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Wand

1000 Days

    Wand launch their third album, ‘1000 Days’, in what can only be called the relative blink of an eye.

    August of 2014 was ‘Ganglion Reef’, Wand’s debut album release, on the GOD? label, revelling in their dark circuits and three-ring modulations. Following that, they ranged from their south-Cali base, towing their sound around this maze of interstates and state routes. Shows of all kinds were playing, plenty of people to meet up with on the way. Europe got booked and suddenly it was March of 2015 with a second album entitled ‘Golem’ (this time on In The Red) trailing Wand’s sound farther down the road, past the sky, into storm and casino food.

    Recorded in Los Angeles and San Francisco in between tour days, ‘1000 Days’ finds Wand searching in corners. Where have all the people gone? Where have they put them? Panoramas of the body history are viewed through Wand’s spy-glass as it sweeps the horizon. · Never shy of a new machine, Wand found extra texture during ‘1000 Days’ via synthetic animation. Songs compelled them to reach across lifestyle, relying on broadcast to find out who might need the sound. The atmosphere is quicksilver and the space acoustic; as a beacon sparks electric, a cascade of hifi noises for everyone’s ear moles - raucous, impassive, inevitable musical expressions.

    Jim O'Rourke

    Simple Songs

      2015 and the silence has been broken with ‘Simple Songs’. Jim O’Rourke is ready to talk to you again with his first pop album since 2001. ‘Simple Songs’ is an amazing record of musical song entertainment because Jim O’Rourke knows what he wants and how to get it.

      The range of sounds and songs that have turned Jim’s head are numerous enough to have crushed together into something that is unmistakably his. The music is played so immaculately by so many instruments and most of them by the creator’s hand. ‘Simple Songs’ was worked over, from source material to finished mix, for five years or more now. Jim’s writing is rooted in the approach of ‘Insignificance’ - frosted pop tarts that leave a darkly bitter aftertaste.

      Let ‘Simple Songs’ seep into your brain, as a musical expression and a statement of animal motherhood. It may help you get your bearings in a world gone hopeless.

      Six Organs Of Admittance

      Hexadic

        Wine-dark, oozing thick like oil and suddenly bright with phosphorescent lickage, Hexadic is witness to the primordial birth of a new approach to the neck of the guitar. Six Organs kills it!

        Alasdair Roberts

        Alasdair Roberts

          Alasdair Roberts is the name of the new solo record from the well-known Scottish songwriter, guitarist and singer Alasdair Roberts, his eighth Drag City Records release under that name, following on from 2013’s ‘A Wonder Working Stone’.

          The making of ‘Alasdair Roberts’ found Alasdair back at Glasgow’s Green Door Studio, where he previously made his 2009 album, ‘Spoils’. ‘Alasdair Roberts’ has a warmer feel than ‘A Wonder Working Stone’, partially the result of having been recorded in the analogue domain by Green Door’s masterly house engineer Sam Smith. In the main however, the rich ambiance throughout the album is evidence of yet another tremendous leap in Alasdair’s writing, playing and singing.

          The six years since ‘Spoils’ seem like a much greater expanse of time for all the growth shown on the four albums between then and now. The decision, then, to selftitle this album hints at the idea of the artist as having achieved, in Jungian terms, complete ‘individuation’.

          Evident as well upon listening is the sound of deep contentment in Alasdair’s playing and singing (not to be confused with gratuitous delusions of self-satisfaction). Moreover, this music is projected from a place of confidence, where what is needed for the music comes naturally, instinctively and as needed.

          ‘A Wonder Working Stone’ was an expansive double album, featuring some thirteen musician friends working through complex arrangements of ten sprawling epics written in the syncretic style Alasdair debuted on ‘Spoils’. By contrast, Alasdair Roberts’ ten songs are sparse, intimate and concise. The focus throughout is on Alasdair’s deft acoustic fingerstyle guitar and his voice. The songs are variously elliptical and gnomic, direct and personal, romantic and tender.

          There are occasional guest appearances from fellow Glasgow-dwellers Alex South (clarinet), Donald Lindsay (tin whistle) and singing quartet The Crying Lion (Alex Neilson, Lavinia Blackwall, Harry Campbell, Katy Cooper), always to great dramatic effect.

          In response to the economy of the arrangements, Alasdair’s voice pitches down on occasion, enhancing the close feeling of this album - an environment where even the sounding of percussive stick-clicks signals a dynamic sonic shift. Alasdair has always delighted in a good, dark set of traditional ballads, the kinds of songs which address human mortality in all its grisly manifestations but even in the relative isolation of this almost-solo set, Alasdair shows no sign of the misanthrope; his advocacy for the fellowship of man is always unshakeably present.

          Alasdair Roberts has had a remarkable career to date, starting his music-making in the mid-nineties under the band name Appendix Out and collaborating widely with many musicians from within and without the traditional music tradition over the intervening twenty years. Alasdair has toured incessantly far and wide during this time, working as well with artists from other disciplines such as filmmakers, poets and puppeteers. The resulting performances, expressions and actions are his life’s work and ‘Alasdair Roberts’ is a new phase in an essential and ever-evolving discography; it will please long-term followers and new listeners alike and stand with his other records as a testament in time to as pure a talent as this era has seen and heard.

          You thought Ty Segall’s ‘Manipulator’ was the money album of the year? Think again. ‘Singles 2’ is here.

          ‘Singles 2’ sweeps out the ashes of the breakneck days (and nights) of 2011 - 2013 and burns down the house all over again in the process - but not by accident. ‘Singles 2’ slinks low and flat-out sprints behind the scenes of the ‘Goodbye Bread’ / ‘Twins’ / ‘Sleeper’ trilogy, collecting all the now-out-of print sides that totally work amazingly well together when placed back-to-back-to-back as an album.

          The super-deadly ‘Spiders’ single is spun again here in full, along with the epically pop B-sides for ‘I Can’t Feel It’, ‘The Hill’ and ‘Would You Be My Love’. Plus there are tracks for other righteous labels too like Permanent, Castleface and Famous Class.

          Covering The Groundhogs, the Velvets and GG Allin, Ty reps for a good array of punk godheads too. Between the covers and the originals, ‘Singles 2’ is also a run through the SF 388 scene circa 2010 - 2013, with various local heroes like King Riff, Mike Donovan and Ty himself at the board.

          ‘Singles 2’ is really about the rush of getting a single for the A-side and then finding a total sunshine jewel like ‘Children Of Paul’ or ‘Mother Lemonade’ on the flip. Or a stone-solid jam on a classic like the complete retooling of ‘Femme Fatale’ or the Mackay-style sax bleatings of ‘Fucked Up Motherfucker’.

          Closing the album with the seemingly unlikely (‘Music For A Film’) and the seemingly inevitable (‘Pettin The Dog’, a mighty hardcore slamming of the lid) cleanses the palate for... what? Another spin, probably! Singles 2 has been designed to withstand obsessive flipping.

          TRACK LISTING

          Spiders
          Hand Glams
          Cherry Red
          Falling Hair
          Children Of Paul
          It’s A Problem
          Mother Lemonade
          For Those Who Weep
          Fucked Up Motherfucker
          Femme Fatale
          Music For A Film
          Pettin The Dog

          The George-Edwards Group

          Chapter III

            ‘Chapter III’ of The George-Edwards Group archives draws from deep in the pockets of their sporadic later embodiment. With their grand 70s dreams of Hollywood stardom fading, Edward Balian and Ray George continued to track their winsome muse, perhaps a bit more aggro and with a bit more dolour than they had back in the ‘38:38’ days.

            Although late 60s Detroit was the seedbed for The George-Edwards Group, they had more in common with Silver Apples than the Amboy Dukes. Enamoured of keyboard effects and sonic tomfoolery, they developed their sound away from the scene, slowly developing a spacily elegant pop music as the 70s passed by outside their basement lair. Scoring their melancholic melodies with bells, pianos and synthesizer led to something you might almost call ba-roque ‘n’ roll, or perhaps like demos for Big Star’s ‘Third’.

