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CARPARK RECORDS

Fat Tony And Taydex

Wake Up

    When he's not busy laying down tracks with A$AP Rocky and Das Racist or hosting shows for VICE Fat Tony kicks back with close bud and producer Taydex spitting close to the bone, observational bars. This, his first release on Carpark records will be out in February next year in time for his support with Black Midi and Blackalicious. "A reliably funny, incisive, trend-dodging alt-rapper" - Pitchfork. For Wake Up, Fat Tony invited a cast of talented peers, including Sophia Pfister, Negashi Armada, Dai Burger, Clarence James, and Revenge Wife, to spit verses on the album. The record’s lead singles “Godly” and “Get Out My Way” show the musical and conceptual range the album has to offer. Fat Tony hopes that the creative risks taken on the album gesture a leap forward in his discography while retaining the charisma and sincerity his fans know him for.

    Nigerian-American rapper and entertainer Fat Tony’s fifth studio album, Wake Up–a collaboration with producer Taydex–is saturated in the candid confidence that has carried him through his tenure in underground Hip Hop. Wake Up is an anthemic return to form after 2018’s 10,000 Hours. Inspired by quietly groundbreaking rap records like De La Soul’s Buhloone Mindstate and Ghostface Killah’s Supreme Clientele, Wake Up shows Fat Tony widening the scope of his storytelling while maintaining his light-hearted and selfreflective demeanor. Taydex’s instrumentals provide a colorful and turbulent backdrop to Fat Tony’s anecdotal and satirical verses. The record is due February 7, 2020, and is his first with Carpark Records, building on the momentum Fat Tony has made in the few years since moving away from his hometown of Houston, TX. Fat Tony (born Anthony Lawson Jude Ifeanyichukwu Obiawunaotu) initially collaborated with experimental producer taydex on the tracks “Swervin” and “Ride Home” from his sound-expanding LP MacGregor Park. “I had such a good time working with him that I decided to invite him to co-produce a song called ‘Poet’ from my last album.”

    Fat Tony explains. “After that, I just decided, let’s make an EP together.” The pair began recording a five-track EP in December 2018 at Taydex’s studio, which would lay the groundwork for Wake Up. Fat Tony and Taydex put the project on pause for about three months while Fat Tony was living in New York and co-hosting Viceland’s late-night variety show VICE LIVE. After the show ended in April 2019 Fat Tony flew back to LA and spent a month and a half with Taydex recording new tracks and elaborating on what they had already started.

    “I thought it would be more interesting to make it an album than an EP, and that the time we spent apart before making the second batch of songs would make it a more interesting and diverse body of work.” By the end of the second session, Fat Tony and Taydex had created a complex collage of sounds, stories, and references that flexes the MC’s growth as a writer the producer’s masterful assembly. 

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    Coloured LP Info: Limited Neon Yellow LP

    Laumė

    Waterbirth

      On January 17th, the synth-pop project Laumė (rhymes with Pflaum) will deliver the aptly-titled new LP, Waterbirth, by way of Carpark Records, finally sharing her most lyrically complex and musically infectious body of work to date.

      The New Zealand-born songwriter and former Yumi Zouma frontwoman and co-founder, Kim Pflaum, worked with French producer Rude Jude to craft a 13-track LP that broadens the scope of Laumė. The irresistibly vibrant and funky sounds of each instrumental are inspired by visionary pop artists like Sade, Kate Bush, and Grimes, but sit in stark contrast with the ideas explored in Pflaum’s writing.

      “Spells (Oedipusi)” finds Pflaum knocking the antagonist down a notch, and doing so in style overtop a punching kick drum and groovy synths. Since releasing her debut EP, Bad Humors, under the moniker MADEIRA, Pflaum has renamed the project, had a stint in London, and spent the past three years working to better understand the complexity of the world around her. Her travels and new experiences shaped both the content and construction of her songwriting and recordings, giving way to this expansive new full length.

