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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

    Bill Callahan

    YTI⅃AƎЯ

      “And we’re coming out of dreams / And we’re coming back to dreams” is the first thing you hear Bill say as you remake your acquaintance on YTI⅃AƎЯ. Right out the gate, he’s standing in two places at once: meeting up with old friends behind the scenes and encountering them on the record, finding himself coming round the bend and then again as someone else on down the line. Like the character actor he played on Gold Record, writing stories about other people, telling jokes about everyone, and in singing them, becoming the songs.

      From the beautiful to the jarring, intrepid explorer Callahan charts a passage through all kinds of territory, pitting dreams of dreams against dreams of reality. When he makes it back to us, his old friends 'n acquaintances, we are reminded how much of a world it can be out there - and in here as well, where we live everyday.

      TRACK LISTING

      First Bird
      Everyway
      Bowevil
      Partition
      Lily
      Naked Souls
      Coyotes
      Drainface
      Natural Information
      The Horse
      Planets
      Last One At The Party

      Oren Ambarchi

      Shebang

        Evolving the tactics of works like ‘Quixotism’, ‘Hubris’ and ‘Simian Angel’, Oren Ambarchi invites an international all-star cast to dialogue with his guitar and triggers inventions.

        Intricate theme-and-variations build upon the staccato rhythms via expansive improvs from BJ Cole, Sam Dunscomb, Chris Abrahams, Jim O’Rourke and Julia Reidy.

        Bridging minimalism, contemporary electronics, and classic ECM stylings, and bringing together a cast of preternaturally talented contributors, ‘Shebang’ is unmistakably the work of Oren Ambarchi: obsessively detailed, relentlessly rhythmic, unabashedly celebratory.

        TRACK LISTING

        I
        II
        III
        IV

        No Age

        People Helping People

          First thought, best thought. Until the next thought: a guiding principle for No Age in the 16ish years they’ve been around. Constantly responding to their own streams of consciousness with reductive flexibility, they’ve taken the basic duo of guitar and drums with vocals WAY farther than anyone listening in halcyon Weirdo Rippers days could have guessed. Expounding on those larval possibilities, they’ve zig-zagged in serpentine precision, in and out of the teeth of the wringer — ranging outside and back in again, as befits the present thought. And now, six albums into it, these principles have led them to make People Helping People. Composed in their studio of ten years in the “pre pandemic” times, then an eviction from said space, and finished deep in the midst at their new basecamp: Randy’s Garage.

          It starts with an instrumental, too. First counter-intuition, best counter intuition! Nearly five minutes prelude Dean’s debut vocal interjection — a zoom in from the upper atmosphere, Randy’s guitar clouds pulsing with radiation, paced by spare, percussive accents. When the first song with singing (“Compact Flashes”) bounces in on an insane synthetic beat, the only recognizable sound of No Age is a sputtering of enchanted clicks and creaks — muted guitar strings and drumkit rattlings that cycle for a full minute before voice song and snare fall into place.

          This is the sound of People Helping People: No Age, deep in the lab, scraping available nuclii together to see what new compound they find next. Erasing the starting points, reordering the pieces and beginning anew. It’s an everyday mindset — and as the first No Age album recorded entirely by No Age, People Helping People is a broadcast of entirely lived-in proportions.

          Side one ricochets expertly back and forth between magisterial instrumentals and sing-song forms cut up on the mixing desk, as with the undeniable hitness of “Plastic (You Want It)”, winningly rewired to MIDI-mangled beat squelches. They don’t really land on a straight up punk-style riff until it’s almost time to flip the side, and even once they’ve got off on a run of rockers on side B, their aesthetic choices continuously reframe the norms, enhancing their inherent power. People Helping People finds their disparate desires operating in perfect sync; prolegomenic weirdness fused immaculately to classic rock propulsion, transforming the energy pouring out from their hands and feet with electronics.

          Dean’s lyrics are like pieces taken off the belt at the factory and put together into a John Chamberlin-esque sculpture, meant to sit out in the rain. Randy’s guitars, collaged into arrangements that reflect, again, boundless curiosity and exquisite restraint. This is People Helping People: unpretentious, suspicious, inviting, confident, left field. The most accurate display of the No Age ethos put to record. Yet!

          No Age’s ethos sings to us from beyond the clouds, with words and without, a conceptual boost to everyone helping everyone. Ensconced in Randy’s Garage without a clock to spit on ‘em, Dean and Randy composted drums and guitar and life on planet earth into a stream of miniatures, vignettes and reembodied images – an infinity of hits.

          TRACK LISTING

          You’re Cooked
          Compact Flashes
          Fruit Bat Blunder
          Plastic (You Want It)
          Interdependence
          Violence
          Flutter Freer
          Rush To The Pond
          Slow Motion Shadow
          Blueberry Barefoot
          Tripped Out Before Scott
          Heavenly
          Andy Helping Andy

          Bitchin Bajas

          Bajascillators

            ‘Amorpha’, a side-long shower of synthetic bells and bass, as patterns interlock and repeat and the beat within the bar lines shifts constantly, forms a new, latest miniature of infinity. You flip it, and ‘Geomancy’ resets you, starting anew, with heavy drift and drone leading into a space of shorter broken lines and Middle Eastern tonalities, that roll back into ether again - new spaces, but mysteriously consonant with the vibe.

