The 10 Albums We’re Most Excited About in February

Featuring Katy Kirby, The Weather Station, Cloud Nothings and more

Music Lists New Albums
The 10 Albums We’re Most Excited About in February

Time to get amped for a whole slate of new albums. Between off-the-wall punk, life-affirming techno, psychedelic lounge pop and touching indie-folk, February has a lot in store for us—just you wait. After January brought joy via records from Madlib, Shame, Arlo Parks and more, this month offers new full-lengths from Katy Kirby, The Weather Station, Cloud Nothings, The Staves and many more. Scroll down for a full brief on the 10 albums we’re most excited about in February.

February 5

Black Country, New Road: For the first time
Ninja Tune

Born of the same South London scene that’s produced the likes of black midi, PVA and Squid, white-hot septet Black Country, New Road found their band name using a random Wikipedia page generator. The transparent artifice of that is actually fitting: With only three singles to their rather unwieldy name, including 2019’s “Athens, France” and “Sunglasses,” and this year’s “Science Fair,” the U.K. up-and-comers are growing and changing before our eyes, already reimagining the few songs they’ve released for their debut album For the first time, out Feb. 5, 2021. Frontman Isaac Wood’s hypnotic speak-singing shifts subtly away from “speak” and towards “sing” on the album, so as to more effectively meld with the band’s mercurial instrumental outbursts. Their thunderous post-punk, spiked with discordant jazz, feels both explosively raw and carefully, ingeniously crafted. —Scott Russell

Sarah Mary Chadwick: Me And Ennui Are Friends, Baby
Ba Da Bing Records / Rice Is Nice

On New Zealand-born, Melbourne-based singer/songwriter Sarah Mary Chadwick’s previous effort, 2020’s Please Daddy, if you were feeling fragile, you could almost insulate yourself from her painfully honest songwriting, training your focus only on, say, the soaring horns on “When Will Death Come,” the blues-rock boogie of “Let’s Fight,” or the wistfully jazzy flute of “The Heart and Its Double.” But there’s no hiding from the broken heart of Me and Ennui Are Friends, Baby—Chadwick fully embraces emotional catharsis, stripping her songs back to solo piano and vocals only, and you have no choice but to follow suit. Just as she worked wonders on a 147-year-old pipe organ for her 2019 record The Queen Who Stole the Sky, Chadwick crafts an album of untold power not in spite of her focus on one instrument, but because of it. With Please Daddy’s diffuse textures out of the equation, the songwriter can only take a fearless inventory of her interior turmoil, turning a truly harrowing series of events—after the deaths of her father and a close friend, and the dissolution of a long-term relationship, Chadwick attempted to take her own life in 2019, just weeks before the Ennui sessions began—into an album that will knock your heart on its ass. Chadwick’s unusual vocal delivery and unsparing, darkly funny songwriting combine to make Ennui’s stark sensibility unforgettable, and Chadwick never flinches, wondering of her struggles at one point, “Is it all for this song? / If it is, is that wrong?” It will take all of your inner fortitude to answer her. —Scott Russell

The Staves: Good Woman
Nonesuch Records

Emily, Jessica and Camilla Staveley-Taylor, that is English indie-folk trio The Staves, first came to prominence opening for folk acts including The Civil Wars and Bon Iver, moving audiences with little more than Jessica’s guitar and their artfully tangled vocal harmonies. Their classic folk sound has fluctuated some since their 2012 debut Dead & Born & Grown, of course, but never has it undergone the sort of transformation brought about on Good Woman, the trio’s first new album in six years. Together with indie producer extraordinaire John Congleton (Phoebe Bridgers, St. Vincent, Angel Olsen), The Staves embrace electronic sounds and adventurous arrangements on these songs, as if making a conscious effort to demolish any preconceived notions about their music. Good Woman opens with its title track, a microcosm for the record as a whole that uses their distinctive group vocals as a jumping-off point—punchy drums, washed-out guitars and openhearted lyrics steadily push the song into psych-tinged, electro-pop thumper territory, signaling the start of a bold new era for The Staves. Even the songs that feel familiar manage to surprise and delight along those same lines, building to consistently enthralling peaks beyond what this band previously seemed capable of. —Scott Russell

