Waxahatchee’s Out in the Storm and 5 Other Albums to Listen to Now

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Katie Crutchfield. Photo: Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images for Vulture Festival

Every week, Vulture gathers new albums you can listen to right now. We don’t have a problem admitting it: Keeping track of everything that’s released can be overwhelming, but finding out about interesting music doesn’t have to be work. Read our picks below, and share your thoughts in the comments.

Waxahatchee, Out in the Storm (Merge)
So, what’s the storm? It’d be accurate to categorize the Philadelphia singer-songwriter Katie Crutchfield’s fourth record under the Waxahatchee name as a breakup album, but the way the topic is handled here is far more holistic than that label suggests. While the sonic palettes — traditional guitar, bass, and drums are thickened with layered vocals, synths, and even an organ — suggest the morose moods that typically come after a relationship has died, Crutchfield does more than perform a postmortem. She calls post-breakup competition “an invisible race we’ll be running ’till one of us dies.” She calls herself “a disaster, dignified,” and she flashes back to when “the kiss on my lips starts to feel unfamiliar.” In short, she gives much attention to the storm itself, but she also recognizes and dissects the drought that preceded it. —Gabe Cohn (@gabescohn)

Sheer Mag, Need to Feel Your Love (Wilsuns RC)
There are a couple ways to express your feelings — quietly in passing, or the Sheer Mag way: Shout that shit. These Philly punks won’t rest until they’re emotionally heard. On their debut album, lead singer Tina Halladay spits venom with her echoey Beth Ditto–influenced wail. Whether she’s singing her demands for vulnerability in a partner on the title track or fuming about this country’s political derision, the matter-of-factness in both the band’s lyricism and Halladay’s delivery stays constant — and so does their impeccable talent for crafting catchy-as-hell riffs. Sheer Mag sure won’t go quietly. —Dee Lockett (@dee_lockett)

Katie Ellen, Cowgirl Blues (Lauren Records)
I was bummed when Chumped broke up. I thought they were a good band that wrote good pop-punk songs. With the release of Cowgirl Blues, the first album from Katie Ellen, the new band created from the ashes of Chumped, by their lead singer and drummer Anika Pyle and Dan Frelly, respectively, it was clear it was both inevitable and necessary. Pyle — her voice and her songwriting — just needed more room. So she moved to Philadelphia, a city where you can literally get more room for less money than Brooklyn, and which has a recent history of genre-stirring, indie-rock singer-songwriters like Hop Along’s Frances Quinlan and the Crutchfield sisters (see above). Here, Pyle has incorporated more of a ’60s girl-group sound into her punk leanings, which she brilliantly uses to explores love, loss, and being a woman in this society right now. Let me answer the question you might be wondering, as to not distract from you just listening to this terrific record: No one in the band is named Katie Ellen. As Pyle explained in an interview with Stereogum, they are named after her great grandmother and the fascinating story of her radio handle. —Jesse David Fox (@jessedavidfox)

French Montana, Jungle Rules (Epic Records)
Thanks to the ubiquity of 2013’s “Ain’t Worried About Nothin,” French Montana’s albums are treated like major events, and that feels wrong. I’m not saying that to cast doubt on his hit-making potential — he’s good at making hits! — but every album just ends up feeling so ephemeral. A French Montana album is a big, messy party, and it’s weird to draw that much attention to them. So how does this particular party fare? Well, French teams up with Pharrell on “Bring Dem Things,” a track that flips the beat for Organized Konfusion’s “Stress,” and shouldn’t work, but totally does. He also gets an energetic double-time verse out of T.I. on “Stop It,” and creates a pretty enjoyable Auto-Tune anthem with Young Thug on “Black Out.” Jungle Rules might not be a classic, but, especially on the back half, it’s a really fun listen. —Sam Hockley-Smith (@shockleysmith)

Japanese Breakfast, Soft Sounds From Another Planet (Dead Oceans)
What comes after grief? In 2014, Michelle Zauner of Philly punk band Little Big League lost her mother to cancer. Last year, she formed a solo side project called Japanese Breakfast and wrote a devastating album about the combustible act of processing death. At times, her second record, Soft Sounds, tries to tell a narrative of lingering detachment larger than herself, with the introduction of a sci-fi romance between a human and an alien. She plays with synths and atmospheric textures behind Auto-Tuned spoken word on first single “Machinist,” but that’s only part of the story. The real emotional work goes back to the personal. You cannot pause or escape your life in response to someone’s death, and much of Soft Sounds’ sounds are gorgeous lo-fi , guitar-driven snippets about the suffocating troubles of the living — broken relationships, your bandmate leaving, committing wholly to another person when you feel so alone — and taking it one day at a time. —DL

Shabazz Palaces, Quazarz: Born on a Gangster Star & Quazarz vs. The Jealous Machines (Sub Pop)
Seattle based Shabazz Palaces has always made music that sounded as if it were from another universe, so it only makes sense that on their simultaneously released third and fourth LPs, Quazarz: Born on a Gangster Star and Quazarz vs. The Jealous Machines, they steer right into outer space. Both records tell the story of an alien named Quazarz, who has come to observe an alternate America, over distorted and mismatched beats that take the intergalactic jazz-rap Palaces are loved for to another level of abstraction. The first of the two albums is slightly more straightforward — if it can be called that ­— whereas …The Jealous Machines simmers in its free-form techno atmosphere. —Ethan Sapienza (@clickthemovie)

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