It’s the end of February 2014 and here’s some new albums that we think you should check out!

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BENMONT TENCH – You Should Be So Lucky

Better known as the piano player with Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Benmont Tench releases his debut solo album and it’s exactly as you might expect. Pristine country-folk-blues-rock that echoes Dylan and Petty (of course) with touches of jazz (“Ecor Rouge”) and soul (“Why Don’t You Quit Leaving Me Alone”). But with authentic material like “Veronica Said”, “Hannah” and “Today I Took Your Picture Down”, Tench demonstrates that he can stand his ground against his heavy-hitting associates. Recommended.

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NEIL FINNDizzy Heights

Now this is not what I expected from a new Neil Finn album! First three tracks – “Impressions”, “Dizzy Heights” and “Flying in the Face of Love” – are a bit more soulful than the usual folk-pop fare from Finn. Even his vocals are approached from a different angle. Credit producer David Fridmann (Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev) presumably. No compromising the melody quality, I am glad to report. Excellent work.

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Mark Kozelek returns with another collection of morose & melancholy folk songs. Focusing on the theme of mortality, Kozelek does what he does best, laying bare the emotions and thoughts running through his soul. Tracks like “I Can’t Live Without My Love” and “I Love My Dad” are personal reflections, which express the contrast in feelings that Kozelek experiences for his parents. Worth checking out.

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JIMBO MATHUSDark Night of the Soul

Having experienced the highs and lows of pop music, former Squirrel Nut Zippers frontman Jimbo Mathus now delivers believable country-folk-blues that reflect a more darker lyrical matter. On many tracks, Mathus recalls Bruce Springsteen in his unbridling channeling of his rock n’ roll roots. Songs like “White Angel”, “Rock n’ Roll Trash” and “Burn the Ships” possess a raucous spirit that leavens the bluesy feel of most of the LP.

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ANGEL OLSENBurn Your Fire For No Witness

There’s an obvious punky vibe about Angel Olsen’s musical approach. How else to account for a threadbare song called “Unfucktheworld”? There’s a fair bit of Pixies and Nirvana mischief in songs like “Forgiven/Forgotten” but overall, it’s an edgy indie-folk vibe that permeates this new album. World-weariness is hard to shake off tracks like “White Fire” and “Lights Out”. An honest endeavour throughout. 

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It’s almost impossible not to be infected by The Royal Oui’s breezy folk-pop brilliance. Consisting of Ari Shine and Adrienne Pierce, the boy/girl dynamic is quite irresistible. There is a lofi-DIY charm about the entire production but that does not detract from the melodic power of the songs. Structured well to highlight both vocalists equally, the songs cut through with distinction and warm-heartedness.

… still there’s more …

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