While the most talked about release of this week will undoubtedly be the newest album from Doja Cat, Scarlet, due, in part, to her ability to court controversy, there’s plenty more to listen to with six new albums worth checking out this week. That said, Scarlet is still a worthy spin. Elsewhere, there’s the latest from pop legends, Japanese bands rewriting what it means to be women in pop-rock, and an energized live album. Not listed here but still worthy of checking out are the latest albums by Lydia Loveless, Nothing’s Gonna Stand in My Way Again, Slaughter Beach, Dog’s Crying, Laughing, Waving, Smiling, The National’s Laugh Track, and Zach Bryan’s EP Boys of Faith.
CHAI – CHAI
In their third album, the self-titled Chai, the four members of the Japanese pop-rock group continue to carve a slice in the scene made specifically for them. Possessing elements of bubblegum hyper-pop, old school hip-hop production with insightful lyricism, and touches of city pop, the album is another bold production that see’s them redefining musical expectations on their own terms. Songs such as “Para Para” see those city-pop influences as Mana’s breathy, sweet vocals create a timeless sound.
Doja Cat — Scarlet
Doja Cat returns with her latest album, Scarlet, following singles such as “Paint the Town Red.” Doubling down on hip-hop and R&B, the album is infused with the artists anticipated, acidic playfulness, with song titles certain to raise a brow or two. That’s part of her charm, however, embracing sexuality and promiscuity and refusing to shy away from it. The instrumentation ebbs and flows with the songs, heavy on trip-hop production that fits the sound she’s moving towards as she moves away from the more pop-influenced past releases.
Kylie Minogue – Tension
Kylie Minogue has been a superstar around the world since the 1980s, but her American success has come in fits and starts: Namely, her hit cover of “The Locomotion” in 1988 and her neo-disco classic “Can’t Get You Out of My Head” in 2001. Her sixteenth album Tension leads off with another such moment, electro-synth jam “Padam Padam”, her biggest worldwide hit in years and a perfectly concocted dance pop song that immediately warranted a placement in Kylie’s list of bops. Tension comes three years after Disco, Minogue’s best album in years, and is shaping up to be a worthy-followup to that collection. If you love Carly Rae Jepsen, Minogue was a forebear to her career path and style back in the ‘90s, and this new album should be an essential listen for pop fans. [Ryan Gibbs]
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard — Live in Chicago ‘23
Australian psychedelic band King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard have mastered many styles over their career, from folk to prog to metal to jazz to synthpop. On their live albums, they’ve been mixing these styles with heady improvisations and ever-changing setlists that put them in the company of American jam bands like Phish and Umphrey’s McGee. Their latest release, a collection of three complete concerts in Chicago this summer, act as a companion to their gargantuan Live at Red Rocks release earlier this year. Like that collection, Live in Chicago has monster jams full of impressive moments of spontaneity mixed with their quirky sense of humor and amazing musical chops. Highlights along the way include a 24 minute version of jazz fusion epic “The River”, an extended and propulsive version of “Shanghai”, jammy versions of “Astroturf” and “Wah Wah”, and the live debut of “Change” . If you’re looking for a close listen or something to chill out and relax to, Live in Chicago 23 will give you nearly six hours of music to process in one of the year’s best releases of any kind. Released earlier this month on Bandcamp, Live in Chicago 23 debuted on streaming services on Sept. 19, on King Gizzard’s alternate “Bootleg Gizzard” listing. [Ryan Gibbs]
Mykki Blanco — Postcards From Italia EP
The R&B singer Mykki Blanco is returning for what they’re calling their “Italian cowboy era.” Love a good prompt. The six-track EP, Postcards From Italia is a mix of production styles and influences while maintaining a sonic cohesiveness. Their vocals remain a highlight, pulling and expanding with dexterity and ease. “Johnny” plucks at guitars before being overlaid with faded and layered vocals, while “Tequila Casino Royale” is immediately more playful, with synth touches and vocal distortion, exemplifying the range in which the artist dabbles in.
Yeule — softscars
Having delivered one of the strongest albums of 2022 in Glitch Princess, the synth pop producer Yeule returns for their latest album, softscars. Dealing in grief and the pains and triumphs of self-discovery, the album beautifully captures the contradicting dissonance of tones we’ve come to expect from the artist. Blending hyper-pop with alien sonic dreamscapes that build into a cacophony of mental grinding screams, softscars is an exercise of an artist who both knows their sound but is committed to pushing boundaries. Ethereal electro-dreamgaze that dabbles into furious anti-pop, softscars is explosive.