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St. Vincent, Lake Street Dive and Maggie Roche end 2018 with footnotes

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A number of artists are closing out 2018 with what can only be described as footnotes to earlier releases. The most striking effort is St. Vincent’s reimagining of last year’s Masseduction in the sparse MassEducation (Loma Vista). Sure, many musicians have followed up fully realized studio releases with demo albums of the same work, but Annie Clark here takes the method a step further by enlisting pianist Thomas Bartlett to add melancholy chamber-pop arrangements. Some, like “Happy Birthday, Johnny,” were bittersweet in their original formats but, taken as a whole, this album is as heartbreaking as Leonard Cohen’s saddest works.

The opposite approach was taken by Boston’s popular retro-soul band Lake Street Dive, who’ve followed up their full-length Free Yourself Up with a 10” EP, Freak Yourself Out (Nonesuch), the perfect antidote for a skyrocketing band that ran the risk of taking itself too seriously. Vocalist Rachael Price and her bandmates clearly have fun with novelty songs like “Angioplast,” and while no track may reach the audience of a signature song like “Good Kisser,” this adjunct EP is as exuberant as an LSD live performance.

Meanwhile, Maggie Roche, the late member of the Roche sisters trio, is the focus of a two-disc retrospective compiled by her sister Suzzy, Where Do I Come From (StorySound Records). Although largely a best-of collection, it does include unreleased gems like “Christmas Love” and the title track. Since many Roches albums and EPs are out of print, this is a necessary compendium to understand how the three sisters caught the attention of producers like Robert Fripp.

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