1. Jessica Pratt – Quiet Signs (Mexican Summer, Rock)
Pratt’s long-awaited follow-up to On Your Own Love Again doesn’t rely on variety to make its themes tick. Instead, these are songs that double as whispers, like Pratt is the person to wake you up first thing in the morning with peaceful folk tunes that echo from a nearby room. Light dashes of piano, erhu, and electric guitar permeate the calm, but never take it over.
RIYL: Vashti Bunyan, Tim Presley,
2. Cochemea – All My Relations (Daptone, Jazz)
Daptone’s latest opus isn’t one to miss. Even calling it jazz feels like an incomplete thought. Cocheama isn’t afraid to let his horns burst while reveling in wild rhythms that only the most creative minds could come up with. “Mitote” opens with a groove that would make Fela proud, while songs like “Maso Ye’eme” sound like a jazz club transported to the Amazon. One spin and you won’t want to listen to anything else.
RIYL: Mulatu Astatke, Antibalas, Shye Ben Tzur
3. Cass McCombs – Tip of the Sphere (Anti, Rock)
Each new McCombs record sounds like his most polished. Given that Mangy Love was such a well-greased machine, the fact that Tip of the Sphere is so good is unbelievable. “Sleeping Volcanoes” sounds like something you’ve heard before in the rock ouvre, but is played so straight and well you’ll have to relisten right away.
RIYL: Steve Gunn, Jim O’Rourke, Ryley Walker
4. HEALTH – Vol 4: Slaves of Fear (Loma Vista, Electronic)
HEALTH alone are enough to justify the creation of the smoke machine. Darkwave tones peep out of the mix with an emphasis on deadpan vocal delivery. Before you know it, a chorus arrives with a destructive synth force and you’re transported to 1980s Manchester. From straight club to straight goth, this will be one of the few shows worth staying up past midnight for in the upcoming months.
RIYL: The Faint, The Cure, Crystal Castles
5. Rustin Man – Drift Code (Domino, Rock)
Mark Hollis, the famed frontman of Talk Talk just passed away. Incidentally, his bandmate Paul Webb has just released the most fantastic freak folk record this side of 2018 as Rustin Man. These are eerie songs that never forget to add a touch of creativity; folk songs that truly embody the spirit of the genre without appealing to the tropes that have all but killed it. Picture yourself in a dingy jazz club in 1940s New Orleans and you might hear this record. RIP Talk Talk. RIP Mark Hollis.
RIYL: Tom Waits, Richard Dawson, early-Bowie