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Oyster Cuts

    Oyster Cuts, the Merge Records debut of Quivers, finds the Melbourne, Australia–based outfit awash in the kind of emotions people tend to fear losing themselves in. Finding love after grief, the outsized guitar pop of Quivers gleams like the surface of an ocean, beneath which lies a reef that is at turns beautiful and painful, its features alien and sharp enough to wound. Propelled by melodies that at times recall Galaxie 500 and The Pretenders, Quivers make music that is tender and tough, compelling the listener to dive in again and again, each song a new angle on all of your feelings.

    Oyster Cuts is sunshine pop with blood in the water. The losses and loves that have informed Quivers’ music since their inception the sudden loss of a brother in the cracked optimism of We’ll Go Riding on the Hearses (2018) and the life in and after grief of Golden Doubt (2021) ripple into Oyster Cuts, which is committed to moving forward while accepting that some feelings, like grief, are a cycle. Crucially, Quivers committed to moving forward with each other. Paring away the choir and strings of Golden Doubt, Oyster Cuts is a showcase for what’s still possible when four people Sam Nicholson (guitars), Bella Quinlan (bass), Michael Panton (guitars), and Holly Thomas (drums) make music together.

    In utilizing tape loops which open and close Oyster Cuts, circling the album like sharks Quivers place emphasis on repetition, deploying patterned riffs and navigating circular thoughts until they swell to their breaking point. Their dreamy strain of sun-faded jangle pop is leaner and more muscular as a result, their keenly observed palette darkened with blushes of The Cure, Echo & the Bunnymen, and The Durutti Column.

    Within this framework, Quivers break new ground as a band, adding dimension to their hallmark group vocals by having Quinlan take lead on four songs, homing in on the interwoven guitars of Nicholson and Panton, and driving it all home on the purposeful groove of Quinlan and Thomas. Quivers’ songs feel like long-running conversations between friends in the sense that a conversation is both an act of speech and a space people hold for each other. The first two tracks on Oyster Cuts, “Never Be Lonely” and “Pink Smoke,” take those private universes composed of shared language, memories, snatches of songs, and the light of a cell phone’s screen mid-doomscroll and turn them into a beacon, searching lyrics set ablaze by massive hooks.

    “All I ever wanted was a true friend / All I wanted was a friend with benefits / All I ever wanted was transcendence,” sing Quinlan and Thomas at the outset of the album, and Oyster Cuts spools out into the horizon from there. The four members of Quivers are not only given to exploring this space but to filling as much of it with themselves as possible, locking in on each other no matter how hazy and chaotic matters of the heart can get. Every moment of catharsis Quivers conjure from the ether is an invitation to join them. Listening to them soar where others would ruminate, their invitation is impossible to resist.


    SIDE A
    1. Never Be Lonely
    2. Pink Smoke
    3. More Lost
    4. Apparition
    5. Grief Has Feathers
    SIDE B
    6. Oyster Cuts
    7. Screensaver
    8. If Only
    9. Fake Flowers
    10. Reckless

    Previous Industries

    Service Merchandise

      Previous Industries is three Chicagoans with a deep, shared history—Open Mike Eagle, Video Dave, and STILL RIFT—who currently reside in LA. In a city where transplants often say they find it hard to connect with new people, these guys found a way around that by delving into the past to rekindle old connections.

      When that connection was made, they seemed to stay in the past, rapping about anything and everything but always bolstered by nostalgia and shared memories.

      Service Merchandise, their debut LP as a unit, is named after a largely defunct retail chain, as are many of the songs on the album. Orbiting the dead mall as a spiritual concept, Previous Industries tackle nostalgia, heartbreak, joy, and disposability from three distinct points of view, weaving in and out of beats by Child Actor, Quelle Chris, and Smoke Bonito to create something new from a discarded past.

      The record was mixed by Kenny Segal (Armand Hammer, billy woods) and mastered by GRAMMY-winning engineer Daddy Kev (Flying Lotus, Thundercat).


      SIDE A:
      Montgomery Ward
      White Hen

      SIDE B:
      Kay Bee

      The Mountain Goats

      The Coroner's Gambit

        Originally released in October 2000, The Coroner’s Gambit finds John Darnielle between physical and sonic spaces, five of its sixteen songs recorded in Simon Joyner’s Omaha, Nebraska, studio, five more at home in Colo, Iowa, and the rest in Ames.

        The album came together slowly; the Mountain Goats had released music every year from 1991 to 1998, but between the release of that year’s New Asian Cinema EP and The Coroner’s Gambit, 1999 passed without an official Mountain Goats release. The additional time that went into The Coroner’s Gambit paid off: it is a breakthrough for Darnielle as a songwriter and practitioner of the full-length album. His characters are sharply drawn, the immaculately appointed lore of the worlds they occupy providing them some shelter from the storm.

        He has grown as a guitarist and in voice, wringing moments of sweetness and humour from songs of fury and lament, nimbly modulating from mourning to longing, passing air through the lungs of the dead and survivors alike.

        The mix of home and studio recordings grants The Coroner’s Gambit a thrilling sense of immediacy while pointing towards a future that is soon to break open with All Hail West Texas and Tallahassee. The Coroner’s Gambit is a masterpiece in its own right, an introspective epic that further burnishes Darnielle’s reputation as one of our greatest songwriters, one whose gift for confessional fabulism knows few rivals.

        In the ensuing years since its original release The Coroner’s Gambit has become somewhat tricky to pin down in its entirety. Releasing the CD for the segment of the Mountain Goats massive who just wanted the songs, and the LP for those drawn to the ephemera of the album as a package, vinyl copies were housed in a paper bag that had additional Darnielle-penned liner notes printed on them. One thousand vinyl copies were issued, and, based on reports from the collector’s scene, far fewer than one thousand bags survive to the present, its text living on largely through Flickr albums and fan sites. The 2024 reissue marks the passage of time with new text and liner notes by Darnielle for CD and LP.


        1. Jaipur
        2. Elijah
        3. Trick Mirror
        4. Island Garden Song
        5. The Coroner’s Gambit
        6. Baboon
        7. Scotch Grove
        8. Horseradish Road
        9. Family Happiness
        10. Onions
        11. “Bluejays And Cardinals”
        12. Shadow Song
        13. There Will Be No Divorce
        14. Insurance Fraud #2
        15. The Alphonse Mambo
        16. We Were Patriots

        Camera Obscura

        Look To The East, Look To The West

          Look to the East, Look to the West, the new album by Camera Obscura, is a revelation. The Tracyanne Campbell-led outfit, reuniting with producer Jari Haapalainen (Let’s Get Out of This Country, My Maudlin Career), have crafted an album that simultaneously recalls why longtime fans have ferociously loved them for decades while also being their most sophisticated effort to date.

          It is also the most hard-fought album of Camera Obscura’s career. Following the 2015 passing of founding keyboardist and friend Carey Lander (to whom the penultimate track “Sugar Almond” is addressed), the band went into an extended hiatus. They remained in contact, but their status was uncertain until they announced their return, having been invited to perform as part of Belle & Sebastian’s 2019 Boaty Weekender cruise festival, along with a pair of sold-out warm-up shows in Glasgow. Donna Maciocia (keys and vocals) joined founding members Kenny McKeeve (guitar and vocals), Gavin Dunbar (bass), and Lee Thomson (drums and percussion) for those shows and has since become a regular songwriting partner of Campbell’s.

          Recorded in the same room where Queen wrote “Bohemian Rhapsody,” Look to the East, Look to the West feels big, a widescreen reframing of Camera Obscura’s sound that, paradoxically, saw the band go back to basics there are no string or brass arrangements, with more emphasis placed on piano, synthesizers, Hammond organ, and drum machines, and, perhaps most strikingly, the group have dropped the veil of reverb that characterized their previous albums. The tinges of country and soul that give Camera Obscura’s baroque take on pop music its bittersweet edge have never been more apparent guitars shimmer into the distance, keys haunt, and Campbell’s voice searches for the heart, reflecting on love, loss, and the passage of time.

          Lead single “Big Love” relishes in the space between country rock and prog, a pining break-up anthem featuring the soaring pedal steel of Tim Davidson. It’s a Nashville Sound heartbreaker, tackling the complexity of wanting to rekindle a bad relationship with Campbell’s uncanny ability to render the past: “It was a big love, she said / That’s why it took ten years to get her out of her head,” she begins.

          “We’re Going to Make It in a Man’s World” was co-written with Maciocia for filmmaker Margaret Salmon’s 2021 film Icarus (After Amelia). (Salmon, in turn, shot Look to the East, Look to the West’s cover photography featuring Fiona Morrison, who was on the cover of Camera Obscura’s debut, Biggest Bluest Hi-Fi.). Ironic and sincere, the two navigate the reality of being women in the music industry, somehow floating over Davidson’s pedal steel and Maciocia’s keys. “The Light Nights” is a swooning song propelled by a western shuffle and killer guitar, striking a balance between a particularly good honky-tonk joint’s jukebox and a lost gem of California pop music waiting to be discovered in a 7” bin.

          Look to the East, Look to the West is the sound of a band that has grown more confident in its sound and purpose than ever. It is Camera Obscura at their best and most evocative, an album that completely rearranges the listener’s emotional core, leaving them sad and exhilarated at the same time. Camera Obscura’s catalog is replete with songs people point to as life-changing, songs that will stick with them all their lives. Look to the East, Look to the West has 11 of them; take your pick. 


          Barry says: Camera Obscura return! After the sad passing of Carey Lander, it's hard to imagine how the band could continue but 'Look To The East...' takes all of the latent melodicism and swooning choruses and strips them back to a fairly minimalist backbone. There are moments of the cinematic intensity and wistful grandiosity of their previous work but it's a much more emotionally wrought, fickle affair, and all the more beautiful for it.


          1. Liberty Print
          2. We’re Going To Make It In A Man’s World
          3. Big Love
          4. Only A Dream
          5. The Light Nights
          6. Sleepwalking
          7. Baby Huey (Hard Times)
          8. Denon
          9. Pop Goes Pop
          10. Sugar Almond
          11. Look To The East, Look To The West.

          Ibibio Sound Machine

          Pull The Rope

            Pull the Rope, the new record by Ibibio Sound Machine, casts the Eno Williams and Max Grunhard–led outfit in a new light. The hope, joy, and sexiness of their music remain, but, further honing the edge of their acclaimed 2022 album Electricity, the connection they aim to foster has shifted venues from the sunny buoyancy of a sunlit festival to a sweat-soaked, all-night dance club.

            Williams and Grunhard attribute this shift to a matter of collaborators, recording Pull the Rope with Sheffield-based producer Ross Orton (Arctic Monkeys, M.I.A.) over the course of two weeks. The way the pair wrote songs changed significantly rather than Eno penning lyrics to music generated by Max and company’s jamming, Orton started with Eno and Max writing together before adding the band. With less time in the studio

            and a new way of considering how they built songs, the duo found making decisions about Pull the Rope’s sound quicker and more instinctual than before.

