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DEAD OCEANS

Bleached

Don’t You Think You’ve Had Enough?

    ‘Don’t You Think You’ve Had Enough?’ is what Jennifer Clavin asked herself when she hit a turning point in her life. It’s also the title of the new record from Bleached, Jessie and Jennifer Clavin’s first album written from a place of sobriety. That newfound perspective serves as the guiding force, yielding a courageous, honest and sonically ambitious album. It’s a record about fighting both literally and figuratively for your life - and the clarity born from that struggle.

    Writing began in early 2018, both in a Los Angeles practice space and with friends and co-writers in Nashville. Producer Shane Stoneback (Vampire Weekend, Sleigh Bells) helped open every door to experimentation, wanting to be exploratory while keeping the sound singularly Bleached.

    The resulting album is explosive, grappling with the past; its twelve tracks mark some of the sisters’ most visceral, rawest songwriting to date - and some of their best. The work glimmers with inspiration found in touring with the likes of The Damned and Paramore. That arena-ready pop, incisively catchy, was a palpable influence helping to push Bleached’s sound in a new direction.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    Coloured LP Info: Opaque cream vinyl.

    Coloured LP includes MP3 Download Code.

    Marlon Williams

    Live At Auckland Town Hall

      “Well, this is the largest amount of people we’ve ever had in a room to watch us, so it feels pretty damn special,” Marlon Williams says, sitting down to the piano during the first night of two sold-out shows at the historic Auckland Town Hall. May 25th, 2018 was special in many respects. Williams had returned home to New Zealand to close a 60-date world tour for his new album, Make Way For Love. He shared the stage with his second family, The Yarra Benders, with the two evenings at Auckland Town Hall serving as a fitting cap after having toured the globe together over the course of two album campaigns.

      Across the past several years on the road, the Marlon Williams live show has taken on an almost mystical status — not just for Williams’ extraordinary voice, but also for the hypnotic command he has over an audience, his seamless blending of genres, and the effortless, instinctive relationship he shares with his band. Live at Auckland Town Hall showcases Williams at his finest, performing a set that includes songs from his acclaimed self-titled debut album, as well as 2018’s Make Way For Love, and standalone single, “Vampire Again.” The live album also includes previously unreleased covers of Barry Gibb, Yoko Ono, the late Lhasa De Sela, and a Williams live favorite, “Portrait of a Man” by Screaming Jay Hawkins.

      Live at Auckland Town Hall captures an artist both early enough in his career to be humbled by the occasion, and developed enough to present a stunning catalogue of music and quality of performance. As Williams’ first official live release, Live at Auckland Town Hall feels sure to enter the canon of great live albums in the years to come, a dazzling snapshot of Marlon Williams’ musical singularity.

      Alex Lahey

      The Best Of Luck Club

        On her sophomore LP, The Best of Luck Club, 26-year-old Melbourne, Australia native Alex Lahey navigates the pangs of generational ennui with the pint half-full and a spot cleared on the bar stool next to her. Self-doubt, burn out, break-ups, mental health, moving in with her girlfriend, vibrators: The Best of Luck Club showcases the universal language of Lahey’s sharp songwriting, her propensity for taking the minute details of the personal and flipping it public through anthemic pop-punk. Lahey’s 2017 debut I Love You Like a Brother encases Lahey’s knack for writing a killer hook and her acute sense of humor delivered via a slacker-rock package and, in a way, The Best of Luck Club picks up where that record left off.

        Lahey co-produced the album alongside acclaimed engineer and producer Catherine Marks (Local Natives, Wolf Alice, Manchester Orchestra), and dives headfirst into a broader spectrum of both emotion and sound through polished, arena pop-punk in the vein of Paramore with the introspective sheen of Alvvays or Tegan & Sara. Here, Lahey documents the highest highs and the lowest lows of her life to date. After a whirlwind of global touring in support of breakout debut I Love You Like a Brother, Lahey wrote the bulk of her follow-up in Nashville during 12-hour days of songwriting. There, she found the inspiration for The Best of Luck Clubís concept: the dive bar scene and its genuine energy.”Whether you’ve had the best day of your life or the worst day of your life, you can just sit up at the bar and turn to the person next to you - who has no idea who you are - and have a chat. And the response that you generally get at the end of the conversation is, "Best of luck", so The Best Of Luck Club is that place.