            ‘Bajascillators’ arrives almost five years since their last official fulllength, 2017’s ‘Bajas Fresh’. In the eight years prior to ‘Bajas Fresh’, Bitchin Bajas issued seven albums, plus cassettes, EPs, singles… wave after wave of analogue synth tones and zones extending into a stratospheric arc. Each release its own headspace, shape and timbre, each one sliding naturally into their implacable, eternal gene pool.

            Following the flow, always, the Bajas went ever-deeper-and-higher on these records, whether making soundtracks or collaborating with Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, using only fortune cookie fortunes as a libretto. Plus engagement, with a steady stream of shows and tours around the world; live re-airings and expansions of the space captured in their records as they continued to grow and flow - all the way through, really, to the present moment.

            Plus, there have been releases since 2017 - a split 12”, a 7” single, digital track release and two ‘Cuts’ cassettes, plus the allcovers cassette release ‘Switched On Ra’. But the overall number of releases, plus the five years between long players, implies a potential distance between phases, a new line in the sand. The sound of Bajascillators bear this out. How couldn’t it? Compared to 2017, this is a different world.

            Mastered directly from half-inch analogue tape, ‘Bajascillators’ floats transparently from the speakers, its expansive grooves gathering resonance and building momentum over the four sides, from genesis to re-conclusion, cascading ecstatically. The elastic magic of time at its brightest. As the world keeps turning, so too do Bitchin Bajas, in the same unknowable way. You can’t explain it - just keep turning.

            TRACK LISTING

            Amorpha
            Geomancy
            World B. Free
            Quakenbrück

            Ty Segall

            "Hello, Hi"

              The man in the tree has a guitar, he’s gonna sing. But the sun shining through the branches— are those rays yellow or hazy gray? What day is today? When are you not going to feel this way again? “Hello, Hi”: welcome in to a new room to play the styles and feels that lie under Ty Segall’s fingers, easing fresh air into acoustic space with an assortment of love songs flowering in righteous unconsciousness. Plaintive and wistful, but unafraid. Like rain washing away yesterday, “Hello, Hi” pushes open the door, inviting the new to pass through all the old shades and degrees of hot and cold. Dark paths turn off abruptly into absurd darkness, then wind back through the broken rocks, ecstatic again.

              Absurdity again. It happens everyday. “Hello, Hi” is expansively rendered by Ty, mostly by himself, at home. The isolation suits the songs: you’re only ever as “at home” as you are with yourself in the mirror. Ty’s acoustic and electric guitars and vocal harmonies layer self upon self, forming a spiny backbone for the album. Textures at once gentle and dissonant root the songs as they make their move: melodic arcs convulsing in doubt and bliss and rage. Busting out of the endless gridlock into open space, these spirits pass on through. “Hello, Hi”’s flickering awakening to this trip: the opening three tracks’ train of sweet and salty reflections, before the abrupt crunch of the title track electrifies the senses. Good morning’s turned to good mourning in nothing flat, but there’s still a way up from the doldrums, to try again. Why can’t it be just as simple as “Hello, Hi”? What to do with yourself when love triggers loathing? How many more times do you have to go back there again?

              Pulling at the scratchy wool threads of an old sweater favored for warmth, comfort, protection, rejection, denial, blindness etc, Ty Segall dives from a clear, open sky, down through the marine layer and the shimmering waves of all the years. Radiating from the same mind fields as Goodbye Bread and Sleeper, mixed with shard edges of contrast and contradiction from things like Freedom’s Goblin, Manipulator, and First Taste, “Hello, Hi” is Ty’s most relaxed and complete production to date, an ebb-and flow fusion of words and music offering abstraction and acceptance as it wrestles itself through a fucked-up time. Your life and what you make of it — throughout “Hello, Hi,” Ty Segall charts a passage through its enduring tangles honestly, with clarity and confusion.

              STAFF COMMENTS

              Barry says: It's clear that Ty Segall have always been, and always will be one of the most propulsive and groundbreaking forces in modern music. 'Hello, Hi' looks to continue this streak of excellence, both wildly inventive and highly intricate, it's a riff-lovers dream.

              TRACK LISTING

              1. Good Morning
              2. Cement
              3. Over
              4. Hello, Hi
              5. Blue
              6. Looking At You
              7. Don't Lie
              8. Saturday Pt.1
              9. Saturday Pt.2
              10. Distraction

              Anthony Moore

              Flying Doesn’t Help

                40-plus years since its original release, the pop-punk-new wave inventions of Anthony Moore’s ‘Flying Doesn’t Help’ are freshly remastered, blasting the sparkling, angularsounds into today with perfect vitality.

                After spending the early years of the 1970s making experimental music first as a soloartist, then with Slapp Happy and Henry Cow, 1976’s ‘OUT’ sessions had reinvigoratedAnthony’s youthful love of the naive pop melodies of pop radio, the undeniable excitementof songs. While ‘OUT’ ultimately went unreleased at the time, the iconoclasm clouding thelate ’70s air was addictive and transformative for Anthony.

