January tends to be quiet on the new music front, as we all come out of hibernation after the holidays and start to get our plans in place for the coming calendar year. Despite that trend, we’ve been gifted with many great new music releases this month. Here are some of our favorite new releases from January 2024.
Ana Tijoux, Vida (Victoria)
It can be difficult to successfully straddle the line between current trends in overly-commercial hip-hop production and more varied underground production, but this album hits it just right. An impressive offering from Chilean-French musician Ana Tijoux, and a relief to see a woman of color making waves in the hip-hop scene.
Cary Morin, Innocent Allies (Cary Morin)
Cary Morin, award-winning “Native Americana” fingerstyle guitarist and songwriter, draws inspiration from the famous Western artist Charles M. Russell for his new album, “Innocent Allies,” highlighting subtle cultural and ritualistic details in Russell’s paintings and emphasizing the artist’s friendship with Plains Tribes and dignified portrayal of Native Americans. The songs are mostly country-forward, but bring in his signature blues-style and folk traditions as well.
If you want to feel like you’ve been transported back in time to a hip spot in the Middle East, look no further. Charif Megarbane combines nostalgic lo-fi production with contemporary beats to create a ‘groove-stalgia’ album for the ages.
recommended by The Groove Thief
After several mostly ambient releases, it is a delight to see the infamous German netlabel Jahtari return to its most well-known genre, lofi digital reggae. On this Arcade Addict release (out on 7″ and digital), label boss disrupt dives deeply into the vaults to unearth a pair of lost gems.
The A-side is a dub of a 2006 release, swapping out Mikey Murka’s vocals for some wild 1980s field recordings that will take you back to the early days of video games. The B-side is, somehow, even more obscure: “Proper Things” comes by way of a synth test video, shot in 2012. That said, if you know the label well then you’ll recognize the riddim, since a different version became the instrumental for Paul St. Hilaire’s killer “Who Goes There.”
Embark on a unique musical journey through lesser-known South American landscapes and traditions with “The Room,” where Fabiano do Nascimento’s 7-string nylon guitar and Sam Gendel’s soprano saxophone interpret folkloric pieces with a delightful contemporary sensibility.
recommended by Aaaron Benko
Katy Kirby’s album, Blue Raspberry, is one I’ve been looking forward to since hearing (and playing) the single Cubic Zirconia in August last year. Katy’s sophomore album released today on Anti- Records is a perfect start for 2024 quirky indie-folk/pop. It’s strong, clean sound is a self-referential, thoughtfully observant look at the world and people who seem familiar. Katy uses the cheap knock-off materials (cubic zirconia diamonds and blue raspberry flavors) as commonplace references to this youthful look at the state of the world. This is an album equally suited to listen in headphones to capture the details and clever wordplay, or enjoy casually while working.
“Cubic Zirconia” has a playful charm, carefree and creative lyrics that lets Katy’s clear vocals shine so perfectly over lush acoustic orchestration. “Party of the Century” is a short, beautifully finger-picked guitar song with the lushness of a warm, evening sunset that keeps the melancholy feel sweeter and deeper. “Table” starts off quietly, but kicks it up with electric guitar, but not straying too far from the folky-pop roots.
Be sure to check out Katy Kirby with Allegra Krieger at the Hi-Dive in Denver on February 27th.
Top Tracks: Cubic Zirconia, Party of the Century, Blue Raspberry, Drop Dead, Table
FFO: Courtney Barnett, Slow Pulp, Badly Drawn Boy, Adrianne Lenker
recommended by Aaaron Benko
What a surprise this debut album from Large Brush Collection was to hear, recommended by fellow Austinites & a favorite from last year, Sun June. This album has the sparse density that I’ve always been attracted to, and to me defines the sound of Texas desert indie-folk so well. Large Brush Collective is lead by Nora Predey on bass with stunning, understated vocals that remind me of Mirah or Adrienne Lenker in delivery with Anais Mitchell in tone. Blending sounding in true collective fashion, bandmates Gabriela Torres lends vocal help and flute, Dan Magorrian, and Ryan Black on guitars, and Rishi Bajekal on drums. Large Brush Collective retains a local band sound, but with professional studio acoustics and excellent mastering. This album has a structure for simplicity that I heard at first listen, but on each listen back there’s such depth and playfulness going on behind the foreground that’s really rewarding. On Bandcamp, Large Brush Collection cleverly and correctly places themselves in the “afternoon napcore” genre.
You can start listening anywhere on this album, consistently solid straight through. Or start with the playful guitars of Stand Tall, the slightly flute focused Persephone, or the jangly pop Better Be. I know it’s dangerous to say this in January, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Large Brush Collection’s Off Center shows up on my Top 10 of 2024.
In her latest release, Marika Hackman creates a breathtaking experience for the listener, vascilating between expansive production landscapes and more subtle folk-forward motifs. Nuanced piano riffs underpin the majority of the album, giving it cohesion, though each track also offers something unique to the listener.
The best in hip-hop often revolves around the inventiveness and quality of the production underpinning the music. R.A.P. Ferreira, aka Milo, aka Scallops Hotel, aka [fill-in-the-blank], represents the best in the underground biz, with aspets of jazz, DIY styles, and ambient music offering color and contrast to his inventive production skills. This, coupled with this philosophical lyrics and poetry, creates a sound like no other in the hip-hop scene these days. On this release, R.A.P Ferreira also teams up with Japanese producer Fumitake Tamura for one of his most intriguing releases in years.
recommended by Sandman
Impressive debut for this young garage-punk band from Dublin. On the heels of a couple EPs and singles, this quartet delivers a full length sonic boom of grungy guitars and feedback, propelled by catchy melodies and impassioned, introspective lyrics. Lead singer and guitarist Karla Chubb openly wrestles with a tangled mess of issues (self-doubt, sexuality and identity, guilt, mental health) while remaining resilient and standing tough. The typical soft-loud dynamic swings we’ve all heard before feel legitimately earned rather than gimmicky – the repressed tension that builds up is pierced by furious bursts of rage, anguish, and ultimately triumph. You’re rooting for her to come through, and to kick down the wall when she does. This album rocks.
Check out more GNU Music recommendations here.