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DRAG CITY

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.

    TRACK LISTING

    Leather Head
    Youth Relic

    Cory Hanson

    Pale Horse Rider

      Lingering at the remains of a campfire before dawn, with the politics of the personal burnt into ash, running his stick through what’s left, Wand singer/guitarist Cory Hanson is reflecting on a series of moments in which he steps farther into himself, finding the ultimate big sky country on the inside of his skull. It’s a combination of songs and sounds that journey through bleak and broken territory and places of sweet, lush remove and it adds up to the best record he’s been involved in yet: his second solo album, ‘Pale Horse Rider’.

      Cory’s first solo, ‘The Unborn Capitalist From Limbo’, was an intense affair, a grand experiment that produced inspiring, unconventional music - but this time around, he wanted to breathe a bit easier, to feel that breath in the music as well. So he and his band drove out to the desert to record in a lowstress environment: Brian Harris’ Cactopia, a house surrounded by 6ft tall sculptural psychotropic cacti. They built a studio inside and then they made music and lived off pots of coffee and chili and cases of Miller High Life as they played guitars, bass, keyboards and drums in what seemed increasingly like a living biomech, their tech made out of fungal networks and cacti needles.

      It was loose and flowed onto tape well. Recorded by Robbie Cody and Zac Hernandez (who assisted on Wand’s ‘Laughing Matter’), the sounds were great from the get-go. First takes were mostly best takes. Fuelled with DNA lifted from country-rock cut with native psych and prog strands, Cory guided his craft toward the cosmic side of the highway, a benevolent alien in ambient fields hazy with heat and synths, early morning fog and space echo spreading the harmonies wide.

      ‘Pale Horse Rider’’s got a lot to get out of its mind, looking around and seeing that, on the surface, things don’t always look like much. A lifelong Californian, Cory’s naturally found himself standing to the left of most of the country. The west may be only what you make it; these days, the roadside view looks exceptionally sunbleached and left behind. ‘Pale Horse Rider’ eyes the city, the country and the fragile environment that holds them both in its hands - a record as much about Los Angeles as it can be with its back to the town and the sun in its eyes; as much about nostalgia as new music can be with the apocalypse over the next rise.

      On ‘Pale Horse Rider’, Cory Hanson moves ceaselessly forward. The old myths weave and waft, the shadows of tombstones flickering in the mirages and the light that lies dead ahead.

      TRACK LISTING

      Paper Fog
      Angeles
      Pale Horse Rider
      Necklace
      Bird Of Paradise
      Limited Hangout
      Vegas Knights
      Surface To Air
      Another Story From The
      Center Of The Earth
      Pigs

      Bill MacKay And Nathan Bowles

      Keys

        Bill MacKay and Nathan Bowles’ debut is well titled: keys are what they play and keys unlock things too. Their trad bonafides are balanced with inquisitive playing that adds surprise as a formal songwriting and arranging tool. Spirited 21st Century folk music made of equal parts bluegrass, classical, country, gospel and improv.

        ‘Keys’ is, on first blush, a collection of guitar and banjo duets - but from the opening moment, it is clear that Bill and Nathan’s agreed-upon duo is a living organism, growing as it goes. Behind the stately figures of ‘Idumea’, a 19th Century southern hymnal played out on their stringed instruments, a low organ drone hums persistently, signalling that this music, while coming from traditional places, is asking more of itself, seeking sparks of inspiration to light the path forward.

        Bill and Nathan met a few years back, if time has any meaning. It didn’t seem to at the time - after the first night they hung out, it seemed as if they’d known each other for a while already. A year later, in 2018, they were booked as a duo at Cropped Out. Preparing for the show involved a correspondence exchanging lots of provisional ideas, thoughts and music back and forth from Chicago to Durham NC, then dashing through the ideas again on the festival grounds an hour before the show. From this seemingly hectic preparation, their playing that night was remarkably serene, a spiritual treatise clothed in the casual and natural manner of the proverbial porch, or in this case, riverside-jam, as the stage literally straddled the edge of the Ohio River. It was a stellar, simpatico first moment that asked for more moments like it.

        After several more sets the following year, they felt ready to roll tape (as the saying goes) and chose to do so in Chicago, with Nick Broste at The Shape Shoppe. Again, an easy rapport prevailed, allowing them to work through their collected ideas quickly and freely, with the moments of spontaneous decision that can come only with comfort and trust in each other’s presence. Throughout ‘Keys’, Bill and Nathan propel their power-folk engine with intent and feeling, joy and solemnity, as images of wariness, wonder, anger, deliberation, forgiveness, trust and devotion rise up from the music and roll it forward into the unknown, a place we can sense both players are happy to go.

        Eight of the ten songs featured are originals, with the other two coming from different centuries to this one. The diversity of song is matched by the instrumentation: in addition to Bill’s guitar and Nathan’s banjo, they add voice, piano, percussion, pump organ, requinto and electric organ to the richness and rusticity, the traditionalism and open space of the compositions.

        TRACK LISTING

        Idumea
        Honey Time
        Late For Your Funeral
        Again
        Dry Rations II
        Joy Ride
        I See God
        Dry Rations I
        Dowsing
        Truth
        The I In Silence

        The Peacers

        Blexxed Rec

          The Peacers are back with their third album. The time has been kind. Three years since they went about their sophomore release, ‘Introducing the Crimsmen’. That second Peacers record was made by the second Peacers line up, after two thirds of the first gang made for the door after the first album. In came Bo Moore, Shayde Sartin and Mike Shoun but, after they’d finished making ‘Introducing the Crimsmen’, singer Mike Donovan moved out of his old San Francisco digs to the east coast and made two solo albums.

          The Peacers were consistently great no matter who they were, delivering Mike D’s irrepressible subterranean pop in a full colour spectrum of moods from purple to blue-black to sometimes white. ‘Blexxed Rec’ is a different time in the band’s life - a second album from the same line up, plus with a country in between them. Also Bo, who had one song on the last one, brought three in for this one and Shayde’s got the closing number. Suddenly, three singersongwriters under The Peacers’ flag.

          The Peacers send out a mad variety of the thrills and chills of modern rock, whether glam-tinged (‘The Thunder Is an Electrical Love God’), psyched-out (‘Colors for You’, ‘Dandelion’), folky (‘Irish Suit’), riding the knife blade of post-garage fusion (‘Blackberry Est’, ‘Ms. Ela Stanyon’s School of Acting’) or pumping the winning strains of their own pure pop sound (‘Ghost of a Motherfucker,’ ‘Bic Sitar,’ ‘Make It Right’) and melting it all together.

          Recorded in SF and Hudson NY with The Peacers’ production ear for small and curious detail in full spectrum, ‘Blexxed Rec’ is a blessed event for all you rock and roll people.

          TRACK LISTING

          Ms. Ela Stanyon’s School Of Acting
          Ghost Of A Motherfucker
          Dickdog In Paris
          Colors For You
          Stinson Teep
          Irish Suit
          Blackberry Est
          Dandelion
          The Thunder Is An Electrical Love God
          Alloyed Shiek
          Bic Sitar
          Make It Right

          New Bums

          Last Time I Say Grace

            Seven years and a handful of lifetimes ago, New Bums came out of nowhere with their debut album, ‘Voices In a Rented Room’ - a record the New York Times described as “feeling like it’s falling apart.” New Bums took this as a compliment and, thus emboldened, they toured relentlessly in support of the release: criss-crossing the USA in the spring of 2014, with a European run that summer. Then, silence descended, as the Bums withdrew to the place from which they’d mysteriously emerged.

            Now, the Bums are back. 2021 finds them with a new album in hand. Following a West Coast US tour in late 2019 it’s clear that the duo of Donovan Quinn (Skygreen Leopards) and Ben Chasny (Six Organs of Admittance, Rangda, etc) are fully reanimated, as evidenced by the songs and sounds of ‘Last Time I Saw Grace’.

            Retaining the drunk-dog-locomotion of their debut, New Bums sprinkle a bit of fresh fancy into their signature twin guitarsand- vocals sound, with cleaner recording techniques, further developments in harmonies and a new appreciation for a song with more than two parts, making ‘Last Time I Saw Grace’ nothing less than the perfect progression from the purposefully murky mixes of their debut.

            Continuing to embrace an acoustic rock ’n’ roll sound, inspired by artists such as Jacobites, Robyn Hitchcock, Johnny Thunders, Replacements and such, New Bums push the words and the stories to the front of the line, crafting tales with satiric glee on ‘Last Time I Saw Grace’. However, this world of empty perfume bottles, bodies tied to masts and moving onward to devastation (after the bottle on the table pulls out a gun) feels much more Gombrowiczian dreamscape than drunken night on the town. Yes, everything is wasted but this is an existential wasteland rather than a substance-laden one. This combination of arch Californian post-aristocratic melodrama with torn and frayed acoustic guitars opens up a new genre entirely, one those at Drag City are tempted to call Rent Control Romantic.

            TRACK LISTING

            Billy, God Damn
            Obliteration Time
            Marlene Left California
            Onward To Devastation
            Wild Dogs
            Cover Band
            Tuned To Graffiti
            Street Of Spies
            Hermitage Song
            So Long, Kus
            Follow Them Up The Slope

            Bill Stone

            Stone

              Just when you thought every loner folk genius had been outed/discovered, hyped and pontificated about, a new/old challenger lurks in the murky depths of time... and Maine. Sure, you have your Skip Spences, Dave Bixbys, Stone Harbours and Perry Leopolds already but have you heard the lonesome sound of Bill Stone? Well, don't feel bad, hardly anyone has - unless you lived in rural Maine in the early 70s and grabbed his barely-ever seen LP in the day. Titled simply ‘Stone’, Bill’s mysterious album was pressed in the micro-est of quantities, covering wistful, airy psychedelia on par with the UK’s Mark Fry classic ‘Dreaming of Alice’, while still evoking the earthy, evening-hour melancholy of Leonard Cohen or Tom Rapp. Stone was also especially influenced by one Donny P. Leitch, one Robby Zimmerman and much trad folk, while growing up in his hometown of Old Town, Maine.

              Stone started out playing in a few small folk ensembles while also moonlighting with occasional solo gigs, finally recording this lone platter in 1969 in a pottery studio on a 2-track Panasonic tape recorder in Boothbay, Maine (where he says, they competed with a cat in heat). The LP features Tom Blackwell/Bill Stone - guitars, Arthur Webster - bass, Bob Blackwell/Skip Smith - drums, Bill/Beth Waterhouse on vocals. It also seems cover artist Doug Bane went on to become an acclaimed cosmic painter - committing loads of animals, psychedelic scenes and Native American portraits to canvas.

