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JAGJAGUWAR

Supreme Dicks

Breathing And Not Breathing

    Jagjaguwar is proud to reintroduce the complete recordings of Supreme Dicks in the form of ‘Breathing and Not Breathing’, a four CD set that includes both of the band’s studio albums – ‘The Unexamined Life’ from 1993 and ‘The Emotional Plague’ from 1996, along with 1994’s ‘Workingman’s Dick’, a collection of early archival recordings, and the 1996 EP ‘This Is Not A Dick’, which has been fleshed out with rare and unreleased tracks.

    Falling somewhere between Captain Beefheart, Throbbing Gristle and SALEM in the lineage of musicians who’ve found a muse in the nasty, brutish brevity of life, Supreme Dicks chose to cloak disarmingly real paranoia and grief in the contemporary trappings of late '80s and early '90s lo-fi college rock. They may have inhabited the same sonic and physical space as colleagues like Dinosaur Jr (Lou Barlow was an occasional Dick, and at least one early Dinosaur Jr show was actually played by Dicks in disguise), but they stripped away all youthful yearning and anticipation in favor of a bleak and unblinking certainty. Honest, frank, and free of ironic distance. Obtuse and yet so essential that it can’t help but feel familiar to anyone who’s ever spent a sleepless night wondering whether there's any point to all of this. And, on occasion, warm, intimate and lovely.

    The Supreme Dicks formed while students at Massachusetts’ Hampshire College in the twilight of the Reagan era. The campus was a fractured posthippie free-for-all that many students theorized was a right- wing think tank experiment in pitting progressives against each other. The constantly revolving lineup centered around songwriters Daniel Oxenberg and Jon Shere, and whoever else was around and willing to torture an instrument. They advocated the teachings of Wilhelm Reich and were vocal about focusing their creative energy via celibacy. This may do much to explain the constant, unrelenting tension that provides the driving force behind the most powerful moments in their music. Regardless of tempo or arrangement, Supreme Dicks songs play like soundtracks to autoerotic asphyxiation, haunting tones that ring in the ears at the moment consciousness is lost and not guaranteed to return.

    Sharon Van Etten

    Are We There - Love Record Stores 2021 Edition

      Love Record Stores Edition available instore from 10am on Saturday September 4th, any remaining copies will be available on online from 9pm on the same day.
      Limited to one per person.


      Angel Olsen

      My Woman - Love Record Stores 2021 Edition

        Love Record Stores Edition available instore from 10am on Saturday September 4th, any remaining copies will be available on online from 9pm on the same day.
        Limited to one per person.


        Sharon Van Etten

        Remind Me Tomorrow - Love Record Stores 2021 Edition

          Love Record Stores Edition available instore from 10am on Saturday September 4th, any remaining copies will be available on online from 9pm on the same day.
          Limited to one per person.


          Angel Olsen

          Aisles

            While spending time trying to conquer the audio of live-stream athome performances, I got better acquainted with my friend Adam McDaniel, an engineer and producer in Asheville, NC. Adam and I had known each other for years. When the band was a bit smaller I’d often rent his studio, Drop of Sun, for pre-recording / pre tour rehearsals. Summer 2020 was tough for many reasons. But Adam and his wife Emily opened their home to me and made it a safe space to create and let go. I had an idea to record some covers and bring some of the band into the mix, or add other players. I wanted to record 80’s songs that I’d overheard walking the aisles at the grocery store, and I needed to laugh and have fun and be a little less serious about the recording process in general. I thought about completely changing some of the songs and turning them inside out.

            I’d heard “Gloria” by Laura Branigan for the first time at a family Christmas gathering and I was amazed at all the aunts who got up to dance. I imagined them all dancing and laughing in slow motion, and that’s when I got the idea to slow the entire song down and try it out in this way. I felt that “Safety Dance” by Men Without Hats could be reinterpreted to be about this time of quarantine and the fear of being around anyone or having too much fun. It made me wonder, is it safe to laugh or dance or be free of it all for just a moment?

            I know it’s not really in my history to do something unintentional or just for the hell of it but my connection to these songs is pretty straightforward, I just wanted to have a little fun and be a little more spontaneous, and I think I needed to remember that I could!

            TRACK LISTING

            1. Gloria
            2. Eyes Without A Face
            3. Safety Dance
            4. If You Leave
            5. Forever Young

            Various Artists

            Join The Ritual

              Midway through his long, earnest and often very, very funny essay on the role playing game Dungeons & Dragons in the September 2006 issue of The Believer, writer Paul La Farge proposes that Dungeons & Dragons is not a game at all but rather a ritual. La Farge notes the marked difference between game and ritual. Whereas a game seeks to demonstrate how unequal or distinct players/ teams are from one another, rituals seek to do the very opposite. “Ritual, on the other hand, is the exact inverse, for it brings about a union,” La Farge writes, himself paraphrasing anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss. “Or in any case an organic relation between the initially separate groups.”

              And so, across the 25-year history of Jagjaguwar, an independent record label curiously named using a Dungeons & Dragons name generator, we find this idea of ritual as a conjoining practice. We see it early on when Jagjaguwar joins forces with a midwestern label called Secretly Canadian for a powerful fusion. We see it in familial relationships and collaboration among Jagjaguwar artists, and the ways those artists’ most treasured collaborators make their ways to the Jagjaguwar game board.

              Join The Ritual, the third piece of Jagjaguwar’s 25th Anniversary celebration, looks to pay homage to the labels and artists that, whether they know it or not, invited Jagjaguwar to the table, to this wild, dark magic ritual of music. We’re talking about independent titans like Drag City, Too Pure, K Records and Touch & Go. We’re talking about heroes like R.E.M., Slint, Stereolab and Tracy Chapman. These songs captured the imaginations of our founders Darius Van Arman and Chris Swanson — and ultimately, opened up worlds to them.

              TRACK LISTING

              SIDE A:
              1. Spencer Krug - Red Dress
              2. The Besnard Lakes - Good Morning, Captain
              3. They Hate Change - The Seeming And The Meaning
              4. Angel Olsen - Cold Blooded Old Times
              5. Bruce Hornsby - Feel The Pain
              6. Jamila Woods - Fast Car

              SIDE B:
              7. Nap Eyes - Car
              8. S. Carey - Weight Of Water
              9. Pink Mountaintops - The Concept
              10. Cut Worms - One For The Catholic Girls
              11. Okay Kaya - Nightswimming

              Unknown Mortal Orchestra

              II - Love Record Stores 2021 Edition

                Love Record Stores Edition available instore from 10am on Saturday September 4th, any remaining copies will be available on online from 9pm on the same day.
                Limited to one per person.


                Molly Lewis

                The Forgotten Edge

                  In the most literal sense, globally renowned whistler Molly Lewis makes her gorgeous and curious compositions out of thin air. New entrees into the Exotica canon; sprawling, would-be Spaghetti Western scores; and a dash of Old Hollywood glamour — the whistle-led songs on her debut EP The Forgotten Edge are as complex, delicate and indelible as anything performed with viola or piano. “Whistling is like a human theremin,” said Lewis, an Australian native who’s spent the last several years in LA, and whose performances there and around the world are changing any preconceived notions of whistling by the room-full. .That’s not to say Lewis is all serious and snooty about the craft. Quite the contrary. Her sense of humor is witty, self-deprecating and zany. She’s as likely to reference the slapstick Leslie Nielsen film series Naked Gun for music video concepts as she is a classic piece of noir cinema.

                  Look no further than the equatorial and breezy opening cut “Oceanic Feeling,” a lovely walk across the flotsam-sprinkled sands in the rum-pumping vein of Les Baxter. Meanwhile, the title track — and really, the entire collection here — is a loving, and albeit rather haunting, salute to one of Lewis’s heroes, the Italian composer and musician Alessandro Alessandro Alessandroni, who’s whistle and guitar you hear on the title theme of Ennio Morricone’s A Fistful of Dollars. Lewis and her ensemble create classic cinema for your mind. Her own love for the artform began when, around the age of twelve she was given the CD Steve “The Whistler” Herbst Whistles Broadway. Something contained in it clicked. “It wasn’t that I was immediately obsessed, but I knew it was something I could do well,” Lewis said. The daughter of a musician mother and a documentary filmmaker father who often focused his films on niche communities and topics, Lewis recalls watching a television documentary with her parents about The International Whistlers Convention in Louisburg, North Carolina.

                  “My dad said, ‘If you ever make it into the competition, I’ll take you there’,” Lewis said. Turns out, there was no bar to entry, just a small fee. And so several years later, she and her father traveled to the convention. New to the form, Lewis didn’t take home one of the bigger prizes, but they were awarded the prize for “Whistler who traveled the greatest distance.” “We really just used the trip to drive around the United States,” she said. After studying film in Australia, Lewis moved to Los Angeles to be close to the film industry. There, her circle of artist friends grew naturally and with providence — her unique talent drawing more and more recognition. And over the last few years, Lewis’s Café Molly events at LA spots like Zebulon, Non Plus Ultra and The Natural History Museum have become fabled, elegant happenings with appearances from guests like John C. Reilly, Karen O and Mac DeMarco. Recorded with a crack team of friends and musicians during 2020’s quarantine, The Forgotten Edge is rife with incredible performances from Thomas Brenneck, Joe Harrison, Eric Hagstrom, Abe Rounds, Wayne Gordon, Gabriel Rowland, Leon Michels, and Dave Guy

                  STAFF COMMENTS

                  Barry says: I admit to being a little baffled when I read the notes for this one, it being ostensibly a whistle-based album. Suffice to say it's MUCH deeper than that and perfectly segues between hazy country, slow exotica and swimming library ambience. It's properly beautiful and really very surprising.

                  TRACK LISTING

                  1. Oceanic Feeling
                  2. Island Spell
                  3. Balcony For Two
                  4. The Forgotten Edge
                  5. Satin Curtains
                  6. Wind’s Lament

                  Big Red Machine

                  How Long Do You Think It's Gonna Last?

                    Ever since childhood, learning to play various instruments in a suburban Cincinnati basement alongside his brother Bryce, Aaron Dessner has consistently sought an emotional outlet and deep human connection through music — be it as a primary songwriter in The National, a founder and architect of beloved collaboration-driven music festivals, or collaborator on two critically acclaimed and chart-topping Taylor Swift albums recorded in complete pandemic-era isolation at his Long Pond Studio in upstate New York, among many other projects. Through it all, Dessner has brought together an unlikely community of musicians that share his impulse to connect, celebrate and, most of all, process emotion and experience through music. This generous spirit and desire to push music forward has never been more deeply felt than on Big Red Machine’s “How Long Do You Think It’s Gonna Last?,” the second album from Dessner’s evermorphing project with Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon. In 2008, while assembling material for the charity compilation “Dark Was the Night,” Dessner sent Vernon a song sketch titled “big red machine”. Vernon interpreted “big red machine” as a beating heart and finished the song accordingly — a metaphor Dessner says “still sticks with me today.

                    This project goes to many places and is always on some level about experimentation, but it shines a light on why I make music in the first place, which is an emotional need. It’s one of my therapies and one of the ways I interrogate the past.” Released in 2018, Big Red Machine’s self-titled debut album evolved from improvisation and what Dessner calls “structured experimentalism,” with an ear toward building tracks that would work well in a live setting alongside visual elements. When Dessner and Vernon started the Eaux Claires Music Festival in 2015, they staged the original “Big Red Machine” as an improvisation-based performance piece. They later took that show to the PEOPLE collective’s Berlin residency and festival, and to Dessner’s Haven Festival in Copenhagen. “Big Red Machine started as this thing we would do for fun, and we fell in love with the feeling of it,” says Dessner.” Vernon agrees: “I remember it feeling really easy, but we never knew what would happen. It was exciting. As time went on, we just kept doing things together. And our friendship has grown strong, alongside all the collaborative stuff.”

                    STAFF COMMENTS

                    Barry says: It won't be a gigantic surprise i'm sure, to hear that Big Red Machine's newest LP is as stunningly accomplished and wonderfully listenable as it's long list of collaborators would suggest. Brimming with beautiful folk charm and uncompromising melodic direction, there's very few people who wouldn't find something to enjoy here.

                    TRACK LISTING

                    1. Latter Days (feat. Anaïs Mitchell)
                    2. Reese
                    3. Phoenix (feat. Fleet Foxes And Anaïs Mitchell)
                    4. Birch (feat. Taylor Swift
                    5. Renegade (feat. Taylor Swift)
                    6. The Ghost Of Cincinnati
                    7. Hoping Then
                    8. Mimi (feat. Ilsey)
                    9. Easy To Sabotage (feat. Naeem)
                    10. Hutch (feat. Sharon Van Etten, Lisa Hannigan And SharaNova [My Brightest Diamond])
                    11. 8:22am (feat. La Force)
                    12. Magnolia
                    13. June’s A River (feat. Ben Howard And This Is The Kit
                    14. Brycie
                    15. New Auburn (feat. Anaïs Mitchell)

                    Hypnotic Brass Ensemble

                    This Is A Mindfulness Drill

                    Somewhere along the way, I got the idea that Richard Youngs’s ‘Sapphie’ was all about a dead dog.

