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Music

Listening Ahead: Upcoming Music Releases for November and December 2014

Matthew Fiander and Arnold Pan

In the last installment of "Listening Ahead" of 2014, read up on new albums by Marianne Faithfull and Andy Stott, as well as comprehensive boxsets of the third Velvet Underground album and the Bedhead catalog.

Before we start rewinding the proverbial tape on 2014, there's one more "Listening Ahead" this year to cover what's left of 2014's new releases. November and December provide the last opportunity on the calendar to sneak on to those best-of lists, with prime candidates including producer Andy Stott's new techno offering and Ariel Pink's latest psych-pop provocation. The biggest releases of the next two months, though, are new albums by some of rock's legacy brands, like Neil Young, Pink Floyd, and AC/DC, not to mention stalwarts from later generations such as Foo Fighters and Smashing Pumpkins. This being the holiday season, there are plenty of elaborate boxsets that are actually worth gifting for someone who's been really good, especially archival extravagances like the collection of Bruce Springsteen's first seven albums, the complete six-disc Bob Dylan bootleg series, and the six-CD deluxe edition of the third Velvet Underground album. And there's a new Wu-Tang album slated to come out in December. Maybe.

 

November 4

Artist: Springtime Carnivore

Album: Springtime Carnivore

Label: Autumn Tone

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Springtime Carnivore
Springtime Carnivore

Springtime Carnivore's eponymous debut doesn't sound like your typical first album, but then again it's really not one for Greta Morgan: Think of it more as the culmination of where Morgan has been headed playing in bands for going on a decade now, the right time and place for her to be after honing her craft and earning her stripes. But more than the experience and know-how Morgan flashes on Springtime Carnivore, it's her smart songwriting vision that stands out, conveying a verve and assurance that make the album feel at once vital and complex. What's striking about Springtime Carnivore is the way Morgan has deft control over her approach as she balances her art-minded impulses and the naturally catchy elements of her music, bringing to mind St. Vincent's playful early work or a more approachable version of Julia Holter's high-concept pop. Her sense of decisiveness and confidence can't help but shine through time and again on Springtime Carnivore, whether it's in the way Morgan struts to neo-girl group melodies on "Collectors" and "Name on a Matchbook" or strides headlong on the brisk, driving pop of "Keep Confessing". Here, and really throughout Springtime Carnivore, you notice how Morgan has an uncanny knack for creating music that's just the right scale for her, a sure sign of a songwriter who's learned enough to be comfortable in her own skin as an artist. Arnold Pan

 

November 11

Artist: Bedhead

Album: Bedhead: 1992-1998

Label: Numero Group

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Bedhead
Bedhead: 1992-1998

Numero Group specializes in reissues and has, of late, set its focus on some fascinating bands that helped define (and deconstruct) what it was to be a rock band in the '90s. Following in the footsteps of Codeine and in the middle of an Unwound reissue campaign comes Numero Group's reissue of the entire Bedhead catalog. The Texas slowcore outfit certainly was a trailblazer for the genre. The band's first album came out just a month before Low's debut. But 1992-1998 makes a case for Bedhead's significance outside of genre constraints. The three full-lengths here are all brilliant, but none in the same way. The constant swell of WhatFunLifeWas sits in contrast to the deeper valleys of Beheaded, which doesn't at all set up the sharper edges and darker crags of the Steve Albini-produced Transaction de Novo. Oddly, placing these albums together allows the listener to set them apart and, in hearing them in sequence, you see a band constantly finding new fertile ground and yet still exploring. The set also collects EPs, b-sides, and singles to go along with the proper albums, and that set -- from the power of "Bedside Table" to the swaying haze of "Dead Language" to, even, a ramshackle cover of Joy Division's "Disorder" -- is remarkable not only for adding new tangents to the band's sound, but also for its surprising consistency. Listening to this impressive set of music, one that feels as fresh now as it did a couple decades back, it's clear that we needed a name for what Bedhead did. Hence: slowcore. But in reality, this music is too far reaching to fit under such a small umbrella, and 1992-1998 makes a convincing case for Bedhead as musical pioneers in a much larger, lasting, and exciting sense. Matthew Fiander

