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DEAD OCEANS

Fenne Lily

Breach

    Isolation is nothing new for Fenne Lily – in fact, she’s written an album of songs all about it. “It’s kind of like writing a letter, and leaving it in a book that you know you’ll get out when you’re sad – like a message to yourself in the future,” she says, referring to BREACH, her Dead Oceans debut she wrote during a period of self-enforced isolation pre-COVID.

    It’s an expansive, diaristic, frequently sardonic record that deals with the mess and the catharsis of entering your 20s and finding peace while being alone. “I think this record is proof that I can be emotionally stable, even if right now I feel a little bit up and down,” says Fenne. “There’s the ability to find clarity in that. It’s sobering, weirdly.”

    Fenne was born in London and moved to Dorset as a toddler, where she grew up in the picturesque English countryside. She was a “free range kid,” as she calls it, after her parents took her out of school for a period at the age of seven. Over the following year, they taught her while the family travelled Europe in a live-in bus. Even after she returned to traditional school at 9, her home education never ended, extending to music. Her mother gifted Fenne with her old record collection, through which she discovered her love for T-Rex and the Velvet Underground and Nico. Soon after she fell for the strange genius of PJ Harvey and came to worship Nick Drake, Joni Mitchell, and the richly crafted worlds of Feist, which inspired Fenne to pick up a guitar. It’s that journey to find peace inside herself that underpins the whole of Fenne’s second album.

    Its title, BREACH, occurred to Fenne after deep conversations with her mum about her birth, during which she was breech, or upside down in the womb. The slippery double-sidedness of the word – which, spelled with an “A”, means to “break through” – drew her in. “That feels like what I was doing in this record; I was breaking through a wall that I built for myself, keeping myself safe, and dealing with the downside of feeling lonely and alone. I realized that I am comfortable in myself, and I don’t need to fixate on relationships to make myself feel like I have something to talk about. I felt like I broke through a mental barrier in that respect.” Even though it also carries implications of awkwardness, rebellion, and breakage, it’s a widereaching word, representing new beginnings and birth.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    Coloured LP Info: Indies Exclusive on Flame Orange Opaque vinyl.

    Bright Eyes

    Down In The Weeds, Where The World Once Was

      A lone pair of footsteps meanders down a street in omaha, into the neighborhood bar and then into a near-imperceptible tangle of conversations – about wars, sleepless nights – a surrealist din pushing against the sound of ragtime. Then, as the background quiets, a line rings out clearly: “i think about how much people need – what they need right now is to feel like there’s something to look forward to. We have to hold on. We have to hold on.”

      Thus we enter the fitting, cacophonic introduction to bright eyes’ tenth studio album and first release since 2011. Down in the weeds, where the world once was is an enormous record caught in the profound in-between of grief and clarity – one arm wrestling its demons, the other gripping the hand of love, in spite of it.

      The end of bright eyes’ unofficial hiatus came naturally. Conor oberst pitched the idea of getting the band back together during a 2017 christmas party at bright eyes bandmate nathaniel walcott’s los angeles home. The two huddled in the bathroom and called mike mogis, who was christmas shopping at an omaha mall. Mogis immediately said yes. There was no specific catalyst for the trio, aside from finding comfort amidst a decade of brutal change. Sure, why now? Is the question, but for a project whose friendship is at the core, it was simply why not?

      The resulting bright eyes album came together unlike any other of its predecessors. Down in the weeds is bright eyes’ most collaborative, stemming from only one demo and written in stints in omaha and in bits and pieces in walcott’s los angeles home. Radically altering a writing process 25 years into a project seems daunting, but oberst said there was no trepidation: “our history and our friendship, and my trust level with them, is so complete and deep. And i wanted it to feel as much like a three-headed monster as possible.”

      As a title, as a thesis, down in the weeds, where the world once was functions on a global, apocalyptic level of anxiety that looms throughout the record. But on a personal level, it speaks to rooting around in the dirt of one’s memories, trying to find the preciousness that’s overgrown and unrecognizable. For oberst, coming back to bright eyes was a bit of that. A symbol of simpler times, vaguely nostalgic. And even though it wasn’t actually possible to go back to the way things were, even though there wasn’t an easy happy ending, there was a new reality left to work with.

