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DRAG CITY

Crisis Of Conformity

Fist Fight!

    This reissue is what some would call an essential little hardcore single from the mid-80s DC scene.

    In fact, ‘Fist Fight!’ might make "reissue of the year" - especially if you’ve never heard any classic mid-80s US punk stuff before.

    Masaki Batoh

    Brian Pulse Music

      ‘Brain Pulse Music’ is the result of years of research into the bioelectric functions of the human brain combined with the traumatic aftermath of Japan’s Great East Earthquake.

      When Batoh initially conceived the idea for this project, it was purely to realize music from extracted brain waves. There have been performers in the past who have made similar claims, but they have utilized electric current, static electricity and blood flow volume in the brain. ‘Brain Pulse Music’ is contrived from brainwaves, in the purest sense of the word. Notes included in the album package further explain the science behind Batoh’s methods.

      Batoh’s intention was to create a Brain Pulse Music (BPM) machine, similar in function to an effects pedal, which would interface with the brainwaves in a therapeutic way, allowing the user to make adjustments to normalize brainwave levels, which could prove to be an effective means of treating depression and anxiety disorder.

      The album was to be made entirely of BPM machine music, but the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011 altered this plan, while emphasizing the importance of its deepest concern. Since that day, patients complaining of mental instability increased at Batoh’s acupuncture clinic, and people were ridden with anxiety. With his family still in evacuation as he concentrated on treating his patients, the concept of this album slowly began to come into focus. What was initially to be an austere demonstration of experimental bioelectric procedures was fully realized as part of Batoh's ongoing effort to use electronic and musical processes to reconcile the spirit and the body.

      All seven ‘Brain Pulse Music’ tracks are a prayer / requiem to the victims of the Great East Japan Earthquake. Two pieces are composed of BPM machine recordings and the remaining five are rhythms and melodies commonly heard in religious rituals and provincial festivals using traditional Japanese instruments.

      The ‘Brain Pulse Music’ recordings are the furthest incursion Batoh has made into the deep space and mystery of the human condition. The acoustic recordings are the purest expressions of his traditional folk influence that he’s released in over twenty years of music-making, a deep and soulful expression intended to calm and aid in the healing of all around him.

      A concomitant objective of ‘Brain Pulse Music’ is to donate the proceeds from the sales of this album to the disaster victims through Japan Red Cross.

      Ty Segall

      Twins

        ‘Twins’ is Ty Segall’s fourth full release this year. A singles comp, a fabulous collaboration with White Fence, an album with The Ty Segall Band, and now this.

        ‘Twins’ contains the hit single ‘The Hill’.

        ‘Twins’ follows ‘Goodbye Bread’, ‘Melted’, ‘Lemons’ and ‘Ty Segall’ as the prime statements in Ty Segall’s ongoing discography, dating back to 2008.

        Today, Ty Segall is a new man, a different kind of man from his more knuckle dragging earlier incarnations. Now he’s jetting toward Jupiter, brooding, looking around with X-ray eyes, yearning with a superhuman heart for a love to come and stay.

        The songs of ‘Twins’ are haunted by ghosts, shadowed by the other that we’ll never see, struggling to rise above. A fury of rock ensues; songs rigged to explode on a dime, fired from a cannon into the stratosphere. They fuse together into one multifarious projectile, a bullet from a gun marked yin and yang.

        Dope Body

        Saturday

          Refocusing on the sonic principles they were striving for when they got together in the first place, the ‘Saturday’ single is a snapped shot of Dope Body taking care of business in lean, road dog stance.

          A feculent mist hangs in the air, obscuring fine details and taking a bit of edge from things, which is good because the power-trio-plus-singer that makes Dope Body is mostly all elbows and nails and split ends and bone shards and narrow-eyed sideways shades that cut like a knife.

          Even the bass, low as it is, is delineated with a serration that punches through the smoke from the guitar amplifier, the drums and screaming. Everyone tumbles together into the chorus like a sudden lucky cave-in, everything falling exactly where it should.

          Silver Jews

          American Water - Half-Speed Mastered 20th Anniversary Edition

            American Water was first released two decades ago. Observing the time between then and now, the album has been half-speed mastered at Abbey Road to provide depth and nuance for all future vinyl listeners.

            Papa M

            A Broke Moon Rises: Music For Four Acoustic Guitars By Papa M

              Late 2016’s ‘Highway Songs’ brought Papa M back to us, after many years of silence and several harrowing dances with death for his Id-ego/host body, David Pajo. Now, two years on down the road, we’re all here again to witness ‘A Broke Moon Rises’.

              ‘Highway Songs’ was a necessarily cathartic experience in all phases. Afterwards, with no tour dates forthcoming (partially due to lousy clubs and their lack of wheelchair-accessible stage doors), it felt good just to play for fun again, like being in the practice space instead of the psych ward - a much healthier change of pace than some might guess. David blew it out; all the different styles he’s played in over the years, from folk-blues to metal, electronic, pop, Bollywood... all of it. When the spasms subsided, however, a back-to-roots sediment remained in the bottom of the bowl, which he read as a motive for a new Papa M album done with all acoustic instruments. That’s how there’s nothing electric about ‘A Broke Moon Rises’. Even the drums are acoustic.

              The five songs of ‘A Broke Moon Rises’ find David focusing his technique in unknown directions, to find out what he can do with them. When that happens, he finds himself on the very spot where Papa M music becomes alive. As the quietly funereal march of the opening track resonates with a spare drum beat, we are completely transfixed into the open spaces around the guitars.

              David’s been engineering and mixing his records for years, so the sensation of his sound-thoughts doesn’t entirely surprise us, even in their latest, acoustic anointment. Layers of guitars curl and unfurl, falling away from the centre with feathery softness. Slide figures cut through the progressions with a rusty glide. Arpeggiations flicker with light, leading into a change that’ll break on ones ear like a small revelation. Even the sound of Papa M playing in the room, leaning forward or untouching the strings, provides textural byplay in created space. ‘A Broke Moon Rises’ is meditative in the most active sense, with the unquiet mind leaping from place to place in a static, spartan theatre. All of which action makes hypnotic music, perfect for listening.

              The album’s title is based upon his son’s observation of a half-moon one evening (when his son was 29) and it helped infuse the record with an essential feeling, which draws to a decidedly tasty conclusion with David taking on an Arvo Pärt piece. After years of fascination with the music, listening in passivity, he finally decided to do something about understanding it by playing it himself. If you’re wondering, that’s the key to ‘A Broke Moon Rises’.

              Cosmic Invention

              Help Your Satori Mind

                In 1996, Masaki Batoh, who’d spent the previous decade recording, playing and living in a hippie communal environment with the heavy chamber folk outfit Ghost, formed a new unit to play in a different manner. He’d just finished making an incredible new Ghost album - ‘Lama Rabi Rabi’ - but making music with Ghost was an intense and spiritual endeavor; for a change, Batoh wanted simply to enjoy, with a free and open mind, the playing of the kind of music that he and his musical friends had grown up with; the 70s sounds of British, American and Japanese rock. ‘Help Your Satori Mind’ is a result of things they just naturally jammed on during a couple of sessions. It’s totally out of Ghost’s world.

                Along with Batoh were fellow Ghosts Fuji on congos and Michio Kurihara (a modern psychedelic rock guitar god previously in White Heaven and eventually joining with Damon and Naomi). Also invited were notoriously crazy drummer virtuoso Futoshi Okano from Osaka’s heavy rock trio Subvert Blaze, bassist Chiyo Kamekawa from Yura Yura Teikoku and organist / pianist Jun Koto from Kakashi. Together, they were Cosmic Invention.

                The sound of Cosmic Invention was equal parts exploratory and explosive, accessing classical modes of psychedelic and progressive rock and roll music. These guys were so powerful when they played together, Batoh eventually recruited them to form most of the line up for Ghost’s second US tour, in 1997, after ‘Lama Rabi Rabi’ was released. As Ghost, from coast to coast, they pushed American audiences up against the wall with the enormity of their sound. That, though, was the end of their group partnership together; Cosmic Invention was a one-time excursion into this music. Today, The Silence combine elements of Ghost and Cosmic Invention into their eclectic ongoing experience.  Originally, ‘Help Your Satori Mind’ was released by The Now Sound, who’d previously issued two Batoh solo records, both of which became available on Drag City (as ‘Collected Works’) following the collapse of The Now Sound, not too terribly long after the Cosmic Invention release. So, this record has been kind of forgotten for some time, which isn’t the fate that was meant for it. It is the kind of item to be unearthed in a sarcophagus many years later - and at 20 years and counting, now is a good time. This marks ‘Help Your Satori Mind’s first appearance on LP, the vinyl giving new dimension to their multi-hued, raw rock performances. It’s the first appearance of the aptly-titled ‘Long Jamming’, which wasn’t included on the original release. It’s also the first appearance of images of the band, taken while deeply in the albummaking spirit.

                Blonde and brunette. Dog and cat. Lemon and onion. Friend and foam. The change has been made! You can scratch your seven-year itch freely now: Ty Segall and White Fence are become one again, regrooving what we once called Hair into what is now Joy.

                Hair grew out of a simpler time, man! If, as the dyphrenic duo indeed affi rm on Joy, rock in 2018 is dead, don’t come around here looking for no burial. Instead, fi nd Joy caught up in the commencement of on-beyond rock; music made with the old tools, but emitted from a fresh new, single-celled organism. This time, the old “one and one make one” line does not apply. Hair had the quality of emulsion — drops of Segall suspended in Fence; a compound of White dispersed over sheets of Ty. With Joy, Tim and Ty arrive without travelling from the same place, occupy one single headspace, fi nishing the other’s phrases, pulling licks from each other’s places. Singing and thinking and laughing as one. Calling themselves from inside the house. C-c-c-creepy!

                Both these fellows have been known to trifl e with tropic pasts and reactivate vintage visions within their new music. Not now. Now is the only time this time — Joy is their own sound of today, a shared individuality, prisming all possible stances into an unseamly metastasis that FLOWS for 15 ebbcentric tracks. Plus, since it ends at the beginning, it never has to stop. LOOP that shit!

                STAFF COMMENTS

                Barry says: Ty Segall and White Fence bring it back for more of their collaborative journey through foggy psychedelia, simmering rock and roll and lysergic arm-swaying riffage. Yet another superb meeting of minds from these two top talents. Superb.

                If the emblem of Wand’s ‘Plum’ was the stark blue cloud - a condensation, a linking between longing molecules, data hungering for more data, a flotilla of vapor between eye and sky - then Wand’s new release reeks of something more forceful, more seductive, more intoxicating, more insidious: this is ‘Perfume’.

                Here are seven electric hues, shocks of light that flagrantly provoke the dark, a posy’s clutch of purple, fuchsia, green and snowy white that curl against a stench of plague.

                Recorded between tours and fire seasons in Grass Valley, California, by Tim Green, ‘Perfume’’s potent, expansive tunes were mixed in Woodstock, New York by Daniel James Goodwin. The band features Sofia Arreguin, Evan Burrows, Robbie Cody, Cory Hanson and Lee Landey.

                There’s a kind of return here, a haunting, the déjà vu you only take in through a curious nose. Your nose invites the world inside your skull. A familiar fragrance finds you when you thought you’d let a lover go but it won’t linger like a lover, flickering away with the breeze toward a yawning future.

                All songs and lyrics by Cate Le Bon & Tim Presley Recorded by Stephen Black (Sweet Baboo), Drums by “JT” John Thomas (Cate Le Bon/Islet), & mixed in Los Angeles by Samur Khouja at Seahorse Sound.

                A month spent in an old mill in the under belly of France. River swimming thrice a day. Hot nights soundtracked by the rattle of randy frogs. Scorpion fear. In the sheets, on the face.

                Hours of bird watching — no phone service. No wifi . 3 DVDs. Jurassic Park 1, 2 & 3. Violin practice. Bread scoffi ng. Early morning coffee drinking before the sun was too hot to do anything but snooze in the thick walled house. Music in the afternoon after a dip in the river and a cold beer on the square.

                With all the ease and air needed, in this mysterious place, we made an album made for each other by one another with no hands, eyes or ears piercing the bubble other than our dear friend Steve who slid in under the door and took note of it all.

                Cate Le Bon.

                In a town, so very still and quiet. A month in St. Hippolyte Du Fort, South France.

                Where completely all of their brave young men vanished forever from the death machine of the fi rst world war.

                At one time left with only women and young girls. Only relics of time standing still. All the deceased names of men chiseled under a stone angel, that watches over the town square.

                We set up a recording unit in an old stone mill turned house and began to write and record with the attention of tree trimmers or gardeners. It got so hot we had to swim in a local river near by just to be able to think, then back to our home to make sounds and songs. Any sounds we could think of or wanted. We used night sounds, night insects and used frogs as instruments. Did you know frogs have saxophones in their throats?

                This is a broken music. a crumble. It’s the music of the building we called home for a month. We’ve never made & recorded music in such a simple living environment.

                With all the ease, and air we needed. We were in a town 8 miles over from Robert Crumb’s hidden residence.

                We lived in a mysterious place. We had a fl ock of bats over for dinner many nights. No internet, or a phone to look to.

                We had a beautiful big stone house, a river, and from time to time a lovely elderly yet young-hearted couple who would visit.

                It was the opposite of what a typical recording experience usually is for any of us.

                We tried to capture all of this and put it on record.


                Tim Presley

                STAFF COMMENTS

                Millie says: A favourite of mine, Cate Le Bon teamed with Tim Presley makes for this wonderfully original release. With disjointed guitar plucks, it holds both their musical styles and highlights their influences of writing this album in a quiet town with stripped back surroundings, this atmosphere is captured and beams into Hippo Lite. Absolutely lovely!

                Mike Donovan

                How To Get Your Record Played In Shops

                  Peacers / Sic Alps lead singer Mike Donovan steps out from behind the ash-stained curtain for his second solo album in the past five years, ‘How To Get Your Record Played In Shops’.

                  ‘How To Get Your Record Played In Shops’ is a tribute to the streets where you find the shops that play the records. To pin down this increasingly-imagined place, Mike DIYs it to the max, recording everything himself and playing most of it too, basing it largely on piano riffs, which is something different, especially with adding touches of other keys and notes of whatever fits into the scape. The combination of these colourful backings with Mike’s synapse-shifting lyric wit leads us into new odd corners, where the only option seems to be the mirror and eyes looking back deadly at us. Yet, in the chilly sling of SF, the legend of communal lifestyle rules on and, with help from the lads in spots and a Bo ‘Bozmo’ Moore cover to boot, this record can be stowed safely beneath the Peacers umbrella - even in the solo-ist of moments, when Mike’s hand on the piano is delightfully blurry among the reverbs, his voice listing along the falsetto borderline, smile frozen, as a feeling of aloneness and absolute nothing becomes poignantly alive.

                  Despite (no, because of) all the carnage, ‘How To Get Your Record Played In Shops’ is something to make you really happy when you stumble upon it in the bin, a secret communication outside the lines of corporation entertainment, news media and the rest of the contemporary corruption influences.

                  Alasdair Roberts, Amble Skuse & David McGuinness

                  What News

                    For his twelfth solo album - ‘What News’ - and his fourth album focused exclusively on the performance of traditional songs, Alasdair Roberts has chosen a typically unusual and eclectic pair of collaborators: Amble Skuse and David McGuinness.