 

Artist: Marianne Faithfull

Album: Give My Love to London

Label: Easy Sound

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Marianne Faithfull
Give My Love to London

On Give My Love to London, Marianne Faithfull works with Steve Earle, Nick Cave, Roger Waters, as well as members of the Bad Seeds and others. She also covers Leonard Cohen's "'Going Home". Make no mistake, though, Faithfull isn't just delivering Cohen's or Earle's or Cave's words here. She is a woman on fire in this rattling, expansive, and excellent record. Her voice is gruff on the edges, but not weathered. Instead, it's honed to a series of fine, dangerous points. The way she can spit out, with derision, a line about a "candyfloss techno hell", but also deliver the same song's refrain like a sweet lullaby is both impressive and haunting. On "Late Victorian Holocaust" or the darker corners of the seeming tribute in the title track or "Mother Wolf", Faithfull smiles wide and wild into the darkness the way Waits and Cohen and Cave have, but in her mouth the shape of these words, the power of their delivery, don't feel like the same sort of performance. In fact, they don't feel like performance at all. Give My Love to London isn't the sound of Faithfull trying on new hats. Instead, it sounds like her possessing new souls and squeezing beautiful, haunting poetry out of them. The band behind her helps stretch the shadow of her words out, and sometimes in its dusty percussion and buzzing instrumentation shackles these songs with chains to rattle. Faithfull is by turns frustrated and urgent, tied up in knots and cut completely free, and yet, for all the album's darkness, for all its haunting, there's something under that, something like joy, that makes it truly remarkable. Matthew Fiander

 

Artist: Parkay Quarts (Parquet Courts)

Album: Content Nausea

Label: What's Your Rupture?

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Parkay Quarts (Parquet Courts)
Content Nausea

Everything about Parkay Quarts' Content Nausea would seem to point to it being a made-on-the-fly grab-bag of outtakes, an out-of-the-blue second 2014 release credited to Parquet Courts' homophonic pseudonym. Everything, that is, except the music itself: While it would be hard for Parkay Quarts -- or Parquet Courts -- to top June's Sunbathing Animal, Content Nausea matches up nicely to the album that has made the NYC band the current standard bearer of the Amerindie tradition. If anything, Content Nausea pushes the group's sound further, as if the disguise of the semi-fake name gave songwriters Austin Brown and Andrew Savage license to be freer and looser with instrumentation and song structures. Building on the direction Parquet Courts was headed on Sunbathing Animal, the 12-track collection might be their most engagingly diverse set yet, changing up speeds and textures as they break up their signature indie-rock rants with experimental asides and longer, more developed compositions. So while the angular riffage on Content Nausea suggests that Parquet Courts under any other name is still the same, Parkay Quarts seem more willing to branch out, organically following wherever an exploratory guitar solo might lead them and stretching the limits of their aesthetic by bringing in synths, sax, and fiddle. It all comes to head on the sprawling closing number "Uncast Shadow of a Southern Myth", a deceptively simple indie epic that reveals layers of subtle details and canny touches the more you listen, like a fleeting glimpse of organ tracing a melancholy guitar line and the unexpected poignance in Savage's cadence as he delivers some amateur sociology about life below the Mason-Dixon line. So whatever you want to call 'em, Parquet Courts or Parkay Quarts are taking yet another step in making a name for themselves. Arnold Pan

 

November 18

Artist: Andy Stott

Album: Faith in Strangers

Label: Modern Love

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Andy Stott
Faith in Strangers

