Stuck in flux, December albums find fate’s tidal wiles curating dynamic dialectics. Between impact and react, the world connects, corrects and reinvents. Link into century-old public domain songs transformed by an eclectic indie roster in the red-hot melting-pot, “Transference,” then balance prog-pop offspring GEORGIO THE DOVE VALENTINO’s vicarious scenarios, “The Future Lasts A Long Time.” against earthy art-rock dance-jammers FOVEA’s lo-fi spirals and balmy harmonies, “Pencil Me In.” Your move.
Cindy Wilson - Change
Album title: Change
Record Label: Kill Rock Stars
Plush, techno-lounge crowning heavy-petting jet-setters with wistful twists of psychedelic dreaminess; “Change,” unchains gorgeous synth-pop torch-songs padded in satin purrs and swaddled in slow-dance swirls. Experience shows as Wilson easily eases between patient innovation and electric celebration, substituting the former B-52s singer’s zing with sultry, shimmering invitations to create vixenish mid-tempo magic which radiates modern-rock options and emulates retro-hipster charm.
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Uncle Meg with MC John Debt - Can’t Stay The Same
Album title: Can’t Stay The Same
Record Label: self-release
Dapper rappers stashing impassioned theatrics inside glowing flow and autobiographical bravado, Debt and Uncle’s flyweight-boxer bounce throw potent punches at social conventions, ill-informed norms and uneducated pre-conceptions. Schooling in cool fluid grooves brewed in styled vibes and double-timed rhymes, “Same,” enflames the game in tamed anger, arranging smart hearts with sincere feeling and laying down astounding rounds with swinging opinions.
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Tom Rogerson with Brian Eno - Finding Shore
Album title: Finding Shore
Record Label: Dead Oceans
The tranquil migrations surrounding, “Shore,” layer wayward raids over methodical odysseys; a gaggle of tadpole wiggles seeking leap-frogging cosmic frequencies through exploratory detours massaging delicate tensions. Pondering wand-waving improvisations, Rogerson’s instrumental solos split into prismatic passages beneath Eno’s manipulating minimalist impulses as one’s ideas grow into another’s paint-box playground where multi-colored themes blissfully drip on planetary canvases in swarming non-conformity.
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This Pale Fire - Alchemy
Album title: Alchemy
Record Label: Tone Tonic
A graceful sage lost in thought, This Pale Fire builds bittersweet pangs from estranged language nestling soft-spoken consolations in emotional moments with cordial metaphors supported by crisp description. Nebulous webs of brittle electric and nimble acoustic guitars unravel open-hearted departures lifted in wind-blown keyboards and punctual percussion as, “Alchemy,” wrestles and rises around anchorless melodies pirouetting beneath gleaming folk-pop streams.
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Monster Rally - Flowering Jungle
Album title: Flowering Jungle
Record Label: Gold Robot Records
Looped grooves from Cuban big-bands mash hip-dipping cha-cha-chas to Hawaiian sunsets and moon-lit cocktails as lush, revisionist kitsch bewitches an inquisitive, “Flowering,” with vintage crate-digging synchronicity. Remixing exotica with hip-hop beats, Monster Rally’s balalaikas, marimbas, slack-key guitar and congas infuse the nostalgic scavenging with lavish backing for tasty sound oases, green bygone Edens spritzed in glitchy mystery and stereophonic harmonics.
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Blush - Blush
Album title: Blush
Record Label: Arrowhawk Records
Skulking in delectable doldrums while mermaid-zombie waltzes pounding out dour downbeats go from salty to sweet; Blush’s slithering alt-pop grinds swing, binge and fall fast asleep to wake in earthquake-rock raves where fun lunges in reverb-soaked vocals. Empowered by girl-group coos and street-corner cool, the self-titled debut pits thrifty riffs against power-chord fortitude to personify conjugal longing and slow-dance romance.
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A tumultuous year closes with a few remaining musical releases reflecting this strange age we inhabit flushed with subjectivity and gilded in over-saturated facts. Be it seething digi-beasts AZAR SWAN’s hyper-industrial muscle, “Savage Exile,” or fiery folk-blues ramblers BARTEE COX AND THE STRANGE FRUITS’ disenchanted candor, “Magic Boy,” personality cults were this year’s model. So, if you are closer to mega-melodic pop-philosopher ALEX BLOOM’s earnest interpersonal circus, “Blue Room,” than fractal-synth visionary AHNNU’s zero-gravity appetizers, “Special Forces,” fear not. Next year is another chance to try it all over again.