              It seems Stone’s solo career slowed down after marriage hit and he transitioned to playing covers in bars for cash but, after acquiring a masters and doctorate in education, he moved into the teaching walk of life. Bill published books and articles on subjects as diverse as school counselling and chaos theory but, now retired, he’s returned to music, even recording a new album of originals and traditional numbers, based on his experiences as a cab driver. So with Bill back in action and the world slowly crawling out of a disillusioning haze, now seems like the perfect time for a first-time-ever reissue of this incredibly rare, happy-sad, gently delicate, Stone(d) classic of a downer song-cycle.

              TRACK LISTING

              Here I Am
              Purple
              Fog
              Friends
              Vision On Sherman Street
              The Fate Of…
              …Jessica’s Lover
              Part Time Girl
              Crystal
              Charlotte’s Town
              The Fate Of Jessica’s Lover

              Ty Segall & Cory Hanson

              She's A Beam / Milk Bird Flyer

                2015. Two boys with guitars on their chests, stretching songwriting muscles and finding, to their delight, new possibilities at every run up the neck. This means trading vocal parts mid-song, then trading back again, modulating madly through rhythm changes, looking for a note in the harmony they’d never played or sung before. All in the service of locating the feelgood pop alchemy in a song in which no parts are repeated. Laying it all down with a sweet solid state vibe.

                “Whatever happened to ‘She’s a Beam’!?!” has been a question/passive-aggressive demand from Ty and Cory aficionados over the past few years. This is what happened. It went to Heaven and lived a beautiful life there. This is the sound of it. Guitars and harmonies. Helium-coated keyboards. A celestial, Steve Millerish synth transformation. Positivity. Lightness. Rock. Epic. Energetic. Happy, headbanging days.

                ‘Milk Bird Flyer’ is a perfect other ‘A’ to pair with ‘She’s a Beam’, hovering on a fade-in fanfare of gleaming guitar godness before shifting into a countryish tripper with cheerful Psilo-sci-fi-bin lyrics to bend and stretch the ecstatic shuffle of the beat. As with ‘She’s a Beam’, Ty and Cory are floating so tight in the harmony that we’re like “Who’s who?”

                The pure sounds of yesterday are bright like a moment in time just waiting for its chance to exist, a nugget of potency landing right between the eyes in any era. Turn it up and smile, smile, smile.

                TRACK LISTING

                She’s A Beam
                Milk Bird Flyer

                Dope Body

                Crack A Light

                  Dope Body are back with their first album since 2015 - and it’s got all the gnarly, bisected body rock of their great records from the far side of the teens.

                  A decade plus from the audacity of their debut cassette, ‘20 Pound Brick’, and four years after calling it quits, ‘Crack a Light’ is about getting back to essentials.

                  In 2016, Dope Body were fairly much burnt from seven years of nonstop playing and recording, feeling as if their four albums had tracked away from the early days’ intentions of spontaneous weirdness. The band had formed in the abstract, an art project designed to provoke by embodying values that didn’t necessarily reflect any deep roots in their collective mindset. They were good with this approach for a minute but by their final release of the initial run, ‘Kunk’, they were composing new pieces from leftover parts of the ‘Lifer’ sessions, as if trying to relocate the almost out-of-body state that they’d been conceived in.

                  Turns out they just needed a bit of time off. Even (or perhaps especially) with a couple of the guys on the West Coast and the other two back east, the energy is again surging out of the Dope Boys, as witnessed by ‘Crack a Light’s explosive and exuberant opening track, ‘Curve’. The refrain “I think I feel alright” expresses relative optimism on the oft-scorched earth of Dope Body and it should - with ‘Crack a Light’ they’ve come all the way around to the stance of their experimental genesis, while continuing to evolve the identity that’s emerged since then - all of which bodes well for the future of rock music.

                  Essentially a power-trio with singer, Dope Body have traditionally excelled at projecting monstrously-voiced street music, artfully welded to the massive space of rock anthems, hardcore and metallic, hard-rolling funk, driven by incisively pounding rhythm and attenuated with guitar loops and FX.

                  TRACK LISTING

                  Curve
                  Clean & Clear
                  Lethargic
                  Jer Bang
                  Daylight
                  Lu Lu
                  Lo & Behold
                  The Sculptor
                  Mutant Being
                  More
                  Hypocrite
                  My Man
                  Frank Says Relapse
                  Known Unknown

                  Bill Callahan

                  Gold Record

                    For his first record in….uh, well, just a little over a year (!), Bill Callahan’s given us his first Gold Record. They can’t all be gold, and they’re not all six years apart either — all good! You could probably call the album “Gold Records,” too: all the songs have a stand-alone feel, like singles, meant for you to have a deep encounter with all of a sudden, from the start of the song to the finish. And what do you got when you have a record full of singles — and let’s face it, hit singles, at that?

                    That’s a Gold Record for you.

                    From the top, it’s clear this is music with an affection for people, as Bill immediately slips easily and deeply into his characters. Among them: a limo driver, a watcher of television, a suitor, a man in a broken-down car, a reader of books, a Ry Cooder superfan, and in the closing number, a wanderer who “notices when people notice things”. The voices of the people, with their ups and downs, their loss and laughter. You can feel the love.

                    For Bill, preparing to tour for Shepherd In a Sheepskin Vest meant considering being away from home for long stretches of time — maybe up to a year, who knew? Feeling his oats, Bill pulled out a few sketches from over the years and touched them up. Before he knew it, he was recording them, and in the shuffle, newer songs started popping up.

                    It happened fast. Basics were recorded live with Matt Kinsey playing guitars, guitars, guitars and Jaime Zurverza holding it down “and then letting it go” on bass. Drums and horns were brought in for a couple songs. Spirits were high! Six out of the ten were done first take; overdubs, when needed, came equally quickly. Listening, one hears their intuitive cohesion coming together richly behind Bill’s titanic voice spread across the stereo spectrum: the gentle conversation of Bill and Matt’s guitars, the subtle percussion of the bass and drums, and odd appearances of trumpet, woodwind and synth, striking notes both decorous and discordant, sounding for all the world like the naturally occurring sound meant to accompany and express lives lived everywhere.

                    These are in fact songs meant for other people to sing — but until they do, Bill’s got this. He’s got a secret on this one, and before we go, we don’t mind sharing it with you: he’s figured out how to perfectly place his voice in proximity to your ear. It’s based on the distance from your heart to your brain. Simple! Why don’t more people think like this?

                    STAFF COMMENTS

                    says: It would appear that Mr. Callahan is entering a super productive time in his life, with not one but two records out in the short space of a year. This follows on from 'Sheepskin..' in many ways, with the more languid, minimal moments echoing those from the gorgeous 2019 outing, but with a little more focus on Callahan's (still) spellbinding vocal drawl. Beautiful stuff.

                    TRACK LISTING

                    1. Pigeons
                    2. Another Song
                    3. 35
                    4. Protest Song
                    5. The Mackenzies
                    6. Let's Move To The Country
                    7. Breakfast
                    8. Cowboy
                    9. Ry Cooder
                    10. As I Wander

                    John Mulaney And The Sack Lunch Bunch

                    John Mulaney And The Sack Lunch Bunch

                      Emmy Award-winning comedian John Mulaney aims to recapture the magic of that bygone television era - when children sang songs about their feelings with celebrity guests on funky outdoor sets - with ‘John Mulaney & The Sack Lunch Bunch’, a television special that premiered December 24, 2019 on Netflix. Now, Christmas is coming again like never before, with physical editions of the soundtrack. This includes a special peelable sticker on the cover of the LP edition, allowing children of all ages to pick at it. 

                      Who are John Mulaney & The Sack Lunch Bunch and what is this album? Well, John Mulaney is a 6ft tall comedian with many credits and two awards and he was born on a humid August night in 1982. The Sack Lunch Bunch is a group of children ages 8-13, born after the turn of the 21st Century, and they are each unique human beings with way more talent than Mr. Mulaney.
                      With the brilliant musical chameleon and Emmy nominated composer Eli Bolin, Mulaney and his co-writer Marika Sawyer put together some songs and then were joined by guests like David Byrne, Tony Awardwinner André De Shields, Annaleigh Ashford, Shereen Pimentel and Jake Gyllenhaal. 

                      There are probable hits like ‘Grandma’s Boyfriend Paul’, inspired by the breezy piano pop of Carole King’s ‘Really Rosie’. ‘Plain Plate of Noodles’ may be a child’s existential food lament but you can still dance to its Three Dog Night-inspired funk. ‘I Saw a White Lady Standing on the Street Just Sobbing (and I Think About It Once a Week)’ is a daydream made of the rich major 7th chords of Laura Nyro layered with the warm flugelhorn that seems to whisper Burt Bacharach. 

                      Calypso, New Orleans jazz and even the Alan Parsons’ Project’s ‘Eye in the Sky’ make up the DNA of other Sack Lunch songs. David Byrne lent his time, his voice and his whole essence for a song that demands the listener ‘Pay Attention’. Bolin, Byrne, Sawyer and Mulaney wrote it in 2019 but it’s also a nod to a bizarre boy back in the 1980s named John who was thunderstruck by Talking Heads’ ‘Warning Sign’ and its command: “Pay Attention, Pay Attention/I’m talking to you and I hope you’re concentrating.”

                      TRACK LISTING

                      1. It’s John Mulaney And The Sack Lunch Bunch
                      2. Grandma’s Boyfriend Paul
                      3. Algebra Song!
                      4. Googy’s Theme
                      5. Plain Plate Of Noodles
                      6. Do You Wanna Play Restaurant?
                      7. Pay Attention!
                      8. Do Flowers Exist At Night?
                      9. I Saw A White Lady Standing On The Street Just Sobbing (and I Think About It Once A Week)
                      10. Music, Music Everywhere!

                      Box Of Chocolates

                      Fearful Symmetry

                        As the liner notes would have it: “It is a story or record of a group of artistically inclined people who haphazardly found themselves living together and who - toward the end of the arrangement - decided to record the experience in the form of songs written whilst at 140 Plymouth Street in Dumbo.”

                        The credits list some incredible names - Brute Rake, Mickey Hawaii, Wayne Oliphant - and indeed, those names are listed again on the all-new-artwork of this opus. But with the new artwork, and the inclusion of several pieces that weren’t there back then - or even finished back then - this has become a living, growing document of a disorganized and dishevelled film cooperative (is there any other kind?) who dared to trace its name in the sands and has come back to deepen the groove.  

                        The artwork’s been flipped about and the tracks have been reordered too, in places. ‘Stigmataphoria’ and ‘The Past Lives of Clarence Thomas’, which include much of the spirit and some of the bonafides of the initial set of songs, have been inserted for the benefit of all. And the names of the songs’ writers, singers and players, including Michael Howe, Will Oldham, Arnie Wobble (of early Phish-lore), Tony Award-winner Michael Chorney, sound artist and ethnographer Rob Millis and others whose names we shall not speak - appear also for the first time. Along with a plethora of retrospective notes. 

