Tracking New Music Releases with Zac Wittman: Kurt Vile, Prince Daddy & The Hyena, Silvana Estrada, Soul Glo, Foxtails

Written By Zachary Wittman, Music Columnist

My final week of reviews has finally arrived, and the new releases are somewhat thin. Last week and next week house all of the high profile releases, so I decided to cover a few new releases as well as go back to round up a few I missed earlier in the year.

Kurt Vile – (watch my moves)
Folk Rock
Released April 15, 2022

4 Globes out of 5

I have always struggled with Kurt Vile’s music, and I think it largely plays into the fact that I am generally too anxious of a person to entirely engross myself in his slacker attitude. His lazy, mellow folk rock sounds nice, but it never gripped me. Maybe it’s the strong emotions I’m feeling as I near graduation, but “(watch my moves)” feels like a warm hug.

Kurt’s albums continue to sit comfortably over an hour in their runtime, but they never exactly drag on. The flow of his albums make it so that once it is over, you’d want to spin it again. While many of his previous albums get by on that through their atmosphere, “(watch my moves)” is one of his catchiest and most memorable batches of songs yet. The opening few tracks are nice openers, but it isn’t until the epic “Like Exploding Stones” that the album settles in. Kurt’s songwriting echoes his past work, but there are some small additions that make this album feel like a minor evolution in his sound, namely the occasional synthesizers and slightly more progressive song structures.

His lyrics and delivery still bring to mind the greats like Lou Reed, which is always welcome. “Like Exploding Stones” attempts to mimic migraines and stress in the keyboards to fit the lyrics, but Kurt ends up crafting a chilled out jam that would soothe any anxiety. “Mount Airy Hill (Way Gone)” is probably my new favorite Kurt Vile song. I don’t exactly know what Kurt is conveying in the lyrics, but to me it stands as an anthem for acceptance as I start to progress out of college life. The falsetto Kurt switches to during the word “gone” is so endearing it hurts. If there was a vibe that his career was building up to, this is it perfected. If there was a Kurt Vile song you could call cute, “Hey Like A Child,” a loving ode to his wife and children, would be that song. Lyrically, the best song here to me is “Jesus On A Wire.” In this track, Kurt imagines a conversation in which he confides in the titular biblical figure that everyone feels alone sometimes. Even those we look up to can get spread too thin. Life is a cycle of comforting each other.

The rest of the album matches the vibes, with tracks like “Cool Water” and “Say The Word” sticking in your head for quite a while. The album does falter a little bit in the last three tracks, however. “Wages Of Sin” is a cover of a Bruce Springsteen outtake, and Kurt really makes it his own, but it does stick out on this album. “Kurt Runner” also sticks out despite its quality, but I can’t imagine many people are going to be super stoked about a three minute ambient loop interlude, as hypnotic as it is. The closer “Stuffed Leopard” is otherwise great, but it would’ve benefited if the pacing of the preceding tracks did not dampen its impact.

Despite its issues, I cannot really call any song on here unworthy of release. There are some pacing issues and the length can make it so some songs wash others out of your head, but Kurt’s music has always been like that. If you need some comfort, maybe Kurt can alleviate some of these “end of the semester” blues.

Prince Daddy & The Hyena – Prince Daddy & The Hyena
Power Pop
Released April 15, 2022

4 Globes out of 5

After seeing so many people in their merch at concerts, I finally decided to check out Prince Daddy & The Hyena. Being unfamiliar with their catalog, I didn’t know what to expect. After listening to their new album, I am still not sure it was what I expected at all.

I totally understand why people who are big into PUP and Jeff Rosenstock flock to this band, because they bring the same weirdness to pop punk and indie rock that makes them so interesting. The slow, gorgeous opening of “Adore The Sun” acts as the perfect counterpoint to the loud, aggressive in-your-faceness of “A Random Exercise in Impermanence (The Collector).” “Something Special” is all too brief, feeling like a lost 90s classic. “El Dorado” and “Shoelaces” are some of the best power pop in recent memory, with each chorus soaring upon arrival. I also have to mention the oddball genre mashing of the dance inspired “Keep Up That Talk.” Such a funky little tune that is unlike anything else on the album.