                    On past albums ‘No Earthly Man’ and ‘Too Long In This Condition’, Alasdair relied on his deep connection to the songs to anchor often exploratory arrangements that would locate the hundreds-years-old songs in a contemporary milieu. The resulting works are magnetically compelling and have been powerfully acclaimed down the years. For his first project in this vein since 2010, Alasdair was inspired by Scottish singers such as Jeannie Robertson, Lizzie Higgins, Duncan Williamson, Elizabeth Stewart and Sheila Stewart. He had a desire to sing and not so much to play, so he asked early music scholar and Concerto Caledonia director David McGuinness (a previous collaborator) to play keyboard accompaniment for these songs, upon which Alasdair would not be playing guitar.

                    This was provocative: Alasdair was counting on David to respond to a counter-intuitive suggestion with surprising, idiosyncratic playing. David was challenged but up to the task. He started with the choosing of appropriate instruments, which he found at the University of Glasgow: an 1844 grand pianoforte and a ‘Mozart-style’ fortepiano of relatively recent vintage - the types of instrument they call in Holland ‘brown pianos’ (as opposed to the ‘black’ sound of the modern Steinway). To these, David added his own circa-1920 Dulcitone, a Glaswegian keyboard that plays tuning forks instead of strings.

                    During the process of developing the arrangements, David hit upon an idea for an additional collaborator: sonologist Amble Skuse, whose work involves interactive, electronic performance treatments. This provided a third plane for the project and thus triangulated, they were able to crystallise an approach involving a very open soundstage: David’s keyboard, Alasdair’s vocals and Amble’s structural soundscaping. This makes for beautiful and driven music that has no analogue in Alasdair’s catalogue - for while he has consistently pursued the dynamic fusion of songs from hundreds of years ago in a modern and progressive context, he hasn’t worked with a keyboard as the central instrument. The beauty of the conception is evident throughout, with immaculate engineering capturing all the nuances of David and Amble’s work. Alasdair’s singing embodies previously unheard capacities in his ever-evolving catalogue of song and he also contributes a powerful guitar obbligato and solo on ‘The Dun Broon Bride’ - no doubt in response to the fine work of his collaborators.

                    Your Food

                    Poke It With A Stick

                      ‘Poke It With A Stick’ - the only record by Louisville legends Your Food - is a sui generis gem of the American underground, now faithfully reissued for the first time by Drag City. Recorded in 1983 by four scarecrows from Kentucky subsisting largely on cheap beer and baked beans, the album is a burbling burgoo of hypnotic rhythm, uncoiling tension, and sharp invective - a proud bastard of post-punk royalty.

                      Slint drummer Britt Walford remembers seeing Your Food at age 11: “You knew you were in the presence of something powerful whenever they played. Their sound was open and catatonic. Cathartic. You recognized it right away. A lot of it was based on the bass, which was cool, and the drums were expressive, too. Like the bass, they were simple, but odd and insistent. The guitar was angular and somehow just as present as the bass and drums, which seemed like the center. Doug’s singing went right along with it. He was mocking and smart, then bare and vulnerable, without being vulnerable.”

                      In the fall of 1981, the residents of 1069, Louisville’s original punk house, began to spy three teenagers lurking outside the decrepit environs. Eventually the teens grew bold enough to approach, and soon two, John Bailey and Wolf Knapp (“that’s my real name, not my punk rock name”), were learning guitar and bass in the trashed rehearsal space within. “Their practices seemed interminable at first,” remembers Charles Schultz, “and then picked up confidence and momentum.” Charles had been the drummer for Louisville’s recently defunct Dickbrains, a band described by the Village Voice as freaky weirdos who couldn’t fit in if they tried. He started playing with John and Wolf. Douglas Maxson, the Dickbrains male singer, was lured back from New York with the promise of beer and cigarettes and soon Your Food were playing weekly shows at the local Beat Club, mostly for free beer. (The third lurking teen, Janet Beveridge Bean, formed left-of-the-dial, cracked country act Freakwater with Dickbrains guitarist Catherine Irwin.)

                      Financed by a Pell Grant and what little cash the band could scrounge, the album was cut largely live in the studio by a guy who usually recorded church groups and self-released on the band’s own Screaming Whoredog label. The prevailing themes of restlessness and isolation are palpable in songs like opener ‘Leave’, where ennui morphs into dark comic fantasy. The punk funk of ‘Don’t Be’ fits perfectly with the downtown NYC groove of bands like ESG and Bush Tetras. Doug’s sardonic wit laces each song with trenchant, first-class put-downs. “Everybody really wants to be your friend / Shit, I wouldn’t even want to talk like you.”

                      The band became big brothers and bad influences for prepubescent Slint project Languid And Flaccid (which included Will Oldham’s elder brother Ned). It was a golden age but a waning one, an adolescent state before hope or commercial prospect or any plan for the future. When no one gives a damn what you are doing, you are free to do what you want.

                      Your Food managed three short tours in a world before cell phones, social media, or global positioning and earned the admiration of the few who heard them but they were sonically out of step with the then-dominant hardcore scene, where speed and aggression alone were valued. It all came to a spectacularly bitter end on the side of some frozen, forlorn highway in West Virginia. The tour van broke down three times in four days. The money for the planned second album went to repairs and the band, beaten and broken, called it quits.

                      Various Artists

                      Hexadic III

                        2018 is Hexadic year three - the third annum since we were introduced to a new wave in combinatorial theory with powerful potentialities for music composition. The book, ‘The Hexadic System’, was written by Six Organs Of Admittance’s Ben Chasny, who demonstrated the possibilities of the system with two albums of Hexadic composition, as well as touring the music and chairing talks on the process and uses of The System around the United States and Great Britain.

                        This third instalment of the ‘Hexadic’ series had been planned from the beginning - inviting others outside of Ben Chasny’s Hexadic headquarters to make music using The System - but Ben was pleased to find that once he’d started asking like-minded music makers, such as Stephen O’Malley and Richard Youngs, they’d already begun to explore The System for their own writing. As one of the first individuals to explore The System, Phil Legard’s thought and music expressions have been invaluable to Ben and his contribution here, transposing The System, as it were, from guitar to keyboard, is redolent with ideological zeal. Likewise, the music of Moon Duo, Tashi Dorji, Jenks Miller (Mount Moriah) and Meg Baird and Charlie Saufley (Heron Oblivion) is suffused with a meditative energy, as their native understandings of how to create transfuse through the System with an invigorating flow.

                        One of the advantages of The Hexadic System is the provision of a malleable template to interface with the wide array of choices one makes when composing. With this in mind, ‘Hexadic III’ shouldn’t be listened to as a key to understanding how the system works. Instead, one should expect to hear a various artists collection that has an unusual cohesion, resulting from a new line of communication in which all are participating, even when they are using the language directives in different ways. ‘Hexadic III’ conveys a shared mode from a wide span of performers, all of whom have used The System for a means of expression that allows them to access themselves in both new and essential ways, highlighting both commonalities and diversions in their playing - and providing in the process an album of deeply stimulating new music.

                        With the world around us bruised and bloodied with teeth already dug into the concrete curb, we fi nd ourselves with the shadow of a large boot looming overhead. What better time for No Age? Remember, they are the ones who fi rst brought you the hospital-bedfeel-good-anthem, “Get Hurt” (2007). They know how to ecstatically rage and power on thru pain, because what else are you gonna do? The future belongs to the cockroaches, and this record is made for the disparate band of misfi ts who 2017 couldn’t kill.

                        Yeah. New No Age! Not new age No Age (except for the odd “Sun Spots”/“Keechie”-style shimmer that only ever makes everything better), but defi nitely an age of album-making located somewhere beyond and back from where we last heard ’em in aught-13, when they’d wrapped their process in as much deconstruction as An Object could bear. Reimagined rippers, compelling ever forward; something that provokes challenges on the ear — that was always the goal, but after a few years spent not No Age-ing, just working on that thing called life, is it any wonder that Dean and Randy wanted to pump out some rock and roll for the black hole? Does time mean nothing to you? Don’t answer that.

                        Snares Like a Haircut sounds like the good shit, and smells like the buzzy burning off of an aura, the marine layer suddenly vanished, leaving a thin layer of smog over the songs, simmering sock gazing tunes, revved and displacing enormous amounts of sound soil. This is pure driving music, for the bus racer and the car driver, with too many signs, bells and little lites fl ashing, ticking away. This is a record for the Foothill and the Valley, with a chemical sunset fl owering at the end of every day. It’s a feeling made by driving music for driving music.

                        Recorded in a few days and mixed forever, Snares Like a Haircut finds No Age in full on mode, because there was nothing else to do but go full on. In the songs inside the songs, the thumpy/thwappy drums, the desperately voiced paens to determination, the churning and the stinging-but-shiny fuck-it built into the structure, a promise from the 1980s echoes once again across today, for the undetermined in-between generation reality seekers. With Snares Like a Haircut, No Age scrub the itch in the little moments, engage actively with the process and carve/plaster/shave something in an album shape that’ll last. You don’t have to drive, but you can’t stay here. Let No Age do all the driving for you. Snares Like a Haircut.

                        STAFF COMMENTS

                        Laura says: A welcome return from Dean and Randy. This album follows in a similar vein to 2013's "An Object", combining their raucous, hook-filled guitar fuzz gems with spacey, experimental interludes. They seem to have got it pretty much spot on this time around too, balancing everything out perfectly and seemingly knowing exactly how much of each ingredient to throw into the mix at any one time.

                        Freedom’s Goblin is the new Ty Segall album: 19 tracks strong, filling four sides of vinyl nonstop, with an unrestricted sense of coming together to make an album. It wants you to get your head straight — but first, the process will make your head spin! Back in the Twins days, we talked about the schizophrenia of Ty’s outlook; today, it’s super-dual, with loads of realities all folding back on each other. On any given side, we’re tracking five or six full-blown personalities, unconcerned with convention or continuity.

                        So drop the needle — who can say what it’ll sound like where it lands? This is Freedom’s Goblin — one track engendering, the next one oppressing, violence up in the mix — a look at everything around that Ty used to make the songs. What will you use it for when you listen? The songs came in the flow of the year: days of vomit and days of ecstasy and escape too, and days between. The rulebook may have been tossed, but Freedom’s Goblin is thick with deep songwriting resources, be it stomper, weeper, ballad, screamer, banger or funker-upper, all diverted into new Tydentities — each one marking a different impasse, like a flag whirling into a knot, exploding and burning on contact, in the name of love and loathing. Freedom’s Goblin wears a twisted production coat: tracks were cut all around, from L.A. to Chicago to Memphis, whether chilling at home or touring with the Freedom Band. Five studios were required to get all the sounds down, engineered by Steve Albini, F. Bermudez, Lawrence “Boo” Mitchell and of course, Ty himself.

                        The goal was getting free, embracing any approach necessary to communicate new heights and depths, new places for the fuzz to land among octaving harmonies, dancefloor grooves, synths, saxes and horns, jams, post-Nicky-Hopkins r’n’b electric piano vibes, children-of-the-corn psycho-rebellions, old country waltzes and down-by-the-river shuffles. Basically, the free-est pop songs Ty’s ever put on tape. And one about his dog, too! We’re ALL Goblins and we ALL want our Freedom. The freedom to love or to be alone; to be pretty or pretty ugly; the freedom to turn the other cheek or to turn up the volume. And of course, the freedom to make just about any kind of song you think will free people when they hear it. But there’s that goblin of freedom too — and once you let it out of the bottle, it can fuck with you, so . . . take it or leave it. Go away or go all the way in. Live free and die! BUT be careful what you wish for . . . .

                        Chris Gantry

                        At The House Of Cash

                          “In 1973, I had come out of ten years of non-stop songwriting street life in Nashville. I had been busted by the Feds for growing marijuana on my farm. Johnny Cash called me and asked me if I wanted to come live at his place on the lake till the heat blew over, which I did... in that time, we talked and he agreed to let me write for his publishing company and gave me the green light to do an album in his studio. I was exhausted from burning so hard from the previous ten years, in ’69, I stood on stage with Tim Hardin at Woodstock, singing Bobby Darin’s ‘Simple Song Of Freedom’. It was the end of an era, burnout time for endless troubadours who had ridden the waves of the Sixties. I had been experimenting with multiple guitar tunings and had given myself up lyrically to what a free form jazz sax player experiences when they play their spontaneous solos. I was burned out on the traditional pop lyric art form - thus, the songs on this record, ‘At The House Of Cash’. When I finished it, John and June listened to it one night. A few days later he sidled up to me and said in his iconic Johnny Cash voice, ‘Chris, June and I listened to your record last night and I don’t think even the drug people are gonna understand it.’ WOW. To me that was a compliment. I had transcended the culture that had been driving the world for the last 12 years. I had succeeded.”

                          At the end of 1973 Chris Gantry had in the can one of the weirdest records ever cut, on or off Music Row. A songwriter, storyteller and original Nashville outlaw, Chris started the wild new wave of young talent in town, a few years before Kristofferson, Mickey Newbury, Tony Joe White, Dan Penn and dozens more. He’d already been writing for years when, at the age of 25, his song, ‘Dreams Of The Everyday Housewife’, was a Billboard Pop Top 40 hit and a #3 Country record for Glen Campbell. He’d made his own records too - but so far, Chris Gantry hadn’t done anything like this - and that was saying a lot.

                          His music was a stylistic fusion: his 1967 album debut ‘Introspection’ sounded a little bit folk, a little bit pop and only a little bit country, with smooth melodies and verdant string charts. However, the 60s were afoot and by the time of Chris’ second LP in 1970, ‘Motor Mouth’, his approach had radicalized into a wide-eyed, hard-edged delivery. The critics dug it and Chris played on Johnny Cash’s TV show but the next Gantry record didn’t appear for five more years. Herein lies a tale: of dropping out, of a vision-quest and an exorcism of sorts and of sessions for a bunch of songs so far out from Nashville norms that it’s only now they’ve seen release. This is the story of ‘At The House Of Cash’.

                          High on the waves of the times, Chris had pulled apart the tropes of traditional voice-and-guitar singer-songwriting, pushing them into fevered, eclectic, entirely personal territory. He took in the scope of the freedom generation with whom he’d been riding shotgun, and turned it back out again with unhindered lyrical expressions reflecting both disillusionment and a deep sense of transformation, with deft gestures and songwriting chops nailing down the tunes.

                          Settled at Cash’s studio with a band of heavy Nashville cats, Gantry extemporized his songs with sleek self-confidence, even while plunging through the hippie mirror of confusion. The opener ‘Away Away’ gives entrée to the rambling journey, with mentions of flying saucers and spacey synth notes subbing for steel. Then ‘Different’ pits his rasping pipes against mellow orchestration, evoking debauched Nilssonesque vibes. Finally, the raving spoken-word-scape ‘Tear’ is rife with flutes and woodwinds, touches of sitar, tabla and violin, courtesy of the group Oregon. That’s just the first three songs.

                          A mood of ecstatic intoxication prevails throughout the album, whether in stark rock n roll performances or celestial ballads, with Chris’s croon at times rivalling Tim Buckley’s wandering vocals. Religious ripostes and lysergic lyric miniatures abound. The album didn’t find a backer so Chris Gantry shrugged and moved on. He’s kept on with singing and writing, doing books and plays too, appearing in the film ‘Trash Humpers’ and making three new records over the last few years - but ‘At The House Of Cash’ stands tall with its outlaw brethren from the golden age of Nashville and it is damn fine having it out in the open air with the rest of us at long last.

                          Bill MacKay & Ryley Walker

                          SpiderBeetleBee

                            Drag City presents the second volume of Bill MacKay and Ryley Walker’s inspired collaboration. It’s been nearly two years since their much-admired 2015 debut, Land of Plenty (Whistler Records), and SpiderBeetleBee more than makes up for lost time with rich, resonant performances that elevate the sound of the guitar duo as they work with an ever-widening panorama of styles.

