Anthemic post-hardcore is rarely this moving (also, Young M.A. is back): 5 new releases we love

·5 min read
Fiddlehead (Photo: Mitch Wojcik) and Young M.A. (Photo: Drew Herrman)
Fiddlehead (Photo: Mitch Wojcik) and Young M.A. (Photo: Drew Herrman)

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. Unless otherwise noted, all releases are now available.


Fiddlehead, Between The Richness

[Run For Cover]

Optimism and excitement about the future aren’t exactly hallmarks of Fiddlehead’s previous releases, suffused as they are with grief and questions of how to find hope in a life that so consistently beats you down. And while that topic will never be far from singer Pat Flynn’s thoughts—there’s a reason the opening track on Between The Richness is called “Grief Motif”—the ensuing years’ events (marriage, fatherhood) have shaped the themes of the new record in significant ways, lending an explosive sense of possibility to the call-and-response catharsis of these songs. Musically, the band’s sound has evolved without losing the propulsive urgency that underlaid everything from the quietest moments to the most full-throated frenzy: There’s a lot of Archers Of Loaf in the DNA of this material, but those who care to dig deeper will find touchstones of everything from sing-along-style anthemic punk to the second-wave emo of Braid and Cap’n Jazz. But through it all, Flynn’s lyricism maintains a raw vulnerability that makes that phrase take on deeper meaning than the usual “confessional” vocals found in the genre. Really, that’s just a fancy way of saying his lyrics are really, really good. [Alex McLevy]

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Torres, “Don’t Go Puttin’ Wishes In My Head

[Merge Records]

Rolling in on a wave of synths like a fast-moving thunderstorm, “Don’t Go Puttin’ Wishes In My Head,” the first single off of Torres’ upcoming fifth album Thristier, is an electrifying bolt of propulsive, anthemic rock ’n’ roll. Singer-songwriter Mackenzie Scott punches specific words in the chorus with the spiteful force of an embittered lover, but the overall mood of the song is one of breathless anticipation. “I know promising forever’s not your thing,” Scott humbly opines, before adding a caveat that’s part plea and part warning: “Don’t spend your mornings and your evenings in my bed / If you don’t want me believing that / You’re never gonna leave me, darling.” The swelling emotion and exhilarating upward thrust of the melody make “Don’t Go Putting Wishes In My Head” perfect for an impassioned karaoke rendition, which prompts the real question: Could this finally be the song that knocks “Mr. Brightside” from its barroom throne? That’s a big mountain to climb, granted—maybe a Torres/Brandon Flowers collaboration, for starters? [Katie Rife]

Mdou Moctar, Afrique Victime

[Matador]

It’s understandable why a lot of the attention focused on Mdou Moctar centers around his virtuosic guitar playing. The Tuareg musician fuses Western rock shredding with nimble Eastern melody and music, resulting in a kinetic display of prowess that anchors even the gentlest of his music, as on the searching, acoustic beaut “Tala Tannam.” But it’s his artful arrangements and gift for expansive, multilayered composition that puts Moctar and his bandmates into a league of their own, pulling off epic-length ’70s-rock odysseys with an infusion of influences in a manner that feels as vibrant and electric as the originals which inspired them. Whether it’s the title track, with its demands for radical political change; the more muted but insistent thrum of “Ya Habibti,” swirling with a Tinariwen-esque groove; or the emotional and intimate calls for respect of “Taliat,” the band’s sense of evolving melodies through repetition remains strong, constantly shifting and tweaking the patterns and riffs with the precision-like tweaking of a DJ Shadow composition. [Alex McLevy]

B.I (featuring Destiny Rogers and Tyla Yaweh), “Got It Like That

[131 Label]

Sometimes it’s hard to live up to your own hype. Especially when that hype is being the leader of a K-pop group that has a song so popular and infectious, it gets banned in schools because kids won’t stop singing it in class all day. Luckily for B.I., the idol turned soloist and record label exec, his highly anticipated global single is a smooth R&B track that manages to justify said hype—and you know what? It’s pretty damn catchy. The Stereotypes, the team that produced the track, has a lofty resumé—previously working with Bruno Mars, Cardi B, and Justin Bieber—so in joining forces with someone with as unerring a knack for hooks as B.I., it was basically impossible for this song to not be an absolute banger. Guest Destiny Rogers’ light and dreamy vocals pair smoothly with fellow visitor Tyla Yaweh’s energetic ad libs; by the time the powerhouse rapper enters with his melodic flow and boastful lyrics (“Everyday I wake up feelin’ myself / Started from the bottom now we only top shelf”), it’s hard not to believe in the power of an impeccably produced pop track. [Shanicka Anderson]

Young M.A., Off The Yak

[M.A. Music]

From the “Sail”-like cries that erupt in the opening seconds of “Successful,” the first track on Off The Yak, Young M.A.’s new project, it’s clear the Brooklyn rapper isn’t interested in backing away from the superlative stylistic technique—navigating between brutality and fluidity—that has defined her output. The artist’s first full-length release since 2019’s Herstory In The Making, the music here covers a solid spectrum of beats, from the drill and bombast of the title track and four others produced by NY Bangers to the playful synth blips on “Don Diva” (with an assist from Rubi Rose). And her flow rises and falls to meet the material, usually with her signature punchlines and braggadocio but also providing some riveting moments of fierce confessional, as on the vulnerable “Yak Thoughts.” From grimy trap to old-school boom-bap, Young M.A. is again treating her full-length release as a statement of purpose, maneuvering across different patterns to reassert her position as one of the preeminent rappers of the past half-decade, capable of transforming from lighthearted seduction to angry testimonial within the space of a single line, let alone verse. “Had a heart, then I lost it / Been hurt too often,” she raps, but in between the boasts, there’s enough subtle moments of empathy to reveal she hasn’t given up on love yet. [Alex McLevy]