                England seemed to be roiledas violently as it had been in counter-cultural days a decade earlier; the UK pop chartsbreathlessly reflected the changing spectrum with equal parts aging hippie and progdelicacies alongside new ascendant sounds: rough-hewn pub and punk rock, plus dubreggae and disco and ska and Stiff and Krautrock. This proved to be an ideal environmentfor Anthony to make records by exploring, as he puts it, the“deep connection betweenminimalism, repetition, working with tape and celluloid and forming the modules of athree-minute pop song.”

                Rather than recreate the conditions ofthe original release of ‘Flying Doesn’t Help’, this reissue instead embraces the changedenvironment of the current time and place: instead of no credits, now they are complete,with Anthony’s full name restored and even the artwork subtly ‘relocated’ to reflect a newset of relationships. All of which brings the forward-looking sounds of ‘Flying Doesn’t Help’into the more independent-minded 21st Century syntax where it belongs.

                TRACK LISTING

                1. Judy Get Down
                2. Ready Ready
                3. Useless Moments
                4. Lucia
                5. Caught Being In Love
                6. Timeless Strange
                7. Girl It’s Your Time War
                8. Just Us
                9. Twilight (Uxbridge Rd.)

                Ty Segall

                Whirlybird (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

                  Drag City grandly presents Whirlybird (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack), featuring all-new music by Ty Segall, created for Matt Yoka’s compelling new documentary.

                  Released to great acclaim in Summer 2021, Whirlybird tells the story of Zoey Tur and Marika Gerrard, former partners and founders of the Los Angeles News Service, and deftly tracks their extraordinary and often-reckless pursuit of breaking news throughout the 80s and 90s — a time in which they pioneered the use of a helicopter to report on Los Angeles at its most chaotic, capturing historical moments like the 1992 riots and the O.J. Simpson slow speed pursuit.

                  Through striking interviews and one-of-a-kind archival footage,Yoka’s documentary expertly tells the story of Zoey and Marika’s unraveling marriage as they singlehandededly changed broadcast news forever. These two arcs intertwine to create an electric view of the encroaching intensities of that era, when the 24-hour news cycle first rose up to dominate our national consciousness.

                  Ty Segall has previously scored scenes and interstitial bits for film and video things here and there — but this is his first full-on feature film score, a work done in collaboration with the director, whose friendship and creative partnership with Ty has grown over a decade-plus of music videos and other projects. Working off notes and feels from Matt and responding to the images and story on screen, Ty crafted some of his most creative arrangements to date, using synth, drum machine, Wurlitzer keyboard, guitars, drums and percussion (plus saxes played by Mikal Cronin, who also cowrote the title track with Ty) to articulate a multitude of tones running through the film. For a shape-shifter like Ty, this apex of tone color is no mean feat, an achievement further highlighted by the full set of pieces. Rather than simply throw a bunch of songs-with-singing at the project, Ty’s score perfectly epitomizes the film’s ethos, providing an instrumental counterpart that dialogues with and helps frame the film’s provocative themes and images.

                  As both Matt and Ty are natives to the Southern Californian milieu, particularly the era Whirlybird depicts, their collaboration involved a journey through their past. In realizing the music, they revisited their own Los Angeles awakenings, adding another personal layer to the deeply felt meditations and elegies sighted by the remarkable Whirlybird — now an equally thrilling counterpart to be experienced through the original soundtrack.

                  TRACK LISTING

                  1. Whirlybird
                  2. First Date
                  3. Los Angeles News Service
                  4. Getting The Story
                  5. Sky Duo
                  6. Lawrence Welk III
                  7. First Pursuit
                  8. 1992
                  9. High
                  10. News Junkies
                  11. Story Of The Century
                  12. Whirly Suite
                  13. Last Flight

                  Dean Spunt & John Wiese

                  The Echoing Shell

                    With their duo debut, Dean Spunt and John Wiese invite you to experience the frenzy of percussive space and discreet sound found inside ‘The Echoing Shell’.

                    This is the first official collaboration between the two veteran music-makers, though their connection goes back to 1999. As John recalls, “[Dean] was in a high school arts program at CalArts. A friend and I were recording the first Sissy Spacek demo in the design studios there, and taking a tape to my car over and over again to check the mix. Dean was walking through the parking lot with a Locust shirt on, we said hello, and he immediately got into a car with two strangers to ‘listen to a tape’.

                    "The tape-listening ended well, apparently. Dean and John became friends and fellow travellers in LA circles and beyond: in 2005, John did a remix for Dean’s first band, Wives; in 2007, Dean played percussion with Sissy Spacek’s 13-Tet Los Angeles; John toured with No Age several times and collaborated live with them in 2010.

                    Under the Sissy Spacek name as well as his own, John’s recordings for his own Helicopter label and many others kicked things off for him around the end of the century; since then, he’s been constantly engaged in solos and collaborations on record, performances, and installations around the world. In addition to Dean’s ever-growing discography with No Age, he curates his own label, Post Present Medium. In 2018, Radical Documents released Dean’s solo debut ‘EE Head’, which explored concrète and experimental techniques in a four-part, album length piece. 

