Absolutely Free – Absolutely Free. (Lefse)
Canadian trio Absolutely Free offer up their self-titled debut (well, technically there is a period in the album name).
It’s often tough to make a modern record with extensive electronic elements sound genuinely psychedelic, but they manage quite nicely, touching on just about every kind of music on the spectrum in mind-blowing fashion.
Castanets – Decimation Blues (Asthmatic Kitty)
Portland, OR-based artist Ray Raposa returns to his long-standing Castanets project for the first time in five years.
His idiosyncratic sense of songcraft pulls from country to electronic pop, but ultimately serves to declare Castanets to be the best band named after a percussion instrument.
twain – Life Labors in the Choir (self release)
Multi-instrumentalist Mat Davidson played on my favorite album of 2011, the Low Anthem’s “Smart Flesh“.
For his own musical endeavors he records under the name twain, and his latest self-released record, “Life Labors in the Choir“, is an intimate collection of spacious folk-rock anchored by his passionate crooning.
ERIC J. LAWRENCE