Welcome to FUZZY MEADOWS, our weekly recap of this week's new music. We're sharing our favorite releases of the week in the form of albums, singles, and music videos along with the "further listening" section of new and notable releases from around the web. It's generally written in the early hours of the morning and semi-unedited... but full of love and heart. The number rankings are arbitrary and we sincerely recommend checking out all the music included. There's a lot of great new music being released. Support the bands you love. Spread the word and buy some new music.
*Disclaimer: We are making a conscious effort not to include any artist in our countdown on back-to-back weeks in order to diversify the feature, so be sure to check the "further listening" as well because it's often of "countdown" quality too.
1. OXBOW | "Cold & Well-Lit Place"
Oxbow have returned to set things right... or at least to give us some gloriously strange new music. It's been ten years since the legendary Bay Area quartet's last release and they sound as creative and hard to pin-down as ever. I went deep into an Oxbow hole earlier this year, listening to everything in their discography and I came out the other side feeling invigorated and inspired. Blending noise rock, punk, blues, experimental metal, and maybe a dash of lounge jazz... Oxbow are a band that defy all odds like the four-headed mutant child of The Jesus Lizard, Led Zeppelin, Harvey Milk, and the Melvins. "Cold & Well-Lit Place" is our first taste of Thin Black Duke, and it's good... absurdly good. Built on a smooth free jazz intro (whistling and all), Eugene S. Robinson's contorted vocal melodies, and stuttering rhythms, this is cocktail hour for the deranged. Full of sweeping dynamics, brilliant chord changes and razor sharp shifts, Oxbow remain undefinable and exceedingly unpredictable. "Cold & Well-Lit Place" is layered with horns, strings, sludge, and a beautiful intensity. It's Oxbow as you haven't heard them and it's also the Oxbow you know and love. - Dan Goldin
2. MILK MUSIC | "Mystic 100's" LP
Clicking play on the new Milk Music album brought forward a sense of excitement as well as utter confusion. The band’s largely been silent since the release of Cruise Your Illusion back in 2013, and Mystic 100’s bares only a passing resemblance to that band. Opening track “He Is Coming” sounds somewhere between black-metal and Destruction Unit, and though the record settles into the Neil Young-indebted psychedelia of their predecessor, Mystic 100’s feels more raggedly shapeless. These songs could have just has easily been guitar drones, but they feel whittled down until the structure of a classic-rock song is found. It’s free-form and flowing, with tracks like “Pay Me” rarely cohering to one singular touchstone, but that’s what makes it all so invigorating. It’s hard to pin Milk Music down, which seems to be exactly what the band wanted. - David Anthony
3. WALL | "River Mansion"
Ever wonder what WALL might sound like if they took their time to really sprawl out? Imagine the band's precision perfected post-punk at a slower tempo, allowing for a chance to evolve as the dust settles and expand at a leisurely pace, building tension in the process. "River Mansion" does all this and more with a unnerving sense of calm. Sam York sings "the storm is brewing, but I'm safe in the house, locked in a dream," as a sense of unease gathers not too far behind her confident vocals. The song slowly unfolds (it's more than twice as long as anything from the band's debut) and WALL use the opportunity to create an ominous anticipation before the agitation boils to a fever as York's dreamy disposition turns venomous, alternating between "when our eyes meet and you're lying through your teeth, when our eyes meet and I'm lying through my teeth". - Dan Goldin
4. DOWNTOWN BOYS | "Somos Chulas (No Somos Pendejas)"
Although Downtown Boys’ follow-up to 2015’s Full Communism has yet to be announced, the release of “Somos Chulas (No Somos Pendejas)” shows we’re in store for something special. The band is still loud and brash, but there’s a coherence to the composition of “Somos Chulas (No Somos Pendejas)” that shows the band has found ways to streamline its attack. Downtown Boys' sound as urgent as ever, but with wandering guitar leads and moody synths building a sense of unease, the band effortlessly reflects the mood of the world at large. - David Anthony
5. TROPICAL TRASH | "Decisions' Empty Nest" EP
