NCT - The 2nd Album Resonance Pt. 1 [The Future Ver.] (CD)

The second album from 21-member K-pop project NCT ups the ante with the group's full line-up on board. That means dance-pop hits to spare from all four NCT sub-groups plus two new members, Shotaro and Sungchan. With its enthusiastic swings from melodic hooks to rap verses, Resonance Pt. 1 is big on positive energy and connection through music, themes that should be well-received in 2020.

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Roped In (LP)

Roped In is an atmospheric, intimate, and often spare album anchored by Patrick McDermott’s intricate guitar and the haunting pedal steel work of Barry Walker. Harpist Mary Lattimore and guitarist William Tyler also make delicate appearances throughout. Across the album’s nine tracks, McDermott and Walker use simplicity and the directness of communicating emotions through music as both a jumping off point and a parameter. It’s about the clarity that can come from quiet moments, and how those moments are worth sticking with for as long as we possibly can.

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Creation Myths (CD)

Creation Myths, produced by Sam Cohen (Kevin Morby, Guster, Benjamin Booker), is Elvis Perkins’ first release since his soundtrack to the 2017 film The Blackcoat's Daughter, and first studio album since 2015’s I Aubade. Perkins’ background in film are apparent through his rich narrative approach to lyrics and cinematic use of spooky Americana, Country twang, and ascendant folk runs. Perkins creates worlds for us to sink into with songs filled with longing for connection on every level.

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Superm The 1st Album Super One [One Version] (CD)

The "Avengers of K-pop," SuperM follow up a widely successful debut EP with their first full-length album, Super One. The banger single "100" is appropriately bombastic with strong dynamics and flawless juxtaposition of singing and rapping. "Tiger Inside" is slinkier and more groove-focused, with a chorus that still rises to the challenge of delivering that perfect pop hook. The group's international appeal is sure to get a boost from this highly accessible new record.

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Ultra Mono (CD)

Capturing the feeling of a hip-hop album (producer/songwriter Kenny Beats helped with programming on several tracks), the songs on IDLES’ third album, Ultra Mono, double down on the acerbic social commentary of their past work. Just below the combative exterior lies a deeply complex and brutally relevant work revolving around themes of active presence and self-acceptance. Furthering the sense of expedience with the album, much of the songwriting was done in the recording booth.

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The Ascension (CD)

The Ascension, the eighth studio album from singer/songwriter/composer Sufjan Stevens, is musically expansive and sweeping in thematic scope. Songs shift from Stevens’ beloved stripped-down folk sound toward programed drum beats and waves of synth pop, but don’t let the fun façade fool you. Lyrically, Stevens confronts heavy feelings of universal dread and disenchantment, with an upbeat score -- a disorienting mix that seems to fit our world.

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Free Love (CD)

Sylvan Esso’s instantly endearing third album, Free Love, asks questions about self-image, self-righteousness, friendship, romance, and environmental calamity with enough magnetism to make you consider an alternate reality. These are Sylvan Esso’s most nuanced songs: bold in feeling, delicate in approach, and inclusive in attitude.

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Giver Taker (CD)

Written by Anjimile Chithambo in collaboration with Justine Bowe (Photocomfort) and New-York based artist/producer Gabe Goodman, Giver Taker, the gorgeous debut album by Anjimile, grapples with sobriety; reconciling trans identity, spirituality, and religious upbringing; and forging new futures that honor complex histories. Giver Taker spans evocative pastoral ballads, warm pop songs, and choral swells in a world where death and life are always entwined, wrapping around each other in a dance of reverence, reciprocity, and rebirth.

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What Is There (CD)

The enduring California rock quintet Delta Spirit reconvene for What Is There, their fifth full-length album and first since 2014’s Into the Wide. The reunion is not only a return to their rich cinematic sound, but it’s also a move forward together into new musical territories – a journey of growth in ten tracks.

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WE ARE CHAOS (CD)

Written and produced by Marilyn Manson and singer/songwriter/producer Shooter Jennings, WE ARE CHAOS is evocative of David Bowie’s work with Brian Eno; it feels like two artists decamped to unfamiliar surroundings to take chances in both musical style and subject matter. The collection of songs runs from macabre glam-rock to heavier extremes, cohering thematically as a post-modern concept album around explorations in self-reflection. Although the album cover is a self-portrait, MM has said that he intends the work to be a mirror for the listeners and that they should fill in their own story as they listen to it. Perhaps that’s what listeners do with every work, but there’s something compelling and impressionistic about the invitation to participate in a Do-It-Yourself concept album. Is this MM’s answer to Bowie’s Berlin Trilogy (Low, "Heroes” and Lodger) all in one 10 song album? If anyone could scale that mountain while deconstructing it, it’s MM.

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