            “Ross is from Sheffield, which has an edgier, more industrial vibe than London,” Grunhard explains. “He hears things differently than us, is more grounded in rave and grungier sounds, and knew when to add drums or push the instrumentation more. It was very different for us, but it lends itself to where Ibibio Sound Machine is going.”

            In melding their songwriting process, Grunhard and Williams have, impossibly, pulled the trick of making Ibibio Sound Machine a tighter band than ever before, building out from their core in a way that highlights the electrifying group of musicians they play with. Rather than recording with the full band in the room, Pull the

            Rope was sculpted, elements added and shaped by Grunhard, Williams, and Orton along the way. As a result, Pull the Rope is a nimble, sleek machine that’s thrilling from the first note of the opening title track, Eno’s otherworldly voice and PK Ambrose’s throbbing bass driving through a kaleidoscopic array of house, post-punk, funk, Afrobeat and disco, bangers and ballads, making an argument for unity that begins on the dancefloor. “We are the places we grew up, the places we’ve been, and the people we’ve met along

            the way,” Williams says. “Hopping around the globe, we’ve found that people are fundamentally the same they’re people. Opposing sides push and pull, but there is an alternative to war, violence, and suffering.”

            Lead single “Got to Be Who U Are” literally globetrots, name checking locales across the world that would feel disparate were it not for how well-traveled they are. Eno growing up in the musical melting pot of the Ibibio region of Nigeria and Max being a conservatory-trained musician from Australia, one could call their meeting in London and formation of Ibibio Sound Machine predestined.

            “Mama Say” and “Let My Yes Be Yes” touch themes of female empowerment. They’re indicative of the band’s depth as they push further into the electronic; “Mama Say” hits notes of electropop while “Let My Yes Be Yes” fuses electro to Afrobeat. Ibibio Sound Machine have always imbued their music with political consciousness, and the light that shines through in Williams’ vocals and voice has never felt more necessary. The sound of Pull the Rope, then, is hope in darkness, bliss in spite of bleakness. Once again, Ibibio Sound Machine are here to provide the soundtrack to the best night of your life, and the better world to come.

            TRACK LISTING

            1. Pull The Rope
            2. Got To Be Who U Are
            3. Fire
            4. Them Say
            5. Political Incorrect
            6. Mama Say
            7. Let My Yes Be Yes
            8. Touch The Ceiling
            9. Far Away
            10. Dance In The Rain

            The Magnetic Fields

            69 Love Songs - 25 Anniversary Edition

              Limited edition silver vinyl anniversary reissue of the Magnetic Fields’ classic 1999 rumination on, of course, love. Funny, smart, dark, memorable, and a lifetime’s worth of listening. Stephin Merritt solidifies his songwriting genius on his “most ambitious and fully realized work.” (AMG)

              This vinyl reissue is remastered for vinyl and beautifully packaged in a 10” slipcase box with three double gatefold sleeves and a 24 page booklet!

              TRACK LISTING

              1 Absolutely Cuckoo (1:34)
              2 I Don't Believe In The Sun (4:16)
              3 All My Little Words (2:46)
              4 A Chicken With Its Head Cut Off (2:41)
              5 Reno Dakota (1:05)
              6 I Don't Want To Get Over You (2:22)
              7 Come Back From San Francisco (2:48)
              8 The Luckiest Guy On The Lower East Side (3:43)
              9 Let's Pretend We're Bunny Rabbits (2:25)
              10 The Cactus Where Your Heart Should Be (1:11)
              11 I Think I Need A New Heart (2:32)
              12 The Book Of Love (2:42)
              13 Fido, Your Leash Is Too Long (2:33)
              14 How Fucking Romantic (0:58)
              15 The One You Really Love (2:53)
              16 Punk Love (0:58)
              17 Parades Go By (2:56)
              18 Boa Constrictor (0:58)
              19 A Pretty Girl Is Like (1:50)
              20 My Sentimental Melody (3:07)
              21 Nothing Matters When We're Dancing (2:27)
              22 Sweet-Lovin' Man (4:59)
              23 The Things We Did And Didn't Do (2:11)
              24 Roses (0:27)
              25 Love Is Like Jazz (2:56)
              26 When My Boy Walks Down The Street (2:38)
              27 Time Enough For Rocking When We're Old (2:03)
              28 Very Funny (1:26)
              29 Grand Canyon (2:28)
              30 No One Will Ever Love You (3:14)
              31 If You Don't Cry (3:07)
              32 You're My Only Home (2:17)
              33 (Crazy For You But) Not That Crazy (2:18)
              34 My Only Friend (2:01)
              35 Promises Of Eternity (3:46)
              36 World Love (3:07)
              37 Washington, D.C. (1:53)
              38 Long-Forgotten Fairytale (3:37)
              39 Kiss Me Like You Mean It (2:01)
              40 Papa Was A Rodeo (5:01)
              41 Epitaph For My Heart (2:50)
              42 Asleep And Dreaming (1:53)
              43 The Sun Goes Down And The World Goes Dancing (2:46)
              44 The Way You Say Good-Night (2:44)
              45 Abigail, Belle Of Kilronan (2:00)
              46 I Shatter (3:09)
              47 Underwear (2:49)
              48 It's A Crime (3:54)
              49 Busby Berkeley Dreams (3:36)
              50 I'm Sorry I Love You (3:06)
              51 Acoustic Guitar (2:37)
              52 The Death Of Ferdinand De Saussure (3:10)
              53 Love In The Shadows (2:54)
              54 Bitter Tears (2:51)
              55 Wi' Nae Wee Bairn Ye'll Me Beget (1:55)
              56 Yeah! Oh, Yeah! (2:19)
              57 Experimental Music Love (0:29)
              58 Meaningless (2:08)
              59 Love Is Like A Bottle Of Gin (1:46)
              60 Queen Of The Savages (2:12)
              61 Blue You (3:03)
              62 I Can't Touch You Anymore (3:05)
              63 Two Kinds Of People (1:10)
              64 How To Say Goodbye (2:48)
              65 The Night You Can't Remember (2:17)
              66 For We Are The King Of The Boudoir (1:14)
              67 Strange Eyes (2:01)
              68 Xylophone Track (2:47)
              69 Zebra (2:15)


              Bite Down

                Bite Down, the Merge Records debut of Rosali, finds acclaimed songwriter and guitarist Rosali Middleman in the midst of transition. Written after moving to North Carolina from her longtime home of Philadelphia, Bite Down is a searching, hungry record by an artist who is resolved to bite down on life, in all its horror and joy.

                She is joined here by Mowed Sound David Nance (bass, guitar), James Schroeder (guitar, synth), Kevin Donahue (drums, percussion) and in studio by Destroyer collaborator Ted Bois (keys). Bite Down is Rosali’s second album working with Mowed Sound, and there is urgency and ambition in their collaboration a band pushing each other not just to expand on what they’ve already done together, but to break through into altogether new territory.

                Among those joining Rosali and her band there is Dan Bejar of Destroyer, who waxes poetically on where she’s been, where she’s going, and how thrilling Bite Down is to experience:

                It’s hard to talk about Rosali’s music. Songs that reach outward like this, but then constantly disarm with their intimacy. What do you call such inner searching that is hellbent on rollicking? Songs that long for a sense of peace and songs that want romance, all on equal footing in the same plot of earth? Performed wild, but always centered around the incredible lyrical calm that is Rosali’s voice.

                Bite Down makes me think about singers and bands that throw themselves hard into the storm, the way the Rosali quartet does. (Jim captures the tone of this perfectly, again!) The calm of her voice over top of the band’s raging it is the emblem of songs that live to put themselves in harm’s way. But it’s not harm. It’s just that you have to play hard to get at these goods. The calm of Rosali’s voice, the straight talk of her inner search vs. the wildness of the band, the sonic storm she rides in on. That’s their sound.

                The Mowed Sound. It’s hard to talk about these last couple Rosali albums without talking about them. They play free and wild and relentlessly melodious. They rip and create space and fill it up with what seems like reckless abandon, but listen carefully or listen for a while and you’ll find them paying real close attention to each other and exactly what the song demands. Maybe Fairport did this, maybe VU. It’s a strange telepathic brew.

                Breezier songs like “On Tonight” and “Rewind” sound like they’ve fought their way to get to that sense of ease. Maybe that’s the Mowed Sound “sound”—hard-won ease. Then add to that Ted Bois’ patented Rhodes sleaze (see sinuous title track “Bite Down”) steering the record into late-night corners; the incredible “Hills on Fire” (maybe the centerpiece of the album), the guitar-ripping and the singing taking turns in reaching new levels of intimacy. It feels listened-in on, exposed and invented on the spot. It is also simply a staggeringly beautiful song. There are a few of those on the album. In contrast, “My Kind” is a raucous, hand-delivered classic; the band throws tables over. For the most part, this is a moodier record than No Medium. It has the same sound of “I’ve travelled through fire to deliver you these songs,” but it is also quieter, more nocturnal. The quiet dread of staring down an open road, and the excitement of that.

                By the final track, “May It Be on Offer,” it is the prayer uttered as you hand yourself over to the world.

                TRACK LISTING

                SIDE A
                1. On Tonight
                2. Rewind
                3. Hills On Fire
                4. My Kind
                5. Bite Down
                SIDE B
                6. Hopeless
                7. Slow Pain
                8. Is It Too Late
                9. Change Is In The Form
                10. May It Be On Offer

                Wye Oak

                Shriek + Variations - 2024 Reissue

                  In 2014, Wye Oak released Shriek, their fourth album. It was a necessary departure for Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack, who found themselves on uncertain ground after two years of constant touring for 2011’s Civilian, living on opposite ends of the country and trying to revitalize their creative partnership. Wasner set aside her guitar for a bass. Stack took on the band’s upper register, playing syncopated, meditative keyboard parts that interacted with Wasner’s voice, which was newly freed from its call-and-response relationship to the guitar what had been, until then, a signature of Wye Oak’s sound.

                  “This idea and the ensuing creative reworking of our band did what it was meant to do,” Wasner writes in 2024. “It ended a long, painful period of creative stagnancy and reconnected me with the joy of making music.”

                  During that period, Wasner and Stack were introduced to William Brittelle, the Brooklyn-based composer whose 2019 LP Spiritual America featured Wye Oak, the Metropolis Ensemble, and the Brooklyn Youth Chorus. His orchestral reimaginings of five songs from Shriek (Shriek: Variations, if you will) are the centerpiece of this package, which serves not only to mark the tenth anniversary of a great album, but to demonstrate the richness of Wye Oak’s compositions. Stack says of Shriek: Variations: “It’s like looking at the songs in a funhouse mirror. The songs on Shriek can be stripped down or embellished this is maximal embellishment. William took the album and blew it to smithereens, looking at it in a weird, prismatic way.”

                  Through Brittelle, Wasner and Stack found themselves at the intersection of classical, experimental, and pop music. Further collaborations, like the Brooklyn Youth Chorus featuring No Horizon and Paul and Michi Wiancko’s string arrangements on “My Signal” from The Louder I Call, The Faster It Runs, followed, as this connection fundamentally changed the way Wye Oak approached making records, incorporating an entirely new palette of sound into their work.