                    I don’t know if someone insinuated this idea in front of me or if I psychologically tethered the title to the tenderly printed dog paw on its cover. Either way, I’ve gone over a decade thinking this remarkable, windswept album of torch songs was about a dearly departed pet. And yet, as we approached a reissue of this Jagjaguwar classic and a new, reimagined version by artists Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, Moses Sumney, Sharon Van Etten, and Perfume Genius, Richard Youngs was straightforward and unsentimental about its meanings. “The lyrics are not about anything in particular,” Youngs wrote.

                    The paw prints on the cover are, in fact, that of a friend’s dog (“The first dog I ever loved,” Richard said.), but there is no devastating loss at its center. And so, I want to tell Richard how this album has become a centering album for a great many of us, a transcendent and meditative piece of art. “What does ‘the mindfulness drill’ have to do with it?” Richard asks dryly me in a note.

                    It’s about being relentlessly present, Richard. It’s how when we listen to your album, we feel like a lonely traveler in a foreign country. How everything has a newness to it and there’s no one to share it with but the you inside of you. And that fine, fine line is where ‘Sapphie’ lives, Richard. Thank you for this, Richard.

                    TRACK LISTING

                    1. Soon It Will Be Fire (feat. Moses Sumney)
                    2. A Fullness Of Light In Your Soul (feat. Perfume Genius)
                    3. The Graze Of Days (feat. Sharon Van Etten)

                    Dinosaur Jr.

                    Sweep It Into Space

                      Here is Sweep It Into Space, the fifth new studio album cut by Dinosaur Jr.. during the 13th year of their rebirth. Originally scheduled for issue in mid 2020, this record’s temporal trajectory was thwarted by the coming of the Plague. But it would take more than a mere Plague to tamp down the exquisite fury of this trio when they are fully dialed-in. And Sweep It Into Space is a masterpiece of zoned dialing.

                      Recorded, as usual, at Amherst’s Biquiteen, the sessions for Sweep It Into Space began in the late Autumn of 2019, following a West Coast/ South East tour. The only extra musician used this time with Kurt Vile. Indeed, Sweep It Into Space is a very cool album. As is typical, Lou Barlow writes and sings two of the album’s dozen tunes and Murph’s pure-Flinstonian drumming drives the record like a go cart from Hell. Lou’s songs here are as elegant as always. But there are very few moments where you wouldn’t know you were hearing Dinosaur Jr. in blindfolded needle drop.

                      They have a signature sound as sure as the Stooges or Sonic Youth or Discharge ever did. They continue to expand their personal universe with Sweep It Into Space, without ever losing their central core.

                      STAFF COMMENTS

                      Barry says: There's something unmistakeable about the Dinosaur Jr sound. Not only do the melodic guitars and major-key melodies scream DJR, but Mascis' vocals bring back every memory of hazy summers spent listening to 'Green Mind' as a young teenager. 'Sweep It Into Space' has every bit of the charm and groove of their early years but with a maturity and musicianship that can only come from a band at this stage of their career.

                      TRACK LISTING

                      SIDE A:
                      1. I Ain’t
                      2. I Met The Stones
                      3. To Be Waiting
                      4. I Ran Away
                      5. Garden
                      6. Hide Another Round

                      SIDE B:
                      7. And Me
                      8. I Expect It Always
                      9. Take It Back
                      10. N Say
                      11. Walking To You
                      12. You Wonder

                      Ross Gay

                      Dilate Your Heart

                        Over the last 12 years, Ross Gay’s poems have given us indelible images and phrases of radical empathy and unabated gratitude; about community, collaboration, connectedness and hard work. They have crept into our hearts and made a home of all of us. And so we are launching our 25th Anniversary celebration with ‘Dilate Your Heart’, our first spoken word album since titan Robert Creeley’s self-titled release twenty years ago.

                        “Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude” is given a gorgeous, slowly creeping bed of vines by Bon Iver, as Gay’s unadorned voices speaks a lifetimes of Thank You’s. On “Burial,” harpist and composer Mary Lattimore’s lunar landscape follows Gay’s voice into space, telling of our endless energy exchange with nature. Chicago’s Angel Bat Dawid dances with the frenetic, joyous scene Gay leads us through on “To the Fig Tree on 9th and Christian,” in which a group of Philadelphia strangers scramble together to harvest the fruit of the titular urban fig tree. Songwriter Gia Margaret provides a mystical, amniotic environment for Gay’s “Poem To My Child If Ever You Shall Be,” a love letter to an imagined future child, treating Gay’s voice like a message in a bottle to a far off idea made only of love and potential. Sam Gendel, a secret weapon collaborator, affects Gay’s voice on “Sorrow Is Not My Name” to something glassy and almost singsongy. Throughout, Gay recites his poems with bright aliveness, his voice as warm and easy when he speaks about death as when he speaks about mercy, or love.

                        TRACK LISTING

                        1. Catalog Of Unabashed Gratitude (with Bon Iver)
                        2. Burial (with Mary Lattimore)
                        3. To The Fig Tree On 9th & Christian (with Angel Bat Dawid)
                        4. Poem To My Child, If You Ever Shall Be (with Gia Margaret)
                        5. Sorrow Is Not My Name (with Sam Gendel)

                        Junglepussy

                        Jp4

                          With a name as bold as Junglepussy and an artistry to match, Shayna McHayle is New York’s premier rap rule-breaker. Honest, funny and freaky, her rhymes span from the explicitly audacious to the tenderly relatable. Her unfailingly confident flow accentuates her roots in Brooklyn (her parents are from Trinidad and Jamaica) and her bars land with cool impact. In the universe that is Junglepussy, relationships are complicated, vegetables are magic and an excellently delivered flex on an ex is one punchline away.

                          ‘Jp4’ is Junglepussy’s stellar next phase. With contributions from vocalist Ian Isiah, rapper Gangsta Boo and producers Dave Sitek and Nick Hook, ‘Jp4’ is Junglepussy ascended. After almost a decade of experimenting, Junglepussy feels she’s finally living up to her name. The numerology of four, in its foundational symbolism, is an apt frame for ‘Jp4’. Over an eight-year career, Junglepussy’s music has led her to lecture at Yale and Columbia, create her own Junglepussy Juice, star in 2018 feature film ‘Support The Girls’ and embark on sold-out domestic and international tours. For Junglepussy, ‘Jp4’ is a culminating moment - one that holds the essence of closure while hinting at an exciting and expansive future.

                          TRACK LISTING

                          Bad News
                          Main Attraction
                          Telepathy
                          Morning Rock
                          Out My Window (feat. Ian Isiah)
                          Spiders
                          What You Want
                          Arugula
                          Stamina (feat. Gangsta Boo)
                          No Band Aid

                          Ryan Hemsworth

                          Pout

                            “For this EP I was trying to live less in nostalgia and function less off obvious references. I worked on ‘Pout’ while becoming a dad, sitting a lot in my garden, and trying to kill my ego. Tracks like ‘Mountain Access’ make me think about driving around Hamilton, Ontario, my home as of a year ago. I hope people can still get a chance to walk around with this on headphones or daydream while listening to this project.” - Ryan Hemsworth

                            Features from Ms. John Soda and BADBADNOTGOOD’s Leland Whitty.

                            TRACK LISTING

                            Hail
                            All These Dreams
                            Here I Stand (feat. Ms. John Soda)
                            Mountain Access
                            Keep Touch (feat. Leland Whitty)

                            Midnight Sister

                            Painting The Roses

                              As Midnight Sister, multi-disciplinary LA artists Juliana Giraffe and Ari Balouzian make motion pictures. Yes, sometimes with moving images - but most often only with the music they create together. Balouzian’s serpentine, string compositions are movie scenes that allow Giraffe, a brilliant character actor, to cloak herself in a new roles and voices. A bit of Jon Brion’s score work; some old Hollywood strings; a solid dose of glam and outsider disco from 70s independent cinema. Any perceived artifice is always matched by an indelible human fingerprint, something perfectly off. Giraffe and Balouzian’s respective work in fashion, visual art, video and film scoring - along with the gang of virtuosos with which they surround themselves - all wonderfully coalesce as Midnight Sister. If 2017’s ‘Saturn Over Sunset’ was their collection of short films about outcast life in The San Fernando Valley, then their new album ‘Paining The Roses’ is the inventive, meta motion picture that cements them as auteurs.

                              ‘Painting The Roses’ is in many ways a fairy tale -- not so much the sweet-and-happy ending kind as something richer, packed with imagination and rooted in the complex human messiness beneath a story’s artifice. Frontwoman Giraffe describes it as “this tightrope of being real yet synthetic, organic yet staged, light yet dark, logical yet irrational, beautiful yet dilapidated. Joyful nonsense.” Here, disguises like masks and paint are not meant to hide but to liberate, to “set a part of us free” and Midnight Sister often embody this themselves, appearing highly stylized, curious, warm and inviting but a little askew. ‘Painting the Roses’ is a story told through the looking glass, one where we examine ourselves in a funhouse mirror but find clarity in its twists.

                              Giraffe travelled to visit family in Argentina during the making of the album and reconnected greatly with that part of her family history, art and culture. Balouzian created the core album opener ‘Doctor Says’ during a session in the desert outside of LA. The guitar, which reminded Giraffe of South America, has a slow, sweltering surf-tango to it, like Dick Dale doing Carlos Gardel. And even though the song was inspired by Giraffe’s reconnection with Argentina, the song is about the fading of some close friendships during the making of the album. “Man, you have changed,” Giraffe sings, unclear if it’s directed to a friend or to herself.

                              TRACK LISTING

                              Doctor Says
                              Satellite
                              Foxes
                              Sirens
                              Escalators
                              Dearly Departed
                              Tomorrowland
                              My Elevator Song
                              Wednesday Baby
                              Limousine
                              Song For The Trees
                              Painting The Roses

                              Bullion

                              Heaven Is Over

                                In early 2018, Nathan Jenkins returned from the coast of Arrábida to his new home studio in a cottage tucked behind the grand hotel setting of Wim Wenders’ Lisbon Story. Breaking for lunches under a Datura tree in the garden and a far cry from the Finsbury Park basement flat he rented the previous year, a set of recordings followed that galvanised into an EP - ‘We Had A Good Time’. Music informed by out-of-town trips in a 1987 Renault 9 Super, Pitchfork attributed “remarkable healing powers” to lead song ‘Hula’.

                                After leaving London for a spell in Portugal, Nathan lost his taste for the night life and drew a line under a long-running NTS radio show. Much of the time spent abroad was dedicated to a longstanding collaboration with Westerman, whose album they recorded in a remote part of the Algarve countryside in 2019. Nathan’s own discography opened in 2007 with ‘Pet Sounds: In The Key Of Dee’, before pivoting in a more electronic direction via ‘Get Familiar’ and ‘Young Heartache’. From the sampledelia of 2011’s ‘Too Right’, the new wave and rave of ‘Say Arr Ee’ to the Robert Wyatt-influenced ‘Love Me Oh Please Love Me’, he’s mapped a deliberately peculiar path. 2015’s ‘Rooster’ was Eno & Byrne’s ‘Bush Of Ghosts’ given a shangaan-electro lick and clip. While Nathan’s partnership with fellow out-there pop auteur Jesse Hackett, as Blludd Relations, staggered like a half-cut Prince.

                                Collaged, rhythmic alternatives. Syncopated avant-garde sambas. Off-kilter Sci-Fi jazz. Think Asha Putli in the spot at the Star Wars cantina. Arty, angular. Rich, but uncluttered. Frenetic, electric, blurring the boundaries between what is sampled, what is played. Nathan’s is a wilfully weird Pop, showcased in 2016 on his album ‘Loop The Loop’. Wayward but woven with hooks that come out of nowhere. Lyrical, often beautiful, solos on violin, oboe and desiccated guitars. Songs that demonstrate a nose-thumbing playfulness, a refusal to sit still. Where there’s always the urge to interrupt a carnival beat with a burst of galloping horse hooves. Or juxtapose ambient chords with a kazoo.  A roll call of Nathan’s broader musical adventures encompasses work with Paul Epworth, Sampha, Westerman and Nilüfer Yanya. Commissioned remixes reach from Dita Von Teese to Model 500, Tricky, Todd Terje and Lee “Scratch” Perry. Solo efforts gracing labels Honest Jon’s, R&S, Young Turks, Whities and The Trilogy Tapes. ‘Blue Pedro’, on the latter, making it into Crack Mag’s Top 100 Tracks Of The Decade.

