Human drive guides December albums titled in clamoring ambitions, desperate estimates and pandering vanity. Starry-eyed Britpop poster-boys COLDPLAY’s celestial, “A Head Full of Dreams,” suggests channeling ego-fueled imagination might be the best recourse while protective messenger and modern metropolitan strong-man BROTHERTIGER’s playfully faithful sparkle-pop solace, “Out of Touch,” and boldly cozy stoics THE BLACK WATCH’s hip, trippy jangle-rock roller-coaster, “Highs and Lows,” seek more discrete treats to stabilize and mobilize.
Deantoni Parks - Technoself
Album title: Technoself
Record Label: Leaving Records
Harsh sound-bitten ignitions syncing deconstructed visions scratch catchy, contracted tracks into banging gangland demolitions; cyber-percussionist Parks’ random tangents stitch goose-step mosaics around semaphore euphoria where teething seizures birth squirmy creatures in ghetto-echo. Piling writhing revisionism into jagged pageants, the ultra-propulsive, Technoself,” unrolls jarring barrio beats fashioned from McGuyvered crate-divers; serpentine survivors from mouse-trap snaps blasting balloon-popping tunes with glitch-enriched aphasia.
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Sally Sparrow & the Old 41 - Never Far From My Mind
Album title: Never Far From My Mind
Record Label: Farspoken
Bittersweet folktronic-pop carving hard facts from sand-shifting sympathies, “Mind,” unwinds in synth-driven inquiries divvied between good-natured bounce rattling complacent agents and steadfast crackle whose welcoming glow exposes deep-seated suspicions beneath soulful devotions. Cushioned in compact choruses and studio ingenuity, inventive Dropbox collaborators SS41’s tentative elegance fences leathery rock to cotton-candy daydreams, adding booming salutes and layered surveys to pensive introspection.
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Alba's Edge - Run to Fly
Album title: Run to Fly
Record Label: Paddledoo
Tender touches flushed in cantering fantasies corral galloping rallies into tranquil sanctuaries filled with mingling traditions sprinkled in casual pizzazz from fine-tuned moves; the resplendent, “Fly,” ties silky Celtic-jazz passages to sizzling midnight jigs flitting in firefly nose-dives and grasshopper tail-spins. Parading, persuading and evading, Scotland’s exuberant Afro-Cuban fusionists, Alba’s Edge soars in intrepid pep steeped in nimble sunlit steps.
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Sky-Pony - Beautiful Monster
Album title: Beautiful Monster
Record Label: Knitting Factory Records
Equally adept at electric threats as unfettered regrets, Broadway-trained musicians Sky-Pony telegraph walloping dollops of invigorating pop-rock gossamer as grand-standing damsels gripped in ripping wit stage narrative marriages ablaze in contagious three-part harmonies. Launching lightning-cooked ironies inside attractive flash-mob sophistry, sinister princesses administer pragmatic melodramatics while, “Beautiful,” pursues divalicious role-playing through irresistibly twisted tales relayed in lusty, fussy well-rehearsed urgency.
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Cage the Elephant - Tell Me I’m Pretty
Album title: Tell Me I’m Pretty
Record Label: RCA
Grimy highway boogie blowing gaskets and squeezing out sparks both fresh and familiar, the cheeky Dan Auerbach-produced, “Pretty,” twitches with unbridled pride and predatory courtship. Growling, carousing groove-funk hound-dogs painted with fanged blues-rock rancor and bristling in honky-tonk psychedelic bangers, CtE’s blatant harangues and slippery prescriptions stomp in street-wise pomp, slithering with greasy mischievous secrets and primed in slacker-backed ballyhoo.
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Jessica Jones Quartet - Moxie
Album title: Moxie
Record Label: New Artists Records
Reuniting long-time band-mates, JJQ’s two-tenor chemistry broadcasts micro-brewed cool with daring flair and dazzling magic, quicksilver bop sopped in swinging ba-da-bings spun from unpredictable rhythms and rich wind-blown tones. Trembling, bending and disassembling, “Moxie,” unlocks a simmering hornet’s nest of hot mess coalescing intuitive grooves from dueling schools, shadowy solos crawling through marinated menageries like cobras eloping with bipolar ghosts.
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Tis the season to gather family together and focus on the iconic Big Star. Not that Big Star, Big Star the seventies pop group. Big Star’s ALEX CHILTON, Suicide’s ALAN VEGA and singer-songwriter BEN VAUGHN’s reissued collaboration, “Cubist Blues,” melts roadhouse blues into vampire-cabaret while Big Star’s Jody Stephen’s star-studded END OF LOVE’s fire-stormed cornucopia, “Ghosts On The Radio,” renders transcendent maverick-rock. Leave room for Love this holiday, specifically legendary funk-soul acid-rockers LOVE’s deluxe reissue, “Reel to Real,” and mega-melodic Brazilians POSTAL BLUE’s twee-pop crock-pot, “Of Love & Other Affections.”