The best albums of the week, from Drake, Car Seat Headrest, and more
Once again, Bandcamp is providing artists with meaningful relief by waiving its revenue share all day on May 1. The platform previously waived its take on March 20, which raised $4.3 million in music and merch sales, and has announced plans to waive fees on the first Friday of each of the next two months, June 5 and July 3. It’s incredibly nice to see the purchase ticker zoom by. There’s a number of new benefit compilations and surprise releases to dig into — I’ll probably be stocking up on merch and records, too, after a download-heavy March. So down below, we’ll be highlighting a few of the obvious major releases of the week, like Drake, Car Seat Headrest, and Mozzy, but along with some artists and compilations that could use the support on Bandcamp Day.
Drake — Dark Lane Demo Tapes
I recently saw someone on Twitter wonder if there’s any comparable run to the sustained, unbroken decade-long pop dominance Drake has enjoyed (it’s Michael Jackson, and probably The Beatles, too, but beyond that…) Dark Lane Demo Tapes doesn’t quite feel like the end of that era, but it certainly feels like a different grab bag of his styles, from viral grasps — “Toosie Slide” was eagerly engineered to leap up to number one — to dabbling in drill again. As he’s known to do, Drake stymied expectations by saying there’s still a proper studio album coming this summer, sure to extend that window a bit longer.
Car Seat Headrest — Making a Door Less Open
Will Toledo’s new mask-wearing alias Trait was never supposed to speak to These Times, and you can tell he’s a little annoyed by the timing of it all. Undoubtedly the band’s challenging left turn record, and first set of new material since 2016’s classic Teens of Denial, I’m still working through Making a Door Less Open. Early singles hinted at a warm embrace of electronic textures and brash cynicism on “Hollywood,” which was a minor red herring and blemish. But some of the tectonic movement from the band’s best is still intact here, especially on “Weightlifters,” “Deadlines (Hostile,)” and “There Must Be More Than Blood.” I'm not...one foot out the door on these guys just yet.
Mozzy — Beyond Bulletproof
The dizzyingly prolific Sacramento rapper wanted a little space from that other big release of the weekend, but his new collection deserves its time in the sun. Beyond Bulletproof is the MC’s fifth studio album and first since last year’s Internal Affairs. He’s probing deeper here, over some increasingly fluttering, dynamic production. G Herbo, Polo G, Eric Bellinger, and more feature here.
Pure X — Pure X
The Austin indie rock act Pure X hasn't released anything in six years, but return with a new collection. Their new self-titled album inhabits a strange kind of beauty, all at once unassuming, nihilistic, and heavily distorted. According to an interview with the Fader, the band has kind of an easygoing attitude about returning after a long delay, with no possibility of touring on the immediate horizon. "We're not trying to force this down anyone's throat,” songwriter Jesse Jenkins told the Fader. “We're trying to make records that we are proud of. Playing the game does not jive with that at all.”
The Song Is Coming From Inside the House compilation
This 24-song compilation, organized by the great Philly indie rock band Strange Ranger, features new music from Mount Eerie, Downtown Boys, Palehound, Ratboys, and more. All proceeds will benefit the Groundswell Rapid Response Fund, an organization that channels funds to support “organizations on the frontlines, defending the most vulnerable communities with timely, flexible grants with an emphasis on funding in states and communities where women of color, transgender people of color, and low-income women and trans people-led organizing is under-resourced.”
Don’t Stop Now III: A Collection of Covers and More
Another massive benefit comp, Don’t Stop Now III: A Collection of Covers and More features 44 covers or demos from some other great artists in the broader constellation of DIY punk bands. Organized by Augusta Koch of Cayetana and Gladie to benefit the Cosecha Movement’s COVID-19 relief fund for undocumented workers, you can hear some inventive covers, like Harmony Woods’ take on “Tiny Vessels” or Thin Lips sick reimagining of Kate Bush’s “Wuthering Heights.” But the highlight here is Jeff Rosenstock and Pup’s Stefan Babcock dueting on Belle and Sebastian’s “Fox in the Snow,” which might seem like an unlikely combo but moves from beauty to build in no time.
27 Cloud Nothings live sets
Cloud Nothings have released 27 new live sets, priced at $2 each, that span just about every era of the band. They’re one of the most scorching live bands of the 2010s, powered by Dylan Baldi’s throat-shredding and drummer Jayson Gerycz’s pummeling time-keeping. If there isn’t a show that every fan of the band attended here, there’s sure to be a similar set from the days of Turning On right up through Here and Nowhere Else.