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Durand Jones & The Indications

Durand Jones & The Indications Live Vol. 1

    In 2012 Durand Jones left his small-town in Louisiana, alto saxophone in tow, for the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University. “Being a singer was never part of the plan,” Jones admits. But soon enough he found his way in front of a rowdy rock-n-roll band belting out a rambunctious rendition of “Dock Of The Bay,” to a basement full of drunken undergrads. That rowdy band unfolded into The Indications which includes founding members Aaron Frazer (drums, lead vocals) and Blake Rhein (guitar).

    Inspired by a handful of dusty and obscure 45s bearing names like The Ethics, Brothers of Soul and The Icemen, The Indications set out to make a record steeped in heavy drums, blown-out vocals, and deep grooves. Gathered around a Tascam 4-track cassette recorder and a case of Miller HighLife, the group spent their Sunday evenings recording into the early hours of the morning. The result is their modern soul masterpiece Durand Jones & The Indications (Dead Oceans/Colemine Records).

    With comparisons from Charles Bradley, Lee Fields to Al Green, this young band are now at the forefront of 60’s soul revival. Their sweaty, fiery live shows have earned them a reputation for giving it their all each night which can be witnessed on Durand Jones & The Indications Live Vol. 1. Available for the first time on limited translucent blue vinyl, the album includes tracks from their debut and deep cut soul covers fans have become accustomed

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    Coloured LP Info: Translucent blue vinyl.

    For years, Phosphorescent’s rise was a steady one: tours got a little better, rooms got a little bigger, and with it the music became more intricate, more ambitious in its recording and arrangement. Then came Muchacho, a juggernaut that to date has sold over 100,000 worldwide, with lead single “Song for Zula” now well over 50 million streams. Now, five years later, Phosphorescent returns with his seventh studio LP, C’est La Vie. Recorded in Nashville at Matthew Houck’s own Spirit Sounds Studio, C’est La Vie reveals a crystallization of what made Muchacho such a breakout — a little sweetness and a little menace, sometimes boot-stomping and sometimes meditative.

    A lot of life was lived between these records: Houck became a father (twice), built his studio, escaped New York. And C’est La Vie does have a hefty, career-spanning feel. But there’s a newfound wisdom, too, a deeper well for all that livin’. The magic of Matthew Houck’s music has always been the way he weaves shimmering, almost golden-sounding threads through elemental, salt-of-the-earth sounds. It’s not experimental, exactly, but it’s singular and it’s definitely not traditional. That knack, the through-line across the Phosphorescent catalogue, is front and centre here.

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Barry says: Even just listening to the title track alone gives you a decent impression of quite how stunning this collection is, shining and rich with orchestral instrumentation, heart-wrenching lyrics and twinkling synth pads. Think classic rock with a modern twist, a slightly smaller-scale War On Drugs or a less crap U2. Proper lovely.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    Coloured LP Info: Indies exclusive clear vinyl.

    Coloured LP includes MP3 Download Code.

    Hailed as the new vanguard of indie rock following the breakout success of 2016’s Puberty 2, Mitski returns with Be The Cowboy, via Dead Oceans.

    Mitski’s carefully crafted songs have often been portrayed as emotionally raw, overflowing confessionals from a fevered chosen girl, but in her fifth album, Mitski introduces a persona who has been teased before but never so fully present until now—a woman in control.

    “For this new record, I experimented in narrative and fiction,” comments Mitski. Though she hesitates to go so far as to say she created full-on characters, she reveals she had in mind “a very controlled icy repressed woman who is starting to unravel. Because women have so little power and showing emotion is seen as weakness, this ‘character’ clings to any amount of control she can get. Still, there is something very primordial in her that is trying to find a way to get out.”

    In Be The Cowboy, Mitski delves into the loneliness of being a symbol and the loneliness of being someone, how it can feel so much like being no one. Lead single “Geyser” introduces us to a woman who can’t hold it all in any more. She’s about to burst and unleash a torrent of desire and passion that has been building up inside. While recording the album with her long-time producer Patrick Hyland, the pair kept returning to “the image of someone alone on a stage, singing solo with a single spotlight trained on them in an otherwise dark room. For most of the tracks, we didn’t layer the vocals with doubles or harmonies, to achieve that campy ‘person singing alone on stage’ atmosphere.”

    There is plenty of buoyant swagger on Be The Cowboy, but just as much interrogation into self-mythology. Throughout these 14 songs, the music swerves from the cheerful to the plaintive. Mournful piano ballads lead into deceptively uptempo songs. “I had been on the road for a long time, which is so isolating, and had to run my own business at the same time. A lot of this record was me not having any feelings, being completely spent but then trying to rally myself and wake up and get back to Mitski.”

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Barry says: We aren't the only ones who've been eagerly awaiting a new Mitski album, with the news on this outing being VERY warmly received online, and listening to it, it's no surprise. Forward thinking synth-pop progressions, beautifully balanced song structures and Mitski's unmistakeable vocals. Superb stuff.

    The world has finally caught up with Slowdive. A band whose reach goes far beyond just influencing music is back, with their first new album in 22 years.

    The album is called ‘Slowdive’ - self-titled in an echo of their debut EP from 1990, and is remarkably direct.

    Deftly swerving what co-vocalist/guitarist Rachel Goswell terms “a trip down memory lane”, these eight new tracks are simultaneously expansive and the sonic pathfinders’ most direct material to date.

    Self-titled with quiet confidence, Slowdive’s stargazing alchemy is set to further entrance the faithful while beguiling a legion of fresh ears.

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Martin says: It’s been 22 years since the release of ‘Pygmalion’. It wouldn’t be unreasonable to assume then that the world had heard the last of Slowdive. It was only out of curiosity and old times sake then the CD ended up on the Piccadilly player, with no expectation of a repeat. Except that it’s utterly beautiful. Right from the majestic opener “Slomo”, a work of iridescent beauty where a bed of Cocteau Twins guitar is underpinned to gorgeous effect by sparse bass notes, placed to perfection, the undulating heartbeat of a glistening wall of sound. Neil Halstead’s polished, almost choral delivery initiates vocal duties, before passing the baton to Rachel Goswell, whose exquisite voice soars far overhead into a spine tingling crescendo; the single “Sugar For The Pill”, is elevated into the high atmosphere by bewitching vocal harmonies courtesy of the same duo, while the churning power of “Star Roving” picks up where My Bloody Valentine left off. If “No Longer Taking Time” goes for the tried and tested loud-quiet-loud motif it does so with enough brilliance as to render that completely irrelevant. From beginning to end, ‘Slowdive’ is a joy.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    Coloured LP Info: Indies only silver vinyl.

    Signed LP Info: SIGNED BY THE BAND AT OUR POP-UP BLUEDOT FESTIVAL STORE.

    LP Info: Black vinyl edition.

    Lump was born of good timing and predestined compatibility. It began when Mike Lindsay – a prolific, Mercury prize-winning producer – was introduced to Grammy-nominated, Brit award-winning singer-songwriter Laura Marling after her show supporting Neil Young in London.

    Lump is a heady blend of wonked-out guitars, Moog synths and pattering drums, set against droning, coiling clouds of flutes and voices. The lyrics are inspired by early-20th-century Surrealism and the absurdist poetry of Edward Lear and Ivor Cutler - a bizarre but compelling narrative about the commodification of curated public personas, the mundane absurdity of individualism, and the lengths we go to escape our own meaninglessness.

    The composers are keen to stress that LUMP is a creation that passed through them, and they look upon it parentally. It is their understanding that, now it has come into being, LUMP is the artist, and it will continue to create itself from here on. Lindsay and Marling will assist it as necessary.

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Darryl says: Lump mixes the stunning, instantly recognisable vocal prowess of Marling with the off-kilter electronic folk-tinged oddness of Lindsay's band Tunng. An enchanting and fascinatingly diverse outing, one to listen to in it's entirety. Superb.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    Coloured LP Info: Limited translucent green vinyl.

