Madison Cunningham - photo by Claire Marie Vogel
Between folk-bop poet MADISON CUNNINGHAM’s sparkling charmer, “Revealer,” and cardiac exactor THE SOFT MOON’s relentless menace, “Exister,” September albums try to pull it together. Negotiate with tutored barracudas THE PARANOYDS’ matter-of-fact chit-chat, “Talk Talk Talk,” then grab multimedia composer TESS TYLER’s marksman’s gravitas, “Fractals,” before assessing Keane frontman TOM CHAPLIN’s gorgeous, imploring, “Midpoint,” iconic psycho-sonic symphonists LONDON SUEDE’s cavalier derring-do, “Autofiction,” or urban cowboys WHITNEY’s idyllic, “Spark.” At least try.
Living Hour - Someday Is Today
Album title: Someday Is Today
Record Label: Kanine Records
Tabled maybes cushioned in watery synths rinsed in methodical pondering, “Someday,” butters lush twee with blended choral descents, narcotic sauntering and rainbow ripples buoyed by arpeggiated fretwork and simmering rhythms. Effervescent consent bending cordial pastorals into glacial vacations, Living Hour embraces fading laidback happiness, misty bliss circling murky verses down untouchable seductions swallowed whole for palate-cleansing blessings and pastel-colored dressing.
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Marisa Anderson - Still, Here
Album title: Still, Here
Record Label: Thrill Jockey
Adept at adapting perceptive guitar conventions, hybrid traditionalist and six-string scholar Anderson sits back and leans forward, caressing well-measured experimental ephemera with a fine-toothed comb, subtly weaving Mexican folklore and American Transcendentalism without speaking a word. Diverse and delicate, “Still,” affirms the spirit inside technique, traversing multitudes through picturesque vistas, evoking forlorn mornings and firefly twilights for engaging panoramic surveys.
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Divino Niño - Last Spa on Earth
Album title: Last Spa on Earth
Record Label: Winspear
Fluid Afro-Cuban grooves dripping in dreamy Caribbean synergy, “Spa,” basks in jet-ski melodies vibing private beachfront fun in paisley waves and post-rave cravings, dizzy with swinging bilingual sizzle, home-grown reggaeton and multi-cultural hustle. Capturing a vibrant rapping, waxing space-age fantasy, Divino Niño’s funky genie grants wishes and color visions in bright bursts and suave ardor, empathetic temptations teasing breezy Edens.
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No Age - People Helping People
Album title: People Helping People
Record Label: Drag City
Dogged moxie follows punk-jazz acolytes and electronic pontiffs No Age, fueling grueling machine-tooled futures from squelched meltdowns; crouching prowlers singing cannibalized Krautrock mantras among strummed unsung hungers gnawing at solid-state patience. Dystopian commotion lacquered in jagged quagmires, “People,” reaps unplanned humanity among grand discarded art, gritty mysteries patched from subversive curiosity twitching in liquid-sky trials and fits of aggravated anarchy.
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The Beths - Expert In A Dying Field
Album title: Expert In A Dying Field
Record Label: Carpark Records
Smart, barbershop power-pop, “Expert,” searches for solutions with swooping doo-wop harmonies tangled in snarling guitars, bullseye bass and chiming rhymes. Alt-rock hooks hung from luscious vocal production dangle upbeat heartaches alongside live-wire guile and cheeky sweetness. Feasible idealists, The Beths rev edgy ingenues into frothy positivity, changing sage cliches into pithy air-tight insights bobbing and weaving over punchy, lunging percussion.
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Air Waves - The Dance
Album title: The Dance
Record Label: Fire Records
Bashful casualties palpitate in bouncy counsel as aliens and demons populate Air Waves’ sullen cuddly synth-rock lullabies. Rocking grief to sleep while staring down despair, “Dance,” plants enchanting ear-worm observations; a songbook where beautiful emotional confusion produces simple, haunting thoughts and sun-streaked meekness famished for love moves reluctantly towards inevitable acceptance, a family companion for hand-holding consoling and deep-feeling healing.
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Whether low-key Lothario MARLON WLLIAMS’ interpersonal surgery, “My Boy,” Zen masters LAMBCHOP’s immaculate narratives, “The Bible,” or dive-bar balladeer JOHN FULLBRIGHT’s leathery introspection, “The Liar,” sometimes you just have to let things go. There’s just no stopping contemplative BETH ORTON’s fragile folktronica majesty, “Weather Alive,” musical mandala-maker OREN AMBARCHI’s prismatic tapestry, “Shebang,” or magical chamber-pop pagan JESCA HOOP’s intelligent elegance, “Order of Romance,” so why even try. Go stoic with tender-hearted harmonizers DEAR BOY’s gloss-pop opuses, “Forever Sometimes,” then get absorbed by trans-dimensional dancer GEORGE FITZGERALD’s mirror-ball holograms, “Stellar Drifting.”