DC January 22 New Release Recap

OK -- now we're talkin'. After a few weeks of slim release schedules, this week marks a solid increase in new titles -- and some pretty good ones, to boot. Big Harp's Chris Senseney and Stefanie Drootin-Senseney return with a much grittier sophomore album Chain Letters, Americana singer and fiddler Carrie Rodriguez pretty much cuts to the proverbial chase with her self-penned Give Me All You Got and fine new songwriter Max Gomez revives some mellow alt-country and SW folk on his excellent debut Rule The World. We've also got new stuff from Boston soul-rocker Christian McNeill and Sea Monsters, New York shoe-gazing indie rockers Ex Cops and DC fave Jesca Hoop reworks her debut album with Complete Kismet Acoustic. Also out this week: Ra Ra Riot, Jose James, A Brief View of the Hudson, Aaron Neville's doo-wop album, Camper van Beethoven, Petra Haden, The Joy Formidable and The Lone Bellow. See the complete DC listing and read and link to our features (with streams) below...

For the follow up to their 2010 White Hat, Chris Senseney and Stefanie Drootin-Senseney, the husband and wife duo known as Big Harp, had two choices: pursue the rough and rural acoustic edges of their studio debut or delve further into the more raw, electric charge that accompanied their live shows. Chain Letters, the pair's new album on Saddle Creek, clearly indicates they went with Option B. "We were sitting around in a bedroom playing really loud with no drums, just kind of trusting that it was going to make sense once we put it all together" says Chris. "Hopefully we landed closer to mid-'70's Iggy Pop than Leonard Cohen this time"...more DC

"I’m laying out some extreme emotional highs and lows, which feels good," observes Carrie Rodriguez on her fifth solo album Give Me All You Got, an album of personal and confessional songs that returns the Austin, TX singer and fiddler to the task of songwriting after 2010's covers album Love and Circumstance. She adds, “I feel less afraid to write about what’s really happening, both to me and to people around me." Mashing up country, pop, folk and Americana influences, Rodriguez adds a sharply honed edge bordering on roadhouse rock on lead track "I Cry For Love", the result, perhaps, of her recording her new songs live in the studio with her touring band and noted producer Lee Townsend (Bill Frisell, Kelly Jo Phelps) at the helm...more DC

Derry, Northern Ireland native Christian McNeill has made his home in the Boston area for more than 10 years and since 2007 he’s been leading the musical collective that’s come to be known as Sea Monsters. What started out as an “anything goes” acoustic forum at Boston’s Precinct nightclub has become one of the area’s hottest acts;  McNeill was named Best Male Vocalist at the 2011 Boston Music Awards (and has been nominated again this year) and “Zero,” the advance single off the band’s upcoming January 22 debut album Everything’s Up For Grabs,  was named the “Coolest Song In The World” on Little Steven’s (as in E Street Band) SiriusXM channel. On the rollicking, horn-filled “If You Need Some (Come And Get Some),” McNeill channels Van Morrison and The Commitments by way of Boston's South End (with a little Asbury Park for good measure)...more DC

Jesca Hoop's 2007 album Kismet stands tall as one of the more eccentric and adventurous debut albums of the decade, an extraordinarily inventive and artful musical statement that, sadly, was never quite understood or subsequently supported by her major label executives at the time. The L.A.-based songwriter's compositions are, as we've noted, "miniature vocal sonicscapes of startling originality, building songs that flit and dart, build and then break down again all against a backdrop of stark guitar runs, boldly progressive time measures and a tiny grab bag of head-turning production surprises." Following the release of Kismet, Hoop rendered five of the LP's songs into an acoustic EP and now she's expanded that project with six more stripped renditions (and two bonus tracks) for a fan-funded January release as The Complete Kismet Acoustic...more DC

Hazy three-chord power/pop with a dense shoe-gaze shine is the blissful forte of Ex Cops, a Brooklyn band formed last year by Brian Harding (ex-Hymns) and Amalie Bruun (ex-Minks). Expanded to a five-piece, Ex Cops move from the stripped bedroom tunes of their earliest offerings to their forthcoming full length True Hallucinations (Fat Possum), what their press bio calls a "mind-altering pop pill that maintains the intimate mood of the original group’s sound, but now presented in widescreen Technicolor." John Siket (Blonde Redhead, Yo La Tengo) twiddled the production knobs on the new project, taking the band's lush, radio-friendly melodies and wrapping them tightly in scuffed black leatherette...more DC

“I’m influenced by the old stuff,” says New Mexico singer/songwriter Max Gomez. “To me, that’s the best music.” Though only 25, Gomez has been performing for a decade around his hometown of Taos, drawing on his early influences of traditional blues and alt-country legends like Townes Van Zant, Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson. Recently signed to Americana specialists New West records, Gomez has been completing tracks for his debut album Rule The World via New West. “I try to be more of a disguised lyricist,” says Gomez of his writing process...more DC

Mumford and Sons fans will have a couple of reasons to rejoice on February 5 as the U.K. folk/rockers' expanded sophomore album Babel is included with the release of a new live DVD Road to Red Rocks, a rather awesome concert recording (and film) of the band's performance this past summer at the famed Morrison, Colorado outdoor amphitheater (yes the rocks are really red and they're spectacular). True Mumford die-hards will want to opt for the special Gentlemen of the Road Edition CD/DVD box set that give you the deluxe CD along with the DVD, a vinyl Babel disc AND (wait for it) a 96-page book -- but a more economical package is also available...more DC

Aaron Neville - My True Story (Doo-Wop Covers)
A Brief View of the Hudson - Querencia
Alison May - Earnest Keep
Arbouretum - Coming Out of the Fog
Bus Stop Poets - Repair the Monster
Camper van Beethoven - La Costa Perdida
Christine Owman - Little Beast (UK)
Clubfeet - Heirs and Graces
Daniel Romano - Come Cry With Me
Darius Rucker - True Believers
Esben & The Witch - Wash the Sins...
Fidlar - S/T
Foxygen - We Are 21st Century Ambassadors...
Gold Fields - Black Sun
Henry Wagons - "Expecting Company?"
He's My Brother, She's My Sister - Nobody Dance In This Town
I Am Kloot - Let It All In (UK)
Jimbo Mathus - White Buffalo
Jose James - No Beginning No End
Julia Stone - Justine EP
Kail Baxley - The Double EP
Nightlands - Oak Island
Overmountain Men - The Next Best Thing
Petra Haden - Petra Goes to the Movies
Pillow Fight (Emily Wells/Dan The Automator) - S/T
Ra Ra Riot - Beta Love
Speck Mountain - Badwater
The Blue Nile - Walk Across The Rooftops/Hats (Expanded Reissues)(US)
The Joy Formidable - Wolf's Law
The Lone Bellow (Zach Williams) - S/T
The Shadowboxers - Red Room
Torres - S/T
Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown - Wild Child
Widowspeak - Almanac