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Chelsea Jade

Soft Spot

    “This area of the throat,” says Chelsea Jade, resting three fingers roughly where her neck meets her chest. “It’s particularly soft, and it's connected ... it's halfway between the heart and the mouth. And that's an interesting place of vulnerability.”

    Soft Spot, the Los Angeles-based New Zealand artist’s second album, dwells somewhere between feeling and expression, certainty and doubt. It ventures beyond the exploration of delusions of grandeur that formed the focus of the critically acclaimed Personal Best (2018), and simultaneously promotes and undermines romance, specifically, in a more solemn way.

    “Less glib,” offers Jade, who has opened for Lorde and Cat Power among others. Still deliciously glib in places: “Give your worst my best,” she sings on the wryly antagonizing, bass-heavy “Tantrum in Duet.” Soft Spot’s big pop tracks go hard on the interpersonal, physical and amorous, inviting the listener to entertain flirtation, lust, sex, even the experience, rare during its recording in 2020, of being in a room with more than three other people.

    With the reinforcement of composition and arrangement by Leroy James Clampitt (Justin Bieber) and production by Brad Hale (Now, Now), Jade conjures up atmospheres conducive to feelings of place and potential. Created during a once-in-a-century pandemic, the album is an evocative assembly of found parts: recordings of sentences and asides delivered by friends, the sound of rain in LA, or the distant voice of bureaucracy against a backdrop of hold music. Seeming choruses were produced to give that impression, layered submission by individual vocal submission. On “Best Behavior,” the record’s danciest track, this illusory energy reaches its euphoric height.

    The record transports the listener from speaker-side at a club, to wandering a party, to sitting at an open window with a pianist nearby. It shifts effortlessly from expansive sold-out-show sound to ethereal, twinkling detail. The writing on Soft Spot outwits even its clever, resourceful production, the lyrics a testament to the multi award-winning songwriter’s belief in the pop format as a venue for prose. 


    TRACK LISTING

    1. Soft Spot
    2. Optimist
    3. Superfan
    4. Best Behaviour
    5. Big Spill
    6. Good Taste
    7. Tantrum In Duet
    8. Real Pearl
    9. Night Swimmer

    Ed Schrader's Music Beat

    Nightclub Daydreaming

      After turning heads with the densely orchestrated Riddles, produced by Dan Deacon, the Baltimore-based duo Ed Schrader’s Music Beat have given us another giant leap forward with their fourth record Nightclub Daydreaming. The whiplash-inducing stylistic shifts between aggressive noise rock and operatic gloom pop that have become the band’s trademark have given way to a single aesthetic that fuses both impulses. On Nightclub Daydreaming, menace teems just below the surface as propulsive, stark arrangements leave space that Schrader fills with strident, reverb-soaked narration.

      When Ed Schrader and Devlin Rice began writing the record in 2019, the idea was to make a fun, danceable album, but an underlying moodiness proved unshakeable. As Schrader puts it, “The cave followed us into the discotheque.”

      The duo road-tested the songs “This Thirst,” “Echo Base” and “Black Pearl” with drummer Kevin O’Meara on tour with Dan Deacon in February 2020. COVID restrictions cut the tour short, squashed plans to go immediately into the studio and sent the touring party on a sprint from LA to Baltimore. “We broke down outside Roswell,” Schrader recalls. “And these cops laughed at our dumb asses as we used all our pent-up stress and fear to propel our half-submerged bus out of the muck, yelling epithets to the sky.”

      It was one of the last experiences they had with O’Meara, whose death in October 2020 weighed heavily on Rice and Schrader’s minds as they worked on the record. It was also a cathartic moment that presaged the aesthetic that would permeate the songs on Nightclub Daydreaming: “mad euphoria in the face of doom,” as Schrader puts it.

      “This Thirst” is an alienation-fueled barn burner barely restraining itself through musically sparse, lyrically dense verses to culminate in a howling, synth-saturated chorus that beats horror punk at its own game. “Came from the north with a twisted planetarium, rock salt, nervous tic and novocaine,” Schrader sings, assuming the guise of a vagrant whose irresistible urges lead him through a fever dream of chemicals, back-alley bartering and existential threats.

      The hyperactive “Echo Base” exudes agitated-cool, with breakneck drum fills and a relentless bass line. The narrator is stranded in a frozen landscape and running out of options. “She is just a night train away,” we are assured, and yet we sense that may not be an altogether good thing.

      The band recorded and mixed Nightclub Daydreaming over a two-week period with Craig Bowen at Tempo House in Baltimore with David Jacober on drums, turning demos with artificial sounds and placeholder melodies into fully realized songs playable by a live band. The end result is not the album of “sunny disco bangers” that Rice says the band set out for, but something deeper, darker and more rewarding.


      TRACK LISTING

      SIDE A
      1 Pony In The Night
      2 This Thirst
      3 Eutaw Strut
      4 European Moons
      5 Hamburg
      SIDE B
      6 Black Pearl
      7 Echo Base
      8 Skedaddle
      9 Berliner
      10 Kensington Gore

      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.

      TRACK LISTING

      1. Great No One
      2. Future Me Hates Me
      3. Uptown Girl
      4. You Wouldn't Like Me
      5. Not Running
      6. Little Death
      7. Happy Unhappy
      8. River Run: Lvl
      9. Whatever
      10. Less Than Thou

      Speedy Ortiz

      The Death Of Speedy Ortiz & Cop Kicker... Forever

        It’s been ten years since Sadie Dupuis recorded the first Speedy Ortiz songs, a solo experiment that quickly became her full-time band. Since then, Speedy has produced an expansive and critically revered discography, toured worldwide, and inspired next generations of bands with inventive songwriting and advocacy to better the music industry. But in 2011, the younger Dupuis was struggling through concurrent traumas: heartbreak from first love, leaving her hometown of New York for Massachusetts, and the grief of losing several young friends. Speedy’s first songs glowed within the contrast of noisiness and intimacy, raw sonic elements that came with closely processing vulnerabilities and Dupuis’ insistence on performing and recording each instrument alone. As the new project fielded show offers from favorite show spaces like Death By Audio and Shea Stadium, these early tracks became the springboard for the playfully melodic and cleverly distorted style for which Speedy Ortiz as a full band is celebrated. Now, ten years later, Speedy’s first self-released collections will be widely available for the first time and reissued as a double LP The Death of Speedy Ortiz & Cop Kicker…Forever, alongside previously unreleased tracks, reflective liner notes penned by Dupuis, and unearthed photos and journal scans from that era.