                            Their first album was developed over a month-long live residency at Chicago bar The Whistler, and reflected MacKay and Walker’s shared joy in a new relationship with a kindred spirit, in playing that might wordlessly finish a phrase or suggest a direction, as they spoke through their guitars. SpiderBeetleBee continues fluidly down the path of their initial psych-folk-blues-raga tandem, brewing further explorations in mixed-and-matched idioms, turning composed melodies inside-out via improvisation, and finding in the blend a shared Walker/MacKay pasture, serendipitously found somewhere between Appalachia and the Highlands.

                            SpiderBeetleBee radiates forth with equal parts austerity and whimsy, opening with an almost-baroque dance before giving way to a Celtic theme, both featuring MacKay and Walker’s acoustics in rambling conversation, picking through intricate passages as though they were exchanges, thoughts and afterthoughts. The second of these, “Pretty Weeds Revisited” is enhanced by sonorous statements from Dutch cellist Katinka Kleijn (a veteran of the CSO), showing a deep, instinctive feel for the Walker/MacKay sound. The album then takes an unexpected turn at midpoint, slowly melting down and drifting soulfully through the expansive space of “Naturita.” Side two picks up the tempo on “I Heard Them Singing,” with the aid of MacKay’s requinto (a kind of 5-string Mexican guitar), Walker’s rolling chords and the percolating tabla of Ryan Jewell, suggesting a hitherto unknown short-cut from Brazil to India. Drafts of slide guitar and bittersweet blues evocation illumine further fruitful travels before “Dragonfly”, also featuring Ms. Kleijn’s haunting cello, closes the cycle with a flourish.

                            Adorned with Bill MacKay’s colorful and wilfully primitive cover-art, SpiderBeetleBee wanders through styles, landmasses and hemispheres, capturing the further adventures of MacKay and Walker with spellbinding snapshots that only bloom larger the longer you take them in.

                            Pearls Before Swine

                            One Nation Underground - Fiftieth Anniversary Mono Restoration And Remastering

                            Another time, indeed! It's been fifty years since Pearls Before Swine first appeared. A genteel, oft-hushed missive from a far corner of the psychedelic hive mind, One Nation Underground was released on an independent outlier of a record label, removed from the mainstream - and still its spirit came to be deeply appreciated by a generation and more. Today, this music has been reissued by labels around the world dozens of times. Tragic then that it hasn't been heard properly in decades! The stereo record that made it to compact disc in the 90s (and to subsequent vinyl pressings) was a botched job, with reverbs added to evoke a fake stereo image, and an overdub track from the original master lost in the transfer - providing a perfect analog for a release destined not to make the original artists any money at all. The 50th-Anniversary edition, however, has been returned to the hands of its creators, restoring the original mono mix that made such an impact in 1967, freed from the muffling veils that time eventually wrapped around it.

                            Cast into a moment of incredible tumult and great discovery, Pearls Before Swine contributed a uniquely earthy strain to the arc of sound that defined the time and place of the later 1960s. A group of young men in Florida were inspired to send their demo tape to the label that released The Fugs, whose appearance and lawless attitude seemed at once a dare and an invitation. The label was ESP-Disk, whose catalog was largely comprised of records from some of the farthest-out jazz players in New York City - but Pearls Before Swine were welcome to make a record there, too. Relocating to New York in the Spring of 1967, they were installed at Impact Sound with provisional ESP-house man Richard Alderson (engineer of many of those jazz sessions, as well as sound-man on Dylan's '66 world tour) and, in three days, laid down the album. When it was released in October of that year, it immediately began to catch on with young people around the world with its blend of gentle and innocent, erudite and outraged. Each song was from a different genre and each track had something strange/mysterious in it, via exotic instruments, electronic oscillation or pure, simple intent. There was proto-punk in the mix, rife with humor, aloft with the pastoral acoustics of the banjo; music of the people of the world, all in the service of Tom Rapp's visceral, unblinking lyrics.

                            Original producer Richard Alderson oversaw the restoration and remastering of the tapes, allowing us to hear with jolting clarity the original sound of Pearls Before Swine. Notes from Richard and PBS leader Tom Rapp lend historical perspective, and Tom adds his reflections on each of the songs as well. Listen again - and hear for the first time, perhaps - the sound of One Nation Underground.

                            For music like this, radio play wasn't dictated by pluggers pushing a single up the charts - the jockeys at free-form stations played it because it spoke to them, and they loved it. One Nation Underground indeed! This was THE cult album of its time, loved by artists as divergent as Leonard Cohen and Iggy Pop. Fassbinder's 1969 film Rio Das Mortes used two songs in its soundtrack and featured the album cover on one of its characters' walls. Two hundred thousand copies were pressed over the next couple years, and by 1969, Pearls Before Swine were an underground legend, recording their third album for a major label. The mysterious glow around their first two ESP-Disk releases has never faded, even in the past several decades, when the albums' sound was undermined by technology.

                            Dead Rider are up and rolling again and ‘Crew Licks’ is the latest job. After the thousand days and nights since ‘Chills On Glass’, Dead Rider had to overcome the creeping suggestion that they multitask themselves to sleep - or to premature brain death - whichever came first. Now they’re ready to get into their Rolling Stones suit and thank you for letting them be themselves again; to extrude rude grooves, shattered R&B and / or hip hop and mother’s blues in a priapic triad, tripped-out and overlaid, shedding the old fresh in search of new flesh. With ‘Crew Licks’, Dead Rider offer an anti-hero for today. He’s the everyman, the workingman (the man that they in fact are), in a tailor-made creature made up of many, to funk and bump through the bepuzzled night. To render the thing, they’ve grasped onto tools pulled from the rubble of rock and roll. The beat is load-bearing, brickhouse solid (courtesy of batterie-man Matt Espy) but flexible, breathing. In through the cracks come stuttered words and whispers, the pealing of a steel drum, a squalling sax or two, barks from the outside. Crew foreman Todd Rittmann twines them with a cabling of acid-bass guitar licks, cutting down into the roots for fingerings to invert and extend. The basslines roll and crush, bounce and squish as required, bringing synth and synthesis into and away from the framework. Wafting through the room is the float and gloss of eternal rhythm and blues, whether it’s the swelling of soulful choirs, organ chords or the deft tailing of guitar lines designed to relax us in the shades of a dusty, aphrodisiac evening. ‘Crew Licks’ is audio-verite pop music; not created but lived, with parts of life on the run reused to facilitate other parts. A chimera, reflecting man in pieces; not whole or fully animate.

                            Ka Baird

                            Sapropelic Pycnic

                              ‘Sapropelic Pycnic’ is the Drag City and world debut of music presented under the name of Ka Baird. While this record is a commencement of many sorts, it is in no way a mere beginning. Ka’s ritual is well underway here, her craft clearly already a dedicated mastery; it finds her on the hunt for new discoveries with a humble desire for the transfigured, the sublime.

                              This has been among the goals since early times, when Ka was one of the founding members of experimental psychlings Spires That In The Sunset Rise. Formed in 2001 out of the Chicago scene and described by late guitar legend Jack Rose as a “female Sun City Girls,” Spires’ sisterhood of sound deepened the New Folk slant with an array of avant- and world-flavoured directions drawing them ever further into the source.

                              Ka relocated to NYC in late 2014 and immediately embarked upon new directions - exploring piano improvisations, electroacoustic intervention, extended vocal technique, physical movement and the electronic processing of her flute playing. The singular force that is Ka is represented on two releases under the Sapropelic Pycnic name - the improvised piano album ‘See Sun Think Shadow’ (released in November 2015 on Brooklyn’s Perfect Wave imprint) and the Coltrane tribute ‘A Love Supreme’ (on Chicago’s No Index label in January 2016).

                              With the release of ‘Sapropelic Pycnic’, Ka manifests an evolving selfhood, expanding upon the essence of her first two albums’ artist name, while replacing and thus becoming that name on her own. ‘Sapropel’ is a contraction of the ancient Greek words sapros and pelos - putrification and mud. ‘Pycnic’ draws from pyknos - dense; stocky. This wordplay is meant to suggest a physical consumption, ingesting of the nutrient-rich mud found at the bottom of seas, lakes and rivers. Very much akin to the gorging of this metaphorical sludge, on ‘Sapropelic Pycnic’, Ka Baird imbibes sounds to provoke unseen forces within the wilds of her own unconscious, then brings them into the play.

                              Emphasizing breath, via voice and flute, ‘Sapropelic Pycnic’ is a possession, a physical catharsis, a transformation, comprised of burry, guttural rhythms, loops and clusters of flute figures with gliding vocal and synth melodies. Reaching toward the ancient roots of music, Ka utilizes electronic manipulation to take the ear past preconception, combining the linearity of the physical with the abstraction of the cerebral, crafting textural rhythmic noise alongside lush operatic passages, containing multitudes.

                              Conceived live as a series of solo vignettes and played that way by Ka (featuring contributions from Max Eilbacher - electronics, Sandy Gordon - vibraphone and Troy Schaefer - violin), ‘Sapropelic Pycnic’ draws from primordial ooze and raises high a sacrifice to the immemorial concept of the sacred, citing Chris Hedges in ‘The Power Of Imagination’: “A society that loses its respect for the sacred, that ignores its oracles and severs itself from the power of human imagination, ensures its obliteration.”

                              Plum is Wand’s fourth LP since the band formed in late 2013 but their " rst new album in two years. After a whirlwind initial phase of writing, recording, and touring at a frenetic clip, their newest document marks a period of relative patience; a refocusing and a push toward a new democratization of both process and musical surface.

                              In late winter of 2016, the band expanded their core membership of Evan Burrows, Cory Hanson, and Lee Landey to include two new members — Robbie Cody on guitar and Sofi a Arreguin on keys and vocals. From the outset, the new ensemble moved naturally toward a changed working method, as they learned how to listen to each other and trust in this songwriting process was consciously relocated to the practice space, where for several months, the band spent hours a day freely improvising, while recording as much of the activity as they could manage. Previously, Wand songs had generally been brought to the group setting substantially formed by singer and guitarist Cory Hanson; now seedling songs were harvested from a growing cloudbank of archived material, then ! eshed out and negotiated collectively as the band shifted rhythmically between the permissive space of jamming and the obsessive space of critique.

                              This new process demanded more honest communication, more vulnerability, better boundaries, more mercy and persistence during a year that meanwhile delivered a heaping serving of romantic, familial and political heartbreak for everyone involved. They learned more about their instruments and their perceived limitations. Much else fell apart in their personal lives, in their bodies, and the bodies of those near to them. In this way, Plum lengthened like a shadow underneath a dusking Orange; or rather “Weird Orange,” an affectionate name given to the color of a roulette-chosen, tour-rushed batch of Golem vinyl... an idiom, an inside joke, a talisman, a bookmark, a mood ring. And meanwhile all the shifting weather, the wireless signals, the helicopters overhead. Weird orange softened, darkened delicately, and rouged itself to a Plum.

                              The music of Plum focuses teeming, dense, at times wildly multichromatic sounds into Wand’s most deliberate statement to date, with a long evening’s shadow of loss and longing hovering above the proceedings. Plum delicately locates the band’s tangent of escape from the warm and comfortable shallows of genre anachronism, an eyes-closed, mouth-open leap toward a more free-associative and contemporary pastiche of logic that more honestly re! ects the ravenous musical omnivorousness of the " ve people who wrote and played it.

                              It usually goes without saying — we are so lucky to have had each other in this time, and we are more than lucky to have you all listen to this record.

                              Ty Segall

                              Fried Shallots

                                ‘Fried Shallots’ is a handful of numbers from different times and places over the past few years that all work together in a weird way. For Ty Segall, that requires rock with the gears shifting and stripping, tempos and tropes mashing up; a primal outburst, a quick-and-fuzzy soundtrack of rock, folk, R&B and pure power pop, to give us a chance to chill and do the new Century twist for just a minute. Ty Segall’s ‘Fried Shallots’ is here to help us surf the tides and not be swept under.

                                The Peacers

                                Introducing The Crimsmen

                                  Introducing The Peacers’ ‘Introducing The Crimsmen’. Escalating from a disembodied voice to slowly mounting full-band hypnosis, this is a trip into the golden rod days of fandom, a dimension where a T-shirt could change your life.

                                  Since their first album in the summer of 2015, The Peacers have been gigging in SF and around, woodshedding and collecting tunes for this divinely awaited moment. Lurching back into life, with buzz and hum alight and colours flashing, is the name but the instigators of the sound are almost a whole other bunch (Mike Donovan, Shayde Sartin, Mike Shoun and Bo Moore).

                                  The tunes rock forth from a jukebox with a crack in the glass, with channels leaking / kaleidoscopic aspects of low-fi life directed back through the wires to form discrete detail, little shadows, backdrops, edgework.

                                  Whether gentle psych, basement throb, keening ‘Time Of The Season’ nocturne or ground-glass soundscape, it’s all bubblegum boiled in pot, scripted up with stinging street smart reverie and a wink and a chill grin.

                                  Six Organs Of Admittance

                                  Burning The Threshold

                                  In preparing for the first album of non-Hexadic Six Organs of Admittance music since 2012’s Ascent, Ben Chasny had a think about what he’d be saying in his own tongue for the fi rst time in a half-decade. As ever, a head-full of ideas were driving him to think and speak music as a spirituality superimposed onto a reality, with the ghosts of both whispering at each other. In the end, what sits in our listening ears is the sound of communion. Burning the Threshold brings a wealth of Six Organs-styled lightness into one of his sweetest musical meditations yet.

                                  With a spacious acoustic soundstage, Burning the Threshold may actually more resemble 2011’s Asleep on the Floodplain. Or it may more resemble Compathia, or School of the Flower. All of this is speculative, comparative, unverifyable — but our sense of what is true tells us that nobody plays acoustic music quite like Six Organs of Admittance, and that furthermore, nothing sounds so much like Burning the Threshold as Burning the Threshold.

                                  Ben is in a particularly expansive mood this time around, singing and playing while thinking of birds in the morning, anarchy, Third Ear Band, Gaston Bachelard, The Gnostics, Ronnie Lane and/or The Faces, Deleuze, Aaron Cheak, Odysseus, This Heat, Takoma Records, St Eustace, Dark Noontide and a HELL of a lot more than that, with all the thoughts affi xed to a quiver of potent melodies launching forth and arcing out through dimensions, seeking infi nite space.

                                  The space radiates out from the album’s fi rst moment, with “Things As They Are,” a song examining the life of poet Wallace Stevens. Ben’s currently working on music for a theatrical work about Stevens’ life set to debut in Cleveland later in 2017. The empathetic waves generated by this song resonate throughout the album, giving a new dimension to the music of Six Organs of Admittance.

                                  Like so many other Six Organs records, Burning the Threshold was created mostly solo, but features the singing talents of Alex Nielsen, Haley Fohr and Damon and Naomi; the drumming of Chris Corsano; a guitar duet with Ryley Walker, and keys and mixing from Cooper Crain. With this new music, Ben Chasny has created a potent tonic for our times. The gentleness found here, balanced on top of his classical asceticism, provides much of what we need in 2017 and beyond: love, forgiveness, reality and an ever-wider view, with the understanding of our circular path in this lifetime. Looking at the world through clear eyes beneath a knitted brow, but with a laugh rising up from its heart, Burning the Threshold brings us a powerful draught of essence.

                                  STAFF COMMENTS

                                  Barry says: Six organs of admittance pull out another beautiful album of intricate campfire folk, looped guitars and heady ambience, all topped by Chasny's brilliantly hypnotic vocal musings. An arty but accessible alt-folk masterpiece, and a journey to be undertaken time and time again.

