Listening Ahead: Upcoming Releases for February

PopMatters previews some of February's most eagerly awaited offerings.

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.

Artist: Archers of Loaf

Album: Vee Vee (Remastered)

Label: Merge


Display Width: 200

Display as: List

US Release Date: 2012-02-21

UK Release Date: 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.

Artist: Grimes

Album: Visions

Label: 4AD/Arbutus


Display Width: 200

Display as: List

US Release Date: 2012-02-21

UK Release Date: Import


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.

Artist: Mouse on Mars

Album: Parastrophics

Label: Monkeytown


Display Width: 200

Display as: List

US Release Date: 2012-02-28

UK Release Date: 2012-02-27

Mouse on Mars

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

Artist: Sharon Van Etten

Album: Tramp

Label: Jagjaguwar


Display Width: 200

Display as: List

US Release Date: 2012-02-07

UK Release Date: 2012-02-06

Sharon Van Etten

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.

Artist: Various Artists

Album: We Are the Works in Progress

Label: Asa Wa Kuru


Display Width: 200

Display as: List

US Release Date: 2012-02-07

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)





The Dance of Male Forms in Denis' 'Beau travail'

Claire Denis' masterwork of cinematic poetry, Beau travail, is a cinematic ballet that tracks through tone and style the sublimation of violent masculine complexes into the silent convulsions of male angst.


The Cradle's 'Laughing in My Sleep' Is an Off-kilter Reflection of Musical Curiosity

The Cradle's Paco Cathcart has curated a thoughtfully multifarious album. Laughing in My Sleep is an impressive collection of 21 tracks, each unapologetic in their rejection of expectations.


Tobin Sprout Goes Americana on 'Empty Horses'

During the heyday of Guided By Voices, Tobin Sprout wasn't afraid to be absurd amongst all that fuzz. Sprout's new album, Empty Horses, is not the Tobin Sprout we know.


'All In: The Fight for Democracy' Spotlights America's Current Voting Restrictions as Jim Crow 2.0

Featuring an ebullient and combative Stacey Abrams, All In: The Fight for Democracy shows just how determined anti-democratic forces are to ensure that certain groups don't get access to the voting booth.


'Transgender Street Legend Vol. 2' Finds Left at London "At My Peak and Still Rising"

"[Pandemic lockdown] has been a detriment to many people's mental health," notes Nat Puff (aka Left at London) around her incendiary, politically-charged new album, "but goddamn it if I haven't been making some bops here and there!"


Daniel Romano's 'How Ill Thy World Is Ordered' Is His Ninth LP of 2020 and It's Glorious

No, this is isn't a typo. Daniel Romano's How Ill Thy World Is Ordered is his ninth full-length release of 2020, and it's a genre-busting thrill ride.


The Masonic Travelers Offer Stirring Rendition of "Rock My Soul" (premiere)

The Last Shall Be First: the JCR Records Story, Volume 1 captures the sacred soul of Memphis in the 1970s and features a wide range of largely forgotten artists waiting to be rediscovered. Hear the Masonic Travelers "Rock My Soul".


GLVES Creates Mesmerizing Dark Folktronica on "Heal Me"

Australian First Nations singer-songwriter GLVES creates dense, deep, and darkish electropop that mesmerizes with its blend of electronics and native sounds on "Heal Me".


Otis Junior and Dr. Dundiff Tells Us "When It's Sweet" It's So Sweet

Neo-soul singer Otis Junior teams with fellow Kentuckian Dr. Dundiff and his hip-hop beats for the silky, groovy "When It's Sweet".


Lars and the Magic Mountain's "Invincible" Is a Shoegazey, Dreamy Delight (premiere)

Dutch space pop/psychedelic band Lars and the Magic Mountain share the dreamy and gorgeous "Invincible".


What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .


Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" Wryly Looks at Lost Love (premiere + interview)

Singer-songwriter Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" is a less a flat-earther's anthem and more a wry examination of heartache.


Big Little Lions' "Distant Air" Is a Powerful Folk-Anthem (premiere)

Folk-pop's Big Little Lions create a powerful anthem with "Distant Air", a song full of sophisticated pop hooks, smart dynamics, and killer choruses.


The Flat Five Invite You to "Look at the Birdy" (premiere)

Chicago's the Flat Five deliver an exciting new single that exemplifies what some have called "twisted sunshine vocal pop".


Brian Bromberg Pays Tribute to Hendrix With "Jimi" (premiere + interview)

Bass giant Brian Bromberg revisits his 2012 tribute to Jimi Hendrix 50 years after his passing, and reflects on the impact Hendrix's music has had on generations.

Jedd Beaudoin

Shirley Collins' ​'Heart's Ease'​ Affirms Her Musical Prowess

Shirley Collins' Heart's Ease makes it apparent these songs do not belong to her as they are ownerless. Collins is the conveyor of their power while ensuring the music maintains cultural importance.


Ignorance, Fear, and Democracy in America

Anti-intellectualism in America is, sadly, older than the nation itself. A new collection of Richard Hofstadter's work from Library of America traces the history of ideas and cultural currents in American society and politics.

By the Book

Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto (excerpt)

Just as big tech leads world in data for profit, the US government can produce data for the public good, sans the bureaucracy. This excerpt of Julia Lane's Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto will whet your appetite for disruptive change in data management, which is critical for democracy's survival.

Julia Lane

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.