Andy Stott's distinctive brand of dub techno gets described as dark more often than anything else, marked by a sense of substance and heft he gives to everything he works with, whether it's the bass, the beats, the synths, or the found sounds he incorporates into the mix. But on Faith in Strangers, the murky tones and lower registers the Manchester producer is known for only tell part of the story, providing the foundation for the startling contrasts that make the new album such a gripping listen. Taking full advantage of vast and diverse array of techniques, Stott makes room on Faith in Strangers for a full range of elements, going organic and the state-of-the-art at the same time as he plays with distant field-recorded clattering and cascades of piercing keyboards, hollowed-out percussion and twitchy drum programming à la Kid A Radiohead or Homogenic Björk. All the sounds on Faith in Strangers feel stark and sculpted, given a strong sense of definition through dramatic juxtapositions. Just compare the album's two pre-release tracks: With its resonant, thudding beats and Alison Skidmore's ghostly vocal treatments, the spare, smoldering "Violence" is menacing like early Tricky, eviscerated to its essence, but the title track is another matter entirely, soaring ever higher when unmoored from the gravity of what surrounds it. There, the changes in inflection might be subtle, but the shift in mood is discernible, with the rapid-fire drum machines giving Skidmore's ethereal singing and swathes of synths the lift to take off. A true experience of the sublime that's imposing and beautiful at once, Faith in Strangers finds Andy Stott not just plumbing depths that are deeper, but also scaling higher heights in the process. Arnold Pan

 

November 25

Artist: The Velvet Underground

Album: The Velvet Underground 45th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition

Label: Polydor/Universal

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The Velvet Underground
The Velvet Underground 45th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition

The Velvet Underground's eponymous third album marked a time of transition for the legendary group, and the 45th anniversary deluxe boxset of 1969's The Velvet Underground captures that ethos well. With the departure of John Cale, Lou Reed directed the band away from the art-scarred aesthetic that distinguished the early VU material towards a less iconoclastic rock'n'roll sound, which itself felt like a left-turn with the third album's generally quieter and calmer moods. Without as much of a sense of spectacle around it, the introspective tone of The Velvet Underground, instead, yielded some of the band's most affecting and absorbing moments, like "Candy Says" and "Pale Blue Eyes", "I'm Set Free" and Mo Tucker's turn in the spotlight, "After Hours". But aside from being an important document of a turning point for a historical significant band, The Velvet Underground is particularly well-suited for this kind of painstaking six-disc deep dive, considering it has been defined by competing versions of its recording: the label mix that was more widely released and Reed's preferred "Closet Mix", so called because the frontman's vocals and guitar are so up-close that Sterling Morrison said it seemed like it was made in a closet; both versions are included in the super deluxe set, as well as a third "mono promotional mix", for those keeping score. Adding to the archival material here is a disc of what was supposed to be a contract-breaking album between The Velvet Underground and Loaded: Though it consists of previously released tracks (mostly from the VU odds-'n-ends collection), the mixes here are either unreleased or 2014 renderings, placing familiar songs like "Lisa Says", "I Can't Stand It", and "Ride into the Sun" in a new light and historical context. But ultimately, the real legacy of The Velvet Underground, no matter which mixes, versions, and revisionist history you choose, is that it's an understated masterpiece deserving of this kind of celebratory treatment. Arnold Pan

 

December 2

Artist: Songs: Ohia

Album: Didn't It Rain Deluxe Edition

Label: Secretly Canadian

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Songs: Ohia
Didn't It Rain Deluxe Edition

Secretly Canadian's lasting tribute to the late Jason Molina continues with this excellent reissue of Songs: Ohia's 2002 masterstroke, Didn't It Rain. It's an album curiously positioned in Molina's career arc. Though Magnolia Electric Co. was the final Songs: Ohia record, that document was more the start of a new project than the end of this one. And so, in retrospect, perhaps Didn't It Rain is the Songs: Ohia sound at its most fully realized, somehow spare and fully formed. Like The Lioness and Ghost Tropic before it, this record transformed Molina's lean, solitary songs into wide-spreading epic albums. The bleak shadows on the title track are filled up by cooing vocal melodies and scraped back out by Molina's aching lyrics. "Blue Factory Flame" takes the album's negative space and slowly, deliberately, fills it with echoing guitars. "Steve Albini's Blues" makes Molina's acoustic delivery sound bone dry, while on "Ring the Bells" it melts with new textures. More daring in its tonal shifts than the also excellent The Lioness and more effective in its sparseness than the great Ghost Tropic, this reissue of Didn't It Rain presents it as a defining moment for Songs: Ohia, the record where Molina made his sonic wandering a true home and then moved on to the next thing. Like last year's Magnolia Electric Co. reissue, this one comes with solo demos as bonus tracks. This might seem less affecting on such a spare album, but these are still brave and laid-bare performances, transmissions from some lonesome space that feels so far away and, yet, so familiar. Matthew Fiander