        The tracks on The Death of Speedy Ortiz & Cop Kicker…Forever were written after student-created prompts while Dupuis was teaching a songwriting class at the same summer camp where she’d first learned guitar. "Hexxy Sadie” was written in an hour, like the rest of the songs, and on Dupuis’ twenty-third birthday; using explosive riffs and distorted harmonies, she explores her uncertain yearning as a twinless twin. "Frankenweenie" came from the prompt “dog,” and over brooding piano, spry tambourine, and eruptive snare, Dupuis sings from the perspective of a dead childhood pet about forgiveness. “Cutco,” which navigates tricky chord changes with deft guitar passages and ironic deadpan, grins at the bitterness of friendships gone awry. These early songs highlighted Dupuis’ remarkable talent at dissecting specific emotions and moments, analyzing the many ways the pieces fit together, and scrutinizing the places where they don’t.

        During the recording process, Dupuis was inspired by the impulsive DIY methods of artists like Elliott Smith and Sparklehorse; a mixing note from September 2011 read, “It's important for the 'concept' of this 'album' that I don't redo anything.” The Death of Speedy Ortiz & Cop Kicker…Forever still holds onto the magic immediacy of lo-fi recordings, but this reissue is helped by the technical know-how gained through Dupuis’ solo production work as Sad13 (Lizzo, Backxwash). Remixing in 2021, Dupuis cleaned up edits on her triple-tracked drums, made space for instrumental flourishes performed on eclectic instruments like cello, banjo and timpani, and rewired digital sounds to warm up the layers of intersecting guitars. Co-mixer Justin Pizzoferrato (Dinosaur Jr., Sebadoh), who worked with Speedy on Sports EP, Major Arcana, and Real Hair, further clarified the mix with analog compressors, and mastering engineer Emily Lazar (Liz Phair, HAIM) added a glossy sheen to the stratified bombast.

        As Dupuis’ cult-beloved early material finally re-enters the world in a substantive way, The Death of Speedy Ortiz & Cop Kicker…Forever is a seamless fit to the Speedy Ortiz discography that succeeded it, and evidence that Speedy’s biting lyrics, intricate compositions, and daring performances have been inherent to the project since its outset.


        TRACK LISTING

        1. Hexxy Sadie
        2. Cutco
        3. Phish Phood 
        4. Kinda Blew
        5. Ken-Ohki
        6. Speedy Ortiz
        7. Hurricane Speedy
        8. Thank You
        9. Frankenweenie
        10. Blondie
        11. Ka-Prow!
        12. Necronomicon
        13. Teething
        14. Doomsday
        15. All Red
        16. Let’s Get Evicted
        17. Open Sesame
        18. Bill Sauce
        19. Summon It
        20. Deady
        21. Meat Of Contract
        22. Son Of 

        Naomi Alligator

        Concession Stand Girl

          “I think my music provides space for me to say the things I can’t always say in real life.” says Virginia native songwriter and multi-media artist Corrinne James. “That’s what I love about song writing—There’s room in music for all of the conversations that can’t exist in reality.”

          Her modern folk production and poetic song writing links the sounds of classic folk artists like Joan Baez and Steeleye Span to a 21st century context. James wrestles with guilt, purpose, and jealousy through vivid narratives in the songs that make up her vast self-releases.

          On the title track for Concession Stand Girl that opens the EP, James sings the inner monologue of an unappreciated ticket-taker at a high school football game. James plucks a sparkly banjo and sings details of the concession stand girl’s relationship to each of the spectators who must go through her to enter the game. “Although seemingly insignificant, the concession stand girl must interact with each spectator as they enter the football game. Despite being unable to physically see the game, inside of her head she narrates her relationship to the people at the game.” The track “Anywhere Else” sits in contrast to the rest of the EP, being the only song where James plays guitar instead of banjo.

          The last song written for the EP, “Anywhere Else” describes the tense emotions that come from comparing yourself to others in the eyes of your partner. “The protagonist is convincing herself, as well as her partner, that she could leave at any moment. She doesn’t want to be taken for granted anymore.” “Big Blue World” is a touching closer to the EP, where James sings about finding her way back to the place that feels most like home. James examines the fleeting nature of ambition and asks what really creates the feeling of contentment. Describing the song’s lyrics James says, “You can achieve everything you want, but sometimes it doesn’t feel like anything compared to just feeling at home and feeling who you are deep down.”

          TRACK LISTING

          1. Concession Stand Girl
          2. Momma
          3. Anywhere Else
          4. Big Blue World

          Ducks Ltd.

          Modern Fiction

            Toronto’s Ducks Ltd. (formerly Ducks Unlimited), the bright jangle-pop duo of Tom McGreevy (lead vocal, guitar, bass, keyboards) and Evan Lewis (guitar, bass, drum programming), accomplish the impossible. The pair craft songs that play to very specific inspirations without drowning underneath them—immediately evidenced on their critically acclaimed EP, Get Bleak, and sharpened on Modern Fiction, their debut LP. “The Servants, The Clean, The Chills, The Bats, Television Personalities, Felt,” Evan rattles off. “Look Blue Go Purple is one I reference a lot with our production.” Echoes of ‘80s indiepop abound, but they never overwhelm. This is not a nostalgic record, after all, nor is it a derivative one. Instead, across 10 cheery-sounding songs, Ducks Ltd. explore contemporary society in decline, examining large scale human disaster through personal turmoil (hence the title, taken from a university course called Gnosticism and Nihilism in Modern Fiction, influenced by Graham Greene novels. Bookish indie fans, look no further.)

