Music

Listening Ahead: Upcoming Releases for December 2012 and January 2013

Matthew Fiander and Arnold Pan
Hi-Fi headphones and colorful disc. Image from Shutterstock.

The record release schedule might go on holiday break during December, but there are some eagerly anticipated albums that aren't deluxe boxsets. And things heat up quickly in January.

While the record release schedule basically goes on vacation for the holidays, that doesn't mean everything that comes out before Christmas is an overpriced boxset or a pop-hit stocking-stuffer. December may not boast a lot of new releases, but there are at least a few eagerly anticipated albums, like Scott Walker's goosebumpy art-rock epic Bish Bosch and Big Boi's long-awaited (and oft-delayed) Vicious Lies & Dangerous Rumors. And there are some deluxe editions you might not want to re-gift, like the tenth anniversary version of Interpol's Turn On the Bright Lights and the Smashing Pumpkins' begging-to-be-reconsidered opus Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness.

The winter schedule thaws quickly in January, however, with a handful of top-of-the-marquee releases by long-time favorites and up-and-comers alike. There are new efforts by underground vets like Yo La Tengo and Camper Van Beethoven, along with high-stakes sophomore outings by Local Natives and the Joy Formidable. And those are just the titles announced more than a month in advance, with more time and space for the schedule to fill out. So don't unwrap that expensive boxset just yet, because you might be able to exchange for something you actually want later.

 
December 2012

Artist: Memory Tapes

Album: Grace/Confusion

Label: Carpark

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US Release Date: 2012-12-04

UK Release Date: 2012-12-03

Memory Tapes
Grace/Confusion

Memory Tapes' mastermind Dayve Hawk has never had a problem conjuring up pretty sounds. Yet being caught up in the chillwave wave when they first hit the scene, Hawk's work as Memory Tapes has sometimes been constrained by the limits of the genre in which it's been categorized, good for some ethereal but often ephemeral music. Memory Tapes' latest full-length Grace/Confusion remedies that as Hawk works to build something of beauty with more heft and durability. With even the shortest track pushing the five-minute mark, each offering on Grace/Confusion is a fully formed piece chock full of rich, pithy elements, as insistent rhythms and textural melodic elements complement the soulful tone of Hawk's yearning vocals. Opener "Neighborhood Watch" still possesses a light-headed quality to it, but its synths are layered in a way that provides the atmospheric effects a solid foundation, while "Sheila" works itself up from neon-lit ambience to a throbbing electro-pop groove. If Memory Tapes had been about hazy nostalgia-pop that faded away, Grace/Confusion is shaping up to be something more substantial and memorable. Arnold Pan

Memory Tapes - "Sheila"

 
Artist: Scott Walker

Album: Bish Bosch

Label: 4AD

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US Release Date: 2012-12-04

UK Release Date: 2012-12-03

Scott Walker
Bish Bosch

Minimalist electro-pop, industrial stomp, drilling guitar squall, Monteverdi-an skronk, atonal classical strings, horn fanfares, tribal drumming, scatological lyrics, operatic vocal flourishes, Hieronymous Bosch-like visions -- and you're only talking about a single track from Scott Walker's latest opus, Bish Bosch. Taking the extremes he explored on 2006's The Drift further somehow, Bish Bosch is a challenging, intimidating piece of work, anything but easy listening even for those who know what to expect from Walker's aggressively avant-garde leanings. On much of the latest effort, Walker dares you to follow where he leads, with prodding, cheeky lines like "Nothing clears the room / Like removing a brain" on "Corps de Blah" and a narrative about the execution of Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaucescu ("The Day the 'Conducator' Died") winding through whiplashing arrangements ornately orchestrated for maximum shock value. And yet, if you're in the right mood, it's hard not to keep your ears glued to Bish Bosch not because of any rubbernecking voyeurism, but because it's rare to hear anyone dig into the deepest, darkest recesses of his imagination like this and mold it into an artifact. Arnold Pan

Scott Walker - "Epizootics!"

 
January 2013

Artist: Parquet Courts

Album: Light Up Gold

Label: What's Your Rupture?/Dull Tools

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US Release Date: 2013-01-15

UK Release Date: Import

Parquet Courts
Light Up Gold

You might think that nothing slips through a net cast wide and tight by the innumerable music sites out there, but every once in a while everyone misses on something you can't believe didn't get its fair due. Parquet Courts' straight-up indie throwback Light Up Gold might just be the most perplexingly overlooked album of 2012, though it could be one of the big breakthroughs of 2013, thanks to a wider re-release by What's Your Rupture? The thing is, Light Up Gold must've been hiding in plain sight when it came out in July, considering that Parquet Courts includes Fergus & Geronimo's Andrew Savage in its ranks. Squeezing 15 tracks into its half-hour run-time, Light Up Gold is made up of college-rock nuggets that, at their best, recall early Pavement singles, just with a Wowee Zowee-era production. A little twangy and a lot scruffy, the brisk, riffy ditties tell their stories with well-placed details that add up to everyday poetry, like when they rifle through pocket lint and wadded receipts on "Yonder Is Closer to the Heart" or find dark absurdity in Americana on "N Dakota". Light Up Gold makes a good case for ringing in the new year with one of the unsung discoveries of the one just passed. Arnold Pan

