File next to: Cate Le Bon, Torres
After the tense sizzle of 2014's Burn Your Fire for No Witness, this latest effort from North Carolina's Angel Olsen displays a slow majesty that dwells halfway between Lana Del Rey and a melancholic country-western singer. Given the depth of her talent, Olsen pulls off the transition very well. The album's early tracks tend to be more beat-heavy, almost at times resembling Phil Spector-produced girl groups of the early '60s, complete with reverb-drenched guitars jangling in minor keys. But longer, slower songs like "Sister" and "Woman" are more given to minimalist chants layered on top with Neil Young-style guitar screeches. Three albums into her career, Olsen is uncommon in her ability to transition between voices, with each sounding completely authentic. Her newest album continues the novelty, but stands as her best yet when it comes to achieving a satisfyingly unified whole. — LW
An Evening With Todd Rundgren
File next to: Brian Wilson, Paul McCartney, Joe Jackson
Todd Rundgren has always been the most restless, resourceful and unpredictable of artists. It was two decades ago that he warned his days of releasing albums were over. That didn't turn out to be the case. And he's never made a secret of his general disdain for playing the old hits. So this CD+DVD set — a live document of his most recent tour — comes as a surprise, albeit a welcome one. Playing a tidy selection of hits ("Hello, It's Me," and "Bang the Drum All Day") mixed in with hardcore fan favorites (Nazz's "Open My Eyes," Utopia's "Love in Action") and deep album cuts from his massive catalog, Rundgren truly seems to be enjoying himself. With a stellar band featuring longtime associates Kasim Sulton and Prairie Prince, Rundgren sinks his teeth into the songs, showing why he's among the most beloved of musical cult figures. — BK
The Comet Is Coming
Channel the Spirits
The Leaf Label
File next to: Sun Ra, BadBadNotGood
London trio The Comet Is Coming like to name-check Sun Ra, although the music on this expanded version of their debut release isn't quite that strange. What makes it wonderful, however, is the unlikely introduction of woodwind elements to dance-club electronic beats. Synthesist Danalogue the Conqueror and percussionist Betamax Killer previously formed Soccer96, conjuring up psychedelic equivalents of EDM in their own right. But it's their newest bandmate, saxophonist King Shabaka Hutchens, who brings this music to life. The opening analog bleeps of "The Prophecy" may owe a nod to 1970s Pere Ubu weirdness, but by the time Hutchens' sax dominates "Journey Through the Asteroid Belt," it's clear the band equally appreciates the skronk-jazz of Ornette Coleman and Art Ensemble of Chicago. — LW
This is awesome! Excited about the new music and adventures for his year!
Thanks so much!!!
Hah! Similarly, one, if famous, should not die in December, as all those who passed…