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Superchunk

Here's To Shutting Up (Reissue)

    Bestial Warning – acoustic demos for Here’s to Shutting Up: To write the songs for Here’s to Shutting Up, we gathered in Jim’s garage (he lived way out in the woods) a couple times a week for what seemed like months. We started from actual scratch with no demos or concepts, just playing instrumental music with our usual gear plus a Casio. Sometimes one of us would play the keys instead of our normal instrument, or Jon would hop on guitar and we’d use the Casio drum machine for the beat. We ended up with a LOT of ideas and plenty of good names for them—“Frank’s Bath,” “There’s Something About Marvin,” and “Bestial Warning” to name a few. We recorded practice onto MiniDisc or cassette, and I would ride around listening to these demos and thinking of words. The subject matter, in retrospect, has a lot to do with touring and travel (“Out on the Wing,” “What Do You Look Forward To?”), coming home (“Rainy Streets,” “Act Surprised”), the 2000 election (“Florida’s on Fire”), and late-stage capitalism (“Late-Century Dream,” “The Animal Has Left Its Shell”). Once we wrangled the songs into recognizable and playable shapes, we re-created them in acoustic form and recorded these “demos” at my house so we wouldn’t forget how they went and so we could learn how to play them. Some have the whole band, some are me learning Jim’s and Laura’s parts from the practice tapes and playing them on acoustic guitar.

    Zero Return: We recorded the album in the Cabbagetown neighborhood of Atlanta at Zero Return, the studio built by Brian and Rob (aka Birdstuff and Coco the Electronic Monkey Wizard) of Man or Astro-man? Brian Paulson came with us to produce it. The studio itself was amazing. We also slept there in a dorm-like setting and stayed up too late. We had some great guest players on the record including the first appearance of a pedal steel on a Superchunk album, played by John Neff of Athens band Japancakes. Local Chris Lopez (The Rock*A*Teens) came over to sing backup vocals on “Art Class (Song for Yayoi Kusama).” I asked him to sing harmonies on the chorus and he was like, “Harmonies? Oh, I can’t sing harmonies.” I still don’t believe him, but what he did sing is awesome. We took the record home and mixed it in the basement of Jim’s house in the woods where Brian Paulson had his studio set up.

    September 2001: Here’s to Shutting Up was meant to be released on September 18, 2001. On September 11, obviously the world changed. Our release date moved a couple weeks, but our tour dates remained and we flew to Japan in October. It was a WILD time to be traveling the world. Receptions ranged from “thank you for giving us something else to think about” to “why are you here?” We flew home from Japan and left for the UK the day the US started bombing Afghanistan. This was the climate, and the climate was not great for playing rock music. People were thinking about other things. Our friend Annie Hayden (of the band Spent) joined us on keyboards and guitar for the US leg which was an exciting expansion of our lineup and a fun way to play old songs in a new way. We had some great shows along the way and got to tour with excellent openers like Rilo Kiley, The Good Life, and Aereogramme. But the fear in the air and the length of the tour was exhausting. Some of the most fun times of the tour were the acoustic in-stores we did, which you can hear on the first Clambake we released. Mac McCaughan.

    TRACK LISTING

    SIDE A
    1 Late Century Dream
    2 Rainy Streets
    3 Phone Sex
    4 Florida’s On Fire
    5 Out On The Wing

    SIDE B
    6 The Animal Has Left Its Shell
    7 Act Surprised
    8 Art Class (Song For Yayoi Kusama)
    9 What Do You Look Forward To?
    10 Drool Collection

    LP Bonus CD | CD2:
    1 Late-Century Dream (acoustic Demo)
    2 Rainy Streets (acoustic Demo)
    3 The Hot Break (acoustic Demo)
    4 Florida’s On Fire (acoustic Demo)
    5 Act Surprised (acoustic Demo)
    6 A Collection Of Accounts (acoustic Demo)
    7 Art Class (Song For Yayoi Kusama) (acoustic Demo)
    8 Flying Aka Out On The Wing (acoustic Demo)
    9 Becoming A Speck (acoustic Demo)
    10 Frank’s Bath Aka Phone Sex (acoustic Demo)
    11 The Animal Has Left Its Shell (acoustic Demo)
    12 Corp Song Aka What Do You Look Forward To? (acoustic Demo)
    13 Drool Collection (acoustic Demo)

    Wye Oak

    Civilian + Cut All The Wires: 2009-2011

      Ten years after its release, Wye Oak’s Civilian remains a raw, sinewy punch of a record bleak and intense and lonely and self-assured all at once. The album unravels with the sort of self questioning and uncertainty that come with youth, and its specific confidence in unflinchingly probing all of those emotions, feeling them to their deepest extent even when it’s tearing you apart at the seams. When Andy Stack and Jenn Wasner released Civilian, it marked both the ascension and death of Wye Oak, or at least a version of it. Now, a decade later, Civilian + Cut All the Wires: 2009–2011 delves back into that pivotal record and adds a lost album of unreleased tracks and demos to Civilian’s universe.

      Wye Oak has always existed, and likely always will, at an intersection, as a paradox. Gentle and jagged, fierce and vulnerable—even the clinical sheen of the word “civilian” feels at odds with a record whose content is almost violently human. As Wasner wrote in a short note that accompanied promotional mailings of the record to press in 2011: “These are songs about aloneness (the positive kind), loneliness (the horrible kind), moving on, and letting go (of people, places, and things).”

      Civilian was beloved upon release, complete with late-night TV appearances, sold-out concerts, and glowing reviews; it was the A.V. Club’s favorite album of 2011. With that acclaim came inevitable burnout, thanks in part to Wye Oak’s workhorse mentality, the 200+ shows they performed on the back of the album’s release, and a persistently misogynistic narrative about Wasner’s guitar skills. But rather than recoil, the band decided to rethink: Civilian set the duo on a decade-long course of innovation. On Shriek, the follow-up to Civilian, they completely did away with guitars. And now, in 2021, Wye Oak seem to have fully ditched the album format.

      From a steady stream of standalone singles to 2020’s No Horizon, their EP collaboration with the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, Wasner and Stack are fully committed to reinventing their sound over and over again. Devoting nearly 2,000 words to its 10th anniversary earlier this year, Stereogum described Civilian as “an album of hellos and goodbyes at the same time, introducing us to everything Wye Oak could be, before setting the stage for the other Wye Oaks we’d soon get to know, and the all the others we’ve still yet to meet.”

      Cut All the Wires: 2009–2011, a 12-song collection of rare and unreleased tracks and demos culled from the Wye Oak archives, is an extension of the bruised and aching Civilian. Sonic paradoxes abound: the mellow “Sinking Ship” is preceded by the wall-of-sound grunginess that roars through “Half a Double Man.” A pared-down acoustic Daytrotter live session of “Two Small Deaths” dovetails into the jangling “Holy Holy” demo. The closing lyrics over the frenetic, screeching feedback of “Electricity” lend the anniversary release its title.

      As Wasner sees it now, these songs might as well have been written by a different person. In fact, she and Stack had forgotten about most of the material on Cut All the Wires until happened upon while digging through old hard drives. The collection adds another layer of separation, a lost album unexpectedly discovered and the feeling of meeting oneself all over again. When Wasner wrote these songs, she was deep in the throes of heartbreak and suffering, her songwriting cutting through a haze of self-doubt and internalized misogyny in musical spaces. On the recordings, you can hear the strain in her voice (aiming to sound more androgynous, she notes, something that would go on to ultimately hurt her vocal cords). It lends a raw, emotive quality to these songs, quaking with trepidation and intensity. It feels painful, and it feels real.

      TRACK LISTING

      Civilian LP 1
      SIDE A
      Two Small Deaths
      The Alter
      Holy Holy
      Dogs Eyes
      Civilian
      SIDE B:
      Fish
      Plains
      Hot As Day
      We Were Wealth
      Doubt

      Cut All The Wires LP 2
      SIDE C
      Replacement
      Civilian (Demo)
      No Words
      Electricity
      Half A Double Man
      Sinking Ship
      SIDE D
      Two Small Deaths (Daytrotter Session)
      Holy Holy (Demo)
      Pardon
      Black Is The Color
      Ten Fingers
      I’m Proud

      She & Him

      Volume One

        The musical debut from M. Ward (Him) and Zooey Deschanel (She) in 2008, paired together by director Martin Hynes to perform the Richard and Linda Thompson tune “When I Get to the Border” for his film The Go-Getter. Their match sparked the idea for Volume One

        TRACK LISTING

        1 Sentimental Heart
        2 Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?
        3 This Is Not A Test
        4 Change Is Hard
        5 I Thought I Saw Your Face Today
        6 Take It Back
        7 I Was Made For You
        8 You Really Got A Hold On Me
        9 Black Hole
        10 Got Me
        11 I Should Have Known Better
        12 Sweet Darlin'
        13 Swing Low Sweet Chariot 

        She & Him

        Volume Two

          Originally released March 23, 2011. Written by Zooey Deschanel and produced by M. Ward, Volume Two is the follow up to the duo’s critically acclaimed debut, Volume One. The album includes eleven original tracks and two covers: “Ridin’ in My Car” by NRBQ and Skeeter Davis’ “Gonna Get Along Without You Now.” Described by Zooey as a “feel-good album,” Volume Two is bolstered by rich harmonies, sweet-as-sugar melodies, and Brill Building choruses. From sweeping opener “Thieves” and first single “In the Sun” (featuring guest vocals by Tilly and the Wall) to the tempo and mood shifts of “Home” and the vocals-only, hymn-like closer “If You Can’t Sleep,” Volume Two shimmers from start to finish.

          TRACK LISTING

          1 Thieves
          2 In The Sun
          3 Don't Look Back
          4 Ridin' In My Car
          5 Lingering Still
          6 Me And You
          7 Gonna Get Along Without You Now
          8 Home
          9 I'm Gonna Make It Better
          10 Sing
          11 Over It Over Again
          12 Brand New Shoes
          13 If You Can't Sleep 

          She & Him

          Volume 3

            With fourteen songs 11 Deschanel originals and three covers Volume 3 is an effortlessly effervescent, bleached-out-in-the-sun pop record. The album features some of the most dynamic, complex songs Deschanel has ever written, allowing for tempo shifts, disco grooves, string arrangements on multiple tracks, and horn flourishes that perfectly suit the She & Him sound. Written by Deschanel during downtime while filming New Girl, and produced by M. Ward, Volume 3 features guest contributions from NRBQ’s Joey Spampinato, Mike Watt, Tilly and the Wall, Pierre de Reeder from Rilo Kiley, and Tom Hagerman from Devotchka

            TRACK LISTING

            1 I've Got Your Number, Son
            2 Never Wanted Your Love
            3 Baby
            4 I Could've Been Your Girl
            5 Turn To White
            6 Somebody Sweet To Talk To
            7 Something's Haunting You
            8 Together
            9 Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me
            10 Snow Queen
            11 Sunday Girl
            12 London
            13 Shadow Of Love
            14 Reprise (I Could've Been Your Girl)

            Mac McCaughan

            The Sound Of Yourself

              Throughout his career fronting Superchunk and Portastatic, Mac McCaughan has channeled more than his share of angst into a microphone, resulting in undeniable rock anthems. So how can a voice so familiar to others still seem foreign to its owner? On The Sound of Yourself, McCaughan’s second release under his own name, he explores that question fully, shooting his voice through a prism and refracting it across these songs in new and rewarding ways. In January 2021, McCaughan found himself at his home studio in Chapel Hill North Carolina staring down a clean slate after wrapping a film score and several other music projects. His thought process was simple: “Each day is blurring into the next, so what are we doing today?

              How can I disrupt this? I think what resulted was a theme of subdued… ‘joy’ is the wrong word, but it’s at least comforting if not propulsive to have something open-ended to work on every day without any kind of structure or deadline or rules.” McCaughan leaned into allowing randomness and accidents to catalyze his compositions. Where a guitar riff might typically start a Superchunk song, an indistinguishable loop found on an old sampler dictates the mood on “Found Cricket,” and simply opening up his studio to the woods outside channels Another Green World on “36 and Rain.”

              Instrumentals make up nearly half of The Sound of Yourself, and are integral to the album’s atmosphere. While the pop-oriented tracks hint at sounds explored on Non-Believers, McCaughan’s recent scoring work and frequent excursions with synthesizers and sequencers (see: the Moogfest commissioned POMS and his ambient project with Mary Lattimore) add a particularly crystalline spaciness akin to The Durutti Column and Bowie’s Berlin trilogy. A sloping new wave bassline grounds the catchy “Circling Around” as McCaughan rejects rumination with cleverly cyclical lyrics and a few strategically placed “whoa”s. The warbled synthetic voices emanating from the Mellotron on “Sleep Donor” are already singing isolation blues well before McCaughan frets, “I hear a footstep in the hall when there should be no one there at all…”

              These could be the same ghostly sounds “softer than the light, under the door” he describes in “I Hear a Radio,” a track on which Michael Benjamin Lerner (Telekinesis) and Annie Hayden (Spent) provide shimmering vocal harmonies. For a record titled The Sound of Yourself, the irony in having many contributions from friends is not lost on McCaughan: “I’m constantly inspired by the work of my peers. I feel lucky to be able to collaborate with them despite the distances between us. Sending off a song into the ether and having it returned greatly improved and in often surprising and moving ways was one of the most satisfying aspects of making this record.” 

              TRACK LISTING

              1. Moss Light
              2. The Sound Of Yourself
              3. I Hear A Radio
              4. 36 And Rain
              5. Burn A Fax
              6. Gen Ash
              7. Circling Around
              8. R Dream
              9. Sleep Donor
              10. Dawn Bends
              11. Found Cricket

              Torres

              Thirstier

                Torres’ fifth album Thirstier pumps the miraculous into the mundane. It is in open revolt against the gray drag of time, a searing and life-affirming eruption of an album that wonders what could happen if we found a way to make our fantasies inexhaustible. What if we got whatever we wanted and still wanted it, endlessly, with no threat of boredom and no danger of depletion? What could we become if we let ourselves grow incandescent with eternally renewing desire?

                Since releasing her self-titled debut album in 2013, Torres the stage name of Brooklyn-based rock musician Mackenzie Scott has used her pointed lyricism and disarming vocal presence to seek openings in the everyday, prying apart the walls of the real in search of escape. After a pandemic year that toggled relentlessly between numbing dread and active terror, Thirstier explodes the borders of imaginative possibility. It is Scott’s most exuberant and daring record to date, showcasing her in thrilling freefall.

                Recorded in the fall of 2020 at Middle Farm Studios in Devon, UK, Thirstier marks a turn towards a bigger, more bombastic sound for Torres. The anxious hush that fell over much of Scott’s previous music gets turned inside-out in songs tailored for post-plague celebration. Scott co-produced the album with Rob Ellis and Peter Miles, drawing on her experience self-producing the acclaimed 2020 LP Silver Tongue to push her music onto an even broader scale. Guitar-driven walls of sound, reminiscent of producer Butch Vig’s work with Garbage and Nirvana, surge and dissipate like surf in high winds, carrying Scott’s commanding voice to the fore.

                “I wanted to channel my intensity into something that felt positive and constructive, as opposed to being intense in a destructive or eviscerating way,” Scott notes. “I love the idea that intensity can actually be something life-saving or something joyous.”

                From the sparkling country romp of “Don’t Go Puttin Wishes in My Head” to the sour grunge bite of “Keep the Devil Out” and the unabashed, overflowing devotion of the album’s title track, Thirstier clasps together love songs from all angles. Romantic love, platonic love, familial love, self-love, and freeing spiritual love all commingle, all feeding one another and vaulting toward the horizon. Scott sings of love that never knows scarcity.

                “The more of you I drink / The thirstier I get,” she pronounces on the title track’s chorus a thesis statement for the album as a whole, and its resolute striving toward abundance. “Keep me in your fantasies / Even though you live with me,” she sings at the song’s climax, enclosing transportive, alchemizing desire inside the pedestrian without dulling any of its glow.

