Anna MallSigils and Other Spells(Baby Bubba's Baking Co.)
Here is an example of the concept called CD as art object. But beyond the gatefold cardboard case featuring hand-screenprinted art by the musicians whose ones and zeroes fill up the spinning plastic disc you now hold in your hand, is a gathering of sounds so far away—yet considered at a such a level of intimacy that it really does recall electron microscopes and secret languages—as to have been generated in another world. Ghostly but making no references to recognizable formulas or patterns, focusing on the emotional content of certain sounds, arrangements and vocal tonalisms, this collection of compositions is stark, challenging and summons listeners’ curiosity with a slight, if repeated fear of the unknown, of the unknowable. Favorite tracks: “Hedgewitch” and “Heartcave.”
Noche BlancaNoche Blanca(Music on the Westside)
Another very interesting collaboration between a man and a woman, Noche Blanca has a shoegaze shunt that leads right to that sleepy part of the brain that’s always wondering when night will be coming on, when reason will stop and the horns of the day become abstract again. Although Joanna Keane Lopez’ vocals sometimes reach the edge of that fashionably girlish, warbly tremolo that can disfigure an otherwise serious sound project, the horn, string and piano arrangements surrounding her sad and sung exhortations give the principle and its manifestation balance. She is sadder for those arrangements arrangements by collaborator Ben Martinez and we know more about the narrator’s desperate environment, even as outsiders looking in on tracks like “Body,” “Killer Oblivion” and “Vampyre.”
John ReaganJohn Reagan's Future(Produced by Josh Richards)
Albuquerque singer-songwriter John Reagan invokes Dylan multiple times on this release, using Blind Boy Grunt’s name as an interwebz tag and modeling the album cover of John Reagan’s Future as the ironic opposite of 1963’s The Freewheeling Bob Dylan. Comparisions aside—because who the fuck compares to Zimmerman? Shakespeare, Joyce, Kendrick Lamar?—this recording focuses on self-reflection and memory and serves mostly as a reminder of how damn tough it is to lift up and carry the torch built and burnt on desolation row. Reagan seems an awkward steward, but finds his stride midway on gems like “John,” “Need” and “Mr. Monday.” A hard rain is certainly going to fall; whether Reagan is there to catch those bucketloads when they come down is an even bet, future-wise.