January’s new release schedule can be as frozen and inhospitable as the weather, but this year there’s a clutch of mid-month releases to warm yourself by. Hinds‘ debut Leave Me Alone— a prickly, lovesick blast of all-girl garage rock–is as afire as August.
A new, pummeling album from Savages builds a bridge between post-punk’s chilly, gothy side and its incandescent hardcore side. Justin Harris, once the bassist for Portland indie rockers Menomena, joins Bloc Party for their first album to be recorded without their original, roiling rhythm section.
Two lead vocalists release solo albums, one more surprising than the other: a restless 24-track buffet of synthpop, indie rock, and hardcore from solo newbie Conrad Keely, usually the voice of the less eclectic …and You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, and a new collection of crisp, playful indie pop from solo veteran Eleanor Friedberger, once half the voice of the extremely eclectic Fiery Furnaces.
Few artists have committed themselves for as long or with such success to the musical integration of the weird, the new, the subversive and the strange as David Bowie
But you don’t have to beat away the winter chill. Embracing it works too, as testified by two gloomy, pretty indie-folk albums — Daughter‘s sophomore album Not To Disappear and Villagers’ Where Have You Been All My Life? — and by Jet Plane and Oxbow, from Sub Pop’s prolific Okkervil River offshoot Shearwater. Even A Coliseum Complex Museum, the fifth album from Montreal’s the Besnard Lakes, hides a stormy chill beneath its candy-colored, synth-washed psych-pop surface.
And finally, he may not technically have belonged in this department, but few artists have committed themselves for as long or with such success to the musical integration of the weird, the new, the subversive and the strange as David Bowie. His final album, Blackstar, with its stark electronics and gorgeously off-kilter melodies, is not just as adventurously alt as anything else in January but also provides the best defense against the chill: a generous, clear-eyed acceptance, calm but furiously alive, even as the cold creeps in.