As the year wraps up, December albums contemplate the future. From outraged Detroit rockers POPULAR CREEPS’ rambunctious, “All Of This Will End In Tears,” to sci-fi tribalist NINA HAGEN’s ferociously woke, “Unity,” cynical predictions and cautious prophecies abound. Meanwhile, second guesses and questionable estimates populate deep-feeling realist MICAH P. HINSON’s bittersweet bereavements, “I Lie To You,” and synth-pop enchantress CHARLOTTE SPIRAL’s luscious supple, “All This Time Asleep.” Good luck everyone.
White Lung - Premonition
Album title: Premonition
Record Label: Domino
Double-fisted triplets ambushing buzzsaw symphonics in laser-guided crossfire spirals and razor-sharp stomp-boxed harmonics, “Premonition,” tears past vast havoc into sublime sonic cauldrons calling for all to feast, electric fretwork stretched over ravenous bungee-jumping caverns crashing five-alarm banquets in victorious glory. Secret weaknesses vanquished with famished banshee surgery, White Lung’s farewell album gleams in steamy teamwork, proficient synchronicity and tireless pyrotechnics.
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Sophie Jamieson - Choosing
Album title: Choosing
Record Label: Bella Union
Destiny taunts phantom answers dancing in Jamieson’s flaming torch-songs, navigating sad ballads between simple admissions simmering in minimal beginnings and elaborate ladders bridging stirring murmurs emerging from forlorn corners into dogfight flights under open skies. Folk-rock roots weaving indie-twisted pitfalls among singer-songwriter pinnacles, “Choosing,” casts therapeutic prudence and confidential entries into vicarious prayers layered in crossroads atonements and keyhole focus.
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Terence Fixmer - Shifting Signals
Album title: Shifting Signals
Record Label: Mute
Engines fed and revved, scattered schematics reformatted into tense suspenseful purges, “Signals” slathers tabulated palpitations deploying wobbly modulations dropped among programmed animosity; predatory obstacle courses pitching gritty friction into thick gooey contusions. Electronic beat sequenced conjugator, Fixmer throws the sleek among the slime, pairing grace with grime, crossing berserk circuits caged in scrapes with industrial ambience moored to oily dancefloors.
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Brendan Benson - Low Key
Album title: Low Key
Record Label: Schnitzel Records
Multi-talented maestro, Benson’s keen pop comprehension seeks encyclopedic feats with astute grooves depicting life on the road, whether paying dues in soulful brass wrapped around country-blues or tasting freedom gleaming in power chords rigged with pithy riffs. By reconciling miles traveled in clever couplets, “Low Key,” captures biographical snapshots in rearview mirror romances, ramping three-minute anthems into taunt cautionary tales.
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Black Ox Orkestar - Everything Returns
Album title: Everything Returns
Record Label: Constellation Records
Drawn from traditions surrounding the Jewish, Slavic, Arabic, and Central Asian diaspora, “Return,” yearns and spurns, sauntering along delicate melancholy partnered with dignified whimsy, frivolous in generous pleasantries and unequivocal in facing misfortunes. A transient pantheon spicing lives with emotional poetry proudly mounting philosophical resolve, Black Ox Orkestar honors, reveres and forges ahead, lamenting then celebrating, marrying hope with closure.
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Donzii - Fishbowl
Album title: Fishbowl
Record Label: Grey Market Records
Whiplashed crackle from stutter-pop anarchists, sinister misfits Donzii launches propulsive slap-bass raves with caustic six-string time-bombs, ominous thoughts embedded in brittle prog-rock metal and showered in clattering New Wave shadows. Divine techno-funk throwbacks ransacked in brusque feline insolence, “Fishbowl,” holds cyber-punks hostage with wonderfully hallucinogenic frenzies, pouty routers hard-wired to schizophrenic detonators with threatening temptations, soft narcotics and finicky synergy.
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Weyes Blood - And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow
Album title: And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow
Record Label: Sub Pop
Hopeful vocals coaxing post-pandemic paradises from heavenly choirs and symphonic longing, Weyes Blood’s epic introspection mixes forgiveness and regret tinted in angelic visions evoking renaissance canvases washed in lush brushstrokes selling delicate melodies. Humble suffering glorified in gorgeous choruses, poignant hindsight finds, “Aglow,” open to fragile futures, nursing wounded moods into shining reminders rich in pitch-perfect concern and orchestrated empathy.
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Tenci - A Swollen River, A Well Overflowing
Album title: A Swollen River, A Well Overflowing
Record Label: Keeled Scales
Art-song Americana baptized in lively vitality and unpretentious intelligence, “River,” delivers nimble wit with folksy vibrato, slow yodeling and barnyard glissando. Jovial, generous and authentic, Tenci’s warm, wide-eyed warbling transports tender memories into rudimentary ruminations where wonder takes wing and imaginative magic happens in bed-time stories around crackling hearths, nursery-rhyme paradigms dipped in unconditional innocence, searching curiosity and perceptive acceptance
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Smut - How The Light Felt
Album title: How The Light Felt
Record Label: Bayonet Records
Maturity’s uncertainties swim in carbonated guitar-pop daydreams as Smut’s quivering rhythms, beguiling style and wicked riffs infiltrate melancholy rock with shimmering six-string solace, savvy mavericks bringing glistening deliverance to sage survivalists. A bright, tight-wrapped package, “Light,” polishes sentimental gemstones into tasty rock candy, well-designed sunshine baking unshakeable beliefs into stellar celebrations with stepped-up middle-eights crashing baited-hook jangle into towering power-chords.
