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Foxygen

Seeing Other People

    Seeing Other People is curiously positioned as Foxygen’s most recent last-ever album. With every album the band dies; with every album the band is reborn. But unlike the last-ever Foxygen albums before it, this one seems to have a self-effacing bittersweetness to it that signifies some sort of passing; some sort of white flag. But it SOUNDS in no way like a band giving up. It has experiments in tone and genre the likes of which we’ve not heard on a Foxygen record since….Starpower?; since 21st Century?; since Take the Kids??? You don’t need our hot take on this thing

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    2xColoured LP Info: Indies exclusive limited deluxe gatefold edition, pink vinyl.

    Sharon Van Etten

    Remind Me Tomorrow

      Remind Me Tomorrow comes over four years after the release of Are We There, a top 10 critically praised album of 2014, and reckons with the life that gets lived when you put off the small and inevitable maintenance in favor of something more present. Throughout, Van Etten veers towards the driving, dark glimmer moods that have illuminated the edges of her music and pursues them full force.

      Written while pregnant, going to school for psychology, after taking The OA audition, Remind Me Tomorrow was written in stolen time: in scraps of hours wedged between myriad endeavors — Van Etten guest-starred in The OA, and brought her music onstage in David Lynch’s revival of Twin Peaks. Off-screen, she wrote her first score for Katherine Dieckmann’s movie Strange Weather and the closing title song for Tig Notaro’s show, Tig.

      The songs on Remind Me Tomorrow have been transported from Van Etten’s original demos through producer John Congleton’s arrangement. He helped flip the signature Van Etten ratio, making the album more energetic-upbeat than minimal-meditative. The songs are as resonating as ever, the themes are still an honest and subtle approach to love and longing, but Congleton has plucked out new idiosyncrasies from Van Etten’s sound. Joined by Van Etten’s longtime collaborator and bandmate Heather Woods Broderick, plus Jamie Stewart, Zachary Dawes, Brian Reitzell, Lars Horntveth, McKenzie Smith, Joey Waronker, Luke Reynolds, and Stella Mozgawa, Remind Me Tomorrow was recorded at studios throughout Los Angeles.

      For Remind Me Tomorrow, Van Etten put down the guitar. When she was writing the score for Strange Weather her reference was Ry Cooder, so she was playing her guitar constantly and getting either bored or writer's block. At the time, she was sharing a studio space with someone who had a synthesizer and an organ, and she wrote on piano at home, so she naturally gravitated to keys when not working on the score - to clear her mind. Lead single “Comeback Kid” was originally a piano ballad, but driven by Van Etten’s assertion that she “didn’t want it to be pretty,” it evolved into a menacing anthem. Remind Me Tomorrow as a whole shows this magnetism towards new instruments: piano keys that churn, deep drones, distinctive sharp drums. There are dark intense synths, a propulsive organ, a distorted harmonium.

      The breadth of Van Etten’s passions (musical, emotional, otherwise), of new careers and projects and lifelong roles, have inflected Remind Me Tomorrow with a wise sense of a warped-time perspective. This is the tension that arches over the album, fusing a pained attentive realism and radiant lightness about new love.


      FORMAT INFORMATION

      Coloured LP Info: Limited edition pink vinyl.

      Moonface

      This One’s For The Dancer & This One’s For The Dancer’s Bouquet

        This One’s For The Dancer & This One’s For The Dancer’s Bouquet is an experimental, amorphous listen, oscillating between jazzier meditations and frenetic rock imbued with marimbas, xylophones, and steel drum. It’s made up of two distinct yet connected ideas; the music is culled from two separate projects, each with different collaborators, recorded in different studios, in different towns, in different years. The songs are sung from two completely different standpoints, blended into one long, single album. Half of the songs were written from the point of view of the Minotaur from Greek mythology, the other half written from Krug's own perspective.

        Each side of the four-sided album is its own little journey, connected by a through-thread of density, of unmerciful darkness that colors every corner of the sound. In Krug’s own words:

        “I never made an album under that name I was embarrassed by, and this is one of my favorites, so I may as well get out while I still can, on a personal high note to boot. Take this album as a sort of parting gift before Moonface sails into oblivion; the alter-ego’s final offering."


        Unknown Mortal Orchestra

        IC-01 Hanoi

        While recording Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s latest release, Sex & Food, Ruban Nielson, his longtime collaborator Jacob Portrait and his brother Kody Nielson, found themselves in the Vietnamese city of Hanoi playing and recording with local musicians at Phu Sa Studios. The studio, normally used for traditional Vietnamese music, found the band jamming on sessions dubbed IC-01 Hanoi: exploring the outer edges of the band’s influences in Jazz, Fusion and the avant-garde. The musicians, along with Ruban and Kody’s father, a Jazz musician in his own right, helped lay down the unique textures heard throughout Hanoi. At its core Hanoi is a record of exploration, finding its closest antecedent in Miles Davis’ experimental On The Corner – itself a record full of nods toward avant-garde composers and Jazz outsiders alike. Hanoi finds Ruban amplifying and stretching out on lead guitar, with a blown-out and wandering fuzz tone that slinks throughout the sessions. Kody and Jacob match Ruban’s melodic diversions with aplomb, mining their talents to finding as easy a role in the fusion of funk as they do in the more ambient and abstract tangents on Hanoi.

        STAFF COMMENTS

        Barry says: Definitely not typical UMO this, but absolutely brimming with feeling and focused on an entirely different aspect of their sound. Though they are by no means avant-garde, the more meandering ruminations of their melodic forays are exacerbated on this release, breaking into the realms of jazzy ambience, eastern flow and hypnotic woodwind. A completely surprising but thoroughly enjoyable change. Lovely stuff.

        The expansive American experience Lonnie Holley quilts together across his astounding new album, "MITH", is both multitudinous and finely detailed. Holley’s self-taught piano improvisations and stream-of-consciousness lyrical approach have only gained purpose and power since he introduced the musical side of his art in 2012 with "Just Before Music", followed by 2013’s "Keeping a Record of It". But whereas his previous material seemed to dwell in the Eternal-Internal, "MITH" lives very much in our world - the one of concrete and tears; of dirt and blood; of injustice and hope.

        Across these songs, in an impressionistic poetry all his own, Holley touches on Black Lives Matter (“I’m a Suspect”), Standing Rock (“Copying the Rock”) and contemporary American politics (“I Woke Up in a Fucked-Up America”). A storyteller of the highest order, he commands a personal and universal mythology in his songs of which few songwriters are capable — names like Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Joanna Newsom and Gil Scott-Heron come to mind.

        Mith was recorded over five years in locations such as Porto, Portugal; Cottage Grove, Oregon; New York City and Holley’s adopted hometown of Atlanta, Georgia. These 10 songs feature contributions from fellow cosmic musician Laraaji, jazz duo Nelson Patton, visionary producer Richard Swift, saxophonist Sam Gendel and producer/musician Shahzad Ismaily.

        STAFF COMMENTS

        Patrick says: Sonic outlier and soul outsider Lonnie Holley returns with a third LP, this time turning his attention from internal struggles to the chaos and discord of American politics and society. As his expressive vocals touch on 'The Wall', Standing Rock, Black Lives Matter and that wotsit-looking chap in the hair piece, the twisted electronic soul instrumentation twists and turns through distortion, fx abuse and feedback, emphasising the sense of disorientation most of us feel right now.

        Where are we headed? What are we consuming, how is it affecting us, and why does everything feel so bad and weird sometimes? These are some of the questions posed on Ruban Nielson's fourth album as Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Sex & Food-a delightfully shapeshifting album that filters these real-deal serious themes through a vibrant sonic lens that spans battered drum-machine funk, doomy and thrashing rock, and pink-hued psychedelic disco. Recorded in a variety of locales from Seoul and Hanoi to Reykjavik, Mexico City, and Auckland, Sex & Food is a practical musical travelogue, with local musicians from the countries that Nielson and his band visited pitching in throughout.

        STAFF COMMENTS

        Barry says: As singular as they are enthralling, Unknown Mortal Orchestra are finally back, and bringing everything we've come to expect. Jangly riffs, pitch-perfect falsetto and impeccable writing, 'Sex & Food' is their finest work to date.

        FORMAT INFORMATION

        LP Info: Standard black vinyl edition.

        LP includes MP3 Download Code.

        Preoccupations’ songs have always worked through themes of creation, destruction, and futility, and they’ve always done it with singular post-punk grit. The textures are evocative and razor-sharp. The wire is always a live one. But while that darker side may have been well-explored, that’s not quite the same as it being fully, intensely lived. This time it was, and the result is ’New Material’, a collection that broadens and deepens Preoccupations to a true mastery of their sound. In it lies the difference between witnessing a car crash and crashing your own, between jumping into an ocean and starting to swallow the water.

