Listening Ahead

Upcoming Music Releases for February 2015

by Matthew Fiander and Arnold Pan

30 January 2015

Get a sneak peek of some of February's most intriguing releases, including albums by Father John Misty, José Gonzaléz, and Dan Deacon.
 

This year started with a bang in January, and February’s release schedule builds on that momentum. In particular, the month features unconventional work from distinctive singer-songwriters of both older and more recent vintages, be it a collection of Sinatra covers by Bob Dylan or the latest conceptual performance piece from Father John Misty. February also stands out for intriguing high-concept efforts, such as Mount Eerie’s pastoral soundscapes, Six Organs of Admittance’s exploration of new musical compositional system, and the imaginary soundtracks conjured up by horror film maestro John Carpenter.

 
February 3

 


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Mount Eerie

Sauna

(P.W. Elverum & Sun)

Review [3.Feb.2015]
Mount Eerie
Sauna


Mount Eerie mastermind Phil Elverum is an enigma in the very best sense of the word, the kind of artist who remains surprising and captivatingly mysterious no matter how much more work he reveals to the world. That’s readily apparent on Mount Eerie’s latest album Sauna, which seamlessly segues between Elverum’s impressionistic tinkerings and some of his most fully-formed pieces. It might be hard for anyone not residing in Elverum’s headspace to suss out how Sauna is inspired, as he puts it, by “Vikings and zen and real life”, but it’s easy to go along with the album’s free-associating trip, as it skips from pinging chamber-pop syncopation to sepia-toned, Neutral Milk Hotel-like busking to billowing, stormy feedback. On the one hand, you hear minimalist explorations and ambient introspection scattered throughout Sauna. On the other, you have weighty noise-rock compositions, like the shoegaze behemoth “Boat” and the Bedhead-y slowcore of “Planets”. In other words, Sauna is an album about contrasts and how to resolve those contradictions, a work of menace and sublime beauty, of jaw-dropping vastness and touching immediacy. It takes a big imagination to find a place for so many aspects, but Phil Elverum’s is certainly large enough for all that and then some. Arnold Pan

 
February 10

 


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Father John Misty

I Love You, Honeybear

(Sub Pop)

Review [9.Feb.2015]
Father John Misty
I Love You, Honeybear


I Love You, Honeybear, Josh Tillman’s second record as Father John Misty, feels more like a performance than an album. The persona here and Tillman’s full-throated vocals make this seem much bigger than songs coming out of speakers. The follow-up to Fear Fun has its predecessor’s sense of dark humor and clever turns of phrase. Tillman sounds yet again like he’s making a singer-songwriter record that sends up singer-songwriter records. But there’s something bigger at play this time around. The compositions are bigger, the shifts into different textures and genres more fully formed and overt. And in the end, the expansiveness of the record, from the lush strings of the opening title track to electronic layers of “True Affection” to the bellowing vocals of “Nothing Good Ever Happens at the Goddamn Thirsty Crow” or the piano-ballad theatrics of “Bored in the USA”, acts as its greatest tension. The blowhard narrators of this record, most of them seemingly male, celebrate their own debauchery and surround themselves with women they can brag about. When they’re not puffing up their chests over sexual conquests, they are filling their mouths with drinks and drugs. Of course, the virtuoso performances these voices put on, as performed by Tillman, accentuate their desperation rather than blot it out. But Tillman’s real success here, beyond the clever humor of the record, is the way he earns the quieter moments that close the record, the way he earns the possibility of redemption or, at least, of something new. I Love You, Honeybear cements Tillman as one of the finest singers and most surprising songwriters working. Matthew Fiander

 
February 17

 


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José Gonzaléz

Vestiges & Claws

(Mute)