      And here, there is a bleary-eyed hopefulness – earnest, emotive recommitments to love appear on “dance and sing” and “just once in the world.” And throughout, down in the weeds features snippets of oberst’s loved ones speaking, in late-night conversations. The fleeting loveliness of intimate moments punctuates the bleakness of the record’s existential crisis, crackling like lightning bugs illuminating the long night.

      Down in the weeds is a distillation of a prolific, enduring canon. It’s immediate and urgent, the product of its creators’ growth across a decade apart, as well as the need to make a record together to find solace from loss. Through deliberate, fearless experimentation in process, the trio made the truest bright eyes sound: the sound of a deep bond, of a band coming home, but also a seamless continuation, like bright eyes never went away. It’s the impossible, sprawling mess of human experience that bright eyes has always sought to put to tape, since the beginning – the sound of holding on. Why now? Why not?

      FORMAT INFORMATION

      2xColoured LP Info: Transparent red / transparent orange vinyl. 2xLP in die cut sleeve with phenakistoscope etching on side D.

      2xIndies Exclusive LP Info: Transparent blue / transparent red vinyl. 2xLP in die cut sleeve with phenakistoscope etching on side D.

      2xLP Info: 2xLP in die cut sleeve with phenakistoscope etching on side D.

      Khruangbin

      Mordechai

        Khruangbin has always been multilingual, weaving far-flung musical languages like East Asian surf-rock, Persian funk, and Jamaican dub into mellifluous harmony. But on its third album, it’s finally speaking out loud. Mordechai features vocals prominently on nearly every song, a first for the mostly instrumental band. It’s a shift that rewards the risk, reorienting Khruangbin’s transportive sound toward a new sense of emotional directness, without losing the spirit of nomadic wandering that’s always defined it. And it all started with them coming home.

        By the summer of 2019, the Houston group—bassist Laura Lee Ochoa, guitarist Mark Speer, drummer DJ Johnson—had been on tour for nearly three-and-ahalf years, playing to audiences across North and South America, Europe, and southeast Asia behind its acclaimed albums The Universe Smiles Upon You and Con Todo El Mundo. They returned to their farmhouse studio in Burton, Texas, ready to begin work on their third album. But they were also determined to slow down, to take their time and luxuriate in building something together. Musically, the band’s ever-restless ear saw it pulling reference points from Pakistan, Korea, and West Africa, incorporating strains of Indian chanting boxes and Congolese syncopated guitar. But more than anything, the album became a celebration of Houston, the eclectic city that had nurtured them, and a cultural nexus where you can check out country and zydeco, trap rap, or avant-garde opera on any given night.

        In those years away from home, Khruangbin’s members often felt like they were swimming underwater, unsure of where they were going, or why they were going there. But Mordechai leads them gently back to the surface, allowing them to take a breath, look around, and find itself again. It is a snapshot taken along a larger journey—a moment all the more beautiful for its impermanence. And it’s a memory to revisit again and again, speaking to us now more clearly than ever.

        FORMAT INFORMATION

        Coloured LP Info: Limited edition translucent pink coloured vinyl.

        Coloured LP includes MP3 Download Code.

        Coloured LP 2 Info: Limited edition clear vinyl.

        LP includes MP3 Download Code.

        Alex Lahey

        I Love You Like A Brother (Love Record Stores Edition)

          Love Record Stores Edition available from 9am on Saturday June 20th.
          Limited to one per person.



          FORMAT INFORMATION

          Coloured LP Info: Peach vinyl.

          Phosphorescent

          Pride (Love Record Stores Edition)

            Love Record Stores Edition available from 9am on Saturday June 20th.
            Limited to one per person.


            Red vinyl.

            FORMAT INFORMATION

            Coloured LP Info: Red vinyl.

            Ryley Walker

            The Lillywhite Sessions (Love Record Stores Edition)

              Love Record Stores Edition available from 9am on Saturday June 20th.
              Limited to one per person.


              Double Dipped Brown Vinyl.

              FORMAT INFORMATION

              Coloured LP Info: Double Dipped Brown Vinyl.

              Phoebe Bridgers

              Punisher

                Phoebe Bridgers doesn’t write love songs as much as songs about the impact love can have on our lives, personalities, and priorities.