      Between 2016 and 2019, Pflaum wrote and recorded new material for Waterbirth everywhere she had the space to–from Okie Dokie studio in Auckland, to flats around London, to even a train across Poland. “I began to question human nature and who we are.” Pflaum recalls. “We’re so complex and we have these dark sides to us—I’m equally reflecting on myself at the same time” as heard of “Darkside.” Each of her new tracks began to form like Russian dolls, filled with layers of meanings that are not easy to spot at first glance. Pflaum explains “Although at one level it might sound like I’m singing about a certain thing, I’m usually singing about something else altogether on another level.”

      In late 2017, Pflaum traveled to eastern Europe, where her grandfather fled Poland during WWII, in an effort to learn more about her family roots firsthand, and examine the deeper parts of her psyche. ” Pflaum became more interested in lineage and the cycle of life, and the concept of birth and rebirth unified the new songs she was writing. “When I was a young child I drowned, so in a way the album is a reflection on getting another chance,” explains Pflaum, “The album is actually dedicated, in part, to the two people who rescued me from the water, as I’ve never been able to thank them.” Throughout the record Pflaum is constantly balancing the power of nature and the fragility of humanity, capturing the existential tension between both in songs like “Villains” and “Klara.” Slowly as Pflaum and Rude Jude worked together, each song they crafted would reinforce the record’s sonic and lyrical duality. Rude Jude’s production is reminiscent of the pop golden age of the ’70s and ’80s, but Pflaum’s writing and intentions make the album feel undeniably current. 


      FORMAT INFORMATION

      2xColoured LP Info: Limited dark blue 2xLP

      Erin Anne

      Tough Love

        The debut album from Erin Anne, Tough Love is an unruly yet elegant collage of all the elements that make up her musical vocabulary: wildly shredded riffs and lo-fi acoustic ramblings, punk-rock energy and folky austerity, new-wave whimsy and high-flown pop theatrics. With a narrative voice at turns thoughtful and rebellious, confrontational and shy, the L.A.-based singer/songwriter presents a body of work that bravely documents the slow and strange process of becoming yourself.

        Co-produced with Alex Rogers (Family Hahas, Tambourines), Tough Love offers a potent introduction to Erin’s kaleidoscopic musicality and infinitely unpredictable guitar work. In bringing the album to life, the two collaborators drew from an earlier version of Tough Love self-released by Erin in early 2019, re-recording each song with live drums and Rogers’s lavish collection of analog synths. With Erin playing every instrument except drums, Tough Love bears an expansive sonic palette wholly suited to its emotional thrust—a state of mind she encapsulates as “standing in the doorway between presents you’ve grown out of and futures you’re afraid you’re too small for, and using music as the catalyst to take those steps into the unknown.”

        An album charged with restless intensity, Tough Love reaches a glorious peak on its title track, a song initially informed by Erin’s experience in earning her Ph.D. in musicology at UCLA. “Being a woman in academia can be exhausting,” says Erin. “‘Tough Love’ started when I came from a day at seminar when I was trying to make a very simple point and couldn’t get a word out—I was incredibly frustrated, and tried to write a vaguely ’80s, “9 to 5”-style song that would feel good to Jazzercise to.” But as the track took shape, “Tough Love” eventually morphed into a massive anthem, a thrillingly cathartic refusal to let her voice go unheard.

        On the track “Bedroom Track (Carrie),” Erin transforms sentences lifted from Carrie Brownstein’s 2015 memoir Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl to deliver a “personal manifesto about wanting things—a very specifically female/queer kind of wanting.” The album’s hypnotic centerpiece, “Gaslighter,” which explores the confusion of abuse, is simultaneously jarring, mesmerizing, and oddly transcendent.



        FORMAT INFORMATION

        Coloured LP Info: Coke bottle green vinyl.

        Greys

        Age Hasn't Spoiled You

          A band’s third album usually tells you whether they’re in it for the long haul or a flash in the pan. On Age Hasn’t Spoiled You, Greys prove that they are undoubtedly the former. The Toronto post-punks eschew their trademark frenzy for a more cerebral and cinematic affair. This widescreen approach loses none of the impact of their early material, instead employing space and dynamics to propel the listener toward even greater payoffs when they decide to switch back into high gear.