José Gonzaléz
Vestiges & Claws


Sometimes, an artist doesn’t need to try hard to change in order to take his next step. That’s the case with José Gonzaléz and what he’s accomplished with Vestiges & Claws, his first solo album in seven years. Rather than branching out too far from the meditative folk-styled sound the Swedish singer-songwriter has cultivated, Vestiges & Claws seems to be the product of Gonzaléz digging deeper into himself, of a skilled craftsman continuing to hone and refine the artform to which he’s devoted himself. Yet while the focus remains on his rhythmic acoustic guitar playing and his still voice, the self-produced Vestiges & Claws rarely feels minimal or lonesome, reaching out with a sense of richness in the details and the thoughtfulness Gonzaléz puts into the effort. If anything, Gonzaléz aspires to something much bigger than himself in his music: On “Every Age”, he sings about how to “build a place where we all can belong” with an earnestness that makes you believe that he believes one voice can actually change the world. That’s a point punctuated by the video for “Leaf Off/The Cave”, as Gonzaléz’s intimate, immediate performance is at the heart of a communal experience. It’s a good vision for imagining what’s happening on Vestiges & Claws, where something that starts on the most basic and individual of terms can become so expansive. Arnold Pan

 

cover art

Six Organs of Admittance

Hexadic

(Drag City)

Review [18.Feb.2015]
Six Organs of Admittance
Hexadic


Ben Chasny is nothing if not unpredictable. Ascent, his last album under the Six Organs of Admittance name, took his guitar explorations back towards rock traditions and the sorts of noise discovery he dabbled in as part of Comets on Fire. Hexadic doesn’t continue that trend so much as it blows it out of the water. This new album is Chasny’s presentation of a new compositional system—the Hexadic system—that forced him to break from traditional song structures and approaches to composition. The idea is to break from order and dive headlong into moments of musical uncertainty and possibility. Chasny’s work has always sounded, to one degree or another, more felt than thought. Hexadic, however, is Chasny at his most cut-free and instinctual. It’s also him at his loudest. The guitars here, from the blistering feedback of “Maximum Hexadic” to the low, earthquake-rumble of “Hollow River” to the brittle rise and fall of “Guild”, are saturated in distortion. They grind and burn, sometimes with tight hooks and others off into shapeless space. Behind those guitars, the rhythm section does its own wandering, sometimes filling up the meager bits of space not taken by Chasny’s guitar, other times stretching out the atmosphere. The approach is revolutionary and the songs that result from it on Hexadic dynamic. They feel astral in their reach, but really Chasny’s work here is telescopic. It doesn’t stretch out to celestial bodies, but rather it feels as if it pulls them in, as if it brings into focus concepts too big to imagine, too abstract to feel in your palm. For all the thinking that went into this album, it’s liable to rumble in your chest long before it rattles in your brain. Matthew Fiander

 
February 24

 


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Dan Deacon

Gliss Riffer

(Domino)

Review [24.Feb.2015]
Dan Deacon
Gliss Riffer


According to the press release, Dan Deacon’s new album Gliss Riffer marks a “return to a simpler way of writing and recording” for the hyperactively creative artist. But describing the latest iteration of Deacon’s wild, eclectic sound as “simpler” only makes sense on relative terms, considering how his latest work, as always, layers kaleidoscopic electronics, intuitive indie moves, avant-garde noodling, and oddball vocal treatments. With something to offer to dancefloor dervishes and high-concept eggheads alike—as well as pretty much everyone in between—Deacon provides so many different and diverse ways into his frenetic compositions, which is as evident as ever on Gliss Riffer. More compelling than his far-reaching imagination and his deep grab-bag of musical vernaculars, though, is how Deacon finds a way for everything to cling together according to his own signature style, as he moves from sounding like an electro-folk version of Modest Mouse on one track to an 8-bit Philip Glass on another without you forgetting who’s behind it all. So when you hear the female vocals at the beginning of the opening track “Feel the Lightning” only to realize it’s actually Deacon’s own processed voice, you appreciate that not knowing what to expect from him is the one thing you can count on from Dan Deacon’s music. Arnold Pan

 

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Iron & Wine

Archive Series Volume No. 1

(Black Cricket Recording Co.)