        “It’s an ode to depression,’ singer Matt Flegel says plainly. “To depression and self-sabotage, and looking inward at yourself with extreme hatred.” Typically resilient, the months leading up to recording ‘New Material’ brought a new order of magnitude to feelings that had been creeping up on Flegel for some time. He’d written bits and pieces of lyrics through the course of it, small snippets he hadn’t assigned to any one thought or feeling but were emblematic of a deeper issue, something germinating that was dense and numb and fully unshakeable. As the band began writing music, that process gave shape to the sheer tonnage of what he’d been carrying. With virtually nothing written or demoed before the band sat down together, the process was more collaborative than before. It was almost architectural, building some things up, tearing others down to the beams, sitting down and writing songs not knowing what they were about. But for Flegel, it led to a reckoning. “Finishing ‘Espionage’ was when I realized,” says Flegel. “I looked at the rest of the lyrics and realized the magnitude of what was wrong.”

        ‘New Material’ builds a world for that feeling, playing through its layers and complexities while hiding almost nothing. That inscrutable side is part of the magic, here, and a necessary counterweight to the straight-jab clarity of Flegel’s lyrics. You can deep-dive the lyrics or zone into a riff; you can face it or you can get lost in it. “My ultimate goal would be to make a record where nobody knows what instrument is playing ever,” says multi-instrumentalist Scott Munro, “and I think we’ve come closer than ever, here. It shouldn’t sound robotic — it should sound human, like people playing instruments. It’s just maybe no one knows what they are.”

        Opener “Espionage” lives up to Munro’s goals, kicking off with a clattering, rhythmic echo that gives way to sprinting percussion and a melody in the orbit of Manchester’s classics. “Manipulation” explores the futility of going through the motions, balancing a droney, minimal march with a thunder roll that brings it to the brink, and to the doomed romantic declaration, “please don’t remember me like I’ll always remember you.” “Disarray” bursts up like a blackened confetti cannon, the song’s undeniably bright melody dancing over a refrain of “disarray, disarray, disarray” and literally nothing else. “A lot of this is about futility,” he says, “trying to find something where there’s nothing to be found.” That hunt turns into a search-and-destroy mission on “Decompose”, a tense, speedy, “blow yourself up and start again” type of song, the very picture of creation and destruction, as Flegel writes “for better or worse, we are cursed in the ways that we tend to be.” And while calling an album ’New Material’ might seem like a smartass move, the truth is it’s as matter-of-fact a title as Espionage, Disarray, or anything else on the record. Why fight that?

        If the through-line unifying Preoccupations’ work is a furious, almost punishing cyclical quality, ‘New Material’ does offer some relief. “This is somehow the most uptempo thing we’ve ever done,” observes Flegel. That propulsive, itchy quality rescues ‘New Material’ from the proverbial bottom of the pit. To write these songs is to force oneself to reignite, to play them is to stand up and reengage. Closer “Compliance” may not seem revelatory on first listen, but it is deeply elemental, a crucial finale and the band’s first standalone instrumental. Original versions were built to death, reexamined and re-destroyed until they landed on just two chords — something simple, fundamental — and resolved to make meaning out of that, to show instead of tell. Flegel acknowledges it is more affecting to him than any other song on the record. It’s not redemption, more like a forced reprieve.


        STAFF COMMENTS

        Darryl says: One of the greatest modern post-punk outfits return for one of their most blistering outings yet. Atmospheric and ambient in parts, and downright catatonic in others, this is the sound of a band reaching the peak of their game.

        FORMAT INFORMATION

        Coloured LP Info: Indies exclusive grey and black splatter vinyl.

        At its heart, Hundred Acres -- the third full-length album from Wisconsin singer/songwriter S. Carey -- finds him grounded comfortably in his skin, but still with one foot in the stream. More direct than ever, there is a wellspring of confidence in this new batch of songs that lays bare the intricacies of life while keeping its ideas uncomplicated.

        Trained in jazz, Carey’s astute musicianship has never been in question nor taken for granted, and the execution of Hundred Acres’ new ideas is seamless. He intentionally unburdened himself from a more complicated instrumentation palate for these ten songs, and, in effect, this modification to his approach brings the content of the work much closer to a living reality. By giving equal status to the indifference of nature and the concerns of a material world -- while employing more pop-oriented structures instead of the Steve Reich- or Talk Talk-ian repetitions of his past work -- a new balance is struck that creates something unique. This in turn provides equal status for the feeling that created each song, and the feeling each song creates. Almost impossibly, there is more air between the bars; Carey and his contributors sway like treetops in the wind, remaining flexible enough that they never threaten to break.

        How does one best describe Angel Olsen? From the lo-fi, sparse folk-melancholy of her 2010 EP, ‘Strange Cacti’, to the electrified, polished rock ‘n’ roll bursting from 2016’s beloved and acclaimed ‘MY WOMAN’, Olsen has refused to succumb to a single genre, expectation or vision. Impossible to pin down, Olsen navigates the world with her remarkable, symphonic voice and a propensity for narrative, her music growing into whatever shape best fits to tell the story.

        ‘Phases is a collection of Olsen’s work culled from the past several years, including a number of never-before-released tracks. ‘Fly On Your Wall’, previously contributed to the online-only, anti-Trump fundraiser ‘Our First 100 Days’, opens ‘Phases’, before seamlessly slipping into ‘Special’, a brand new song from the ‘MY WOMAN’ recording sessions. Both ‘How Many Disasters’ and ‘Sans’ are first-time listens: home-recorded demos that have never been released, leaning heavily on Olsen’s arresting croon and lonesome guitar.

        The B-sides compilation is both a testament to Olsen’s enormous musical range and a tidy compilation of tracks that have previously been elusive in one way or another.

        Balancing tenacity and tenderness, ‘Phases’ acts as a deep-dive for longtime fans, as well as a fitting introduction to Olsen’s sprawling sonics for the uninitiated.

        STAFF COMMENTS

        Barry says: 'Phases' provides the linking thread between the varying facets of Olsen's songwriting, with B-sides and unreleased odes, come a further understanding of Olsen's innate songwriting ability and how important even these previously unused pieces can be! Lovely stuff.

        FORMAT INFORMATION

        Coloured LP Info: Olive vinyl.

        Jamila Woods’s cultural lineage - from her love of Lucille Clifton’s poetry to letters from her grandmother and the late 80s post-punk of The Cure - helped structure the progressive, delicate and minimalist soul of ‘HEAVN’, her debut solo album.

        “It’s like a collage process,” she says. “It’s very enjoyable to me to take something I love and mold it into something new.” A frequent guest vocalist in the hip hop, jazz and soul world, Jamila has emerged as a once-in-a-generation voice on her soul-stirring debut.

        Born and raised on the Southside of Chicago, Woods grew up in a family of music lovers. She is an artist of substance creating music crafted with a sturdy foundation of her passions and influences.

        You’ll find the bits and pieces of her past and present that make Jamila: family, the city of Chicago, self care, and the black women she calls friends. True and pure in its construction and execution, her music is the best representation of Jamila herself: strong in her roots, confident in her ideas and attuned to the people, places and things shaping her world.

        ‘HEAVN’ features guest performances from Chance The Rapper, Nico Segal, Noname, Saba and Lornie Chia.

        Preoccupations

        Cassette

          In late 2013, Preoccupations (then known as Viet Cong) released a small-run cassette EP only available on tour. Over the course of a year, Matt Flegel and Scott Munro worked in their basement studio with a mess of old and run down equipment to build a set of fresh material. Joined by bandmates Daniel Christiansen and Michael Wallace, the band completed work on an debut cassette. What emerged from the studio was a mixture of sharply-angled rhythm workouts and euphoric 60s garage pop-esque melodies, balanced with a penchant for drone-y, VU-styled downer moments and became a hard-to-find classic.

          Preoccupations’s first ever release, ‘Cassette’, originally a tour-only cassette, is now being reissued on vinyl.

          Midnight Sister

          Saturn Over Sunset

            Midnight Sister - the project of intense creatives Juliana Giraffe and Ari Bazoulian - is brought to you by the isolating landscape of the San Fernando Valley - its colours, diners, lunatics and neon lights. Both lifelong residents of this storied valley, Giraffe and Bazoulian have only become more inspired by the area’s mythology over the years: its two-faced magical wonderland and tragic circus. Their debut, ‘Saturn Over Sunset’, works almost as an album version of Altman’s ‘Shortcuts’, each song a character study of the valley’s odd personae.

