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Father John Misty, Rhiannon Giddens, and Six Organs of Admittance

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Father John Misty

I Love You, Honeybear

Sub Pop

File next to: Harry Nilsson, Elton John

Erstwhile Fleet Foxes drummer J. Tillman has reinhabited his Father John Misty pseudonym for the bitterly funny, sweeping I Love You, Honeybear. While 2012's Fear Fun was an inspired update of '70s Laurel Canyon folk, Honeybear largely eschews druggy surrealism for acidic lyrical barbs and moments of stark sincerity. When Misty sings of his useless education, subprime loans and prescriptions, followed by canned laughter, the effect is cuttingly devastating. The sonic palette has also expanded: The bubbling electronica of "True Affection" is a ringer for Animal Collective; "When You're Smiling and Astride Me" is fiery soul; and the orchestral, pre-rock 'n roll balladry of "Bored in the USA" suits Misty's sonorous tenor beautifully. Honeybear is one of the sharpest contemporary examinations of love, morality, and changing social mores. — Collin Estes

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Rhiannon Giddens

Tomorrow Is My Turn

Nonesuch

File next to: Valerie June, Abigail Washburn, The Duhks

Rhiannon Giddens' vocal contribution to Carolina Chocolate Drops grew stronger with each of the North Carolina string band's successive albums. So it's not surprising that her first solo album displays no signs of shyness. Rather than venturing into R&B or pop, Tomorrow Is My Turn stays true to Giddens' roots, covering songs from Elizabeth Cotten, Dolly Parton, Geeshie Wiley, and Sister Rosetta Tharpe. With the exception of a Charles Aznavour mood piece, Giddens brings a strident insistence and deep-throated soul to all of these songs. She ends the album with a composition all her own, the beautiful "Angel City." Bluegrass fans can only hope Carolina Chocolate Drops remain together as at least a side project, because Giddens on her own can wrap her voice around songs in a way few 21st-century vocalists can. — Loring Wirbel

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Six Organs of Admittance

Hexadic

Drag City

File next to: Sun City Girls, King Crimson, High Rise

Ben Chasny has too many personalities to fit into a single band. His Six Organs of Admittance tends to be a repository for raga-influenced instrumentalism, Comets on Fire favors fuzz-rock, and Rangda leans toward jazzy jam sessions. But every now and then, those musical identities shift to confound the listener. In the wake of the dreamy, almost folk-style nature of the last two Six Organs albums, Hexadic is one of Chasny's noisiest works to date. Its nine tracks are as ambitious as anything in feedback-oriented noise rock, often dipping into dreamy symphonics only to jar the listener out of his or her reverie with another harsh dose of feedback. While earlier Six Organs albums may be more accessible, Hexadic stands as a defining moment among Chasny's many bands and identities. — Loring Wirbel

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