 

Selected Releases for November and December 2014

(Release dates subject to change)

November 4

Arca - Xen (Mute)

Baauer - ß EP (LuckyMe)

Lee Bannon - Main/Flex EP (Babygrande)

Big Star - Live in Memphis CD+DVD (Omnivore)

The Bloodhounds - Let Loose! (Alive Naturalsound)

Dean Blunt - Black Metal (Rough Trade)

The Chills - The BBC Sessions (Fire)

Clark - Clark (Warp)

AJ Davila Y Terror Amor - Beibi (Burger)

Davila 666 - Pocos Anos, Muchos Danos singles compilation (Burger)

Deerhoof - La Isla Bonita (Polyvinyl)

Dels - Petals Have Fallen (Big Dada)

Deptford Goth - Songs (37 Adventures/PIAS)

Ani DiFranco - Allergic to Water (Righteous Babe)

Dirt Dress - Revelations EP (Future Gods)

Dirty Beaches - Stateless (Zoo)

Stephen Doster - Arizona (Atticus)

Bob Dylan - Basement Tapes Complete: The Bootleg Series, Vol. 11 (Legacy)

Empty Moon - The Shark (High Dive)

Ronnie Fauss - Built to Break (Normaltown)

Flesh Lights - Free Yourself (12XU)

Gold Lake - Years

Guano Padano - Americana (Ipecac)

Calvin Harris - Motion (Sony)

Heavy Glow - Pearls & Swine and Everything Fine (Purge)

Ryan Hemsworth - Alone for the First Time (Last Gang)

Jupe Jupe - Cut-Up Kisses

Kaki King - Everybody Glows: B-Sides and Rarities

Korallreven - Second Coming (Cascine)

Mark Kozelek - Sings Christmas Carols (Caldo Verde)

Les Sins - Michael (Company)

Let's Wrestle - Let's Wrestle (Redeye)

Major League - There Is Nothing Wrong with Me (No Sleep)

Mariachi El Bronx - Mariachi El Bronx III (ATO)

Megafortress - Believer (Driftless)

Bette Midler - It's the Girls! (Warner)

Modest Mouse - Lonesome Crowded West vinyl reissue (Glacial Pace/Fat Possum)

Over the Rhine - Blood Oranges in the Snow (Great Speckled Dog)

Damien Rice - My Favourite Faded Fantasy (Vector/Warner Bros.)

Arrica Rose - Wavefunction (pOprOck)

Robert Scott (of the Bats and the Clean) - The Greenhouse (Flying Nun)

Simple Minds - Big Music

The Skull - For Those Which Are Asleep (Tee Pee)

Dayna Stephens - Peace (Sunnyside)

Becca Stevens Band - Perfect Animal

Trans Upper Egypt - Trans Upper Egypt (Monofonus Press)

Until the Ribbon Breaks - A Lesson Unlearnt (Kobalt)

Various Artists - 5oFoF: 5 Years of Friends of Friends (Friends of Friends)

Various Artists - 5 Years of Bedroom Suck (Bedroom Suck)

Various Artists - Blue Note: Uncompromising Expression (5 CDs + book), (Blue Note)

Various Artists - All Your Friend's Friends (K)

Various Artists - The Green Collection (Eskimo)

Various Artists - Hyperdub 10.4 (Hyperdub)

We Are the Willows - Picture (Portrait) (The Homestead)

Wildbirds & Peacedrums - Rhythm (The Leaf Label)

Virginia Wing - Measures of Joy (Fire)

Wings - At the Speed of Sound deluxe boxset (Concord)

Wings - Venus and Mars deluxe boxset (Concord)

Neil Young - Storytone (Reprise)

November 11

2:54 - The Other I (Bella Union)...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead - IX (Superball)

Antemasque (Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and Cedric Bixler-Zavala project) - Antemasque