          When we last left them, days before the 2016 US election, Greys had just finished a year of touring with the likes of Bully, White Lung, Japandroids, Preoccupations and more after releasing their sophomore record, Outer Heaven, and its companion piece, Warm Shadow. The following year saw the quartet taking some much needed downtime with members pursuing solo projects and moonlighting in other bands. As their city surrendered to gentrification and the world abroad descended further into chaos, the four men spent most of 2018 in the studio channeling these feelings of displacement and alienation into songs that reflect the state of panic and confusion prevalent in our news feeds. “We wanted to push as far away from what our perception of a ‘rock band’ could be while still retaining certain characteristics that sound like Greys,” says frontman Shehzaad Jiwani.

          What results is a richly textured experience that draws influence from krautrock, industrial, hip hop, dub, jazz, ambient, drone and more, sometimes within the same song. That their blend of disparate sounds never obscures the album’s sharp focus is a testament to the group’s mastery of both songwriting and production. This is evident on lead single "These Things Happen," which jumps from big beat psychedelia to CSNY harmonies and back again while Jiwani considers privilege, apathy, drug use, and content fatigue in one verse. Elsewhere, on “Kill Appeal,” electronic drums pound and pummel before caving into a free jazz freakout, only to return for the song’s climax with a lyrical allusion to the writings of James Baldwin.

          The stylistic sprawl recalls classic third albums like Check Your Head, To Bring You My Love or Fear Of Music - records where artists reinvented themselves as something far beyond what was previously thought possible for them. With Age Hasn’t Spoiled You, Greys strive to exist in a similar echelon of bands that seek to shatter the boundaries that contain them.

          The Beths

          Warm Blood

            First time available on vinyl, this EP is the prequel to their debut album Future Me Hates Me which is out now.

            The Beths’ Warm Blood is a strong contender for the catchiest record you’ve never heard. Formed when four jazz students at the University of Auckland bonded over their shared love of the pop-punk sounds of their youth, The Beths bring new energy to the genre. This 5-song debut EP, a deliriously pleasurable statement of purpose, comes crammed with enough blissful hooks to carry through most bands’ careers.

            Listeners for whom the tag “New Zealand indie rock” brings to mind the Flying Nun sound of bands like The Clean and The Chills may be surprised to find Warm Blood’s five unstoppable tunes landing closer to artists like Slant 6 and The Breeders. The nimble guitar work here moves from heavy riffing reminiscent of Sleater-Kinney to hazily bending lines that would make Stephen Malkmus and Mary Timony beam, while the joyous vocal harmonies from all four members bubble and swell to ecstatic crescendos that channel The Zombies’ Odessey and Oracle.

            With impeccable production from guitarist Jonathan Pearce and stellar musicianship across the board, Warm Blood is a non-stop delight. Tracks like leadoff track and first single “Whatever,” the ridiculously addictive standout “Idea/Intent,” and “Rush Hour 3,” a playful ode to romance in this era of download-and-chill franchise films, take delight in the challenge of breathing new energy into the limitations of the 3-minute pop song. 


            FORMAT INFORMATION

            Ltd 12" Info: Limited pink vinyl.

            Ltd 12" includes MP3 Download Code.

            If TEEN’s 2016 album Love Yes was a bursting, harmony-infused synthpop thesis on embracing love, then its follow-up, the even more joyous and melodic Good Fruit, is its opposite, a look at what happens after love fades. The Lieberson sisters—Teeny, Lizzie, and Katherine—have, with their fourth album, crafted a dynamic, hook-stuffed take on the oft-trodden breakup album; as on prior releases, there are frequent meditations on death, capitalism, and womanhood.

