Big Star drummer Jody Stephens and former Sonic Youth guitarist Lee Ranaldo feature prominently in End of Love with their colleagues, bassist Irwin Menken and guitarist Jay Deegan. Their new album Ghosts on the Radio features a bevy of guest contributors, including Nels Cline of Wilco, Chris Stamey of the dB’s, and singers Skylar Gudasz, Django Haskins, Karlie Bruce, and Elisa Peimer. The combination of powerpop, country, and art rock might seem eclectic on paper, but the album turns out to be startlingly beautiful, which you can hear in its entirety below.
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Led by singer-songwriter Tina Karkinen, Finnish band Swaying Wires put a distinct Nordic spin on traditional Americana. Subtle elements of psychedelia creep into the music adding richness and mystery—not unlike the Sadies, come to think of it—which you can hear on the new track “Nowhere”, from their new album I Left a House Burning, which will be released on 15 January.
Hailing from the Isle of Man, between Ireland and Great Britain, Barrule explore the deep, obscure Manx Gaelic culture on their new album Manannan’s Cloak. As you can hear on the track “Fir-Hammag Yioogh (High Net Worth Individuals)”, it sounds both rousing, alien, and ancient at the same time, as fascinating a Celtic track to come out in 2015.
Led by visionary composer/multi-instrumentalist Kris Force, Amber Asylum have been artfully blending neoclassical and dark ambient music for nearly 20 years now, and have just released their latest album Sin Eater this past Friday 4 December. As usual the pairing of ornate string instrumentation and dark, gothic themes casts an intoxicating spell, but nowhere does it work better than on the wonderful cover of Candlemass’s 1999 song “TOT”. By stripping the composition of its doom metal bombast and instead focusing more on minimalism and contemplation, it packs a powerful emotional punch.
Best known for helping define American new wave music with the band Scandal, Patty Smyth has returned with her first new album since 1999, in the form of the Christmas record Come on December, made with fellow longtime Scandal bandmate Keith Mack. Not only is it a timely release for the holiday season, but it benefits the Headstrong Project, a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide cost-free, stigma-free, and bureaucracy-free mental healthcare to post-9/11, and Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans.