Ancient Mahogany Gold by SassyBlack
For a record that begins in nihilism (“I have this feeling / that life has no meaning”), Ancient Mahogany Gold sure soothes you. And soon that lyrical darkness merges with the sound, becoming an argument for self-love. That argument sustains the rest of the album, which sonically invites comparison to every era of soul music, from Janelle Monáe’s intergalactic pop to early Stevie Wonder. Here, over strings and drum machines and wobbly synths, Catherine Harris-White (aka SassyBlack) croons, her voice unimpeachably smooth but still full of texture. The whole thing stays so softly groovy that it feels like an invitation both to move and to heal. Releases September 13.
Chastity Belt by Chastity Belt
A band releasing a self-titled record nearly a decade and four albums into a career can feel like affectation: We’ve finally become our essence. But for Chastity Belt it fits. The quartet’s shaggy, post-party punk debut, No Regerts, always felt like a false start, and they’ve spent each album since moving further from it, toward sincerity, introspection, and sophistication. The touchstones remain—layered, lovely, reverb-washed guitars, Julia Shapiro’s reaching voice—but here they come accented with strings and vocal harmonies. Releases September 20.
Somesurprises by Somesurprises
I first properly listened to the debut LP from Somesurprises—a local four-piece led by Natasha El-Sergany, which plays Flower Fest this Saturday—while riding a bus through Eastlake at night, watching the city lights on Lake Union get blocked by weird streetlight fluorescence. There was something oddly right about that, a movement between distant, abstract, glittering beauty and eerie neo-noir. The band can easily be dubbed shoegaze and can serve as a pleasant background. It drifts along on effect-addled guitars and El-Sergany’s voice hangs around them like an aura, but all its subtle shifts reward a closer listen. Releases September 20.
Sept 13, Everyday Music, Free
Sept 14, Highline, $12–$15
Sept 22, Easy Street, Free