North Carolina Release Radar: Our Favorite New Music Releases

By Grant Golden

August 6, 2023

Trent the Hooligan ALLGASNOBRAKEZ!

There couldn’t be a more apt title for Trent The Hooligan’s sophomore album, as ALLGASNOBRAKEZ!, is pedal to the floor from the jump. Trent the Hooligan simultaneously gives a nod to the Southern hip-hop history that inspired him while also pushing the genre into exciting new sonic territory. Tracks like “240!” flesh out the artistic vision of Trent as a “son of a preacher…little brother of a felon,” a man who’s in the studio until 4 a.m. with church in five hours, and an artist as driven by his upbringing as he is a bold future. Trent has a commanding cadence, a brilliant beat selection that delves into a wide array of genres, and contemplative wordplay. Each track on ALLGASNOBRAKEZ! weaves together a rich tapestry of sounds, and tracks like “FLWRZ!,” “OHYEA!,” and “Carolina’s Finest,” showcase some of his finest songwriting. Listening to ALLGASNOBRAKEZ! feels exciting; it’s the sound of an artist on the verge of excellence.

BombadilIn Color

It’s hard to find a North Carolina band that’s re-invented themselves as many times (with as much concise execution) as Bombadil. In a near two-decade career the band has lost founding members and taken breaks for health complications, but has consistently landed on their feet with fresh and inventive music. The trio of Daniel Michalak, James Phillips, and MK Rodenbough have crafted a bold, risk-taking record with In Color, and the risks pay off in bunches. Opener “Brown Pennies” blends arpeggiated piano runs, whirling electronics and acoustic guitars for a fascinating soundscape, while “Orange Planets” swings along with guitar grooves and playful vocal interplay between Michalak and guest vocalist Skylar Gudasz. Not only does In Color debut a new Bombadil lineup, but it reinvigorates the group, marking an exciting new phase for one of the Triangle’s most beloved bands.

GauxstmanHiding In Plain Sight 3

Charlotte’s Gauxstman has been one of the state’s most consistent emcees, steadily releasing collections of hard-hitting hip-hop tracks. Gauxstman’s latest release is the third part of his Hiding In Plain Sight series composed of a string of tracks featuring thunderous beats, meticulous wordplay, best when played loud. Hiding In Plain Sight is windows down, trunk rattling music, with tracks like “Say The Name,” “No Way Out,” and “Still” featuring Erick Lottary serving as highlights on this 20-minute outing. Gauxstman’s spacious beats leave ample room for washed-out sub bass and skittering hi-hats and snares, while his confident cadence brings poise. As his tracks get tighter and his flow gets more precise, each subsequent drop is all the more exciting, making it harder for the talented rapper to “hide in plain sight.”

Cosmic Collectivenothing matters in the end

Cosmic Collective’s nothing matters in the end is one of the most adventurous local releases of the year. From the album’s opening notes, Cosmic Collective takes listeners on an aural experience full of smooth grooves and meandering rhythms. Tracks like “ultrawave,” “yaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!” and “bread machine” display the chaotic expansiveness that pianist Nikki Enslow, bassist Tyler Enslow, and their collection of collaborators, do so well. Their production is roomy, making use of strategic panning, dense layering, and alluring counterplay to add rich dynamics and fullness to their tracks. Cosmic Collective have crafted a remarkable collection of tunes overflowing with creativity and begging for multiple listens.


Charlotte’s Charles Ham is an artist with a clear vision and a penchant for execution. Drawing inspiration from moody, down-tempo hip-hop/R&B acts like PARTYNEXTDOOR, Drake, and Future, he blends melodic vocals with percussive raps. Ham’s songs bounce between introspective musings and boastful bangers with seamless transitions. Tracks like “WOAH,” “READY OR NOT” and “TOO LATE TO LOVE ME” display Ham’s strengths: catchy hooks, boisterous beats, and a knack for hypnotic rhythms. THANKS FOR NOTHING is an easy listen with a selection of standout tracks proving Ham is an artist to keep your eyes on.

Jenny BesetztGoner

It’s been seven years since NC’s post-punk/synth-pop darlings Jenny Besetzt released a full-length record, and Goner proves that they haven’t missed a step. Further expanding upon their world-building instrumentation, Goner is an excellent display of pacing, not only within the album but within individual tracks. Vocalist John Wollaber’s trademark baritone vocals float through the mix alongside glimmering guitar licks and shimmery synths while Thomas McNeely’s percussion counters this restrained instrumentation with a heightened sense of urgency. Tracks like “Goner,” “Abridged Dream (Disintegration),” and “Nite Terrors” display the juxtaposition of vibrancy and despair that Jenny Besetzt does so well, making Goner a welcome return from this North Carolina act.

Maasho – “same old me”

Maasho’s music is wide-ranging in nature, bouncing between uplifting indie-pop tunes with hip-hop cadences to full on bass-heavy bangers. Maasho’s versatility and penchant for memorable melodies have propelled him to stardom, with his first two singles amassing over 15 million streams on Spotify alone. Continuing to develop his ever-evolving sound, “same old me” is a melodically focused track anchored around a pulsing synth line and trap-ready percussion. Maasho never sits with a singular flow for long with rhythmic pockets, keeping the listener’s attention, but centering the track with an earworm hook.

Magic Al featuring Lou Hazel and Amelia Meath – “Party for One”

Alex Bingham has been one of North Carolina’s musical MVPs for the past several years. Bingham serves as a prolific bassist in bands like Hiss Golden Messenger, Watchhouse, and The Dead Tongues while producing outstanding records with Libby Rodenbough, Blue Cactus and more. Magical Al marks the debut of Bingham’s solo endeavors, and if “Party for One” is any indication, his forthcoming full length Good Grief could be one of the best of the year. “Party for One” is a timeless pop-track led by Lou Hazel with vocal accompaniment from Sylvan Esso’s Amelia Meath. The track radiates warmth and nostalgia, with joyful keys and a driving rhythm backing Hazel’s bashful, yearning lyrics of a prom gone wrong. Bingham’s inimitable production styling makes Hazel’s vocals pop alongside the lockstep rhythm sections, crafting a track equally suited for a living room headphone dance session, or a windows down summer drive. “Party for One” is an uplifting glance into a highly anticipated debut album.

Newman featuring Benny Okoto – “The Last of Many”

As a member of the Raleigh-based hip-hop collective Ten $teps Ahead, Newman has steadily built a string of impressive singles throughout the past year. Newman’s latest release, “The Last of Many” is an exercise in dynamism. Newman and Okoto’s verses contrast one another, with Newman sprinting out of the gate with vocal acrobatics and Okoto taking a more methodical approach to his verse. “The Last of Many” is built around a steady beat with keys that slowly bubble up through snappy percussion, giving Newman ample headroom to fit in an array of rhythmic changes in his verses. “The Last of Many” is a single that signifies artistic growth for the emcee, and gives listeners a burst of anticipation for the new music still to come.

Listen to our 2023 CLTure North Carolina Release Radar playlist:

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