            In 1977, they laid down enough tracks to produce a white-label LP pressing that they dubbed ‘38:38’; however, a trip to the Sunset Strip to drum up record label enthusiasm was a complete bust. However, without that pressing of 100 copies, where would the legend of George-Edwards be? Instead, based on oft-told tales, Galactic Zoo Disks located the music and the band brought this wayward classic to Drag City. ‘38:38’ received a first official release in 2009, to great fanfare. The 21st century discovery of The George-Edwards was also accompanied by a show or two (still in the deep underground, of course), along with, naturally, the recovery of more tapes. The 2011 GZD / DC release, titled ‘Archives’, brought to the light a few fuzzheavy rock cuts and deep synth dirges to add to the ethereal G-E signature.

            ‘Chapter III’ throws the vault open once again with flair: ‘The 8th Circus’ is a magisterial guitar lead couched in synth chirps and swoops, all of which has a distinctive ASW (After Star Wars) vintage to it. The classic George-Edwards murk drifts through several sweetand- sad songs before the bubblegummy bounce of ‘My Love’ pops up, followed by the trapped-in-the-funhouse pastiche of ‘Who Stole My Brain?’.

            Side two features a few surging tracks that recall Archives rockers like ‘Shattered Heart’, as well as several more ARP-string-laden ballads in the classic ‘38:38’ G-E tradition. All in all, an excellent third trip to the faraway heart of The George-Edwards Group.

            TRACK LISTING

            The 8th Circus
            Morning Light
            Does It Feel Alright?
            Weeping Rock
            My Love
            Who Stole My Brain?
            How Many Ways?
            She Was All
            Wondrous Child
            The Voice
            Were We All So Young?
            The Children Sing

            Elisa Ambrogio

            The Immoralist

              Elisa Ambrogio, Magik Markers’ power front, lyric intelligence, guitar g’rilla and awkward weirdo, is back, and forth too, to deposit her first full length solo outing on your doorstep. ‘The Immoralist’ lies at the wicked crossroads of the electric wail of Wilson Pickett and the sweetest harmony of Wilson Phillips.

              Ambrogio exhibits a new refinement on ‘The Immoralist’. Working with Papercuts’ Jason Quever, Elisa’s earliest childhood musical loves The Poni-Taies, Tiffany and The Dixie Cups rise through the haze-nraze of electric guitar and drums with a pop repercussion previously unexplored by Magik Markers. Glossy melodies, drums that throb with the rhythmic stamp of a celibate sect and layers of vocals joined in harmony over stark sound-beds engage a whole new quadrant of Starship Ambrogio. Meanwhile, the endocrine hiss of Love’s ‘Baby Soft’ and heart-caught-in-throat emulsion sweats from the tracks, taking Cale’s conceit of fear as man’s best friend and playing fetch with it.

              Flashes of the youthful innocent and her shadow illuminate ‘The Immoralist’s early moments, ‘Superstitious’ and ‘Reservoir’. With ‘Mary Perfectly’, at long last we take the guitar player for a ride. Over the cheerleader chants and locust synth of ‘Comers’, a dreamy meditation on agency, she writes a song about a horse and admits it is a hack move to write a song about a horse in one breath. Not every album can successfully write love songs about examples of irrigation but Ambrogio pulls it off seamlessly on tracks like ‘Reservoir’ and ‘Arkansas’.

              As ‘The Immoralist’ moves through its masterfully sequenced narrative arc, disparate elements are pulled into focus: a suburban dad playing the steering wheel of a Pontiac 2000 is echoed in the opening drum beat of ‘Stopped Clocks’, while the coiled freedom of improvised piece ‘Kylie’ captures at long last the poetic resonance of applying lip gloss and features Ambrogio’s long-heralded but neverbefore captured cello playing. ‘Far From Home’ evokes the loneliness and confusion of waking up in a dark field and feeling your way back to civilization - along with a nebulous-yet-unshakeable vibe of romance.

              Dope Body

              Lifer

                Dope Body have built their name in the underground with intense live performances of their also intense studio recordings. On the back of their second album, 2012’s ‘Natural History’, they embarked on a rigorous nineteen months of almost nonstop touring, bringing their individual performance stomp to every bar, basement and backyard that asked for it.

                It’s easy to picture the members of Dope Body emerging from their distant and hidden cave of rock with a new wave of grimey, Sabbath-refracted mayhem in order to torch Earth once again but they’re actually a group of trained players and fine artists with vision.

                On ‘Lifer’, Dope Body redefine the aural yawp they have been venting for some time, honing wild windmills into surgical strikes, their gut-busting repulsion-sound continuing to expand without losing any of the feral energy that made a crazed reputation in the already-insane Baltimore music and arts underground.

                Zachary Utz’s metalloid guitar fingerprints are as uniquely rough and scabrous as ever but with a few new refinements added to his barrage. Andrew Laumann’s vocal bellow continues to incite a riot of excitement with each additional chorus. David Jacober’s power-and-precision drumming continues to grow in might and scope, driving the songs whether at peaks of volume or the depths of introspection. Plus, bassist John Jones, who joined following the recording of ‘Natural History’, contributes to the weird math of Dope Body’s nu-power trio with lines that perfectly expand the bounds for the band. When Dope Body converge to conceive of the next thing, the storm brews, songs are rocked out and written and we’re propelled into another sweaty go-round. This is a controlled demolition, planned but with room to take down additional structures.

                Simply put, there’s a distinct-but-subtle evolution from one Dope Body record to another and ‘Lifer’ is no different. ‘Repo Man’ progresses the band’s songwriting, creeping on you and crooning with an oscillating bass groove before whipping into a frenzy. ‘Hired Gun’ gives us the pyrotechnics we want with a forward-evolving, 2014-style dynamic range of loud / soft / loud and a big-ass sing-along chorus. Where most Dope Body songs show lead singer Laumann’s rhythmic ability, ‘Rare Air’ exhibits his talent for constructing melody.

                ‘Lifer’ juggles the rough spark of Dope Body’s sound, shuffling slow burners and their previously (and righteously) established propulsive attack, making for a new yet satisfyingly heavy trip into the heart of Dope Body.

                Full-tilt with tunes, aggro riffs, feedback peals, stoned soul-searching, pop turnarounds and magisterial portraits of the go-nowhere lifestyle in abstract, ‘Weirdon’ is also a new-phase Purling Hiss album, using the songwriting and guitar style of Mike Polizze to come up with a quicksilver sound touched on only briefly on previous records.

                Replete with handclaps, pounding pianos, tambourines and vocal effects, but steeped in guitar roar, Purling Hiss streamlines up nicely, serving the new songs and directions of ‘Weirdon’ while still slamming down hard on your ears like they like to do.

                Simultaneously ramshackle and overblown, tactile and free, the early Purling of ‘Hissteria’ and ‘Public Service Announcement’ used DIY limitations to soar through speakers with a new rock sound.

                As listeners came gathering and gathering, the call for shows and more shows and then tours became an issue, so Mike expanded Purling Hiss from just his guitar and tape recorder and him into a full-blown trio, capable of lifting heavier than even the records’ thick layers of distorto implied. Now the guitar worked together with the rhythm section rather than fighting it, ‘Sister Ray’-style. In addition to its amazing songs, their previous album ‘Water On Mars’ exploited the bombast of the live, power-trio incarnation but in order to put the next set of songs across, Mike needed to go to another dimension in his mind.

                After trading the distant drum of early days for a thick, upfront kit sound on ‘Water On Mars’ - additionally revealing real words attached to Mike’s vocal melodies - Purling Hiss have spread it out again, pushing Mike’s guitar tides over the top, splashing across the drums and vocals. The mix retains a certain clarity nonetheless, even when it matches the crush-and-whine of cheap rhythm sounds with mountainous body, singing leads and infinite distortion layers.

