File next to: The Breeders, Sonic Youth
The Pixies were one of those bands that nobody really expected to reunite. The acrimony among its members is thought to rival that of the discord between John Fogerty and his old Creedence Clearwater Revival rhythm section. So it was a surprise when — long after unceremoniously disbanding in the early '90s — the band re-reunited in 2003. But no new music was forthcoming until 2014, and there were widespread reports that the band was phoning it in onstage. None of that back story prepares the listener for 2016's Head Carrier, a cohesive album that revives the Pixies spirit of old while showing Black Francis and company sounding positively thrilled to be making music. The disc is full of short, snappy, melodic tunes with solid vocal harmonies. But an underlying sense of menace remains: When Black howls "Baal's Back," you'll take him at his word. — BK
Remember Us to Life
File next to: Fiona Apple, Ingrid Michaelson, Amanda Palmer
After her fans had swooned over five previous piano-driven albums that suggested a more whimsical Tori Amos, Russian-born Regina Spektor appeared to be treading water with 2012's What We Saw From the Cheap Seats. But now, after taking some time off to raise a family, Spektor is back with Remember Us to Life, a work that finally meets and exceeds 2009's Far. From the abrupt vocals that launch opening track "Bleeding Heart," she hurtles along with non-stop storytelling and gut-wrenching confessions. On the "bonus edition," which adds three songs and brings the running time up to an hour, "End of Thought" and "The One Who Stayed and the One Who Left" are powerful enough to make us gasp, if not drive us to overt tears. She may be a mid-30s NYC mom now, but Spektor's magic is more powerful than ever. — LW
File next to: Dum Dum Girls, Luscious Jackson, Le Tigre
Since their founding in LA 10 years ago, Warpaint have combined the sound of four guitar goddesses emulating Siouxsie & The Banshees with dreamy vocals reminiscent of classic trip-hop. But here, they've taken a distinct turn toward minimalist vocals and whispered rhythms. Fans who want reverb guitars front and center may grumble about sellouts, but this album offers 11 strong tracks perfect for the type of mesmerizing dance floor New Order once inhabited. The lyrics may not be dazzlingly literate, but the strength of tracks like "Whiteout" and "New Song" pull the listener in to a trance-laden wonderland. Factor in the title track, with its hushed repetition of the words "It's okay" (is it really?), and this may well be the band's finest album yet. Even if it doesn't fully capture you in waking hours, it is sure to invade your dreams. — 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…