                                  Since 2001, Alasdair Roberts has busily pursued the path of his ancestors, down the many and varied byways of Scottish traditional music — and of English and Irish traditional music as well, all of which have fed the American folk tradition from its earliest days. Over the past 15 years, Alasdair has released eight albums of selfwritten material and interpretations of traditional song alike, all played in a diversity of electric and acoustic arrangements, bringing a modern thrust to the music while honoring the many singers from whom this material was learned and adapted. Following the acoustic austerity of his self-titled 2015 release, Alasdair’s applied himself to electric guitar and band once again for his ninth album, Pangs.

                                  Alasdair Roberts and Friends were deep within the epic song approaches of the widely-acclaimed A Wonder Working Stone (2013) when last heard creating music of such scope. While similarly broad in range, Pangs brings different forms of song-craft and modes of collaboration again. Throughout his career, Alasdair has created an original and personal music from certain traditional song sources (always carefully annotated in the album notes for the listeners’ derivation). His additional contributions to music and lyric bring new meanings, passing the pieces ever forward, as they were passed to him. Anyone immersed in the old texts of Child ballads and the narrative and history that they embody might be expected to imbibe in other ancient and sacred materials — and indeed, on occasion, Alasdair has taken care to weave the disparate strands of his far-fl ung researches and musings into what we can only perceive as a new form of folk song — Syncretic Ballads, for want of any other term. And so the Pangs songs variously touch on subjects as diverse as kenosis, couvade and Malthusianism.

                                  Recorded in Ireland with Julie MacLarnon, Pangs fi nds Alasdair in a power trio beside his long-time musical partners Alex Neilson on drums and Stevie Jones on bass (and he turns his hand to piano and organ too). Along with guests Debbie Armour, Tom Crossley, Rafe Fitzpatrick and Jessica Kerr, they summon up a powerful — and powerfully gorgeous — storm over ten new songs. With “The Angry Laughing God” and “The Downward Road,” Alasdair delivers two of his most driving pieces — one might even call them “rocking”! Following that, he turns around and plays two of his most touching ballads (and our lad’s had a lot of them over the years!) in “Wormwood and Gall” and “Scarce of Fishing”. Additionally, the album is launched with the eponymous track “Pangs” in what we hear to be a remarkable evocation of the 60s and 70s folk-rockers of the British Isles — the electric warriors of Fairport Convention, the Battlefi eld Band, Planxty, Richard Thompson and so many signifi cant others! Alasdair’s roots run deep and his sound is conversant with the many iterations of the music from the past, but it is simultaneous present and active in our contemporary milieu. This is vitally true of Pangs — the people of today are in dire need of the edifi cation and amusement that Alasdair Roberts brings. Pass the music ever forward!

                                  Life is a Rorschach, life is a Rashomon. Fuck your facts. Throw ‘em out with yesterday’s webpages. Lives lie beyond the equations of currency, border lines and government —  and truth is just a drop in the beholder’s eye.

                                  Ty Segall has made whole records that wrestle with realities — fighting against some, pulling mightily to bring others into being. Of late, he’s thrown up his hands and donned clown shoes, dancing merrily in the dual role of oppressed/oppressor! His hands aren’t any more or less dirty than anyone else’s — but amidst the thunder and the chaos of the ongoing storm, he’s looking for the eye within.

                                  The new self-titled record — the next record after Emotional Mugger, Manipulator, Sleeper, Twins, Goodbye Bread, Melted, Lemons, and the first self-titled album that started it up in the now-distant year of 2008 — is a clean flow, a wash of transparency falling into a world that needs to see a few things through clearly, to their logical end. It’s got some of the most lobe-blasting neckwork since the Ty Segall Band’s Slaughterhouse (from way back in the long, hot summer of 2012), but it also features a steep flight of fluent acoustic settings, as Ty’s new songs range around in their search for freedom without exorcism, flying the dark colors high up the pole in an act of simple self-reclamation. All he wants is some truth!

                                  The construction and destruction of his chosen realities has, until now, been a luxury Ty has rightfully reserved for himself, striping overdubs together to form the sound — but for this new album, he entered a studio backed by a full band — Emmett Kelly, Mikal Cronin, Charles Moothart and Ben Boye — to get a read on this so-called clarity. This leads to a new departure in group sound, as well as some of the most visceral and penetrating vocal passages yet heard from Ty Segall.

                                  “Freedom/Warm Hands” puts the “sweet” back into suite; “Orange Color Queen” is a supreme moment of tenderness; “Talkin’,” a roots-infused truth-attack. “Papers,” looks behind the doors of Ty’s process; “Break A Guitar” is a brutal fun-fest pitched to the back of the house. Ty Segall keeps you guessing, bracing your skin with a welcome astringency, seeking to stem the bleeding with chunks and splashes of guitar, tight beats, audio-verité toilet smashes, a Wurlitzer electric piano in a jam, blazing harmonies, and LOTS of songs to sing. There’s no concept beyond that; finding the right places to be is a momentary thing. Ty Segall is the sum of his songs — and about getting the free. The free to be!

                                  STAFF COMMENTS

                                  Barry says: Ty’s latest LP is more punky than sludgy, with more in common with early Pixies than his recent output. Driven, rocking and absolutely essential.

                                  The Silence

                                  Nine Suns, One Morning

                                    Lit up within the shades and the folding conflex of his many musical outfits are the musical sparks that make Tim Presley come alive — but The WiNK lives beyond all previous incarnations found in Drinks, Hair, White Fence and Darker My Love. Here, there’s fewer filters than ever between you and Tim. Thus, his name up front; a wink towards ostensible (and ominous?) solosity, making light as it whistles through the layers that cage Tim’s life.

                                    Tim’s a man in a glass booth, grabbing at scraps of paper blown at his windscreen as if they were of the greatest value. They’re actually of the ONLY value. And we grin in delight in his twist and tumult; in this process, he’s assembling his tunes in essential fashion, rolling around in the dust of his Id-bowl, then reordering the scrambled head-events into a barrage of phrases and stages, flickering through disembodied and re-embodied moments, held together by Tim’s inviolable belief in the song progression underneath. The tension is unbreakable, a thin plastic slip, as he intones upon a maze of high wild mercury stings.

                                    When you tune in to The WiNK, it takes a couple minutes for you to hear a word. But then it takes only one line until “and then you die,” uttered in a voice of mottled, throaty horror, as if ghosts that haven’t yet shown themselves are advancing through walls. Working with the creative team of producer Cate Le Bon, drummer Stella Mozgawa, and engineer Samur Khouja, Tim’s located the corners of a perfect square, with their creativity and truth crafting unique parts to function as songs within songs, giving the tunes double-jointed features that extend their original intentions. The Presley guitar hand has a powerful, yet quicksilver touch, with metallic brilliance ALWAYS, esp. in rhythm figurations, where it wrings chords out like panic signals, highlighting “Can You Blame,” “Long Bow,” “Underwater Rain,” and “Clue” (to name a few), and a cover version of Willie “Loco” Alexander’s “Kerouac” (nod and a wink!), where a smooth and steadfast lyric melody is supplanted by a throw of broken guitar and shards of keys. Throughout The WiNK, Tim’s tone is thin and princely, connecting the dots sideways and backwards to align and make the image emerge.

                                    The WiNK is produced by Cate Le Bon, who does the impregnable work of bringing a Tim Presley solo statement into focus somehow from without, by leading Tim the long away around to make a portrait of him. Cate fully embodied the producer role, picking the songs for the album from a deep pile of demos, making arrangements for the chosen songs and steadfastly suggesting that the trusted team go off the beaten path in their execution. Alert to the scribble from which Tim’s songs emerge in best home-recorded intimacy, Cate’s studio production teases such details out without losing any of the cerebral splatter — deconstructing and rebuilding the songs with a tight-knit crew whose shared language lifts Tim’s sound from the deep blue to create a different, stranger, authentic result.

                                    The pop pusher of our teenage century has slipped from behind the Fence to claim his name. It’s about Tim!

                                    Faun Fables are back with ‘Born Of The Sun’. Since 1998, Faun Fables has been the musical world of Dawn McCarthy, visited in collaboration with her partner Nils Frykdhal. In early times, their wild spirit roamed the streets and hills of the SF / Oakland community while, pilgrim-like, wandering the world and issuing two albums of deeply-rooted, swirlingly other folk music in 1999 and 2001. With the release of ‘Family Album’ in 2004, Drag City got involved and ‘The Transit Rider’ (2006), ‘A Table Forgotten’ (2008) and ‘Light Of A Vaster Dark’ (2010) followed. Now, suddenly, it’s 2016. Six years have passed since ‘Light Of A Vaster Dark’ appeared. Life has happened, in the form of three children born to Dawn and Nils.

                                    Anyone who has spent time in the thrall of Faun Fables’ bewitching sound knows that this was the dream; beyond Dawn’s passion for song, dance, theatre and all manner of folklore (plus a regular regimen of yodelling), the mythic shadows of home and hearth, friends and family, have infused all of their expressions. Now, raising the family that was once only dreamed about makes for an earthier and more expansive Faun Fables album, informed by the slow and sudden progress of time that occurs when we are with the very young.

                                    ‘Born Of The Sun’ is in itself another birthing, the songs gestating over several years, then recorded mostly in concentrated periods over the past two winters. On previous albums, the passions of Faun Fables seemed to be laid firmly on the stones of the Old World. The minstrels who cavorted across the cover of ‘Mother Twilight’ seemed out of another, hard-to-place time. ‘Born Of The Sun’ continues on in this exalted tradition but also reflects the rhythms of family living, where each day is a new and irreversible step forward through the necessarily scorched earth of raising children.

                                    Where ‘Family Album’ and ‘A Table Forgotten’ looked yearningly through time at the spiritual natures of communal living, ‘Born Of The Sun’ is forged in the crucible of now and, as such, has a feeling apart from the previous days of Faun Fables.

                                    Dawn and Nils and the kids (whose vocals on ‘Wild Kids Rant’ suggest they are following their parents’ path into the forest) are embracing the phenomena of creation as they move inexorably forward. ‘Born Of The Sun’ is the bountiful and exuberant album of this place and time - an old, candlelit world of arcane beliefs in our brightly-lit world, growing ever more profound in the light of perpetual discovery that bathes all of Faun Fables’ songs.

                                    STAFF COMMENTS

                                    Barry says: An enchanting and often beguiling mix of traditional medieval folk and swirling Californian psychedelic sounds. Progressive but coherent chord changes and textures develop as time goes on, building and morphing into a cacophony of instrumental depth and vocal intensity. Fascinating and thoroughly skilled instrumentation and (in places) frightening heart-wrenchingly poignant lyricism. A Journey not to be missed.

                                    Drag City presents a newly-unearthed artefact from the long history of The Red Krayola: 1984’s previously-unheard ‘Baby And Child Care’.

                                    Grooving sinuously in prime mid-80s form in a production redolent with funk, dub and new wave inflections, ‘Baby And Child Care’ is of a musical vintage whose dry complexity is even more appreciable today.

                                    The revolutionary advice found within ‘The Common Sense Book Of Baby And Child Care’ opened doors in the mid-40s that are widening still; at the time of this album project, it had influenced a generation or two of generally young parents. At that time, The Red Krayola were a band on a musical roll, having just recorded and released ‘Black Snakes’ on the Swiss Rec Rec label. When presented with the lyric qualities of Dr. Spock’s psychoanalytic texts, passages of which had been transposed by Art & Language’s Michael Baldwin and Mel Ramsden, Mayo Thompson immediately set them to music. The Red Krayola ‘Black Snakes’ band - Ben Annesley on bass, Chris White on drums and Allen Ravenstine on synthesizer and soprano sax - provided musical accompaniment in performances recorded by Eric Radcliffe at Blackwing Studios in London.

                                    32 years later, the conversant playing and production approach of ‘Baby And Child Care’ comes across with an enduring completeness that belies its position on the shelf for the past several decades. Despite the initial lack of release, its pride of place can now be appreciated, an example of the Red Krayola’s particular brand of collaboration.

                                    Standing tall next to the already-known classics of early-80s Red Krayola, from ‘Kangaroo?’ through ‘Three Songs On A Trip To The United States’, ‘Baby And Child Care’ is essential listening for parents and progeny alike.

                                    Bitchin Bajas And Bonnie 'Prince' Billy

                                    Epic Jammers And Fortunate Little Ditties

                                    YES! An unlikelier of collabs on the face of it comes to pass, and makes SO much sense upon consideration that you wonder why you hadn’t rioted for your right to experience this sooner. Chill, man! Life gave you a surprise — a missing peace — now GO with it.

                                    Yessir, Bitchin Bajas and Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy be in righteous and TRUE collaboration on this one, flowing ideas through the air between them, which seems a rare thing in this age where records course forth without wires, pieced together out of the zeros and ones that divide and don’t define us. The air’s meant to be shared, and that’s how Epic Jammers and Fortunate Little Ditties came to pass — a morning, afternoon and evening of frisson in blissed acceptance of the eternal recurrence. And it always came.

                                    These guys GET each other. They share a passion for arresting the moment in the process of now, and both of ’em get music from this action in their way. Bajas have a fan in Bonny; their ability to stretch time and get in between the grains scratches his itch to LIVE in those instances. And this makes him a worthy co-jammer, a fourth plane to the BB triangle that quantifies and dimensionalizes the sound. Inevitable, then, that they’d do something. Their first blend was for the Shirley Collins tribute comp, a rendition of “Pretty Saro” that built from the starkness and tonal monophony of the auld ballads and opened the hatch to timeless stasis. But if more was desired (which it was), more would be needed — the full trio of Bajas in the room together, in audience with the ‘Prince.’ Following one of their many mini-jaunts around the country, Bitchin Bajas stopped by Bonnie’s aerie one day after tour to make it so.

                                    It was an epic and fortunate day.

                                    Epic Jammers and Fortunate Little Ditties contains moments of tranquility and trance, with the players integrating their separate ways, vibing off each other, making songs together. Bonny is at his spiritmelting celestial best wandering through a lifetime of fortunes that amount, when incanted, to a prayer to the god of many names. The Bajas’ access to the universal aural paintbox is unparalleled; their reach is deep. And it all went down onto a 2-track reel-toreel in primitive left-right seps that helped to define their ability to finish it in mixing. These WERE jams, with whatever preparation, gear, thought and cords — vocal and electric — backgrounded, in support of intuition and what existed AT THE MOMENT.

                                    Epic Jammers and Fortunate Little Ditties is simple and stark and empyrean and inspirational...and pretty modal, too — probably never more than three chords! — as Bonny and the Bajas pursue the life of the spirit down ever-fading vapor trails, in a bottomless (and topless — let ’em loose!) space.

                                    From the press release for ‘Emotional Mugger’:
                                    “Get in the booth -
                                    punch in the number
                                    when they pick up
                                    don’t say a word
                                    just listen
                                    shout at the double
                                    from the damned
                                    from a dry throat
                                    dry eye chuckle
                                    insistent / elastic (but never plastic)
                                    thick / butt jump pierced by the kids
                                    sweet angel voice sinister (what are they thinking)
                                    guitars sliced with scribble
                                    graffiti sprawled across the hemispheres; stuttered, stunted, dual-mono machine dreams flashing sudden stereophobic and back again / two screens alone together squeezing shaking oozing metallic pool like brain blood, slowly draining away all mental life. shaking ass / nihility at most corrodes candy’s gone no more fun.”

                                    While cycling around his home-district of Peckham (in south east London) a few years ago, Sean O’Hagan decided that not only would the new High Llamas music be driven by narratives (a collection of stories) but they would first have to be performed as theatre; reshaped theatre, if you like, blending stories, songs and soundtrack. It was essential for these performances to take place before the songs and underscores were recorded.

