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BIG THIEF

Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You

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(4AD)

It’s impossible not to listen to the opening track, “Change,” off Big Thief’s latest album without getting emotional. Adrianne Lenker’s vocals (backed by Buck Meek) coat the sublimely melodic track in a soothing way during troubling times. Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You is a cautiously optimistic project, harnessing all of Big Thief’s superpowers in both songwriting and woozy folk-rock. Songs like “Time Escaping” and “Blurred View” challenge rock standards in a beautiful way, while songs like “Sparrow,” “Certainty,” and “Little Things” bring time-honored folk with a modern upgrade. While a little long at 20 tracks, it’s still meant to be played on repeat. –Kathy Landoli

 

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GUERILLA TOSS

Famously Alive

(Sub Pop)

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If you’re looking for something a bit stronger to help you escape the end-of-winter grays, Guerilla Toss offers a fast-acting dose of technicolor. Famously Alive white-knuckles through bonkers, densely layered sonic landscapes, from trippy neo-psych to euphoric art-punk. Songs like the glitchy “Cannibal Capital” and high-energy album standout “Famously Alive” meld digital hyperpop with nods to ’80s guitar/synth arena rock, like a group of cheerful AI formed a tight band after encountering a warped Starship album. Singer/lyricist Kassie Carlson’s (sometimes auto-tuned) voice serves as the pixelated guardian angel in this video game, delivering highly positive themes like self-love and overcoming addiction. –Emily Nokes

 

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JENNY HVAL

Classic Objects

(4AD)

Written in the isolated world of the pandemic, Classic Objects strikes an intimate and understated tone. A major shift from the feminist horror of Jenny Hval’s landmark album, Blood Bitch, her latest release is deeply personal in nature. While this new work retains the ’90s trance influence of 2019’s The Practice of Love, this more minimalist approach allows her voice to take center stage. Hval mixes the autobiographical with the political throughout—this is done in an especially moving way on the standout track “American Coffee,” which opens with a story about her mother. While this is the least experimental release from Hval, it also has the most emotional depth. –Sarah C. Jones

 

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