        This is Kevin’s opus - a 2LP concept album on spirituality and religion. Throughout his four solo albums and myriad records of various collaboration, Kevin Morby has recognized in his work the ubiquity of an apparent religious theme. Though not identifying as “religious” in the slightest, Morby—the globetrotting son of Kansas City who has made music while living on both coasts before recently returning to his Midwestern stomping grounds—recognizes in himself a somewhat spiritual being with a secular attitude towards the soulful. And so, in an effort to tackle that notion head-on and once-and-for-all, he sat down in his form of church—on planes and in beds—and wrote what would become his first true concept-album: the lavish, resplendent, career-best double LP Oh My God.

        “This one feels full circle, my most realized record yet,” he says. “It’s a cohesive piece; all the songs fit under the umbrella of this weird religious theme. I was able to write and record the album I wanted to make. It’s one of those marks of a life: this is why I slept on floors for seven years. I’ve now gotten the keys to my own little kingdom, and I’m devoting so much of my life to music that I just want to keep it interesting. At the end of the day, the only thing I don’t want is to be bored. If someone wants to get in my face about writing a non-religious religious record? Thank god. That’s all I gotta say.”


        STAFF COMMENTS

        Barry says: Although Matt and I agree that the front cover of this looks unbelievably like a topless Dom Kozubik, don't let that put you off. 'Oh My God' is a tenderly delivered and perfectly measured slice of indie songwriting. Morby's ear for a tune and perfectly balanced juxtaposition of tender, brittle balladry and uplifting soulful soothe make this one for every collection.

        FORMAT INFORMATION

        2xDinked Edition LP Info: Exclusive opaque red vinyl 2LP + download.
        Bespoke art (different coloured lettering).
        Bonus CD.
        Numbered.
        12 x 12" print.
        Limited Edition of 500.

        2xColoured LP Info: Sky blue coloured vinyl.

        Strand Of Oaks

        Erasureland

          “When I was writing these songs, every day I would walk on the beach and I was completely alone and overwhelmed by fear...but then I realized how there really aren’t any rules for who you are, who you’ll become, or who you think you need to be. Eraserland is just that. It’s death to ego, and rebirth to anything or anyone you want to be.”

          In December 2017, Tim Showalter was uncertain about his next record and the shape it would eventually take. With no new songs written, he was unprepared for the message he would receive from his friend Carl Broemel, the conversation that would follow, and the album that would become Eraserland. Leading off with standout track “Weird Ways” and his powerful declaration of “I don’t feel it anymore,” Eraserland traces Showalter’s evolution from apprehension to creative awakening, carving out a new and compelling future for Strand of Oaks.

          Revived by the support of Broemel and his bandmates, Showalter felt the pressure to deliver songs worthy of musicians he had admired long before and after a 2015 Oaks/MMJ tour. So in February 2018, he spent two weeks alone in Wildwood, New Jersey writing and demoing all of the songs that would eventually comprise Eraserland. And in April, he went into the studio to record with Kevin Ratterman at La La Land Studios in Louisville, Kentucky, and with Broemel, Hallahan, Koster, and Blankenship as his band. Jason Isbell also contributed his Hendrix-esque guitar work to Eraserland, while singer/ songwriter Emma Ruth Rundle provided gorgeous vocals. Every song was recorded live, with all musicians playing together in one room and working to bring Showalter’s ideas to fruition. “I remember sitting next to Tim and Kevin listening to the final mixes with tears rolling down my cheeks,” said Hallahan. “From start to finish, this one came from the heart.”

          Durand Jones & the Indications aren’t looking backwards. Helmed by foil vocalists in Durand Jones and drummer Aaron Frazer, the Indications conjure the dynamism of Jackie Wilson, Curtis Mayfield, AND the Impressions. Even with an aesthetic steeped in the golden, strings-infused dreaminess of early ‘70s soul, the Indications’ sophomore LP, American Love Call, is planted firmly in the present, with the urgency of this moment in time.

          The Indications’ 2016 self-titled debut was the product of friends who met as students at Indiana University in Bloomington, In., recorded for $452.11, including a case of beer. American Love Call, the band’s sophomore LP is instead the record the Indications dreamed of making, fleshed out with strings, backing vocals, and a newfound confidence in songwriting.

          Blending a slew of influences from years spent crate-digging, guitarist Blake Rhein says the Indications approach songs in the same way hip-hop producers do, as likely to pull inspiration from ‘70s folk-rock or classic R&B as they are Nas’ Illmatic.

          “Did I expect to do this shit once I got out of college? Hell no,” Jones relays, laughing. “Totally not. But this is what God is telling me to do – move and groove. So I’m gonna stay in my lane.”

          STAFF COMMENTS

          Barry says: A brilliantly emotive and smoothly contrasting duo of voices over this classic soul, brought to the modern day with crisp, clean production and the perfectly sunny songwiting Durand Jones has become known for. From mournful, lost-love ballads to swinging, dancefloor ditties, this is yet another mindblowing LP from Jones & co.