                Punisher, her fourth release and second solo album, is concerned with that subject. To say she writes about heartbreak is to undersell her blue wisdom, to say she writes about pain erases all the strange joy her music emanates. The arrival of Punisher cements Phoebe Bridgers as one of the most clever, tender and prolific songwriters of our era.

                Bridgers is the rare artist with enough humour to deconstruct her own meteoric rise. Repeatedly praised by publications like The New Yorker, The New York Times, GQ, Pitchfork, The Fader, The Los Angeles Times and countless others, Bridgers herself is more interested in discussing topics on Twitter, deadpanning meditations on the humiliating process of being a person, she presents a sweetly funny flipside to the strikingly sad songs she writes. Fittingly, Punisher is fascinated with, and driven by, that kind of impossible tension. Whether it’s writing tweets or songs, Bridgers’s singular talent lies in bringing fierce curiosity to slimy and painful things, interrogating them until they yield up answers that are beautiful and absurd, or faithfully reporting the reality that, sometimes, they are neither.

                Bridgers pulls together a formidable crew of guests, including the Julien Baker, Lucy Dacus, Christian Lee Hutson and Conor Oberst as well as Nathaniel Walcott (of Bright Eyes), Nick Zinner (of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs), Jenny Lee Lindberg (of Warpaint), Blake Mills and Jim Keltner as well as her longtime bandmates Marshall Vore (drums), Harrison Whitford (guitar), Emily Retsas (bass) and Nick White (keys). The album was mixed by Mike Mogis, who also mixed Stranger In The Alps. On the album’s epic, freewheeling closer, “I Know The End,” Bridgers orchestrates wails and horns, drums and electric guitar into a sumptuous doomsday swirl, culminating in her own final whispered roar.

                This is Punisher in a nutshell: devastating elegance punctuated by a moment of deeply campy self-awareness.

                FORMAT INFORMATION

                Coloured LP Info: Blue green swirl vinyl.

                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

                Driving anywhere in Texas can cost you half a day, easy. For example, it’ll take you over four hours just to get from R&B singer Leon Bridges’ hometown of Fort Worth down to Houston, where the psychedelic wanderers in Khruangbin hail from. The state is vast, crisscrossed with rugged expanses of road flanked by limestone cliffs and granite mountains, forests of pine and mesquite, miles of desert or acres of sprawling grassland, all depending on what part you’re in. And it’s all baking under the "Texas Sun" that lends its name to Bridges and Khruangbin’s new collaborative EP.

                “Big sky country, that’s what they call Texas,” Khruangbin bassist Laura Lee says. “The horizon line goes all the way from one side to another without interruption. There’s something really comforting about that.”

                On "Texas Sun", these two members of the state’s musical vanguard meet up somewhere in the middle of that scene, in the mythical nexus of Texas’ past, present, and future - a dreamy badlands where genres blur as seamlessly as the terrain. It calls equally to the cowboys bootscooting at Billy Bob’s in Fort Worth, the chopped-and-screwed hip-hop fans rattling slabs on the southside of Houston, the art-school kids dropping acid in Austin, the cross-cultural progeny who grew up on listening to both mariachi and post-hardcore out on the Mexican borders of El Paso. All of these things, overlapping in a multicolored melange, purple hues as vivid and unpredictable as one of the state’s rightfully celebrated sunsets.

                A journey through homesick reminiscences, backseat romances, and late-night contemplations, the kind of record made for listening with the windows down and the road humming softly beneath you. Like the highways that inspired it, "Texas Sun" is guaranteed to get you where you’re going -especially if you’re in no particular hurry to get there.

                STAFF COMMENTS

                Barry says: A mild departure for Khruangbin here, enlisting soulful maestro Leon Bridges on vox duties, adding a silky overtone to their nigh-horizontal grooves. A superb, hazy dream of an album.

                Have We Met, as Dan Bejar puts it, ‘came together in such a crazy way – all equal parts ecstasy and terror’. Initially conceived (but quickly ditched) as a Y2K album, Bejar was without a clear concept in mind. So he said “fuck it” and let it all rip while brainstorming at home. Culled from years’ worth of saved writing, set aside for projects “beyond music,” and recorded at his kitchen table, Have We Met harkens back to Kaputt-era Dan stringing together lyrics off hand while lounging on his couch. The resulting vocal sound exists in the sweet spot between two Destroyer worlds colliding: hints of the past, more strident Destroyer mixed in with a relaxed, new-aged Crooning one.