                                In 2012 Nathan started his own label, DEEK Recordings, assuming the role of inhouse producer to collaborators. The imprint’s tagline and aesthetic - Pop, not slop! - is illustrated by an ongoing playlist of the same name and further explored in a series of compilations where Nathan and friends cover and reinterpret unsung ‘unclassics’ from alt. country to obscure 80s European arthouse scores, bouncing between Captain Beefheart, The Pixies, Sade and Mazzy Starr. DEEK’s roster is equally eccentric, non-linear and pop-literate. Laura Groves and Nautic - the realization and crystallization of a shared love for the Cocteau Twins.

                                TRACK LISTING

                                Heaven Is Over
                                Strike A Light
                                Thirty Two
                                Yawn
                                Loving Furlong

                                Lonnie Holley

                                National Freedom

                                  This 5-song collaboration between artist Lonnie Holley and the late visionary producer Richard Swift is a tribute to urgent, raw, American art - from Howlin’ Wolf to Captain Beefheart, from Cecil Taylor to Bo Diddley. The songs pulse with anger, hope, energy and a bit of swagger. You can hear sweat and tears through the speaker. Swift left us two years ago today but his spirit buzzes through these songs. During a West Coast tour with Deerhunter in late summer 2013, Holley was put in touch with Swift by a friend who suggested using a day off on tour to record at Swift’s National Freedom Studio in Cottage Grove, Oregon. Now rather legendary, Swift was in a breakout moment as a producer having recently worked with artists like The Shins, Foxygen and Damien Jurado. Holley’s essential debut album, Just Before Music, had come out the year prior.

                                  The cosmic connection between Holley and Swift was immediate. They put down five songs in their day together: all conjured in the studio and one-of-a-kind. At the end of that day in 2013, Swift - always up until the wee hours - made a late-night call to the friend who had set up the session. He was effusive about the experience - thrilled to have found a kindred spirit in Lonnie Holley and thankful to spend a day crafting unclassifiable, extemporaneous and soulful music.

                                  TRACK LISTING

                                  Crystal Doorknob
                                  In It Too Deep
                                  Like Hell Broke Away
                                  Do T Rocker
                                  So Many Rivers (The First Time)

                                  Cut Worms

                                  Nobody Lives Here Anymore

                                    The shopping malls have closed down, the dressing rooms are filled with ghosts, and the carousel is covered in cobwebs. Nobody Lives Here Anymore, the latest and greatest from Max Clarke as Cut Worms, is the haunted reverie of an American landscape in-and-out of Clarke’s mind. Recorded between May and November 2019 in Memphis, Tennessee, the album is a snow globe of the mid-twentieth-century’s popular music filled with chiming guitars, honkey tonk pianos, and Telstar organs. A constant creator - be it his Cut Worms alter-ego or his day-job illustration work (designing brand logos and beer labels with madhouse technicolor pictures) - writing and making records has always been Max’s driving force.

                                    So after an extensive eighteen-months of touring in support of 2017’s Alien Sunset and 2018’s Hollow Ground, he set about sifting through the fragment pieces and sketches of tunes he’d accumulated, along with a jet-stream of new compositions, mining his life-long devotion to the lost American songbook for inspiration. By the time he flew to Memphis to work with producer Matt Ross-Spang at Sam Phillips Studio, he’d stockpiled more than thirty new songs. A loss of innocence lingers through this 80-minute opus as Clarke attempts to harbor love and meaning inside a world that sold itself out. He explores the wistfulness of the past in search of answers for tomorrow. And while his grand anthems overflow with timeless pop charm, his ability to dig deeper than lollipops and holding hands sets his work apart from the days of 45s and Top of the Pops.

                                    Gabriel Garzón-Montano

                                    Agüita

                                    This will come as no surprise to those who’ve followed GGM since 2014’s Bishouné: Alma Del Huila, the critically-lauded, self-produced EP that put him on the map, and served as sample fodder for a handful of popular music’s most iconic artists. His follow-up LP, 2017’s Jardin, melded classical and folkloric instruments with rnb, hip-hop, and cumbia, proving once again that Gabriel is totally comfortable making transformative, funky, cathartic records all by himself. Agüita, his first release for Jagjaguwar, is a sequence of impossibly diverse offerings ranging from trap anthems to string-drenched art pop ballads – a prismatic self-portrait, personal and universal all at once. The artist is present, and he is in final form.

                                    The magic of Agüita lives in Gabriel’s ability to consolidate a range of truths into a focused, crystallized idea. “Bloom,” “Blue Dot,” and “Fields” compare the growth and loss inherent in human life with the changing of the seasons and the life cycles of the universe; on “Fields,” GarzónMontano evokes the despondent whimper of Thom Yorke. There are mirrors of the same themes in compositions like “With a Smile,” “Tombs,” “Someone,” and “Moonless,” a quartet of songs that explore the births and deaths of the relationships we have with the people we love; on “Moonless,” Gabriel explores for the first time his struggle with the grief of his mother’s passing: “Mama died / and I was moonless in a Stygian tide...trying to hide the ripening tumor / breathing fire, love but a rumour / There’s a woman in my sky / 17 when I learned to cry…” It is to his immense credit as a songwriter that we are left with an understanding of the depth of his loss, despite having never experienced it. Equally impactful are the trap and reggaeton cuts – the album’s energetic high points.

                                    On “Agüita,” “Mira My Look,” and “Muñeca,” GGM delves into club-banger territory, performing in Spanish for the first time on record. Whether you’re here for the medium, or for the message, for the man himself, or one of his characters, Agüita stands as the strongest installment thus far in a series of alarmingly sincere, sensationally profound works, from an artist who has sought not only to challenge established preconceptions and categories, but to expose their ultimate unworthiness. From composition to execution, the product distills the essence of Gabriel Garzón-Montano’s genius, an uninterrupted creative process rare in this age of fattened album credits.

                                    TRACK LISTING

                                    1. Tombs
                                    2. With A Smile
                                    3. Muñeca
                                    4. Fields
                                    5. Mira My Look
                                    6. Moonless
                                    7. Someone
                                    8. Bloom
                                    9. Agüita
                                    10. Blue Dot (with Theo Bleckmann)

                                    Angel Olsen

                                    Whole New Mess

                                      The time had come, Angel Olsen realized in the fading summer of 2018, to take her new songs out of the house. Olsen's 2016 marvel, My Woman, had been a career breakthrough, but it catalyzed a period of personal tumult, too: a painful breakup, an uneasy recovery, an inadequate reckoning. At home in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains, Olsen penned songs that finally grappled with these troubles, particularly love:"how forever is too much to promise, how relationships can lock us into static versions of ourselves, how you can go through hell just to make someone else happy. These heartsore explorations shape Whole New Mess, Olsen's first solo album since her 2012 debut and an emotional portrait so intimate and vulnerable you can hear her find meaning in these crises in real-time.

                                      At least nine of the eleven songs on Whole New Mess should sound familiar to anyone who has heard All Mirrors, Olsen's grand 2019 masterpiece that earned high honors on prestigious year-end lists and glossy spreads in stylish magazines. "Lark," "Summer," "Chance" - they are all here, at least in some skeletal form and with slightly different titles. But these are not the demos for All Mirrors. Instead, Whole New Mess is its own record with its own immovable mood, with Olsen working through her open wounds and raw nerves with just a few guitars and some microphones, isolated in a century-old church in the Pacific Northwest. If the lavish orchestral arrangements and cinematic scope of All Mirrors are the sound of Olsen preparing her scars for the wider world to see, Whole New Mess is the sound of her first figuring out their shape, making sense for herself of these injuries.

                                      Considered alongside All Mirrors, Whole New Mess is a poignant and pointed reminder that songs are more than mere collections of words, chords, and even melodies. They are webs of moods and moments and ideas, qualities that can change from one month to the next and can say just as much as the perfect progression or an exquisite chord. In that sense, these 11 songs - "solitary, frank, and unflinching examinations of what it's like to love, lose, and survive -" are entirely new. This is the sound of Angel Olsen, sorting through the kind of trouble we've all known, as if just for herself and whoever else needs it.

                                      STAFF COMMENTS

                                      Barry says: 'Whole New Mess' isn't as much different versions of the same songs as it is a retelling of the entire context they were given in. Beautifully raw at times, and even more poignant than the already mindblowing 'All Mirrors', if that was the story, this is the equal and opposite other side of the story. An absolutely necessary listen.

                                      TRACK LISTING

                                      Whole New Mess
                                      Too Easy (bigger Than Us)
                                      (new Love) Cassette
                                      (we Are All Mirrors)
                                      (summer Song)
                                      Waiving, Smiling
                                      Tonight (without You)
                                      Lark Song
                                      Impasse (workin’ For The Name)
                                      Chance (forever Love)
                                      What It Is (what It Is)

                                      Gordi

                                      Our Two Skins

                                        Losing someone close to you creates an almost phantom limb-like effect. Often, it feels like they’re a phone call away. But that instant between when you reach for the phone and when your brain delivers the new reality to you is a strange, momentary eternity. It’s both an uncompromising void and maybe as close as you’ll ever come to communing with that loved one again. On her new song “Sandwiches,” Gordi harnesses all the sadness and glory of this feeling into a soaring, post-new wave anthem. One of the first true Gordi “guitar songs,” it shimmers with the lush-yet-fragile momentum of The Cranberries’ classic “Dreams.” Gordi wrote “Sandwiches” as a tribute to the matriarch of her family. Her late grandmother was, in Gordi’s words, “a great feeder of people.”

                                        So when she fell ill, Gordi and her mother took it upon themselves to nourish the visitors gathered around her hospital bed. As they passed around sandwiches, “someone called out that she was gone.” The gravity of the moment was poignant for its softness and mundanity. Gordi approaches the totality of a loved one’s life as measured in the small memories that stay with us. She sings, “When I think of you a movie-reel of moments plays / We’ll be in the car or after mass on Saturdays / You’ll be walking down the driveway, you’ll be in your chair / You’ll say ‘See you round’ or ‘Say your “Three”’ / And now you’re everywhere.” Gordi called on long-time collaborators and Bon Iver production duo Chris Messina and Zach Hanson to make “Sandwiches” at her family home in Canowindra, Australia — an old cottage littered with some of Sophie’s favorite pieces of musical arsenal combined with some flown in from Eau Claire, Wisconsin. The tiny farm town where her family has lived for over a century, Canowindra, and the heart of the matriarch, is embedded in this song. “Her whole life was in Canowindra…we made it in a house that’s a hundred meters from her house.”

                                        TRACK LISTING

                                        SIDE A:

                                        1. Aeroplane Bathroom
                                        2. Unready
                                        3. Sandwiches (Alfalfa Mix)
                                        4. Volcanic
                                        5. Radiator

                                        SIDE B:

                                        6. Extraordinary Life
                                        7. Hate The World
                                        8. Looks Like You
                                        9. Limits
                                        10. Free Association

                                        Moses Sumney

                                        Græ

                                          Moses Sumney evades definition as an act of duty: technicolor videos and monochrome clothes; Art Rock and Black Classical; blowing into Fashion Week from a small town in North Carolina; seemingly infinite collaborators, but only one staggering voice. A young life spent betwixt Southern California and Accra, Ghana — not so much rootless as an epyphite, an air plant. The scale is cinematic but the moves are precise deeds of art and stewardship. Sumney’s new, generous album, græ, is an assertion that the undefinable still exists and dwelling in it is an act of resistance.

                                          To try to pin Sumney down on a sound - and really, on any matter - is to end up with a hand full of fog, but his genius is never allowing the set to sound like a hodgepodge. His forthcoming double album expands upon the sonic universe built in Sumney's critically-acclaimed debut LP Aromanticism and subsequent EP Black In Deep Red, 2014. The songs on græ may be divergent, like the visceral, Smashing Pumpkins drama of "Virile" and the intoxicated, outro jazz of "Gagarin." There's the kinky, ambiguous bop of "Cut Me" countered with the sweeping, amphitheater-ready "Bless Me." But there's that voice, always unknowable and penetrating, threading these pieces together: a heavenly rasp, a whale call, Miles' horn, a soulful snarl. It all works to create a paradox, keeping art and artist somewhere between any one sure thing - but surely something that demands your attention affixed and your breath bated. All of this is græ.

                                          There's probably a biblical analogy to be made about a person who just happens to be named Moses, who flees the binary, splits a massive body into two pieces, and leads us through the in-between - holy and wholly rebellious. By breaking up græ into two multifaceted, dynamic pieces, Sumney is quite literally creating a "grey" in-between space for listeners to absorb and consider the art. Not strictly singles, not strictly albums, never altogether songs or spoken word segments on their own. It's neither here nor there. Neither/Nor, if you will. 