    “I was under a lot of stress because I was trying to make an anti-folk record and I was having trouble doing it. I wanted to make something deep-fried and more me-sounding. I didn’t want to be jammy acoustic guy anymore. I just wanted to make something weird and far-out that came from the heart finally. I was always trying to make something like this I guess, trying to catch up with my imagination. And I think I succeeded in that way — it’s got some weird instrumentation on there, and some surreal far-out words.

    I’m lucky enough to have some people who are playing on it who had a big part in shaping the songs and writing with me. Cooper Crain, the guy who engineered it, and played all the synthesizers. And when the flute guy, Nate Lepine came in, that was really something that made it special. The producer was this guy LeRoy Bach. I love LeRoy, he’s a really talented guy. He did the last record too.

    And it’s more Chicago-y sounding. Chicago sounds like a train constantly coming towards you but never arriving. That’s the sound I hear, all the time, ringing in my ears.” – Ryley Walker.

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Barry says: Narcotics enthusiast and all-round ledge Ryley takes us on his newest journey into the wilderness with 'Deafman Glance', with the same tender plucking acousticry we've come to know and love, but with the psychedelic element all the more pronounced. Brilliantly progressive and nuanced songwriting with Walker's imitable style.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    Ltd LP includes MP3 Download Code.

    LUMP

    Curse Of The Contemporary

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

      "Curse of the Contemporary" is the first track from the brand new band LUMP. It is a perfect introduction for their self-titled debut album. Translucent Green Vinyl.

      Try, if only for a moment, to envision a scenario in which you could still be completely *surprised* by a rock band. It’s not easy. In fact, it’s increasingly rare.

      A couple of years ago, A Place to Bury Strangers were in search of a new drummer. Lia Simone Braswell, an L.A. native, had recently moved to New York, and was playing drums in shows around Brooklyn "just to keep her chops up." As it turned out, APTBS bassist Dion Lunadon caught one of those shows and, after seeing her play, was moved to ask her if she’d want to come to a band practice sometime.

      "I told some of my friends about it before I met up with them," Braswell says, of the rehearsal that would soon lead to her joining the band. "They told me, 'You’re just gonna have to keep up as much as you possibly can.’"

      "To be fair, she had also never seen us live," Lunadon adds. "She didn’t necessarily know what she was getting into."

      What she was getting into: For well over a decade now, A Place to Bury Strangers-Lunadon, founding guitarist/singer Oliver Ackermann, and, officially, Braswell-have become well known for their unwavering commitment to unpredictable, often bewildering live shows, and total, some might say dangerous volume. They don’t write setlists. They frequently write new songs mid-set. They deliberately provoke and sabotage sound people in a variety of cruel yet innovative ways. They can and will always surprise you. "When something goes wrong on-stage, a lot of bands will crumble under the pressure," says Ackermann. "We like the idea of embracing the moment when things go wrong and turning it into the best thing about the show."

      This April marks the release of Pinned, their fifth full-length and an album that finds them converting difficult moments into some of their most urgent work to date. It’s their first since the 2016 election, and their first since the 2014 closing of Death By Audio, the beloved Brooklyn DIY space where Ackerman lived, worked, and created with complete freedom. "After DBA closed, I moved to an apartment in Clinton Hill," he says. "I couldn’t make too much noise, couldn’t disturb my neighbors. I would just sit there and write with a drum machine. It had to be about writing a good song and not about being super, sonically loud."

      There are searing meditations on truth and government-led conspiracies ("Execution"), as well as haunting, harmonized responses to the tensions of our current political climate ("There’s Only One of Us"). It all opens with "Never Coming Back," a frightening crescendo of group vocals, vertiginous guitar work, and Lunadon’s unrelenting bass. "That song is a big concept," Ackermann says. "You make these decisions in your life…you’re contemplating whether or not this will be the end. You think of your mortality, those moments you could die and what that means. You’re thinking about that edge of the end, deciding whether or not it’s over. When you’re close to that edge, you could teeter over."

      It’s a clear and honest statement of intent, not just for everything that follows, but for this band as a whole. "As things go on, you don’t want them to be stagnant," Ackermann says. "Being a band for ten years, it’s hard to keep things moving forward. I see so many bands that have been around and they’re a weaker version of what they used to be. This band is anti-that. We try to push ourselves constantly, with the live shows and the recordings. We always want to get better. You’ve got to dig deep and take chances, and sometimes, I questioned that. It took really breaking through to make it work. I think we did that."

      They definitely did. 

      STAFF COMMENTS

      Barry says: Throbbing bass, snappy distorted vocals and churning, machinated minimal-wave vox and NIN-esque claustrophobic ambience, all held withing a solid and impenetrable shell of gnarly, saturated guitars. Superb.

      Durand Jones & The Indications

      Durand Jones & The Indications

      The album, which was originally released in 2016, received praise from The Philadelphia Inquirer, who called it, “Smartly restrained music steeped in the Deep South” and Paste, who said, “With a tingling rasp that screams James Brown and coos Otis Redding, Jones simply has to be heard to be believed on these vintage R&B pleas.” Detroit Metro Times furthered, “Modern soul that pulls with as much power as Lee Fields and Charles Bradley.” Of their debut, the band reflects, “Three years ago we spent every Sunday in our basement with a 4-track tape machine and a goal: record an album inspired by not only the ubiquitous titans of soul music but also the should-have-beens and the never-weres. With that modest target in mind, we released the record and booked one show marking the occasion. The reception we saw was both humbling and invigorating, and what started as a recording project, became a touring unit with larger aspirations.”

      STAFF COMMENTS

      Laura says: Boy can these guys sing! Timeless sweet soul music.

      FORMAT INFORMATION

      Coloured LP Info: Indies exclusive translucent red vinyl.

      Shame thrives on confrontation. Whether it be the seething intensity crackling throughout debut LP Songs of Praise or the adrenaline-pumping chaos that unfolds at Shame’s shows, it’s all fueled by feeling. NPR’s Bob Boilen noted, “Of the 70 bands I saw at this year’s SXSW, the band Shame seemed to mean what they played more than any other.”

      Comprised of vocalist Charlie Steen, guitarists Sean Coyle-Smith and Eddie Green, bassist John Finerty, and drummer Charlie Forbes, the London-based five-piece began as school boys. From the outset, Shame built the band up from a foundation of DIY ethos while citing The Fall and Wire among its biggest musical influences.

      Utilizing both the grit and sincerity of that musical background, Shame carved out a niche in the South London music scene and then barreled fearlessly into the angular, thrashing post-punk that would go on to make up Songs of Praise, their Dead Oceans debut. From “Gold Hole,” a tongue-in-cheek takedown of rock narcissism, to lead single “Concrete” detailing the overwhelming moment of realizing a relationship is doomed, to the frustrated “Tasteless” taking aim at the monotony of people droning through their day-to-day, Songs of Praise never pauses to catch its breath.

      STAFF COMMENTS

      Barry says: Brilliantly smooth but uncompromisingly melodic, shame intertwine the spirit of 80's hardcore with the precision playing and intricate structural flux of today's more dynamic musical frontrunners. Brilliant stuff.

      FORMAT INFORMATION

      Coloured LP Info: Indies exclusive sky blue vinyl.

      Tom Rogerson With Brian Eno

      Finding Shore

      Tom Rogerson's life as an improviser began when, as a toddler, he would clamber up onto his family piano stool and try to emulate his sister's playing. Now releasing his second solo album, a collaboration with Brian Eno, he feels that his musical life has come full circle: 'I remember smashing out C Major chords again and again and really loving it. It's the same as what I do now, funnily enough, I've come back to it.' After stints playing jazz in New York, a dilapidated fenland hotel and in noise rock band Three Trapped Tigers, Rogerson ran into Eno at a gig. Bonding over a love of the countryside of their Suffolk home, the pair entered the studio and worked with The Piano Bar, a device that converted the sound of the piano into midi signals, which were then further manipulated. 'It was this classic Eno, almost scientific thing,' Rogerson says now. 'He always finds a system that can be a source of creativity.' The result is an album that uses Eno's magic to pull deep from Rogerson's subconscious to evoke the strange flat landscape of Eastern England, all heathland, military testing sites and estuary mud. 'I do totally hear it, I'll listen and think, ‘oh that sounds like the bells at Woodbridge, that's the birds, the wind rustling in the reeds,'' Rogerson says. 'I think it permeates my music, and Brian's ambient records. That 'is it organic or is it electronic thing' is so interesting.'