                                    The resultant piece, ‘Here Come The Rattling Trees’, introduces six characters, some real, some less so, whom Sean has encountered over past years in Peckham. It is also The High Llamas’ new album.

                                    ‘Here Come The Rattling Trees’ was first performed in the Montpelier Theatre pub in Peckham in June 2014. In October 2014 it played for a week-long run at the Tristan Bates Theatre in Covent Garden, London. The original performance cast was Ray Newe, Richard Heap and Jennifer Scott Malden. The story centres around Amy, an unsettled 28-year-old with a desire to travel. Amy encounters five characters, who, it transpires, have their own stories to tell. These stories have emerged from Peckham over the past 25 years and speak of buildings and change; of hopes, ambitions and disappointments. This is the soundtrack to those stories.

                                    With witty, artful musical strokes, Sean and The High Llamas have crafted deft musical sketches with the signature ‘Llamas’ sound that has evolved over ten album releases since 1992. A colourful array of electric, acoustic and synthetic instruments, alongside Sean O’Hagan’s gentled vocals, are deployed to transport the listener to the low key highs and lows of the British working week - an incisive, sympathetic view to the wonders slipped in between the pages and too often passed over in everyday life.

                                    The Silence are a storm that has been brewing across Japan for over a year and now that system is breaking into the skies of the rest of the world. Their debut, self-titled release proved to be simply a preamble to the fluid and formidable electro-acoustic display of ‘Hark The Silence’.

                                    The first record was of a song-based nature, rendered with careful beauty familiar to long-time listeners of Maski Batoh and Ghost; a sounds that turned on occasion into greater journeys. Several months after finishing that album more songs were was taped during an epic recording session in an enormous studio with an audience of listeners whose presence inspired The Silence and added to the performance. However, these recordings were only a beginning and the band returned to the studio later to refine the songs in new versions, creating a powerfully jamming album that contains all the elements of music that define The Silence in flowing and transcendent performance, all of it recorded on 24-track analogue tape, a process which brings their musical and spatial elements into dynamic balance.

                                    Everything in the universe accessible to The Silence may be found in the ‘Ancient Wind’ trilogy that fills side one of ‘Hark The Silence’. From the depths of space rolls washes of gong, through which a terse, minimal bassline comes marching. Rattles of prepared piano spark and pass through the frame, blown over with the celestial omnipotence of a flute. The now-sensuous groove is underscored with luxuriant stereophonic drums rolling across the speakers.

                                    Representing the state of nature from which all music as well as The Silence has to come, ‘Ancient Wind Part 1’ ceases to exist and explodes into a furious Bo-Diddley beat for ‘Part 2’, a chant replete with acid-rock guitar solos, an encompassing saxophone testament and an echounit driven drum breakdown.

                                    Part 3 of ‘Ancient Wind’ resumes the chant in the mode of ‘Gangamanag’ (from Ghost’s ‘Hypnotic Underworld’ opus) and extends the fury of the progression in 7/8 to include a dazzling organ solo over unending volcanic eruption. As the swirling mass subsides, a few rusty blue notes from an acoustic guitar are sounded over the encroaching Silence.

                                    Recorded completely live, ‘Ornament’ continues with resonant guitar acoustics from the fading embers of the first side, starting with a gentle mode and sung by Batoh in their native tongue, before the song ascends to explorations in space with music.

                                    ‘DEX 1’ continues the ride, a heavy jam in 4/4 dedicated to Dexter Gordon with loads of texture from keyboards and saxophone that make for very compelling physical listening.

                                    The second half of the album contains an exquisite and intense rock arrangement from Damon and Naomi with Batoh’s tremendous singing atop the pile-driving power of The Silence in full swing, plus several other awe-inspiring encounters in live performance, minimal jamming, poetry, baritone-sax breath and group-think at its best.

                                    As the album closes with the clarion call of ‘Fireball’ the graveyard of all history traversed by The Silence is illuminated by the dead’s spirit burning in the air - a great and profoundly jarring moment. ‘Hark The Silence’ is a composite of such moments, an album that travels enormous distances and captures live energies in astonishing studio sounds.

                                    ….further along and down the road apiece from where she took her leave of us, Joanna Newsom plays on. Breathe deep and equalize your today-ears to the new world of Divers…

                                    Good heavens-five years go by-what can one do? Dive, listener, knowing that diversions aplenty await: a wheeling circuit of sci-fi sea-shanties and cavalier ballads; a family of polysemic song-sets; a paranomasaic Liederkreis of harmonic sympathies and knotted hierarchies; a fanfare of brazen puns and martial lullabies, blazing in sorrow and horseplay and love, in turns symphonic and spare, joined by Mellotrons and Marxophones and Moogs, clavichords and celestas-and of course the harp, thrumming its threnodies of circadian invasions and avian irruptions and strange loops of Shepard-toned resonant-frequencies and something called goddamned Simulacreage…

                                    The music of Divers is a wonder of considered arrangements, immaculately sequenced for telescoped brevity. The music speeds with dissociative dread over montaged cityscapes; it hoofs with delight among the collaged quotations and sepia-toned codices of Popular Song; it ambles its carefree citational course through the public domain and down into the dustier corners of municipal parks, to lionize infamous airmen and anonymous Dutch Masters, to mourn pearl divers and Poorwills, and to elegize the ineluctable tragedy of relativity…

                                    At the center of the mythos and the maelstrom is the woman. Divers reminds us that Newsom is a melodist, above all—an acolyte of melody and beauty in form, a crackerjack of emotional truth conveyed with undiluted immediacy. Here, at the aortic confluence of countless strings and wires, winking beneath the lacquered layers of instrumental nacre, biding quietly between the ranges of rhapsodic arrangement—including those by Nico Muhly, Ryan Francesconi, Dave Longstreth, and Newsom herself—there lies an intimacy seldom achieved, and simply heard. Divers dives forth with a pure love and respect for the traditions and mysteries of man, such that we can feel the surge of life itself passing over our bones as we hear the songs and sounds, the players and the arrangements; as basic maths are reviewed to uncover heights of joy and sorrow, all traced in triumphal arches and supernumerary rainbows through eternal amber, gleaming in analog entrapment-with that VOICE riding high atop-recorded with snow-bright, high-noon-verity by Steve Albini and Noah Georgeson, mixed in phantasmagoric, deep-sea-saturation by Noah and Joanna, and loosed, fuckin’ FINALLY by Drag City Records.

                                    We have reached Peak Newsom. Divers is coming, to incline into your many and varied lifelines, for now and then and the rest of the moments that will always return in your lifetimes again. 

                                    The Howling Hex

                                    Butterfly / Party Shoes

                                      The Howling Hex have another new single ready. After last year’s extended 10” - ‘Fool’s Watch’ / ‘Lord Gloves’ - opened up wild frontiers in their songs and sounds, this new record is located at the other end of the spectrum.

                                      ‘Butterfly’ and ‘Party Shoes’ are compact pop songs with lyric hooks, vocal harmonies, guitar leads, crazy rhythms and themes of love and peace, mixed together into a beguilingly physical sound. As per the standards of the format, both songs compress all their virtue into classic twoand- a-half minutes flat - the perfect length for popular music in the days when rock and roll radio was the supreme voice of America’s youth.

                                      Of course, as any major Hexhead will tell you, this isn’t your daddy’s rock and roll radio. The Howling Hex perform a rhythmically deliberate and passionate musical interpretation of the classic Norteño musical styles employing electronic rock instrumentation and bar band warmth. The vibrant cadences of the ranchera, waltz and huapango are voiced by The Howling Hex to create a totally new sound suitable for dancing by the mind and the body.

                                      Along with their fellow Denver rhythm disciples Aunt Easter, None Republic and 60Driz, The Howling Hex continue to represent both the best and least of music today.

                                      You thought Ty Segall’s ‘Manipulator’ was the money album of the year? Think again. ‘Singles 2’ is here.

                                      ‘Singles 2’ sweeps out the ashes of the breakneck days (and nights) of 2011 - 2013 and burns down the house all over again in the process - but not by accident. ‘Singles 2’ slinks low and flat-out sprints behind the scenes of the ‘Goodbye Bread’ / ‘Twins’ / ‘Sleeper’ trilogy, collecting all the now-out-of print sides that totally work amazingly well together when placed back-to-back-to-back as an album.

                                      The super-deadly ‘Spiders’ single is spun again here in full, along with the epically pop B-sides for ‘I Can’t Feel It’, ‘The Hill’ and ‘Would You Be My Love’. Plus there are tracks for other righteous labels too like Permanent, Castleface and Famous Class.

                                      Covering The Groundhogs, the Velvets and GG Allin, Ty reps for a good array of punk godheads too. Between the covers and the originals, ‘Singles 2’ is also a run through the SF 388 scene circa 2010 - 2013, with various local heroes like King Riff, Mike Donovan and Ty himself at the board.

                                      ‘Singles 2’ is really about the rush of getting a single for the A-side and then finding a total sunshine jewel like ‘Children Of Paul’ or ‘Mother Lemonade’ on the flip. Or a stone-solid jam on a classic like the complete retooling of ‘Femme Fatale’ or the Mackay-style sax bleatings of ‘Fucked Up Motherfucker’.

                                      Closing the album with the seemingly unlikely (‘Music For A Film’) and the seemingly inevitable (‘Pettin The Dog’, a mighty hardcore slamming of the lid) cleanses the palate for... what? Another spin, probably! Singles 2 has been designed to withstand obsessive flipping.

                                      The George-Edwards Group

                                      Chapter III

                                        ‘Chapter III’ of The George-Edwards Group archives draws from deep in the pockets of their sporadic later embodiment. With their grand 70s dreams of Hollywood stardom fading, Edward Balian and Ray George continued to track their winsome muse, perhaps a bit more aggro and with a bit more dolour than they had back in the ‘38:38’ days.

                                        Although late 60s Detroit was the seedbed for The George-Edwards Group, they had more in common with Silver Apples than the Amboy Dukes. Enamoured of keyboard effects and sonic tomfoolery, they developed their sound away from the scene, slowly developing a spacily elegant pop music as the 70s passed by outside their basement lair. Scoring their melancholic melodies with bells, pianos and synthesizer led to something you might almost call ba-roque ‘n’ roll, or perhaps like demos for Big Star’s ‘Third’.

                                        In 1977, they laid down enough tracks to produce a white-label LP pressing that they dubbed ‘38:38’; however, a trip to the Sunset Strip to drum up record label enthusiasm was a complete bust. However, without that pressing of 100 copies, where would the legend of George-Edwards be? Instead, based on oft-told tales, Galactic Zoo Disks located the music and the band brought this wayward classic to Drag City. ‘38:38’ received a first official release in 2009, to great fanfare. The 21st century discovery of The George-Edwards was also accompanied by a show or two (still in the deep underground, of course), along with, naturally, the recovery of more tapes. The 2011 GZD / DC release, titled ‘Archives’, brought to the light a few fuzzheavy rock cuts and deep synth dirges to add to the ethereal G-E signature.

                                        ‘Chapter III’ throws the vault open once again with flair: ‘The 8th Circus’ is a magisterial guitar lead couched in synth chirps and swoops, all of which has a distinctive ASW (After Star Wars) vintage to it. The classic George-Edwards murk drifts through several sweetand- sad songs before the bubblegummy bounce of ‘My Love’ pops up, followed by the trapped-in-the-funhouse pastiche of ‘Who Stole My Brain?’.

                                        Side two features a few surging tracks that recall Archives rockers like ‘Shattered Heart’, as well as several more ARP-string-laden ballads in the classic ‘38:38’ G-E tradition. All in all, an excellent third trip to the faraway heart of The George-Edwards Group.

                                        Full-tilt with tunes, aggro riffs, feedback peals, stoned soul-searching, pop turnarounds and magisterial portraits of the go-nowhere lifestyle in abstract, ‘Weirdon’ is also a new-phase Purling Hiss album, using the songwriting and guitar style of Mike Polizze to come up with a quicksilver sound touched on only briefly on previous records.

                                        Replete with handclaps, pounding pianos, tambourines and vocal effects, but steeped in guitar roar, Purling Hiss streamlines up nicely, serving the new songs and directions of ‘Weirdon’ while still slamming down hard on your ears like they like to do.

                                        Simultaneously ramshackle and overblown, tactile and free, the early Purling of ‘Hissteria’ and ‘Public Service Announcement’ used DIY limitations to soar through speakers with a new rock sound.

                                        As listeners came gathering and gathering, the call for shows and more shows and then tours became an issue, so Mike expanded Purling Hiss from just his guitar and tape recorder and him into a full-blown trio, capable of lifting heavier than even the records’ thick layers of distorto implied. Now the guitar worked together with the rhythm section rather than fighting it, ‘Sister Ray’-style. In addition to its amazing songs, their previous album ‘Water On Mars’ exploited the bombast of the live, power-trio incarnation but in order to put the next set of songs across, Mike needed to go to another dimension in his mind.

                                        After trading the distant drum of early days for a thick, upfront kit sound on ‘Water On Mars’ - additionally revealing real words attached to Mike’s vocal melodies - Purling Hiss have spread it out again, pushing Mike’s guitar tides over the top, splashing across the drums and vocals. The mix retains a certain clarity nonetheless, even when it matches the crush-and-whine of cheap rhythm sounds with mountainous body, singing leads and infinite distortion layers.

                                        If ‘Water On Mars’ was the Purling Hiss heavy rock album, ‘Weirdon’ travels into the pop dimension of Purling Hiss, making of their fastest and catchiest songs in the abiding images of punk and psychedelia. Written alone to achieve a contrast with the previous album and return in a sense to the original approach, ‘Weirdon’ was made with no concept of limitations on what could be performed live. Mike’s new songs open up, going all over the place, while still based in their home-cooked blend of catharsis and shredding, both in the guitar playing and the inner life of the album.

                                        Full of colour and rock and roll, ‘Weirdon’ is a rainbow of a record; beaming down to the stereos and streets and highways and boom boxes of today, through the unique and still-growing prism of Purling Hiss.

                                        THE SEGALL HAS LANDED. And it’s fully loaded, with everything that Ty Segall (and you and me) are gonna need in the world to come. Heads up! It’s coming down fast. Sticking his hand deeper into the machines all around him, TY is reaching ever further to the outer limits of inner space orbited throughout 'Twins' and 'Sleeper'. And now more than ever, the chunks of the world that came before are like asteroids formed in his image... picking up speed... Still fighting the power with all the energy that a determined mind-patriot can conjure, Ty’s a fighter who loves, a surfer, a spaceman, and yeah, a casualty - like you, he’ll never be free. But unlike you, he knows it - and when he goes down and his head cracks in two, out pour the multi-colored manias that make up 'Manipulator'. Sour-sweet declarations featuring freaks and creeps alike: 'The Singer', 'The Faker', 'Mister Main', 'Susie Thumb' the 'Connection Man' and 'The Crawler', to name but a mutant fistful.

