10 New Albums to Listen to Today

Featuring Kendrick Lamar, Ethel Cain, Leikeli47 and more

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10 New Albums to Listen to Today

Fridays are a special day for Paste, thanks to the incredible music that we get to share with you. Like clockwork, we compile the week’s best, most exciting releases to accompany each batch of songs. Find something new to take into the weekend with you among these must-hear albums.

Ethel Cain: Preacher’s Daughter

Between last year’s monster EP Inbred and a slated performance at Pitchfork Music Festival, Ethel Cain is on a brilliant ascent. Inbred solidified her position as a force to be witnessed in American music as she wrestled with the uniquely Southern version of the American dream that shaped her young life. The divinity of gospel, the audacity of heartland rock and the frankness of 2010s Tumblr-era pop collide into an arresting narrative spectacle, portraying the experience of a woman who is intimately familiar with depraved violence, the gospel and the strict social hierarchies of the South and the Plains. The EPs have only revealed a portion of Cain’s lore, but on her whopping 75-minute debut LP Preacher’s Daughter, Ethel Cain, the narrative figure and the musical sensation, manifests a breathtaking account of a woman, her mysterious partner and her troubled family. Much as Inbred mangled Americana, ambient folk and slowcore into a terrifying sonic experiment, Preacher’s Daughter is a sound all its own. Imagine what would happen if singers as familiar as Bruce Springsteen or Nichole Nordeman were backed by Midwife or Sunn O))). The glamorous and aphrodisiac sound of Lana Del Rey is undoubtedly there, but the thematic and instrumental elements on Preacher’s Daughter possess a weightiness and impulse away from ironic glamorization of the American dream and toward outright criticism that render the comparison only so relevant. At times the record throbs with a noisy, immersive intensity before transitioning into the kind of epic guitar solos that decorated the cult of rock personalities in generations past. This collision of dark ambient and Def Leppard is uniquely American in the best way conceivable. —Devon Chodzin

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Florence + The Machine: Dance Fever

The music of Florence The Machine is consistently singular. The band, led by Florence Welch, have been performing bewitching baroque pop since the late aughts. While their music has become higher in fidelity as their star has risen, they’ve never abandoned their sweeping gothic ambitions. Though they have their occasional moments of stirring quiet, they’re a group best suited to huge, uproarious songs. Welch is a charismatic performer, often possessed by the power of her own music, and is prone to leaping and bounding around the stage, sometimes running through a theater’s aisles. While writing the songs that would, years later, become Dance Fever, the band’s fifth album, Welch read about choreomania, the Middle Ages concept of being so lost in euphoria that one dances themself to death—an idea that would naturally fascinate someone so morbidly devoted to performance. These songs would have to reflect this compulsion in their sound and structure, building them to feel at home onstage. After enlisting pop hitmaker Jack Antonoff, the pandemic began just a week into recording sessions, forcing Welch back to both London and square one. While unable to meet in person, she worked remotely with Antonoff and Glass Animals’ Dave Bayley. The resulting songs are some of the most captivating Florence The Machine have made in years, and exist as a hellish rebuke against stillness. —Eric Bennett

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Kendrick Lamar: Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers

Ever since Kendrick Lamar put everything in motion leading up to the announcement of his fifth album Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers, it feels like the entire world has waited with bated breath for any sign of life from the Compton rapper. He shared the powerful “The Heart Part 5,” the album’s only preview, on May 8. Finally, we get the whole picture. Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers, which is the rapper’s final album with Top Dawg Entertainment, features a wide cast of features. In addition to Kodak Black’s recurring appearances throughout the project, there are also contributions from singers Amanda Reifer and Summer Walker, Ghostface Killah, Blxst, a rare Sampha feature, Portishead’s Beth Gibbons and more. There is also a feature from Lamar’s reported cousin Baby Keem, the pair’s first reunion since Keem’s The Melodic Blue in 2021. —Jade Gomez

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Kevin Morby: This Is A Photograph

Memphis makes beautiful music. Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash recorded hits at Sun Studio, while Stax Records, a cradle of American soul music, played host to Otis Redding, Booker T. & The M.G.’s and countless others. Alongside Atlanta, Nashville, New Orleans and Muscle Shoals, Alabama, Memphis is a Southern city whose music history is its history. Memphis is a place that has endured much pain, too. A climbing crime rate and an ugly civil rights history give it a bad rap. But it’s like any other place, really—both good and bad, beautiful and grotesque. So it’s fitting that Memphis is the backdrop for Kevin Morby’s new album This Is a Photograph, in which a series of highs and lows blur against the very American sounds of folk, rock, gospel and blues, plus Morby’s own je ne sais quoi. Whether Photograph is Morby’s best album is hard to say just now, but it certainly ups his already stellar batting average. The man doesn’t make bad music (or if he does, he doesn’t share it). He has experimented with different moods and textures to great success throughout his decade-long solo career, and Photograph is the convergence of every move Morby has made before it. —Ellen Johnson