                “We’re always fantasizing about something that’s out of reach. That’s what a fantasy is. It’s something you can’t have. But I wanted to turn that idea around and ask, ‘What if your fantasy was the thing that you have, this endless loop of fantasy?’” Scott says. “It’s a way to be in this fantastical, magical realm forever. I want to make that space for myself. I want to create a reality where my day-to-day is actually my fantasy. That’s what I want more than anything.”

                With Thirstier, Torres clears the way to that wellspring and invites others to follow her there. “I’ve been conjuring this deep, deep joy that I honestly didn’t feel for most of my life,” she says. “I feel like a rock within myself. And I’ve started to feel that I have what it takes to help other people conjure their joy, too.”

                TRACK LISTING

                SIDE A
                Are You Sleepwalking?
                Don’t Go Puttin Wishes In My Head
                Constant Tomorrowland
                Drive Me
                Big Leap

                SIDE B
                Hug From A Dinosaur
                Thirstier
                Kiss The Corners
                Hand In The Air
                Keep The Devil Out

                Hiss Golden Messenger

                Quietly Blowing It

                  “I went looking for peace,” says songwriter M.C. Taylor of Hiss Golden Messenger about his new album Quietly Blowing It. “It’s not exactly a record about the state of the world—or my world—in 2020, but more a retrospective of the past five years of my life, painted in sort of impressionistic hues. Maybe I had the presence of mind when I was writing Quietly Blowing It to know that this was the time to go as deep as I needed to in order to make a record like this. And I got the time required in order to do that.” He pauses and laughs ruefully. “I got way more time than I needed, actually.”

                  Quietly Blowing It was written and arranged by Taylor in his home studio—his 8’ × 10’ sanctuary packed floor to ceiling with books, records, and old guitars—as he watched the chaotic world spin outside his window. “Writing became a daily routine,” he explains, “and that was a ballast for me. Having spent so much time on the road over the past ten years, where writing consistently with any kind of flow can be tricky, it felt refreshing. And being in my studio, which is both isolated from and totally connected to the life of my family, felt appropriate for these songs.” Between March and June, Taylor wrote and recorded upwards of two dozen songs—in most cases playing all of the instruments himself—before winnowing the collection down and bringing them to the Hiss band. In July, the group of musicians, with Taylor in the production seat, went into Overdub Lane in Durham, NC, for a week, where they recorded Quietly Blowing It as an organic unit honed to a fine edge from their years together on the road. “We all needed to be making that music together,” he recalls. “We’ve all spent so many years traveling all over the world, but in that moment, it felt cathartic to be recording those particular songs with each other in our own small hometown.”

                  Throughout Quietly Blowing It, Taylor brings his keen eye to our “broken American moment”—as he first sang on Hiss Golden Messenger’s critically acclaimed, GRAMMY®-nominated Terms of Surrender—in ways that feel devastatingly intimate and human. Beginning with the wanderer’s lament of “Way Back in the Way Back,” with its rallying cry of “Up with the mountains, down with the system,” Taylor carries the listener on a musical journey that continually returns to themes of growing up, loss, obligation, and labor with piercing clarity, and his musical influences—including classic Southern soul and gospel, renegade country, and spiritual jazz—have never felt more genuine. Indeed, Quietly Blowing It is a distillation of the rolling Hiss Golden Messenger groove, from the rollicking, Allman-esque “The Great Mystifier” to the chiming falsetto soul of “It Will If We Let It,” to the smoky, shuffling title track with its bittersweet guitar assist from Nashville legend Buddy Miller. The album ends with soulful lead single “Sanctuary,” a song about trying to reconcile tragedy and joy, with references to John Prine (“Handsome Johnny had to go, child…”), economic disparity, and the redemptive quality of hope. Indeed, when he sings, “Feeling bad, feeling blue, can’t get out of my own mind; but I know how to sing about it,” it feels like the album’s spiritual thesis. Throughout Quietly Blowing It, Taylor reckons with the tumultuous present in wholly personal terms, encouraging listeners to do the same. “These songs always circle back to the things that I feel like I have a handle on and the things that I’m not proud of about myself. When I think of the phrase ‘quietly blowing it,’ I think of all the ways that I’ve misstepped, misused my gifts, miscommunicated. ‘Born on the level, quietly blowing it.’ That’s what’s on my mind there. Always fuckin’ up in little ways.”

                  Surrounding himself with a trusted cast of collaborators that includes Miller, songwriter Gregory Alan Isakov, songwriter and Tony Award–winning playwright Anaïs Mitchell, multi-instrumentalist Josh Kaufman, Dawes’ brothers Taylor and Griffin Goldsmith, and his oldest musical confidant Scott Hirsch, Taylor has made his most audacious and hopeful work yet with Quietly Blowing It; it’s an album that speaks personal truth to this moment in which the old models of being feel broken and everything feels at stake. “I don’t know that the peace that I crave when I’m far from home exists, actually,” says Taylor. “It’s more complicated. I still don’t know what peace means for me, because I can be sitting on the couch watching a movie with my family and be completely tangled up in my head. But if I keep on doing my own personal work on myself—writing records like Quietly Blowing It—I have to think that I’m getting closer.”

                  STAFF COMMENTS

                  Barry says: Hiss Golden Messenger has a long and varied career crafting endlessly beautiful lamentations on life and love, and this newest outing brims with the skill of a man at ease with his own writing style. Gorgeous progressions and swooning dusty country-indie passages are offset with Taylor's unmistakeable vocals. Really beautiful stuff.

                  TRACK LISTING

                  Side A
                  1 Way Back In The Way Back
                  2 The Great Mystifier
                  3 Mighty Dollar
                  4 Quietly Blowing It
                  5 It Will If We Let It
                  Side B
                  6 Hardlytown
                  7 If It Comes In The Morning
                  8 Glory Strums (Loneliness Of The Long-Distance Runner)
                  9 Painting Houses
                  10 Angels In The Headlights
                  11 Sanctuary

                  Live At Leeds CD (Dinked Exclusive)
                  There’s A New Day Coming
                  Jaw
                  Call Him Daylight
                  Red Rose Nantahala
                  My Wing
                  Terms Of Surrender
                  Blue Country Mystic
                  Highland Grace
                  Beat The Retreat
                  Harder Rain

                  The Mountain Goats

                  Dark In Here

                    When the Mountain Goats got together in March 2020, it was to make not one album, but two. The idea was to again work with Matt Ross-Spang, the dashing Memphis wunderkind. Matt pitched we spend a week at Sam Phillips Recording, his home base in Memphis, followed by another at the storied FAME Recording Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, a plan that dovetailed nicely with John’s notion of corralling these songs into two complementary batches: one light, one dark. The Memphis album Getting Into Knives, would be brighter, bolder, marked by rich and vibrant hues; the Muscle Shoals album Dark in Here, is quieter, smokier, but more deeply textured and intense. We were all aware of the mythos surrounding FAME. The second you step inside you transport to its early ’60s heyday and its louche mid-’70s denouement. The room we set up in is the room where Percy Sledge sang “When a Man Loves a Woman” and where Aretha Franklin recorded “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You).” The Wurlitzer with which Spooner Oldham opens the last? It’s sitting right there. Spooner is living musical history, having played with everyone from Bob Dylan and Neil Young to Linda Ronstadt and Liberace, for crying out loud. And Spooner is all over Dark in Here any time you hear

                    a bit of Hammond organ or electric piano chiming in without repeating a phrase. We tracked the album’s one outright banger, “The Destruction of the Kola Superdeep Borehole Tower,” live with Spooner, and “Mobile” and “Dark in Here” with guitarist Will McFarlane another local veteran who played with Bonnie Raitt for years. We only had Spooner for two afternoons, though, and Will for just one. After it was just the four of us: John playing acoustic guitar and occasional piano, the rhythm section of drummer Jon Wurster and myself, and our jack-of-all-trades Matt Douglas picking up everything else. The result is something more stripped down and intimate than the lush arrangements of Getting Into Knives.

                    Of “The Slow Parts on Death Metal Albums,” John concedes that the song is autobiographical. While the lines, “In a new universe / trying to find the mask that fits me” would take on a newly literal connotation in the weeks to come, the song is about going to late ‘80s metal shows at Fender’s Ballroom in Long Beach, and about seeking a sense of identity and community in strange and occasionally forbidding places. This theme feeling at once conspicuous and invisible, the frustrated craving for acceptance is echoed elsewhere. Then there are elegies to lost causes, some big and institutional (“The Destruction of the Kola Superdeep Borehole Tower”), some small and personal (“Arguing With the Ghost of Peter Laughner About His Coney Island Baby Review,” a tribute to David Berman, whose return from self-imposed musical exile had been cause for huge celebration in our camp). “Before I Got There” neglects to identify its victims, or the tragedy that’s befallen them.

                    John writes in the liner notes that “if you’re looking for a governing theme here, it’s calamity, as all the songs are either anticipating one or reflecting one that’s already happened.” Peter Hughes, Rochester, March 2021.

                    TRACK LISTING

                    SIDE A
                    1 Parisian Enclave
                    2 The Destruction Of The Kola
                    3 Superdeep Borehole Tower
                    4 Mobile
                    5 Dark In Here
                    6 Lizard Suit

                    SIDE B
                    7 When A Powerful Animal Comes
                    8 To The Headless Horseman
                    9 The New Hydra Collection
                    10 The Slow Parts On Death Metal Albums

                    SIDE C
                    10. Before I Got There
                    11. Arguing With The Ghost Of Peter Laughner About His Coney Island Baby Review
                    12. Let Me Bathe In Demonic Light

                    SIDE D
                    [Vinyl Etching]

                    William Tyler

                    New Vanitas (RSD21 EDITION)

                      THIS IS A RECORD STORE DAY 2021 EXCLUSIVE AND WILL BE AVAILABLE INSTORE ON SATURDAY JUNE 12TH ON A FIRST COME FIRST SERVED BASIS, LIMITED TO ONE PER PERSON.

                      IF THERE ARE ANY REMAINING COPIES THEY WILL BE MADE AVAILABLE ONLINE AT 6PM ON THE SAME DAY (SATURDAY JUNE 12TH).


                      The concept of vanitas in medieval art refers to the juxtaposition of macabre symbols of death with material ephemera in order to illustrate the impermanence of earthly things. What struck me about this was not the representation of death in a macabre/morbid way, but rather that very sense of ephemerality and impermanence. Reading an article about the history of ephemera in art led me to the concept of vanitas, and I wanted to find a way to pivot that in a more, well, hopeful direction. But these paintings force us to bear witness to the contrasts of life, death, and impermanence, and if 2020 has taught me about anything, it is this concept of ìbearing witnessî both on a personal and political level. With these new songs, I really just wanted to create a sort of mood board for where my head and soul have been at the last few months. The sound dissolves into another sound, the image into another image. Time passing, transience, change. Although ìstaticî means lacking movement, static sonically is almost the literal opposite: it is transience, noise, change. William Tyler, August 2020.

                      Reigning Sound

                      A Little More Time With Reigning Sound

                        A Little More Time, Reigning Sound’s seventh proper full-length, is the original lineup’s first in-studio collaboration since 2005’s Home for Orphans LP, which Merge reissued last year. Ultimately, that 2020 reissue laid the groundwork for the outfit’s reunification. Cartwright explains, “When Merge reissued Home for Orphans, we booked a little string of shows with the original lineup. We still love to get together and play every couple years.” The short reunion tour wrapped just as pandemic hit the United States.

                        Soon after, Cartwright found himself with a batch of new songs. With Reigning Sound’s current lineup based in New York City, then a COVID-19 hotspot, Cartwright made the decision to produce the new record back in Memphis—though he did regret not being able to work with the players behind 2014’s Daptone-recorded Shattered. “It was not something I anticipated, making a record with the original lineup again,” Cartwright says. “Mainly, because I had guys I was playing with, and we had an established dynamic that was working. In addition to working with old bandmates, Cartwright enlisted acclaimed producer Scott Bomar (Al Green, William Bell) at Electraphonic Recording, to produce in downtown Memphis. “Scott was in a band called Impala for many years,” Cartwright recalls. “And he also played bass with me and Jack [Yarber] on the Compulsive Gamblers’ Bluff City album.

                        He has the machine I like to record on, a Scully one-inch 8-track. I’ve worked on one-inch 8-tracks for the last four records, and I’m kind of addicted.” While having 24 tracks offers up more capability for overdubs, Cartwright prefers the limitations of 8-tracks. “It’s super helpful when you get to the mixing process and your head isn’t still going, ‘What should I add?’ It helps streamline the process, and it helps so I can focus on what’s there instead of what’s not. Then I can just work on the sound.”

                        For the new LP, Cartwright employed a string section, an additional percussionist, and a pedal steel player on some of the tracks. Beyond that, Coco Hames (The Ettes, Parting Gifts) sings co-lead vocals on “Just Say When.” “Let’s Do It Again,” the album’s boisterous opener, captures the mundaneness and yearning that isolation creates, but with Reigning Sound’s signature foot-stomping rock ’n’ roll. It’s also delivered with optimism and a desire to reconnect with people. Elsewhere, on tracks like “I’ll Be Your Man,” the LP decelerates and shifts into moody ballad territory. Rounding out A Little More Time is a raucous cover of Adam Faith’s “I Don’t Need That Kind of Lovin’.” The 1965 single is a longtime staple at Reigning Sound shows, but this is its first appearance on record.

                        “When I write songs, it’s the melody I write first. The melody dictates what the mood is whether it’s about being happy, confused, sad, lonely… The melody speaks to a feeling. From there, my job is to translate that feeling into words. I try not to be too structured in how I think about that because the more ambiguous it is, the more people can read their own story into what you’re saying, and I think that’s important. On some level, I consciously don’t want to know what a song is about.” Ambiguities aside, the LP closes with the poignant “On and On,” a song that reminds us that despite all of the highs and lows we face, “love is still a choice… love is the only choice.” It offers a glimmer of light. These days, that’s not a bad note to end on.

                        TRACK LISTING

                        SIDE A

                        Do It Again Real Soon
                        A Little More Time
                        I Don’t Need That Kind Of
                        Lovin’
                        I’ll Be Your Man
                        Oh Christine
                        Moving & Shaking

                        SIDE B

                        You Don’t Know What You’re
                        Missing
                        Make It Up
                        A Good Life
                        Just Say When
                        You Ain’t Me
                        On And On

                        Fruit Bats

                        The Pet Parade

                          “The Pet Parade,” the title track to Fruit Bats’ newest album, might be a surprising opening track for longtime fans of Eric D. Johnson’s beloved indie folk-rock project. The six-and-a-half-minute tone poem smolders and drones over just two chords, inspired by the strange and silly community events that he saw growing up outside of Chicago, in La Grange, Illinois, in which people dressed up and showed off their pets. Decades later, The Pet Parade emerges in troubled times, living within what Johnson refers to as the beauty and absurdity of existence.

                          While many of the songs on The Pet Parade were actually written before the pandemic, it’s impossible to disassociate the record from the times. As an example, producer Josh Kaufman (Bob Weir, The National, and Bonny Light Horseman, in which he plays with Johnson and Anaïs Mitchell) was brought in for his deep emotional touch and bandleading abilities. However, Johnson, Kaufman, and the other musicians on The Pet Parade drummers Joe Russo and Matt Barrick (The Walkmen, Fleet Foxes), singer-songwriter Johanna

                          Samuels, pianist Thomas Bartlett (Nico Muhly, Sufjan Stevens), and fiddler Jim Becker (Califone, Iron & Wine) were forced to self-record their parts in bedrooms and home studios across America. Still, says Johnson, “The songs have enough intimacy that it doesn’t sound like it was made a million miles away.”



                          Such tension and turmoil also impacted the lyrics of The Pet Parade. While “Cub Pilot” and “Here For Now, For You” began as more traditional love songs from a personal “I” to a specific “you” Johnson quickly realized

                          that these songs needed to comfort broader audiences, changing the words to a more inclusive “we” and “us.” So too in “The Balcony,” a song ostensibly about a particular space in his grandmother’s apartment, but one that evolved into a metaphor on patience.