Antony and the Johnsons - Turning documentary CD + DVD (Secretly Canadian)

Belle Ghoul - Around for the Weekend (Elefant)

Bent Knee - Shiny Eyed Babies

Brogan Bentley - The Snake (Leaving/Stones Throw)

Big K.R.I.T. - Cadillactica (Def Jam)

Phil Bowler & Pocket Jungle - Phil Bowler & Pocket Jungle (Zoho)

Garth Brooks - Man Against Machine (Sony Nashville)

Captain Beefheart - Sun Zoom Spark: 1970-1972 (Rhino)

Cool Ghouls - A Swirling Fire Burning Through the Rye (Empty Cellar)

Patrick Cowley and George Soccaras - Catholic (Dark Entries)

Cult of Youth - Final Days (Sacred Bones)

The Doors - Feast of Friends DVD (1968 self-produced film) (Eagle Rock)

Dream Police (members of the Men) - Hypnotized (Sacred Bones)

Drippin - Silver Cloak EP (Lit City Trax)

Gabriel Espinosa & Hendrik Meurkens - Samba Little Samba (Zoho)

Faded Ranger - Mechanical Tonight (HFN)

Foo Fighters - Sonic Highways (Roswell/RCA)

Hookworms - The Hum (Weird World/Domino)

Jon Hopkins - Asleep Versions EP (Domino)

Whitney Houston - Whitney Houston Live: Her Greatest Performances CD+DVD (Legacy)

iamwhoami - Blue (To Whom it May Concern)

Jóhann Jóhannsson - The Theory of Everything soundtrack (Back Lot Music/Universal)

The Jazz June - After the Earthquake (Topshelf)

King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard - I'm In Your Mind

Love - Black Beauty (High Moon)

Mark McGuire - Noctilucence EP (Dead Oceans)

Milán - Milán EP

Monogold - This Bloom EP

Allison Moyet - minutes and seconds live (Cooking Vinyl/Metropolis)

Nots - We Are Nots (Goner)

Oh Land - Earth Sick (Tusk or Tooth/Kobalt)

Pink Floyd - The Endless River (Columbia)

Purple - (409) (PIAS)

Reagenz - The Periodic Table (The Bunker New York)

Alvin Risk - Venture EP

Röyksopp - The Inevitable End (Cherrytree/Interscope)

Scoe - Tha Influence (Kalifornia Dreamin)

Secret Pyramid - The Silent March reissue (Students of Decay)

Serengeti - Kenny Dennis III (Joyful Noise)

Soen - Tellurian (Spinefarm)

Sunbears! - Future Sounds (New Granada)

Tears for Fears - Songs from the Big Chair reissue) (Universal)

Anna Thorvaldsdottir - Aerial (Deustche Grammophon/Universal Classics)

The Treatment - Running With the Dogs (Spinefarm)

Torn Hawk - Let's Cry and Do Pushups at the Same Time (Mexican Summer)

USNEA - Random Cosmic Violence (Relapse)

Various Artists - Hyperdub and Teklife Present Next Life (benefit for DJ Rashad's son) (Hyperdub

Various Artists - Lost On The River: The New Basement Tapes (a collaborative album project from Elvis Costello, Rhiannon Giddens, Taylor Goldsmith, Jim James, Marcus Mumford, and producer T Bone Burnett)

The Voyeurs - Rhubarb Rhubarb (Heavenly)

Willow Willow - Listening to Music

World/Inferno Friendship Society - This Packed FuneralAlternative Tentacles)

YACHT - Where Does This Disco? EP (Downtown)

Young Tongue - Death Rattle (Punctum/Raw Paw)

November 18

Adaliah - Shedding Skin (Mediaskare)

Abelardo Barroso - The Charmed Third Moment of Stardom (World Circuit)

Bo Ningen and Savages - Words to the Blind (Pop Noire/Stolen)

David Bowie - Nothing Has Changed compilation (Legacy)

Buzzcocks - The Way (1-2-3-4 GO!)

