There’s a lot of music out there. To help you cut through all the noise, every week The A.V. Club is rounding up A-Sides, five recent releases we think are worth your time. You can listen to these and more on our Spotify playlist.
Blood Incantation, Hidden History Of The Human Race
Blood Incantation’s much-hyped sophomore outing has finally come ripping through the ozone layer (and dripping with vintage Florida-inspired slime—Morbid Angel walked so Blood Incantation could fly). The Denver death-metal quartet has carved out an enviable niche in the genre’s increasingly forward-thinking new-school, and this latest collection of alien histories and eldritch evils is a truly impressive entry into an evolving canon. Album opener “Slave Species Of The Gods” is an ode to intergalactic ruin, the harmonized guitars squealing in triumph and fretless bass humming beneath like a damaged ship’s generator, while the unexpected instrumental “Inner Paths (To Outer Space)” is a contemplative synthesizer piece that spotlights the outermost rings of the band’s virtuosic command of its instruments and warped imaginings. The 18-minute “Awakening From The Dream Of Existence To The Multidimensional Nature Of Our Reality (Mirror Of The Soul)” is a death-metal space odyssey in every sense. While most bands of its ilk concern themselves with the brutal realities of our dying planet, Blood Incantation’s eyes remain fixed on the stars. [Kim Kelly]
Lido Pimienta, “No Pude”
In 2017, Lido Pimienta’s La Papessa became the first entirely Spanish-language album to win Canada’s prestigious Polaris Prize, and deservingly so: The LP delightfully mixes treatises on pressing social issues with bubbling, glitching synth-pop arrangements and Pimienta’s faintly raspy tremor. “No Pude,” her first song since her big win, picks up right where she left off, with squealing electronic clacks hurling themselves at her calmly belted vocals like bricks haphazardly tossed onto an ancient pyramid. The track’s chaos-placidity dichotomy represents Pimienta’s love-hate relationship with her home country: “I hold Colombia close,” she said upon releasing the song, “but that love turns into rage and shame as fast as a match takes to burn.” Listeners don’t need to know Spanish to feel Pimienta’s mood shifts: The music ensures her voice is heard. [Max Freedman]
Ducks Unlimited, Get Bleak
In a past era, the instruction to listeners was more likely to have been “get happy,” but for Ducks Unlimited, its command is proving to be much less taxing. Get Bleak is the debut release of a band that has just achieved something that’s become increasingly rare in today’s rather finicky indie-rock community: receiving a decent amount of attention via an EP release. There’s a reason the Toronto group has cut through on the first try, though—and you can quickly find out why by hitting play on the title track, which will jangle its way straight into your life, regardless of whether you’re feeling down or not. Frontman Tom Mcgreevy has explained that “Get Bleak” is about the frustration of watching friends flee to a new, distant city in an effort to fix problems that are rooted within, but the phrase is a fitting mantra for a young generation so hopeless that the most common response is to simply laugh at it all. So get bleak for a few minutes, if you need to. For some, it may be the best way to get happy, anyhow. [Nate Rogers]
We’re collecting our A-Sides recommendations over on a Spotify playlist updated every Friday. Tune in and subscribe here.
Bbymutha, “Club Secret”
Fans have been awaiting Bbymutha’s debut LP for some time now, and in November she finally confirmed it was done. With the release of “Club Secret,” listeners at last get a taste. Opening with hair-raising whispers and a backbeat that feels like rebellion, the Chattanooga rapper’s latest confronts its audience with a pivotal question: “Who gon’ check me?” Throughout the track, Bbymutha reminds the world that she’s a force to be reckoned with, every line a warning of the danger of undervaluing her: “Who gon’ disrespect me? / You might as well forget me / If you ready, I might whip this deadly.” Produced by Rock Floyd and Kindora (who also appears on standout cuts like “Sleeping With The Enemy” and “Toxic”), “Club Secret” is a deliciously bold and seamless proclamation. Like an ouroboros, the track circles back to its crystalized thesis. A question and an answer at once, “Club Secret” feels like an omen. [Dianca London Potts]
Skylar Gudasz, “Wichita Lineman”
Did the county lineman ever realize that he inspired one of the 20th century’s most beautiful, enigmatic love songs? Driving down an Oklahoma highway in 1968, Jimmy Webb glimpsed a solitary worker on a telephone pole, silhouetted in the sunset. Webb put him in a song that became aGlen Campbell hit and a pop standard, covered by everyone from Ray Charles and Kool & The Gang to R.E.M. North Carolina’s Skylar Gudasz is the latest singer to take the measure of the sailing melody, which perfectly suits her cool, tranquil chime of a voice. She and her band uncover a grain of dusky noir beneath the original’s lush pastel clouds, but the essence remains: the whistle of wind in wires, the murmur of lovelorn thoughts, and the exquisite loneliness of being one of two silhouettes in a vast landscape, each so imaginable but so inaccessible to the other. [Brian Howe]