Carson Mchone "Still Life (Merge)"
“Still Life, Carson McHone’s third album and first release with Merge Records, quivers like a tightrope, with songs about existing within the tension of the in between and surviving beyond the breaking point. These are stories of sabotage, confusion, and surrender. The album is a testament to the effort of reaching, sometimes flailing, for understanding and for balance. Still Life invites us to gasp at our own reflection and acknowledge the unsettling beauty in this breath.
McHone wrote the songs of Still Life in quiet moments between tours in her hometown of Austin, then recorded in Ontario with Canadian musician and producer Daniel Romano. Together in a home studio McHone and Romano cut almost the entire record themselves, calling on two friends, the versatile Mark Lalama on accordion, piano, and organ, and David Nardi with some savvy saxophone, to round it out. The phrasing and tones recall John Cale, The Kinks, Richard and Linda Thompson—like-minded artists of the late ’60s and early ’70s, another era of transition and innovation.”
Basia Bulat "The Garden"
Introducing The Garden: a Strings album and a Retrospective from a room in Montreal with the windows open, and the wind moving, and the leaves changing, and a spring-coloured secret on the tip of Basia Bulat’s tongue.
The Garden gathers fourteen string arrangements by three different arrangers (Owen Pallett, Paul Frith, and Zou Zou Robidoux), revisiting material from all five of Bulat’s studio albums. There’s Pallett’s interpretation of 2010’s Heart of my Own, calling back to the Béla Bartók compositions that marked Bulat’s high-school career as an upright bassist. There’s Frith’s Infamous, which turns 2016’s prickly kiss-off into something open-facing and generous. And there’s Robidoux’s reimagining of Are You In Love? — released just last year — which here becomes a whirling ballroom dance, full of discovery.
Superchunk "Wild Loneliness (Merge)"
“Like every record Superchunk has made over the last thirty-some years, Wild Loneliness is unskippably excellent and infectious. It’s a blend of stripped-down and lush, electric and acoustic, highs and lows, and I love it all. On Wild Loneliness I hear echoes of Come Pick Me Up, Here’s to Shutting Up, and Majesty Shredding.
On Wild Loneliness, it feels like the band is refocusing on possibility, and possibility is built into the songs themselves, in the sweet surprises tucked inside them. I say all the time that what makes a good poem—the “secret ingredient”—is surprise.”
– Maggie Smith, Poet, Merge Records
The Body & OAA "Enemy Of Love (Thrill Jockey)"
“In the land of split LP’s, The Body rules with a heavy hand. In the past five years alone, they’ve worked with some of the harshest soundmakers this side of the Pacific, with Full of Hell, Thou, and Uniform ranking among their most deranged creative partners. Today, they announced their next project, Enemy of Love, a joint album with OAA — Portland producer AJ Wilson, not the British Metalcore outfit Oceans Ate Alaska — out February 18 on Thrill Jockey.
With the announcement comes “Barren of Joy,” the record’s relentlessly sludgy lead single. It’s just under five minutes long, but through some dark magic or rip in the spacetime continuum, its finish leaves the listener feeling years older than they were when they pressed play. If the rest of the album follows suit, the world could end up with a confused generation of millennial metalheads who find themselves in their mid 60s after giving it a full spin.”
– Raphael Helfand, The Fader