Chumped - Teenage Retirement (Anchorless)

Gene Clark - Two Sides to Every Story deluxe edition (High Moon)

David Heartbreak - Rose Colored Bass (OWSLA)

Depeche Mode - Live in Berlin (CD+ DVD)(Columbia)

Dirt Dress - Revelations EP (Future Gods

Duppy Gun Productions - Multiply (Duppy Gun/Stones Throw)

Howard Enyon - So What If I'm Standing in Apricot Jam (Earth)

Father Yod & the Spirit of '76 - Kahoutek reissue (Drag City)

Bryan Ferry - Avonmore (BMG)

Fugazi - First Demo (Dischord)

Giraffage - No Reason EP (Fool's Gold)

Girlpool - Girlpool EP (Wichita)

Eamon Harkin and Justin Carter - Weekends and Beginnings (Mister Saturday Night)

Eiko Ishibashi - Car and Freezer (Drag City)

Kinks - Anthology 1964-1971 (Ingrooves)

The Memories - Hot Afternoon (Burger)

Joni Mitchell - Love Has Many Faces 4-CD collection (Rhino)

Moonlight Towers - Heartbeat Overdrive (Chicken Ranch)

Mr. Gnome - The Heart of a Dark Star (El Markos)

Native America - Grown Up Wrong (Inflated)

NAVVI - II EP

Oceaán - The Grip EP (B3SCI)

The Old '97s - Hitchhike to Rhome (Reissue) (Omnivore)

Angel Olsen - Burn Your Fire for No Witness deluxe edition (Jagjaguwar)

Om Unit - Inversion (Metalheadz)

One Direction - Four (Columbia)

William Onyeabor - William Onyeabor 9-disc boxset (Luaka Bop)

Ariel Pink - pom pom (4AD)

Raspberry Bulbs - Privacy (Blackest Ever Black)

Red Jacket Mine - Pure Delight EP

Rhyton - Kykeon (Thrill Jockey)

RL Grime - Void (Weddit)

The Saints - King of the Sun / King of the Midnight Sun 2-LP set (Fire)

Bruce Springsteen - The Album Collection, Vol. 1: 1973-1984 boxset (Columbia)

Swamp Dogg - The White Man Made Me Do It (Alive Naturalsound)

TV on the Radio - Seeds (Harvest)

Various Artists - The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 soundtrack (Motown/Universal)

Various Artists - While No One Was Looking: Toasting 20 Years of Bloodshot Records (Bloodshot)

Wedding Dress - Desperate Glow (Lovitt)

Wilco - Alpha Mike Foxtrot 4-CD set of rarities and live recordings (Nonesuch)

Wilco - What's Your 20? 2-CD compilation (Nonesuch)

Robert Wyatt - Different Every Time (Domino)

Ya Ho Wa 13 - Savage Sons of Ya Ho Wa reissue (Drag City)

November 25

Woody Allen - The Stand-Up Years 1964-1968 (Razor & Tie)

Bella Novela - Telemetry

Björk - Biophilia Live 2 DVD (Megaforce)

Glenn Branca - The Ascension reissue (Superior Viaduct)Coldplay - Ghost Stories Live CD/DVD (Atlantic)

deadmau5 - 5 Years of deadmau5 (MAU5TRAP)

electric eels - Die Electric Eels reissue (Superior Viaduct)

Fatty DL - ///III EP (Ninja Tune)

Faust - j US t (Bureau B)

Flake Music (pre-Shins) - When You Land Here, It's Time to Return reissue (Sub Pop/Aural Apothecary)

Philip Glass and Mari Namekawa - Phillip Glass: The Complete Piano Etudes with Pianist Mari Namekawa (Orange Mountain)

Alain Goraguer - Le Planète Sauvage reissue (Superior Viaduct)

Hound - Out of Time (SRA)

Nicholas Krgovich - On Cahuenga (Ordinal)

McCarthy (former band of Stereolab's Tim Gane) - Complete Albums, Singles, and BBC Collection 4-disc set (Cherry Red)

Connan Mockasin - Forever Dolphin Love reissue (Mexican Summer)

The Moody Blues - The Polydor Years 1986-1992 (Polydor)

