Dan Deacon, Gliss RifferAt live shows this Baltimore DIY electro-pop maestro lords over a table of electronics, hunched like a mad scientist, tweaking nobs and coaxing the crowd into various interactive dance experiments. He’s dabbled in contemporary composition and large-ensemble performances but with this record he’s both back to his roots (frantic, danceable, glitchy party-starters) and exploring new territory (hookier melodies and a streamlined groove). (Out Feb 24.) Essential track: “Feel the Lightning”

mount-eerieMount Eerie, Sauna: Phil Elverum, who has made music for almost two decades as the Microphones and Mount Eerie, dives deep (again) into the natural landscape and elemental forces of his Pacific Northwest home. His newest project matches tender folk sounds? with heavy squalls of fuzz and the occasional ASMR-esque rain, breath or passing-airplane snippet. Skip your next spa day for opening track, “Sauna,” which literally takes you into a wooden, coal-fired steam room, with sizzling hot-rocks and an extended drone intro that provides plenty of time for self-reflection. (Out now.) Essential track: “Sauna”

father-john-mistyFather John Misty, I Love You, HoneybearYou get the sense that Josh Tillman started his manic showman alter-ego Father John Misty as a joke that eventually got too good to stop telling. “I Love You, Honeybear” is ostensibly an album-length ode to his wife Emma but Tillman’s take on matrimony and its attendant issues are anything but conventional. You decide whether his odd asides and pointed digs (“I wanna take you in the kitchen / Lift up your wedding dress someone was probably murdered in”) are simple observations, prophetic hallucinations or repressed fears come to life. (Out Feb 10.) Essential track: “Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins)”

 

sonny-and-the-sunsetsSonny & the Sunsets, Talent Night at the AshramBay Area songwriter Sonny Smith is the quintessential American troubadour: Like kindred spirit Jonathan Richman, Smith is perpetually armed with a lightly strummed guitar and a sideways smile. His open-hearted endeavors also extend to homespun art projects (he once recorded a jukebox-worth of songs with tunes from fictional bands). This disc started out as a film project before morphing into a narrative indie-pop record with a lo-fi summer-camp feel. (Out Feb 17.) Essential track: “Cheap Extensions”

john-carpenterJohn Carpenter, Lost ThemesIt’s a surprise that John Carpenter, who doubled as composer for many of his films (see: the iconic “Halloween” theme), hasn’t released a proper album of original music until now. His debut comes out of his synthy ‘80s-era work but isn’t a straight reading by any means: Joined by son Cody and godson Daniel Davies, Carpenter weaves together Morricone atmospherics, haunted Bela Lugosi organ runs and an unwavering pulse. As a friend of mine likened his favorite track, “Domain,” to “the soundtrack for an employee training video for forklifts.” Unearthly, possessed forklifts. (Out now.) Essential track: “Night”