                                        To see these peeps, to realize their dreams and visions, TY kept working, kept writing, laying down more tracks than ever. New musical expressions pop and surprise relentlessly throughout all the knockout tunes of 'Manipulator' with many sounds in the mix - but most of all, SO many guitars! So many. And different kinds of strings - the strangled-neck solo of “The Singer,” recalling the good old days down by the river with Neil. Numbed-and-unplugged discursions spiraling away from the funk on “Mister Main.” Three-quarter quartets raising their din in a few key places. Waves of sparkling acoustics with ominous, Love-ly undertones - and then, torrents of filthy git-grunge, exploding into the chorus, washing everything away, fusing the blackness of Sabbath with the grime and grab-ass of the Stooges and the sweet swinging tones of the Stones. All in the name of getting higher on the music. Why have one guitar solo when you can have a few in the same space? There’s so little time, and a LOT to say. In order to ensure that he got it all out, TY called a few friends to fill in special parts on certain 'Manipulator' songs. He got great touches from Chris Woodhouse (piano, synth & percussion), Sean Paul Presley (vocals), Brit Lauren Manor (vocals), Steve Nutting (drums), Irene Salzer (violin), Jessica Ivry (cello), Matthias McEntire (viola) and the Ty Segall band (Mikal Cronin, Charles Mootheart, Emily Rose Epstein). Plus, Mikal arranged the strings - and everyone played awesomely. The clarion call / siren song of his guitar . . . . clouds of guitar billowing, blood rushing to the head, the temperature going from blue to red... TY’s on a mission, working to change chemistry through music with the steam-lined pop and helium-cooled vocals of 'Manipulator'. These seventeen songs take many forms, as if TY is finally releasing all the thoughts that have been holding him down, that made him pick up the ax to begin with. By the end of 'Manipulator', you’ll feel that he must have chased all the demons — but it’s a big world, and 'Manipulator' has only begun to fight.

                                        STAFF COMMENTS

                                        Darryl says: Since 2008 Ty Segall has now released eight solo albums, numerous collaborations with the likes of Mikal Cronin and White Fence and been a member of bands like Sic Alps and last year’s fabulous Fuzz project. So it might come as a surprise then that for a man known for such prolificacy that Segall has spent close to 14 months honing his latest epic into an all-thriller no-filler long player. Containing a snapshot of everything that we’ve come to love from the man, from his 60s garage rock obsession to his 70s glam and punk influences, ‘Manipulator’ is prime Segall, but brought into a sharper focus than ever before. Right from the off it’s clear that Segall intends to push the psych-pop button, almost all the tracks on ‘Manipulator’ are potential singles from glam stompers to acoustic strummers to face melting fuzz-noise-pop, it’s an album of total craftsmanship.

                                        Smog

                                        Red Apple Falls

                                          Over the years Smog records ranged around from several completely selfplayed and recorded efforts, dictated by voices from within, to more collaborative projects involving the people outside Bill Callahan’s head. However, never before was there a Smog album made like this

                                          Produced and co-arranged by Jim O’Rourke, ‘Red Apple Falls’ combs back the passions of ‘Wild Love’ and ‘The Doctor Came At Dawn’ to make an even part, revealing a purer pop sound; all of it pressed into pure 24k gold.

                                          Why is it that Smog looks to find beauty in such unfortunate moments? Is sadness truly this wonderful? Make no mistake - Smog were always about beauty. Even back in the home-cooked early days of ‘Sewn To The Sky’ and ‘Forgotten Foundation’, the rocky sounds and found noises were a way to express wonderment and experience joy. More recent Smog releases vividly (and exclusively) catalogued the agonies of failing relationships and breaches of faith so intense that ‘the singer’ ended up isolated by belief. Placing himself in a fictive position seemed to allows Bill to tap into deep emotional trespasses. This ability to fictionalize stepped up to centre stage for ‘Red Apple Falls’.

                                          Here we have the tale of a man no longer bitter over the lonely path of his life. In the middle of the night, a ‘Blood Red Bird’ crying in the darkness is his closest companion; upon waking, even ‘The Morning Paper’ is more company than he can bear. Rather than be regarded as a friend, he recalls fondly the days when ‘I Was A Stranger’. The parade of small tales rolls out with the languor and uniform quality of the Kinks’ Village Green Preservation Society - one story at a time, each with its own rueful bite.

                                          It all hearkens back to the song ‘Fables’, from the first Smog album, ‘Sewn To The Sky’, a song about the people’s penchant for morality play. On ‘Red Apple Falls’, things like the song ‘Red Apples’ (a remake of an early period Smog song) present epochal imagery very much in the centuries-old mythic tradition. Smog presents fables for our troubled times.

                                          The soundtrack to this not unentirelv unpleasant state of affairs is the most visceral backing we’ve heard on a Smog album to date. Lush instrumentation threads through the material, with the sudden booming of a French horn giving way midsong to a barrelhouse, piano riff, a bloomin’ steel guitar, or a chorus of sweet Smog chanting. It’s enough to make you think you’re listening to a Nick Drake record, or ‘Forever Changes’. The orchestral feel of the record is reminiscent of later Phil Spector productions like George Harrison’s ‘All Things Must Pass’ and Dion’s ‘Born To Be With You’.

                                          Now available again after far too long on CD through Drag City.

                                          ‘Chills On Glass’, Dead Rider’s third album, is as distinct from the second album as ‘The Raw Dents’ was from their debut, ‘Mother Of Curses’.

                                          The goal for Dead Rider is always super-heavy and superdriving, with more ‘up’ moments than ever before. ‘Chills On Glass’ moves forward in this tradition, juxtaposing high and low values - serious playing, danceablity, controlledoutcomes and experimentation, thick and thrashing rhythms and expertly manoeuvred tight corners, vocal textures smooth and sandy rubbing together and igniting. Synths tickle the top of one’s spine, guitars piercing like a neural system, the fullness of real drums, vocal layers and masks of all kinds.

                                          This is composition that uses improvisation as an element within a larger structure, the ultimate streamlining of production, where songs are processed on several levels, mirroring and flashing their meanings through tactics and layers, backgrounded by a panorama of yawning, silent, benevolent black velvet. Dead Rider move relentlessly around the borders of their sound, finding new textures throughout, which act as candy to the ears. Self-recorded, produced and mastered in the Dead Rider studio suites, ‘Chills On Glass’ is a self-contained statement.

                                          Todd Rittmann, infamous from his days in US Maple, is a guitar warrior with intensive craft at his fingertips. For the past five years, he’s been furthering his reputation by doing further damage with his instrument and others, and by spreading the carnage wide with Dead Rider (Matthew Espy, Andrea Faught, Thymme Jones and Rittmann for ‘Chills On Glass’).

                                          New Bums are a new band featuring two wellseasoned veterans of the underground music wars: Donovan Quinn (Skygreen Leopards) and Ben Chasny (Six Organs Of Admittance, Comets On Fire, 200 Years, Rangda).

                                          Debut album ‘Voices In A Rented Room’ tells New Bums’ whole life story and probably more of yours than you’d care to admit. The voices are two, spinning harmonies both heavenly and saltpickled.

                                          Picking their direction and floating along on a pair of acoustics, New Bums are the sound of old drunk America, dancing out of the shadows, coming forth again to stand in the light, in the hopes of repopulating those sad old single-occupancy hotels before they’re all torn down.

                                          Dub is a spiritual, abstract, visceral, mystical thing. Finite and infinite at the same time. Deeply rooted in the earth and embracing outer space. Don’t be fooled by names, dub has come and gone. Dub is a ghost, a duppy.

                                          Here you will find versions of the ‘Dream River’ songs that have been killed and resurrected, spilling tales of the other side of life in a language conceivable only if you let yourself be taken there.

                                          Introducing a worldwide audience to the bumpin’ and rollin’ new sound of Bill Callahan.

                                          STAFF COMMENTS

                                          Andy says: If you loved last year's parent album as much as we did at Piccadilly, you'll think you've died and gone to heaven when you hear this blissed-out dub version. Totally gorgeous!

                                          Michael Yonkers

                                          Michael Lee Yonkers

                                            By now, the legend of Michael Yonkers has ascended to estimable levels, at last. It should have happened long ago - after all, it was over ten years back that the word got out, when his previously-unreleased 1968 Sire album ‘Microminiature Love’ was issued by Destjil and then Sub Pop. A thousand noise-rock ears pricked up, in the same fashion as in 1967, when folks heard The Velvet Underground and Nico, when those lucky enough to stumble across said sounds formed their own bands immediately. Yes, it turns out the reclusive Minneapolis dancer had just as seminally prefigured proto-punk / metal / noise though his own brand of amped-up garage rock, but no one knew. In this blog-happy latter decade, Michael has picked up where he left off, exploring blown-out frequencies with collaborators around the globe, and his work has claimed a seat next to underground legends like The Fugs, VU, Sonic Youth and even ol’ Jimi.

                                            What a lot of folks still don’t know is that Michael put aside his hand-built fuzz boxes and bellowing vocal style in the 70s to record and self-release some truly lilting homespun folk albums, where he explored the sound of acoustic guitars, layered, madrigal-like vocals, and only the most subtle applications of electricity, all in service of some truly somber and mesmerizing songs. Of these albums, only ‘Goodbye Sunball’ and ‘Grimwood’ have been reissued, as well as Drag City / Galactic Zoo Disk’s now sold-out ‘Lovely Gold’ (recorded in 1977, but unreleased until 2010).

                                            There’s yet another musical colour revealed on the uber-rare private press, ‘Michael Lee Yonkers’, which was home-recorded in 1971-72, while Michael was working in an unheated, hundred year-old warehouse. He ran the forklift and drove the truck for the company, hauling extremely heavy loads of industrial surplus and scrap metal. His co-workers almost exclusively listened to country & western music, which inspired him to create and perform an oddly countrified set on weekends, when he would play in coffeehouses and at house parties. Yonkers would do an acoustic set of original “country” and “rock” music for the first part, then he would get out an “electronic music machine” that he had built himself and play “electronic music”, according to Michael himself.

                                            ‘Michael Lee Yonkers’ is a recording of some of the ‘country’ songs he was doing at the time, as well as a few songs he wrote for the children at the house parties (like ‘Mrs. Jennings Fruit Fly Farm’, recorded live, where you can hear the kids going nuts). The tracks were recorded on a variety of tube-type, reel-to-reel tape machines, which give them a unique analogue sound that begs comparisons to outsider hillbillies like Peter Grudzien, Holy Modal Rounders and The Legendary Stardust Cowboy, as well as beloved longhair outlaws like Townes Van Zandt and Kris Kristofferson (ok, even one St. Johnny Cash too).

                                            The original art and labels have been faithfully reproduced and, with a discreet remastering touch, the tracks sound better than ever. Originals go for over $60, so get these before they fly out the door and sell for almost $60, ala ‘Lovely Gold’.

                                            After 15 years, Mick Turner has turned in the big rock record we always knew he had in him. ‘Don’t Tell The Driver’ is a different kind of record from all the Mick Turner records - not just his own, but the ones he’s done with Dirty Three, Bonny Billy, Cat Power, Fungus Brains and Venom P. Stinger put together.

                                            ‘Don’t Tell The Driver’ is inarguably the first post-rock rock opera of our times. It wouldn’t be a rock opera without a vague / indecipherable theme of wonder and disenchantment, and indeed, ‘Don’t Tell The Driver’ delivers in spades on that account.

                                            Like all the best masterpieces, ‘Don’t Tell The Driver’ came together slowly, spurred by life experiences and aided by the meditation that only time brings. Over the last four years, Mick put together the pieces at Big Moth Studios in Melbourne, working his magic with aquatic guitar-and-drums chemistry, augmenting the tracks with melodica, piano and Fender Rhodes, and then bringing in the vocalists and other additional players when the tracks were ready for them.

                                            To reach the exalted next-level listening experience that ‘Don’t Tell The Driver’ arrives at by the time it reaches ‘The Last Song’, Mick had a little help from his friends - some of Australia’s most distinctive talents augment his trademark instrumental constructions. Vocalists Caroline Kennedy-McCraken (Dead Star, The Plums, Caroline No) and progressive classical / opera singer Oliver Mann, both of whose contributions rub naturally against Mick’s coarse textures. Sitting in the Tren throne mighty drummers Ian Wadley (Bird Blobs, Minimum Chips), Jeff Wegener (Laughing Clowns) and Kishore Ryan (Kid Sam, Where Were You At Lunch) do more than just fill the space equitably, they meet Mick out in his wild landscapes and ride the winds with him, bringing expert percussive colours to his soundworld. Helping set the drummers in the frame is bassist Peggy Frew (Art Of Fighting). Topping off this extensive crew and providing a strong frame for the ‘narrative’ are sweetly sentimental brass arrangements featuring trumpet and French horn.

                                            Replete with classic epics and timely reprises, ‘Don’t Tell The Driver’ is an inspired and focused collection of Mick Turner music that reaches for new borders without sacrificing the dizzy wandering and painterly stillness that has typified Mick’s best work of the past.

                                            Mick is an accomplished painter whose work adorns all the records he makes, and his latest paintings cover every available surface of ‘Don’t Tell The Driver’.

                                            Mike Donovan’s debut comes following a distinguished run of tunesmithing for noise-popster poster boyz Sic Alps, so he’s well prepared to go the solo route with a sack full of songs.

                                            Lyrically, Mike’s sharpened the lead for a less random line drawn in the sand - allusive trips, lost in crystal canyons, turning a phrase with an acid flick of the wristwatch. Guitars intersecting in the manner of the old loom The Stones once used, weaving in blue. Where rubric becomes fabric becomes freecidelic. Confronting the empty in acrostic (inner) space, WOT is Plastic Ono dyspeptic arrhythmia. The dream is over, so he’s starting a new dream.

                                            Your troubadour for the new era is Mike Donovan, and he captains his own ship, known to all as ‘WOT’. Stripped of electric additions and distractions, deduced to a dialog mostly, the twelve new hot mercury tunes are departing now. Leaving on a jet stream, the soul-sound dissolves in a liquid hiss.

                                            ‘Return Of The Silkie’, 1983’s third chapter in the as-yet unfinished saga of the nomadic West Coast harpist Carol Kleyn, offers a slice of the wild and free utopian dream that changed so many lives in the 60s and 70s.

                                            Pure and simple, harp and vocals, accompanied only by scatterings of harbor seals and sea lions, this loosely woven concept album includes gentle reminders that life is short - take it in while you can and, along the way, try to preserve the magnificence of this world for the next generation. Sentiments and music as hauntingly true today as the day they were first sung and recorded.

                                            Carol’s lyrics close with: “there’s a storm over paradise and it’s we who decide… just how long we shall live… or when we shall die…” The instrumental that follows, and closes this album, reiterates that message with the cries of sea lions in the background, as the ‘Silkie’ returns, perhaps by choice, to her underwater origins.

                                            Thirty years later, Carol resides on an island in Puget Sound, where she walks amongst the eagles and the sea lions, and is guided by the beauty and the changes she observes along that beach, in the sky and on a distant Mt. Rainier. Of greatest concern to her today is that the heat wave we’re now experiencing has only just begun. That being said, there will be, without a doubt, new songs and recordings to follow.

                                            FORMAT INFORMATION

                                            LP Info: The vinyl format is represented by a remastered, newlypressed
                                            LP, packaged in the original album jackets and recently
                                            signed, with love, from Carol to you.

                                            Magik Markers

                                            Ice Skater / Machines

                                            In anticipation of Magik Markers’ long awaited new album, ‘Surrender To The Fantasy’, the band release this 7”.

                                            Magik Markers put the sense and sensibility back into sensuality with ‘Ice Skater’, which radiates mystic allure and cool remove. It melts all over you with a winsome melody, bloodless disco beat and nu-romance synths blaring in pastel flares.

                                            The B-side balances the new Magik Markers scale with a blast of freejams based on the chords of… well, no chords. ‘Machines’ will definitely remind you of nights spent with these guys playing the soundtrack to your life.

                                            The sound of the rejuvenated Magik Markers trio features John Shaw’s bass guitar holding it down while Elisa and Pete let it loose. Cymbal stutter and ripping guitar tones will definitely abrade your ears.

                                            In the song world of Bill Callahan, the present realities tumble ecstatically like cloth in the wind - sheets and flags and clothes. These things borne aloft are not simply physical details in the landscape, but the contours of an emotional one as well. Bill’s a cartographer way out there, tracing the coastlines, telling the tales he has discovered along the way. Some seen in life and others in mind’s eye, they float down ‘Dream River’ with humble eminence.

