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edge staff writer


Big names highlight January music releases

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The film industry considers January and February to be “dump months” – a release time for movies not anticipated to be critical or commercial successes. 

For the music industry, January is a release time for titles whose performances could have been hampered by the busy fourth quarter rush leading up to the holiday season.

A number of high-profile January releases are on the release schedule, including several from established artists releasing their first new music in years.

Dropkick Murphys – “11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory” (Born & Bred; January 6)

The Massachusetts band celebrated its 20th anniversary last year and will release their ninth disc (and first since 2013’s “Signed and Sealed in Blood”) this week. The band convened in an El Paso, Texas studio last spring for their first album recorded away from home. The record’s subject matter was influenced by the band’s work with the Claddagh Fund, Dropkick Murphy’s charity established to provide funds for addiction recovery, children’s homes and veterans groups. “4-15-13” deals with victims of the Boston Marathon Bombing, many of whom were visited by the band during their recovery.

The Flaming Lips – “Oczy Mlody” (Warner Bros.; January 13)

Oklahoma’s alt/psych kingpins will release album number 15 on Friday the 13th and early reports indicate that it’s a return to the melody-infused sound of previous acclaimed releases, including “The Soft Bulletin” and “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots.” Perhaps the most experimental band with a major label contract, The Flaming Lips can count on their fans to snap up each release. “Oczy Mlody” will be their first since 2013’s “The Terror.”

Madness – “Can’t Touch Us Now” (Lucky 7; January 13)

The British band who had a 1983 American hit with “Our House” have been consistently successful in their native country and are scheduled to issue their 12th record (and first in four years) this month. Eschewing modernity, the usual Madness trademarks are present (melody, hooks and humor) as the band serves up 16 fresh takes on British life.

The Infamous Stringdusters – “Laws of Gravity” (Compass Records; January 13)

For their seventh studio album, the Charlottesville, Virginia bluegrass-jam quintet showcase 13 new original songs packed with the group’s usual stunning musicianship and vocal-harmony prowess. The album was written on the road, where the band spends most of its time, and was largely recorded live in the studio. If you ever have a chance to see these guys in a live setting, don’t pass it up.

As Lions – “Selfish Age” (Better Noise Records; January 20)

This British rock band released an EP last year (“Aftermath”) and follow it up this month with their first full-length disc. Helmed by vocalist Austin Dickinson (son of Iron Maiden lead singer Bruce Dickinson), the band says the record is an illustration of their mission “to create the biggest, baddest hard rock we could, and on an almost cinematic scale.” The band introduced themselves to American audiences last year on a tour with Five Finger Death Punch, Shinedown and Sixx AM, which included a show in Portland on November 26.

As It Is – “Okay” (Fearless; January 20)

This young British pop-punk band was formed when the Minnesota-born Patty Walters (a YouTube sensation) used online service Join My Band to form the basis of As It Is. After four EPs, the group released a full-length disc last year and will follow it up this month with “Okay” - eleven tracks of earnest, poppy punk.

Train – “a girl, a bottle, a boat” (Columbia; January 27)

When this album’s lead single “Play That Song” was released last fall, longtime fans were surprised to hear the melody of Hoagy Carmichael’s “Heart and Soul” worked into its structure. Train faithful can expect more of what they’ve come to love from the band on album number eight (minus a live record and last year’s cover of Led Zeppelin II) – hook-laden, radio-friendly pop. One big difference from past efforts – original lead guitarist and founding member Jimmy Stafford appears to have left the band after 23 years.

The Bats – “The Deep Set” (Flying Nun; February 3)

For their ninth record, The Bats have recorded 12 new songs that sound as though they could have come at any point in the band’s 34-year history. The New Zealand indie-pop quartet have somehow managed to retain the same lineup and virtually the same sound during that time. Melody, melancholy and jangly guitars remain key elements of The Bats’ sound. “The Deep Set” will be the group’s first release since 2011’s acclaimed “Free All The Monsters.” As well known in their home country as R.E.M. are in America, The Bats recorded “The Deep Set” at The Sitting Room studio in Christchurch with producer Ben Edwards. 


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