                If ‘Water On Mars’ was the Purling Hiss heavy rock album, ‘Weirdon’ travels into the pop dimension of Purling Hiss, making of their fastest and catchiest songs in the abiding images of punk and psychedelia. Written alone to achieve a contrast with the previous album and return in a sense to the original approach, ‘Weirdon’ was made with no concept of limitations on what could be performed live. Mike’s new songs open up, going all over the place, while still based in their home-cooked blend of catharsis and shredding, both in the guitar playing and the inner life of the album.

                Full of colour and rock and roll, ‘Weirdon’ is a rainbow of a record; beaming down to the stereos and streets and highways and boom boxes of today, through the unique and still-growing prism of Purling Hiss.

                TRACK LISTING

                Forcefield Of Solitude
                Sundance Saloon Boogie
                Learning Slowly
                Another Silvermoon
                Reptili-A-Genda
                Where’s Sweetboy
                Aging Faces
                I Don’t Wanna Be A...
                Airwaves
                Running Through My Dreams
                Six Ways To Sunday

                Dan'l Boone

                Dan'l Boone

                  Dan’l Boone is Charles Ballas (Formant), Neil Hagerty (ex-Royal Trux, Howling Hex), Nate Young (Wolf Eyes, Regression) and Alex Moskos (Drainolith). The crew convened in Denver, CO to work on the forthcoming Drainolith record and decided to make another record at the same time. Everyone involved seemed pretty dedicated to experimentation and pushing the music forward.

                  “It’s like Lucas with ‘Episodes I’, ‘II’, ‘III’, make ’em all at once. We were making two records at once: The Drainolith and the Boone. It became apparent right away that the Boone was going to be waaaaay more avant than the Draino.” admits Moskos. “So I was like I want to do some scratching on there. But we are all really paranoid about sample clearance, so I did all my cuts with Wolf Eyes and Howling Hex wax.”

                  “Nate played a variation of his Regression rig and did a lot of postprod with Charles, setting up midi networks and complex trigger chains. Neil mostly played his double neck and sang. The golden voice. But he played clarinet as well. Charles played electronics and did on the fly sequencing, if I remember correctly. Which I don’t often do.” recalls Moskos.

                  “Moskos played Krumar string synth and bongos too. I call him Krungo Canuck.” adds Charles. · “To create music by reverting to zit-popping thrash you must believe that the prognosis is so dismal that it takes time to hear them retain enough for your face before summary dismissal.” says Hagerty cryptically over the phone into Charles’ voicemail box.

                  Neil and Nate really ran things at the sessions at Uneven Studios. There were lots of electronics that Young would set up and Hagerty would give some direction. Hagerty had various lyric sheets and scores that the group worked with but once the record started to take shape Young became very involved in plotting out the flow of the record. “I’d come downstairs into Charles’ basement and Nate and Neil would be making competing diagrams that represented the record. I was so lost,” says Moskos.

                  Neil Hamburger

                  First Of Dismay

                    Drag City invite you to celebrate Dismay Day with America’s hardest working funnyman in show business, Neil Hamburger.

                    A sombre work from a seasoned entertainer clearly carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders, ‘First Of Dismay’ is being issued in answer to many who have applauded for “More! More!”

                    Specially-chosen stand-up comedy recordings from Neil’s recent appearances at coveted nightclubs in London, Savannah and Los Angeles are interspersed with musical cries for help as Neil emotes with the purely professional panache of the Too Good For Neil Hamburger Band in support.

                    Song highlights include ‘Endless Roll’, a disco complaint letter aimed at Kirkland Signature trash bags (featuring guest spots from members of The Germs and Jefferson Starship) and ‘Nickel Candy’ - societal decline set to music. Although Neil was strongly advised against the risk of merging side-splitting comedy segments with melancholy musical numbers, the exciting potpourri that resulted has enhanced his sparkle into a veritable milky way of entertainment.

                    ‘First Of Dismay’ effectively captures the excitement of the popular comedian’s nightclub presentation, featuring ruminations on history and the bible that, besides provoking laughter, will also be educational for the whole family.

                    Neil’s 10th full-length album is his first since 2012’s muchloved ‘Live At Third Man Records’.

                    Smog

                    Red Apple Falls

                      Over the years Smog records ranged around from several completely selfplayed and recorded efforts, dictated by voices from within, to more collaborative projects involving the people outside Bill Callahan’s head. However, never before was there a Smog album made like this

                      Produced and co-arranged by Jim O’Rourke, ‘Red Apple Falls’ combs back the passions of ‘Wild Love’ and ‘The Doctor Came At Dawn’ to make an even part, revealing a purer pop sound; all of it pressed into pure 24k gold.

                      Why is it that Smog looks to find beauty in such unfortunate moments? Is sadness truly this wonderful? Make no mistake - Smog were always about beauty. Even back in the home-cooked early days of ‘Sewn To The Sky’ and ‘Forgotten Foundation’, the rocky sounds and found noises were a way to express wonderment and experience joy. More recent Smog releases vividly (and exclusively) catalogued the agonies of failing relationships and breaches of faith so intense that ‘the singer’ ended up isolated by belief. Placing himself in a fictive position seemed to allows Bill to tap into deep emotional trespasses. This ability to fictionalize stepped up to centre stage for ‘Red Apple Falls’.

                      Here we have the tale of a man no longer bitter over the lonely path of his life. In the middle of the night, a ‘Blood Red Bird’ crying in the darkness is his closest companion; upon waking, even ‘The Morning Paper’ is more company than he can bear. Rather than be regarded as a friend, he recalls fondly the days when ‘I Was A Stranger’. The parade of small tales rolls out with the languor and uniform quality of the Kinks’ Village Green Preservation Society - one story at a time, each with its own rueful bite.

                      It all hearkens back to the song ‘Fables’, from the first Smog album, ‘Sewn To The Sky’, a song about the people’s penchant for morality play. On ‘Red Apple Falls’, things like the song ‘Red Apples’ (a remake of an early period Smog song) present epochal imagery very much in the centuries-old mythic tradition. Smog presents fables for our troubled times.

                      The soundtrack to this not unentirelv unpleasant state of affairs is the most visceral backing we’ve heard on a Smog album to date. Lush instrumentation threads through the material, with the sudden booming of a French horn giving way midsong to a barrelhouse, piano riff, a bloomin’ steel guitar, or a chorus of sweet Smog chanting. It’s enough to make you think you’re listening to a Nick Drake record, or ‘Forever Changes’. The orchestral feel of the record is reminiscent of later Phil Spector productions like George Harrison’s ‘All Things Must Pass’ and Dion’s ‘Born To Be With You’.

                      Now available again after far too long on CD through Drag City.

                      TRACK LISTING

                      The Morning Paper
                      Blood Red Bird
                      Red Apples
                      I Was A Stranger
                      To Be Of Use
                      Red Apple Falls
                      Ex-Con
                      Inspirational
                      Finer Days

                      Ambarchi, O'Malley, Dunn

                      Shade Themes From Kairos

                        ‘Shade Themes From Kairos’ is a new iteration of the dream for all the guitar freaks out there, bringing together a couple of singular players together, just to see what happens. In this case, the players were old friends and collaborators Oren Ambarchi and Stephen O’Malley, playing in a space engineered and co-populated by Randall Dunn.

                        The album began in 2009, when Belgian filmmaker Alexis Destoop asked Ambarchi and O’Malley to score his short feature, ‘Kairos’. Randall Dunn was their first and best choice to record and co-produce the music and, as the session progressed, all three men found themselves acting as a trio to bring the music. In the end, this album was made by a trio of players. Decamped in an old radio station in Kortrijk, Belgium, they filled a bare, stripped live broadcast room with the needed equipment as well as other amazing old pieces made available by the gearheads of the European lowlands. With guitars, drums, analogue synthesizers, vibes, crotales, Sruti box and a mellotron, deep emanations were evoked, while other spirits emerged from the old wooden sound panels in the room - the ghosts of music makers past? It will suffice to say that all who were there contributed something. The soundtrack was completed but the vast space they’d discovered together required deeper investigation. Ambarchi, O’Malley and Dunn determined to go further with the music, reconvening back at Randall’s Aleph Studio in Seattle, where further recording and mixing was done.

