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E.B. The Younger

To Each His Own

    “What came before you is why you’re here now,” declares the man born Eric Brandon Pulido. “So embrace both the past and the present.”

    The current frontman of Texan legends Midlake embraces both past and present times for his glorious debut solo album, To Each His Own, under his new enigmatic alias E.B. The Younger. It’s a deeply personal record, rooted in Pulido’s love of warm, glowing rock, folk and country hues that came of age in the 1970s woven with contemporary recalibrations: guitars ripple, sigh and sizzle alongside gliding keyboards over crisp, choppy and becalmed rhythms. Pulido’s lyrics equally look back and forth, philosophising about his place in the world, the choices he’s made, and where they have taken him.

    Or, as he describes To Each His Own, “an eleven-song journey through the life and times of a wayward Midlaker seeking to find purpose in an uncharted land. Will he find his way? Listen, and ye shall find.”

    Pulido’s “wayward” phase began in 2014 with a break from Midlake, “to invest time in kids and musical projects less physically demanding”, he says. His first project was the transatlantic collective BNQT, a self-described ‘poor man’s Travelling Wilburys’ featuring Pulido, Ben Bridwell (Band of Horses), Fran Healy (Travis), Jason Lytle (Granddaddy) and Alex Kapranos (Franz Ferdinand) who recorded the 2017 album BNQT – Volume 1. But To Each His Own is all Pulido – or rather, E.B. The Younger.

    “It’s an antiquated way of naming a younger member of a family,” he explains. “I’m expressing, simply, that something greater came before me. It’s countering the idea in today’s culture that everything revolves around ourselves, that we’re the most important thing in the world. I feel that humility is a lost virtue – you only have to look at America’s current leader - which I want this record to represent. Honesty, empathy, love.”

    In this case, honesty begins at home. Solo debutantes typically distance themselves from their musical past, but Pulido freely acknowledges Midlake’s presence on To Each His Own, from the three Midlakers in his backing band to an album title that stems from his memories of band discussions.

    Says Pulido: “It’s very common in bands to have artistic differences, and we were no exception. Saying ‘To each his own’ was almost a way to collectively acquiesce and move forward when differences would arise. It’s OK that we feel differently, because both opinions are valid. The phrase is also about me doing something on my own, a statement that it’s OK to define who you are outside of what has defined you before.”

    With Pulido on lead vocals and acoustic guitar, he drafted in Midlakers (and BNQT contributors) Joey McClellan (electric guitar), McKenzie Smith (drums) and Jesse Chandler (flute), who dovetail with Scott Lee (bass), Daniel Creamer (keyboards) and Beau Bedford (keyboards) from local country-funksters The Texas Gentlemen to form an empathic ‘alt.Wrecking Crew’ of session

    players. Bedford is also the album’s principal producer, while studio engineer and Centromatic drummer Matt Pence acted as the overarching producer, alongside Pulido, as well as adding percussion and occasional drums.

    As Pulido explains, “Midlake self-produced and recorded everything, but as with BNQT, I wanted to embrace collaboration. I’d present songs with just voice and acoustic guitar and ask the musicians where they heard things going, and so we built the songs up organically.”

    Within that organic build, Pulido still had specific ideas in mind. He singles out the late, great Harry Nilsson as a key influence. “Midlake songs were often cerebral and minor-key and I wanted some of mine to be more playful and buoyant and major key, which Harry did so well, while still making deep, thoughtful music.”

    Pulido also hears traces of The Eagles, Cat Stevens, Joni Mitchell, Wings and CS&N in To Each His Own, plus an “eighties vibe” to the record’s freewheeling lead single ‘Used To Be’, inspired by The Last Waltz, the film documentary about Pulido’s all-time favourites, The Band. As he recalls, “The guys are sitting backstage playing ‘Old Time Religion’, and Robbie Robertson says, ‘It’s not like it used to be!’, which has always stuck with me. But it’s OK by me that it’s not like it used to be. Embrace where you’re at, and look forward. Be both the old and the young.”

    The Old and The Young is a familiar concept to Midlake fans, as a songtitle from the band’s last album Antiphon. In one sense, ‘The Young’ are also represented here by Conrad Lee Pulido, Eric’s three-year-old son, whose uninhibited dancing to calypso rhythms (from Harry Belafonte and Nilsson tracks) inspires the carefree Tropicália of ‘CLP’. A similarly summery vibe energises ‘On An Island’, inspired by an artist retreat (on the island of Nantucket) where Pulido, “focused on, and finished, several of the songs for the album.” But again Pulido finds a double meaning: “To be an island means you don’t live or march to the beat of anyone else’s drum.”

    Self-determination also defines the sumptuous, soft-rocking “When The Time Comes” where Pulido gently mocks himself as the so-called ‘artist’ who chose to “follow the dream” but without any guarantee of job security or a pension. Moreover, the exquisite ‘Hope Arrives’ recognises that making art typically involves self-doubt, as Midlake experienced. As Pulido recalls, “I felt that fear controlled the obstacles that existed for the band. But when hope arrives, fear will disappear, and peace will come.”

    Midlake also figure in the acoustic, sparse ‘Monterey’, named after the Californian idyll where the band played their last show to date, after which Pulido suggested a break would benefit all: to step off the merry-go-round for a while after riding it together for 15 years. “I said, we’ll pick things back up if and when it makes sense to everyone, trust me,” he recalls. “And I was at peace with our decision.”

    The closing title track emanates a palpable sense of peace while crystalising Pulido’s past-present/old-young mindset: “I’ve been about all alone / I’ve never felt so good before… And what we did before / No I do not ignore”. With a new BNQT album in the works and, if all goes to plan, a Midlake album to follow, Pulido is already looking forward. But his present is E.B The Younger, and his effortlessly melodic, gorgeous songs invested with honesty, empathy and love. Listen, and ye shall find.


    Pom Poko

    Birthday

      Pom Poko are Ragnhild (lead vocals), Ola (Drums), Jonas (Bass) and Martin (Guitar). The 4 met whilst all studying at the Trondheim Music Conservatory in Norway and quickly garnered interest from a wider audience as they began playing and writing together. The group cite a range of influences for their unique sound, including “(West)-African music like Oumou Sangaré and Ali Farka Touré; indie bands like Vulfpeck, Palm and KNOWER; noisy high-energy bands such as Hella and Death Grips; and music with interesting lyrics such as Jenny Hval and Nick Drake.” But you’d struggle to pin them down to one or two forebears, given their resistance to anything resembling a prescriptive approach.

      Speaking about the origin of their name, which taken from one of the more vigorously outré films by Japanese animation visionaries Studio Ghibli, the band explain, “The Pom Poko film captures a lot of what we'd like our concerts to be: high energy, fast pace, lots of stimulus for eyes and ears – and most importantly, really crazy and fun. The movie is basically the time of your life for two hours, and afterwards you're in some state of exhausted ecstasy. Plus the raccoons in the movie, and raccoons in general, are really badass.”

      The band’s own bad-ass-ery is writ large on album opener ‘Theme1’, which locates a sweet spot between Deerhoof and Battles as singer Ragnhild issues loud, clear rebel yells over Martin’s math-rock guitar. Singles ‘My Blood’ and ‘Follow The Lights’ layer seductively sweet melodies over squalls of sound, while the funk-fired ‘My Work Is Full of Art’ offers a kind of mission statement: “I’ll just let freaky surround me,” sings Fangel.

      Elsewhere, Pom Poko’s instinctive dynamism teases uplifting thrills from boundary-melting experiments. Glacial shards of guitar bounce off steel-drum flurries on the rapid-fire serotonin fix of ‘Blue’, before the sweetly infatuated ‘Honey’ comes sequenced next to the thrashing tonal lurches of ‘Crazy Energy Night’. The sing-song title-track spikes the ranks of sweetly sad birthday songs with a rebellious sting (“I’m not your bitch!”), while ‘Daytripper’ is a commanding come-on from a band who are no more likely to mince their words than limit their range. ‘If U Want Me 2 Stay' resembles ‘The Tra La La Song’ retooled as a sci-fi cyber-pop anthem of carefree defiance, while ‘Peachy’ closes the album with an exultant melody and one last declaration of transformative independence: “Watch me as I shape shift.”


      FORMAT INFORMATION

      LP includes MP3 Download Code.

      Piroshka

      Brickbat

        “From the crushed and pulverised skulls of our conquered enemies rises the promise of a new dawn,” Miki Berenyi grins. “OK, no, maybe keep it simple. Clean slate, fresh start - it's all about the music."

        From four individual parts, with distinct musical pasts but also overlapping histories, a new unified chapter begins with Piroshka and the quartet’s thrilling debut album Brickbat.

        The album is named after the word for a missile, which nails the record’s heavyweight lyrics if not the music’s gorgeous, bittersweet and euphoric pop. Think of Brickbat as a wolf in sheep’s clothing – which suits the name Piroshka, the Hungarian take on the wolf-terrorised fairytale hero Little Red Riding Hood - a subtle nod, too, to a certain red hairdo that stood out in the 1990s Brit-guitar-pop scene….

        The four band members are former Lush vocalist/guitarist (and former redhead) Miki Berenyi, former Moose guitarist KJ "Moose" McKillop, Modern English bassist Mick Conroy and former Elastica drummer Justin Welch. The connections between them are a veritably tangled family tree. Before they lived together and raised a family, Miki and Moose were notable figures on the so-called shoegaze scene, while Elastica were Britpop peers. After post-punk pioneers Modern English split for a second time, Mick became a latterday member of Moose, while Justin joined the reformed Lush in 2015. And when Lush required a bassist for what proved to be their final show (in Manchester) in November 2016, Mick stepped in.

        It was the rehearsals for that Manchester show that laid the foundations for Piroshka. “We sounded great!” says Justin. “Like a proper punk band. Mick brings a huge amount of enthusiasm and livens up the room, and I thought, this is the kind of band I want to be in again.” Mick agreed. “I’d seen Lush so many times, it was like playing with old friends. Miki agreed it was good fun too. And with Moose available, we thought, let’s all have a bash, see what happens.”

        Though Brickbat kicks off with a squeal of feedback, the album is far from a proper punk record, with as much sublime delicacy as physical force, with guitars to the fore but also electronic flourishes in all manner of spaces. Combined, they drive the nuggety melodic bombs long associated with Miki’s songwriting. But it wasn’t a foregone conclusion that she would want to join a new band. In the wake of Lush drummer Chris Acland’s unexpected suicide in 1997, his shocked and grieving bandmates felt unable to continue. Miki, in particular, “had to get completely away from music. The gate just shut for me.”

        As a parent with a full-time job, it took Miki until 2015 to agree to reunite Lush, with Chris’ good friend Justin on drums. But it wasn’t to be a permanent arrangement. “After the Manchester show, Justin asked if I’d be up for something else,” Miki recalls. “But I’d never made music outside of Lush, and I’ve never wanted to do anything solo. I have trouble with self-belief, I need someone else to motivate me, and in this case, it was Justin. He sent drum tracks with guitar parts and odd words, so I wrote some vocals and lyrics, which became ‘This Must Be Bedlam’ and ‘Never Enough’. When Mick added bass, it sounded great. When Moose added guitar and keyboards – I’d never written like that before, it was such good fun. I’d always written on my own in Lush.”

        Justin: “The first piece of music I sent Miki sounded like Can, with the odd word, like ‘protest’ and ‘bedlam’. It was a time in the world when everything felt wrong to me.”

        Mick: “We didn’t want Piroshka to sound anything like any of our old bands. When Miki sings, you can’t get away from Lush, but for me, we sound like four people exploring and having fun, knuckling ideas into shape, trying to make them sound new and different.”

        In any case, the blunt, forceful lyrics are many miles from Lush, tapping the current fear and loathing at the heart of society and politics, sometimes viewed through the heightened, anxious prism of parenthood, brutally honest at every turn. Take ‘Village Of The Damned’, the words penned by Moose (alongside ‘Hated By The Powers…’ and ‘Everlastingly Yours’). “It’s about school shootings,” he frowns, “and our reaction to almost being unable to take our eyes off twenty-four-hour news and internet feeds. You’re depressed and appalled by what you see.”

        ‘Heartbeats’ is Miki’s parent-related lyric, “the idea of closeness with your baby, and then as they grow, you have to let them go off into the world.” And what a world awaits them. Both ‘What’s Next’ and ‘This Must Be Bedlam’ were inspired by the mess of Brexit (“the idea of unity versus disunity” says Miki), ‘Never Enough’ rails against greed and inequality and ‘Hated By The Powers That Be’ was inspired by a button badge that Moose found with the slogan Hated By The Daily Mail. “It feels good to be that kind of person,” he declares. “To know we are not alone in being appalled with what’s going on.”

        Miki: “Given what’s happening, it feels weird at this time to not write about how scary things are, and self-indulgent to have come out with anything else. It’s tricky, though, because any kind of protest lyric can easily be preachy and clichéd, while writing about parenthood can sound smug or mawkish. There’s a lot of complexity in each subject. The context is more personal than just ‘The world is shit and you have to do something about it’.”

        Bella Union skipper Simon Raymonde had been one of the first to hear the demos; he instantly signed the band, further entangling the Piroshka family tree - his former bandmate Robin Guthrie (of Cocteau Twins) produced Lush’s debut album, while Raymonde’s current bandmate Richie Thomas (in Lost Horizons) was also a former member of Moose. Raymonde subsequently introduced Piroshka to Paul Gregory of Bella Union labelmates Lanterns On The Lake, who mixed Brickbat (except ‘What’s Next’, mixed by Alan Moulder) and to Fiona Brice (another Bella Union alumni), who wrote Brickbat’s strings arrangements, with Terry Edwards (ex-Higsons, current Blockhead), who played on Lush’s debut album, on brass.

        Together, from feedbacking intro to the beautifully fuggy dream that is the album finale ‘She’s Unreal’, Piroshka and Brickbat are a wonderful and, frankly, unexpected union of proven talent.


        FORMAT INFORMATION

        LP includes MP3 Download Code.

        Mercury Rev

        Bobbie Gentry's The Delta Sweete Revisited

          Mercury Rev reimagine the Bobbie Gentry album from 1968 with guest vocals from Norah Jones, Hope Sandoval, Rachel Goswell, Vashti Bunyan, Beth Orton, Marissa Nadler, Lucinda Williams, Margo Price, Susanne Sundfør, Phoebe Bridgers, Kaela Sinclair, Carice Van Houten and Laetitia Sadier.

          It slipped out of a Mississippi of hot biscuits, genteel table manners and working-class sense, suddenly overturned by a grave sinning and suicide. Carried on an evening breeze of strings and a supple, foreboding voice like sensually charged breath, “Ode to Billie Joe”—Bobbie Gentry’s 1967 debut as a singer-songwriter and a Number One single for three weeks in the late Summer of Love—was the most psychedelic record of that year not from San Francisco or London, as if Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Brian Wilson had conspired to make a country-rock Pet Sounds. Except Gentry, just 23 when she wrote the song, got there first, in miniature.

          Gentry’s hit was a revolutionary act, a quietly thorough feminism in vision, deed and success amid the strict, paternal order of the country-music industry. And it was her license to thrill again. In October, 1967, while “Billie Joe” was still in the Top Five, Gentry began recording The Delta Sweete, a connected set of a dozen songs that extended the narrative dynamics of that single with personal reflection and set her folk-siren charisma in a richer frame of dream-state orchestration, swamp-rock guitars and big-city-R&B horns.

          In her eight original songs for the album, Gentry drew from her childhood and church life on her grandparents’ farm in Chickasaw County, Mississippi: the girl-ish craving for a beautiful dress in “Reunion”; the rise-and-shine of “Mornin’ Glory”; the stern Sunday lessons in “Sermon,” based on a traditional hymn also known as “Run On.” The covers were boldly chosen: Mose Allison’s chain-gang blues “Parchman Farm”; “Tobacco Road”’s litany of trial; the Cajun pride in Doug Kershaw’s “Louisiana Man”. Gentry also turned them to new purpose and even gender. “Gonna get myself a man, one gonna treat me right,” she sang in Jimmy Reed’s “Big Boss Man” with heated assurance.

          But The Delta Sweete—released in March, 1968, only three months after Dylan’s John Wesley Harding and right as the Byrds came to Nashville to cut Sweetheart of the Rodeo—was too soon in its precedence. Gentry’s LP, the first country-rock opera, was ignored on arrival, not even cracking Billboard’s Top 100. It was as if Billie Joe had risen out of the Tallahatchie River and thrown that record off the bridge instead.

          This Delta Sweete is her long-delayed justice—Mercury Rev's committed and affectionate resurrection of an album that anticipated by three decades their own pivotal expedition through transcendental America, 1998's Deserter's Songs. From their recording lair in New York's Catskill Mountains, the founding core of Jonathan Donahue and Grasshopper with Jesse Chandler (previously in the Texas group Midlake) honor Gentry's foresight and creative triumph with spacious invention and hallucinatory flair. And they are not alone. Gentry's stories and original resolve are brought to new vocal life and empowerment by a vocal cast of women from across modern rock and its alternative paths: among them, Mazzy Star's Hope Sandoval; Laetitia Sadier, formerly of Stereolab; Marissa Nadler; Margo Price, the fiery new country star with a punk-rock heart; and Norway's Susanne Sundfør, who cuts through "Tobacco Road" with arctic-Nico poise. Phoebe Bridgers, whose first record was a softly stunning 2015 single for Ryan Adams' PAX AM label, hovers through the acid-western suspense of Gentry's "Jessye' Lisabeth" with floating calm, like a comforting angel.

          On the 1968 LP, Gentry opened with a call to jubilant order, “Okolona River Bottom Band,” like she was leading a barn-dance union of the early Rolling Stones and Louis Armstrong’s Hot Five. Norah Jones takes that entrance here with her own sultry command, like Sarah Vaughan at the head of a slow-blooming choir. In “Sermon,” Price—who has known real struggle up close—sings like a survivor through Mercury Rev’s explosion of color and groove: a specialty throughout the band’s history as recently as 2015’s The Light in You, going back through All Is Dream in 2001, the whirling iridescent soul of 1995’s See You on the Other Side and the sumptuous turbulence of the 1992 single “Car Wash Hair.”

          Gentry is still very present in the changes. Her seesaw of pride and hurt in the melancholy blur of “Penduli Pendulum” (“When goodbye serves as/My one amusement”) is even more explicit with the seasoned intimacy of Vashti Bunyan—a once-elusive voice from Britain’s psychedelic-folk boom—set against the younger, brighter arc of Kaela Sinclair, now in the electronic project M83. And in “Courtyard,” a despairing finale of strings and guitar arpeggios on Gentry’s LP, Mercury Rev build a striking Delta Krautrock in which the English singer Beth Orton wanders, like Gentry, through a ruin of profound loss and treasured memory.

          “Ode to Billie Joe” was not on the ‘68 Delta Sweete. But Mercury Rev go back to that dinner table with Lucinda Williams of Lake Charles, Louisiana, and it is an inspired bond, calling up the ghosts and questions of a South still very much with us. Indeed, Gentry—who retired from recording and performing in the Seventies—reportedly lives only a couple hours’ drive from the bridge that made her famous, while the spirits she set loose in The Delta Sweete are as restless and compelling as they were 50 years ago. This album is a loving tribute to that achievement, one of the greatest albums you have never heard. It is also a dozen new ways to walk that land.

          —David Fricke

          Pavo Pavo

          Mystery Hour

            Pavo Pavo is the recording project of Oliver Hill and Eliza Bagg. On their acclaimed 2016 debut, Young Narrator in the Breakers, Eliza’s effervescent soprano was compared to “a lovelorn alien reaching out from the farthest reaches of the galaxy” (Pitchfork), and the elegant, symphonic arrangements were described as “weightless pop that sounds like it was beamed down from a glimmering utopian future.” (Stereogum).

            The album began as a means to process the breakup and became a feedback loop, influencing the alchemy of their separation process and informing their new roles in each other’s lives. Recurring sounds and instruments act out the shifting storylines of these characters across the album: Oliver’s pitch-shifted vocals and high melodic synths are a distorted, imperfect replacement for Eliza’s floating soprano voice, and cascading strings are an intentional soundtrack for romantic melodrama.

            The tone is set by the album’s title track and lead single, a tightly built pop song driven by orchestra and choir into a celestial fadeout: I realize love is to see every side of you / but mon cheri I'm designed to be unsatisfied.

            At the heart of the music is the openness with which the duo continues to sing together, revealing their unshakeable friendship. The record is a meditation on relationships from different angles: “Goldenrod” ends the album with a duet about loss, the expressiveness of the two voices garbled to make them sound uncanny, almost inhuman. “Close to Your Ego,” (Hold me close to your ego / and I’ll hold you close to mine) is more oblique, about the difficulty of reconciling intimacy with sense of self.

            Their journey began at Yale University, where the duo both studied music – they met playing in the same string quartet. Since that time, Eliza and Oliver have become prolific and vital collaborators at the intersection of classical, experimental and pop music. As a soprano, Eliza has worked closely on new music with Meredith Monk, Julianna Barwick, John Zorn, Caroline Shaw, and Ben Frost. Oliver has arranged strings for tracks by the Dirty Projectors, Helado Negro and Wet, and is a member of Kevin Morby and Vagabon’s touring bands.

            The album draws thematic inspiration from a wide range of media: Ingmar Bergman’s Persona to choreographer Pina Bausch, painter David Hockney, and multi-media artist Alex da Corte. Photographer Natalie O’Moore’s album cover depicts Eliza and Oliver in turbulent conversation at the beach, resembling a film still to mirror the album’s narrative drama.

            “The beach is an image that keeps coming back to us – the edge of the world, with the possibility of exiting it,” Oliver says. “The idea for this cover is that it builds on the Young Narrator cover, with two figures casting long shadows on the beach. That cover was a collage and this is a photograph, the hi-res, come-to-life version.” 


            Go Dark

            Neon Young

              Go Dark are out there on the fringes, two lone figures working in the twilight to illuminate the world. 21st Century cyberpunk that touches on the sickness of modern life, Ashley ‘Crash’ Gallegos and Adam ‘Doseone’ Drucker are bound by an incommunicable sense of purpose, the two merging completely on scorched debut album ‘Neon Young’.

              “Go Dark is music for women of my kind, the striving maniac animal,” says Crash. “bitches that wear skirts and knives who can go into the woods and track things.”

              Dose adds: “A lot of music is meant to take you to a place you’d rather be, but this is meant to be a score for the way it is.”

              Go Dark emerge from digital ghettos, torn up synths and blunt, punk-edged Brutalism that conjures John Carpenter-style visions of futuristic dystopia - except it’s happening right here, right now.

              FORMAT INFORMATION

              LP Info: LP format includes digital download code.

              “The act of making this record has felt truly exotic for me by way of its minimalism,” says Liela Moss of her debut solo album. Released via Bella Union, ‘My Name Is Safe In Your Mouth’ more than lives up to Moss’s promise of fresh, bold adventure.

              Sonically spare yet sumptuous in its emotions, elemental power and expansive melodies, the record is a richly felt, vividly-realised trip into the interior from the Duke Spirit singer.