            Giraffe, 23, the daughter of an LA disc jockey, was raised almost exclusively on disco and Bowie. Her lyrics and lyrical melodies, informed very much by her film-making background, were composed gazing out from a tiny retail window on Sunset Boulevard. Her ‘Rear Window’-like longing allowed her imagination to run wild and cook up the wild narratives that would fill Balouzian’s compositions.

            Balouzian, 27, is classically trained and already a go-to arranger for odd-pop names like Tobias Jesso Jr. and Alex Izenberg. Midnight Sister represents a first for both of them. It’s Giraffe’s first time writing and performing music and it’s Balouzian’s first foray into playing true pop music.

            ‘Saturn Over Sunset’ is a shared musical vision of Hollywood’s oddest corners. It is the baroque, eldritch alley you must pass through to find the speakeasy night of your life. You’ll come out bleary-eyed and the sunrise will be pouring all pink and orange through the smog and palm trees.

            FORMAT INFORMATION

            Coloured LP Info: Blue coloured vinyl.

            Gordi

            Reservoir

              On the farm in rural Australia where 24-year-old Sophie Payten - AKA Gordi - grew up, there’s a paddock that leads down to a river. A few hundred meters away sits another house, which belongs to her 93-year-old grandmother. The rest, she says, “is just beautiful space. And what else would you fill it with if not music?” And so she did, first tinkling away on an out-of-tune piano and then on the acoustic guitar she got for her 12th birthday.

              Gordi’s first foray into songwriting came in the form of performances at her school’s weekly chapel. There the chrysalis of the music she’s making now - a brooding, multi-layered blend of electronica and folk, with lyrics that tend to avoid well-trodden paths - began to form. “I often find that writing about platonic relationships,” she says, “can be a great deal more powerful than writing about romantic ones.”

              ‘Heaven I Know’, from Gordi’s debut album ‘Reservoir’, is an example of just that. With the breathy chant of ‘123’ chugging along beneath the song’s sparse melody and melancholic piano chords, ‘Heaven I Know’ gazes at the embers of a fading friendship.

              The ramifications of loss ripple throughout ‘Reservoir’, which she wrote and recorded in Wisconsin, Reykjavik, Los Angeles and Sydney. Gordi produced two of the tracks herself (‘Heaven I Know’ and ‘I’m Done’) and co-produced the rest.

              When it comes down to it, the running thread of the album is its lyrics. “Music is kind of what encases this story that you’re trying to tell,” says Gordi. Her stories are stark, honest and soul-searching. Like ‘the trifecta’ of Billy Joel, Carole King and James Taylor that soundtracked her upbringing, she’s unafraid to sit in contemplative melancholy - a place she calls, fittingly, “the reservoir.”

              FORMAT INFORMATION

              Coloured LP Info: Indies exclusive marbled magenta vinyl.

              There is something unforgettable about great love songs and Briana Marela’s ‘Call It Love’ wraps its welcoming arms around the subject, invoking all its complexity.

              Before writing the songs that would become Call It Love, ‘Briana Marela’ was guided first and foremost by her instincts as a producer and engineer. Marela’s original vision for this album was to dig into the two poles of her songwriting styles: her ambient, ethereal side and her brighter, beat-driven pop leanings. She enlisted the production help of Juan Pieczanski and Ryan Heyner of the band Small Black upon hearing their most recent self-produced album.

              On this album, Briana Marela has made her proverbial giant leap, deepening her songwriting and expanding her palette to explore the sounds of love in beautiful, striking new ways. ‘Give Me Your Love’ explores what Marela calls “love’s immature, silly and selfish side.”

              ‘Quit’, the deep, dramatic centrepiece of ‘Call It Love’, was originally penned about a breakup with a longtime partner and written with the idea that she could give the song away to another artist. Instead, ‘Quit’ is powerful and revealing in Briana’s own hands.

              If ‘Be In Love’ is the sound of falling in love, ‘Farthest Shore’ is the sound of looking inward, of reckoning with and without ourselves. It is an intricate, cavernous song, setting a deceptively pretty melody over ominous drones and skittering percussion. Here, again, the contradictory becomes complementary.

              STAFF COMMENTS

              Barry says: Dreamy vocal passages, grooving basses and swirling ethereal synths work together to form a lucid and thoroughly enjoyable suite of slightly mournful indie anthems. Great stuff.

              FORMAT INFORMATION

              Coloured LP Info: Initial LP copies on clear vinyl.

              Dasher

              Sodium

                After a string of well-received 7” releases on labels like Suicide Squeeze and Die Slaughterhaus, Dasher songs new and old have finally been smelted down into their debut album, ‘Sodium’.

                Dasher knifes out the chop-crunch guitar of latterday post-punk with a seething screech echoing the hardest horizons of the early 90s underground.

                STAFF COMMENTS

                Barry says: Thrashing bouts of distortion, chugging basslines and frantic riffage open things and pretty much continue along the same uncompromising route. Brilliantly energetic post-everything punked-out rock and/or roll. Killer.

                FORMAT INFORMATION

                LP includes MP3 Download Code.

                Trevor Sensor

                Andy Warhol's Dream

                  It’s Trevor Sensor’s voice you notice first. A deep bubbling black tar pit of a sound, it’s a voice whose unique timbre resonates far beyond the constraints of the songwriting format. It demands the listener reaches for a new vocabulary.

                  The 23 year old’s debut album ‘Andy Warhol’s Dream’ is part of a literate folk lineage that runs from Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan through Tom Waits and onto the likes of Bon Iver, Bright Eyes and Sufjan Stevens today. It’s an unflinching honest album, transcendent in its exploration of self and sonically a collision between the classic and the forward-thinking.

                  Sensor’s debut EP for the label, ‘Texas Girls And Jesus Christ’, was written on a borrowed acoustic guitar. It took him out into the world: 2016 saw him tour Europe before hitting the road in the US for tours with Foy Vance and The Staves.

                  ‘Andy Warhol’s Dream’ was recorded to tape at Steve Albini’s Electrical Audio and produced by both Jonathan Rado of Foxygen (The Lemon Twigs, Whitney) and songwriter / producer Richard Swift (Damien Jurado, Foxygen). His backing band featured members of Whitney.

                  On these 11 songs, Sensor doesn’t so much wear his heart on his sleeve, he flings it out into the darkness of the front rows that sit beyond the glare of the single blinding spotlight. This is the sound of one man’s soul laid bare, facing life head on.

                  On their first proper studio record, the Los Angeles pair once again present their uncanny knack for pulling together myriad strands of influences to an elaborate, uncompromising vision. And this time, they’ve gone true big band! Every song on Hang features a 40-plus-piece symphony orchestra arranged and conducted by Trey Pollard with additional arranging from Matthew E. White. Additionally, Hang was recorded with the brother rhythm section duo of Brian and Michael D'Addario, also known as the Lemon Twigs, and features Steven Drozd of the Flaming Lips on select tracks. Written and produced entirely by Foxygen, Hang was recorded on 2” tape at Electro Vox Studios in Los Angeles.

                  Lead single, “Follow The Leader,” is one of the album’s most upbeat songs. As described by the band, “it was a blast to make! It's a positive anthem, with some lyrical scenarios we don't quite understand." The song’s video was directed Cameron Dutra (who directed Foxygen’s “San Francisco” video).

                  STAFF COMMENTS

                  Barry says: Epic symphonic strings, horns and organs working around incredibly intricate and conceptually impeccable writing. Textured, grand and bold choruses, huge build-ups and all brilliantly executed. A stunning and ambitious studio debut executed with grace.

                  22, A Million is part love letter, part final resting place of two decades of searching for self- understanding like a religion. And the inner-resolution of maybe never finding that understanding. The album’s 10 poly-fi recordings are a collection of sacred moments, love’s torment and salvation, contexts of intense memories, signs that you can pin meaning onto or disregard as coincidence. If Bon Iver, Bon Iver built a habitat rooted in physical spaces, then 22, A Million is the letting go of that attachment to a place.

                  STAFF COMMENTS

                  Millie says: Bon Iver takes a new approach for his latest album, taking influences from heavy electronic sounds and a long list of collaborators. Stylistically different, it's best to have no preconceptions and listen with fresh ears as it's a marvel of an album with a diverse sound. Just brilliant!