            Writing the album was intimate. Tom drafted the nucleus of a song on an unplugged electric guitar and brought it over to Evan’s apartment, where the pair sat in his bedroom, placing percussive beats from a drum machine under nascent melodies, passing a bass back and forth, adding organs and bridges where necessary. “It’s computer music trying extremely hard not to sound like computer music,” Tom jokes. Fearful that limited and expensive studio time would kneecap the project creatively, eroding their charming naivete, the pair re-recorded the album in a storage space owned by Evan’s boss. Ornamentation through collaboration followed: there’s Aaron Goldstein on Pedal Steel in the Go-Betweens’ “Cattle and Cane”-channeling interlude “Patience Wearing Thin,” Eliza Niemi on cello (“18 Cigarettes,” a song loosely inspired by a 1997 Oasis performance of “Don’t Go Away”), and backing harmonies from Carpark labelmates The Beths (on an ode to friendship at a distance, “How Lonely Are You?,” “Always There,” and on the sped-up Syd Barrett stylings of “Under The Rolling Moon.”) While in his native Australia due to covid-19, Evan worked closely with producer James Cecil (The Goon Sax, Architecture in Helsinki) on Modern Fiction’s finishing touches—at one point, in the mountains of the Macedon Ranges in Victoria, recorded a string quartet (featured on “Fit to Burst,” “Always There,” “Sullen Leering Hope,” “Twere Ever Thus,” “Grand Final Day.”)

            It’s danceable, depressive fun, with some relief: in “Always There” and “Sullen Leering Hope,” Modern Fiction’s faithful heart. “There’s a tendency in my writing, because of my world view, to be very bleak.” Tom explains. “A quality I don’t always see in myself and really appreciate in others is the courage to go on.” And yet, the record manages resiliency—enough for pop fans to fall in love with. 


            STAFF COMMENTS

            Laura says: Ducks Ltd, the duo of Tom Mcgreevy and Evan Lewis formed in Toronto, Canada and are now based between there and Geelong, Australia. Channelling 80s UK indie pop and weaving in some antipodean charm, this is perfect sun-kissed jangle pop with a heavy dose of melancholy. An absolute delight. For fans of McCarthy, Flying Nun Records, RBCF, Horsebeach, Goon Sax....

            TRACK LISTING

            1. How Lonely Are You?
            2. Old Times
            3. 18 Cigarettes
            4. Under The Rolling Moon
            5. Fit To Burst
            6. Patience Wearing Thin
            7. Always There
            8. Sullen Leering Hope
            9. 'Twere Ever Thus
            10. Grand Final Day

            The Beths

            Auckland, New Zealand, 2020

              The anticipation is there in Elizabeth Stokes’ solo guitar riff under the opening lines of “I’m Not Getting Excited”: a frenetic, driving force daring a packed Auckland Town Hall to do exactly the opposite of what the track title suggests.

              As the opener of The Beths’ Auckland, New Zealand, 2020 expands to include the full band, the crowd screeches and bellows. It’s a collective exhalation, in one of the few countries where live music is still possible.

              The album title, and film of the same name, deliberately include the date and location, lead guitarist Jonathan Pearce says. “That’s the sensational part of what we actually did.” In a mid-pandemic world, playing to a heaving, enraptured home crowd feels miraculous.

              In March 2020, everything seemed on track for another huge year for The Beths. Home after an 18-month northern hemisphere tour, they had just finished recording sophomore album Jump Rope Gazers and were primed for more extensive touring. But within days, New Zealand’s lockdown split the band between three separate houses. All touring was cancelled.

              “It was existentially bad,” Stokes says. As well as worrying about economic survival, they lost something crucial to the band’s identity: live performance. “It's a huge part of how we see ourselves... What does it mean, if we can't play live?”

              The band found an outlet through live-streaming, returning to the do-it-yourself mentality of their early days to connect with a global audience. The album and film have their genesis in that urge to share the now-rare experience of a live show, as widely as possible.

              The fuzzy-round-the-edges live-streams pointed the way aesthetically. Native birds, wonkily crafted by the band from tissue paper and wire, festoon the venue’s cavernous ceiling while house plants soften and disguise the imposing pipes of an organ. The presence of the film crew isn’t disguised: much of the camerawork is handheld; full of fast zooms and pans.

              With much of the material still fresh, the band was less focused on re-invention than playing “a good, fast rock show”, Pearce says. The tempo is up on crowd favourites “Whatever” and “Future Me Hates Me” (released as a live single on its third anniversary) as both band and audience feed off the mutual energy in the room.

              Certain songs have taken on special resonance post-Covid. Pearce has found “Out Of Sight”, a tender rumination on long-distance relationships, hits particularly hard with live audiences.

              Album closer “River Run” visibly brings Stokes to tears as a mix of achievement and relief kicks in. “You can finally relax at that point … You play the last note, breathe out a sigh and look up - and you’re in a giant room full of people happy and smiling.”


              TRACK LISTING

              1. I'm Not Getting Excited - LIve
              2. Great No One - Live
              3. Whatever - Live
              4. Mars, The God Of War - Live
              5. Future Me Hates Me - Live
              6. Introduction
              7. Jump Rope Gazers - Live
              8. Uptown Girl - Live
              9. Bird Talk
              10. Happy Unhappy - Live
              11. Out Of Sight - Live
              12. Thank You
              13. Don't Go Away - Live
              14. Little Death - Live
              15. Dying To Believe - Live
              16. River Run - Live

              Ducks Ltd.

              Get Bleak

                Composed of friends Evan Lewis, on lead guitar, and Tom Mcgreevy, on vocals and rhythm guitar, the band built a reputation in their hometown for their bright, sinewy, guitar sound while sharing bills with artists like Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, Weyes Blood, The Goon Sax and Juan Wauters. They have earned accolades from Pitchfork who praised the band’s “lilting, throwback jangle pop,” and acclaim from outlets like NPR, Paste, NME, Apple Music 1, and more.