              A serene-to-stormy series of deep dream-pop meditations on devotion and selfhood, creativity and parenthood, it treats unknown territory not as something to fear but as a seed-bed of possibility.

              Two Medicine

              Astropsychosis

                “I’d always wanted Midlake to experiment more with the arrangements, or to get more into psychedelic textures,” says Paul Alexander, the bassist from Denton’s prog-folk voyagers. Those ambitions are fulfilled on Astropsychosis, Alexander’s debut album as Two Medicine, released via Bella Union in November. Richly ambitious in its sonic colour and conceptual reach, Astropsychosis is an album of luminous space and mindful grace, its depths and details coaxed into orbit with the lightness of an artist in his element.

                Alexander began facing his future in January 2016, after a year-long break from music following Midlake’s tour for 2013’s Antiphon. “I wanted to find out if I could write songs and if I could sing them – basically, whether or not I could make an album on my own,” he asks. Over 15 months of writing, arranging and recording (in Midlake’s old studio in Denton), he got his answer. From the early reference points of Pet Sounds, dream-pop and pre–Dark Side of the Moon-era Pink Floyd, Astropsychosis blossomed into a very modern exploration of sound and psychedelia, bright on top and burning with purpose below.


                FORMAT INFORMATION

                Coloured LP Info: Green vinyl.

                Coloured LP includes MP3 Download Code.

                It's been a hell of a recent past for John Grant, who, aside from getting the unquestionable delight of getting to see our faces every time he comes to Manchester (and us, his), has produced a superb album with Stephen Mallinder of Cab Voltaire and Wrangler fame under their collaborative moniker, 'Creep Show', and a string of live dates in the diary. All of this while recording his oft-teased new LP, 'Love Is Magic'. 

                'Metamorphosis' kicks things off, bringing together stabbing saw-waves and Grant's unmistakeable vocal acrobatics, tumbling atop off-piste melodic turns and new-beat percussives, setting a brilliantly warped precident before what may well be Grant's finest work to date in the stunning titular piece, 'Love Is Magic'. Treading familiar minor-key ground, we get a solemn but hopeful progression played out by stabbing synth lines and huge gated snare hits, covering all the sonic space necessary while keeping the mess down to a minimum and allowing John's voice to really shine before launching into the mindblowingly beautiful chorus (the vocal harmonies, attributed to Paul Denton of Midlake have an ethereal and dynamic momentum that is unmistakeable) and staggered but determined forward-thrust. 

                I could keep running through the tracks, but some of our readership would doubtless give up or expire before i'd finished blathering on, so i'll keep it to a few key points. 'Smug Cunt' while clearly filled with the wry venom we've come to know and love from Grant is an unimaginably deep cascade of dytopian synth pulses and resonant bass,  launching into a spine-tinglingly effective culmination of gloom and euphoria. 'He's Got His Mothers Hips' brings the camp disco vibes spectacularly, with a truncated snappy analogue bassline swirling around beneath the syncopated vox before exploding into a major key serotonin release in the hand-waving chorus. 

                Move on a little and the spoken-word commentary of 'Diet Gum' takes an admittedly hilarious step into the leftfield, perfectly illustrating JG's clever tongue-in-cheek sense of humour 'Did you really think you could seduce me in a leisure suit?... well.... fair enough' and captivating presence before bringing it back to the sublime with the tear-inducing majesty of 'Is He Strange'. Stunning piano and vocal harmonies meet together into the perfect storm of majesty and misery. The closing duo of 'The Common Snipe' and 'Touch And Go' are once again perfectly matched, with the minimalistic backline and flickering sample and hold synth lines peaking lightly behind the former, and the anthemic, rolling stagger of the latter closing off a stunning and career-defining collection. It's a testament to Grant's sphere of influence and ability as a songwriter and producer that so many influences can be absorbed into his sound without sounding forced or disjointed. A brilliantly melodic, heart-warmingly anomalous wonder.  

                STAFF COMMENTS

                Barry says: Once again, John Grant pulls out a diverse range of influences (we've seen what records he buys!) into a cohesive and superb combination of off-piste vocal timbres, mind-melting synths and spine-tingling melodies. Punctuated with moments of introspective melancholy but quickly resolved into a warm bath of huge rock progressions and gritty synth swirls. Absolutely brilliant, and undoubtedly the best work of his career.

                FORMAT INFORMATION

                2xColoured LP Info: This deluxe version is 140g clear vinyl. Includes 16 page 'Hymn Booklet' containing lyrics along with a 24 page photo booklet which includes photos taken by John Grant.

                2xLP Info: 140g black vinyl. Includes 16 page 'Hymn Booklet' containing lyrics.

                The eighth album from Marissa Nadler, For My Crimes, is the sound of turmoil giving way to truth. The songs stare down the dark realization that love may not be enough to keep two people together through distance and differing needs. By asking these difficult questions about her relationships, Nadler has found a stronger sense of self and a sharper voice as both a songwriter and a vocalist, culminating in her most evocative entry in an already impressive discography. 

                Following the release of 2016’s acclaimed Strangers, Nadler’s relationships were put to the test as she left the Boston area on tour. She wrote throughout 2017 about this tension, and ended up with three times as many songs as she needed. But after reviewing the demos with her co-producers Justin Raisen and Lawrence Rothman, Nadler wrote a flurry of tight but no less intense new songs in the week before arriving at Rothman’s Laurel Canyon studio, House of Lux, in early January. She considered it a challenge to herself, applying new strategies and structures to the craft of “slow music” she’s honed over the last 15 years. From that group of songs came nearly all of the singles on For My Crimes, some of the most indelible of Nadler’s career.

                The opening title track is classic Nadler: a sweeping, vaguely Southern drama of voices, strings, and acoustic guitar, that walks the fine line between character song and personal indictment by metaphor. “For My Crimes” spawned out of a songwriting exercise in which Nadler wrote from the perspective of someone on death row, but the song casts a dark shadow over an album that turns marital conflict into inner reflection. Helping Nadler dig down into the song’s remorseful soul is her old friend Angel Olsen, who serves as a distraught echo from beyond in the chorus.

                “Blue Vapor” has an intoxicating raw energy luring you in, somewhere between Springsteen and a grunge band playing MTV Unplugged back in the day. It feels at once tight and improvisational, balancing on little more than Nadler’s steady strumming and vulnerable harmonies with Kristin Kontrol (of Dum Dum Girls), until the heavy, purposeful style of Hole drummer Patty Schemel conjures chaos in the second half. This slow burn feeling is all too appropriate for a song centred around repeating patterns and creeping numbness in a relationship. “Blue Vapor” names that strange ambivalence and turns it into a chant that hangs in the air long after the song ends.

                Dreaminess and eeriness have often been two sides of the same coin in Marissa Nadler songs. Where “For My Crimes” and “Blue Vapor” come from her dark side, the album has plenty of moments that twinkle in their sadness and sentimentality. “I Can’t Listen to Gene Clark Anymore” is one of those highly specific songs you’ll get if you’ve ever lost a favourite band to your own broken heart. It sways perfectly in its bittersweet-ness, like a slow dance you never want to end. After the strings swell and the bass pedals kick in, Nadler coos, “Cause I remember/The songs you sang/To me when it was you/I was falling for.” Later, closing track “Said Goodbye To That Car” turns a final odometer reading into a rhythm for a catchy, wistful hook: “1-1-9-6-5-7, and the engine blew/“1-1-9-6-5-7, and I thought of you,” Nadler lulls, harmonizing with herself. It’s an ingenious way to capture the end of an era in one small moment, and she moves as delicately as you would handling an old photo with her sweet oohs.

                Bolstering the intimacy of these songs is the strong feminine energy that defined their recording. Between Rothman’s fluidity with both gender and genre (as heard on his 2017 album The Book of Law), and Raisen’s track record of successful collaborations with strong women (Olsen, Kim Gordon, Charli XCX), Nadler felt empowered to explore without judgement in the studio. With the exception of a single saxophonist, every player on the album is a woman of notable pedigree and distinct style, many of whom have played with Nadler over the years. In addition to the cameos by Angel Olsen and Kristin Kontrol, Sharon Van Etten sings backup on “I Can’t Listen to Gene Clark Anymore” and “Lover Release Me.” Mary Lattimore joins on harp for “Are You Really Gonna Move to the South,” while the great experimental multi-instrumentalist Janel Leppin plays strings throughout the record.

                These women and others helped make For My Crimes as dynamic as it is intimate, but Nadler’s mesmerizing voice—stripped of nearly all reverb—is what sits at the center of these songs. You can hear the emotional range of her performances more than ever before, from the spectral harmonizing of “Are You Really Gonna Move To The South” to the cheeky boredom of “All Out Of Catastrophes,” two other highlights. As a singer, she has never sounded more confident than she does here.

                Adding to the album’s deeply personal feeling is its abstracted artwork, featuring Nadler’s original oil paintings. Though Nadler is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design and a semi-retired art teacher (she has one student left—a 95-year-old named Doris), For My Crimes marks the first album cover bearing one of her paintings. 

                STAFF COMMENTS

                Barry says: Nadler has never failed to tickle the feels with her own brand of gothic acousticry, slowly morphing from quiet folk ballads into grand, echoic anthems. Layering Nadler's haunting vocals on top of each-other to great effect and underpinned with a spine-tinglingly haunting instrumental sensibility, this is without a doubt, her greatest work. Beautiful.

                FORMAT INFORMATION

                Coloured LP Info: Limited edition 180 gram coloured vinyl.

                Coloured LP includes MP3 Download Code.

                Mountain Man

                Magic Ship

                  Mountain Man did not intend to disappear for the better part of a decade, or to take eight years to release its second album, Magic Ship. But for a trio of devoted friends for whom music has always seemed so effortless and graceful, that’s simply how life went. The wondrous Magic Ship—a magnetic fourteen-song reflection on the joys, follies, and oddities of existence—was well worth the wait.

                  In 2009, when she was a student at a small liberal arts college in New England, Amelia Meath heard a gorgeous sound coming from the living room of her dormitory. She raced downstairs to find Molly Erin Sarlé singing “Dog Song,” a tender tune about lust, longing, and responsibility. Meath demanded that Sarlé, nearly a stranger, teach her the tune, which she, in turn, taught to a friend, Alexandra Sauser-Monnig. The next time the pair saw Sarlé, they sang “Dog Song” to, and then with, her. And so, Mountain Man was born.

                  The three weren’t quite yet friends when they performed, recorded, and even toured for the first time, but they each felt the chemistry within their combined voices, a sense of artistic kismet and kinship that some spend lifetimes seeking. Acclaim came quickly, with their debut—2010’s Made the Harbor, humbly recorded on rickety equipment in an abandoned factory—earning praise from the New York Times and the Guardian and prompting big tours.

                  But before they could return to the studio, post-collegiate life intervened: Meath moved to Durham, North Carolina and eventually started Sylvan Esso. Sarlé headed for a Zen center along the California coast. Sauser-Monnig returned to Minnesota, then decamped to a farm in the North Carolina mountains. They kept in touch with near-weekly conference calls, growing as friends while taking a break from making music together. When Sarlé was ready to leave California, though, Meath and Sauser-Monnig implored her to return east, saying they would even fly to her and drive with her across the country, so long as she settled in North Carolina.

                  Together as friends, not as a band, the three made an all-American road trip. They camped beneath endless desert skies and partied with true New Orleans abandon. Finally home, they focused first on their relationship, singing together only as an extension of this personal reunion.

                  At last, they tested their again-blossoming friendship onstage in the summer of 2017 at the Eaux Claires music festival. On a tiny, cabin-like stage tucked into a forest, where audiences of a few hundred are considered big, Mountain Man captivated several thousand, with people climbing trees and fighting through stinging nettles to catch a glimpse or whisper. Hanging on every note and between-song quip, the crowd stood transfixed and silent—a festival miracle, there in the woods. And so, Mountain Man was reborn.

                  Months later, the trio reconvened at Meath’s home studio in Durham for two recording sessions, each bringing songs destined to be sung with old friends. The result, Magic Ship, is every bit as captivating as that day onstage: The stunning “Boat,” where cooing harmonies frame Sauser-Monnig like drapes around a sunny window, sees a world of possibility in a little vessel along the riverbanks. The dashing “AGT” finds inspiration in flower blooms and bumble bees, discovering in the sights of nature a pure self-reliance. The magnetic “Rang Tang Ring Toon” celebrates a night spent hosting friends, sharing beans and music, and a skinny dip under the stars. There is sincerity and humour, depth and mirth, all rendered with three voices that have never been more connected.

                  These songs distill eight years of experience between Made the Harbor and now—of sights seen, pleasures had, feelings hurt, forgiveness extended. These tunes are wise and tender, open and honest. Magic Ship conveys absolute warmth—like a snowbound afternoon spent indoors, passing a bottle of brown liquor between friends while putting old favorites on the turntable, or a long summer evening spent lounging beneath a shade tree, swapping stories and sharing laughs until the sun has vanished.

                  At a moment when the way forward for the world seems uncertain to the point of unravelling, when it feels that decades of impetuous decisions are catching up to the society we’ve created, Magic Ship offers a necessary sort of return and reassurance, a promise that goodness and truth remain available in our least-mitigated forms of expression. A weekend morning spent with a lover in bed, an innocent memory of pure childhood delight, a threadbare shirt from your parents: These are the experiences that Magic Ship so candidly shares, the moments of splendour that make the struggles worth it.

                  STAFF COMMENTS

                  Barry says: Stunning harmonies form the basis to this newest LP on the ever-reliable Bella Union. Mountain Man mix rhythmic harmonised vocals with lo-fi bluegrass leanings and tender, melancholic sparse instrumentation.

                  FORMAT INFORMATION

                  Coloured LP Info: Limited edition 180 gram clear vinyl.

                  Coloured LP includes MP3 Download Code.

                  The sleeve tells you so much about the process. It’s a picture of a lone figure. Suited up and immersed in interplanetary protective gear, he walks out across unmapped terrain. In the distance, a mountain range towers over the roughly gridded sand he’s striding. This is very much a solo mission – giant steps into the unknown. Inside the helmet, there’s all the uncertainty and madness that such a pursuit brings.

                  That sleeve (designed, as ever, with Mark Farrow), comes wrapped around And Nothing Hurt - Spiritualized’s eighth album, the follow up to 2012’s Sweet Heart, Sweet Light. From the opening lullaby of A Perfect Miracle through to the fading Morse Code at the close of Sail on Through, it painstakingly wraps layer upon layer of gloriously transcendent sound together to create a mesmerizing and cinematic collection of songs.

                  There are points – the thunderous climax of On the Sunshine; the spectral waltz of The Prize; the towering guitar solo on I’m Your Man – where the waves of blissful noise are almost overwhelming, where one can imagine the studio’s speakers vibrating themselves off of the walls. Which is an incredible feat when you discover that the album was conceived and recorded almost entirely by one man – Jason Pierce, AKA J.Spaceman - in an upstairs room in his east London home. Sat in an edit suite in Whitechapel a month or so after finishing recording, Jason talks honestly about the painstaking, frustrating process of creating And Nothing Hurt.

                  “Making this record on my own sent me more mad than anything I’ve done before. We’d been playing these big shows and I really wanted to capture that sound we were making but, without the funds to do, I had to find a way to work within the constraints of what money I had. So I bought a laptop and made it all in a little room in my house.”

                  Whereas bedroom recording is commonplace for a generation of musicians who’ve grown up with horizon-expanding tech, Spiritualized have long used the studio as they would an extra member of the band – as a vital building block in the construction of some of the most cherished records of the modern era. This time would be very different. With no grounding in digital recording, Jason had to learn everything from scratch.

                  “The biggest thing for me was to try to make it sound like a studio session. There are bits that I went to a studio to record – mainly drums and percussion. I mean, there’s no way I’m going to get timpani up my stairs. When I came to terms with how I was going to make the record, I assumed it was going to sound like Lee Perry - all flying in from different angles; all extraordinary and not hi-tech in construction. But I was new to it all, I didn’t have all the short cuts people use when they’re making records – I just sat there for weeks… for months… moving every level up bit by bit just to try to get the sounds right.”

                  For the listener, the nine tracks on And Nothing Hurt effortlessly replicate the scale and power of Spiritualized’s previous releases, whether it’s the sonic blowback of On the Sunshine, the last dime in the jukebox love letter of Let’s Dance or the swell of an imaginary orchestra that seems to lift Damaged towards the heavens as it plays out.

                  “With a bit of trial and lot of error, I found ways of doing something that’s quite simple, if you’ve got the resources. I spent two weeks listening to classical records and strumming the chord that I wanted on my guitar. When I found something to match what I wanted, I’d sample that bit and go for the next chord and try to match that. It took weeks, trying to put together and layer convincing string sounds. But, if I’m honest, all I wanted was for someone to come and play the part and bring their own thing to the record.”

                  One of the biggest influences on the final sound of the record was a series of shows played in 2016 celebrating the (near) 20th anniversary of the band’s peerless 1997 release Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space. Those shows, played with a fifteen-piece orchestra and a gospel choir, forced Jason to revisit songs that he’d already been working on for years.

                  “Part of the reason for doing those gigs was to inform the songs I’d been working on. Trying to sing convincingly in a little room at home was really difficult. The big shows helped remind myself what it’s like to sing with that kind of backing. I can’t really describe it… when you’re singing with a choir behind you and there’s all this noise coming off the stage, you sing things very differently to how you would A) in a studio or B) sitting on your bed at home recording into a laptop.”

                  Lyrically, And Nothing Hurt touches on thoughts of passing time and acceptance of one’s age – never more beautifully than on Let’s Dance (‘The hour is getting late, they’re putting all the chairs away / they’ve got Big Star on the radio, they’ll let us stay’).

                  “I didn’t want to be fighting against my age; it’s very much about acceptance. And not with any dissatisfaction either – I’m not raging against the inevitable. I spent a lot of time thinking about the way that the songs should hold together, trying to make the narratives make sense rather than just throwing together a couple of lines that rhymed. Let’s Dance was very much a ‘last orders’ kind of song, about grasping at the finality of that moment.”

                  During the making of And Nothing Hurt, Jason kept returning to the thought that this would be the last Spiritualized record – interviews over the last couple of years made it clear that the frustration of trying to replicate the sounds in his head whilst sat on his bed were proving too much. With the record finally finished and a new UK label (Bella Union – Fat Possum continue to release Spiritualized records in the States), does he feel the same way now?

                  “I was quite sincere about that and I still feel like it might be the case. It was such hard work. I found myself going crazy for so long. It’s not like there’s no coming back, I’m fine now… it’s just such a hard thing to do, to make a record like this on your own. It’s almost as if, if I’m not pushing myself to point of madness, it’s not going to be right. And I know it’s going to be like that every time. What’s the definition of madness? Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. I kind of do that. I think the biggest goal is to make something that’s worthy of all that time and effort. And the more time and effort, the bigger the goal. I knew I had to make something that was good enough that it should be made. And a massive positive about making the record is that we get to play it live. That’s always the most joyous thing; everyone gets to contribute to the sound, this amazing thing that seems to come right through the roof.”

                  If the last set of Spiritualized gigs helped set the course for how And Nothing Hurt now sounds – alternately intimate, hypnotic, cyclonic and downright spiritual - maybe… just maybe… this next set will encourage Jason to flip open the laptop to press record again. Here’s hoping.

                  STAFF COMMENTS

                  Barry says: A brilliantly written, beautifully evocative distillation of the live Spiritualized sound on this newest LP from Jason Pierce. Classic S3 melodies and progressions, intimately presented and as immersive as ever. A fitting return for one of the greats.

                  FORMAT INFORMATION

                  Coloured LP Info: Indies exclusive white vinyl.

                  Deluxe LP Info: Deluxe edition orange vinyl.

                  “You shouldn't have a tough time finding the angle to Deportation Blues,” claims Brian ‘BC Camplight’ Christinzio. “The past few years have been a fucking nightmare.”

                  But what a fucking great record he’s made off the back of his nightmare. His second album for Bella Union, Deportation Blues is an exhilarating, dynamic document of calamity and stress, relayed through richly melodic and bold arrangements spanning singer-songwriter classicism, gnarly synth-pop, ‘50s rock’n’roll and various junctures between, mirroring their maverick creator’s jarred emotions and fractured mindset.

                  For the full story, you have to head back to before Christinzio’s Bella Union debut, 2015’s How To Die In The North. Born in New Jersey, but living in Philadelphia, Christinzio had released two albums while battling addiction and mental illness. Both albums won rave reviews and earned Christinzio a reputation as one of independent music’s most forward-thinking artists. Soon after, however, as illness rendered him unable to function as a working songwriter, Christinzio retreated to a life squatting in an abandoned church. Despite some notable appearances as a session pianist (Sharon Van Etten) and occasional live work for Philly faves The War On Drugs (Robbie Bennett and David Hartley were in the original BC live band) he knew a sea change was needed in order to regain his career and sanity.

                  Feeling he’d be “dead or in jail if I stayed”, he acted on a friend’s suggestion to cross the ocean to Manchester. There, Christinzio found new inspiration, new friends, a girlfriend, a dog, and finally a new album (his first in eight years).

                  So, imagine his mood when he fell foul of UK immigration. “I’d had such high hopes for How To Die In The North, and I was told I was being deported two days after it came out, and banned from the UK. The next thing I know, I’m playing Pac Man in my parents’ basement, thinking, this is my life now.”

                  Occasional gigs in Europe, where his Manchester-based band could meet him, and extended sojourns in Dublin and Paris, broke up the monotony, but it was still like “living in a constant panic attack.”

                  But then the cavalry arrived! Courtesy of his grandparents, Christinzio secured Italian citizenship. It cost time, money and a portion of his sanity, “but after a year and a half I could finally shove my Italian papers in their faces at the airport and return to sunny Manchester. The thing is, despite being American, I feel Mancunian, and I couldn’t think about making another record, until I got back.”

                  To add insult to injury, “Brexit happened, like a day after I got back. Can I get a fucking break here, please?”

                  Once the dust had settled, Christinzio realised, “I didn’t feel any better, I had so much anger, I felt destroyed. The demons were back and had lost me friends, I’d drunk too much, and I felt nothing but dread and disease. I thought, I can’t wait to hear what this next album is going to sound like.”