                  FORMAT INFORMATION

                  2xIndies Exclusive LP Info: Ultra limited 12" and single LP bundle. Shrinkwrapped together, 12” is random colour, LP is black. Gatefold sleeve, comes with download card.

                  LP Info: Single Black Vinyl LP, Gatefold sleeve, comes with download card.

                  The band formerly known as Viet Cong!!

                  When the four members of Preoccupations wrote and recorded their new record, they were in a state of near total instability. Years-long relationships ended; they left homes behind. Frontman Matt Flegel, guitarist Danny Christiansen, multi-instrumentalist Scott Munro and drummer Mike Wallace all moved to different cities. They resolved to change their band name, but hadn't settled on a new one. And their road-tested, honed approach to songwriting was basically thrown out the window. This time, they walked into the studio with the gas gauge near empty, buoyed by one another while the rest of their lives were virtually unrecognizable and rootless. There was no central theme or idea to guide the band's collective cliff jump. As a result, 'Preoccupations' bears the visceral, personal sound of holding onto some steadiness in the midst of changing everything.

                  Flegel is quick to point out how little mystery is in the titles of these songs: Anxiety, Monotony, Degraded, Stimulation, Fever. "Monotony is a dead end job; Anxiety is changing as a band," he says. "Memory is watching someone lose their mind; Fever is comforting someone. It's all drawing from very specific things." These things - bigger ones like breakups, smaller ones like simply trying to calm someone down - are ultimately the things that explode our brains, that keep us up at night. And so where their previous album 'Viet Cong' was built in some ways on the abstract cycles of creation and destruction, 'Preoccupations' explores how that sometimes-suffocating, sometimes-revelatory trap affects our lives. "We discarded a lot, reworking songs pretty ruthlessly," Munro explains. "We ripped songs down to the studs, taking one piece we liked and building something new around it. It was pretty cannibalistic, I guess. Existing songs were killed and used to make new ones." Sonically, it's still blistering. But it's a different kind of blister, less the the scorched earth of the band's previous LP, more like a blood blister on a fingertip: something immediate and physical that you push and stare at. It's yours.

                  Opener "Anxiety" articulates that tension: clattering sounds drift into focus, bouncing and echoing off one another until one bone-shattering moment when the full band strikes at once, moving from something untouchable to get to something deeply felt. "Monotony" moves at a narcoleptic pace by Preoccupations' standards, but snaps to attention to make its point, that "this repetition's killing you // it's killing everyone." "Stimulation" opens with a snarl and hurls itself forward at what feels like a million bpm, pausing for one mortal moment of relief before barreling onward. "Degraded" surprises, with something like a traditional structure and an almost pop-leaning melody to its chorus, twisting the bigness of Preoccupations' music to sideswipe the clear, finite smallness of its subjects and events. And the 11-minute-long "Memory" is the album's keystone, with an intimate narrative and a truly timeless post-punk center. There's love piercing through the iciness here, fighting its way forward in each of the song's distinct sections.

                  As always, there is something crystalline to what they've made, a blast of cold air in a burning hot place. All this adds up to Preoccupations: a singular, bracing collection that proves what's punishing can also be soothing, everything can change without disrupting your compass. Your best year can be your worst year at the same time. Whatever sends you flying can also help you land.

                  STAFF COMMENTS

                  Martin says: Preoccupations is an apt moniker for a project born of anxiety. That this Calgary outfit (ex-Viet Cong) draw their inspiration from a brooding, fearful era – an authoritarian government and very real nuclear threat cast an anguished shadow over early 80s post punk (in this case early Psychedelic Furs, Cure, Joy Division, Bauhaus) – is entirely consistent too. There is a spark in the void, however. Matt Flegel’s lyrics might read like an ideal therapy case study, betraying a sense of isolation and insecurity in the face of the universe, but where this offering differs from Viet Cong’s is in its broader palate and brighter delivery. Not exactly pop mind, but there is - albeit tense, knotted and urgent -  a brilliant melodicism to ‘Preoccupations’. This finds its most perfect expression in 'Memory', a two part, twelve minute merging of Swans sunset with Joy Division sunrise that would grace even the latter's output.

                  "Anyone reckless enough to have typecast Angel Olsen according to 2013’s Burn Your Fire For No Witness is in for a rethink with her third album, MY WOMAN. The crunchier, blown-out production of the former is gone, but that fire is now burning wilder. Her disarming, timeless voice is even more front-and-center. Yet, the strange, raw power and slowly unspooling incantations of her previous efforts remain.

                  Over two previous albums, she gave us reverb-shrouded poetic swoons, shadowy folk, grunge-pop band workouts and haunting, finger-picked epics. MY WOMAN is an exhilarating complement to her past work, and one for which Olsen recalibrated her writing/recording approach and methods to enter a new music-making phase.

                  As the record evolves, one gets the sense that the “My Woman” of the title is Olsen herself, absolutely in command but also willing to bend with the influence of collaborators and circumstances. An intuitively smart, warmly communicative and fearlessly generous record, MY WOMAN speaks to everyone. That it might confound expectation is just another of its strengths."

                  STAFF COMMENTS

                  Barry says: Whether she is banging out swooning gothic eyeshadow-pop choruses or walking us through rural America with swinging slide-guitar laden finger-clickers, Angel Olsen constantly manages with aplomb. The Melancholy lilt in some parts only serves exacerbate the impact of her more driven passages. This isn't a cheery listen, but it is touching and masterful. Highly recommended.

                  FORMAT INFORMATION

                  Indies Exclusive LP Info: Ltd LP is indies only, translucent purple vinyl.

                  Indies Exclusive LP includes MP3 Download Code.

                  LP Info: Standard black vinyl edition.

                  LP includes MP3 Download Code.

                  Dinosaur Jr

                  Give A Glimpse Of What Yer Not

                  PICCADILLY EXCLUSIVE: PRE-ORDER THE ALBUM AND ENTER A DRAW TO WIN A 100cmx100cm PROMOTIONAL FABRIC DISPLAY BANNER – ONLY 1 IN THE WORLD!!!

                  With all the insanity that is stalking the Earth in 2016, it’s nice to have something to rely on. Who’d’ve dared to think it’d be Dinosaur Jr.? There’s no doubt about it - this is the record that the fans have been waiting for since the original line up reformed.

                  The songs on ‘Give A Glimpse Of What Yer Not’ were recorded over the past year or so, again at Amherst’s Bisquiteen Studio (located in a secret nook of J’s basement). The sound is great and roaring with J’s various bleeding ear psychedelic guitar touches oozing their way into the smudge-pop modelling, while Murph’s drums pound like Fred Flintstone’s feet and Lou’s bass weaves back and forth between proggy melodicism and post-core thug-hunch.

                  STAFF COMMENTS

                  Barry says: As you would expect from Dinosaur Jr, this is an anthemic grunge tour-de force. Hard-hitting drums and distortion abound all topped with Mascis' snarling but perfectly tuned vocals. Rousing chord progressions are rife here, but not the only thing on offer,'Be A Part' shows a bit of single-note twiddling before breaking out into a melancholic minor-key chord fare. 'Knocked Around' could be the soundtrack to a particularly heartwrenching college-party romantic failure montage. A brilliant return to form for Dinosaur Jr, as exciting, dynamic and emotive as ever. Highly recommended.

                  FORMAT INFORMATION

                  LP includes MP3 Download Code.

                  The Cave Singers’ writing is unfettered; their songs possess a quality of deliverance. Each track of their four album catalogue compels movement, physical and emotional. It can manifest as the tapping of one’s foot, nod of the head or even a silent lifting of the heart. The Cave Singers’ melodic harmonies pull the body to the present, demanding our attention beyond all of the other noises of the world.

                  ‘Banshee’ brings The Cave Singers back to their original three piece line up and also their approach to songwriting: an exchange of Derek sending Pete a riff and Pete responding with vocal ideas. From there the songs come together. The album was recorded live in July of 2015 over 6 days with producer Randall Dunn. The record is warmly anchored in the members’ creative familiarity with one another. Yet there is a new thirst to ‘Banshee’, one that can be attributed to the combination of the band taking a year off to work on other projects Pete Quirk’s solo album and the Kodiak Deathbeds’ debut record and their return to songwriting from distanced correspondence.

                  Lead vocalist Peter Quirk possesses a spiritual healing quality that rides within the tonal waves of his lyrics. Driving guitars, foottapping percussion and Quirk’s powerful vocals make an intricate quilt that blankets the audience in comfort, aggressively communicating a gentle reminder: we are soft bodies trying to survive with one another. ‘Fade Away’ highlights this: “With the sun on our back we will never get cold, with the light in our eyes it’s alright to get old, whatever your story might say, however, it's told, let it go, let it let go, let it fade away.”

