Woman’s Hour – Ephyra
They broke up after their acclaimed 2014 debut but managed to stick together long enough to put together this enchanting, disturbing synth-pop confection. Nineties Bjork and Oughts-era The Knife with a gauzy layer that crinkles uncomfortably like human skin when you press it slightly.
The Long Ryders – Psychedelic Country Soul
(February 15th on Omnivore Records)
If you’re absolutely starved for Deadhead psychedelic country-rock then The Long Ryders have come back after 30 some odd years to fill that niche but…there’s a lot of that out there, most of it not as on-the-nose and Boomery, and you’d have to be pretty damn hungry.
Ladytron – Ladytron
(February 15th on Ladytron Recordings)
There’s still some life left in this ol’ maximalist synth pop band, although it’s clear that they’re settling gracefully into age at the same time.
Yann Tiersen – ALL
(February 15th on Mute Records)
A mystical experience, but a trifle drawn out one for that.
Ry X – Unfurl
(February 15th on Infectious Records)
A modest, cosmopolitan alt-pop album that doesn’t assume too much and plays quite well within the valley of it’s own strengths.
Methyl Ethel – Triage
(February 15th on 4AD Records)
A meandering synth-pop album that plays it safe when it should take chances, or takes the wrong kind of chances.
Avril Lavigne – Head Above Water
(February 15th on BMG Records)
This would a much more interesting album if it were literally anyone else doing literally anything else. Hell, I would take Avril trying to recapture her skater-pop beginnings. This collection of histrionic, leaden faux-soul is nothing anyone needs. Two stars because it’s not offensively awful, just utterly and completely mediocre.
Hayes Carll – What It Is
(February 15th on Dualtone Music)
Clever enough and folksy enough to at least warrant sticking around for, nonetheless Carll misses a mark by not having much in the way of a personality to hold it all together.
Florida Georgia Line – Can’t Say I Ain’t Country
(February 15th on BMX Records)
What’s funny is that the title track is completely unironic. I haven’t been this disappointed in an entire genre since Nickelback put out that song about having a youth revolution.
Chaka Khan – Hello Happiness
(February 15th on Island Records)
The singer’s latest album manages to successfully ignore modern pop trends, conjure up the best of old school production, showcase her ageless pipes, and get in and out in under half an hour. What’s not to love?
Piroshka – Brickbat
(February 15th on Bella Union Records)
Members of Moose, Lush, Modern English, and Elastica get together to make a Nineties-tinged New Wave record that doesn’t say anything particularly new but has a lot of fun doing it regardless.
Homeshake – Helium
(February 15th on Universal Records)
Bedroom R&B, quiet, mumbled, indie as all hell. Great if you need something while away inoffensively as a background, otherwise why bother?\
Tedeschi Trucks Band – Signs
(February 15th on Fantasy Records)
If you’re into Boomer blues-rock with a touch of gospel then…well your field is wide open, really, but Signs is one of the better ones you’ll hear this year.
Perfect Son – Cast
(February 15th on Sub Pop Records)
If you’ve never read The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis, don’t. If you already have, though, you might understand that Cast is basically the barn near the end of the book: it seems tiny and cramped on the surface, but inside that is a whole universe of tones and arrangements.