                  Recording in Liverpool’s Whitewood studios, Christinzio locked himself in the windowless studio and recorded almost exclusively in the dark. “The thoughts and sounds that began to flow out of me were pretty scary. I’m pretty sure the engineer started carrying a shiv in his pocket after about the second day. Nothing playful sounding came out. If the last album had elements of whimsy, the thought of any on this album made me want to vomit.” “A couple of months later we had finished Deportation Blues and emerged from the studio like mole people”. Christinzio recorded the album mostly on his own, plus drummer Adam Dawson, occasional guitar by Robbie Rush, and a couple of session horn players. The lead track is ‘I’m Desperate’, “an ominous synth burner,” says Christinzio, with a Suicide-style throb and a haunting female vocal counterpoint that underlines the album’s manic, careering edge, fantastic hooks and instrumental verve. It’s an uncompromising way to introduce Deportation Blues, likewise the album’s title-track opener. Bookended by metallic power chords, cascading synths and a gorgeous downbeat mood lead into slower doo-wop complete with howling falsetto. “It’s instantly a different, darker record than How To Die In The North,” Christinzio notes. Deportation Blues is also noticeably more electronic than its predecessor. “I was feeling cold so every time something sounded pretty, I replaced it with something that sounded like an ice pick. The apocalyptic nuclear feel really appealed.” Throughout, Christinzio sounds as if he’s walking a knife-edge. Take second track ‘I’m In A Weird Place Now’, a heady conflagration of Spector and Springsteen, with Christinzio confessing “And there’s something about Manchester town / And the silly little things she makes me do.” “I like the oppressiveness of the weather in Manchester, it brings everyone down to my level” he explains. The fried mood continues on ‘Hell Or Pennsylvania’, splicing woozy noir jazz lounge-drunk cabaret by way of ‘50s legend Jerry Lee Lewis - Christinzio’s entry point to music through his mother’s record collection. “It’s the first time I’ve reflected that on a record,” he says. “Jerry Lee was this guy bashing at a piano who didn’t give a shit, and I didn’t give a shit.” The lyrical reference to “lemon twirls” meanwhile, represents Brian’s struggle with substance abuse: “The big choruses are a celebration of cocaine whilst the jazz sections represent the lament, the familiar loathsome aftermath.” The sudden changes of mood and style are also metaphorical. For example, ‘Am I Dead’ embraces cinematic horns, broody pop and synth-bass afro-funk. “I go through highs and lows and have trouble staying entertained,” he admits. “A musical part can state its purpose in fifteen seconds, sometimes it doesn’t need repeating. The trick is tying everything together without it sounding confusing.” ‘Am I Dead’ is segued between ‘When I Think Of My Dog’ and ‘Midnight Ease’, two plush, heart-aching piano ballads with rippling saxophone. After ‘Fire In England’, a greasy, nervy rocker, is a bitter ode to British PM – and former immigration controller (as Home Secretary) Theresa May (“dresses like a bus seat, doesn’t she?”). It’s a complex, bleak record I guess” Christinzio concludes. “As dramatic as it may sound, this album was made by a dude who wasn’t sure he’d be alive the next day. Nothing is there for any other reason than it’s the truth. It’s not trying to sound cool or get on the radio.” Though Christinzio points out “this is no redemption I-saw-the-light story,” he is allowing himself a little bit of hope for once: “I’ve never been as pleased with where I am artistically as I am right now.” On top, his new band, “is phenomenal.” Alongside trusted drummer Dawson is Luke Barton (guitars, synths), guitarist Tom Rothery and multi-instrumentalist/ backing singer Ali Bell. Leading them is a man that a bartender in Manchester recently described as “like Mozart and Tony Soprano had a kid." Brian Christinzio, and BC Camplight, genius and pain, may be here to stay at last.

                  FORMAT INFORMATION

                  Coloured LP Info: Limited edition silver vinyl.

                  Coloured LP includes MP3 Download Code.

                  Hilang Child

                  Years

                    The special thrill of hearing an artist grow into their voice is emphatically served by the debut album from Ed Riman, the half-Welsh, half- Indonesian, London-based singer-songwriter and soundscapist who records as Hilang Child. ‘Years’ radiates a rich sense of self-discovery in its lush, textured layers of sound and feeling. Between its blossoming choruses, multi-tracked harmonies and loose theme of embracing adulthood, it’s an epiphanic debut from an artist not just fulfilling his early promise but reaching far beyond it. Collaborators on ‘Years’ include Kwes, who helped on the mix and added “little touches here and there,” says Riman, “which really made it feel complete.” Sam Delves played guitar and Yazzmin Newell played trumpet; the remainder was largely self-written and self-produced, reflecting a distinct vision at work.

                    STAFF COMMENTS

                    Barry says: Atmospheric shoegazing melodies, huge percussion and anthemic chord changes make this debut album one to remember, with the clattering post-rock percussion and soaring instrumentation sitting beautifully beside Riman's euphoric vox.

                    FORMAT INFORMATION

                    Coloured LP Info: Silver vinyl.

                    Coloured LP includes MP3 Download Code.

                    Various Artists

                    Paradise: The Sound Of Ivor Raymonde

                      Classic singles like Billy Fury’s ‘Halfway To Paradise’, Dusty Springfield’s ‘I Only Want To Be With You’ and The Walker Brothers’ ‘Make It Easy On Yourself’ would not have been hits without Ivor Raymonde. As their arranger, and in the case of ‘I Only Want To Be With You’ songwriter too, he shaped the final recordings. He decided on the orchestration and backing vocals, chose the instruments and determined what was heard on the radio - and what record buyers bought.

                      ‘Paradise: The Sound Of Ivor Raymonde’ is a long-overdue celebration of Ivor Raymonde, collecting his work as an arranger, musical director, producer, singer and songwriter. The story of a British musical great is told for the first time.

                      Billy Fury, Dusty Springfield and The Walker Brothers are heard. So is the only vocal performance for which Ivor Raymonde received a credit on a record label. He worked with the pre-fame David Bowie and Tom Jones. He spotted the potential of Los Bravos, steering them into the charts with ‘Black Is Black’. Near-misses and obscurities made with Brit-girls Cindy Cole and Helen Shapiro, the soulful Sonny Childe and confrontational protopsychedelic London band The Flies are as fantastic as the hits. With these and more, ‘Paradise: The Sound Of Ivor Raymonde’ distils the essence of the magic of Ivor Raymonde.

                      ‘Paradise: The Sound Of Ivor Raymonde’ is released by Bella Union, the label run by Ivor’s son, former Cocteau Twins member Simon Raymonde. Compiled by Simon and Kieron Tyler, it is a very personal tribute to a sadly missed father. Born in 1926, Ivor Raymonde passed away in 1990.

                      The previously untold story is revealed through a moving reminiscence written by Simon and in-depth liner notes and a track-by-track commentary by Kieron. Ivor Raymonde played on the ocean liner The Queen Mary in 1949. In the Fifties, British television viewers saw him in legendary comedian Tony Hancock’s ‘Hancock’s Half Hour’ but music was always going to be most important - the hits with Billy Fury and Dusty Springfield in 1961 and 1963 meant he was in demand. The 26 selections balance the wellknown with collectable rarities and tracks drawn from - until now - barely heard-of singles. Each is a gem and each shows the magic of an Ivor Raymonde recording.

                      ‘Paradise: The Sound Of Ivor Raymonde’ is issued on CD and 180g heavyweight double vinyl album with digital download code. The vinyl version is sequenced slightly differently for listening flow. Every track was originally issued as a single issued in mono for the pop market until 1968 / 1969. Keeping the integrity of the compilation in mind, all but four tracks appear in mono as they did originally. The masters used are those of the original singles.

                      FORMAT INFORMATION

                      2xLtd LP includes MP3 Download Code.

                      Father John Misty

                      Real Love Baby / Rejected Generic Pop Song March 15 #3



                        FORMAT INFORMATION

                        Ltd 7" Info: Just found a couple of copies of this limited edition 7".

                        The Innocence Mission

                        Sun On The Square

                          For listeners of the innocence mission, the Lancaster, Pennsylvania trio are beyond a favorite band, more like a beloved companion, such is their intensity and fragility of their sound and vision, spearheaded by Karen Peris’ heartbreaking, breathtaking voice. Those fans include Sufjan Stevens and Sam Beam (Iron & Wine), who have both covered innocence mission songs, and in whose company the trio deserve to be bracketed.

                          Now, with “Sun On The Square”, their first album in four years and first UK/European release in over a decade, the trio have joined the Bella Union family, following Karen’s guest appearance on “Ojalá” by Lost Horizons, the band collective co-created by label skipper Simon Raymonde.

                          “There’s less than a handful of artists on my Bella Union dream list,” he explains. “The Innocence Mission are on there but they’ve remained an elusive mystery, and believe me, I’ve tried! I’ve been a fan as long as I can remember. From the second I heard Karen’s voice, I’ve been smitten. Birds Of My Neighborhood is in my Top Three albums of all time. It’s a heartbreaker though. Guarantees tears. But the more the tears fall, the deeper I go!”

                          STAFF COMMENTS

                          Barry says: Beautiful tender fingerpicked guitars, brittle ballads and more than a hint of that childlike Newsom vocal peeking through. Sun On The Square is a beautifully realised and enchantingly airy work, an essential for any folk fans.

                          FORMAT INFORMATION

                          Coloured LP Info: Limited edition 180 gram clear vinyl.

                          Coloured LP includes MP3 Download Code.

                          "7 is our 7th full-length record. At its release, we will have been a band for over 13 years. We have now written and released a total of 77 songs together.

                          Last year, we released an album of b-sides and rarities. It felt like a good step for us. It helped us clean the creative closet, put the past to bed, and start anew.

                          Throughout the process of recording 7, our goal was rebirth and rejuvenation. We wanted to rethink old methods and shed some self-imposed limitations. In the past, we often limited our writing to parts that we could perform live. On 7, we decided to follow whatever came naturally. As a result, there are some songs with no guitar, and some without keyboard. There are songs with layers and production that we could never recreate live, and that is exciting to us. Basically, we let our creative moods, instead of instrumentation, dictate the album’s feel.

                          In the past, the economics of recording have dictated that we write for a year, go to the studio, and record the entire record as quickly as possible. We have always hated this because by the time the recording happens, a certain excitement about older songs has often been lost. This time, we built a "home" studio, and began all of the songs there. Whenever we had a group of 3-4 songs that we were excited about, we would go to a “proper” recording studio and finish recording them there. This way, the amount of time between the original idea and the finished song was pretty short (of the album’s 11 songs, 8 were finished at Carriage House in Stamford, CT and 2 at Palmetto Studio in Los Angeles).

                          7 didn’t have a producer in the traditional sense. We much preferred this, as it felt like the ideas drove the creativity, not any one person’s process. James Barone, who became our live drummer in 2016, played on the entire record. His tastes and the trust we have in him really helped us keep rhythm at the center of a lot of these songs. We also worked with Sonic Boom (Peter Kember). Peter became a great force on this record, in the shedding of conventions and in helping to keep the songs alive, fresh and protected from the destructive forces of recording studio over-production/over-perfection.

                          The societal insanity of 2016-17 was also deeply influential, as it must be for most artists these days. Looking back, there is quite a bit of chaos happening in these songs, and a pervasive dark field that we had little control over. The discussions surrounding women’s issues were a constant source of inspiration and questioning. The energy, lyrics and moods of much of this record grew from ruminations on the roles, pressures and conditions that our society places on women, past and present. The twisted double edge of glamour, with its perils and perfect moments, was an endless source (see “L’Inconnue,” “Drunk in LA,” “Woo,” “Girl of the Year,” “Last Ride”).

                          In a more general sense, we are interested by the human mind's (and nature’s) tendency to create forces equal and opposite to those present. Thematically, this record often deals with the beauty that arises in dealing with darkness; the empathy and love that grows from collective trauma; the place one reaches when they accept rather than deny (see “Dark Spring,” “Pay No Mind,” “Lemon Glow,” “Dive,” “Black Car,” “Lose Your Smile”).

                          The title, 7, itself is simply a number that represents our seventh record. We hoped its simplicity would encourage people to look inside. No title using words that we could find felt like an appropriate summation of the album.

                          The number 7 does represent some interesting connections in numerology. 1 and 7 have always shared a common look, so 7 feels like the perfect step in the sequence to act as a restart or “semi-first.” Most early religions also had a fascination with 7 as being the highest level of spirituality, as in "Seventh Heaven.” At our best creative moments, we felt we were channeling some kind of heavy truth, and we sincerely hope the listeners will feel that." 

                          Much Love,
                          Beach House


                          STAFF COMMENTS

                          Barry says: Another superb outing from Beach House, this time a slightly more cinematic affair, with huge ambient washes, swooning guitar and that unmistakable vocal style we've come to expect. A superb progression from the stunning Depression Cherry, and further evidence of Beach House's impeccable style and songwriting prowess.

                          Field Division

                          Dark Matter Dreams

                            Field Division is Evelyn Taylor and Nicholas Frampton. Four years on from the sumptuous dream-folk of their debut EP, 2014’s Reverie State, the Des Moines duo flex all their lung-power on their debut album, Dark Matter Dreams. Written on the road, where the duo has been living even when not touring, it’s a sweeping album with rock vigour and the spark of deeply held convictions, nurtured in the face of widespread modern disillusionment. Vintage influences include Buckingham Nicks, Led Zeppelin, All Things Must Pass, The Beatles, and the 1960s/1970s Laurel Canyon scene, but make no mistake: this is an album that lives and breathes for today.

                            The Drowning Craze

                            Singles '81/'82

                              Both formats include a free cassette whilst stocks last.

                              The history of post punk is full of curious footnotes and sudden dead ends. Fascinating bands that flared up, intoxicated with the rush of ideas and sense of creative freedom in that fertile period where there were no rules and boundaries to creativity for groups, leaving a vapour trail of a handful of singles and inevitable John Peel sessions before disappearing back into the ether.

                              The Drowning Craze are typical of those bands. Their legacy is three singles and a John Peel session, a glimmer of possibility and a hint of something quite wonderful and then gone. Fortunately for them their constituent members re-emerged years later in other projects leaving them flagged up on the history train with the band’s bassist Simon Raymonde going on to play in the Cocteau Twins before setting up his own label, Bella Union and original vocalist, Angela Jaeger, joining Pigbag whilst their next singer, Frankie ‘Fun’ Nardiello, joined the esoteric Chicago industrial disco band Thrill Kill Kult.

                              The Drowning Craze had formed in early eighties London with Simon Raymonde - the son of Ivor Raymonde who wrote hits for Dusty Springfield, such as ‘I Only Want To Be With You’ and ‘Stay Awhile’ and then string arranging for all the Walker Brothers hits. Simon played piano and violin at school but took his own tangent when punk rock arrived and bought his first bass in 1977 aged 15 and learnt the whole of ‘Never Mind The Bollocks’, the Sex Pistols’ first album, in one afternoon.

                              Inspired by punk rock / post punk and John Peel he was very much a child of those times. Glued to Peel’s lugubrious tones on the radio that were signposting a way out of the crashed car of punk rock and into new musical soundscapes he would also help to carve as a foot soldier with The Drowning Craze.

                              FORMAT INFORMATION

                              Coloured LP Info: Limited edition white vinyl with a 16 page booklet.

                              Coloured LP includes MP3 Download Code.

                              Written largely in New York between Summer 2016 and Winter 2017, Josh Tillman’s fourth Father John Misty LP, ‘God’s Favorite Customer’, reflects on the experience of being caught between the vertigo of heartbreak and the manic throes of freedom.

                              God’s Favorite Customer reveals a bittersweetness and directness in Tillman’s songwriting, without sacrificing any of his wit or taste for the absurd. From “Mr. Tillman,” where he trains his lens on his own misadventure, to the cavernous pain of estrangement in “Please Don’t Die,” Tillman plays with perspective throughout to alternatingly hilarious and devastating effect. “We’re Only People (And There’s Not Much Anyone Can Do About That)” is a meditation on our inner lives and the limitations we experience in our attempts to give and receive love. It stands in solidarity with the title track, which examines the ironic relationship between forgiveness and sin. Together, these are songs that demand to know either real love or what comes after, and as the album progresses, that entreaty leads to discovering the latter’s true stakes.

                              God's Favorite Customer was produced by Tillman and recorded with Jonathan Rado, Dave Cerminara, and Trevor Spencer. The album features contributions from Haxan Cloak, Natalie Merring of Weyes Blood, longtime collaborator Jonathan Wilson, and members of Misty’s touring band.

                              STAFF COMMENTS

                              Andy says: Tillman segues into Beck territory a little here, with falsetto harmonies and jagged college-rock melodies, tastefully accentuated with staggered percussion and swooning loungey piano. As ever, FJM smashes out another killer album, conceptually clever and brilliantly accomplished, exactly as you'd expect.

                              FORMAT INFORMATION

                              Coloured LP Info: Limited Edition Indie Exclusive - Purple vinyl + limited edition sleeve with foil ‘tears’.

                              LP Info: Standard black vinyl edition.

                              Ari Roar

                              Calm Down

                                Ari Roar - moniker of Texan singer songwriter Caleb Campbell - releases his debut album ‘Calm Down’ via Bella Union

                                With intuitive powers of clarity and concision to the fore, ‘Calm Down’ is an album that draws on 1960s pop and modern DIY heroes for a set of lovingly languid, lo-fi miniatures. Depths of detail and lived experience bustle beneath effortlessly melodic surfaces - sure signs of a writer in confident command of his pitch.

                                With a tight run time of 28 minutes and few of its 15 songs breaching the two-minute mark, ‘Calm Down’ is not an album that overstates its case. ‘Called In’ merges the influences of garage pop and Grandaddy in its plaintive plea to “stay alert,” while the brightly summery ‘Windowsill’ and literal shaggy-dog tale ‘Lost And Found’ show an easy lightness of narrative touch and mood control.

                                Elsewhere, Ari makes weightless work of variously playful, psychedelic material, navigating his songs with expressive ease even when he’s documenting difficulties navigating high school hallways on ‘Don’t Have A Fit’. ‘Off And On’ is luminous, ‘Implode’ sweetly chugging. ‘Sock Drawer’ recounts an inner voyage with a gently psychedelic touch before the playful strut of ‘Choke’ and buoyant release of ‘Lucky One’ offer precision-judged notes of climactic uplift.

                                For Ari, ‘Calm Down’ is a milestone in a journey that began in Dallas, Texas, where he started songwriting on his family’s “super-old, outof- tune piano” as a child. Early inspirations included Grandaddy’s ‘Under The Western Freeway’ and Radiohead’s ‘OK Computer’; his first concert experience was The Doobie Brothers, with his parents. But it was a gorgeous solo performance by Jason Schwartzman in the teen comedy ‘Slackers’ that inspired Ari to start writing songs with lyrics at 14: “I remember being mesmerized by it… and I went into my room and started trying to write something similar. After that I just never stopped.”

                                FORMAT INFORMATION

                                Coloured LP Info: LP is pressed on green vinyl with digital download code.

                                Our Broken Garden

                                When Your Blackening Shows

                                  Celebrating 10th anniversary with first ever release on vinyl. White vinyl. Download code included. “It’s 10 years since the debut album from Danish dream pop band Our Broken Garden and therefore high time we figured that it had its first vinyl pressing. There’s a darkness and a vulnerability at the core of singer Anna Bronsted’s vocals on this album and in our shop in Brighton we’ve been asked about this record so many times “Is it ever going to get a vinyl release?” and now we can reply “Yes!” - Bella Union.

                                  Laura Veirs

                                  Fading Of Stars

                                    THIS IS A RECORD STORE DAY 2018 EXCLUSIVE, LIMITED TO ONE PER PERSON.

                                    In anticipation of her new album 'The Lookout' Laura Veirs will release a very special 7" of unreleased track 'Fading of Stars' alongside a beautiful rendition of Daniel Johnston's classic 'True Love Will Find You In The End'. On Clear vinyl. 

                                    The Dirty Three

                                    Whatever You Love You Are

                                      THIS IS A RECORD STORE DAY 2018 EXCLUSIVE, LIMITED TO ONE PER PERSON.

                                      Bella Union continue to reissue the catalogue of Australia's favourite post-rock band, The Dirty Three. This year sees the reissue of the critically acclaim career highlight 'Whatever You Love You Are'. It'll be released on double heavyweight gold vinyl, repackaged artwork with painting by the bands guitarist Mick Turner. It will include Download Code

                                      Tiny Ruins

                                      Some Were Meant For Sea

                                        THIS IS A RECORD STORE DAY 2018 EXCLUSIVE, LIMITED TO ONE PER PERSON.

                                        Reissue of the New Zealanders album. Gold vinyl. Download code included

                                        The Beat Escape

                                        Life Is Short The Answer's Long

                                          Long before they were a band, Montreal duo The Beat Escape took a small first step towards a longer journey at a university video class. “We made a short oddball work; a video piece that followed two characters through a psychedelic waking dream,” say Beat Escapists Addy Weitzman and Patrick A Boivin of their founding collaboration. Many other projects and outside collaborations later, the duo have crafted a debut album their younger selves would be proud of: Released through Bella Union, the sublimely immersive ‘Life Is Short The Answer’s Long’ plays like a waking dream of near-psychedelic electronic pop, moving to its own beat in the push-pull of forward motion and submerged reflection.

                                          That sense of propulsion ushers opener ‘Sign Of Age’ into rising view, its sparse drums, hypnotic sequence and melancholic chords resembling house music as reimagined by Angelo Badalamenti. The enveloping mood holds as ‘Moon In Aquarius’ unfurls like a nighttime road ahead, ghosted by narcotic harmonies. ‘Limestone Alps’ lingers meditatively, hymnal vocals reverberating. ‘Where Water Ends’ and ‘More Dreams’, meanwhile, navigate the porous boundary lines between Krautrock, Factory Records and obscure minimal wave records of the 80s.

                                          STAFF COMMENTS

                                          Barry says: Superb throbbing pseudo-synthery from The Beat Escape, Bella Union's answer to Pye corner Audio mix swooning pads and soaring vocal abstractions around a dynamic core of weighted percussion, flickering arpeggios and spine-tingling euphoric leads.

                                          FORMAT INFORMATION

                                          LP includes MP3 Download Code.

                                          A prolific songwriter for nearly twenty years, Laura Veirs proves the depth of her musical skill on her tenth solo album, The Lookout, released via Bella Union. Here is a batch of inimitable, churning, exquisite folk-pop songs; a concept album about the fragility of precious things. Produced by Grammy-nominated Tucker Martine, Veirs’ longtime collaborator, The Lookout is a soundtrack for turbulent times, full of allusions to protectors: the camper stoking a watch fire, a mother tending her children, a sailor in a crows nest and a lightning rod channelling energy.

                                          “The Lookout is about the need to pay attention to the fleeting beauty of life and to not be complacent; it’s about the importance of looking out for each other,” says Veirs. “I’m addressing what’s happening around me with the chaos of post-election America, the racial divides in our country, and a personal reckoning with the realities of midlife: I have friends who’ve died; I struggle with how to balance life as an artist with parenting young children.”

                                          Written and produced on the heels of Veirs’ acclaimed album with Neko Case and k.d. Lang (case/lang/veirs), The Lookout integrates the fluency of collaboration with Veirs’ notorious work ethic. The twelve songs on the album are the result of a years’ worth of daily writing in her attic studio in Portland, Oregon.

                                          “Twenty years ago when I was just starting out with my punk band, it never occurred to me to write five versions of a song,” says Veirs. “I’ve learned to see how malleable lyrics and melodies can be. I have more tools as a musician so I write many versions of songs until I find the right fit.” Such range is demonstrated on the operatic vocals of “The Meadow” and the intricate finger picking on “Watch Fire.” “The Lookout,” the album’s title track, is an ecstatic anthem to trusted relationships.