                  The Cave Singers remain approachable while retaining the complexity of writing skills possessed by folks who have dedicated their lives to music. Their appreciation of varied sounds, the writing process and performing in every type of venue, house and festival possible allows them to connect with those they speak to. Their passion for their craft translates from their recordings and resonates through their performances. The Cave Singers are the people’s band.

                  The story of The Besnard Lakes begins at Besnard Lake: a spectacular yet secluded water feature in rural Saskatchewan which the Montreal group’s husband and wife core, Jace Lasek and Olga Goreas, visit each summer for inspiration and escape. This year the couple’s campsite was surrounded for a worrying few days by forest flames, a literal ring of fire which informed the devil-may-care spirit of their exuberant fifth album.

                  “Besnard Lake is usually the place where we get the germination of ideas,” explains Jace. “We set up a small recording rig in the trailer we have up there .This time there were also helicopters with giant water tanks flying over us while we were fishing on the lake!”

                  Armed with demos and memories from their trip, the pair returned to the city and entered Breakglass Studios. Co-founded by Lasek a decade ago, this popular recording facility has long been a hub for Montreal’s fertile, collaborative and proudly DIY music community. Having met and fallen in love in Vancouver, where Jace was a photography-trained art student and Olga a bass-slinging star on the underground rock circuit, the pair relocated at the turn of the millennium. Vancouver had gotten too expensive. By contrast, “Montreal was super cheap because there had been the Quebec referendum in ’95 and a lot of the Anglos had left. There was a political teeter-totter happening, so there were tons of empty places. We moved out here and were able to live, rehearse and record in a loft for next to nothing.”

                  The predominantly French-speaking province’s economic depression birthed an ever-evolving scene that’s become internationally renowned for such disparate independent avatars as Godspeed You! Black Emperor and The Arcade Fire. Unique among their furrowed brow peers, The Besnard Lakes are unafraid to marry textured, questing headphone sonics to the honeyed pleasure of radio hits past: the rapture of My Bloody Valentine entwined with the romance of Fleetwood Mac. (Echoing prime FM they actually now have two girl/boy couplings in the line-up, keyboard player Sheenah Ko and guitarist Robbie MacArthur joining powerhouse drummer Kevin Laing and non-touring studio axe hero Richard White.) Imagine dreamy Beach House riding Led Zeppelin dynamics, with unabashedly androgynous vocal harmonies. This melodic yet mountainous soundworld was sculpted at Breakglass, their own modest Paisley Park. As the longterm sporter of a Love Symbol tattoo, Prince’s pop alchemy is especially potent for Jace.

                  “You look on the back of his early records and it’s produced, arranged, recorded and performed by Prince. When I realised that as a 12-year-old I was like, Oh fuck! So this kid can make a record all by himself. So then why can’t I? He was also the guy who made me realise that it was ok to sing high. Just throw caution to the wind. He’s not concerned about being super macho. Once I started getting into punk rock in high school, Prince was still there. He didn’t lose relevancy for me. Prince was still there when I started getting into prog rock, too. We’re just absorbed in music of all sorts.”

                  Olga, meanwhile, has been exploring a new creative outlet via her domestic interpretation of the occult, inspired by a Disinformation lecture given by comic book writer Grant Morrison. “He was talking about sigils,” remembers her adoring partner. “It was really personal for Oggy, like a meditation she would do in the morning, and also just a fun thing. She developed these 11 sigils, which you can see on the inside of the record’s jacket. For the deluxe edition she’s hand engraved them onto these little tags. The meanings are very simple: one is love, another is empathy. That leads back to this whole idea of mystery and the myth of the band.”

                  Channelling their obsessions with the paranormal – Jace was a teenage ghost hunter – as well as the dark arts, A Coliseum Complex Museum is populated by cryptozoological creatures (The Bray Road Beast, Golden Lion) while also luxuriating in natural phenomena and beauty (The Plain Moon, Nightingale). These themes are sincere yet good-humoured. The LP’s title jokily refers to a landmark-heavy road sign spotted on tour in Texas, the varied emotional impulses within reflected by its environmentally warped artwork.

                  “For a long time we were trying to keep secret that we love being out in nature,” admits Jace. “Because it’s kinda cliché. But with this record we decided to stop fighting what we love so much. So the front cover actually has a lake on it, but it’s also got this giant orb shooting light into the water, which is creating a hole that’s opening a portal to the coliseum complex museum. It’s kinda fucked.”

                  Small Black’s third full length release, written and recorded at their Brooklyn home studio, nicknamed 222, showcasing a band still evolving and embracing the unpredictable.

                  After a year of recording the band enlisted mixer Nicholas Vernhes (War On Drugs, Deerhunter) of Rare Book Room Studio to help complete the record.

                  ‘Best Blues’ finds the band in their sweet spot: the smoky intersection of considered and vulnerable songwriting and loose, almost nonchalant ambience. The addition of piano flourishes, trumpet (Darby Cicci of The Antlers), hidden acoustic guitars and Kaede Ford’s ethereal vocals provide new dimensions to the band’s already expansive sonic palette.

                  Cut-to-the-chase rippers ‘Back At Belle’s’ and ‘Checkpoints’ embody and build on the group’s signature gritty yet focused electronic sound. While more pastoral tracks such as ‘Between Leos’ and ‘XX Century’ - skeletally based on recorded improvisations - find the band painting a more nuanced, assured aural portrait. The repeating of the line “twentieth century” on closer ‘XX Century’ serves as a coda for the album, offering a simple summation of what ‘Best Blues’ intent has been from the opening Casio stab: an attempt to re-examine the past but also one to let it go.

                  “Another sparkling gem of widescreen, starry-eyed synthpop from a band who’ve been crafting such gems for years.” - Stereogum

                  Briana Marela

                  All Around Us

                  Briana's lyrics are forceful, and throughout her second album, All Around Us, traditional song structure gives way to plainspoken declarations that pull back the record's shroud. Her first single,"Surrender" is musically delicate at first, with flickering blips and chords that float into earshot like fireflies. "Take Care of Me" is the album's brightest and most immediate song, a buoyant celebration of friendship with a skittering beat and a warm, sweet melody. And title track "All Around Us" is a stark but inspiring beauty, built on the memory of a family member of Briana's who passed away, and the sadness of not being able to say "goodbye" or "I love you" one last time. It is the balance of the abstract and the intimate that makes Briana Marela and All Around Us so special.

                  STAFF COMMENTS

                  Barry says: Calm yet assured, this album distils the beauty of modern classical composers into the simple structures of a singer-songwriter, and it works perfectly. Equal measures wistful and mournful, whilst still retaining a sense of melody and drive. This is a confident and beautiful album, equal parts electronic ambient and classical, with those beautiful vocals over the top. Think Múm, Sigur Ros, and A Winged Victory For The Sullen, all together in a room. Mesmerising.

                  FORMAT INFORMATION

                  Ltd LP Info: Smoke coloured vinyl.

                  Unknown Mortal Orchestra

                  Multi-Love - Deluxe Bundle Edition

                    On Multi-Love, Unknown Mortal Orchestra frontman and multi-instrumentalist Ruban Nielson reflects on relationships: airy, humid longing, loss, the geometry of desire that occurs when three people align. Where Nielson addressed the pain of being alone on II, Multi-Love takes on the complications of being together.

                    Multi-Love adds dimensions to the band’s already kaleidoscopic approach, with Nielson exploring a newfound appreciation for synthesizers. The new songs channel with the spirit of psych innovators without ignoring the last 40 years of music, forming a flowing, cohesive whole that reflects restless creativity. Cosmic escapes and disco rhythms speak to developing new vocabulary, while Nielson’s vocals reach powerful new heights. 

                    “It felt good to be rebelling against the typical view of what an artists is today, a curator,” he says. “It’s more about being someone who makes things happen in concrete ways. Building old synthesizers and bringing them back to life, creating sounds that aren’t quite like anyone else’s. I think that’s much more subversive.”

                    FORMAT INFORMATION

                    2xLtd LP Info: This is the pink vinyl LP plus a 2 track exclusive 12” tracks, limited to 400 copies. 1 copy found!

                    On Multi-Love, Unknown Mortal Orchestra frontman and multi-instrumentalist Ruban Nielson reflects on relationships: airy, humid longing, loss, the geometry of desire that occurs when three people align. Where Nielson addressed the pain of being alone on II, Multi-Love takes on the complications of being together.