Iron & Wine
Archive Series Volume No. 1


As Sam Beam has expanded the sonic boundaries of his Iron & Wine project, surprising us with full-band ambitions, expansions, and experiments on each new release, it’s easy to feel like Beam’s unassuming start was a long time ago. Archive Series Volume No. 1, though, reminds us of Beam’s home-recorded roots, but the 16 songs also feel fresh enough to belie the collection’s title. The soft strum of “Eden” or the hushed rollick of “Two Hungry Blackbirds” will surely remind you of Beam’s Iron & Wine debut, The Creek Drank the Cradle, but the songs also remind you of Beam’s ever-present knack for melody and intimacy. These were songs only intended to be kept at home, songs that predate Beam performing as Iron & Wine, and as such they feel personal yet inclusive, carefully honed but loose. This is Iron & Wine at its most elemental—quiet voice, quiet guitar, the faint hiss of the air in the room—but there’s still room for expansion. Songs go from sweet to heartbroken, from shadows to sunbursts, and they get at the bittersweet, whispered charm at the center of Iron & Wine, no matter how much instrumentation other records expand on it. Matthew Fiander

 

Selected Releases for February 2015
(Release dates subject to change)

February 3

American Aquarium - Wolves
Barnstar! - Sit Down! Get Up! Get Out! (Signature Sounds)
Big Noble (with Daniel Kessler of Interpol) - First Light (Affiliates Sound/Kobalt)
Boduf Songs - Stench of Exist (The Flenser)
John Carpenter - Lost Themes (Sacred Bones)
Chimurenga Renaissance - Kudada Nevuka Munhu Mutema EP (Brick Lane)
The Church - Further Deeper (+180)
DVA Damas - “Wet Vision” 12” (Downwards North America)
Bob Dylan - Shadows in the Night (Frank Sinatra songs) (Columbia)
Luke Haines - Adventures in Dementia: A Micro-Opera
H Hawkline - In the Pink of Condition (Heavenly)
Hiss Golden Messenger - Southern Grammar (Merge)
Schnieder Kacirek - Shadows Documents (Bureau B)
Kid Ink - Full Speed (Tha Alumni Music Group/88 Classic/RCA)
Diana Krall - Wallflower (Verve)
Michna - Thousand Thursday (Ghostly International)
Billy Momo - Drunktalk
Murder by Death - Big Dark Love (Bloodshot)
Nite Fields - Depersonalisation (Felte)
Jean-Michel Pilc - What Is This Thing Called? (Sunnyside)
Robert Pollard - Ricked Wicky: I Sell the Circus (GBV Inc.)
Matana Roberts - Coin Coin Chapter Three (Constellation)
Andy Shauf - The Bearer of Bad News (Tender Loving Empire/Party Damage)
Mishka Shubaly - Coward’s Path (In Music We Trust)
Chadwick Stokes - The Horse Comanche (Ruffshod/Thirty Tigers)
John Tejada - Signs Under Test (Kompakt)
Title Fight - Hyperview (Anti-)Samba Toure - Gandadiko (Glitterbeat)
Two Gallants - We Are Undone (ATO)
Various Artists - One-Derful Collection (Mar-v-Lus)
Butch Walker - Afraid of Ghosts (Dangerbird)
Kaenny Wheeler - Songs for Quintet (ECM)
Wolfheart - Winterborn (Spinefarm)
Dennis Young - Reel to RealStaubgold