Parquet Courts - "Light Up Gold"

 
Artist: Radar Brothers

Album: Eight

Label: Merge

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US Release Date: 2013-01-29

UK Release Date: TBA

Radar Brothers
Eight

For the last Radar Bros. album, The Illustrated Garden, frontman Jim Putnam assembled a new trio with Be Hussey and and Steve Treichel, and the three players put out the leanest, most stripped-down Radar Bros. set yet. But now things have changed again. Eight, the band's (fittingly enough) eighth album, finds Radar Bros. beefing up to six members, and the result is the band's biggest, boldest sound to date. It expands on Putnam's signature psych-pop sound and takes it in all directions, from the lilting, spacey "If We Were Banished" to the crunchy rock of "Reflections" to the organ haze and sweet, keening melodies of "Ebony Bow". This may be their biggest sound, but it's still built on carefully crafted parts, with signatures like Putnam's honey-dripping vocal melodies and beds of jangling acoustics accented with ringing piano phrasings and perfectly placed guitar hooks. The sounds are more shadowy than The Illustrated Garden, and play like a beefed-up, dark yet hopeful, undeniably strong companion to the band's prior high-water mark, And the Surrounding Mountains. Ten years ago, that was Radar Bros. at their best. I say "was" because maybe Eight is their best record yet. Or maybe it has no comparison. Maybe it's just the beginning for a new incarnation of the band. So it's either a new height or a bold first step. Either way, it's a hell of a record. Matthew Fiander

 
Artist: Widowspeak

Album: Almanac

Label: Captured Tracks

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US Release Date: 2013-01-22

UK Release Date: TBA

Widowspeak
Almanac

For Widowspeak's second record, they pushed their lush, gauzy sound by brightening it up. There may be songs like "The Dark Ages" here, but the song glides on sunbursts of guitar and propulsive, lean drums. Lead single "Ballad of the Golden Hour" is the kind of hazy, pastoral folk that could welcome a summer sunrise. This doesn't mean, of course, that they've left behind their affecting bittersweet tones. Look no further than the scuffed-up, dusty "Locusts" or the minor-chord, heady surf-rock riffs of "Dyed in the Wool". This is all to say that Almanac covers all varieties of terrain, but they all center around the haunting sweet breath of Molly Hamilton's vocals and Robert Earl Thomas's swirling guitar lines. The album refines the sound of their debut, and if it doesn't re-imagine the formula, it's a stronger proof of their intoxicating sound, one that burns clean and leaves a brighter finish. Matthew Fiander

Widowspeak - "Ballad of the Golden Hour"

 

Selected Releases for December 2012 and January 2013

(Release dates subject to change)

December 4, 2012

Blur, Parklive DVD (EMI)

Chevelle, Straw Arrows: A Collection of Favorites (Epic)

Alice Cooper, Old School (1964-1974) (UME)

Dream Boat - Eclipsing

El Perro del Mar, Pale Fire (The Control Group)

Danny Elfman, Hitchcock Original Soundtrack (Sony Masterworks)

Interpol, Turn on the Bright Lights Tenth Anniversary Edition (Matador)

Ke$ha, Warrior (RCA)

Khafru, Mirrors Become Doors at Night EP (Loomis & Jones)

Morgan James, Morgan James Live (Epic)

Mia Maestro, Blue Eyed Sailor EP (Vapor)

Derrick May & Jimmy Edgar, We Love Detroit (We Love Recordings)

Mogwai, Wrenched Virile Lore (Sub Pop)

Jacob Morris, Moths (Cloud Recordings)

Paloma Faith, Fall to Grace (Epic)

The Prodigy, The Fat of the Land 15th Anniversary Edition (XL)

The Smashing Pumpkins, Mellon Collie & the Infinite Sadness Deluxe Box Set (Virgin)

Super XX Man, Sorta Heavy Metal (Milk)

Team Ghost, Dead Film Star (Wsphere)

Three Legged Race, Persuasive Barrier (Spectrum Spools)

Various Artists, Gildas Kitsuné Club Night Remix (Kitsuné)

Wiz Khalifa, O.N.I.F.C. (Atlantic)

December 11, 2012

Big Boi, Vicious Lies & Dangerous Rumors (Def Jam)

