5 Albums to Stream for Free This Week: Leonard Cohen, Chairlift

Back in December, we had to put our weekly streaming albums feature on hiatus due to the music industry’s annual holiday fallow period. But three weeks into the new year, we’re back in a big way. Perhaps our most anticipated album of 2012, Leonard Cohen’s Old Ideas, is newly available for preview — and we’re fairly awed by what we’ve heard so far. Your January 23rd roundup also features a pair of very different but equally wonderful debuts, from Porcelain Raft and Dodecahedron, as well as thoroughly enjoyable releases by Chairlift and Gonjasufi. Find something to love — be it brand-new black metal or iconic folk-rock — after the jump.

Leonard Cohen — Old Ideas

We can’t think of a better way to start the week than with a new Leonard Cohen album — the 77-year-old legend’s first studio album since 2004. Out January 31st, Old Ideas reminds us (at least on first listen) of Cohen’s late-’60s/early-’70s heyday, full of throaty, whispered confessions, quasi-religious utterances, and elevating female backing vocals. Stream it at NPR, and don’t miss Ann Powers’ accompanying essay, in which she points out, “[W]hat makes this album special is its sound, which steps back from the synthesizer-heavy arrangements dominant on Cohen’s other late-period work and explores a range of styles, from countrypolitan twang to gypsy jazz to Dylanesque blues.”

Chairlift — Something

Most people probably remember Brooklyn’s Chairlift from their 2008 iPod-commercial hit “Bruises.” But they’ve always been a much more interesting band than that distinction suggests. A gently psychedelic electro-pop project, Chairlift returns in 2012 pared down from a trio to a duo, the departure of Aaron Pfenning leaving vocalist Caroline Polachek to share multi-instrumentalist duties with drummer/bassist/keyboardist/producer Patrick Wimberly. Despite its minimalist line-up, Something sounds full and joyful, featuring many tracks that may well find their way onto your dance-party playlist. Listen to the album in full at KCRW — and do it today, because the stream will be down by the time the record hits shelves tomorrow.

Porcelain Raft — Strange Weekend

Looking to be transported to a world of strummy, echo-y oblivion this Monday? Then you’ll want to get to know the debut album by Mauro Remiddi’s Porcelain Raft. A rich, narcotic dose of European dream-pop, Strange Weekend may just be the perfect, romantic record to buy your one true love this Valentine’s Day. Stream it at Hype Machine.

Gonjasufi — MU.ZZ.LE

And now for something completely different: As our own Tom Hawking recently wrote, “Flying Lotus’s favorite yoga teacher is one of the more idiosyncratic and interesting figures in music today” — and Gonjasufi’s latest, the mini-album MU.ZZ.LE, doesn’t disappoint on the “idiosyncratic” or “interesting” front. If you’re the type who likes your trippy, introspective music beat-heavy and full of noise, then you’ll want to get a jump on this one. Hear it at The Fader.

Dodecahedron — Dodecahedron

But hey, maybe you’re not feeling dreamy or meditative this morning. Maybe you’d like to greet the new week with a full-on Dutch experimental black metal explosion. Hey, we’re not going to judge you. Dodecahedron’s debut is doing a great job keeping us awake this sleep-deprived Monday morning. Give yourself a caffeine-free jolt of evil at Metal Underground.