                        As this cast of dozens loft-crashed their way toward a collectively-unknown future, these songs and visions were scrapped together - a loose assemblage of middle-period indie rock, roots-rock pastiche, punk brio and cinema-fed abstractions, as a suggested soundtrack for the party of your choice.

                        TRACK LISTING

                        1. Catatonic
                        2. Emperor’s Clothes
                        3. Garbage Barge
                        4. The Writhe
                        5. Shadow Of
                        6. The Rat
                        7. Mother’s Heart
                        8. Stigmataphoria
                        9. Perdido
                        10. Good Side
                        11. The Ephant
                        12. Happiness
                        13. The Past Lives Of
                        14. Clarence Thomas
                        15. The King
                        16. Twinkle, Twinkle
                        17. Little Nightmare
                        18. Everyone’s
                        19. A Loverod

                        Sir Richard Bishop

                        Oneiric Formulary

                          Five years after Tangier Sessions, Sir Richard Bishop, we presume, is back from his travels around the world. With Oneiric Formulary, he’s dug deeper into his bag of extra-musical gestures from the eternal and unknowable, along with a few sounds we might recognize, all transmuted for our mortal ears’ enjoyment. The last couple of Sir Richard Bishop releases on Drag City were genre exercises of sorts — The Freak of Araby explored the musical legacy of late Egyptian guitarist Omar Khorshid while Tangier Sessions explored the sound of an obscure 19th century guitar that Rick had acquired from a mysterious Swiss luthier.

                          The title Oneiric Formulary, may sit contrarily on the tongue — but we may refer to it as representing “a collection of dream states” — which means we like it! With such a lofty goal in mind and at his fingertips, Sir Rick returns to the approach of his DC debut, Polytheistic Fragments — a different sound, a different instrument, for nearly every track, drawing from the music of all nations, including and especially that infamous republic with only one person on the census roll (initials SRB). It’s got mad variety, the kind you don’t see much of anymore — an Ed Sullivan kind of evening out, with some spinning plates, dancing mice, and of course, an appearance from Zippy the Chimp.

                          What it means is that when you drop the needle/raise the laser/press the head to tape/or do whatever happens when you stream it, you’ve got sounds that don’t sound at first like guitars — because they’re not! Then you’ve got sounds that sound initially like guitars — because they are! Sir Richard found joy in not only finding unlikely sounds, but also writing a fake jingle, soundtracking an unreleased film, reflecting on Southern origins, going concrète (Beatles-style!), using computers (Sir Rick, no!), and accidentally juxtaposing Frippian electric guitar drone against the grit of ol’ school acoustic guitar while thinking of sci-fi, as well as revisiting (t)rusty old forms such as Americana, classical, gypsy and raga. It’s all trotted out to phantasmic effect, as it brings to us with the freshness, the roar of the old crowd as they see, smell and hear the greatest show on earth. What a night! Thank you, Sir Richard Bishop.

                          TRACK LISTING

                          Call To Order
                          Celerity
                          Mit’s Linctus Codeine Co.
                          Renaissance Nod
                          Graveyard Wanderers
                          Dust Devils
                          Enville
                          Black Sara
                          The Coming Of The Rats
                          Vellum

                          Espers

                          Espers

                            Espers’ self-titled first release appeared in 2004, heralding an era in which there was a perception of back-to-the-roots in the underground; kids making new music that spoke strongly of folk traditions and psychedelia, in the process setting themselves apart from latter-day sounds and approaches. Espers didn’t shy away from this image, projecting a collective air, almost like a rural outpost, out of time and place in the urban environs of Philadelphia. The staid harmonies of Meg Baird and Greg Weeks, the 6- and 12-string guitars and percussion of Brooke Sietinsons, the full-bodied arrangements rife with traditional and classical details and the regular intervention of acid-toned guitar leads formed, along with the mystic and melancholy cast to their songwriting, a galvanizing identity for them among other like-minded music players of the day.

                            Espers, existing in between places, were a part of a flow of ideation that has as much to do with revelations from the 70s or 60s - with all the decades of the last century, really - as it does with the current expressions in favour of selfhood and safety that are struggled over today. Their music has retained a mysterious, unknowable vitality that, in the name of their original intention, continues to express Espers’ individualism, optimism and deeply empathetic soul. ‘II’ and ‘III’ continued the journey through 2009, after which Espers quietly dispersed. Since then, ‘Espers’ and ‘The Weed Tree’ went out of print and have stayed away for some years now. New vinyl and CD editions will surely be welcomed by the members of the burgeoning listening community that continues to evolve in the spirit and image of the communities that preceded them. And the circle remains unbroken.

                            TRACK LISTING

                            Flowery Noontide
                            Meadow
                            Riding
                            Voices
                            Hearts & Daggers
                            Byss & Abyss
                            Daughter
                            Travel Mountains

                            “C’est ce que je fais qui m’apprend ce que je cherche. (It’s what I do that teaches me what I’m looking for.)” - Pierre Soulages

                            Jim White and George Xylouris have been friends since Jim’s early days in Dirty Three. Their musical connection goes back to then and led them to start Xylouris White in 2013. Since then, they have released three albums and been touring the world. ‘The Sisypheans’ is their fourth release.

                            Jim on ‘The Sisypheans’: “As George Xylouris and I traveled around these last five years, we found ourselves talking about Sisyphus. George had a theory about Sisyphus, condemned to climb that hill with that rock forever. George saw him carrying the rock in different ways, in his left hand, behind his back, pushing it with his head while crawling and noticing each journey the seasons changing, the grass and the insects. The meaning was clear and for George it fit with playing the popular Cretan song ‘Proto Hanoti’ many turns each day for his life and discovering it new each time... I found it fit in with a long held set of thoughts I’d had, that if one concentrated activity and thought enough on one thing it would expand and be a whole world. It sounded like the same idea and also with the idea of first principles, for it to be new each time: that is our job as musicians. We would talk about this as we traveled playing music. One day a waitress heard us talking, and she asked if we knew the Camus essay about Sisyphus. We didn’t, but I got it in English and then we found it in Greek and it fit too. When we were playing in Louisville and working on Black Peak, we stayed at a house and saw the artwork you see on the cover, by Elsa Hansen Oldham... We’d finished the circular trilogy of Goats, Black Peak, and Mother and we found ourselves making -. What we do leads us to who we are, the Sisypheans.”

                            TRACK LISTING

                            Tree Song
                            Goat Hair Bow
                            Heart’s Eyes
                            Telephone Song
                            Black Sea
                            Inland
                            Wedding Song
                            Ascension

                            Sean O'Hagan

                            Radum Calls, Radum Calls

                              ‘Radum Calls, Radum Calls’ is Sean O’Hagan’s second solo album. His first came out in 1990, titled ‘High Llamas’. Nearly 30 years down that once-was road, 10-12 albums of the extreme pleasures that High Llamas song craft and sonic obsessions have provided (counting a comp and a remix record), here’s Sean again, with his second solo opus. Sean continues to modify, adjust, turn and amend aspects of his unswaying beliefs to produce sound fresh and new.

                              In the past decade there have been two High Llamas albums. During that time, Sean’s day job has largely been in the studio, arranging and producing with other outfits - most recently, Mount Kimbie, Fryars, James Righton from Klaxons and Hockney. The ways of the new generation are reflected in the mix of ‘Radum Calls, Radum Calls’, with bold latest obsessions side by side with the grand old traditions. As the parts old and new rotate inevitably back and forth in cyclical perfection, we are reminded of the beauty and craftmanship of the old cuckoo clocks; an ingenuity of cogs and gears to express perfect time as entertainingly as possible. Threaded in with exquisite melodies are hard- punching drum sounds, low rumbling synths, an extra-sharp dubby sound-design for percussion. In moments of this concision of old and new, Sean’s goal is honestly to conjure a new musical language.

                              Sean’s approach to lyrics reaches for the deft, tongue-in-cheek understatement of a LeCarre or a Philip K. Dick - and as fantasia melts into social portraiture into out-there sci-fi, we discover some of Sean’s most toothsome topics - ‘The Paykan (Laili’s Song)’ tells the story of one of the Shah’s servants masking a dash for freedom at the dawn of the Islamic revolution in 1979 Iran. ‘Spoken Gem’ and ‘Candy Clock’ use the lyric interventions of Sean’s former Microdisney vocal-partner Cathal Coughlan to free-associate the listener into fantastic, elastic, unknowable worlds.

                              Sean working with Cathal, or with his backup singers May Robson, Livvy O’Hagan and Kelsey Michael, brings their participatory energy - that of joy - to the mix and to our ears. And all this energy - derived from history, ambition, humour - is presented simply but effectively, sinking deep into our ears. ‘Radum Calls, Radum Calls’ reaches across time, curating details from wherever its fascination lands, then working them into the harmonic flexibilities of Sean O’Hagan. The album is a light delight and marks this place in time as a very pleasant stop on the way forward.

                              TRACK LISTING

                              Candy Clock
                              Better Lull Bear
                              I Am Here
                              The Paykan (Laili’s Song)
                              McCardle Brown
                              Clearing House
                              On A Lonely Day (Ding, Dong)
                              Spoken Gem
                              Sancto Electrical
                              Take My Steps (Nora
                              Bramms)
                              Radum Calls
                              Calling, Sending

                              Ty Segall

                              Pig Man Lives, Volume 1: Demos 2007-2017

                                WHAT. It’s almost 2020!? Face it, the last ten years or so have been a BLUR – so much shit going down, good and bad - and a lot of music too. It doesn’t look like its gonna get any easier for ANYBODY to get their bearing, so Ty Segall and Sea Note have gotten together a special box to help you reorient your head, no matter where you are.

                                Yeah, this one’s for the freak, the fan, the head. Pig Man Lives is a stack of raw germs that were blown up in the world as Ty Segall releases over this last golden decade or so – specifically, the demos that bred Manipulator, Freedom’s Goblin, Emotional Mugger, Twins, Ty Segall, Slaughterhouse and Sleeper Each finished record had its own unique aim and intention, but when you hear tracks from 2007 next to 2015. then 2012 cutting in after 2017, the splatter allows you to hear the continuum of a whole body of work exploding over and over again in the burst of freedom that comes with the initial sketch of a song.

                                Non-linear reorientation, taking you back and forward over the course of eight sides and 47 songs. There’s even a few that haven’t seen the light of day before. You’re bound to feel different after you’ve spent any kind of quality time with The Pig Man.