                        From the top, ‘Shade Themes From Kairos’ is resonant as a collective inquest in sound, with all the players deeply immersed within the panorama they are creating. ‘That Space Between’ blows in from a distance, rolling rhythmically, with synthetic percussion chattering, before it settles into a stately pace, as the guitars wind ethereal around the procession. Under the beat lies always space, and as the cadential clusters drift off, metal chimes and keys sputter and dig deep and clean through the abyss.

                        ‘Temporal, Eponymous’ shines with guitar distortions and drum explosions, combining to create a tonal fugue state that swells as it loops around, climaxing with the thrill of guitars and drums crashing forward as waves of mellotron suddenly burst from their belly.

                        ‘Circumstances Of Faith’ dawns dark and damp, with electric waves and flashes of analogue synth, stark yet sinuous, an environment growing into our ears. More frantic drums from Ambarchi swing into the picture, joined by Tor Deitrichson’s tabla, in best Badal Roy fashion, while the guitars ascend the path to self-destruction and plunge everthing over the edge into pure nothingness.

                        From the mist comes the ruminative piece ‘Sometimes’, featuring Ai Aso on vocals amidst brushed drums, cutting through a web of acoustic and electric guitars.

                        For the finale, the cleansing call of electricity is summoned, as the guitars of Ambarchi and O’Malley arc and drone, slowly passing through a profusion of moods and moments, leaving the listener purified at the foot of the ‘Ebony Pagoda’.

                        To synthesize the mood of the music, artwork was commissioned from the Russian symbolist Denis Kostromitin, who provided astonishing visuals that matched the mutations of the album.

                        Death

                        III

                          Five years after the second life of Death was started with the release of their revelatory 1976 album, ‘For The Whole World To See’, Death’s ‘III’ slams the door on the vault with a powerful set of songs that bring equal amounts of rock and ethereal soul-searching, in high-fidelity, rich bottomed, studio-grade sound.

                          Alongside songs from 1975, 1976 and 1980, ‘III’ contains two songs from 1992, as the Hackney brothers reconvened nearly a decade after they’d stopped playing together. ‘III’ serves as a companion piece of sorts to the ‘A Band Called Death’ documentary, tracking the band’s movement from spiritual young rockers to older and wiser, bruised-but-undefeated brothers, in pure musical terms.

                          David Hackney’s visual representation of Death was a triangle, where ‘spiritual’, ‘mental’ and ‘physical’ formed the three angles. With this in mind, ‘For The Whole World To See’ is clearly the physical corner, with its undeniable proto-punk power. ‘Spiritual-Mental-Physical’ explores the mental axis, with Death working through some of their influences - including The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, The Who and even ELO - in their practice space. ‘III’ is the spiritual end of the portrait, bookended by the dreamlike rock visions of David Hackney that created and propelled the band called Death.

                          ‘III’ starts with David inside a deep 1975 guitar improvisation, rising up through atmospheres and prehistoric guitar murk to coalesce in jagged monster-riff-dom. The whole exercise recalls Funkadelic’s great Eddie Hazel while reflecting the pure essence of David Hackney’s guitar style. This jump-cuts perfectly five years into the future, with the funky staccato of ‘North Street’, which finds the band’s punkish approach at its most aggressive. From there, the album moves back and forth from 1975 and 1976 (including two songs recorded at Groovesville in Detroit with the other ‘For The Whole World To See’ songs) to 1980, showing the band streamlining their frenetic core and maximizing the power.

                          The lyrical focus of the songs ‘Open Road’, ‘We Are Only People’ and ‘Free’ is more in the spirit / soul side of Death as heard on ‘Let The World Turn’ and ‘Where Do We Go From Here???’ - sensitive, searching, reflective.

                          ‘We Are Only People’ is an epic journey that begins with another Funkadelic-styled spoken-word moment, progressing through a spacious solo-guitar-with-harmonies section and into the inevitable rock conclusion. Dark hues are generated by the relentless and speedy ‘Restlessness’, while remaining at a philosophical remove, and ‘Free’ is a heavy duo piece with Bobby and David exploring the meaning of the word.

                          The album’s climax is provided by a trio (once again, the triangle) of David songs, two of which hail from 1992. All three pieces together form a release of the soul of Death from its dark origins, building optimism upon the harsh realities they’d experienced in their lives, more relaxed without losing the spark and bite of those former times. The unaccompanied guitar instrumental ‘First Snowfall In Detroit’ is David Hackney at his most soulful, which gives way to ‘We’re Gonna Make It’, first featured as an emotional climax to the documentary and no less powerful here. With these songs, ‘III’ pays final tribute to David Hackney’s thoroughly original voice and vision, now stilled, but captured forever as a part of the remarkable story of Death.

                          The album’s cover was created in 1976 by Don Schwenck, working from David’s design and intended to be the cover of the album they were recording. Once that album failed to materialize, the brothers forgot about the commission, and when ‘For The Whole World To See’ was eventually released, Bobby Hackney Jr.’s distinctive image fronted the design. However, when Death returned to Detroit to play in 2010, Don Schwenck was there, with the artwork he had created 35 years earlier. Bobby Jr. added the logo to the image and it was ready to go. With the release of ‘III’, the final record from the vault, all things come full circle for Death.

                          Purling Hiss

                          Dizzy Polizzy

                            The Purling Hiss sound is revered by discerning listeners for its devastational waves of guitar rock crashing atop sweet melodies and pile-driving rhythm tunes alike. The effect of these contrasts - in the hands of Mike Polizze - touches buzzing pleasure centres for these listeners with every lick; people who like rock songs and like to sing along and don’t mind a little dirt for their trouble. No matter what the resolution is for Purling Hiss, the devastational waves come on with the same warm, cracked obsession they’ve had from the start.

                            Mike Polizze bought his tape machine in 1999 (rumoured to be a Sam Ash floor model) and immediately ran himself around the bases. Skipping towards home he wound up in the outfield, crafting sounds, songs, and fragments to cassette for the next several years, never to be the same. It was when he moved to Philly around 2004 and joined up with Birds Of Maya that he was crowned Dizzy, and things began to focus. He had access to all the instruments needed, Birds’ Ben Leaphart drummed on a couple of songs and in 2006 a CDR called ‘Dizzy Polizzy’ came together. Mike made around 50 copies, just for friends, lovers, and the occasional hater, with a cover he silkscreened himself. A few beers and two years later, Purling Hiss became official and took off with three berserk albums released in quick succession. Capitalizing on the newfound demand, Mike made a tour-only cassette of ‘Dizzy Polizzy’ in 2011, combining those original six CD-R songs with some well-fitting additions circa 2007–2009.

                            Discerning ears will link ‘Dizzy Polizzy’ to ‘Public Service Announcement’ (recorded in 2007) since they were made more or less back-to-back - sweet songs and mini-ragers, a baby version of the squalor that would soon grow too much hair in all the right places. ‘Dizzy Polizzy’ serves up the beginnings, going all the way back to 2004, building off solid, breakfast-of-champion prototypesounds from the likes of Van Halen and Neil Young and head-butting them in a more Purling Hiss direction.

                            This album reissues the cassette compilation on LP for the first time ever, to tide Hiss-heads over while Purling Hiss work on their next album.

                            ‘Chills On Glass’, Dead Rider’s third album, is as distinct from the second album as ‘The Raw Dents’ was from their debut, ‘Mother Of Curses’.

