words by DENISE LU
Grouper – The Man Who Died in His Boat [Kranky]
Since 2005, Liz Harris has been consistently pushing out record after record. The Man Who Died in His Boat is another solid release full of rich harmonies and seas of sweeping ambient soundscapes. Harris’ signature layered vocals are still as ethereal and hypnotizing, an enticing invitation to get lost within her world of a strange atmospheric folk with a touch of ominous dissonance. Recorded around the same time as her 2008 Dragging a Dead Deer Up A Hill, The Man… is a solid companion that is comparable in harmony but distinct in composition and instrumentation.
Darkstar – News From Nowhere [Warp]
The British trio’s sophomore album and debut on Warp Records, News From Nowhere is an inventive collection of sing-a-long, hand-clapping choruses tied together with sparkling, upbeat melodies, reminiscent of Animal Collective before they took a nosedive.
Jim James – Regions of Light and Sound of God [ATO]
The debut solo album of My Morning Jacket’s frontman, Regions of Light and Sound of God features James dishing it out in a diverse range of tracks. As cohesive as any of MMJ’s releases, the album focuses on some heavy questions, reflective of its title.
Rhosyn – Elbow of Capture [Blessing Force]
Take the versatility and looping of Merrill Garbus’ vocals, soften them up, add some cinematic falsetto and dips and underline it all with a rich layer of strings and you’ll have the compositions of Rose Dagul, a.k.a. Rhosyn.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra – II [Jagjaguwar]
The second full-length from UMO, II spotlights themes of isolation and loneliness accompanied by soft acoustics and a more prominent melody on the guitar. Still honest in composition, UMO concocts another slew of tracks that find comfort in the abnormal.
Amateur Best – No Thrills [Double Denim]
Dog Bite – Velvet Changes [Carpark]
Eels – Wonderful, Glorious [E Works/Vagrant]
Frightened Rabbit – Pedestrian Verse [Atlantic/Canvasback]
Guards – In Guards We Trust [Black Bell]
Hayden – Us Alone [Arts & Crafts]
Ladyfinger (ne) – Errant Forms [Saddle Creek]
Little Wings – LAST [Rad]
Matt Pond – The Lives Inside the Lines in Your Hand [BMG]
Night Beds – Country Sleep [Dead Oceans]
Ron Sexsmith – Forever Endeavor [Cooking Vinyl]
Spinto Band – Cool Cocoon [Spintonic]
Thao & the Get Down Stay Down – We the Common [Ribbon]
The Shilohs – So Wild [Light Organ]
UUVVWWZ – the trusted language [Saddle Creek]