DC February 28 New Release Recap

We'd be hardpressed to pick just one "gottahave" favorite from the this week's array of new releases but suffice to say there's some great - and exceptionally diverse - music to pick from. Lyle Lovett says "see ya" to decades of major label support with his new aptly titled covers album Release Me, singer/songwriter Anais Mitchell deliveres a brilliant new album Young Man In America, fine Montreal retro-pop/rockers Plants and Animals discover The End of That and Fanfarlo demonstrate how they've stepped up their artsy game with their new Rooms Filled With Light.

Nashville songstress Amelia White returns with Beautiful and Wild, familial trio England in 1819 afix chamber/pop to post rock with Alma, witty NY songwriter Julia Nunes goes delightfully DIY on Settle Down and wonderful Nova Scotia tunesmith Rose Cousins offers up We Have Made A Spark. We've also got both words and music for new albums by L.A. jazzy folk/pop band Magnolia Memoir, Toronto folk/rockers The Wooden Sky and, also from up north, the excellent alt-pop debut from Erin Passmore. Listen, read, choose -- just click for more (and full DC release listing) below...

Lyle Lovett - Release Me (Lost Highway) - After 25 years of major label releases, it's only fitting that the legendary Texas songwriter's final project carry the title Release Me. But true to form, Lovett makes what is admittedly a mixed bag -- a couple of holiday favorites and some interesting covers that he's been playing live over the years -- into something worthwhile...k.d. lang duets on the showstopping title track...what could have been simply a somewhat disjointed (but 14-track generous) collection of songs nonetheless offers up multiple reasons why Lovett's cross-genre hopping -- country, gospel, folk, pop, jazz, blues, bluegrass -- makes for such an enjoyable and unpredictable listen...more DC

Anais Mitchell - Young Man In America - Any doubts that the creative smarts behind 2010's impressive folk "opera" Hadestown -- a mix of Greek mythology and dust-bowl Americana -- might have peaked are easily dispelled with this intelligent, thoughtfully personal new work of storytelling inspired, she says, "by American manhood, British ballads and my father"...producer/musician Todd Sickafoose (Ani DiFranco, Andrew Bird) is once again at the studio helm...Mitchell's distinctive, girlish voice serves as a counterpoint for her weighty themes of social unrest, gender identification, rootlessness and the ties to family and job, lovers and poets...more DC

Plants and Animals - The End of That (Secret City) - Third studio album from the Montreal alt-rock/retro-pop indie trio finds the sweet spot between their fresh and folky 2008 full-length debut Parc Avenue and 2010's self-described "louder and tougher" La La Land (an album we described as a "smart, often witty and head-shaking rush of an album.") Promising a less freewheeling and more concise approach, thanks in great part to honing a slew of demos prior to studio time, the new album  is led by focus track "Lightshow", a splendiferous riff-heavy folk/rock ditty that gradually kicks in and out of high gear, humming with rough precision and a blissfully fuzzed-out 60's guitar embellishment. More DC

Fanfarlo - Rooms Filled With Light (Atlantic/Canvasback) - Esoteric London-based indie outfit fronted by founder Simon Balthazar revels in adventurous and intricately textured alt/pop quirks -- imagine if David Byrne had graduated recently from some British art school...sleek and sophisticated -- let's call it "twee free" -- sophomore album follows up the '09 Reservoir, an album we described as "appealingly ramshackle with a buoyant, kitchen-sink charm...(translating) 80's influenced 'new wave' pop with a decidedly progressive, smartsy, artsy bent"...over-caffeinated poly-rhythms are deeply embedded in the Fanfarlo DNA, percolating beats and Philip Glass-ian minimalism merging into jumpy, edgy chamber pop ripe for future improvisation...more DC

The Wooden Sky - Every Child a Daughter, Every Moon a Sun - Toronto's countrified folk/rockers have honed their own particular rootsy style -- let's call it "North Americana" -- over the course of two f ull-length albums and a pair of EP's, including last fall's five-track City of Light. New album follows up 2009's well-received If I Don't Come Back You'll Know I'm Gone. Lead track "Child of the Valley" raises the anticipation factor mightily, a beautifully nuanced production that morphs from pulsing folk hymn to twanging rocker, southern-fried dual guitars lines lighting the way...more DC

Erin Passmore - Downtown - The co-founding, song-writing multi-instrumentalist member of fine Canadian indie band Rah Rah takes a solo turn with this eight-song EP of adventurous alt-pop. With producer Matt Lederman (Holy Fuck, The Besnard Lakes) at the helm and musicians from the Montreal community, Passmore fleshed out her collection of stripped naked demos, veering from melodic Feist-ian songcraft ("Monster") to pensive acoustic reflections ("Captain") to sharply barbed tracks that bristle with just the right touches of rock-riffed dynamics (the title track, "Fall")...more DC