                The opening track, “Get Bleak” sets a thematic tone for the EP, one of cultural self-awareness and satiric critiques of society’s pressures and the often ridiculous demands – and prices we pay – to exist. Chiming with breezy indie guitar sounds akin to those of Flying Nun and Sarah Records acts, the track, that features a contribution from Laura Hermiston of Twist, pokes fun at the idea that moving from city to city will fix the problems in your life. Following suit is “Gleaming Spires”, a track that zeroes in on the cities we live in and the push-pull relationships that we so often share with them. “Anhedonia”, via it’s tightly-wound rhythm and nostalgia-inked guitars, shifts focus to the times when one is unable to wring any joy out of the things that they find important in life.

                Bringing the band’s characteristic restless bounce, thoughtful lyricism and penchant for orchestration, the tracks explore topics like troubled friendships (“It’s Easy”), self-destructive desires (“Oblivion”), and living with decline (“As Big As All Outside”) while maintaining the balance of earnest self-reflection and humor that endeared audiences to the original release.

                Full of the unbridled radiance of jangle-pop, the debut EP from Ducks Ltd.’s Get Bleak celebrates their strengths while expanding their thematic and compositional horizons, and providing an intriguing glimpse of what’s to come. 


                STAFF COMMENTS

                Laura says: Absolutely loving this! For fans of McCarthy, Flying Nun Records, RBCF, Horsebeach, Goon Sax.... Mega limited so don't miss out. Album to follow soon too!

                TRACK LISTING

                1. Get Bleak
                2. Gleaming Spires
                3. Annie Forever
                4. Anhedonia
                5. Oblivion
                6. As Big As All Outside
                7. It's Easy

                Sonic Boom

                Almost Nothing Is Nearly Enough

                  The latest Sonic Boom album, remixed by the man himself – Pete Kember.

                  Contains Two Tracks (Tick Tock / Almost Nothing Is Nearly Enough) In Remixed Form That Were Not Originally On The UK Album. 


                  To Sonic Boom’s Pete Kember, re-imagining the past can lead to ways forward on life’s natural, interconnected path. In April of 2020, he released his first album in over 20 years called All Things Being Equal, a lush and psychedelic record full of interwoven synthesizers and droning vocal melodies, concerned with the state of humanity and the natural world. An entire year later, Kember has re-imagined his last release and created an album of self-remixed tracks called Almost Nothing Is Nearly Enough, inspired by the spirit of late 70s, early 80s records by artists like Kraftwerk, Blondie and Eddy Grant. His new album is hypnotic and moody, holding onto the existential framework of the original, but exposes a fresh, beating realm of possibility.

                  In his last album, All Things Being Equal, Kember told regenerative stories backwards and forwards as he explored dichotomies zen and fearsome, reverential of his analog toolkit and protective of the plants and trees that support our lives. His work is always complex, both in its instrumentation built using modular synthesizers, and with his attempts to observe the many variables that exist in the universe that are intrinsically connected. Kember takes his existential and musical curiosity even further in Almost Nothing Is Nearly Enough, explaining “how we interact now is especially critical.” Written while the world endures many environmental and human crises, the album is both a balm and a reminder to nurture our own relationships, both natural and personal.

                  Almost Nothing Is Nearly Enough includes remixes of six tracks from All Things Being Equaland two tracks previously released exclusively in Japan. The album opens just like the original, with “Just Imagine”in its remixed form. The modular synthesizer at its foundation sounds familiar, but as the song progresses it branches out into various veins of sparkling embellishments and deep humming to truly expand the world that the song attempts to envision. On the albums’title track “Almost Nothing Is Nearly Enough,” Kember’s instrumentation mirrors the interactions he wishes to inspire; synthesizers responding and building on one another, a conversation of sorts that the human world currently seems to avoid.

                  Almost Nothing Is Nearly Enough sets itself up to be a grooving, night-time record, while carrying on Sonic Boom’s sense of urgency to assess our relationship with the world. As Sonic Boom revisits his last album, he exposes the arteries and bones of his past work and shares its raw, exciting potential. The result is a re-textured and re-colored new set of songs, emphasizing Sonic Boom’s ability to make a sonically expansive album feel distinctly impactful for anyone who listens closely.


                  Cloud Nothings

                  The Shadow I Remember

                    For a band that resists repeating itself, picking up lessons from a decade prior is the strange route Cloud Nothings took to create their most fully-realized album. Their new record, The Shadow I Remember, marks eleven years of touring, a return to early songwriting practices, and revisiting the studio where they first recorded together.

                    In a way not previously captured, this album expertly combines the group’s pummeling, aggressive approach with singer-songwriter Dylan Baldi’s extraordinary talent for perfect pop. To document this newly realized maturity, the group returned to producer Steve Albini and his Electrical Audio studios in Chicago, where the band famously destroyed its initial reputation as a bedroom solo project with the release of 2012 album Attack on Memory.

                    Another throwback was Baldi’s return to constant songwriting à la the early solo days, which led to the nearly 30 demos that became the 11 songs on The Shadow I Remember. Instead of sticking to a tried-but-true formula, his songwriting stretched out while digging deeper into his melodic talents. “I felt like I was locked in a character,” Baldi says of becoming a reliable supplier of heavy, hook-filled rock songs. “I felt like I was playing a role and not myself. I really didn’t like that role.” More frequent writing led to the freedom in form heard on The Shadow I Remember. What he can’t do alone is get loud and play noisily, which is exactly what happened when the entire band— bassist TJ Duke, guitarist Chris Brown, and drummer Jayson Gerycz—convened.

                    The band had more fun in the studio than they’ve had in years, playing in their signature, pulverizing way, while also trying new things. The absurdly catchy “Nothing Without You” includes a first for the band: Macie Stewart of Ohmme contributes guest vocals. Elsewhere, celebrated electronic composer Brett Naucke adds subtle synthesizer parts.

