Faye Webster LP
Awful Records
Faye Webster
Faye Webster

I’m going to start by reiterating what I wrote last March. Anyone who wants to paint Faye Webster’s self-titled LP as some sort of folk and hip-hop hybrid has got it wrong. Funky? Maybe a hint. But hip-hop? Nah. Instead, Webster delivers ten lustrous gems heavily indebted to ‘70s soft rock and slow-burning country soul. If there is any cross pollination taking place it’s some sublime merging of Fleetwood Mac and Dolly Parton with all the breezy dynamism and somber grace that union implies. There’s doubt, fear, and pain all over these songs, but also enough tender hope and beauty to let you know why the future looks so bright for Webster. – Avery Shepherd

Fit of Body - Healthcare
Ransom Note Records
Fit of Body

Despite containing only five original tracks, Fit of Body’s long-awaited EP, Healthcare, covers a wide swath of territory, from sultry techno to understated hip-hop. The level of thoughtful variety reflects Fit of Body’s dedication to the past, from the Detroit underground to Atlanta’s favorite son Jermaine Dupri. Don’t get it twisted though: Healthcare may be an extremely mindful house record, but it’s the gorgeous production and timeless beats that make it a critical listen. – RR

Read the full review of Healthcare.

floral print - Mirror Stages
Tiny Engines
floral print
mirror stages

Complex really isn’t the right word for floral print’s music. Chaotic doesn’t work either. Yes, the trio play obtuse guitar rock that shifts musical styles as erratically as the three change tempos, but there is an underlying sense of melody and atmosphere that penetrates even their densest cuts. On mirror stages, the band’s manic contortions are more subdued, their wiry rhythms and jagged hooks more streamlined and nuanced. The end result is a rich, mercurial record that is as engaging as it is wildly unpredictable. – GC

Goldyard - Fuck Culture III
Ransom Note Records
Fuck Culture III

On the third installment of their Fuck Culture series, Goldyard maintain the course they’ve been charting through the Atlanta rap scene albeit with stronger flows and an even stronger apathy towards mainstream culture. But are all of the ATL musical bells and whistles enough to make the group stand out like their flashy, energetic image?

Out the gate you realize Fuck Culture III attacks with greater urgency than the smooth vibes of their previous two releases. Fret not, though, as A.T. and In-Doe manage to make this project drink and smoke friendly. The energy in their respective deliveries is at an all-time high, especially from usual suspect In-Doe, who pulls out all the stops with his clever ad libs and vocal manipulation. – Starletta Watson

Read the full review of Fuck Culture III.

Glare - EP
Glare EP

Glare’s debut EP is a crucial marker in Rachel Pagillo’s musical actualization. Engineered by Seth Bolton, the record’s six songs capture the group’s deft balance of exuberant energy and haunting dissonance. With lyrics that hint at both romantic and social conflict, Glare is a crafted exploration of turbulent emotions through a stoic stance rarely seen in music this challenging and stormy. Each track alludes to some difficulty: playing unwanted roles, culture’s revolving door of mindfucks, the burden of performing emotional labor for undeserving lovers, and so on. Throughout it all, Pagillo keeps the content shrouded in ambiguity, never wearing her heart on her sleeve. Of the six tracks, “Pedestal” is the only song that slows in pace. Comparatively, it is the most wistful track in the collection, where Pagillo speaks of the need for validation followed by self-redemption. – Sunni Johnson

Read our feature on Rachel Pagillo.

Harlot Party - I Want to Be Recalcitrant, I Am Just Exhausted
Harlot Party
I Want to Be Recalcitrant, I Am Just Exhausted

How do you fight back when you feel helpless? Anyone who has followed the news in 2016 has likely felt crushed by the weight of loss, and as much as we’d like to stop injustice or tyranny, our fears and anxieties often hold us back. But for Athens poet and musician KyKy Renee Knight, the intimate music she weaves with partner and bandmate Garrett Knighon for Harlot Party has given her the strength to speak up. After growing up immersed in the written word in Nashville, she’s fought mental illness and rallied against racial injustice with just her unflinching poetry and spidery guitar style.

I’ll admit: I’ve never seen Harlot Party live. I only found out about the band in October when I watched KyKy read her powerful poem “Black Heart” at the Ciné. But that was enough to intrigue me: if she could cast a hush over the crowd with verses like that, then surely this Harlot Party of hers had to be something special. And indeed, their debut EP, I Want to Be Recalcitrant, I Am Just Exhausted, is a quiet little killer, all the more braver for its web-like structure that hides none of Knight’s guts. – LA

Read our interview with KyKy Renee Knight.

Isaak Pancake - DRUMS OLO
Isaak Pancake

On DRUMS OLO, Garrett Burke, a.k.a. Isaak Pancake, deals damage with a blinding array of custom midi effects that ricochet like pinballs between rudiments on his own analogue (i.e. real) drums. Alien wails warp and stutter in intricate weaves on “Blind Ate,” a blitz of blips spirals down the void with Burke’s insane drumming on “Medium.” The results recall the harrowing netherworlds of Brood Ma, the abstract assaults of Container, and other modern cerebral works meant for the racing mind rather than the raving body.

And while DRUMS OLO may lacerate your eardrums at times, Burke isn’t a cold-blooded killer, either. Like the aforementioned Container, Isaak Pancake deconstructs his bangers with impish glee—like on “Performance and Reliability,” a one-minute marathon through an electronic drum machine, or the crunchy marching cadence of “Sweet Song.” That levity saves Burke from slavish imitation; rather than just flexing bass-heavy muscles for the sake of utter annihilation, Burke razes earth to claim a new territory. – LA

Read the full review of DRUMS OLO.

Lingua Franca EP
Linqua Franqa
Lingua Franca

Does anyone know how to “keep it real” these days? We compete with each other for the best punchline on Facebook, code ironic asides in hashtags, and parrot raunchy lines from rappers to look hip, so that anyone who REALLY seeks a friend’s expertise only nets in jokes.

Now, Mariah Parker can roll out gags with the best of ‘em. But the Athens-based rapper, known on stage as Linqua Franqa, also knows how to cut through bullshit and tell it to ya straight. Her first EP alone dips into touchy subjects like depression, the stigma of abortion, addiction, and racial stereotypes, with barely a breath in between. – LA

Read our interview with Linqua Franqa.

LONER - In the Tides of Time
In the Tides of Time

At its core, In the Tides of Time is a record rooted in atmospheric funk and cosmic grooves. There is an enveloping feeling of freedom and unity coursing through each ecstatic melody and blissful horn note, a dynamic sense of purpose that can be traced to the group’s commitment to exploration and improvisation. Sonically, it taps into the experimental spirit of psychedelic rock without ever meandering into self-indulgence. At times expansive and transportive, at others quiet and bemused, In the Tides of Time is more than just an accomplished debut—it’s an adventurous, at times revelatory effort that stands apart from most everything else happening in the city. – GC

Read our interview with LONER.

Mattiel LP
Burger Records

Grit and drama abound on Mattiel’s self-titled debut, ten tracks of boisterous garage stomp and vintage ‘60s soul that burns slow and cuts deep. With a commanding voice that can slip from an assured growl to a feverish moan without skipping a beat, Mattiel emits her own special kind of swagger—ultra-cool and poised, yet still raw. You can credit some of the LP’s cathartic pluck to songwriters Randy Michael and Jonah Swilley who deftly provide the album’s instrumental backdrops and retro glimmer, but make no mistake: it’s that bottomless blues wail and firebrand spirit that make Mattiel such a fierce and captivating listen. – GC

Read our feature on Mattiel.

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