                                Whether he’s recording alone at home or in a studio with the band, Ty’s goal in putting something on tape isn’t just to log the song, it’s to make a whole thing that’s rad. For some of these songs, further evolution brought even more out of them. And some are perfect this way, with rough edges and little details you’re not gonna believe you’ve lived without.

                                As sure Pig Man Lives, you won’t have to anymore.

                                TRACK LISTING

                                Squealer
                                Don’t You Want To Know
                                The Magazine II
                                Take Care (To Comb Your Hair)
                                Mister Main
                                Feel
                                Green Belly
                                Breakfast Eggs
                                Manipulator
                                Papers
                                Freedom I
                                My Lady’s On Fire
                                Diversion
                                Tall Man Skinny Lady
                                Orange Color Queen
                                Fanny Dog
                                Meaning
                                She Don’t Care
                                The Fakir
                                Untitled #6
                                Who’s Producing You?
                                Stick Around
                                You’re The Doctor
                                California Hills
                                DAG8LR
                                Warm Hands
                                Break A Guitar 2
                                Every1’s A Winner
                                Candy Man
                                Handglams
                                It’s Over
                                Golden One (Only One)
                                Pan
                                Alta
                                The Singer
                                The Hill
                                Thank God For The Sinners
                                Shoot You Up
                                The Feels
                                Connection
                                Thank You Mr. K
                                When Mommy Kills You
                                She
                                Slaughterhouse
                                Sue Thumb
                                Talkin’ About Yourself
                                5 Ft. Tall

                                Om

                                BBC Radio 1

                                  Recorded live at BBC Radio 1, Maida Vale, May 3rd, 2019.

                                  The songs continue to evolve; two each from the classic OM releases Advaitic Songs and God Is Good, encompassingly recorded and mixed with the pristine quality that BBC engineers (and OM) bring to recorded sound.

                                  TRACK LISTING

                                  Gethsemane 11:17
                                  State Of Non-Return 8:22
                                  Cremation Ghat I 3:43
                                  Cremation Ghat II 5:37

                                  Alasdair Roberts

                                  The Fiery Margin

                                    “Every song that’s nevermore sung/will sound again upon the Evernew Tongue”. Whether we understand the reference in the line, it sums up Alasdair Roberts’ approach as a singer and songwriter, now halfway through its third decade. Down the years, he has devoted himself to the history of traditional songs, playing them forward into our ever-evolving world as their meanings continue to evolve within him. Whether singing the auld songs, using inspiration from a line of text, or taking a time-honoured air as a starting point to a new song, he has pushed the tradition ahead in ways that few other singers and writers have approached.

                                    Since his first two solo releases, a collection of traditional songs followed by one of original material, Alasdair has followed this pattern more or less over the course of a dozen albums. The Fiery Margin follows 2018’s What News, a collaboration with David McGuinness and Amble Skuse that took eight Scots ballads and focused them through the use of vintage keyboards and modern electronic techniques to make something new that was also in the tradition. Thus, The Fiery Margin is a new collection of originals, some of which draw elements from the songs, singing and thought of the last couple millennia. With that scope in mind, it’s safe to say there’s something for everyone here!

                                    Alasdair’s impulse to communicate nuanced historical arcana in his music is matched with an ability to do so compactly in song, turning, say, a 1000-year-old Irish text on the mysteries of creation and apocalypse, or the peregrinatory journal of a mediaeval English mystic, into something with which we can all sing along. He’s been doing it long enough and with enough other fine players and singers to intuit what a set of songs might benefit from. On The Fiery Margin, he taps the percussive elan of Alex Neilson and the expansive bass playing of Stevie Jones, who have paired together with him on a couple of previous albums. On their previous encounter, Pangs, Alasdair focused on electric guitar, which gave the music a lean and wild quality that drew comparisons to the British folk scene of the classic rock era. The Fiery Margin has a diverse sound design, moving fluidly from acoustic to electric guitars while adding the nimble playing of Irish violist Ailbhe nic Oireachtaigh to embody and expand the parameters of the material. Additional players bring touches of accordion, pedal steel guitar, saxophone and barbershop vocals (!), aiding Alasdair’s process of excavating the enduringly mysterious roots of our shared music at a consonant, yet still enigmatic depth.

                                    Recorded by Luigi Pasquini at Anchor Lane Studios in Glasgow, The Fiery Margin has the distinction of being an exceptional recital whose origins could be ascribed to traditional Scottish, Irish and English music, not to mention the sounds of the world beyond. Alasdair Roberts is an underrated talent – one that we imagine will sound even better in the gifted ears of generations to come. As for you, dear citizen of today’s world – don’t wait!

                                    STAFF COMMENTS

                                    says: Rich and enchanting acoustic pieces here, boldened by Roberts' acrobatic vocals and ability for sketching a scene. Obviously influenced by the psych-folk movement, but unafraid to branch into other areas, 'The Fiery Margin' is a wonderfully emotive and fascinating narrative treasure.

                                    TRACK LISTING

                                    False Flesh
                                    The Evernew Tongue
                                    Europe
                                    Comments
                                    A Keen
                                    The Stranger With The Scythe
                                    Actors
                                    Common Clay
                                    Learning Is Eternal
                                    The Untrue Womb

                                    U.S. Maple

                                    Talker

                                      It’s now 20 years since U.S. Maple and ‘Talker’ were sent to the Drag City office. Their third album took the egressions and abrasions of their early music to a new height of quiet horror, their contribution to the summer of 1999 - a hot, trying season, one that won’t soon be forgotten.

                                      ‘Talker’ was recorded by Martin Bisi and produced by Michael Gira at Bisi Studios.  U.S. Maple made two more records after ‘Talker’ before dissolving in the mid 2000s. ‘Talker’ has been out of print on vinyl since 2008.

                                      ‘Talker’ has been newly repressed for vinyl with all original packaging (gatefold sleeve, notebook paper insert, poster, cover sticker) because some experiences, like high school, should keep getting replayed over and over again, forever.  “One of the most obliquely beautiful releases... evasive, creepy, engrossing, and lovely... No one sounds quite like U.S. Maple, and that’s the greatest compliment you can pay a band these days.” - AV Club

                                      “Droning, rubbery guitars, happenstance percussion and slow-burning tempos... the sonic equivalent of fresh tar: dark, hot and viscous. For all its surface chaos however, ‘Talker’’s noise has an underlying space and structure that makes it as compelling as it is initially inaccessible; once caught in its sonic tar pits, it’s fascinating to hear what else is stuck in there.” - All Music Guide

                                      TRACK LISTING

                                      Bumps And Guys
                                      Running From Kabob
                                      Go To Bruises
                                      More Horror
                                      Apollo, Don’t You Crust?
                                      Breeze, It’s Your High School
                                      Stupid Deep Indoors
                                      Untitled
                                      So Long Bonus

                                      It’s a year and a half since the release of Freedom’s Goblin. A winter of rain has buried the recent times of drought. Now voices from the garden cry of desire and disaster, but outside the gates, rebirth is happening.

                                      “Our salivating makes it all taste worse,” croons Ty Segall in the first salvo of First Taste. He’s talking about us: how we’re the masters of our own destiny, tellers of our own prophecy, makers of our own sickened choices. It’s a warning, but this time, the finger is pointing back at him too. He’s one with us.

                                      Contradictions are rife. First Taste is an introspective set after the extroversions of Freedom’s Goblin — yet just as steeped in party beats somehow, even as Ty trails through his back pages, reflecting on family, re-encountering pasts, anticipating futures. Feeling, like it was the first time, the duplexity of core truths. Lines of struggle wind through the songs. “My life is a mystery / I’d look inside but I can’t see,” as one goes — and yet, such promisingly oblique reflections act to unravel the onion, lifting the veil. Ty skates through oneness, self-esteem, the parents — all the joys of a rain-filled childhood — while reaching outward in the here and now, feeling for a shared pulse. To go on, we need to feel it.

                                      These are serious indoor moods, but with Ty, there’s a moment that always comes, a joke or something to crack the bubble and let some air in. It all comes together with volcanic energy — who knows what it means? One disaster ends another; mudslides down the hills into gaping canyons, freeways blocked, the sky filled with smoke. Then we go on.

                                      Meanwhile, the sounds — what are they? This production is INSANE, far-out, stranger than known, tones and rhythms that expand before our ears. These colors are weird. Together, they float like a flag, flashing binary lines like sirens to our eyes. There’s tons of drums, and acoustic . . . . things of all kinds. Horns, synth pads. Pianny. Boiling overtime, Ty’s creative juices suggested that First Taste be written and executed with some radical new instrumentation — koto, recorder, bouzouki, harmonizer, mandolin, saxophones and brass, voices, and sure, a sprinkling of keys. And the drumkit(S!), a position Ty occupies whenever it’s heard on the left speaker, while Freedom Band drummer (and SO much more) Charles Moothart plays the kit on the right side. Those two get DOWN together. Whatever the mood is, the pedal is pushed cleanly to the metal — and that means to the max of the lightest ballads ever, OR through the most raging rocks yet. Ty’s vocal prowess, always a highlight, sits in fresh relief against his mutant orchestra, spooling tension through some of his most patient songs, his feral scream in complete control. Taking us through it.

                                      First Taste is arch, full of high-energy jams, with a thing in each mix always insistently different. Ty’s song design’s all over the place — not even a surprise anymore — but unlike the freewheeling feast style of Freedom’s Goblin, these twelve numbers form a tightly revolving cycle of song and sound that focuses thoughts. First Taste isn’t really the first for Ty, or you or me. But for the latest, it’s a remarkably fresh taste. Maybe it’s the first for today — and when tomorrow is today, then too.

                                      STAFF COMMENTS

                                      says: It's their first since last year's 'Freedom Goblin', and Ty Segall have once again pulled a stormer out of the bag (would it ever have gone any differently?). Incendiary, rawkous, ingenious and not unexpected in the slightest. One of the most confounding and reliable bands out there at the moment. Brilliant.

                                      TRACK LISTING

                                      1 Taste
                                      2 Whatever
                                      3 Ice Plant
                                      4 The Fall
                                      5 I Worship The Dog
                                      6 The Arms
                                      7 When I Met My Parents (Part 1)
                                      8 I Sing Them
                                      9 When I Met My Parents (Part 3)
                                      10 Radio
                                      11 Self Esteem
                                      12 Lone Cowboys

                                      Bill Callahan

                                      Shepherd In A Sheepskin Vest

                                        As you listen to Shepherd In a Sheepskin Vest, a feeling of totality, of completeness, steals over you, like a thief in broad daylight. Of course it does – you’re listening to a new Bill Callahan record! The first one in almost six years! What more do you need to complete you?

