Music Suitcase: Favorite Albums of February 2020

The one prominent theme I saw in February is that women ruled the month. Musically, the albums below were pretty diverse, but whatever the genre, and whether singer/songwriters, frontwomen for rock bands or all-women bands, most of the albums I loved were made by women and especially those that I loved most. These aren’t necessarily in a paticular order but the first is definitely my Album of the Month:

Angelica Garcia, Cha Cha Palace

A powerful voice in all senses, this half-Salvadoran, half-Mexican Los Angelina deftly transcends her indie rock background as she celebrates her Latin roots, both lyrically and musically, on a stunning and singular sophomore record. Highlights: “Karma The Knife,” “It Don’t Hinder Me,” “Jícama Pt. Dos”

Grimes, Miss Anthropocene

Always cinematic, Claire Boucher’s new one is a thought-provoking, narratively elaborate concept album featuring a wide array of deep, pulsating electro-pop and industrial dance music. Highlights: “4ÆM,” “Darkseid,” “Delete Forever”

Isobell Campbell, There Is No Other…

On her first album in a decade, the Scotish singer/songwriter offers a gentle batch of folk and acoustic pop, aware of the tensions of its time but comforting, heartfelt and warm. Highlights: “The Heart of it All,” “Ant Life,” “Catching Fireflies”

Nova Twins, Who Are The Girls?

Friends from childhood, Amy Love and Georgia South are a street level, RATM-influenced alt-metal duo from the UK. Their debut offers face-melting guitars and hip hop swagger. Highlights: “Vortex,” “Bullet,” “Athena”

Nada Surf, Never Not Together

The band’s 9th studio album is a sunny, spiritually driven and frankly rather enlightened 90s-ish indie rock album with sharp songwriting and deceptively easy-going guitars. Highlights: “Something I Should Do,” “Looking For You,” “Live, Learn and Forget”

Tame Impala, The Slow Rush

Embraced by the mainstream, Kevin Parker returns the favor by weaving together many different kinds of pop music under one spacey, atmospheric roof on this lyrically introspective, spacious 4th album. Highlights: “Breathe Deeper,” “Lost In Yesterday,” “Borderline”

Agnes Obel, Myopia

This Danish singer’s fourth proper album brings the listener to a soft and gentle, atmospheric folk-y space and then opens up into playful, nuanced chamber pop arrangements. Highlights: “Broken Sleep,” “Island of Doom,” “Myopia”

Sarah Harmer, Are You Gone

The Canadian singer/songwriter returns after a decade, still operateing comfortably on a spectrum of folk, pop and indie rock, her allure relying on the considerable strength of her songwriting. Highlights: “New Love,” “Squeaking Voices,” “Cowbirds”

The Orielles, Disco Volador

This young band keeps their sophomore album fresh with new ideas that expand on their central conceit — guitar-driven indie rock infused heavily with disco — without distracting from it. Highlights: “Bobbi’s Second World,” “The Square Eyed Pack,” “Space Samba (Disco Volador Theme)”

Tennis, Swimmer

The seafaring singer/songwriter husband-and-wife duo’s 5th album is full of easy-going but nicely nuanced romantic pop songs, cohesive but branching out in a few new rewarding directions too. Highlights: “Need Your Love,” “Echoes,” “Tender as a Tomb”

Christian McBride, The Movement Revisited: A Musical Portrait of Four Icons

The acclaimed Philadelphia bassist and bandleader features reenacted speeches by four Civil Rights leaders, interspered with Gospel-based choral music, over skillful jazz compositions. Highlights: “Sister Rosa — Prologue,” “Rosa Introduces Malcolm,” “Rumble in the Jungle”

Spinning Coin, Hyacinth

This Scottish band keeps Britpop at the base of its sophomore album but meanders enthusiastically and unpredictably into experimental and often psychedelic territory. Highlights: “Ghosting,” “Get High,” “It’s Alright”

Greg Dulli, Random Desire

The strength and depth of the Afghan Whigs’ frontman’s voice steers the ship on his first solo album and while it doesn’t rock as hard as the Whigs did, it presents with a similar character. Highlights: “Pantomima,” “Scorpio,” “A Ghost”

The Third Mind, The Thid Mind

Masterminded by Dave Alvin of the Blasters and guided by principles laid out by Miles Davis, this supergroup wildly augments a set of (mostly) covers and recasts them as spacey, atompsheric roots rock jams. Highlights: “The Dolphins,” “Morning Dew,” “East/West”

Habibi, Anywhere But Here

Simple, straight-up garage rock played by four Brooklyn women, with just a touch of the Middle East showing up on their fun, consistent 4th album. Highlights: “Stronghold,” “Come My Habibi,” “Misunderstood”

Yorkston/Thorne/Khan, Navarasa: Nine Emotions

This trio applies its blend of traditional English and Indian folk to a concept album centering around the Vedic “nine emotions” that unite all human expression. Highlights: “Westlin Winds,” “Twa Brothers,” “Waliyan Da Raja”



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Stefan Wenger

Stef is a Bronx-bred, California-dwelling, 1977-born Libra-Aquarian lifelong music junkie. He is also a writer, improviser, singer, director and voice actor. .