                                          The Lookout draws on the talents of a time-tested crew of musicians: Karl Blau, Steve Moore, Eli Moore, Eyvind Kang and Martine. Says Veirs, “These guys are a good hang, ego-free and wonderful players who just want to serve the songs.” Sufjan Stevens and Jim James provide guest vocals.
                                          For Martine, who fell, almost two decades ago, for Veirs’ unique sound after listening to a tape cassette she’d sent him in the mail, this album reflects a bar that keeps getting raised. Both familiar and strange, The Lookout gets better with repeated listens, warming to the skin like a cherished saddlebag, critical for the journey ahead.


                                          STAFF COMMENTS

                                          Barry says: Sitting right in front of my desk is an LP-sized 'Best of 2004' scrapbook style collage Andy put together for Veirs' 'Carbon Glacier', she was brilliant then and is even more so now. This is a beautifully nuanced, refined expansion of Veirs' sound, and it's sure to be on the player for some time to come.

                                          FORMAT INFORMATION

                                          Coloured LP Info: Limited gold vinyl.

                                          Bella Union warmly introduce us to their latest star signing, Belgian MC, producer and musician Baloji. His music stands at the crossroads of African music, traditional and afro-american music (soul, funk, jazz) discovered through the culture of sampling and electronic music (trance, deep house) which has its roots in part in the region of Belgium where Baloji grew up. Baloji means “man of science” in Swahili, but during the colonial period, that meaning shifted to “man of the occult sciences and sorcery”. By placing his resilience at the centre of his work, Baloji reconciles all these influences to enrich his projects. Baloji is a poet, composer-lyricist, scriptwriter, actor and performer, video artist and stylist, and '137 Avenue Kaniama' is his most complete release to date.

                                          Creep Show (John Grant & Wrangler)

                                          Mr. Dynamite

                                          Creep Show brings together John Grant with the dark funk of analogue electronic band Wrangler (Stephen Mallinder/Phil Winter/Benge) to create Mr Dynamite - a debut album packed with experimental pop and surreal funk. Recorded in Cornwall with a lifetime’s collection of drum machines and synthesisers assembled by Benge and explored by every member of Creep Show, there’s a real sense of freedom in the shackles-off grooves, channelling the early pioneering spirit of the Sugarhill Gang through wires and random electric noise. This sense of adventure is also part of the interplay between the two vocalists, John Grant and former Cabaret Voltaire frontman Stephen Mallinder, who switch between oblique wordplay to sinister humour as Phil Winter and Benge continue to man-handle the machines. The creepy ‘alter-ego’ title track, ‘Pink Squirrel’’s vocoder kaleidoscope and Grant’s exhilarating croon on the nine minute ‘Safe And Sound’ are just some of the twists and hooks to be explored on this consistently inventive record.

                                          STAFF COMMENTS

                                          Barry says: So, imagine John Grant's unmistakeable vocal serenades over the top of some rhythmic Bureau B synth pulses, swirling synth patterns and sickly-sweet Linn stabs. What could possibly go wrong? Absolutely nothing is what, it's superb, like we'd expect any different from our John.

                                          Jonathan Wilson had a busy 2017, producing Father John Misty's grammy nominated Pure Comedy and touring arenas around the globe as a guitarist and vocalist for Pink Floyd legend Roger Waters (for whom he also contributed to the lauded Is This The Life We Really Want? album.) Wilson also saw widespread acclaim heaped on Karen Elson’s sophomore LP Double Roses, which he recorded with her in Los Angeles in 2016.

                                          But it's not looking like Wilson is going to get much of a rest in 2018 either, as he'll be continuing on with the worldwide Waters tour and is set to release his own new solo album Rare Birds in the spring. The highly anticipated long player - which features backing vocals from Lana Del Rey, Josh Tillman, fellow Roger Waters bandmates Lucius and an extraordinary musical gift from otherworldly Brian Eno collaborator Laraaji - will be released through Bella Union worldwide.

                                          Although much of the album is comprised lyrically of meditations on a failed relationship and its aftermath, Wilson insists that Rare Birds is not really a concept album. "It's meant more as a healing affair, a rejuvenation, a reconciliation, for others, and for me. I wanted to balance personal narrative with the need I feel for calming healing music. I think we need journeys in sound, psychedelic gossamer-winged music that includes elements consciously and purposefully to incite hope, positivity, longing, reckless abandon and regret. It's all in there."

                                          And, for this one, music critics will need to retire the comparisons to heritage rockers and Laurel Canyon troubadours as they’re hardly useful anymore. Wilson's new sound takes a synthetic/acoustic, best-of-both-worlds analog/digital hybrid approach to achieve the complexity, sonic density and glossy hi-fi coating of Rare Birds. Heard for the first time on a Jonathan Wilson album are the sounds of synthesizers and drum machines.


                                          STAFF COMMENTS

                                          Andy says: Jonathan has eschewed the obvious Laurel Canyon trappings this time out, and the result is his best record yet. Still blissed-out, otherworldly, multi-layered and lonnnnng, but the sound is beautifully streamlined with even synths and drum machines gliding by. A headphone masterpiece.

                                          FORMAT INFORMATION

                                          2xColoured LP Info: Gold coloured vinyl with a 28 page art + lyric booklet.

                                          Transangelic Exodus, Ezra Furman’s second album for Bella Union, is a new landmark for the American singer-songwriter: “not a concept record, but almost a novel, or a cluster of stories on a theme, a combination of fiction and a half-true memoir,” according to its author. “A personal companion for a paranoid road trip. A queer outlaw saga.”

                                          The music is as much of an intense, dramatic event, full of brilliant hooks, with an equally evolved approach to recorded sound to match Furman’s narrative vision. In honour of this shift, his backing band has been newly christened: The Boy-Friends are dead, long live The Visions. In other words, the man who embodies the title of his last album Perpetual Motion People is still on the move... Or in the vernacular of the new album, on the run.

                                          “The narrative thread,” Furman declares, “is I’m in love with an angel, and a government is after us, and we have to leave home because angels are illegal, as is harbouring angels. The term ‘transangelic’ refers to the fact people become angels because they grow wings. They have an operation, and they’re transformed. And it causes panic because some people think it’s contagious, or it should just be outlawed.

                                          “The album still works without the back story, though,” he vouches. “What’s essential is the mood - paranoid, authoritarian, the way certain people are stigmatised. It’s a theme in American life right now, and other so-called democracies.”

                                          After “Perpetual Motion People” was released in July 2015, Furman had moved back from California (Oakland) to his home town of Chicago. But after a year, he returned to the west coast (Berkeley this time). “I just seem to keep moving,” he sighs. Still, Transangelic Exodus was mostly recorded – as all Furman's records have been since 2011 - at his bandmate (saxophonist/producer) Tim Sandusky’s Ballistico Studios in Chicago, and with the other Visions - Jorgen Jorgensen (bass, and on this album, cello), Ben Joseph (keyboards, guitar) and Sam Durkes (drums/percussion).

                                          Just as Furman’s band hasn’t really changed, so his musical DNA remains intact – a thrilling, literate form of garage-punk rooted in The Velvet Underground, Jonathan Richman and ‘50s rock’n’roll. But Transangelic Exodus is noticeably different to its predecessors. “2016 was a hard year,” Furman recalls. “While the political and cultural conversation devolved in a very threatening way, we travelled and toured a lot. We saw ourselves coming to the end of what we were, and we wanted to become something new.”

                                          Furman cites Vampire Weekend’s “Modern Vampires Of The City”, Beck’s “Odelay”, Sparklehorse’s “It’s A Wonderful Life”, Kendrick Lamar’s “To Pimp A Butterfly”, Kayne West’s “Yeezus”, Angel Olsen’s “Burn Your Fire For No Witness” and Tune-Yards’ “Who Kill” – “artists making the most interesting music with the available resources” – as influences on Transangelic Exodus, plus Brian Wilson, Bruce Springsteen and James Baldwin’s ground-breaking, gay-themed 1956 novel Giovanni’s Room.

                                          “My previous records were original in their own way, but got classified as an off-kilter version of a retro band, and I wanted something that sounded more original,” he explains. “So we took time off touring, and made sure we took time with every song. I demoed with different band members, and then combined different demos – some parts even made the final album. So, the sound is more chopped up, edited, affected, rearranged.”

                                          One prime example is the album’s lead single ‘Driving Down To LA’, a sparse, but explosive, mix of doo-wop and digital crunch. Another is the haunting ‘Compulsive Liar’. “I wrote it as a ballad on a classical acoustic guitar, but we made it stranger, which brought out the emotion of the lyric more than it would have in its original form,” Furman says. “It’s less predictable; you don’t know where the song might go, and that makes me happy.”

                                          Furman once said, “The opening lines of my records tend to be summary statements.” So, what does, “I woke up bleeding in the crotch of a tree / TV blaring on the wall above the coffee machine” (from ‘Suck The Blood From My Wounds’) say about Transangelic Exodus? “I like the opening lines so much, I had to keep them even though they don’t make a lot of sense! You’re dropped into this story or situation, unsure where you are or what’s going on, and suddenly you’re moving. That’s what being alive feels like to me. Unknown and intense. It’s a big part of the record’s mood.”

                                          Checking Furman’s successive album covers will show his personal journey, coming out as queer and gender-fluid, which the jagged, agitated ‘Maraschino-Red Dress $8.99 at Goodwill’ meets head on, namely “the painful experience of being a closeted gender-non-conforming person. Having ‘trans’ in the album title has a lot to do with being queer, like [album finale] ‘I Lost My Innocence’ [“…to a boy named Vincent”). That early experience marks the narrator for life. From a young age, because of issues surrounding gender and sexuality, I felt fated to have an outsider perspective. It radicalises you.”

                                          Transangelic Exodus addresses another kind of coming out, as Furman addresses his Jewish faith on record much more openly than before, from the shivery ballad ‘God Lifts Up the Lowly’ (which includes a verse in Hebrew) to the exquisite ‘Psalm 151’ and the line “I believe in God but I don't believe we're getting out of this one” in ‘Come Here Get Away From Me’, a heady blend of rock’n’roll rumble and ghostly clarinet.

                                          “There is a lot of longing and anger in those songs,” Furman reckons. “A longing for God, and God’s help, wondering how long this can go on. It feels like we’re in exile – the innocent, persecuted, oppressed and threatened. But it’s hard in pop culture to make explicitly religious statements, as many people – including myself - have been hurt by religion.”

                                          Part of Furman’s motivation is the, “fear of fascist takeover,” expressed in the video to ‘Driving Down To L.A’ (filmed in Virginia, and uncannily storyboarded before the state’s infamous Charlottesville “Unite The Right” rally), as Ezra and his angel are pursued by modern-day Nazis. “At school, we learned all about the Holocaust, and were invited to imagine what would happen if the Nazis invaded again. As white supremacy has become more explicitly institutionalised in the US, my childhood nightmares have started to show up in songs.”

                                          Crossing between love, gender, sexuality and religion, and singing in solidarity with the innocent, persecuted, oppressed and threatened, Ezra Furman has soundtracked the current fear and loathing across America like no other, while pushing ahead with his own agenda, always on the move.

                                          STAFF COMMENTS

                                          Barry says: Furman's most fiery and conceptual piece yet, dealing with modern political and identity issues in a sensitive and clever way. Littered with moments of jaw-dropping songwriting and perfectly measured switches, Transangelic Exodus is another outstanding album from the ever-talented Furman.

                                          FORMAT INFORMATION

                                          LP Info: Limited edition lavendar vinyl.

                                          Xylouris White

                                          Mother

                                            A passion for exploration comes naturally to Xylouris White, the ruggedly visionary duo formed of Cretan lute player George Xylouris and revered Australian drummer Jim White. For their debut album, 2014’s Goats, Xylouris White compared themselves to the titular animals, wandering fearlessly through rough-hewn terrain. Two years later, they showed how far their horizons could reach on 2016’s majestically expansive Black Peak, named after a mountain top in Crete.

                                            Just 15 well-toured months later, the duo’s exploratory instincts drive them further onwards still on their third album, Mother, named to denote “new life”. As Xylouris puts it, “Mother is the extension of Goats and Black Peak. Three things, all part of a whole. Goats are mothers, Zeus was raised on Amaltheia’s milk, Black Peak is Mother Earth… Mother Earth is the mother of everything.”

                                            Across Mother’s nine tracks, Xylouris White nurture fecund growths from the spaces between their instruments. Sometimes the songs drive with an invigorating urgency; sometimes they brood, plead, yearn and lull. The duo seem to discover each other anew at every turn, teasing the songs out from their fluid chemistry with the kind of virtuosity that knows when to listen, accommodate and learn afresh. “A theme of the album is the significance of simplicity and a child-like approach,” Xylouris explains. “So, we connect mother and child and play instruments as toys. Xylouris White is still gestating.”

                                            That ongoing gestation is a remarkable extension of already remarkable back-stories. Xylouris is a scion of one of Greece’s most revered musical families. His father is legendary singer / lyra player Psarantonis. A child when he began playing the lute, Xylouris would accompany his father in a backing role. Yet just as Psarantonis stretched the lyra’s range, so Xylouris elevated his eight-string laouto to the lead role in his Xylouris Ensemble.

                                            Jim White has commanded international attention for more than two decades as part of Australia’s Dirty Three, storm’s-eye instrumental diviners whose emotionally choppy soundscapes brim with elemental force. Now New York-based, White has often been called on to collaborate with numerous alt-A-listers (including: Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, PJ Harvey, Cat Power and Smog), where he redeploys the rolling momentum of free-jazz to variously supple, sensitive and seismic ends. Most recently he can be collaborated with Kurt Vile and Courtney Barnett on their acclaimed album “Lotta Sea Lice”.

                                            PJ Harvey likened White’s playing to dancing. Yet if dancers need partners, Mother also pays testimony to a friendship forged over almost three decades. Xylouris was performing with his Ensemble when he met White in Melbourne in the early 1990s; back then, the drummer was in his pre-Dirty Three avant-rock outfit Venom P Stinger. In retrospect, a cycle of influence emerges: Xylouris’s 1990s live contributions to the Dirty Three set a blueprint for Xylouris White, yet the Dirty Three were themselves inspired by Xylouris and Psarantonis.

                                            That mutual exchange resonates throughout Mother. Album opener “In Medias Res” finds the duo already in motion, feeling their way around one another, seeking out ways to bring a song to full bloom. Proving they can also be thrillingly direct when the mood takes them, “Only Love” follows with a brilliantly barrelling sense of momentum, White’s powerhouse percussion urging Xylouris’s liquid-fingered lute-playing and impassioned baritone on to increasing heights of urgency.

                                            From here, Xylouris White proceed as if by intuition, feeling their way around new terrain. “Motorcycle Kondilies” is muscular and epic, White’s rimshots providing on-alert accompaniment as Xylouris’s reaching vocal and dancing lute lines build in intensity. If the marching rhythm and pretty lute melody of “Spud’s Garden” highlights the duo’s occasional elegant side, “Daphne” and “Achilles Heel” showcase Xylouris White’s at their most hypnotic and brooding. “Woman from Anogeia” hosts a particularly emotive vocal from Xylouris; “Call and Response” is the duo at their freeform finest, circling each other querulously, again teasing at possibility. Finally, resolution is embraced openly on the tactile and reverberant “Lullaby”, as lovely a track as any Xylouris White have birthed.

                                            As on Black Peak, Mother’s labours benefited from the midwifery of choice collaborators. Fugazi’s Guy Picciotto produced again. Also on hand this time was Anna Roberts-Gevalt of old-time folk duo Anna & Elizabeth, whose earthy violin/viola lines and exquisitely sighing vocals can be heard on the track “Lullaby”.

                                            The result is an album of extraordinary accomplishment from two supremely seasoned players who’ve kept a close kinship with the richly, rewardingly inquisitive instincts of their youth. In Xylouris’s words, “It's the natural maturity of fruits as they ripen. As fruit matures by the rhythm of nature, so the music grows at its own pace. So, here are two maturing fruits giving the taste of their present maturity – and they’re still children.”

                                            Lanterns On The Lake With Royal Northern Sinfonia

                                            Live In Concert

                                              Early 2017 Newcastle quintet Lanterns On The Lake played a very special homecoming show with the Royal Northern Sinfonia.

                                              The 40 piece ensemble, guided by the arrangements of composer Fiona Brice, add a wealth of texture to a band already very familiar with expansive and beautiful sounds. The outcome is a sublime 10

                                              Karl Blau

                                              Out Her Space

                                                Sequestered away in rural bliss, 90 minutes north of Seattle on the Washington state coast, Karl Blau has been making records for 20 years but never with European distribution. So, when Bella Union released ‘Introducing Karl Blau’ in 2015, it shone a belated and deserved light on “one of the great hidden treasures of music,” claimed album producer Tucker Martine.

                                                However, given ‘Introducing’s specific agenda - a set of gorgeous, lush cover versions drawing mostly on vintage Nashville’s country-soul with Blau concentrating on his rich, reverberating voice - his latest album ‘Out Her Space’ is so different that it could be titled ‘Reintroducing Karl Blau’.

                                                ‘Out Her Space’ features Blau’s own material, production and multi-instrumental skills and forges a gorgeous, languid and hook-infested gumbo of soul, funk, some jazzy blowing and Afro-pop, to arrive somewhere else entirely. Or as the Secretly Important blog says of Blau: “He manages to find what’s unique about a genre and throws it against the wall like a fist full of wet noodles; over and over, until what’s stuck is a unique genre amalgam.”

                                                The album also testifies to Blau’s studio skills, as he captures the glimmering, humid depths of those sweltering southern influences, despite his north-western heritage. But then Blau has engineered and produced a heap of records for himself and others, often at his home in Anacortes, releasing records on Washington’s favourite indies K and Knw-Yr-Own, as well as through his own Kelp Lunacy Advanced Plagiarism Society subscription service.

                                                FORMAT INFORMATION

                                                Coloured LP Info: Limited edition red vinyl.

                                                Coloured LP includes MP3 Download Code.

                                                Sumie

                                                Lost In Light

                                                  For a singer songwriter, the benefit of starting from a point of quiet is the room it allows for manoeuvre afterwards. Such is the case with the subtly cinematic second album from Sandra Sumie Nagano, ‘Lost In Light’, through Bella Union.

                                                  On 2013’s eponymous debut, Sumie tapped into the mid-point between Scandinavian and Japanese folk music to deliver an album of blissful restraint, its quietude shaped by a combination of parenthood and natural inclination.

                                                  The follow-up is an album of stealthy dynamism, drama and mystery, its impact made all the greater because it skirts obvious routes to dance just out of hand’s reach, always seeming to be on the verge of departure.

                                                  Those who helped Sumie climb that poised peak included producer Filip Leyman, in whose Gothenburg studio the album was recorded. Fellow contributors numbered Karl Vento and Albert af Ekenstam on electric guitars, Emma Strååt and Kajsa Persson on strings and Max Lindahl on trumpet.

                                                  Sumie has also surfaced on others’ work. She sings on ‘Cover Hearts’, a track from sometime soundtrack composer David Wenngren’s Library Tapes project and on Gothenburg electro-collective Tegami’s pulsing ‘Screen Dream’. Meanwhile, back at base camp, ‘Lost In Light’ is a screen-style dream of an album itself: immersive while it lasts, haunting after it flickers out of view.

                                                  STAFF COMMENTS

                                                  Barry says: Beautiful brittle acoustic guitar, slowly pulling strings and the haunting addition of Nagano's beautiful vocals make this an essential addition to any collection.

                                                  Lost Horizons

                                                  Ojalá

                                                    Currently celebrating 20 years piloting his revered record label Bella Union, Simon Raymonde has scaled another personal peak, a new collaboration with drummer Richie Thomas.

                                                    They’re called Lost Horizons, and their stunning debut album, ‘Ojalá’, released via Bella Union, is a rare sighting of two gifted musicians who, for different reasons, have been largely absent from music-making for the last 20 years. Yet the record is proof of a telepathic relationship through music, established when the pair first became collaborators and friends in the eighties.

                                                    ‘Ojalá’ also incorporates a heady cast of guest singers. Some are signed to Bella Union, such as Marissa Nadler, former Midlake frontman Tim Smith, Cameron Neal (Horse Thief), others are long-time favourites of Raymonde’s (Liela Moss of The Duke Spirit and Ghostpoet), or newer discoveries (Beth Cannon, Hilang Child, Gemma Dunleavy and Phil McDonnell). And then there is the incomparable Karen Peris of The Innocence Mission, one of Raymonde’s most beloved artists, in her first collaboration outside of The Innocence Mission and solo recordings.

                                                    Together, the Lost Horizons ensemble has created an hour of exquisite, expansive and diverse spellcasting, from facets of soul (‘Bones’, featuring Cannon, and ‘Reckless’, featuring Ghostpoet) to dreamier invocations like ‘She Led Me Away’ (featuring Smith) and ‘Ojalá’s lengthiest trip, ‘The Engine’ (featuring Hilang Child). There’s the odd louder, faster detour, like ‘Life Inside A Paradox’ (featuring Neal, with Sharon Van Etten on backing vocals), but the dominant mood is a deep, rich melancholia.

                                                    Philip Selway

                                                    Let Me Go

                                                      Radiohead drummer Philip Selway’s new record is a departure from its two preceding albums (‘Familial’ and ‘Weatherhouse’). It is the soundtrack to the film drama ‘Let Me Go’, a story about mothers and daughters; about loss and mistrust; about the ramifications of a World War II crime; about secrets, trauma and lingering ghosts.

                                                      Mirroring the film’s haunted and intimate nature, Selway’s score is grounded in strings and piano, plus guitar, electronics, musical saw, glockenspiel and bowed vibraphone and the occasional use of bass and drums, creating a paradoxical sense of beauty and unease.

                                                      ‘Let Me Go’ is based on Austrian-born Helga Schneider’s memoir of the same name. She was just four years old when her mother Traudi walked out, never to return, in order to train as a guard in Germany’s concentration camps. Helga never knew the truth until, as an adult, she decided to track her mother down in Vienna, to discover not only the horror of the past but also of Traudi’s unashamedly proud memories of the most notorious camp of all, Auschwitz-Birkenau. Helga wouldn’t return to Vienna until thirty years later, when news arrived: Traudi was dying. Helga returned, for the sake of closure and hoping her mother had finally repented.

                                                      FORMAT INFORMATION

                                                      LP includes MP3 Download Code.

                                                      Broen

                                                      I <3 Art

                                                        They may share a name and home country with one of Nordic TV’s darkest detective dramas, but you won’t find any dismembered bodies or nihilistic feelings on Broen’s ‘I <3 Art’, released through Bella Union.

                                                        Bursting with experi-pop exuberance and driven by a spirit of warm commonality, the five-piece’s debut album exults in the pleasures of intelligent music; its deep rhythms, dreamy melodies and dazzling sounds building bridges between bustles of jazzy percussion, psychedelic flourishes, funk grooves, mellifluous electronics and hip-hop beats. And if Norwegian-noir clichés and all other generic conventions are playfully bucked on its brightly exploratory way, such is Broen’s mission.

