NIN, 'Ghosts V: Together'
- the surprise release of these two albums, both continuations of the 'Ghosts' title of instrumental releases, was such a good one, especially when paired with a very earnest and open letter from Trent and Atticus ... this album, in a very impressive career of instrumental music composition, is some of the duo's very best work- final rating: Highly Recommended
NIN, 'Ghosts VI: Locusts'
- where part five of this series was moving and atmospheric, almost cautiously hopeful even, part six is some of the most unsettling music that I have ever experienced; the NIN worldview has never been all flowers and sunshine clearly, but this is some dark stuff even for them
Father John Misty, 'Off-Key In Hamburg'
- released on bandcamp as a fundraiser, this album is a recording of a concert in Germany from 2019, backed by FJM's own band as well as that of the Frankfurt Philharmonic ... the man is great live, so if you have a way to hear this one, you won't regret it- final rating: Recommended
Daniel Avery and Alessandro Cortini, 'Illusion of Time'
- I had very high hopes for this album, especially as it feels like Daniel Avery himself is just coming into his own as a DJ and producer of ambient electronica; unfortunately, there are only slightly more bright moments on this album as there are forgettable ones, especially "Inside the Ruins" and album opener "Sun", with many of the songs feeling a touch long and/or repetitive
Margaret Glaspy, 'Devotion'
- Glaspy has fallen into and out of (and then back into?) love since her last album, 'Emotions and Math' and the results are mixed; though she paints a very human picture of relationships in all their complexities, the songs are over-produced with so few real instruments obviously being played, so that it all washes somewhat similarly in the end; the final four songs are very solid, as is the album's standout track, "So Wrong It's Right"
Waxahatchee, 'Saint Cloud'
- though the band's music is classified as "indie rock", this is as clear an example as you're likely to find of "Americana", the kind that sounds like it was dreamed up in a farmhouse near a cornfield and a big red barn...it's not my thing, especially the twangy vocals but that's no comment on its quality because this is really an exceptional album with great song structure, outstandingly layered instrumentation and solid story-telling- final rating: Recommended
Pearl Jam, 'Gigaton'
- I will be honest and say that I didn't really have much in the way of expectations here, especially considering the talk of taking new directions musically; that said, I have to also admit that I enjoyed this album, even if the "bold new directions" aren't all that bold ... overall, it limps quite a bit towards its conclusion, but this is a solid album from a band that still has some tricks up their sleeves- final rating: Recommended
Sufjan Stevens and Lowell Brams, 'Aporia'
- a bit of a bizarre mix of strings and computer-generated oddities, this album has both its moments of wonder ("Glorious You") and its moments of downright strangeness ("For Raymond Scott"), almost to the point of being unsettling
The Chats, 'High Risk Behaviour'
- songs this short, this hilarious, and this devoutly grassroots punk are impossible to dislike and the Aussie accent (I think...?) just adds to the enjoyment of it all- final rating: Recommended
- maybe that 90s renaissance is coming sooner than I thought; this is Sonic Youth with a modern twist and aside from the final track, I flippin' love it- final rating: Highly Recommended
Apologies that I missed out on Childish Gambino's new album (though I have never been much of a fan) nor did I make it through all of Nap Eyes' release 'Snapshot of a Beginner' and I missed the new Nils Frahm album altogether...