The Weather Station: Ignorance
Fat Possum Records

Ignorance, the fifth album from The Weather Station and their first on Mississippi’s Fat Possum Records, finds Toronto songwriter Tamara Lindeman continuing to move beyond her project’s folk beginnings, like a rocket that’s left the launchpad. The more rock-oriented arc of her 2017 self-titled curves even further on Ignorance, as Lindeman gracefully embraces art-pop sounds, setting the record’s propulsive, enigmatic tone with opener “Robber”—Max Freedman called that track “a welcome left turn for Lindeman” and “a bold reintroduction” in highlighting it as one of Paste’s picks for 2020’s best songs. Elsewhere on the record, Lindeman imbues her surprisingly dancefloor-friendly tracks with nimble poise and unknowable intrigue, wielding strings, synths and keys with equal ease. She named her album for the French verb ignorer, which “connotes a humble, unashamed not knowing,” per the LP’s bio. Here in early 2021, what could be more important? —Scott Russell

More notable Feb. 5 releases: Sun June: Somewhere, Nana Yamato: Before Sunrise, TV Priest: Uppers, Foo Fighters: Medicine At Midnight, Miss Grit: Imposter EP, Femi Kuti and Made Kuti: Legacy+, John Carpenter: Lost Themes III: Alive After Death, Aaron Lee Tasjan: Tasjan! Tasjan! Tasjan!, Psychedelic Porn Crumpets: SHYGA! The Sunlight Mound

February 12

Kìzis: Tidibàbide / Turn
Tin Angel Records

Algonquin two-spirit artist Kìzis (who’s previously recorded as Mich Cota) is releasing what may be one of the most ambitious albums of 2021. Tidibàbide / Turn is a four-hour LP, bursting at the seams with reverent chants, throttling techno, compassionate electro-pop and amorphous, string-laden compositions. There’s even an alternate national anthem that more accurately reflects Canada’s mistreatment of indigineous peoples (“No Canada”). This album is clearly meant to be an event—one that requires listeners to plan ahead and make time for. No detail has gone overlooked, but it’s also inherently imperfect. It’s a triumphant coming together of dozens of guest musicians (including Beverly Glenn-Copeland and Cub Sport’s Tim Nelson), and though they impressively execute Kìzis’ spiritual, altruistic vision, there’s a carefree spirit where missteps are embraced. Tidibàbide / Turn has a warm glow, one that radiates with the knowledge that it may not be for everyone, but will be deeply cherished by those who connect with her ornate songs and singular psyche. —Lizzie Manno

More notable Feb. 12 releases: Claud: Super Monster, Pale Waves: Who Am I?, slowthai: TYRON, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah: New Fragility, Chris Crack: Might Delete Later, Mush: Lines Redacted, Run River North: Creatures In Your Head, Bodies of Water: Is This What It’s Like, Django Django: Glowing In The Dark

February 19

Katy Kirby: Cool Dry Place
Keeled Scales

Indie-rock songwriter Katy Kirby grew up in a small-town Texas, where her primary exposure to songcraft came via “the pasteurized-pop choruses of evangelical worship.” On her forthcoming debut album Cool Dry Place, out Feb. 19, 2021, on Keeled Scales, the still-Lone Star State-based Kirby wrestles with the indefatigably cheery spirit of the church songs she was raised on, twisting her jangle-pop sound into subtly adventurous shapes suggestive of a roving soul. “Ten segments in an orange / Only so many ways that you can pull apart someone,” she sings on the title track, effortlessly tossing off the kind of line that makes your heart ache instantaneously. Kirby thrives in the place between easy appeal and more complicated explorations, and she’s already made believers out of us. —Scott Russell