      STAFF COMMENTS

      Barry says: Beautiful arpeggios, shimmering ambient bliss and intricate, delicate progressions. A beautiful addition to Eno's considerable output, and a really brilliant collaboration in terms of the contrasting styles coming together with flair.

      Of his 12th studio album and its enigmatic title, Destroyer’s Dan Bejar offers the following:

      Sometime last year, I discovered that the original name for “The Wild Ones” (one of the great English-language ballads of the last 100 years or so) was “Ken.” I had an epiphany, I was physically struck by this information. In an attempt to hold on to this feeling, I decided to lift the original title of that song and use it for my own purposes. It’s unclear to me what that purpose is, or what the connection is. I was not thinking about Suede when making this record. I was thinking about the last few years of the Thatcher era. Those were the years when music first really came at me like a sickness, I had it bad. Maybe “TheWild Ones” speaks to that feeling, probably why Suede made no sense in America. I think “ken” also means “to know.”

      ken was produced by Josh Wells of Black Mountain, who has been the drummer in Destroyer since 2012. The album was recorded in its entirety in the jam space/studio space that the group calls The Balloon Factory. However, unlike Poison Season, ken was not recorded as a “band” record, though everyone in the band does make an appearance.

      Alex Lahey

      I Love You Like A Brother

        I Love You Like A Brother is the highly anticipated album from Melbourne’s Alex Lahey. An infectious debut that shines with a rare confidence, I Love You Like A Brother is a riotous record, packed with relatable fuzzpop gems. 

        After finishing school, Lahey initially went to university to study jazz saxophone, but unimpressed with “learning music in such a regimented way” she switched to an arts degree. While studying, Alex cut her teeth as a member of cult party collective Animaux, which allowed her restlessly rebellious streak to flourish. Alex began to form the blueprint for her own solo material by writing songs inspired by the two people she considers the greatest songwriters of all time, Dolly Parton and Bruce Springsteen, whilst retaining the punk spirit of her first musical outing. These songs found themselves on her first solo EP, the acclaimed B-Grade University.

        The EP included the single. ‘You Don’t Think You Like People Like Me’; a mainstay on Australian radio, landing on triple j’s prestigious Hottest 100 of 2016. The song’s universal tale of rejection took Lahey global - its message, she says, is the flipside of the usual break-up scenario: “Yeah, you’re right. It’s not me. It IS you”. This no-shit-taken attitude forms the backbone of I Love You Like A Brother as evidenced by the uproarious opening track ‘Every Day’s The Weekend’.

        Throughout the records’ ten songs, Alex’s lyrics deftly move between wry, often hilarious witticism to heartbreaking poignancy. For every uplifting anthem, such as ‘I Love You Like A Brother’ and the unruly ‘Perth Traumatic Stress Disorder’, there’s painfully relatable tracks like ‘Backpack’ and ‘Awkward Exchange’. Despite the instant pop chops of I Love You Like A Brother, there’s introspection, self-doubt and sense of working out the complexities of growing up in this limbo period between youth and adulthood.

        The themes of Alex Lahey’s album might be universal, but it’s the unique approach she takes unpacking them that’s earned her millions of Spotify streams, buzz-worthy showcases at SXSW and festival sets alongside the likes of Flume, The Kills, At The Drive-In and James Blake as well as guesting on tours with Tegan & Sara and Blondie.

        FORMAT INFORMATION

        Coloured LP Info: Indies only LP – opaque yellow

        Phoebe Bridgers

        Stranger In The Alps

          Phoebe Bridgers wrote her first song at age 11, spent her adolescence at open mic nights and busked through her teenage years at farmers markets in her native Los Angeles. By age 20, she’d caught the ear of Ryan Adams, who listened to her perform her song ‘Killer’ in his LA studio, inviting her to come back and record it there the next day. The session blossomed into the three song ‘Killer’ EP, released to much acclaim on Adams’s Pax-Am label in 2015. In the two short years since, Bridgers has toured or played with Conor Oberst, Julien Baker, City And Colour, Violent Femmes, Mitski, Television and Blake Babies among others.

          Now Phoebe Bridgers releases her debut full-length, ‘Stranger In The Alps’. From the weeping strings and ‘Twin Peaks’ twangs of opening track ‘Smoke Signals’, to the simple heartbreak of ‘Funeral’ and melancholic crescendo of ‘Scott Street’, ‘Stranger In The Alps’ is a swooningly beautiful record with a gothic heart.

          ‘Stranger In The Alps’ features guest vocals by Conor Oberst and John Doe.

          FORMAT INFORMATION

          Coloured LP Info: Indies exclusive lavender vinyl.

          Recorded in his hometown of Dunedin at the notoriously haunted Chick’s Hotel studio, Kane teamed up with producer Stephen Marr from trip hop group Doprah for Two Hearts and No Brain. The collaborative result is a razor sharp blend of intelligent alt-rock, bearing the signatures of grunge/alt rock swiftly executed with careful, meticulous precision over 11 tracks. Marr’s influence brings a pristine, retro-futuristic sheen which complements Strang’s perfectionist recording style, sharp melody, and verbose lyrical neuroticism. Taking to well-worn subject matter (heartbreak, loneliness, family) with a disarmingly frank scalpel, Strang’s wryly deadpan lines never miss a beat – the results often sardonic, and always captivating.

          Two Hearts and No Brain is pure pop genius from start to finish. It’s hard to imagine who else could convincingly fuse fuzzy synths with slide guitar; crunchy chords with chiming vocals in such a kaleidoscopic pop vision. The album’s cover art, featuring a refracted analogue photograph taken of Kane atop of a rocky precipice; echoes the spirit of lean guitar-pop shining through a truly contemporary, innovative lens. His attention to detail shows up the fat slack present in the work of many of Kane’s contemporaries; yet his sound remains emotive and playfully laced with a tongue-in-cheek nostalgia – timelessly old and new in the same breath.

          What sets Kane apart from the rafts of DIY indie songwriters is a willingness to push further. Having mastered the lo-fi aesthetic, he’s stretched his already limber songwriting legs and production chops to new unexpected spaces on Two Hearts and No Brain. Kane’s vision of extending his sound far beyond the bedroom promises international touring and releases the world over. With a live show that exhibits his unpredictable and exhilarating command on stage, Kane’s amassed a band of cohorts to execute his vision with arresting impact, sure to charm crowds with his sideways slant of guitar pop.

          FORMAT INFORMATION

          Coloured LP Info: Indies exclusive red vinyl.

          City Music is the new album by Kevin Morby. Full of listless wanderlust, it’s a collection inspired by and devoted to the metropolitan experience across America and beyond by a songwriter cast from his own mold. As he puts it: “It is a mix-tape, a fever dream, a love letter dedicated to those cities that I cannot get rid of, to those cities that are all inside of me.”

          His fourth album, City Music works as a counterpart to Morby’s acclaimed 2016 release Singing Saw, an autobiographical set that reflected the solitude and landscape in which it was recorded. Saw was imagined as “an old bookshelf with a young Bob and Joni staring back at me, blank and timeless. They live here, in this left side of my brain, smoking cigarettes and playing acoustic guitars while lying on an unmade bed.”

          And now follows City Music, the yang to its yin, the heads to its tails. It is a collection crafted using the other side of its creator’s brain, the jumping off point perhaps best once again encapsulated by an image. “Here, Lou Reed and Patti Smith stare out at the listener,” explains Morby. “Stretched out on a living room floor they are somewhere in mid-70s Manhattan, also smoking cigarettes.” It finds Morby exploring similar themes of solitude, but this time framed by a window of an uptown apartment that looks down upon an international urban landscape “exposed like a giant bleeding wound.”

          FORMAT INFORMATION

          LP includes MP3 Download Code.

          Kevin Morby

          Beautiful Strangers / No Place To Fall

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

            ‘Beautiful Strangers’ is an original song penned by Kevin Morby, which was initially released on Bandcamp to benefit the gun violence charity, Everytown for Gun Safety.