                                          TRACK LISTING

                                          Side A [22:57]
                                          1. Insula [00:47] 
                                          2. Cut Me [04:10]
                                          3. In Bloom [03:03] 
                                          4. Virile [04:16] 
                                          5. Conveyor [03:24] 
                                          6. Boxes [01:22]
                                          7. Gagarin [05:55] 

                                          Side B [15:18]
                                          8. Jill/jack [01:33] 
                                          9. Colouour [03:08] 
                                          10. Also Also Also And And And [01:32] 
                                          11. Neither/Nor [05:27]
                                          12. Polly [03:38] 

                                          Side C [19:44]
                                          13. Two Dogs [03:56] 
                                          14. Bystanders [04:14] 
                                          15. Me In 20 Years [03:41] 
                                          16. Keeps Me Alive [02:56]
                                          17. Lucky Me [04:57]

                                          Side D [07:55]
                                          18. And So I Come To Isolation [00:49] 
                                          19. Bless Me [05:00] 
                                          20. Before You Go [02:06]

                                          Bon Iver

                                          Blood Bank EP - 10th Anniversary Edition

                                            Bon Iver’s Blood Bank EP was originally released in early 2009, hot on the heels of the beloved album ‘For Emma, Forever Ago’. The EP was a harbinger of a new sound for Bon Iver: a movement away from the acoustic guitar-led instrumentation of the debut and the beginning of an exploration into the experimental sounds that have evolved but defined Bon Iver ever since. The reissue of this seminal EP is coupled with brand new live renditions of all the EP tracks.

                                            A reflection on the Blood Bank EP by Ryan Matteson: "When I reflect on the songs that make up the Blood Bank EP, I am drawn to mantras, both musical and lyrical. The driving and pulsating rhythm of the title track is held steady by the repeated refrain, I know it well, before it eventually yields to a beautiful array of guitar distortion and noise. These moments are significant through all four songs. When the steel guitar makes its entrance on “Beach Baby,” it’s transportive. A blissful, breezy feeling sweeps into the room and that puts you within the moment. Close your eyes and you can feel it. “Babys” follows perfectly. A piano guides your mind to the new beginnings that come with the changing of seasons. The awareness of time passes and makes way for another day. Then there’s “Woods.” A flawless finale. Foreign and new. Not just a new direction but a new beginning entirely. A place where boundaries don’t exist. It was a signal change of things to come, laying the groundwork for new collaborations. A decade later, the song says so much in just three lines. Most significant to me are the words, “I’m building a sill to slow down the time.” Time doesn’t slow down, it races."

                                            TRACK LISTING

                                            Side A
                                            1. Blood Bank
                                            2. Beach Baby
                                            3. Babys
                                            4. Woods

                                            Side B
                                            1. Blood Bank (Live From Ericsson Globe, Stockholm SE, Oct 21 2018)
                                            2. Beach Baby (Live From The Bomb Factory, Dallas TX, Jan 23 2018)
                                            3. Babys (Live From Eventim Apollo Hammersmith, London UK, Mar 4 2018)
                                            4. Woods (Live From Pitchfork Paris Presented By La Blogotheque, Nov 3 2018)

                                            Nap Eyes

                                            Snapshot Of A Beginner

                                              Nap Eyes’ latest full length, ‘Snapshot Of A Beginner’, is proof that sometimes the late bloomers bloom brightest. Eight years and four albums into it, the artistic arc of Nap Eyes finds itself tracing a line alongside frontman Nigel Chapman’s daily tai chi practice. Those first years and albums are the cold mornings in the park: the measured movements, the joint aches, the self-doubt. With each new release, an incremental and invigorating step forward. And with the end of each album and tour, a return to the beginner’s practice. And now, ‘Snapshot Of A Beginner’ - Nap Eyes’ boldest, most concentrated and most hi-fi album to date - a study of that repeated return and all that it can teach you.

                                              Almost all the songs of Nap Eyes are whittled into their final form from Chapman’s unspooling, 20-minute voice-and-guitar free-writing sessions. Each member - drummer Seamus Dalton, bassist Josh Salter or guitarist Brad Loughead - then plays a crucial role in song development, composing around the idiosyncratic structures and directing the overall sound and feel of the songs. Until now, that final song construction and recording has been mostly done live in a room. But for ‘Snapshot Of A Beginner’ the band went to The National’s neuvo-legendary upstate NY Long Pond Studio, working with producers Jonathan Low (Big Red Machine, The National) and James Elkington (Steve Gunn, Joan Shelley), the latter of whom also did pre-production arrangement work with the band.

                                              It took Nap Eyes a long time and a long practice to reach this artistic zen but one gets the feeling throughout ‘Snapshot Of A Beginner’ that this balance is going to hold.

                                              Previous album ‘I’m Bad Now’ was described by Uncut as “as much a modest masterpiece as ‘Spring Hill Fair’ [by The Go-Betweens] or ‘Tigermilk’ [by Belle and Sebastian].”

                                              TRACK LISTING

                                              So Tired
                                              Primordial Soup
                                              Even Though I Can’t Read Your Mind
                                              Mark Zuckerberg
                                              Mystery Calling
                                              Fool Thinking Ways
                                              If You Were In Prison
                                              Real Thoughts
                                              Dark Link
                                              When I Struck Out On My Own
                                              Though I Wish I Could

                                              Okay Kaya

                                              Watch This Liquid Pour Itself

                                                In Okay Kaya songs, her world looks a lot like ours — Netflix, jetlag, vegan peanut butter and chocolate ice cream, lonely bowls of ramen, diet trends. But unlike ours, each of these vibrates and shimmers with deeper, darker meaning, with existential dread and desire for understanding. Through Norwegian-raised New Yorker Kaya’s dreamy soft-focus lens, the language of Twitter memes becomes modernist poetry as her breathy contralto voice sings lines like, “If you don’t love me at my guttural sound, you don’t deserve me at my guttural sound.” This is Sade for nihilists. On the opening track of her new record she sings, “I used to fight the feeling, always let it win.” As she transforms these feelings, defeats, and victories into songs, the lyrics often involve pools of sweat, oceans, and other forms of wetness. But Okay Kaya’s world is not one of renewal and rebirth—it’s not water at all, actually. “It’s more like bile,” Kaya says, “It’s what comes out in the purge.” In these songs, Kaya swims through her melancholy and anxiety— not as a way of cleansing herself, but as an understanding of their depths

                                                TRACK LISTING

                                                1. Baby Little Tween
                                                2. Ascend And Try Again
                                                3. Insert Generic Name
                                                4. Overstimulated
                                                5. Psych Ward
                                                6. Gutteral Sounds
                                                7. Asexual Wellbeing
                                                8. Popcorn Heart
                                                9. Mother Nature’s Bitch
                                                10. Hallelu Ya Hallelu Me
                                                11. Symbiosis
                                                12. Givenupitis
                                                13. Helsevesen
                                                14. Stonethrow
                                                15. Zero Interaction Ramen Bar

                                                The descent into darkness is a trope we find time again across history, literature and film. But there’s also an abyss above. There’s a winding white staircase that goes ever upward into the great unknown — each step, each turn, requiring a greater boldness and confidence than the one before. This is the journey on which we find Angel Olsen.

                                                Olsen’s artistic beginnings as a collaborator shifted seamlessly to her magnificent, cryptic-to-cosmic solo work, and then she formed bands to play her songs, and her stages and audiences grew exponentially. But all along, Olsen was more concerned with a different kind of path, and on her vulnerable, Big Mood new album, All Mirrors, we can see her taking an introspective deep dive towards internal destinations and revelations. In the process of making this album, she found a new sound and voice, a blast of fury mixed with hard won self-acceptance.

                                                “In every way —from the making of it, to the words, to how I feel moving forward— this record is about owning up to your darkest side,” Olsen said. “Finding the capacity for new love and trusting change, even when you feel like a stranger. This is a record about facing yourself and learning to forgive what you see. It is about losing empathy, trust, love for destructive people. It is about walking away from the noise and realizing that you can have solitude and peace in your own thoughts, that your thoughts alone can be just as valid, if not more.”

                                                STAFF COMMENTS

                                                Barry says: Swooning synth strokes, huge cavernous percussion and snappy mid-heavy bass form a fittingly retrophilic cushion for Olsen's always hypnotic voice, in this instance its commanding presence soars above the backdrop, both haunting and uplifting. 'All Mirrors' is a triumph.

                                                TRACK LISTING

                                                SIDE A
                                                1) Lark
                                                2) All Mirrors

                                                SIDE B
                                                3) Too Easy
                                                4) New Love Cassette
                                                5) Spring

                                                SIDE C
                                                6) What It Is
                                                7) Impasse
                                                8) Tonight

                                                SIDE D
                                                9) Summer
                                                10) Endgame
                                                11) Chance

                                                February in West Texas. The light low and the days still warm and sweet. The air bright with red-tailed hawk and blue bunting, with the shink and rattle of the green jay. On a pecan ranch east of El Paso, its orchards running down to the Mexican border and the waters of the Rio Grande, a thrum of activity - song, saxophone, dancers, drums, guitar, synths; the sound of something taking shape. Here, 1500 miles from Wisconsin, from where this all began, a new season.

                                                When Bon Iver released For Emma, Forever Ago in early 2008 it introduced Justin Vernon as one of the most gifted songwriters of his generation and revealed a sound that was distinct - tethered to time and to place, to a season of contemplation and the crisp, heart-strung isolation of a northern Winter. Its successor, the self-titled Bon Iver, Bon Iver, brought something more frenetic, the rise and whirr of burgeoning Spring, of hope and sap and movement. In 2016's 22, A Million, Vernon came to see something different again: "It was," he says, "our crazy energy Summer record." The band's fourth album, i,i, completes this cycle: a Fall record, Vernon says, autumn-coloured, ruminative, steeped.

                                                "It feels very much like the most adult record, the most complete," says Bon Iver's Justin Vernon. "It feels like when you get through all this life, when the sun starts to set, and what happens is you start gaining perspective. And then you can put that perspective into more honest, generous work."

                                                The core band for the i,i sessions included Sean Carey, Andrew Fitzpatrick, Mike Lewis, Matt McCaughan, and Justin Vernon with Rob Moose and Jenn Wasner, plus contributions from James Blake, BJ Burton, Brad andPhil Cook, Aaron and Bryce Dessner, Trever Hagen, Zach Hanson, Bruce Hornsby, Channy Leaneagh, Rob Moose, Naeem, Velvet Negroni, Buddy Ross, Marta Salogni, Francis Starlite, Moses Sumney, and the members of TU Dance.

                                                When sessions for i,i moved from April Base to Sonic Ranch, Bon Iver took full advantage of the facility, sometimes utilizing all five of the studio's live rooms simultaneously. "It allowed us to feel confident and comfortable, to be completely free of distraction," says Vernon of the move. "I don't think I left the property in six weeks. And in many ways the story of the album is the story of those six weeks rather than the almost six years of some of the songs."

                                                The tenure at Sonic Ranch brought Vernon to a calmed creative state that he channeled into the heart of each song. Freed from the vocal distortion that once mirrored a period of fear and panic, he sings about the balance between the individual and the community, inspiration and creation. Vernon adds, "The title of the record can mean whatever it means to you or me. It can mean deciphering and bolstering one's identity. It can be how important the self is and how unimportant the self is, how we're all connected."

                                                STAFF COMMENTS

                                                Barry says: Is there no end to JV's talents? He was the poster boy for brittle, morose hilltop acoutictronica for a good few years, and has seamlessly morphed into a modern take on the progressive chord structures and vocal layering of 70's rock or the percussive immediacy of 80's synthpop.

                                                TRACK LISTING

                                                SIDE A
                                                Yi
                                                IMi
                                                We
                                                Holyfields
                                                Hey, Ma
                                                U (Man Like)
                                                Naeem

                                                SIDE B
                                                Jelmore
                                                Faith
                                                Marion
                                                Salem
                                                Sh'Diah
                                                RABi

                                                Tim Heidecker

                                                What The Brokenhearted Do...

                                                  For the last three years Tim Heidecker has been waging a hellish war of upon the current presidential administration and its shady minions. Whether because of his unrelenting Twitter prodding of Trump, his spot-on impersonation of Info Wars’ Alex Jones or his well of caustic Trump protest songs, Heidecker has found himself in the crosshairs of the Online alt-right community. At some point, one of those Incel or QAnon trolls started a vicious rumour that Tim’s wife had, in fact, left him and the rumour caught fire across certain social channels. Instead of getting pissed off, our protagonist (antagonist?) Tim Heidecker got inspired. He knows full well that here in the music biz nothing breeds good tunes like utter heartbreak. When an artist’s relationship crumbles, we label suits just rub our greedy little mitts together. From ‘Blood On The Tracks’ to ‘Shoot Out The Lights’, it’s a nearly universal truth: Divorce is a hit factory. So he imagined himself an awful divorce and let the hits flow.

