There usually aren’t that many new releases in the last month of the year; December is usually reserved for titles aimed at gift-giving…the box set, the greatest hits mix, the best-of-year compilations, and so on. New albums don’t usually do so well this time out unless they’re either from big-name bands. I usually use this month to pick up whatever few new albums there are and catch up on some of the older releases I hadn’t gotten around to.
So without further ado, a much shorter list to provide…
Cindy Wilson, Change, released 1 December. This was quite a surprise to a lot of people, as Cindy’s vocals are usually loud and up front, right next to Kate Pierson’s when they’re singing B-52s tracks. She’s much more subdued and adventurous here. The album feels like a mix of Tom Tom Club with a bit of less-noisy Sonic Youth thrown in.
Steven Wilson, Last Day of June OST, released 1 December. This one almost snuck by me! Steven quickly follows up his To the Bone with the soundtrack to a video game based on one of his songs. Much of it is instrumental, but that’s not a problem here, as he’s always had a gift for lovely and often haunting melodies.
New Order, NOMC15, released 1 December. I’ve always felt this band was a little boring live, as they never really had much stage presence at all (per Peter Hook, it was usually because they were either wasted or putting on an attitude, or both), but apparently they’ve lightened up and put on a much more entertaining show over the last few years. This is a great mix of New Order songs both new and old, and they do almost all of them justice. [I say almost, because I feel they really do “Atmosphere” a disservice, as Bernard can’t hit Ian’s low notes and it ends up like he’s singing the words but to the tune of “Ceremony” instead. Other than that, it’s quite excellent.]
U2, Songs of Experience, released 1 December. An excellent follow-up to 2014’s Songs of Innocence, and just as solid and strong. Just like the previous album, they’ve recaptured the power and focus that had been lacking in the last few releases. One of my favorites of the year.
Belle and Sebastian, How to Solve Our Human Problems (Part 1) EP, released 8 December. The first of three planned EPs from a poppier version of a band formerly known for their lo-fi murblings in the 90s and 00s. It took me a few songs to get used to their new direction, but it works well for them.
Coming up Thursday: the year-end compilation and best-of lists! 🙂