Well, winter is very much here. I mean HERE, here and not going anywhere anytime soon. With early morning getting-to-work temperatures hovering somewhere in the single digits to early teens, the cold arrived along with the snow and is most definitely sticking around. It’s cold, no matter which Southwestern town you call home.
It’s welcome, as far as I’m concerned. The better than decent early precipitation has been great – fantastic even. I don’t think many, if any, year-round residents mind in the slightest. Truth be told, most will take this over the smoke-filled, fiery inferno that can occur during fire season. Many of our collective shoulders, backs, knees, (and in my particular case, elbow – odd, I know) would rather have the snow momentarily abate while we recover from the last storm pile-up. I’m fairly certain we’d all happily welcome more of the white stuff, whether it’s light, airy, fluffy, or the heavy wet cement that is perhaps better known in the Pacific Northwest. Point is we’ll take it.
As the weather and cold pile up, so does the onslaught of record releases in advance of a spring thaw and eventual warm-weather touring cycle. My thoughts have always been something akin to this: the earlier a band releases an album in the winter, the more time I have to spin, obsess, and dissect it over the months that follow in advance of spring and summer tours. I mentioned a select handful of those records I anticipated in our last issue, and of all those records I gave mention to, the two highlighted (Malibu Kens self-titled album, available now via Rhymesayers, and Deerhunter’s “Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared?” out on 4AD) have lived up to, and in some ways surpassed, expectation. Both records are wonderful in their own ways, and I still encourage the reader to spend extended listens with each. If at all possible, enjoy each from start to finish with as little distraction as possible. Winter evenings are perfectly meant for cuddling up, hunkering down, and delving headlong into new albums. That said, since my initial list of anticipated music, a smattering of releases have been announced and/or given official release dates. Some of these are discussed below.
“Gallipoli,” Beirut, 4AD If all goes as planned, Santa Fe native and Beirut frontman Zach Condon will release the first album in three years and some change on Friday, February 1. The follow up to “No, No, No” will hopefully stay the relative course of beautifully ornate and intricately crafted indie folk with elements of Eastern European and other world music.
“Pony,” Orville Peck, Sub Pop I know very little about Australian Orville Peck, but the first single off his forthcoming Sub Pop debut was haunting, intoxicating, and required repeated listens. The press release was equally intriguing, describing the sonics as “…lulling ambiance of shoegaze with iconic melodies and vocal prowess of classic American country music…”. Find out for yourself when the album drops March 22.
“On The Line,” Jenny Lewis, Warner Brothers Also available March 22, the former Rilo Kiley frontwoman returns with her fourth solo record, her first in nearly five years. The only thing more impressive than her catchy, sing-along songwriting and muscle flexed-wit, might be the guest appearances on the record. Beck, Ryan Adams, and Ringo Starr are just a few of the all-stars lending their respective talents.
“Oh Boy,” Harlem, Female Fantasy Records This one might just top this mini-list of albums I’m excited for. The Austin, Texas-based rockers announced their first album in nearly nine years, set for release on February 14, Valentine’s Day. Their last record, “Hippies,” was released on Matador almost a decade ago, and was some of the catchiest, danceable indie post-punk of the era. A couple of singles have been released, though I’ve made it a point to steer clear. This is certainly an album I want to experience as a whole.
Here are a few other artists whose records I plan to keep my eyes and ears out for and I’ll hopefully have the opportunity to cover more in depth: Karen O & Danger Mouse, FACS, Shana Cleveland (of La Luz), Royal Trux, Townes Van Zandt, Ex Hex, The Faint, Meat Puppets, Fat White Family, and Strand of Oaks, just to name a few.
Jon E. Lynch