Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Illustration for article titled 5 new releases we love: Tank And The Bangas chill, Keiynan Lonsdale dances, and more
Photo: Ingrid Wiliams, Clifford Prince King

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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Tank And The Bangas, “For André

[Verve, May 27]

You never quite know what you’re going to get with a Tank And The Bangas release. More often than not, you’re faced with a bouncing, bass-bumping jaunt like “Spaceships” (or most of the bangers that occupied 2019’s Green Balloon). But every now and again the jazzy, funk-hop New Orleans outfit will gift fans with something like “For André,” a slow-brewing, low-fi vibe of a tune that slinks with ease. With an insistently chill vibe befitting of the man the song honors, Tarriona “Tank” Ball sends a melodic love note to André 3000. Why? Because, as the song appropriately notes, “everybody luh André.” “For André,” like so much of TATB’s discography, is yet another example of Tank’s unmatched ability to vocally glide from spoken work, to lullaby-like crooning, to warbled, chopped, and screwed theatrics that inject every message with incomparable charisma. Gone (for now) are the bravado and the triumphant instrumentals to make way for something mellow and beautifully reverent. [Shannon Miller]

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Keiynan Lonsdale, Rainbow Boy

[May 29]

Sydney-born multihyphenate Keiynan Lonsdale may be best known as the DC Arrowverse’s Wally West/Kid Flash, but his debut album Rainbow Boy introduces the artist as something of a superhero all his own, no alter ego needed. Lonsdale’s been working on the LP since coming out as queer—around the time he starred in Love, Simon—and his journey of self-discovery fuels the jubilant, kaleidoscopic world of Rainbow Boy. It’s an unfiltered peek into the young man’s mind as he grapples with sexual and racial identity, carving out time to air his frustrations (“White Noise”) and celebrate in defiance (“Gay Street Fighter”). But even in moments of anger and uncertainty, Lonsdale finds something to dance to, crafting an upbeat R&B record that recalls Beyoncé in its bravado and dexterous genre-blending. For Keiynan Lonsdale, Rainbow Boy is that pivotal moment in all origin stories: when we get to witness the hero gleefully explore the height of their newfound powers. [Cameron Scheetz]

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Preservation, Eastern Medicine, Western Illness

[Nature Sounds, May 29]

If you’re missing the days when RZA would be dropping records and soundtracks left and right, it would behoove you to check out Preservation’s latest. The producer and DJ spent three years living in Hong Kong, immersing himself in the local sounds and culture; Eastern Medicine, Western Illness—the longtime New York beatmaker and Mos Def collaborator’s latest release—was crafted solely from Chinese vinyl he unearthed while haunting the region’s record stores. The results sound like an addicting confluence of kung-fu soundtracks, spare 2000s beats, and a litany of eminent contemporary rappers lending their flow to his creations, including Quelle Chris, Your Old Droog, and Mach-Hommy. From the De-La-Soul-on-quaaludes vibe of “Money In The Wild” to the spaghetti-western guitar twang of “North Bridge” to the mournful flute of “A Cure For The Common,” it all works. Quentin Tarantino wishes the Kill Bill score was this fluid and artful. [Alex McLevy]

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Inventions, Continuous Portrait

[Temporary Residence, May 29]

Eluvium’s Matthew Cooper and Explosions in the Sky’s Mark T. Smith, two modern-day masters of the immersive instrumental, begin their first Inventions album in five years with a warm burst of laughter. It’s a fitting choice, given that Continuous Portrait foregrounds the playful qualities of the duo’s previous releases, its myriad humming synths, woodwinds, and percussive textures evoking an eccentric scientist’s homemade satellite as it spins to life. The wistful melancholy of Inventions’ past work isn’t completely absent—the title track is as lovely a drone as you’ll hear all year—but the spritely bounce of tracks like “Outlook For The Future” and “Calico” wouldn’t be out of place underscoring a Final Fantasy map. There’s traces of Cooper and Smith’s signature thunder here, but Continuous Portrait, with its quirk and offbeat charm, is the first Inventions LP to feel born of a single outfit rather than a collaboration. [Randall Colburn]

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Jake Blount, Spider Tales

[Free Dirt, May 29]

The ongoing project of reclaiming the African roots of American folk music continues on Spider Tales, the debut full-length from banjo player and fiddler Jake Bount. Even if folk and bluegrass aren’t usually your jam, this 14-song set is well worth a listen for its provocative, deeply felt—and, yes, accessible—take on the genre. Mixing fiery original instrumentals with traditional spirituals, blues, and folk songs, Blount channels long-dead voices to tell the story of the tears that have watered the American tree for centuries, with lyrics that evoke apocalyptic images of devils, fire, and blood “running down the streets.” Intertwined with these historical roots is Blount’s life in the present, as subtly but potently evoked both in his reworking of Lead Belly’s “Where Did You Sleep Last Night”—another potential entry point for 90s kids familiar with the song from Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged In New York—and in the crisp, sample-ready percussive elements of his compositions. [Katie Rife]

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