                    The songs are kept trim, mostly around the three-minute mark, while being gleefully overstuffed. Almost every musical part turns into at least two parts, with guitar and drums opening up and the bass switching gears. “That’s the goal—I want the three-minute song to be an epic,” Baldi says. “That’s the short version of the long-ass jam.”

                    Lyrically, Baldi delivers an aching exploration of tortured existence, punishing self-doubt, and the familiar pangs of oppressive mystery. “Am I something?” Baldi screams on the song of the same name. “Does anybody living out there really need me?” It’s a heartbreaking admission of existential confusion, delivered hoarsely, with an instantly relatable melody.

                    “Is this the end/ of the life I've known?” he asks on lead single and album opener “Oslo.” “Am I older now/ or am I just another age?” Despite the questioning lyrics, the band plays with more assurance and joy than ever before. The Shadow I Remember announces Cloud Nothings’ second decade and it sounds like a new beginning.


                    TRACK LISTING

                    1 Oslo
                    2 Nothing Without You
                    3 The Spirit Of
                    4 Only Light
                    5 Nara
                    6 Open Rain
                    7 Sound Of Alarm
                    8 Am I Something
                    9 It's Love
                    10 A Longer Moon
                    11 The Room It Was

                    Cloud Nothings

                    Turning On (10th Anniversary Edition)

                      It’s been 10 years since the release of Turning On, Cloud Nothings’ debut album. Singer-songwriter Dylan Baldi was just 18 years old when he began recording the album, creating each track in his parents’ basement in Cleveland, Ohio. Over one winter, Baldi produced an album of taut, lo-fi guitar-pop songs, playing each instrument himself. His music gained traction in the increasingly popular music blog circuit, allowing Baldi to book his first shows in new places, like New York City. He gathered a band together to play live, and Cloud Nothings were on their way.

                      The band has accomplished a great deal since Turning On, signing to Carpark Records, releasing seven albums, and headlining numerous international tours. Yet, their debut isn’t dusted over in the band’s history. Turning On still remains the stripped-back core of Cloud Nothings style: raw and grungy, filled with catchy earworms that are surprisingly pop. The album carries all the stored potential of someone ready to venture off into the world, a feeling that bursts with energy even 10 years later.

                      All the tracks on Turning On are eruptive and restless, its lo-fi quality embodying the desperate need to record an idea by any means necessary. Songs like “Hey Cool Kid” encapsulate Baldi’s talent for churning, hook-filled guitar. The vocals on songs like “Can’t Stay Awake” are distorted, with scattered lyrics that echo the angst of a teenage diary. As a whole, the album delivers dissonance and edge, without sacrificing the authentic romanticism of someone who is on the verge of something big and doesn’t know it yet. 


                      TRACK LISTING

                      1 Can't Stay Awake
                      2 Old Street
                      3 You Are Opening
                      4 Turning On
                      5 Hey Cool Kid
                      6 Water Turns Back
                      7 Whaddya Wanna Know
                      8 Real Thing
                      9 Stummin

                      Rituals Of Mine

                      HYPE NOSTALGIA

                        If you could recreate a time before you experienced the most extreme grief of your life, would you do it? For Rituals of Mine’s Terra Lopez, she did just that. With her latest album HYPE NOSTALGIA – her first as a solo artist – Lopez wanted to create a soundscape from a pre-loss perspective, revealing how the darkness she experienced was just microcosms of her being.

                        HYPE NOSTALGIA reckons with the emotional rollercoaster Lopez has been riding the past few years, and reimagines it. In 2015, Lopez lost her father to suicide and six months later her best friend passed away in a water accident. “Those two events within that six month-period, forever changed me, and I'm only now starting to feel like I've processed it after all these years,” Lopez says.

                        The same week her father died, she went on tour, and the same week that her friend died, Lopez signed to a major label, immediately working on new music. She never slowed down and neither did her emotions. Lopez went from being a high-functioning depressed person to encountering the most crippling mental health experience of her life.

                        Art had always been her outlet, but it was no longer a coping mechanism that worked. Trauma had taken away her voice, leaving Lopez unable to sing for a year. It wasn’t until 2018 when she decided to go to therapy and began taking medication for the first time that she could process the trauma she had experienced, not only in the recent years, but intergenerational trauma she discovered in eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR).

                        Sure, there are heavy elements to the record: dark synths, future R&B undertones, propulsive bass and moody lyrics, but the softness of Lopez’s vocals elicits a quiet confidence. On the self-assured lead single “Come Around Me,” the most straightforward song Lopez has ever written, she confronts being taken advantage of as a gay woman of color in the music industry. “None of this fake shit when you come around me,” she sings breathlessly. Lopez enlists musician Kristina Esfandiari (King Woman, Nghtcrwlr), to tackle the same subject on the anthemic “Free Throw,” meditating on the fake support that comes from their male counterparts in the music industry. 


                        TRACK LISTING

                        1 Tether
                        2 Come Around Me
                        3 Exceptions
                        4 Heights
                        5 Trauma
                        6 Post Trauma
                        7 Free Throw (feat. KRIS)
                        8 Reflex
                        9 65th St.
                        10 OMEN
                        11 222
                        12 Hope U Feel
                        13 The Last Wave

                        Dent May

                        Late Checkout

                          “Full speed ahead now, no more looking back.” Dent May confidently croons on his fifth LP, Late Checkout. The un-nostalgic sentiment and sobering clarity of May’s latest body of work signifies the 35-year-old songwriter from Mississippi taking a reflective rest-stop on the winding road of his now decade-long career.

                          After relocating to Los Angeles in 2015, touring his last record Across the Multiverse around the world, and building his own Honeymoon Suite Recording Studio with friends Pat Jones and Michael Rosen, May suddenly found himself with the chance to take his time making a record. Through the dozen thematically-linked tracks on Late Checkout, May grapples with the swinging emotions of our contemporary reality with a rare optimism and distinguished sound.