                                                  Working with producer Jonathan Rado (Father John Misty, Whitney, Weyes Blood), Heidecker has delivered his most accomplished album to date. In addition to being absolutely gutting, the soulful ‘I’m Not Good Enough’ is a masterclass in less-is-more songwriting. In just over two minutes, the soulful dirge brushes confidently against a big, ‘Hey Jude’ melody before gently coming to a close and leaving your wanting more. It beckons you over to the turntable to reset the needle. The jaunty, Nilsson-nodding live favourite ‘When I Get Up’ is perhaps one more joyful tunes about crushing depression we’ve heard. For a song about succumbing to the void in your bedridden funk, it’s got a lot of pep in its step. The closing piano ballad ‘Life’s Too Long’, is as close to a resolution as Heidecker will give us. “Life’s too long to stay in love,” he croons, a mournful organ the songs only accouterment. Enjoy the bittersweet moment and be thankful that Heidecker wraps up ‘What The Brokenhearted Do...’ as he does, because next chapter for this divorcee is probably a midlife crisis full of neck tattoos and sports car debt.

                                                  TRACK LISTING

                                                  Illegal
                                                  When I Get Up
                                                  What The Brokenhearted
                                                  Do
                                                  Funeral Shoes
                                                  I’m Not Good Enough
                                                  Sometimes It Happens
                                                  This Way
                                                  Insomnia
                                                  Coffee’s Gone Cold
                                                  I Don’t Think About You
                                                  (Much Anymore)
                                                  Finally Getting Over
                                                  Life’s Too Long

                                                  Black Mountain’s Stephen McBean turned 16 way back in 1985. And yet, until just two short years ago, McBean had lived his entire adolescence and adult life without a proper driver’s license, that first and most coveted ticket to personal independence. When he did finally take the wheel in 2017, he essentially became a 48-year-old Sixteen Year Old, blowing out the doors off the DMV like a pyrotechnics display at a W.A.S.P. gig. Black Mountain’s new album, Destroyer, named after the discontinued single-run 1985 Dodge Destroyer muscle car, is imbued with all that wild-ass freedom and newfound agency (and anxiety and fear) that comes with one's first time behind the wheel. McBean, welding mask pulled over his Alan Watts beard, has even been rebuilding a 1985 Destroyer in his step-dad’s garage all spring — building it from its frame, putting in weekends of work to have this beast ready for sunnier days. And wouldn’t you know it: when the Destoyer's engine gives its deep snarl and the stereo rattles with Metallica's $5.98 EP, McBean is fully in the driver’s seat.

                                                  Destroyer is structured around that first time behind the wheel of a hot rod. The fat, charging “Living After Midnight” riffs of opener “Future Shade” is, according to McBean, “Straight outta the gates. FM radio cranked.” He ain’t kidding. The song, and all of Destroyer for that matter, seems to exist at that crucial nexus of the early-to-mid 80s Los Angeles when a war between punk and hair metal was waged. Black Flag’s My War tried and failed to keep the peace. But in the trenches, some hybrid ghoul was beginning to form in bands like Jane’s Addiction and White Zombie. The heavy extended player “Horns Arising,” with its Night Rider vocals and golden, climbing Blade Runner synths, is a fill-up at a desert gas station just in time to see a UFO hovering near a mesa. . And other songs, like The serpentine “Boogie Lover” is a cruise down the Sunset Strip. You pull into The Rainbow Bar & Grill to take the edge off. Doesn’t matter what year it is, Lemmy’s there in flesh or spirit. To continue the teenage theme, there’s also a sense of to these cuts — “High Rise” is a foray into Japanese psych, rounding the bend to a careening, youthful sense of discovery, while “Closer to the Edge” feeling like falling in love with Yes (Remember how good they were for a minute there in your youth?). “Licensed to Drive” would easily be the most exhilarating and dangerous ripper on a titular film’s soundtrack, a dose of heavy right before the muscle car’s wheels fly off going 100 mph on the freeway.

                                                  Shacked up in his rehearsal space, McBean found an old chair in an alley, spray painted Producer on the back and pressed record. Friends from the endless rock’n’roll highway were invited over and 22 songs were brought to life. And while some were laid back into shallow graves to dig up once again at a later date, the remaining skeletons were left above ground — given organs, skin, eyes, and the opportunity to grow their hair real long and greasy. Some of these zombie hesher jams were sent on a journey to Canada where longtime band member Jeremy Schmidt, slipping on the Official Collaborator satin jacket, had at them with his legendary synth arsenal. As he added long flowing robes, sunglasses, driving gloves and medallions, the undead songs began to transform into the new breathing creatures that make up Destroyer. Schmidt’s work with these songs was the needed transformative glue for this new era of Black Mountain.

                                                  Coming off his newfound automotive freedom, McBean also saw some personnel shuffling within Black Mountain. Both Joshua Wells and Amber Webber have retired their Black Mountain Army uniforms while Arjan Miranda paid his outstanding membership dues and rejoined. New members include Rachel Fannan (Sleepy Sun) and Bulgasem (Dommengang & Soft Kill) plus other familiar names like Kliph Scurlock (Flaming Lips), Kid Millions (Oneida), and John Congleton (St Vincent, Swans) take a turn in the shotgun seat. Collectively, there’s a renewed vitality to Black Mountain on Destroyer — a seasoned, veteran of heady hard rock that’s found new, young muscles to flex and roads to explore.


                                                  STAFF COMMENTS

                                                  Mine says: On their 5th album, psych rockers Black Mountain go big. Less psych, more rock, Destroyer might be their most powerful and driving album to date.

                                                  TRACK LISTING

                                                  1. Future Shade
                                                  2. Horns Arising
                                                  3. Closer To The Edge
                                                  4. High Rise
                                                  5. Pretty Little Lazies
                                                  6. Boogie Lover
                                                  7. Licensed To Drive
                                                  8. FD’72

                                                  In the clip of an older Eartha Kitt that everyone kicks around the internet, her cheekbones are still as pronounced as many would remember them from her glory days on Broadway, and her eyes are still piercing and inviting. She sips from a metal cup. The wind blows the flowers behind her until those flowers crane their stems toward her face, and the petals tilt upward, forcing out a smile. A dog barks in the background. In the best part of the clip, Kitt throws her head back and feigns a large, sky-rattling laugh upon being asked by her interviewer whether or not she’d compromise parts of herself if a man came into her life. When the laugh dies down, Kitt insists on the same, rhetorical statement. “Compromise!?!?” she flings. “For what?”

                                                  She repeats “For what?” until it grows more fierce, more unanswerable. Until it holds the very answer itself.

                                                  On the hook to the song “Eartha,” Jamila Woods sings “I don’t want to compromise / can we make it through the night” and as an album, Legacy! Legacy! stakes itself on the uncompromising nature of its creator, and the histories honored within its many layers. There is a lot of talk about black people in America and lineage, and who will tell the stories of our ancestors and their ancestors and the ones before them. But there is significantly less talk about the actions taken to uphold that lineage in a country obsessed with forgetting. There are hands who built the corners of ourselves we love most, and it is good to shout something sweet at those hands from time to time. Woods, a Chicago-born poet, organizer, and consistent glory merchant, seeks to honor black people first, always. And so, Legacy! Legacy! A song for Zora! Zora, who gave so much to a culture before she died alone and longing. A song for Octavia and her huge and savage conscience! A song for Miles! One for Jean-Michel and one for my man Jimmy Baldwin!

                                                  More than just giving the song titles the names of historical black and brown icons of literature, art, and music, Jamila Woods builds a sonic and lyrical monument to the various modes of how these icons tried to push beyond the margins a country had assigned to them. On “Sun Ra,” Woods sings “I just gotta get away from this earth, man / this marble was doomed from the start” and that type of dreaming and vision honors not only the legacy of Sun Ra, but the idea that there is a better future, and in it, there will still be black people.

                                                  Jamila Woods has a voice and lyrical sensibility that transcends generations, and so it makes sense to have this lush and layered album that bounces seamlessly from one sonic aesthetic to another. This was the case on 2016’s HEAVN, which found Woods hopeful and exploratory, looking along the edges resilience and exhaustion for some measures of joy. Legacy! Legacy! is the logical conclusion to that looking. From the airy boom-bap of “Giovanni” to the psychedelic flourishes of “Sonia,” the instrument which ties the musical threads together is the ability of Woods to find her pockets in the waves of instrumentation, stretching syllables and vowels over the harmony of noise until each puzzle piece has a home. The whimsical and malleable nature of sonic delights also grants a path for collaborators to flourish: the sparkling flows of Nitty Scott on “Sonia” and Saba on “Basquiat,” or the bloom of Nico Segal’s horns on “Baldwin.”

                                                  Soul music did not just appear in America, and soul does not just mean music. Rather, soul is what gold can be dug from the depths of ruin, and refashioned by those who have true vision. True soul lives in the pages of a worn novel that no one talks about anymore, or a painting that sits in a gallery for a while but then in an attic forever. Soul is all the things a country tries to force itself into forgetting. Soul is all of those things come back to claim what is theirs. Jamila Woods is a singular soul singer who, in voice, holds the rhetorical demand. The knowing that there is no compromise for someone with vision this endless. That the revolution must take many forms, and it sometimes starts with songs like these. Songs that feel like the sun on your face and the wind pushing flowers against your back while you kick your head to the heavens and laugh at how foolish the world seems.

                                                  STAFF COMMENTS

                                                  Millie says: Jamila Woods returns with her soul-filled lyrics and incredible, strong vocals. The song titles are named after inspiration black people in creative industries and in her lyrics incorporates their experiences and how they came to be. The album is truly beautiful and holds the same strength and passion as her debut, Heavn.

                                                  TRACK LISTING

                                                  BETTY
                                                  ZORA
                                                  GIOVANNI
                                                  SONIA (ft Nitty Scott)
                                                  FRIDA
                                                  EARTHA
                                                  MILES
                                                  MUDDY
                                                  BASQUIAT (ft Saba)
                                                  SUN RA (ft TheMIND &
                                                  Jasminfire)
                                                  OCTAVIA
                                                  BALDWIN (ft Nico Segal)
                                                  BETTY (for Boogie)

                                                  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

                                                  TRACK LISTING

                                                  CD/LP:

                                                  1. Work
                                                  2. Mona
                                                  3. Seeing Other People
                                                  4. Face The Facts
                                                  5. Livin’ A Lie
                                                  6. The Thing Is
                                                  7. News
                                                  8. Flag At Half-Mast
                                                  9. The Conclusion


                                                  Deluxe LP:

                                                  LP1
                                                  1. Work
                                                  2. Mona
                                                  3. Seeing Other People
                                                  4. Face The Facts
                                                  5. Livin' A Lie
                                                  6. The Thing Is
                                                  7. News
                                                  8. Flag At Half-Mast
                                                  9. The Conclusion

                                                  LP2 - DEMOS
                                                  1. Livin’ A Lie (Demo)
                                                  2. Face The Facts (Demo)
                                                  3. Mona (Demo)
                                                  4. News (Demo)
                                                  5. Seeing Other People (Demo)
                                                  6. Work (Demo)

                                                  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.


                                                  STAFF COMMENTS

                                                  Laura says: “Sitting in a bar, I told you everything, you said ‘holy shit, you almost died’”. Album opener, “I Told You Everything” is a love song of sorts, and while it hints at her turbulent past it’s about trust, optimism and moving forward and marks a shift both musically and emotionally. The addition of synths and electronics, give a whole new dimension to her songs, at times providing rhythm and melody, at others a jarring tension and an air of menace. As ever her writing is deeply personal, but whereas previously the past was filled with regret and self doubt, this time around she reflects on it with an air of nostalgia and knowing. There’s still a sense of fragility when she writes about love, but you get the impression that she’s more at ease with her place in the world now and this has given her the confidence to write her most ambitious and assured album yet.

                                                  TRACK LISTING

                                                  Side A
                                                  1. I Told You Everything
                                                  2. No One's Easy To Love
                                                  3. Memorial Day
                                                  4. Comeback Kid
                                                  5. Jupiter 4

                                                  Side B
                                                  6. Seventeen
                                                  7. Malibu
                                                  8. You Shadow
                                                  9. Hands
                                                  10. Stay

                                                  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.

                                                  TRACK LISTING

                                                  1. Hanoi 1
                                                  2. Hanoi 2
                                                  3. Hanoi 3
                                                  4. Hanoi 4
                                                  5. Hanoi 5
                                                  6. Hanoi 6
                                                  7. Hanoi 7

                                                  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.

                                                  TRACK LISTING

                                                  SIDE A:
                                                  1. I’m A Suspect
                                                  2. Back For Me
                                                  3. How Far Is Spaced-Out?

                                                  SIDE B:
                                                  4. I Snuck Off The Slave Ship

                                                  SIDE C:
                                                  5. I Woke Up In A Fucked-Up America
                                                  6. Copying The Rock
                                                  7. Coming Back (From The Distance

                                                  SIDE D:
                                                  8. There Was Always Water
                                                  9. Down In The Ghostness Of Darkness
                                                  10. Sometimes I Wanna Dance

                                                  Cut Worms

                                                  Hollow Ground

                                                    Max Clarke has a knack for conjuring up warmth in his music, like endless summer or ageless youth. The 27-yearold’s debut album, ‘Hollow Ground’, crackles with the heat of a love-struck nostalgia, woven together with a palpable Everly Brothers influence and retro sound. It reaches back into decades of plainspoken, unfussy and squarely American storytelling and pulls it forth into 2018.