                          At times upbeat and reassuring (“Eagles Below Us”) and at times quietly contemplative (“On the Avalon Stairs”), The Pet Parade marks a milestone for Johnson, who celebrates 20 years of Fruit Bats in 2021. In some ways still a cult band, in other ways a time-tested act, Fruit Bats has consistently earned enough small victories to carve out a career in a notoriously fickle scene.

                          And Johnson himself who has played in The Shins, composed film scores, gone solo and returned back to the moniker that started it all, and most recently, earned two GRAMMY® nominations with Bonny Light

                          Horseman doesn’t take this long route of life’s pet parade for granted. “I’m still really excited to make records,” he says. “Lucky and happy and maybe happier that things went slower for me. I’m savoring it a lot more.”

                          TRACK LISTING

                          1 The Pet Parade
                          2 Cub Pilot
                          3 Discovering
                          4 The Balcony
                          5 Here For Now, For You
                          6 On The Avalon Stairs
                          7 Eagles Below Us
                          8 Holy Rose
                          9 All In One Go
                          10 Gullwing Doors
                          11 Complete

                          The Mountain Goats

                          Songs For Pierre Chuvin

                            A surprise cassette released April 2020, Songs for Pierre Chuvin is the Mountain Goats’ first all-boombox album since 2002’s All Hail West Texas. After selling over 4000 cassettes in a matter of minutes, the avid Mountain Goats fanbase has demanded more and we are happy to acquiesce! Songs for Pierre Chuvin will be available on CD and LP on March 26, 2021.

                            Praise for Songs for Pierre Chuvin:
                            “Recording on the same boombox that launched his career, John Darnielle returns to his lo-fi roots for an album of alienation, ancient pagans, and making it through the year together.” Pitchfork

                            “Full of images fit for these dismal times and slogans suited to surviving them, Pierre Chuvin is an inspiring reminder of how much each of us has left to learn.” NPR

                            “[Songs for Pierre Chuvin] can be used to escape the present emergency—or, if the listener so chooses, to better understand it.” The Atlantic

                            “Songs for Pierre Chuvin is exactly what we’ve come to expect: big-hearted songs full of warmth and smarts,

                            TRACK LISTING

                            SIDE A

                            1 Aulon Raid
                            2 Until Olympius Returns
                            3 Last Gasp At Calama
                            4 For The Snakes
                            5 The Wooded Hills Along The Black Sea
                            6 January 31, 438

                            SIDE B

                            7 Hopeful Assassins Of Zeno
                            8 Their Gods Do Not Have
                            9 Surgeons
                            10 Going To Lebanon 2
                            11 Exegetic Chains

                            Writhing Squares

                            Chart For The Solution

                              Philadelphia duo’s third album. Features mbrs of Ecstatic Vision, Astute Palate, Rosali & the Middlemen. Mastered by Mikey Young (Total Control / Eddy Current). Writhing Squares - the Philadelphia duo of Kevin Nickles (sax, flute, synth) & Daniel Provenzano (bass, vocals)  have been refining the nuts & bolts of their sound over their previous two albums.

                              Their latest (and second for Trouble In Mind), "Chart For The Solution" is a double album chock full what makes them tick; heady, progressive, psychedelic space-rock-cum-minimal synth slop, punctuated by MacKay/Chance-style blasts of brass & woodwinds that definitely scratch an itch. Over the course of "Chart For The Solution"s four sides, Nickles & Provenzano utilize the extended format to stretch out & settle into a groove all their own. From the relentless synth pulse of opener "Rogue Moon", thru the aggro-throb of "Geisterwaltz" & four-on-the-floor scree of "Ganymede", The Squares have no mercy for your weary ears.

                              After a brief, (slightly) mellow respite thru three tunes ("The Abyss Is Never Brighter"/"A Chorus of Electrons"/"The Library"), the band ratchets up the intensity with the cacophonous clatter of "NFU" (featuring Philly legend "Harmonica" Dan Balcer RIPPING thru runs on his harp) leading right into the album's centerpiece; all of Side Three's "The Pillar", a near-nineteen minute epic suite that launches the listener straight into the maw of a black hole & thru the other side. Side Four closes out "Chart For The Solution" starting with the slinky stomp of "North Side of The Sky" into "Resurrect Dead On Planet Whatever"s unsettling, cosmic-funeral dirge.

                              Fittingly, "Epilogue" closes out the album, with Nickles' sax dive bombing around Provenzano's bass throb like an alien interpretation of "Funhouse"s howling anarchy, augmented by live drums by John Schoemaker & organ by Alex Ward. Recorded by the band themselves & utilizing recordings made from 2015 all the way thru earlier this year, "Chart For The Solution" really is a ZONE, & the perfect auditory cleanser to scrub away the stain of the previous year. 


                              TRACK LISTING

                              1. Rogue Moon
                              2. Geisterwaltz
                              3. Ganymede
                              4. The Abyss Is Never Brighter
                              5. A Chorus Of Electrons
                              6. The Library
                              7. NFU
                              8. The Pillars
                              9. North Side Of The Sky
                              10. Resurrect Dead On Planet Whatever
                              11. Epilogue

                              Wye Oak

                              The Knot - Reissue

                                Wye Oak's second album, released in 2009. Press quotes - “The shimmering of shoegaze slowed down into a throbbing pulse, and loud-quiet-loud aesthetics channeled around ethereal vocals. Their first album was good, this is just amazing. The songs are sleepers and insidious, lounging around for days in your head without you even being aware.” AQUARIUM DRUNKARD // “So dense yet so simple and so affecting, the longing, mournful sway-rock of Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack’s Wye Oak after just two albums already stands to be the music Baltimoreans 15 years from now hold up in the same way we hold up, say, Lungfish today.

                                The songwriting is pristine: Its melodies, downcast and celebratory in the same measure, burrow under the skin like a gentle inoculation. The lyrical ideas are timeless. Bits of country and folk twang their way to the surface like remembered bits of a dream. And sounds and layers stack themselves improbably, and majestically, into some of the city’s finest tunes. Just a couple of years ago, Wye Oak was crafting its music in relative obscurity and, since, has found its way onto the national and world stages, spreading a whole new Baltimore gospel.”

                                TRACK LISTING

                                1 Milk And Honey
                                2 For Prayer
                                3 Take It In
                                4 Siamese
                                5 Talking About Money
                                6 Mary Is Mary
                                7 Tattoo
                                8 I Want For Nothing
                                9 That I Do
                                10 Sight, Flight 

                                Wye Oak

                                Civilian - Reissue

                                  Originally released March 2011, Wye Oak’s third album celebrates 10 years in 2021. Civilian is the band’s most widely recognized album, and the band’s highest seller. Civilian was produced by John Congleton (St Vincent, Shearwater). Wye Oak is Andy Stack (of Lambchop, Joyero, El Vy) and Jenn Wasner (of Bon Iver, Flock of Dimes). They started as two friends recording demos together in Maryland. Their basement project has since evolved to include a shape-shifting catalog and more than a decade of tours across America and Europe. Jon Pareles of the NEW YORK TIMES described their evolution: “Wye Oak segued thoughtful roots-tinged rock into richly overwhelming textural excursions.” // Quotes - “Wasner’s satin vocals lift, Stack couples a key-driven pulse with splashes of delay and crash cymbal, and what we’re left with is fireworks of a dozen colors. They have our attention from beginning to end.” PITCHFORK // “Their music ambushes you, burning not just barns but whole plantations, taut with latent ferocity and brooding bitterness.

                                  TRACK LISTING

                                  1 Two Small Deaths
                                  2 The Alter
                                  3 Holy Holy
                                  4 Dogs Eyes
                                  5 Civilian
                                  6 Fish
                                  7 Plains
                                  8 Hot As Day
                                  9 We Were Wealth
                                  10 Doubt 

                                  In the winter of 2019, Bob Mould bucked the era’s despair with his most melodic, upbeat album in ages, Sunshine Rock.

                                  Cut to spring of 2020, and he has this to say: “We’re really in deep shit now.”

                                  That sentiment informs the new full-length album, Blue Hearts (Merge, September 25), the raging-but-catchy yin to Sunshine Rock’s yang.

                                  To be sure, we were in some shit back in 2018, when Mould recorded Sunshine Rock with longtime colleagues Jon Wurster (drums), Jason Narducy (bass), and Beau Sorenson (engineer). Back then, he had a song called “American Crisis” that didn’t fit the album.

                                  “That song is the seed for what we’re talking about now,” Mould says from his home in San Francisco during the COVID-19 lockdown. “At the time, it just seemed too heavy. Today it seems fucking quaint.”

                                  “American Crisis” is the third song in a walloping first half of an album that spits plainspoken fire at the people who fomented this crisis. “This is the catchiest batch of protest songs I’ve ever written in one sitting,” he says.

                                  Through some of the most direct, confrontational lyrics of his four-decade career, Mould makes his POV clear: “I never thought I’d see this bullshit again / To come of age in the ’80s was bad enough / We were marginalized and demonized / I watched a lot of my generation die / Welcome back to American crisis.”

                                  Why “welcome back”? Because Mould experienced deja vu writing Blue Hearts in the fall of 2019. “Where it started to go in my head is back to a spot that I’ve been in before,” he says. “And that was the fall of 1983.”

                                  Back then, Mould was a self-described “22-year-old closeted gay man” touring with the legendary Hüsker Dü and seeing an epidemic consume his community. Leaders, including the one in the White House, were content to let AIDS kill a generation. Mould later realized why his mind wandered back there for Blue Hearts.

                                  “We have a charismatic, telegenic, say-anything leader being propped up by evangelicals,” he says. “These fuckers tried to kill me once. They didn’t do it. They scared me. I didn’t do enough. Guess what? I’m back, and we’re back here again. And I’m not going to sit quietly this time and worry about alienating anyone.”

                                  Recorded at the famed Electrical Audio in Chicago with Sorenson engineering and Mould producing, Blue Hearts nods to Mould’s past while remaining firmly planted in the issues of the day. Acoustic opener “Heart on My Sleeve” catalogues the ravages of climate change. “Next Generation” worries for who comes next. “American Crisis” references “Evangelical ISIS” and features this dagger of a line: “Pro-life, pro-life until you make it in someone else’s wife.”

                                  “There are songs that have no room,” Mould says, laughing. “The other songs, there’s room. There is room for imagination on the second half of the record.”

                                  That’s where the songs turn personal in a different way. Tracks like “When You Left,” “Siberian Butterfly,” and “Everyth!ng to You” are grounded in personal relationships. “Racing to the End” captures the economic disparity of Mould’s neighborhood, and “Leather Dreams”… well, maybe Jon Wurster put it best.

                                  “Jon turns to Jason and asks, ‘Is this the dirtiest song you’ve ever played on?’” Mould recalls with a chuckle. “I clearly did not put the edit tool to that one. Those are all pretty true bits. What kind of person could possibly have a life like that?” He laughs again. “Says the author.”

                                  “Leather Dreams,” “Password to My Soul,” and “The Ocean” were composed during a writing binge before a January 2020 Solo Electric tour, when Mould stayed up for three straight days. “Songs just kept coming out,” he says. “‘Leather Dreams’ and ‘The Ocean’ both appeared within hours. I barely remember writing them.”

                                  That feels right for an explosive, hook-laden album like Blue Hearts. Only there’s nothing forgettable about it.

                                  TRACK LISTING

                                  1. Heart On My Sleeve
                                  2. Next Generation
                                  3. American Crisis
                                  4. Fireball
                                  5. Forecast Of Rain
                                  6. When You Left
                                  7. Siberian Butterfly
                                  8. Everyth!ng To You
                                  9. Racing To The End
                                  10. Baby Needs A Cookie
                                  11. Little Pieces
                                  12. Leather Dreams
                                  13. Password To My Soul
                                  14. The Ocean

                                  Will Butler

                                  Generations

                                    In the five years since Will Butler released his debut album, Policy, he’s toured the world both solo and as a member of Arcade Fire, released the Friday Night live album, recorded and released Arcade Fire’s international #1 album Everything Now, earned his master’s degree in public policy from Harvard, hosted a series of touring town halls on local issues (police contracts, prison reform, municipal paid sick leave, voting rights), and spent time raising his three children. He also found the time and inspiration to write and record a new album, Generations. “My first record, Policy, was a book of short stories,” Butler says. “Generations is more of a novel despairing, funny, a little bit epic… A big chunk of this record is asking: What’s my place in American history? What’s my place in America’s present?

                                    Both in general as a participant, as we all are, in the shit that’s going down but, also extremely particularly: me as Will Butler, rich person, white person, Mormon, Yankee, parent, musician of some sort, I guess. What do I do? What can I do? The record asks that question over and over, even if it’s not much for answers.” While the songs on Generations contain their fair share of dread and regret, there is ultimately a lightness that shines through Butler’s music. That brightness is at its most intense when he and his solo band Miles Francis, Sara Dobbs, and Julie and Jenny Shore perform on stage. Their electricity is palpable throughout Generations, with the bulk of the new songs having been worked out live.

                                    Wild synth production gnarly bass synths with live drums and anthemic backing vocals as on first single “Surrender” are punctuated by intimate, direct moments: Butler’s voice cracking on “Fine” as he conjures his ancestors, and “Promised,” a meditation on friendship, how lives are built together, and how and why they drift apart. Generations was recorded and produced by Butler in the basement of his home in Brooklyn. Tracking finished in March 2020, as New York closed down for the pandemic. Half the record was mixed in Montreal by longtime Arcade Fire engineer Mark Lawson, the other half by Brooklyn-based producer Shiftee (who is, incidentally, bandmate Julie Shore’s husband and Will’s brother-in-law). Generations opens a dialogue with the world. It posits answers and deals with those answers being refuted. Ultimately, it navigates the conversation as a way to find the truth… or at least a way forward. 

                                    TRACK LISTING

                                    1. Outta Here
                                    2. Bethlehem
                                    3. Close My Eyes
                                    4. I Don’t Know What I Don’t
                                    5. Know, Surrender.
                                    6. Hide It Away
                                    7. Hard Times
                                    8. Promised
                                    9. Not Gonna Die
                                    10. Fine

                                    Mikal Cronin

                                    Switched-On Seeker

                                      THIS IS A RECORD STORE DAY 2020 RELEASE AVAILABLE ONLINE ONLY AS PART OF THE AUGUST 29TH DROP DAY AT 6PM.
                                      LIMITED TO ONE PER PERSON.


                                      Limited edition companion piece to Mikal Cronin's 2019 Seeker album, Switched-On Seeker is a completely synth-based, full-length reworking of 2019's Seeker in the vein of Wendy Carlos' "Switched-On" series.Mikal Cronin will continue his world tour across the calendar in 2020, including a confirmed BBC 6 Music session with Marc Riley at the end of February.

                                      Archers Of Loaf

                                      Raleigh Days / Street Fighting Man

                                        THIS IS A RECORD STORE DAY 2020 RELEASE AVAILABLE ONLINE ONLY AS PART OF THE AUGUST 29TH DROP DAY AT 6PM.
                                        LIMITED TO ONE PER PERSON.


                                        Limited edition on black vinyl.Raleigh Days is the first new material in 20 years from indie rock icon Archers of Loaf, with a cover of "Street Fighting Man" originally recorded by The Rolling Stones, on the B-side.The band tour North America across the calendar in 2020, including on Record Store Day.

                                        Narratively, H.C. McEntire’s Eno Axis is about finding direction in the natural world, and following love.

                                        Sonically, it’s an album shaped enormously by the atmosphere it was recorded in - the crew’s synergy and positivity, the proximity and presence of a band in a room playing with intention.

                                        Structurally, it’s a group of songs inspired by the colors and tones of open tunings, by the sacrality of space and instinct.

                                        Stylistically, it’s folk-rock leaning into its curious experimental side and moved by the spiritual rawness of classic soul and the simplicity of earnest pop.

                                        Eno Axis feels like a confident and mature step forward from her debut album LIONHEART - in tone, arrangement, production, and spirit.