            ‘No Place To Fall’ is a staple of Kevin Morby’s live set.

            The two tracks will be released as a 7” for Record Store Day 2017, the proceeds of which will go to Everytown for Gun Safety.

            ‘Beautiful Strangers’ was named Best New Track on Pitchfork.

            “This release is dedicated to and written for all the people I have never met but have only read about. The innocent people who were out living their lives and one day, without warning, had them taken away from them. People who liked to laugh, dance, and love in the way that we all do, but can't anymore. All those names and faces, all those beautiful strangers... So here are two songs, "Beautiful Strangers" as well as my cover of Townes Van Zandt's ‘No Place To Fall’ that I have been closing my live show with over the past year. Any purchase of these two songs will go to support the work of Everytown For Gun Safety - an organization I have followed for quite some time. I believe in and support them in their efforts to make the world a safer place. Do it for the kids. Love and peace” - Kevin Morby

            Limited to 500 copies for the UK and Eire.

            Hard Love, Tim Showalter’s latest release as Strand of Oaks, is a record that explores the balancing act between overindulgence and accountability. Recounting Showalter’s decadent tour experiences, his struggling marriage, and the near death of his younger brother, Hard Love emanates an unabashed, raw, and manic energy that embodies both the songs and the songwriter behind them. “For me, there are always two forces at work: the side that’s constantly on the hunt for the perfect song, and the side that’s naked in the desert screaming at the moon. It’s about finding a place where neither side is compromised, only elevated.”

            During some much-needed downtime following the release of his previous album, HEAL, Showalter began writing Hard Love and found himself in a now familiar pattern of tour exhaustion, chemically-induced flashbacks, and ongoing domestic turmoil. Drawing from his love of Creation Records, Trojan dub compilations, and Jane’s Addiction, and informed by a particularly wild time at Australia’s Boogie Festival, he sought to create a record that would merge all of these influences while evoking something new and visceral. Showalter’s first attempt at recording the album led to an unsatisfying result—a fully recorded version of Hard Love that didn’t fully achieve the ambitious sounds he heard in his head. He realized that his vision for the album demanded collaboration, and enlisted producer Nicolas Vernhes, who helped push him into making the most fearless album of his career.

            Mitksi’s follow-up to the critically acclaimed 2014 breakout album ‘Bury Me At Makeout Creek’.

            Ask Mitski about happiness and she’ll warn you: “Happiness fucks you.” It’s a lesson that’s been writ large into the New Yorker’s gritty, outsider-indie for years but never so powerfully as on her newest album, ‘Puberty 2’. “Happiness is up, sadness is down, but one’s almost more destructive than the other,” she says. “When you realize you can’t have one without the other, it’s possible to spend periods of happiness just waiting for that other wave.” On ‘Puberty 2’ that tension is palpable: a both beautiful and brutal romantic hinterland, in which one of America’s new voices hits a brave new stride.

            “No one else can make shattering sound like such an act of strength.” - Stereogum

            “Her songs build a quiet fury with lyrics that pulverize the heart while still making a break-up seem almost beautiful.” - Paste Magazine

            STAFF COMMENTS

            Millie says: Puberty 2 is very original and distinctive in every sense. A strong element of both mixed electronic riffs and heavy guitars gives it a fierce prominent essence; it’s pieced with authentic and wistful lyrics. Her voice begins as a soft lullaby then builds into this astonishing provoked voice of passion.

            Califone

            Roomsound - Deluxe Reissue

              Califone’s debut album, ‘Roomsound’, was originally self-released in April of 2001.

              ‘Roomsound’ covers the same rustic, slightly ramshackle back forty that Tim Rutili has been ploughing through since his previous band Red Red Meat, only this time the tilled bedrock unveils the most vividly coloured, luring crop of songs Rutili has ever harvested.

              The sleepy, country-blues picking and autumnal backwoods melodies are accented with striking splashes of electronic tone colour, obsolete keyboards and off-kilter percussion.

              Lyrically, ‘Roomsound’ penetrates the breath of pirates, poison apples at a tango contest and the waiting room between death and canonization where missionaries have quit and 19th Century prostitutes have been rescued for all the wrong reasons.

              Masterfully produced by Brian Deck, the album is vaulted far beyond the sum of its parts.

              ‘Roomsound’ is a hauntingly unique and distinctive record of crafted and sculpted beauty.

              Includes bonus LP with previously unreleased tracks plus an etched side 4.

              Ryley Walker

              Golden Sings That Have Been Sung - Deep Cuts Edition

              Ryley Walker is pleased to announce his new album, Golden Sings That Have Been Sung, coming out August 19th on Dead Oceans. It’s the triumphant follow up to his breakout album, Primrose Green, which earned critical hosannas from the likes of NPR, Village Voice, Uncut, and Mojo and admiration of musicians who had chalked up no shortage of turntable miles in Walker’s life. Robert Plant declared himself a fan – as did double-bass legend Danny Thompson, with whom Ryley embarked on a British tour.

              In November 2015, at the end of a ten-month period which saw Ryley play over 200 shows in support of Primrose Green, Ryley decided that he should probably head home. However you wished to measure it, he was surely due some sort of holiday. Although, a holiday was the last thing on Ryley’s mind – and certainly not a holiday in his adopted hometown. After a year spent on the road, all that Ryley could associate with Chicago was the emotional debris he had left behind.

              He went into the studio over the Christmas vacation to record Golden Sings That Have Been Sung whose songs were directly wedded to Ryley’s return to Chicago. Some of his formative musical memories had been shaped by the work of pioneering Chicago acts such as Gastr del Sol and Tortoise. “Jeff Parker was the guitarist with Tortoise, and I used to listen to him a lot,” recalls Ryley, who figured that, for the first time in his career, it might be helpful to enlist the services of a producer. With only one person on his shortlist, once again, all roads led back to Chicago.

              Ryley had been a long-time admirer of sometime Wilco multi-instrumentalist LeRoy Bach. Back in 2009, still in his teens, he had frequented the improv nights hosted by Bach at a restaurant/gallery space called Whistler. “For me, it was an incredible opportunity,” recalls Ryley, “…because you would sometimes also have Dan Bitney, the drummer with Tortoise, and I’d get to play with these people. I mean, they were twice my age. I’m sure they thought I was annoying at first, maybe some of them still do, but I kind of looked at them like gurus – and to have these old school Chicago heads taking me in was just amazing.”

              For Ryley then, the prospect of having Bach produce his album was something of a no-brainer. “It was everything I wanted it to be,” he enthuses. “I would go to LeRoy’s house every other day with a riff, and we would take it from there.” Perhaps more than any other song on the record, the somnambulant sun-dappled intimacies of opening track and lead single “The Halfwit In Me” most audibly bear the imprint of those Whistler sessions.

              Golden Sings That Have Been Sung was made for the dewy magic hour when night and day have yet to meet and, as long as the song is playing, you feel might briefly leave the corporeal world with them. This is the music you might imagine the woodland animals making once the humans have left for the night. This is Ryley Walker’s coming of age.

              STAFF COMMENTS

              Barry says: Having been one of our end of year favourites in 2015, Ryley Walker had a lot to live up to with this follow-up (obviously he had impressing us in mind). It turns out that this is just as monumental, if not moreso. There is a sense of assurance here, a confidence gained through years of honing his craft. Perfectly sculpted Americana-tinged acoustic guitars are bolstered but never overpowered by frenetic violin slashes, molasses-slow drums perfectly compliment the unhurried and confident instrumentation. Walker and band have got a lot of bettering to do if they'll ever top this, but going on previous form, i'm sure they will. An absorbing and rewarding listen.

              Ryley Walker

              Golden Sings That Have Been Sung

              In November 2015, at the end of a ten month period which saw him play over 200 shows, Ryley Walker decided that he should probably head home. The preceding months had been extraordinary. In March, his second album ‘Primrose Green’, emerged to critical hosannas from the likes of NPR, Village Voice, Uncut and Mojo and in the process earning admiration of musicians who had chalked up no shortage of turntable miles in Walker’s life. Robert Plant declared himself a fan, as did double-bass legend Danny Thompson, with whom Ryley would later embark on a British tour. A sprawling tour of the USA around ‘Primrose Green’ presented a perfect chance to workshop ideas for what would eventually become this, his third studio album, ‘Golden Sings That Have Been Sung’.