                                                    Some of ‘Hollow Ground’ bloomed from that same period of driven creativity that yielded EP ‘Alien Sunset’; both ‘Like Going Down Sideways’ and ‘Don’t Want To Say Good- Bye’ find new life on the album.

                                                    The rest is new. There’s ‘Till Tomorrow Goes Away’, a sheepish love song, thrumming with twangy guitar and a two-step rhythm. ‘Cash For Gold’ channels buoyancy; a doo-wop effect on the sleepy backing vocals build out the dreaminess of Clarke’s own affecting croon.

                                                    ‘Hollow Ground’ strikes the balance between cerebral and simplicity in his storytelling. His lyrics explore the raw realm of youth, its weightlessness and possibilities but channelled through a lens of restraint. Someone who’s old enough to know better but still gets drawn back into the romanticism of teenage feelings - and knows how to take the listener along, too.

                                                    TRACK LISTING

                                                    How It Can Be
                                                    Coward’s Confidence
                                                    Don’t Want To Say Good-Bye
                                                    It Won’t Be Too Long
                                                    Till Tomorrow Goes Away
                                                    Like Going Down Sideways
                                                    Think I Might Be In Love
                                                    Cash For Gold
                                                    Hanging Your Picture Up To Dry
                                                    Mad About You

                                                    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.

                                                    TRACK LISTING

                                                    A God Called Hubris
                                                    Major League Chemicals
                                                    Ministry Of Alienation
                                                    Hunnybee
                                                    Chronos Feasts On His Children
                                                    American Guilt
                                                    The Internet Of Love (That Way)
                                                    Everyone Acts Crazy Nowadays
                                                    This Doomsday
                                                    How Many Zeros
                                                    Not In Love We’re Just High
                                                    If You’re Going To Break Yourself

                                                    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.

                                                    TRACK LISTING

                                                    Espionage
                                                    Decompose
                                                    Disarray
                                                    Manipulation
                                                    Antidote
                                                    Solace
                                                    Doubt
                                                    Compliance

                                                    Nap Eyes

                                                    I'm Bad Now

                                                      Nap Eyes return with an allusive, ambitious third album, elevating to a new sonic clarity, depth and wavelength of succinctly stinging, guitar-centric rock and roll.

                                                      They are all Nova Scotians by raising and temperament but acclimated to life on an Atlantic peninsula linked narrowly to the rest of North America. ‘I’m Bad Now’, which follows enigmatic frontman Nigel Chapman’s quest for selfunderstanding, is their most transparent and personal to date and constitutes the third chapter of an implicit, informal trilogy that includes ‘Whine Of The Mystic’ (2015) and ‘Thought Rock Fish Scale’ (2016).

                                                      While Nigel composes songs in their inchoate form at home in Halifax, Brad Loughead (lead guitar), Josh Salter (bass) and Seamus Dalton (drums), who live a twelve-hour drive away in Montreal, augment and arrange them, transubstantiating his skeletal, ruminative wafers into discourses that transcend. The band provide ballast and bowspirit to Nigel’s cosmical mind, this album lending itself to a new sonic clarity, depth and range to match his effortless melodies and extraordinary writing.

                                                      TRACK LISTING

                                                      Every Time The Feeling
                                                      I’m Bad
                                                      Judgment
                                                      Roses
                                                      Follow Me Down
                                                      You Like To Joke Around
                                                      With Me
                                                      Dull Me Line
                                                      Sage
                                                      Hearing The Bass
                                                      White Disciple

                                                      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.

                                                      TRACK LISTING

                                                      1. Rose Petals
                                                      2. Hideout
                                                      3. Yellowstone
                                                      4. True North
                                                      5. Emery
                                                      6. Hundred Acres
                                                      7. More I See
                                                      8. Fool’s Gold
                                                      9. Have You Stopped To Notice
                                                      10. Meadow Song

                                                      Angel Olsen

                                                      Phases

                                                        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.

                                                        TRACK LISTING

                                                        1 Fly On Your Wall
                                                        2 Special
                                                        3 Only With You
                                                        4 All Right Now
                                                        5 Sans
                                                        6 Sweet Dreams
                                                        7 California
                                                        8 Tougher Then The Rest
                                                        9 For You
                                                        10 How Many Disasters
                                                        11 May As Well
                                                        12 Endless Road

                                                        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.

                                                        TRACK LISTING

                                                        Bubbles
                                                        VRY BLK (ft Noname)
                                                        Popsicle (Interlude)
                                                        Lonely Lonely (ft Lornie Chia)
                                                        HEAVN
                                                        Eve (Interlude)
                                                        In My Name
                                                        Assata’s Daughters (Interlude)
                                                        BLK Girl Soldier
                                                        LSD (ft Chance The Rapper)
                                                        Still (Interlude)
                                                        Emerald Street (ft Saba)
                                                        Lately
                                                        Always Loving (Interlude)
                                                        Breadcrumbs (ft Nico Segal)
                                                        Stellar
                                                        Good Morning (Interlude)
                                                        Holy
                                                        Way Up
                                                        Holy (Reprise)

                                                        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.

                                                          TRACK LISTING

                                                          Canary
                                                          Leave You
                                                          Blue Cigar
                                                          Showgirl
                                                          The Drought
                                                          The Crow
                                                          Daddy Long Legs
                                                          Neon
                                                          Shimmy
                                                          So Young
                                                          The View From Gilligan’s Island
                                                          Hitman
                                                          Clown
                                                          Their Eyes

                                                          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.”

                                                            TRACK LISTING

                                                            1 Long Way
                                                            2 All The Light We Cannot See
                                                            3 On My Side
                                                            4 Bitter End
                                                            5 Heaven I Know
                                                            6 I'm Done (feat. S. Carey)
                                                            7 Myriad
                                                            8 Aeon
                                                            9 Can We Work It Out
                                                            10 Better Than Then, Closer To Now
                                                            11 Something Like This

                                                            Briana Marela

                                                            Call It Love

                                                              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.

                                                              TRACK LISTING

                                                              Be In Love
                                                              Give Me Your Love
                                                              I’m Sorry
                                                              He Knows
                                                              Quit
                                                              Feel What I Feel
                                                              Last Time
                                                              Call It Love
                                                              Farthest Shore
                                                              Rise

                                                              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.

                                                                TRACK LISTING

                                                                We Know So
                                                                Soviet
                                                                Resume
                                                                Teeth
                                                                Sodium
                                                                Go Rambo
                                                                Eye See
                                                                Trespass
                                                                Slugg
                                                                No Guilt
                                                                Get So Low

                                                                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.

                                                                  TRACK LISTING

                                                                  High Beams
                                                                  Lion’s Pride
                                                                  On Your Side
                                                                  The Reaper Man
                                                                  Stolen Boots
                                                                  Andy Warhol’s Dream
                                                                  It Wasn’t Good Enough
                                                                  Sedgwick
                                                                  In Hollywood, Everyone Is Plastic
                                                                  The Money Gets Bigger
                                                                  Starborne Eyes

                                                                  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.

                                                                  TRACK LISTING

                                                                  1 Follow The Leader
                                                                  2 Avalon
                                                                  3 Mrs. Adams
                                                                  4 America
                                                                  5 On Lankershim
                                                                  6 Upon A Hill
                                                                  7 Trauma
                                                                  8 Rise Up

                                                                  Tim Darcy

                                                                  Saturday Night

                                                                    ‘Saturday Night’, the first proper solo album from Tim Darcy (Ought), comes from one of those crossroads-type moments in life where one has to walk to the edge before knowing which way to proceed. Each track is woven to the next in a winding, complex journey through a charged, continuous present. There are love / love lost songs like the standout, almost-New Wave ‘Still Waking Up’ in which a Smiths-esque melody builds upon an underbrush that recalls 60s AM pop and country.

                                                                    Darcy’s unmistakable, commanding voice and lyrical phrasing are, as they are in Ought, an instrument here - vital to the entire affair. There’s a line in ‘Tall Glass Of Water’, the album’s Velvet Underground-nodding opening track, where Darcy asks himself a rhetorical question: “if at the end of the river, there is more river, would you dare to swim again?” He barely pauses before the answer: “Yes, surely I will stay, and I am not afraid. I went under once, I’ll go under once again.” That river shows up again and again in the lyrics of ‘Saturday Night’. It’s about how wonderful it can be to feel in touch with that inner current. It’s about how good it feels to make art and how terrifying; how you don’t always get to choose whether you’re swimming or drowning as we grow and move through life, just that you’re going to keep diving in.

                                                                    STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                    Barry says: Previously known for the ferocious 'Ought', Darcy provides another side of his talented musicianship. Delicate glassine guitars, camp-fire vocals and dreamlike melodic leanings move from the chilling into the sublime. The more energetic offerings here are presented much more sympathetically than his other outfit, and to it's benefit. Yet more proof (as if any were needed) that Darcy is as talented and versatile as they come.

                                                                    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!

                                                                    TRACK LISTING

                                                                    (LP Sides Are Equally Split 1-5, 6-10):
                                                                    1. 22 (OVER S∞∞N)
                                                                    2. 10 D E A T H B R E A S T š
                                                                    3. 715 - CR∑∑KS
                                                                    4. 33 “GOD”
                                                                    5. 29 #Strafford APTS
                                                                    6. 666 ʇ
                                                                    7. 21 M◊◊N WATER
                                                                    8. 8 (circle)
                                                                    9. ____45_____
                                                                    10. 00000 Million

                                                                    12” Tracklisting:
                                                                    1. 22 (OVER S∞∞N) [Bob Moose Extended Cab Version]
                                                                    2. 10 D E A T H B R E A S T š

                                                                    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.

                                                                    TRACK LISTING

                                                                    1 Anxiety
                                                                    2 Monotony
                                                                    3 Zodiac
                                                                    4 Memory
                                                                    5 Degraded
                                                                    6 Sense
                                                                    7 Forbidden
                                                                    8 Stimulation
                                                                    9 Fever

                                                                    "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.

                                                                    TRACK LISTING

                                                                    1 Intern
                                                                    2 Never Be Mine
                                                                    3 Shut Up Kiss Me
                                                                    4 Give It Up
                                                                    5 Not Gonna Kill You
                                                                    6 Heart Shaped Face
                                                                    7 Sister
                                                                    8 Those Were The Days
                                                                    9 Woman
                                                                    10 Pops

                                                                    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.

                                                                    TRACK LISTING

                                                                    1. Goin' Down
                                                                    2. Tiny
                                                                    3. Be A Part
                                                                    4. I Told Everyone
                                                                    5. Love Is..
                                                                    6. Good To Know
                                                                    7. I Walk For Miles
                                                                    8. Lost All Day
                                                                    9. Knocked Around
                                                                    10 Mirror
                                                                    11. Left/Right

                                                                    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.

                                                                    TRACK LISTING

                                                                    That’s Why
                                                                    Lost In The Tide
                                                                    Southern Bell
                                                                    Who’s Well
                                                                    Strip Mine
                                                                    Cool Criminal
                                                                    The Swimmer
                                                                    Fade Away
                                                                    Christmas Song
                                                                    Light In The House

                                                                    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.”

                                                                    TRACK LISTING

                                                                    1. The Bray Road Beast
                                                                    2. The Golden Lion
                                                                    3. Pressure Of Our Plans
                                                                    4. Towers Sent Her To Sheets Of Sound
                                                                    5. The Plain Moon
                                                                    6. Necronomicon
                                                                    7. Nightingale
                                                                    8. Tungsten 4: The Refugee

                                                                    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

                                                                    TRACK LISTING

                                                                    Personal Best
                                                                    No One Wants It To Happen To You
                                                                    Boys Life
                                                                    The Closer I Look
                                                                    Big Ideas, Pt. 2
                                                                    Back At Belle’s
                                                                    Between Leos
                                                                    Checkpoints
                                                                    Smoke Around The Bend
                                                                    XX Century

                                                                    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.

                                                                    TRACK LISTING

                                                                    1. Follow It
                                                                    2. Take Care Of Me
                                                                    3. Friend Tonight
                                                                    4. Dani
                                                                    5. Surrender
                                                                    6. I Don't Belong To You
                                                                    7. Everything Is New
                                                                    8. All Around Us
                                                                    9. Further

                                                                    Unknown Mortal Orchestra

                                                                    Multi-Love

                                                                      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!

                                                                      TRACK LISTING

                                                                      1. Multi-Love
                                                                      2. Like Acid Rain
                                                                      3. Ur Life One Night
                                                                      4. Can’t Keep Checking My Phone
                                                                      5. Extreme Wealth And Casual Cruelty
                                                                      6. The World Is Crowded
                                                                      7. Stage Or Screen
                                                                      8. Necessary Evil
                                                                      9. Puzzles

                                                                      Viet Cong

                                                                      Viet Cong

                                                                        Recorded in a barn-turned-studio in rural Ontario, the seven songs that make up ‘Viet Cong’ were born largely on the road, when Matt Flegel and bandmates Mike Wallace (both ex members of the much loved band Women), Scott Munro and Daniel Christiansen embarked on a 50-date tour that stretched virtually every limit imaginable.