                            The goal for Dead Rider is always super-heavy and superdriving, with more ‘up’ moments than ever before. ‘Chills On Glass’ moves forward in this tradition, juxtaposing high and low values - serious playing, danceablity, controlledoutcomes and experimentation, thick and thrashing rhythms and expertly manoeuvred tight corners, vocal textures smooth and sandy rubbing together and igniting. Synths tickle the top of one’s spine, guitars piercing like a neural system, the fullness of real drums, vocal layers and masks of all kinds.

                            This is composition that uses improvisation as an element within a larger structure, the ultimate streamlining of production, where songs are processed on several levels, mirroring and flashing their meanings through tactics and layers, backgrounded by a panorama of yawning, silent, benevolent black velvet. Dead Rider move relentlessly around the borders of their sound, finding new textures throughout, which act as candy to the ears. Self-recorded, produced and mastered in the Dead Rider studio suites, ‘Chills On Glass’ is a self-contained statement.

                            Todd Rittmann, infamous from his days in US Maple, is a guitar warrior with intensive craft at his fingertips. For the past five years, he’s been furthering his reputation by doing further damage with his instrument and others, and by spreading the carnage wide with Dead Rider (Matthew Espy, Andrea Faught, Thymme Jones and Rittmann for ‘Chills On Glass’).

                            TRACK LISTING

                            New Eyes
                            Blank Screen
                            Weaves
                            Weird Summer
                            Sex Grip Enemy
                            The Unnatural Act
                            Four Cocks
                            Of One Thousand
                            Cry Honey
                            Fumes And Nothing Else

                            New Bums

                            Voices In A Rented Room

                              New Bums are a new band featuring two wellseasoned veterans of the underground music wars: Donovan Quinn (Skygreen Leopards) and Ben Chasny (Six Organs Of Admittance, Comets On Fire, 200 Years, Rangda).

                              Debut album ‘Voices In A Rented Room’ tells New Bums’ whole life story and probably more of yours than you’d care to admit. The voices are two, spinning harmonies both heavenly and saltpickled.

                              Picking their direction and floating along on a pair of acoustics, New Bums are the sound of old drunk America, dancing out of the shadows, coming forth again to stand in the light, in the hopes of repopulating those sad old single-occupancy hotels before they’re all torn down.

                              TRACK LISTING

                              Black Bough
                              Pigeon Town
                              Your Girlfriend Might Be A Cop
                              Sometimes You Crash
                              The Killers And Me
                              Your Bullshit
                              It’s The Way
                              Welcome To The Navy
                              Burned
                              Town On The Water
                              Mother’s Favorite Hated
                              Son
                              Cool Daughter

                              Dub is a spiritual, abstract, visceral, mystical thing. Finite and infinite at the same time. Deeply rooted in the earth and embracing outer space. Don’t be fooled by names, dub has come and gone. Dub is a ghost, a duppy.

                              Here you will find versions of the ‘Dream River’ songs that have been killed and resurrected, spilling tales of the other side of life in a language conceivable only if you let yourself be taken there.

                              Introducing a worldwide audience to the bumpin’ and rollin’ new sound of Bill Callahan.

                              STAFF COMMENTS

                              Andy says: If you loved last year's parent album as much as we did at Piccadilly, you'll think you've died and gone to heaven when you hear this blissed-out dub version. Totally gorgeous!

                              TRACK LISTING

                              Thank Dub
                              Expanding Dub
                              Small Dub
                              Call It Dub
                              Ride My Dub
                              Summer Dub
                              Transforming Dub
                              Highs In The Mid-40s Dub

                              Cave

                              Threace

                                Cave return with a brand new album, entitled ‘Threace’, through Drag City, following their ‘Neverendless’ album.

                                ‘Threace’ is a real ‘back to the lab’ kind of album for Cave. They have spent more time on these new sounds than they had before - which is saying a lot! All Cave music grabs at your ears and the soft tissue within, and yet this time it's just so much more crystalline, bottom-booting and all-consuming than ever before.

                                Threace comes on guitar up and jelly tight, saving the keys for colour commentary among the beats. Jeremy and Cooper explore their six-string relationship, finding shared space, ducking, parrying, working the edges, and finally twinning to awesome effect. Meanwhile, there's a fleeting blast of sax and flute textures in there that create new soul-jazz sensations. Last and most, Dan and Rex bring the heavy with the thickness while moving the rhythm with exceptionally light feet, playing colouristically while always driving, driving, ever driving, bearing the load and raising the arch under which everything happens in Cave.

                                Cave are known and loved for playing with rolling funk minimalism; ‘Threace’ finds them inhabiting their cutup aesthetic with tremendous ease and fewer reference points than before, accessing new depths of meditative stasis, and then torpedoing the dream on a dime to ride the riffs again.

                                ‘Return Of The Silkie’, 1983’s third chapter in the as-yet unfinished saga of the nomadic West Coast harpist Carol Kleyn, offers a slice of the wild and free utopian dream that changed so many lives in the 60s and 70s.

                                Pure and simple, harp and vocals, accompanied only by scatterings of harbor seals and sea lions, this loosely woven concept album includes gentle reminders that life is short - take it in while you can and, along the way, try to preserve the magnificence of this world for the next generation. Sentiments and music as hauntingly true today as the day they were first sung and recorded.

                                Carol’s lyrics close with: “there’s a storm over paradise and it’s we who decide… just how long we shall live… or when we shall die…” The instrumental that follows, and closes this album, reiterates that message with the cries of sea lions in the background, as the ‘Silkie’ returns, perhaps by choice, to her underwater origins.

                                Thirty years later, Carol resides on an island in Puget Sound, where she walks amongst the eagles and the sea lions, and is guided by the beauty and the changes she observes along that beach, in the sky and on a distant Mt. Rainier. Of greatest concern to her today is that the heat wave we’re now experiencing has only just begun. That being said, there will be, without a doubt, new songs and recordings to follow.

                                TRACK LISTING

                                Return Of The Silkie
                                Iaqua
                                Sailor In The Sun
                                Lorelei
                                Hello Mister Drifter
                                Land Voyage
                                Guatemala
                                Rivers’ Calling
                                Storm Over Paradise
                                And Back Again

                                Five short years into the Ty Segall expedition and we’re farther and farther out with each and every record. Between two minds, between two places, beyond previous album ‘Twins’, ‘Sleeper’ envisions a world of haves and have-nots, but the currency that separates them is psychic.

                                With ‘Sleeper’, Ty Segall explores your mind, coming through his own head to slip inside with thought sharing. Ty engineered this one from beginning to end, and his ultimate sonics were accessed with a freaky hand and an instinct for what makes something perfect. ‘Sleeper’ flows more colours through your mind’s eye than ever before, pushing the walls of the universe out just a micron further, making everything heavier and lighter all at once, to allow for one moment that will live forever.

                                STAFF COMMENTS

                                Andy says: Cracked, slightly fried, acoustic psych...a glorious departure for this most prolific artist. His best yet?

                                TRACK LISTING

                                Sleeper
                                The Keepers
                                Crazy
                                The Man Man
                                She Don’t Care
                                Come Outside
                                6th Street
                                Sweet C.C.
                                Queen Lullabye
                                The West

                                Bitchin Bajas

                                Bitchitronics

                                  Bitchin Bajas are back. Their new album, ‘Bitchitronics’, is ready with the quickness expected from the Chi-based duo. They make slow music at a fast pace.

                                  Since their first appearance way back in 2010, Bitchin Bajas’ approach has been simple - unfold tones via synth and keyboard, allowing micro-frequencies to press against each other in a way that pleases the ear, the mind and the soul. That’s part of the fun of being Bitchin Bajas, getting into and off on the circuits and signal paths and waveforms. From record to record (three albums, two split singles, a cassette, and a 12” EP), their process is redefined by confronting the technologies of formative and outmoded machines, which slides the Bajas’ sound into different quadrants of the ambient / post-organic / electronic / drone universe each time around.

