Nick Prol & the Proletarians – An Erstwisle Alphabestiary, Book One
An Erstwisle Alphabestiary is the work of the progressive rock band of Nick Prol and his Proletarians, among which toil Ben Spees and Connor Reilly of The Mercury Tree. If you weren’t there for the release of their 2017 debut Loon Attic, well, it’s never too late to acquaint yourselves with it, but you perhaps wouldn’t know why I’m so excited for this album. So, in short, Nick Prol and the Proletarians provide you with an astonishingly creative and psychedelic progressive rock bestiary, in alphabetical order, of the fauna of Erstwisle (/ˈɚst.waɪ̯l/) Island, with Book Two completing this hypothetical project by including the beasts of letters M to Z. So, it’s good to know that there’s about as much new material waiting for us on another album!
Сва да ра (Sva da ra) – Зареница (Zarenica / Zarenitsa)
Ukrainian folk-djent project Сва да ра (Sva da ra) just released two albums on the same day! Here, I won’t talk about Pilgrim; although it’s nice and all, it’s Зареница (Zarenica / Zarenitsa) that steals the spotlight. As always, it’s singer Юлия Шевель (Julija Ševel’)’s presence that is on top of it all. Her voice and technique are beautiful and flawless, and gracefully put in the spotlight thanks to Денис Зубарев (Denis Zubarev)’s compositions and recordings. It’s a perfect way to get into Eastern European folk music, from a metal point of view.
Gjoad – Samanōn (Antiq)
Austrian post-rock band Gjoad just released their debut album, Samanōn, on Antiq. When you press play, you’re going to be drowning in atmosphere. Swelling and waxing they slowly take you by the hand and lead you deeper and deeper into their narratives. That’s especially the case on the opener and longest track “Rouh”—”Smoke” in Old High German. There’s also a good dose of folk to this post-rock formula, such that it sometimes feels like “post-folk”, although it’s still quite heavily rooted in post-rock. It’s a very lyrical album and a good way to spend thirty-five minutes.
Show Me a Dinosaur – Plantgazer
As one friend put it, “Plantgazer” as a name is the epitome of the blackgaze genre. That name holds its title, unlike the almost iwabo-core quality of “Show Me a Dinosaur”. But indeed, Plantgazer is a solid post-black/blackgaze contender for 2020. It has all the traits of a good album of this genre. With a firm grasp on songwriting and a more than capable musicianship from all members, Plantgazer sits high on my rankings for this year.
Джрс (Džrs / Jars) – Ⅲ
Джрс (Džrs)—or Jars for the romanized version of their name—is a band out of Moscow. You won’t be surprised to learn that Ⅲ is their third effort, the quality of which never cease to increase. Noise rock in nature, they also blend in stylings of surf rock and psychedelic rock. You can hear waves of reverb on the opening track “Заебало” (Zaebalo), and the breadth of their sound with the almost hardcore punk second track “Мистер Визионер” (Mister Vizioner). On Ⅲ, there’s a lot of angular riffs, distortion feedback, and odd-time signatures, all to the benefit of the whole album. Don’t miss out on it!
James Mac Gaw – La Fin des temples (Soleil Zeuhl)
James Mac Gaw is a former member of French Zeuhl founders Magma, so you know this is legitimate. La Fin des temples is a thirty-three-minute composition split into nine tracks on record and played by an incredible cast of musicians. While I’m far from being the biggest fan of Magma, I’m a known lover of Zeuhl and the various bands influenced by them, and this album sits right with me, as a sort of bridge between early Magma and ulterior embodiments of the genre. In the end, it’s a truly stellar release that’s worth every minute of your time!