                                                                        The repetition throughout ‘Viet Cong’ hypnotizes but also softens, leaving a space that is deceptively personal.

                                                                        ‘Continental Shelf’ orbits a thousand watt hook with a thick crackle and a battering-ram drum line.

                                                                        ‘Silhouettes’ is a tripwire of a song, opening with an almost Joy Division-esque exposition and moving at breakneck speed - frantic and pitch-black at a thousand miles an hour - until, before you know it, they are howling. Actually howling. Maybe you are too.

                                                                        TRACK LISTING

                                                                        1 Newspaper Spoons
                                                                        2 Pointless Experience
                                                                        3 March Of Progress
                                                                        4 Bunker Buster
                                                                        5 Continental Shelf
                                                                        6 Silhouettes
                                                                        7 Death

                                                                        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."

                                                                        TRACK LISTING

                                                                        1 Star Power Airlines
                                                                        2 How Can You Really
                                                                        3 Coulda Been My Love
                                                                        4 Cosmic Vibrations
                                                                        5 You & I
                                                                        6 Star Power I: Overture
                                                                        7 Star Power II: Star Power Nite
                                                                        8 Star Power III: What Are We Good For
                                                                        9 Star Power IV: Ooh Ooh
                                                                        10 I Don't Have Anything/The Gate
                                                                        11 Mattress Warehouse
                                                                        12 666
                                                                        13 Flowers
                                                                        14 Wally's Farm
                                                                        15 Cannibal Holocaust
                                                                        16 Hot Summer
                                                                        17 Cold Winter/Freedom
                                                                        18 Can't Contextualize My Mind
                                                                        19 Brooklyn Police Station
                                                                        20 The Game
                                                                        21 Freedom II
                                                                        22 Talk
                                                                        23 Everyone Needs Love
                                                                        24 Hang

                                                                        Lia Ices

                                                                        Ices

                                                                          "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.

                                                                          TRACK LISTING

                                                                          1. Tell Me
                                                                          2. Thousand Eyes
                                                                          3. Higher
                                                                          4. Love Ices Over
                                                                          5. Magick
                                                                          6. Electric Arc
                                                                          7. Sweet As Ice
                                                                          8. Creature
                                                                          9. How We Are
                                                                          10. Waves

                                                                          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.

                                                                          TRACK LISTING

                                                                          1. Afraid Of Nothing
                                                                          2. Taking Chances
                                                                          3. Your Love Is Killing Me
                                                                          4. Our Love
                                                                          5. Tarifa
                                                                          6. I Love You But I'm Lost
                                                                          7. You Know Me Well
                                                                          8. Break Me
                                                                          9. Nothing Will Change
                                                                          10. I Know
                                                                          11. Every Time The Sun Comes Up

                                                                          Pink Mountaintops

                                                                          Get Back

                                                                            It's doubtful that Stephen McBean set out to make The Great Rock 'N' Roll Primer when he started conjuring the songs that would come to be Pink Mountaintops' Get Back.

                                                                            The record's beginnings were reasonably straightforward: McBean had moved to Los Angeles, taken a long hiatus from Black Mountain and an even longer one from Pink Mountaintops when he met producer Joe Cardamone, lead singer of Icarus Line at Valley Recording Company in Burbank, CA. The two bonded quickly over Flying Nun bands, Television Personalities, Roxy Music, Johnny Thunders, and Born Against. Joe was excited to meet someone he actually liked. Stephen was excited to work with someone who said "Sing it like you would've sung it when you were 21." Simple enough, right?

                                                                            But ask him to set the scene and you'll hear about a motorcycle shop owned by Michael Barragan, former member of Los Angeles noise rock band Plexi. You'll hear about an endless supply of rock 'n' roll video documentation for last minute inspiration or deevolution in the living room. Ask who's on the record and you'll get a constellation of greats: J Mascis (Dinosaur Jr & Witch), Rob Barbato (Darker My Love, The Fall & Cass McCombs), Steve Kille (Dead Meadow), Daniel Allaire (Brian Jonestown Massacre, Cass McCombs & Darker My Love), Annie Hardy (Giant Drag), Jon Wahl (Clawhammer), and Gregg Foreman (Cat Power & Delta 72). Randal Dunn (SunnO))), Earth, Sun City Girls, Boris) mixed Get Back at Avast! Studios (Bikini Kill, Mudhoney, Christ On A Crutch, Soundgarden) in Seattle. Howie Weinburg (Nirvana, Beastie Boys, Danzig, Ramones, Slayer) mastered it in Laurel Canyon.

                                                                            Ask about the record itself and McBean will tell you about "Alleys, curbs, walls, and cigarette stained gig flyers. An island on the Pacific coast. Fake British towns. Slayer posters. The beauty of youth. It's about listening to Driver's Seat and 'Guns of Brixton' and hotboxing The Duster." And suddenly it becomes clear: when the aliens do touch down and they don't know rock 'n' roll, you can play them Get Back start to finish, and that'll be all they need.

                                                                            Get Back comes out swinging with "Ambulance City," a head-trip of a song with a chugging, insistent, oddly timeless guitar riff sitting front and center. "The Second Summer of Love" needs almost no explanation; it dives into 80s VHS saturation and never comes up for air. "Sell Your Soul" is a deep sigh and a motorcycle ride, a roll in the grass lamenting summertime blues with a little grit and a little harmony. And "North Hollywood Microwaves" is downright obscene. But what better way to start Side B than this? You can listen at hushed volumes so your parents don't hear, you can crank it in a dorm room, you can smirk to yourself from the safety of rock 'n' roll's old age. You start to wonder - why don't all Side Bs start with a song like this one...

                                                                            The number of platitudes in music hit critical mass years ago, and among those tropes is that annoying, inescapable mantra: rock 'n' roll is undefinable. And yeah, sure, that's true. It's different things to different people. It starts with guitars, maybe, and ends with a stage-dive, or spit, or feedback. Rock 'n' roll is drugs, is rebellion, is youth, is sex, is cosmic. It's wanting more than you have. Rock 'n' roll is butts and cigarette butts. And Pink Mountaintops might not be the best-known band ever to make rock 'n' roll, but in Get Back they just might have written its scripture -- an exploration and celebration of what, exactly, rock 'n' roll can be.

                                                                            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.

                                                                            TRACK LISTING

                                                                            Glass/Film
                                                                            Creaking
                                                                            Crown The Pines
                                                                            Fire-Scene
                                                                            Radiant
                                                                            Alpenglow
                                                                            Fleeting Light
                                                                            The Dome
                                                                            Neverending Fountain

                                                                            Moonface

                                                                            Julia With Blue Jeans On

                                                                              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.

                                                                              TRACK LISTING

                                                                              Barbarian
                                                                              Everyone Is Noah, Everyone Is The Ark
                                                                              Barbarian II
                                                                              November 2011
                                                                              Dreamy Summer
                                                                              Julia With Blue Jeans On
                                                                              Love The House You're In
                                                                              First Violin
                                                                              Black Is Back In Style
                                                                              Your Chariot Awaits

                                                                              Volcano Choir

                                                                              Repave

                                                                                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.

                                                                                TRACK LISTING

                                                                                Tiderays
                                                                                Acetate
                                                                                Comrade
                                                                                Byegone
                                                                                Alaskans
                                                                                Dancepack
                                                                                Keel
                                                                                Almanac

                                                                                Small Black

                                                                                Limits Of Desire

                                                                                  ‘Limits Of Desire’ is Small Black’s most accomplished album yet. It’s a crystalline realization of a sound they’ve been building toward since their self-titled EP in 2009.

                                                                                  Now a full-time four piece, the band have moved way beyond the hazy home recorded sound of their previous releases toward a full-fledged, but still self-produced, clear approach. Where 2010’s ‘New Chain’ was a lesson in maximalist pop, ‘Limits Of Desire’ finds the band trimming their sound to the essentials, yet hitting new and unexpected heights, with the addition of live drums, electric guitar and trumpet to the existing Small Black palette.

                                                                                  Tonally the songs sweep and glide over lush keys, bolstered by lyrics that illustrate the semi-abstract moments of lost opportunities and misread signs, hinted at by the cover image. The title track whirls softly, and channels luminaries Tears For Fears and The Blue Nile.

                                                                                  ‘Free At Dawn’ and ‘No Stranger’ do what fans have come to love Small Black for, only better. They’re smart pop bangers tinged with a specific brand of melancholy that slowly build to night-affirming climaxes, while ‘Breathless’ ups the tempo, over synth stabs with lyrics that tackle apathy and uncertainty with catchy grace.

                                                                                  The band build on a rich history of synth pop by making a thoroughly modern album, on both the front and back end. One that seeks out cohesion, connection and calm in a world that won’t sit still. ‘Limits Of Desire’ doesn’t attempt to provide any solutions, but coming to terms with not finding the answers feels infinitely more fruitful.

                                                                                  The Besnard Lakes

                                                                                  Until In Excess, Imperceptible UFO

                                                                                    The Besnard Lakes’ ‘Until In Excess, Imperceptible UFO’ had its humble beginnings in mid-2011 and was completed over the course of a year. Ever mindful and attentive to the most subtle and nuanced details, founding band members Jace Lasek and Olga Goreas produced, recorded and mixed at the stalwart Breakglass Studios in Montreal with long time bandmates Kevin Laing and Richard White.

                                                                                    Eventually mastered by the renowned Greg Calbi at Sterling Sound, this fourth album by The Besnard Lakes features heavyweight additions by Moonface’s Spencer Krug and Mike Bigelow, The Barr Brothers’ Sarah Page, the always enchanting Monica Guenter and the return of The Fifth String Liberation Singers’ Choir.

                                                                                    Each of the eight tracks on the album takes off, coasts, and lands smoothly, with a jubilant slowburn of its own momentum for the benefit of the larger picture.

                                                                                    The Besnard Lakes create a distinct and dreamy headspace, an enigmatic and somehow familiar placelessness. It happens in such a way that both the close and casual listener find themselves immersed in the generous sonic vision, one moment as timeless as the next.

                                                                                    “A magnificently oceanic meld of Beach Boys harmonies, My Bloody Valentine tidal waves and Phil Spector girlgroup siren songs shot through with soaring guitar.” - Rolling Stone

                                                                                    “Right now no one is making music this grand, this big, this moving with so much assurance.” - Chicago Tribune

                                                                                    “Nothing short of beautiful.” - NME

                                                                                    ‘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.

                                                                                    TRACK LISTING

                                                                                    1. Canopy
                                                                                    2. Have To Pretend
                                                                                    3. No Tomorrows
                                                                                    4. It's A Crime
                                                                                    5. Week To Week
                                                                                    6. Evergreens
                                                                                    7. Shine
                                                                                    8. Karen's Car
                                                                                    9. Easy Way
                                                                                    10. Northern Lights
                                                                                    11. Early Moon
                                                                                    12. When The World

                                                                                    Unknown Mortal Orchestra

                                                                                    II

                                                                                      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.

                                                                                      TRACK LISTING

                                                                                      1. From The Sun
                                                                                      2. Swim And Sleep (Like A Shark)
                                                                                      3. So Good At Being In Trouble
                                                                                      4. One At A Time
                                                                                      5. The Opposite Of Afternoon
                                                                                      6. No Need For A Leader
                                                                                      7. Monki
                                                                                      8. Dawn
                                                                                      9. Faded In The Morning
                                                                                      10. Secret Xians

                                                                                      Foxygen

                                                                                      We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors Of Peace & Magic

                                                                                        In May 2011, Foxygen’s Sam France and Jonathan Rado nervously handed off a CD-R of their homemade miniopus ‘Take The Kids Off Broadway’ to producer and visionary Richard Swift after his performance in a Lower East Side club. The duo, who had just mixed and burned the disc that very night, had been devotees of Swift’s outsiderpop oeuvre since high school, when they first began recording their own pubescent forays into oddball rock ‘n’ roll (at least a dozen records were finished before they graduated high school). Foxygen left the venue that night unsure whether Swift would truly listen or sling the disc into a dumpster on his way out. In fact, Swift flipped for Foxygen’s bugged out, esoteric majesty and called upon them immediately to say as much.

                                                                                        Eight months later, Foxygen was holed up for a week-long recording session at Swift’s neo-legendary National Freedom studio, creating what has become ‘We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors Of Peace & Magic’, a precocious and cocksure joyride across California psychedelia with a burning, bursting punk rock engine.

                                                                                        The songs were written in an inspired fury just after ‘Take The Kids…’ was complete, pouring from their hands and mouths. Foxygen believe that each song was a message of peace delivered from cosmic beings who used France and Rado as their messenger vessels.