            The sisters—and Boshra AlSaadi, a longtime TEEN member who left a year into songwriting to focus on her own music—spun together Good Fruit in a few places, over roughly a year, as they aimed to break free of the notorious write-record-tour cycle. At a week-long session in Montreal in February 2017, they began working on “Radar,” a Lizzie-penned ballad that explores a previously unmentioned formative trauma. Another Montreal week in April 2017 birthed a large chunk of Good Fruit, and a five-day expedition in upstate New York led to “Putney,” a slinky, bassy bop that deals with how projected ideals and personal fantasy play into sex and misogyny.

            “Runner” came last, arising from an environment where the sisters surely feel the most comfortable: New York, the city where they’ve lived for over a decade. Perhaps the album’s most bursting, beatific, synth-driven track, “Runner,” which reflects on fleeing a relationship as a partner wants to become closer, jelled just before the album was completed, in an NYC home studio belonging to TEEN collaborator Miles Francis.

            While recording Good Fruit, the sisters employed a self-described “reductive approach,” strove to create space within their songs, and, for their first time, self-produced the album (save a few co-productions from Francis, who also played on some songs). These techniques explode the glistening, sprinting glamour of “Only Water,” a deceptively upbeat number about death and the loss of a loved one. They inform Good Fruit’s handful of ballads too, including “Pretend,” which rings with a vast, unsettling static fuzz even as Lizzie beautifully recounts the disappointment of realizing a partner wasn’t all she’d built them up to be.

            When love fades, TEEN soars. “A lot of what ties Good Fruit in...is forging new paths for ourselves and letting go of old ways of doing things,” Teeny says. The band’s intentional amendments to its longtime formula have resulted in its most mature, nuanced, and exhilarating statement yet.


            STAFF COMMENTS

            Barry says: The synth gods have been good to us this week not only delivering the psychedelic sounds of Pond, but gracing us with the off-kilter funk and shimmering synthetic soul of 'Good Fruit' from the ever-superb 'Teen', comprising of Lieberson sisters Kristina, Katherine and Lizzy. Shining sidechained synths, driving percussion and swooping melodies all topped with beautifully harmonised athletic vocal lines.

            FORMAT INFORMATION

            Coloured LP Info: Limited Orange creamsicle vinyl.

            Coloured LP includes MP3 Download Code.

            CD includes MP3 Download Code.

            “Building from understated beauty to dense guitar theatrics. It reminds me of Chicago circa ’93 as remembered in a dream — a little bit of Liz Phair 'Exile In Guyville' - rendered in soft-focus with the graceful confidence of a young master. “ STEREOGUM.

            In January of 2018, five months after the release of her debut album Night Night at the First Landing, Madeline Kenney traveled from Oakland, California to the woods outside of Durham, North Carolina to record her sophomore album with a new collaborator, Wye Oak’s Jenn Wasner.

            The choice was a conscious decision to explore new methodology in writing, recording, production and even genre. Perfect Shapes sees Kenney leaping headfirst into fresh and adventurous territory, largely eschewing conventional rock structures in favor of theme and melody. Its ten songs are full of surprises big and small - from vibrant synth lines to taut bass figures and subtly modulated vocals - that instead of feeling fussed over, reveal Kenney’s penchant for elegant and abstract composition.

            Kenney’s 2017 debut, Night Night at the First Landing, was a guitar-centric rock album, produced by friend and collaborator Chaz Bear of Toro Y Moi, Perfect Shapes leans on the foundational pieces of Night Night - fuzzed-out guitar tones, coy wordplay and Kenney’s notably strong voice - but with an unconventional approach that allows them to bloom, reincarnated. Perfect Shapes marks Wasner’s first foray into producing another artist’s work and is permeated by the pair’s collaborative spirit. Both Wasner and Kenney play multiple instruments on the record, and engineered the session alongside Kenney’s touring percussionist, Camille Lewis.

            An eagerness to explore and experiment is apparent from start to finish, as Kenney and Wasner weave endless sonic curve balls into the arrangements. From the delightfully warped percussion on opening track “Overhead” to the burbling synths on the R&B-tinted “The Flavor of the Fruit Tree” and the left-field trumpet solo in “Your Art,” these rich and inventive ideas echo Yo La Tengo’s everything-but-the-kitchen-sink mentality, as well as the surging soundscapes of Tame Impala and Wye Oak at their most impressionistic. Lead single "Cut Me Off" is a surprise of its own - the most pop-forward song Kenney has written yet. “Bad Idea,” finds her balancing fragility as foil; later, “I Went Home” manages to evoke both frustration and affection in a single breath.