                                        Or perhaps, after all the time, the obvious needs to be made just a little more explicit?

                                        First, it’s a different kind of record. Bill’s now writing from somewhere beyond his Eagle-Apocalypse-River headspace, and Shepherd In a Sheepskin Vest is very much its own beast. The songs are, by and large, shorter, and there are more of them. It took almost all of the previous three albums to add up to that many. Plus, twenty’s a lot of songs! But again, it goes a lot deeper than that.

                                        After Dream River, Bill’s life went through some changes. Good changes – marriage and a kid - but afterwards, it was suddenly harder for him to find the place where the songs came, to make him and these new experiences over again into something to sing. His songs have always been elusive, landing lightly between character study and autobiography, as the singer-songwriter often does. This felt different, though. After 20 years of putting music first, he wasn’t prepared to go away from it completely. Or was he? The lives of a newlywed, a new parent, they have so much in them – but writing and singing, it was his old friend that had helped him along to this place where he’d so happily arrived. Was there room for everybody? While sorting it all out, he worked on songs every day – which meant that for a while, there were lots of days simply confronting the void, as he measured this new life against the ones he’d previously known.

                                        It informed the shape of the album. Moving gradually from reflections upon the old days in “Ballad of The Hulk” and “Young Icarus” to the immediacy of the present moment in “Watching Me Get Married” and “Son of the Sea”, Bill traces the different life lines, casually unwinding knotty contradictions and ambiguities with an arresting stillness. The sense of a life thunderstruck by change infuses Shepherd In a Sheepskin Vest– the songs wander from expressions of newfound joy and great contentment to other snapshots, considerations of the not-joy that we all know. Unsettling dream-images and mythic recollections are patiently received; the undertow of the past is resisted, pulling against it instead into the present, accepting revolutions of time and the unconscious as a natural flow.

                                        These transcendent expressions are wedded translucently to the music. Acknowledging the uncertainty in which the songs were assembled, Bill went to the studio alone, unsure if he could find what he was looking for with a band riding along – because who knew how long it would take? This allowed the fluidity of his song-thoughts to be laid down with the right feeling. Once there was guitar and vocals, the other parts came. Matt Kinsey’s guitar partnership is an essential relationship within the music, as is Brian Beattie’s acoustic bass – but also, Bill found himself overdubbing parts himself for the first time in many years, which lent the songs an episodic drift, as if he’s passing through rooms while singing.

                                        In it’s final mix, Shepherd In a Sheepskin Vest glows incandescent – an entirely acoustic arrangement, sounds and stories shifting seamlessly, almost like one big song made of a bunch of new stories – the kind that only Bill Callahan thinks to sing.

                                        It’s a joy to hear from this old friend – informing all the lives that we’ve led in the hearing. Good listeners and tired dancers, sing along.

                                        STAFF COMMENTS

                                        says: Say what you will about Bill, but he sure knows how to keep writing the tunes doesn't he? A beautiful mix of brittle jazzy progressions, flickering percussion and swooning syncopated (but never jarring) melodic counterpoint show exactly why big Billy is still so present in our record collections and our hearts.

                                        TRACK LISTING

                                        1 Shepherd's Welcome
                                        2 Black Dog On The Beach
                                        3 Angela
                                        4 The Ballad Of The Hulk
                                        5 Writing
                                        6 Morning Is My Godmother
                                        7 747
                                        8 Watch Me Get Married
                                        9 Young Icarus
                                        10 Released
                                        11 What Comes After Certainty
                                        12 Confederate Jasmine
                                        13 Call Me Anything
                                        14 Son Of The Sea
                                        15 Camels
                                        16 Circles
                                        17 When We Let Go
                                        18 Lonesome Valley
                                        19 Tugboats And Tumbleweeds
                                        20 The Beast

                                        Purple Mountains

                                        All My Happiness Is Gone

                                          Purple Moutains is David Berman From Silver Jews.

                                          TRACK LISTING

                                          1 All My Happiness Is Gone
                                          2 All My Happiness Is Wrong
                                          3 All My Happiness Is Long

                                          Test Pattern

                                          This Is My Street

                                            In season 2 of IFC’s ‘Documentary Now!’, the episode ‘Test Pattern - Final Transmission’ parodied/paid tribute to Jonathan Demme’s ‘Stop Making Sense’, a concert documentary of the Talking Heads. In order to get the same feel and sound, the directors organized a live performance of Test Pattern in San Gabriel, California. Fred Armisen and Bill Hader put together a band that onstage would tell the chronological story of Test Pattern, by adding band members, song by song.

                                            Proceedings begin with Fred Armisen and a guitar (‘This Is My Street’), then a trio with Bill Hader on bass and Jon Wurster on drums (‘Art + Student = Poor’) and then Jon Spurney on keyboards and Maya Rudolph on vocals and synth. Musicians and singers are added throughout the show but those are the key members of Test Pattern. The last song, ‘Everybody’s Moving Around’, is sung and co-written by Bill Hader, presented as that one song on an album not sung by the lead singer. 

                                            TRACK LISTING

                                            This Is My Street
                                            Art + Student = Poor
                                            Everybody’s Moving Around

                                            Ty Segall & The Freedom Band

                                            Deforming Lobes - Live

                                              In 2018, Ty Segall’s Freedom’s Goblin hit with a watershed feeling. A feeling like, how much longer will rock albums like this even exist? An epic epoch double-LP that took the heroic arc of Ty’s populist masterpiece Manipulator and wadded it up into a much more aerodynamic (and harder-hitting) ball (or 20-sided D&D die), FG was also the continued work of the Freedom Band, Ty’s crew of choice since 2016. Storming the world playing songs from throughout his catalog in a series of ecstatic setlists, they sought freedom for themselves and the audience, even it if was just one night of emancipation from world’s numbing chill. Then they went and did it again the next night!

                                              An all analog production, recorded live on stage at Teragram Ballroom in Los Angeles by Steve Albini (via mobile unit onto two-inch tape!) and mixed with Steve in Chicago at Electrical Audio, Deforming Lobes witnesses the blunt-force traumpact of The Freedom Band in full effect, updating (and upending) numbers from Melted, Emotional Mugger, Twins, Manipulator, $ingle$ 2 and Self-Titled. From the start, the “Warm Hands” suite shows the growth of the group since recording the original version for the 2017 Self-Titled album—the jam has a new life all its own, and the band explores every song with similar unrestrained curiosity, never forgetting the collective experience they’re sharing. The feeling between audience and band at Los Angeles’ Teragram Ballroom on those January nights was its own special thing; here, the band is somehow even more front and center, making Deforming Lobes the first wholly original statement from The Freedom Band and bookending the Goblin experience with a fuck of an exclamation point.

                                              A year-plus later, another rock album exists—but what’s to be done with the guitar? These guys did everything they could get away with to a certain degree of (well-focused) depravity. Maybe now it’s time for a transition, away from live band rawk into whatever, who knows? But before you grieve your speculative future loss too hard, you really oughta get Deforming Lobes.

                                              STAFF COMMENTS

                                              says: By all accounts, Ty Segall are one of the most dominant forces in live music around today, and this perfectly captures the energy and visceral heft of this momentous experience. Grooves are stretched out and worked around, turning a simple riff into a multi-layered tapestry, rich with distortion and so huge you can almost feel the sweat dripping off the stage.

                                              TRACK LISTING

                                              1 Warm Hands
                                              2 Squealer
                                              3 Breakfast Eggs
                                              4 The Crawler
                                              5 Finger
                                              6 They Told Me Too
                                              7 Cherry Red
                                              8 Love Fuzz

                                              Bill MacKay

                                              Fountain Fire

                                                Fountain Fire is Bill MacKay’s second solo album on Drag City. The Chicago-based guitarist’s continued sonic journeys in conversation with himself follow a travel-worn map written in his own hand. Bill has followed the trail from familiar confines to unknown places, catalyzing a style equally enamored with the traditional and the avant-garde to make his most expansive and forceful music to date.

                                                You can hear it in the opening track; as the lava and lakes of “Pre-California” simmer to boiling, Bill assembles a bridge of guitars, layering beams of rumbling acoustic, distorted electric, and arcing slide parts. By leaping boldly from fixed points, he makes synergetic discoveries in mid-air. This is the MacKay writing style in its most evolved state thus far, following serpentine paths within the patterns, lunging in and out of tonality with instinctive flair and a stoic sense of inevitability, forging a sonic mosaic that breathes and grows organically as it fills the space of a song.

                                                Yet there is far more here than straitlaced sonic captures of picker’s prowess and captivating harmonic motivation. Bill’s pieces are informed by meditation and memory, impressionistic as cinematic miniatures, inspired as much by filmic and literary passions as by sure-playing hands, and always rooted with deep soul and steady intention.

                                                As the pieces move in and out of focus in enticingly hallucinogenic fashion, Bill throws another element into play: a pair of stark and emotionally-charged vocal numbers that cause the hair to raise on the listener’s neck, etched as they are with a haunting and eerie beauty. Alongside the ever-shifting flows of instrumental color running through Fountain Fire, these moments shine blindingly, like mirages in the desert. The fire in the album title is a continuity in Bill’s life — part of his genealogy, his living history, his astrology, the scorching effect of the overdriven slide in the penultimate “Arcadia.” It is also a sigil for the chaos around us.

                                                Bill says: “While the record definitely reflects the turbulence and urgency of the times we’re living in, it also takes an autobiographical look back at the upheaval that characterized the nomadic rambles of my formative years. I learned to adapt to this constantly shifting landscape. Grasping the unfamiliar became second-nature, and the impressions made by the unknown rapidly entered my art. The bittersweet sense of fleeting time & place became a hallmark. Now is more of a time than ever to dramatize what matters to us through our art.”

                                                TRACK LISTING

                                                1 Pre-California
                                                2 Birds Of May
                                                3 The Movie House
                                                4 Man & His Panic
                                                5 Welcome
                                                6 Try It On
                                                7 Arcadia
                                                8 Dragon Country

                                                StumpWater

                                                Motel In Saginaw

                                                  A few years back Galactic Zoo Dossier / Galactic Zoo Disk Svengali Plastic Crimewave stumbled on a colourfully-labelled 1975 Aurora, Illinois private press single by StumpWater, featuring the tunes ‘White Washed Afternoons’ / ‘Watcher’s Brawl’. There was a vibe here - rural folk rock that’d make David Crosby’s ’tache bristle; latenight unwashed laments that quirky / heady troubadours like Tom Rapp, Gary Higgins or even poor, jaded Phil Ochs could groove on. A search surprisingly yielded immediate results, as StumpWater were still active and gigging. Peppering their concerts with CSN covers, StumpWater were still performing live, doing acoustic and electric sets (with a drummer, rock style) at the same gig (like the aforementioned supagroup would do back in the day) and still playing their 70s originals.

