February 2023 Favorites
DC is back again with another monthly roundup of favorite new releases. If you need a reminder of why I (Nathan) decided to switch to this new publishing routine, feel free to read the opening paragraphs of my January post.
If you're good to go, let's jump right in! Oh, and remember, these albums are presented by release date, unranked.
Hollie Kenniff - We All Have Places That We Miss (Western Vinyl) - I wrote a bit about this album in my Winter Music Preview post a couple months back, so I'll try to keep it short in this space. As I type this paragraph, snow is falling outside, piling higher and higher, and wind is sweeping it into pillowy drifts. I'm listening to Kenniff's new album for about the millionth time, and it soundtracks this scene perfectly. The individual elements of her ethereal constructions feel soft and delicate, but when combined, these parts tower into beautiful masses. It's a gorgeous work from start to finish.
Bailey Miller - love is a dying (Whited Sepulchre Records) - I sorta dropped the ball on this one, because I'd actually heard love is a dying a few weeks early thanks to the fine folks at Whited Sepulchre, but let it slip past me without much thought. I think I listened to it while I was grocery shopping on a Sunday afternoon or something like that, and was too focused on not having a panic attack in the produce section. Anyway, I circled back to the album when it was released earlier this month and LOVED it. Interestingly, many of the tracks on love is a dying are first takes, Miller's raw ballads featuring little more than her voice and a chosen instrument. The stretch of songs from goldfinch through still is simply stunning, and mirror is an early-year favorite of mine.
Grand River - All Above (Editions Mego) - This is Editions Mego's second great album of 2023, and on All Above, Aimée Portioli (aka Grand River) expertly blurs the lines between organic and electronic music. Using piano as her starting point, Portioli adds synth tones, strings, and pulsing rythyms to her compositions, resulting in eight structures which seem to breathe. Voice brings a human element to the music on All Above, which is a good reminder that this work is deeply personal to the artist, painstakingly created over a two-year period of time and now offered up to the public. It is a true masterwork and a high watermark in Grand River's catalogue.
ironomi - himorogi (Kitchen Label) - Well well well, another ironomi feature on DC. Typical. This is the group's 10th album (!!!) and like my first love, 2019's kotonoha, it's a beaut. On himorogi, the duo weaves the distinctive plucks of 17-string koto into their wandering piano improvisations, demonstrating their ceaseless creativity even as their discography hits double-digits. The natural world has always been a thematic throughline in the group's music, and here, the album's six songs are presented in a seasonal cycle, from spring blossoms to autumnal hues. So let these soft sounds drift over you as winter's thaw leads to unfurling blooms.
And that's all for February - a short roundup for a short month. But come back again at the end of March for more DC favorites. And as always, thanks for reading and listening.