                                                        Recorded in Oslo’s Studio Paradiso, engineered by Jaga Jazzist’s Marcus Forsgren, and mixed by the band with Nick Terry, ‘I <3 Art’ bursts with invigorating life.

                                                        As Hans Hulbækmo (drums) puts it, “It’s both soft and hard. Beautiful and ugly or corny. Adventurous and experimental but still groovy. It’s honest and ironic. It has a lot of good energy. It was recorded live in the studio and it was a very joyful and positive experience. I think that shines through in the music, at least for us”.

                                                        Three years after their last album, London’s My Sad Captains light the way to fresh shores with their radiant fourth album. Released via Bella Union, ‘Sun Bridge’ is named after the way a still lake offers the ideal conditions for the sun’s reflection to resemble a bridge across the water. Between its lustrous dream pop surfaces and hidden depths, it’s an album that reflects on how uncertain times can be the seed-bed for change: or, for a bridge to extended adventures.

                                                        For My Sad Captains, evolution was necessitated by change. After the departures of Jim Wallis and Nick Goss, drummer Ben Walker and storied alt-pop guitarist Leon Dufficy joined the band, bringing fresh colours to the palette. Completing the live line-up are keyboardist Henry Thomas and bassist Steve Blackwell; the latter replaces Dan Davis, who worked on the album (and provided the cover painting) before moving to San Francisco.

                                                        The Captains produced ‘Sun Bridge’ themselves, working with engineer Iggy B, while mixing and additional production were handled by Jeff Zeigler: a man with much expansive alt-rock previous, having worked with The War On Drugs.

                                                        Mammút

                                                        Kinder Versions

                                                          Icelandic bands often resemble a force of nature and Mammút are no exception. What’s more, the quintet’s spectacular new album ‘Kinder Versions’ is exactly the kind of volcanic presence that is sorely lacking in 21st Century rock, likewise their unpredictable and uncategorizable shape-shifting sound, like a very modern twist on psychedelia.

                                                          Mammút is Icelandic for ‘mammoth’ - the name that singer Kata Mogensen “plucked out of the air,” when she joined guitarists Alexandra Baldursdóttir and Arnar Pétursson, bassist Ása Dýradóttir and drummer Andri Bjartur Jakobsson for their stage debut, aged just 14. Kata is the daughter of bassist Birgir Mogensen, a former bandmate of Björk back when they were young post-punk adventurers, a questing spirit that Mammút have also unconsciously adopted, though without ever discussing what kind of music they’d play. “We’re so close as a band, we have no limits for each other, no boundaries, we just follow our gut instincts,” says Kata.

                                                          It’s worked from the off: they quickly won the Músiktilraunir Battle Of The Bands and thereafter nominations and awards at different Icelandic Music Awards: their third album ‘Komdu Til Mín Svarta Systir’ won three of its eight nominations in 2014, including Album (Pop & Rock) and Song (Pop & Rock) for their epically slowburning single ‘Salt’. And with vocalist Kata Mogensen now singing in English, there’s a chance much more of the planet will discover what their homeland has known for a while.

                                                          Having worked with various Icelandic labels, Mammút’s signing to Bella Union is part of their plan to expand horizons. “It was never a decision to sing in Icelandic, it came out naturally when I wrote,” Kata explains. “But there are so few venues in Iceland, and we crave to move further. Singing in an international language opens the door - it means that people can understand not just the feeling in the vocals, but the words too, when I’m singing my heart out.”

                                                          A 14-track compilation of songs from throughout their career so far. The album features two previously unreleased tracks “Chariot” and “Baseball Diamond”, which were recorded during the Depression Cherry and Thank Your Lucky Stars sessions, both albums of which were released two months apart in 2015.

                                                          "When we announced that we were releasing a B-sides and rarities album, someone on Twitter asked, “B-sides record? Why would Beach House put out a B-sides record? Their A-sides are like B-sides.” This random person has a point. Our goal has never been to make music that is explicitly commercial. Over the years, as we have worked on our 6 LPs, it wasn’t the “best" or most catchy songs that made the records, just the ones that fit together to make a cohesive work. Accordingly, our B-sides are not songs that we didn’t like as much, just ones that didn’t have a place on the records we were making.

                                                          The idea for a B-sides record came when we realized just how many non-album songs had been made over the years, and how hard it was to find and hear many of them. This compilation contains every song we have ever made that does not exist on one of our records. There are 14 songs in total.

                                                          The oldest song is “Rain in Numbers” and was recorded in 2005, during the summer when we formed the band. We didn’t have a piano, so we asked our friend if we could use his, which was pretty out of tune. We used the mic that was on the four-track machine to record the piano and vocals. It was originally the secret song on our self-titled debut.

                                                          Sequentially, the next couple of songs are from late 2008. We were so excited about “Used to Be,” that we recorded it right after writing it so that we could have it as a 7” single for our fall tour with the Baltimore Round Robin. We recorded our cover of Queen’s “Play the Game” in the same session. It was for a charity compilation benefiting AIDS research and we will continue to donate all profits from the song to that charity. As fans of Queen, we thought it would be fun and ridiculous to try to adapt their high-powered pop song into our realm. These songs were recorded at the same studio where we made Devotion.

                                                          There are a bunch of songs written and recorded in the 2009-2010 window. This period of time, as well as 2014, was our most prolific to date. “Baby” was written and recorded in October 2009 with our friend Jason Quever. “10 Mile Stereo” was recorded during the Teen Dream session in July 2009. Since we used tape, we often slowed the tape way down to create effects while recording. When we were doing that for “10 Mile Stereo” we decided we wanted to make an alternate version where the whole song was slowed down, hence the “10 Mile Stereo (Cough Syrup Remix).”

                                                          “White Moon” and “The Arrangement” were both songs that we didn’t believe fit on Teen Dream. “White Moon” originally appeared on our iTunes live session. Since that was recorded and mixed very hastily, we have remixed it to better match our current aesthetics. We have also remixed and included the version of “Norway" we did at that same session. The main reason we wanted to include “Norway” is that it features a very different bridge from the original version.

                                                          After the insane year of touring we had in 2010, we felt incredibly grateful to our fans for all that had happened. We wrote and recorded “I Do Not Care for the Winter Sun” during a break between tours and released it on the internet for free, unmastered. Well, it’s finally been mastered…

                                                          “Wherever You Go” Is another song from that era. We always loved this song but thought it sounded too much like our old music. We paused writing it and didn’t finish it until 2011 during the Bloom recording session. It appeared originally as a secret song on Bloom.

                                                          “Equal Mind” was also recorded during the Bloom session. We really like this song, but pulled it from the record when we realized it had the exact same tempo as “Other People.” They are like twins.

                                                          The Bloom sessions led to “Saturn Song” as well. This song is built on a piano loop we wrote while recording Bloom. It also contains sounds recorded in deep space. It originally appeared on a compilation of songs incorporating space sounds that was released in 2014.

                                                          Finally, there are two previously unreleased songs from the Depression Cherry/Thank Your Lucky Stars sessions. They are called “Chariot” and “Baseball Diamond.” "


                                                          FORMAT INFORMATION

                                                          Coloured LP Info: Limited indies only clear vinyl.

                                                          Celebration

                                                          Wounded Healer

                                                            “It seems like the last three years have been filled with contrasts,” says Katrina Ford, force-of-nature singer in Baltimore’s Celebration. “Fantastical musical adventures against the backdrop of adult crisis.” From this collision of opposites comes the kaleidoscopic ‘Wounded Healer’, released via Bella Union. Drawing its galvanic thrust from contrasting elements, the band’s fifth album is their purest and most richly realised statement yet: intimate and expansive, cohesive and wide-ranging, bruised and restorative.

                                                            Since the release of Albumin in 2014, the core trio of Ford, husband (multi-instrumentalist and organ player/rebuilder) Sean Antanaitis and drummer David Bergander have battled in times of struggle to uphold their founding strengths. “Midlife, we find ourselves dealing with bathroom renovations, death and elder care for parents, raising kids, careers, multiple surgeries, and totally fucked scheduling,” says Ford. “But despite it and yet inspired by it all, we have a place to come together and do this thing we love.”

                                                            FORMAT INFORMATION

                                                            Coloured LP Info: Clear vinyl LP includes digital download code.

                                                            Charlie Coxedge

                                                            Cloisters

                                                              Charlie Coxedge is a musician and writer from Manchester, best known as a member of MONEY.

                                                              As a solo musician, his compositions weave layers and loops of guitars, synth textures and soft pianos, building from melodic, ambient noises to multi-faceted soundscapes.

                                                               Cloisters, as the title suggests, is about finding those secluded spaces, those empty archways where we hear the echoes of ourselves, and finding some peace within the solitude.  As so often happens in these empty spaces, thoughts enter and start to repeat themselves in our minds, bouncing off the walls until a new thought joins in, until all these different ideas are intertwined with each other, playing out in an almost endless cycle.

                                                              The music of Cloisters comes from these spaces, from moments of solitude found in childhood homes, walks through the city or even in memories - remembered spaces that invoke a certain feeling or atmosphere.

                                                              Recorded mostly in two different studios in Liverpool, with some bedroom recordings thrown in for good measure, everything on Cloisters was performed by Coxedge, simply using the studios to effectively capture the many layers and textures.  The sounds of the record, and the layers that build them, are as much about the spaces they create as the spaces they fill.  

                                                              'I’ve always been a bit of a collector of effects pedals, and have used them subtly within MONEY to enhance our sound, both on record and live – making loops, drones etc – but with this solo work I really get to expand on that, and a lot of the music comes from playing around with different sounds.'

                                                              Bella Union release Will Stratton’s album ‘Rosewood Almanac’, the American’s debut for the label.

                                                              ‘Rosewood Almanac’ is a work of fragile magic, a hypnotic combination of beautifully breathy voice and exquisite lyrical imagery, gorgeous melodies and similarly soft-spun instrumentation, centred on Will Stratton’s thrumming acoustic guitar and the verdant presence of velvet strings.

                                                              Born in California, mostly raised in New Jersey and currently an upstate New Yorker, this great-grandson of a travelling preacher started songwriting and recording while at high school, before going on to study philosophy and music composition. He has released work by himself and via a couple of tiny indies (one being Talitres in France) but extended medical treatment put everything on hold. After his successful recovery, Stratton decided to leave New York City for the Hudson Valley. Teaching (music, art, video) at a local boarding school while living on campus as a dorm ‘parent’ left little time for musical ambition, though he had never stopped making music. However, having left teaching, everything has come together for the finest record of his life. Bella Union’s timing was impeccable.

                                                              Midlake

                                                              Banman & Slivercork

                                                                THIS IS A RECORD STORE DAY 2017 EXCLUSIVE, LIMITED TO ONE PER PERSON.

                                                                Following the reissue of their breakthrough album 'The Trials Of Van Occupanther' last year, Texan indie-pioneers Midlake will reissue their debut album 'Bamnan & Slivercork' which has been out of press since its release in 2003.

                                                                Yellow vinyl.

                                                                Limited to 1400 copies for the UK and Eire.

                                                                Debut release from BNQT, a new indie super-group conceived and led by Eric Pulido of Midlake.The introductory set includes ten new, original songs and features five vocalists – Ben Bridwell of Band of Horses, Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand, Fran Healy of Travis, Jason Lytle of Grandaddy, and Pulido – who wrote and sing two tracks each, with backing from other Midlake members McKenzie Smith (drums), Joey McClellan (guitar) and Jesse Chandler (keys). ‘Volume 1’ was recorded and produced mostly at their studio in Denton, Texas. 

                                                                The concept of BNQT (pronounced “Banquet”) came to Pulido while touring Midlake's 2013 release, “Antiphon”. Gathering a number of contrasting yet complementary artists he’d befriended or shared the stage with, Pulido set out to establish an environment in which they could collaborate: “That's what art is about for me,” Pulido says, “creating with other people that you love and appreciate.”

                                                                The idea for BNQT was enthusiastically embraced by all involved, but with the artists stretched across the globe, recordings were split both with travel to Denton and remotely over the net. Over a year and some change, songs grew from demos to fully realized recordings, with Pulido guiding the way, and encouraging the artists to stretch out into new, uncharted territory. The resulting work is full of surprises, a collection that feels oddly familiar and attractively alien.

                                                                STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                Andy says: If you look at the list of artists on this unique album you'll know that the melodies are well and truly catered for, but sound-wise you might not expect this glorious celebration of all things early 70's. A bit like Midlake's work behind John Grant but with room for some rock'n'roll riffage, swoonsome Floyd-style synths and even a glam stomper. Ace!

                                                                FORMAT INFORMATION

                                                                LP Info: Orange vinyl LP with digital download code.

                                                                LP includes MP3 Download Code.

                                                                Since 2012, Father John Misty, aka Josh Tillman, has unexpectedly emerged as a singular (if not undeniably, um, idiosyncratic) voice. Whether by virtue of his lyrics, which routinely defy the presumed polarities of wit and empathy; his live performances which may perhaps be described best as “intimately berzerk”, or the infuriating line he seems to occupy between canny and total fraud online or in interviews, Father John Misty has cultivated a rare space for himself in the musical landscape - that of a real enigma. Pure Comedy sees Tillman at the height of these powers: as a lyricist, and equally so a cultural observer - at times bordering on freakishly prescient. Tillman’s bent critiques, bared humanity and gently warped classic songwriting are all here in equal measure and - at 75 minutes - there’s a veritable fuck ton of it. The album navigates themes of progress, technology, fame, the environment, politics, aging, social media, human nature, human connection and his own role in it all with his usual candour, and in terms as timely as they are timeless.

                                                                Tillman wrote the majority of Pure Comedy throughout 2015 and recorded all the basic tracking and vocals live to tape (in no more than two takes each) at United Studios (fka the legendary Ocean Way Studios, favored by Frank Sinatra and The Beach Boys) in Los Angeles March 2016.

                                                                Pure Comedy was co-produced once again by Josh Tillman and long-time producer Jonathan Wilson; mixed by Tillman, Wilson and Trevor Spencer, and mastered by Bob Ludwig at Gateway Mastering Studios. The album features string, horn and choral arrangements from classical iconoclast Gavin Bryars (Jesus Blood Never Failed Me Yet, Sinking Of The Titanic), with additional contributions from Nico Muhly and Thomas Bartlett.

                                                                STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                Andy says: One of the most anticipated records of recent times does not disappoint as Josh Tillman turns in his most personal and political songs under his Father John moniker.

                                                                FORMAT INFORMATION

                                                                2xLP includes MP3 Download Code.

                                                                Lydia Ainsworth

                                                                Darling Of The Afterglow

                                                                ‘Darling Of The Afterglow’ is Lydia Ainsworth’s sophomore record and follow up to the Juno-nominated and critically acclaimed ‘Right From Real’ (2014).

                                                                The album features a team of local Toronto musicians, woven into Ainsworth’s programming, samples and string arrangements. “I usually have to be out of my element to get that spark of inspiration,” she says of songwriting. The songs on ‘Darling Of The Afterglow’ were all begun away from home, before being brought to fruition in her hometown.

                                                                Mixing yearning pop with other-worldly synthetic sounds, plush classical settings and weird-gothic R&B influences, Lydia Ainsworth’s new album is a richly imagined, richly felt work of future-pop classicism: an album of intimate emotions projected in heightened widescreen. The stunning, 11-track ‘Darling Of The Afterglow’ - from the lush lullaby of ‘Afterglow’, to the immersive ‘Into The Blue’, to the masterful cover of Chris Isaak’s ‘Wicked Game’ - showcases a great leap forward from Right from Real’s already prodigious experi-pop riches.

                                                                A heavenly voice couched in spellbinding Country & Western ballads, with a devastating emotional delivery: Holly Macve is a fantastic addition to the Bella Union family and her album ‘Golden Eagle’ is one of the most remarkably assured debuts of this or any other year, especially given that she’s only 21 years old.

                                                                “Words are my main love,” she declares. “I love songs that tell stories and take you somewhere else. I’ve always been drawn to that old country sound with its simple and memorable melodies. I enjoy music that feels timeless, that you don’t know quite when it was recorded.”

                                                                The bulk of ‘Golden Eagle’ was recorded in Newcastle at the home studio of producer Paul Gregory (of Bella Union labelmates Lanterns On The Lake), with extra recording in Brighton and London. Throughout, ‘Golden Eagle’ remains beautifully spare and delicate, putting Holly’s goosebumpraising voice centre stage, beautifully controlled yet riven with feeling.

                                                                On stage she’s a magnetic presence; it’s not just voice and songs. Audiences who caught her supporting the likes of John Grant, Villagers and Benjamin Clementine - incredible company to keep at this early stage - were doubtless stopped in their tracks. ‘Golden Eagle’ is surely going to have the same effect.

                                                                STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                Laura says: This album would sit comfortably alongside the traditional honky-tonk / country of Patsy Cline as easily as it would more contemporary artists such as Gillian Welch and Laura Marling. The song structures follow a 'classic' country format, but the simplicity and stripped back nature of the recording (often just guitar or piano and vocals) allows for Holly's incredible, vocals to weave their magic and create a really wonderful, timeless album.

                                                                Jambinai

                                                                Differance

                                                                  Following much acclaim for their sophomore album ‘A Hermitage’, which was released in June 2016 via Bella Union, South Korean trio Jambinai announce that their debut album ‘Differance’ will be released on vinyl for the first time outside of South Korea. The debut full-length from Jambinai, originally released in February 2012, is a challenging and compelling affair that won them the prize for Best Crossover Album at the 2013 Korean Music Awards. A heady mixture of traditional instrumentation, crashing percussion and classic crescentic post-rock, Jambinai manage to maintain the brooding atmospherics and driven aesthetic through rapid-fire stylistic changes and skillful segues. Part metal, part instrumental and cinematic rock, and entirely fascinating, this is an excellent standalone outing, and a brilliant insight into the formation of the sound heard on their latest epic 'A Hermitage'.

                                                                  STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                  Barry says: Gloomy, brooding instrumental rock meets crashing metallic bursts, all interspersed with forlorn strings, floating ambience and triumphant crescendos. A superb outing, and a vastly underappreciated gem now available on vinyl!

                                                                  FORMAT INFORMATION

                                                                  LP includes MP3 Download Code.

                                                                  Horse Thief

                                                                  Trials & Truths

                                                                    Two years after their widely feted Bella Union debut ‘Fear In Bliss’, Oklahoma quintet Horse Thief have created another surging, crafted beauty in ‘Trials & Truths’.

                                                                    The record’s unified feel still contains many contrasting elements, sounding both panoramic and nuanced, intimate and anthemic and vibrant and contemplative, while frontman Cameron Neal’s lyrics range from the confessional to the metaphorical as he surveys the passing of time.

                                                                    Neal concludes, “All the songs have guided me through the writing process, and comforted me, which is part of what the whole record is contemplating - making something to comfort someone, to write songs they can relate to. And with this record, the band is in a great place.”

                                                                    THE FLAMING LIPS are pleased to announce the release of their long-awaited new studio album, entitled OCZY MLODY via Bella Union. Produced by the band and their long-time producer Dave Fridmann, the highly-anticipated LP is the follow-up to their globally acclaimed 2013 album, “The Terror”.

                                                                    Three-time Grammy-Award winners, THE FLAMING LIPS are one of the most enduring, influential, unpredictable, and universally respected bands of their generation or any other. Led by Wayne Coyne, they have been cited as the ultimate live attraction and life-affirming festival band who continue to dazzle audiences with their over-the-top, maximalist, high-energy onslaught on the senses. On OCZY MLODY, The Lips return to form with an album no less experimental in nature, but perhaps more melodically song-oriented, recalling the best parts of their most critically applauded albums THE SOFT BULLETIN and the gold-certified YOSHIMI BATTLES THE PINK ROBOTS.

                                                                    STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                    Andy says: Like a more drawn out and melancholic "Yoshimi", this record sees the good ship Lips return to more considered , calmer waters. Good tunes too!

                                                                    FORMAT INFORMATION

                                                                    2xColoured LP Info: Limited edition 2LP version – one purple / one orange plus bonus 7” with the 2LP is red vinyl.

                                                                    The Trouble With Templeton

                                                                    Someday, Buddy

                                                                    In the two and a half years since the release of their last album ‘Rookie’, Brisbane’s The Trouble With Templeton have, says frontman Thomas Calder, been busy “breaking down and re-assembling what it means to make music for us.” On the evidence of the richly confident and clear-sighted ‘Someday, Buddy’, released through Bella Union, that time was well spent.

                                                                    The full-bodied songs here can take the emphasis, no trouble. The Trouble With Templeton weren’t slouching on ‘Rookie’, where Calder and company wedded vibrant melodies and multifarious alt-rock flavours - epic, jangly, glam - to a core of emotive cogency. On ‘Someday, Buddy’, however, their personality emerges sharper and clearer. “Our goal was to make a record that is raw, bare and honest,” says Calder, a claim borne out by the incisive lyrics of the swelling ‘Sailor’ and lilting ‘Heavy Trouble’, where Calder’s falsetto dances over a tender indie folk backdrop.

                                                                    Sometimes fragile, sometimes forceful, Calder’s voice remains a marvel on ‘Bad Mistake’, a combination of intricate verses and a huge chorus pitched somewhere between Pavement and Elliott Smith.  ‘Someday, Buddy’s recipe is one of slow burn songs harbouring great reserves of potency: the discreet neo glam swagger of ‘Complex Lips’, the sunburst chorus of ‘Vernon’, the gorgeous ripples of album highlight ‘1832’.

                                                                    For The Trouble With Templeton, the album is the culmination of time spent refining the band’s qualities following extensive touring for ‘Rookie’. After taking time out to recharge their batteries, Calder, Ritchie Daniell (drums) and Sam Pankhurst (bass) recorded as a trio with help from their friend Matt Redlich; later, they were joined by another buddy, guitarist Jack Richardson. As a result, says Calder, the band’s bonds are “stronger than ever.” By the time ‘Someday, Buddy’ fades out with the understated confidence and poised beauty of ‘Sturdy Boy’ no one could doubt it.

                                                                    FORMAT INFORMATION

                                                                    Coloured LP Info: LP pressed on white vinyl with digital download code.

                                                                    The Beat Escape

                                                                    The Beat Escape

                                                                      The Beat Escape are Adam and Patrick, an electronic duo from Montreal.

                                                                      The Beat Escape walk into the studio and immediately begin to work. They turn on a drum machine and compose a beat - it’s familiar yet entirely original. A chord progression fills the room, one that’s been on their minds for nearly six months. It happens to sit nicely on the beat and for this they are thankful. Walking through old memories, dreams, sequences and altered states of perception, a melody is caught and harmonies are sung. By them. All around the world, the day continues. The song evolves. The dream is alive. For everyone.




                                                                      FORMAT INFORMATION

                                                                      12" Info: Clear vinyl 12” with digital download code.

                                                                      Xylouris White are George Xylouris - a Cretan lute player who is part of a famous Greek musical family and one of Crete’s best-loved artists - and Jim White, drummer in legendary Australian instrumental band Dirty Three.