                  That shift began here. Shriek: Variations may feel like a startling take on the material, something like light bursting into a room through drawn curtains, but Brittelle’s arrangements are largely original to his first collaborations with Wye Oak a decade ago, suggesting that his maximalist arrangements have lived comfortably within the framework of Shriek the whole time, waiting for the right moment to emerge. It’s a fitting reintroduction to the album, which upon its initial release was pigeonholed into the easy one-note talking point of being the “no-guitar” record. But even so, as that happened, Shriek quietly started to become a staple among Wye Oak’s core fans.

                  Here, with help from Brittelle’s expansive compositions, the release draws attention back to the Songwriting how, regardless of the instrumentation, Wasner and Stack’s uncanny music writing partnership at the core is what makes both Shriek and Wye Oak excellent. Joined by the Metropolis Ensemble, Paul Wiancko, and Lizzie Burns, Wye Oak turn songs like “Logic of Color” inside out, reaching towards a kind of pastoral bombast, Brittelle’s aesthetic with Wasner and Stack as an anchor. In fact, “Logic of Color” in this iteration takes that “no-guitar” script and flips it, with Wasner playing the synthesizer ostinato on acoustic guitar at its center. If Shriek is a record that charts the depths of solemnity and inner space, its Variations, roiling in a sea of winds, brass, and strings, recolors that space and complicates it, a gorgeous, unexpected response to the original’s siren call.

                  TRACK LISTING

                  SIDE A.
                  1. Before
                  2. Shriek
                  3. The Tower
                  4. Glory
                  5. Sick Talk
                  SIDE B.
                  6. Schools Of Eyes
                  7. Despicable Animal
                  8. Paradise
                  9. I Know The Law
                  10. Logic Of Color // Variations
                  SIDE C.
                  1. Before
                  2. Shriek
                  3. Sick Talk
                  SIDE D
                  4. The Tower
                  5. Logic Of Color

                  Mary Timony

                  Untame The Tiger

                    For more than 30 years, singer-songwriter and guitar hero Mary Timony has cut a distinctive path through the world of independent music, most recently as vocalist and guitarist of acclaimed garage-pop power trio Ex Hex (Merge) but also as a member of seminal post punk band Autoclave (Dischord), celebrated leader of the deeply influential Helium (Matador), multifaceted solo artist (Matador, Lookout!, Kill Rock Stars), and a co-founder of supergroup Wild Flag (Merge). Described by Sleater-Kinney’s Carrie Brownstein as “Mary Shelley with a guitar” and dubbed “a trailblazer and an innovator” by Lindsey Jordan a.k.a. Snail Mail, Timony has distinguished herself as one of her generation’s most influential. Although she has remained a cult hero and critical favorite since the early ’90s, Timony’s many triumphs have long been counterbalanced by crippling doubt and self-nullification.

                    Her fifth solo album, Untame the Tiger, approaches these emotions head on. Her first solo release in 15 years is a startling document of an artist fully coming into her own power during the fourth decade of her career. It is the product of lessons learned during life-altering struggle. The mystical, acoustic-driven Untame the Tiger emerged after the dissolution of a long-term relationship and was bookended by the deaths of Timony’s father and mother. The album was recorded during a two-year period during which she was the primary caregiver for her ailing parents. The tectonic psychic shift Mary experienced due to this loss informs many of her lyrics.

                    Standout track “No Thirds” “is a song about losing everything and having to keep on going,” says Timony. “I wanted the verses to sound like a wide-open barren space, like driving across a desert, because that is what the song is about—losing people and the feeling that your future is a giant, wide-open blank space.” The stripped-back acoustic instrumentation of “The Guest” conjures Sweetheart-era Byrds. Timony describes it as a song sung directly to loneliness: “I was imagining loneliness as a house guest who keeps knocking on your door. I thought it would be funny to say loneliness is the only one who always comes back.”

                    Untame the Tiger does not eschew Timony’s guitar hero reputation; in fact, “Summer” relishes in it, a straight-up banger that you’d be half tempted to call “no frills” until its initial garage rock stomp breaks into the unexpected bliss of a twin guitar solo conclusion. “I wanted the recording to have the energy of the Kinks, early Dio and Elf, or Rory Gallagher,” she explains. “I was also listening to a lot of Gerry Rafferty’s first solo album and was inspired to have two simultaneous guitar solos.” Untame the Tiger picks up the thread woven through Timony’s freak-folk-anticipating solo albums of the early ’00s. Basic tracks were recorded at Studio 606 in Los Angeles, with Timony backed by Dave Mattacks, drummer of legendary British folk-rock band Fairport Convention. “Mattacks is a hero of mine and one of my favorite musicians of all time. He is a true legend.

                    I never in a million years thought he’d agree to play on my record,” says Timony. “Before the session, I had a panic attack and had to go sit alone in the parking lot… Once we started playing together, it felt so great that the fear subsided and turned into excitement. His playing felt instantly familiar, which makes sense because it’s the foundation of many of my favorite records.”

                    Untame the Tiger was produced by Mary Timony, Joe Wong, and Dennis Kane. The album was recorded over the course of two years at Studio 606, Magpie Cage, 38North, and in Mary’s basement. Additional engineering by J. Robbins (Jawbox, Burning Airlines). Musicians include Chad Molter (Faraquet, Medications), David Christian (Karen O, Hospitality), and Brian Betan-court (Cass McCombs, Devendra Banhart, Hospitality). The album was mixed by Dave Fridmann (MGMT, The Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev), Dennis Kane, and John Agnello (Dinosaur Jr., Kurt Vile, Waxahatchee).

                    TRACK LISTING

                    SIDE A
                    1. No Thirds
                    2. Summer
                    3. Dominoes
                    4. Looking For The Sun
                    5. The Guest
                    SIDE B
                    6. Don’t Disappear
                    7. The Dream
                    8. Untame The Tiger
                    9. Not The Only One


                    What An Enormous Room

                      What an enormous room is not only the title of the new album by TORRES, it is an incantation, a phrase Mackenzie Scott has had in her head now for several years, for as long as some of the songs found here.

                      What an enormous room is an entirely new look at TORRES. Scott’s undeniable skill as a guitar player is still the engine driving her songs, but in “Collect,” it’s pushed through a polyphonic octave generator, creating a sound that is sexy and alien and peak TORRES, a provocative statement of purpose that’s both a call to arms and a call to the dance floor. “Wake to flowers” is a celebration of the unexpected joy of things turning out much better than one could have hoped. It’s on the slinkier side of What an enormous room, exploring new territory for TORRES that Scott attributes to recording with her friend Sarah Jaffe, the Texan singer-songwriter whose inclination to break genre boundaries has led her to collaborate with Eminem and producer Symbolyc One.

                      Jaffe provides What an enormous room’s rhythm section, playing bass and drums, and the easiness of her collaboration with Scott made it possible for songs like “Jerk into joy” to emerge like the incantation central to it, and the album itself—after years in Scott’s head in a way that is simultaneously more direct and more sonically ambitious than any TORRES record to date. When she sings “look at all the dancing I can do,” it’s an invitation to awe, and there is much here to be awed by.

                      What an enormous room contains wry, Laurie Anderson–esque art rock, Nirvana’s rage, and ABBA’s strut. Rather than fear the unknown space she occupies, Mackenzie Scott has chosen to fill it with as much of herself as possible, an artist unwilling to be stifled. We’re hardly alone in our admiration for TORRES. As Julien Baker attests: What I can say about TORRES is I think the music comes from a convicted place. Not convicted meaning a person is narrowly and foolishly committed to an ideal, or unshakably convinced of themselves, or a zealot, or stubborn.

                      I mean dedicated, I mean: If TORRES’ music gets weird, gets brainy, gets funny, gets defiant, provokes, deliberately scandalizes, employs the crass to undermine the austere, courts lofty philosophical truth—it’s all done with the conviction of an artist with the (essential) belief in the worth of their task. I think you can hear it in the songs, someone reaching, leaning over the boundary between known and not, probing the almighty.

                      After a decade and six studio albums and however many one-offs and tours and articles read and conversations had, the parts of this pursuit I’ve been able to observe are all marked by a dedication to creation that treats the act ongoing with as much preciousness as the evidence of the act that is left in a record. The modes of being are different: heartbroken, broke, furious (right- and unrighteously), awestruck by love, compelled by desire. sometimes resigned to death, sometimes fascinated by and reverent of the future. Sometimes viscerally present, other times suspended in heady awareness, poised on a fulcrum of observation and participation in the phenomenon that aliveness is.

                      The tools are the same: instruments that growl and shriek and moan, a lyrical voice shouting, swooning, chuckling, snarling as the moment commands. TORRES’ music-making is conducted in a melodic vocabulary unique to itself—methods, equipment, circumstances shifting around the impulse to affirm the self within the world, to make art that bears all these little artifacts of the divine and of the real and show it to people and know it is valuable. I think that’s what Mackenzie’s music does. And I think it’s just incredibly good music to listen to.

                      STAFF COMMENTS

                      Barry says: A stomping, gigantic swell of stadium guitars and bombastic choruses, all topped by Torres' powerful vocal dynamite. It's party synth-pop, part electronica as ever, but the guitar riffs of yesteryear are replaced with swathes of roaring octaved guitars, and i'm all for it. Ace.

                      TRACK LISTING

                      SIDE A:
                      1. Happy Man’s Shoes
                      2. Life As We Don’t Know It
                      3. I Got The Fear
                      4. Wake To Flowers
                      5. Ugly Mystery
                      6. Collect
                      SIDE B:
                      7. Artificial Limits
                      8. Jerk Into Joy
                      9. Forever Home
                      10. Songbird Forever

                      M. Ward

                      Transfiguration Of Vincent - 2024 Reissue

                        In 2003, everything broke open for Ward with the release of Transfiguration of Vincent. Critically lauded and long beloved, Pitchfork hailed it as an album that “broadcasts timelessness and defies genre constraints,” and Slant placed it on their list of the best albums of the 2000s. On Transfiguration of Vincent, Ward’s elegant fingerpicking, evocative croon, and heartrending lyricism came into full bloom, casting a spell so powerful that even a song as universal as David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” felt not only new but irrevocably his. One of the most cherished albums in the Merge catalog, Transfiguration of Vin- cent is both a great place to begin your love affair with M. Ward and a deep, stunningly realized work that listeners have returned to over and over again for 20 years.

                        TRACK LISTING

                        SIDE A

                        1. Transfiguration No. 1
                        2. Vincent O’Brien
                        3. Sad, Sad Song
                        4. Undertaker
                        5. Duet For Guitars No. 3
                        6. Outta My Head
                        7. Involuntary

                        SIDE B

                        8. Helicopter
                        9. Poor Boy, Minor Key
                        10. Fool Says
                        11. Get To The Table On Time
                        12. A Voice At The End Of The Line
                        13. Dead Man
                        14. Let’s Dance
                        15. Transfiguration No. 2

                        M. Ward

                        Duet For Guitars #2 - 2024 Reissue

                          Duet for Guitars #2 introduced us to M. Ward’s characteristic rasp and fingerpicking prowess. More minimal in scope than future records, the songs run the gamut from lullabies to rocking declarations of love. Released on Co-Dependent Records in 1999, one of the initial 1,000 copies found its way to Howe Gelb, who re-released it in 2000 on Ow Om. It went out of print and remained a hard-to-find piece of the M. Ward catalog until 2007, when it was reissued on Merge with three new tracks. More than an origin story, Duet for Guitars #2 is a beautiful, assured album that is sure to make lo-fi and Americana aficionados swoon, to say nothing of M. Ward fans new and old.