              ‘The Roundabout’ represents a symbolic return to Chicago, while other songs are directly wedded to Ryley’s actual return there. Perhaps more than any other song on the record, the somnambulant sun-dappled intimacies of opening track ‘The Halfwit In Me’ most audibly bear the imprint of Ryley’s improvisational sessions with Wilco multi-instrumentalist, Chicagoan and producer Leroy Bach, while ‘Funny Thing She Said’ is an unflinching study of separation set to a shimmeringly supple ensemble performance.

              Soft, slo-mo explosions of melody intermittently burst through the distant thunder of the verses on ‘A Choir Apart’. Intriguing, surreal images are meted out by ‘I Will Ask You Twice’, like a malfunctioning slide projector and, perhaps best of all, the stunning finale, ‘Age Old Tale’, which spiders out from an Alice Coltrane-inspired reverie into a sustained rapture that very few artists have managed to achieve.

              STAFF COMMENTS

              Barry says: Having been one of our end of year favourites in 2015, Ryley Walker had a lot to live up to with this follow-up (obviously he had impressing us in mind). It turns out that this is just as monumental, if not more so. There is a sense of assurance here, a confidence gained through years of honing his craft. Perfectly sculpted Americana-tinged acoustic guitars are bolstered but never overpowered by frenetic violin slashes while molasses-slow drums perfectly compliment the unhurried and confident instrumentation. Walker and band have got a lot of bettering to do if they'll ever top this, but going on previous form, i'm sure they will. An absorbing and rewarding listen.

              Julianna Barwick’s revelatory third album, ‘Will’, is the Brooklyn experimental artist’s most surprising left turn to date. Conceived and self-produced over the past year in a variety of locations, the compelling ‘Will’ departs from the weighty lightness of 2013’s ‘Nepenthe’.

              If ‘Nepenthe’ conjured images of gentle fog rolling over desolate mountains, then ‘Will’ is a late afternoon thunderstorm, a cathartic collision of sharp and soft textures that sounds ominous and restorative all at once.

              ‘Will’ comes after Barwick’s busiest period to date in her career following ‘Nepenthe’ - a spate of activity that included playing piano for Yoko Ono, performing at the 25th annual Tibet House Benefit Concert alongside such kindred spirits as The Flaming Lips and Philip Glass, releasing the ‘Rosabi’ EP and delivering a reimagining of Bach’s ‘Adagio’ from Concerto In D Minor.

              Her life over the past several years has largely been lived in transit and as such the genesis of ‘Will’ was not beholden to location; Barwick reflects on this cycle of constant motion. “You’re constantly adjusting, assimilating, and finding yourself in life-changing situations.” That sense of forward propulsion is largely owed to ‘Will’s synth-heavy textures, an ingredient she was inspired to add to her vocal loop-heavy formula after demoing a new prototype analogue sequencer for Moog.

              Another new wrinkle ‘Will’ introduces in Barwick’s sound: Mas Ysa’s Thomas Arsenault, who lends his richly complex vocals to ‘Same’ and ‘Someway’.

              The beguiling, beautifully complicated ‘Will’ is the latest proof yet of Barwick’s irresistibly engaging talent as a composer and vocalist.

              Julianna has recently collaborated with Moog and MoMa, lending her prestige as both a musician and artist as a whole.

              STAFF COMMENTS

              Millie says: ‘Will’ is Julianna Barwick’s third album filled with ghostly, breath-taking compositions pieced together with delicate vocals. The haunting and fixating notions are developed from the ominous looping chords which are most prominent in the song Nebula; harrowing and captivating Barwick’s vocals are truly angelic. Many songs feature heavy and sharp synth-lines that blossom into a shadowy spiral of fragile reverb and eerie hymn-like echoes. The opening song ‘St. Apolonia’ has an incredibly calming presence and at times transcends into moments of inaudible whispering vocals, (inaudible meant of course in the most beautiful sense), it’s almost as the songs are so emotive that words are unnecessary and Julianna Barwick’s voice blends in with the magnificent soaring instrumental segments. ‘Will’ is a precious find and is full of conviction; an album to be cherished as one of the most sensitive and tender albums of the year.

              Sil says: Loads of reverb and atmospheres emanating from all songs. Made mainly with a loop pedal, a piano and a synth. Simplicity that opens a lot of possibilities makes this album ultimately timeless.

              Charles Rumback & Ryley Walker

              Cannots

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

                Fellow denizens of Chicago, IL, Charles Rumback (drums, organ) and Ryley Walker (acoustic and electric guitar, piano, bells) laid down this record during two short sessions, a month apart, overseen by Brian J. Sulpizio.

                Each player’s schedule was too hectic ahead of these sessions to allow any time to discuss the direction of the record, so what you hear was wholly improvised on the spot.

                The results maybe recall the legendary jams of Sandy Bull and Billy Higgins, perhaps the soundtrack work of Ry Cooder, or Neil Young circa ‘Dead Man’…whatever you hear there is an undeniably magical chemistry at play.

                ‘Cannots’ is available in limited edition electric blue vinyl featuring cover art by Adam F Scott (adamscottstudio.com), and will be released on Record Store Day 2016.

                Limited to 500 copies.

                Kevin Morby

                Singing Saw

                  Singing Saw is a record written simply and realized orchestrally. In it, Kevin Morby faces the reality that true beauty – deep and earned – demands a whole-world balance that includes our darker sides. It is a record of duality, one that marks another stage of growth for this young, gifted songwriter with a kind face and a complicated mind.

                  In the Autumn of 2014, Kevin Morby moved to the small Los Angeles neighborhood of Mount Washington. The move would shape Singing Saw, Morby's first album for new label Dead Oceans. Previous tenants at Morby's new home happened to leave an upright piano behind, with a few mysterious pieces of sheet music and an introductory book of common chords stacked on top. Thankful to finally be in one place for an extended spell, Morby, a beginner at the piano, immediately sat at the new instrument and began composing the songs that would form Singing Saw.

                  Alongside, he began taking long walks through the winding hills and side streets of the neighborhood each night, glimpsing views of both the skyline's sweeping lights and the dark, dried out underbrush of the LA flora. The duality of the city itself began to shape a set of lyrical ideas that he would refine with the sparse accompaniment of piano and acoustic guitar.

                  What is a singing saw? It is an instrument that creates ethereal sounds, but it is also a tool: basic and practical while also being fearsome, even destructive. Morby watches the singing saw in its eponymous song; that instrument of eerie soft beauty cuts down the flowers in its path and chases after him, while his surroundings mock and dwarf him, Alice in Wonderland style. And in a singing saw, we can understand music as something more powerful than its inviting, delicate sound. No wonder Morby talks about a "songbook" in his head as something he needs to take up the hills so he can "get rid of it." Heavy themes are nothing new for Morby, whose previous records (2013's Harlem River and 2014's Still Life, both released on the Woodsist label) dealt with their own eerie visions and damning prophecies.

                  Morby opens Singing Saw with "Cut Me Down", a song of tears, debts and a prescient vision of being reduced to nothing. "I Have Been to the Mountain", "Destroyer" and "Black Flowers" continue to explore beauty and freedom, seizing upon the rot that seeps into even the supposedly safest of realms; peace, family and romantic love. By the end of the record on "Water", Morby is literally begging to be put out once and for all, like a fire that might burn all the visions away.

                  Travels beyond his mountain walks inform songs like "Dorothy", which recounts a trip to Portugal, witnessing a fishing ritual and luxuriating in the aura of a bar light-tinged reunion with old friends The touching innocence of "Ferris Wheel" stands alone in stark simplicity amidst the lush sonic textures of the album. Here, the album is balanced by Morby's signature sweetness and joie de vivre.

