Every Friday, The FADER's writers dive into the most exciting new projects released that week. Today, read our thoughts on SPRINTS' Letter To Self, Bear1Boss' Outta Here, Luis R. Conriquez's Corridos Bélicos Vol. IV, and more.
SPRINTS, Letter To Self
Dublin-based band SPRINTS began their life as a folksy indie rock duo before Karla Chubb and drummer Jack Callan went to see Savages play live. One night with the searing focus of a good punk show and their focus switched to something bigger, bolder, and more direct. The result is Letter To Self, a debut album that uses driving guitars and noise elements to Trojan Horse songs about sexism, queer romance, and Catholic guilt into the world. Produced by Gilla Band bassist Daniel Fox, Letter To Self sits comfortably in the modern lineage of ferocious-sounding guitar bands from Dublin (think Fontaines D.C. and Just Mustard), but in Chubb they have a songwriter who cuts through the gnarly studio production with a strong storytelling ability and an emotional candidness. She sings about an ADHD diagnosis on the peppy "A Wreck (A Mess)" while "Cathedral" shoots exploding guitars into the sky as they sear against the lies told by organized religion. There's an unvarnished honesty to the band's songs, whether they're looking inward or out. The gargantuan "Shadow Of A Doubt" is the key example, a song that includes recordings of Chubb crying and hyperventilating between takes fed into the mix. Making the album, like listening to it, was clearly a raw experience. — David Renshaw
Luis R Conriquez, Corridos Bélicos, Vol. IV
Luis R Conriquez is a prominent figure in the current corrido boom alongside the likes of Peso Pluma, Natanael Cano, and Junior H, all of whom and more contribute to his sprawling fourth Corridos Bélicos record. In fact, Conriquez features 20 guest artists across the project’s 23 tracks, two of them appearing twice. A subset of the already controversial subgenre corridos tumbados, corridos bélicos supposedly focuses exclusively on the violent exploits of the drug trade — “bélico” is a cognate of “bellicose,” meaning “warlike” — making them especially polarizing within the controversial style. (The city of Tijuana recently enacted an outright ban on the performance of narcocorridos following cartel death threats to Peso Pluma and Grupo Arriesgado by the CJNG Cartel.) Conriquez’s corridos radiate a warmth that’s at turns uplifting and unsettling, considering their often sinister subject matter. Putting aside age-old arguments for street reporting and against the glorification of crime, the songs of Corridos Bélicos, Vol. IV are beautifully constructed outlaw stories set to rich arrangements that subtly pepper modern sounds into traditional folk structures. Standouts include “Pixelados” (with Peso Pluma), “Aquellos Botones” (with Junior H), Gorras Numeradas (with Said Norzagaray), “El 27” (with Nivel C), and “Por Reynosa,” Conriquez’s only solo track on the album. — Raphael Helfand
Pile, Hot Air Balloon EP
Pile’s latest full-length album All Fiction cemented them as an evolving, ever-mutating band within the indie rock canon, embracing the more ambient, experimental, and math-rock sides of post-hardcore while still defining themselves as a cult-classic guitar band. Their new EP Hot Air Balloon was recorded during the sessions for All Fiction, but this five-song collection packs an additional edge, full of droning vocals, questioning synths and ominous chords. On Hot Air Balloon, Pile take cues from the more abstract indie rock sphere that Ought, Ovlov, Preoccupations, and Protomartyr dwell in; Rick Maguire’s lyrics are intense and punishing, introspective and reflective, perfect for the January blues. — Cady Siregar
Bear1Boss, Outta Here!
Atlanta rap has never shied away from absurdity, but few modern artists from the city are as beguiling as Bear1Boss. He fully embraces the "goofy sidekick in a Nickelodeon show" quality of his voice and creates plugg songs fuelled by sugary cereal milk: video game samples and Trapaholiks-era drops are sprinkled liberally across glistening synths and thumping trap drums, while Bear strikes a flow somewhere between conversational, freestyle, and harmonizing in the shower. His new EP Outta Here is the first project of 2024, following a 2023 that saw no less than four full-length tapes released. But Bear is far from out of steam, crooning in a digital haze across five songs that take their own laid-back approach to "high energy." — Jordan Darville
Other projects out this week that you should listen to
NLE Choppa, The Chosen Ones
Mahne Frame, I gave my legs to a snake EP
Markee Steele, Sophomore Slump
Skee Mask, C
yungatita, Showlace & a Knot