                          In 2003, everything broke open for Ward with the release of Transfiguration of Vincent. Critically lauded and long beloved, Pitchfork hailed it as an album that “broadcasts timelessness and defies genre constraints,” and Slant placed it on their list of the best albums of the 2000s. On Transfiguration of Vincent, Ward’s elegant fingerpicking, evocative croon, and heartrending lyricism came into full bloom, casting a spell so powerful that even a song as universal as David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” felt not only new but irrevocably his. One of the most cherished albums in the Merge catalog, Transfiguration of Vin- cent is both a great place to begin your love affair with M. Ward and a deep, stunningly realized work that listeners have returned to over and over again for 20 years.

                          TRACK LISTING

                          Duet For Guitars #2
                          Beautiful Car
                          Fishing Boat Song
                          Scene From #12
                          Good News
                          The Crooked Spine
                          Look Me Over
                          Who May Be Lazy
                          It Won’t Happen Twice
                          He Asked Me To Be A Snake & Live Underground
                          Song From Debby’s Stairs
                          It Was A Beautiful Car
                          Were You There?
                          Not A Gang
                          Duet For Guitars #1

                          Orbiting Human Circus

                          Quartet Plus Two

                            Orbiting Human Circus’ new album is called Quartet Plus Two. What is Orbiting Human Circus? It is the continuing evolution of Julian Koster (Neutral Milk Hotel, The Music Tapes), whose music and storytelling under this moniker have encompassed immersive theatre and a Night Vale Presents podcast, as well as more traditional albums.

                            Central to the album are the “two” referenced in the title: North and Romika, the singing saws, whom Koster doesn’t “play” so much as encourage. “I think saws sing like angels,” says Koster. “I always have. Since I was a little boy. When you encourage them to sing, they do so earnestly and beautifully. It’s an honest and real sound.”

                            The origins of Quartet Plus Two are as magical and seemingly unlikely as everything else in Koster’s career. While walking through New York’s Central Park, he stumbled upon Gauvain Gamon and Kolja Gjoni—a standup bass player and drummer, respectively—playing Gershwin and Mingus, and a musical partnership was born.

                            Pianist Benji Miller rounds out the titular quartet, with Koster’s longtime collaborators Robbie Cucchiaro (horns) and Thomas Hughes (orchestral arranging and chimes) of The Music Tapes also contributing to the record.

                            The music they make together is at once familiar and unrecognizable, as Koster and Orbiting Human Circus interpret jazz compositions by Irving Berlin, Duke Jordan, George and Ira Gershwin, and others, alongside Koster’s three originals. The use of the term “composition” is intentional and speaks to Koster’s relationship with the music of Quartet Plus Two in far more evocative terms than “cover” or “standard.”

                            “To me it was always magical that there were these people called ‘composers’ who created symphonies and popular songs for other people to breathe into life and existence all over the world and throughout time,” he explains. “They traveled into our homes as sheet music, endless recorded interpretations, or were passed from hand to hand, village to village, like folk tales, changed by every hand that touched them. That music was something that came to life in our own living rooms and lives, songs that our grandmothers might have sung in a choir that we might sing just as earnestly. I just think it’s nice, and I would love to share that feeling in any way we can.”

                            TRACK LISTING

                            SIDE A
                            1. I Cover The Waterfront
                            2. Maria
                            3. Into The River Thames
                            4. It’s So Peaceful In The Country
                            5. Sea In 3
                            SIDE B
                            6. How Long Has This Been Going On?
                            7. If I Did, Would You?
                            8. Let’s Face The Music
                            9. Koliada
                            10. Maria Pt. 2

                            The Mountain Goats

                            Jenny From Thebes

                              Jenny from Thebes began its life as many albums by the Mountain Goats do, with John Darnielle playing the piano until a lyric emerged. That lyric, “Jenny was a warrior / Jenny was a thief / Jenny hit the corner clinic begging for relief,” became “Jenny III,” a song which laid down a challenge he’d never taken up before: writing a sequel to one of his most beloved albums.

                              The Mountain Goats’ catalog is thick with recurring characters Jenny, who originally appears in the All Hail West Texas track bearing her name, as well as in “Straight Six” from Jam Eater Blues and Transcendental Youth side two jam “Night Light,” is one of these, someone who enters a song unexpectedly, pricking up the ears of fans who are keen on continuing the various narrative threads running through the Mountain Goats’ discography before vanishing into the mist. In these songs, Jenny is largely defined by her absence, and she is given that definition by other characters. She is running from something. These features are beguiling, both to the characters who’ve told her story so far and to the listener. They invite certain questions: Who is Jenny, really? What is she running from? Well, she’s a warrior and a thief, and, this being an album by the Mountain Goats, it’s a safe bet whatever she’s fleeing is something bad. Something catastrophically bad.

                              Jenny from Thebes is the story of Jenny, her southwestern ranch style house, the people for whom that house is a place of safety, and the west Texas town that is uncomfortable with its existence. It is a story about the individual and society, about safety and shelter and those who choose to provide care when nobody else will.

                              Recorded at Tulsa, Oklahoma’s legendary The Church Studio with Grammy-winning producer/engineer Trina Shoemaker, Jenny from Thebes is a lush collection of showtunes, pushing Darnielle as a vocalist and the Mountain Goats as a band, broadening their sonic palette once again by leaning into influences like Godspell, Jim Steinman, and The Cars.

                              Lifted by Matt Douglas’ horn and string arrangements, the dreamy guitar of Bully leader (and Bleed Out producer) Alicia Bognanno, and backing vocals from Kathy Valentine of The Go-Go’s and Matt Nathanson, Jenny from Thebes is a widescreen musical in scope, a melodrama of richly detailed characters and sweeping emotions.

                              TRACK LISTING

                              SIDE A
                              1. Clean Slate
                              2. Ground Level
                              3. Only One Way
                              4. Fresh Tattoo
                              5. Cleaning Crew
                              6. Murder At The 18th St. Garage
                              SIDE B
                              7. From The Nebraska Plant
                              8. Same As Cash
                              9. Water Tower
                              10. Jenny III
                              11. Going To Dallas
                              12. Great Pirates


                              Misfits & Mistakes: Singles, B-sides & Strays 2007–2023

                                Misfits & Mistakes: Singles, B-sides & Strays 2007–2023 is Superchunk’s fourth singles compilation, a massive, 4-LP (or 2-CD) collection covering their triumphant return from hiatus. The amount of ground covered within its gorgeous packaging is staggering: 50 songs, 16 of which are on physical media for the first time, sourced from out-of-print releases, digital singles, compilations, and more, a vital piece of the Superchunk canon.

                                Featuring extensive liner notes by Mac McCaughan (with additional notes from Laura Ballance), Misfits & Mistakes tells the story of each release, from why they chose to cover songs by The Misfits, The Cure, Destiny’s Child, and Bananarama, to working with collaborators like Katie Crutchfield (Waxahatchee), Jane Wiedlin (The Go-Go’s), Eleanor Friedberger, Damian Abraham (Fucked Up), Norman Blake and Raymond

                                McGinley (Teenage Fanclub), and more!

                                Mac writes:
                                Who knew it would take a cartoon hamburger to kick off a new period of activity for Superchunk? When we recorded “Misfits and Mistakes” for the Aqua Teen Hunger Force soundtrack at Overdub Lane in Durham, we also recorded the first version of “Learned to Surf” which gave us an on-ramp for making new music after 8 years of playing sporadic gigs. It also reminded us what we liked about playing Superchunk songs, whether they’re our own or written by our musical heroes. This collection covers a lot of ground, from heavy touring years to a pandemic where we made singles and an album at home. One difference between this comp and our first three is that this time span completely falls in the digital age; the distance from a final mix to everyone hearing it is shorter than ever. I’ve always liked artists that were prolific—throwing out singles in between albums when you least expect it. A surprise release from your favorite band is one of the few things that can still bring a little excitement to what can seem like an endless deluge of “content” (puke). Hopefully the wild swings between lo & hi fi and originals and covers on this comp still allow for some coherence and, more importantly, convey what’s FUN about this punk rock thing.

                                TRACK LISTING

                                SIDE A
                                1. Learned To Surf
                                2. Misfits & Mistakes
                                3. Screw It Up
                                4. Knock Knock Knock
                                5. Learned To Surf (Acoustic Demo)
                                6. In Between Days
                                SIDE B
                                7. Crossed Wires
                                8. Blinders (Fast Version)
                                9. February Punk
                                10. Digging For Something (Acoustic Demo)
                                11. Horror Business
                                12. Sunny Brixton
                                13. Bad Influence
                                14. Where Eagles Dare
                                SIDE C
                                1. This Summer
                                2. Cruel Summer
                                3. Void
                                4. Faith
                                5. I Hate History
                                6. Glue
                                7. Me & You & Jackie Mittoo
                                8. Sunset Arcade
                                9. White Screen
                                10. Breaking Down (Acoustic)
                                11. Children In Heat
                                12. Say My Name
                                SIDE D
                                1. Good Morning
                                2. I Don’t Feel Young
                                3. Free Money (with Eleanor Friedberger)
                                4. Oh Oh I Love Her So (with Eleanor Friedberger)
                                5. Up Against The Wall
                                SIDE E
                                6. Break The Glass
                                7. Mad World
                                8. Child’s Christmas In Wales
                                9. Break The Glass (Acoustic)
                                10. What A Time To Be Alive (Acoustic)
                                11. Erasure (Acoustic)
                                SIDE F
                                1. Our Work Is Done
                                2. Total Eclipse
                                3. Bum My Trip
                                4. Can’t Stop The World
                                5. Political Song For Michael Jackson To Sing
                                6. There’s A Ghost
                                7. Alice
                                SIDE G
                                8. Endless Summer
                                9. When I Laugh
                                10. Everything Hurts
                                11. Making A Break
                                12. Group Sex (with Jane Wiedlin)
                                13. Blinders

                                Will Butler + Sister Squares

                                Will Butler + Sister Squares

                                  Sara Dobbs and Jenny Shore used to work summer stock theater in St. Louis, Missouri. They’d do the hand jive with TV stars past and future; they’d get coldly corrected by the ancient, legendary choreographer Gemze de Lappe. Sara went on to Broadway, including a run as Anybodys in West Side Story. Jenny went on to choreograph in the independent dance scene of early 2000s Chicago.