                    ‘The Echoing Shell’ is born of Dean and John’s shared understanding, using John’s process common to Sissy Spacek: elaborate sound-collage works using source material originating from punk, hardcore and improvised music. A series of impositions, tape manipulation and edits recompose the material, cracking open the crust of the source, freeing its implied guts to steam forth in gushes of extreme noise. On ‘The Echoing Shell’, this is as often noise as it is extreme intimacy, seeming at times to be sourced from within Dean’s drumkit, at other times appearing to emanate from the capsules of microphones and the circuits of the signal path itself.

                    One may read these collaged sounds as abstraction, but there is a unique language conveyed in their assembly, forming something like word-shapes and meaning. And intention: the two side-long pieces, comprised of many short sections, form a linear whole, creating alternately ripping and discriminating music - and meaning - in the process.

                    ‘The Echoing Shell’ is a fantastic conception in contemporary musique concrète, combining incendiary post-rock power, dry humour and astonishing depth of field. Whether projecting the sound through headphones, ear buds, bookshelf speakers or your own personal amp stack, crank up ‘The Echoing Shell’.

                    TRACK LISTING

                    1. Fruit From Color Vapor
                    2. Black Fruit

                    Oren Ambarchi, Johan Berthling, Andreas Werliin

                    Ghosted

                      It was November 2018 that Oren Ambarchi, Johan Berthling and Andreas Werliin met at Studio Rymden, in a quiet, pretty suburban district of Stockholm, to make the music that became ‘Ghosted’. They can’t remember exactly when it was made because that time - the when and where that it was recorded - doesn’t really matter anymore. Now the music of ‘Ghosted’ exists in the intention of a shared moment of playing, a clearly delineated time, put forth with a steady flow of small details on bass, guitar and drums, in a remarkable display of rhythmic flexibility within a minimal framework.

                      Oren and Johan have met many times onstage and off since 2003, with several duo recordings to their credit, as well as additional encounters in the group Fire! with Mats Gustafsson and drummer Andreas Werliin. A while back, Oren and Johan decided to reconvene in the studio for a furthering of the thought process that they’d come to on the second Ambarchi / Berthling collaboration, 2015’s ‘Tongue Tied’. As Andreas had mixed that session, it felt right to have him on kit - he’d already been intimately involved in the process.

                      The music they all play together in Fire! is, to put it mildly, loud. This session, they sensed an opportunity to explore different dynamics - to tap, perhaps, a shared inner ECM space. Studio Rymden sits on an upper floor of the building it’s located in, and the light coming through the windows was pleasant on that day. They set up, picked out some amps (including the best-sounding Leslie speaker Oren’s ever heard) and got started.

                      Rooting in the rich tonality and repeating figures of Johan’s acoustic (and sometimes electric) bass, the four tracks that make up ‘Ghosted’ act as variations on a theme, unspooling continuously over the course of 39 minutes with the terse flow of krautrock jams - closely observed percussive riffs and repetitions that build continuously with subtle shifts as they move forward, with the small details flying expansively in and out across the stereo spectrum. Oren’s guitar often sounds with an organ-like tone, with notes of fire and glass wafting out over the percolation and permutation in Johan and Andreas’ rhythms. These men have been playing long enough to, without any real words, shape their improvisations with short- and long-term goals.

                      Performances that day ranged from almost five minutes to almost sixteen. With an eye toward further expansion, they’d invited the legendary Swedish reed player Christer Bothén, whose knowledge of the guimbri and donso n’goni was incisively shared with the great Don Cherry some fifty years ago. Christer plays donso n’goni on the first track, and his parts sync like cogs in a watch, revolving in fluid coordination with Oren, Johan and Andreas.

                      Mixed and mastered by Joe Talia at Good Mixture, Berlin, ‘Ghosted’ highlights the intimate dialogue between players, as well as the careful curation of space between them. It is rare to think of silence in relation to music where everyone is constantly playing - and yet, listening to this, we do.

                      Once it was all done, Pål Dybwik’s misty, nocturnal basketball court images seemed to embody the spirit of the album, while once more steering it in a direction that nobody had stopped to imagine, because this was just something in the air.

                      TRACK LISTING

                      I
                      II
                      III
                      IV

                      Matchess

                      Sonescent

                        Matchess take a giant step from psychedelic songcraft into pure psychoacoustic space, in which songs float with all the other sounds we hear in our body. The music of meditation; a flow of sounds and thoughts of sounds and the natural beating of our ears as they strain to hear more.

                        TRACK LISTING

                        Almost Gone (18:00)
                        Through The Wall (17:59)

                        Bill Callahan And Bonnie 'Prince' Billy

                        Blind Date Party

                          The Blind Date Party hosted by Bill Callahan and Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy and featuring AZITA, Matt Sweeney, Alasdair Roberts, Matt Kinsey, Sean O’Hagan, Bill MacKay, George Xylouris, Dead Rider, David Pajo, Mick Turner, Meg Baird, Ty Segall, Emmett Kelly, Cory Hanson, Six Organs of Admittance, David Grubbs, Cassie Berman, Cooper Crain and Sir Richard Bishop happened online in the fall and winter of ’20–’21 — but the party planning dated back to the spring of 2020. Stuck at home, with no gigs in the foreseeable future, Bill, Bonnie and Drag City needed an outreach program to keep themselves busy, not to mention sane. In the absence of any company or anything on the calendar, playing songs they loved was an idea; playing with people they loved, the desire. And making it fun — so pairing someone with someone else having no say in the matter, the essence of the blind date, was the plan. Favorite songs were chose; players from around the Drag City galaxy were messaged. Pretty soon, songs were flying back and forth — music in the air!

