While 2019 has arrived, I wanted to celebrate a handful of outstanding 2018 albums that caught my ear over the past few weeks...
Title: Laughing Up Your Sleeve (Omnivore Recordings)
You might like if you enjoy: The Band, David Gilmour, Gram Parsons
Tell me more: With the explosion of the Americana music movement in recent years it's not surprising that roots music lovers might want to dig a bit deeper and rediscover the genre's founding heroes. Count the British group Unicorn and the new title Laughing Up Your Sleeve as great place to catch up on one critical player in the Americana movement. Unicorn's "Laughing Up Your Sleeve" includes 20 previously-unissued demos from 1973-74 that were produced and recorded by David Gilmour (Pink Floyd) in his home studio. The harmonies, melodies and musical feel draw strong comparisons with contemporaries ranging from America to Gram Parsons and Neil Young on the LP. The remastered and restored analog tapes have revealed a fantastic sound on the new disc; highlights on the collection include the Parsons-flavored "Take It Easy," ethereal "All Night Long," aching ballad "Just Wanna Hold You" and wistful "Blue Pine Trees." Information: OmnivoreRecordings.com.
Title: Extralife (More Doug Records)
You might like if you enjoy: Fleet Foxes, Simon & Garfunkel, First Aid Kit
Tell me more: The luxurious soundscape crafted across Darlingside's Extralife is as immersive and gorgeous as any disc in memory. Boston-based quartet Darlingside uses a Americana backdrop that is propelled into the sonic stratosphere via lush harmony-drenched songs that will move discerning listeners to tears; the album's overarching theme of the world's end enhances the LP's surefire impact to be sure. The expansive "Singularity," acoustic chamber pop gem "Hold Your Head Up High," electronica "Eschaton" and enthralling "Indian Orchard Road" are among the stellar cuts on one of 2018's best albums. Information: darlingside.com.
Artist: Addison Love
Title: Thoughts On Lunch? (Big Stir Records)
You might like if you enjoy: The Beatles, Yorktown Lads, Danny Wilkerson
Tell me more: Armed with a terrific tenor voice, multi-instrumentalist/songwriter Addison Love has knocked it out of the sonic park on his official full-length debut Thoughts On Lunch? The Orange County-based artist impresses in the delivery of piano-anchored forays (the Paul Williams-flavored "Just One Minute," introspective "Be Strong"), propulsive melodic pop (the prog rock-tinged "Anything's Right" and buoyant "Wee & Nancy Lee"), psychedelic rock ("Other Angels"), baroque rock ("I Hope She Stays Around") and a retro-aimed Music hall tune ("The Ballad of Dr. Minard"). "She" is an especially poignant original, recalling the acoustic approach used by John Lennnon on the Beatles classic "Julia." Written, performed, engineered and produced by Addison Love, Thoughts On Lunch? is a wonderful debut from start to finish. Information: AddisonLoveMusic.com.
Artist: Jane Getz & Company
Title: Go Back To Your Wife (Sage West Music)
You might like if you enjoy: Paula Cole, Mother Hen, Harry Nilsson
Tell me more: A noted studio musician who appeared on recordings featuring John Lennon, Ringo Starr, the Bee Gees, Jimi Hendrix and Harry Nilsson, songstress-keyboardist Jane Getz returned last year with the release Go Back To Your Wife. The disc is filled with original songs featuring her signature vocals, top-tier keyboards and a knack for '70s-flavored pop craft. The range of songs here is impressive, from the country-pop of "Love Should Be Easy" and wry Americana tale "In the Wilds of Alaska" to the shimmering ballad "Treasure Island" and blues-mining "Gonna Get What You Prayed For" displaying the artist's unique sound. Information: amazon.com.