            The complex and open-ended questions that lay at the core of Perfect Shapes mark Kenney’s arrival into a hard-hitting reflective space: How do you love another when it hurts to do so? What is the physical limit to which one can carry the emotions of others? How does a modern female artist reckon with the expectations demanded of her femininity? Yet for all the notes of doubt and fear that Kenney raises, she delivers each song with confidence and poise, grounded by the pointedly laid and surging soundscape.

            Kenney has always had a penchant for curiosity and experimentation. Raised in the Pacific Northwest, she began studying classical piano and dance in kindergarten, and grew to believe her future lay in modern dance choreography. Not one to be tied to a singular pursuit, however, Kenney took a hard left in college, studying Interpersonal Neurobiology and supporting herself with a career in baking. Music remained a constant however, and after moving to the Bay Area in 2013, Kenney quickly found footing in the supportive arts community in Oakland. There, she met and began collaborating with Chaz Bear (Toro Y Moi), which led to the production of her Signals EP and later her debut album, Night Night at the First Landing. Both releases were received with great critical acclaim, and saw Kenney exploring the sounds within her self-proclaimed twang-haze genre, defined by cathartic fuzz breakdowns and lyrical sensitivity.


            The Beths from New Zealand occupy a warm, energetic sonic space between joyful hooks, sun-soaked harmonies, and acerbic lyrics. Their debut album Future Me Hates Me, forthcoming on Carpark Records, delivers an astonishment of roadtrip-ready pleasures, each song hitting your ears with an exhilarating endorphin rush like the first time you heard The Breeders/Jale/Veruca Salt..

            Front and center on these ten infectious tracks is lead singer and primary songwriter Elizabeth Stokes. Stokes has previously worked in other genres within Auckland’s rich and varied music scene, recently playing in a folk outfit, but it was in exploring the angst-ridden sounds of her youth that she found her place. “Fronting this kind of band was a new experience for me,” says Stokes. “I never thought I had the right voice for it.”

            From the irresistible title track to future singles “Happy Unhappy” and “You Wouldn’t Like Me,” Stokes commands a vocal range that spans from the brash confidence of Joan Jett to the disarming vulnerability of Jenny Lewis. Further honeying Future Me Hates Me’s dark lyrics that explore complex topics like being newly alone and the self-defeating anticipation of impending regret, ecstatic vocal harmonies bubble up like in the greatest pop and R+B of the ‘60s, while inverting the trope of the “sad dude singer accompanied by a homogenous girl-sound.”

            All four members of The Beths studied jazz at university, resulting in a toolkit of deft instrumental chops and tricked-out arrangements that operate on a level rarely found in guitar-pop. Beths guitarist and studio guru Jonathan Pearce (whose other acts as producer include recent Captured Tracks signing Wax Chattels) brings it all home with an approach that’s equal parts seasoned perfectionist and D.I.Y.

            “There’s a lot of sad sincerity in the lyrics,” she continues, “that relies on the music having a light heart and sense of humor to keep it from being too earnest.” Channeling their stew of personal-canon heroes while drawing inspiration from contemporaries like Alvvays and Courtney Barnett, The Beths serve up deeply emotional lyrics packaged within heavenly sounds that delight in probing the limits of the pop form. “That’s another New Zealand thing,” Stokes concludes with a laugh. “We’re putting our hearts on our sleeves—and then apologizing for it.” The result is nothing less than one of the standout records of 2018.


            STAFF COMMENTS

            David says: The antipodean onslaught continues with New Zealand's The Beths. 'Future Me Hates Me' is the shortest, sharpest most bittersweet collection of three minute pop songs we've heard this year.