There is one clear winner on the album and that is the monolithic “Black Mold.” It creaks open with an endearing recording of an intoxicated voicemail from a friend of the band who expressed his thankfulness for their friendship. The song continues to move through the verses, until a cathartic outro starts to crescendo into a noisy jam. Something about the chord progression and guitar line make it feel like one of those moments where you just stop and look around when you are hanging with friends and have an existential crisis. How did these people get into your life? How long will they be there? Did you do enough to let them know you care? But it doesn’t matter, because in that moment, you have briefly managed to graze your fingertips on that fleeting happiness you have been chasing as you grow older. It is a perfect song that had me unsuccessfully fighting back tears. While the rest of the songs not mentioned range from good to great, they do not stand up to “Black Mold.” In classic pop punk and emo fashion, Prince Daddy & The Hyena don’t end the album with this climactic track, but rather the folk of “Baby Blue.” It is a nice song, but it sucks the punch out of the album’s climax.

I will definitely be checking out more of this band’s music. If you haven’t heard it, give it a listen, especially if you like any of the artists mentioned at the beginning of the review. At the very least, listen to “Black Mold.”

Foxtails – Fawn
Released January 14, 2022

4 Globes out of 5

I want to cover some releases that passed me by this semester, and the first up is “Fawn” by Foxtails.

Around the beginning of every year, I always seem to get into a screamo mood, so this one passing me by was unfortunate. Calling them a screamo band is a bit unfair, as there are a myriad of influences that this band incorporates into their sound. Main vocalist Megan Cadena-Fernandez has an incredibly emotive and powerful voice in both their harsh and clean vocals, but they often have their voice sit somewhere between.

As with many post-rock inspired screamo albums, there are strings that give the record a more sophisticated feel. However, the violin is not just delegated to interludes but plays a major part in the soundscapes of every song. It is really refreshing seeing the instrument being fully realized in a project like this instead of taking a role on the sidelines. The ebb and flow of each track is further elevated by the fact that there are no pregaps. Each song either fades into the next or starts immediately after the prior one ends. This creates a sense of momentum that is carried across the album, even in the slower sections. This makes the transitions from something energetic like “Bbq” into the lowkey dissonance of “Gallons Of Spiders Went Flying Thru The Stratosphere” all the more compelling. The violin riff in “Gazelle” feels so grand, especially with the driving, energetic drums underneath.

There are some very gorgeous moments, such as the vocal melody halfway through “Catalyst,” in which Megan really shows their versatility as a vocalist. I do wish the band let loose a bit more with the heavy sections, like the end of “Space Orphan.”

If you have any interest in emo or punk music, give Foxtails a listen. Their sound is a wonderful evolution to ideas that have been building up in the scene for decades but never realized quite like this. Don’t let the idea of screamo scare you, this album is so much more.

Silvana Estrada – Marchita
Chamber Folk
Released January 21, 2022

4.5 Globes out of 5

It is a shame to see the country leapfrog that is played when it comes to music south of our border. Pop music fans have the reggaeton of the Spanish-speaking Caribbean while history buffs have the bossa nova and MPB of Brazil. Our most direct neighbor, Mexico, seems to get left out of the discussion, despite being rich with musical culture. Thankfully, younger artists like Natalia Lafourcade are bringing their traditional folk music into the indie scene. The newest artist to join the fray is Silvana Estrada, who released her debut album in January.

I am kicking myself for not getting to this earlier. There is magic in these arrangements and despite not understanding the language, I am hooked on every syllable out of Silvana’s mouth like I know every word. Her vocals are mesmerizing. Her voice rises and falls as she leads each song with a commanding vocal, regardless of her volume. Her vocal work is the album’s centerpiece, whether on the near a cappella “Un Día Cualquiera” or the baroque inspired title track. She is also not afraid to experiment, such as the artsy avant-folk post-minimalist jazz of “Casa.” “Carta” and “Ser De Ti” are cool summer days with a light breeze. I could live in the upright bass of the latter track. Just when the album comes to a close and you expect a grand victory lap, “La Enfermedad Del Siglo” closes the record with soft organ supporting a lone trumpet. It is a truly gorgeous and solemn way to end a stunningly beautiful debut album.

As of right now, this is firmly one of my favorite records of the year. I really wish that I had gotten to it sooner, but I’m happy it’s in my life now. Hopefully, the beauty of this record can spur more people to check out other blossoming artists from Mexico.

Soul Glo – Diaspora Problems
Hardcore Punk
Released March 25, 2022

4 Globes out of 5

This is probably the most celebrated album that I missed out on reviewing this semester. Soul Glo’s fourth album “Diaspora Problems” is what you can call their breakout album, as it has been receiving huge amounts of buzz. It is honestly worth the praise.

