Another month, another year and to some, another decade - and so another opportunity to gather disparate discs under one theme. From the electro-indie/Afro-pop shenanigans of VAMPIRE WEEKEND’s joyously hyper-active, “Contra,” to the gospel-inspired blues of PATTY GRIFFIN’s beautiful, “Downtown Church,” there are no quirky connections among the first 2010 CDs other than being the first CDs of 2010. Here are six excellent January releases bonded only by their differences.
Pit Er Pat - The Flexible Entertainer
Album title: The Flexible Entertainer
Record Label: Thrill Jockey Records
Techno-toreadors flinging slithering rhythms within jigsaw salsa and chip-rock hopscotch, Chicago’s mischievous synthesists bend rules and dance around reason. Machinery and mayhem melt into infectious raves and alt-rock ecstasy as swerving dub-influenced dervishes conjure convoluted conga lines unwinding behind rubbery Arabic trappings mutated, leeched and unleashed among mad jumbles of electro-punk.
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Pit Er Pat online:
Josephine Foster - Graphic As A Star
Album title: Graphic As A Star
Record Label: Fire Records
Honoring the anachronistic mysteries of American Transcendentalist Emily Dickinson, Foster’s iconoclastic a cappella transforms the poet’s oddly metered stream of consciousness into archaic hymns of ghostly hobo folk. Occasionally accompanied by guitar and harmonica, “Graphic,” coos eloquent testaments to the ability of a single unadorned voice to convey elusive, quietly haunting thoughts.
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Freedy Johnston - Rain On The City
Album title: Rain On The City
Record Label: BarNone Records
After an eight year hiatus, Johnston’s smart, solid, far-away pop returns wrangling twang and rockin’ deep pockets, craftily mining the heart’s inevitable comedies. From tattletale lovers to bossa nova Casanovas, the winsome minstrel croons good-natured, vagabond songs, howling smoothly into classic pop-rock maneuverings moored to marooned romances and happily captured in happenstance.
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Editors - In The Light and On This Evening
Album title: In The Light and On This Evening
Record Label: Fader Records
Stone-cold vocals unfold over debonair synthesizer rock; “Light,” galvanizes wickedly deliberate defiance into smoldering allegiance and stylish, mass hysteria. Thuggish Messiahs embracing urgent moon-lit palpitations, The Editor’s barbed grooves and commanding choruses courageously encourage icy retorts impassioned anthems wrenching feverish chills from charismatic menace, glowering insolence fueling twilight wrecking-balls.
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The Editors online:
Earthrise Soundsystem - The Yoga Sessions
Album title: The Yoga Sessions
Record Label: Yoga Organix Records
Mystical hypnotists courting karmic charms and suggestive messages, ES’s international aesthetics provide twinkling syncopation and slippery inspiration between breathlessly mellow trance, spiced-up Western pop and swinging multilingual meditations. While cutting-edge DJ reggae hawk slinky trinkets, tabla jazz turn vixenish and, “Yoga,” uplifts and liberates; multiple personalities blended together for divinely dynamic tranquility.
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Earthrise Soundsystem online:
Laura Veirs - July Flame
Album title: July Flame
Record Label: Raven Marching Band
Ticklish, rippling innocuous concoctions topped with whimsy and wisdom, “July,” flies coy and buoyant as summer bubbles through Veir’s sly metaphors and butterfly melodies. Strings swell and brass saunters as playfully layered arrangements cushion and quench, manipulating Jim James duets, artful finger-pickin’ and subtle lullaby hooks into cozy company and interesting conversation.
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Laura Veirs online:
Looking back at 2009, we regret not squeezing some praise for idea factory STILL LIFE STILL’s blatantly lively and refreshingly inventive, “Girls Come Too,” bratty TINY MASTERS OF TODAY’s sprawling new wave, punk-rock collage, “Skeletons,” or soulful GENTLEMAN REG’s glamorously gritty, “Jet Black.” Slipped also let slip, COLD CAVE’s exquisitely gloomy, neon-infused, “Love Comes Close,” ELECTRIC OWLS’ cleverly eclectic success, “Ain’t Too Bright,” and THE VERBS’ well-traveled, girl-group/Brit-pop hodgepodge, “Trip.”