More notable Feb. 19 releases: Valley Maker: When The Day Leaves, Another Michael: New Music and Big Pop, The Hold Steady: Open Door Policy, Hand Habits: Dirt EP, Kinlaw: The Tipping Scale, Psymon Spine: Charismatic Megafauna, Perfume Genius: Immediately Remixes, Tash Sultana: Terra Firma, Mogwai: As The Love Continues, The Fall: Live At St. Helens Technical College, ‘81

February 26

Brijean: Feelings
Ghostly International

Oakland duo Brijean are set to follow up their 2019 EP Walkie Talkie with a new LP, Feelings, a vibrant cauldron of funky lounge pop, bossa nova, psych, jazz and IDM. Their Latin-inspired rhythms coexist with retro keyboards and dream pop vocals, and the whole thing sounds strangely boisterous and peaceful at the same time. Although you may find yourself torn between the urge to fall into a psychedelic trance and shuffle along to the beat, it’s a striking reminder of how exciting it can be to hear such a rich blend of cultures. It’s a detailed album that goes beyond mood setting—above all else, these songs are rooted in raw expression and possibility. —Lizzie Manno

Cloud Nothings: The Shadow I Remember
Carpark Records

“Am I older now or am I just another age?,” Dylan Baldi asks on track one of Cloud Nothings’ new album The Shadow I Remember. The band recently celebrated the 10th anniversary of their debut album Turning On, which was just reissued via Carpark Records, so it makes sense that they’re pondering the passage of time. On their latest LP, Baldi visits his old self with hindsight (“Well, it’s hard for me to say / if I would do it all again / for what purpose?”), while also looking to the future and opening a whole different set of accompanying pitfalls, namely existentialism (“Am I something? Do you see me? / Does anybody living out there really need me?”). For this heady task, Cloud Nothings reunited with Steve Albini (who produced their 2012 breakout Attack on Memory), and tried to fold in the rawness of their early works with their current emotional headspace. The result is an explosive, snappy tracklist that evokes the counteracting urgency when a fear of stasis begins to set in. —Lizzie Manno

Julien Baker: Little Oblivions
Matador Records

In the past, singer/songwriter Julien Baker—acclaimed both as a solo act and as a member of boygenius alongside Lucy Dacus and Phoebe Bridgers—has stunned us with her ability to evoke powerful feelings using only her hushed vocals, confessional lyrics and sparse instrumentation. On her third studio album Little Oblivions, though, Baker’s self-described “bummer jams” have gained a new and arresting sense of scale, losing none of their poignance in the process. These are lush, expansive compositions, awash in everything from drum machines and synthesizers (“Highlight Reel”) to banjo and what sounds like theremin (“Heatwave”). But ever-present on Little Oblivions is the breathtaking introspection of Baker, alone at a piano (“Song in E”), pouring her whole heart into her songs. They’re more fearless than ever, with instrumental scope to match that of their overwhelming emotions. —Scott Russell

Nightshift: Zöe
Trouble in Mind Records

Glasgow indie band Nightshift (featuring members of Spinning Coin, 2 Ply and Robert Sotelo) are shrewd in their sonic choices. On their new LP, Zöe, avant-garde and no wave tendencies mingle with classic indie-pop influences, resulting in an alluring push and pull. For an album that thrives on their rhythmic interplay and colorful chemistry, it’s surprising that these songs were recorded remotely during lockdown, but they’re still able to lock into grooves with ease. The extended breakdown on the blissful “Power Cut,” for example, finds them riffing over each other like it’s a rapturous jam session—synths, bells, and guitars flutter and glow, until a screeching flute solo invades and takes the track into wonderfully freakish territory. Other tracks like “Make Kin” and “Infinity Winner” thrive on their spacious, hair-raising qualities, with a palpable gloom brought on by jazzy post-punk. Whether it’s an offbeat drum passage or charming shared pop vocals, Nightshift have plenty of curveballs and plenty of heart. —Lizzie Manno

More notable Feb. 26 releases: Blanck Mass: In Ferneaux, Melvins: Working With God, Stereolab: Electrically Possessed [Switched On Volume 4], King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard: L.W., Lost Horizons: In Quiet Moments, Maxïmo Park: Nature Always Wins, Willie Nelson: That’s Life

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