                                                  Crimewave interviewed the band members Joe Gloor and Dan Berg (Dan Haligas sadly passed shortly beforehand) and got their story for his Secret History of Chicago Music column in the Chicago Reader and some Earth-shattering info was gleaned: StumpWater had an unreleased 1973 LP.

                                                  It’s a concept LP about the characters populating a smalltown hotel (think Lee Hazlewood’s ‘Trouble Is A Lonesome Town’ maybe) called ‘Motel In Saginaw’ (a place Mike Nesmith seemed to know too). To say the homespun album was a revelation is putting it lightly - gorgeous tunes about death that’d have Simon & Garfunkel crying in their cappuccinos, creepy Dylan-esque tales that David Blue would liked to have written, maudlin hearts of gold in every groove - basically a hazy, sepia-stained song cycle for all the Judy Blue Eyes in the world to get lost in while rolling a dirtweed joint.

                                                  TRACK LISTING

                                                  LP
                                                  The Hermit
                                                  Blind Darkness
                                                  Romantic Courtship
                                                  Turns Into Boring
                                                  Marriage Blues
                                                  Tired Man
                                                  Tommy’s Song
                                                  Now That He’s Passed
                                                  Away
                                                  Tonight
                                                  Sister Of Mine
                                                  Growing Time
                                                  Cockrow
                                                  Frozen Man
                                                  Motel In Saginaw
                                                  A Thousand Voices

                                                  7"
                                                  Watcher's Brawl
                                                  White Washed
                                                  Afternoons

                                                  Ty Segall & White Fence

                                                  Joy

                                                    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

                                                    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.

                                                    TRACK LISTING

                                                    1 Beginning
                                                    2 Please Don't Leave This Town
                                                    3 Room Connector
                                                    4 Body Behavior
                                                    5 Good Boy
                                                    6 Hey Joel, Where You Going With That?
                                                    7 Rock Flute
                                                    8 A Nod
                                                    9 Grin Without Smile
                                                    10 Other Way
                                                    11 Prettiest Dog
                                                    12 Do Your Hair
                                                    13 She Is Gold
                                                    14 Tommy's Place
                                                    15 My Friend

                                                    Wand

                                                    Perfume

                                                      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.

                                                      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.

                                                        TRACK LISTING

                                                        The Dun Broon Bride
                                                        Johnny O’ The Brine
                                                        Young Johnstone
                                                        Rosie Anderson
                                                        The Fair Flower Of Northumberland
                                                        Clerk Colven
                                                        Babylon
                                                        Long A-Growing

                                                        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.

                                                          TRACK LISTING

                                                          Leave
                                                          Foreign
                                                          Baby Jesus
                                                          Cool/Cowtown
                                                          New Pop
                                                          Corners
                                                          Don’t Be
                                                          Here
                                                          Order

                                                          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.

                                                            TRACK LISTING

                                                            Moon Duo - Square Of The Sun
                                                            Jenks Miller - TheHanging Man
                                                            Meg Baird & CharlieSaufley - Protection Hex
                                                            Tashi Dorji - KO
                                                            Richard Youngs - Abandoned Problems
                                                            Stephen O’Malley, Tim Wyskida & Marc Urselli - Solastalgia
                                                            Phil Legard - Zoa Pastorale

                                                            No Age

                                                            Snares Like A Haircut

                                                              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

                                                              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.

                                                              TRACK LISTING

                                                              1 Cruise Control
                                                              2 Stuck In The Changer
                                                              3 Drippy
                                                              4 Send Me
                                                              5 Snares Like A Haircut
                                                              6 Tidal
                                                              7 Soft Collar Fad
                                                              8 Popper
                                                              9 Secret Swamp
                                                              10 Third Grade Rave
                                                              11 Squashed
                                                              12 Primitive Plus

                                                              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 . . . .

                                                              TRACK LISTING

                                                              1 Fanny Dog
                                                              2 Rain
                                                              3 Every 1’s A Winner
                                                              4 Despoiler Of Cadaver
                                                              5 When Mommy Kills You
                                                              6 My Lady’s On Fire
                                                              7 Alta
                                                              8 Meaning
                                                              9 Cry Cry Cry
                                                              10 Shoot You Up
                                                              11 You Say All The Nice Things
                                                              12 The Last Waltz
                                                              13 She
                                                              14 Prison
                                                              15 Talkin’ 3
                                                              16 The Main Pretender
                                                              17 I’m Free
                                                              18 5 Ft. Tall
                                                              19 And, Goodnight

                                                              Mark Fosson

                                                              Solo Guitar

                                                                Mark Fosson has been playing music for nearly 50 years now. ‘Solo Guitar’ is the fifth album released under his name in all that time, which gives an insight into the nature of his music; when it is time for Mark to commit to something underneath his fingers, regardless of whether that is after two years, ten or twenty, that’s what’s right.

                                                                ‘Solo Guitar’ sees Mark continuing to use his chops and enthusiasm to wander musically, drawing up pieces of sparkling, nimble fingerstyle with an eclectic vision. As the title implies, this time Mark is focused on the austerity of the guitar, plain and simple, to bring out the music. Whether on six- or twelve-string, his sure touch is transported by crystal-clear recordings that belie their down-home origins, as they catch the contours of every string as it is pressed, bent and struck - a full-bodied sound projecting soulful dips down into bass strings and shimmering upper register runs with equal power. The air around these performances is coloured with curving waves of steel-stringed beauty and the pungency of freewheeling wit and recollection.

                                                                The songs are from all over the place: The bristling, fluent action around the neck on ‘Still Ain’t Got No Home’ - a song he wrote when returning east from his long sojourn in California - evokes a traveling energy, motoring down the road in a way that never really ends. This is one of Mark’s favourites of all that he’s written and it is clear why: the golden, eternal promise of the guitar is ebulliently, transcendently delivered.

                                                                Mark Fosson’s ‘Solo Guitar’ is a masterful work, the kind it takes a lifetime to assemble.

                                                                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.

                                                                  TRACK LISTING

                                                                  Hoz
                                                                  Black Fences
                                                                  Haptic Chillweed
                                                                  Jurgen’s Layout
                                                                  D.T.M.T.Y.C.Y.M.
                                                                  Robot Flame
                                                                  Windy Car
                                                                  Ma State Fugue/
                                                                  Return Of The Roller
                                                                  Theme From Sonny
                                                                  On Matt
                                                                  Aboriginal Flow
                                                                  Organ Zip
                                                                  A Golden Age
                                                                  Snoopy Bag
                                                                  Staying Home
                                                                  R. Reg
                                                                  Child Of The Season

                                                                  Laetitia Sadier Source Ensemble

                                                                  Find Me Finding You

                                                                    Another New Year, and new shapes are forming — if only we are fortunate enough to notice them! As we spin through this world, we are witness to all manner of combinations unfolding before us — familiar arcs and breaking waves alike, upon all of which it is our choice, our chance and our challenge, to possibly ride. Find Me Finding You, the new album from the new organization called the Laetitia Sadier Source Ensemble, manages to strike new chords while touching familiar keys in the song of life.

                                                                    From its percolating opening beat, Find Me Finding You locates new systems within the sound-universe of Laetitia Sadier. This in itself isn’t a surprise — Laetitia has relentlessly followed her music through different dynamics and into a variety of dimensions over the course of four solo albums since 2010 (not to forget her three albums with Monade and the long era of Stereolab) — but the nature of the construction here stands distinctly apart from her recent albums. Laetitia was inspired by a mind’s-eye envisaging of geometric forms and their possible permutations. As she sought to replicate the shapes in music, this guided the process of assembly for the album.

                                                                    Part of the freshness of Find Me Finding You comes from working and playing within the Source Ensemble and exploring new sound combinations via a set of youthful and evolving musical relationships. Laetitia recognized the energy of the tracks in their initial form, and sought to preserve their vitality by not retaking too many performances — instead, the rawness in the tracks was retained and refi ned at the mixing stage, maintaining an edge throughout. When we hear synth lines diving, lifting and drifting, unusual guitar textures, the plucked sound of fl at wound bass strings or the bottomless pulsing of bass pedals stepping out of the mix with an exquisite vibrancy, this is the sound of the Source Ensemble.

                                                                    A key to Laetitia’s music is her use of vocal arrangements. Throughout Finding Me Finding You, the shifting accompaniment creates space to bring this element gloriously forward. Arranged by Laetitia with Joe Watson and Jeff Parker making string charts that were subsequently transposed to vocal parts for several songs, richly arranged choirs of voices provide depth along with the thrilling presence of extra breath in the sound. Laetitia’s community-politic is well-served by the groups of voices lending support to the machining of the song craft, providing additional uplift to her quintessentially forward-facing viewpoint — as well as massed voices from three different countries sharing space in harmony!

                                                                    Working in collaboration is Laetita’s traditions, and a key to this album’s view on being free together (it is necessary, preferable and right!). The designation of Source Collective implies a new togetherness phase; alongside long-time collaborators Emmanuel Mario and Xavi Munoz, keyboard and fl utes parts played by David Thayer (Little Tornados) were essential contributions, as well as further keys, synths and electronics from Phil M FU and several intense guitar sequences from Mason le Long. Chris A Cummings (aka Marker Starling, Laetitia’s favorite composer) graciously wrote “Deep Background” for her. The duet with Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor on “Love Captive” (not to mention Rob Mazurek’s distinctive coronet playing!) gives voice to an ideological cornerstone of Find Me Finding You — that, should we be responsible enough to endeavor into a world of basic incomes and open relationships, we would make astonishing strides as a society. These sorts of things can only be done in agreement with others.

                                                                    Expressing great compassion and expectation with startling immediacy, as well as an abiding belief in an underlying unity that permeates and intimately binds all things and beings, Find Me Finding You combines a rigorous process for music-making with a deeply invested mindset, making captivating music that promises many stimulating spins to come!

                                                                    TRACK LISTING

                                                                    Undying Love For Humanity
                                                                    Double Voice, Extra Voice
                                                                    Love Captive
                                                                    Pyschology Active (Finding You)
                                                                    Committed
                                                                    Refl Ectors
                                                                    Deep Background
                                                                    Galactic Emergence
                                                                    The Woman With The Invisible Necklace
                                                                    Sacred Project

                                                                    Alasdair Roberts

                                                                    Pangs

                                                                      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!

                                                                      TRACK LISTING

                                                                      1 Pangs
                                                                      2 No Dawn Song
                                                                      3 An Altar In The Glade
                                                                      4 The Breach
                                                                      5 The Angry Laughing God
                                                                      6 Wormwood And Gall
                                                                      7 The Downward Road
                                                                      8 Scarce Of Fishing
                                                                      9 Vespers Chime
                                                                      10 Song Of The Marvels

                                                                      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

                                                                        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.

