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January 2020 new releases: 15 vinyl records to check out

A new decade has arrived, but the vinyl churn rolls on.

This will be a new monthly series where we’ll attempt to pick some of the remarkable forthcoming releases to check out — taste is wholly subjective, so this is just an indication of what the month has to offer.

January has no lack of exciting reissues and new albums, along with some late 2019 offerings that didn’t make it to your turntables before the decade ended.

Dive in.

Nine Inch Nails – With Teeth

(Nothing Records)

Release date: January 10th

Eager fans received their copies directly from Trent Reznor’s Nothing Records last November, but With Teeth gets its highly-anticipated wide release on vinyl this month. A detour from the ambitions of their 1999 masterwork The Fragile, With Teeth is looked upon by fans as one of their most accessible albums to date, with a lean tracklist (including concert staple ‘The Hand That Feeds’) and a hard rock direction that favours distortion.

With rave reviews filling up the reissue’s Discogs entry page, this Chris Bellman-cut release can be bought with confidence.

Buy // Listen

Laura Nyro – More Than A New Discovery

(Real Gone Music)

Release date: January 10th

Laura Nyro remains one of pop music’s most underappreciated singer-songwriters. While her albums are not hard-to-find rarities, critics and labels are always happy to reintroduce the artist to every generation, and her debut album — with a title so apt it might as well spell out “J-U-S-T L-I-S-T-E-N” — captures her early spark that left stuffy record executives gobsmacked in the 60s.

While the rest of the world took ages to catch up to Nyro’s genius, you can start with this new reissue by Real Gone. They’ve repressed the pop/R&B work on violet vinyl, cut with its original, artist-approved mono mix.

Buy // Listen

Poppy – I Disagree

(Sumerian Records)

Release date: January 10th

Likely the only artist ever to jump from Diplo-owned label Mad Decent to Sumerian Records — a label known for their metalcore and progressive metal acts — that’s only the tip of the iceberg for the enigmatic Poppy.

I Disagree is Poppy’s submergence into a sound that champions both piercing pop hooks and pummelling nu-metal breakdowns. Sumerian also never shies away from special vinyl editions, and I Disagree will receive splatter and color merge variants that are as maximalist as this album promises to be.

Buy // Listen

Algiers – There Is No Year

(Matador Records)

Release date: January 17th

In 2015, Algiers burst onto an indie rock scene that was not ready for it. There Is No Year is the third effort by a four-piece band whose vision of soul music with fiery noise rock guitars still enchant.

At the heart of their music is a fierce political slant, where every album plays like a sincere plea for revolution. There’s no doubt There Is No Year will attempt to encapsulate (and fight back against) the strife and grief that has clouded the past few years. Doom and gloom they’re not: this is rock’n roll for darker times. The vinyl edition features enchanting typographic work, and the Matador store is offering a limited clear variant with a bonus 7” flexi-disc.

Buy // Listen

Hannah Diamond – Reflections

(PC Music)

Release date: January 17th

The latest full-length transmission from PC Music, Reflections is the debut album of Hannah Diamond. Her steady stream of singles since 2013 — from the addictive ‘Every Night’ to the wistful ballad ‘Fade Away’ — has kept all of us waiting eagerly, and Reflections hit us with a tidal wave of emotional trance-pop songs last November.

This month will see the official vinyl release by the label, who’ve mostly kept limited physical releases to their artist compilations. A no-frills package with a lyric sheet and standard black vinyl, we can’t say this will last long on the shelves.

Buy // Listen

Nina Simone – Black Gold

(Music On Vinyl)

Release date: January 17th

Music On Vinyl periodically represses titles from their exhaustive vault of reissues onto fabulously coloured vinyl, and their upcoming release of Nina Simone’s Black Gold is one to look out for.

A live album bookended by its centrepiece — the Civil Rights anthem ‘To Be Young, Gifted and Black’ — Black Gold features a reimagining of a traditional folk song, a Fairport Convention cover, and a medley plucked out of rock musical Hair. Simone’s artistic process constantly unfolded in the studio and on the live stage, and this recording captures that spirit perfectly.

Buy // Listen

Pale Saints – The Comforts of Madness (30th Anniversary)

(4AD)

Release date: January 17th

The recent untimely death of designer Vaughan Oliver has reminded countless music lovers of his immeasurable contribution to the indie rock landscape, and his work on The Comforts of Madness is arguably Oliver at his most kaleidoscopic and trippy.

Fitting for a work of art as blistering and psychedelic as it is — and a masterful entry into the early days of shoegaze — The Comforts Of Madness gets a proper reissue by 4AD for its 30th anniversary. The regular edition is a faithful replica of the original pressing, but a limited gatefold edition is also offered by the label on 2xLP clear vinyl.

Buy // Listen

Steve Moore – Bliss (OST)

(Relapse Records)

Release date: January 17th

Last year, a modest horror movie by the name of Bliss wowed audiences at the annual genre film festival Fantastic Fest, with critics quickly drawing comparisons of director Joe Begos to auteurs Gaspar Noe and Abel Ferrera.