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Leikeli47: Shape Up

Brooklyn rapper Leikeli47 is a shapeshifter. Her attitude-laden raps hold endless amounts of confidence and wit. Her new album Shape Up, her first full-length project since 2018’s Acrylic, is bursting at the seams with charm. Chopped-up vocals become second instruments, and Leikeli’s expressive delivery props her up as a beacon of resilience. Whether over bubblegum-bright dance beats or bass-heavy grime, Leikeli continues to build her artistry on her own terms under the veil of anonymity, with a fierce love for Black womanhood and the power of dance. —Jade Gomez

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Mallrat: Butterfly Blue

Mallrat, also known as Grace Shaw, has been releasing music since she was a teenager. As the Australian singer/songwriter enters adulthood, her music reaches new heights. It was smart to wait to release her debut studio album Butterfly Blue now, as the album widens her scope and brings a new, refreshing focus to her music. Its glossy pop textures have a rough, lo-fi edge. Shaw’s omnivorous musical appetite takes a front seat on Butterfly Blue, whether it be in the form of a coveted Azealia Banks feature or Memphis rap references. Throughout the project, Shaw embraces a confidence that is fitting for such a debut, proudly presenting a collection of stunning pop cuts with boundless inspiration. —Jade Gomez

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Quelle Chris: DEATHFAME

Quelle Chris is not interested in fitting into any conventions, and DEATHFAME might be his most innovative album yet. The gentle, preacher-like cadence of “Alive Ain’t Always Living” and the soul of “The Sky Is Blue Because The Sunset Is Red” only represent a fraction of the sounds Quelle explores. Pitched-down vocals and mysterious clangs seep into ominous samples, evoking the urban legends of Memphis rap sigils and the murkiness of nihilism. Quelle swan-dives into a beautiful death, taking listeners along for the ride in the twisted, Willy Wonka-like abyss he finds on the way down. —Jade Gomez

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Say Sue Me: The Last Thing Left

The Last Thing Left, Say Sue Me’s first album since 2018’s When We Were Together, was self-recorded and self-produced during lockdown at the South Korean quartet’s own Busan studio. Mourning the tragic 2019 death of their original drummer Semin Kang, and reckoning with all the pandemic’s emotional upheaval and isolation, the band sought healing through these new songs, which continue to meld surf-rock and dream-pop to effortlessly engaging and uplifting effect. “This album has the theme of some realization, eventually the realization of love. Love in relationships, love for oneself, and the ultimate love gained after realizing those two things!” says vocalist/guitarist Sumi Choi. The Last Thing Left finds Say Sue Me emerging from a dark place with the brightest music of their careers, and will only lend more momentum to the band’s continued international breakout. —Scott Russell

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The Smile: A Light For Attracting Attention

During the first year of the pandemic, as Radiohead seemingly shifted from active band to archival project, Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood did something they haven’t done since their teenage years: They formed a new band together. They called it The Smile—a reference to a Ted Hughes poem, not their sunny dispositions, in case there was any confusion—and they invited Tom Skinner, drummer for the British jazz group Sons of Kemet, to fill the intimidating position of the sole non-Radiohead member of the trio. Nearly half the time, A Light for Attracting Attention buzzes and crackles with a sense of reckless abandon absent from the last 15 years’ worth of Radiohead releases. “You Will Never Work in Television Again” has the high-octane guitars and mile-a-minute Yorke delivery to boost a dead person’s heart rate. It’s a revelation. “Thin Thing” is menacing and wonky, with a burbling guitar riff that seems maximized to confuse those YouTube guitar tutorial guys. These songs are insular and anxiety-ridden, shorn of soaring choruses or straightforward rhythms, but they are also invigorating jolts of art-rock energy. Like much of this album, the emphasis is on proggy interplay over studio trickery. But this is hardly a barebones garage-rock diversion. The Smile contain multitudes. No Radiohead side project has ever sounded quite as much like Radiohead as this band does, invoking many eras of the band’s career at once. I assume I Can’t Believe It’s Not Radiohead! was a rejected album title. —Zach Schonfeld

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They Hate Change: Finally, New

New Jagjaguwar signees They Hate Change are all over the place, and that is far from a bad thing in this case. Their label debut Finally, New expands upon the jittery futurism that places the production/rap duo on the margins of hip-hop, pop and electronic music. Going pedal to the metal on Finally, New is their only option, testing how far they can go in creating genre-bending experiences that draw upon a palette refined through the millennial urge to hoard music on the internet. —Jade Gomez

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And don’t forget to check out … Bear’s Den: Blue Hours, The Black Keys: Dropout Boogie, Emma Ruth Rundle: EG2: Dowsing Voice, Gentle Heat: Sheer, Hamilton Leithauser & Paul Maroon: Dear God, John Carpenter: Firestarter Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, Mandy Moore: In Real Life, Moderat: MORE D4TA, Obongjayar: Some Nights I Dream of Doors, Phelimuncasi: Ama Gogela, Pkew Pkew Pkew: Open Bar, Post Animal: Love Gibberish, RLYR: RLYR, Sister Ray: Communion, State Champs: Kings of the New Age, Tank and The Bangas: Red Balloon, Yves Jarvis: The Zug