Highlighting some of this past week’s bounty of album and EP releases: Check out the latest from Nick Waterhouse, Emily Kinney, Hooveriii, Tomemitsu, the Small Calamities, Eden Iris, Milly and Skullcrusher.
NICK WATERHOUSE, “Promenade Blue”
Nick Waterhouse again has made a record crate-diggers would salivate over if it were as old as it sounded. A modern-day classic instead of a lost one, “Promenade Blue” is Waterhouse’s fifth album, and almost a history class itself. While imbued with more grandiosity than its predecessors thanks in part to the production of producer Paul Butler (Michael Kiwanuka, Devendra Banhart), it still boasts Waterhouse’s songwriting precision. Highlights include “Place Names,” “Medicine,” “B. Santa Ana, 1986,” and, especially, “Very Blue” — all good reasons to fire up the ol’ hi-fi.
EMILY KINNEY, “The Supporting Character”
Ten years since her first release, singer-songwriter/actress Emily Kinney is back with her fourth full-length. Kinney has long since proved she’s more than an actress with a side gig; “The Supporting Character,” made with producer Benjamin Greenspan, refines her bright, airy, heartfelt folk-pop, with songs ranging from nods to her home state (“Omaha Hotel”), body image (“Skinny”) and feeling small in a big world (the title track).
HOOVERIII, “Water For the Frogs”
The sophomore album from founder Bert Hoover and fellow travelers Gabe Flores, Kaz Mirblouk, James Novick, Casey Sullivan and Owen Barrett is space-rock that’s as boundary-less as space itself. Here, that’s a good thing; Hooveriii hooks you with “Control,” “Cindy” and “Erasure,” then pulls you down the rabbit hole with stunts like the tempo change in “We’re Both Lawyers.”
The follow-up to last year’s “I’ll Be Alright” EP, “Sun” is the latest batch of unaffected, loose bedroom pop from Martin Tomemitsu Roark. “The album is supposed to feel like looking into the sky with your eyes closed,” he says, and featuring collaborations with the likes of Lala Lala, V.V. Lightbody and Eva B. Ross, “Sun” has blinded us with insouciance. Let the sunlight sneak into your bedroom for “Wish Erase” and “And Now – Sunrise.”
THE SMALL CALAMITIES, “Moments of Impact”
We have sung the praises of “Violin Concerto in the Key of Crippling Regret,” which is one of those songs that’s almost a damned album all by itself. But no, there are 16 more missives from the hyperactive mind of Charlie Wolf on “Moments of Impact,” a spigot of relatable angst you won’t want to turn off. It’s a good time to be emo, so go ahead, “Waste My Time.”
EDEN IRIS, “The Fuchsia & the Grey”
“The Fuchsia & the Grey” is the debut full-length (delayed a year by the pandemic) from the L.A.-based native of New Zealand who first gained attention for the 2017 single “Dancing With a Ghost.” Specters resurface on the album, in tracks such as “Blue Home” and in the cinematic production of her ethereal folk-pop. The foreboding “Death Is a Teacher” leads things off (“Death is a teacher / every time I see her”); “The Love That Still Lives Here” mourns the state of the world; and the album coalesces with “Brittle & Blue.”
MILLY, “Wish Goes On”
Highlighted by singles “Star Thistle Bloom,” “Birds Fly Free” and “Denial,” the five-song “Wish Goes On” is the second EP from young Milly, purveyors of ’90s shoegaze/grunge/emo goodness. “It marks the transition from Milly being primarily a solo endeavor to a full-on collaborative and living being,” founder Brendan Dyer says. “The guitars are big, the lyrics are heartfelt and true and the future is looking bright.” ’Nuff said.
SKULLCRUSHER, “Storm in Summer”
Highlighted by “Song for Nick Drake” and the title track, “Storm in Summer” is songwriter Helen Ballantine’s second EP for Secretly Canadian. She sings softly but her songs carry formidable weight, one of a growing crop of young L.A. songwriters whose seemingly skeletal music fleshes out big significance.