                          And thus, they were entertained throughout the summer of 2020, when so much else in the world seemed so completely wrong. By the fall, the songs started to appear online: Bill and Bonnie singing a song by someone they loved and admired; each song cut by another another artist they loved and admired, then sent to Bill and Bonny to provide the finishing touches. The spotlight pointed in every direction each week: toward the singers and writers who’d originally played the songs (Yusuf Islam, Hank Williams Jr., Dave Rich, The Other

                          Years, Billie Eilish, Steely Dan, Lou Reed, Bill Callahan, Jerry Jeff Walker, Robert Wyatt, Lowell George, Johnnie Frierson, Air Supply, Will Oldham, Leonard Cohen, David Berman, Iggy Pop and John Prine), toward their featured collaborators, the artists whose artwork adorned each digital single and videos made by still more collaborators. And you, the listener.

                          Like the best parties, it turned out to be everything and more than they’d even hoped for. So many more people were involved in the process that we can get on the page here. Suffice to say, making records over the years has required a broad sense of community and an always-surprising mix of independence and unity, inspiration and utility. Some of our best memories are those where as many of our folks as as possible were together in one place at one time. In those moments, it was just a great thing just to be there. And with others looking in . . . this was a joy one could only be infinitely lucky to feel and to take for granted, as well.

                          The Blind Date Party was one of these, maybe the most improbable one yet. It’s for everyone who’s here and it’s in the name of everyone who’s gone but will never go and will always live with us here. This album will too.

                          And thus, we are entertained.

                          STAFF COMMENTS

                          Darryl says: Combining the best elements of each others talents 'Blind Date Party' finds Bill and Will in fabulous form. Mellow, dark, country-folk laments to snuggle up to during the cold winter months.

                          TRACK LISTING

                          A
                          The Blackness Of The Night (feat. Azita)
                          OD'd In Denver (feat. Matt Sweeney)
                          I've Made Up My Mind (feat. Alasdair Roberts)
                          Red-Tailed Hawk (feat. Matt Kinsey)
                          Wish You Were Gay (feat. Sean O'Hagan)
                          Our Anniversary (feat. Dead Rider)
                          B
                          Rooftop Garden (feat. George Xylouris)
                          Deacon Blues (feat. Bill MacKay)
                          I Love You (feat. David Pajo)
                          C
                          Sea Song (feat. Mick Turner)
                          I've Been The One (feat. Meg Baird)
                          Miracles (feat. Ty Segall)
                          I Want To Go To The Beach (feat. Cooper Crain)
                          D
                          Night Rider's Lament (feat. Cory Hanson)
                          Arise, Therefore (feat. Six Organs Of Admittance)
                          The Night Of Santiago (feat. David Grubbs)
                          The Wild Kindness (feat. Cassie Berman)
                          Lost In Love (feat. Emmett Kelly)
                          She Is My Everything (feat. Sir Richard Bishop)

                          Mess Esque

                          Mess Esque

                            Mess Esque are a duo featuring music and instruments by Mick Turner and words and voice by Helen Franzmann. Their self-titled album is a beguiling travelogue of restless, somnambulant wanderings.

                            Perhaps best known as one of the Dirty Three, Mick’s been playing guitar and making music with many collaborators for forty years. He’s loved his paintings too but revered especially for his solo music - since 1997, Drag City have released four of his albums, plus an EP and an album of the Tren Brothers (Mick with percussionist and fellow Dirty Three-ite, Jim White) and two EPs featuring Mick as the Marquis de Tren with Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy.

                            Mick’s last record was 2013’s ‘Don’t Tell the Driver’, a work that found him departing from his traditional hermetic instrumental template by employing a rhythm section and brass charts and even collaborating with a vocalist. After all the purely instrumental music he’s made with Dirty Three and solo, a singer is now part of the sound he’s hearing in his head these days; while demoing new material, he realized that he was again writing music that needed lyrics - and for that matter, someone other than himself to sing them. But who? In 2019, he was introduced to Helen through a mutual friend who’d produced her last album. Under the name Mckisko, Helen has released three albums over the past 12 years, working and touring with a range of Australian musicians along the way. Her music has been described as numinous and transformative. Her most recent album, ‘Southerly’, saw her moving into a more expansive sound which led to an openness and excitement around further collaboration.

                            Helen’s words are carefully observed, her phrasing responding intuitively to Mick’s looping guitar figures with vocal repetitions of her own. Starting with a feeling or a voicing, there are often no words - both players are searching on their own paths. Then suddenly they have arrived and are passing the emerging meaning back and forth, the rising intensity forming a kind of undertow that pulls the listener deeper into their world.

