Top Tracks 2013: February

Following on from last month’s post, it’s time for another playlist of notable music released throughout February. Unfortunately I didn’t get to listen to much new music over the last month, but I think this rounded out to quite a nice collection of music (and album covers) in the end:

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electricRichard Thompson
“Stony Ground”

From: Electric
Genre: Folk Rock

Perhaps best known for his cheeky interpretation of the best songs of the millennium with songs dating back to the 11th century, Richard Thompson has dedicated his latest album to the electric guitar. This is some of the best (and most genuine) folk music I have heard in a while though, from the foot-stomping opener “Stony Ground” to the acoustic run closing out the album.

pushtheskyawayNick Cave and The Bad Seeds
We No Who U R

From: Push the Sky Away
Genre: Art Rock

Anything Nick Cave releases is always worth your time, and his first album in five years with the ever-changing Bad Seeds is no exception (even if I cringe every time he hisses “…shakin’ their asses” in “Water’s Edge”). Cave might be in a mellower mood this time around compared to the Grinderman/Lazarus years, but he is still as dark as ever here.

themanwhodiedGrouper
“The Man Who Died in His Boat”

From: The Man Who Died in His Boat
Genre: Psychedelic Folk

Recorded around the same time as her 2008 breakthrough album Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill, Liz Harris’ new album acts as much as a lost companion to that album as it does as a soft counterpoint to the fanfare of My Bloody Valentine’s m b v, since it may be likened to an acoustic approach to the shoegazing genre.

miracletempleMount Moriah
“I Built a Town”

From: Miracle Temple
Genre: Alt-Country

I was surprised to learn that the bandleaders of Mount Moriah have a metal/punk background, because it doesn’t show in this laid-back slice of alt-country. Lead singer Heather McEntire has an almost Emmylou-like quality in her voice, and it blends well with the sparse drums and thick electric electric guitar tones used throughout the album.

regionsoflightJim James
A New Life

From: Regions of Light and Sound of God
Genre: Neo-Psychedelia

Opening with the bold “Hey, open the door. I want a new life” and slowly building into a gleeful celebration, “A New Life” is one the highlights on the first solo album from My Morning Jacket’s Jim James. Inspired by a 1929 wordless ‘novel in woodcuts’ called God’s Man, the rest of the album is a bit of a mixed bag but has enough interesting ideas to justify a listen.

iiUnknown Mortal Orchestra
Swim and Sleep (Like a Shark)

From: II
Genre: Psychedelic Pop

Much like “indie” in the last decade, “psychedelic” seems to be the most recent inescapable genre tag. The pseudo-60s sound gets a little old quickly for me, but I can’t deny that it’s enjoyable enough in small doses. The latest album by Unknown Mortal Orchestra continues with this sound where they left off on their 2011 self-titled breakout album, for better or worse.

withoutanetWayne Shorter Quartet
“Starry Night”

From: Without a Net
Genre: Jazz

Following on from last year’s slew of music veterans proving they can still make great music (see Dylan, Cohen, and Dr. John, to name a few), saxophonist Wayne Shorter (79) brings us the live set Without a Net. Featuring mostly new material, this quartet has been playing together for over a decade, and it shows in the delicate interplay between the musicians.

likeratsMark Kozelek
“I Got You Babe”

From: Like Rats
Genre: Contemporary Folk

No stranger to covering other people’s songs, Mark Kozelek (Sun Kil Moon, Red House Painters) has released an entire album of them. The song selection is mostly too obscure for me, except of course for Sonny and Cher’s “I Got You Babe”. Maybe not the most essential of songs from the last month, but fun nevertheless (in a Kozelek-somber kind of way).

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Of course, the biggest release of the month was My Bloody Valentine’s m b v (a.k.a. Loveless, pt. II), which is absent from the playlist above since it’s not available on Spotify. There were plenty of other worthwhile releases though, including new albums by Atoms for Peace (i.e. Thom Yorke, Flea, and friends), Eels, punk up-and-comers Iceage, and many more. If you’re looking for something a little different from February 2013 though, maybe try Matmos’ The Marriage of True Minds.

Looking ahead, March should be another interesting month of music. The Drones released I See Seaweed on the 1st of March, which I’ve been listening to as I write this (spoiler alert: it’s good). The debut album by Rhye seems to getting some momentum, as does the new one from IDM band Autechre Exai. I’ll also be looking forward to Low’s The Invisible Way later in the month.

Until then, be sure to let me know your favourite new music from February.

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