                                  Recording was mostly done in, all over and around a house in Fennville, Michigan, with three tape machines reeling in the sounds - so sometimes, in addition to sounds that have never been seen, you’re also hearing the sound of the light of day, or evening stars, on tape.

                                  In keeping with the concept of catching air with tape, ‘Bitchitronics’ is the first Bitchin Bajas record made as a trio, blending the blowing of flute into the mix of electric keys and posthuman tones and loops of tape atop other loops of tape, with the final result coming to us with all the ebbing and flowing of a breeze.

                                  Let the power of ‘Bitchitronics’ fall over you. Another green world of music made Baja-fresh by the wandering ears and care-filled creations and re-creations of Bitchin Bajas.

                                  ‘The Best Of The Howling Hex’ is a new album of new music by a new incarnation of The Howling Hex, now broadcasting as a band from the big town of Denver, Colorado. After years staked out in the border country of southern New Mexico, guitarist and leader Neil Hagerty is back in the phonebook, giving the Hex an urban soapbox on which to stand for the first time in their ten years of rere- revisionist history.

                                  ‘The Best Of The Howling Hex’ is the first album of new music since the release of ‘Wilson Semiconductors’ in 2011.

                                  ‘The Best Of The Howling Hex’ weaves the wild spirits and far-flung textures of ‘Wilson Semiconductors’ into tightly compressed sing-songs, before turning the jam out to bring the levee home. Hagerty’s guitar tone is an alien wonder, and the careening beat of the band unleashes him to fill solo spots with fervour.

                                  After five years of wandering through the arid brushcountry of ‘Earth Junk’ and ‘Wilson Semiconductors’ (as well as the sidetrack soundtrack adventure that was ‘Victory Chimp, A Book’), the days of the covered wagon seem to be behind The Howling Hex for the time being. However, the depth of the earth and the true direction of the wind are lessons learned from their years out there - they can’t be unlearned.

                                  The Howling Hex are now operating out of Denver, CO, and feature Eric Allen (of The Apples In Stereo) on bass guitar.

                                  TRACK LISTING

                                  Built A Friend
                                  Primetime Clown
                                  Highlights
                                  Electric Northern
                                  Street Craps
                                  The General Prologue
                                  Green Limousine
                                  Trashcan Bahamas

                                  Alasdair Roberts & Friends

                                  A Wonder Working Stone

                                    Drag City Records release the new album by Alasdair Roberts & Friends, entitled ‘A Wonder Working Stone’. A collection of varied new epics, Alasdair’s latest is by turns metaphysical, cosmological, phantasmagorical, topical, personal and universal. This is Alasdair’s most ambitious, fully-realized work to date (an extraordinary claim following the incredible excursions made on his recent releases ‘Spoils’ and ‘Too Long In This Condition’).

                                    ‘A Wonder Working Stone’ continues Alasdair’s long-standing love affair and deeply creative interaction with the traditional music of his native Scotland (and beyond), offering an idiosyncratic and nuanced radicalization of that tradition. Indeed, he questions the very notion of ‘tradition’ in the modern age, with songs addressing topics such as mortality (as ever), life, love, sex, faith and history.

                                    The arrangements of ‘A Wonder Working Stone’ are dense with the music of friends, realizing the lifeblood of community, and throughout the album, they are presented with raucously cinematic flair. In the middle of it all, Roberts delivers his unique ‘scordatura’ finger style guitar and distinctive tenor vocals with the backing of a core group of among Glasgow’s finest musicians - Ben Reynolds (electric guitar), Shane Connolly (drums), Rafe Fitzpatrick (fiddle, rap), Stevie Jones (bass) and with special guest vocals from Olivia Chaney, as well as appearances from many other fine players on strings, brass, flute and accordion, all of which edify and expand the musical world of Alasdair Roberts and all those friends who listen.

                                    “Alasdair Roberts writes new songs that seem to be hundreds of years old. He also sings songs that are hundreds of years old but sound like they were written yesterday. He is the most exciting young musician currently working within the folk tradition of these islands and is, in my opinion, a kind of genius. […] ‘A Wonder Working Stone’ shows the artist moving forward again […] to add to a body of work that is both crucial and beautiful” - Robin Robertson, author of ‘The Wrecking Light’, shortlisted for the 2010 TS Eliot Prize For Poetry

                                    ‘A Wonder Working Stone’ is the eighth acclaimed album from Alasdair Roberts, and his second with ‘& Friends’, following 2010’s album of traditional songs, ‘Too Long In This Condition’.

                                    The music of Alasdair Roberts straddles the border between contemporary pop music and traditional folk music, drawing new listeners from both sides of the divide, as well as commentators from the scholarly realms.


                                    ‘Twins’ is Ty Segall’s fourth full release this year. A singles comp, a fabulous collaboration with White Fence, an album with The Ty Segall Band, and now this.

                                    ‘Twins’ contains the hit single ‘The Hill’.

                                    ‘Twins’ follows ‘Goodbye Bread’, ‘Melted’, ‘Lemons’ and ‘Ty Segall’ as the prime statements in Ty Segall’s ongoing discography, dating back to 2008.

                                    Today, Ty Segall is a new man, a different kind of man from his more knuckle dragging earlier incarnations. Now he’s jetting toward Jupiter, brooding, looking around with X-ray eyes, yearning with a superhuman heart for a love to come and stay.

                                    The songs of ‘Twins’ are haunted by ghosts, shadowed by the other that we’ll never see, struggling to rise above. A fury of rock ensues; songs rigged to explode on a dime, fired from a cannon into the stratosphere. They fuse together into one multifarious projectile, a bullet from a gun marked yin and yang.

                                    TRACK LISTING

                                    Thank God For Sinners
                                    You’re The Doctor
                                    Inside Your Heart
                                    The Hill
                                    Would You Be My Love
                                    Ghost
                                    They Told Me Too
                                    Love Fuzz
                                    Handglams
                                    Who Are You
                                    Gold On The Shore
                                    There Is No Tomorrow

                                    During Pavement’s ‘One More For The Money’ tour of 2010, Sic Alps played some British gigs with them. It’s been written that during one long night in Brixton, Stephen Malkmus was heard uttering within shot of a microphone that Sic Alps would be one of the most important bands of the next ten years.

                                    ‘Sic Alps’ will be the fifth album from Sic Alps, if you include the compilation album ‘A Long Way Around To A Shortcut’ on Drag City. There’ve also been a number of singles and some splits. In the nearly-two-years since ‘Napa Asylum’, Sic Alps have kept busy with a series of singles, culminating in the tape-stretching double-B side ‘Vedley’ and a 7” EP of Tronics covers.

                                    TRACK LISTING

                                    Glyphs
                                    God Bless Her, I Miss Her
                                    Lazee Son
                                    Polka Vat
                                    Wake Up, It’s Over II
                                    Drink Up!
                                    Thylacine Man
                                    Moviehead
                                    Rock Races
                                    See You On The Slopes

                                    Ty Segall & White Fence

                                    Hair

                                      Known for rock & roll both savage and incisive and pastorally acid-winged, Ty Segall and White Fence have collaborated on a set of songs that accelerate wildly from where we last found them. ‘Hair’ squares their guitar-fringed traffic with purple flashes, escalating every song before multiple explosions rock the frame during their penultimate joust.

                                      Providing the ‘Hair’-dressing for your psychic salad are Ty Segall and White Fence’s Tim Presley, with Sean Presley and Mikal Cronin along for the ride.

                                      The album unrolls from within, plunging from rock trips to acoustic strollers to poppy reveries to freak-downs at side’s end.

                                      ‘Hair’ gets tangled deep in clouds of guitars and drums and counter-riffs and percussion and noise, then pressed flat and combed back with vocal harmonies and compression.

