Jessica Pratt’s voice is something special, a breathy, elfin coo that calls to mind Marc Bolan’s spirited yelp as well as Vashti Bunyan’s inward-facing whispers, channeled through Pratt’s own wry, observational tone. “I see you standing wasted alone in my mind,” she sings directly on opener “Wrong Hand,” but such a line doesn’t feel bitter coming from Pratt’s mouth, as if it’s a gentle warning rather than a harsh truth. “People’s faces blend together like a watercolor you can’t remember in time,” she sings with precision at the outset of “Game That I Play.” Her guitar playing feels nimble yet immediate, leaving in missed notes in the one-take-sounding, stark and lo-fi “Strange Melody,” while her intriguing fingerings and tunings seem to draw inspiration from Joni Mitchell and Nick Drake, though the way she contorts her voice from a floating, teetering high register to a disconcerting low feels entirely unique. The songs themselves are allowed to meander, though never indulgently; rather, On Your Own Love Again feels exceptionally well edited, its serpentine arrangements remaining relatively coiled. “Game That I Play” manages to sneak in a stunning second movement while keeping the song trim at just over four minutes. And she doesn’t overstay her welcome. At just more than half an hour, Pratt ends her second album leaving you wanting more, turning over her curious phrases and mystical voice to uncover their secrets, especially on one of the album’s final and best songs, “Back, Baby”—its pensive breakup lyrics like “your love is just a myth I devised” sting softly amid loping, seaside acoustic guitar. On Your Own Love Again is gorgeous through and through, and it’s easily one of the best albums of this early new year.
Sonny & the Sunsets – “Cheap Extensions” video
Sonny & the Sunsets have a new album on the way, and they already have an awesome, animated new video for the track “Cheap Extensions.” Follow the tail of a girl and her mysterious extensions over the Sunsets’ hypnotic groove. Talent Night at the Ashram was mostly recorded by Smith at home on his tape machine with the help of friends like Shayde Sartin (The Fresh & Onlys), Garret Goddard (King Tuff), Kelley Stoltz, Rusty Miller and Ian McBrayer. It’s due Feb. 17 on Polyvinyl. Read my interview with Sonny Smith back when they released their terrific last album, Antenna to the Afterworld.
Jessica Pratt – “Back, Baby”
I missed this new Jessica Pratt song while I was out of town—my bad! Everyone should be aware that it exists, and that the former Amoebite is releasing her second album soon—On Your Own Love Again is due on Drag City Jan. 27. On the first track she’s released from it, Pratt’s elfin voice sings a pensive breakup tune amid loping, seaside acoustic guitar. Absolutely stunning.
Various Artists - Killed by Deathrock, Vol. 1
I. Love. Compilations! Especially when they are lovingly assembled over long periods of time by obsessive crate diggers. This is one such collection, compiled by the Sacred Bones Records founder Caleb Braaten, born of a love for exhuming rare tracks from barely-heard and in some cases "un-Googleable" Post-Punk, Deathrock, and Dark Punk ensembles. Began in 2007, this passionate piece of dedicated Deathrock devotion is finalized and finally seeing the light. Note: the LP is limited to 150 pressed on pink vinyl so, like, be ready to snatch yours up. Out January 21st.
Cibo Matto - Hotel Valentine
It'll be impossible for single party people to suffer a sad and lonely Valentine's Day in 2014 because Cibo Matto's first new album in fifteen years, Hotel Valentine, drops on February 14th! And they're making it an extra sexy release what with the limited first press made on clear/cream vinyl. The album itself is kind of of a concept centered around a of love hotel or something, but the usual zany grooves, random raps, funky breaks, Sci-Fi wasabi, jazzy interludes, island flava and extended dance jams make this album feel like their excellent last album, Stereo Type A, wasn't released as long ago as 1999. I mean, are the 90s back or does the Cibo Matto sound possess an infallible timelessness? Yes, and it's about time.
And then write about them, like this:
Little Wings - LAST
LAST comes first not just because I'm a longtime avid supporter of Kyle Field as an artist and musician, but it just so happens that LAST was one of the very first new records I bought in 2013. LAST is one of those "total package" records about which I could spin infinite yarns of praise n' things regarding the songwriting, the recording, the artwork, and total overall vibe and I kind of already did that in the interview piece I put together last Spring and so I urge anyone interested in this two-fer plate of odd hip-hop with a lotta folk-rockin' goin' on to check it out as it'd be redundant to put further shine on this diamond.
Well, here we are. We weren't thrust into a new dark age oblivion, the world didn't end and neither did my workaday quest for the best music for the day. This year was rife with records that just had to be snatched -- reissues, compilations, and a fair few newbies too.
Here follows my personal, "show and tell" style best-of list for 2012: the year that didn't stop the big wheel a-turnin'. Rather than just dicing up a list of cold-cut favorites, I've included personal events and trends herein that shaped the music I sought and gravitated towards within the past year.
BEST NEW ALBUM OF THE YEAR: Jessica Pratt - JP. No contest. I have naught but the best of things to say about this disc of spun gold and I'm not alone. It seems every Barry, Rob, and Maurice in the blogosphere has been falling all over this record like autumn leaves in the rain. If you really want to know my take check out my real talk review of JP here, otherwise please do enjoy the album's opening track, "Night Faces" below.