Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

5 new releases we love: Run The Jewels’ cathartic roar, Hinds’ cool polish, and more

Run The Jewels
Run The Jewels
Photo: Robin Little (Redferns via Getty Images)

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, and if you like what you hear, we encourage you to purchase featured artists’ music directly at the links provided below.

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Run The Jewels, RTJ4

[Jewel Runners, June 3]

To call this latest Run The Jewels album “timely” or “urgent” would be obvious. Killer Mike and El-P have been rapping with righteous anger and a middle finger toward the powers that be since their first collaboration back in 2013, to say nothing of Mike’s entire career. RTJ4 is no different, with the duo delivering fiery, markedly relevant verses on “walking in the snow,” “Goonies vs. E.T.,” and the devastating closer “​a few words for the firing squad (radiation).” But RTJ4 arrives at a time when countless people across the country have taken to the streets in protest of continued state-sponsored violence against Black Americans. It arrives just days after Killer Mike himself gave an emotional speech alongside the mayor of Atlanta, saying “I woke up wanting to see the world burn down yesterday because I am tired of seeing black men die.” Given the context, listening to RTJ4 feels cathartic, perhaps more than any Run The Jewels album before it. [Baraka Kaseko]

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Hinds, The Prettiest Curse

[Mom + Pop, June 4]

Hinds puts on some of the most enthralling, joyful rock shows on either side of the Atlantic, but the Madrid-based quartet’s new album proves it’s got more on its mind than just a good time. The Prettiest Curse sets itself apart from Hinds’ prior LPs with synths that make the catchy hooks soar even higher while never betraying their raucous, independent spirit. For anyone who takes issue with the band’s pivot to a more polished sound, Hinds came prepared with a kiss-off to the haters in rollicking single “Just Like Kids (Miau).” The track finds singers Carlotta Cosials and Ana Perrote rattling off the misogynistic “advice” they’ve been given like schoolyard taunts; it’s the near-constant bullshit they put up with just to do what they love—the album’s namesake “prettiest curse.” Elsewhere, the band navigates loneliness (“Riding Solo”) and heartache (“Come Back And Love Me <3”) in the only way Hinds knows how: resiliently pushing through. The Prettiest Curse may sound like a bold new Hinds, but it’s really a band more confident and in control of its identity than ever before. [Cameron Scheetz]

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Muzz, Muzz

[Matador Records, June 5]

Paul Banks doesn’t sound like a new man on Muzz’s debut album, but the Interpol singer at least sounds like he’s gotten out of New York City. A supergroup comprised of Banks, The Walkmen’s Matt Barrick, and Bonny Light Horseman’s Josh Kaufman, Muzz veers off Interpol’s dark highways of distortion onto the dusty country roads that course through Kaufman’s work. These songs laze about, unhurried and optimistic in their acoustic strums, vibrant horns, and reflective lyrics. There’s still an edge here—Banks’ voice will never not make him sound like a creature of the night, and the thundering drums Barrick brings to “Red Western Sky” and “Knuckleduster” rattle the windowpanes. But it’s the buzzsaw synth beneath “Patchouli” and how it cuts through the track’s otherwise sunny blend of acoustics that perhaps best epitomizes Muzz’s brand of cloudy Americana. [Randall Colburn]

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Momma, Two Of Me

[Danger Collective, June 5]

L.A. four-piece Momma doesn’t get right in your face, despite some occasionally roaring guitars. Instead, Two Of Me’s production and songcraft keep things at a distance: The former via significant compression, and the latter with gauzy arrangements fueled by spacious, overdriven riffing that pulls in just enough reverb to let each note carry on a second longer than expected. Add to this the gently understated vocals of singer-guitarists Etta Friedman and Allegra Weingarten, and you have an album that fuses shoegaze and early ’90s indie pop, sitting comfortably alongside Helium or Teenbeat acts like Unrest and Versus. But the mellow vibes that saturate even livelier cuts like “Biohazard” or “Derby” are buoyed by a magnetic darkness in the pair’s lyrics (“Did I fucking stutter? / I told you I’m not a runner,” goes one particularly compelling couplet), the result of the record’s raw examination of the darker sides of ourselves. A concept album about an alternate-reality purgatory called “The Bug House,” Two Of Me’s tales of lost and troubled souls ironically ends up far more real and relatable than many supposedly “confessional” artists. Momma’s kinetic churn is entrancing and electric, and this sophomore album proves it. [Alex McLevy]

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The Foxies, Growing Up Is Dead

[self-released, May 29]

Sometimes, a band sounds like they’ve just plugged their instruments directly into the veins of kids dancing alone in their rooms. The Foxies’ particular brand of pop music throws Taylor Swift and New Order into a blender, adds a dash of P!nk, and the results are a giddy and sugary delight. From the fist-in-the-air stomp of “Anti Socialite” to the wasted-youth grooves of “Call Me When Your Phones Dies” (a better “Look What You Made Me Do” than the original) to the surprisingly post-punk throb of “French Boy,” this six-song EP covers all the essential emotions of adolescent angst: anger, frustration, desire, sadness, and—above all—exhilaration. Julia Lauren Bullock’s snarling vocals can move from the Gwen Stefani-like exhortations of “Neon Thoughts” to the smooth earnestness of closer “Deep Sea Diver” without missing a beat, capturing the conflicting personas of anyone still trying to figure themselves out. No one’s reinventing the wheel here; The Foxies are just doing pop music the way it should be done. [Alex McLevy]

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