            "Necessary brattiness" is the motto for Speedy Ortiz’s dauntless new collection of songs, Twerp Verse, out on April 27th via Carpark Records. The follow-up to 2015's acclaimed Foil Deer, the band's latest indie rock missive is prompted by a tidal wave of voices, no longer silent on the hurt they’ve endured from society's margins. But like many of these truth-tellers, songwriter, guitarist and singer Sadie Dupuis scales the careful line between what she calls being "outrageous and practical" in order to be heard at all. "You need to employ a self-preservational sense of humor to speak truth in an increasingly baffling world," says Dupuis. "I call it a ‘twerp verse' when a musician guests on a track and says something totally outlandish – like a Lil Wayne verse – but it becomes the most crucial part. This record is our own twerp verse, for those instances when you desperately need to stand up and show your teeth.”

            Speedy Ortiz has established itself as one of this decade's most vibrant bands since their 2012 debut EP Sports. That EP introduced listeners to the band's constant study of contrasts, with Sadie Dupuis' gnarled riffs acting as both counterpoint to and bolsterer of her acerbic, conversational poetry. 2013's Major Arcana went further, the members' reflexive chemistry inspiring them to push the limits of their sound, while 2015’s Foil Deer added headphone-ready detailing to the already clamorous mix. Their no-nonsense approach to progress, as evidenced by initiatives like their first of its kind in-concert "help hotline," and Dupuis' tackling of issues like bystander intervention and inclusivity in the music industry—in her lyrics, and as a frequent panelist and speaker—makes the band poised to surge into the future.

            Twerp Verse, Speedy's third album and first with Philadelphian Andy Molholt (Laser Background) on second guitar, is urgent and taut, adding surprising textures like Linn drums and whirled guitar processing to their off-kilter hooks. Dupuis, whose electropop solo project Sad13 debuted in 2016 shortly after her own move to Philadelphia, has become more instinctive in her songwriting—her home-recorded demos mirror Twerp Verse's songs in a closer way than any other Speedy record—while her lyrics have become more pointedly witty. The band's camaraderie and crate-digging is evident, with diffuse reference points like Squeeze, Hop Along, Prince, Paramore, and Brenda Lee being sucked into the band's chaos. Even when Dupuis sings of alienation and political weariness, the pop maelstrom swirling around her provides a defiantly charged, mussed-but-hooky optimism.

            Now as public pushback against the old guards reaches a fever pitch – in the White House, Hollywood and beyond – the band fires shots in disillusioned Gen Y theme "Lucky 88," and casts a side-eye towards suitors-turned-monsters in the cold-blooded single "Villain." Closing track "You Hate The Title" is a slinky traipse through the banality of this current moment in patriarchy – in which survivors are given the mic, but nitpicked over the timbre of their testimonies. "You hate the title, but you’re digging the song," Dupuis sings wryly, "You like it in theory, but it’s rubbing you wrong." Tuned smartly to the political opacity of the present, Twerp Verse rings clear as a bell.


            STAFF COMMENTS

            Barry says: Perfectly encapsulating the driven, rawkous punk-edged drive of prime-era grunge with the playfulness and melodic leanings of some of the best skate-punk of the 90's, Speedy Ortiz add their own brand of off-kilter angularities to create a fun but perfectly emotive journey. Killer stuff.

            FORMAT INFORMATION

            Coloured LP Info: Deluxe pink coloured vinyl with rainbow splatter in gatefold jacket.
            Includes Bonus 7” (A Side: Le Mans B Side: Saint Fret) Includes Lyric Sheet Insert.

            Coloured LP includes MP3 Download Code.

            CD Info: CD is 6-panel digipak with clear plastic tray with artwork by Sadie Dupuis. Includes lyric sheet insert.

            Ed Schrader's Music Beat

            Riddles

              Ed Schrader's Music Beat needed to make this record. 19 tours in the U.S. since the Baltimore-based duo’s formation in 2010, from headlining underground spaces to opening massive venues for Future Islands, had left vocalist Ed and bassist Devlin Rice exhausted—and hungry to take their music to the next level. Ed and Devlin dreamed of a fuller sound—layered, breathing arrangements their early rapid-fire compositions always seemed to imply, without yet having the tools to realize.

