(Photo: courtesy of the artist)
Cibo Matto- “Hotel Valentine”

In the spirit of the many excellent comeback albums of 2013, we welcome back Cibo Matto. The duo of Miho Hatori and Yuka C return with their first album in 15 years, “Hotel Valentine.” Featuring members of Wilco and comedian Reggie Watts providing goofy vocals on “Housekeeping,” the third full length from Cibo Matto is an amalgamation of genres ranging from bubbly EDM to Afropop beats to bratty hip-hop to delicate folk. Hatori’s vocal performances hit levels of pop star diva (“10th Floor Ghost”) and formidable rap starlet (“Deja Vu,” “MFN”). “Hotel Valentine” is an art-music riot that offers joyful unpredictability and a firm grasp on the endless possibilities of pop music.

Standout track: “Deja Vu”

 

(Photo: courtesy of the artist)
Marissa Nadler- “July”

Boston singer-songwriter Marissa Nadler’s sixth album is titled “July,” but its release date belongs here in February. There’s little summer imagery on “July” at all in fact. Take the track “Holiday In,” for instance, which begins: “I called you when I was drunk all the time / Stuck on the mountain in winter’s prime / Laying on the floor I knew you were never mine.” The album is an acoustic folk affair marked with Nadler’s lyrics of despair and longing, sung beautifully and mournfully. Tracks like “Drive (Fade Into)” and “Dead City Emily” invokes the urban decay that results from a frigid winter, when what seemed inviting and lively a few months ago is now barren and bleak. An excellent breakup record that invites comparisons to Joni Mitchell and Alela Diane.

Standout track: “Drive (Fade Into)”

 

(Photo: courtesy of the artist)
The Districts- “The Districts EP”

The debut EP from Pennsylvania act The Districts introduces us to a seemingly well-mannered bar band on “Rocking Chair.” Then they casually drop the forlorn line “If I drink some more, well I think I might drown,” and kick the energy up a notch. What follows for the remainder of the five songs on the EP combines the throat-shredding howl of The Walkmen’s Hamilton Leithauser, the southern-style guitar rock bravado of Kings of Leon, and the boozy lyrics of early Tom Waits. Their recent session at WXPN demonstrated their talents are unaffected by unplugging for a bit too.     

Standout track: “Funeral Beds”