                                                                      ‘Black Peak’ pays testimony to both men’s remarkable histories. One of Crete’s best-loved artists, Xylouris is a scion of Greek musical royalty, a family from a mountain village near the Cave of Zeus, while Jim White has commanded international attention for more than two decades as part of Australia’s Dirty Three. Now New Yorkbased, White is often found collaborating with alt- A-listers such as Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, PJ Harvey, Nina Nastasia, Cat Power and Smog.

                                                                      FORMAT INFORMATION

                                                                      LP includes MP3 Download Code.

                                                                      Soundwalk Collective And Jesse Paris Smith Featuring Patti Smith

                                                                      Killer Road

                                                                      Bella Union announce ‘Killer Road’, a collaborative project between Soundwalk Collective, Patti Smith and Jesse Paris Smith.

                                                                      A shimmering ambient tone, an electronic underlay to the lulling chatter of crickets, makes way for the unmistakeable voice of Patti Smith, quietly intoning, ominously, “The killer road is waiting for you / like a finger, pointing in the night.” ‘Killer Road’ is a deep, dark, illuminating and meditative journey into mortality and motion, into fear and doubt and, eventually, death.

                                                                      Behind the music and concept of ‘Killer Road’ is international trio Soundwalk Collective - Stephan Crasneanscki, Simone Merli and Kamran Sadeghi - plus Patti Smith’s daughter, Jesse Paris Smith, who conceived an immersive exploration of the tragic death of Christa Päffgen. Better known as Nico, the Velvet Underground chanteuse and solo pioneer, Päffgen died while riding her bike on the island of Ibiza in the summer of 1988.

                                                                      In the years before she died, Nico had not neglected her creative muse, writing poetry that would never be published, or heard, until now, in the form of the opening title track, ‘Killer Road’. The tracks that follow are eight interpretations of Nico lyrics, predominantly taken from classic albums such as ‘Desertshore’ and ‘Drama Of Exile’, arranged by fellow poet and kindred spirit Patti Smith.

                                                                      The roots of ‘Killer Road’ lie in a fortuitous meeting on an airplane bound for New York. One passenger was Patti Smith; the other was Soundwalk Collective founder Crasneanscki. Soundwalk had previously been a collaborative series of walking guides to cities that created an idiosyncratic and evocative understanding for the listener, before evolving into musical frameworks for field recordings and sight specific sound installations and performances using a variety of texts and themes.

                                                                      ‘Killer Road’ was initially a live audio visual experience in New York as part of 2014’s Crossing The Line festival, with subsequent performances taking place in London and Berlin. This is the recorded version, a poignant, profound, imaginative exploration and tribute nearly 30 years after that fateful summer’s day.

                                                                      Having announced themselves to the world with their acclaimed self-titled debut in 2014, Arc Iris return with their second album, ‘Moon Saloon’, released on Bella Union.

                                                                      ‘Moon Saloon’ constitutes a natural progression from the first album’s whimsical explorations. Produced by the group and mixed by electronic producer David Wrench of FKA Twigs and Caribou fame, the album showcases beat-heavy melodies and textural, grooveriding rhythms. It developed from the band’s distillations of musical influences, combining traditional elements with percussive structures and dense, beguiling harmonies.

                                                                      In many ways this second album captures Arc Iris’ musical odyssey as a band. “It has a heavier sound, more intense,” says Arc Iris keyboardist Zach Tenorio- Miller, who makes liberal use of sampling in many of the songs. The group matches an unusual array of organic acoustic instruments with layered electronic sounds.

                                                                      “Though they are only a three-piece, they have a large arsenal of sounds and sensibilities to work with, and they use every bit of it to make beautifully textured soundscapes difficult to box into any genre.” - Stereogum

                                                                      On ‘Introducing Karl Blau’, released by Bella Union, the enigmatic vocalist charts a new vision of country music. A Northwest indie hero, Blau channels darkness and hope in a cinematic collection of Nashville country hits from the 60s and 70s.

                                                                      Produced by Tucker Martine, the record features performances by Jim James (My Morning Jacket), Laura Veirs, Jon Hyde, Eli Moore (Lake), Steve Moore (Earth, SunnO))), among others.

                                                                      It all started with cutting a 7” single, a cover of the 1969 Tom T Hall hit ‘That’s How I Got To Memphis’. Blau, whom Martine had come to know from sessions with Laura Veirs among others, asked if he could try singing it. “I knew what a special artist Karl was, but I had no idea what a powerful interpreter of songs he was,” Martine says. The collaboration, pairing Blau’s deeply sonorous voice with Martine’s warm, modern arrangements, recast the Nashville hit in a new light. “He was able to communicate the essence of the song in such a moving way that we started dreaming of making a whole record based around our excitement for that collaboration.” The result was the single and, now, ‘Introducing Karl Blau’.

                                                                      FORMAT INFORMATION

                                                                      Coloured LP Info: The LP format is pressed on blue vinyl and includes a
                                                                      digital download code.

                                                                      Doomsquad bring psychedelic electronic dance music from Toronto, Canada.

                                                                      Having formed in 2012, siblings Trevor, Jaclyn and Allie Blumas soon began to explore trance and electronic beat making. Their shared fascination with dance culture, rhythm and the unknown, along with their lifelong immersion in the arts, began to manifest as a collective ethos. Before long, Doomsquad had mushroomed into a full-scale art project.

                                                                      Inspired by some of their favourite artists - Georges Bataille, Richard Tuttle, Tanya Tagaq and Genesis P-Orridge - Doomsquad travelled to the New Mexican desert to write and record ‘Total Time’, creating dark, pulsating beats interspersed with hypnotic, incantatory jams.

                                                                      Upon returning home the band continued to draw inspiration from the Toronto arts community. Their friendships and connections led to some fortuitous collaborations, including one with Canadian avant-garde legend Mary Margaret O’Hara, whose otherworldly vocals grace ‘The Very Large Array’.

                                                                      The driving, dirty basslines and analogue layers of effects come care of Graham Walsh (Holy F*ck), who produced and mixed the album.

                                                                      STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                      Barry says: Like a perfectly rounded hybrid of Trent Reznor finally listening to all his mates and 'Cheering Up A Bit', and the goth-tronica stylings of Tropic Of Cancer, 'Total Time' is a driving and energetic dystopian synth odyssey. Reverberated kick drums and distorted pads topped with distant vocals and frantic arps. Dramatic and gloomy, frenetic and claustrophobic, but at times hopeful. The more you listen the more it makes sense. Great stuff.

                                                                      FORMAT INFORMATION

                                                                      LP includes MP3 Download Code.

                                                                      Dirty Three

                                                                      Sad & Dangerous, Mysterious & Exciting

                                                                        THIS IS A RECORD STORE DAY 2016 EXCLUSIVE, LIMITED TO ONE PER PERSON.

                                                                        Finally, an official release of this monolithic album.

                                                                        Formed in 1992 in Melbourne, Australia, this recording was the first official release by the band. It is a collection of pieces recorded on a 4 track recorder, with only 3 tracks working.

                                                                        Mostly recorded in 1992, it was a way for the band to remember the tunes which were improvised in the first rehearsals. Initially a cassette only release sold at shows, it graduated to vinyl in 1994.

                                                                        Stylistically it probably represents the band at their most playful and exploratory. Everything is fair game.

                                                                        The majority of the album was recorded using a Realistic PZM microphone attached to a door, and the guitar and violin were DI’d.

                                                                        The band never quite captured this sound again.

                                                                        This release was overseen by Mick Turner, who trawled the archives for any worthy additions and unreleased gems.

                                                                        This is indeed then the motherlode and part of Bella Union’s ongoing attempts to release the band’s entire back catalogue on vinyl, one Record Store Day at a time.

                                                                        180g green vinyl 2LP, includes download code.

                                                                        Limited to 1000 copies.

                                                                        Beach House

                                                                        Depression Cherry

                                                                        Beach House is Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally. We have been a band for over a decade living and working in Baltimore, MD. Depression Cherry is our 5th full-length record. This record follows the release of our self-titled album in 2006, Devotion in 2008, Teen Dream in 2010 and Bloom in 2012. Depression Cherry was recorded at Studio in the Country in Bogalusa, Louisiana from November ’14 through January ’15. This time period crossed the anniversaries of both John Lennon’s and Roy Orbison’s death.

                                                                        In general, this record shows a return to simplicity, with songs structured around a melody and a few instruments, with live drums playing a far lesser role. With the growing success of Teen Dream and Bloom, the larger stages and bigger rooms naturally drove us towards a louder, more aggressive place; a place farther from our natural tendencies. Here, we continue to let ourselves evolve while fully ignoring the commercial context in which we exist.

                                                                        Here are a few quotes that we feel relate to the feeling and themes of this record:

                                                                        — “I’ll never be able to be here again. As the minutes slide by, I move on. The flow of time is something I cannot stop. I haven’t a choice. I go. One caravan has stopped, another starts up. There are people I have yet to meet, others I’ll never see again. People who are gone before you know it, people who are just passing through. Even as we exchange hellos, they seem to grow transparent. I must keep living with the flowing river before my eyes.” - from Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto
                                                                        — “We inhabit a world in which the future promises endless possibilities and the past lies irretrievably behind us. The arrow of time… is the medium of creativity in terms of which life can be understood.” - from The Arrow of Time by Peter Coveney and Roger Highfield
                                                                        — “Mostly it is loss which teaches us about the worth of things.” - from Parerga and Paralipomena by Arthur Schopenhauer
                                                                        — “Hark, now hear the sailors cry, feel the air and see the sky, let your soul and spirit fly, into the mystic……
                                                                        ….when the fog horn blows, i want to hear it, i don’t have to fear it” - from “Into the Mystic” by Van Morrison.

                                                                        Depression Cherry was produced and recorded by the band and Chris Coady at Studio in the Country in Bogalusa, Louisiana.




                                                                        STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                        Andy says: Beach House's 5th album sees Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally distill things right down to their essence and create their best record so far. This is dream-pop in excelsis. Using the most minimal ingredients of organ, guitar, drum-machine and voice, but creating a spangly, fuzzy, graceful sound, the duo have made an album that totally envelops the listener. Mesmerising stuff.

                                                                        FORMAT INFORMATION

                                                                        Ltd LP Info: Limited edition white vinyl packaged in a beautiful red velvet sleeve.

                                                                        Vinyl comes with CD version of the album enclosed.

                                                                        LP Info: Standard black vinyl edition packaged in a red velvet sleeve.

                                                                        Vinyl comes with CD version of the album enclosed.

                                                                        CD Info: The CD comes packaged in a red velvet sleeve.

                                                                        The Wilderness is the band’s sixth album, and first non-soundtrack effort since 2011’s ‘Take Care, Take Care, Take Care’. Arguably the most progressive instrumental rock album since EITS’ 2003 breakthrough ‘The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place’, The Wilderness is a bold, experimental work combining the singular song craft that has sold hundreds of thousands of albums and tickets with the cinematic sensibility that has elevated the band to the level of regard and demand its members enjoy as film composers (Lone Survivor, Manglehorn, Prince Avalanche, Friday Night Lights).

                                                                        The first Explosions In The Sky album not produced entirely by the band, The Wilderness features long time collaborator (and Grammy-winning producer) John Congleton in a co-producer role for the first time. The band's most ambitious songs to date branch into unexpected new dimensions accordingly - Exhibit A being “Disintegration Anxiety,” currently streaming on all platforms and available as an instant grat download with all pre-orders. With its cacophonous opening washes that ultimately resolve into a locked groove, “Disintegration Anxiety” marks the rock solid midpoint of an aggressively modern and forward-thinking work. 

                                                                        STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                        Barry says: Expanding upon their trademark sound, much like fellow Texans This Will Destroy You ; Explosions In The Sky have encompassed, to great effect, elements of drone and electronica into their (still unmistakeable) post-rock sound. Distorted beats, crunchy snares, and dusty arpeggios atop soaring guitars and crackly synths. A vast departure for the band, but without endangering what makes them tick, The Wilderness is bold, brave, and brilliant.

                                                                        M. Ward returns with a stunning new album, ‘More Rain’, released on Bella Union. Ward has released a string of acclaimed solo albums over the past several years, along with five albums with Zooey Deschanel as She & Him and a 2009 collaborative album with My Morning Jacket’s Jim James and Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis under the moniker Monsters Of Folk.

                                                                        In addition to his celebrated work as a musician, Ward is an accomplished producer, handling those duties for such luminaries as Mavis Staples, Jenny Lewis and Carlos Forster as well as his own projects.

                                                                        M. Ward knows how to live with rain. Having spent the last decadeand- a-half based in the perennially damp Portland, Oregon, the singer-songwriter and producer has learned how to shine through the soggy gloom by simply embracing its inevitability. For Ward, there is inspiration in a dark sky and harmony in foreboding winds. With his new album ‘More Rain’ he has made a true gotta-stay-indoors, rainyseason record that looks upwards through the weather while reflecting on his past.

                                                                        “I think one of the biggest mysteries of America right now is this: How are we able to process unending bad news on Page One and then go about our lives the way the style section portrays us?” says Ward. “There must be a place in our brains that allows us to take a bird’s-eye view of humanity, and I think music is good at helping people - myself included - go to that place.”

                                                                        This album, Ward’s eighth solo affair, finds the artist picking up the tempo and volume a bit from his previous release, 2012’s ‘A Wasteland Companion’. Where that record introspectively looked in from the outside, ‘More Rain’ finds Ward on the inside, gazing out. Begun four years ago and imagined initially as a DIY doo-wop album that would feature Ward experimenting with layering his own voice, it soon branched out in different directions, a move that he credits largely to his collaborators here who include REM.’s Peter Buck, Neko Case, kd lang, The Secret Sisters and Joey Spampinato of NRBQ.

                                                                        STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                        Andy says: More warm 50's/60's vibes from the golden voiced maestro. Another enveloping record where everything feels just right. Great songs, obviously.

                                                                        Wild Nothing, aka Brooklyn-based musician Jake Tatum, released his debut album ‘Gemini’ in 2010 to critical acclaim. Five years on, with an equally impressive sophomore release and a series of EPs under his belt, Tatum is pleased to announce his third-studio album and self-proclaimed most “mature and honest” work to date, ‘Life Of Pause’.

                                                                        When Jack Tatum began work on ‘Life Of Pause’ he had fascinating ambitions. “I desperately wanted for this to be the kind of record that would displace me,” he says. “I’m terrified by the idea of being any one thing, or being of any one genre. And whether or not I accomplish that, I know that my only hope of getting there is to constantly reinvent. That reinvention doesn’t need to be drastic, but every new record has to have its own identity, and it has to have a separate set of goals from what came before.”

                                                                        ‘Life Of Pause’ is an exquisitely arranged and beautifully recorded collection of songs that marry the immediate with the indefinable. “I allowed myself to go down every route I could imagine even if it ended up not working for me,” he says. “I owe it to myself to take as many risks as possible. Songs are songs you have to allow yourself to be open to everything.”

                                                                        After a prolonged period of writing and experimentation recording took place over several weeks in both Los Angeles and Stockholm, with producer Thom Monahan (Devendra Banhart, Beachwood Sparks) helping Tatum in his search for a more natural and organically textured sound. In Sweden, in a studio once owned by ABBA, they enlisted Peter, Bjorn & John drummer John Ericsson and fellow Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra veteran TK to contribute drums and marimba. In California, at Monahan’s home, Tatum collaborated with Medicine guitarist Brad Laner and a crew of saxophonists.

                                                                        From the hypnotic polyrhythms of ‘Reichpop’ to the sugary howl of ‘Japanese Alice’ to the hallucinogenic R&B of ‘A Woman’s Wisdom’, the result is a complete, fully immersive listening environment. “I just kept things really simple, writing as ideas came to me,” he says. “There’s definitely a different kind of ‘self’ in the picture this time around. There’s no real love lost, it’s much more a record of coming to terms and defining what it is that you have - your place, your relationships. I view every record as an opportunity to write better songs. At the end of the day it still sounds like me, just new.”

                                                                        STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                        Laura says: Watching these swoon-some 80's tinged pop songs performed live at Primavera Sound totally sealed the deal on this album for me. Perfect Summer listening.

                                                                        Andy says: This album was a wonderful surprise because whilst I'd always admired Wild Nothing's Anglophile 80's jangle and waft, I'd somehow failed to fully connect. But I vividly remember the first listen to "Life Of Pause" on the Piccadilly player. Classic songs immediately revealed themselves and this was souped-up shoegaze of the highest order: enormo synths, treated guitars, even a flippin' saxophone!?? Lush dream-pop with swoonsome melodies? Yes please.

                                                                        In 2013 MONEY released their debut album ‘The Shadow Of Heaven’, following a handful of concerts that felt more like communions in out-of-the-way venues, advertised by word-of-mouth only.

                                                                        Two years on, the new MONEY album, ‘Suicide Songs’, takes you deeper into their sound and vision. It feels more advanced and yet simpler, more perfected and yet more open. It is, by turns, a tender, barren, cavernous, smouldering, despairing and inspirational piece of work.

                                                                        Out of a renewed, richer palate of sound, a sense of greater self-belief has emerged. However, as its title suggests, ‘Suicide Songs’ doesn’t shirk from the emotional truths that birthed it. “I wanted the album to sound like it was ‘coming from death’ which is where these songs emerged,” Jamie explains. “Above all else, I’m just trying to project and portray a poetic truth. Suicide is about anonymity, to the point where you don’t exist, which I definitely feel in my songwriting and as a person. But rather than writing myself out of anonymity, I want to remain there, in this record at least.”

                                                                        Billie Lindahl, the woman behind the name Promise & The Monster, brings a vivid landscape to life on ‘Feed The Fire’, her first album for Bella Union.

                                                                        ‘Feed The Fire’ was recorded in Stockholm, where Lindahl lives, at Labyrint, a small basement studio run by her friend Love Martinsen who produced the ‘Feed The Fire’ album and shares most of the instrumentation with Lindahl. “We aimed at combining the elegance of old Sixties recordings with something darker and more mechanical,” she recalls. “Like you would play a Lee Hazlewood song on top of Nico’s late Eighties records.”

                                                                        Duality sits at the core of ‘Feed The Fire’, likewise the name Promise & The Monster. “To feed the fire can be seen as both constructive and destructive,” Lindahl concludes. “You keep the fire burning, the spark alive. But fire can kill you. To see, listen and feel is quite a violent and confusing experience, and I think my lyrics often evolve around that, blurring boundaries between dream and reality, and between sanity and insanity.”

                                                                        In 2013, Manchester heroes Money released their debut album ‘The Shadow Of Heaven’ following only a handful of concerts that felt more like communions in out-of-the-way venues, advertised only by word-of-mouth.

                                                                        Two years on, the new Money album ‘Suicide Songs’ and first single ‘I’ll Be The Night’ take you deeper into their sound and vision. The album feels more advanced and yet simpler, more perfected and yet more open. It is, by turns, a tender, barren, cavernous, smouldering, despairing and inspirational piece of work. It’s a long day’s journey into night but it pays huge dividends when you arrive, drawing you in and casting a spell that won’t let go.

                                                                        The new material finds the band gelling as never before, framing Jamie’s poetic vision with an intuitive grasp of the new album’s dignified and despairing themes. Out of a renewed, richer palate of sound, a sense of greater self-belief has emerged.

                                                                        Beach House

                                                                        Thank Your Lucky Stars

                                                                          Less than 2 months after the release of 2015′s much celebrated 'Depression Cherry', Beach House will grace us all with their sixth full length LP titled 'Thank Your Lucky Stars'. 


                                                                          STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                          Andy says: Beach House wowed us this year with their gorgeous comeback LP "Depression Cherry" and now, only 2 months later, they do something fairly unique in pop by releasing a second, brand new collection. This is not an odds'n'sods out-takes jobby. This is a just as brilliant sister record, totally beautiful in it's own right, but with an even better sleeve! Swoon again.

                                                                          It’s been the most spectacular of journeys, from a place in time when John Grant feared he’d never make music again, to winning awards, accolades and Top 20 chart positions, collaborating with the likes of Sinead O’Connor, Goldfrapp and Elton John, as well as a Best International Male Solo Artist nomination at the 2014 BRITS Awards.

                                                                          Now comes Grant’s third album, the invitingly titled Grey Tickles, Black Pressure, a veritable tour-de-force that further refines and entwines his two principal strands of musical DNA, the sumptuous tempered ballad and the taut, fizzing electronic pop song. There are newer musical accomplishments across its panoply of towering sound, like the title track’s new steely demeanour, while the ominous drama of “Black Blizzard” echoes both John Carpenter and Bernard ‘Black Devil Disco Club’ Fevre’s beautiful and icy synthscapes. The contagious, gleeful “You And Him” marries buzzing rock with a squelchy electronic undertow, while orchestral drama swathes the bad-dreamy “Global Warming” and the album’s gorgeously aching widescreen finale “Geraldine”.

                                                                          Grey Tickles, Black Pressure was recorded in Dallas with producer John Congleton (St Vincent, Franz Ferdinand, Swans) - coincidentally the same state of Texas where Grant nailed his 2010 solo debut Queen Of Denmark in the company of Denton’s wondrous Midlake. After that landmark return, which MOJO made its album of 2010, 2013’s Pale Green Ghosts was made in Icelandic capital Reykjavik (where Grant has lived ever since), which entered the UK Top 20 in its first week and ended up as Rough Trade Shop’s Album of the Year 2013, The Guardian’s No.2 and in MOJO and Uncut’s Top Five). Such recognition, iced by years of sell-out shows across Europe and a recent US tour as special invited guest of the Pixies, should allow the notoriously self-critical and insecure Grant the passing thought that Grey Tickles, Black Pressure will deservedly cement his reputation as the most disarmingly honest, caustic, profound and funny diarist of the human condition in the persistently testing, even tragic, era that is the 21st century.

                                                                          “I do think the album’s great, and I’m really proud of it,” he says. “I wanted to get moodier and angrier on this record, but I probably had a lot more fun making it.” He cites “amazing” session keyboardist Bobby Sparks, “who really funked things up,” as part of that fun; likewise a month of Dallas sunshine “after a brutal dark winter in Iceland. And there was a lot of laughter.”

                                                                          That said, fun isn’t the first ingredient you’d expect when you know the roots of the album title. “‘Grey tickles’ is the literal translation from Icelandic for ‘mid-life crisis’, while ‘black pressure’ is the direct translation from Turkish for ‘nightmare’,” Grant explains, an unusually gifted linguist (he’s fluent in German, Russian and now tackling Icelandic).

                                                                          Nevertheless, there are plenty of positive streaks in Grey Tickles, Black Pressure. Grant, for one, is in fabulous voice throughout and has moved on from the specific subject matter that shaped both previous albums (though the concept of love always figures into the mix). “Disappointing” – featuring vocal guest Tracey Thorne – is an exuberant tribute to new love, against which Grant’s favourite Saturday Night Live comediennes, Russian artists and “ballet dancers with or without tights” pale in comparison. The album’s other two guests are vocalist Amanda Palmer and former Banshees drummer Budgie.

