Annie Hart formerly of Au Revior Simone - photo by Sebastian Kim
Tactile and actual, tangled in the tangible, December album titles are living in the material world. Scoop up FM power-chord choirboys THE WHIFFS’, golden retro-rock, “Another Whiff,” then pick among sensitive alt-pop fence-sitter ANNIE HART’s thoughtful electro-acoustic prudence, “A Softer Offering.” or rock god Robert Plant’s podcast-based vinyl box-set, “Digging Deep.” Ashes to ashes, dust to slowcore legends DUSTER’s heralded return to recording after nineteen years, the gravity-strapped, synaptic-blasted, “Duster.”
Electric Litany - Under A Common Sky
Album title: Under A Common Sky
Record Label: Apollon Records
Pitched in cinematic syntax, airborne angst and sophisticated insurrection, “Sky,” amplifies worldly concerns into existential menace, cradling social mazes in ephemeral surrenders while snakey bass crawls through withering situations and singed synthesizers spar faraway guitars beneath throbbing prog-rock after-shocks. Lost prophets lavishing embattled compassion over vast canvases, Electric Litany’s muted battle-cries rise through glorious discourse, orchestral stretches and cancerous fantasies.
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Anna Nalick - The Blackest Crow
Album title: The Blackest Crow
Record Label: Chesky Records
Guided by a well-tuned ear, intuitive chanteuse Nalick gathered an eclectic mix of Country, Folk, American Songbook and Britpop for a songsmith’s set-list that gifts craft alongside sincerity, celebrating timeless feelings captured in classic lyrics possessing posh, melodic competence. Backed by acoustic guitar, cello, upright bass and drums, “Crow,” flows in restrained arrangements beautifully supporting Anna’s supple, casually confident vocals.
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Lee "Scratch" Perry - Heavy Rain
Album title: Heavy Rain
Record Label: On-U Sound
Rock-steady grooves moving beneath phantom chants, haunted harmonica and sad brass, “Rain,” rains, “Soldiers collecting souls,” and “Children of the Night,” over slippery redemption days blazing in faith served by curdling serpentine certainty. Karmic shaman Perry’s scrubbed dub companion to this year’s revelatory, “Rainford,” welcomes mothership liberations; baptized night-walker trance channeling blessed messages through loose, echo-chamber complacency and studio-proven juju.
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Emily Yacina - Remember the Silver
Album title: Remember the Silver
Record Label: self-release
Lived-in pop props Yacina’s sensible premonitions against deceptive mid-tempo affections connecting rhythm-driven perceptions to calm, collected, level-headed introspection and inviting kind candor inside systemic memories from smart hearts. Personal journeys turned into happening maps, “Silver,” fills unavoidable joys with better judgment assumptions sealing the deal in learning-curve verses and well-informed choruses customized in friendly empathy, attentive mentions and centered defenses.
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Emily Yacina online:
Pedro Kastelijns - Som das Luzis
Album title: Som das Luzis
Record Label: OAR
Zany mania tamed in psycho-samba soufflés, “Luzis,” muses in jarring cartoon lunacy, commanding gizmo-prone jabberwocky waking and shaking narcoleptic benders riding bold, dismembered tropical-pop dropped into rabbit-hole side-shows. Basted in booming bass, tasty bossa nova escapes and bouncy gaucho detours, psychedelic Brazilian Kastelijns’ lavender caverns spew groovy tunes fire-roasted and slightly singed, crispy fringe-art binges rattling cages and sparking imaginations.
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Hurt Valley - Glacial Pace
Album title: Glacial Pace
Record Label: Woodsist
Good-natured scoundrels, shaggy string-band brethren Hurt Valley leads ghost-town honky-tonk from pioneer cheer to hobo emo, thick with braided guitar licks and starry minor-key harmonies. Rolling-hill road-trips through Zen-centered relationships conjuring intricate rest-stop rambles radiating stray bohemian dreams, “Pace,” grazes sunrise highways, kicking up dust with wagon-train refrains in urban cowboy cadence, washing waltzing folk-rock off-spring in heady riverbed sedatives.
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December albums are rare beasts but January promises to make amends with incredible releases from musicians whose tour plans include Madison dates. From paisley angels OF MONTREAL visiting the Majestic March 10th with lip-smacking electro-pop sparkle, “UR Fun,” to velvet tigers POLICA bringing their life-affirming gloss-rock, “How To Stay Alive,” to the High Noon March 19th, winter heats up fast. Meanwhile alt-rock stalwarts COLONY HOUSE invades the High Noon March 13th with, “Leave What’s Lost Behind,” and divergent musical surgeon DAN DEACON’s, “Mystic Familiar,” livening the High Noon April 4th.