After Thanksgiving the music calendar turns unforgiving with labels waiting until February to thaw out their goods. Fear not, December holds several treasures including cerebral-conceivers XIU XIU’s haunted cafe-jazz covers of jazz and blues icon Nina Simone, “Nina,” cosmic earth-mother and hippie soul-sister AQUARIANA’s bare-boned, psycho-sexual spirituals, “Aquariana,” Detroit pop-rock wunderkind BRENDAN BENSON’s gritty, pithy, “You Were Right,” and warmly non-conforming MUTUAL BENEFIT’s glittering literate baroque-folk images, “Love’s Crushing Diamond.”
Snowflake - We All Grow Towards the Sea
Album title: We All Grow Towards the Sea
Record Label: self-release
Knitting nebulous webs of strong-armed carnivals, the heroic Snowflake orchestrates lumbering concussions scattered among flirty vertigo and thundering slumber. Dream-rock finesse condensed, producer D. James Goodwin bestows, “Grow,” with heft and grandeur; clobbering the somber with intoxicating grogginess for triumphant gravitas, shifting-sand panoramas stitching gauzy causes to complex stretches for block-buster theatrics address wrenching repentance with a gracefully joyous poise.
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Hello Phones - Future City
Album title: Future City
Record Label: Station Records
Diabolical coddling inside industrial cuddling, “Future,” tutors cruel New Wave sparks from dark, tungsten spunk for devilishly dystopian crunch melting sharp, splashy laser-glazed power-punk into subversive urban Armageddon. Tattered back-alley jags coated in curdling purrs and glowing neon threats, HP taps delicious, illicit prescriptions of hypnotic electro-rock concoctions before shaking them down and roughing them up into serrated low-grade persuasions.
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Mount Pressmore - Enjoy
Album title: Enjoy
Record Label: Pressmore Records
Elastic contractions spinning flinching syncopation, Mount Pressmore’s modern, prog-tropical chords fire spidery geysers; edgy arpeggios dancing under swinging spires topping hyperbolic burrowing. Bendable tendrils of angular jazz-funk weave collegiate teasers into high-minded jams as, “Enjoy,” lays jaw-dropping chops wound around sophisticated art-rock romps; untraceable mazes mediating steamy impulses, wiry struts and cavalier cool while existential narratives navigate among howling counsel.
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Dott - Swoon
Album title: Swoon
Record Label: Graveface Records
Decked out in burning bridges about burning bridges and well-oiled choruses, “Swoon,” zooms and fumes empowered by retro-minded drive and feminine guile, teetering between lip-gloss garage-pop and beach-party alt-rock. Scoring scoff-moppet kiss-offs beneath love-song recon, the fashionably angelic and brilliantly belligerent Dott plots stun-gun bubblegum through hand-clap ballads saddling toxic bop with luscious touches of disarming harmonies and surf-punk doo-wop.
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Marley Carroll - Sings
Album title: Sings
Record Label: Melanaster Records
Intergalactic traveler routing rhythmic vistas into scenic sonics, Carroll’s computerized grooves build synth-pop heavens whose chiffon brawn, intricate mixes and lusty shuffles flirt, revert and skirt mastering plastic disco-soul, funky rainbow space-rock and quasi-symphonic electronica. Vast imaginative patches of studio-groomed savvy balance mechanical fantasies against breathless synthetics while, “Sings,” soars and explores, cantering in expansive cybernetic trances and programmed techno-romances.
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Sumie - Sumie
Album title: Sumie
Record Label: Bella Union
Sprinkled over aloof, acoustic guitar, patient raindrop melancholy graces solitary, rose-petal melodies, proving, “Sumie,” to be a level-headed sedative injected straight into the heart. The soothing, folk-chanteuse tranquility Sumie produces becomes pale, dewy blues filled with solemn consequence, precious defeats and velvety consolation. Quietly self-assured, unwavering accompaniment embraces the sweet, distant lyrics; befriending tender, orphaned affections for warm, self-reflective confessions.
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Having overlooked countless incredible gems from 2013, 2014 arrives bearing several acts promoting some of the very same discs we let slip. Check out ultra-melodic sophists SAN FERMIN playing their sprawling brass-capped self-titled chamber-pop odyssey for Madison’s FRZN FEST Jan 17th and Milwaukee’s Turner Hall Jan 19th, then attend multifaceted indie-rock abstractionists CALIFONE unleashing sweeping incandescent fictions from the cinematic, “Stitches,” Jan 23rd in Madison’s High Noon Saloon. Finally, don’t miss enchanted vamp-rocker CATE LEBON performing unspooled narco-pop curlicues from her hip, pixie-pickled, “Mug Museum,” Jan 24th at Madison’s Frequency.