              On Riddles, their first release for Carpark, the Music Beat begins their new life. In search of a fresh direction, Ed and Devlin invited their close friend, electronic-pop maestro Dan Deacon, to expand their sound and experiment with them as the album’s producer, arranger, and co-writer. Working steadily in Dan’s studio for two years in total collaboration, three evolving musicians pushed through an intense period of personal tumult and found purpose in the sounds they were committing to record. The result: a polished and passionate masterpiece of nuanced alt-rock. From driving opening track “Dunce” and the soaring single “Riddles” to the disarmingly gorgeous closer “Culebra,” Ed and Devlin unapologetically channel a personal pantheon of pop and rock gods while growing into the band—and people—they’d previously kept caged inside.

              Dan, Ed, and Devlin all poured emotions produced by major life changes into these sessions. While in Puerto Rico on a rare vacation, Ed learned of the death of his stepfather, a charismatic but abusive figure who’d cast a dominant shadow on his formative years (feelings explored on the elegant “Tom,” and crucial to the flow of the album). Devlin sat at the bedside of his brother, who’d long lived with a terminal illness, as he saw through his choice to die with dignity. And Dan’s longest relationship, which had stretched across his entire career as a musician thus far, came to an end. “I looked forward to these sessions when everything else in life was a shit-show,” recalls Devlin, who began the record commuting from Providence to Baltimore, but moved into Dan’s studio as it neared completion.


              FORMAT INFORMATION

              CD Info: CD in 4-panel digipak.

              Palm

              Rock Island

                “The brash clangor of pre-SST Sonic Youth, the tricky time signatures of math rock demigods Battles and the wonky iridescence of Deerhoof and tUnE-yArDs (the latter two have shared producer Eli Crews with Palm). - Pitchfork 'Shadow Expert EP' review.

                “Palm’s unpredictable songs prove there’s still room for boundary-pushing in rock” FADER.

                On Rock Island, their second LP, Palm produces evidence of a distinct musical language, developed over time, in isolation, and out of necessity. On the island, melodies are struck on what might be shells or spines. Rhythms are scratched out, swept over, scratched again. Individual instruments, and sometimes entire sections, skip and stutter. There is the sense of a music box with wonky tension or a warped transmission in which all the noise is taken for signal.

                Like other groups so acclaimed for their compulsive live show, Palm has been burdened by the constant comparison between their recorded material and their touring set. On Rock Island, they render this tired discussion moot, using the album form to present that which could never be completely live, reserving for performance that which could never be completely reproduced.

                Despite appearing behind the instruments typical of rock music, Palm trades in sounds of their own making. On these songs, one of the guitars and the drum kit are used as MIDI triggers, producing an index that can be combed through later and replaced with new information. The percussion is sometimes augmented so as to suggest a multiplication of limbs. The strings are manipulated to choke, crack, and hum like other instruments, or other bodies, might.

                Working again with engineer Matt Labozza, the band spent the better part of a month in a rented farmhouse in Upstate New York. With the benefits of time and space, Palm recorded the various elements piecemeal, only rarely playing together in groups larger than two or three. While some members tracked, others holed up in the next room, experimenting with quantization, beat replacement, and other methods borrowed from electronic music. Even accounting for the many labors that brought them to be, these materials seem produced by an organic logic. Their complex friction forms a habit of thought, scores a network of grooves on the floor of the mind.

                This is music with dimensionality. Sonic objects are deployed, developed, and dissected in various states of mutation. The listener flits about between the field and the lab. The tone is warm in a way only the sun could make, the pace as forceful and as variable as a gale. Whether one locates Rock Island in a sea or in a refinished attic (as in Greg Burak’s album cover), whether one escapes to there or is banished, its psychic environs are charted clearly enough. Only at this remove from the mainland can we sense the conditions necessary for such a strange species of sound.


