Dance isn’t merely adjacent but central to these songs, which carry twigs out of what seems to be a particularly dark period in her life.

Kids on a Crime Spree, “Fall in Love Not in Line”

With a fondness for the usual jangling suspects, the band’s first release in 11 years is a cumulonimbus of reverby guitar-pop unconcerned with fitting in.

Earl Sweatshirt, “Sick!”

Leave it to Earl to remind us of the pandemic’s long shadow, which will no doubt stretch far beyond any data-driven projections.

Elvis Costello & the Imposters, “The Boy Named If”

So much of the record is of a sneery, stabby nature and blunter than Costello’s more sophisticated recent songcraft.

Best Coast, “Always Tomorrow” [Deluxe Edition]

Two years after its release, the West Coast duo is rereleasing the sunny LP as a deluxe package featuring a few new cuts.

San Fermin, “In This House”

The Brooklyn collective have never sounded more sure-footed and effortlessly melodic than they do with this gathering of friends.

Julie Doiron, “I Thought of You”

On her first solo albums since 2012, the Canadian songwriter crafts a visceral feeling of joy and camaraderie with the help of her backing band.

Beatrice Deer, “SHIFTING”

The Québec-based songwriter celebrates the richness of her culture and the healing she’s achieved through transmitting it on her latest release.

Ziemba, “Unsubtle Magic”

The latest from René Kladzyk highlights the sadness that comes with the holiday season.

Rufus Wainwright, “Unfollow the Rules: The Paramour Session” + “Rufus Wainwright and Amsterdam Sinfonietta Live”

Both recent live albums see the songwriter reinventing his and others’ songs with care, invention, and consideration.

Body/Dilloway/Head, “Body/Dilloway/Head”

Kim Gordon and Bill Nace continue along their improvised music path with the help of fellow avant-garde journeyperson Aaron Dilloway.

Noir Disco, “NOW! 2073”

The latest from the Chicago group sounds wholly futuristic while lyrically placing the listener in the all-too-familiar present.

Aesop Rock x Blockhead, “Garbology”

On the pair’s first full-album collaboration, spaced-out ambience and abstract linguistics come together for something unique, brutal, and beautiful.

Brian Wilson, “At My Piano” + “Long Promised Road”

Both new releases happily and uniquely go further into defining the myth and the magic of Brian Wilson.

Tasha, “Tell Me What You Miss the Most”

Light like a feather and warm like a blanket, the latest from the Chicago-based songwriter sees her taking care of our bodies as well as hers.

Courtney Barnett, “Things Take Time, Take Time”

Barnett’s third solo record intermittently taps into her strengths, but it scans like a transitional record.

Songs: Ohia, “Songs: Ohia” [25th Anniversary Edition]

This is Jason Molina at his most uncut and unadorned, less an album than a found-audio recording.

Holly Humberstone, “The Walls Are Way Too Thin”

On her second EP, the British songwriter explores the warmth and intimate depths of negative space.

The Rolling Stones, “Tattoo You” [Super Deluxe Edition]

For its 40th anniversary, the Stones’ loose and louche 1981 LP gets a sweet, era-appropriate polish job.

Visibly Choked, “Visibly Choked”

The sonically crippling debut EP from the avant-punk five-piece feels like a hematic out-of-body experience.

Emma Ruth Rundle, “Engine of Hell”

Stripped of textured guitars and big sounds characteristic of her past output, Rundle leans into singer-songwriter qualities reminiscent of Nick Drake or Sibylle Baier.

Angel Du$t, “YAK: A Collection of Truck Songs”

The band’s fourth album is full of hooks, shifting moods, and cushiony tunes without dismissing speed or ferocity.

Shad, “TAO”

The latest from the Canadian emcee finds itself often humorously in a place of connecting the disparate dots of being Black.

The War on Drugs, “I Don’t Live Here Anymore”

The Philly-based ensemble smooth over their rougher complexities and craft a record that’s oddly happy and broadly familial.

R.E.M., “New Adventures in Hi-Fi” [25th Anniversary Edition]

The addition of live recordings, B-sides, and covers from the era provide great context for this album, adding to its dark, gritty atmosphere.

Lily Konigsberg, “Lily We Need to Talk Now”

The Palberta member’s solo debut channels the anguish and exhilarating possibility of a post-breakup period.

Poppy, “Flux”

The ex-YouTuber’s latest LP offers yet another stylistic makeover, this time diving into punchy, crunchy, ’90s-style grunge-pop.

Bedouine, “Waysides”

Azniv Korkejian brings a new level of craft and confidence to her third album, proving sometimes the best direction is just to dig deeper.


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