                                                                          But the end result is indeed a moody, angry record, laced with levering humour and wounded pathos, yet as dark as Reykjavik in February. It starts and ends with spoken word snippets called, simply, “Intro” and “Outro”, both taken from the same Biblical quote (from 1 Corinthians 13) regarding the divinity of love that young John was taught in church. In between are 12 songs that document the reality of love on planet Earth, corrupted by “pain, misunderstandings, jealousy, objectification and expectations,” as Grant puts it.

                                                                          The album’s last two songs are among its finest. “No More Tangles” fights against co-dependency “with narcissistic queers,” he sings, through the metaphor of hair care products. “It’s about not apologizing for who you are and not putting up with unnecessary bullshit from people who do not care about you”. But in “Geraldine” (as in the late Geraldine Paige, “one of freakiest, strongest, coolest actresses I’ve come across”), Grant’s latest actor-inspired song is Grant’s chance to ask her if she too had to “put up with this shit” that life dishes out.

                                                                          So Grant still manages to keep fighting the good fight, and writing his way out of trouble with another fantastic record. “I want to continue to challenge myself,” he says. “To keep collaborating, to get the sound or the direction that will take me where I need to go. To keep taking the bull by the horns.” 

                                                                          STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                          Andy says: Lush, deep production bringing throbbing electronics further to the fore, which when married to Grant's enormo ballads and hilarious lyrics, make this John's most complete album yet.

                                                                          FORMAT INFORMATION

                                                                          LP Info: Limited edition white vinyl!

                                                                          As Mercury Rev began recording their eighth studio album in autumn 2013, when asked what people could expect, co-pilot Grasshopper responded, “Steel Resonator Mandolin. Timpani. Sleigh Bells. All sorts of electric guitars…..” He subsequently added, “It is the best stuff we have done in a long, long time. Gonna be big sounding!”

                                                                          Two years on, The Light In You more than lives up to its billing. The record is filled with wondrous and voluminous kaleidoscopic detail, but also intimate moments of calm, and altogether stands up to the very best that this notable band of maverick explorers has ever created. Its ecstatic highs and shivery comedowns also reflect a particularly turbulent era in the lives of Grasshopper and fellow co-founder Jonathan Donahue, of calamities both personal and physical, but also rebirths and real births (Grasshopper became a father for the first time in 2014). There's a reason for the seven-year gap since the band's last album, Snowflake Midnight.

                                                                          “It was one of those otherworldly life sequences, when everything you think is solid turns molten,” explains Jonathan. “But also, when something is worth saying, it can take a long time to say it, rather than just blurt it out.”

                                                                          As well as The Light In You being the first Mercury Rev album with Bella Union, it’s also the first with only Jonathan and Grasshopper at the controls, as scheduling conflicts and travel between the Catskills and Dave Fridmann's Tarbox studio became too great to overcome. On The Light In You, Jonathan and Grasshopper decided they were best served being based at home in the Catskills for once. Surrounded by longtime friends such as engineer Scott Petito and bassist Anthony Molina, Jonathan and Grasshopper quickly found their stride recording themselves in their own basement studio as well as venturing out into the daylight to record tracks at some of their old haunts like NRS and White Light Studios. The two even found time to arrange backing vocal harmonies and record with Ken Stringfellow at his studio Son du Blé studios in Paris.

                                                                          Yet from its title down, the album clearly reflects the core relationship between Jonathan and Grasshopper, best friends since they were teenagers, who accompanied each other through the musical changes, band fractures and exulted breakthroughs that has marked Mercury Rev’s career since they emerged with the extraordinary Yerself Is Steam in 1991.

                                                                          “You can go as deep as you want with the title, on a metaphorical, spiritual level, or just poetic license,” Jonathan suggests. “It’s the beacon that shines and allows us to see ourselves – and then there’s the music between Grasshopper and I, which is how we reflect each other. The arc of the album, lyrically, is someone who’s gone through an incredible period of turbulence, sadness and uncertainty, and as the album progresses, a light appears on the water.”

                                                                          The album’s track-listing follows a similar trajectory, from the opening slow-build cascade of ‘The Queen Of Swans’, through the epic lonely beauty of ‘Central Park East’ and the album’s half-way peak between ‘Emotional Freefall’ and ‘Are You Ready’ before the closing sequence, with the exhilarating pop beacons of ‘Sunflower’ and ‘Rainy Day Record’ sandwiching the more tranquil ‘Moth Light’. The light is reflected both by the album’s brilliantine colours and imagery drawn largely from the elements and the seasons, creating a world as only Mercury Rev know how. “It’s like taking a drug, but not actually taking a drug,” Grasshopper reckons. “Just sit back and enter and immerse yourself.”

                                                                          Since Snowflake Midnight, Jonathan and Grasshopper have stayed productive, for example with their improvised collective, Mercury Rev's Cinematic Sound Tettix BrainWave Concerto Experiment at John Zorn's club in NYC, creating live soundtracks to favourite films at various junctures across Europe (most recently in London as part of Swans’ Mouth To Mouth festival in 2014). There were also occasional festival shows such as headlining 2014’s Green Man festival to celebrate the deluxe version of 1998 opus Deserter’s Songs.

                                                                          “Playing tracks again from Deserter’s Songs helped us look at where we’ve been, and where we were going,” says Grasshopper. “Though by no means did we want to make Deserter’s Songs Two, we did feel we had some loose ends to tie up.”As Grasshopper once commented about Deserter’s Songs, “It’s special because that was the one that brought us back from the brink.” The Light In You is special for that very same reason.

                                                                          STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                          Andy says: Mercury Rev bin the glacial electronics and return to splendor with the sweeping, multi-layered, enchanted sounds of their classic Deserter Songs period.

                                                                          ‘Perpetual Motion People’, Ezra Furman’s first album for Bella Union, offers a cascade of memorably bristling hooks driven by a unique splicing of timeless influences, delivered with a restless urgency and combative spirit that shines through the American’s vocals and lyrics.

                                                                          FORMAT INFORMATION

                                                                          Vinyl comes with CD version of the album enclosed.

                                                                          Pins grabbed everyones attention with the raw energy of their debut album "Girls Like Us", which they self recorded live in the studio in Liverpool. 

                                                                          On their second album they've stepped things up a little, heading off to Joshua Tree and Rancho De La Luna with Dave Catching (QOTSA, Eagles of Death Metal). And boy can you tell the difference! There's still plenty of Manchester grime in there as you'd hope: the guitars buzz and the drums pound but the sound is somehow crisper and the melodies more succinct.

                                                                          A real leap forward for Manchester's favourite girl gang.



                                                                          STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                          Andy says: Their first album was a smash on our shop stereo and this one's even better.

                                                                          FORMAT INFORMATION

                                                                          LP Info: Limited clear vinyl pressing.

                                                                          Vinyl comes with CD version of the album enclosed.

                                                                          Dirty Three

                                                                          Dirty Three

                                                                            THIS IS A RECORD STORE DAY 2015 EXCLUSIVE, LIMITED TO ONE PER PERSON.

                                                                            Warren Ellis, Mick Turner and Jim White - aka Dirty Three - are one of the most influential and acclaimed instrumental rock outfits of all time.

                                                                            20 years since their debut was first released, their self title debut is now available on limited edition vinyl.

                                                                            Limited to 500 in the UK / Eire.

                                                                            180 gram red vinyl.

                                                                            Hannah Cohen

                                                                            Pleasure Boy

                                                                            Music often comes from a deep place, and in the case of Hannah Cohen’s stunning and heartrending second album, it’s very deep indeed. Mainly inspired by a painful break-up and the anxieties that loss can trigger, Pleasure Boy cushions its sadness in an exquisitely nuanced soundscape of aching melancholy and lush melody where Hannah’s vocal conveys all the different shades of heartbreak. Following the album’s completion, she’s survived the calamity and found a new level of happiness, but to paraphrase the classic Sixties hit, there will always be something there to remind her with Pleasure Boy.

                                                                            ‘Pleasure Boy’, like her debut ‘Child Bride’, was produced by Thomas Bartlett, aka Doveman, whose work with artists such as The National, Antony Hegarty and David Byrne singles him out as one of America’s current finest producers and collaborators, though he’s also a talented pianist. The dynamics of ‘Pleasure Boy’ was the result of Hannah and Bartlett, “bunkering down with my songs, experimenting with different tones and sounds, and layering them. My first record was so airy and roomy, I didn’t have patience for that again, I wanted more movement, something more mysterious and witchier, so we created this sound wall together.”

                                                                            “I wanted the music to hurt, to have a visceral effect,” Hannah says. Her voice sometimes sounds delirious or icy; other times she recalls the vulnerable, piercing beauty of Harriet Wheeler (The Sundays) and Karen Peris (The Innocence Mission). But Pleasure Boy‘s sound wouldn’t exist without the vision that launched it. The album title arrived as the record took shape. “Pleasure Boy is a character of who it’s about, someone who represents gluttony and decadence and richness,” Hannah explains. She admits it was a tough record to make, given she was aiming to heal emotionally while feeling “devastated and hurt. But it wouldn’t be the record it is if I hadn’t done that.”

                                                                            STANDARD VINYL EDITION, with a gatefold jacket with black vinyl and fold-out poster, featuring a collage of Emma Tillman’s intimate photos, designed by Alia Penner and an extensive “Exercises for Listening” written by Josh Tillman

                                                                            CD EDITION, which includes fold-out poster, featuring a collage of Emma Tillman’s intimate photos, designed by Alia Penner and an extensive “Exercises for Listening” written by Josh Tillman

                                                                            'I Love You, Honeybear' is the highly-anticipated follow up to his acclaimed debut, Fear Fun. The album, featuring “Bored In The USA,” “Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins),” “True Affection,” and the title track, was produced by Josh Tillman and Jonathan Wilson, mixed by Phil Ek, and mastered by Greg Calbi at Sterling Sound. 

                                                                            STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                            Andy says: Americana's answer to Jarvis Cocker, Josh Tillman uses his FJM persona to tease and torment (and behave like the coolest, sexiest, superstar ever!) whilst behind the guise casually writing some of this year's greatest songs! It's a superb record and a huge hit.

                                                                            FORMAT INFORMATION

                                                                            2xLP Info: Double LP with pull-out poster and 'exercise for listening' booklet.

                                                                            Vinyl comes with CD version of the album enclosed.

                                                                            Bernard + Edith

                                                                            Wurds

                                                                            Bernard + Edith are a duo from Manchester who make contorted electronic pop music, characterised by Nick ‘Bernard’ Delap’s slow crawl drum programming, murky basslines and opium den soundscapes and singer Greta ‘Edith’ Caroll’s unconventional, archetype-defying vocal.

                                                                            John Grant And The BBC Philharmonic Orchestra

                                                                            Live In Concert

                                                                            Early October saw John Grant turn in a truly fabulous performance as part of the BBC Philharmonic Presents Series which was broadcast across 6Music and other BBC networks. This one-off live recording saw John performing much of his celebrated catalogue with the 60-piece BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, with arrangements by his long-time collaborator Fiona Brice.

                                                                            So good was the performance, and also in response to public demand, Bella Union are delighted to announce that the recording will be released in a few weeks time on 1st December. The recording should also serve as a memento (of sorts) for John's upcoming sold-out orchestral tour with the Royal Northern Sinfonia which will see him performing in some of the UK's most prestigious venues.

                                                                            Ballet School

                                                                            The Dew Lasts An Hour

                                                                            A fresh, vibrant take on the lush, emoting tropes of Eighties pop and rock but sounding resolutely 21st Century.

                                                                            ‘The Dew Lasts An Hour’s diverse influences place Ballet School at the forefront of pop’s new alternative.

                                                                            FORMAT INFORMATION

                                                                            2xLtd CD Info: Strictly limited edition 2CD version (bonus CD shrinkwrapped with standard album) featuring unreleased content, available exclusively to independent retailers (200 copies for the UK & Eire).

                                                                            Electric Wurms is the new side-project from Wayne Coyne and Steven Drozd of The Flaming Lips.

                                                                            This is the first of what could be endless communicated sound stories. It is titled Musik, Die Schwer Zu Twerk, which predicted this modern day dance move by almost forty years ago. Some of it is indeed hard to twerk to but some of it, is not. There is a particular track called Transform!!! that closely resembles a drug fuelled boogie freak rock track by Miles Davis. Another verse Heart Of The Sunrise sounds vaguely like a song by the prog folk group Yes. Of course Yes also turned themselves into space ships so it's no wonder these songs share a similar vibe.

                                                                            The ensemble leans toward a hypnotic mood for most of the space bible readings. It is a scary truth that we are hearing and then forced to ponder. The pulsating poem Living states… "live as if you were living already for the second time. And that you had acted wrong the first time". So they call themselves Electric Würms after the greatest of the super freaks. But they are not a super-group. They are like Sherpas climbing with you. To help you. To love you. All the secrets that they know they tell you. That's what love is.

                                                                            Living legends from Baltimore’s thriving music scene, Celebration return with ‘Albumin’, a seismic slice of psychedelic rock ‘n’ soul.

                                                                            Albumin is the band’s first album since 2010’s acclaimed Electric Tarot: Hello Paradise, and their first for Bella Union, initiating a new chapter in a story marked by triumph and disaster, struggle and redemption. Albumin is also Celebration’s finest record to date, the album the quintet has been leading up to. From the anthemic opener ‘Razor’s Edge’ to the pop levity of ‘Tomorrow’s Here Today’ and the shape-shifting centrepiece ‘I Got Sol’, these are their strongest melodies, most dynamic arrangements and singer Katrina Ford’s most impassioned incantations, drawing on years of studio know-how and emotional ballast.

                                                                            In 2011 The Flaming Lips released a 24-hour song called ‘7 Skies H3’, packaged inside a real human skull sold for $5,000 and was made available to stream on a dedicated website ever since.

                                                                            Now, for the first time, a 50 minute remastered distillation of this epic song is available on CD and digital download.

                                                                            Produced by The Flaming Lips, Dave Fridmann and Scott Booker.

                                                                            Already a huge success in Australia, The Trouble With Templeton is the creation of singer / songwriter Thomas Calder, a 23-year-old wunderkind who formed the band in 2011. The following year saw TTWT expand to a 5-piece, the new members complimenting Calder’s emotive vocals and songwriting with a collaborative, selfassured sound.

                                                                            Adventurous, eccentric and stunningly melodic, ‘Rookie’ is an album that leaves a distinct musical impression. With their debut release The Trouble With Templeton have crafted a record full of warmth and heart, whilst displaying a willingness to make music that’s not afraid to affect or surprise.

                                                                            FORMAT INFORMATION

                                                                            Vinyl comes with CD version of the album enclosed.

                                                                            The Flaming Lips

                                                                            7 Skies H3

                                                                              THIS IS A RECORD STORE DAY 2014 EXCLUSIVE, LIMITED TO ONE PER PERSON.

                                                                              In 2011 The Flaming Lips released a 24-hour song called “7 Skies H3” which came inside a real human skull for $5,000 and was only made available to stream on a dedicated website.

                                                                              Now available for the first time on vinyl is a 50 minute distillation of this epic song, condensed and remastered.

                                                                              Limited to 500 copies for UK and Ireland.
                                                                              Produced by The Flaming Lips, Dave Fridmann and Scott Booker.

                                                                              140g clear vinyl, printed inner sleeve, 3mm spined outer sleeve 350 gsm silver mirri board.

                                                                              Includes free download.

                                                                              Horse Thief are purveyors of a panoramic yet nuanced sound, flowing from intimate to anthemic, the mood from vibrant to contemplative, with frontman Cameron Neal’s lyrics ranging from confessional to metaphorical. The result evokes the wide-open spaces of America’s Midwest but infuses the sense of grit and wonderment with edgier emotions.

                                                                              The impulse that drove artists such as Suicide, Einstürzende Neubauten and Scott Walker to embark on extraordinary and uncompromising journeys, refusing to flinch in the face of humanity’s ugly truths and terrible beauty, also underpins the sound and vision of Xiu Xiu, aka LAbased duo Jamie Stewart and Angela Seo.

                                                                              ‘Angel Guts: Red Classroom’ is the sound of Xiu Xiu’s descent into the deepest blackness endurable.

                                                                              FORMAT INFORMATION

                                                                              Vinyl comes with CD version of the album enclosed.

                                                                              The Flaming Lips

                                                                              Peace Sword

                                                                                The title track ‘Peace Sword (Open Your Heart)’ was written exclusively for Orson Scott Card’s new movie adaptation of ‘Enders Game’, and features Thomas Fec of Black Moth Super Rainbow. The Flaming Lips then went on to make five new tracks all inspired by the book upon which the film is based.




                                                                                FORMAT INFORMATION

                                                                                LP Info: 1 copy found.

                                                                                Anyone who knows Midlake’s preceding albums will recognise some constituent parts of ‘Antiphon’: the quirky psychedelia of 2004 debut ‘Bamnan And Slivercork’, the 70s soft rock strains of breakthrough album ‘The Trials Of Van Occupanther’ and the Brit-folk infusion of 2010’s ‘The Courage Of Others’. This, their fourth album, is another fascinating departure, as well as being a logical progression too.

                                                                                STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                Andy says: Lead singer and main songwriter Tim Smith has left Midlake but they've actually gone and made a brilliant album. The exact opposite of "The Courage Of Others": buoyant, floaty but powerful and dynamic, this is a thrilling breath of fresh air that still sounds just like Midlake, but one that's sailing off to the heavens rather than toiling through the earth. Inspired.

                                                                                FORMAT INFORMATION

                                                                                Vinyl comes with CD version of the album enclosed.

                                                                                To say there’s excitement for Girls Like Us, the storming debut album by fiery Manchester four-piece PINS, would be an understatement. Even before the rousing reception to their oscillating, reverb-drenched EP LuvU4Lyfon Bella Union last autumn, first shows in disused office blocks and hotel basements left barely an inch of elbow room whilst an uber-limited gold cassette single released on their own Haus of Pins label flew off the shelves quicker than a hipster uploading an Instagram snap.

                                                                                Thankfully, for PINS complacency is not an option. Thick as thieves, this is a girl gang who’ve since battled line up changes, taken on European terrain, and scoffed in the face of supposed Armageddon by hosting their own swansong gig in a warehouse. Akin to cult 60s novel/70s film The Warriors, PINS are true fighters; a taut rebel unit living out their own manifesto and defending their turf as purveyors of brooding guitar pop.

                                                                                Take album opener ‘It’s On’, a song resurrected by bassist Anna from singer and guitarist Faith’s back catalogue of home-recordings. “It’s strong and we wanted to kick off the album by letting listeners know that we are ready for a fight if they want to take us on,” says Faith. She’s not kidding. From start to finish powerful bass lines blow up like smoke bombs whilst woozy, echoing guitars and tribal Banshee style 4-piece backing vocals strike in unison with the numbing blunt force of a nunchuck. Creating an air of noirish suspense, ‘Get With Me’ is decadent like blood red velour, freewheeling with the drive and menace of a Tarantino surf style soundtrack whilst ‘Lost Lost Lost’s echoing monotones induce chills like a PJ Harvey mantra. Completing the line-up, new recruit Sophie’s military drumbeats thunder through the unnerving ‘I Want It All’ and ‘Mad For You’s sprawling duel toms give the record its urgency. It’s seductive and switched on; never giving into what outsiders would expect it to be.

                                                                                Purists at heart, PINS recorded the album as live at Liverpool’s Parr Street Studios for its vast selection of analogue gear; it was self-produced and nailed within a week. Such is the understanding of and dedication to their girl gang feel, PINS even learned guitar parts backwards and brought in found sounds to give Girls Like Us its desired effect. The pitch and tempo of ‘Play With Fire’ was manipulated to make it sound like warped vinyl whilst Sophie covered her floor toms with tea towels to give the relentless beatific rhythms a distinctive boxy sound. The footsteps at the beginning of ‘Howlin’’ is the sound of Faith walking from the control room to the vocal booth.

                                                                                “Girls Like Us isn't about being like us, it's about being yourself,” clarifies Faith. “I always wanted to be in a band, ever since I can remember, it's all I’ve ever wanted to do to... our album may have been recorded and mixed in a week but it’s been dreamed about for years! We had to be ruthless but we've got each other’s backs, we don't let each other make bad decisions.”

                                                                                Comparisons to other gangs (of New York) Vivian Girls and Crystal Stilts will be inevitable, yet PINS’ femme fatale extends far beyond that of C86 tribute. Here seemingly straightforward guitar pop is choked with atmosphere created by group chants a la The Shop Assistants and the abrasive sonic experimentation of Jesus and Mary Chain. Take ‘Velvet Morning’ - a moment of calm midst the storm with Anna’s alluring vocals telling a story written by ex-drummer Lara before her premature departure. “Having Lara with us from the start was integral to us finding our sound and our confidence as musicians” they explain. “We’ll love her forever.”

                                                                                Energetic, focused, and ruthless, Girls Like Us is the album PINS wanted to make and for us to hear. "For you all i give my time/for you all i give my mind/ for you all i give my life/oh my heart aches," calls Faith on ‘To You’. We’re grateful. This is an exclusive invitation to PINS’ very own midnight summit.


                                                                                “Manc post-punk monochromatic minimalism, Adam Ant drums, Siouxsie declamation, banshees guitar – this is sublime.” The Sunday Times

                                                                                MONEY release their debut album The Shadow of Heaven on 26th August via Bella Union Records. Recorded in London through the deep, dark winter of 2012/13, it’s an ethereal, transcendent record that’s notable for its musical and intellectual ambition. Though ambition is perhaps not quite the right word. Because MONEY would never talk about ambition. Such things don’t sit well with them. They’d talk about anti-ambition and the revision of existing values — the kind of bold gesture already signalled by their unabashedly iconic name. It’s an album that defies convention and cliché, asking us instead to be courageous enough to see the world in different ways. As lead singer and ideologue Jamie Lee says, ‘Our aim with this band — in all things we do — is to create the world afresh on our own terms.’

                                                                                MONEY are Jamie Lee, Charlie Cocksedge, Billy Byron and Scott Beaman. Having formed in Manchester amidst a prolific underground milieu, they soon came to embody the passion, creativity and optimism of a new generation of artists and musicians who found themselves presented with what Jamie describes as ‘an extraordinary, poetic city’. MONEY played shows in esoteric venues such as Salford's Sacred Trinity Church and ‘the Bunker', a former factory near Strangeways Prison and home to the cult independent label SWAYS, who released the band’s debut 7” single, ‘Who’s Going to Love You Now’ / ‘Goodnight London’ to wide acclaim. Having been tracked down by Simon Raymonde, the band subsequently signed to Bella Union, headlining the label's Christmas party at the Union Chapel before taking to the studio to record 'The Shadow of Heaven'.

                                                                                The album consists of ten songs that range from stripped-back piano ballads such as ‘Goodnight London’ and ‘The Cruelty of Godliness’ to the more epic ‘Hold Me Forever’ and ‘Bluebell Fields’. Rooted in universal themes of the spirit, love and loss, the album also addresses man’s condition in the modern world, issues ‘such as isolation and mental health as logical reactions to it', says Jamie. It’s an album full of yearning and soul-searching, a voyage of (non-) discovery that only ends up finding itself and the sheer, aching beauty of questions asked in full knowledge of their own answerlessness. It’s metaphysics for the modern age, which might not be quite as spiritually bankrupt and bereft of meaning as we once believed.

