An invasive species, January albums examine the human hubris that conquers, domesticates and colonizes nature. Returning with a vengeance, ravenous, banzai-rockers SLEATER-KINNEY’s thorny-hooked assault-pop prowls in jaw-dropping prowess with, “No Cities to Love,” while literate hipsters THE DECEMBERISTS’ scholastic mash, “What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World,” and pounding indie-rock heart-throbs THE SIDEKICKS’ smart, cathartic, “Runners of the Nerved World,” clear frontiers to bend the world to our will.
Invisible Familiars - Disturbing Wildlife
Album title: Disturbing Wildlife
Record Label: Other Music Recording Co.
Sprawling fall-out from left-brained strangers, “Disturbing,” subverts conventions with creepy sleepers caked in sinister chemistry and tangy bangers teasing art-rock stalkers; beat-heavy noir dancing to cuckoo boogaloo and low-down velvet-viper funk. Slinky tinker-toy techno-pop greased in sleazy freedoms, smirking anarchist’s glee and quick-change artist audacity, Invisible Familiar’s con-man genre tumbles and thunders with ominous comments, slippery sighs and sideshow charm.
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Mind Brains - Mind Brains
Album title: Mind Brains
Record Label: Orange Twin
Zapped with a scavengers’ appetite, Mind’s grinding retro-hip collisions beam home-built futures from intergalactic travelers on pagan-sanctioned safaris. Dabbling in defrocked prog-rock complete with Greek choirs and Gregorian oracles, the ensemble’s hay-wired electronic apocalypse trips in 8-bit blips and psychedelic kinetics; sampling humanity between cryptic snippets from alien meandering, “Brain,” plants closed-circuit quirks and druid-maneuvered chaos among ribald tribal camaraderie.
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Robin Bacior - Water Dreams
Album title: Water Dreams
Record Label: Good Mountain Records
Unfathomable phantoms rush languid tangos teeming in viscous vitality, fluctuating cadence adrift in distant whispers; “Water,” restlessly mimics liquid’s shape-shifting abilities. Darting in dappled happiness and diving beneath churning turbulence, zigzagged chamber-jazz washes over soulful folk and sultry pop as singer-pianist Bacior’s well-played mermaid calls through supple cello-soaked emotions, subtly indulgent; swirling in luxurious bell-jar urges immersed in murky impermanence.
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Suburban Living - Suburban Living
Album title: Suburban Living
Record Label: PaperCup Records
Lavished in plastic-wrapped passions, rocketing robo-beats and space-age claustrophobia, Suburban Living’s frosted dream-pop winds neon vines through glazed veins to produce dance-away blues groomed for glamorous calamity. Gorgeous bourgeois facades present brave faces held in withering glances, gilded lilies carrying shy, romantic gestures inside shadowy scowls, wringing, “Living,” from livid to submissive through alley-cat bass, tunnel-vision synths and digitally-carved guitar.
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Elenowen - For the Taking
Album title: For the Taking
Record Label: Ready Set
Pine-box rock softened by rose-covered lovers “Taking,” snakes through moon-kissed trysts while wagon-wheel waltzes turn into symphonic blossoms, star-crossed problems riding rhinestone ponies through jukebox parking-lots. Husband and wife honky-tonk angels, Elenowen’s hand-crafted mastery of pithy riffs, melancholy harmonies and glorious metaphors drenched in galloping gallantry from well-traveled peril, elevate each song into moving testaments, powerful tales and heartfelt truths.
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Elephant Micah - Where in our Woods
Album title: Where in our Woods
Record Label: Western Vinyl
Both solitary canary and tender defender, Joseph O’Connell’s faultless alter-ego Elephant Micah calmly underscores a modern, deeply personal folklore whose mythical blitz beneath tranquil bliss weave stirring sermons from woodland prayers. Methodical homilies wrapped around finger-picked guitar, free-floating flute and campfire drums, “Woods,” seeps into hurdy-gurdy consciousness with passive, pastoral choruses carved from kind benevolence, poised reflection and cautious modesty.
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Notable January releases focus on speculations separated from reality. Probe other-worldly pop-wizard ALEX CALDER’s lysergic indie-jangle, “Strange Dreams,” or eclectic jazz-composer CHRIS POTTER and his UNDERGROUND ORCHESTRA’s cool jewels, unfettered meditations and ethereal big-band landscapes colored in fashionable contrast on the cosmopolitan, “Imaginary Cities.” Grasp uplifting minstrel and heavenly contender DAVID BRONSON’s heavily-forested folk-pop ponderings, “Questions,” or timid nymphs turned triumphant dragon-slaying Hobbit-rockers THE BLACK WATCH’s charismatic dream-factory, “Sugarplum Fairy.” Finally, add electro-folk ghosts HOWARD’s ice-skating percussion, pixilated pizzicato and schizophrenic jazz-rock intentions, “Religion,” and release all attachments to facts.