Between midterms, club meetings, and OCR, it’s easy to forget that life moves on outside of the Penn bubble. And over the past month, that life has been full of some amazing new music. We’ve kept up with all of the best releases, so you don’t have to. Without further ado, here are Street’s picks for the best albums you might have missed in the last month. 

Noname – Room25

Despite being only about a month old at this point, Noname’s latest work has been analyzed and immensely praised by nearly every established source of music criticism. Coming out of a vibrant spoken word community in Chicago, Noname’s verse flows with a cutting pace, pausing just briefly at the end of one point before bouncing off into the next. In words that go back and forth between political commentary and the rapper’s own sexuality, her matter–of–fact poetry flies over the rhythm of every tune, melting into the mind of its listener with a biting aftertaste. Room25 is a quarter–life crisis with diamonds of Noname’s humble wisdom woven throughout. Particularly in her love–centric songs, she recognizes her own imperfections, but doesn’t let them sink too deeply, trying to keep her life in as free a movement as her verse across this entire album.

Listen to if you’re feeling the effects of cuffing season while still being empowered in your own independence.

Release Date: September 14, 2018

Swearin’ – Fall Into the Sun

Beginning with what is essentially an anthem to the Philadelphia punk scene that gave birth to Swearin’, Fall Into the Sun is the triumphant return of one of this city’s best bands after speculations that the end had come. Lead singer and frontwoman Allison Crutchfield had broken up with fellow bandmate Kyle Gilbride, leaving the band’s future uncertain. But somehow this tension found a way to manifest itself into some of the most genuine push–and–pull punk this band has ever created. Crutchfield and Gilbride’s respective songs are so obviously about each other and the failed relationship between the two of them that the album nearly becomes a postmortem of their relationship. There are fading traces of love and pain and anger that complement the twisting frustrations of the guitar and drums behind the words each sings out. The group made a stop in Philly last week, but will be back again for a must–see show at Everybody Hits on December 8. 

Listen to if you’re struggling with the recent end of a love as sweet as the fleeting summer. 

Release Date: October 5, 2018

Adrianne Lenker – abysskiss

abysskiss is the latest solo work from Adrianne Lenker, who is better known as the lead singer–songwriter for gentle indie–folk group Big Thief (who will play a sold–out show at First Unitarian Church on October 20). The unending cycles of plucked acoustic guitar over her nearly whispered melodies are as soft as the cold fall winds that tug curling leaves from their branches. Sonically, the album feels fragile, channeling the October’s slow and bitter evanescence of summer. But the lyrics tend toward darkness, alternately mentioning love and warmth against bleeding, screaming, and abstract pain. In these words, Lenker brings us a new level of the intimacy she’s shown with Big Thief. Despite some of the morbid leanings in the album, she still manages to create near–sickeningly sweet love songs like the title track, which rotates about the romantic chorus, “Wilderness / Vast abyss / Will we ever kiss?”

Listen to if you want to spend the rest of the semester in a woodsy cabin, reveling in romantic daydreams.

Release Date: October 5, 2018

Cat Power – Wanderer

Best known for her appearance on the Juno soundtrack with a lilting cover of Phil Phillips’s “Sea of Love,” Cat Power’s Chan Marshall is back with her tenth album, Wanderer. As usual, the album’s centerpiece is Marshall’s soft and breathy voice, backed up by a variety of acoustic rhythms. One of Wanderer’s standout tracks is “Woman,” which features Lana Del Rey and begins with all the dark folksy tone of an old Western showdown. The guitar swings ahead, increasing in volume and speed into a full–bodied song of vocal and instrumental harmonies calling out “Woman, woman, woman.” Another surprise is the stripped–back cover of Rihanna’s “Stay,” Marshall using a piano to amplify the deep sensitivity and vulnerability of its lyrics. With all the rushing chaos in the world around us, Marshall’s long–awaited return after six years is a grounding force in the mantra that less is more. 

Listen to if you feel overwhelmed with life, and need an infusion of self-confidence.

Release Date: October 5, 2018

Kurt Vile - Bottle It In

The sighing twang of Kurt Vile returns with Bottle It In, an album of his usual existential meanderings over a variety of lightly bouncing guitar lines. With three of the thirteen songs standing at ten minutes in length, this collection of music has no attempts at efficiency or clarity. No, the goal is really just to “keep on rollin with the flow,” as Vile repeats in the sixth track. A favorite song of Vile fans so far is one of those ten–minute songs, “Bassackwards,” filled with plenty of “yeahs,” “ums,” and “wells,” over a lilting guitar hum. In it, Vile hints at the purpose of this album—there isn’t one. Instead, these psychedelic folk tunes from a Philadelphia version of the modern hippie are meant “to fill the void until the morn.”

Listen to if you want to fall deeper into your own lazy senioritis (which we all know affects more than just seniors). 

Release Date: October 12, 2018


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