Magnolia Memoir - The Perfect Crime (Peak/E1) - Singer/frontwoman Mela Lee and keyboardist/bandleader Alexander Burke are the founders and dual creative forces behind this genre-jumping (sm)art/pop band that's been a mainstay at L.A. folk/pop clubs like Largo and King King over the past couple of years. In possession of a voice that's part Billie Holiday smoky seduction and part Gwen Stefani coy pop vixen, Lee and her band swing, shake and strut their way through an evershifting melange of styles on their new album, touching (and smashing through) alt/pop, jazzy, brassy soul and slow burning torch songs with unrestrained glee...more DC

Amelia White - Beautiful and Wild - Nashville songwriter returns with her fifth album of alt-country and Americana songcraft. Collaborating with noted drummer-turned-producer Marco Giovino (Robert Plant, Buddy Miller), White says that her new songs were written "in that nether light between dark and dawn, when the ghosts watch you from the window" as the songs touch on "everything from losing a close friend to an untimely death, to being lost and heartbroken on the road and praying to the muse to save your soul from darkness." Highlights include an A.J. Croce duet on the gospel-tinged "Mercy", a reworking of Bryan Ferry's Roxy Music classic "More Than This" and the title track tribute to White's long time friend and famed songwriter, the late Duane Jarvis...more DC

Rose Cousins - We Have Made A Spark (Outside) - Nova Scotia singer/songwriter returns with her third album and the successor to her exquisite 2009 release The Send Off. Named Contemporary Singer of the Year at the 2010 Canadian Folk Music Awards, Cousins delivers beautifully crafted songs of depth and intelligence in a voice of crystalline purity, even as the weighty subject matter -- notably on new lead track "The Darkness" -- digs into stark, shadowy emotional recesses. "It takes a deep breath and a bucket of courage to face the uncomfortable, painful things we work so hard to avoid," Cousins observes. "Reward comes from recognizing the obstacle exists and pushing through fear"...more DC

England in 1819 - Alma - A pair of classically-trained brothers -- Andrew and Dan Callaway-- and their musician father Liam form the familial nucleus of this Baton Rouge band that weaves distinctive chamber pop with muted post-rock drama. From swirling, densely layered melodies built on a grand symphonic scale to exquisitely-detailed piano and voice quietude, this is modern progressive music that wisely steers clear of pompous excess. Producer Mark Bingham and the Callaways keep the arrangements loosely restrained and, amidst the soaring passages and cinematic scope, surprisingly personal. Frontman and songwriter Andrew Callaway helps by keeping the vocals tethered to a less-is-more understatement, delivering songs like sublime "Waterfall" and "Skyscraper" more like stately pop hymns than just a series of grandiose crescendos...more DC

Julia Nunes - Settle Down - 23-year-old Rochester, NY native's head-turning ascent in the highly competitive world of aspiring singer/songwriters has been dramatic. Her witty, self-deprecating, brutally honest and hilarious tunes (and inspired covers) have garnered the ukulele-toting performer 50 million youtube views, a performance on Conan, an EP with fellow tube-sensations Pamplamoose, Lower East Side club dates that sell out with a single tweet and -- most importantly -- nearly $80,000 in funds from fans to record and market her new album...beneath the effervescent folk pop melodies, many stripped to demo-style simplicity, lie some pointed, acerbic lyrics that are both personal and sharply observational...more DC

More Releases:

Alabama 3 - Shoplifting for Jesus (UK)
Amy Ray (Indigo Girls) -Lung of Love
Anna Vogelzang - Canary In A Coal Mine
Beth Jeans Houghton - Yours Truly Cellophane Nose
Carolina Chocolate Drops - Leaving Eden
Dead Fingers (Kate Taylor/Taylor Hollingsworth) - S/T
Elliot BROOD - Days Into Years
Faithless - Passing the Baton: Live (CD/DVD) (UK)
Green River Ordinance - Under Fire
Jay Farrar/Jim James/Will Johnson/Anders Parker - New Mutlitudes (Woody Guthrie Tribute)
Gabriel & The Hounds - Kiss Full of Teeth
Joy Askew - Drunk On You
Loreena McKennitt - Troubadours on the Rhine (Unplugged)
Memoryhouse - The Slideshow Effect
Mona - S/T
Nneka - Soul Is Heavy
Noam Weinstein - Clocked
Paul Kelly - The A to Z Recordings (Live Box Set)
Pink Floyd - The Wall (Deluxe)
PT Walkley - Thriller
School of Seven Bells - Ghostory
Shellee Coley - Where It Began
Sophia Knapp - Into the Waves
Sophie B. Hawkins - The Crossing
The Cranberries - Roses
The White Buffalo - Once Upon A Time in the West
Water Liars - Phantom Limb
We Have Band - Ternion
Xiu Xiu - Always