                                  Julie Shore is Jenny’s sister. She’s always made music—playing Chopin, writing songs, making bands with her friends. She’s had the archetypal Millennial journey of entering adulthood in the ’08 financial crisis and figuring out what stupid series of jobs you have to take to pay rent while keeping an artistic life alive.

                                  Miles Francis grew up in New York City with Backstreet Boys posters covering their walls. An extraordinary drummer since youth, Miles thrives in collaboration— whether producing artists in their West Village studio, performing with artists like Angelique Kidjo, or powering protests with a big marching drum.

                                  These four—Miles, Julie, Jenny, and Sara—are Sister Squares. What made them a musical unit was working with Grammy winner and Oscar nominee Will Butler. They’ve all just finished a new record together: Will Butler + Sister Squares.

                                  “After Generations, I considered making a weird solo record. Me alone in the basement, etc., etc. Mostly I realized that what I wanted was the opposite,” says Will. He increasingly turned to the band for feedback on lyrics and song structures. He asked Miles if they’d produce the record. The band played a run of shows in August 2022, airing out studio ideas in live rooms. After coming home, the band regrouped at Figure 8 Studios in Brooklyn.

                                  “I had quit my band Arcade Fire very recently, after 20 years—maybe the most complex decision of my life. I had spent the preceding two years at home with my three children. I was 39 years old. I was waking up every morning and reading Emily Dickinson, until I had read every Emily Dickinson poem. I was listening to Morrissey, to Shostakovich, to the Spotify top 50. I had unformed questions with inchoate answers,” says Will. “But, honestly, I was feeling great about the record.”

                                  The album projects widescreen emotional landscapes. Lead-off single “Long Grass” is like a Harry Styles song with 20 more years of life behind it. Standout track “Satur- day Night” has a beat, according to Miles, “with that robot-alien-dancing-at-a-haunted-dive-bar feeling that we were going for.” The back half of the album is a dance-able, weird choral record with harmonies both beautiful and dissonant. Closing song “The Window” is the comedown after the party—Julie playing a Chopin Nocturne on a three-years-out-of-tune piano, slowed to half-speed on tape with Will singing over it in a voice exactly as tired as he was. It’s a record with a warm, humane soul.

                                  STAFF COMMENTS

                                  Barry says: A beautifully presented, texturally rich mix of grand orchestral statement pieces and drum-machine rich indie-folk, brittle harmonies and syncopated percussion bursting into soaring choral lifts. The beautifully transcendent mix of all three vocal talents is the icing on the cake.

                                  TRACK LISTING

                                  SIDE A
                                  1. Open
                                  2. Stop Talking
                                  3. Willows
                                  4. Long Grass
                                  5. Me N My Friends 6. Saturday Night
                                  7. Car Crash
                                  SIDE B
                                  8. Sunlight
                                  9. Arrow Of Time
                                  10. I Am Standing In A Room 11. Good Friday, 1613
                                  12. Old Year
                                  13. Hee Loop
                                  14. The Window

                                  Hiss Golden Messenger

                                  Jump For Joy

                                    It’s spring of 2023 in the North Carolina Piedmont, and songwriter and singer M.C. Taylor leader of the band Hiss Golden Messenger is feeling alive. Joyful. Eternal, he might say. For the Grammy-nominated musician, whose albums have traced an internal path through adulthood, fatherhood, spirituality, and depression for well over a decade, this is something new. “The tunes on Jump for Joy were composed in free moments throughout 2022, a year during which Hiss was on the road more or less constantly,” explains Taylor. “And perhaps because the post-pandemic energy out in the world felt so chaotic and uncertain, I found myself thinking a lot about the role that music has played in my life and how exactly I ended up in the rarefied position of leading a band and crew all over the globe through dingy graffiti-scrawled green rooms, venerated music halls, dust-blown roadside motels. Sometimes playing in front of 5,000; sometimes 200. Sleeping sitting up. Laughing until my stomach hurts. Not being able to fall asleep at 3 a.m. in some anonymous bed because my mind is spinning with anxiety or depression or adrenaline, or because my ears are still ringing. Robbing Peter to pay Paul, then robbing Paul to pay Peter back. Over and over again. It’s an outlaw life but one, I’m coming to realize, that makes me happy.”

                                    The songs that make up Jump for Joy the sharpest and most autobiographical that Taylor has written under the Hiss name read as a sort of epistolary, postcards between the present-day songwriter and his alias Michael Crow, a teenaged dreamer very much like Taylor himself, who trips his way through the 14 tunes that make up the record. In this way, Jump for Joy is a meditation on a life lived with art, and the ways that our hopes and dreams and decisions bump up against and, with a little bit of luck, occasionally merge with real life. “Creating this character became the way that I could explore these vulnerable, tender moments that were so decisive in my life, even if I didn’t know it at the time,” explains Taylor.

                                    Produced by Taylor and engineered by longtime Hiss compatriot Scott Hirsch over two weeks in the late fall of 2022 at the fabled Sonic Ranch studio in Tornillo, TX, just a short walk from the Mexican border, Jump for Joy dances with joyful, spontaneous energy that feels like a fresh chapter in the Hiss Golden Messenger oeuvre. Taylor is accompanied throughout the album by his crack live band: guitarist Chris Boerner, bassist Alex Bingham, keyboardist Sam Fribush, and drummer Nick Falk, a collection of musicians that have helped make Hiss Golden Messenger’s live performances legendary affairs.

                                    STAFF COMMENTS

                                    Barry says: Though Hiss Golden Messenger hasn't historically been the most maudlin musical outfit, it would be hard to claim that anything they've written is overtly jubilant, but it's on 'Jump For Joy' that the most uplifting pieces of their musical career emerge. Conceptually, the idea of a younger more optimistic self conversing with an older alter-ego is fascinating, and as ever it's pulled off with aplomb. Lovely.

                                    TRACK LISTING

                                    SIDE A:
                                    1. 20 Years And A Nickel
                                    2. Alice
                                    3. I Saw The New Day In The World
                                    4. Shinbone
                                    5. Little Pink Church
                                    6. Jesus Is Bored
                                    7. Nu-Grape
                                    SIDE B:
                                    8. Feeling Eternal
                                    9. Jump For Joy
                                    10. The Wondering
                                    11. Palo Santo/Cloud Mesa
                                    12. California King
                                    13. My Old Friends
                                    14. Sunset On The Faders

                                    A Giant Dog


                                      The moment the needle drops on Bite, the new A Giant Dog record, one’s conception of what an A Giant Dog record sounds like bends like space and time around a starship running at lightspeed. The biggest point of departure is that Bite is a concept album, concerning characters who find themselves moving in and out of a virtual reality called Avalonia.

                                      A Giant Dog’s first album of original songs since 2017’s Toy, Bite finds the band Sabrina Ellis, Andrew Cashen, Danny Blanchard, Graham Low, and Andy Bauer at their peak as musicians, challenging themselves with more complex arrangements and subject matter that forced them out of their heads and into those of the characters who occupy this supposed paradise. “We had to find ourselves within, or project ourselves into, the principal characters. We developed them, got to know their minds, emotions, and motivations, and then expressed those in nine songs,” Ellis explains. Themes of addiction, gender fluidity, living ethically in a capitalist society, physical autonomy, avarice, grief, and consent bubble beneath the promised happiness of Avalonia. This is evident in songs like “Different Than,” where Ellis sings, “My body can’t explain the things my mind don’t comprehend” as if societal gender pressure is squeezing its protagonist out of their skin.

                                      The songs on Bite are full of bombast, at turns calling to mind the spacefaring operatic rock of Electric Light Orchestra and the high drama of an Ennio Morricone film score. The album’s narrative sweep is epic in scope, its characters facing impossible odds and certain doom, existing as comfortably with the sci-fi grandiosity of Thin Lizzy’s Jailbreak as it does with the high fantasy of Dio and Iron Maiden.

                                      Appropriately, A Giant Dog came to this narrative armed to the teeth with new ideas, unleashing synthesizers and string sections to create what Ellis describes as orchestral, symphonic, futuristic punk. To achieve this, they left their home turf of Austin, Texas, for La Cuve Studio, just outside of Angers, France. Living in the French countryside, A Giant Dog laid down their vision of the future against a decidedly pastoral backdrop. On walks from Angers to La Cuve, Ellis says that they “would see many things, and also nothing at all. Swans on the river. Romani people living in little trailers, with a side hut built for their dog. A juggler on a unicycle—not fucking with you.” “We thought we wouldn’t be allowed back in France after this trip, to be honest,” they continued. “Five loud, stomping, clapping, rowdy Americans who ran through the streets of Angers for three weeks in November 2022.”

                                      The experience capped two years of planning and writing, fleshing out the universe of Avalonia beyond the bounds of most concept albums. The resulting nine songs do not merely occupy this space: They’ve lived in it, and they want out.

                                      TRACK LISTING

                                      SIDE A
                                      1. Avalonia
                                      2. Happiness Awaits Inside
                                      3. I Believe
                                      4. In Destiny
                                      5. Different Than
                                      SIDE B
                                      6. A Daydream
                                      7. Watch Me Sleeping
                                      8. Watch It Burn
                                      9. In Rainbows

                                      Hollie Cook

                                      Happy Hour In Dub

                                        Merge Records release Happy Hour in Dub, a heavenly set of dub versions to pair with Hollie Cook’s critically acclaimed 2022 album Happy Hour. Her first full dub record since 2012, Happy Hour in Dub was coaxed into being by close listening of the original album’s modern lover’s rock.

                                        Cook and Mckone explain:“The reason and inspiration for wanting to make the dub record is because Happy Hour, in its original form, has so many intricate musical details running throughout the songs from the backing vocal and string arrangements to some far more subtle details. And during the mixing process, hearing some of these parts on their own over the drum and bass foundation, we felt there was so much left to explore and expose in the songs and take them to outer space.”

                                        At the controls rejoining Hollie in exploring the space is Happy Hour producer Ben Mckone, who takes her soulful creations and stretches them to their sonic limits, with new vocal features by Josh Skints and Kiko Bun.

                                        STAFF COMMENTS

                                        Barry says: Blissful dubbed-out version of Hollie Cook's original LP, Happy Hour. Where the original was rich in light, airy groove and sunshine, these versions show how the rich instrumentation is as flexible as it is effective. A great listen, and an even better companion to the original LP.

                                        TRACK LISTING

                                        SIDE A
                                        1. Praying Dub
                                        2. Dub My Way
                                        3. Dub In The Dark
                                        4. Golden Dub Feat. Rosie Turton
                                        SIDE B
                                        5. Unkind Dub
                                        6. Kush Dub Feat. Josh Skints & Jah9
                                        7. Full Moon Dub
                                        8. Dubbing On Feat. Kiko Bun
                                        9. Happy Dub

                                        The Clientele

                                        I Am Not There Anymore

                                          On July 28, 2023, Merge Records will release I Am Not There Anymore, The Clientele’s first new record in six years. Over The Clientele’s 32-year career, critics and fans have described their songs with words like “ethereal,” “shimmering,” “hazy,” “pretty,” and “fragile.” Their singer, guitarist, and lyricist, Alasdair MacLean, has his own interpretation of the effect his music creates. “It’s that feeling of not being there,” he says. “What’s really been in all the Clientele records is a sense of not actually inhabiting the moment your body is in.”