February 10

Rez Abbasi Acoustic Quartet - Intents and Purposes (Enja)
Blackberry Smoke - Holding All the Roses (Rounder)
Blis. - Starting Fires in My Parents House (SoftSpeak)
Michelle Chamuel - Face the Fire (The End)
Alex Conde - Descarga for Monk (Zoho)
The Dreaming - Rise Again (Metropolis)
Exhumed - Gore Metal: A Necrospective 1998-2015 (Relapse)
William Ryan Fritch - Revisionist (Lost Tribe Sound)
Duke Garwood - Heavy Love (Heavenly)
Gebhard Ullmann Basement Research - Hat and Shoes (Between the Lines)
Rhiannon Giddens (Carolina Chocolate Drops) - Tomorrow is My Turn (Nonesuch)
Guts Club - The Arm Wrestling Tournament
Heiress - Of Great Sorrow (The Mylene Sheath)Vijay Iyer Trio - Break Stuff (ECM)
Rod Jacobs - Rod Jacobs (International Anthem Recording Co.)
Robert Earl Keen - Happy Prisoner: The Bluegrass Sessions (Dualtone)
Knifight - V
Last Harbour - Caul (Gizeh)
Dan Lissvik - “Shuvit!” 12” (Smalltown Supersound)
Rudresh Mahanthappa - Bird Calls (ACT)
Anne McCue - Blue Sky Thinkin’ (Flying Machine)
JD McPherson - Let the Good Times Roll (Rounder)
Kylie Minogue - Kylie, Enjoy Yourself, Rhythm of Love, Let’s Go to It reissues
Molehill - Tin God
The Neal Morse Band - Grand Experiment (Metal Blade)
Quarterbacks - Quarterbacks (Team Love/Double Double Whammy)
Retox - Beneath California (Epitaph)
Rone - Creatures (InFine)
Rumer - Into Colour (Atlantic)
Carol Saboya, Antoniao Adolfo, Hendrik Meurkens - Copa Village (AAM)
St. Vincent - St. Vincent deluxe edition (Loma Vista)
Tomorrow We Move to Hawaii - Indépendance (Red Eye Transit)
Treasure Fleet - The Sun Machine (Recess)
Trio Chemirani - Dawâr (harmonia mundi)
Vision Fortune - Country Music (ATP)
War on Women - War on Women (Bridge Nine)
Wardell - Love/Idleness
Zenker Brothers - Immersion (Ilian Tape)

February 17

36 Crazyfists - Time and Trauma (Spinefarm)
A Place to Bury Strangers - Transfixiation (Dead Oceans)
The Amazing - Picture You (Partisan)
Axis: Sova - Early Surf (God?)
Baba Commandant and the Mandingo Band - Juguya (Sublime Frequencies)
BADBADNOTGOOD and Ghostface Killah - Sour Soul (Lex)
Carl Barât & the Jackals - Let It Reign (Grand Jury/Cooking Vinyl)
Sir Richard Bishop - Tangier Sessions (Drag City)
Martin Callingham - Tonight, We All Swim Free (Folkwit)
Glen Campbell - I’ll Be Me soundtrack (Big Machine)
Cameo - Ugly Ego/Secret Omen (Cherry Red)
S. Carey - Supermoon EP (Jagjaguwar)
The Delta Routine - You and Your Lion
Steve Earle & the Dukes - Terraplane (New West)
The Grizzled Mighty - Closed Knuckle Jaw (Red Bull Sound Select)
Grooms - Comb the Feelings through Your Hair (Western Vinyl)
The Juliana Hatfield Three - Whatever, My Love (American Laundromat)
Hundred Waters - The Moon Rang Like a Bell Remixed (OWSLA)
Ibeyi - Ibeyi (XL)
Idlewild - Everything Every Written
Imagine Dragons - Smoke & Mirrors (Interscope)
In Tall Buildings - Driver (Western Vinyl)
Kammerflimmer Kollektif - Dessaroi (Staubgold)
Jorma Kaukonen - Ain’t in No Hurry (Red House)
Krill - A Distant Fist Unclenching (Exploding in Sound/Double Double Whammy)
Larytta - Jura (Creaked)
Le Couleur - Dolce Desir (Lisbon Lux)
The Mavericks - Mono (Valory)
Charles McPherson - The Journey (Capri)
Mourn - Mourn (Captured Tracks)
Anthony Naples - Body Pill (Text)
Phosphorescent - Live at the Music Hall (Dead Oceans)
Kate Pierson - Guitars and Microphones (Lazy Meadow/Kobalt)
Rathborne - Soft (True Believer)
Refrigerator - Temple City (Shrimper)
Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band - So Delicious (Shanachie/Yazoo)
Santiparro - True Prayer (Gnome Life)
Sonny & the Sunsets - Talent Night at the Ashram (Polyvinyl)
Pops Stables - Don’t Lose This (Anti-)
Sumac - The Deal (Profound Lore/SIGE)
Texas - Texas 25 (collection of re-recorded songs) (PIAS)
Nedelle Torrisi - Advice from Paradise (Ethereal Sequence/Drag City)
Tropics - Rapture (Innovative Leisure)
Twin River - Should the Light Go (Light Organ)
Wasted Wine - Wasted Wine Vs. the Hypnosis Center (Bear Kids)
Whitehorse - Leave No Bridge Unburned (Six Shooter)
Wrinkle Neck Mules - I Never Thought It Would Go This Far (Lower 40)