                                                                        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

                                                                        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.

                                                                        TRACK LISTING

                                                                        1 Break A Guitar
                                                                        2 Freedom
                                                                        3 Warm Hands (Freedom Returned)
                                                                        4 Talkin'
                                                                        5 The Only One
                                                                        6 Thank You Mr. K
                                                                        7 Orange Color Queen
                                                                        8 Papers
                                                                        9 Take Care (To Comb Your Hair)
                                                                        10 Untitled

                                                                        The Silence

                                                                        Nine Suns, One Morning

                                                                          Papa M

                                                                          Highway Songs

                                                                            David Pajo’s been writing lines on the guitar since he was a kid. It sustained him through a lot of groups, like Maurice, Slint, Aerial M, Tortoise, The For Carnation, Dead Child and Papa M. The sounds he’s made on albums with names like ‘Live From A Shark Cage’ and ‘Whatever, Mortal’ implied danger, violence and total alienation alongside a peaceful, easy, good-willing and wide streak of broke-toothed black humour.

                                                                            With a humble combination of sources Papa M has traditionally traced his music from aboriginal blues all the way through the rock and on into 21st Century classical, exploring moments via an audio-diary vérité. With each encroaching moment of ‘Highway Songs’ it sounds more and more like good old Papa M, as David throws back the veil of tears from recent times to bear witness to miasmic mood-clouds passing not over but through him. Music from where the mind goes when the body is broken. Reflecting time spent hooked up to machines. A good person with bad thoughts, a story told in fragments picked up off the bathroom floor.

                                                                            The Papa M approach is laced with fun amongst the bristle, with loads of tasty playing and a dynamic that pits darkness vs light vs irreverence in a Mexican standoff. As before, it’s pretty much all played by Pajo, whose multi-instrumental flair (and Def Leppard-inspired one-legged drum technique) speaks of the gumption and optimism that has always run under his bridge, along with the blood and water and sperm, massed together in a hypnotic flow. All these things are what makes Papa M and it’s good to hear them and him again.

                                                                            STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                            says: Shining with the sort of instrumental flare seen in Pajo's former bands Slint and Tortoise (among others), this incarnation has a lot more of an acoustic playfulness. Upbeat melodies and interwoven guitar lines cascade into each-other before crackling with electronic shards and static flourishes. This is a finely crafted and impeccably produced collection of soulful electro-acoustic gems.

                                                                            Tim Presley

                                                                            The Wink

                                                                              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

                                                                              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.

                                                                              TRACK LISTING

                                                                              Holding The Sky
                                                                              YDUN
                                                                              Goodbye
                                                                              Ta Nasza Mlodosc
                                                                              Country House Waits
                                                                              Madmen & Dogs
                                                                              Born Of The Sun
                                                                              Wild Kids Rant
                                                                              Outing In The Country
                                                                              O My Stars
                                                                              Invitation
                                                                              Mountain

                                                                              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.

                                                                              TRACK LISTING

                                                                              1 May Life Throw You A Pleasant Curve
                                                                              2 Nature Makes Us For Ourselves
                                                                              3 Your Heart Is Pure, Your Mind Is Clear, Your Soul Devout
                                                                              4 Your Whole Family Are Well
                                                                              5 Despair Is Criminal
                                                                              6 You Are Not Superman
                                                                              7 Show Your Love And Your Love Will Be Returned
                                                                              8 You Will Soon Discover How Truly Fortunate You Really Are
                                                                              9 Your Hard Work Is About To Pay Off, Keep On Keeping On

                                                                              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.”

                                                                              TRACK LISTING

                                                                              1. Squealer
                                                                              2. Californian Hills
                                                                              3. Emotional Mugger/Leopard Priestess
                                                                              4. Breakfast Eggs
                                                                              5. Diversion
                                                                              6. Baby Big Man (I Want A Mommy)
                                                                              7. Mandy Cream
                                                                              8. Candy Sam
                                                                              9. Squealer Two
                                                                              10. W.U.O.T.W.S.
                                                                              11. The Magazine

                                                                              The High Llamas

                                                                              Here Come The Rattling Trees

                                                                                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.

                                                                                TRACK LISTING

                                                                                Ancient Wind Part 1 & 2
                                                                                Ancient Wind Part 3
                                                                                Ornament
                                                                                DEX #1
                                                                                Galasdama
                                                                                Breath Figure
                                                                                Little Red Record
                                                                                Company
                                                                                Fireball

                                                                                ….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. 

                                                                                TRACK LISTING

                                                                                01. Anecdotes
                                                                                02. Sapokanikan
                                                                                03. Leaving The City
                                                                                04. Goose Eggs
                                                                                05. Waltz Of The 101st Lightborne
                                                                                06. The Things I Say
                                                                                07. Divers
                                                                                08. Same Old Man
                                                                                09. You Will Not Take My Heart Alive
                                                                                10. A Pin-Light Bent
                                                                                11. Time, As A Symptom

                                                                                Six Organs Of Admittance

                                                                                Hexadic

                                                                                  Wine-dark, oozing thick like oil and suddenly bright with phosphorescent lickage, Hexadic is witness to the primordial birth of a new approach to the neck of the guitar. Six Organs kills it!

                                                                                  Alasdair Roberts

                                                                                  Alasdair Roberts

                                                                                    Alasdair Roberts is the name of the new solo record from the well-known Scottish songwriter, guitarist and singer Alasdair Roberts, his eighth Drag City Records release under that name, following on from 2013’s ‘A Wonder Working Stone’.

                                                                                    The making of ‘Alasdair Roberts’ found Alasdair back at Glasgow’s Green Door Studio, where he previously made his 2009 album, ‘Spoils’. ‘Alasdair Roberts’ has a warmer feel than ‘A Wonder Working Stone’, partially the result of having been recorded in the analogue domain by Green Door’s masterly house engineer Sam Smith. In the main however, the rich ambiance throughout the album is evidence of yet another tremendous leap in Alasdair’s writing, playing and singing.

                                                                                    The six years since ‘Spoils’ seem like a much greater expanse of time for all the growth shown on the four albums between then and now. The decision, then, to selftitle this album hints at the idea of the artist as having achieved, in Jungian terms, complete ‘individuation’.

                                                                                    Evident as well upon listening is the sound of deep contentment in Alasdair’s playing and singing (not to be confused with gratuitous delusions of self-satisfaction). Moreover, this music is projected from a place of confidence, where what is needed for the music comes naturally, instinctively and as needed.

                                                                                    ‘A Wonder Working Stone’ was an expansive double album, featuring some thirteen musician friends working through complex arrangements of ten sprawling epics written in the syncretic style Alasdair debuted on ‘Spoils’. By contrast, Alasdair Roberts’ ten songs are sparse, intimate and concise. The focus throughout is on Alasdair’s deft acoustic fingerstyle guitar and his voice. The songs are variously elliptical and gnomic, direct and personal, romantic and tender.

                                                                                    There are occasional guest appearances from fellow Glasgow-dwellers Alex South (clarinet), Donald Lindsay (tin whistle) and singing quartet The Crying Lion (Alex Neilson, Lavinia Blackwall, Harry Campbell, Katy Cooper), always to great dramatic effect.

                                                                                    In response to the economy of the arrangements, Alasdair’s voice pitches down on occasion, enhancing the close feeling of this album - an environment where even the sounding of percussive stick-clicks signals a dynamic sonic shift. Alasdair has always delighted in a good, dark set of traditional ballads, the kinds of songs which address human mortality in all its grisly manifestations but even in the relative isolation of this almost-solo set, Alasdair shows no sign of the misanthrope; his advocacy for the fellowship of man is always unshakeably present.

                                                                                    Alasdair Roberts has had a remarkable career to date, starting his music-making in the mid-nineties under the band name Appendix Out and collaborating widely with many musicians from within and without the traditional music tradition over the intervening twenty years. Alasdair has toured incessantly far and wide during this time, working as well with artists from other disciplines such as filmmakers, poets and puppeteers. The resulting performances, expressions and actions are his life’s work and ‘Alasdair Roberts’ is a new phase in an essential and ever-evolving discography; it will please long-term followers and new listeners alike and stand with his other records as a testament in time to as pure a talent as this era has seen and heard.

                                                                                    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.

                                                                                    TRACK LISTING

                                                                                    Spiders
                                                                                    Hand Glams
                                                                                    Cherry Red
                                                                                    Falling Hair
                                                                                    Children Of Paul
                                                                                    It’s A Problem
                                                                                    Mother Lemonade
                                                                                    For Those Who Weep
                                                                                    Fucked Up Motherfucker
                                                                                    Femme Fatale
                                                                                    Music For A Film
                                                                                    Pettin The Dog

                                                                                    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.

                                                                                      TRACK LISTING

                                                                                      The 8th Circus
                                                                                      Morning Light
                                                                                      Does It Feel Alright?
                                                                                      Weeping Rock
                                                                                      My Love
                                                                                      Who Stole My Brain?
                                                                                      How Many Ways?
                                                                                      She Was All
                                                                                      Wondrous Child
                                                                                      The Voice
                                                                                      Were We All So Young?
                                                                                      The Children Sing

                                                                                      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.

                                                                                      TRACK LISTING

                                                                                      Forcefield Of Solitude
                                                                                      Sundance Saloon Boogie
                                                                                      Learning Slowly
                                                                                      Another Silvermoon
                                                                                      Reptili-A-Genda
                                                                                      Where’s Sweetboy
                                                                                      Aging Faces
                                                                                      I Don’t Wanna Be A...
                                                                                      Airwaves
                                                                                      Running Through My Dreams
                                                                                      Six Ways To Sunday

                                                                                      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.

                                                                                        TRACK LISTING

                                                                                        The Morning Paper
                                                                                        Blood Red Bird
                                                                                        Red Apples
                                                                                        I Was A Stranger
                                                                                        To Be Of Use
                                                                                        Red Apple Falls
                                                                                        Ex-Con
                                                                                        Inspirational
                                                                                        Finer Days

                                                                                        Death

                                                                                        III

                                                                                          Five years after the second life of Death was started with the release of their revelatory 1976 album, ‘For The Whole World To See’, Death’s ‘III’ slams the door on the vault with a powerful set of songs that bring equal amounts of rock and ethereal soul-searching, in high-fidelity, rich bottomed, studio-grade sound.

                                                                                          Alongside songs from 1975, 1976 and 1980, ‘III’ contains two songs from 1992, as the Hackney brothers reconvened nearly a decade after they’d stopped playing together. ‘III’ serves as a companion piece of sorts to the ‘A Band Called Death’ documentary, tracking the band’s movement from spiritual young rockers to older and wiser, bruised-but-undefeated brothers, in pure musical terms.