                                          I Am Not There Anymore, regularly evokes what MacLean calls “the feeling of not being real.” Many of the songs were inspired by MacLean’s memories of the early summer in 1997, when his mother died, but also represent The Clientele pushing towards a new sonic frontier as a band, experimenting over the course of a three-year recording period.

                                          Of this stretching out, MacLean says, “We’d always been interested in music other than guitar music, like for donkey’s years.” This time out, he and bassist James Hornsey and drummer Mark Keen incorporated elements of post-bop jazz, contemporary classical, and electronic music. According to MacLean, “None of those things had found their way into our sound other than in the most passing way, in the faintest imprint.”

                                          With those elements in the foreground, I Am Not There Anymore reasserts The Clientele’s standing among the great stylists of pop music, deftly shifting from image to image, mood to mood, in a way that feels both new and classically them.

                                          STAFF COMMENTS

                                          Barry says: Swimming melodies and folky melodies soar around a solid base of grooving jazzy percussion and hazy psychedelic saturation. The Clientele have managed to craft something that's both innovative and without sacrificing their core melodic sound. A grander, more flowery Clientele and all the better for it.

                                          TRACK LISTING

                                          Side A
                                          1 Fables Of The Silverlink
                                          2 Radial B
                                          3 Garden Eye Mantra
                                          4 Segue 4 (iv)
                                          5 Lady Grey
                                          Side B
                                          6 Dying In May
                                          7 Conjuring Summer In
                                          8 Radial C (Nocturne For Three Trees)
                                          9 Blue Over Blue
                                          10 Radial E
                                          Side C
                                          11 Claire's Not Real
                                          12 My Childhood
                                          13 Chalk Flowers
                                          14 Radial H
                                          15 Hey Siobhan
                                          Side D
                                          16 Stems Of Anise
                                          17 Through The Roses
                                          18 I Dreamed Of You, Maria
                                          19 The Village Is Always On Fire

                                          Cable Ties

                                          All Her Plans

                                            All Her Plans, the third album from Melbourne, Australia’s Cable Ties, finds the trio of Jenny McKechnie, Shauna Boyle, and Nick Brown at their punchiest and most assured. The ferocious, kraut-influenced blend of post-punk and garage rock of Merge debut Far Enough remains, but McKechnie’s lyrics invite the listener closer than ever before.

                                            The urgency and fury that have marked Cable Ties’ output thus far is more nuanced on All Her Plans. The unfettered rage of their calls to action endures tackling subjects like broken mental healthcare systems and the burden of familial care that is largely placed on women while holding space for gratitude, love, and acceptance.

                                            All Her Plans is a breakthrough moment for Cable Ties. It is the sound of a group that is exhilarated to be making music together again, both a celebration of their resilience and a massive step forward into a future they can finally claim as their own.

                                            Cable Ties have toured Europe three times, supporting Tropical Fuck Storm, Amyl and the Sniffers & OFF!

                                            TRACK LISTING

                                            Side A:
                                            1. Crashing Through
                                            2. Perfect Client
                                            3. Time For You
                                            4. Too Late
                                            5. Mum’s Caravan
                                            Side B:
                                            6. Thoughts Back
                                            7. Silos
                                            8. Change
                                            9. Deep Breath Out


                                            The Big Mess

                                              Eric Emm and Jesse Cohen of Tanlines are indie-rock lifers turned reasonable, happy middle-aged fathers of two, figuring out their place in a chaotic culture and industry that can no longer command their full attention.They are emblematic of a particular time and place that doesn’t really exist anymore, yet here they are existing, and thriving, in 2023.

                                              The Big Mess came together when Emm and his family moved from Brooklyn to rural Connecticut, while Cohen launched a marketing career and a successful podcast and stayed in the city. Emm continued writing songs hundreds of them through all the weirdness of the past few years, but he wasn’t exactly sure who he was writing them for. “I spent years figuring out in my mind, ‘What is my musical life going to look like?’” he says. “I just kept writing.”

                                              Cohen gave Emm his blessing to continue Tanlines, even if his own contributions would be limited due to his own non-musical obligations. “I’m like, ‘Whatever you can do to keep this thing going, do it,’” Cohen says. And with that, Tanlines was reborn.

                                              By January 2022 Emm felt he had a body of work that made sense as a Tanlines album. Cohen spent ten days with Emm at his Connecticut studio, along with unofficial third Tanline Patrick Ford (!!!). This was tied together with a sleek final mix from Peter Katis (The National, Interpol) at his famed Tarquin Studios, resulting in a clear vision of what Emm’s musical life was going to look like: The Big Mess.

                                              The first sounds on The Big Mess are the title track’s coiled guitars and thumping drums, building into the kind of outsize, choral rock anthem artists like Tanlines were almost a reaction to. It is warm and nostalgic, and Cohen likens a lot of the prevailing mood to “a sepia filter on a digital photo.” He continues, “we were pretty intentional about making this the first song on the album, underlining the way that this is a new phase of the band.” Cohen says.

                                              The moody, scintillating “Burns Effect” serves as one of the biggest pushes forward for the Tanlines sound, and for Emm as a lyricist. He says that the song is “deep and dark and dangerous, but in a fun way. It’s one of the more personal tracks on the album where this ungrounded part of my personality surfaces, but with an over-the-top machismo, almost an ironic character.”

                                              Other tracks like “New Reality” and closer “The Age of Innocence” are also demonstrably guitar-forward in ways that wouldn’t seem obvious for Tanlines (despite Emm’s pedigree in austere avant-garde math-rock outfits Storm & Stress and Don Caballero), but Emm is less sure The Big Mess is a total departure. “I’m trying to make these absolutely simple things,” he says. “I think of these songs as Rothko paintings: They’re big and they’re bold and they’re seemingly straightforward, but they have a lot of depth and they engage with you and make you feel something.”

                                              TRACK LISTING

                                              SIDE A
                                              1. The Big Mess
                                              2. Outer Banks
                                              3. New Reality
                                              4. Burns Effect
                                              5. Clouds
                                              SIDE B
                                              6. Unreal
                                              7. Arm’s Length Away
                                              8. Endless Love
                                              9. Speed
                                              10. Hold On
                                              11. The Age Of Innocence

                                              Fruit Bats

                                              A River Running To Your Heart

                                                Eric D. Johnson rarely lingers at one location too long. As a kid growing up in the Midwest, Johnson's family moved around a lot, but it wasn't until he became a touring musician years later that motion became a central part of his identity. That transient lifestyle stoked an enduring reverence for the world he watched pass by through a van window. A sense of place is a unifying theme he's revisited with Fruit Bats throughout its many lives. From the project's origins in the late '90s as a vehicle for Johnson's lo-fi tinkering to the more sonically ambitious work of recent years, Fruit Bats has often showcased love songs where people and locations meld into one. It's a loose song structure that navigates what he calls "the geography of the heart." "The songs exist in a world that you can sort of travel from one to another," says Johnson. "There are roads and rivers between these songs."

                                                Those pathways extend straight through the newest Fruit Bats album, aptly titled A River Running to Your Heart. Self-produced by Johnson—a first for Fruit Bats—with Jeremy Harris at Panoramic House just north of San Francisco, it's Fruit Bats' tenth full-length release and one that finds the project in the middle of a creative resurgence. After two decades of making music, hard-earned emotional maturity has seeped into Johnson's songs, resulting in a more complex sound that's connected with audiences like no other previous version of Fruit Bats.

                                                A River Running to Your Heart represents the fullest realization of that creative vision to date. It's a sonically diverse effort that largely explores the importance of what it means to be home, both physically and spiritually. And while that might seem like a peculiar focus for an artist who's constantly in motion, for Fruit Bats, home can take many forms—from the obvious to the obscure. Lead single "Rushin' River Valley" is a self-propelled love song written about Johnson's wife that clings to the borrowed imagery of the place where she grew up in northern California. Then, there's the gentle and unfussy acoustic ballad "We Used to Live Here," which looks back to a time of youthful promise and cheap rent. But the wistful "It All Comes Back" is perhaps the most stunning and surprising track on the album, Johnson's production skills on full display. Built upon intricate layers of synths, keyboards, and guitars, it's a pitch-perfect blend of tone and lyricism that taps into our shared apprehensions and hopes for a post-pandemic life. "We lost some time / But we can make it back / Let's take it easy on ourselves, okay?" sings a world-weary but ultimately reassuring Johnson in the song's opening lines. It's the kind of performance that makes you hope Fruit Bats stays in this one place, at least for a little while longer. 

                                                TRACK LISTING

                                                SIDE A.
                                                1. Dim North Star
                                                2. Rushin’ River Valley
                                                3. See The World By Night
                                                4. Tacoma
                                                5. Waking Up In Los Angeles
                                                6. We Used To Live Here
                                                SIDE B.
                                                7. It All Comes Back
                                                8. Sick Of This Feeling
                                                9. The Deep Well
                                                10. Meridian
                                                11. Jesus Tap Dancing Christ (It’s Good To Be Home) 

                                                The New Pornographers

                                                Continue As A Guest

                                                  Over the past 20 years, The New Pornographers have proven themselves one of the most excellent bands in indie rock. The group’s ninth album and first for Merge establishes them alongside modern luminaries like Yo La Tengo and Superchunk when it comes to their ability to evolve while still retaining what made them so special in the first place. A dazzling and intriguing collection of songs, Continue as a Guest finds bandleader A.C. Newman and his compatriots Neko Case, Kathryn Calder, John Collins, Todd Fancey, and Joe Seiders exploring fresh territory and shattering the barriers of their collective comfort zone.

                                                  Newman began work on Continue as a Guest after the band had finished touring behind 2019’s In the Morse Code of Brake Lights. Themes of isolation and collapse bleed into this album, as Newman tackles the ambivalence of day-to-day life during the COVID-19 pandemic. But Newman says that Continue as a Guest’s title track also addresses the concerns that come with being in a band for so long. “The idea of continuing as a guest felt apropos to the times,” he explains. “Feeling out of place in culture, in society, being in a band that has been around for so long—not feeling like a part of any zeitgeist, but happy to be separate and living your simple life, your long fade-out. Living in a secluded place in an isolated time, it felt like a positive form of
                                                  acceptance: find your own little nowhere, find some space to fall apart, continue as a guest.”

                                                  Newman discovered new vocal approaches within his own talent. There are new and rich tones to Newman’s voice throughout Continue as a Guest, from his dusky lower register over “Angelcover” to his slippery slide over the glimmering synths of “Firework in the Falling Snow,” to bold tones he embraces on the soaring “Bottle Episodes.” Another sonic change comes courtesy of saxophonist Zach Djanikian, whose tenor and bass luxuriate all over Continue as a Guest’s alluring chassis, especially on the menacing build of “Pontius Pilate’s Home Movies.”

