Mdou Moctar – Afrique Victime (Matador Records)

The legendary Tuareg guitarist Mdou Moctar’s latest release Afrique Victime is his most bold, refined, and explosive record to date. Although his brand of guitar playing is instantly recognizable to many Moctar’s sound has gone through many evolutions over the years. From his early lo-fi home recorded debut Afelan, which gave listeners the closest experience to his infamous live show, to his last release Ilana which was his most studio refined record.

Afrique Victime manages to fall somewhere in between those two records. It combines the unrestrained fun of his lo-fi recordings with the studio quality sound of his later records. Although the highlight of the record, as always, is Moctar’s electrifying guitar playing the lyrics, which are sung mostly in Tamasheq, touch on topics like politics, imperialism, and women’s rights in Niger. He also touches on simpler ideas like nature and young love. This LP is one of the best in the Mdou Moctar discography, a fun record for the summer, and not one to be missed!

Afrique Victime is out on Matador Records.

CHAI – Wink (Sub Pop)

Wink is quite possibly the most joyful record of 2021. The four-piece’s debut record Pink was an explosive and unique mix of punk and synth pop that caught the attention of many. This latest release finds the group with much less punk influence and much more synth pop and hip hop style. The songs are soft and groovy. They manage to find happiness in the little things like donuts and pottery. It’s a fun and quirky record that parts in a big way from their previous releases.

I admire the band’s ability to take big risks especially considering that is pays off with this release. At points on the record, like the track “PING PONG!” the group implements 8-bit synthesizers into their sound. Other tracks like “END” bring back the frenetic punk sound from Pink while also adding elements of 90s hip hop, in a similar vain to a band like The Garden. Overall, Wink is a really fun and innovative release from the Japanese quartet.

Wink is out on Sub Pop.

Mannequin Pussy – Perfect EP (Epitaph Records)

Following up 2019’s electric Patience LP the Philadelphia band has returned with a short EP that is good enough to rival some of the group’s best records. The opening track “Control” finds the balance between emotional and heavy hitting, in a similar vain to a band like Dinosaur Jr. Tracks like “Perfect” and “Pigs is Pigs” are nothing but unrestrained aggression and wild noise, which come as extremely cathartic moments on the EP.

The finale track “Darling” is a sweet ballad that ends the record on a bittersweet tone. While this release isn’t likely to bring on new fans or make a big splash with critics it is still undeniably really fucking good. Don’t miss it!

Perfect is out on Epitaph Records.

FACS – Present Tense (Trouble in Mind)

The Chicago trio picks up where last years release Void Moments left off. Sonically the band is abrasive and dissonant. They employ fuzzed out bass grooves with squealing guitars, and the occasional droning synth loop. That being said the band has never really stopped pushing their sound in new directions. It’s their constant experimentation that is a defining characteristic of the group. The track “Alone Without” is a nine minute long slow building dark no-wave track that sounds like it could be a cut on Swans’ self-titled debut.

The track eventually devolves into a noisy psychedelic jam. Recorded at Steve Albini’s Electrical Audio studio in Chicago the record is layered with noisy overdubs that add to the overall chaos. An extremely unique and dark record that will surely satisfy post-punk and hardcore fans alike.

Present Tense is out on Trouble in Mind.

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