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February is the month when the record release schedule really comes out of hibernation and starts to heat up with the year’s first batch of anticipated albums. In addition to a list of notable releases for February, PopMatters previews some of the month’s eagerly awaited offerings.


 

cover art

Archers of Loaf

Vee Vee (Remastered)

(Merge; US: 21 Feb 2012; UK: Import)

Archers of Loaf
Vee Vee (Remastered)


Nostalgia and absence have made the heart grow fonder for Archers of Loaf, thanks in large part to last year’s reissue of their cult favorite debut, Icky Mettle. But it’s the Archers’ 1995 outing Vee Vee that’s their indispensible contribution to the indie canon. The remastered Vee Vee gets revisionist history right, giving new life to the Archers’ boldest, most muscular anthems (“Harnessed in Slums”, “Fabricoh”) as well as their most endearing pieces (“Greatest of All Time”, “Underachievers March and Fight Song”). As is the case with these kinds of projects, the deluxe version offers a boatload of archival treats, including some hard-to-find non-album singles and pre-Vee Vee demos. Nonetheless, the main thing is that the main event still crackles and bristles after all the years.


 

cover art

Grimes

Visions

(4AD/Arbutus; US: 21 Feb 2012; UK: Import)

Review [20.Feb.2012]
Grimes
Visions


At first blush, Grimes’ Claire Boucher may seem like the latest in the line of recent underground divas, with a family resemblance to Zola Jesus’ Nika Danilova and Austra’s Katie Stelmanis. But don’t let first impressions or the scary cover art fool you, because Boucher differentiates herself just enough with a warmer and more spontaneous aesthetic that leavens her stylized, noir-ish soundscapes. On Grimes’ compelling debut Visions, Boucher shows a more pop-oriented side to her art-scarred compositions than most in her cohort, taking her cues as much from R&B and soul as electro-pop. So while there’s a palpably dark atmosphere that pervades Visions, it’s never overwrought or overwhelming, with bursts of absurd exuberance and Boucher’s quirky voice bringing in an element of surprise that keeps her songs from becoming too one-note.


 

cover art

Mouse on Mars

Parastrophics

(Monkeytown; US: 28 Feb 2012; UK: 27 Feb 2012)

Review [4.Mar.2012]
Mouse on Mars
Parastrophics


Throughout its almost two-decade career, pioneering electronic act Mouse on Mars has stood out for its uncanny knack to coax subliminal grooves and head-nodding rhythms out of an abstract, chin-stroking musical framework. After an almost six-year hiatus, the duo of Jan St. Werner and Andi Toma comes back with a return to form that doesn’t miss a single glitchy beat on Parastrophics. As whimsical as it is heady, Parastrophics possesses Mouse on Mars’ trademark qualities in spades, piling on intricate touches of squiggly rhythms, lilting samples, and buoyant synths to create compositions that are almost symphonic. So while Mouse on Mars always gives you something to think about, its sonic experimentation never feels cold or that it’s coming at the expense of a more visceral experience.


  Mouse on Mars “Metrotopy” feat. Dodo Nkishi (MONKEYTOWN022) Out Feb 24 by Modeselektor


 

cover art

Sharon Van Etten

Tramp

(Jagjaguwar; US: 7 Feb 2012; UK: 6 Feb 2012)

Review [8.Feb.2012]
Sharon Van Etten
Tramp


While 2010’s epic was a big step forward for Sharon Van Etten, it’s her much awaited follow-up effort Tramp that has a chance to be, well, epic. One sign that Van Etten has arrived is the caliber of collaborators guesting on Tramp, including Aaron Dessner of the National, Beirut’s Zach Condon, and Julianna Barwick. But what makes Tramp a big deal is Van Etten’s own vision, which is able to transform intimate strains of rootsy folk and confessional rock into something with size and scale. Even moreso than epic, Van Etten sounds comfortable in her own skin on Tramp, embellishing her introspective approach with resonant, sweeping flourishes in a way that’s completely organic and natural.