                                                                                STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                Andy says: There's always been a buzz around this band. This passionate debut album totally justifies it. Today: Piccadilly Records, tomorrow The World?!

                                                                                After a breakthrough year that saw his exceptional solo debut "Queen Of Denmark" win MOJO’s album of 2010 and countless other accolades John Grant hasn’t rested on his laurels but created a follow-up that underlines his uncanny and charismatic talents. Recorded in Iceland and featuring Sinead O’Connor on guest vocals, the brilliant "Pale Green Ghosts" adds sublime notes of dark, gleaming electronica to the anticipated velveteen ballads, calling on all of Grant’s influences and tastes, presenting an artist at the peak of his powers.

                                                                                It’s been an extraordinary journey for John Grant, from a point where he thought he would never make music again or escape a life of substance abuse to winning awards and accolades, collaborating with Sinead O’Connor, Rumer and Hercules & Love Affair and having his music featured in the award-winning film Weekend.

                                                                                It’s a journey that’s taken him from his birthplace in Buchanan, Michigan to be raised in Parker, Colorado, studying languages in Germany and, after his band The Czars split up, basing himself in New York, London, Berlin and, most recently, Iceland, where the bulk of Pale Green Ghosts was recorded. It’s also been a journey from The Czars’ folk/country noir to the lush ‘70s FM alchemy of Queen Of Denmark to the astonishing fusion of sounds that lifts Pale Green Ghosts to even giddier heights.

                                                                                As if to acknowledge his journey, Grant has named the album after the opening title track, which documents the drives that he’d regularly take through the ‘80s, from Parker to the nearby metropolis of Denver, to the new wave dance clubs that have inspired the electronic elements of Pale Green Ghosts, and later on to visit the boyfriend - the ‘TC’ of Queen Of Denmark’s ‘TC & Honeybear’ - that inspired many of that album’s heartbreaking scenarios.

                                                                                “I’d take the I-25, between Denver and Boulder, which was lined with all these Russian olive trees, which are the pale green ghosts of the title: they have this tiny leaves with silver on the back, which glow in the moonlight,” Grant explains. “The song is about wanting to get out of a small town, to go out into the world and become someone and made my mark.”

                                                                                That Grant has made his mark is blatantly clear from how Queen Of Denmark was rapturously received. “Like a couple of similarly intense classics before it – Antony & The Johnsons’ I Am A Bird Now and Bon Iver’s For Emma… Queen Of Denmark sounds like a record its creator has been waiting his whole life to make,” MOJO concluded. Another measure of achievement, and the journey, is that one classic that Grant first heard in those new wave clubs was Sinead O’Connor’s ‘Mandinka’. Two decades later, O’Connor has not only covered the title track of ‘Queen Of Denmark’ on her latest album How About I Be Me (And You Be You)?, but supplies goose-bumping backing vocals on Pale Green Ghosts.

                                                                                Sinead’s presence is a surprise, but not compared to the album’s portion of synthesisers and beats – unless you already know Grant’s enduring love of vintage synth-pop and industrial dance, and more current electronic acts such as Trentemøller and Mock & Toof. “Electronica is a huge part of my personality and my influences, though I don’t think many people see that fitting in to the John Grant image, whatever that is,” he says. There were occasional electronic undertows to Czars songs and two tracks (‘That’s the Good News’ and ‘Supernatural Defibrillator"’) on the deluxe edition of Queen Of Denmark were dance tracks.

                                                                                One of those prime influences has even produced Pale Green Ghosts with Grant: Birgir Þórarinsson, a.k.a. Biggi Veira, of Iceland’s electronic pioneers Gus Gus. Queen of Denmark had been recorded in Texas with fellow Bella Union mates Midlake as his backing band, and Grant intended to return there to record again with the band’s rhythm section of McKenzie Smith and Paul Alexander. But a trip beforehand to see more of Iceland, after he’d first played the Iceland Airwaves festival in 2011, led to meeting Biggi, who invited Grant to his studio in Reykjavik. The two tracks the pair recorded – ‘Pale Green Ghosts’ and ‘Black Belt’ – convinced Grant he had to make the entire record there.

                                                                                If Queen Of Denmark is Grant’s ‘70s album, channeling the spirits of Karen Carpenter and Bread, then Pale Green Ghosts is his ’80s album. Of the electronic tracks, the title track is a panoramic, brooding classic, while ‘Sensitive New Age Guy’ and ‘Black Belt’ are the tracks that you might dance to in new wave clubs. ‘You Don’t Have To’ is a classic example of Grant’s influences blending together, in a reworked arrangement of a track unveiled during concert tours in 2011. It also features the distinct spacey Moog sounds that are familiar to lovers of Queen Of Denmark, while McKenzie and Alexander play on ‘Vietnam’ and ‘It Doesn’t Matter To Him’. Grant’s touring partner, keyboardist Chris Pemberton, plays the gorgeous piano coda on the album’s tumultuous finale ‘Glacier’.

                                                                                FORMAT INFORMATION

                                                                                Vinyl comes with CD version of the album enclosed.

                                                                                Fusing youthful exuberance with an artistic prowess far beyond their years, Concrete Knives are a band who have illuminated stages around Europe with their unique blend of resonating guitars, elaborate melodies, charging, pounding rhythms and euphoric collective vocals - an enticing and exciting mixture which unfailingly attracts the undivided attention of all who fall into their path. Now, this lauded Normandy outfit are set to unleash their highly anticipated debut album upon the world. Be Your Own King is a collection of tracks harnessing the inspired spirit, the mindset and the powerful energy of this group of Caen natives, which comprises the talents of Nicolas Delahaye, Morgane Colas, Adrien Lepretre, Augustin Hauville and Guillaume Aubertin.

                                                                                Be Your Own King is much more than just an album title, it’s a philosophy. It’s an attitude, a call to arms, an instruction to confront the world in your own way, to realise your ambitions, and to have the time of your life while doing so. It’s an album whose songs fly the flag of all that Concrete Knives stand for, and a record which brandishes explosive dynamics, playful hooks, powerful, pulsating bass lines as well as an all important angular pop pinch.

                                                                                "Our songs are pretty independent from each other, and from the moment they're born - generally from the mind of Nicolas - they hold a mystery that we need to take the time to solve,” explains vocalist Morgane Colas. “I really believe that the songs are born as mysterious and inaccessible, and that our job is to give them a sense that's faithful to their essence."

                                                                                Working alongside Parisian production and writing stalwart Dan Levy of The Dø on "Bornholmer", "Greyhound Racing & Wild Gun man", on Be Your Own King, Concrete Knives have harnessed the unadulterated passion that floods their touted live show, and shaped and moulded it into this perfect collection of catchy, heart-filled, compelling tracks. From the inciting, driving guitar chords and echoing chants of opener ‘Greyhound Racing’, the sublime vocals and anthemic quality of ‘Happy Mondays’ through to the understated rhythmic sway of ‘Africanize’, the band remain resolute in their intention, to create bright and honest music the Concrete Knives way.

                                                                                "We write as soon as the moment strikes us, no matter where, no matter when,” Morgane states, hinting at the impulsive, spontaneous energy that flows through the tracks, before going on to describe the band’s intentions for the future as "to let ourselves be amazed by music, our own and that of others. To travel the world, creating special relationships along the way. And to keep hoping."

                                                                                Be Your Own King is a true and irresistible reflection of all that this Caen collective stand for, an intelligent, creative and rousing musical proposition offered up by the minds of a group of deeply inspired individuals. It’s the band’s philosophy captured in a series of peerless, distinctive indie motions, and it’s a record which proves that Concrete Knives have the boundless energy, the fire and the natural, deep rooted talent to tempt and sway each listener of their unique fusions into total submission.

                                                                                Concrete Knives

                                                                                Greyhound Racing

                                                                                Fusing youthful exuberance with an artistic prowess far beyond their years, Concrete Knives are a band who have illuminated stages around Europe with their unique blend of resonating guitars, elaborate melodies, charging, pounding rhythms and euphoric collective vocals - an enticing and exciting mixture which unfailingly attracts the undivided attention of all who fall into their path. Now, this lauded Normandy outfit are set to unleash their highly anticipated debut album upon the world. Be Your Own King is a collection of tracks harnessing the inspired spirit, the mindset and the powerful energy of this group of Caen natives, which comprises the talents of Nicolas Delahaye, Morgane Colas, Adrien Lepretre, Augustin Hauville and Guillaume Aubertin.

                                                                                Be Your Own King is much more than just an album title, it’s a philosophy. It’s an attitude, a call to arms, an instruction to confront the world in your own way, to realise your ambitions, and to have the time of your life while doing so. It’s an album whose songs fly the flag of all that Concrete Knives stand for, and a record which brandishes explosive dynamics, playful hooks, powerful, pulsating bass lines as well as an all important angular pop pinch.

                                                                                Baltimore duo Beach House have returned with their sophomore full length entitled "Devotion", Alex Scally and Victoria Legrand have written eleven delicate pop songs about love, feelings, and, of course, devotion. Their new album is a sure-fire antidote to the winter blues. Beach House have developed their craft exponentially since their 2006 self-titled debut. The recording is crisper; the songs are fuller. This is a band that is taking the pop duo format to the limit. The organs, slide guitars and reverb are still there, but Beach House lay down some new sounds for their newest offering. While on their debut critics made comparisons to early 90s dream popsters like Mazzy Star, Slowdive and Galaxie 500, on "Devotion" listeners will also hear the band's longtime admiration for 60s Motown and country folk.

                                                                                FORMAT INFORMATION

                                                                                2xLtd LP Info: Limited edition blue vinyl.

                                                                                Vinyl comes with CD version of the album enclosed.

                                                                                'Break It Yourself' was recorded to eight track at Bird's barn in Western Illinois with a core group of drummer Martin Dosh, guitarist and keys man Jeremy Ylvisaker and Mike Lewis on tenor sax and bass. "It started out as a glorified rehearsal, the opposite of production, four musicians playing in a room together," he says, eager to avoid the traps of modern recording. "Too many records sound like a series of decisions, not a performance."

                                                                                That's not the case here. The tongue-twisting and catchy future single 'Eyeoneye', is as alive as recorded sound gets. "The DVD has film of us performing the actual take. Three quarters of the way through something clicks and it injects some adrenaline," says an enthused Bird.

                                                                                'Lusitania', a country-flecked duet with Annie Clark aka St Vincent, a sometime touring partner and intuitive collaborator, holds the listener close in its embrace (and features a divine couplet in "You're laying mines along your shore/ Through my hull it ripped and tore).

                                                                                Bird's lyrical flights have been commented on. "I've been accused of being wilfully obtuse," he concedes. But he's happy with these songs. "Lyrically I'm closer to the bomb. I handle topics not often handled in pop songs." Certainly, the wonderfully frisky opener 'Desperation Breeds', using the reported extinction of bees as a metaphor, is highly original. But the lovely melodies of the gorgeous and deeply unusual ballad 'Sifters' (surely worthy of reinterpretation- "No one's covered one of mine yet," he says) and the gloriously imaginative 'Lazy Projector' are just as striking. "Who the hell is editing the story of what you were? Who inside my head decides what I choose to remember?" he says, explaining the latter. Given that, the line "I can't see the sense in us breaking up at all' become even more plaintive and affecting.

                                                                                During the song's mixing, the great Randy Newman popped by "at half an hour's notice. He's a very perceptive man," says Bird, "He was gesticulating, shouting 'it's like a different song'." He was right. Half of the composition was originally commissioned for The Muppets movie soundtrack, of all things, another of Bird's ongoing interests (Bird's own unique version of 'It's Not Easy Being Green' was on The Muppets tribute album and he did appear on the movie soundtrack with 'The Whistling Caruso').

                                                                                Prettier still is 'Fatal Shore', with Dosh's heart-stopping punctuations leaping out. "There's your morning songs and there's your late night songs...," says Bird, making it clear what time it was put to tape.

                                                                                But Break It Yourself has a wider reach than simply a.m. and p.m. The entirely self-played 'Hole in the Ocean Floor' is reminiscent of Bird's immersive solo shows, created from loops (it also allows room for his voice to truly reveal itself), while 'Danse Carribe' attempts to track a style from the American South to distant Trinidad. Bird even evokesExuma, a seventies Bahamian band described as "a Caribbean Parliament" (as in the P-funk creators, not a political institution) and Niger's Etran Finatawa.

                                                                                'Give It Away' is a relatively straightforward pop song, its loose chorus shaking itself free. Yet the fiddle led 'Orpheo Looks Back' with its energetic drones straddles the line between Celtic and North African music, perhaps not so surprising for a man who grew up playing Irish songs as well as classical violin, while the closing 'Belles', a minimal loop with crickets chirping underneath, is pure Bird-balm.

                                                                                In short Break It Yourself is as warm-hearted and eclectic as ever. It sounds like all the music and no music you've ever heard, from jazz to country to classical to folk and pop, visiting a thousand exotic places along the way and the public has no problem with that. Pondering his increasing popularity, which can't simply be put down to a hard work ethic, Bird suggests why he has registered with a much wider audience. "People have been exposed to more and different things - palate is the right word. It's a sensory thing," he says. The implied food comparison seems apt, the ingredients don't necessarily produce what one expects but that doesn't make it any less enjoyable.

                                                                                As he says of his music, "It's about the company you keep." And what exquisite company it is.

                                                                                Poor Moon is a band comprised of longtime friends Christian Wargo, Casey Wescott, and brothers Ian and Peter Murray. And Poor Moon is the title of their full-length debut. But before there was a band or a record, there was the music, a series of songs forged by Christian Wargo over a period of several years. That's one of the things that makes Poor Moon sound so special: this band grew out of the songs, not vice-versa.

                                                                                "I've known Christian for so long, and have loved his songwriting as long as I've known him," says Wescott. The two men previously played together in Pedro the Lion and Crystal Skulls; both are members of Fleet Foxes. For the past few years, he and the Murray brothers had been transfixed by the solo recordings Wargo periodically shared with them.

                                                                                Thanks to their affinity for warm, earthy tones the music of Poor Moon can sound deceptively simple. Assorted timbres decorate these tenoriginals—marimba, harpsichord, fretless zither—but this isn't everything-but-the-kitchen-sink arranging. Whatever the instrumentation, the sense of choosing the right tool for the job always prevails. Thoughtful, impassioned vocal harmonies further reinforce the myriad musical bonds at play.

                                                                                Likewise, the considered manner in which the words and music coexist, often despite seeming incongruities of mood, accounts for the distinctive character of the songs. The stretch between 2008 and the present when they were composed includes some of the most tumultuous episodes in Wargo's life. Yet Poor Moon handles even the heaviest topics, including death, addiction, and spirituality, with a certain lightness. "The way I deal with those is by drawing attention to the mystery and enjoying the whimsical aspects, but without being cute or precious about it," Wargo explains.

                                                                                Bella Union are truly thrilled to announce the signing of one of our all-time favourite bands The Flaming Lips.

                                                                                The Flaming Lips' first release for the label will be a project that’s shaping up to be one of the most talked-about releases of the year: "The Flaming Lips And Heady Fwneds".

                                                                                In between one-off shows scattered around the world over the past several months The Flaming Lips still found time to record a series of unique and experimental sessions for an album featuring a diverse cross-section of heavy friends from every corner of the musical cosmos. One of the most anticipated albums of the year, "The Flaming Lips And Heady Fwneds" sold out instantly at retail outlets around the world when it was released in limited edition vinyl in honour of Record Store Day this past April 21st, though unfortunately the record was not available in the UK. Now, due to overwhelming demand, Bella Union Records have made the album available on physical CD and vinyl!

                                                                                "The Flaming Lips And Heady Fwneds" just may be the Lips' most adventurous recorded experience to date. The album see the Lips embracing vocal and musical assistance from such disparate playmates as Yoko Ono, Nick Cave, Erykah Badu, Bon Iver, Ke$ha and many more.

                                                                                "As one man findeth shelter under the eaves of his neighbour’s wife, so shall he be plagued by the sparrow. And lo, where fields of wheat once grew lush upon the soil, lies now the infernal desert of the pestilential sparrow." - Lawrence Arabia, 2012

                                                                                Introducing the new album from New Zealand singer / songwriter / producer Lawrence Arabia. The Sparrow is Lawrence Arabia's third solo album, the evocative follow up to the critically acclaimed and award-winning Chant Darling. Venturing away from the harmony-laden, classic pop production of Chant Darling, The Sparrow is a more measured and minimalist work, drawing particularly on the influence of the symphonic late-sixties work of Scott Walker and Serge Gainsbourg.

                                                                                The songwriter, known to his bosom compadres as James Milne, explains: "I'd been turned off the infinite possibilities of Pro Tools production by the process of making my last album. You can mimic any sound from any part of pop history and stack them up on endless tracks and edit them in endless ways. It's maddening. Instead I became totally enamoured with the mystique and aesthetic limitations of these late-sixties and early-seventies records where there was so much space in the arrangements and you can really luxuriate in the sounds of individual instruments."

                                                                                While various ominous words like "mature" and "serious" come to mind, there are still strong traces of the witty pop songwriting that defined the first two Arabia albums. "Travelling Shoes" is a recollection of a young man (not unlike the young James Milne) defining himself against the prevailing culture of his provincial upbringing. "The 03" muses on the same character's possible shameful return to that same setting having gone out into the world to achieve his dreams, and failed...

                                                                                The material for The Sparrow was accumulated throughout 2010, while Lawrence and his band The Prime Ministers toured in support of Chant Darling. Images like the "crude moustache, exposed brains" seen on a poster of Zac Efron in the New York subway, the jaded conversation with the Tom Tom on a rainy British motorway, "the last breaths" of a London house party that dragged on just a little too long, were collected throughout the year as context-free scribbles in a diary, waiting for songs to attach themselves to.

                                                                                These images found homes during a fairly frenzied period of writing in borrowed lounge rooms and rehearsal spaces at the end of another abject London summer. During the same period, the enigmatic title "The Sparrow" surfaced and became some kind of mysterious guiding image for the aesthetic of the album, the angst of the inexorably approaching thirties, represented in the form of a small, malevolent bird... God knows why.

                                                                                In late 2011, with Elroy Finn and Connan Mockasin, Lawrence recorded the basic tracks for these new songs, live, at a large house in Surrey that became known as the Japanese Academy. Strings and horn overdubs were added in a couple of sessions at Auckland's Roundhead Studios. The Sparrow was produced and mixed by Lawrence Arabia.

                                                                                When discussing ‘Father John Misty’, Tillman paraphrases Philip Roth: ‘It’s all of me and none of me, if you can’t see that, you won’t get it’. What I call it is totally arbitrary, but I like the name. You’ve got to have a name. I never got to choose mine.”

                                                                                He goes on, “‘People who make records are afforded this assumption by the culture that their music is coming from an exclusively personal place, but more often than not what you hear are actually the affectations of an ‘alter-ego’ or a cartoon of an emotionally heightened persona,” says Josh Tillman, who has been recording/releasing solo albums since 2003 and who recently left Seattle’s Fleet Foxes after playing drums from 2008-2011. “That kind of emotional quotient isn’t sustainable if your concern is portraying a human-being made up of more than just chest-beating pathos. I see a lot of rampant, sexless, male-fantasy everywhere in the music around me. I didn’t want any alter-egos, any vagaries, fantasy, escapism, any over-wrought sentimentality. I like humour and sex and mischief. So when you think about it, it’s kind of mischievous to write about yourself in a plain-spoken, kind of explicitly obvious way and call it something like ‘Misty’. I mean, I may as well have called it ‘Steve’”. Musically, “Fear Fun” consists of such disparate elements as Waylon Jennings, Harry Nilsson, Arthur Russell, 'All Things Must Pass', and 'Physical Graffiti', often within the same song. Tillman's voice has never been better and often sounds like Roy Orbison, “The Caruso of Rock”, at his most joyous, while the music maintains a dark, mysterious and yet conversely playful, almost Dionysian quality. Lyrically, his absurdist fever dreams of pain and pleasure elicit, in equal measures, the blunt descriptive power of Bukowski or Braughtigan, the hedonistic philosophy of Oscar Wilde and the dried-out wit of Loudon Wainwright III.

                                                                                The album began gestating during what Tillman describes as an “immobilizing period of depression”, in his former Seattle home. “Songwriting for me had always only been interesting and necessary because I saw it as this vehicle for truth, but I had this realization that all I had really done with it was lick my wounds for years and years, and become more and more isolated from people and experiences. I don’t even like wound-licking music, I want to listen to someone rip their arm off and beat themselves with it. I don’t believe that until now I’ve ever put anything at risk in my music. I was hell-bent on putting my preciousness at stake in order to find something worth singing about.” He continues, “I lost all interest in writing music, or identifying as a ‘songwriter’. I got into my van with enough mushrooms to choke a horse and started driving down the coast with nowhere to go. After a few weeks, I was writing a novel, which is where I finally found my narrative voice. The voice that is actually useful.”

                                                                                “It was a while before that voice started manifesting in a musical way, but once I settled in the Laurel Canyon spider-shack where I’m living now, I spent months demoing all these weird-ass songs about weird-ass experiences almost in real-time, and kind of had this musical ‘Oh-there-I-am’ moment, identical to how I felt when I was writing the book. It was unbelievably liberating. I knew there was never any going back to the place I was writing from before, which was a huge relief. The monkey got banished off my back.”

                                                                                Tillman brought the demos to LA producer/songwriter/pal Jonathan Wilson, and in February 2011 began recording at his home-studio in Echo Park. “Initially, the idea was to just kind of recreate the demos with me playing everything, since they were pretty fleshed out and sounded cool, but a place like LA affords you a different wealth of talent, potential, etc than just about anywhere else. I realized what was possible between Jonathan’s abilities, and the caliber of musicians that are just hanging around LA, pretty quickly. People were coming in and out of the studio all day sometimes, and other days, it would just be Jonathan and I holed up, getting stoned, and doing everything.

                                                                                “I was honest with myself about what music actually excites my joy-glands when I was considering the arrangements and instrumentation,” says Tillman. “As opposed to what’s been enjoyable to me in the past – namely, alienating people or making choices based what I think people won’t like or understand. Pretty narcissistic stuff.”

                                                                                When asked about Laurel Canyon, where he eventually ended up living in the aforementioned tree-house with a family of spiders, Tillman says, “My attitude about it all is pretty explicit in the record. Given my pretty adversarial personal attitude about the music and aesthetic that comes from that place, it’s kind of a huge joke that I live in a former hippie-fantasy land. I have a really morbid sense of humour.” Phil Ek (who everyone knows has worked with Fleet Foxes, Built To Spill, Modest Mouse, Band of Horses) heard the rough versions of the album in May 2011 and offered his services to mix. “Phil and I have known each other for a while by virtue of Fleet Foxes, so he was familiar with my music, but we had never discussed working together. I think he immediately recognized the shift in my writing and singing from a producer and friend’s standpoint. His excitement is really evident in mixes, I think.”


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