Fooled, schooled and deluded, January albums adjust what’s real to account for the unbelievable. Beyond logic, aberrations awake. Whether simmering glimmering singer-songwriter MIRANDA LEE RICHARDS’ fire-licked hipster wickedness, “Echoes of Dreamtime,” hot and bothered night-crawlers, slinky modern-rockers THE BLACK QUEEN’s preening electro-prone romance, “Fever Daydream,” or poised alt-pop composer JENNY GILLESPIE’s friendly acoustic art-jazz adventures, “Cure For Dreaming,” 2016 begins by spurring the imagination, fueling the future and challenging reality.
Daughter - Not To Disappear
Album title: Not To Disappear
Record Label: Glassnote
Cooked in narcotic tonics and strewn in saw-tooth gauze, Daughter’s frail pale sunset introspections turn veiled dream-rock into arrested confessions wrenched from tempestuous interventions. Drenched in repentant tension, “Disappear,” veers fearlessly into fierce bittersweet longing as hushed lyrics hung under contorted atmospherics bake deep existential aches into mesmerizing empathy, trapping slow claustrophobic explosions within tangled temptations roasting smoldering ghost-poached transmissions.
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Swahili Blonde - and only the melody was real
Album title: and only the melody was real
Record Label: Neurotic Yell
Junkyard-robot paradises swerving and lurching to choreographed sci-fi smack-downs, “melody,” builds rattling plastic masterworks pulled between trashy studio catastrophes; calm Kraftwerk charm spread over squelchy face-melters for a paved yellow-brick cavalcade. Spooky tinker-toy goofs spilling from ray-gun playgrounds in scintillating bionic burlesque, Swahili Blonde’s strong contradictory mysteries evaporate with strangely engaging after-tastes of timeless grinds from sleek, creaky off-kilter windmill-tilters.
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Laser - Night Driver
Album title: Night Driver
Record Label: Foreseen Entertainment
Stroboscopic doctors operating on dance-floor courtesans kidnap ultra-metropolitan happenings and tunnel under hard-wired after-parties as master craftsmen Laser chills silken willfulness into delicious post-modern parables; frisky disco whispers visit neon grooves for synth-pop dipped in cloaked programs. Drive-by glamour-shots caught in paparazzi spotlights, “Driver,” slides behind electric dreams pulsing in sultry weekend getaways, speeding through tubular maneuvers, lighting incandescent souls.
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The High Llamas - Here Come The Rattling Trees
Album title: Here Come The Rattling Trees
Record Label: Drag City
Sleepy bossa nova teases tweaked in breezy rose-colored twee, “Trees,” plants lounge-bound jazz under intimate fictions harvesting fizzy individual vignettes afloat in arpeggiated patience from mellow bedfellows. Caressed in pleasant sentiments washed in soft somnambulist magnificence, pedigreed harmonies squeeze quaint counterpoint into subtle unhurried melodies as THL’s sedate landscapes welcome warm organs, sunny marimbas, titillating harpsichord and shy nylon-string guitar.
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Aoife O'Donovan - In The Magic Hour
Album title: In The Magic Hour
Record Label: Yep Roc
Smart and languid, rich and fluid, O’Donovan captains swift literate dissertations navigating renegade chamber-folk arrangements with supple couplets mustering robust poetry. Pithy descriptions slipped in winsome acoustic rhythms and heartbeat-sweetened bop, “Magic,” bundles sharp departures within swirling mermaid currents, wrapping eagle-eye observations around resonant musical tributaries rooted in honest feeling. Aoife returns to Wisconsin March 31st playing Stoughton Opera House.
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Starlight Girls - Fantasm
Album title: Fantasm
Record Label: 588105 Records DK2
Strong-armed sass splashed in passionate pop-rock, “Fantasm.” stalks shell-shocked old-school cool for a retro-riveting peepshow hanging baited beats on meaty hooks in roasted licks from suave harlots. Coyly toying with stylish guile, the intoxicating, Starlight Girls go solid-gold aerobics on stealth-bomber romps selling sly jive to tube-way clubbers clutching runaway cravings for go-go booted doo-wop and tasered New Wave funk.
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With ciphers for titles, incongruity rules several beautifully inscrutable January albums. Puzzle over riptide-guided indie-rock pilots SHEARWATER’s caring, careening and captivating, “Jet Plane and Oxbow, while translating dance fanatic and rockin’ cyber-scientist PILLAR POINT’s sheer, clear weirdness inside the tireless, “Marble Mouth.” Dictionary-diggers will delight unraveling the highly imaginative talents powering the delicate and hesitant kinetics behind intriguing truth-seeker CROSS RECORD’s complicated proto-folk opus, Wabi-Sabi,” while blissful wordsmiths find wistful lists, glorious portals and torrid chorals in thunderstruck church-rock hustlers THE BESNARD LAKES’ mammoth tampered canvases, “A Coliseum Complex Museum.”