The best albums of the week, from Aminé, The Microphones, and more
The timeline was galvanized and, uh, pretty excited about the brand new clip for Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s “WAP” on Thursday night. Gleefully NSFW and the sort of fun house spectacle to drive conservative pearl-clutchers to "accidentally" hear the song and drown their ears in holy water, it’s simply two of the best rappers alive crafting an eminently quotable, culture-seizing moment. Kylie Jenner nearly sucks the life out of it, briefly, but the rest is dazzling enough to temporarily distract from the omnipresent doom.
As we’ve come to expect on the first of every month, it’s another Bandcamp donation day. I’m definitely snagging the latest from Illuminati Hotties and Weave — a band that shouldn't have been overlooked on a previous column or any future album of the year list, if we’re being honest. So per usual, we recommend swinging over there to support artists in the most direct way possible right now. This week’s best new albums come from Aminé, Phil Elverum’s return to The Microphones moniker, and more.
Aminé — Limbo
Aminé’s Good For You feels like it was released in another dimension. Three years is a very long time between rap albums, despite his attempts to bridge the gap with 2018’s transitional ONEPOINTFIVE. You can feel him running away from the buoyancy and outsider positivity of “Caroline” and that first record, folding in some darker terrain with a further genre-agnostic approach. Although it’s his second proper full length, you can sense how tentative and searching this feels, cautious to grapple with things like legacy, mortality, and building a future. The death of Kobe Bryant clearly shook the Portland rapper, shedding a substantial part of his childhood. But this is still an incredibly listenable and loose rap album, boosted by highlights like “Woodlawn” and “Shimmy.”
The Microphones — The Microphones in 2020
Phil Elverum repurposed an incredibly painful chapter of his life into spare, emotional generosity. A Crow Looked at Me and its immediate follow-up, Now Only, excavated the grief of losing his wife, Geneviève, into something immediate and perceptive. Now, returning to the name of his beloved initial project for the first time in nearly two decades, Elverum seems hyperaware of the desperation associated with lingering on the past. In a note with the album — which is just a lone, 45-minute continuous song, gliding through distant memories and the same simple chord progression — he explains that the name was always just that, and didn’t reflect a difference in aims for the project. “I have tried to get at the heart of what defined that time in my life, my late teens and early twenties, but even more importantly, I tried to break the spell of nostalgia and make something perennial and enduring,” he writes.
Jason Molina — Eight Gates
Since Jason Molina’s death in 2013, posthumous material has mostly trickled out in the form of Songs: Ohia reissues and old demos. There’s been no shortage of commemoration, from a recent biography to a tribute tour with some old bandmates. Now, we have the final album he recorded in 2008, a decidedly pared-down, spectral collection called Eight Gates. It comes with a strange, near-mythical origin story, which involves Molina claiming he was bitten by a poisonous spider. This supposedly led to debilitating illness, and him writing these songs — although there’s no medical records to back any of this up. A singular architect of melancholy, it’s mostly just great to hear some new material for what could be the last time.
Various Artists — It's Never Over Til It's Done - A blink-182 Covers Comp
On the same day blink-182 released its own fairly direct new single called “Quarantine,” a stacked roster of pop-punk and emo-adjacent artists banded together to pay tribute to Dude Ranch in its 23rd year. It's Never Over Til It's Done - A blink-182 Covers Comp reimagines every track from the band’s sophomore album and then some, with contributions from Joyce Manor, Adult Mom, Retirement Party, Rozwell Kid, and more. Spirit Night’s take on “Dammit” especially rules. All proceeds benefit organizations to benefit Black trans communities, including the Homeless Black Trans Women Fund, SNapCO, The Trans Justice Project, and related funds. Mark Hoppus is onboard, so get to it!
Double Grave — Goodbye, Nowhere!
The Minneapolis band Double Grave exist in a fairly crowded arena of fuzzy, shoegaze-minded indie rock. Nevermind if something assumes the same headspace as several other reverb-soaked projects when it lands the punches this well. For a three-piece, they build surprisingly lush, imposing songs that don’t entirely abandon tight pop inclinations. Double Grave leans into their dynamics just enough for it to pay off, especially on “The Farm” and “Long Drive Home.”