                                        STAFF COMMENTS

                                        Barry says: Eno Axis is an entrancing record in many ways, rich with the majesty of traditional Americana but with an experimental sensibility effecting everything from the timbres, chord patterns and song structure. Psychedelic, downbeat moments are contrasted with major key changed and spine-tinglingly optimistic turns. Gorgeous stuff.

                                        TRACK LISTING

                                        Side A
                                        1 Hands For The Harvest 4:17
                                        2 Footman's Coat 3:43
                                        3 High Rise 4:49
                                        4 River's Jaw 4:34
                                        5 One Eye Open 2:12

                                        Side B
                                        6 Final Bow 4:09
                                        7 True Meridian 3:34
                                        8 Sunday Morning 1:41
                                        9 Time, On Fire 3:07
                                        10 Hoses Of The Holy 4:10

                                        Wye Oak

                                        No Horizon

                                          No Horizon, the new EP from Wye Oak, is the latest offering and sound of a project plumbing the depths of an "evolve or die" ethos. For multi-instrumentalists Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack, there is no fear of the unknown, no preciousness about rigidity, no hard definition of what Wye Oak is. Here, in a transitional moment for the band, there is no "if" about whether or not they'll experiment with the format of their musical output - it's "how?" Wasner and Stack have been making music together as Wye Oak for over a decade, yielding five critically acclaimed LPs in the process. The Baltimore-born, Durham-based pair spent 2012-2019 writing music while living in different parts of the country, but the five songs that make up No Horizon mark the first that Stack and Wasner composed while both lived in Durham. The EP was originally composed in a tight, concentrated timeframe at the end of 2018 and early 2019, and then performed at New York's Merkin Hall as part of Ecstatic Music Festival in collaboration with the Brooklyn Youth Chorus. The resulting EP is beautiful and strange: distinctly and recognizably Wye Oak, while simultaneously unlike any other of the band's studio work. 

                                          William Tyler

                                          Music From First Cow

                                            William Tyler composed the music for First Cow, the new A24 film directed by Kelly Reichardt, almost entirely on several of his guitars and a dulcimer.

                                            In First Cow, Kelly Reichardt once again trains her perceptive and patient eye on the Pacific Northwest, this time evoking an authentically hardscrabble early nineteenth century way of life. A taciturn loner and skilled cook (John Magaro) has travelled west and joined a group of fur trappers in Oregon Territory, though he only finds true connection with a Chinese immigrant (Orion Lee) also seeking his fortune; soon the two collaborate on a successful business, although its longevity is reliant upon the clandestine participation of a nearby wealthy landowner’s prized milking cow.

                                            Reichardt again shows her distinct talent for depicting the peculiar rhythms of daily living and ability to capture the immense, unsettling quietude of rural America.

                                            TRACK LISTING

                                            SIDE A
                                            First Cow In The Territory
                                            An Opening
                                            Cookie’s Theme
                                            Arrival
                                            River Dreams

                                            SIDE B
                                            A Clearing In The Field
                                            The Separation
                                            A Closing

                                            Lou Barlow

                                            Emoh (Reissue)

                                              It wouldn’t be accurate to call Emoh my first solo release. I released a cassette in 1987 called Weed Forestin’ under the name Sentridoh. My friend Eric Gaffney played percussion on a few songs, and it was the beginning of the band we would form. We released a cassette, The Freed Man, under the name Sebadoh shortly after that, and when we were picked up by Homestead Records in 1989, I re-released Weed Forestin’ as Sebadoh. Later on (1994 or so), I started another band, the Folk Implosion, with fellow lo-fi voyager John Davis. By 2000, though, all of that was over. Sebadoh was on hiatus after the failure of our The Sebadoh LP, and John Davis quit the Folk Implosion. It was a low point; I wasn’t writing as much, and in the aftermath of a tumultuous move to LA in 1998, I struggled for the next few years. By 2003, I was in a better place and I decided my next step might be a proper solo LP.

                                              I started paying for trips to various studios, in particular to Mark Nevers’ Beech House in Nashville. He had recorded Will Oldham’s tremendous Master and Everyone LP, and I thought it would be a good place to act like a real singer-songwriter. I brought in my friend Imaad Wasif to play guitar; he had been key in encouraging me to step out on my own. Nevers suggested I reach out to Mac at Merge. There was a point in 1991 or so that Sebadoh almost signed to Merge, so it seemed to be a logical step. Mac and co. said yes, and it further inspired me to finish the LP. I continued to record in various studios in LA and western Massachusetts. I tinkered extensively with the results at home, and by 2004, I had an LP that was a combination of the intimate “lo-fi” of my early work and the full fidelity I was meant to step into as a maturing artist.

                                              Though Emoh was an overwhelmingly positive step forward for me, listening now, I realize the songs have a lot of pain in them. They clearly track the slow dissolution of my first marriage, the fatal break of several partnerships, and my struggle to acclimate to living in LA. Emoh is primarily an acoustic LP with live performances at its core, and that was a personal achievement for me. I’m still very pleased with it. Though my follow-up, Goodnight Unknown, went back inward and is, lyrically, more evasive, with Emoh I realigned myself with my craft. I had embraced songwriting in a high-profile way and made myself solely responsible for the results. The fact that it coincided with becoming a father for the first time makes it a time marker and game changer that has been invaluable to me, serving to keep me focused and on track personally and creatively ever since.

                                              Thanks to Merge for making this reissue happen. Though there was a short run of LPs through Domino UK at the time, vinyl was essentially dead in 2005, so this is the first time Emoh has been available domestically in that format. Lou Barlow, March 2020.

                                              TRACK LISTING

                                              SIDE A
                                              Holding Back The Year
                                              Home
                                              Caterpillar Girl

                                              SIDE B
                                              Legendary
                                              Royalty
                                              Puzzle
                                              If I Could

                                              SIDE C
                                              Monkey Begun
                                              Morning’s After Me
                                              Round-N-Round
                                              Mary

                                              SIDE D
                                              Confused
                                              Imagined Life
                                              The Ballad Of Daykitty

                                              Reigning Sound

                                              Home For Orphans - Reissue

                                                When Reigning Sound’s Greg Cartwright assembled the tracklist for 2005’s Home for Orphans compilation LP, he was mining from a moody pool of outtakes and rarities cut at various locations across his hometown of Memphis.

                                                The year prior, his band unveiled its manically raucous Too Much Guitar! LP, but left behind on the cutting-room floor were slow and sullen alternate takes of “Funny Thing” and “If You Can’t Give Me Everything.” Along with those Cartwright originals, Home for Orphans also contains two tracks from Reigning Sound’s 2001 debut, the hard-to-find “Two Sides to Every Man” 7-inch: “Pretty Girl” and “Without You” (a Gene Clark cover). One other cover tune also appears, a fuzzy live take of The Breakers’ “Don’t Send Me No Flowers, I Ain’t Dead Yet,” an angsty 1965 Memphis garage classic.

                                                Opening the aptly titled Home for Orphans is “Find Me Now,” a lonelyhearted gem that was omitted from the original Too Much Guitar! roster. Another similar “orphan” included here is “What Could I Do?,” a shining example of Cartwright’s ability to tastefully and poetically lay down heartbreaking ballads. Of course, having his original Memphis lineup on these sessions only deepens the dynamic range of sounds. With bassist Jeremy Scott, drummer Greg Roberson, and organist Alex Greene on board, Home for Orphans presents the band’s classic sonic blueprint.

                                                From there, “Medication Blues #1,” “Carol,” and “If Christmas Can’t Bring You Home” only strengthen this essential collection. It’s varied but cohesive, a song-crafting skill Cartwright perfected back in his early days with The Compulsive Gamblers and The Oblivians.

                                                TRACK LISTING

                                                SIDE A
                                                Find Me Now
                                                If You Can’t Give Me
                                                Everything
                                                Funny Thing
                                                Medication Blues #1
                                                Carol

                                                SIDE B
                                                What Could I Do?
                                                If Christmas Can’t Bring You
                                                Home
                                                Pretty Girl
                                                Without You
                                                Don’t Send Me No Flowers, I Ain’t Dead Yet (Live)

                                                Jade Hairpins

                                                Harmony Avenue

                                                  Jonah Falco and Mike Haliechuk (of Jade Hairpins) also perform together in Canadian outfit Fucked Up. Harmony Avenue is the debut album by Jade Hairpins. LP is black vinyl in jacket & printed inner sleeve + LP3 album download. CD is 4-panel wllet + 24 page booklet. Jade Hairpins sneaked onto the scene in late 2018 with a mysterious 12-inch on Merge Records and a couple of poetic sentences about hiding in trees. The label remained tight-lipped while touting Dose Your Dreams, a truly epic new Fucked Up album released on the same day.

                                                  Fast forward to 2020, when Fucked Up drummer Jonah Falco and songwriter/guitarist Mike Haliechuk burst out of the proverbial trees with Harmony Avenue, a collection of songs written and recorded in real time. Pop foraging with analog acoustics and electronic landscaping. As the project expanded, Falco took on frontman and main lyricist duties for the first time and is building a live band based in his adopted hometown of London, England. He describes the new record as “straddling the post-post-punk of something like New Order, Scritti Politti, and Orange Juice, with a primordial sense of humour and absurdity not unlike Ian Dury and the Blockheads, Television Personalities, or the Monks.” Each Jade Hairpins song was conceived in studio, then edited and crafted to become Harmony Avenue. Each vocal approach was different— first focusing on creating stories for character-based writing, and then on less absurd  motional/thoughtful/personal reflection.

                                                  The LP was originally conceived as a potential addendum to the universe of Dose Your Dreams, but the end result was more exciting than Falco and Haliechuk anticipated and deserved its own spotlight. The themes of Harmony Avenue mostly focus on contradictory behavior and double entendres as well as regret and control, revelation, support, and complete absurdity. Jade Hairpins are here to challenge, confound, and sparkle their way into listeners’ hearts and keep them coming back for more!

                                                  TRACK LISTING

                                                  1. J Terrapin
                                                  2. (Don’t Break My) Devotion
                                                  3. Father Coin
                                                  4. Yesterdang
                                                  5. Post No Bill.
                                                  6. Broadstairs Beach
                                                  7. Dolly Dream
                                                  8. Mary Magazine
                                                  9. Truth Like A Mirage
                                                  10. Motherman..

                                                  Waxahatchee

                                                  Saint Cloud

                                                    What do we hold on to from our past? What must we let go of to truly move forward? Waxahatchee’s Katie Crutchfield spent much of 2018 reckoning with these questions and revisiting her roots for answers. The result is Saint Cloud, an intimate journey through the places she’s been, filled with the people she’s loved.

                                                    Written immediately in the period following her decision to get sober, the album is an unflinching self-examination. This raw, exposed narrative terrain is aided by a shift in sonic arrangements as well. While her last two records featured the kind of big guitars, well-honed noise, and battering sounds that characterized her Philadelphia scene and strongly influenced a burgeoning new class of singer-songwriters, Saint Cloud strips back those layers to create space for Crutchfield’s voice and lyrics. The result is a classic Americana sound with modern touches befitting an artist who has emerged as one of the signature storytellers of her time. Many of the narratives on Saint Cloud concern addiction and the havoc it wreaks on ourselves and our loved ones, as Crutchfield comes to a deeper understanding of love not only for those around her but for herself. This coalesces most clearly on “Fire,” which she says was literally written in transit, during a drive over the Mississippi River into West Memphis, and serves as a love song to herself, a paean to moving past shame into a place of unconditional self-acceptance.

                                                    Over the course of Saint Cloud, which was recorded the summer of 2019 and produced by Brad Cook (Bon Iver), Crutchfield peels back the distortion of electric guitars to create a wider sonic palette than on any previous Waxahatchee album. It is a record filled with nods to classic country, folk-inspired tones, and distinctly modern touches. To bolster her vision, Crutchfield enlisted Bobby Colombo and Bill Lennox, both of the Detroit band Bonny Doon, to serve as backing band on the record, along with Josh Kaufman (Hiss Golden Messenger, Bon Iver) on guitar and keyboards and Nick Kinsey (Kevin Morby) on drums and percussion. Saint Cloud marks the beginning of a journey for Crutchfield, one that sees her leaving behind past vices and the comfortable environs of her Philadelphia scene to head south in search of something new. If on her previous work Crutchfield was out in the storm, she’s now firmly in the eye of it, taking stock of her past with a clear perspective and gathering the strength to carry onward.

                                                    TRACK LISTING

                                                    SIDE A
                                                    Oxbow
                                                    Can’t Do Much
                                                    Fire
                                                    Lilacs
                                                    The Eye
                                                    Hell

                                                    SIDE B
                                                    Witches
                                                    War
                                                    Arkadelphia
                                                    Ruby Falls
                                                    St. Cloud

                                                    A person whose words are so potent that they cause the people and beings around them to vibrate is said to have a “silver tongue.” It’s apt, then, that Mackenzie Scott—who has spent the 2010s making boundary pushing pop music under her TORRES moniker—has chosen to call her fourth album, and first release on Merge, just that. Recorded at O’Deer in Brooklyn, New York, Silver Tongue is a full-scale realization of the world Scott has created over TORRES’ last few albums. Even when singing in more subdued tones, Scott’s voice is fervent, her lyrics stirring and unyielding as she draws from both the divine and the everyday. It’s also the first TORRES record produced solely by Scott. After having shared production duties on her first three albums, the latter two alongside PJ Harvey collaborator Rob Ellis, she found the process liberating: “I made exactly the record I want, and it feels very ‘me.’”

                                                    Silver Tongue fastidiously chronicles the impulses that make up desire from the dreamy first blushes of infatuation through the slightly terrifying wonder that accompanies connection with another. In between, Scott wrestles with the highs and lows of what “being in love” might mean over heady guitars and swirling synths. While potent vocal hooks punctuate songs like the sparkling “Dressing America,” which combines New Wave glitter with hovering frustration, and the brooding “Good Grief,” which gently pokes at the idea of fetishized sadness, the knottiness lurking underneath reflects Scott’s realtime processing of her emotions while making the record. Silver Tongue’s musical world is vast and at times seemingly infinite. Edge-of-the-world synths add gravity to the vulnerability of “Two of Everything,” and refracted guitars offer a gnarled counterpoint to Scott’s increased determination at the end of “Last Forest.” On “Gracious Day,” one of TORRES’ most forthright love songs, Scott’s voice hovers over a starlit landscape in a way that transcends the mundane and enters the otherworldly as she sings. TORRES’ music has long navigated the space between the physical and the metaphysical, and Silver Tongue faces that conflict head-on, examining the ways in which the actions of others can stir up deep-seated feelings and seemingly alter the space in which one exists.

                                                    STAFF COMMENTS

                                                    Barry says: Silver Tongue is a triumph in many ways, not only musically but with the thematic intensity of the pieces on offer tempered beautifully with a playful optimism shining through. Scott's voice is as effecting as ever, and clearly is only getting better. Lovely stuff.

                                                    TRACK LISTING

                                                    SIDE A
                                                    Good Scare
                                                    Last Forest
                                                    Dressing America
                                                    Records Of Your Tenderness
                                                    Two Of Everything

                                                    SIDE B
                                                    Good Grief
                                                    A Few Blue Flowers
                                                    Gracious Day
                                                    Silver Tongue

                                                    Mikal Cronin

                                                    Seeker

                                                      Mikal Cronin releases Seeker, his fourth and finest full-length to date. Recorded live with a crew of close friends and engineer Jason Quever at Palmetto Studios in Los Angeles, it finds Cronin pushing his often devastating power pop into darker territory—from the isolation of “Show Me” to the desperation of “Fire” to the unadorned heartache of “Sold.”

                                                      It comes with a backstory that feels like fate. Cronin writes:

                                                      I was stuck. I’d had a rough few years. Relationships end, begin, and end again. I had to stay active, tour with other bands, make music through various other avenues—writer’s block is real and it can crush you, scratching at an itch you can’t quite get. I needed to clean up, to stop leaning on external crutches to get through the anxiety. I needed to grow the fuck up.

                                                      I needed a change.

                                                      I went to the woods, to Idyllwild, a small town in the mountains of southern California. I spent a month in a cabin there, alone with my cat, Ernie. It was so quiet and peaceful. I got weird looks at the store. I got bug bites that didn’t heal for months. I walked around a small lake a few times. I wrote. I took literally something that’s usually a hypothetical, something every artist thinks about doing. It worked: A large majority of Seeker was written and demoed there.

                                                      But then I had to go, immediately. An arsonist had sparked a series of fires and the woods exploded. I saw the flames coming up the hill as I packed up all my instruments and recording equipment. Ernie hid under the bed and was the last to go. I got him in the car just as the police came up the street to help with evacuations. I ended up home in LA a few days early; a small blessing because I was losing my mind a bit.

                                                      Once I was back, I was ready to make something. I needed help. I found Jason [Quever] and his studio. I collected as many friends as I could and brought them in to record live with me. I needed the energy of a group of people in a room playing together—a simple concept but one that I had never tried with my own songs. Most of the record is backed by Ty Segall’s Freedom Band. I play bass in this band. We had been touring and playing together for a long run over a few years, so it seemed natural to stick together.

                                                      I aimed for nature. I wanted organic sounds. I wanted to bring you into the room. Jason and I talked about The Beatles’ White Album a lot when placing mics. I brought a charred pine cone from the woods to the studio, just in case it would help. Fire—specifically its cycle of purging and reseeding the landscape—is a central theme to the record. Death and rebirth.

                                                      I was looking for something: answers, direction, peace. I am the seeker.



                                                      STAFF COMMENTS

                                                      Barry says: Superb new album from Ty Segall's Mikal Cronin, encompassing the shredding psych-rock vibe of his parent band but with a definite sound of his own. Tender moments are cut through with a swathe of distorted guitar and Cronin's gravelly vocals. At points, 'Seeker' veers towards country-rock but with a more edgy, saturated edge. A brilliant development for Cronin, and a thrilling journey for us.

                                                      TRACK LISTING

                                                      Side A
                                                      1 Shelter 3:48
                                                      2 Show Me 4:50
                                                      3 Feel It All 4:58
                                                      4 Fire 4:35
                                                      5 Sold 3:27
                                                      Side B
                                                      6 I've Got Reason 3:46
                                                      7 Caravan 2:05
                                                      8 Guardian Well 5:17
                                                      9 Lost A Year 5:07
                                                      10 On The Shelf 2:59

                                                      Bonus 12" On Dinked Edition:
                                                      Side A
                                                      Arsonist 17:07
                                                      Side B
                                                      Tsinosra 17:07

                                                      Little Scream

                                                      Speed Queen

                                                        On her third album, Little Scream offers a reflection on class and poverty in America. Speed Queen began as bits of prose written while touring her last album across North America—observing the slow entropy of the US, ruminating on her own low-income upbringing in a flyover state, and, as she says, “taking it all in from the privileged position of being a new Canadian.” In “Privileged Child,” she reminds wealthy people who like to adopt the style of the poor and working class that “poverty’s a feeling money just can’t buy.” On “Dear Leader,” she reminds those opposing migration that “when the waters rise, it’s gonna be you, Miami,” warning them that when they’re needing help, “…you will ask your God, but he’ll be busy getting risen, and the rich will be too busy buying stock in private prisons— that’s where they’ll send you for talking about socialism.”

                                                        The biting commentary served with a sense of humour softens its presentation but doesn’t detract from its power. This is a theme throughout Speed Queen, where humour and warm heartedness prevail despite some of the darker subjects touched upon. Montreal-based Laurel Sprengelmeyer has been playing music under the moniker Little Scream since 2008. In 2011, she released The Golden Record, which Pitchfork dubbed “a stellar debut” and NPR called “an absolutely captivating record.” It was included in NPR’s Best Albums of 2011 list, and the New York Times evoked its “hints of the divine.” Her second album and Merge debut Cult Following featured guests including Sufjan Stevens, Mary Margaret O’Hara, and Sharon Van Etten. Little Scream is using the release of first single “Dear Leader” to raise awareness about the 1000 Cities initiative. “If 1000 cities adopt Paris climate accord standards, the world can still meet its global emissions targets,” Little Scream explains. “Most of us feel disenfranchised from international agreements. But all of us can get our heads around local involvement.” That kind of optimism in the face of harsh reality is a theme that has always run through Little Scream’s work, whether personal or political. Speed Queen is a powerful reflection of that hard-won hope. 

                                                        TRACK LISTING

                                                        1. Dear Leader
                                                        2 One Lost Time
                                                        3. Switchblade
                                                        4. Disco Ball
                                                        5. Still Life
                                                        6. Forces Of Spring
                                                        7. No More Saturday Night
                                                        8. Speed Queen 
                                                        9. Don’t Wait For It 
                                                        10. Privileged Child.

                                                        David Kilgour And The Heavy Eights

                                                        Bobbie's A Girl

                                                          "It's moody - as in low, subdued," says David Kilgour of his new album, Bobbie's a girl. David Kilgour’s 11th solo album, Bobbie’s a girl is a quieter affair than fans may associate with the pioneer of New Zealand indie rock. “I tended to shy away from too much guitar playing for a point of difference and to mix things up for myself a little,” Kilgour continues. The style set in at the beginning of sessions, as he and the Heavy Eights (i.e., longtime collaborators Thomas Bell, Tony de Raad, and Taane Tokona) headed to Port Chalmers Recording Services with producer Tex Houston. “We have worked on these songs for a number of years now, so that’s different because I usually can’t wait to get them out,” Kilgour says. Why the delay? Like with the themes of the album, Kilgour doesn’t want to elaborate too much.

                                                          “Everything’s related to the music and mood,” he says, “but I’d rather not say how. I like a little mystery.” Largely missing the jangly distortion of Kilgour’s other work, the album’s ten songs exude a hazy warmth, with a light psychedelia that recalls the ’60s outfits like The Byrds and The Velvet Underground. Opener “Entrance” floats wordlessly on acoustic guitar, whose ringing chords slightly mask the deft fingerpicking beneath it. “Smoke you right out of here” picks up the pace, but “Crawler” rolls in like a storm, its organ and fingerpicked guitars creating an ominous sound until a chorus of “aaaahs” lightens the mood. Only four songs have lyrics. “I kind of wanted a rest from verbalizing everything, like listening to yourself going, ‘Blah blah blah blah…,” Kilgour says. The guitar quietly shimmering between channels, the music seems to speak more than the words. “Ngapara,” the closing track of Bobbie’s a girl, is his favorite song on the album. It’s a loping instrumental carried by thickly distorted guitars and heavy reverb. Like the rest of Bobbie’s a girl, it feels both a part of Kilgour’s previous work, and just outside of it

                                                          TRACK LISTING

                                                          1. Entrance
                                                          2. Smoke You Right Out Of Here
                                                          3. Crawler
                                                          4. Threads
                                                          5. Coming In From Nowhere Now
                                                          6. Spotlight
                                                          7. Swan Loop 
                                                          8. If You Were Here And I Was There
                                                          9. Looks Like I’m Running Out
                                                          10. Ngapara.

                                                          Hiss Golden Messenger

                                                          Terms Of Surrender

                                                            Describing the Durham based Hiss Golden Messenger is like trying to grasp a forgotten word: It’s always on the tip of your tongue, but hard to speak. Songwriter and bandleader M.C. Taylor’s music is at once familiar, yet impossible to categorize: Elements from the American songbook the steady, churning acoustic guitar and mandolin, the gospel emotion, the eerie steel guitar tracings, the bobbing and weaving organ and electric piano provide the bedrock for Taylor’s existential ruminations about parenthood, joy, hope, and loneliness. And then there’s an indescribable spirit and movement: Hiss Golden Messenger’s music grooves. There’s nothing else quite like it. For over ten years, Taylor has spearheaded this prolific, perpetually evolving group. He’s toured and recorded relentlessly, earning devotees along the roads, deep in festival pits, and across the seas.

                                                            “The work that I do requires me to be in a certain emotional place,” says Taylor. “My music depends first and foremost on being in a heightened emotional state and putting my vulnerability on display.” This vulnerability is also central to Taylor’s steadily growing fanbase, which continues to discover universal themes in his deeply personal work. The critical acclaim and attention for Hiss Golden Messenger and barn-burning performances on Late Show with David Letterman and Late Night with Seth Meyers affirm the emotional power of Taylor’s work.

                                                            This raw emotion is especially apparent on Hiss Golden Messenger’s new album, Terms of Surrender. Terms follows Taylor’s journey through a tumultuous year of trauma and psychological darkness, hoping and working towards redemption and healing, and the conflicting draw of home and movement. “Another year older,” Taylor sings on album opener “I Need a Teacher.” “Debt slightly deeper. Paycheck smaller. Goddamn, I need a teacher.”

                                                            Later, Taylor tracks the complex dynamic between father and grown son on “Cat’s Eye Blue,” singing, “Is this wicked word too bad to be spoken? You let the heart attack in. One taste and it’s broken.” He later pivots towards his relationship with his own daughter on “Happy Birthday, Baby.”

                                                            Taylor says that he wanted to make Terms of Surrender “a wandering record. I wanted where we recorded it to mirror the searching spirit of the music.” Having written upwards of 40 songs in motel rooms, his studio in Durham, and a secluded cottage outside of Charlottesville, Virginia, 10 songs were chosen. Includes regular collaborators Phil and Brad Cook, Josh Kaufman, and Matt McCaughan and new friends like Jenny Lewis and Aaron Dessner (of The National).

                                                            Hiss Golden Messenger songs create feelings to which devoted listeners attach their own meanings and memories with each repeated spin. Throughout Terms of Surrender, those feelings range from fearful to celebratory. But perhaps the title track with its refrain of “I’m gonna give it/ but don’t make me say it/ It’s one thing to bend it, my love, but another to break it” best summarizes the nature of Taylor’s work as a musician, father and spouse, and cultural communicator on this album.

                                                            STAFF COMMENTS

                                                            Barry says: I was just having a discussion with Dave about how i'm obviously getting a little bit older, and my tastes are changing, veering more towards slightly miserable Americana ballads, but my appreciation for HGM has remained throughout regardless of my advancing years. It's a testament to his skill as a songwriter that he can continue to smash out such beautiful LP's without veering too far from the formula, but keeping things as transportive and dreamy as they are on 'Terms Of Surrender'.

                                                            TRACK LISTING

                                                            1 I Need A Teacher
                                                            2 Bright Direction (You’re A Dark Star Now)
                                                            3 My Wing
                                                            4 Old Enough To Wonder Why (East Side West Side)
                                                            5 Cat’s Eye Blue
                                                            6 Happy Birthday, Baby
                                                            7 Down At The Uptown
                                                            8 Katy (You Don’t Have To Be Good Yet)
                                                            9 Whip
                                                            10 Terms Of Surrender

                                                            Superchunk

                                                            Acoustic Foolish

                                                              Originally released in 1996, Foolish turns 25 in 2019. 

                                                              From Mac McCaughan: Our original idea for an all-acoustic album was for it to be a selection of songs from all our albums, played in the style of an acoustic performance in a record store or a radio station, which we have done quite a bit of over the years (and documented on the first of our “Clambake” series in 2001). But with 2019 being the 25th anniversary of the Foolish album, it seemed weirder and more interesting to record an acoustic version of one whole album. I didn’t want this to sound like “acoustic demos recorded 25 years after the fact” or a band trying to “rock out” except on acoustic guitars, though to be fair we do some rocking out. Once we got into the process of learning how to play the songs on acoustic guitars—some of which we had never performed at all—it made sense to make this record its own thing altogether. When Foolish came out, people kind of freaked out that all the guitar sounds weren’t as distorted as they had been, and it was treated as a radical departure from what we had been doing. Which is funny listening to the original album now because it pretty much sounds like our other records. But I started thinking about the acoustic version of the album as “what Foolish would have sounded like if it were as different as people acted like it was.” So—we have guests, we have strings, we have piano, we have a saxophone! The songs themselves, extracted from the drama of the moment and what people wanted to write about then, are more applicable to Real Life than I thought they would be. Without the embarrassing angst of the 25-year-old, they are just songs about transitions, holding grudges or trying not to, letting go of things that aren’t healthy, moving through difficult situations and relationships and trying to be “normal” in the course of all that, even though there’s no such thing. We are lucky to have Allison Crutchfield, Matt Douglas, Peter Holsapple, Owen Pallett, and Jenn Wasner lend their great talents to the record and also lucky that Jon has an arsenal of small bells and a vibraslap.

                                                              Acoustic Foolish recorded live by John Plymale at Overdub Lane Strings by Owen Pallett on “Like a Fool” & “In a Stage Whisper”. Guest vocals by Allison Crutchfield (of P.S. Eliot, Swearin’) on “The First Part” Guest vocals by Jenn Wasner (Wye Oak, Flock of Dimes) on “Keeping Track” Piano by Peter Holsapple (of the dB’s) on “Stretched Out” & “Driveway to Driveway” Saxophone by Matt Douglas (of the Mountain Goats) on “Saving My Ticket” and “In a Stage Whisper”.

                                                              TRACK LISTING

                                                              SIDE A
                                                              1 Like A Fool
                                                              2 The First Part
                                                              3 Water Wings
                                                              4 Driveway To Driveway
                                                              5 Saving My Ticket
                                                              6 Kicked In

                                                              SIDE B

                                                              7 Why Do You Have To Put A Date On Everything
                                                              8 Without Blinking
                                                              9 Keeping Track
                                                              10 Revelations
                                                              11 Stretched Out
                                                              12 In A Stage Whisper

                                                              Gauche

                                                              People’s History Of Gauche

                                                                A People's History of Gauche, a collective catharsis of anger, frustration, and trauma through creativity. Jason P Barnett, Adrienne CN Berry, Mary Jane Regalado, Pearie Sol, and Daniele Yandel find their agency and joy through creating and performing music together in 36 minutes of groove-filled power punk. When asked about the genesis of the title of their Merge debut, Daniele cited this definition: A people's history, or history from below, is an account of events from the perspective of common people rather than leaders, the story of mass movements and of outsiders. It's a fitting title for an album that tackles such heavy topics as anxiety, capitalism and colonialization, and healing ancestral traumas, as well as dismantling and dissecting patriarchy, creating beauty in the face of oppressive forces, and resisting exploitation. These are vital songs manifested in a celebratory manner, created quickly through the group's self-proclaimed "Gauche magic." Recorded with Austin Brown (Parquet Courts) and Robert Szmurlo in Brooklyn, NY, and with Jonah Takagi (Ex Hex) in DC, A People’s History of Gauche marks the first time the band worked with people outside of their ranks, resulting in a fuller sound that boasts more intricate instrumentation.

                                                                From the very first line of album opener “Flash”—“Light’s supposed to show the way, not over-expose it”—Gauche are here to compel us to dance while singing along about society’s universal struggles. Gauche undoubtedly make art, but their guiding tenet is craft. "When I say that, I mean in the sense that Art with a capital A is thought of as something rarefied, something outside the context of everyday life, outside of everyone's grasp or potential," expounds Daniele. "That sense of craft, of something you return to every day and is valuable because it is something you share in common with all people, is how I think of music. Well, good music at least." Gauche bring us music and movement and struggle and light, and now it is our job to dance! 

                                                                TRACK LISTING

                                                                1. Flash, Cycles,
                                                                2. Pay Day,
                                                                3. Surveilled Society,
                                                                4. Copper Woman,
                                                                5. Running. 
                                                                6. Boom Hazard,
                                                                7. Dirty Jacket,
                                                                8. History,
                                                                9. Rent (v.),
                                                                10. Rectangle..

                                                                (7” Flexi Track Is “Conspiracy Theories”). 

                                                                Joyero

                                                                Release The Dogs

                                                                  Andy Stack has rightfully earned a reputation as a generous collaborator and musical polymath, both as half of the beloved duo Wye Oak and on the road and in the studio with Lambchop, Helado Negro, and EL VY. As a multiinstrumentalist and producer, Andy has an uncanny ability to construct the precise musical architecture to frame and support unique and compelling voices. With his debut solo record as Joyero, Andy puts his own voice front and center. Written and recorded primarily in Marfa, Texas, during a transitional moment between records, cities, and relationships, Release the Dogs occupies its own liminal space between the natural and the man-made, between the structures we create to keep ourselves safe and the terrifying enormity that exists beyond them. Throughout the record, organic and electronic elements are seamlessly woven together into a single fabric that can be both intimate and explosive. The fingerpicked guitars of “After You” appear no more or less “real” than the processed drum machine beats on album opener “Alight,” just as the tarantula on the album’s cover appears no more or less “real” than the white wall on which it sits.

                                                                  The magic of the image, and the magic of the record, is in the way they are framed together. As with Wye Oak’s best records, Release the Dogs finds its own unique voice by holding opposing ideas and aesthetics in tension with each other, and inviting the listener to find their own answer. That tension comes through loud and clear in Andy’s voice, which is recorded so intimately that it sometimes sounds like it’s emanating from inside your own throat. “While you’re away, I wait outside the house / Lift an ear to every sound / I sleep all day like a dog whose master’s out,” he sings on “Dogs,” painting a vivid picture of the album’s titular animals as a symbol of both domestic stasis and what often lurks beneath it. Throughout Release the Dogs, the habits and rituals of domestic life begin to crack and fray under the questions we are afraid to ask and the truths we are afraid to acknowledge. After painting a picture of daily domestic tasks like gardening and baking bread in “Starts,” Andy concludes, “We live between the good and the bad dream,” giving voice to the ways in which the signifiers of domestic stability can, themselves, be illusions or fantasies.

                                                                  At times, Release the Dogs brings to mind the homespun world-building of Phil Elverum’s early-’00s work as The Microphones. At times, it brings to mind the deliberate introspection of Arthur Russell. It’s a cliché to say that a record “defies comparison,” but it fits here; not because of any self-styled aesthetic obtusity, but rather because Release the Dogs invites you into such an intimate and singular space that you can’t imagine it being anything, anywhere, or anyone else. Even as he constructs ever more complicated musical worlds, and even as he fills those worlds with big, complicated questions, Andy is still somehow making it all seem natural and effortless

                                                                  Titus Andronicus

                                                                  An Obelisk

                                                                    Obelisk is the sixth album from Titus Andronicus, which finds the band under stewardship of producer and legendary rocker Bob Mould (Hüsker Dü, Sugar). This trans-generational meeting of the minds has yielded the most immediate and unadorned Titus Andronicus record to date. Clocking in at 38 minutes, it is also the shortest. Recorded over six days at Steve Albini’s Electrical Audio studio in Chicago, An Obelisk presents the sound of Titus Andronicus, rock band, at its most irreducible, as monolithic as the album’s titular monument.

                                                                    Titus Andronicus is led by singer-songwriter Patrick Stickles, now flanked by longtime guitarist Liam Betson and the indomitable rhythm section of R.J. Gordon on bass and Chris Wilson on drums. An Obelisk is the first record to showcase this lineup from tip to tail, each track bearing distinctive fingerprints of each musician, their particular chemistry honed through extensive touring and rigorous rehearsals. Excepting the background vocals of Ralph Darden (Ted Leo and the Pharmacists), no outside musicians were utilized, leaving ample room for the pummeling drums and slashing guitars to thrive under the notoriously economical hand of Mould. “Bob Mould is quite the role model to a guy like me,” Stickles confesses. “He has conducted his 40-year career with a remarkable level of integrity and loyalty to his own internal compass. He has often zigged when he was expected to zag, but the consistent excellence of his output has earned him the unconditional trust of his audience. What more could you want than that? What better way, for a guy like me, to learn to actualize such a vision than to get into the man’s workplace and do as he tells me to do?”

                                                                    Tempting as it may be to label An Obelisk a “back to basics” effort, this is not a return to the band’s roots—this is an excavation of the dirt beneath those roots. An Obelisk also functions as a companion to A Productive Cough. Together, these records present a panoramic view of Titus Andronicus’ musical interests. An Obelisk has all the trappings of a classic punk album, though, to hear Stickles tell it, it is moreso an album about punk. “In a universe devoid of higher meaning, it is our responsibility to impose our own meaning upon it and to afford others the space to do the same. The true ‘punk’ must be constantly assessing and reassessing their own values and belief systems, lest they fall into the trap of merely pulling their identity off of the rack, in the manner of the snobs and meatheads they claim to oppose.” “The way in which an obelisk narrows as it reaches skyward reminds me of the way in which our system seems to consolidate power onto a smaller and smaller base over time,” Stickles concludes. “Whenever, wherever the sun shines, an obelisk casts a long shadow—An Obelisk is the story of one individual’s attempt to find a place for himself in that darkness.” 

                                                                    STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                    Barry says: Mixing the rawkous, booze-addled punk drawl of the Pogues with more modern distortion and dynamic activity was never going to be an easy task, but with legendary musician and producer Bob Mould at the helm, it was never going to be anything but exceptional. Heavy but reassuringly sludgy, 'An Obelisk' is a superb mix of all the influences that make modern punk so great. Top stuff.

                                                                    TRACK LISTING

                                                                    Just Like Ringing A Bell
                                                                    Troubleman Unlimited
                                                                    (I Blame) Society
                                                                    My Body And Me
                                                                    Hey Ma
                                                                    Beneath The Boot
                                                                    On The Street
                                                                    Within The Gravitron
                                                                    The Lion Inside
                                                                    Tumult Around The World

                                                                    Fruit Bats

                                                                    Gold Past Life

                                                                      Gold Past Life marks both an end and a beginning. It’s the end of an unintentional thematic trilogy of records that began with 2014’s EDJ (a solo record by name, but a Fruit Bats release in spirit) and hit a peak with 2016’s Absolute Loser. They encompassed years of loss, displacement, and the persistent, low-level anxiety of the current political climate. They were written in the wake of friends who left these earthly confines and families that could have been. “I wrote music to comfort myself,” says Johnson of those times. “It was a soothing balm.”

                                                                      But these salves, these songs on Gold Past Life, also represent new beginnings the journeys that await after making it through troubled times. In fact, the notion of getting in a van to move on—literally and metaphorically—is exactly what Gold Past Life is all about. It’s about rejecting notions of idealized nostalgia (“Gold Past Life”) and the process of grounding oneself in the present, both geographically (“A Lingering Love,” “Ocean”) and spiritually (“Drawn Away”). Musically, says Johnson, “I put myself into a lot of scary situations last year.” He curated a set at Newport Folk Festival, participated in an artist residency as part of the Eaux Claires Music & Arts Festival, and workshopped music at the PEOPLE Festival in Berlin. These experiences helped coax out new sounds and styles for Fruit Bats. Of course, Johnson’s falsetto still shines atop the bopping folk-rock of Gold Past Life.

                                                                      However, the new record also features more keyboard influences and a range of guests including Greta Morgan (Springtime Carnivore, Vampire Weekend), Neal Casal (Circles Around the Sun), Trevor Beld Jimenez and Tim Ramsey (Parting Lines), Meg Duffy (Hand Habits), and more. According to Johnson, “Fruit Bats has been a cult band for a long time.” With Gold Past Life, he hopes to bring more immediacy to the music and share positivity, hope, and motivation to keep on keepin’ on with a wider audience. “Fruit Bats makes existential make-out music,” he describes with a chuckle. “But you’re also welcome to dive into it deeper if you want. Good pop music should be sublime like that.” 

                                                                      Reigning Sound

                                                                      Abdication... For Your Love

                                                                        Reigning Sound frontman Greg Cartwright found himself unable to refuse—despite his band’s tenuous existence at the time. “Several line-up changes had ensued after the original Memphis quartet disbanded, and I found myself considering the possibility of shedding the Reigning Sound moniker,” muses Cartwright. “I had decided to take a break to work on production for other people and write songs for The Parting Gifts, my upcoming collaboration with Coco Hames.” But now, Reigning Sound had an offer on the table, and there was no band. Besides Cartwright, the one constant of Reigning Sound’s previous three years was keyboardist Dave Amels, who was moonlighting in The Jay Vons, the Brooklyn soul combo formed by Long Island natives Michael Catanese, Benny Trokan, and Mikey Post.

                                                                        Sometimes Amels would even pull double duty at gigs where Reigning Sound and The Jay Vons shared a bill. When The Parting Gifts released their outstanding album Strychnine Dandelion in 2010, The Jay Vons opened shows for them on a brief tour. A few months later, Scion came knocking. Around the same time, Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys, who provided guitar for the Parting Gifts record, had just moved to Nashville and was busy putting the final touches on a private studio. “Dan was eager to do some work in the new studio in preparation for an upcoming session with Dr. John, and he offered us some studio time as well as his production assistance. Tentative arrangements with Nashville players evaporated one after another due to prior engagements or last-minute snafus. 

                                                                        TRACK LISTING

                                                                        1. A Lyin’ Girl
                                                                        2. Everything I Do Is Wrong
                                                                        3. Shaw
                                                                        4. Call Me #1.
                                                                        5. Eve
                                                                        6. Watching My Baby
                                                                        7. Can’t Hold On 
                                                                        8. Not Far Away…. 

                                                                        The Mountain Goats

                                                                        In League With Dragons

                                                                          The Mountain Goats are John Darnielle, Peter Hughes, Jon Wurster, And Matt Douglas. They have been making music together as a quartet for several years. Three of them live in North Carolina and one has moved back to Rochester.

                                                                          Their songs often seek out dark lairs within which terrible monsters dwell, but their mission is to retrieve the treasure from the dark lair & persuade the terrible monsters inside to seek out the path of redemption. As Axl Rose once memorably asked, in the song “Terrible Monster”: “What’s so terrible about monsters, anyway?” This is the question The Mountain Goats have been doggedly pursuing since 1991. They will never leave off this quest until every option has been exhausted. Thank You.


                                                                          STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                          Barry says: As far as concept albums about gaming, i'm all in, and this one is lovely. It's a strange but perfectly formed beast, with smooth scales interspersed with fiery outbursts. Another wonderfully formed outing from The Mountain Goats.

                                                                          TRACK LISTING

                                                                          SIDE A
                                                                          Done Bleeding
                                                                          Younger
                                                                          Passaic 1975

                                                                          SIDE B
                                                                          Clemency For The Wizard King
                                                                          Possum By Night
                                                                          In League With Dragons

                                                                          SIDE C
                                                                          7. Doc Gooden
                                                                          8. Going Invisible 2
                                                                          9. Waylon Jennings Live!

                                                                          SIDE D
                                                                          10. Cadaver Sniffing Dog
                                                                          11. An Antidote For Strychnine
                                                                          12. Sicilian Crest

                                                                          On It’s Real, the group’s second album, Ex Hex’s commitment to larger-than-life riffs and unforgettable hooks remains intact, but the garage-y, post-punk approach that defined their debut album Rips has grown in scale and ambition. What started as a reaction to the blown-out aesthetic of Rips would test the sonic limits of the power trio and lead the band on a quest for a more immersive and three-dimensional sound. Vocal harmonies are layered ten tracks deep, solos shimmer and modulate atop heaving power chords, and the codas linger and stretch toward new frontiers of sound. On first listen, you might think you’ve unearthed a long-lost LP carved from the space where crunch-minded art rock and glitter-covered hard rock converge, an event horizon at the intersection of towering choruses and swaggering guitars.

                                                                          Ex Hex were already one of America’s best guitar bands—but on It’s Real, their musical savvy has thrillingly combined with anything-goes curiosity, studio experimentation, and a dedication to refinement, resulting in an album that’s ready to be played at maximum volume.

                                                                          STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                          Barry says: Ex hex return with their most incendiary offering yet. Blazing hooks and huge rock choruses, encompassing that huge 70's rock sound with all of the best pomp and stadium grandiosity chucked in for good measure. TURN IT UP

                                                                          TRACK LISTING

                                                                          SIDE A
                                                                          Tough Enough
                                                                          Rainbow Shiner
                                                                          Good Times
                                                                          Want It To Be True
                                                                          Diamond Drive

                                                                          SIDE B
                                                                          No Reflection
                                                                          Another Dimension
                                                                          Cosmic Cave
                                                                          Radiate
                                                                          Talk To Me

                                                                          Eno Williams, frontwoman of Ibibio Sound Machine, uses both English and the Nigerian language from which her band’s name is derived for the dazzling new album. Long lauded for jubilant, explosive live shows, Ibibio Sound Machine fully capture that energy on "Doko Mien", the followup to "Uyai". By pulsing the mystic shapes of Williams’ lines through further inventive, glittering collages of genre, Ibibio Sound Machine crack apart the horizon separating cultures, between nature and technology, between joy and pain, between tradition and future. That propensity for duality and paradox seems common in people whose lives span continents. Williams was born in the UK, but grew up in Nigeria, always steeped in her family heritage. She obsessed over West African electronic music, highlife, and the like, but was equally empowered by Western genres such as post-punk, disco, and funk.

                                                                          The traditional Ibibio folk tale bobs over the waves of tuned percussion, chunky synth, and pinprick highlife-esque guitar, while Jose Joyette’s drums and Derrick McIntyre’s bass funk groove bring everyone to the dance floor. 'These stories won’t be forgotten. Feel the music: it speaks to everybody,' Williams says. 'We can travel back in time together, while convening on a futuristic, present tense. We hope that we can give people that reason to wake up, that one song to sing and dance and be happy.'

                                                                          On their new album, Ibibio Sound Machine provide the perfect companion, ready to digest as much as possible and then further unfurl beauty and hope. They remember and honor the past and charge forward toward the future, all while intensely expanding the present.


                                                                          TRACK LISTING

                                                                          SIDE A
                                                                          I Need You To Be Sweet Like Sugar (Nnge Nte Suka)
                                                                          Wanna Come Down
                                                                          Tell Me (Doko Mien)
                                                                          I Know That You’re Thinking About Me
                                                                          I Will Run

                                                                          SIDE B
                                                                          Just Go Forward (Ka I So)
                                                                          She Work Very Hard
                                                                          Nyak Mien, Kuka
                                                                          Guess We Found A Way

                                                                          Telekinesis

                                                                          Effluxion

                                                                            If Michael Benjamin Lerner has given us nothing more than an opportunity to nudge the word “effluxion” into the common vernacular, it is still a crowning cultural achievement. But he has given us much more than that. The fifth fulllength album he’s recorded as Telekinesis is perfect, unfussy power pop— romantic and hopeful and skittish and fresh and familiar, with hooks in all the
                                                                            right places. He called the album Effluxion because he too found the word a little alien when he first heard it in passing, but it also captured the spirit in which the album was made. After Lerner largely traded guitars and drums for moodier synthesizers and drum machines on 2015’s Ad Infinitum—more OMD than GBV—Scottish indie-pop gods Teenage Fanclub invited Lerner on board as a touring member in 2017.

                                                                            In addition to this being genie-lamp wish fulfillment for a devoted acolyte, playing those songs every night with his heroes brought him back to known pleasures. Effluxion is a back-to-basics album—not just in its reaffirmation of the sound and style that made Lerner an indie wunderkind a decade ago at age 22, but in the way it was created. Using the same now-discontinued MacBook microphone he used to record his earliest tracks, he holed up in the basement of his West Seattle home and put the album together piece by piece over the past two years, playing every instrument. While previous albums had former Death Cab for Cutie guitarist Chris Walla—who discovered and championed Telekinesis’ demos—and Spoon’s Jim Eno serving as producers and sounding boards and sidemen and general voices of authority and experience, Lerner wanted to do this one entirely on his own. 

                                                                            TRACK LISTING

                                                                            1. Effluxion
                                                                            2. Cut The Quick
                                                                            3. Like Nothing
                                                                            4. Running Like A River
                                                                            5. Set A Course. SIDE B 
                                                                            6. How Do I Get Rid Of Sunlight?
                                                                            7. Suburban Streetlight Drunk
                                                                            8. Feel It In Your Bones
                                                                            9. A Place In The Sun
                                                                            10. Out For Blood.

                                                                            The cliché that circulated after the 2016 election foretold a new artistic golden age: Artists would transform their anger and anxiety into era-defining works of dissent in the face of authoritarianism.
                                                                            Yet Bob Mould calls his new album Sunshine Rock.
                                                                            It’s not because Mould—whose face belongs on the Mount Rushmore of alternative music—likes the current administration. His decision to “write to the sunshine,” as he describes it, comes from a more personal place – a place found in Berlin, Germany, where he’s spent the majority of the last three years. Here Mould would draw inspiration from the new environments.
                                                                            “Almost four years ago, I made plans for an extended break,” Mould explains. “I started spending time in Berlin in 2015, found an apartment in 2016, and became a resident in 2017. My time in Berlin has been a life changing experience. The winter days are long and dark, but when the sun comes back, all spirits lift.”
                                                                            These three years in Berlin would quite literally shed new light on Mould’s everyday mindset.

                                                                            “To go from [2011 autobiography] See a Little Light to the last three albums, two of which were informed by loss of each parent, respectively, at some point I had to put a Post-It note on my work station and say, ‘Try to think about good things.’ Otherwise I could really go down a long, dark hole,” he says. “I’m trying to keep things brighter these days as a way to stay alive.”

                                                                            That makes Sunshine Rock as logical a product of the current climate as any rage-fuelled agit-rock. Variations on the word “sun” appear 27 times in five different songs over the course of the album’s 37 minutes. To hear Mould tell it, the theme developed early.
                                                                            “Sunshine Rock is one hell of a way to wrap up the busiest decade of my career,” he shares. “The autobiography, the Disney Hall tribute show, reissues of several albums from my catalogue, three current rock band albums, several world tours, and now this new album — I’m humbled and grateful to still be making new music while celebrating my lifetime songbook.”

                                                                            STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                            Barry says: The aptly titled Sunshine Rock is indeed another side to Mould, eschewing the dark undertones of his previous work, focusing on the more optimistic pop spirit that has always provided the counterfoil to his trademark gloom. Major-key resolutions to slowly-grown unease lifts the mood once again into shining summer haze. Exactly as accomplished as you'd expect from Mould, but a good deal more optimistic. Lovely.

                                                                            TRACK LISTING

                                                                            01 Sunshine Rock
                                                                            02 What Do You Want Me To Do
                                                                            03 Sunny Love Song
                                                                            04 Thirty Dozen Roses
                                                                            05 The Final Years
                                                                            06 Irrational Poison
                                                                            07 I Fought
                                                                            08 Sin King
                                                                            09 Lost Faith
                                                                            10 Camp Sunshine
                                                                            11 Send Me A Postcard
                                                                            12 Western Sunset

                                                                            Neutral Milk Hotel

                                                                            In The Aeroplane Over The Sea

                                                                              Neutral Milk Hotel is Elephant 6 co-founder Jeff Mangum, Julian Koster (of Music Tapes), Scott Spillane (of the Gerbils) and Jeremy Barnes (of Beirut, A Hawk and a Hacksaw). In the Aeroplane Over the Sea is one of the best-selling Merge titles of all time. In addition, annually, the album charts among the top vinyl titles sold industry wide in the USA. Originally released in 1998, In the Aeroplane Over the Sea was named Best Album of the ‘90s by Magnet Magazine. Album rated 10.0 via Pitchfork at reissue (2005). 

                                                                              TRACK LISTING

                                                                              1. The King Of Carrot Flowers Pt. One
                                                                              2. The King Of Carrot Flowers Pts. Two &Three
                                                                              3. In The Aeroplane Over The Sea
                                                                              4. Two-Headed Boy
                                                                              5. The Fool Holland
                                                                              6. 1945 Communist Daughter
                                                                              7. Oh Comely
                                                                              8. Ghost, [untitled Track]
                                                                              9. Two-Headed Boy Pt. Two

                                                                              Researching the Blues features 10 songs clocking in at just under 32 minutes. With songs written by Jeff and produced and mixed by Steven, the album is by far the band’s favorite record. Steve says, “It has the most singular artistic vision of any record we’ve done. It’s just 10 really fucking awesome songs that have the ability to move you in many different ways.” Founded 34 years ago in Los Angeles during the first wave of LA punk rock by brothers Jeff and Steven McDonald (then respectively 15 and 11 years old), Redd Kross cut their teeth opening for Black Flag at a middle school graduation party. Their debut recordings caught the attention of Rodney Bingenheimer, who quickly became a fan as he spun their Ramones-inspired songs like “Annette’s Got The Hits” and “I Hate My School” on the world-famous KROQ. In 2006, Jeff and Steven announced their reunion with the “classic Neurotica” line-up, joined once again by guitarist Robert Hecker (IT’S OK) and drummer Roy McDonald (The Muffs). Redd Kross have been playing to enthusiastic audiences at sold-out select shows and festivals such as the Azkena Festival; Coachella; The HooDoo Gurus’ Invitational, “Dig It Up”; All Tomorrow’s Parties; and Pop Montréal.

                                                                              TRACK LISTING

                                                                              1 Researching The Blues
                                                                              2 Stay Away From Downtown
                                                                              3 Uglier
                                                                              4 Dracula’s Daughters
                                                                              5 Meet Frankenstein
                                                                              6 One Of The Good Ones
                                                                              7 The Nu Temptations
                                                                              8 Choose To Play
                                                                              9 Winter Blues
                                                                              10 Hazel Eyes

                                                                              Titus Andronicus

                                                                              A Productive Cough

                                                                                Since debuting in 2008, Titus Andronicus [hereafter +@] has been conditioning faithful listeners to expect only the unexpected. With A Productive Cough, +@ has executed the most shocking departure yet—but only if, as ever mercurial singer-songwriter Patrick Stickles insists, “you haven’t been paying attention.” In a move that may infuriate the black-denim-and-PBR set, A Productive Cough sets aside leadfooted punk anthems in favor of a subtler, more spacious approach that pushes Stickles’ soul-baring songwriting to the fore, creating an intimacy between artist and audience with which previous +@ efforts had only flirted. “[+@] records have always had their fair share of ballads,” Stickles explains, “but they were always buried amidst a lot of screaming. Now, they are the cornerstones. Punk rock is nice, but it is but one tool in the toolbox from which I pull to achieve my artistic purpose, and that purpose has always been communication and validation. This time, perhaps I can more effectively talk to the people if I am not so busy yelling at them.” The mission of A Productive Cough is apparent from the first bars of opening track “Number One (In New York).” As a tableau of piano and dulcet horns unfolds, Stickles unleashes a breathless and unceasing 64-bar verse with subject matter as sprawling as the kitchen-sink arrangement, which grows to include sparkling guitars, twinkling bells, and uplifting choral vocals as Stickles searches desperately for the strength to carry on through an increasingly violent and frightening world. 

                                                                                TRACK LISTING

                                                                                SIDE A - Number One (In New York), Real Talk, Above The Bodega (Local Business).

                                                                                Side B - Crass Tattoo, Home Alone, Mass Transit Madness (Goin’ Loco’).

                                                                                CD & 7” Includes The Additional Track (I’m) Like A Rolling Stone. 

                                                                                Superchunk

                                                                                Superchunk

                                                                                  When I listen to our first album now, other than cringing at some clams and the vocals and the juvenile attitude of the whole thing... what was I angry about? You'll have to ask 21-year-old me because in my memory, we were having fun. I hear the accumulation of our influences, which I suppose is normal for a first album—weaving all the things you loved up to that point into your own first thing.

                                                                                  The Buzzcocks, Husker Du, Dinosaur Jr, and Sonic Youth are all right there and what we were listening to. I was living in NYC finishing school when we made this record, so rehearsals and recording were all rushed. I'm surprised we knew this many songs well enough to record them. Twenty-seven years later, we still play at least three or four of these songs live occasionally (one of them all the time...), which says something good about a few of the songs, anyway! We got so much better as a band, and as songwriters, that it's hard to even see this as any kind of template for what Superchunk would eventually be, but it's definitely where we were at in 1989/90, Mac McCaughan. 

                                                                                  TRACK LISTING

                                                                                  1 Sick To Move
                                                                                  2 My Noise
                                                                                  3 Let It Go
                                                                                  4 Swinging
                                                                                  5 Slow
                                                                                  6 Slack Motherfucker
                                                                                  7 Binding
                                                                                  8 Down The Hall
                                                                                  9 Half A Life
                                                                                  10 Not Tomorrow

                                                                                  A Giant Dog

                                                                                  Toy

                                                                                    Toy, the fourth LP from A Giant Dog and their second for Merge, shows the Austin quintet at the height of their powers. A solid year of road-dogging and woodshedding has made the band tighter than ever, the charging dynamo of Andrew Cashen and Andy Bauer's guitars in lockstep with the primal chug of the rhythm section Graham Low on bass and the recorded debut of Daniel Blanchard on drums. Singer Sabrina Ellis turns in another masterful performance, in equal parts brash, defiant, vulnerable, and raw.

                                                                                    Lyrically, Sabrina and Andrew have a gift for making their personal frustrations and fuck-ups, fears, lusts, and addictions feel universal. While they have always given voice to the weirdos and creeps—showing that their peccadilloes and peculiarities are much more deep-seated and widespread they dig even deeper on Toy. “I feel I’ve revealed more in this album than ever before,” Sabrina confesses. Still, the band doesn’t sacrifice an ounce of catchiness or charm when tackling issues like aging, agency, and mortality. For proof, just look at “Photograph,” the sweetest love song about physical longing and enduring devotion to one’s lover, even as their body succumbs to the ravages of time.

                                                                                    The band recorded Toy with Grammy-winning engineer Stuart Sikes (Loretta Lynn, Cat Power, The White Stripes, Reigning Sound), and singer/songwriter/guitarist/wildman Cashen produced it. "Andrew as producer makes a lot of sense," Sabrina says. "He composes the songs and knows better than anyone what they should sound like in the end. With him at the helm, we've arrived at a raw, truthful, risky, and rangey album." Toy is also sonically huge, pulling from a range of influence s as diverse as Tinariwen and Thin Lizzy. 

                                                                                    TRACK LISTING

                                                                                    1. Get Away
                                                                                    2. Fake Plastic Trees
                                                                                    3. Bendover
                                                                                    4. Toy Gun
                                                                                    5. Lucky Ponderosa
                                                                                    6. Photograph
                                                                                    7. Roller Coaster 
                                                                                    8. Angst In My Pants
                                                                                    9. Tongue Tied
                                                                                    10. Hero For The Weekend
                                                                                    11. Making Movies
                                                                                    12. Night Terror
                                                                                    13. Survive.

                                                                                    It's a Myth is Sneaks' 2nd album. With little more than a bass, drum machine, and deadpan vocals, Sneaks, a.k.a. Eva Moolchan, makes minimalist music that takes up space - something she herself has made a point of doing in the male-heavy Washington, D.C., DIY punk scene that has been her home. Moolchan's compelling songwriting, along with the fervid energy of her shows, prompted breakout D.C. label Sister Polygon to release her 2015 debut Gymnastics, which Merge reissued in September 2016.

                                                                                    It's a Myth builds on Sneaks' playfully stark approach to post-punk, which, as her hometown City Paper described it, causes listeners to go "from curious to provoked to hungry." Hungry, in part, because the new album clocks in at just 18 minutes of 10 taut, captivating tracks (but still a feast compared to Gymnastics' 14 minutes). It also adds Jonah Takagi and Ex Hex/Helium frontwoman Mary Timony, who recorded the album at Timony's D.C. studio. "She's got art in her brain," Timony has said of Moolchan. "Her brain is making beautiful stuff." Though it flows from influences like Pylon and Bush Tetras, much of that beautiful stuff is hard to categorize or compare to anything else. It’s herkyjerky and fluid all at once, childlike and yet deeply perceptive.

                                                                                    TRACK LISTING

                                                                                    Inside Edition,
                                                                                    Look Like That,
                                                                                    Not My Combination,
                                                                                    Hair Slick Back,
                                                                                    Devo, PBNJ,
                                                                                    Act Out,
                                                                                    Daffodils,
                                                                                    With A Cherry On Top,
                                                                                    Future.

                                                                                    The writing of the songs that became Heart Like a Levee started in a hotel room in Washington DC in January of 2015 during a powerful storm that darkened the East Coast. At that time I was feeling - more acutely than I had ever felt before - wrenched apart by my responsibilities to my family and to my music. Forgetting, momentarily, that for me, each exists only with the other. How could I forget? Though maybe my lapse was reasonable: I had just quit my job, the most recent and last, in a series of dead-end gigs stretching back 20 years, with the vow that my children would understand their father as a man in love with his world and the inventor of his own days. They would be rare in that regard. And then - driven by monthly bills and pure fear - I left for another tour, carrying a load of guilt that I could just barely lift. But in that snowy hotel room I found the refrain that became my compass: I was a dreamer, babe, when I set out on the road; but did I say I could find my way home? M.C. Taylor.

                                                                                    STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                    Barry says: Optimism clearly doesn't come too easily to M.C Taylor, but you might just be mistaken for thinking that he's made his peace with the world from this shining and cautiously cheery suite of lovelorn sonnets. Perfectly produced and heartfelt country-tinged acoustic odes, and minor-key stripped back melodies. Stunning.

                                                                                    TRACK LISTING

                                                                                    Biloxi
                                                                                    Tell Her I’m Just Dancing
                                                                                    Heart Like A Levee
                                                                                    Like A Mirror Loves A Hammer
                                                                                    Smoky’s Song
                                                                                    Cracked Windshield
                                                                                    As The Crow Flies
                                                                                    Happy Day (Sister My Sister)
                                                                                    Say It Like You Mean It
                                                                                    Ace Of Cups
                                                                                    Highland Grace

                                                                                    Vestapol (Deluxe Bonus):
                                                                                    SIDE A
                                                                                    Blackeyed Boy
                                                                                    After The Colors
                                                                                    Together’s Just A Word
                                                                                    Living Above The Waterline
                                                                                    Strawberry Girl Reel
                                                                                    SIDE B
                                                                                    Little Rain
                                                                                    John The Gun
                                                                                    Vestapol (Is Where I’m Bound)

                                                                                    Modern Country is the fourth full-length album by guitarist and composer William Tyler and his first recorded outside of his hometown of Nashville, Tennessee. It features an ensemble backing group consisting of multi-instrumentalist Phil Cook (Hiss Golden Messenger, Blind Boys of Alabama), bassist Darin Gray (Tweedy, Jim O’Rourke), and percussionist Glenn Kotche (Wilco). The album was tracked at April Base Studios in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and finished in Nashville, recorded and mixed by Jon Ashley, and produced by Tyler and Brad Cook. While there is never a comfort zone in instrumental music, Tyler attempts to leave any perceived one behind with Modern Country.

                                                                                    His first album for Merge, 2013’s Impossible Truth, found Tyler exploring the boundaries of composition for solo guitar in a manner that paid homage to everyone from Leo Kottke to Brian Wilson. It was an epic song cycle that veered from cathedral-like psychedelic hymns to pastoral folk melodies. In contrast, Modern Country finds Tyler exploring more focused melodic themes rather than ethereal wanderings. These aren’t pop songs, per se, but they are closer in spirit to Neu!, Penguin Cafe Orchestra, and Bill Frisell. Primarily written while Tyler was on sabbatical in Oxford, Mississippi, where he stayed at the cabin of a family friend within a stone’s throw of William Faulkner’s house, Modern Country is a collection of songs about the vanishing America that still exists on back roads, in small towns, on AM radio stations. In an election year when so many certainties and assurances have vanished, Tyler doesn’t offer optimism or pessimism but rather a calm and measured commentary in our age of anxiety.

                                                                                    STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                                    David says: Bit of a slow burner this one, it's worked it's magic on staff and customers alike and now barely a day goes by without it being on the shop cd player. Tyler, who also plays with Siver Jews and Lambchop is a guitarist who loops his tracks to create a multi textured sound that takes you on a gentle stroll through the Tennessee hills.

                                                                                    TRACK LISTING

                                                                                    Highway Anxiety
                                                                                    I’m Gonna Live Forever (If It Kills Me)
                                                                                    Kingdom Of Jones
                                                                                    Albion Moonlight
                                                                                    Gone Clear
                                                                                    Sunken Garden
                                                                                    The Great Unwind

                                                                                    When it came time to make Ad Infinitum, the fourth Telekinesis album, drummer/songwriter/principal architect Michael Lerner found himself in a predicament. In just under five years, he had released three fantastic records - Telekinesis! (2009), 12 Desperate Straight Lines (2011), and Dormarion (2013) - each more ambitious than the last. He had toured all over the world, shared stages with great bands, and enthralled fans of his infectious, ebullient power pop. Newly married and happily ensconced in the home studio he’d assembled in his West Seattle basement, Lerner found himself asking the question that has haunted modestly successful bands down the ages: What do you do after the rock and roll dreams you had when you were 19 have come true? “I went down to the basement,” Lerner recalls, “and started playing the same chords I always play… I just felt like I’d exhausted everything I knew. I was not excited at all. I just could not make another power-pop album.” While many artists have made fruitful use of vintage sounds and production techniques in recent years, Ad Infinitum is a different animal. It feels less like a time capsule and more like a time machine. In the movie version of the story, Lerner would stumble on his way down the stairs, hit his head, and wake up in 1983, and the only way he could get back to the present day would be to make a record using available instruments. Then he’d wake in 2015 to discover he’d been in his basement studio all along. And the record he’d made in that strange dream state would turn out to be Ad Infinitum, the most ambitious and assured Telekinesis release to date. 

                                                                                    TRACK LISTING

                                                                                    1. Falling (In Dreams)
                                                                                    2. Sylvia
                                                                                    3. In A Future World
                                                                                    4. Courtesy Phone
                                                                                    5. Sleep In
                                                                                    6. Edgewood
                                                                                    7. It’s Not Yr Fault
                                                                                    8. Farmers Road
                                                                                    9. Ad Infinitum Pt. 1
                                                                                    10. Ad Infinitum Pt. 2

                                                                                    On May 4, Mikal Cronin will return with MCIII. Marked by the lush arrangements, stunning melodies, and deeply personal lyrical work for which Cronin is now known, the album is also a deliberate attempt to simply “go big.”

                                                                                    As he did on his self-titled 2011 debut and 2013’s MCII, Cronin arranged and played nearly all of the record himself, including the tzouras, a traditional Greek string instrument he heard and subsequently bought while on tour in Athens. There’s French horn, saxophone, and trumpet. There are mood-altering crescendos and heartbreaking turns-of-phrase, guitars both gorgeous and pugnacious. No longer satisfied with the sound of “just one string player,” Cronin arranged parts for a full string quartet instead.

                                                                                    Portastatic

                                                                                    The Summer Of The Shark (Reissue)

                                                                                      First time pressed to vinyl, LP includes coupon for full album download, LP pressed to white vinyl.

                                                                                      Portastatic's The Summer of the Shark will be available for the first time on vinyl as part of a monthly series of reissues to mark the 25th anniversary of Merge Records.

                                                                                      Mac McCaughan, co-founder of Merge Records and frontman of the band Superchunk, began recording solo albums under the name Portastatic in the early 90's.

                                                                                      Beginning with this album, Portastatic evolved from a lo-fi side project to become McCaughan's main focus throughout Superchunk's long hiatus in the early '00s. McCaughan wrote the songs on The Summer of the Shark in 2001 while Superchunk was on tour in support of Here's to Shutting Up, which was released mere days after the September 11 attacks and would be the band's last studio album for nine years.

                                                                                      The resulting batch of songs was the last Portastatic album recorded almost entirely at home; it was also the most emotionally resonant, and musically compact collection to date. Recorded at McCaughan's home studio in Chapel Hill, The Summer of the Shark included contributions from Janet Weiss (Wild Flag, Quasi, Sleater-Kinney), Tony Crow (Lambchop), Margaret White (Versus, Matt Pond PA), Matthew McCaughan (Bon Iver, Hiss Golden Messenger), Aaron Oliva, and John Plymale.

                                                                                      TRACK LISTING

                                                                                      1. Oh Come Down
                                                                                      2. In The Lines
                                                                                      3. Windy Village
                                                                                      4. Through A Rainy Lens
                                                                                      5. Don’t Disappear
                                                                                      6. Swimming Through Tires
                                                                                      7. Chesapeake
                                                                                      8. Noisy Night
                                                                                      9. Clay Cakes
                                                                                      10. Drill Me
                                                                                      11. Paratrooper
                                                                                      12. Hey Salty

                                                                                      Ex Hex

                                                                                      Rips

                                                                                        Ex Hex is a power trio hailing from Washington, DC. With Wild Flag on hiatus, Mary Timony (Autoclave, Helium) needed a new outlet, so she retreated to her basement and started writing. To her surprise, the songs came easily and the hooks practically wrote themselves. Mary found Laura Harris and they hit it off immediately. The pair played together for a couple of months in a tiny carpet-lined practice space shared with half a dozen hardcore bands and what appeared to be the better part of a BC Rich Mockingbird. In walked Betsy Wright from the wilds of Virginia. She and Mary have similar tendencies, both defaulting to denim and The Voidoids. Betsy is a performer and an ace piano player, and before long, she was slinging a cherry SG as the third member of Ex Hex.

                                                                                        The group played a handful of shows and a couple of months later, in the spring of 2014, headed into the studio. Working furiously, they recorded over the span of two weeks in North Carolina with Mitch Easter (Let's Active) and in the basement of Mary's home with frequent collaborator Jonah Takagi. What results is Ex Hex 'Rips', twelve songs about underdogs, guys stealing your wallet, schoolyard brawls, and getting bent. The record happens pretty quickly, so don't blink.

                                                                                        “a fun-as-hell supercharged take on Ramones punk and Cheap Trick power-pop, direct and catchy beyond belief” - STEREOGUM.
                                                                                        “While the song’s reminiscent of Wild Flag’s rollicking material, it simultaneously holds its own as a sizzling and energetic little rocker.“ - CONSEQUENCE OF SOUND, on “Don’t Wanna Lose”.

                                                                                        TRACK LISTING

                                                                                        1. Don’t Wanna Lose
                                                                                        2. Beast
                                                                                        3. Waste Your Time
                                                                                        4. You Fell Apart
                                                                                        5. How You Got That Girl
                                                                                        6. Waterfall
                                                                                        7. Hot And Cold
                                                                                        8. Radio On
                                                                                        9. New Kid
                                                                                        10. War Paint
                                                                                        11. Everywhere
                                                                                        12. Outro

                                                                                        Spin magazine described Buckner as “equal parts Bay Area bohemian and dust bowl traditionalist” and named Bloomed one of its best albums of 1994, while Pitchfork wrote, “It’s a traditional outsider-country record in the lineage of Townes Van Zandt. Buckner’s voice is all honey and oak, his guitar style elaborately twanging, his constant subject matter heartache.” Richard Buckner provides some background on the album: Bloomed was originally (erroneously?) released on an unnamable German label in 1994. I was living in San Francisco at the time, having just moved out of a residential hotel and into the 1906 hilltop prefab that adorns the cover. At the time, I was heading a band called The Doubters. We were playing high profile events such as The Covered Wagon Saloon’s Musical Barstools, but weren’t making much headway. We had been turned down consistently every year by SXSW, but I was somehow finagled in as an unannounced guest onto an already unofficial SXSW showcase created by Butch Hancock at his gallery in downtown Austin. There, I met up again with Lloyd Maines, who agreed to produce my first record. Maines and I met in Lubbock, TX, a few months later, where we worked with Lubbock musicians in a small recording studio walled in wooden shingles Sharpied with bible passages from various church groups that also enjoyed working there. It was 112°F the morning I arrived under the suspicious (Californians are merely B-grade yankees) gaze of downtown’s Buddy Holly statue. That first night there, it hailed so hard that heaven’s angry pellets were storming in under my motel door. It only let up for a few moments that first night, allowing me to run across the street to get a butter burger and fries to go. We finished four days later and I flew back to San Francisco, dismembered the band, and embarked on a tour that would last about 20 years (or a few days, if you count what I actually remember). Nothing’s changed. I’m still dodging the sky and busking to strangers.

                                                                                        TRACK LISTING

                                                                                        1. Blue And Wonder
                                                                                        2. Rainsquall
                                                                                        3. 22
                                                                                        4. Mud
                                                                                        5. Six Years
                                                                                        6. This Is Where
                                                                                        7. Gauzy Dress In The Sun
                                                                                        8. Daisychain
                                                                                        9. Desire
                                                                                        10. Up North
                                                                                        11. Surprise, AZ
                                                                                        12. Cradle To The Angel

                                                                                        Bonus Track Info:
                                                                                        1. The Last Ride
                                                                                        2. Settled Down
                                                                                        3. The Worst Way
                                                                                        4. Emma
                                                                                        5. Hutchinson - Recorded In 1995 At Black Eyed Pig In San Francisco By Kyle Statham
                                                                                        6. Surprise, AZ - Recorded In 1996 At World Café
                                                                                        7. Blue And Wonder - Recorded In 1997 At KCRW
                                                                                        8. Still Lookin' For You-Townes Van Zandt - Recorded In 1997 At World Café
                                                                                        9. Up North
                                                                                        10. Six Years
                                                                                        11. Gauzy Dress In The Sun - Recorded Live At The Starry Plough

                                                                                        Vertical Scratchers is John Schmersal (ex-Brainiac/Enon, live Caribou, and Crooks on Tape) and Christian Beaulieu (ex-Triclops!/Anywhere). Their debut album is 'Daughter of Everything'. Simplicity was the inspiration: get in the van, rehearse in the van, tour in the van, stay mobile. “I have played in a lot of bands with complicated set-ups and implemented technologies,” says John. “I also do a lot of recording and editing on computers, so part of the desire for simplicity was about wanting things to be as organic and in real time as possible.” This impulse to keep things moving is reflected in the songs themselves. Most Vertical Scratchers songs clock in under the two-minute mark but often go in twice as many directions as your average-length song. Pop deception. Think the Kinks with a Buzzcocks brevity. Daughter of Everything was recorded live in Los Angeles at The Smell in September of 2012. The special guest appearance lead vocal from Robert Pollard was recorded at Waterloo Sound in Ohio by Todd Tobias.

                                                                                        TRACK LISTING

                                                                                        1. Wait No Longer
                                                                                        2. Turn Me Out
                                                                                        3. Memory Shards
                                                                                        4. Pretend U Are Free
                                                                                        5. Way Out
                                                                                        6. Chambermaids
                                                                                        7. U Dug Us All
                                                                                        8. Kingdom Come
                                                                                        9. Someone
                                                                                        10. Run Around
                                                                                        11. These Plains
                                                                                        12. Get Along Like U
                                                                                        13. My Only Want
                                                                                        14. Rainbows
                                                                                        15. The End

                                                                                        Friends and fans of The Love Language songwriter and frontman Stuart McLamb have learned to expect a lot, but rarely in a timely manner. Completing a triumvirate of spiritual transmissions spent lost (2009’s The Love Language) and found (2010’s Libraries), 2013’s Ruby Red exorcises the transient brilliance fostered by McLamb within the sheetrock walls of the album’s namesake artist space. Featuring over twenty musicians and straddling several time zones, The Love Language’s lone puppeteer borrowed heavier equipment, and held on to it longer. Initiated in a windowless unit at the fabled Ruby Red, several failed attempts and false starts at a songwriting spree landed McLamb and his engineer/case worker/boxing coach BJ Burton in Black Mountain, North Carolina, consuming every square inch of a carpeted bungalow located a few acres too close to their skittish neighbors. Soon after, Burton’s relocation to Minneapolis effectively thrust McLamb from their shared nest, helping Ruby Red discover its inherent propensity for flight. Ruby Red produces new standards for the Carolina pop songbook, finding The Love Language as an extroverted community art project made by responsible citizens of a loosely packed scene who know that McLamb will match whatever they contribute. The heartbreak is over. Now we’re getting somewhere.

                                                                                        TRACK LISTING

                                                                                        1. Calm Down
                                                                                        2. Kids
                                                                                        3. Hi Life
                                                                                        4. First Shot
                                                                                        5. Golden Age
                                                                                        6. For Izzy
                                                                                        7. Faithbreaker
                                                                                        8. On Our Heels
                                                                                        9. Knots
                                                                                        10. Pilot Light

                                                                                        Stephin Merritt and Gonson deliver their lines with vim and vigor, particularly on “How Very Strange,” a mean-spirited look back at the implausibility of a relationship, batting lines back and forth—it could be a sequel to the Magnetic Fields’ “Yeah! Oh, Yeah!” (sample lyric: “I put a little heroin / In everything you took in”). Another top track is “Drink Nothing But Champagne,” in which Merritt gives his best impressions of David Bowie and Aleister Crowley, as he sings, “Children, drink nothing but champagne / It makes life shorter / Than drinking water” (and water’s mostly piss!). Merritt’s ode to double suicide, “Let’s Go to Sleep (And Never Come Back),” makes it sound like an adventure, while “Keep Your Children in a Coma” offers these words of wisdom: “You can’t let them go to school / For fear of bullying little beasts / And you can’t take them to church / For fear of priests.” His lyrics veer into territories few have the audacity to touch. There are fewer zombies and aliens on Partygoing than on the prior two albums, though there are plenty of songs about aging, death, heartbreak, rejection and austerity.

                                                                                        TRACK LISTING

                                                                                        1. A Drink Is Just The Thing
                                                                                        2. Sadder Than The Moon
                                                                                        3. Let’s Go To Sleep (And Never Come Back)
                                                                                        4. Satan, Your Way Is A Hard One
                                                                                        5. A New Kind Of Town
                                                                                        6. All I Care About Is You
                                                                                        7. Living, Loving, Partygoing
                                                                                        8. Keep Your Children In A Coma
                                                                                        9. How Very Strange
                                                                                        10. Love Is A Luxury I Can No Longer Afford
                                                                                        11. Digging My Own Grave
                                                                                        12. Drink Nothing But Champagne
                                                                                        13. When Evening Falls On Tinseltown

                                                                                        Following their 2010 album Work, Adam, Bebban, Ted, Carl, and Eric headed out on their most successful tour ever and then returned home to their own pursuits. Families were expanded, side projects were launched, and homes outside of Stockholm were explored. When the time came to work on another Shout Out Louds record they wanted to return to the playful spirit that first brought them together ten years ago. Instead of “work,” they wanted to dance! Rather than rehearsing and then recording in the studio as they’d always done, everyone felt free to write and work on their own parts individually as Optica was taking shape. Also, the band worked with a string composer to achieve lush arrangements described by Carl as “Disney on drugs” and by Adam as “like warm mayonnaise.” Shout Out Louds took their time with these songs, recording for about 1.5 years in a small Stockholm studio and producing themselves for the first time with help from Johannes Berglund. A theme emerged and Optica was born, an album celebrating color and light from a band confident in its sound.

                                                                                        “The forthcoming album is stacked full of the usual anthemic qualities we’ve come to expect from the group, whilst the quality of songwriting and production takes another bold step towards eternal greatness.” The Line of Best Fit

                                                                                        TRACK LISTING

                                                                                        1. Sugar
                                                                                        2. Illusions
                                                                                        3. Blue Ice
                                                                                        4. 14th Of July
                                                                                        5. Burn
                                                                                        6. Walking In Your Footsteps
                                                                                        7. Glasgow
                                                                                        8. Where You Come In
                                                                                        9. Hermila
                                                                                        10. Chasing The Sinking Sun
                                                                                        11. Circles
                                                                                        12. Destroy

                                                                                        NOTE: Track 11 Is Not Included On The Physical LP, But It Is Included As Track 11 (of The Full 12 Tracks) On The MP3 Coupon.


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