Between Southern Gothic scuzz-rockers HOLIDAY GUNFIRE’s brazen celebration, “Holiday Gunfire,” West Coast poltergeists BALMS’ jagged, “Mirror,” and cosmic conduits THE TELESCOPES’ serene, oblique, “Exploding Head Syndrome,” February albums find themselves pinned down, cornered. Whether it’s armor-plated punks PINK MEXICO’s dead-end rancor, “Dump,” sly minstrel D.B. ROUSE’s homespun hum-along conundrums. “Choices were Made.” or robo-seductors HEALTH’s svelte conveyor-belt, “Vol. 4: Slaves of Fear,” this winter’s back is up against the wall.
Murray A, Lightburn - Hear Me Out
Album title: Hear Me Out
Record Label: Dangerbird Records
Warm, massaged, mahogany phrases enrich Lightburn’s cavalier melodies, relaying unwavering romance in lofty optimism and heroic hope. Well-considered admissions swinging in bon vivant wants embellished in starlit sighs, “Hear,” steers intriguing sincerity and sensitive repentance in polished doo-wop harmonies; glowing, retro-lounge pearls strung from golden odes to love’s saving grace, life’s inevitable fumbles and the heart’s journey between the two.
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Cherry Glazerr - Stuffed and Ready
Album title: Stuffed and Ready
Record Label: Secretly Canadian
Double-dare savior faire pitched in flinty quips over crunchy stunners, “Stuffed,” stacks rascally swagger onto ticklish tease and subversive reversals for ravenous magic stoking smoldering emotions. Ripped rock riffs woven from indie ingenuity, the crafty Cherry Glazerr party-crashes with blazing charades and chameleon charm igniting ferocious reproaches from mischief mistress’ doe-eyed ambushes trapping risky, frisky fun spun from power-pop fantasies.
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Bayonne - Drastic Measures
Album title: Drastic Measures
Record Label: Mom + Pop
Steady confetti textures shimmy, twinkle and shine behind Bayonne’s molting, blue-eyed butterfly soul, tropical froth pelleted in cellophane boogie, slow-motion ecstasy dipped in rainbow-riddled rhythms and fidgety digital visions. Hatched in placid waveform incubators, “Drastic,” relaxes in aqueous sound-mattresses; cotton-candy phantoms drunk on chattering percussion, rippling synths rinsed in double-ply sunshine inside colliding arpeggios absorbing cordial chords achieving sleepy peacefulness.
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Julia Jacklin - Crushing
Album title: Crushing
Record Label: Polyvinyl
Truth-bomb romps calmly lay down the law and Jacklin is public defender and ace reporter. Burning questions with long fuses, the Aussie’s honest, confident, “Crushing,” breaks everything into simpler pieces. Defiant self-reliance coated in folk-pop melancholy, friendly deference and plain-spoken poetry, Jacklin’s personal insights apply disquieting focus to shy, diary disappointments, charging hypnotic hurrahs hiding unspoken stories under pensive compensations.
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Martin Frawley - Undone at 31
Album title: Undone at 31
Record Label: Merge
Youthful troubadour days ripen into descriptive reminisces and keen self-examination as, “Undone,” strums and plunges, stalking and balking with distracting challenges wrapped in genre-hopping pop-punk passions. Smart, perceptive and articulate, Frawley’s solid observations find common ground in bouncy modesty, laidback hindsight and droll consolations; well-paved escapades braving clever fair-weather speculations anchored in leveraged memories, court-jester regrets and small-town pawn-shop monologues.
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Girlpool - What Chaos is Imaginary
Album title: What Chaos is Imaginary
Record Label: Anti-
Wide-eyed DIY adventurers, Girlpool’s infectious folk-punk gumption expands into nuanced choral-pop confections built from wholesale exuberance, centered incandescence and authentic sentiment then adding breathless depth, thoughtful polish and selective effects. Surrounded by plush, muscular daydreams leapfrogging into symphonic honky-tonk, the curious, “Chaos,” spawns fawning vaudeville concoctions radiating sumptuous stadium flame-outs, coffee-shop chops merging intimate string bridges to unlocked bedroom jangle.
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February rallies around albums of strength. Get behind post-punk crusaders HALF JAPANESE’s upfront autonomy-bop, “Invincible,” reverb-soaked folk-psychedelicists GOLDEN DAZE’s hippie, trippy, “Simpatico.” and precious messenger LISA PAPINEAU’s beautiful art-pop, “Oh Dead On Oh Love.” Delicious ambition submits Technicolor spotlight-seekers ANEMONE’s psycho-disco, “Beat My Distance,” pop-enchantress TINY RUINS’ noble, chamber-folk opuses, “Olympic Girls,” and erudite spell-caster CASS McCOOMBS’ provocative country-spiced novellas, ”Tip of the Sphere.” Meanwhile, improved futures inspires six-string jazzcat JESSICA PRATT’s, ravishing dream-folk, “Quiet Signs,” soulful balladeers GRANDCHILDREN’s prodigious, “Grandchildren,” and fire-spewing spooks ABJECT’s buzz-saw kamikaze, “Never Give Up.”