5 New Albums to Stream Today

Featuring Shame, Sleaford Mods, Samia and more

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5 New Albums to Stream Today

It remains to be seen whether this nascent new year will actually be any less harrowing than the last, but if there’s one development in which we can certainly take solace, it’s that the holiday lull is over and New Music Friday is once again a thing. Where our weekly streaming roundups are concerned, we sat out the first full week of January, which was relatively quiet aside from a powerful Steve Earle release, among several others. But this week is a different story, as Paste’s new album release radar is back up and bleeping. From the much-anticipated return of one of our favorite new artists of recent years (Shame’s Drunk Tank Pink) to a new solo release from a member of beloved indie-folk act Big Thief (Buck Meek’s Two Saviors), what this release week lacks in quantity, it more than makes up for in quality. Check out Paste’s first new album picks of 2021 below.

Buck Meek: Two Saviors

Fittingly titled, Two Saviors is the second full-length from Buck Meek, following his self-titled 2018 solo debut. The Big Thief guitarist and solo singer/songwriter recorded his sophomore effort in New Orleans with Adam Brisbin (guitar), Mat Davidson (bass, pedal steel, fiddle), Austin Vaughn (drums), and his brother Dylan Meek (piano, organ). Big Thief are well-represented on the album: Meek teamed with producer and engineer Andrew Sarlo, who has produced all four of the band’s albums to date, as well as his Big Thief bandmate Adrianne Lenker, with whom he cowrote “Candle.” Two Saviors is an earthy, gentle work of indie-folk imbued with quiet wonder, from opening track “Pareidolia” (named after and inspired by “a word about recognizing shapes where none were intended to exist—like searching for images in the clouds”) to the tape hiss and hopefulness of closing cut “Halo Light,” on which Meek sings, “All our love will stay / To live again tomorrow.” —Scott Russell

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Pom Poko: Cheater

Norwegian quartet Pom Poko are back with the follow-up to their acclaimed 2019 debut Birthday, a 10-track collection of spiky, explosive art-rock on which they sound like a particularly sugar-coated successor to Tune-Yards or Deerhoof. Punk and pop sounds swirl like a sandstorm on Cheater, blinking in and out of the mix at a moment’s notice, with Ragnhild Fangel’s vocals putting a smiling face on it all. Leaving room for the unexpected is the name of the game for Pom Poko: “We like to mix the feeling of a surgically produced piece of music with the random sounds that also happen when you are a band playing together,” says Fangel. The band’s torrential free-thinking can be difficult to keep pace with, but if you, too, can embrace the chaos, you’ll be in for quite a ride. —Scott Russell

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Samia: The Baby Reimagined

Rising New York City-based singer/songwriter Samia made serious waves in 2020, with her debut album The Baby earning her spots on Paste’s lists of the best albums and new artists of the year. With that in mind, it’s unsurprising that a who’s-who of indie artists, both up-and-coming and established, signed on for The Baby Reimagined, with the likes of Bartees Strange, Palehound, The Districts, Remo Drive and others contributing reworks of all 11 tracks from Samia’s debut. Highlights include indie-folk artist Anjimile’s arresting rendition of “Waverly” and Strange’s passionate, synth-driven take on “Pool,” to name only a pair. —Scott Russell

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Shame: Drunk Tank Pink

After Shame signed with Dead Oceans and released their debut album Songs of Praise in 2018, they toured all over the world to critical acclaim. Their forceful, jocular post-punk songs, barked by often-shirtless frontman Charlie Steen and taking cues from Mark E. Smith, were all the more satisfying in their live form. Mosh pits opened up, bassist Josh Finerty burst into tumbling front flips and Steen climbed over crowds, who held up his chunky boots as he stood above them, often flinging water like an eccentric baptism. But all this energy poured into an insane volume of tour dates and festivals eventually took a toll on them, lending few opportunities to take stock of their impressive run. As they began work on their follow-up album, there was a lot of contemplation to be done.

Their brand new full-length Drunk Tank Pink asks the same burning questions that arise after a messy night out—not the immediate ones in the morning, like “Where’s my credit card?” or “Who did I make out with last night? They pose the ones that make you think deeper, long after your hangover has subsided: “Am I addicted to numbing my pain?” “Am I moving too fast?” “Is this where I want to be at this point in my life?” As they seek answers, they sound darker and more agitated. There’s a palpable restlessness and lack of content—the exact sort of panic that sets in when you’re too young to be freaking out about how you’re going to cope with each new day. Their rhythms are sharper, their guitars are more imaginative, and they’re okay with taking their foot off the gas every once in a while. —Lizzie Manno

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Sleaford Mods: Spare Ribs

With Spare Ribs, Sleaford Mods’ third full-length since their 2016 EP T.C.R., the duo proves once again that it’s no one-trick pony. With good reason, much has been made of the way Sleaford Mods have personified British life under the looming specter of Brexit. As such, the band has been lauded for capturing the ambient tension as the U.K. has hurtled towards an inexorable reckoning with a host of social schisms that Brexit both reflected and exacerbated. American listeners, regardless of their political sympathies, should certainly be able to relate, given the similarly catalytic role the Trump presidency has played in the States. In both countries, anxiety pervades, seemingly fueled by a collective sense that their empire status has been triggered into an accelerating cycle of decay. Of course, pressure points that were already under enormous strain in both places have been pushed to the limit by the pandemic. If previous Sleaford Mods albums have benefitted from the anticipation that something dire was just around the corner, Spare Ribs arrives amidst the inescapable feeling that the other shoe has dropped—or at least that we’ve reached a point where, for better or worse, life is never going to be quite the same again. —Saby Reyes-Kulkarni

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