Louisville noise punks Tropical Trash follow up last year's under appreciated UFO Rot with another adrenaline fueled dose of chaotic filth punk by way of the Decisions' Empty Nest 7" EP. "Early Wish" is mangled and anxious, ripping forever forward on a mission to destroy all in its path with a motorik rhythm and primal sludge riffs. The band use the blanket of guitars to groove and twitch with freedom, finding melody in the mayhem, and it only gets more depraved from there on the short and decimating continuation, "Early Wish Pt. 2". There's a lot of noise to dig through on the EP's brief wave of destruction, but the band's thrashy noise is capable of subtle contortions in the most unpredictable of ways. - Dan Goldin
1. HELIUM | "Hole In The Ground"
No band from indie-rock’s early-’90s era has been as overlooked as Helium—well, save for maybe Chavez. Mary Timony is one of the most inventive songwriters the genre ever had, and while the forthcoming reissues of the band’s two full-length albums and final EP are certainly cause for celebration, the announcement of the B-sides and rarities compilation, Ends With And, is perhaps even more exciting. Many of these songs felt lost to the sands of time, and “Hole In The Ground” is one such track, originally released on a 7-inch way back in 1993 and out-of-print ever since. The track sees Helium doing what they do best, establishing a loping riff and then playing off it a million different ways. “Hole In The Ground” sounds like classic Helium because it’s exactly that, and it’s just as fresh now as it was nearly 25 years ago. - David Anthony
2. PILE | "A Hairshirt of Purpose" LP
By now, it feels downright comical to have to extol the virtues of Pile. For a decade now the band has turned in rock music that defies that overly simplistic term. Pile’s music contains multitudes, be it downtrodden four-bar blues, the jarring push-and-pull of post-hardcore, the destructive power of a noise-rock band, and oodles of pop sensibilities. These things aren’t unique to Pile, but the way that the band makes them all feel united under this moniker is what makes each record a profoundly moving experience, and A Hairshirt Of Purpose is no exception. But what is worth noting is how damn beautiful it is. Songs like “Dogs” and “Rope’s Length” are masterclasses in subtlety. Every movement is deliberate, aching forward in a way that shows Rick Maguire’s songwriting is the as streamlined as it’s ever been, and the musicianship of those around him makes for a record that seeps into your soul, twisting it until all those things you keep locked inside get jarred loose. A single listen to Hairshirt makes these things feel plain as day but, until that’s actually true, there’s plenty of more hollering about Pile to be done. - David Anthony
3. GNARWHAL | "Marathon Ripper"
"Marathon Ripper," the first single from Nashville duo Gnarwhal's upcoming album Crucial isn't just a clever name... hell, the title could be an understatement. The band, comprised of Chappy Hull (guitar/vocals) and Tyler Coburn (drums), rip like there's no tomorrow and that means an explosive avalanche of non-stop shifting riffs and Coburn's pummeling drum fills (in all sincerity, he could just be the best drummer these days has to offer). No one does it quite like Gnarwhal and the proof is in the puddin'. Watching Gnarwhal play live is a bit of a life changing experience and the band have captured that dynamic energy on "Marathon Ripper," a song that blends math-punk and post-hardcore into an explosive sonic experience that demands to be played on repeat to even begin to process their assault on the senses. - Dan Goldin
4. BIG WALNUTS YONDER | "Sponge Bath"
I was sold on Big Walnuts Yonder before I ever heard their music. The band - Nick Reinhart (Tera Melos), Mike Watt (Minutemen), Greg Saunier (Deerhoof), and Nels Cline (Wilco) - have a pedigree that speaks volumes and in their capable hands, anything is possible. You can't judge a book by its cover, but a certain caliber of musician (or author to stick with the analogy) can be a damn good indicator. The band's first single was dense and chaotic, led by Watt's howling vocals and a keen sense of insanity. It was an amazing introduction to a world of possibilities. "Sponge Bath" is a beast of a different nature and we're thrilled to hear the band exploring divergent sounds. Led by Reinhart, the song is a disorienting trip through hard tangled psych and disjointed prog. It's expansive and brilliantly jagged, a song that wanders its way into blissful chaos rather than running full speed into the wall on every track. - Dan Goldin
5. ONEIDA | "Saturday (Live at Secret Project Robot)"
Brooklyn's favorite freaky experimentalists Oneida hardly need an introduction. The band have been pushing the envelope of psych in every imaginable direction for 20 years now and on Record Store Day the band will release Live at Secret Project Robot, a recording captured at the beloved Brooklyn art space back in 2015. While Oneida hardly need assistance to travel beyond the further reaches of reality, the band were joined by Sonic Youth’s Lee Ranaldo and Yo La Tengo’s James McNew for the show, a special engagement of psych exploration. "Saturday," a song from 2009's wild Rated O album, gets an expanded treatment that stumbles deep into the void. Kid Millions' drumming alone is enough to make your jaw drop. Turn this up and drift out... because everyone deserves ten minutes to get weird every now and then. - Dan Goldin