                            Often, Helen would record her vocals in the middle of the night, seeking that 2am flow, a moment of greatest isolation through which to trace her melodie with fragility and strength. This crystallizes Mess Esque’s intention: riding the sleepy drift through the blurred edges of the day… time-traveling to that moment beyond stasis where sense and no sense coincide and share space and time and energy. Viewing from afar the immense peace of this planet when its ghost world of spirits below - the madness of crowds, people sliding past each other faraway in the night - are quieted at last.

                            TRACK LISTING

                            Wake Up To Yesterday
                            Sweetspot
                            Forever
                            Jupiter
                            Take It Outside
                            Beneath The Rain

                            Ben Chasny

                            The Intimate Landscape

                              At the invitation of KPM Music, the wizard of Six Organs of Admittance steps behind his acoustic to produce a new instrumental guitar set. Library music, or deeply personal essays on a formative instrument? Under his fingers, Ben plays it both ways, making simply beautiful music that spans beyond the limits of folk, ambient and soundtrack music.

                              A new instrumental album of acoustic guitar playing from Six Organs of Admittance’s Ben Chasny! Everybody knows it’s been far too long since 2004’s much-beloved For Octavio Paz; even as the landscape has crowded with acoustic players, we’ve all been dying to hear Ben’s distinctive virtuosity again in this format. But The Intimate Landscape is so much more . . .

                              KPM Music, the legendary British library music company, extended an offer to Ben to make some songs for their library. Well aware of their history, he immediately agreed. The field of library music (music made for hire, for use in placement in films and advertising) is one that’s come to public consciousness only relatively recently in the long century of record-making, but the influence of such records has been felt for years in the aesthetics of many diverse artists, including several who’ve recorded for Drag City. So it’s a special thing for Drag City, whose appreciation for Ben’s unique artistry has been borne out over a countless variety of releases, to issue this really amazing entry in both the KPM Music tradition and the ever-expanding Ben Chasny/Six Organs of Admittance ouvre.

                              Ben chose the acoustic guitar for these recordings after considering the width and breadth of possible music he could make for the occasion. His approach while playing it was simple — deceptively so: to make music as present and immediate and beautiful as possible. This type of playing requires a deep breath before beginning, as it has to generate from within, as well as at the fingertips.

                              The resulting music is inventive and engaging, both in and out of the astral style of Ben’s music and the utilitarian genre of music to which he’s contributing. The album’s title — The Intimate Landscape — is a clue to these dual intentions, as is Ben’s use of his given name rather than the 6OOA alias he has preferred in his career. These songs manifest lovely themes played on acoustic guitar, recorded with spacious, almost pastoral ambiance; richly evocative pieces that can fill the multiple purposes of any sound library around the world. When paired with their titles, however — such as, “Last Night to Use the Telescope,” “Circular Road,” and “On the Way to the Coast” — these pieces are profoundly re-contextualized as potent personal expressions. So too are the songs with titles like “Water Dragon.” “Star Cascade,” and “Dust In the Ravine.” Two decades-plus into his life in music, Ben’s got the craft and ability to make music that can be encompassingly heard as intimate AND universal.

                              Going for melody, Ben employs a relaxed technical facility, supported by a few guitar overdubs, plus several well-placed synths and a passage of wordless vocalizing, accessing the murky depths of his reservoir of spirituality while hand-spinning irresistible sonic candy at the same time. This is a greatly engrossing listening experience, regardless of what the listener’s intentions are.

                              Given the rarity of such lovely acoustic essays from the fingers of Ben Chasny, and thanks to EMI and KPM Music, we’ll find ourselves returning to gaze over The Intimate Landscape often, for many years to come.

                              TRACK LISTING

                              A
                              The Many Faces Of Stone
                              Last Night To Use The Telescope
                              Waterfall Path
                              Cross-Winged Formation
                              Water Dragon
                              Star Cascade

                              B
                              Where Have All The Summers Gone?
                              Circular Road
                              Six Diamonds
                              Dust In The Ravine
                              Fading Blue
                              Second Moon
                              On The Way To The Coast

                              Ty Segall

                              Harmonizer

                                With Harmonizer, his first album in two years, Ty glides smoothly into unexpected territory, right where he likes to find himself! Responding to the challenge his new songs gave him: a synthtastic production redesign, Ty kicks back with bottom-heavy creativity, dialing up a wealth of guitar and keyboard settings to do the deed. Harmonizer is a glossy, barely-precedented sound for him, and truth, it enraptures the ear — but in Ty’s hands, the sound is also a tool that allows him to cut through dense undergrowth, making for some of his cleanest songs and starkest ideas to date. Harmonizer’s production model couches tightly-controlled beats in thick keyboard textures, with direct-input guitar signal whining and buzzing purposefully from left to right. The Freedom Band appear all over the record, but often one at a time, their contributions leaving a distinctive footprint on the proceedings wherever they appear. Operating in this airtight environment with an eye towards precision, feel, and explosive mass, Ty’s crafted a formidable listening encounter — and once you get between the lines, the need to know more grows more compelling with every song.

                                The thing about closed doors is they need opening again, no matter what happens. You open them and then you can pass through them. And there’s light on the other side. That’s what this album is about.

                                Bursting with transcendent energy, Harmonizer is an extension of the classic style of Emotional Mugger and Sleeper, revisiting the lonely days and loathsome nights of the alienated, grown-up-wrong soul, to make it all right in the end.