While it wasn’t as mindblowing or as eclectic as some had led me to believe, “Diaspora Problems” is still a highly entertaining and energetic release into the realm of punk. The riffs make me want to swing my limbs uncontrollably in a pit. I can imagine slamming into bodies to “Gold Chain Punk (Whogonbeatmya**?)” as soon as the repeating of the parenthetical phrase is repeatedly yelled at the end. While much of the album lies between hardcore punk and screamo, there are a plethora of other influences to be found. The ending of “F****d Up If True” features a full on death metal breakdown while “Driponomics” is straight up trap metal. There is a lot of chaos and calamity on the album, but I’d reckon that “The Thangs I Carry” is one of the catchiest songs on the record. The following tracks that follow from here to the end the album amp up the record’s already political nature into pure anarchy territory, expressed clearly on “We Wants Revenge” and “John J.” The lyrical intensity is a lot to take in, but you can’t deny the passion behind the extreme aggression. The closer “Spiritual Level Of Gang S***” does end the album on a slightly positive note, with the gang vocals and horn section being a bit happier than much of the depressive and hateful material before it.

I tentatively recommend this to anyone who likes punk, but just be aware that this thing takes no prisoners. You have to be on board with what the band is saying if you are going to get anything out of this one and I can imagine that the musical and lyrical intensity might turn some away. Still, this is definitely a monumental album in punk rock, especially in the 2020s.

Zachary Wittman – Writing for the Globe
Music Columnist
Released April 30, 2022

5 Globes out of 5

All jokes aside, writing this column for the past year and a half has been a blast. I have discovered so much music that has become a mainstay in my rotation that I otherwise wouldn’t have heard without the obligation to the paper. I even appreciate the albums that I outright hated because they helped refine my taste. As I leave my position as the music columnist, I wanted to reassure everyone to enjoy the music you like. I am just one person who has his own tastes. The things I like often do not line up with what others like, and that is okay! My favorite part about this column is just the idea that I can share some new music with others in the hopes that they will come away with something new they enjoy. I hope that this fun column of mine has done something and that I’ve sparked you to check out something new. I know the semester is over, but I have one homework assignment for all my readers. If you can, send someone a song. It can be anyone at all in your life or even a complete stranger online. Just send someone a song. That might seem simple, but the act of sharing art we enjoy is one of the greatest gifts in life we have. There is so much beauty in music that it is selfish to keep it to ourselves. Don’t be afraid to tweet about that song you like. Post that playlist to your Instagram story. Be excited for new music. Don’t ever lose that passion.

Here are some releases I unfortunately won’t be able to cover for The Globe this year. Maybe I’ll start a blog so I can jot my thoughts down on them to share with you all. Either way, be on the lookout for some of these.

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Omnium Gatherum (April 22)
Spiritualized – Everything Was Beautiful (April 22)
Hatchie – Giving The World Away (April 22)
Pusha T – It’s Almost Dry (April 22)
Fontaines D.C. – Skinty Fia (April 22)
Haru Nemuri – Shunka Ryougen (April 22)
Armand Hammer – WHT LBL (April 28)
Melody’s Echo Chamber – Emotional Eternal (April 29)
Toro y Moi – Mahal (April 29)
Rammstein – Zeit (April 29)
Kelly Lee Owens – Lp.8 (April 29)
Black Star – No Fear Of Time (May 3)
Otoboke Beaver – Super Champon (May 5)
Arcade Fire – WE (May 5)
Sharon Van Etten – We’ve Been Going About This All Wrong (May 5)
Belle And Sebastian – A Bit Of Previous (May 6)
Kendrick Lamar – Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers (May 13)
The Black Keys – Dropout Boogie (May 13)
Florence + The Machine – Dance Fever (May 13)
Quelle Chris – Deathfame (May 13)
Everything Everything – Raw Data Feel (May 20)
Harry Style – Harry’s House (May 20)
Angel Olsen – Big Time (June 3)
Perfume Genius – Ugly Season (June 17)
Foals – Life Is Yours (June 17)
Porcupine Tree – Closure / Continuation (June 24)
Soccer Mommy – Sometimes, Forever (June 24)
Interpol – The Other Side Of Make-Believe (July 15)
Lizzo – Special (July 15)
Jack White – Entering Heaven Alive (July 22)
Muse – Will Of The People (August 26)
Built To Spill – When The Wind Forgets Your Name (September 9)