It’s no surprise, then, that the soundtrack isn’t just your paint-by-numbers synth work: Begos enlisted Zombi guitarist Steve Moore to contribute metallic guitar textures, doom-y riffs and ethereal ambient melodies to the hallucinogenic mayhem onscreen.

Buy // Listen

Big Star – #1 Record

(Craft Recordings)

Release date: January 24th

While the legacy of Big Star has been solidified with decades of critical reappraisal and reissues, the granddaddies of power pop — who’ve inspired a generation of hook-ready rock bands like R.E.M., The Replacements and Teenage Fanclub — will enter a new decade with all-analogue editions of their first two albums: #1 Record and Radio City.

With early pressings fetching top dollar on Discogs and at record fairs, this will be your only chance to experience these albums meticulously cut from the original tapes — an analogue experience so pure, you could probably hear purists gasp in delight. If your budget only permits one title, let it be the immensely gratifying #1 Record.

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Hank Mobley – Poppin’

(Blue Note Records)

Release date: January 24th

Blue Note underwent an ambitious 80th anniversary campaign last year, which includes the ongoing Tone Poet series — where the focus is turned to oft-overlooked titles and minor classics from the Blue Note archives, reproduced as deluxe AAA reissues cut by renowned engineer Kevin Gray.

Their first of three releases in Jan 2020 is Hank Mobley’s Poppin’, a collection of solid hard bop featuring the likes of Sonny Clark, Paul Chambers and Art Farmer alongside Mobley. Recorded in 1957, the album languished in their vaults until a Japanese edition was released in 1980. This Tone Poet release will be its first vinyl pressing outside of Japan. 

Buy // Listen

Yes – Fragile

(Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab)

Release date: January 24th

Sure, the MoFi One-Step series of titles are already luxuriously-priced. But the current aftermarket prices of early titles prove that these may be worthwhile investments.

Previous editions have been showered by hyperbolic praise from audiophiles — one Discogs user describes how “the sheer impact of the sound made me jump” listening to Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On — but the One-Step series seems to be the real deal when it comes to be-all, end-all editions of classic albums.

The latest one? Yes’ 1971 prog-rock behemoth Fragile, which already bursts out of any ordinary pair of speakers thanks to the stellar production work of Eddy Offord. If MoFi’s track record is to be believed, this one is a must-get for diehards, completionists and collectors with deep pockets.

Buy // Listen

Caroline Polachek – Pang

(Columbia)

Release date: January 31st

Formerly one-half of synth-pop/R&B band Chairlift, Pang struck the ears of pop listeners in 2019 like a jolt to the system. Reintroducing Polachek as a formidable artist replete with inspired hooks, unfolding vulnerability and sweeping production — done in collaboration with A.G. Cook, Danny L Harle, and Dan Carey — Pang unmistakably sounds like the future.

Singles like ‘Door’ or ‘So Hot You’re Hurting My Feelings’ are infectious standouts, but the entire album is a rewarding labor of love that demands your attention every single time. The forthcoming vinyl release will be pressed on a crystal clear variant with gold streaks, accompanied by a giant poster.

Buy // Listen

Destroyer – Have We Met

(Merge Records)

Release date: January 31st

Even as fans continue to seek out new Destroyer material for their inscrutable and sparkling lyricism, Dan Bejar (the group’s sole member) puts equal thought into the sonic direction of each album. With the jazzy 80s sophist-pop of 2011’s Kaputt remaining a career highlight, Bejar has followed that up with sincere explorations within era-specific baroque pop, glam rock, and synth-pop sounds.

On Have We Met, he originally thought to embrace the Y2K-pop that once penetrated salons, department stores and Starbucks outlets. While he doesn’t follow that concept all the way through, Have We Met appears to be another exciting step in the evolution of Destroyer, and we’re all here for it.

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Jung Jae-il – Parasite (OST)

(Sacred Bones Records)

Release date: January 31st

From what’s considered 2019’s best film (winning Best Foreign Film at the Golden Globes just recently) comes the soundtrack to Parasite by prolific composer Jung Jae-il. The thunderous heartbeat of the film’s slow-rolling intensity is its film score, and its vigorous strings and melancholic piano chords make it an enthralling listen on its own.

With Sacred Bones confidently throwing their hat in the “OST vinyl” ring lately — including their stellar John Carpenter releases, along with the unsettling soundtrack to The Lighthouse — expect a neat deluxe package (complete with OBI strip), thematic color variants, and a vinyl cut that will pack more punch than its 180g weight.

Buy // Listen

Neneh Cherry – Raw Like Sushi (30th Anniversary)

(Virgin UMC)

Release date: January 31st

Through the top-charting single ‘Buffalo Stance’ in 1989, the world was introduced to Neneh Cherry, punk rebel turned dance-pop savant. Cherry has since turned back to the fringes of music, diving headfirst into free jazz and electronica excursions to the delight of a strong cult fanbase.

But Raw Like Sushi is a startling reminder of what pop music could’ve been if the likes of Cherry continued to rule the airwaves and, perhaps, stadiums. This anniversary release is given the full remaster treatment at Abbey Road, and it comes packaged in a deluxe triple-LP boxset with B-sides, remixes and full-colour inserts.

Buy // Listen