Every week on RELEVANT Recommends, we recommend a few new releases worth your time and attention. Here are our favorite things coming out this week.
Well, it took two failed adaptations, one that never quite got off the ground and a year-long pandemic-mandated delay, but we finally got a movie that does justice to Frank Herbert’s scifi opus. Well, strictly speaking, we only got half of the book, but nevertheless, Denis Villeneuve’s majestic epic is a marvel of filmmaking that wrestles with weighty themes of faith, politics, family and power, all while remaining engaging and looking absolutely spectacular. This is the movie you’ve been waiting to justify a trip back to the big screen (just make sure you’re vaccinated, please).
Majid Jordan: Wildest Dreams
Majid Al-Maskati and Jordan Ullman got their start doing production work for some Canadian guy named Drake. These days, they’ve joined forces as Majid Jordan, and there’s just nothing quite like their signature dance-y R&B.
Israel & New Breed: Alive in LA
Israel Houghton has been making worship music for over 30 years, so it’s a testament to he and the rest of New Breed that their latest effort sounds so fresh — both in touch with the current state of the industry while faithful to the sound they’ve honed over the decades. Live in LA also features guest appearances from friends like Aaron Moses and Chandler Moore.
Semler: Late Bloomer
Grace Baldridge has carved out an excellent lane for herself as a champion of the deconstructing former youth group kids — those who don’t quite fit in with the churches they were raised in but aren’t ready to abandon faith altogether. After raising eyebrows for topping iTunes’ Christian charts with her Preacher’s Kid EP — likely an precedented feat for an openly queer musician, let alone with an explicit album — Semler is back with Late Bloomer. This one isn’t explicit, but the themes will be familiar to her growing legion of fiercely devoted fans: the tension between wrestling with and resting in faith (“Prodigal Girl”), interrogating church culture (“Wanna Grab Coffee?”) and, ultimately, praise (“Psalm 102”).
Parquet Courts: Sympathy for Life
Brooklyn transplants Parquet Courts are more punk in spirit than in truth, delivering palatable indie rock charms with an underground snarl. Sympathy for Life continues the band’s track record of mixing mischief and menace to surprisingly populist results.
Lana Del Rey: Blue Bannisters
Lana Del Rey has been the busiest artist on the West Coast, releasing three albums in as many years. Blue Banisters is her latest ode to her objects of fascination: an American empire in decline, the doomed figures she finds in it and what they find in her. It is, in other words, very much a Lana Del Rey album. Fans of Chemtrails Over the Country Club and Norman F***ing Rockwell will find Lana in a slightly more adventurous mode than usual, stretching her vocal stylings and even instrumentation.
Tyler Huckabee is RELEVANT's senior editor. He lives in Nashville with his wife, dog and Twitter account.