Bot'Ox, Basement Love EP (I'm a Cliché)

Max Cooper, Conditions One EP (Fields)

French Horn Rebellion, Love Is Dangerous EP (self-released)

Green Day, Tre (Reprise)

Laurel Halo, "Sunlight on the Faded" single (Hyperdub)

Heathered Pearls, Loyal (Ghostly International)

The Internet, Feel Good EP (Odd Future)

Bruno Mars, Unorthodox Jukebox (Atlantic)

Buddy Miller and Jim Lauderdale, Buddy and Jim (New West)

Office Romance, I Love the Holidays EP (Frenchkiss)

December 18, 2012

Angels and Airwaves, Stomping the Phantom Brake Pedal Double EP (self-released)

Chief Keef, Finally Rich (Interscope)

Owen Franklin, Best of Being Me (OFMusic)

Wild International, Lake Tones EP (self-released)

January 1, 2013

Triple Hex, Triple Hex EP (Mon Amie)

January 8, 2013

Black Veil Brides, Wretched and Divine: The Story of the Wild Ones (Universal Republic)

Broadcast, The Berberian Studio Sound Original Soundtrack (Warp)

Dropkick Murphys, SIGNED and SEALED in BLOOD (Born and Bred)

London Souls, Here Come the Girls (self-released)

Joe Lovano, Cross Culture (Blue Note)

January 15, 2013

Blaudzun, Heavy Flowers (Krian)

Free Energy, Lovesign (Free People)

Holopaw, Academy Songs Vol. 1 (Misra)

Willy Mason, Don't Stop Now EP (Communion)

Erin McKeown, Manifestra (TVP)

Mystical Weapons, Mystical Weapons (Chimera Music)

Christopher Owens, Lysandre (Fat Possum)

Pantha du Prince & the Bell Laboratory, Elements of Light (Rough Trade)

Aly Tadros, The Fits (self-released)

Yo La Tengo, Fade (Matador)

January 22, 2013

Arbouretum, Coming Out of the Fog (Thrill Jockey)

Bad Religion, True North (Epitaph)

Blue Hawaii, Untogether (Arbutus)

Brokeback, Brokeback and the Black Rock (Thrill Jockey)

Camper Van Beethoven, La Costa Perdida (429)

Chris Darrow, Artist Proof reissue (Drag City)

Esben and the Witch, Wash the Sins Not Only the Face (Matador)

FIDLAR, FIDLAR (Mom+Pop)

Foxygen, We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic (Secretly Canadian)

Petra Haden, Petra Goes to the Movies (Anti-)

Helloween, Straight Out of Hell (The End)

He's My Brother She's My Sister, Nobody Dances in This Town (Park the Van)

The Joy Formidable, Wolf's Law (Canvasback/Atlantic)

Mountains, Centralia (Thrill Jockey)

Aaron Neville, My True Story (Blue Note)

Nightlands, Oak Island (Secretly Canadian)

Nosaj Thing, Home (Innovative Leisure)

Ra Ra Riot, Beta Love (Barsuk)

Alasdair Roberts & Friends, A Wonder Working Stone (Drag City)

Carrie Rodriguez, Give Me All You Got (Ninth Street Opus)

Darius Rucker, True Believers (Capitol Nashville)

Say Anything, All My Friends Are Enemies: The Early Rarities (Equal Vision)

Speck Mountain, Badwater (Carrot Top)

Shugo Tokumaru, In Focus? (Polyvinyl)

Toro Y Moi, Anything in Return (Carpark)

Widowspeak, Almanac (Captured Tracks)

Andy Winter, Incomprehensible (The End)

January 29, 2013

Amor de Días, The House at Sea (Merge)

Atoms of Peace, AMOK (XL)

Bleeding Rainbow, Yeah Right (Kanine)

Buke and Gase, General Dome (Brassland)

Ducktails, The Flower Lane (Domino)

Fiction Family, Fiction Family Reunion (Rock Ridge)

Ben Harper with Charlie Musselwhite, Get Up! (Stax)

Hatebreed, Divinity of Purpose (Razor & Tie)

The History of Apple Pie, Out of View (Marshall Teller)

Indians, Somewhere Else (4AD)

Lady Lazarus, All My Love in Half Light (self-released)

Local Natives, Hummingbird (Frenchkiss)

Lost Animals, Ex Tropical (Hardly Art)

Mice Parade, Candela (Fat Cat)

Pearl Necklace, Soft Opening (Smalltown Supersound)

Radar Bros., Eight (Merge)

Ruby Suns, Christopher (Sub Pop)

Tegan and Sara, Heartthrob (Warner Bros.)

Trixie Whitley, Fourth Corner (Strong Blood)

Yellow Red Sparks, Yellow Red Sparks (Org)

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