I haven’t kept my word on generating a monthly list. Why must real life get in the way? I have a few favorites this month.
M. Ward – A Wasteland Companion
What is there to say about Matt Ward that hasn’t already been said? He’s a reliably great guitarist and songwriter, and nobody does this folk-blues-country Americana mix than he does. Joined on this release is S&H’s Zooey Deschanel,Howe Gelb from Giant Sand, Steve Shelley from Sonic Youth, and a slew of other musicians. What he brings to the table is a compelling list of songs, with “Watch the Show” being my current favorite.
Polica – Give You the Ghost
Sounding a bit like vintage trip hop with distorted vocals stretching over ghostly soundscapes, Polica consists of Channy Leaneagh and Ryan Olson. Favored by no less a person than Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, Channy is making a name for herself with these experimental vibes. My favorite of the moment is “Lay Your Cards Out.”
The Shins – Point of Morrow
The Shins have always been James Mercer’s baby, and this new release is no exception. He’s working with a whole new group of musicians, and still sounds marvelous on ear candy such as “The Rifle’s Spiral”.
Winter Pills – All My Lovely Goners
This chamber pop outfit hails from Northampton, Massachusetts and has created a series of lovely records. This one is no exception, and songs such as “January Rain” and “Amazing Sky” are gems.
Still Corners – Creatures of an Hour
This London group mines a reverb pop vein that branches to a different beat than bands like “The Dum Dum Girls”. Singer Tessa Murray met up with Greg Hughes at a train stop. Their 60’s-drenched dream pop evokes The United States of America as well as Ennio Morricone and also draws upon European cinema for inspiration. My picks are “Don’t Fall in Love” and “Endless Summer”.
Youngteam – Daydreamer
Thank you, John Norris, for turning me on to this Swedish group. They will remind you of every great shoegaze/dream pop band of the past 20 years, and only in a good way. The title track still slays me, and I had to include it here.
Active Child – You Are All I See
This hails back to last year, but I’ve only recently become aware of it thanks to my friend Jim Neill. “Johnny Belinda” cuts to my emotional core with its high, swooning vocals and celestial harmonies. Lovely.
World Party – Arkeology
Yup, Karl Wallinger, ex-*Water Boys*, is back with a 5 disc retrospective. Many of the songs are alternate takes or previously unreleased. You know what to expect with Wallinger’s Prince-like vocals, and he doesn’t disappoint. Not just for completists.
Frankie Rose – Interstellar
Yes, Frankie Rose is still on my list, and boy, do I love “Moon In My Mind”. It has this ominous but ethereal vibe that is unique.
Spotlight Kid – Disaster Tourist
This is another band John Norris pointed me at. Just great shoegaze, with that propulsive bass and drums that gets me jumping. Case in point: “All is Real”. Terrific.