6. US WEEKLY | "American Piss"
Abrasive and unhinged, Austin's US Weekly are ready to burn everything down. The band will release their self-titled album via new label Night Moves, and they sound as irritable and unpredictable as ever on lead single "American Piss". While the band's sound is deeply rooted in hardcore, US Weekly are always changing shape amid nods to post-hardcore, art-pop, and snotty indie punk. They're a band that can throw a curveball into the mix without upsetting the chaos. US Weekly have the rare ability to enact subtle shifts upon music that's pretty far damn from subtle, but that's part of the fun... you never know quite where they're headed but the rabbit hole remains inviting regardless. Banality is a curse and US Weekly are fighting for the cure. - Dan Goldin
1. TWO INCH ASTRONAUT | "Snitch Jacket"
In many ways, Two Inch Astronaut has always felt like the successor to Jawbox’s throne. Though, unfortunately for Two Inch, that means being a bit undervalued in your time. Hopefully, that will change with the release of Can You Please Not Help, the poppiest record the band’s made to date. As “Snitch Jacket” proves, all those trademark Two Inch sounds are there, as jagged guitar chords cut against a rhythm section that’s able to make off-time compositions feel like four-on-the-floor rock anthems. Fittingly, the record was produced by J. Robbins, the Jawbox member who has a knack for understanding a band’s sound and gussying it up without making it feel needlessly slick. “Snitch Jacket” is the kind of song that feels at home in the present day but could just as easily be found on Braid’s Frame And Canvas. Whether or not it gives Two Inch Astronaut the breakthrough it’s always deserved is anyone’s guess, but that opening riff certainly won’t make it easy for people to ignore. - David Anthony
2. BLESSED | "Headache"
Blessed are back! If you've been with us since last year than you already know the Vancouver based quartet's debut EP was one of our favorite records of 2016. Well... they've done it again and they're only getting better. Sounding somewhat like Canada's answer to The Fall (circa 1983) the hard working (aka heavy touring) band are set to release another EP, conveniently entitled II (for those keep tracking at home) and first single "Headache" is a mind expanding spiral into artistic post-punk and twitchy indie rock. The band’s razor sharp songwriting is brutally angular and incredibly focused, blending influences that include prog and krautrock into the mix to create a jarring listen that remains "pop" at its center. - Dan Goldin
3. ANNA ALTMAN | "The Interview"
Upon the release of "The Interview," Impose Magazine said Anna Altman's music was "for the attentive art audience". The band's debut single is as elegant as it is hypnotic, constructed with beauty and complexity in repetition. The Long Island duo of Lucia Arias and Christian Billard (both of Turnip King) create gorgeous melodies amid tangled minimalist arrangements; songs that are simple at a glance but bursting with atmospheric detail and Arias’ clever lyrical twists. The band are able to repeat structures while bending them ever so slightly into new shapes and patterns, reinforcing the song's unique slow dripped magnetism in the process. - Dan Goldin
4. THE PEACERS | "Jurgen's Layout"
Mike Donovan's post-Sic Alps band The Peacers have returned (and with a new "The" in their name). The band are set to release their sophomore album, Introducing The Crimsmen, via Drag City in June and if lead single "Jurgen's Layout" is anything to go by (because why not judge an album by its lead single), this could just be Donovan's best work yet. Still lo-fi and full of psych rock headiness, "Jurgen's Layout" brings an element of progressive rock into the fold, with jazzy drums that shuffle and pull the band's brand of chilled out psych folk into unpredictable waters. Can the drummer get some? - Dan Goldin
5. HORSE JUMPER OF LOVE | "Audiotree Live" Session
Horse Jumper of Love's sophomore album has to be one of the year's most anticipated records. The band showed a refined sense of brilliance throughout their self-titled debut (now on vinyl) and their cult of devoted fans continues to grow toward a fever pitch. The young Boston trio have carefully developed their sound with a timeless appeal by mixing pieces of textured slowcore, surrealist indie pop, and warped "college" rock in a way that is as self-assured as it is thematically shaky. One of the better up-and-coming bands the East Coast has to offer, the band have released an Audiotree Live Session capturing three songs from last year's already classic debut and three spectacular new songs that prove that Horse Jumper of Love are just getting started. Listen to the blistering "Volcano" and it's delicate build into unprecedented fury... they are not going anywhere. - Dan Goldin
