Cass McCombs – Tip Of The Sphere
(February 8th on Anti-Records and Epitaph Records)
Cass McCombs is great because his heady folk rock gets Americana and jammy but just before that gets three-Phish-sets-at-Bonnaroo obnoxious he veers off into another territory entirely. One day we’ll probably think of him as a Great Lost American Songwriter but you could just discover him now, too, it’s never too late.
Bob Mould – Sunshine Rock
(February 8th on Merge Records)
Sun rise, sun set. Tides go in and out. Bob Mould remains, loud and eternal, the ghosts of Husker Du clinging to him still.
Panda Bear – Buoys
(February 8th on Domino Recording Company)
It’s been ten years since the last great Animal Collective album and twelve since Noah Lennox released something under the Panda Bear moniker worth sitting up and taking notice over. This statement has not changed upon the release of Buoys.
Jessica Pratt – Quiet Signs
(February 8th on Mexican Summer Records)
Jessica Pratt’s first pro studio outing is the Sixties-indebted folk album to end all Sixties-indebted folk albums. You know exactly where she’s cribbing all of her moves from, but it doesn’t matter because she synthesizes them so exceedingly well.
Michael Chapman – True North
(February 8th on Paradise of Bachelors Records)
Ancient and prolific, English folk legend Michael Chapman enters 2019 on a dark tone but shot through with sunbursts and the spiritual salve of rainy days.
Mercury Rev – Bobbie Gentry’s The Delta Sweete Revisited
(February 8th PTKF Records)
Where do I begin? Let’s begin with Bobbie Gentry herself. It’s a familiar enough story; singer-songwriter toils for years, makes it big in 1967 with “Ode To Billie Joe”, a Southern Gothic encapsulated in a country-esque song. The album of the same name makes it to #1. The next album, though, is a deep, rich, thoughtful concept album that mixes country, folk, soul, and the swamp; it makes it to #132. That second album was The Delta Sweete and like many brilliant, difficult second albums, it dropped out of sight for the mainstream, except for that hard core of listeners who love such things. Over the years, it’s developed a well-deserved reputation for being a stellar album, if a rather overlooked one.
I’m also a fan of whole-album covers. It doesn’t take much to cover a song. It takes chutzpah to cover a whole album, and I’ll always take notice when someone does it.
I’m not a fan of Mercury Rev’s reimagining, though, which is a shame. I love Mercury Rev, I love The Delta Sweete, and I love a lot of the singers the band recruited to do the songs (Vashti Bunyan? Marissa Nadler? Lucinda Williams? Thank you). The actual execution of it doesn’t quite get the album, though. There’s a sly character to a lot of Gentry’s songwriting that gets left out here; the songs are played straight, without the subtext that clarifies a lot of the subtle moments on the original album. It’s okay, but it’s not anywhere near as great as it could be, or as great as the original material deserves.
Ariana Grande – thank u, next
(February 8th on Republic Records)
In which the former child star steps out from behind recent years of blow after blow to establish her own voice.
Mavis Staples – Live In London
(February 8th on Epitaph Records)
Live In London succeeds in showing off the power of Ms. Staples as she makes her way to an advanced age. It’s not a particularly legendary set or anything, but it’s solid from beginning to end and shows just how great a performer she is.
HEALTH – Vol. 4 :: Slaves Of Fear
(February 8th on Loma Vista Records)
HEALTH has always occupied a meeting place of goth, noise, industrial, and dance-punk, but Vol 4 is the closest they’ve come to making that meetup cohesive and comprehensive.
The Lemonheads – Varshons 2
(February 8th on Fire Records)
As good a covers album as Weezer’s atrocious Teal album was bad, 90s alt-rock also-ran Evan Dando and Co. breeze through an eclectic collection of deep cuts and icons that range from Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds to Florida Georgia Line. Dando is in good form and at one point(on a cover of Bevis Frond) sounds like he could do an entire cover album of Guided By Voices and you’d never know. It’s nice to hear he’s still doing things.
Yak – Pursuit Of Momentary Happiness
(February 8th on Universal Records)
Standard fare British alt-rock circa 2019, the meat and potatoes of the post-Monkeys hangover.
Skinny Girl Diet – Ideal Woman
(February 8th on HHBTM Records)
What if riot grrl came out on early Sub Pop? What if Mark Arm played bass for Bikini Kill? Ideal Woman answers all those questions and more.
AJ Tracey – AJ Tracey
(February 8th, self-released)
Protip: If the British music press is hyping something, it’s probably not worth it.
Cosey Fanni Tutti – TUTTI
(February 8th on Conspiracy International Records)
The pioneering noise artist and one-time member of Throbbing Gristle released her first album in 36 years and it is exactly what you might expect from someone who was doing unsettling noise before it was cool.
Xiu Xiu – Girl With Basket Of Fruit
(February 8th on Polyvinyl Records)
Once upon a time this collection of chaotic noise compositions backed with unsettling stream-of-consciousness narratives was edgy and exciting, but now the group has long since lost the plot. Bless ’em for trying, though, I suppose.
LCD Soundsystem – Electric Lady Sessions
(February 8th on DFA Records and Columbia Records)
A heavy, sweaty, pounding live session from the live version of LCD Soundsystem at the legendary Manhattan studio. Is it the best live LCD album? Of course not. Does it raise hell all on it’s own? Hell yes it does.