                                      Mairi Morrison & Alasdair Roberts

                                      Urstan

                                        The Gaels of Scotland are a Celtic people, related to the people of Ireland, the Isle of Man and, more distantly, to the people of Wales, Cornwall and Brittany in France; they share cultural and linguistic similarities with them all. As with their Celtic neighbours, the Gaels are the keepers of an ancient and noble folk tradition, one which the American folklorist Alan Lomax referred to (in a letter to the Scottish poet Hamish Henderson) as “the finest flower of Western Europe.”

                                        The Scottish Gaelic tradition is incredibly diverse for such a small country - each area, each island, has its own repertoire of songs and tales and many towns and villages formerly had their own ‘bards’ and storytellers.

                                        Mairi Morrison comes from Bragar on the Isle of Lewis, one of the furthermost parts of the Scottish Gàidhealtachd - almost as far west as one can go in Scotland before reaching North America. Of all the Gaelic-speaking parts of Scotland, Lewis is culturally one of the richest. Mairi now lives in Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city, but she carries the Lewis tradition in her heart and her voice.

                                        Alasdair Roberts is a non-Gaelic speaking Lowlander, a folk singer and writer of songs with a growing interest in the Gaelic culture tradition of his homeland.

                                        Ceol ’s Craic, a Glasgow-based club devoted to promoting Gaelic arts in the city, brought Mairi and Alasdair together to make ‘Urstan’, which takes its title from a Lewis-specific word for a celebration held at the birth of a new child - a dram of whisky, basically.

                                        Most of the tracks are traditional Gaelic songs, with a few Scots songs and self-written tracks too, all played in new, forward-facingarrangements by an ensemble including Stevie Jones (bass), Alastair Caplin (fiddle) and Alex Neilson (drums).

                                        ‘Urstan’ features guest appearances from such Glasgow music scene luminaries as Michael John McCarthy (Zoey Van Goey), David McGuinness (Concerto Caledonia), Ross MacRae and Richard Merchant (Second Hand Marching Band), Peter Nicholson (The One Ensemble), Mike Hastings (Trembling Bells) and Gaelic song and piobaireachd authority Allan MacDonald.

                                        ‘Urstan’ presents a spirited and innovative musical re-imaging of a number of classic traditional Gaelic and Scottish numbers and one original tune each from Mairi and Ali.

                                        There’s fastidious notes included in both Gaelic and English, but the compulsive rhythms and moods conjured by the band will leave you little time to read while the music plays - ‘Urstan’ is a physically absorbing experience, filled to abundance with colour and the love of life.

                                        Sophia Knapp

                                        Into The Waves

                                          Upon listening to Sophia Knapp’s ‘Into The Waves’ you are transported, much like Alice In Wonderland, to a new sonic realm - dazzling and uniquely pop with its own set of rules. Some elements of the landscape are warmly familiar: Sophia’s voice appears first and foremost sensual, emotive, relaxed, and loaded with personality. Baroquely fingerpicked guitar, smooth piano, crystalline synths, and a down and dirty rhythm section complete the picture, bringing to mind melodic psych pop of the 60s, Tropicalia ballads, chilly New York dance records of the 80s and the seduction of Stevie Nicks or Françoise Hardy.

                                          ‘Into The Waves’ is Sophia’s first record outside of Cliffie Swan / Lights, the Brooklyn based rock band that she has performed in over the past five years alongside Linnea Vedder. A blend of acoustic and synthetic instruments frame Sophia’s cinematic song structures this time around, in contrast to the electric / analogue paradigm of Cliffie Swan.

                                          The mystical elements of Cliffie Swan continue to flow through this record, as do Sophia’s signature harmonies and layered vocal arrangements. Gentle ballads here are underlined with hip shaking grooves and sparkle sounds, and the lyrical content is more detailed and intimate. Tales of love, magic, and transformation rub shoulders with themes of alienation and loss. The mysterious words, studded with metaphors, demand repeated listens to decode.

                                          Sophia brought in several heavy hitters to collaborate with and to help create the poised sound of ‘Into The Waves’. Film composer and pianist Jay Israelson and Eric Gorman (the engineer / mixer for Cliffie Swan’s ‘Memories Come True’, with a fabulous background in pop vocal production), co-produced and co-arranged the album. ‘Bassy’ Bob Brockman, whose credits include playing, engineering, mixing and producing TLC, Fugees, Mary J Blige, Cee-Lo and a host of other R&B stars, contributed bass guitar, and Robert ‘Chicken’ Burke (The Duke And The King) played drums on several tracks. Bill Callahan’s rich baritone vocals are also featured on two slinky duets a la Nancy & Lee, or Serge & Jane.

                                          It’s almost 1980. Soho, New York, is fertile with young, no wave punks getting sharper and increasingly angular: Glenn Branca, DNA, Teenage Jesus, Contortions, Suicide, as well as the groups they would spawn. Coveted and revered bands for many today, this music was peripheral at the time. Within the periphery of this periphery, Social Climbers made sounds that were of their environs yet remarkably unique, leaving an indelible stamp on the scene while somehow managing to slither undetected out of all the history books.

                                          A downtown New York art band as much as any other, Social Climbers also claimed Midwestern roots and actual musicianship that many of their contemporaries lacked, and in trade dismissed and essentially protested the snotty pretensions that drove many others within the scene.

                                          Social Climbers are an absolute post punk blueprint: fat bass (often two), guitar, drum machine (dubbed ‘The Monkey’), feverish vocals, and organ.

                                          Their lone, self-titled album is agitated and impossibly wild, yet danceable and composed. And it’s here, again, sounding as relevant today as it did when it was of the moment; perhaps, even more so.

                                          TRACK LISTING

                                          1. Domestic
                                          2. Chicken 80
                                          3. Western World
                                          4. Chris & Debbie
                                          5. Palm Springs
                                          6. That's Why
                                          7. Ernie K
                                          8. Hello Texas
                                          9. Taipei
                                          10. Tickhead (Live) *
                                          11. The Day The Earth Stood Still *

                                          (* = CD Only Track)

                                          Azita

                                          Disturbing The Air

                                            For these songs, only the piano proved delicate and flexible enough to hold Azita as she sang of unsaid moments, testing the words she heard that no one else dared to say. Even with a minimal palette, these performances are a brooding, commanding lot.

                                            The music and lyrics are rich and wild at times, a mere whisper at others. Frequent Azita collaborator Brian Torrey Scott notes, “We are presented with a somewhat emotionally apocalyptic reality, in which someone struggles to make sense of things, but cannot. The very heart of this work finds its articulation in an inability to define.”

                                            There is calm here - a tenuous calm. The moment before the storm when all is quiet yet menace rings in the air, echoed in the moment afterward when all is still but no less devastated. ‘Disturbing The Air’ looks at the end as it approaches and sits at the site of the end, the abyss that cannot be seen but has nonetheless taken and changed lives.

                                            Pat "P.G. Six" Gubler is still enmeshed in the mystic & the unknowable even as he feels and knows the fullness of his rock phase on his latest, 'Starry Mind'. The band featured on 2007's 'Slightly Sorry' (with Debby Schwartz coming in on bass) has grown together, and you can hear it in the powerful unity of the performances.

                                            This has a 'Shoot Out The Lights' vibe versus 'Slightly Sorry's 'I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight', played with a bit more rock abandon, and includes a guest spot from Tara Key (ANTIETAM). Fear not, Pat's serene vocalizing over a gently shaken brew of folk, rock and experimental elements is still atop the mountain, herein. To aid the long and lonely wait until the next iteration, 'Starry Mind' is here to fill our cosmos.

                                            TRACK LISTING

                                            1. January
                                            2. Letter
                                            3. Days Hang Heavy
                                            4. Palace
                                            5. Talk Me Down
                                            6. Wrong Side Of Yesterday
                                            7. Crooked Way
                                            8. This Song

                                            Baby Dee

                                            Regifted Light

                                              One of entertainment’s most flamboyant musical artistes of the last decade, Baby Dee is back with a new album, "Regifted Light", on Drag City Records.