6. BAKED | "Stay"
Way back in the blustery month of February, Baked released their sophomore album Farnham, an exceptional record that captured the Brooklyn quintet at their finest. Pulling together elements of classic rock, ear-bleeding country, and dense shoegaze with the joys of shredding guitars amid layers of hazy melodies, Baked took the opportunity to sprawl out as songwriters, highlighting the band's many strengths. One of those highlights comes in the form of Isabella Mingione's "Stay," a slow burning ballad built on R&B accented vocals, an understated twang, and massive sense for dynamic changes. The single now has a video capturing the innocence of childhood... and finally we can all watch the band play red rover. - Dan Goldin
7. CENDE | "Bed"
Started as a band worshipping at the altar of The Marked Men, the release of “Bed” shows a different side of Cende. Featuring members of Porches and LVL UP, the band is experienced enough to pull off a genre shift without losing the plot. And that’s what “Bed” does so well, taking that garage-infused pop-punk principle and pushing it in a new direction. The song feels a bit like classic ‘80s post-punk with twinges of The Sundays or Shop Assistants showing up, while still having the propulsive stomp of a band blasting through songs at a punk show. For that alone, it shows that Cende is no longer worshipping anyone, sounding the most confident when they’re willing to let their hair down and get a little loose. - David Anthony
ANGEL OLSEN "Who's Sorry Now" | CROWN LARKS "Circus Luvv" | BULLETIN "Not From Here But I Call This Home" EP | R. RING "100 Dollar Heat" | ANNIE HARDY "Shadow Mode" | BR'ER "Help Me Live" | ODDISEE "NNGE" | HORSE LORDS "Stay On It" | BILGE RAT "Orb The Horse" | BILGE RAT "Bilge Rat" LP | GAYTHEIST "Avenged Seven-Minute Abs" | BUNCHO "Jailer (Demo)" | THE CRADLE "Electrochromic" | CHERRY GLAZERR "Hot Cheetos And Wine" | MOUNT EERIE "A Crow Looked At Me" LP | WARM BODY "Mercury (In The Morning)" | ENTRANCE "Always The Right Time" | NOTHING "Spell" | MASTODON "Show Yourself"
J&L DEFER "Treefort In-Studio 2017" | WEED "Are We Cool" | RAEKWON "This Is What It Comes Too (Remix)" (feat. Ghostface Killah) | HELIUM "XXX" | BLEARY EYED "Speaking Just Fine" | OLD MAYBE "Pink Pigging" | SNAKEHOLE "Interludes of Insanity" LP | THE BLACK ANGELS "I'd Kill For Her" | LVL UP "Blur" | RAYS "Theatre of Lunacy" | GOLDEN PELICANS "Blue Medusa" | BLACK LIPS "Can't Hold On" | THE SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE "Pleasure Suck" LP | THEE OH SEES "Withered Hand (Live)" | KENDRICK LAMAR "The Heart Part 4" | HANK WOOD & THE HAMMERHEADS "Live on WFMU" | WILDHONEY "Slow Motion" | THE BUILDERS AND THE BUTCHERS "Casket Lands" | RIDE "Charm Assault" | RUN THE JEWELS "Legend Has It" | THURSTON MOORE "Smoke of Dreams" | DION LUNADON "Fire" | THE SPOOKFISH "Black Hole" | DUST FROM 1000 YRS "Boxfish Session" | CRUMB "Bones" | CASSANDRA JENKINS "Hotel Lullaby"
LASER BACKGROUND "Climb The Hill" | CADDYWHOMPUS "Splinter" | SPENCER RADCLIFFE & EVERYONE ELSE "Wrong Turn" | US WEEKLY "Creative Class" | BONNY DOON "Relieved" | GUIDED BY VOICES "5° on the Inside" | GUIDED BY VOICES "August By Cake" LP | SNEAKS "Look Like That" | RAYS "Rays" LP | HAND HABITS "Book On How To Change" | ARC FLASH "The Future" | ARC FLASH "Carbon Copy" LP | DOUG TUTTLE "Can It Be" | HOVVDY "Problem" | DRUG SWEAT "Pingu" | ART SCHOOL JOCKS "Just A Gwen" | CFM "Voyeurs" | CORY HANSON "Garden of Delight" | BAD BREEDING "Whip Hand" | JOEY BADA$$ "Rockabye Baby" (feat. Schoolboy Q) | NAP EYES "Your Samples, Our Obsession" | HONEY RADAR & TELEPATHIC "Honey Radar / Telepathic" EP | KENDRICK LAMAR "Humble" | NICK CAVE & THE BAD SEEDS "Steve McQueen" | ANNIE HARDY "Rules" LP | ANNIE HARDY "High Forever" | BAT HOUSE "Chemical X" | HENRY GRANT "Henry Grant" EP | SPOTTING "Thumper" | A TRIBE CALLED QUEST "Dis Generation" | MOON DUO "Sevens" | BUCKET "Making of a Shape" | PALBERTA "Live From Studio B" | FREDDIE GIBBS "Alexys" | WIRE "Silver/Lead" LP | AYE NAKO "Nightcrawler" | CRAG MASK "Semi Slum" | PSYCHIC TEENS "Sicko" | ANTIPHONS "Tiny Rooms" (Good Day RVA Session) | PLAYBOY "The Traffic" | LOS ANGELES POLICE DEPARTMENT "If I Lied" | DOUBLE GRAVE "All My Heroes" | PROPER ORNAMENTS "Deep One Perfect Morning (The Jesus & Mary Chain cover)" | TIM WOULFE "Breathing Thaw" | CASSANDRA JENKINS "Hotel Lullaby" (Blue Room Session) | ARTO LINDSAY "Grain By Grain" | SLOWDIVE "Sugar For The Pill" | VASSALS "Sea Spells"