          Better Oblivion Community Center

          Better Oblivion Community Center

          Better Oblivion Community Center is a brand new band comprising the formidable talents of Phoebe Bridgers and Conor Oberst, two of the most lauded American songwriters of the past several years. Written and recorded in Los Angeles during the summer of 2018, their self-titled debut album will be released on Dead Oceans in early 2019. The pair first collaborated on Bridgers’ 2017 single, “Would You Rather”, taken from her acclaimed debut album Stranger In The Alps. They teamed up again for a recording of Oberst’s “LAX” in the fall of 2018.

          Co-produced by Bridgers, Oberst and long time Oberst/Bright Eyes collaborator Andy LeMaster and mixed by John Congleton, Better Oblivion Community Center features the work of several talented friends, including Nick Zinner (Yeah Yeah Yeahs), and Carla Azur (Autolux, Jack White) among others.

          STAFF COMMENTS

          Barry says: Better Oblivion provides the perfect stage for the juxtaposition of Oberst's rough husky vocals and Bridgers' smooth, ethereal air. Exactly as beautiful as you'd expect from this duo, tender and innovative, full of wonderful heartbreaking moments and perfectly written, wonderfully delivered bliss.

          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.

          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.

          On ‘The Lillywhite Sessions’, Ryley Walker and the similarly indebted trio of drummer Ryan Jewell and bassist Andrew Scott Young cover Dave Matthews’ infamously abandoned 2001 art-rock masterpiece of the same name, a record where he and his band indulged a new adult pathos and a budding musical wanderlust.

          With a delicate rhythmic latticework and vocals that ask you to lean in, ‘Busted Stuff’ recalls Jim O’ Rourke’s golden Drag City days. Emerging from a wall of distortion, ‘Diggin’ a Ditch’ becomes a power trio wallop à la Dinosaur Jr, shaking off existential malaise like twenty-something pals writing rock songs in the garage. Walker’s ‘Grace is Gone’, the most faithful take here, is a testament to his unflagging love for the music that helped make him a musician.

          This end-to-end interpretation of youthful fascination is a collective reminder that we are all just kids from somewhere, reckoning with our upbringing the best we can. Walker has stepped through the door long ago opened by the Dave Matthews Band to find a world teeming with musical possibilities. On ‘The Lillywhite Sessions’, he has, in turn, created his own.

          STAFF COMMENTS

          Barry says: As well as being a VERY good follow on the ol' Twitter, Ryley Walker is also a superb chap and undeniably brilliant songwriter and musician. Although the songwriting doesn't really get a look in on this release (it being entirely covers), it is clear that his laid-back style and impeccable vocal performance is only improving. Even if you've never heard this Dave Matthews Band release before, I implore you to hear Walker's take on things. Stunning.

          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.

          For a limited period both formats include a FREE 4 track 'Remixes' CD bonus disc.

          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.

          “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.

          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.

          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.

          FORMAT INFORMATION

          Picture Disc Info: Originally pressed for Japan, a (very limited) number of picture discs are now available in the UK. This will not be pressed again - get em while they’re hot!

          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.

            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.

            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.

            FORMAT INFORMATION

            Coloured LP Info: Indies only silver vinyl.

            LP Info: Black vinyl edition.

            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.

            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.

            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. 

              FORMAT INFORMATION

              Coloured LP Info: Very limited coloured vinyl edition.

              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.

              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.

                ‘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.”

                Brazos

                Saltwater

                  Following on from his respected-but-under-theradar self-released debut, Brazos puts out his first album for Dead Oceans and it’s sure to put him on the map.

                  Already receiving a glowing 8/10 from Uncut (with coverage on the covermount) plus very strong 6Music support, this is a record that teases the listener with ideas and melodies, asking for patience and then rewarding the loyal with one of the most beguiling and beautiful listens of 2013 so far.

                  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.

                  Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band

                  Where The Messengers Meet

                    While it has only been 18 months since Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band's self-titled debut, they have traveled what feels like thousands of miles. "Where The Messengers Meet" is in real time, an expansion of the sound of the band's eponymous debut. They take the same frantic and skewed elements and stretch them out, giving them room to breathe and blossom.

                    Thematically, "Where The Messengers Meet" is an exercise in contrasts: the delicate and gentle, the dark and furious. Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band collects powerful compositions into one cohesive whole held together with lush production and a haunting atmosphere. They are imperceptibly inching away from an angular style influenced by Modest Mouse and Wolf Parade, instead incorporating an epic sound recalling both the modern masters such as Arcade Fire, and classic pioneers, like Pink Floyd.



                    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.  


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