                                                  Along with Newman’s usual collaborators, several songwriters contribute. The bursting opener and first single “Really Really Light” is a co-write with Dan Bejar (Destroyer, the New Pornographers). Then there’s “Firework in the Falling Snow,” a collaboration with Sadie Dupuis of Speedy Ortiz and Sad13. “I was feeling like I wanted some help, so I sent it to Sadie and she sent me back this complete song that had these great lyrics,” Newman says. “She included the line ‘A firework in the falling snow,’ and I was like, ‘Yeah, that’s great.’ Sometimes you need that one thing to center the song, and even though I only used a few lines of hers in the end, I couldn’t have finished it without her.”

                                                  Even as Newman embraces a collaborative spirit more than ever, Continue as a Guest is a testament to his ability to discover new artistic sides of himself. “I started out as a songwriter more than as a singer, but at some point, you have to sing your own songs,” he says with a chuckle. “For a long time, I felt like the idea of changing a song because I couldn’t hit a note wasn’t okay—I could just get someone else to sing it. But I’m learning now that my songs can actually be a lot more malleable than I thought.” And it’s in that spirit that Continue as a Guest sounds like a thrilling path forward for The New Pornographers, with songs that generate a contagious feeling of excitement for the future as well.

                                                  TRACK LISTING

                                                  SIDE A
                                                  1. Really Really Light
                                                  2. Pontius Pilate’s Home Movies
                                                  3. Cat And Mouse With The Light
                                                  4. Last And Beautiful
                                                  5. Continue As A Guest
                                                  SIDE B
                                                  6. Bottle Episodes
                                                  7. Marie And The Undersea
                                                  8. Angelcover
                                                  9. Firework In The Falling Snow
                                                  10. Wish Automatic Suite

                                                  William Tyler & The Impossible Truth

                                                  Secret Stratosphere

                                                    Recorded live at Yellowhammer Brewing in Huntsville, Alabama, in May 2021, Secret Stratosphere finds William Tyler and fellow psychedelic dreamers The Impossible Truth refashioning prime cuts from the Nashville guitarist's rich catalog, casting new light onto once-familiar songs. Featuring the crackling combo of Jack Lawrence (Raconteurs, Dead Weather), Brian Kotzur (Silver Jews, Country Westerns), and Luke Schneider (solo, Margo Price), the quartet stretch the dynamics of Tyler's compositions to their fullest interdimensional potential, exposing a deep undercurrent of kosmische and post-rock influences (with the right amount of grit from the nitrous corner of the Dead Lot). In teasing these influences out on favorites and new songs alike he cheekily calls closer "Area Code 601" a "Hawkwind meets Charlie Daniels Band number" before sending the crowd home on a previously unreleased stunner that lives somewhere between mind-expanding prog and beer commercial–backing Southern rock Secret Stratosphere confirms William Tyler's place as one of our most brilliant guitarists, bandleaders, and composers.

                                                    TRACK LISTING

                                                    01 Our Lady Of The Desert
                                                    02 Highway Anxiety Radioactivity
                                                    03 Whole New Dude
                                                    04 I'm Gonna Live Forever (If It Kills Me)
                                                    05 Gone Clear
                                                    06 We Can't Go Home Again
                                                    07 Area Code 601

                                                    Neutral Milk Hotel

                                                    The Collected Works Of Neutral Milk Hotel

                                                      The two full-length records that Jeff Mangum made as Neutral Milk Hotel sound both in and out of time. Like translations of a shared subconscious, 1996’s On Avery Island and 1998’s In the Aeroplane Over the Sea give voice to the perennial spirit of youthful epiphany, of beginning to see the world clearly, to process and express it—no matter when you encounter them. With lo-fi indie rock, accordion, singing saw, tape collages, the so-called “zanzithophone” and beyond, Neutral Milk Hotel created an eternal entry into their Elephant 6 scene and an enduring feeling of possibility. Mangum was born in the small city of Ruston, Louisiana, coming of age within the ’80s and ’90s indie and punk undergrounds, a movement of teenagers recording in their bedrooms, sharing zines and trading tapes, listening to hardcore and experimental music on college radio. For all the mythology Mangum’s elusive persona has accrued, it’s the beguiling songs themselves that have resonated so deeply for generations. In 2011, Mangum collected nearly all of the band’s recorded output in a limited-edition box set (self-released under Neutral Milk Hotel Records, a small operation helmed by Mangum and his mother) which is now being updated for wide reissue by the band’s longtime label Merge RecordsBlack matte box is a 2-piece telescoping casewrapped package.

                                                      Outer shrinkwrap includes a front sticker with “Neutral Milk Hotel,” and a back sticker listing box contents.

                                                      Full Contents:
                                                      In the Aeroplane Over the Sea LP is 11 tracks pressed 33RPM to black vinyl in a gatefold jacket.

                                                      On Avery Island 2LP is 12 tracks pressed to double black vinyl in a gatefold jacket + 11 x 11 printed insert.. Sides A, B and C pressed 45RPM. Side D pressed 33RPM.

                                                      Live at Jittery Joe’s 12” picture disc is 11 tracks pressed 33RPM to a full color picture disc in a heavyweight poly jacket.

                                                      Ferris Wheel on Fire 10” is 8 tracks pressed 45RPM to black vinyl in a printed jacket + postcard insert.

                                                      Everything Is 10” is 7 tracks pressed 45RPM to black vinyl in a printed jacket + postcard insert.

                                                      “Little Birds” 7” is 2 tracks pressed 45RPM to black vinyl in a printed jacket. 7” housed in a heavyweight poly jacket.

                                                      “You’ve Passed” 7” is 2 tracks pressed 45RPM to black vinyl in a printed jacket. 7” housed in a heavyweight poly jacket.

                                                      “Holland” 7” is 2 tracks pressed 45RPM to black vinyl in a printed jacket. 7” housed in a heavyweight poly jacket.

                                                      2 folded posters, each printed one side and each 24” x 24” when flat.

                                                      1 postcard, printed front and back with box set information and sized 3.75” x 5”

                                                      All of above assembled in a 12" two-piece telescoping case-wrapped box.

                                                      TRACK LISTING

                                                      "On Avery Island" 2LP
                                                      Side A (45 RPM)
                                                      1 Song Against Sex
                                                      2 You've Passed
                                                      3 Someone Is Waiting
                                                      Side B (45 RPM)
                                                      4 A Baby For Pree
                                                      5 Marching Theme
                                                      6 Where You'll Find Me Now
                                                      Side C (45 RPM)
                                                      7 Avery Island/April 1st
                                                      8 Garden Head/Leave Me Alone
                                                      9 Three Peaches
                                                      Side D (33 RPM)
                                                      10 Naomi
                                                      11 April 8th
                                                      12 Pree-Sisters Swallowing A Donkey's Eye

                                                      "In The Aeroplane Over The Sea" LP
                                                      Side A (33 RPM)
                                                      1 The King Of The Carrot Flowers Part One
                                                      2 The King Of The Carrot Flowers Parts Two & Three
                                                      3 In The Aeroplane Over The Sea
                                                      4 Two-Headed Boy
                                                      5 The Fool
                                                      6 Holland, 1945
                                                      7 Communist Daughter
                                                      Side B (33 RPM)
                                                      8 Oh Comely
                                                      9 Ghost
                                                      10 Untitled
                                                      11 Two-Headed Boy Part Two

                                                      "Ferris Wheel On Fire" 10"
                                                      Side A (45 RPM)
                                                      1 Oh Sister
                                                      2 Ferris Wheel On Fire
                                                      3 Home
                                                      4 April 8th
                                                      Side B (45 RPM)
                                                      5 I Will Bury You In Time
                                                      6 Engine
                                                      7 A Baby For Pree/Glow Into You
                                                      8 My Dream Girl Don't Exist

                                                      "Everything Is" 10"
                                                      Side A (45 RPM)
                                                      1 Everything Is
                                                      2 Here We Are (For W. Cullen Hart)
                                                      3 Unborn
                                                      Side B (45 RPM)
                                                      4 Tuesday Moon
                                                      5 Ruby Bulbs
                                                      6 Snow Song
                                                      7 Aunt Eggma Blow Torch

                                                      "Little Birds" 7"
                                                      Side A (45 RPM)
                                                      1 Little Birds
                                                      Side B (45 RPM)
                                                      2 Little Birds (Studio Version)

                                                      "You've Passed" 7"
                                                      Side A (45 RPM)
                                                      1 You've Passed
                                                      Side B (45 RPM)
                                                      2 Where You'll Find Me Now

                                                      "Holland" 7"
                                                      Side A (45 RPM)
                                                      1 Holland, 1945
                                                      Side B (45 RPM)
                                                      2 Engine

                                                      "Live At Jittery Joe's" 12" Picture Disk
                                                      Side A (33 RPM)
                                                      1 A Baby For Pree
                                                      2 Two-Headed Boy
                                                      3 I Will Bury You In Time
                                                      4 Garden Head/Leave Me Alone
                                                      5 Two-Headed Boy Part Two
                                                      6 I Love How You Love Me
                                                      Side B (33 RPM)
                                                      7 Engine
                                                      8 Naomi
                                                      9 King Of Carrot Flowers Part Two
                                                      10 King Of Carrot Flowers Part Three
                                                      11 Oh Comely

                                                      H.C. McEntire

                                                      Every Acre

                                                        If naming is a form of claiming, of being claimed, how is one tethered to both the physical landscape that surrounds us, as well as our own internal emotional landscape at times calm, at times turbulent, and ever changing? H.C. McEntire’s new album Every Acre grapples with those themes that encompass grief, loss, and links to land and loved ones. And naming claiming land, claiming self, being claimed by ancestry and heritage permeates the hauntingly beautiful landscape that is this poignant collection of songs.

                                                        The songs straddle the line between music and poetry. In “New View,” McEntire cites poets “Day, Ada, and Laux, Berry, and Olds” fixtures in the world of writing, whose works are beacons of light over bleak horizons. The beginning of the song is backed by soft guitar plucks that fall on the downbeat and spangle like stars, and, throughout, guitar, bass, and drums swell together gently, mimicking ebbing and flowing tides under the moon. McEntire’s voice (at once tender and fierce) intones the truth of both giving and taking, releasing and claiming: “Bend me, break me, split me right in two. Mend me, make me I’ll take more of you.”

                                                        Permeated by heartbeat-like drums, “Shadows” develops quiet ruminations on surrender and loss reminiscing, moving on. This ponderous, dreamlike song asks the question of how “to make room.” How does one make room, for self and for renewal and surrender, when it is so difficult to leave what you know behind? Playing with slivers of descending chromatics, along with the occasional downward-stepping bass, here McEntire yearns for home, and for nesting.

                                                        Perhaps one of the more grief-stricken songs, “Rows of Clover” is a lamentation, one that touches on the loss of a “steadfast hound.” The lone piano in the beginning of the song is rhythmically hymn-like. The stark verse arrangement gradually leads to a chorus that reads like a moody exhale, swollen with lush guitar strums and a Bill Withers–esque understated soul groove. But what stands out the most is an image of being “down on your knees, clawing at the garden” the only explicit mention of a person in the song. “It ain’t the easy kind of healing,” sings McEntire, seemingly from further and further away as her voice echoes; and healing takes time, time takes time truths that linger painfully.

