about a hard breakup where you can hear so much emotion in his voice. Throughout the rest of the album, though, slowthai brings an intense and loud voice over hard hitting, immaculately produced beats. He does this while still rapping about very real political and emotional issues, ranging from breakups, self-esteem and depression. All this is done with his British accent, breathing fresh air into the primarily American mainstream hip-hop scene. This album is an essential listen this year for any hip-hop enjoyer.
– Kian Murphey
Lana Del Rey, Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd
HIGHLIGHT TRACKS: “Let the Light In (Ft. Father John Misty),” “Taco Truck x VB,” “Peppers (Ft. Tommy Genesis),” “Fishtail”
GENRE: Orchestral pop, alternative pop
RIYL: The Marias, Nancy Sinatra
Lana Del Rey’s ninth studio album, There’s A Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd, is like a set of open French windows, allowing the listener to peer into the artist’s mind and state of being during the time the album was created. Del Rey has never shied away from being vulnerable in her music while also painting a picture of a glamourous America that doesn’t exist anymore. However, the new release contradicts many of her previous albums messages, messages conveying the freedom of being an American young and in love. This time around, Lana Del Rey is brutally honest about her grueling emotional turmoil caused by lovers past and present, the feeling of being completely destroyed by love, left with nothing but the memories you shared. The allusions to past songs reflect this feeling and are used as a revision to what she may have been trying to say in previous albums. Lana Del Rey describes the importance of acts of love on songs like “Fishtail,” where she bravely speaks of the trauma in her life caused by relationships,. “Peppers” continues this discussion on acts of love but in a way that explores sexuality in relationships and the separation between that sort of intimacy and more nurturing and emotional intimacy present in “Fishtail.” There is A Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd is an exploration of the ever-changing position of women in relationships, inspecting the freeing parts of love while being realistic with women about the possibility of a man leaving you left with nothing.
— Sophia Pietan
Kali Uchis, Red Moon In Venus
HIGHLIGHT TRACKS: “I Wish You Roses,” “Worth the Wait (feat. Omar Apollo),” “Blue,” “Moonlight”
GENRE: R&B, pop, latin pop
RIYL: SZA, Omar Apollo, Kelela
Red Moon In Venus is Columbian American singer Kali Uchis’s third studio album, and it seems that she took this one in a much different direction. On her 2018 debut album we see a mix of funk and bedroom pop pieces with a touch of R&B. With Red Moon In Venus, she focuses more on luxurious, lush sounds to create a sweeping mark on the contemporary R&B sound and gives us a look into her lovesick vanquish. She sits on the same track in terms of the way that her albums often have a softer and more feminine sound, and incorporates so many interesting elements to add these pops of femininity, like the chirping birds in “I Wish You Roses”. Despite these softer elements, she displays her confidence nevertheless and owns her femininity even in the wake of a breakup.
– Kaya Sethi
Black Country, New Road, Live at Bush Hall
HIGHLIGHT TRACKS: “Up Song,” “Across The Pond Friend,” “Laughing Song,” “Turbines/Pigs”
GENRE: Post-rock, art rock
RIYL: Slint, The Microphones, black midi
“BCNR, friends forever!”
Following up on 2022’s Ants From Up There, Black Country, New Road returns without frontman Isaac Wood while still keeping the stylistic and creative notes the band has become known for. BC,NR has been no stranger to emotional vulnerability within their lyrics on past releases, and this record is no exception. “Across The Pond Friend” (a personal favorite) acts as saxophonist-vocalist Lewis Evans’ lament for the Atlantic and lost relationships, with lyrics such as, “In my dream, you came running to me / And then fall back into my arms / Wake up.” Other highlights include “Laughing Song” and “Turbines/Pigs,” both breaking hearts in their own right. I love the use of multiple vocalists on this performance, slightly straying from the band’s previous formula on For the first time and Ants From Up There. Whether a fan or a first-time listener, Live at Bush Hall is sure to please any fan of post rock, sad music or saxophones.
— Cole Smith
Yves Tumor, Praise A Lord Who Chews But Which Does Not Consume; (Or Simply, Hot Between Worlds)
HIGHLIGHT TRACKS: “Love Sewer,” “Parody,” “Echolalia”
GENRE: Art rock
RIYL: Dean Blunt, Eartheater, Xiu Xiu
Yves Tumor is no stranger to challenging binaries in genre, and their latest release, Praise A Lord Who Chews But Which Does Not Consume; (Or Simply, Hot Between Worlds), goes above and beyond at showing the world what genre-bending music can be. The synthesizers and heavily distorted guitar riffs throughout the album are reminiscent of 1990’s shoegaze and creates this spacious sound on the album, signifying to the listener to abandon expectations of what R&B or Neo-soul “should” sound like. There are points on the album where the lyrics are less effective at conveying a message or theme but the production and vocals from Yves Tumor carry the atmosphere of the album, his voice acting as an additional instrument on tracks like “God is A Circle.” Each song uniquely flows together and the cohesiveness of the album’s structure feels like a descent into chaos and confusion, until the listener reaches the final track “Ebony Eye,” a track that to me is a manifestation of having a vision and the ambition to take things into your own hands.
— Sophia Pietan