                                                                                          David Hackney’s visual representation of Death was a triangle, where ‘spiritual’, ‘mental’ and ‘physical’ formed the three angles. With this in mind, ‘For The Whole World To See’ is clearly the physical corner, with its undeniable proto-punk power. ‘Spiritual-Mental-Physical’ explores the mental axis, with Death working through some of their influences - including The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, The Who and even ELO - in their practice space. ‘III’ is the spiritual end of the portrait, bookended by the dreamlike rock visions of David Hackney that created and propelled the band called Death.

                                                                                          ‘III’ starts with David inside a deep 1975 guitar improvisation, rising up through atmospheres and prehistoric guitar murk to coalesce in jagged monster-riff-dom. The whole exercise recalls Funkadelic’s great Eddie Hazel while reflecting the pure essence of David Hackney’s guitar style. This jump-cuts perfectly five years into the future, with the funky staccato of ‘North Street’, which finds the band’s punkish approach at its most aggressive. From there, the album moves back and forth from 1975 and 1976 (including two songs recorded at Groovesville in Detroit with the other ‘For The Whole World To See’ songs) to 1980, showing the band streamlining their frenetic core and maximizing the power.

                                                                                          The lyrical focus of the songs ‘Open Road’, ‘We Are Only People’ and ‘Free’ is more in the spirit / soul side of Death as heard on ‘Let The World Turn’ and ‘Where Do We Go From Here???’ - sensitive, searching, reflective.

                                                                                          ‘We Are Only People’ is an epic journey that begins with another Funkadelic-styled spoken-word moment, progressing through a spacious solo-guitar-with-harmonies section and into the inevitable rock conclusion. Dark hues are generated by the relentless and speedy ‘Restlessness’, while remaining at a philosophical remove, and ‘Free’ is a heavy duo piece with Bobby and David exploring the meaning of the word.

                                                                                          The album’s climax is provided by a trio (once again, the triangle) of David songs, two of which hail from 1992. All three pieces together form a release of the soul of Death from its dark origins, building optimism upon the harsh realities they’d experienced in their lives, more relaxed without losing the spark and bite of those former times. The unaccompanied guitar instrumental ‘First Snowfall In Detroit’ is David Hackney at his most soulful, which gives way to ‘We’re Gonna Make It’, first featured as an emotional climax to the documentary and no less powerful here. With these songs, ‘III’ pays final tribute to David Hackney’s thoroughly original voice and vision, now stilled, but captured forever as a part of the remarkable story of Death.

                                                                                          The album’s cover was created in 1976 by Don Schwenck, working from David’s design and intended to be the cover of the album they were recording. Once that album failed to materialize, the brothers forgot about the commission, and when ‘For The Whole World To See’ was eventually released, Bobby Hackney Jr.’s distinctive image fronted the design. However, when Death returned to Detroit to play in 2010, Don Schwenck was there, with the artwork he had created 35 years earlier. Bobby Jr. added the logo to the image and it was ready to go. With the release of ‘III’, the final record from the vault, all things come full circle for Death.

                                                                                          ‘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’).

                                                                                          TRACK LISTING

                                                                                          New Eyes
                                                                                          Blank Screen
                                                                                          Weaves
                                                                                          Weird Summer
                                                                                          Sex Grip Enemy
                                                                                          The Unnatural Act
                                                                                          Four Cocks
                                                                                          Of One Thousand
                                                                                          Cry Honey
                                                                                          Fumes And Nothing Else

                                                                                          Woo

                                                                                          When The Past Arrives

                                                                                            Woo are brothers Mark and Clive Ives. Emboldened by the success of the recent reissue of ‘It’s Cosy Inside’, Mark and Clive had a listen to hundreds of previously unreleased tracks recorded in the 70s and 80s to assemble their first new record in two decades, ‘When The Past Arrives’, from Drag City / Yoga Records.

                                                                                            With comparisons to Penguin Cafe Orchestra, Animal Collective, Cluster, and Brian Eno, Woo’s profile in the world of atemporal music has been growing for years. For the lucky few who know, like Fela, or Neu!, Woo has their own instantly recognisable vibrantly pulsing sound, a quiet sound of comfort and contentment.

                                                                                            “If we got something good happening it would continue into the early hours. I remember one morning waking up still sitting at my keyboard, the phone as my pillow. The woman below us would thump the ceiling with a broom handle when she got sick of the noise, so that influenced a lot of what we could do and how we would work: drums became triangles, clarinets were played real breathy, guitars were plucked, not strummed. Even hitting the keyboard keys were not to be struck too hard. This new album is mainly a result of these late night recordings. Soft melodic compositions created on either piano or guitar, then multi tracked with improvisations and harmonic patterns.” - Clive.

                                                                                            ‘When The Past Arrives’ is a collection of deceptively airy jams, addictive, crystalline. Uncut called ‘It’s Cosy Inside’ “the epitome of domestic bliss,” and Pitchfork observed that the album “stakes itself on the premise that the most cosmic and revelatory experiences you’ll ever have will all happen between your house and the backyard.” As if to answer, the Ives brothers selected a vocal track to complete the album, which asks, “How far out, will you go today up the garden path?”

                                                                                            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

                                                                                            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!

                                                                                            TRACK LISTING

                                                                                            Thank Dub
                                                                                            Expanding Dub
                                                                                            Small Dub
                                                                                            Call It Dub
                                                                                            Ride My Dub
                                                                                            Summer Dub
                                                                                            Transforming Dub
                                                                                            Highs In The Mid-40s Dub

                                                                                            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’.

                                                                                              TRACK LISTING

                                                                                              An Easy Goin’ Country Guy
                                                                                              My Sally
                                                                                              Black Birds In The Sky
                                                                                              The Nice Boy
                                                                                              Funboots
                                                                                              Furnace Springs
                                                                                              Pigeon Falls
                                                                                              Mrs. Jennings Fruit Fly Farm
                                                                                              Donald Wheeler
                                                                                              She Can Cry Her Tears Alone
                                                                                              I'm So Glad You Came
                                                                                              One Room And A Brass Bed
                                                                                              Come A Long

                                                                                              ‘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.

                                                                                              TRACK LISTING

                                                                                              Return Of The Silkie
                                                                                              Iaqua
                                                                                              Sailor In The Sun
                                                                                              Lorelei
                                                                                              Hello Mister Drifter
                                                                                              Land Voyage
                                                                                              Guatemala
                                                                                              Rivers’ Calling
                                                                                              Storm Over Paradise
                                                                                              And Back Again

                                                                                              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...

                                                                                              TRACK LISTING

                                                                                              P.C.P. Crazy / Jaws
                                                                                              Hold Me Closer
                                                                                              And Suddenly
                                                                                              Going Nowhere
                                                                                              Flourish Wish
                                                                                              Untitled
                                                                                              Precious Little Time
                                                                                              Jaws II
                                                                                              Venom P. Stinger
                                                                                              Walking About
                                                                                              26 Mg
                                                                                              Those Snakes
                                                                                              Before You Open My Eyes
                                                                                              Hell Street
                                                                                              My Hole
                                                                                              The Quiet One
                                                                                              Impressions
                                                                                              Home Sweet Home
                                                                                              Lethargy
                                                                                              Dear God
                                                                                              Unused
                                                                                              Day Will Come
                                                                                              Greystones
                                                                                              What’s Yours Is Mine
                                                                                              Pressure Inside
                                                                                              Inside The Waiting Room
                                                                                              I Try, I Really Try
                                                                                              Turning Green
                                                                                              In Love

                                                                                              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

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

                                                                                              TRACK LISTING

                                                                                              Sleeper
                                                                                              The Keepers
                                                                                              Crazy
                                                                                              The Man Man
                                                                                              She Don’t Care
                                                                                              Come Outside
                                                                                              6th Street
                                                                                              Sweet C.C.
                                                                                              Queen Lullabye
                                                                                              The West

                                                                                              ‘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.

                                                                                              TRACK LISTING

                                                                                              Built A Friend
                                                                                              Primetime Clown
                                                                                              Highlights
                                                                                              Electric Northern
                                                                                              Street Craps
                                                                                              The General Prologue
                                                                                              Green Limousine
                                                                                              Trashcan Bahamas

                                                                                              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.

                                                                                              TRACK LISTING

                                                                                              Glyphs
                                                                                              God Bless Her, I Miss Her
                                                                                              Lazee Son
                                                                                              Polka Vat
                                                                                              Wake Up, It’s Over II
                                                                                              Drink Up!
                                                                                              Thylacine Man
                                                                                              Moviehead
                                                                                              Rock Races
                                                                                              See You On The Slopes

                                                                                              ‘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.

                                                                                              TRACK LISTING

                                                                                              Love’s A Rondo
                                                                                              Iron Pigs
                                                                                              Opium Den / Fade To Blue
                                                                                              Walking Robin
                                                                                              Open Air
                                                                                              Gypsum

                                                                                              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.

                                                                                              TRACK LISTING

                                                                                              1. Domestic
                                                                                              2. Chicken 80
                                                                                              3. Western World
                                                                                              4. Chris & Debbie
                                                                                              5. Palm Springs
                                                                                              6. That's Why
                                                                                              7. Ernie K
                                                                                              8. Hello Texas
                                                                                              9. Taipei
                                                                                              10. Tickhead (Live) *
                                                                                              11. The Day The Earth Stood Still *

                                                                                              (* = CD Only Track)

                                                                                              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.

                                                                                              TRACK LISTING

                                                                                              1. January
                                                                                              2. Letter
                                                                                              3. Days Hang Heavy
                                                                                              4. Palace
                                                                                              5. Talk Me Down
                                                                                              6. Wrong Side Of Yesterday
                                                                                              7. Crooked Way
                                                                                              8. This Song

                                                                                              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.

                                                                                              TRACK LISTING

                                                                                              1. Dream Chain
                                                                                              2. Soft And Mean
                                                                                              3. Yes I Love You
                                                                                              4. Memories Come True
                                                                                              5. Full Of Pain
                                                                                              6. California Baby
                                                                                              7. Home
                                                                                              8. She’s Almost Gone
                                                                                              9. Take It Easy
                                                                                              10. So Long
                                                                                              11. Climb On Top

                                                                                              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.

                                                                                              Bill Callahan

                                                                                              Woke On A Whaleheart

                                                                                                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.

                                                                                                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.

                                                                                                  Neil Michael Hagerty

                                                                                                  Plays That Good Old Rock And Roll

                                                                                                    Great mix of down country and twisted rock 'n' roll from this ex-Royal Trux man.


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