A personal favorite came at the end of January--that being Tegan & Sara's Heartthrob. I have to admit that I never really gave the female duo much praise in the past, but here they hit absolute gold with a new producer, Greg Kurstin (famous for working with Kylie Minogue, Kelly Clarkson, Lily Allen, and as one half of The Bird & The Bee). Kurstin has given the girls a pop sheen that may have put off some of their traditional fans, but the move also invited a lot of new ones into their world, opening up their sound and giving them some of their biggest sales figures. If you like strongly written and produced pop songs with a bit of a Fleetwood Mac vibe here & there, make sure to check it out. Here's one of the best tracks, the pop ballad "I Was a Fool":
Other truly great records have been released, such as the aforementioned David Bowie title, The Next Day, the haunting Push the Sky Away from Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds (which even includes a song namechecking Miley Cyrus and Hannah Montana!), and London Suede's first new record in a decade, Bloodsports. All three albums are amazing British rock records that will probably be lurking among my favorites of the year once 2013 closes.
If you like Swedish indie pop artists like Peter, Bjorn & John or Lykke Li, or even more US-based quirky mainstream pop like Foster the People, you should probably check out the latest entries from Shout Out Louds (the infectious Optica), Mary Onettes (Hit the Waves), or Gold Fields (Black Sun). If you like 80's alternative like the Cure, XTC, or Echo & the Bunnymen, these three records have a lot of charm, and excel on interesting arrangements and catchy songs that don't come across as too typical or pedestrian. Shout Out Louds in particular found a great sound by letting go and having fun.
Also of note is Hershey, PA's own Ocean Blue, a band that first appeared in the late 80's as an American answer to British shoegaze pop, but never really took off in a big way. They've taken long breaks between records, but now return with one of their best, and their first in 14 years, Ultramarine. They're really not much like My Bloody Valenting, but if you liked Cocteau Twins or The Smiths, you should really hear Ocean Blue.
Other to investigate: Depeche Mode's Delta Machine, Johnny Marr's Messenger, or Rhye's wonderful Woman (if you like blue-eyed soul). Also on the blue-eyed soul tip is Jessie Ware's Devotion, a veritable masterclass of how to do modern R&B correctly. Of course, if you listen to WXPN, you've been hearing great stuff from the Strokes, Jim James, James Hunter, Boz Scaggs, Phosphorescent, Richard Thompson, Eric Clapton, and more. April continues to be big, with an avalanche of new titles coming our way. Hopefully this gets you thinking about making a list (if you don't already have one!), and maybe you'll find something you may have missed (even Andrea Bocelli, Josh Groban, and Justin Timberlake put out full length records!).
Twelve weeks may not seem like a long time to be away, but it sure does when you look at all the things we've missed out on. We cannot wait to be back in business, and it seems closer than ever (could it be the middle of next week?)! Let's talk music soon!