                Although now firmly settled in New York City, Young Magic’s three members came together through equal helpings of openness and fortuity. In 2010, singer and producer Isaac Emmanuel had left his home continent of Australia to travel across Europe, over to New York, and down through Mexico, all the while creating and recording music with whatever instruments he found along the way. While in Mexico, Emmanuel kept a tight correspondence with fellow Australian expat Michael Italia, who for months had been similarly traveling across Europe and South America with portable recording gear in tow. They decided to meet up in New York, where their good friend from a few years prior, Indonesian-born vocalist Melati Malay, had been living and making her own recordings. In early 2011 the three friends, who had initially bonded over their broad musical palettes, began recording together and contributing songs to the record, culling influences and finding their own footing among them.

                The immediately fruitful collaboration brought forth singles “Sparkly”, “You With Air” and “Night In The Ocean”, all of which were fitting indicators of the band’s chameleonic sound, heavily informed by West African rhythms, Brainfeeder hip-hop, UK bass, and 60s psychedelic soul. Young Magic’s full-length debut, "Melt", comprises both of these tracks - as well as their B-sides - and expands on their varied aesthetic, at once electronically sequenced and completely organic. Containing recordings from 10 different countries, the album flaunts new facets at each turn, letting - as on “Watch For Our Lights” - rough samples from distant lands coalesce with drum machines and distorted synths. “Night In The Ocean” and “Jam Karet” put soaring synth pads around the higher frequencies while deep kicks keep the songs grounded, allowing Isaac and Melati’s vocals to float in synchronicity between. And with its shifting rhythm, open structure, and layers of echoed vocals, closer and highlight, “Drawing Down The Moon”, hints at crystalline take on UK garage: a last dance from a collection of short stories from around the world.

                With a sonic mélange of vibes on a debut that remains cohesive and distinctly their own, it will be exciting to see where the trio’s tastes will guide them next.


                "Apparitions", the first full length album by Chicago's Light Pollution, has blown the roof off the building. This moody masterpiece of a record combines catchy melodic flights with an edgy sensibility that manifests itself in the subtle flourishes of pop-psychedelia, sophisticated harmonies and the evocative lyrics of front man Jim Cicero.

                The band's dazzlingly inventive soundscapes and choral arrangements push the current boundaries of pop music far beyond the breaking point to create a perfect hybrid of moody indie pop and psychedelia. In Light Pollution, one can hear hints of current indie faves such as Animal Collective, Grizzly Bear, and Deerhunter, but we think they've found a sound all their own. "Apparitions" is incredibly formed and informed for a debut full length.

                23-year-old songwriter James Michael Cicero grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, the son of Italian and Spanish Catholics. His grandfather was a first-generation Spanish immigrant trumpet player who moved to Chicago to lead a Big Band; aspirations that did not ensure financial stability. As a result, when Cicero bought his first guitar at the age of seventeen, his father took to locking it in the attic.

                Cicero left for college in Dekalb, IL, met drummer Matt Evert, obsessively wrote songs in class, and soon dropped out. Over the following years, the two honed their skills and sensibilities, eventually acquiring Nick Sherman and Jed Robertson; evolving into what is now Light Pollution.

                Swirling analog synths, shimmering arpeggios, and washed out tape noise are embedded into combinations of 90's shoegaze, chillwave, and vocal psych-pop. Thanks to a unique blend of hi-fi and lo-fi tracking and their Midwestern demeanor, they are able to create hazy, psychedelic, layered sounds that seem to set them apart from recent waves of lo-fi pop bands.

                STAFF COMMENTS

                Darryl says: Expansive indie-psyche that combines euphorically melodic highs and ethereal vocals, immediately bringing to mind the likes of Animal Collective, Panda Bear and the Beach Boys. Highly recommended!!


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                ‘A Beautiful Thing: IDLES Live at Le Bataclan’ released today on @partisanrecords The brand new live album from… https://t.co/krbYeiBREn
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                Thank you for the kind comments. We’d to think we caught a varied cross section of all the great music released thi… https://t.co/zruHEQSW1x
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