Lou Barlow - Goodnight Unknown
On his first solo album since 2005's acoustic Emoh, Lou Barlow, an alternative stalwart who boasts legendary groups such as Dinosaur Jr. and Sebadoh among his past and present projects, sounds clear-eyed and self-assured. Although this is a collaborative effort that sees notables such as Lisa Germano and the Melvins' Dale Crover helping out, at the centre of this kaleidoscopic shifting sound is Lou himself. An underrated instrument of folky beauty, his voice is alternately smudged to sound disturbingly calm under layers of instrumentation and clear and tender on the tunes most reminiscent of Sebadoh's stellar early '90s work. The beefed-up arrangements are dense but kinetic: acoustic guitar strums that sound alternately like a caress and a stab in the back are layered with curious synths and choppy drumming. The result is an LP that haunts, charms and refuses to be musical wallpaper. In short, he still hasn't lost it.