Early winter’s still a notoriously slow time for new music, even in this era of the thoroughly disrupted record industry. But now that we’ve absorbed all the year-end best-of lists—and, of course, Beyoncé—we can look ahead to the quieter enjoyment of a more modest slate of albums in January and February.
Which isn’t to say we won’t be talking about some of these — a few of which I’ve heard in full, and others in bits in pieces — come December. (We’ll also have a 2014 Forecast issue on stands Jan. 10, which will cover major album releases and tours, as well as upcoming movies, TV shows, and more.)
Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks, Wig Out at Jagbags
If you’ve heard one lazy, lovely, wordy Jicks jam you’ve heard them all—and yet, six albums in, the band’s still a gust of fresh and fragrant air in an indie scene as alienated as ever from sensual guitar soloing. Bonus: for “Lariat,” they made the most subtly sexy lyric video ever:
James Vincent McMorrow, Post-Tropical
What distinguishes this pretty-voiced boy singer from Sampha or the Weeknd or Rhye or Bon Iver? I’m not sure, but it’s a pleasure listening for clues. Listen to “Cavalier,” the album’s first track:
On their second album, recorded with Flood and Nigel Godrich, this L.A. band (pictured) makes a dream sequence of recent indie rock, mixing up jangly guitar, drone-y dance beats, and not-so-new age sounds according to an irresistible internal logic. Check out “Biggy”:
I Break Horses, Chiaroscuro
Snap, crackle and synth-pop: Swedish singer Maria Lindén releases her the second album. Here’s “Faith”:
Another second album, but this one’s the heartbreaker, darling and tough, and constantly on the verge of falling apart. “I Miss Your Bones” may be the best track:
Dum Dum Girls, Too True
A third album, and judging from “Lost Boys and Girls Club,” a bit more “adult,” too—or at least, glammed up and Elvira-sexy.
Angel Olsen, Burn Your Fire for No Witness
Olsen, one of EW’s 14 to Watch, crashes garage rock into her haunted coffeehouse on “Forgiven/Forgotten,” but even when she takes it back down a few notches, her high-lonesome voice keeps bringing on the tingles.
Schoolboy Q, #Oxymoron
I don’t know anything concrete about this Black Hippy crewmember’s long-promised major label debut beyond its (latest) release date and stupid-awesome title, but in November he released “Man of the Year” for NBA Live 14, and that song rules:
St. Vincent, St. Vincent
“I wanted to make a party record you could play at a funeral,” Annie Clark said in a press release for this, her fourth album. (Not counting 2012’s Love This Giant, a collaboration with David Byrne.) I definitely wouldn’t recommend “Birth in Reverse” for a funeral, but I bet it will work quite nicely at a hip cocktail party:
Lo-Fang, Blue Film
Matthew Hemerlein, another one of EW’s 14 to Watch (not to mention another pretty-voiced boy singer), impressed Lorde enough at his second show as Lo-Fang to win an opening slot on her March tour. Look for his debut at the merch table, and listen to “Look Away” in the meantime: