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Waxahatchee

Out In The Storm

    Out in the Storm is the blazing result of a woman reawakened. Her most autobiographical and honest album to date, Out in the Storm is a self-reflective anchor in the story of both Katie Crutchfield’s songwriting and her life. The album tells the story of taking control of a volatile situation, embracing flaws, and exploring a new sonic freedom. The album was tracked at Miner Street Recordings in Philadelphia with John Agnello, known for working with some of the most iconic musicians of the last 25 years, including Dinosaur Jr. and Sonic Youth.

    For Agnello, it was Crutchfield’s voice that drew him in. “The first demo song I heard was ‘Fade’. The melodies, the way she sings it, the way she turns the melody, and the way she goes note to note is literally beautiful. Singers—you either have it or you don’t. She has it.” Agnello and Crutchfield worked together for most of December 2016, along with the band: sister Allison Crutchfield on keyboards and percussion, Katherine Simonetti on bass, and Ashley Arnwine on drums; Katie Harkin, touring guitarist with Sleater-Kinney, also contributed lead guitar. At Agnello’s suggestion, the group recorded most of the music live to enhance their unity in a way that gives the album a fuller sound compared to past releases, resulting in one of Waxahatchee’s most guitar-driven releases to date. “My experience working with John was genuinely life-changing,” says Crutchfield. “We had such a great connection right off the bat, and I really feel like he was always looking out for me.

    He pushed me when I needed it, and gave me space when I needed it.” Crutchfield’s voice oscillates between effortless grace and commanding righteousness, taking the listener with her on an explicitly personal journey. Songs like “Hear You” and “No Question” are lyrically unapologetic and musically resolute, while the softer acoustic songs like “A Little More” and “Fade” let fear and melancholy seep through. But it is on the atmospheric “Sparks Fly” where we feel an essential redemption. “Sparks Fly” acts as an inner dialogue and marks the first time since the inception of Waxahatchee that any semblance of self-love has shone through. 

    TRACK LISTING

    1. Never Been Wrong
    2. 8 Ball
    3. Silver
    4. Recite Remorse
    5. Sparks Fly
    6. Brass Beam
    7. Hear You
    8. A Little More
    9. No Question
    10. Fade

    Redd Kross

    Red Cross (Reissue)

      The special 40th anniversary edition of the Red Cross EP, which includes the band’s six-song eponymous debut and adds five contemporaneous extra tracks, is the most comprehensive document to date of the extraordinary birth of Redd Kross. In a single 12-month period, Jeff and Steven McDonald, two adolescent brothers from Hawthorne, CA, went from posing with cheap guitars and singing into hairbrushes in front of their bedroom mirror to recording in world-class studios and performing live at punk shows/riots that are still being pondered and written about for their pioneering cultural relevance within the Southern California punk landscape. Redd Kross incubated alongside such SoCal luminaries as Black Flag, Descendents, and the Minutemen, and this new 11-song collection which includes a live track recorded in 1979 at “The Church,” the infamous Black Flag birthplace in Hermosa Beach, CA puts in proper perspective the McDonald brothers’ contribution, at the ridiculously precocious ages of 12 and 16, to that area’s punk scene.

      The demo session was recorded at Media Art in Hermosa Beach, the same studio where Black Flag made their Nervous Breakdown EP. Engineered by Spot and produced by power pop godfather Joe Nolte of the Last, these four tracks mark the first time the band had ever stepped foot in a recording studio. Notably, the demo session was paid for with 12-year-old bassist Steven’s paper route money. A couple of months later, in October 1979, the band recorded the “Posh Boy” sessions at the Shelter, a studio in Hollywood owned by Shelter Records, which was home to rock vet Leon Russell and relative newcomers at the time Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers. Engineered by guitarist Jim Mankey (Sparks, Concrete Blonde), this session produced the proto power pop punk classics “Annette’s Got the Hits” and “I Hate My School,” both of which would appear on their 1980 self-titled debut EP on Posh Boy Records.

      The entire birth story of Redd Kross is being celebrated on this 40th anniversary edition of Red Cross (known to many as “the Posh Boy EP”), and these tracks sound as fresh and vital to our ears now as they did when they were originally released four decades ago.

      TRACK LISTING

      Cover Band
      Annette’s Got The Hits
      I Hate My School
      Clorox Girls
      S&M Party
      Standing In Front Of Poseur

      Rich Brat (demo)
      Cover Band (demo)
      Clorox Girls (demo)
      Standing In Front Of Poseur
      (demo)
      Fun With Connie (live)

      Sweet Spirit

      Trinidad

        Sabrina Ellis, Andrew Cashen & Danny Blanchard (of Sweet Spirit) also perform together in the Austin Texas outfit A Giant Dog. Trinidad was recorded and produced by Stuart Sikes (Cat Power, Black Joe Lewis, White Stripes)

        "When people dance, they are fulfilling a human desire where instinct and culture meet. Dance and music are built into the mechanics of being human. We are born instinctively with these impulses. To dance is to speak unspoken agreements," says Sweet Spirit frontperson Sabrina Ellis.

        The six members of Sweet Spirit like pranks, glitter eyeshadow, and good stories. They also enjoy making music, as evidenced by the 12 bands they collectively play in. But above all, they love dancing, that place between exorcise and exercise. Sweet Spirit's famously raucous and sweaty live shows satisfy both their own and their audience's need for connection and release.

        Trinidad marks the Merge debut of this mighty sextet from Austin, TX. The songs are stripped down yet more intricate than ever before. It's a pop record made by punk rockers sonically happy but lyrically bitter. Lustful, sassy, and passionate.

        Touting inspirations as varied as Prince, T. Rex, William Onyeabor, ABBA, Roy Orbison, Shintaro Sakamoto, Francoise Hardy, and Robyn, Sweet Spirit have created an album that pulsates with more LinnDrum and synth than guitar. From the opening riff of 'Behold,' Sabrina, Andrew, Danny, Josh, Jon, and Jake establish their slightly cynical world of fantasy, hard truths, and all manner of longing.

        “No Dancing” bemoans the lack of magic in the club, while live favorite “Fingerprints” sets out to “get you away from your lover.” Author/composer Mark Mallman of Minneapolis says, “Those who believe in demons see demons. In music, the demon is silence. In nature, snakes that appear to dance are actually fighting. Palm trees that kiss the beach during hurricane winds appear to dance when set to music in a video. There is no genre to dancing, only to its cause. In this instance, the cause is called Sweet Spirit.”

        TRACK LISTING

        SIDE A

        Behold
        Fear Is A Lie
        No Dancing
        Fingerprints
        Llorando

        SIDE B

        Y2K
        Only Love
        Coincidence
        Empty Bottle

        Redd Kross

        Beyond The Door

          Redd Kross invite you to explore Beyond the Door, an album inspired by the band’s “total commitment to having the best f*cking time we can have while we’re all still here” (what they like to call “the Party”). It’s a rock and roll record and a celebration of everything brothers Jeff and Steven McDonald love, from cultures both high and low. Musically, it’s guitars, bass, and drums topped with a generous portion of sweet vocal melodies often delivered with an ambiguous edge. Beyond the Door marks Redd Kross’ most collaborative record to date. Steven describes this evolution: “Jeff is still very much the driving force behind the compositions, but with more help from me than ever. Jeff and I haven’t shared this much of the writing and singing since Born Innocent in 1981.” Guitarist Jason Shapiro and drummer Dale Crover (Melvins, OFF!) are longtime members of the Redd Kross live band, but this album marks the pair’s recorded debut with the group. Mixed in Los Angeles by Steven McDonald, Beyond the Door includes notable guest appearances from Anna Waronker (That Dog), Geré Fennelly, Buzz Osborne (Melvins), and Josh Klinghoffer. Setting the stage is album opener “The Party,” a raucous cover of the Henry Mancini-penned title theme from a 1968 Blake Edwards film.

          The opening line of the song (“The party is groovy and everyone here loses control, yeah…”) is the perfect declaration Redd Kross want to make—and they don’t just mean some beer-guzzling teen hesher affair, either. The Redd Kross party is groovy, yeah… Just listen! Of title track “Beyond the Door” Steven recounts, “I started the track as just a fun glitter romp, and during tracking, Jeff decided to take a stab at writing the vocal melody and lyrics. Seems like an obvious way to work, but we’ve never done it before. From that came a tale of childhood obsession with demonic possession nurtured on TV brain junk food and the golden age of rock and roll, 1971–73.” On the surface, the album title is a playful reference to an Italian horror film the McDonald brothers watched as children, a loose rip-off of both The Exorcist and Rosemary’s Baby that stars Juliet Mills of ’70s television program Nanny and the Professor. But like all things Redd Kross, it would be a sad injustice to stop digging there.

          No one knows what lies Beyond the Door… but we’re all in front of it. Inspirations as varied as K-pop, glitter gangs, embarrassed tweens, long-term relationships, a mysterious character named Fantástico Roberto, and much more all contributed to Beyond the Door, an album that lures the listener into Redd Kross’ secret club full of riddles and inside jokes, with the ultimate reward of the perfect pop moment! 

          TRACK LISTING

          SIDE A

          The Party
          Fighting
          Beyond The Door
          There’s No One Like You
          Ice Cream (Strange And Pleasing)
          Fantástico Roberto

          SIDE B

          The Party Underground
          What’s A Boy To Do?
          Punk II
          Jone Hoople
          When Do I Get To Sing “My Way”

          Martin Frawley

          Undone At 31

            Undone at 31 is Martin Frawley’s solo debut Martin Frawley is co-leader of Melbourne Australia’s Twerps, formed in 2008 & shortly thereafter named Best New Band in Australia via Uncut Magazine. Named for the year in his life when the bottom fell out following a long-term romantic partnership, Melbourne’s Martin Frawley (Twerps) sequenced Undone at 31 chronologically to emphasize his journey. He took time off from drinking after mistakes and missteps in his Australian pubs, as chronicled on “End of the Bar,” an early standout that’s equal parts Velvet Underground cool and outlaw country.

            While visiting Brooklyn during that period, Frawley found a collaborator in Stewart Bronaugh (Angel Olsen, Lionlimb) who, as he says, “gave me confidence and strength when I needed it the most,” and after bonding over albums by John Cale, Anna Domino, and Frank Ocean, “knew where I needed to take the music.” Those familiar with Frawley’s time as co-leader of Twerps will take comfort in hearing his deceptively simple songwriting is still intact, but the big reveal here is how new instrumentation and influences seamlessly expand Frawley’s playground. It might take several listens for one to realize Frawley is singing “Something About Me” over just violin, Moog, and a Graceland-esque bassline, or to appreciate the PB+J pairing of Fender Rhodes and lap steel on “Where the Heart Is,” which serves as Undone at 31’s twist ending.

            Frawley’s album does not shy away from morbid musings and raw emotions that come with a breakup, and like Shoot Out the Lights or Sea Change, Undone at 31’s tunefulness and exploration combined are what elevate the music above the melancholy subject matter. You don’t need an album (or its bio, for that matter) to tell you change is inevitable. But with Undone at 31, our new protagonist summons the courage and perspective to unpack and share his experience in the hopes that in spurring himself to carry on, he inspires his listeners as well. Because as Martin writes, “That’s what you want, right? To learn. I felt up, down, scared, and now I’m really scared of what I have made and what people will think, but I’d rather that than any other feeling.” 

            TRACK LISTING

            1. You Want Me?
            2. End Of The Bar 
            3. What’s On Your Mind
            4. Just Like The Rest
            5. Smoke In Your House
            6. Chain Reaction
            7. You Can’t Win
            8. Something About Me
            9. Lo And Behold
            10. Come Home
            11. Where The Heart Is

            Sneaks

            Highway Hypnosis

            Sneaks, a.k.a. Eva Moolchan, emerges from the male-dominated Baltimore-Washington punk scene, joining the resistance forged by queer black feminists who create, explore, empower, conquer, and play bass. Highway Hypnosis combines bewitching beats and invented words, to produce what Clash Magazine described as “stripped down hip-hop, skeletal post-punk, and extra-dimensional pop music.” Recorded at New York’s Silent Barn in 2017, Highway Hypnosis was co-produced by Carlos Hernandez (of Ava Luna), Tony Seltzer (Princess Nokia), and Eva Moolchan herself. A glimmering anthem shrouded in an atmosphere of darkness, her first single “Beliefs” drops its bass along with a call to arms for all non-believers whose mantra is assigned: “Remove your beliefs and start again / ’cause all I wanna do is start again.” Among laughter samples and charming vocals featured on the album lie one club banger, your little sister’s anti-meat school lunch protest song, a 55-second epic bass surprise, and a Jacknife Lee (Taylor Swift, Bat for Lashes, R.E.M.) production credit on “Hong Kong to Amsterdam.” 

            STAFF COMMENTS

            Barry says: Brilliantly rhythmic dubbed-out beats, angular synth-pop and Moolchan's visceral vocal delivery. As dark as it is absorbing, 'Highway Hypnosis' is an essential addition to the scene, and an absolutely stunning listen. Top stuff.

            TRACK LISTING

            1. Highway Hypnosis
            2. The Way It Goes
            3. Ecstasy
            4. Suck It Like A Whistle
            5. Addis
            6. Saiditzoneza 
            7. Money Don’t Grow On Trees
            8. Cinnamon
            9. Holy Cow Never Saw A Girl Like Her
            10. Beliefs
            11. And We’re Off, A Lil Close
            12. Hong Kong To Amsterdam

            The Rock*A*Teens

            Sixth House

              Born in Cabbagetown, Georgia, the Rock*A*Teens carved their signature echo-wrapped, wounded-heart music on the edges of the Atlanta music scene more than 20 years ago. Led by songwriter and lead singer/guitarist Christopher Lopez, the band released a handful of reverb-drenched singles and full-lengths on the independent Daemon and Merge labels in the late '90s and early 2000s. Following their reunion at the Merge 25 festival and the reissue of their last LP Sweet Bird of Youth (Merge, 2000), the group returned to touring and playing live. Restless with the need to move forward, the band began writing and recording new music. Guided by a batch of home recordings and demos, Lopez, guitarist Justin Hughes, bassist William R. Joiner, and drummer Ballard Lesemann convened with Tim Delaney at Electron Gardens Studio and Rafael Pereira at Tribo Studios to shape their ideas into the glorious, bombastic new album Sixth House.

              These days, Lopez and the R*A*Ts are turning towa rds a more refined approach to recording and performance while preserving their distinctly unvarnished lyrical and musical perspective. "In the past we hid behind walls of reverb, noise, production tricks," Lopez says. "We wanted these particular songs to stand in the light." On Sixth House, the gauze is removed—the anthems are illuminated, the ballads are clear-eyed, and the stories are in sharp focus. Mixed by Pereira and engineer Spencer Willis and mastered by Bob Weston at Chicago Mastering Service, the album features artwork by NYC photographer Chris Verene. Sixth House stands out as the band’s most musically distinct, vibrant, and soulfully rendered album of its career. 

              TRACK LISTING

              1. Billy Really 
              2. Lady Macbeth
              3. Turn And Smile
              4. Go Tell Everybody
              5. Baby’s On To Me
              6. Closest To Heaven 
              7. Count In Odd Numbers
              8. Lost In Sound, Listen
              9. Sonny Boy
              10. Crystal Skies.

              Portastatic

              Looking For Leonard

                Original score music by indie legends Portastatic, moody film noir style complete with film narration, excellent stuff!!

                Versus

                Hurrah

                  Versus are a band from New York City. Their 4th full length album, recorded by the band in their NYC rehearsal space over the course of a year and a half. Songs that are delicate yet complex, weaving intricate sonic dialogues, flourishes of blissful noise mixed with gentle waves of soothing calm, while always staying true to their infectious pop roots.


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