                                                                                        Bubbling beneath their supreme melodic instincts, there’s a wild, nervy energy and a raw musicianship that makes Foxygen incapable of doing anything exactly straight. They somehow pack a host of musical left turns, lyrical non sequiturs and decades-spanning bridges into industry preferred 3 - 4 minute gems that are at both reinvention and memorial.

                                                                                        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.

                                                                                        TRACK LISTING

                                                                                        1. Warsaw
                                                                                        2. Give Out
                                                                                        3. Serpents
                                                                                        4. Kevin’s
                                                                                        5. Leonard
                                                                                        6. In Line
                                                                                        7. All I Can
                                                                                        8. We Are Fine
                                                                                        9. Magic Chords
                                                                                        10. Ask
                                                                                        11. I’m Wrong
                                                                                        12. Joke Or A Lie

                                                                                        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.

                                                                                        TRACK LISTING

                                                                                        1. Right Away
                                                                                        2. Beach
                                                                                        3. Having It Out
                                                                                        4. Krishnamurti
                                                                                        5. Cut A Hand
                                                                                        6. Settling It Off
                                                                                        7. Hard Heart
                                                                                        8. Haunt You
                                                                                        9. Loud Enough To Know
                                                                                        10. Never Meant To Love You
                                                                                        11. Wheel

                                                                                        Okkervil River

                                                                                        I Am Very Far

                                                                                          "I Am Very Far" is a startling break from anything this band has done before. The band’s Will Sheff emerges not only as a songwriter of the highest caliber, but a producer and arranger of singular vision. "I Am Very Far" is monolithic and darkly ambiguous.

                                                                                          Sheff contributed vocals to The New Pornographers’ album "Together", wrote a song for Norah Jones’ "The Fall", and helmed the Roky Erickson record "True Love Cast Out All Evil", for which his album notes received a Grammy nomination.

                                                                                          The writing process for "I Am Very Far" produced 30 or so songs, which he narrowed down to 18, recorded in a series of short, high-intensity sessions, each in a different location, each employing completely different methods than the one before it.

                                                                                          For songs like "Rider" and "Wake And Be Fine", Sheff gathered together a massive version of Okkervil River – two drummers, two pianists, two bassists, and seven guitarists, all playing live in one room – and led them on a week of live-in-the-studio marathon sessions, performing a single song obsessively over and over for as many as 12 hours to capture just the right take.

                                                                                          Parts & Labor

                                                                                          Constant Future

                                                                                            "Constant Future" is the career-defining statement from Brooklyn-based noise-pop trio Parts & Labor. The album's 12 tracks deliver the bare essentials of modern art-punk: synthesized keyboard riffs distorted into oblivion, percussion pummeled hypnotically, crackling drones that haunt and soothe, fearless melodies hollered skyward.

                                                                                            Their last release, 2008's acclaimed "Receivers", saw Parts & Labor blasting off in all directions and creating collage art from hundreds of fan-curated samples. But fifth album "Constant Future" finds them crashing back to Earth, focusing pointedly on what they do best: unique, electronic landscapes melded with buzzing, anthemic hooks.

                                                                                            Parts & Labor have distilled the lessons and experiences of nearly 10 years as a band into a catchy, blown-out masterwork.

                                                                                            Dave Fridmann (Flaming Lips, Mogwai, Sleater- Kinney, MGMT) co-produced and mixed the album with Parts & Labor.

                                                                                            Small Black

                                                                                            New Chain

                                                                                              "New Chain" is the debut long-player from New York's Small Black. Richly coloured and thickly layered, it is an absorbing, eclectic and obsessive body of work. The Brooklyn group have succeeded in melting together locked and popped drum-shudder, gauzy spirographic synths and subtly contagious, half-remembered melody into ebullient bursts of evocative, subliminal and thoroughly modern pop. The songs are equally informed by the rhythmic bounce and stylistic swagger of more left-leaning contemporary radio rap and R'n'B as it is the submerged kaleidoscopic swirl of the early 4AD dream factory.

                                                                                              Formed at the tail-end of 2008 as a bedroom recording project, Small Black first made waves with their eponymous debut EP. Recorded in the attic of singer Josh Kolenik's uncle's remote Long Island beach-house/surfboard workshop, it served as an ideal introduction to the group with its pulsing patchwork synths and addictive, stay-gold hooks that seemed to unfurl themselves gradually over repeated listens. Slightly more immediate and polished than its predecessor, Small Black's new album "New Chain" remains a continuation of this contrasting ethos - a delirious smudging of the lines between melancholy and nostalgia, tension and celebration, unabashed pop music and experimentation. 'It's always been a question for us', explains keyboardist/songwriter Ryan Heyner, 'of how much to push it, how much to reveal. I find a lot of the best music creeps up on you'.

                                                                                              "New Chain" was predominantly written, recorded and fully realized in the seclusion of sleepy, suburban Delaware, where bassist/songwriter Juan Pieczanski spent his childhood summers., and then mixed by Nicolas Vernhes (Animal Collective, Dirty Projectors) at his Rare Book Room studio in New York City. The group spent the hours in Delaware as Kolenik says 'trying to take the excitement and stimulus of NYC to a place far from distractions, where it could be organized properly'. The effect of the transposition between city life and the isolation could explain the way the record's full-blown party jams are tempered with weirder moments of longing and enigma, and conversely, how its more discordant, foggy moments conceal huge moments of melody.

                                                                                              A thinker's party record? A party-hardy thinker's record? Not sure. All we know is that New Chain is one of the most involved, intriguing and effortlessly human collections of organic pop music you're likely to hear this or any other year.



                                                                                              STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                              Darryl says: Evoking the dreamy pop delights of the 4AD label back catalogue this is an effortlessly beautiful and sumptuously rich album.

                                                                                              S. Carey

                                                                                              All We Grow

                                                                                                The debut album from S. Carey, "All We Grow", is the result of a young lifetime spent immersed in music. As a band member of Bon Iver from the very beginning, Sean Carey witnessed a flip of his formal training to step firmly into a worldwide-touring rock band. His performance degree in classical percussion from the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire and his love for jazz drumming prepared him for a central role in the inspiring force of the Bon Iver live show.

                                                                                                "All We Grow" is a convergence of Carey's Waltz For Debby-era Bill Evans inflected jazz tendencies, and traditional rock band experience, taking leads from Mark Hollis' Talk Talk. It also retests the waters of modern classical composition, investigating the moodiness generated by percussive repetition in a manner familiar to fans of Steve Reich. In his downtime on tour with Bon Iver, Sean would spend time pining for his soul-mate's arms, and in that context, dreaming and composing. During infrequent tour breaks at home he would patiently record these pieces, adding layers each time. Two years later, the parts converged to make an album.

                                                                                                For as much room to breathe as Carey allows his compositions, there are incredibly dynamic moments of bombast held right next to moments of subtle depth and texture. Engineered by Jaime Hansen and Brian Joseph, intermittently at home and at April Base (Justin Vernon's studio outside Eau Claire), "All We Grow" is an all-encompassing headphone experience as intimate as chamber music and as ambitious as a symphony. A classic album born without expectation and met with adoration - a cathartic result of Carey's extraordinary and vibrant life experiences that resonates loss, dreams and heart in a manner so instantly relatable, you feel as though you can touch it.

                                                                                                STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                                Darryl says: Being a band member of Bon Iver has clearly rubbed off on S. Carey. A subtly stunning and beautifully lush debut album, total ear candy for the headphone listener.

                                                                                                Peter Wolf Crier

                                                                                                Inter-Be

                                                                                                  "Inter-Be" is the debut album by Peter Wolf Crier, the Minneapolis-based duo of Peter Pisano and Brian Moen. The album was born on a single summer night when Pisano felt a torrent of creativity after what had felt, to him, like an interminably long dry spell. He shared the songs with Moen, and over the months that followed, at Moen's home, these rough-hewed tunes became what they are now: a confident collection of songs, but deceptive in that their very guts still reflect the thoughts of a man in transition.

                                                                                                  Pisano's is not a new songwriting voice. He is best known for being part of the Wars of 1812, an ascendant Wisconsin-bred quartet. Their first album together, Status Quo Ante Bellum, was more than just an album. It was relocation and aspiration and Pisano's lyrical Eden. As the Wars went on hiatus, Pisano continued to hone his craft, keeping his days full as a teacher at a small private school while fine-tuning, at night, the songs that would soon become Inter-Be. Feeling confident in the songs, Pisano approached Moen, a seasoned drummer and engineer best known for his involvement in Laarks and Amateur Love. After being asked to add some percussive elements, Moen added his thundering drum rolls and perfectly timed fills, but he also added something much more: a melodic soundscape that would complete the evolution of the songs. So was born the partnership that is called Peter Wolf Crier.

                                                                                                  Small Black

                                                                                                  Small Black

                                                                                                    The winter of 2008/2009 found old friends Ryan Heyner and Josh Kolenik holed up in the attic of Uncle Matt's Long Island home. Those cold weekend days saw Small Black drinking Crystal Light, watching Waterworld, and plugging away on their casios and samplers, while Kolenik's uncle shaped surfboards in the basement.

                                                                                                    After months of thawing out, the band emerged with one of 2009's catchiest debut releases. "The Small Black EP", as it is called, melds strange beats, dreamy synths, tape hiss and laid-back melodies into pop jams. Teaming up with longtime collaborators Juan Pieczanski and Jeff Curtin, the band then fleshed out their bedroom sound, combining both live and sampled drums, live bass, keyboards and samplers for their live performance.

                                                                                                    Described by Pitchfork as 'absurdly addictive' and 'soul-stirring', the band self released the EP via their own imprint CassClub in October 2009, along with a documentary-style music video for "Despicable Dogs", featuring Uncle Matt. They quickly followed it up with a UK single for "Despicable Dogs" (on Transparent) and a split 7-inch with like-minded artist Washed Out (on Lovepump United). Now 2010 sees Small Black teaming up with Jagjaguwar for a deluxe re-mastered release of their debut EP with two extra songs added, "Kings Of Animals" and "Baby Bird Pt. 2".



                                                                                                    The Besnard Lakes

                                                                                                    The Besnard Lakes Are The Roaring Night

                                                                                                      There is a war now. The message has been sent through short wave in code. The Besnard Lakes twisting chronicle, or fever dream, of spies, double agents, novelists and aspiring rock gods has turned violent. Loyalty, dishonor, love, hatred all seen through the eyes of two spies, fighting a war that may not be real. One follows the other as they receive coded messages and spread destruction. The city is burning, and it's to the benefit of music obsessives everywhere. Once again, the husband-and-wife duo of Olga Goreas and Jace Lasek has crafted a majestic, sprawling vision of guitar bombast and captivating pop experiments.

                                                                                                      "The Besnard Lakes Are the Roaring Night" calls upon the influence of ELO and finer parts of the Alan Parsons Project in its orchestration. Still helped by the Ghost of Beach Boys Past, the album is more Dennis Wilson than Brian, and more Peter Green Fleetwood Mac than Lindsay Buckingham. That said, standout track "Albatross" has all the swagger of a Stevie Nicks-led Fleetwood Mac classic or Roy Orbison re-imagined as a rollicking, snakeskin-booted Mazzy Star - dousing it all in gas and throwing the match as we hear its tale of Vancouver's skid row and its inhabitants.

                                                                                                      The album is a dark bliss-out that folds the eerie guitar epics of the Montreal band's breakthrough into a wall of affected drones and atmospherics, but with a toughened immediacy and grit that gives the form a much-needed shove over the cliffs, making for a haunting, provocative swan dive into the crushing tide. 

                                                                                                      Richard Youngs

                                                                                                      Under Stellar Stream

                                                                                                        Once again proving himself a master of minimalist composition, Youngs also takes leaps forward as a lyricist on "Under Stellar Stream", reminiscent of the list incantations of Allen Ginsberg. With this comes a change in Youngs' voice, now less pleading, deeper and more assured. In these atonal, spatial arrangements, each phrase is granted the room to work into the cerebral cortex.

                                                                                                        Volcano Choir

                                                                                                        Unmap

                                                                                                          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

                                                                                                          Infinite Light

                                                                                                          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.

                                                                                                          Bon Iver welcome's in the new year with this EP featuring four brand new unreleased tracks including current live favourite "Blood Bank". The four song "Blood Bank" collection continues down the path forged by 2008's critically acclaimed "For Emma, Forever Ago". From the title track's remembrance of the winter warmth we seek, to the summer love tribute of B-side gem "Babys", Bon Iver's snow-blanketed harmonies live across the seasons. Both expansive and intimate, these four songs explore the darker and lighter natures of the seasons and what they signify, and offer a dynamic glimpse into the natural energy and refined craftsmanship that characterize Justin Vernon's music.

                                                                                                          Sunset Rubdown

                                                                                                          Random Spirit Lover

                                                                                                            With his most ambitious record yet, Spencer Krug (also of Wolf Parade and Swan Lake) emerges as a special kind of songwriter, inspiring devotion and fanaticism.


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