                                TRACK LISTING

                                Side A
                                Learning
                                Whisper
                                Erased
                                Harmonizer
                                Pictures

                                Side B
                                Ride
                                Waxman
                                Play
                                Feel Good
                                Changing Contours

                                Alasdair Roberts Og Völvur

                                The Old Fabled River

                                  In January 2019, at the invitation of fiddler Hans Kjorstad, Alasdair Roberts travelled from his home in Glasgow, Scotland to Oslo, Norway, where the two men convened with five additional Scandinavian musicians at Riksscenen, Oslo’s centre for Norwegian traditional arts and music. Thus newly-formed, the group worked on arrangements of songs—self-written and traditional—from Alasdair’s back catalogue, in preparation for performances at Riksscenen as well as at ALICE in Copenhagen, Denmark and the bucolic western Danish island of Fanø. The group was named Völvur (The Seeresses), a reference to the ancient Icelandic apocalyptic text Völuspa (The Prophecy of the Seeress). In January 2020, Völvur visited England and Scotland, to perform with Alasdair Roberts at Cecil Sharp House, London and at Platform, Glasgow, the latter as part of Celtic Connections festival. The group had new material—freshly written songs by Alasdair and several traditional Norwegian songs sung by Marthe Lea—and over a couple days at Sam and Rachel’s Studio, Hackney, laid down the music which now flows forth as The Old Fabled River. The musicians who make up Völvur—Marthe Lea, saxophone, clarinet and voice, Fredrik Rasten, guitars and voice, Andreas Hoem Røysum, clarinet, Egil Kalman, bass and electronics, Jan Martin Gismervik, drums, percussion and the aforementioned initiator of the project, Hans Kjorstad on fiddle—are a busy and artistically inquisitive group, involved in a diverse range of projects with a wide variety of musical interests, from folk and jazz to free music, modular synthesis, microtonality and beyond.

                                  They make an ideal pairing for such voyages in the alchemical world as Alasdair pursues in his own music. On The Old Fabled River, Alasdair Roberts og Völvur meld their worlds: fiddle and vocal styles formed in the Norwegian valleys blending now with exploratory clarinet, saxophone and metallic bowed guitar drones, now fashioned into baroque folk arrangements. In one case, instrumental accompaniment is laid aside, as three voices locate a questing fullness harmonizing together. A word about the four “traditional” tracks on this collection. “Song Composed in August,” sung unaccompanied, was written by the well-known Scottish poet Robert Burns; it has been described by the great Scottish singer Dick Gaughan as a song “about everything.” Fredrik Rasten suggested they record it; the arrangement is heavily indebted to that by the group The Voice Squad. “Sweet William’s Ghost” is a traditional night visiting song, or revenant ballad. Alasdair recorded it once before, over a decade and a half ago, in a solo arrangement; but sometimes the ghosts don’t leave, and so there arose a feeling to resummon the song. The two Norwegian songs, sung by Marthe Lea, are spiritual pieces respectively about the sun coming up and the sun going down.

                                  They put traditional Norwegian melodies to sets of lyrics from two 17th-century Scandinavian hymnists, Thomas Kingo (of Denmark) and Samuel Olsen Bruun (of Norway). A word about Alasdair’s four self-written songs on this collection. All are love songs of sorts, as most directly exemplified by “Orison of Union” and “The Tender Hour.” “Hymn of Welcome” is a song imagining the passing on of a candle-flame; one at life’s end offering a benediction to one at its beginning. “The Green Chapel” touches upon the ancient notion in Celtic culture of “the three noble strains” of music: geantraí, goltraí and suantraí (the strains of joy, lamentation and sleep). These are the three intertwining threads from which the fabric of a music is woven. In “The Green Chapel” the three knot together, like wind, wave and wood, to form a syncretically co-existing wholeness—a fulfilling distillation of the deep nature of collaboration among Alasdair Roberts og Völvur.

                                  TRACK LISTING

                                  1. Hymn Of Welcome 
                                  2. Orison Of Union 
                                  3. Nu Rinner Solen Opp 
                                  4. Song Composed In August 
                                  5. The Green Chapel 
                                  6. The Tender Hour 
                                  7. Sweet William’s Ghost 
                                  8. Nu Solen Går Ned

                                  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

                                    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

                                      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

                                        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

                                                  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

                                                      Barry 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

                                                      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

                                                      Barry 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

                                                      “Well I don’t really like talking to myself, but someone’s got to say it, hell...”

                                                      You know this voice. An old friend has returned. It was some years back that you dropped the needle on the record and heard it say, “No, I don’t really wanna die...” Like so many lines you couldn’t possibly have guessed the finish to, it’s now among the flat natural-born good-timin’ faves that you sing along with in the jukebox inside your head. It’s loaded up there along with at least a couple dozen others from Silver Jews, whose classic run was made somehow finite in 2009, when the voice himself, David Berman, announced his retirement from music. Ten years have come and gone since then. Where the time goes, we do not know. What do they say about old songwriters? We don’t know that one either, okay? We’re not good with jokes – we’re just glad that there’s always more songs to be written and sung. That’s what raised up Purple Mountains for all of us, after all.

