Fruit Bats "The Pet Parade (Merge)"
From Merge Records:
The Pet Parade marks a milestone for Johnson, who celebrates 20 years of Fruit Bats in 2021. In some ways still a cult band, in other ways a time-tested act, Fruit Bats has consistently earned enough small victories to carve out a career in a notoriously fickle scene.
While many of the songs on The Pet Parade were actually written before the pandemic, it’s impossible to disassociate the record from the times. As an example, producer Josh Kaufman (The Hold Steady, Bob Weir, The National, and Bonny Light Horseman, in which he plays with Johnson and Anaïs Mitchell) was brought in for his deep emotional touch and bandleading abilities. However, Johnson, Kaufman, and the other musicians on The Pet Parade—drummers Joe Russo and Matt Barrick (The Walkmen, Fleet Foxes, Muzz), singer-songwriter Johanna Samuels, pianist Thomas Bartlett (Nico Muhly, Sufjan Stevens), and fiddler Jim Becker (Califone, Iron & Wine)—were forced to self-record their parts in bedrooms and home studios across America.
The Martha's Vineyard Ferries "Suns Out Guns Out (EJRC)"
From Gerard Cosloy:
Over the course of two prior releases — 2010’s ‘In The Pond’ (Sickroom) and 2013’s ‘Mass Grave’ (Kiam) — The Martha’s Vineyard Ferries quietly carved out a high-IQ corner of the U.S. rock underground reserved for taut, deathly catchy songs that showcased deft (if get-to-the-point) instrumentation. That the band have been kinda/sorta under the collective radar has more to do with their being otherwise occupied (more on that in a minute) than a lack of artistic ambition; they’ve slayed before and after a long break, they’re back to slay again.
Mouse on Mars "AAI (Thrill Jockey)"
From Thrill Jockey:
AAI compiles some of the most immediate and gripping music in Mouse on Mars’ extensive catalogue. Emerging from a primordial ooze of rolling bass and skittering electronics, hypnotic polyrhythms and pulsing synthesizers propel the listener across the record’s expanse. Hidden in the duo’s hyper-detailed productions is a kind of meta-narrative. Working with AI tech collective Birds on Mars and former Soundcloud programmers Ranny Keddo and Derrek Kindle, the duo collaborated on the creation of bespoke software capable of modelling speech. What appears to be Louis Chude-Sokei narrating through the story is in fact the AI speaking. Text and voice from Chude-Sokei and DJ/producer Yağmur Uçkunkaya were fed into the software as a model, allowing Toma and Werner to control parameters like speed or mood, thereby creating a kind of speech instrument they could control and play as they would a synthesizer. The album’s narrative is quite literally mirrored in the music – the sound of an artificial intelligence growing, learning and speaking.
Mush "Lines Redacted (RTP)"
From Rough Trade Publishing:
Leeds-based art-rock trio, Mush, are set to release their feverish second LP, Lines Redacted via Memphis Industries on February 12, 2021. The new release, which finds the group recruiting Lee Smith (The Cribs, Pulled Apart By Horses) on mixing duties, arrives just under a year after their debut LP, 3D Routine, capping off what has been an obviously tumultuous, but remarkably prolific year for the band. With any prospect of live shows decimated, the group, led by songwriter, Dan Hyndman, has found the time to release two EPs (‘Great Artisanal Formats’ and ‘Yellow Sticker Hour’) and now a duo of full-length albums.