                                            The river that was once deemed not too much to love, that once freed convicts and their guard in a still and silent moment, is now a ‘Dream River’, fished in a variety of depths, viewed in panorama. This is a waterway that winds across the landmass, a ribbon that touches and changes and feeds and gives to and takes from many lives as it rolls to the ocean.

                                            Dialed into the mindset, the ‘Dream River’ instrumental crew man a hovercraft that bears the songs along, humming deeply with bass and percolating with the abiding resonance of hands drumming on skins, the lively popping of claves. Guitar strums fan into blooms of smoke, sliced through by other guitars taking other forms - shards of mirrors, plumes of ignition, telephone wires, snakes and ladders plunging through the depths of the sky. The musical modes are exquisite, aquatic; shifting in delicate but deliberate undetectable time as Bill’s lyrics wander from yard to yard.

                                            ‘Dream River’ is the fourth studio album from Bill Callahan, following the sweet devastation of ‘Apocalypse’.

                                            STAFF COMMENTS

                                            Patrick says: It's easy to paint Bill Callahan as a world weary traveller. After all, he's fourteen albums into a twenty year career, deadpans with the best of them and has been known to dwell on death and destruction more than a Scandinavian drama. His last offering, 2011's ‘Apocalypse’ sees two protagonists meet their maker before side-B is through, amongst a general discourse on devastation and despair. But if ‘Apocalypse’ was the storm sent to purge the earth, then ‘Dream River’ is the verdant calm that follows. Bill has always explored natural themes, even back in his days as a lo-fi auteur, and on this album they abound. As ever water is the most prominent motif, whether it be a river, ocean or rain, with Bill's warm baritone deep enough to drown in. Elsewhere, flight is the focus as arrows, javelins and seagulls all soar through clear skies adding to the lightness of what is certainly Callahan's most uplifting album to date. But what is most striking about ‘Dream River’ is the happy marriage of Callahan's trademark Americana with soul. Aside from the lyrical nod to Marvin Gaye and Bill's Callier register, the congas and claves of Thor Harris lend a temperate groove to proceedings, while Beth Galiger's flute doffs it's beret towards Brian Jackson, inspired by Gil Scott-Heron covering ‘I'm New Here’. Once again the excellent Matt Kinsey returns to add his psychedelic guitar to the record, magnifying the transportative qualities of "Summer Painter" and "Javelin Unlanding". ‘Dream River’ sees a mature Callahan at his best casting a musical spell that only breaks when the needle hits the centre.

                                            Five short years into the Ty Segall expedition and we’re farther and farther out with each and every record. Between two minds, between two places, beyond previous album ‘Twins’, ‘Sleeper’ envisions a world of haves and have-nots, but the currency that separates them is psychic.

                                            With ‘Sleeper’, Ty Segall explores your mind, coming through his own head to slip inside with thought sharing. Ty engineered this one from beginning to end, and his ultimate sonics were accessed with a freaky hand and an instinct for what makes something perfect. ‘Sleeper’ flows more colours through your mind’s eye than ever before, pushing the walls of the universe out just a micron further, making everything heavier and lighter all at once, to allow for one moment that will live forever.

                                            STAFF COMMENTS

                                            Andy says: Cracked, slightly fried, acoustic psych...a glorious departure for this most prolific artist. His best yet?

                                            FORMAT INFORMATION

                                            LP Info: Deluxe vinyl pressing in heavyweight gatefold sleeve.

                                            The Venom P. Stinger retrospective is on. One of the roughest groups of the 80s is back in print on vinyl and the first time ever on CD. If you think of Venom P. Stinger simply as the proving ground for 2/3rds of the Dirty Three first, then you're seriously missing the point.

                                            It was the mid-80s and everything was going fine. Melbourne had launched the career of the legendary Birthday Party, but there were loads of other interesting and great things going on, like Sick Things for instance. Dugald McKenzie and Mick Turner were part of that extremely raw and intense band, whose ‘Committed To Suicide’ had changed so many lives. Mick had also played in The Moodists and was in Fungus Brains and some others. Also on the scene was Jim White, who was playing in several bands, including People With Chairs Up Their Noses and the Feral Dinosaurs. It was a small group of people playing in bands like these back in mid-80s Melbourne and probably only a matter of time before they played in the same band together. And so, they did.

                                            Venom P. Stinger attacked in a modified, somewhat streamlined hardcore punk style, with Mick’s burnt-andtwisted guitar tone setting them apart. Also unique was Jim White’s drumming, which appeared to be born of a drum roll that grows and grows until it has eclipsed the entire kit, played with casual aplomb while never sparing the rod to any aimed-for surface. Meanwhile, bassist Alan Secher-Jensen nailed these loosely divergent styles together with nice heavy root notes.

                                            Instead of the violent pile-up that occurred in every Sick Things recording, there was instead something more organized, though coming from unique and indeed, singular corners of approach: post-hardcore with a very individual style. Unchanged from Sick Things days, however, was frontman Dugald McKenzie, whose vocalizing was a ferocious, largely apolitical transference of personal experience, all about conveying the awful qualities of life with throaty sensuousness and dirty glee. A band with this kind of errant power fronted by a reprobate like Dugald, it made for madly entertaining music.

                                            Dugald lived as rough as he sang, and when he stopped showing up to rehearsals and gigs, the rest of the band continued on with Nick Palmer on the mic. He was good, but Venom P. Stinger wasn’t the same; something deeply psychotic was missing. For Mick and Jim, the next step was a band that didn’t rehearse at all. And a new chap named Warren Ellis had just hit town...

                                            Today the name of Alasdair Roberts is known throughout the world as one of the foremost singers of Scottish music, through several albums of original songwriting and serveral other albums interpreting traditional songs — as well as hundreds of shows where Alasdair’s deep knowledge, commitment and passion are evident to everyone in the room. There has been a lot of music played and a rich procession of recordings made in the past decade, which makes it high time that we reintroduce the first Alasdair Roberts LP/CD released on Drag City back in April of 2003, Farewell Sorrow.

                                            After spending the waning years of his adolescence playing and recording his songs under the nom-de-musique Appendix Out, Alasdair Roberts stepped into his own shoes all at once with this album. Where Appendix Out had approached the world of traditional songs through the veils of “indie rock,” Farewell Sorrow acknowledged the primacy of the source material for the first time in Roberts’ young-but-dailygrowing career. This was in fact a seed that would blossom perennially and into unpredicted directions over the course of the next decade. The latest release of all-new original material from Alasdair, A Wonder Working Stone, provides startling contrast to Farewell Sorrow’s almost popbased sound — and yet there is a continuity shared between both and a deep maturity to the earlier work — as if somehow the child were the father to the man? Farewell Sorrow runs through a sequence of songs that face up to the new status of manhood, once again available on LP and CD for you to commit to the rich troves of your own musical history when listening. It’s a great and tuneful way to play a part in the history that Alasdair made once upon a time.

                                            ‘The Best Of The Howling Hex’ is a new album of new music by a new incarnation of The Howling Hex, now broadcasting as a band from the big town of Denver, Colorado. After years staked out in the border country of southern New Mexico, guitarist and leader Neil Hagerty is back in the phonebook, giving the Hex an urban soapbox on which to stand for the first time in their ten years of rere- revisionist history.

                                            ‘The Best Of The Howling Hex’ is the first album of new music since the release of ‘Wilson Semiconductors’ in 2011.

                                            ‘The Best Of The Howling Hex’ weaves the wild spirits and far-flung textures of ‘Wilson Semiconductors’ into tightly compressed sing-songs, before turning the jam out to bring the levee home. Hagerty’s guitar tone is an alien wonder, and the careening beat of the band unleashes him to fill solo spots with fervour.

                                            After five years of wandering through the arid brushcountry of ‘Earth Junk’ and ‘Wilson Semiconductors’ (as well as the sidetrack soundtrack adventure that was ‘Victory Chimp, A Book’), the days of the covered wagon seem to be behind The Howling Hex for the time being. However, the depth of the earth and the true direction of the wind are lessons learned from their years out there - they can’t be unlearned.

                                            The Howling Hex are now operating out of Denver, CO, and feature Eric Allen (of The Apples In Stereo) on bass guitar.

                                            FORMAT INFORMATION

                                            CD Info: The CD format of The Best of the Howling Hex features a
                                            bonus secret hidden mystery track, further extending the
                                            New Border sound of The Howling Hex.

                                            ‘Twins’ is Ty Segall’s fourth full release this year. A singles comp, a fabulous collaboration with White Fence, an album with The Ty Segall Band, and now this.

                                            ‘Twins’ contains the hit single ‘The Hill’.

                                            ‘Twins’ follows ‘Goodbye Bread’, ‘Melted’, ‘Lemons’ and ‘Ty Segall’ as the prime statements in Ty Segall’s ongoing discography, dating back to 2008.

                                            Today, Ty Segall is a new man, a different kind of man from his more knuckle dragging earlier incarnations. Now he’s jetting toward Jupiter, brooding, looking around with X-ray eyes, yearning with a superhuman heart for a love to come and stay.

                                            The songs of ‘Twins’ are haunted by ghosts, shadowed by the other that we’ll never see, struggling to rise above. A fury of rock ensues; songs rigged to explode on a dime, fired from a cannon into the stratosphere. They fuse together into one multifarious projectile, a bullet from a gun marked yin and yang.

                                            Woo / Nite Jewel

                                            Intensity / PS

                                            The split single is a humble thing, rarely transcending its temporal limitations. A great split draws connections, leverages fame, and creates a cohesive, singular experience. Drag City and Yoga Records proudly present such an experience courtesy of Woo and Nite Jewel.

                                            The recording project of Ramona Gonzalez, Nite Jewel crashed the party a few years back with the now-classic ‘Good Evening’, and won legions of new fans with her recent second long player ‘One Second Of Love’. The Nite Jewel side is a moody mix of thick synth riffs and the Frippertonic-like guitar of Corey Lee Granet.

                                            This record also hopes to spotlight a duo flying just under the radar for more than 30 years now - brothers Clive & Mark Ives of Woo. Working in a variety of instrumental forms, Woo feature a pulsing sound as distinctive and additive as anything by Kraftwerk or ESG. Comparisons like that only sound like crazy talk if you’re unfamiliar with Woo, so check out the new reissue of their 1989 album ‘It’s Cosy Inside. It’s not crazy talk.

                                            STAFF COMMENTS

                                            Philippa says: Nite Jewell is joined by the Warlocks' Corey Lee Granet for her side, while late 80s duo Woo supply non-LP track "Intensity".

                                            During Pavement’s ‘One More For The Money’ tour of 2010, Sic Alps played some British gigs with them. It’s been written that during one long night in Brixton, Stephen Malkmus was heard uttering within shot of a microphone that Sic Alps would be one of the most important bands of the next ten years.

                                            ‘Sic Alps’ will be the fifth album from Sic Alps, if you include the compilation album ‘A Long Way Around To A Shortcut’ on Drag City. There’ve also been a number of singles and some splits. In the nearly-two-years since ‘Napa Asylum’, Sic Alps have kept busy with a series of singles, culminating in the tape-stretching double-B side ‘Vedley’ and a 7” EP of Tronics covers.

                                            ‘Valley Tangents’ is Blues Control’s fourth all-new full-length album since 2006.

                                            Now located in the Woodstock of east Pennsylvania, Lehigh Valley, Blues Control conceived ‘Valley Tangents’ far from the madding crowds they’d previously swarmed with and composed among. Could this be the reason for the homegrown, natural feel of the music, with the metronomical hissing of summer mosquito-bots behind their signature Debussy via Guaraldi qua Bley qua Hornsby pianisms, and the playful juxtapositions of a full spectrum of rock colours - stadium, industrial, psych and prog (to name just a few)?

                                            Blues Control’s shape-shifting qualities hint at a mystic lounge act, with spacey guitar leads, a clarion synth and the punch of real drums, only to suddenly discover they were instead playing inside a world music bag, wrapping their mellow drugmospheres around a crisp keyboard centre, evoking heat and nature with waves radiating from seemingly formal Western scales.

                                            Upon hearing ‘Valley Tangents’, long-time listeners will surely attest that the band are increasingly capable of anything in the spectrum they feel should be integrated.

                                            As with each of their earlier efforts, ‘Valley Tangents’ is a full (r)evolution ahead of what came before, at times an unrecognizable new blend of sounds to call Blues Control. Closer listens will bring into focus the continuities that make the band who they are and have been. It ultimately doesn’t matter where on earth this was conceived and laid down and mixed, it came from two minds alone, and nobody else but Blues Control are in control of doing it quite like this.

                                            ‘In The Yard’ is the second drum and voice album from Neal Morgan, finding the writer at the drum kit considering home, wandering his neighbourhood to know and become known, calling out villains from his youth, swimming on tour, reaching out to loved ones, and paying homage to the painter Philip Guston. The album extends Neal’s commitment to composing exclusively with drumming and singing.

                                            Over the past several years, Neal has been widely heard and seen as the drummer for Joanna Newsom and Bill Callahan, having arranged and performed the drums and percussion on Newsom’s ‘Have One On Me’, and Callahan’s ‘Apocalypse’, as well as accompanying Newsom in performance since 2006 and Callahan since 2009, often times opening shows around the world.

                                            Neal’s 2009 debut, ‘To The Breathing World’, presented a particular flavour of drum and voice composition not previously presented for commercial consumption. Neal found artistic independence through the medium, a staking out of fertile ground. ‘In The Yard’ is similarly a purposeful venture into the world of song from a singing drummer’s perspective behind the kit.

                                            Thicker, denser, warbling and crunching in time - a motorik masterwork! The new Cave is roller-rinkin' rock for the next generation! Jamz from humans being for you to put into/onto your machine.

                                            This long player is the band’s first recording as a four-piece. As a result, ‘Neverendless’ is more concise than any other Cave record, despite clocking in at over 40 minutes.

                                            ‘Neverendless’ is Cave’s second recording for Drag City following last year’s ‘Pure Moods’ EP.

                                            Cave recorded and mixed the album with Benjamin Balcom, which they have done before, but never with such results.

                                            ‘Neverendless’ features high quality artwork from Janus Zebulon of Hungry Mother Productions.

                                            Music from Cave has appeared on Cave Tapes, Permanent, Important, Static Caravan, Trensmat and Drag City.

                                            It’s almost 1980. Soho, New York, is fertile with young, no wave punks getting sharper and increasingly angular: Glenn Branca, DNA, Teenage Jesus, Contortions, Suicide, as well as the groups they would spawn. Coveted and revered bands for many today, this music was peripheral at the time. Within the periphery of this periphery, Social Climbers made sounds that were of their environs yet remarkably unique, leaving an indelible stamp on the scene while somehow managing to slither undetected out of all the history books.

                                            A downtown New York art band as much as any other, Social Climbers also claimed Midwestern roots and actual musicianship that many of their contemporaries lacked, and in trade dismissed and essentially protested the snotty pretensions that drove many others within the scene.

                                            Social Climbers are an absolute post punk blueprint: fat bass (often two), guitar, drum machine (dubbed ‘The Monkey’), feverish vocals, and organ.

                                            Their lone, self-titled album is agitated and impossibly wild, yet danceable and composed. And it’s here, again, sounding as relevant today as it did when it was of the moment; perhaps, even more so.

                                            Pat "P.G. Six" Gubler is still enmeshed in the mystic & the unknowable even as he feels and knows the fullness of his rock phase on his latest, 'Starry Mind'. The band featured on 2007's 'Slightly Sorry' (with Debby Schwartz coming in on bass) has grown together, and you can hear it in the powerful unity of the performances.

