Guided By Voices, Nowhere to Go But Up
The ever-prolific Robert Pollard continues what has been—even for him—an unusually busy year in the studio, slipping in a third new LP before the close of 2023. Following July’s Welshpool Frillies and January’s La La Land, the band’s 39th album continues to showcase the solidity of Guided By Voices' current lineup, which after long periods of flux has remained constant since the band reformed following its 2010-2014 reunion. From opening track “The Race Is on, the King Is Dead” onward, it’s clear the group hasn’t lost a single step. — Andrew Barker
Joe Jackson, Mr. Joe Jackson Presents Max Champion in What a Racket!
When it was announced that Jackson had a new album in the works, one ostensibly devoted to the work of a now-forgotten British music hall performer by the name of Max Champion, Q naturally went straight to the internet to find out a bit more about this mysterious character, only to find only one notable mention of “Max Champion” that didn’t have Jackson’s name attached to it, and...well, this was it. Suffice it to say that this album is an opportunity for our man Joe to live out all of his secret music hall fantasies – both the performing and (SPOILER ALERT!) the writing as well – while adding another unique and, it must be said, extremely fun and bouncy installment to his ongoing discography. If you’ve followed him throughout his career, then you’ll at least want to give it a spin, but those with a limited appreciation of George Formby, Arthur Askey, and Noël Coward may not find themselves drawn to do so a second time. —Will Harris
Busta Rhymes, Blockbusta
After the years-long gestation period and multiple delays that accompanied the release of 2020 album Extinction Level Event 2: The Wrath of God, the hip-hop legend seems to have had a much smoother sail with eleventh solo album Blockbusta. Featuring production from the likes of Pharrell, Timbaland and Busta himself, with guest appearances from Quavo and Bia, the album shows the newly resurgent veteran willing to step outside his comfort zone, most successfully and intriguingly on his pairing with Nigerian superstar Burna Boy. — A.B.
Rosalia & Bjork, “Oral”
Released earlier this week, the unlikely collaboration between Spanish flamenco-pop star Rosalia and Icelandic alt-rock standard-bearer Bjork turned out far more successful than its unusual provenance — drawn from an abandoned track that Bjork began in her late 1990s imperial era, it was released to raise awareness of harmful salmon-farming practices in Iceland — might have lead some to expect. Far from a warmed-over studio outtake, the single (and video) hum with vintage Bjorkian atmospheres, while Rosalia’s contributions give it a surge of the new. — A.B.