                    Multi-Love adds dimensions to the band’s already kaleidoscopic approach, with Nielson exploring a newfound appreciation for synthesizers. The new songs channel with the spirit of psych innovators without ignoring the last 40 years of music, forming a flowing, cohesive whole that reflects restless creativity. Cosmic escapes and disco rhythms speak to developing new vocabulary, while Nielson’s vocals reach powerful new heights.

                    “It felt good to be rebelling against the typical view of what an artists is today, a curator,” he says. “It’s more about being someone who makes things happen in concrete ways. Building old synthesizers and bringing them back to life, creating sounds that aren’t quite like anyone else’s. I think that’s much more subversive.”

                    STAFF COMMENTS

                    Andy says: Better bottom-end for the funky psych-groovers. Their last album was well loved here, looks like this is gonna top it!

                    Foxygen have joined Star Power. It is a punk band, and you can be in it, too. Star Power is the radio station that you can hear only if you believe. We're all stars of the scene.

                    FOXYGEN…AND STAR POWER is the new DOUBLE ALBUM from Foxygen, a CINEMATIC AUDITORY ADVENTURE for the speedy freaks, skull krunchers, abductees, and misfits...Made by Foxygen at Dream Star Studios in their Secret Haunted House with the UFOs flying around in the sky.

                    A gaggle of guest stars. Roman-numeraled musical suites. Vocals recorded on a shoddy tape machine at The Beverly Hills Hotel and Chateau Marmont. A svelte 82-minute run time of psych-ward folk, cartoon fantasia, songs that morph into each other, weaving in and out of the head like UFO radio transmission skullkrush music. ADHD star power underground revolution. Soft-rock indulgences, D&D doomrock and paranoid bathroom rompers. Process is the point. A kaleidoscoping view. Blasphemy even the gods smile one. Rock and roll for the skull...*

                    *From Patty Smith's 1973 CREEM review of Todd Rundgren's A Wizard, A True Star. The section concludes "Todd Rundgren is preparing us for a generation of frenzied children who will dream in animation."

                    "Ices" is a celebration of flight, levity, and the conviction that you can leave earth. You take wing in an airplane, you go to real places when you dream, you have out-of-body experiences, you get high, you lose yourself in someone else.

                    When we started work on these songs, I was beginning a gradual move to California, constantly traveling back and forth from New York. I was experimenting. I was falling in love. Our studio in the Hudson Valley was full of electronics and computers and the sounds of future ships sailing through the vastness of space, and I sometimes forgot where I was. The first songs we wrote were called "flying 1", then "flying 2", and so on, which eventually evolved into songs on the album. Flight became a metaphor for the ignition of the imagination. The process created a lightness in me, a freedom and positive energy that I¹d never before felt or explored.

                    This recording session became a two year music and spiritual retreat with my psychic twin brother, Eliot. A private journey during which we abandoned old habits and familiar sounds. We got really geeky and experimented in our studio. We obsessed over sympathetic magic, "Ancient Aliens", and the NBA. We allowed everything we loved to find its way in: Persian percussion, hip-hop beats, lo-fi, hi-fi, Pakistani pop, Link Wray, Jason Pierce, gospel, dub. We developed new systems; we worked with synthesis, software, and samples; we became producers. The Hudson Valley was home base, but I wanted to keep flying. I wrote songs in California, recorded vocals in Atlanta, and worked with Clams Casino in Brooklyn.

                    For the first time, Lia Ices felt like an inclusive project with its own identity, not just a name.

                    "Ices" as a whole is devoted to these certainties. While we have evolved, we are still animals. We respond to planets, patterns, and cycles. We require the sounds of our origins. We live in the future but stay bound to the primitive and primordial. We will always want tribe, we will always want rhythm, we will always need music to guide us into our deepest sense of what it means to be human. So we hear sounds from all over the planet in this album. We devour so much music, and with this album we allowed ourselves to claim bits from all of it.

                    For all the attention that was paid to her 2012 breakthrough ‘Tramp’, Sharon Van Etten is an artist with a hunger to turn another corner and to delve deeper, writing from a place of honesty and vulnerability to create a bond with the listener that few contemporary musicians can match. Compelled by a restless spirit, Van Etten is continuously challenging herself. Now, the result is ‘Are We There’, a self-produced album of exceptional intimacy, sublime generosity, and immense breadth.

                    For this album, Van Etten found a kindred spirit in veteran music producer Stewart Lerman. Originally working together on ‘Boardwalk Empire’, they gently moved into new roles, rallying around the idea of making a record together in Lerman’s studio in New Jersey. Lerman’s studio expertise gave Van Etten the freedom to make ‘Are We There’ the way she imagined. Van Etten also enlisted the individual talents of her band, consisting of Heather Woods Broderick, Doug Keith and Zeke Hutchins and brought in friends Dave Hartley and Adam Granduciel from The War On Drugs, Jonathan Meiberg (Shearwater), Jana Hunter (Lower Dens), Peter Broderick, Mackenzie Scott (Torres), Stuart Bogie, Jacob C Morris and Mickey Freeze.

                    It is clear from the opening chords in the first song ‘Afraid Of Nothing’ that we are witnessing a new awareness, a sign of Van Etten in full stride, writing, producing and performing from a place that seems almost mythical, were it not so touchable and real. Always direct, and never shying away even from the most personally painful narratives, Van Etten’s songwriting continues to evolve. Many of the songs deal with seemingly impossible decisions, anticipation, and then resolution. She sings of the nature of desire, memory, of being lost, emptiness, of promises and loyalty, fear and change, of healing and the true self, violence and sanctuary, waiting, of silence.

                    “Her voice is breathtaking throughout the record, altering to inhabit every emotional extreme.” - Uncut (9/10), “She seems to set her voice no boundaries” - Mojo (4 stars), “Van Etten goes several layers deeper, and faster, than most songwriters. ‘Are We There’ is the kind of album that many people have been trying to make for years and only a dozen or so have pulled off; words, voice and heartbreak.” - The New Yorker.

                    Sean Carey is the drummer of Bon Iver and an acclaimed solo musician in his own right. ‘Range Of Light’ is the follow up to his well received ‘All We Grow’. Like its predecessor, ‘Range Of Light’ deals in hugely beatific, restorative panoramas of beauty. An array of musical light and shade, drawn from Carey’s love of jazz, modern classical and Americana.

                    Many of the superlatives describing Angel Olsen refer to how seemingly little it takes for her to leave an audience speechless, even spellbound. But Olsen has never been as timid as those descriptors imply, and the noisy, fiery hints in her earlier work find a fuller expression on her newest LP, Burn Your Fire for No Witness. Here, Olsen sings with full-throated exultation, admonition, and bold, expressive melody. Also, with the help of producer John Congleton, her music now crackles with a churning, rumbling low end and a brighter energy.

                    Angel Olsen began singing as a young girl in St. Louis, where she explored the remarkable range of her voice and the places it could take her songwriting. Her self-released debut EP, Strange Cacti, belied both that early period of discovery and her Midwestern roots. Cautious and homespun on the one hand, the EP transported us to a mystical, unrecognizable world on the other, and it garnered extensive praise for its enigmatic beauty. Olsen then went further on Half Way Home, her first full-length album (released on Bathetic Records), which mined essential themes while showcasing a more developed voice. Olsen dared to be more personal.

                    After extensive touring, Olsen eventually settled for a time in Chicago's Logan Square neighborhood, where she created "a collection of songs grown in a year of heartbreak, travel, and transformation." The new songs go on to tell us to leave, or to high-five a lover who is lacking, or to dance our way up and out of sorrow. Many of them also remain essentially unchanged from their bare beginnings. In leaving them so intact, a more self-assured Olsen is opening up to us, allowing us to be in the room with her at the very genesis of these songs, when the thread of creation is most vulnerable and least filtered. Our reward for entering this room are many head-turning moments and the powerful, unsettling recognition of ourselves in the weave of her songs.

                    This act of meaning-making recurs as a theme throughout the album, as the sublimating response to the power of negativity. In the song, "Stars", for example, Olsen wishes to "have the voice of everything" and in a moment of hatefulness and hurt realizes that the strength of fury results in the power she had been seeking all along. Thankfully for us, Olsen has decided to channel a lot of this newfound power into the ethereal, hypnotic performances of her new and revealing songs, sharing with us the full grace and beauty of her transformative moments.

                    FORMAT INFORMATION

                    LP includes MP3 Download Code.

                    Wolf People

                    When The Fire Is Dead In The Grate

                    Following Wolf People’s critically acclaimed 2013 release, ‘Fain’, comes this 4 track mini album featuring two of the album’s most accomplished songs and two brand new tracks.