 

cover art

Various Artists

We Are the Works in Progress

(Asa Wa Kuru; US: 7 Feb 2012)

Review [7.Mar.2012]
Various Artists
We Are the Works in Progress


A benefit effort for those affected by last spring’s Japanese earthquake and tsunami, We Are the Works in Progress features a collection of tracks from a who’s who of artsy-fartsy indie and electronic acts, including Deerhunter, Karin Dreijer Andersson of the Knife, and Pantha du Prince. Put together by Blonde Redhead’s Kazu Makino, the compilation distinguishes itself by creating a sense of coherence and consistency out of contributions from acts with their own signature styles. Whether it’s the way Four Tet’s offering fades right into Andersson’s track or Liars seamlessly collaborating with Blonde Redhead, We Are the Works in Progress conveys a common purpose with a contemplative, calm-in-the-eye-of-the-storm tone that permeates all the pieces. And it bears repeating that We Are the Works in Progress is more than a compelling and complete musical project, but actually serves a good cause.


 

New Releases for February 2012


February 7


Air, Le Voyage de la Lune (Astralwerks)
Dierks Bentley, Home (Capitol Nashville)
Blondes, Blondes (RVNG Intl)
Die Antwoord, TEN$ION (Zef/Good Smile/Downtown/Co-op)
Dr. Dog, Be the Void (ANTI-)
Fucked Up, “Year of the Tiger” single (Matador)
Ben Kweller, Go Fly a Kite (The Noise Company)
Mark Lanegan Band, Blues Funeral (4AD)
Lindstrøm, Six Cups of Rebel (Smalltown Supersound)
Paul McCartney, Kisses on the Bottom (Hear Music/Concord)
of Montreal, Paralytic Stalks (Polyvinyl)
A Place to Bury Strangers, Onwards to the Wall (Dead Oceans)
The Twilight Sad, No One Can Ever Know (FatCat)
Windy & Carl, We Will Always Be (Kranky)
Wire, Black Session: Paris 10 May 2011 (Pinkflag)


February 14


Anya Marina, Felony Flats (Copy Shop/Atlantic)
Earth, Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light II (Southern Lord)
Field Music, Plumb (Memphis Industries)
Islands, A Sleep & a Forgetting (ANTI-)
Nicki Minaj, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded (Cash Money/Young Money)
Punch Brothers, Who’s Feeling Young Now? (Nonesuch)
Shearwater, Animal Joy (Sub Pop)
Tennis, Young and Old (Fat Possum)


February 21


Cursive, I Am Gemini (Saddle Creek)
Galactic, Carnivale Electricos (ANTI-)
Damien Jurado, Maraqopa (Secretly Canadian)
English Singles, Grey Skies USA (Slumberland)
Lambchop, Mr. M (Merge)
Sinead O’Connor, How About I Be Me (And You Be You)? (One Little Indian)
Perfume Genius, Put Your Back N 2 It (Matador)
Princeton, Remembrance of Things to Come (Hit City USA/Easter)
Max Raabe, One Cannot Kiss Alone (Decca)
Frankie Rose, Interstellar (Slumberland)
Sleigh Bells, Reign of Terror (Mom + Pop)
Tindersticks, The Something Rain (Constellation)
Dustin Wong, Dreams Say, View Create, Shadow Leads (Thrill Jockey)


February 28


Dirty Three, Toward the Low Sun (Drag City)
Jay Farrar, Will Johnson, Anders Parker, and Yim Yames, New Multitudes (Rounder)
Hunx, Hairdresser Blues (Sub Pop)
Sophia Knapp, Into the Waves (Drag City)
Lyle Lovett, Release Me (Curb/Universal)
Memoryhouse, The Slideshow Effect (Sub Pop)
Pink Floyd, The Wall Immersion Edition (EMI)
Plants and Animals, The End of That (Secret City)
School of Seven Bells, Ghostory (Vagrant/Ghostly International)
Xray Eyeballs, Splendor Squalor (Kanine)

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