                                                      Yes, Purple Mountains is the new nom-de-rock of David Berman. Purple Mountains is also the name of what will be known as one of his greatest albums – full of double-jointed wit and wisdom, up to the neck in his special recipe of handcrafted country-rock joys and sorrows that sing legendary in cracked and broken hearts. The songs are produced impeccably by Woods’ Jarvis Taveniere and Jeremy Earle, buffed up like a hardwood floor ready to be well-trod upon for an evening of romance and dance. And then…

                                                      What is 10 years? What are 50? How is everything anything in the eventual blink of eternity? The songs of Purple Mountains are a potent brew, stitched together from lifetimes, knitting the drift of the years with the tightest lyric construction Berman’s ever attempted. Honesty is archly in the air, but lines of incredible bleakness somehow give way to playful distraction and the hiding of surprises for close listeners. Even still, as the songwriter once wrote, “every single thought is like a punch in the face.” It won’t take long after slapping the record on the platter for you to hear that this is one of THOSE albums. There’s breakup records. There’s apocalypse records. Then there’s Purple Mountains.

                                                      The portrait is David Berman’s most to-the-bone yet, very frankly confessing a near-total collapse from the first moment, then delving into the layers of nuance with twin lazers of personal laceration and professional remove. This etches a picture that cries to be understood in the misbegotten country that made everything great about Purple Mountains. America’s fate is that of its treasured icons: the cowboy, the outlaw, the card sharp and the riverboat gambler, who all face simple resignation in the end. There are no perfect crimes. Berman’s poet-thief of so many precious moments, now stripped and chastened, recalls his latest lowest moments in perfect detail, hovering ghostly above the tumescent production sound as it echoes with tragic majesty and the sound-fragments of former glory, evoking the defeated-king era of late Elvis, soutern-fried and sassy still on his countrypolitan way down, and somehow still solid-gold at the bottom.

                                                      Berman’s songwriter’s bone’s never been laid more bare, either – if redemption doesn’t come on the lyric sheet, the act of putting these songs into singing, dancing form allows them their finest end – to provide infotainment for others, embodying moments of life and truth via music that elevates with disarming warmth and a reassuring commonality, even as David himself stands outside the communal campfires.

                                                      Where are you tonight, America? The things that used to be have slipped away into the darkness without you knowing it, and your children are wandering in a blasted landscape, with only Purple Mountains left to comfort them, and David Berman’s shattered fables for company.

                                                      STAFF COMMENTS

                                                      Andy says: An incredible record with just the saddest/funniest lyrics. David Berman was a poet as well as a genius song-writer and for me, this is even better than anything he did with Silver Jews. Backed by Woods, one of my favourite bands, who play more Americana than psych here, there is not one weak track on show. David Berman RIP.

                                                      TRACK LISTING

                                                      1. That’s Just The Way That I Feel
                                                      2. All My Happiness Is Gone
                                                      3. Darkness And Cold
                                                      4. Snow Is Falling In Manhattan
                                                      5. Margaritas At The Mall
                                                      6. She’s Making Friends, I’m Turning Stranger
                                                      7. I Loved Being My Mother’s Son
                                                      8. Nights That Won’t Happen
                                                      9. Storyline Fever
                                                      10. Maybe I’m The Only One For Me

                                                      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

                                                        Barry 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

                                                        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

                                                          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

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

                                                            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

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

                                                                      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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                                                                STAFF COMMENTS

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

                                                                                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

                                                                                    Barry 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

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

                                                                                      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 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

                                                                                                ‘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

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

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

                                                                                                STAFF COMMENTS

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

                                                                                                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

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

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

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

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

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

                                                                                                TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                Thank God For Sinners
                                                                                                You’re The Doctor
                                                                                                Inside Your Heart
                                                                                                The Hill
                                                                                                Would You Be My Love
                                                                                                Ghost
                                                                                                They Told Me Too
                                                                                                Love Fuzz
                                                                                                Handglams
                                                                                                Who Are You
                                                                                                Gold On The Shore
                                                                                                There Is No Tomorrow

                                                                                                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

                                                                                                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

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


                                                                                                STAFF COMMENTS

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

                                                                                                TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                1. Goodbye Bread
                                                                                                2. California Commercial
                                                                                                3. Comfortable Home (A True Story)
                                                                                                4. You Make The Sun Fry
                                                                                                5. I Can't Feel It
                                                                                                6. My Head Explodes
                                                                                                7. The Floor
                                                                                                8. Where Your Head Goes
                                                                                                9. I Am With You
                                                                                                10. Fine

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

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

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

                                                                                                TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                1. Drover
                                                                                                2. Baby’s Breath
                                                                                                3. America!
                                                                                                4. Universal Applicant
                                                                                                5. Riding For The Feeling
                                                                                                6. Free’s
                                                                                                7. One Fine Morning

                                                                                                OM albums are rituals, personal convictions transcripted into verse. Playing the music is visceral, emotional, a catharsis of soul and spirit. As ever, dynamic relationships and the slow building of mood are attenuations that shape the structures of "God Is Good". With careful microscopic increase, the energy grows through the four songs, leading towards moments that one could interpret as… Revelation? Oblivion? Awakening?

                                                                                                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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