Winter casts us into darkness, so thank goodness for music’s bright beacon. Soak in radiant cluster-rock masons THEE SILVER MT. ZION MEMORIAL ORCHESTRA’s spectacular fracas drenched in unrepentant splendor, “Fuck Off, Get Free, We Pour Light On Everything,” and magical multi-instrumentalist TARA JANE O’NEIL’s enchanting dream-breeding ambient, “Where Shine New Lights,” before hiding among Seattle collaborator MARK LANEGAN’s terminally ruminating deep-dish double-disc, “Has God Seen My Shadow? An Anthology 1989-2011.”
Fox and the Bird - Darkest Hours
Album title: Darkest Hours
Record Label: (self-release)
Humble tumbleweed homilies roasted in toasty campfire harmonies, cantering banjo banter, well-placed brass and slithering fiddle, “Darkest,” parlays a cozy homage to downtrodden commoners with robust busking cloaked in chamber-folk charm. Sorting through lonesome stories, cavorting in kind-hearted tales, FATB’s punchy, frontier fables resonate in tender remembrances, sage advice and friendly encouragements with a light touch and a steady hand.
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I Break Horses - Chiaroscuro
Album title: Chiaroscuro
Record Label: Bella Union
Crawling hydraulics stalk elusive muses through synthesized solace and polished melancholy, “Chiaroscuro,” rises over alien landscapes littered in luminous sonic blooms punctuated by solemn calm, digitally clinical precision and chattering strobe-light magnificence. Remote ghosts hovering over mechanical planets, Sweden’s IBH pours air-borne artifice over post-industrial puzzles, gelling and propelling its shady trip-hop equations into billowing silhouettes chilled in majestic confections.
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Jack Name - Light Show
Album title: Light Show
Record Label: Drag City
Trembling gremlin-penned space-rock, JN’s wild-eyed sci-fi reroutes ghoulish studio-brewed moods into eerie psycho-pop miracles. Wavy graveyard raves from lurching punk dervishes, “Light,” splices uninhabited narratives to thick manipulated carriages loaded among sinister lo-fi miniatures ablaze in freak-fest synergy. An abrasive séance reviving marvelous carcasses, Jack’s crashing imagination spins in loony-bin whimsy tainted with skulking multi-tracked fragments rebooted for nuclear derision.
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Lanterns on the Lake - Until the Colours Run
Album title: Until the Colours Run
Record Label: Bella Union
Nurturing compassions by corralling musical stallions, LOTL’s faraway gaze and galloping parades penetrate glacial fates, bursting with nervous purpose while flickering in wilting heartache and whispering sympathy. Illustrious production fuels open disclosure painting, “Colours,” with restless restraint and bewitching mystery; absorbing storms rewarding held-fast beliefs with triumph and respite, carving harboring sanctuaries from melodramatic surrender, celluloid glories and smoldering emotion.
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Marram - Sun Choir
Album title: Sun Choir
Record Label: Transgressive North
Twittering symphonies mounting boundless joy-filled choirs, “Sun,” undulates, consecrates and inundates, racing from supple to combustible for electric art-pop epics whose swooping grooves and fevered sweeps collapse hyperactive mash-ups drawing urgent brass-addled mergers into cyber-primed surges. Six years recording two hundred instruments from three continents, Marram crafts massive masterpieces stitching clattering climaxes from imported orchestras, star-studded vocalists and impish rhythms.
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Abram Shook - Sun Marquee
Album title: Sun Marquee
Record Label: Western Vinyl
Energetic effervescence slyly glides between plush head-rush constructions and springy shimmering sprints; Shook cooks caressing messages in bright, bubbling wonder through smart, tropical-flavored pop stirred with breezy ingenuity and drizzled in jazz-twisted pivoting. Basking in heavenly blends of stop-watch bop and elastic deep-shag ballads, Marquee,” brilliantly teases, pleases then releases, swaying in playful ricochet daydreams packed with sweet, sparkling delights.
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In the midst of winter, several January releases offer a means to assemble your own private paradise. From the infinite optimism of electronic conquerors PAINTED PALMS’s towering empowered mega-pop, “Forever,” to the self-inflicted inquisition of tazered shoegazers DOG BITE’s sequestered textures in, “Tranquilizers,” escape seems dreamy. Perhaps cavernous mavericks SLEEPY SUN’s pummeling galactic grunge, “Maui Tears,” or psychedelic-blues troopers BLANK REALM’s world-weary jangle-rock wormholes, “Grassed Inn,” hold more appeal to those in need of a better get-away, but first, consider surrendering to minor-key mistress TRENTALANGE’s scabrous catalytic cabaret, “Same Illusion.”