                  The arrangements of Singing Saw trace back to Morby's experience playing in The Complete Last Waltz, a live recreation of The Band's legendary last performance. There, Morby developed a fast friendship with producer/bandleader Sam Cohen (Apollo Sunshine, Yellow Birds), which led Morby to forgo recording in Los Angeles and take the nascent songs of Singing Saw to Isokon Studios in Woodstock, New York. There, in a converted A-frame house, they set about creating a record that would bring a sonic balance, intricacy and depth to match these songs and all that inspired them.

                  Sam Cohen added a multitude of instrumentation to the record (guitar, bass, drums and keyboard), and were joined by fellow Complete Last Waltz alum Marco Benevento on piano and keyboard, fleshing out Morby's original compositions and upholding the vision for a cohesive piano sound that serves as a touchstone for the entire album. Backup vocalists Hannah Cohen, Lauren Balthrop and Alecia Chakor contribute soaring harmonies; Nick Kinsey (Elvis Perkins) adds drums and percussion; Justin Sullivan, a longtime Morby collaborator and staple of his live band, contributes drums; Oliver Hill and Eliza Bag lift numerous songs with string accompaniments, and Alec Spiegelman on saxophone and flute and Cole Kamen-Green on trumpet bring dramatic swells. Finally, John Andrews (Quilt) adds the eerie lilt of the album's promise, providing saw on the "Cut Me Down" and "Singing Saw".

                  In the end, Morby fulfills the promise many heard on his first two albums, bringing his most realized effort of songwriting and lyricism to fruition. The songs of Singing Saw reflect the clarity that comes from welcoming change and embracing duality, and the distillation of those elements into an entirely new vision. 

                  STAFF COMMENTS

                  Andy says: Lush, cosmic trip from the erstwhile Woods man, this ticks all the boxes for Americana aficianados everywhere. Highly recommended.

                  FORMAT INFORMATION

                  Coloured LP Info: Very limited coloured vinyl edition.

                  Coloured LP includes MP3 Download Code.

                  LP includes MP3 Download Code.

                  Destroyer's Poison Season opens swathed in Hunky Dory strings. Dan Bejar’s a dashboard Bowie surveying four wracked characters—Jesus, Jacob, Judy, Jack—simultaneously Biblical and musical theatre. This bittersweet, Times Square-set fanfare is reprised twice more on the record—first as swaying, saxophone-stoked “street-rock” and then finally as a curtain-closing reverie.

                  Broadway Danny Bejar dramatically switches scenes with “Dream Lover,” all Style Council strut and brassy, radio-ready bombast (echoes of The Boo Radleys’ evergreen earworm “Wake Up Boo!”). This being Destroyer, its paramours-on-the-run exuberance is judiciously spiked by his deadpan delivery: “Oh shit, here comes the sun…”

                  Like the other DB, Mr. Bejar has long displayed a chameleonic instinct for change while maintaining a unified aesthetic (rather than just pinballing between reference points). No two records sound the same, but they’re always uniquely Destroyer. His latest incarnation often appears to take sonic cues from a distinctly British (usually Scottish, to be precise) strain of sophisti-pop: you might hear traces of Aztec Camera, Prefab Sprout, Orange Juice, or The Blow Monkeys. These songs merge a casual literary brilliance with intense melodic verve, nimble arrangements, and a certain blue-eyed soul sadness.

                  Playfully rueful, “Sun in the Sky” foregrounds cryptic lyrical dexterity over pop-classicist strum before gradually left-fielding into rhythmically supple, delirious avant-squall. It’s as if Talk Talk took over a Lloyd Cole show. Originally released on a collaborative EP with electronic maestros Tim Hecker and Loscil (the latter’s drones are retained here), a retooled “Archer on the Beach” suggests Sade swimming in The Blue Nile, smooth-jazz marimba melancholy dilated by ecstatic ambience. Flecked in heady dissonance, elusively alluring, Dan hymns its eponymous “impossible raver on your death bed” while implicitly beckoning the listener: “Careful now, watch your step, in you go.”

                  That’s Poison Season in essence: familiar yet mysterious, opaquely accessible. Arch, for sure, but ultimately elevatory.

                  STAFF COMMENTS

                  Andy says: After the incredible Kapputt, Destroyer change style again but crucially Keep The Tunes!

                  Night Beds, the musical project of 26-year-old Colorado Springs native Winston Yellen, received much acclaim for his 2013 debut album, Country Sleep, scoring plaudits for its tortured take on alt country and Yellen’s soaring vocals. But Yellen has always been much more than another singer-songwriter. “When Country Sleep came out, I had never made songs like that before,” explains Yellen, who currently splits his time between Nashville and Los Angeles. “That was a departure for me. That wasn’t my bread and butter.” The charismatic, enticingly unhinged Yellen had been living in a house that used to belong to Johnny Cash and the atmosphere had taken an effect, but after finishing that album and before Country Sleep was even released, Yellen began experimenting with the kind of melancholic, neon-tinged R&B that makes up the mesmerising Ivywild.

                  FORMAT INFORMATION

                  Indies Exclusive LP includes MP3 Download Code.

                  The title sounds pastoral and quaint, but the titular green has dark hallucinogenic qualities, as does much of the LP. Ryley didn’t have much time to write this LP, so some of it he didn’t. Bits of lyrics were improvised into full-blown songs in the studio, more often than not on the fly. However, the ratty bits of handwritten words that make up the balance of the record grew from scattered misadventures across an ill-fated 2013 tour.

                  The band on Primrose Green is a mixture of new and old Chicago talent, blending both jaded veterans of the post-rock and jazz mini-circuits together with a few eager, open-eared youths. (It’s worth stating at this point that this is not a jazz record, despite the sheer volume of jazz and experimental heavyweights that make up the rest of Primrose Green’s all-star cast. Chicago has blurred these lines since forever.)

                  Ryley Walker is the reincarnation of the True American Guitar Player. That’s as much a testament to his roving, rambling ways as to the fact that his Guild D-35 guitar has endured a few stints in the pawnshop. Swap out rural juke joints for rotted DIY spaces and the archetype is solidly intact. His personal life might be tumultuous and his residential status in question, but his bedrock is disciplined daily rehearsal and an inexhaustible wellspring of song craft.

                  Raised on the banks of the ol’ Rock River in northern Illinois, Ryley’s early life doesn’t give us much more than Midwestern mundanity to speak of. Things start to pick up in 2007, when he moves to Chicago and briefly attempts a collegiate lifestyle. Here, he storms the local noise scene with his Jasmine-brand electric guitar, and a few years of wasted finger-bleeding basement shows firmly established his name locally, if not always positively. By 2011, at age 21, Ryley’s music offered impressive displays of fingerpicking prowess, though not fully elaborated documents.

                  It was a 2012 bike accident that set Ryley on his current path. Practice became more diligent. He began lacquering his fingertips at cheap salons. Ryley was finding a new path refracting the British traditional spectrum, from Bert Jansch to Nick Drake, and defying all the limitations of the genre. His 2013 recordings — The West Wind EP and All Kinds of You LP – fully express these Anglophilic tendencies to the point of nearly exhausting their possibilities.

                  “Primrose Green” is a colloquial term for a cocktail of whiskey and morning glory seeds that has a murky, dreamy, absinthian quality when imbibed, and a spirit-crushing aftereffect the morning after. It is the moment before departure from the mindstate of Ryley’s previous release, All Kinds Of You.


                  STAFF COMMENTS

                  Andy says: Love Tim Buckley, John Martyn and Nick Drake? So does Ryley Walker! Classic songs, grooves and vibes, but unlike the folk-lite froth choking up the "Charts", this goes straight to the source and brings it on home! Good stuff.

                  FORMAT INFORMATION

                  LP includes MP3 Download Code.

                  A Place To Bury Strangers

                  Transfixiation

                  “That’s the most intense fear and feeling - when you go to a show and you’re actually scared,” says Oliver Ackermann, guitarist and frontman of Brooklyn trio A Place To Bury Strangers. “Or you can palpably feel the danger in the music,” adds bassit Dion Lunadon, “Like it’s going to fall apart at any moment and the players doing it are so in the moment they don’t give a shit about anything else. They’re just going for it. It’s a gutter kinda vibe; everything about it is icky and evil and dangerous.”