                                            This has a 'Shoot Out The Lights' vibe versus 'Slightly Sorry's 'I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight', played with a bit more rock abandon, and includes a guest spot from Tara Key (ANTIETAM). Fear not, Pat's serene vocalizing over a gently shaken brew of folk, rock and experimental elements is still atop the mountain, herein. To aid the long and lonely wait until the next iteration, 'Starry Mind' is here to fill our cosmos.

                                            Cliffie Swan used to be the American band called Lights who put out two CDs - a self-titled release on Language Of Stone and ‘Rites’ on Drag City.

                                            Not a debut, nor really a third album, ‘Memories Come True’ is equal parts bravado and vulnerability. A story of leaving, perhaps, unrolls over the course of these eleven songs, resulting in an album of absolutely soulful and sultry rock gems.

                                            Physically separated by the vast spaces of America during the writing of the album, Linnea Vedder and Sophia Knapp built ‘Memories Come True’ like a bridge across the air.

                                            This is a hyper real version of pop, the colours super saturated, the contrast upped. The songwriting is concise and aims straight for the heart. Linnea and Sophia sing with the voices of angels dragged through Nashville and Laurel Canyon in the 70s, crystalline and crying inside.

                                            23 year old Ty Segall has his finger on it. A finger on it, digging into your vinyl, since 2008. 'Goodbye Bread' is his 5th full length, his first for Drag City. For those who are unaware, Ty tours like a monster, plays his ass and his band's ass and his audience's ass off every night and people seem to like it. The shows are moving, almost beyond control. It's not gonna stop either! 'Goodbye Bread' will see to that.


                                            STAFF COMMENTS

                                            Darryl says: ‘Goodbye Bread’ is his most accomplished work to date, sounding like a long lost dusty classic from the 70's. A lo-fi production, psyche-garage guitars and glam elements combine wonderfully with his retro styled vox. A big hit on the Drag City label!

                                            Essentially an ensemble recorded live in the studio, Bill Callahan’s "Apocalypse" is the corpus delecti. Something happened here. If tape is like meat, this record is the whole hog - no cuts.

                                            Callahan, riding on the back of his band, corrals them all and guides them single-handedly with love and ferocity.

                                            Bill Callahan is a recording studio guru, a tastefully rampant singer-songwriter, a heartthrob, a visual artist, a statesman for the times and an author. His songs have been featured in films such as "High Fidelity", "Dead Man’s Shoes", and "Youth In Revolt". Artists as diverse as Gil Scott-Heron, Flaming Lips and Cat Power have recorded his songs.

                                            One of entertainment’s most flamboyant musical artistes of the last decade, Baby Dee is back with a new album, "Regifted Light", on Drag City Records.

                                            The album is not merely charming, nor simply enchanting and / or deeply touching - it is also an unusually arrayed album, scattering four vocal performances among eight smartly arranged, classically focused instrumentals, creating quintessential Baby Dee in all her unconventional glory.

                                            "Regifted Light" was produced by the amazing Andrew WK. The arresting cover is the distinctive work of the acclaimed Dutch artist Christina De Vos.

                                            Baby Dee’s musical career has seen her perform worldwide with musical connoisseurs such as Will Oldham (who co-produced ‘Safe Inside The Day’ with Matt Sweeney), Antony Hegarty, Marc Almond, Alex Neilson and David Tibet.

                                            "Onrushing Cloud" is the first recording by the trio of Andrea Belfi (drums, percussion, electronics), David Grubbs (electric guitar, piano, voice), and Stefano Pilia (electric guitar).

                                            Prior to meeting, all three had released recordings on the excellent Swedish label Häpna, and were already fans of one another’s work. In the spring of 2009, Belfi and Pilia were invited by the Harlem Studio Fellowship for a residence in New York, and the three took this opportunity to get down to the brass tacks of forming a power trio.

                                            "Onrushing Cloud" is characterized by the eccentric, fleeting symmetries of Grubbs’s and Pilia’s guitar playing simultaneously mediated, punctuated, and over and underscored by Belfi’s hybrid assemblage and deeply personal vocabulary of electronics and percussion.

                                            Although ultimately divided into five songs, this is clearly a single start-to-finish skein. "Hermitage" records the preliminary gestures of these musicians’ first encounter, and the album steadily builds towards the appearance of Grubbs’ vocals on ‘Onrushing Cloud’, a tale of being stranded atop a mountain and facing a rapidly approaching storm.


                                            In a little over two years, Monotonix have become an incredible part of the international independent rock scene. Their refusal to sit still, or even leave the drums in one place for more than a song or two, is a part of their charm — the other parts include balls-out rock & roll (sometimes literally!) and a bottomless desire for good times.
                                            Monotonix’s two releases thus far, the "Body Language" EP and the full-length album "Where Were You When It Happened?" have distilled the
                                            rowdy essence of their legendary live shows into recorded sound — but the quest to fill the grooves with the rush that comes from the live experience
                                            continues.
                                            For their latest attempt, Monotonix travelled to Electrical Audio for some furious recording with Steve Albini. The fast and fun results are available
                                            on two 7” singles, this one and "Never Die Before".

                                            Monotonix

                                            Never Died Before

                                            In a little over two years, Monotonix have become an incredible part of the international independent rock scene. Their refusal to sit still, or even leave the drums in one place for more than a song or two, is a part of their charm — the other parts include balls-out rock & roll (sometimes literally!) and a bottomless desire for good times.
                                            Monotonix’s two releases thus far, the "Body Language" EP and the full-length album "Where Were You When It Happened?" have distilled the
                                            rowdy essence of their legendary live shows into recorded sound — but the quest to fill the grooves with the rush that comes from the live experience
                                            continues.
                                            For their latest attempt, Monotonix travelled to Electrical Audio for some furious recording with Steve Albini. The fast and fun results are available
                                            on two 7” singles, this one and "Fun Fun Fun".

                                            The tradition of loud rock and roll from the Mass-based team of Wayne Rogers and Kate Village goes back into the 80s as Crystalized Movements and then in the 90s when they were a part of Magic Hour before giving way to the inevitability of Major Stars.

                                            "Return To Form" has got eight pieces, all heavy rocks, and a few of them come with power jams. There are also a few just under three minutes, distinguished by riffage that lifts ’em up. The guitar trio of Wayne Rogers, Kate Village and Tom Leonard is into their third full album in this incarnation, allowing them to have fused into a wall of distortion with myriad identities but singular purpose.

                                            STAFF COMMENTS

                                            Darryl says: Loved Crystalized Movements back in the day, and this trio featuring Movements' Wayne Rogers and Kate Village sound just as good - fantastic fuzzed up psyche riffage.

                                            Joanna Newsom releases her first album since late 2006’s "Ys", making up for lost time with a disc for 2008, one for 2009 and one for today. Featuring Ryan Francesconi and Neal Morgan from Joanna’s Ys Street Band, "Have One On Me" is an extravagantly packaged (and extravagantly nicely-priced) collection of fantastic new Joanna Newsom songs — her most colourful record to date. Through the course of the 18 songs, Joanna visits ditties, weepies, court dances, rump-bumpers, epics and moments of panavision fantasia upon us.

                                            Bonnie Prince Billy

                                            Stay

                                            On this mega limited 7" single, Bonnie Prince Billy covers two songs by Norwegian singer songwriter Susanna K. Wallumrød. On "Stay" he's joined by Joshua Abrams, Jennifer Hutt, Emmett Kelly, Michael Zerang. While over on the flip, Emmett Kelly and Cheyenne Mize join him for a live recording of "People Living".

                                            FORMAT INFORMATION

                                            Ltd 7" Info: We've got very limited quantities of these so grab one quick if you want one! ONE PER PERSON.

                                            Lights are a Brooklyn musical troupe that have shaped psychedelic mojo pop into a serpentine smoke ring, floating over both New York's forbidding urban scapes and the West Coast's sunshine vibes. Their songs are the lovechild of American soul music, country, metal, psychedelic rock, disco and new age.

                                            "My Electric Family" is an arresting development in the world of sweet pop music. Bachelorette's music beams to us through a universe of unconquered pop music, where long beams of sunlight extend to infinity, and blue moons rise wistfully in the deep purple expanse. She stands in the cradle of modern songwriting, that of psychedelic pop music. The sense of infinite possibility felt in those songs, the desire to manipulate a collective sensation to become anything at all, informs Bachelorette's journey. Bachelorette's song structures are traditionally examinations of love and longing, the exploration of self versus self and in relation to the surrounding, silent universe. The songs of "My Electric Family" emphasize a particular fascination: the meeting of man and machine.

                                            Unfolding like a first view of paradise, then a slightly less ecstatic second view of paradise, and then finally a glance back over your shoulder at that ridiculous notion of paradise, "Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle" is awfully pretty — something's clearly making Bill Callahan feel like a natural man. And high in the saddle, with nine sweet new tunes in tow, he's riding herd over a diverse bunch of sounds by top-notch players. Arranger Brian Beattie brought some old friends back into the picture: violins and French horns. Plus, recording in the big state of Texas has given Bill Callahan a panoramic soundscreen, filled with verdant and sparkling sounds, all of which allow him access to the depths of expression, allowing a gentle and stirring view of that which we call 'soul'. Singing as personally as ever while still spinning wild yarns and melodic guitar fictions, Bill Callahan's on an idyll we hope won't ever end.

                                            Tracklisting
                                            1. Jim Cain
                                            2. Eid Ma Clack Shaw
                                            3. The Wind And The Dove
                                            4. Rococo Zephyr
                                            5. Too Many Birds
                                            6. My Friend
                                            7. All Thoughts Are Prey To Some Beast
                                            8. Invocation Of Ratiocination
                                            9. Faith/Void

                                            You're cruisin' down interstate X with your hair thrashin' through the t-top, all of a sudden "JJ Got Live RATX" hits the box like nothing you've heard! Skyscraping power chords, "Rainbow High"! Arcing from the walls of solid concrete blocks, huge hooks that would twist the biggest shark in the pond, you gotta get the record, touch it... and lick it up!

                                            Osorezan is a trio comprised of Jim O'Rourke, Darin Gray and Chris Corsano. This is a reissue of a Japanese CD release from 2006.

                                            FORMAT INFORMATION

                                            LP Info: First ever pressing of this album on vinyl anywhere in the world.

                                            J. Spaceman / Sun City Girls

                                            Mister Lonely - Music From A Film By Harmony Korine

                                            Korine's previous films have found their truths in unblinking realities cross-cut with surreal images, exposing an emotional core that remains elusive after the movie is over — ennui, delight, disgust, celebration… Mister Lonely subtly heightens all these effects with a narrative involving celebrity impersonators searching for a place where they just can be themselves and nuns who have discovered a new way to fly. Working independently and never collaborating, Jason Spaceman and Sun City Girls employ an instrumental approach for the sounds here, with one or two chanted exceptions. Their music conspires in an exquisite corpse-like fashion — without knowing what the other was doing, they've each brought half a body to the film, supplying the apparitional and austere sounds of a world in which everyone is something they're not.

                                            Concentrick

                                            Aluminum Lake

                                            Concentrick is the sound of Tim Green of The Fucking Champs. "Aluminum Lake" is the fourth Concentrick CD! Tim Green tapped ex-Royal Trux, Mars Volta and Fucking Am drummer Jon Theodore for occasional skin-work on "Aluminum Lake". The results rocks. Like a new-age incarnation of The Fucking Champs, a trip to "Aluminum Lake" is cleansing and holistic in the best sense.

                                            The Howing Hex Era, alive since 05, has produced its sixth installment in "XI" .The new border sound of The Howling Hex increases its audience share with every release. Live in the studio (with guitar and six-string bass solos overdubbed), "XI" is excitement in sonic action. "XI" features a plethora of singer-songwriters — four published authors in this edition of The Howling Hex. Roaming relentlessly, The Howling Hex will never cease to change — or tour — over the face of the earth.

                                            Whereas the last (Smog) LP was steeped in lo-fi country, Bill Callahan steps out from that beloved moniker to deliver his most accessible record yet. An aesthetic shift is apparent with the polished sophistication of "Diamond Dancer", an irresistible groove featuring funk basslines and raggedy fiddle floating above a gospel chorus of female backing vocalists. Callahan's unmistakable voice and poetic lyrics are as unique as ever, tracing the timeless connections between romance and sense of place like only he can. However, whilst the R'n'B rhythms and Motown string arrangements glitter on this album, Callahan hasn't abandoned his love of country, as evinced by "A Man Needs A Woman Or A Man To Be A Man". Evoking the maverick spirit of both Neil Young and now Paul Simon, Callahan confidently stretches the canvas of his already colourful tapestry.

                                            The Fucking Champs

                                            VI

                                            With "VI", a multi-coloured hue returns to the field — a palette that recalls the bygone days of "III", but without ever looking back — for that way death lies. The Fucking Champs live life in the future — or at the very least, in the present. Joining Tim Green and Tim Soete is Phil Manley, whose contributions to "Gold" helped set it apart from everything that came before it. Truly, these Fucking Champs are a new breed.

                                            The new sounds came to King Kong from Paul Oldham's Rove Studio in Shelbyville, Kentucky. Working with Paul, Ethan gave more depth to the production, a classic rock feeling. Louisville guitar hero Wink O'Bannon showed Ethan some guitar licks to aid Ethan's pursuit of more rock-and-roll types of guitar solos. And this is the first King Kong album featuring Pete Townsend on drums, bringing fresh rhythms to the King Kong sound. Already declared 'crazy-good' by the Louisville Courier-Journal, "Buncha Beans" is now ready to take on the world. Let the musical fruit rock your funky soul! King Kong is a star in the firmament of indie rock dating back to 1989. "Buncha Beans" is the sixth King Kong album.

                                            Joanna's 2004 debut "Milk-Eyed Mender" established this classically-trained (I doubt you'd pluck around on one for fun!) harpist as an original jewel in the new acid-folk scene, but the name-checking pedigree on this follow-up is astonishing. Initially recorded by Steve Albini, strings directed by Van Dyke Parks and finally mixed by Jim 0'Rourke at Abbey Road, it also sees boyfriend Bill Callahan (of Smog) guesting on one song. I say 'song', but this is a vast, meandering five-track suite (and the album's 50 minutes plus) and whilst the vocals are less crazy, the musical ambition is mind-boggling. It's too early to tell how great it's going to be - this isn't 'pop music' - but this is definitely an album to lose yourself in, and an album that's come straight from the heart of its creator; raw, naked emotion but in the most lavish of settings. It's a mesmerising combination.

                                            FORMAT INFORMATION

                                            CD Info: Beautifully packaged in an embossed slip case.

                                            Joanna Newsom

                                            The Milk Eyed Mender

                                            Joanna's music has more of an affinity with the folk revival of the 60s, or the bluegrass movement at present, than with most contemporary 'folk' (or 'anti-folk') scenes. Her harp arrangements are at times ethereal and delicate, at others galloping and ornate, but never overwrought.

                                            Joanna Newsom

                                            Sprout And The Bean / What We Have Known

                                            This limited edition CD single is released to coincide with her UK tour. It features "Sprout And The Bean" which is taken from her "The Milk-Eyed Mender" album plus a previously unreleased track "What We Have Known", along with the video for "Sprout And The Bean".

                                            Edith Frost

                                            Wonder Wonder

                                            New album from the introspective Edith Frost, engineered by Steve Albini and featuring Archer Prewitt and Rick Rizzo.

                                            Royal Trux

                                            Royal Trux

                                            This is the debut album (not to be confused with their later record of the same title) and shows them in skeletal formation, raw and ragged to the core.


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