The end came much as we expected, with our hands around each others throats, scrambling madly for the last dried-out crumbs. Overhead the vultures circle thirstily, their sleek silver machines hanging suspended in the rarefied air.
More Verin Mathwin
at the jetty we can see the wind
blowing out to stir the sailboat’s cloth
nothing lives outside the stress-torn sand
we live on, shoulder to shoulder at the
end of a roiling eternity
we didn’t mean to set the forest on fire
the great deserts in the center of it all
stand mute proof to the foolishness of
apologies and apologia and all apologism
#20: (Sandy) Alex G – House Of Sugar
Irrepressible, off-the-wall, and more than a little absurd, indie musician (Sandy) Alex G has made a career out of two things since dropping his debut in 2014: being as prolific as Ty Segall and being even more willing to play whatever the hell has come into his head in the last five minutes. House of Sugar marks his first album not put together in his bedroom but it keeps the manic, playlist-on-shuffle feel of his previous music. There’s just MORE of it – more instruments, more voices, more ideas.
#40: Billie Eilish – When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?
Teen pop phenoms are almost always obnoxious – Donny Osmond and Justin Beiber were both awful in their own special ways. 2019’s teen pop phenom, Billie Eilish, manages to avoid this through the virtue of being really ridiculously good. Someone online – I forget who – called her ASMR pop and there’s a lot to that, really. Her style is like she took the mic into her closet and whispered her darkest secrets into it; these Whisper confessions were then laced over solid arrangements that both embrace and subvert pop conventions. An insane debut for a 17 year old, and a harbinger of big things to come.
#60: Hot Chip – A Bath Full Of Ecstasy
Hot Chip have put out their fair share of mediocre songs, but they’ve somehow avoided putting out a bad album. A Bath Full Of Ecstasy follows in that tradition; it presents a series of solid dance floor grooves that have the usual dark concerns laced under it – abandonment, the absurdity of existence, uncertainty of faith. Like the Pet Shop Boys and Depeche Mode before them, Hot Chip have always known that there is more to the club than escapist bliss.
#80: King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – Fishing For Fishies
Album #1 from the absurdly prolific Aussie psych band takes a dive back into the feel-good post-psych of the Seventies and reinvents the band’s sound for the umpteenth time in order to be a feel-good prog-funk band. What if Chilliwack was actually good? Gizzard answers the question no one was asking.
Also, uh, that album cover.
Sigrid – Sucker Punch
(March 8th on Island Records)
Europe has always had pop figured out cold, Northern Europe doubly so. Norwegian singer Sigrid’s debut follows in this tradition, trading in solid pop sensibilities that don’t chase any particular trend or try to reinvent the wheel. It plays it safe, but that safety is also so well done it feels like it might be something more. It’s also distressingly wholesome, but the message – good things come to those who love themselves – needs to be heard more.
Foals – Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost, Part 1
(March 8th on Warner Bros. Records)
Literally the Imagine Dragons of indie rock, if you can stomach such a thing. I never have been able to, but there are stronger constitutions out there than mine, I’m sure.
Sasami – Sasami
(March 8th on Domino Recording Company)
An interesting debut from the one-time Cherry Glazerr member, this one is quiet and intimate while managing to to call forth some real heavy power when it needs to.
Amanda Palmer – There Will Be No Intermission
(March 8th on Cooking Vinyl Records)
The stark nudity of the record cover is a metaphor, for the ultra-confessional proceedings offered here by the Dresden Dolls singer. Imagine if Mark Kozelek had something useful to say, and it might sound something like this.
Sundara Karma – Ulfila’s Alphabet
(March 8th on RCA Records)
Combining Wolf Parade with Eighties Bowie is interesting, and…that’s pretty much where it ends.
Meat Puppets – Dusty Notes
(March 8th on Megaforce Records)
Their version of country-punk was innovative thirty plus years ago but in this day and age when country is grudgingly allowing again for dissonant voices it rings a little hollow.
William Basinski – On Time Out Of Time
(March 8th on Temporary Residence Records)
It sounds like two supermassive black holes colliding 1.3 billion years ago.
Because that’s what it is.
Literal, inescapable doom.
Townes Van Zandt – Sky Blue
(March 7th on Fat Possum Records)
A collection of demos from the 22-year-dead balladeer of the dusty forgotten highways and the decaying dive bars, barely more than shacks themselves. Sparse, desperate, doomed American music.
Dido – Still On My Mind
(March 8th on BMG Records)
Pretty, too polished, but pretty. I actually like it more than her big hit album from 2000 or whenever, the one everyone knows because of “Stan”.
Stella Donnelly – Beware Of The Dogs
(March 8th on Secretly Canadian Records)
Frank, blunt, and sexual, like Lily Allen emerging sharper than ever from the #MeToo era. It will make some people uncomfortable. Be extremely wary of the people it makes uncomfortable. Four stars only because it kind of meanders after the highwater mark of “Boys Will Be Boys” before coming in strong again at the end.
Maren Morris – Girl
(March 8th on SME Records)
Excuse me, wasn’t this supposed to be a country album?
Helado Negro – This Is How You Smile
(March 8th on RVNG International)
Weirdly exuberant for such an insular, spacey record. This is how you know they found that good stuff.
Nick Waterhouse – Nick Waterhouse
(March 8th on Innovative Leisure Records)
Devoted to a certain time and place – America, 1963 – but maybe a little too on the nose for much of it’s run.
Royal Trux – White Stuff
(March 1st on Fat Possum Records)
When a band comes back after twenty years to release a new album I expect them to play it safe but there’s such a thing as taking it too far. White Stuff is fine, especially if you were into the band Back In The Day, but it sounds like a rewrite of older, better stuff with no attempt at trying to move forward at all.
Teeth Of The Sea – Wraith
(February 22nd on Rocket Recordings)
Like a soundtrack for apocalyptic times, Wraith veers between pounding industrial, jazzy, introspective diversions, and moodier alt-psych excursions. Like the zee, it changes when you don’t look at it for too long.
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.