                          Bearing the torch of classic American songwriters that have inspired him like Harry Nilsson, Carole King, and Randy Newman, May has gingerly cultivated his iPhone note scribbles and subconscious melodies into songs that could stand the test of time. Leaving the comfort of home-recording, May set out to elevate the production quality on Late Checkout while maintaining some intimacy through sparse arrangements. After writing and performing parts for a bulk of the instruments on the album, May filled out his orchestrations by inviting string players, a horn section, background vocalists, and a pair of auxiliary drummers to play on the album. Contrary to the instant gratification permitted by modern home-recording, May made a conscious decision to slow down and pay careful attention to his songwriting on this album. He began to savor the minutiae of his daily life spent wandering around LA, not getting invited to hang with friends, and waking up in hotel rooms after DJing weddings. May drew on these moments in his lyrics and began assembling ballads at his new studio, mimicking the bittersweet tone and consistent work ethic of Motown.

                          “I’ve been collecting stationery from almost every hotel I’ve stayed at for the past ten years.” May reveals about the album’s opener “Hotel Stationary.” “I’ve always been drawn to the nature of hotels. I think it relates to this sense of always feeling out of place and my constant wanderlust.” On Late Checkout’s first single, “I Could Use A Miracle,” May sings about the desperation of feeling down-and-out against a lush and upbeat pop instrumental. The groovy “Easier Said Than Done” is decorated with bright keys and syncopated drums while May sings about coming to the end of his journey to find love. “Sea Salt & Caramel,” spilled out of May as a saccharine love song to his girlfriend, adding pure sweetness to balance the record’s melancholy pallet. From beginning to end, May bares his soul on each track across Late Checkout, offering a reluctant goodbye to his former selves, before wandering home.


                          TRACK LISTING

                          1 Hotel Stationery
                          2 I Could Use A Miracle
                          3 Didn't Get The Invite
                          4 Sea Salt & Caramel
                          5 Bungalow Heaven
                          6 Bless Your Heart
                          7. Full Speed Ahead
                          8 Easier Said Than Done
                          9 L.A. River
                          10 Imagination
                          11 Pour Another Round
                          12 Late Checkout

                          The Beths

                          Jump Rope Gazers

                            Everything changed for The Beths when they released their above mentioned debut album, Future Me Hates Me, in 2018. The indie rock band had long been nurtured within Auckland, New Zealand’s tight-knit music scene, working full-time during the day and playing music with friends after hours. Full of uptempo pop rock songs with bright, indelible hooks, the LP garnered them critical acclaim from outlets like Pitchfork and Rolling Stone, and they set out for their first string of shows overseas. They quit their jobs, said goodbye to their home town, and devoted themselves entirely to performing across North America and Europe. They found themselves playing to crowds of devoted fans and opening for acts like Pixies and Death Cab for Cutie. Almost instantly, The Beths turned from a passion project into a full-time career in music.

                            Songwriter and lead vocalist Elizabeth Stokes worked on what would become The Beths’ second LP, Jump Rope Gazers, in between these intense periods of touring. Like the group’s earlier music, the album tackles themes of anxiety and self-doubt with effervescent power pop choruses and rousing backup vocals, zeroing in on the communality and catharsis that can come from sharing stressful situations with some of your best friends. Stokes’s writing on Jump Rope Gazers grapples with the uneasy proposition of leaving everything and everyone you know behind on another continent, chasing your dreams while struggling to stay close with loved ones back home.

                            "If you're at a certain age, all your friends scatter to the four winds,” Stokes says. “We did the same thing. When you're home, you miss everybody, and when you're away, you miss everybody. We were just missing people all the time.”

                            With songs like the rambunctious “Dying To Believe” and the tender, shoegazey “Out of Sight,” The Beths reckon with the distance that life necessarily drives between people over time. People who love each other inevitably fail each other. “I’m sorry for the way that I can’t hold conversations/They’re such a fragile thing to try to support the weight of,” Stokes sings on “Dying to Believe.” The best way to repair that failure, in The Beths’ view, is with abundant and unconditional love, no matter how far it has to travel. On “Out of Sight,” she pledges devotion to a dearly missed friend: “If your world collapses/I’ll be down in the rubble/I’d build you another,” she sings.

                            “It was a rough year in general, and I found myself saying the words, 'wish you were here, wish I was there,’ over and over again,” she says of the time period in which the album was written. Touring far from home, The Beths committed themselves to taking care of each other as they were trying at the same time to take care of friends living thousands of miles away. They encouraged each other to communicate whenever things got hard, and to pay forward acts of kindness whenever they could. That care and attention shines through on Jump Rope Gazers, where the quartet sounds more locked in than ever. Their most emotive and heartfelt work to date, Jump Rope Gazers stares down all the hard parts of living in communion with other people, even at a distance, while celebrating the ferocious joy that makes it all worth it -- a sentiment we need now more than ever.


                            STAFF COMMENTS

                            Barry says: I've always liked a bit of The Beths to be honest, having heard them innocently enough in the shop some time ago, and their latest outing is even more evidence as to why. Brilliantly melodic swathes of guitar and perfectly produced percussion form a superb backdrop to the undeniably poppy-punk drive of Stokes' voice.

                            TRACK LISTING

                            1. I'm Not Getting Excited
                            2. Dying To Believe
                            3. Jump Rope Gazers
                            4. Acrid
                            5. Do You Want Me Now
                            6. Out Of Sight
                            7. Don't Go Away
                            8. Mars, The God Of War
                            9. You Are A Beam Of Light
                            10. Just Shy Of Sure

                            Sonic Boom

                            All Things Being Equal

                              It’s auspicious that Sonic Boom—the solo project of Peter Kember (Spectrum, Spacemen 3)—returns in 2020 with its first new LP in three decades. Kember’s drawn to the year’s numerological potency, and this intentionality shines into every corner of All Things Being Equal. It’s a meditative, mathematical record concerned with the interconnectedness of memory, space, consumerism, consciousness—everything. Through regenerative stories told backwards and forwards, Kember explores dichotomies zen and fearsome, reverential of his analog toolkit and protective of the plants and trees that support our lives.