                  The same could be said the band’s fourth album, ‘Transfixiation’. Rather than fixate on the minute details like they may have done in the past the group, rounded out by drummer Robi Gonzalez, trust their instincts and try to keep things as pure as possible. Music is much more exhilarating when it’s unpredictable - even on repeat plays - and this is very much an unpredictable record.

                  Gonzalez makes his recording debut with the band here and it’s obvious that he’s helped pushed the band’s recordings closer to the level of their infamous live shows. “The one thing we have in common is this fire when we’re playing,” adds Gonzalez. “I don't know; it’s real intense.”

                  “[A Place To Bury Strangers] sculpts something unexpectedly elegant out of the type of din you’d expect to hear on an airport tarmac” - Spin Magazine

                  “Hypnotic and forward-looking, A Place To Bury Strangers sound more vital than ever” - Allmusic

                  “A real sonic adventure that never relinquishes its grip on structure, despite the fact that the guitar effects pedals are practically stomped into the floor” - Popmatters

                  FORMAT INFORMATION

                  Ltd LP Info: Two tone pink and blue coloured vinyl LP exclusively available to independent retailers (limited to 200 copies for the UK & Eire).

                  Ltd LP includes MP3 Download Code.

                  Bear In Heaven’s new album is aptly titled ‘Time Is Over One Day Old’. It’s a record with a visceral relationship to time and its processes. Where invulnerability and ambition can support you as you grow, at some point they become dead weight and being true to yourself means casting them off, starting anew. This plays out as a powerful analogy for the band across the arc of their career.

                  They’ve always made intriguing records, here especially. It’s easy to see why musicians fall hard for this band. They entice and envelop you. Any ‘Bear In Heaven’ song will most likely greet you with a provocative beat, textural synthesizers and unassuming but adeptly supportive bass and guitar, all exquisitely arranged and glistening. Jon Philpot’s high, smooth, strong voice is so tightly wound into the music that it can be easy to overlook the lyrics, Bear In Heaven’s capacious third dimension. Philpot is a centre seeking, contemplative writer who captures the fleeting thoughts that underscore our emotional lives, the interactions with the world that are both difficult to express and anathema in daily conversation.

                  While all of this can be said of any Bear In Heaven album, each varies wildly in tone and approach. 2007’s ‘Red Bloom Of The Boom’ is ambitious and experimental. ‘Beast Rest Forth Mouth’ (2009) was a pivotal record that still feels important, seductive and intense. On their 2012 album ‘I Love You, It’s Cool’ the structural and musical ideas are challenging and masterfully developed. For ‘Time Is Over One Day Old’, we witness the band once again turning their gaze inward and prioritizing their evocative abilities in line with or even slightly ahead of technical skills. It feels very much in the tradition of BRFM in that way. It’s beautiful; it’s moving.

                  Here Philpot and partner Adam Wills are more deeply collaborative than ever. This album is darker at times, louder than their others; it feels personal and direct. ‘If I Were To Lie’ places Wills’ bass groove front and centre, ‘Demon’ is riveting and propulsive in spite of its dark pointed lyric and ‘They Dream’ dissolves into three and a half minutes of deeply satisfying ambient synth work in its second half. Wills has always been the band’s anchor, providing rock solid, rhythmic bass lines and guitars that blur the boundaries of Philpot’s synth. Though in moments such as the final track ‘You Don’t Need The World’ Wills cuts through with an audacious, biting guitar hook. It’s a great culmination of the album’s sense of release. This album isn’t about being dark, it’s about releasing darkness and frustration.

                  When bands age well, their vitality takes shape. They wear but with intention. They trim excesses. Throughout this album one can hear a band at peace with themselves. They’ve learned to cut back on that which is merely impressive and to concentrate on simply what is crucial. For Philpot this is about making something lasting. “A lot of shedding, getting rid of layers and preconceptions… breaking up with old ways of thinking, old ways of being, starting to look at this thing in a new way and finding something positive.” The result is a record that will stay with you.

                  Mixed by Nicolas Vernhes (Deerhunter, Matthew Dear, Wild Nothing, War On Drugs).

                  Phosphorescent

                  Song For Zula

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

                    This is a Record Store Day exclusive, limited-edition 12” EP featuring the breakout hit ‘Song For Zula’ from the critically acclaimed album ‘Muchacho’.

                    Also included on this release is a solo acoustic session for Oregon Public Broadcasting.

                    Limited to 200 copies for the UK and Ireland.

                    Dead Oceans is proud to announce signing Strand of Oaks, currently about to embark on an extensive European tour to promote the Darker Shores EP, (a welcomed follow-up to last year's LP, Dark Shores). After long spells supporting both The Tallest Man On Earth and Phosphorescent, Strand of Oaks takes his newly informed sound to Europe for a headlining tour, plus London and Nijmegen dates with Damien Jurado and a stop at End of the Road Festival on September 1. Plan to see this powerful two-piece live.

                    Darker Shores is a collection of songs that continues to reveal itself. Its path leads back to the vintage synthesizers used to create a unique journey into the human experience. Beyond the bleak and uncertain lies a solace and comfort that comes when songs achieve their highest possible potential. These songs represent both a definite ending and an undeniable new beginning. Hope you enjoy the journey.

                    All of the songs the Strand of Oaks writes are based on true stories. Lovers get divorced, murder John Belushi’s drug dealer, go bowling with mythical giants, watch their youth slip away and commune with John F. Kennedy’s illegitimate son. Obviously, Timothy Showalter (who is Strand of Oaks) has allowed himself many liberties with what constitutes the truth, and his commingling of fact and fiction, of humor and heartbreak simultaneously distinguishes him from the bearded, acoustic-toting singer-songwriters he’s so easily compared to: immerse yourself in a Strand of Oaks record and confessionals turn into metaphor, autobiography transferred into tall tales.

                    ‘Stitches’, the new album from Califone, touches on all permutable definitions of the word - sewing together, loops, yarn, abdominal pain. Archetypes and mythological figures rub shoulders with bruised civilians throughout this odyssey.

                    Intimate timbres - garage sale drum machines, slack guitar strings, hushed vocals - offset the album’s cinematic inclinations. The listener moves through a landscape of Old Testament blood and guts, spaghetti Western deserts and south western horizons, zeroing in on emotions and images that cannot be glanced over.

                    Produced by Jacob Portrait (Unknown Mortal Orchestra), an the appropriately named The Cave studio, ‘Stills’ follows the once Denver-based band’s 2011 self-titled debut for Dead Oceans, and singles spread across labels like Forest Family and Mexican Summer.

                    After moving back to their hometown of Chicago last year, drummer Craig Nice and singer / guitarist Andy R looked to their teenage selves for inspiration. “I started listening again to the stuff I would have in my Discman in the back of my mom’s car,” says Nice. “White Zombie, Marilyn Manson - the production on those records is so amazing. Nothing sounds like that anymore.”

                    Animator, opens with ‘Montuno’, a 9-minute account of a hallucination about the repetition of days, the split seconds that define us, and the strangeness of the certainty of death.

                    There's something almost supernatural to the feel of this album: “‘Animator’ is supposed to be some weird resuscitation. The animator’s job is to create the semblance of movement in things that cannot move themselves. The musician’s is to make us feel like something is happening with a sound,” explains singer and multi-instrumentalist Jessie Stein.

                    Recorded and produced at the Treatment Room by band member and experimental brass player Pietro Amato, and mixed by Jace Lasek of The Besnard Lakes at his Breakglass Studios in the band’s hometown of Montreal, ‘Animator’ is a cathartic sophisticated collection of songs.

                    As melodically compelling as it is artistically rich, ‘Animator’ is intuitive, seductive, moody and textural. It slowly unfolds its beauty and trusts the listener to stay with it.

                    Bowerbirds

                    Into The Yard / Always An Ear To Bend

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

                      "In the Yard" is the second single from the Bowerbirds' third album, The Clearing. The 7" is Record Store Day exclusive.

                      As is often the case for bands that have found steady success, they had more time and better resources to make this album. This is a bigger record, then, with bolder sounds and a broader scope. Thing is, these songs don’t cede to the increased production demands. The guitars and strings, codas and bridges simply make these thoughts more urgent,more vital and more necessary, but not one bit less permanent.