February 24

Airborne Toxic Event - Dope Machines (Epic)
Balkan Clarinet Summit - Many Languages, One Soul (Piranha Musik)
Mahalia Barnes & the Soul Mates, featuring Joe Bonamassa - Ooh Yea! The Betty Davis Songbook
Bedemon - Child of Darkness (Relapse)
The Bevis Frond - Inner Marshland (Cherry Red)
The Black Ryder - The Door Behind the Door (Anti-Machine Machine)
Travis Bretzer - Waxin Romantic (Mexican Summer)
Camper Van Beethoven - New Roman Times reissue (Omnivore)
Champs - Vamala (PIAS)
Destruction Unit - Live in San Francisco (Castle Face)
Melanie Di Biasio - No Deal Remixed (PIAS)
Diamond Rugs - Cosmetics (Sycamore/Thirty Tigers/RED)
Diet Cig - Over Easy EP (Father/Daughter)
Doe - First Four (Old Flame)
DRKWAV - The Purge (Royal Potato Family)
Dutch Uncles - O Shudder (Memphis Industries)
Ensiferum - One Man Army (Metal Blade)
Eternal Death - Eternal Death (Labrador)
Eternal Tapestry - Wild Strawberries (Thrill Jockey)
Etiquette - Reminisce (Hand Drawn Dracula)
Feather Beds - The Skeletal System (Happenin’)
Future Brown - Future Brown (Warp)
Gang of Four - What Happens Next (Metropolis)
John T. Gast - Excerpts (Planet Mu)
Colleen Green - I Want to Grow Up (Hardly Art)
Steve Gunn and Black Twig Pickers - Seasonal Hire (Thrill Jockey)
Elana James - Black Beauty (Snarf)
Mat Kearney - Just Kids (Republic)
Kid Rock - First Kiss (Top Dog/Warner Bros.)
The King Khan & BBQ Show - Bad News Boys (In the Red)
Jack Ladder - Playmates (Fat Possum)
James McMurtry - Complicated Game
Keath Mead - Sunday Dinner (Carpark)
Led Zeppelin - Physical Graffiti Deluxe Edition (Atlantic)
Lost Lander - Medallion
The Lowest Pair - Sacred Heart Sessions (Team Love)
Man - Reanimated Memories (Cherry Red)
Nadastrom - Nadastrom (Friends of Friends/Dubsided)
Pelican - The Cliff EP (Southern Lord)
Elvis Perkins - I Aubade (MIR)
The Pop Group - Citizen Zombie (Freaks R Us)
Portion Control - I Staggered Mentally reissue (Dark Entries)
Sam Prekop - The Republic (Thrill Jockey)
Public Service Broadcasting - The Race for Space (Test Card)
Quiet Company - Transgressor (Modern Outsider)
Radical Dads - Universal Coolers (Old Flame)
Radiator King - Document Untold
Romare - Projections (Ninja Tune)
Screaming Females - Rose Mountain (Don Giovanni)
The Shires - Brave (Decca Nashville)
Taking Back Sunday - Happiness Is: The Complete Recordings (Hopeless)
Tall Tales and the Silver Lining - Tightropes (Other Music)
THEESatisfaction - EarthEE (Sub Pop)
Torche - Restarter (Relapse)
Van Kaye & Ignit - A Slight Delay reissue (Dark Entries)
Glenn Wilson - Timely (Cadence Jazz)

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