Lingua Ignota – ‘Sinner Get Ready’ (Sargent House Records)

The third record for Kristin Hayter is yet another gothic masterpiece, pulling inspiration from the Pennsylvania countryside to create her most hauntingly beautiful record to date. Wrapped in layers of biblical allegory, Sinner Get Ready examines the relationship between the vengeful God of the Old Testament and the submissive follower.

Musically, this is Hayter’s most accessible and least abrasive record to date. The harsh, industrial noise isn’t completely gone here, just used more sparingly, and to greater effect. This is music that describes what it means to be human, and it does so with empathy, spitefulness, and brilliance. This is a highlight release for 2021.

Sinner Get Ready is out on Sargent House Records.

Laura Stevenson – Self-Titled (Don Giovanni Records)

Laura Stevenson’s sixth record is something of a new chapter in the indie folk-punk artist’s career. The opening track, “State,” is a bold mix of gloomy ups and downs, going from moments of sizzling quiet to energetic chaos, and a pummeling wall of noise.

Recorded with veteran producer John Agnello who has worked with the likes of Dinosaur Jr. and Kurt Vile, the influence of both those sounds is littered across this record. Besides the opening track most songs take on a softer, more Americana style of soft and sweet sorrow. It’s always exciting to see an artist experimenting and shifting their sound, and that’s exactly what Stevenson accomplishes here.

Laura Stevenson is out on Don Giovanni Records.

Liars – ‘The Apple Drop’ (Mute Records)

Two decades into their career, Angus Andrew and the ever rotating group of musicians that accompany him still prove to be on the cutting edge of experimental rock music. The Apple Drop introduces itself as a slow pulsating, off-kilter swirling of emotions on the opening track “The Start.”

The track “Star Search” combines a plunky piano with Andrew’s monotone vocals, evoking an old saloon feel before transforming the track into an intense rock ballad. This record is a fresh take in a long running band’s discography. Longtime fans will be pleased, and new listeners will become new fans.

The Apple Drop is out on Mute Records.

Ty Segall – ‘Harmonizer’ (Drag City Records)

With absolutely zero warning, prolific garage rock wizard Ty Segall dropped his first record in almost two years, and it sounds like nothing else in his discography. Segall is known for being out of the box and never repeating a record twice, but this release takes that to another level.

The opener, “Learning,” is crafted with analog synths and quirky beeps and bops. It wouldn’t sound out of place on an LCD Soundsystem record. “Erased” combines the analog synths with heavy, punk riffs. “Feel Good” brings fuzzy guitars and angular riffs to create a Devo-esque sound to the track. Longtime fans will be surprised but enthralled by this record.

Harmonizer is out on Drag City Records.

Vacation – ‘Existential Risks and Returns’ (Salinas Records)

For the first time in three years, Cincinnati indie punks Vacation are back with a new LP. It’s a punchy, garage-pop record that is equal parts cathartic and uplifting. Sounding somewhere between Jay Retard and Guided By Voices there is plenty of fun to be had on this listen.

“Colored By Numbers” is a pronounced opener, finding a good dynamic between acoustic ballad and heavy, garage punk. “Ripe” is one of the more pop-inspired cuts, a totally danceable and inspirational track. This isn’t a record that is on the cutting edge of any sound, but it is incredibly fun and well worth your time.

Existential Risks and Returns is out on Salinas Records.

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