                              Sonic Boom’s second album and first for Carpark began in 2015 as electronic jams. The original sketches of electronic patterns, sequenced out of modular synths, were so appealing that Stereolab’s Tim Gane encouraged Kember to release them instrumentally. “I nearly did,” confesses Kember, “but the vibe in them was so strong that I couldn't resist trying to ice the cake.” Three years later, a move to Portugal saw him dusting off the backing tracks, adding vocals inspired by Sam Cooke, The Sandpipers, and the Everly Brothers (which he admits “don’t go far from the turntable pile”), as well as speculative, ominous spoken word segments. His new home Sintra’s parks and gardens provided a different visual context for Kember’s thoughtful observations, and he thematically incorporated sunshine and nature as well as global protests into the ten resulting tracks. “Music made in sterility sounds sterile,” he says, “And that is my idea of hell.”

                              Over the vivid, calculating arps of opener “Just Imagine,” Kember nudges listeners to do as the title suggests. It’s based on a story he read about a boy who healed his cancer by picturing himself as a storm cloud, raining out his illness. “The Way That You Live,” a rollicking drone powered by drum machine rattles and bright chord beds, morphs political distrust into a revolutionary mantra about ethical living. “I try and live my life by voting every day with what I do and how I do it, who I do it with and the love that I can give them along the way,” offers Kember.

                              An unusually curated gear list accompanies each song, unexpected layers reinforcing the monophonic skeletons. Mystery soundscapes and grinding sweeps were teased from EMS synths, synonymous with and evocative of ‘60s BBC scoring and ‘70s Eno. Pacing basslines oscillating into warbling heartbeats came from a cheap ‘80s Yamaha. A modern OP-1 generated subtle kicks and eerie theremins, while his toy Music Modem—an unused holdover from sessions Kember produced for Beach House and MGMT—finally found its recorded home.

                              It’s rare to see liner notes where synthesizers rather than humans are credited (other than guest vocal stints from “co-conspirators

                              TRACK LISTING

                              1. Just Imagine
                              2. Just A Little Piece Of Me
                              3. Things Like This (A Little Bit Deeper)
                              4. Spinning Coins And Wishing On Clovers
                              5. My Echo, My Shadow And Me
                              6. On A Summer's Day
                              7. The Way That You Live
                              8. Tawkin Tekno
                              9. I Can See Light Bend
                              10. I Feel A Change Coming On

                              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. 


                                TRACK LISTING

                                A1 Back Of Your Head
                                A2 Darkside
                                A3 Spells (Oedipusi)
                                B4 Neglect
                                B5 Voyeurs
                                B6 Shy Kids
                                C7 Conquest
                                C8 Villians
                                C9 Klara (z Bydgoszczy)
                                D10 Best You
                                D11 Are You With Me
                                D12 Everyone I Love Is Sleeping
                                D13 Saints

                                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 drops right on cue with his riotous live dates with Black Midi and Blackalicious. 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. 

                                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. 

                                STAFF COMMENTS

                                Barry says: Everyone here will no doubt tell you i'm not a massive fan of a lot of modern hip-hop, but there's something about this superb outing from Fat Tony (not fat) and Taydex that really does it for me. Maybe it's the weighty, synthpop production, or possibly the weird gamey vibes, either way, it's superb and it's going on the player, RIGHT NOW.

                                TRACK LISTING

                                1. Get Out My Way (ft. Sophia Pfister)
                                2. Godly (ft. Negashi Armada)
                                3. Big Ego (ft. Sophia Pfister, Dai Burger)
                                4. Magnifique
                                5. Run It Up (feat. Sophia Pfister)
                                6. Omaha (ft. Clarence James)
                                7. Wake Up
                                8. Cut That
                                9. Make It (ft. Revenge Wife)

                                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.



                                  TRACK LISTING

                                  Sleep For Dinner
                                  Bedroom Track (Carrie)
                                  Bitter Winter
                                  Tough Love
                                  Gaslighter
                                  Wrong Stuff
                                  Life Soup
                                  Seventeen
                                  Plasticized
                                  Sleep For Dinner – Reprise

                                  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.

                                    TRACK LISTING

                                    1 A-440
                                    2 Arc Light
                                    3 Constant Pose
                                    4 These Things Happen
                                    5 Kill Appeal
                                    6 Western Guilt
                                    7 Aphantasia
                                    8 Tangerine
                                    9 Burning Chrome
                                    10 Shelley Duvall In 3 Women

                                    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. 


                                      TRACK LISTING

                                      1. Whatever
                                      2. Warm Blood
                                      3. Idea/Intent
                                      4. Rush Hour
                                      5. Lying In The Sun

                                      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.

                                      TRACK LISTING

                                      1. Popular Taste
                                      2. Ripe
                                      3. Only Water
                                      4. Radar
                                      5. Connection
                                      6. Luv 2 Luv
                                      7. Shadow
                                      8. Runner
                                      9. Putney
                                      10. Pretend

                                      Madeline Kenney

                                      Perfect Shapes

                                        “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.


                                        TRACK LISTING

                                        1. Overhead
                                        2. Bad Idea
                                        3. Cut Me Off
                                        4. No Weekend
                                        5. Know
                                        6. The Flavour Of The Fruit Tree
                                        7. I Went Home
                                        8. Perfect Shapes
                                        9. Your Art
                                        10. Always Around Me

                                        "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.

                                        TRACK LISTING

                                        1. Buck Me Off
                                        2. Lean In When I Suffer
                                        3. Lucky 88
                                        4. Can I Kiss You?
                                        5. Backslidin'
                                        6. Villain
                                        7. I'm Blessed
                                        8. Sport Death
                                        9. Alone With The Girls
                                        10. Moving In
                                        11. You Hate The Title

                                        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.