                    ‘When The Fire Is Dead In The Grate’ has quickly been established as a fan favourite throughout venues during their European tour. Stewart Lee described the song as “the album’s first stone classic, a funky folk-metal workout that trails off into a compellingly extended coda, both guitarists circling and dovetailing and spiralling.”

                    A brand new track, ‘Become The Ground’, breaks new ground for the band, being, perhaps, their most obviously folk-influenced song to date. It’s a beautiful duet between lead singer Jack Sharp and guest vocalist Nicola Keary before the song breaks into a swirling psychedelic jam.

                    The B-side of this mini LP is made up of the first track fans heard on ‘Fain’, ‘All Returns’, but now coupled with ‘All Returns Part II’, the song’s original extended outro. It’s Wolf People at their best, locking into a masterful groove, razorsharp guitar lines interlocking and intertwining.

                    FORMAT INFORMATION

                    Ltd 12" includes MP3 Download Code.

                    Since January 2010, Spencer Krug has used Moonface as a venue for home-recorded instrumental and conceptual experimentation, expanding the ideas he developed collaboratively with Wolf Parade, Sunset Rubdown, and Frog Eyes. Releases under this moniker have come quickly, each distinct from the other. The ‘Dreamland’ EP and ‘Organ Music Not Vibraphone Like I’d Hoped’ were conceptual excursions merging instrumental and thematic fixations. After moving from Montreal to Helsinki, Krug teamed up with the Finnish band Siinai to create a lush rock record - 2012’s ‘Heartbreaking Bravery’ - driven by the dark despair of a breakup. Staying in Helsinki, Krug set off on yet another creative departure, driven by a rediscovery of love and a reconsideration of the Moonface persona he’d created for himself.

                    The quietly stunning ‘Julia With Blue Jeans On’ is the fourth Moonface release, bringing a degree of intimacy and self-reflection unlike anything Krug has produced to date.

                    There are only two sonic elements on this latest album: Spencer Krug’s voice and his piano. Richly recorded, they interact seamlessly with one another. On the opening track, ‘Barbarian’, the piano unfolds with the hypnotic energy of Keith Jarrett’s Koln Concert, Krug’s right hand doubling his vocal melody. On the closing track ‘Your Chariot Awaits’, Krug’s voice recedes after a minute as the piano swells for an extended showcase with modern classical undertones.

                    After nearly a decade, across a number of guises, we are well-acquainted with Krug’s inimitable town-crier vocals; on ‘Julia…’ we are introduced to a facet of his musical skill that feels conservatory-trained. This is Krug as singer-songwriter, moving beyond star poses to a vision that is at once more elegant and comfortable. Or, in Krug’s own language, on ‘Barbarian II’: “I have chewed through my beautiful narrative.” Much of Julia is taken with this chewing. ‘Love The House You’re In’ opens by masquerading as self-pity, with a statement that reads like a press release from someone who’s given up. “I regretfully withdraw my offer to try and improve myself,” Krug gently sings, establishing a self-reflexive foundation upon which he builds the album’s most universal, humanistic sentiment, and which he delivers via its most soaring melody.

                    Purposeful self-evaluation is one tactic for reinvention, but as Krug illustrates on the title track, everyday occurrences can prove transformative as well. The sight of a woman, clad in denim, briefly visible at the bottom of a staircase, he learns, is capable of “obliterating everything I’ve ever written down.” ‘Julia…’ is an ode in the classical sense, pivoting around the beauty inherent in the most simple, taken-forgranted sights. Krug acknowledges this, opening the song by admitting that “it’s a madman’s game, making the commonplace unreal.” What he leaves out in this admission, however, is the key to the countless charms of ‘Julia With Blue Jeans On’ - by expertly playing this ridiculous game, he can erase the madness that spawned it.

                    Spencer has garnered critical praise and a rabidly loyal fanbase in the Moonface realm, as well in other incarnations, including Wolf Parade, Sunset Rubdown, Swan Lake, and Frog Eyes.

                    Featuring Grammy Award-winning artist Justin Vernon of Bon Iver on vocals.

                    ‘Repave’ brings Volcano Choir into sharp focus. The glitch-laden, cautious presentation of the band’s previous work serves as points of both reference and departure across these eight songs, the product of growing conviction and trust, of a fully-operational rock band, gifted in shading and nuance, and rumbling with power.

                    ‘Repave’ is the sound of confident musicians extending their reach to anthemic peaks and pulling back to reveal moments of real vulnerability, sure enough of themselves to let them stand on their own.

                    Diana are an enigmatic foursome from Toronto. (They must be putting something in the water, what with the number of great bands hailing from there.)

                    Consisting of Joseph Shabason, Kieran Adams, and singer Carmen Elle, with Paul Mathew recently joining the live line up. Shabason and Adams met while studying jazz at music college where they played extensively together. Having lent their skills (saxophone and drums, respectively) to many bands, including Bonjay, The Hidden Cameras and Shabason’s recent contributions to Destroyer's excellent ‘Kaputt’, it was a leap of faith to make their own full length, but the time had come.

                    STAFF COMMENTS

                    Andy says: Another 80's influenced, lush, synthy dreampop collective. Melt away!

                    ‘Naomi’ is the fourth record from North Western mystics The Cave Singers. Written over the span of ten months and recorded in one, it bears a new and more expansive production style that captures the live performance energy the band has developed over the past five years.

                    The album was engineered and produced at Avast Studios in Seattle by Phil Ek (Fleet Foxes, Built To Spill, Shins, Modest Mouse). Each song functions like a chapter in a bigger story, addressing themes of the past, exhuming the memories under moonlight. There are songs of addiction, car ownership, fireworks, tree houses, moving to New Mexico, and God, each shifting in all the ways that make life difficult and miraculous, astounding and beautiful.

                    The core trio of singer Pete Quirk, guitarist Derek Fudesco and drummer Marty Lund have added longtime friend Morgan Henderson (Blood Brothers, Fleet Foxes) on bass and extra instrumentation to round out The Cave Singers family. Together they have charted new territory for the band both musically and spiritually, while remaining true to their distinctive brand of brushfired folk. After some time in the dark wealth of the unknown, they have returned to the light with a revitalized purpose.

                    Emerging from rampant hedonism and isolation is ‘II’, the new album from Unknown Mortal Orchestra. The musical vision of Portlander-via-New Zealand Ruban Nielson started as an anonymous home-recording project that fused psychedelia, soul, choppy percussion and funk.

                    Unknown Mortal Orchestra came to life in basements and bedrooms after Nielson moved from his native New Zealand to Portland, Oregon with his family. Following the recruitment of bassist Jacob Portrait, new drummer Greg Rogove and a deal with Jagjaguwar, UMO toured the US with Grizzly Bear and Liars.

                    ‘II’ builds on the breakbeat, junk shop charm the 32-year-old multi-instrumentalist and songwriter came to be renowned for following his self-titled 2011 debut, and signals the solidification of Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s position as an endlessly intriguing, brave psychedelic band. Unknown Mortal Orchestra is unafraid to dig deeper than the rest, to lock into their intoxicating, opiate groove and bring rock ‘n’ roll’s exaggerated myths to life.

                    Written during a punishing, debauched touring schedule during which Nielson feared for his sanity and health, ‘II’ illustrates the emotional turmoil of life on the road, painting surrealist, cartoonish portraits of loneliness, love and despair.

                    These conflicting themes are evident immediately; on the album’s sleeve is an unnerving image of Janet Farrar, the famous British witch Wiccan, author and teacher of witchcraft. The chilling refrain of opener ‘Into The Sun’ sees Nielson deliver the line “Isolation can put a gun in your hand,” softly, his words starkly intelligible above a warm, slow-burning melody that quickly brands itself onto your brain. His playful imagery (“I’m so lonely I’ve gotta eat my popcorn all alone”) mirrors the melody, before a solo that borders on psychotropic ends ‘II’s introduction.

                    As it unfolds, ‘II’ does find Nielson reenergized. ‘One At A Time’ and ‘Faded In The Morning’ boast dizzying choruses and instrumentals - these crusty hunks could have been excavated from a lost 1960s treasure trove. ‘Monki’ unravels over seven minutes like the yarn from a stoner’s cardigan with an eye-frying pattern. ‘Dawn’ is a minute of disconcerting noise that stands out between the nooks and crannies of the choruses, guitar solos, groove-heavy bass and drums that were recorded live by newly-recruited drummer Greg Rogove and Kody Nielson in a move away from the electronic percussion employed on album one. ‘II’ closes with ‘Secret Xtians’, a tender observational puzzle that fizzes to a satisfied end.