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Quasi Qui - Downloading A New Operating System
Album title: Downloading A New Operating System
Record Label: microqlima records
Cyber-smart dancefloor funk slung in fretless New Wave genuflections among soft dream-pop propositions, “Operating,” drops sultry bangers among hypnotic cat-walk seductions breathing steamy intrigue into cooing computer grooves. Bite-sized enticements swirling in hip-swiveling pivots and haunting taunts, Quasi Qui’s devious allegiances prance around chance encounters and primal pursuits, post-modern promises teasing charming carnal karma with supple struts and blockbuster hustle.
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Quasi Qui online:
Anna Mieke - Theatre
Album title: Theatre
Record Label: Nettwerk
A flagship talent, Anna Mieke’s polyrhythmic wishes conjure cantering banners gently rendering rippling sympathies with placid pageantry, twisted mystery jigs sprinkling baroque jazz-folk riddled in enchanted images. Mirthful verse carried by squirrely chamber-pop whirlwinds, mercurial urges stirring soothing acoustic nuance, “Theatre,” skips, hops and pirouettes with textured speculations etching breathless wallflower waltzes in flitting dragonfly whimsy and articulate ballroom curtsies.
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Katy Rea - The Urge That Saves You
Album title: The Urge That Saves You
Record Label: self-release
Recorded live, the sensual sophistication exhibited in the uninhibited, “Urge,” merges bookish piano-ballad casualties into compassionate unscripted madness, bold episodes holding thoughts at bay before searing lyrical outbursts burn carousing lounge into the ground. Accompanied by flexible specialists, Rea unleashes sinful incantations with animal grace and grand humanity, rendering scathing impatience in exquisite visits to dark hearts and slithering suspicions.
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Robin Holcomb - One Way Or Another, Vol. 1
Album title: One Way Or Another, Vol. 1
Record Label: Westerlies Records
The historically minded Holcomb looks back over her own career; collective memories where pauses speak volumes with tactful passion, jaunty phrases dancing around agrarian phantoms; persuasive, insistent, anchored and inescapable. Colloquial art-folk reimagined in assorted covers, originals and reframed side-projects set to voice and piano, “Another,” captures time’s ubiquitous meticulousness whose lyrical legacies waltz in eloquent and ominous feminist remembrances.
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Stephen Becker - A Calm That Shifts
Album title: A Calm That Shifts
Record Label: NNA Tapes
Translucent moods cruise through the lightly tranquilizing, “Calm,” hiding steely queries inside measured reveries with immutable musicality perusing assorted forethought and meandering banter. Articulate, sensitive and confident, one-man-band Becker plies multi-instrumental skills in air-brushed percussion, glowing guitars and narcotic bass as effortless fretwork brings nimble jazz chords and melodic soft-pop purrs to nuanced songs addressing messy connections with swooning elocution.
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Disq - Desperately Imagining Someplace Quiet
Album title: Desperately Imagining Someplace Quiet
Record Label: Saddle Creek
A five-piece powerhouse whose indie cred shreds dread and vexes tech, DISQ pits misfit quips against slash and burn earnestness for boppy bombast and sizzling gizmo maneuvering swift ditties into fearless delirium. The polished demolished dynamic keeps, “Quiet,” lively, a quivering riddle where cool nerds surge and dodgeball rockers offer direct amends with energetic contentions battling malice with old-fashioned traction.
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Robyn Hitchcock - Shufflemania!
Album title: Shufflemania!
Record Label: Tiny Ghost Records
From swirling psycho-skiffle non-sequiturs to learned curveball meditations, “Shufflemania!” quaintly contains zany refrains among nefarious narrative dares tapping compassionate rapture with minor-key skullduggery. An illustrious bishop-baiting busker, Hitchcock eyes both sides and straddles the addled and the academic, mirthful dirges quoting interlopers and jumping trains with rambling shenanigans and post-mortem exhortations both spry and wise, quietly diabolical and oddly logical.
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Alex Lilly - Repetition Is A Sin
Album title: Repetition Is A Sin
Record Label: Release Me Records
Relatable modern-day fables bolstered in silver-screen sheen and sprinkled with extravaganza glamour, Lilly’s dizzy synergy rides kiss-and-tell carousels circling life’s facades in clever pop hooks and pastel backing. Clear, lyrical reveals facing friendships, self-worth and identity, “Repetition,” dips, rises and twirls in upbeat ballads rallying affectionate conjecture; light, bite-sized insights inviting trust through shared cares, gentle confession and mutual truths.
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NNAMDÏ - Please Have A Seat
Album title: Please Have A Seat
Record Label: Secretly Canadian
Hyper-imaginative future-pop grafting carefully caustic math-rock onto auto-tuned patch-bay prog-soul fusion, “Seat,” treats aural alienists to immaculate sensory assaults and candid romance, equally smug and modest, sly and honest. Astonishing melodic rounds circle fractal magnificence as NNAMDÏ hammers home ear-worm sound-quakes, lifting cartoon doom into trippy introspection while super-pumped joystick licks pitch gear-shifting mischief and tender frenzy for charming tsunamis.
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What does the future hold? This installment marks 15 years of Slipped Discs on-line. Time to take a breath. Cannot thank enough the publicists and labels that made it all possible. I’ll continue to write music happenings and January already promises such goodies as alt-rock bombardiers R. RING’s, “War Poems, We Rested,” LADYTRON’s phantasmagorical, “Time’s Arrow,” and BEAUTY PILL’s, iconoclastic anthology, “Blue Period.” February offers audio stylists MMEADOWS’, “Light Moves Around You,” PILE’s foggy cog-rock, “All Fiction,” and Field Music’s DAVID BREWIS’ debut, “The Soft Struggles.” Can’t stop the music.