Something’s not quite right with February albums this year. Whether skewed studio synthesist KATIE GATELY’s, unearthly art-pop infernos, “Loom,” thrill-seeking creeps BAMBARA’s salted buzz-saw melancholia, “Stray,” or mega-melodic chakra-rockers ELEPHANT STONE’s psychotropic blow-out, “Hollow,” nagging doubts and missing pieces abound. Meanwhile similar suspicions surround gentle pensive composer PAUL HASLINGER’s serene celluloid scenarios, “Exit Ghost,” dreamy alt-folk earth-angels WILSEN’s luminous, “Ruiner,” and antsy punk panthers SHOPPING’s socio-political windmill-tilters, “All or Nothing.”
Terry Ohms - Cold Cold Shoulder
Album title: Cold Cold Shoulder
Record Label: Cornelius Chapel Records
Double-talk alt-rock guitar-jockey Ohms roams in impulsive hustles flushed in psychedelic head-rushes, indignant riffs dipped in deep-fried fuzz and slippery epiphanies greased with searing stratospheric jams. Uptight and out of sight, “Cold,” rolls in shoulder-chip bravado, perplexed intellect funneled into ramped amps blasted in rabid rants and nimble sympathy; sandpaper anarchy paved in cathartic barking, jet-fueled blues and six-string furies.
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Drama - Dance Without Me
Album title: Dance Without Me
Record Label: Ghostly International
Glamorous, incandescent R&B lights up dazzling romantic attractions as, “Dance,” tip-toes over gossamer-pop from slow-dancing divas greeting savory secrets with level-headed heavens, addressing lush mistrust with sweet, runway struts. Fledgling pleasures nudged into cooing courtships, Drama’s candelabra superstars draw heartthrob mug-shots from sensual penthouse pulses; cocktail piano flirtations partnered besides suave sampled fantasies cutting the rug with polished, cabaret philosophy.
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Samuel Rohrer - Continual Decentering
Album title: Continual Decentering
Record Label: Arjunamusic
Percussion-driven visions blissfully enlisting plastic crackles, tubular infusions and placid splashes, Rohrer plops, plots, waxes and scratches; modulated shape-shifting impatience planting ambient trance in palsied palpitations from triggered kicks. Future grooves powered by deep African roots and free-jazz imaginations, “Decentering,” tends towards abstracted happenings born from magical fragments and energized through the drummer’s intuitive moves, minimal symmetry and burning curiosity.
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Agnes Obel - Myopia
Album title: Myopia
Record Label: Blue Note
Angelic poems rappelling down twilight cathedrals like holy metronomes winding through honeycomb harmonies, “Myopia,” soaks tissue-paper vocal layers with dovetail flutters falling into undulating beds where driftwood choirs bathe in ghostly hopes and crystal-clear miracles. Intricate, intimate chamber-pop composer Obel levitates and meditates over waking melodies lifted in swift deliberate rhythms painting dainty pulsating radiance with strings, voice and keyboards.
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The Undercover Dream Lovers - It’s All In Your Head
Album title: It’s All In Your Head
Record Label: self-release
Vacuum-sealed chameleons unreeling dream-pop disco, chiffon love-songs and wide-lapel nostalgia, The Undercover Dream Lover’s glossy soft-rock posse pops bubblegum boogie with coy, roller-rink grins rinsed in seamless synths and subtly sudsy ironies. Air-brushed muscle flex, “Head,” from floating aerobics to lubricated play-dates; enticing purrs merged into fuzzy feelings laid over fleeting beats charged with simmering fevers enacting heavy-breathing bedroom theater.
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Lanterns on the Lake - Spook The Herd
Album title: Spook The Herd
Record Label: Bella Union
World-weary theories, brooding allusions and glimmering myths pour misty indie-rock ribbons over the sterling, “Herd,” whose glowing poltergeist appetites devour prowling chamber-folk showdowns caked in pining minor-keys. Eloquent evidence presented in strident insights, brave faces and noble hearts, Lanterns on the Lake’s wicked militant waltzes exhibit uninhibited wishes within acceptable regrets, haunted responses and ponderous caution launched into whirlwind symphonies.
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February celebrates the night with Icelandic modern-folk phantom ASGEIR’s effervescent, “Bury the Moon,” and blues-goth temptresses SMOKE FAIRIES’s barbed-wire desires, “Darkness Brings The Wonders Home,” while country-gospel roots-rockers THE LONE BELLOWS’ locomotive Americana, “Half Moon Light,” and bittersweet punk-pop poets BEACH BUNNY’s retro-dynamic, “Honeymoon,” shine among the shadows. Less monochromatic palettes might appreciate Cuba’s showstoppers SWEET LIZZY PROJECT’s rainbow-rock extravaganza, “Technicolor,” slow-roasted soul-sister FRAZEY FORD’s steamy, “U kin B the Sun,” alt-pop life-coach SOCCER MOMMY’s brilliant, “color theory,” or contemplative desert-oasis roommates KHRUANGBIN & LEON BRIDGES’ collaborative EP, “Texas Sun.”