                No re-recording. No cleaning up. Frequent collaborator John Collins was tasked with the role of layering synth and rhythm sections over a stream-of-consciousness Bejar, as Nic Bragg added ‘completely unexpected and somehow comforting’ three-dimensional, shredding guitar. The Destroyer band-orientated approach was shelved; “The record could have gone on and on, and the mixes kept evolving up until about a day before we sent them off to be mastered, which was also 48 hours before John and his wife went to the birthing centre, where their first child was born; our true deadline!” says Bejar.

                Opener ‘Crimson Tide’ is a six-minute journey that takes its rightful place among other Destroyer epics. It welcomes with a sparse rhythm until percolating synths and propulsive bass build and make it all a reality with unsustainable imagery — oceans stuck inside hospital corridors and insane funerals. It’s the sound of a somewhat eccentric and unorthodox recording process laid out and built up by three musicians exploring the depth to which they can take an idea.

                On “The Television Music Supervisor,” trickling keys, glitches, and “clickity click clicks” (a variation on the standard Bejar “la da das”) focuses on how those who dictate our relationships with music and media are susceptible to error, a most 21st century concern. Perhaps the most audacious Destroyer track yet, “Cue Synthesizer” steps back to address the rote and often-detached mechanics of music. Up next, the waltzy and woozy centerpiece “University Hill” drifts even further and applies that logic more broadly, insisting “the game is rigged in every direction” and “you’re made of string.”

                Thirteen albums in, Have We Met manages to meet somewhere between trademarks and new territory – atmospheric approximations of feeling and place, wry gut-punches of one liners, and the deluge of energy meets a thematic catharsis of modern dread, delivered with an effortless, entrancing directness. But, no need to expound any further. He's got it all spelled out for you in the music.

                STAFF COMMENTS

                Barry says: While still retaining the slightly oddball lounge aesthetic, 'Have We Met' takes all of Destroyer's myriad sounds and skilfully crafts them into an album full of twists and turns, brimming with warmth and rarely overproduced, Bejar is at his creative best.

                Bill Fay

                Countless Branches

                  Bill Fay returns with the third album in the celebrated second phase of his recording career. A prime Fay song is a deceptively simple thing which carries more emotional weight than its concision and brevity might imply. There are ten of these musical haikus on Countless Branches, as pointed and as poignant as anything he’s ever recorded. For decades now - it’s almost 50 years since he cut his classic albums “Bill Fay” and “Time of the Last Persecution” - songs like these have been Fay’s ambassadors helping rave reviews and endorsements from the likes of Jim O’Rourke (Tortoise) and Jeff Tweedy (Wilco) which led to a huge revival of interest in his music. He had continued to make music almost every day in the intervening decades. For Countless Branches he’s completed new toplines over some of his cache of backing tracks, most of them 20 to 40 years old.

                  STAFF COMMENTS

                  Barry says: Brittle and almost entorely unadorned (safe for a guitar and a guitar at most), Bill Fay's crackling voice soars above these perfectly produced and stunningly stripped back Americana gems. Evocative and stunning, this is a gem in an already hugely influential career.

                  FORMAT INFORMATION

                  2xDeluxe LP Info: The deluxe double LP includes 7 bonus tracks.

                  2xDeluxe LP includes MP3 Download Code.

                  Better Oblivion Community Center

                  Little Trouble

                    Back in January, Better Oblivion Community Center, surprise-released their self-titled debut album. The record is available digitally and physically via Dead Oceans. Today, the new band from Phoebe Bridgers and Conor Oberst follow the release with two new songs, as well as a live set for NPR's Tiny Desk featuring stripped-down performances of "My City," "Exception to the Rule," and the album's lead single "Dylan Thomas."

                    We've only got a handful of these so get in there quick!

                    FORMAT INFORMATION

                    Ltd 7" Info: Clear with orange splatter vinyl!

                    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.

                      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.

                          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.

                            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.

                            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.

                            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.

                              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.”

                                  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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