                                              The album is not merely charming, nor simply enchanting and / or deeply touching - it is also an unusually arrayed album, scattering four vocal performances among eight smartly arranged, classically focused instrumentals, creating quintessential Baby Dee in all her unconventional glory.

                                              "Regifted Light" was produced by the amazing Andrew WK. The arresting cover is the distinctive work of the acclaimed Dutch artist Christina De Vos.

                                              Baby Dee’s musical career has seen her perform worldwide with musical connoisseurs such as Will Oldham (who co-produced ‘Safe Inside The Day’ with Matt Sweeney), Antony Hegarty, Marc Almond, Alex Neilson and David Tibet.

                                              Cave

                                              Pure Moods

                                                "Pure Moods" features the quintet version of Cave that toured the USA and Europe in 2009. "Pure Moods" was recorded in semi-written, semi-improvised fashion following the annihilation of mainland Europe last fall. Afternoon sessions faded into the night and tripped into morning, songs coalescing, jams extending, beer bellies expanding. Fine-tuned, clean guitar amps grew crunchier and crunchier the longer their tubes burned, increasing tonal density accordingly as mass pushed volume. Cave throbs as an entity.

                                                They core themselves around sickeningly tight drum and bass that drive like a thinline, curvy, armored-vehicle so that the sinewy, metaphysical guitar-work can punctuate, aggressive yet deceptively seamless, through any fleshy surface - be it human, water, or a wall of "Hot Bricks", the first nug on this here EP. All is surrounded by a glistening force-field of lake-misty keys and synths, like an unfurling cloak set to shroud and envelope a grungy beard or sixty.

                                                'Chicago's Cave spiritually hail from a weird quadrant where the German pulse of Can and Amon Duul II overlap post-punk Britain' - Rolling Stone.

                                                Joanna Newsom

                                                Have One On Me

                                                  Joanna Newsom releases her first album since late 2006’s "Ys", making up for lost time with a disc for 2008, one for 2009 and one for today. Featuring Ryan Francesconi and Neal Morgan from Joanna’s Ys Street Band, "Have One On Me" is an extravagantly packaged (and extravagantly nicely-priced) collection of fantastic new Joanna Newsom songs — her most colourful record to date. Through the course of the 18 songs, Joanna visits ditties, weepies, court dances, rump-bumpers, epics and moments of panavision fantasia upon us.

                                                  TRACK LISTING

                                                  Disc 1:
                                                  1. Easy 6:04
                                                  2. Have One On Me 11:02
                                                  3. ’81 3:52
                                                  4. Good Intentions Paving Company 7:02
                                                  5. No Provenance 6:25
                                                  6. Baby Birch 9:30

                                                  Disc 2:
                                                  7. On A Good Day 1:49
                                                  8. You And Me, Bess 7:13
                                                  9. In California 8:42
                                                  10. Jackrabbits 4:23
                                                  11. Go Long 8:03
                                                  12. Occident 5:31

                                                  Disc 3:
                                                  13. Soft As Chalk 6:29
                                                  14. Esme 7:56
                                                  15. Autumn 8:02
                                                  16. Ribbon Bows 6:11
                                                  17. Kingfisher 9:11
                                                  18. Does Not Suffice 6:45

                                                  OM albums are rituals, personal convictions transcripted into verse. Playing the music is visceral, emotional, a catharsis of soul and spirit. As ever, dynamic relationships and the slow building of mood are attenuations that shape the structures of "God Is Good". With careful microscopic increase, the energy grows through the four songs, leading towards moments that one could interpret as… Revelation? Oblivion? Awakening?

                                                  Jim O'Rourke

                                                  The Visitor

                                                    "The Visitor" is a seriously all-Jim O'Rourke affair - all the sounds you hear are Jim and Jim alone. This time you can't blame any of those session dudes and their bloodless line readings - the chill you're getting is a one-hundred percent O'Rourke effect. As a matter of fact, it might be more like two hundred percent — some of it is tracked so deep, it took two hundred tracks to hold it all. It doesn't sound like it though - to Jim's credit, the mix sounds very minimal, very straightforward - not like several hundred tracks at all. All the classic O'Rourke-isms are here: percolating banjos, smooth electric leads, organic, kicking drum sounds, the flickering of shakers to the left and right, mellow but ominous woodwinds, sounds that indicate 'vintage', sonic jokes and sonic tear-jerkers, all wrapped in spacious yet subtle left to right placement of everything in the picture. This is one one-track album everyone's gonna have to buy. However, "The Visitor" doesn't overstay its welcome. Get ready for redefinition - Jim O'Rourke is back.

                                                    Magik Markers

                                                    Balf Quarry

                                                      Working with engineer Scott Colburn (Sun City Girls, Animal Collective, Sir Richard Bishop), Magik Markers have captured a lot of different moods and twitches on "Balf Quarry". Tremoring mid-rhythms form the body, with a couple of showers of hardcore, high flying free-duo style and several clinking music boxes of woe as well. On slower tunes, the mass of brooding guitar tone generated is Elisa Ambrogio's signature, a carving all of her own. Fills, licks and other touches move the songs a broken-arm's length away from a fundament of chaos and horror. Elisa Ambrogio and Pete Nolan are locked together, beating it out, feeling the sound of their earth quake. And slicing through all the atmosphere, Elisa's voice is a spear of light, splashes of mud, an acid purple flashback.

                                                      Tracklisting
                                                      1. Risperdal
                                                      2. Don't Talk In Your Sleep
                                                      3. Jerks
                                                      4. Psychosomatic
                                                      5. 7/23
                                                      6. State Numbers
                                                      7. The Ricercar Of Dr Clara Haber
                                                      8. The Lighter Side Of... Hippies
                                                      9. Ohio R/Live/Hoosier
                                                      10. Shells

                                                      Death

                                                      ... For The Whole World To See

                                                        "… For The Whole World To See", a fresh and inspired early entry in the category of punk rock, is the first full-length release ever for Death. The band only released one 7" single, "Politicians In My Eyes"/"Keep On Knocking", which now sells for $1000 a copy. Inspired by some of classic rock's heroes, Death riff-rocked with minimal leads at maximum heat, a la Fred 'Sonic' Smith or MC5. Following their 1974 demo Death were given an audition with Don Davis, whose chart-topping work with Stax acts Johnnie Taylor and The Dramatics had made him a local celebrity. Davis booked the band into his United Sound Recording Studio, one of Detroit's main destinations for aspiring blues, R&B and soul musicians, and they recorded the tracks that make up this album with engineer Jim Vitti, whose work with Parliament / Funkadelic seemed to inform his decision to record Death in raw fashion with little polish, showcasing the organic power relationships within the trio.

                                                        Joanna Newsom & The YS Street Band

                                                        The YS Street Band EP

                                                          A new Joanna Newsom record already? Don't rub your eyes and ears just yet —it's 'just' an EP. But with all new arrangements and performances of two already-classic Joanna songs and the debut of a brand-new song, it's a solid short-play record at least — and another inspiring slice of Newsom at best! The EP was performed by Joanna's road-tested band: Kevin Barker, Neal Morgan, Dan Cantrell and Ryan Francesconi, with Joanna Newsom singing and playing her harp. Recorded and mixed in its entirety by Tim Green at The Plant Studios in Sausalito, California, it's an all-new, live and lively look into the world of one of today's fastest-growing young artists. Both formats feature "Colleen", "Clam, Crab, Cockle, Cowrie" and "Cosmia".

                                                          Joanna Newsom

                                                          The Milk Eyed Mender

                                                            Joanna's music has more of an affinity with the folk revival of the 60s, or the bluegrass movement at present, than with most contemporary 'folk' (or 'anti-folk') scenes. Her harp arrangements are at times ethereal and delicate, at others galloping and ornate, but never overwrought.

                                                            Neil Michael Hagerty

                                                            Plays That Good Old Rock And Roll

                                                              Great mix of down country and twisted rock 'n' roll from this ex-Royal Trux man.


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