                      Limited to only 50 copies for the UK and Eire.

                      Special edition 7” taken from the acclaimed selftitled debut album.

                      Instead of using reverb as a gauze, Gauntlet Hair use its curvature and decay to form and push the melodies, to further shape the songs.

                      Two exclusive new songs on the B-side: ‘Need To Retire’ and ‘Minimal Armageddon’.

                      The follow up to the well received debut album ‘Apples’ sees Nurses’ unmistakable elastic melodies, heady pop hooks and knack for catchy songwriting get right under your skin.

                      It’s a bolder, heavier, groovier, record. Mixed with Scott Colburn (whose production credits include Arcade Fire’s ‘Funeral’ and Animal Collective’s ‘Feels’) this is a three dimensional being, solidifying the band’s evolution from a bedroom recording experiment to a fully fleshed dynamic ensemble.

                      ‘Wild Palms’ b/w ‘Symphony In White, No. 2’ is the first taste of new material from Sun Airway since the release of their acclaimed debut album, ‘Nocturne of Exploded Crystal Chandelier’.

                      Following tours with Bear in Heaven, Cults, Small Black, Lower Dens and more, the band went back into the studio and emerged with this stunning new single.

                      On this 7" the band's modern sounds glance backwards, with faint 80s pop melodies sneaking into the band's repertoire.

                      Although the sounds are lush, subtle and carefully crafted, Sun Airway once again proves the songwriting comes first, writing instantly classic pop tunes on their new single.

                      Destroyer is Dan Bejar from Vancouver, British Columbia. ‘Kaputt’ is his latest vision: an opulent, lyrical, game-changing masterpiece to rank with the choicest works of Sade, Scritti Politti, Simply Red and Steely Dan.

                      For a more contemporary touchstone, consider this album as the sad-eyed psychic cousin of GAYNGS’ smooth opus ‘Relayted’. These elaborate songs were lovingly crafted by a large studio ensemble of dedicated players; they are given fresh life on the road by an eight-piece touring band which will visit European shores for the first time this year.

                      ‘Kaputt’ entered the Billboard chart at number 62 and received exultant hosannas from such publications as The New York Times, Rolling Stone, Spin and The Washington Post. Pitchfork awarded it their Best New Music accolade, noting that “‘Kaputt’ feels wise. Like a mirror that actually points back at something better. ‘Kaputt’ rolls luxuriously in its own plush soft-rock grandeur, powerfully alluring and deeply sad at the same time.”

                      FORMAT INFORMATION

                      CD Info: Includes 20 minutes of additional music not on the North American edition.

                      A picture-perfect collection of echo-drenched space-age pop songs, "Too Beautiful To Work" buzzes and pops into retro-futurist sonic bliss.

                      The Luyas enlisted the help of many friends on "Too Beautiful To Work". These friends happen to double as world-class musicians. Owen Pallett plays the violin and arranges the strings. Colin Stetson adds saxophone and clarinet. Sarah Neufeld (who plays in Arcade Fire) also plays violin. John Marshman adds some cello, Daniel Tavis Romano plays the bass, Lisa Chisholm brings the bassoon and Leonie Wall plays the flute.

                      "Too Beautiful To Work" was recorded by Jeff McMurrich, whose fingerprints can be found on fantastic recordings by Tindersticks, Constantines, Owen Pallett and countless others.

                      The Tallest Man On Earth

                      Sometimes The Blues Is Just A Passing Bird

                      The Tallest Man On Earth released "The Wild Hunt" this year to widespread acclaim. The live reaction that the Tallest Man On Earth (aka songwriter Kristian Matsson) generates from his fans is a sight to behold. He has performed around the world, headlining Euro festivals and selling out prestigious club venues.

                      Matsson is the rarest of performers, charismatic and captivating. At many of the Tallest Man on Earth shows this year, Matsson closed his set with a new song titled ‘Like The Wheel’. It quickly became a fan favourite, with YouTube videos spreading virally, and the sets closing on a high note night after night.

                      STAFF COMMENTS

                      Darryl says: A five track mini-album and another example of his superb widescreen late night Americana songwriting skills.

                      On "Kairos", we find White Hinterland exploring the edges of minimal pop, accomplishing a delicate but lively seduction through deep, patient bass throbs, prismatic synth textures, and direct, intimate songs sung with an empowered gravitas. Here Casey Dienel tailors the acrobatics of her former songwriting into a slender focus, folding it into deeper grooves. Beneath the baroque arrangements and intellectual lean of Dienel's previous musical efforts was a sexiness that "Kairos" exposes, showing the artist for what she is: powerful and comfortable in her own skin, with a glittery voice weaned on pop R&B. With a sound so modern, so contemporary, "Kairos" fixes White Hinterland's gaze firmly on the future.

                      "Kairos" was written after Dienel and band-mate Shawn Creeden relocated to Portland, Oregon from Boston and Brooklyn, respectively. There, without regular access to a piano, the centrepiece of previous White Hinterland recordings, Dienel's writing process took on an innovative new shape. Soon she and Creeden delved excitedly into a new practice of collaboration centered around live looping, electronic and acoustic percussion, and kaleidoscopic sound, all providing a shimmery underpinning to intricate layers of Dienel's voice.  

                      To immerse yourself in Nurses' "Apple's Acre" is to delight in a certain mental unravelling. It's an album of songs where the vulnerability of pop with its heart on its sleeve engages in a double-dutch jump-rope match with the euphoric surrender-to-the-weird that is essential to psychedelia. And Nurses is a band that scavenges beauty and wonder, uncovering Technicolor where others see sombre hues. Their off-kilter psych-pop is driven by ever-swelling vocal harmonies, adventurous electronics, some serious wheelin' and dealin' on the Rhodes piano, and the kind of new-primitivist percussion that may or may not involve a standard drum kit.

                      Bishop Allen have been compared to many classic pop artists such as Jonathan Richman and The Kinks, but with a unique voice of their own. Principle songwriters, Justin Rice and Christian Rudder, are accomplished actors with appearances in Andrew Bujalski's 'Mutual Appreciation' and 'Funny Haha'. Rice in particular is in numerous upcoming films including 'Let Them Chirp Awhile'. The whole band appear (and play) in 'Nick And Norah's Infinite Playlist' starring Michael Cera (Arrested Development, Superbad, Juno).

                      'Only once every ten years or so does one hear a new band this good, this bursting with ideas, this audibly in love with music... It is beyond stunning' - John Darnielle, The Mountain Goats. In their early days, Bowerbirds were a duo - guitarist and principle songwriter Phil Moore and accomplished painter Beth Tacular on accordion and percussion. Before the recording of "Hymns For A Dark Horse", Mark Paulson joined the band, adding piano, violin and percussion to their musical equation. All three members share intertwined vocal harmonies, and paired with the acoustic instrumentation, have conjured a mystical, gorgeous debut. Moore and Tacular currently reside in an AirStream trailer on the outskirts of Raleigh, NC, on a quiet plot of land that is completely off the grid. This sort of organic, rural, simple way of life is reflected in their music. The songs could be written underneath a moonlit sky, joyously sung around a campfire, and performed without the use of any electric amplification. The music is pure, spiritual and perfectly unrefined, and with each song, Bowerbirds remind us that we humans are part of something larger than our culture, larger than humanity - something beautiful and sacred. Highly recommended!!!

                      FORMAT INFORMATION

                      CD Info: UK edition with two bonus tracks.

                      2006 was a big year for Bishop Allen. The band recorded and self-released an EP every month of the year. Fifty-eight songs later, they completed one of the most ambitious recording projects in recent memory. With the EPs, Bishop Allen's pop smarts sound timeless, escaping the indie-pop idiom and revealing a language informed by the Kinks, Dylan, and the Zombies. "The Broken String" includes nine reworked tracks from the EPs along with two previously unreleased tracks. These are not just re-recordings: Bishop Allen has stepped out of the home studio and created definitive versions of songs that were originally conceived within the constraints of a monthly deadline. Benefiting from the earlier recordings and several tours, the songs' arrangements have grown, the production is lush, the lyrics are front and centre, and the band's evolution has reached a new level.


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