Jan 2022

Anaïs Mitchell (CD)

If Anais Mitchell’s new self-titled release has the celebratory vibe of a homecoming, well, that’s because it is. It’s the acclaimed indie folk singer’s first studio album in years, and there’s a sense of welcome return to these songs, Mitchell’s voice hanging honeyed in the air over her warm, cozy compositions. Deceptively simple, each track packs a real emotional punch, made all the stronger by the easygoing, upbeat nature of the melodies. The ideal soundtrack for your next evening in the countryside surrounded by beloved family and old friends.

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Black Acid Soul (CD)

Sure, it’s only January, but Lady Blackbird’s debut, Black Acid Soul, seems like a strong contender for album of the year. The LA-based singer’s voice conveys emotion with every note; there’s no paint-by-numbers, pop-radio-ready polish here. No, Lady Blackbird’s influences harken back to stronger stuff. Her voice might call to mind classic jazz singers like Nina Simone or Billie Holiday, while her backing musicians include Deon Johnson (Miles Davis’ pianist). Black Acid Soul is atmospheric, intoxicating, and timeless. They don’t make ‘em like this anymore—until, apparently, they do.

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Antidawn EP (CD)

Burial’s enigmatic nature, irregular release schedule, and haunting oeuvre inspire heady devotion from underground electronic music fans around the world. With work like his latest, the Antidawn EP, it’s easy to see why. This strange, moody collection takes familiar elements of Burial’s sound and deconstructs them into an eerie, liminal ambiance—like a disco trapped between this world and the next. Vocals fade in and out, washes of sound flood the emotions, and processed effects hint at latent dread. Beautiful, sometimes disconcerting, and often transcendent, Antidawn has a way of getting under your skin.

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All The Bright Coins (CD)

Simone Felice’s All the Bright Coins is the introspective, heartfelt latest from the multi-talented songwriter/producer/artist. After several years spent focused on his work as a producer, Felice began to think about calling it a day on his own compositions. Then he wrote, “Puppet,” an emotionally gripping narrative of life on the road as an indie touring act. It’s our good fortune that he kept writing. Tracks like “Puppet,” “Bare Trees,” “Year Around the Sun,” and “Prisoner” are immediately relatable, with top-notch lyrics and slow burn songwriting. All the Bright Coins is a special album, one of great warmth and grace, that reveals more and more of itself over time.

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W (CD)

Japanese experimentalists Boris take their dark, heavy sound in exciting new directions on W. Rich in atmospherics, warped sonic textures, and ominous industrial vibes, the band’s latest has a haunted, unpredictable quality. Whispered vocals over minimal melodies and seething soundscapes create a hypnotic, otherworldly mood, like a deep REM dream that straddles the line between the unpredictable but enjoyable and the darkness that could veer into nightmare territory at any moment. It’s an intriguing, unsettling listen that will appeal to those who dig the shadowy side of the street.

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Covers (LP)

Cat Power’s latest collection, Covers, finds the artist once again bringing her seductively moody spin on tracks from a wide range of artists. The tracks are rich in atmosphere and steeped in emotion; it’s a heady brew that only Cat Power can conjure up. Chan Marshall draws inspiration this time around from Frank Ocean, Nick Cave, The Replacements, Billie Holiday, Iggy Pop, and more. She also contributes a new version of her 2006 track “Hate,” called “Unhate.” If only all cover songs could sound as vivid and essential as these heartbreakingly gorgeous numbers.

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BRIGHTSIDE (CD)

Fans of The Lumineers' brand of Americana-infused folk rock will find much to enjoy on the band's latest, the aptly titled BRIGHTSIDE. With sing-a-long-ready choruses, rousing melodies and moving lyrics, the songs seem destined to rule the radio, reverberate across open-air amphitheaters, and basically become instant fan favorites. The riffs are rollicking, the pianos plaintive, and the vocals yearning and optimistic. That's what makes BRIGHTSIDE so special: in the midst of all of life's turmoils and traumas, The Lumineers share tales of transcendence.

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Fix Yourself, Not The World (CD)

The Wombats make a triumphant return with the joyfully melancholy Fix Yourself, Not the World. Maybe that description sounds like a paradox, but in this weird time of setbacks and hope just over the horizon, The Wombats have done a masterful job of channeling the zeitgeist. Sure, song titles like "Everything I Love Is Going to Die" and "If You Ever Leave, I'm Coming with You" promise droll commentary on some of life's biggest dilemmas. But the melodies themselves are relentlessly catchy, true indie bops that'll have you lightly banging your head, even as you contemplate the human condition. Highly recommended, especially for days that could use a little extra happiness.

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