                    Pulling Pink Floyd, The Family Stone, The Beatles and the Soft Machine through his warped rock ‘n’ roll filter, Nielson has created a collection of expressive psychedelia. Unknown Mortal Orchestra was once Nielson’s closeted concern. With an album that uses his singular musical imagination and extraordinary talent to parade his emotions with unyielding honesty, it is now a fully realized band operating at the peak of its powers.

                    ‘II’ is the follow up and refinement to 2011’s self-titled, critically adored debut (released by Fat Possum and True Panther Sounds).

                    STAFF COMMENTS

                    Andy says: UMO's 2011 debut LP was a one-man, bedroom curio layering sun-kissed psych-pop over chunky break beats. Expanded to a three piece, the live drummer brings an untutored looseness to the band’s sound which perfectly suits the laid-back, mellow vibe of these tunes. Ruban Neilson has made a beautiful night time record; hazy, blurred and luminous. And it still has that home-studio charm: lo-fi, fuzzy and whimsical, but the psych is now the Beatles, the blues a freaked-out Marc Bolan and there's a soulfulness that recalls early ‘70s Curtis Mayfield; a gorgeous blend. Curtis comparisons extend to Ruban's guitar playing too; seemingly meandering, carefree explorations reveal themselves to be intricately worked out, melodic lines that spill into each other, sometimes with a whiff of prog, sometimes even jazz. Mixed with the white-soul and garage, plus (inter)stellar melodies, you have one funky little nugget, a dazed and dreamy gem of an album.

                    FORMAT INFORMATION

                    LP includes MP3 Download Code.

                    The shimmering sound of Sharon Van Etten's Jagjaguwar debut album, 'Tramp', both defies and illuminates the unsteadiness of a life in flux. Throughout the 14 months of scattered recording sessions, Van Etten was without a home - crashing with friends and storing her possessions between varied locations. The only constant in Van Etten's life during this time was spent in Aaron Dessner's garage studio.

                    A two year journey brought her to that point of instability. Upon the release of epic (Ba Da Bing; 2010), Sharon Van Etten surprised the music world with a touching embrace. Having established herself as a reliable performer around New York, and coming off the release of her spartan first effort, 'Because I Was In Love' (Language of Stone; 2009), Van Etten created a short album of diverse songs connected by a shared goal of expanded sound and her unmistakable voice. Fans quickly picked favorites, discovered their choices changing, then changing yet again. That is the magic of epic; the intricate, understated record covered so much ground within its 33 minutes, it required more than an initial half hour to absorb. Since epic's release, she has opened the Pitchfork Music Festival, played The Hollywood Bowl with Neko Case and at Radio City Music Hall with The Antlers, sung on new records for Beirut and Ed Askew, and collaborated with Bon Iver's Justin Vernon and Megafaun on the Songs Of The South project.

                    Dessner, a member of The National, heard Van Etten early on, and in collaboration with Justin Vernon, performed a cover of "Love More" at the 2010 MusicNow Festival in Cincinnati. Van Etten heard about this and contacted him. Almost immediately they formed plans to work together, with Dessner offering both a location for Van Etten to record new songs, as well as the opinions of a wise producer.

                    Now, one year later, Van Etten unveils Tramp, an album showcasing an artist in full control of her powers. Tramp contains as much striking rock (the precise venom of "Serpents," the overwhelming power of "Ask"), as pious, minimal beauty (the earnest solemnity of "All I Can," the breathtaking "Kevins," "Joke or a Lie"); it can be as emotionally combative ("Give Out") as it can sultry ("Magic Chords"). Contributions from Matt Barrick (Walkmen), Thomas Bartlett (Doveman), Zach Condon (Beirut), Jenn Wasner (Wye Oak), Julianna Barwick, and Dessner himself add a glowing sheen to the already substantial offering.

                    Van Etten has travelled far, and if her displacement took an emotional toll, she offset those setbacks with a powerfully articulated vision. And so, once again, each listener will discover their own moments along the way, and the debates as to the best song start anew.

                    STAFF COMMENTS

                    Laura says: This is Sharon Van Etten’s third album, but even if you’ve missed out on her previous two, you really can’t afford to let this one pass you by. With The National’s Aaron Dessner at the controls, and an impressive cast of contributors, including Julianna Barwick , Zach Condon (Beirut), Bryce Dessner (The National), Matt Barrick (The Walkmen) and Jenn Wasner (Wye Oak) she has created an absolutely stunning album. Dressner’s production creates the perfect space within her songs for her vocals to really shine, whether they’re stark acoustic tracks ("Give Out", "We Are Fine") or powerful atmospheric rockers ("Serpents", "All I Can") or ones that fall somewhere between the two ("Leonard") the range of her voice covers everything from fragile and fractured, to strong and defiant, somewhere between Cat Power and PJ Harvey. Add to that, superb emotive songwriting and you have all the ingredients for a truly wonderful album.

                    FORMAT INFORMATION

                    LP includes MP3 Download Code.

                    Coming out of Massachusetts in 1985, this album brought the young, socially inadequate and self-absorbed J.Mascis dimly into focus. Dysfunction always rocks and J's solution / release was to build a wall of noise, with unbelievably loud guitars which were sometimes hazy, sometimes sprawling. The results were mesmerising. Like an East Coast version of The Meat Puppets, there was loser folk mumblings mixed with lo-fi hardcore mixed with psych-metal mixed with nervy U.K new-wave and even Goth! Add Neil Young guitar sprawls and bingo: this is music you've never heard in your life before. This debut is ramshackle and hotch-potch in places, but beneath the noise there's plenty of clever songs mixing pretty melody with brutal power.

                    FORMAT INFORMATION

                    LP Info: The first three classic Dinosaur Jr. albums get a timely reissue. Three defining albums of both a band and an entire genre, originally released 20 years ago. A must buy for those who have worn their original
                    copies out and fans of the recent resurgence in classic independent American rock music.

                    Peter Wolf Crier

                    Garden Of Arms

                    Peter Wolf Crier’s second album ‘Garden Of Arms’ is a document that paints a vivid portrait of all the pain and beauty of growth.

                    The duo of Peter Pisano and Brian Moen transformed the fuzzy distortion, rolling and crashing drums, and laser-focused purposefulness into an intensely dynamic yet supremely polished album. The lead off track, ‘Right Away’ best exemplifies the band's new direction, a dense and jarring embrace of the immediacy of real personal connection.

                    Volcano Choir is an assembly of Wisconsinites Jon Mueller, Chris Rosenau, Jim Schoenecker, Daniel Spack, Justin Vernon, and Thomas Wincek. You might find these old friends also frequenting records and stages under different monikers, Collections Of Colonies Of Bees and Bon Iver. The collaboration predates the meteoric rise of Justin Vernon's Bon Iver project, with original songwriting dating back to the summer of 2005, right around the time the Bees first toured with Vernon's previous band DeYarmond Edison.
                    While entirely a studio record, the collection doesn't suffer from the overburdens of a digital pile up or over-thinking. Rather it breathes and convulses in equal measure, radiating an inherent dynamism found only in the voluntary bondage of intimacy. With influences ranging from David Sylvian and Steve Reich to Mahalia Jackson and Tom Waits, it might be more accurate to say the group's influence is music itself. You can hear it in the care and real love generously applied to each moment of "Unmap". With the vibe of some intimate backwoods gospel, plus a spirit of patience and thoughtful repetition, the music of Volcano Choir is as dynamic as it is lovely.

                    Lightning Dust are Amber Webber and Josh Wells, two fifths of critically acclaimed prog and spiritual pioneers, Black Mountain. "Infinite Light", Lightning Dust's sophomore album for Jagjaguwar, finds the duo calling upon the powers of classic pop arrangements and making the most of five days with a Steinway Grand piano, Lightning Dust have delivered a cosmic record about the adventure in finding love and the journey in losing and rediscovering 'the light'. While "Infinite Light" is definitely more layered and lush than previous efforts, Lightning Dust's minimal aesthetic works well in the economy of musical theatre, an influence for the record, wherein each song's movements aim to be more inspiring than the one before it. And this is suiting in that the album is a nod to 'the light of inspiration' that inspires us to keep dancing, creating and loving in spite of an encroaching darkness. It's a reminder that what makes the mountains so very, very black is a distant light somewhere on the other side.

                    FORMAT INFORMATION

                    LP Info: The vinyl edition comes with a free download coupon.


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