The Postal Service - Everything Will Change DVD (Sub Pop)

R.E.M. - I Want My REMTV R.E.M. MTV highlights DVD (Rhino)

Rick Ross - Hood Billionaire (Maybach/Def Jam)

September Girls - Veneer 12" (Kanine)

Frank Sinatra - Sinatra: London (Universal)

Snowday - As We Travel

Swans - Oxygen EP (Young God)

Synkro - Transient EP (Apollo)

Two Inch Astronaut - Foulbrood (Exploding in Sound)

Chris Tye - The Paper Grenade

Wayfarer - Children of the Iron Age (Prosthetic)

Zom - Flesh Assimilation (Dark Descent)

December 2

AC/DC - Rock or Bust (Columbia)

Mary J. Blige - The London Sessions (Capitol)

Bonobo - Flashlight EP (Ninja Tune)

Clarence Clarity - Who Am Eye EP (Bella Union)

Leonard Cohen - Live in Dublin 3 CD/1 DVD (Legacy)

The Miles Davis Quintet, featuring John Coltrane - All of You: The Last Tour 1960 (Trapeze)

Brian Eno - Nerve Net, The Shutov Assembly, Neroli, The Drop reissues (All Saints)

Gravenhurst - Flashlight Seasons and Black Holes in the Sand reissues (Warp)

Gravenhurst - Offerings (Warp)

House of Love - Live at the Lexington 13.11.13 (Cherry Red)

Kid Moxie - 1888

Rob Mazurek - Alternate Moon Cycles (International Anthem)

Mr. Mitch - Parallel Memories (Planet Mu)

Owen - Other People's Songs (Polyvinyl)

The Pixies - Doolittle 25 3-CD set (4AD)

R.Seiliog - In Hz (Turnstile)

She & Him - Classics (Columbia)

Silk Rhodes - Silk Rhodes (Stones Throw)

Jozef Van Wissem - It Is Time for You to Return (Crammed Discs)

Wreckless Eric - 12 O'Clock Stereo reissue (Fire)

Wu-Tang Clan - A Better Tomorrow (Warner)

Yo La Tengo - Extra Painful! reissue (Matador)

December 9

µ-Ziq - Rediffusion EP (Planet Mu)

Cracker - Berkeley to Bakersfield (429)

Micah P. Hinson and the Gospel of Progress - Micah P. HInson and the Gospel of Progress (Talitres)

Marc Marzenit - To Love Until We Say Goodbye (Natura)

Pony Bwoy - när-ke

Smashing Pumpkins - Monuments to an Elegy (BMG)

December 16

Charli XCX - Sucker (Atlantic)

Nicki Minaj - The Pink Print (Young Money/Cash Money/Republic)

* * *

Photo: Composition of headphones. Image via Shutterstock.

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Year to year, country music as a genre sometimes seems to roll on without paying that much attention to what's going on in the world (with the exception of bro-country singers trying to adopt the latest hip-hop slang). That can feel like a problem in a year when 58 people are killed and 546 are injured by gun violence at a country-music concert – a public-relations issue for a genre that sees many of its stars outright celebrating the NRA. Then again, these days mainstream country stars don't seem to do all that well when they try to pivot quickly to comment on current events – take Keith Urban's muddled-at-best 2017 single "Female", as but one easy example.

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It's ironic that by injecting a shot of cynicism into this glorified soap opera, Johnson provides the most satisfying explanation yet for the significance of The Force.

Despite J.J. Abrams successfully resuscitating the Star Wars franchise with 2015's Star Wars: The Force Awakens, many fans were still left yearning for something new. It was comforting to see old familiar faces from a galaxy far, far away, but casual fans were unlikely to tolerate another greatest hits collection from a franchise already plagued by compositional overlap (to put it kindly).

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Yeah Yeah Yeahs played a few US shows to support the expanded reissue of their debut Fever to Tell.

Although they played a gig last year for an after-party for a Mick Rock doc, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs hadn't played a proper NYC show in four years before their Kings Theatre gig on November 7th, 2017. It was the last of only a handful of gigs, and the only one on the East coast.

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