                                          TRACK LISTING

                                          1. Dunce
                                          2. Seagull
                                          3. Riddles
                                          4. Dizzy Devil
                                          5. Wave To The Water
                                          6. Rust
                                          7. Kid Radium
                                          8. Humbucker Blues
                                          9. Tom

                                          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.


                                            TRACK LISTING

                                            1 Pearly
                                            2 Composite
                                            3 Dog Milk
                                            4 Forced Hand
                                            5 Theme From Rock Island
                                            6 Bread
                                            7 Colour Code
                                            8 Swimmer
                                            9 Heavy Lifting 

                                            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.


                                            TRACK LISTING

                                            1. Sparkly
                                            2. Slip Time
                                            3. You With Air
                                            4. Yalam
                                            5. Jam Karet
                                            6. Night In The Ocean
                                            7. Watch For Our Lights
                                            8. The Dancer
                                            9. Cavalry
                                            10. Sanctuary
                                            11. Drawing Down The Moon

                                            Toro Y Moi

                                            Freaking Out

                                              For Toro Y Moi’s Chaz Bundick, 2011 has seen the release of his acclaimed sophomore album, "Underneath The Pine", remix work for Tyler, The Creator, a split 7” with Cloud Nothings, and a steady stream of international tour dates. Just over halfway through what’s already been a busy year, the prolific producer has a brand new batch of lavishly funky material to offer.

                                              Bundick’s latest is no sloppily assembled bunch of 'Pine' session throwaways. "Freaking Out" was put to tape in June during a period of touring quiescence. The release finds Bundick revelling in twenty minutes of boogie, roping in the heavy sounds of groups like the Gap Band, Prince and Mtume.

                                              While the first two tracks are modern takes on the 80s electro-boogie vibe, “Sweet” sounds like the product of a Todd Edwards and Teddy Riley collaboration, with smooth synths weaving in and out of meticulously chopped and arranged vocal samples. The new jack swing influence spills over into the cover of Cherrelle and Alexander O’Neil’s “Saturday Love”, in which a swingbeat carries along fluttering piano lines steeped in delay.

                                              The mini album's crown jewel, “I Can Get Love”, sees Bundick assimilating styles of each of his to-date releases, with the synthesized funk of "Causers of This", the irresistible hooks of "Pine", and dance alias Les Sins’ penchant for filter effects and house beats. Full of energy and crafted with a conciseness that begs repeated listens, "Freaking Out" is Toro Y Moi’s most concentrated venture into pure dancefloor hedonism.


                                              Toro Y Moi

                                              Underneath The Pine

                                                When Chaz first signed to Carpark Records, the plan was to release two records in 2010 - one electronic and one with live instrumentation - and although it didn’t quite fit into the same calendar year as his debut, "Underneath The Pine" is that latter offering. This release sees him following the same creative urges to completely different ends. Having spent the year listening to film composers like Ennio Morricone and François de Roubaix, Bundick returned to his home in Columbia, the birthplace of many Toro tracks of yore, to bring his new ideas to fruition. The result of these sessions is an album evocative of R. Stevie Moore’s homespun ruminations, David Axelrod’s sonic scope, Steve Reich-ian piano phrasing, and the pervasive funk of his first record. "Underneath The Pine" announces a new phase for an artist whose talent defies classification.

                                                Toro Y Moi is 23 year old Columbia, South Carolina native and resident Chaz Bundick. His methods of music-making are constantly changing and evolving. Heavily influenced by his parent's vinyl and tape collection, he also possesses great admiration for contemporary influences like Animal Collective, Sonic Youth, J Dilla, and Daft Punk. Like most prepubescent teens, he had his punk band and once that died out, the "side project" soon became the main focus. Toro y Moi started in 2001 as a bedroom project but quickly grew into the live performance realm. The songs are born from a plethora of different genres, from freak-folk to R&B to French house.

                                                Toro Y Moi

                                                Causers Of This

                                                  Toro Y Moi (AKA Columbia, South Carolina’s Chaz Bundick) is the sound the world has been waiting for. This multi-cultural juggernaut gathers up the best musical elements from around the globe - R&B, indie rock, electronic dance and psychedelica - and creates something-freakingeeels. It's perfect post-club music, blissed out slow-burning landscapes, subtle rolling beats, layers of leftfield soothing synths and wobbly, soulful vocals. The album references everyone from Eno to The Beach Boys, Prince to J Dilla and Talking Heads... or as one journalist put it: 'It's kind of how Animal Collective would sound if they spent a year listening to old soul and Motown Records before laying down their new LP.'

                                                  Toro Y Moi is 23 year old Columbia, South Carolina native and resident Chaz Bundick. After earning a BFA in Graphic Design at The University of South Carolina, Chaz decided to push his music further now that he has more time on his hands. His mom came from the Phillipines to the United States, where she met her future husband (who's African American) in college. They lived in New York City taking in all the wonderful cultural influences the city's rising underground scene had to offer at the time (late 70s/early 80s). Deciding to slow down and be closer to family, they moved to Columbia, South Carolina where they had their first child...

                                                  Chaz Bundick's methods are constantly changing and evolving. Heavily influenced by his parent's vinyl and tape collection, he also possesses great admiration for contemporary influences like Animal Collective, Sonic Youth, J Dilla, and Daft Punk. Like most prepubescent teens, he had his punk band and once that died out, the 'side project' soon became the main focus. Toro y Moi started in 2001 as a bedroom project but quickly grew into the live performance realm. The songs are born from a plethora of different genres, from freak-folk to R&B to French house.

                                                  STAFF COMMENTS

                                                  Rob says: My favourite LP of the year so far! Imagine Panda Bear and Koushik trying to make stuttering densely melodic acid-R&B with their pal Bibio. BREATHTAKING.

                                                  TRACK LISTING

                                                  1. Blessa
                                                  2. Minors
                                                  3. Imprint After
                                                  4. Lissoms
                                                  5. Fax Shadow
                                                  6. Thanks Vision
                                                  7. Freak Love
                                                  8. Talamak
                                                  9. You Hid
                                                  10. Low Shoulders
                                                  11. Causers Of This


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