                                                        “Dovetail” is a song that tells of various women. The song moves back and forth between solo piano and the addition of bass and drums under vocals. McEntire’s gentle, trembling vibrato harmonized in thirds in a celebratory manner calls to mind a rejoicing psalm and shines through these images, leaving the listener cuttingly fraught with emotions such as wonder, sadness, nostalgia that can only arise with these juxtapositions.

                                                        Gracious (and graceful) with its lilting melodies and lush harmonies, Every Acre explores the acres of our physical and emotional homes. These songs are reaching for the kind of home that we all seek: one where we can rest and lay down (or tuck away) our burdens of loss. And maybe, moving through every acre of a world that often tries to tear our sense of identity and heritage down, McEntire sheds light on what it is to be human in this life both stingy and gracious, both hurtful and kind.

                                                        TRACK LISTING

                                                        SIDE A
                                                        1. New View
                                                        2. Shadows (feat. S.G. Goodman)
                                                        3. Turpentine (feat. Amy Ray)
                                                        4. Dovetail
                                                        SIDE B
                                                        5. Rows Of Clover
                                                        6. Big Love
                                                        7. Soft Crook
                                                        8. Wild For The King
                                                        9. Gospel Of A Certain Kind

                                                        Fucked Up

                                                        One Day

                                                          With One Day, Fucked Up have delivered one of the most energizing and intricate albums of their career, a massive-sounding record that arrives in deceptively small confines. The Canadian hardcore legends have been known for their epic scale in the past, so it might be a surprise that Fucked Up’s sixth studio album is their shortest to date, written and recorded in the confines of one literal day (hence the title). Don’t mistake size for substance, though: The band’s sound has only gotten bigger, more hard-charging, with even denser thickets of melody.

                                                          “I wanted to see what I could record in literally one day.” That singular idea came to mind for guitarist Mike Haliechuk in the closing months of 2019. Haliechuk got himself into a studio and proceeded to write and record the record’s ten tracks over three eight-hour sessions, reconnecting with the core the band’s songwriting essence in the process.

                                                          Initially, Fucked Up vocalist Damian Abraham was also set to complete his vocals in similar fashion—that is, before the lockdowns of 2020 took place. As it turns out, the isolation yielded creative dividends, as Abraham returned to contributing lyrics as well for the first time since 2014’s Glass Boys. “It almost felt like it might be the last time I’d ever get to record vocals for anything,” Abraham says of the stakes he felt while putting his part to tape, before reflecting on how he approached the lyrical process: “What do I want to say to friends who aren’t here anymore? What do I want to say to myself?”

                                                          Over swarms of tuneful noise that evoke Sonic Youth circa Daydream Nation, Abraham lets loose on gentrification in “Lords of Kensington,” which was inspired by an “incredible” Toronto neighborhood that was regularly subject to life-ruining police surveillance and structural violence. “The police chief during that era he just opened a cannabis store,” Abraham explains. “It’s so cynical and gross, what society has come to but by being in a band, we’re culpable in changing the neighborhood, too, since the punk spaces and cool happenings that pop up are part of gentrification. Are you building a culture? Or are you ruining something that’s already been there?”

                                                          Then there’s the dusky burn of “Cicada,” a sonic cousin to Dose Your Dreams’ excellent standout “The One I Want Will Come for Me” that features Haliechuk taking lead-vocal duty. The song is dedicated to lost friends, and in his words, it’s about “what life is like after you lose people, and our responsibility to carry them forward into the future, using the things they taught us as a light. I like to imagine the sound of cicadas as a metaphor for our strange life in the subculture we all just live these weird little hidden lives under the dirt, and then once in a generation, one of us gets to bust out of the dirt and intone their song so loud that it can be heard allover.”

                                                          One Day is an undeniable work of confidence from a band that continues to operate at the top of their game, making music that’s guaranteed to last a lifetime and beyond.

                                                          STAFF COMMENTS

                                                          Barry says: Never a band to rest on their laurels, Fucked Up have been constantly moving and shifting their focus for a good couple decades now, and 'One Day' sees them turning back to the solid foundation of melodic hardcore and scathing percussive blasts. There are definitely echoes here of the post-hardcore luminaries of the early 00's (Hot Water Music, Icarus Line etc) but with Fucked Up's singular stylistic focus.

                                                          TRACK LISTING

                                                          SIDE A
                                                          1. Found
                                                          2. I Think I Might Be Weird
                                                          3. Huge New Her
                                                          4. Lords Of Kensington
                                                          5. Broken Little Boys
                                                          SIDE B
                                                          6. Nothing’s Immortal
                                                          7. Falling Right Under
                                                          8. One Day
                                                          9. Cicada
                                                          10. Roar

                                                          Archers Of Loaf

                                                          Reason In Decline

                                                            As sculpted shards of guitar tumbling, tolling, squalling shower the jittery bounce of a piano on opener “Human,” it’s obvious that Reason in Decline, Archers of Loaf’s first album in 24 years, will be more than a nostalgic, low-impact reboot. When they emerged from North Carolina’s ’90s indie-punk incubator, the Archers’ hurtling, sly, gloriously dissonant roar was a mythologized touchstone of slacker-era refusal. But this, the distilled shudder of “Human” (as in “It’s hard to be human / When only death can set you free”), is an entirely different noise. In fact, it’s a startling revelation.

                                                            In short, this is not your father’s Archers of Loaf, even if you’re a father now who was a fan then. (If that’s the case, congrats on surviving the Plague and getting to hear this fearlessly poignant record, you alt-geezer!) Otherwise, thank your youthful fucking lucky stars, kids! Enjoy Reason in Decline with fresh ears and do as the Archers have been doing: Stay humble, stay informed, express yourself creatively, and try not to lose your goddamned mind while the polar ice caps melt. Peace.

                                                            TRACK LISTING

                                                            01 Human
                                                            02 Saturation And Light
                                                            03 Screaming Undercover
                                                            04 Mama Was A War Profiteer
                                                            05 Aimee
                                                            06 In The Surface Noise
                                                            07 Breaking Even
                                                            08 Misinformation Age
                                                            09 The Moment You End
                                                            10 War Is Wide Open

                                                            Titus Andronicus

                                                            The Will To Live

                                                              The Will to Live was produced by Titus Andronicus singer-songwriter Patrick Stickles and Canadian icon Howard Bilerman (Arcade Fire, Leonard Cohen, The Whole Nine Yards) at the latter’s Hotel 2 Tango recording studio in Montreal. Drawing on maximalist rock epics from Who’s Next to Hysteria, Bilerman and Stickles have crafted the richest, densest, and hardest hitting sound for Titus Andronicus yet. All at once, the record matches the sprawl and scope of the band’s most celebrated work, while also honing their ambitious attack to greater effect than ever before.

                                                              “It may strike some as ironic we had to go to Canada to record our equivalent to Born in the USA,” quips Stickles, “but the pursuit of Ultimate Rock knows no borders.”For his recent stretch of personal stability, he credits a newfound domestic bliss and steadfast mental health regimen (“Lamictal is a hell of a drug”) as well as the endurance of what has become the longest-running consistent lineup of Titus Andronicus—Liam Betson on guitar, R.J. Gordon on bass, and Chris Wilson on drums. On the crueler side of the coin, however, The Will to Live was created in large part as an attempt to process the untimely 2021 death of Matt “Money” Miller, the founding keyboardist of the band and Stickles’ closest cousin. Stickles explains: “The passing of my dearest friend forced me to recognize not only the precious and fragile nature of life, but also the interconnectivity of all life. Loved ones we have lost are really not lost at all, as they, and we still living, are all component pieces of a far larger continuous organism, which both precedes and succeeds our illusory individual selves, united through time by (you guessed it) the will to live.”

                                                              “Naturally, though, our long-suffering narrator can only arrive at this conclusion through a painful and arduous odyssey through Hell itself,” he qualifies. “This is a Titus Andronicus record, after all.”

                                                              When Titus Andronicus made their long-awaited return to the stage in 2021, it was to celebrate the anniversary of their landmark breakthrough The Monitor, and the act of playing that material before an ecstatic audience left the band determined to deliver an album that would reach for those same lofty heights, relying this time less on the reckless fire of youth and more on the experience and perspective at which a band only arrives with a thousand shows under their belt. Through this golden ratio, Titus Andronicus have arrived at the peak of their creative powers. From its adrenalizing opening instrumental “My Mother Is Going to Kill Me” to its wistful

                                                              closing benediction “69 Stones,” The Will to Live conjures a vast landscape and sends the listener on a rocket ride from peak to vertiginous peak. Rock fans will find themselves a feast, whether they crave barn-burning rock anthems such as “(I’m) Screwed” and “All Through the Night,” rapid-fire lyrical gymnastics (“Baby Crazy”), symphonic punk throwdowns (“Dead Meat”), or an adventurous excursion into the darkness that delivers thrills as it breezes boldly past the seven-minute mark, “An Anomaly.”

                                                              As if that wasn’t enough gas for the tank, The Will to Live features sterling contributions from members of the Hold Steady, Arcade Fire, and the E Street Band, as well as duets with the aforementioned Betson, former Titus Andronicus drummer Eric Harm, and Josée Caron of the Canadian rock band Partner. The album comes packaged with gorgeous triple-gatefold artwork by illustrious illustrator Nicole Rifkin, a Hieronymus Bosch–inspired triptych which mirrors the three-part structure of the narrator’s perilous voyage across the corresponding three sides of vinyl. All together, this esteemed ensemble, with Stickles and Bilerman determined and defiant at the helm, have found The Will to Live—now, the question is… will you?

                                                              TRACK LISTING

                                                              SIDE A
                                                              1. My Mother Is Going To Kill Me
                                                              2. (I’m) Screwed
                                                              3. I Can Not Be Satisfied
                                                              4. Bridge And Tunnel
                                                              SIDE B
                                                              5. Grey Goo
                                                              6. Dead Meat
                                                              7. An Anomaly
                                                              SIDE C
                                                              8. Give Me Grief
                                                              9. Baby Crazy
                                                              10. All Through The Night
                                                              11. We’re Coming Back
                                                              12. 69 Stones
                                                              SIDE D

                                                              The Mountain Goats

                                                              Bleed Out

                                                                Heady with hooks and unforgettable melodies, gliding on deeply danceable grooves, always with Air Waves’ innate compassion, concision and uncanny pop sense shining throughout. A masterpiece that’s beautifully simple, instantly accessible and entirely addictive. Featuring Cass Mccombs, Skyler Skjelset (Fleet Foxes, Beach House), Luke Temple, Brian Betancourt (Hospitality, Sam Evian), Rina Mushonga, Frankie Cosmos, Lispector, David Christian, Ethan Sass, and Ben F

                                                                Maybe you are just like John Darnielle: In the depths of the pandemic end of 2020, the Mountain Goats frontman passed the time trapped at home watching pulpy action movies, finding comfort in familiar tropes and sofabound escapism. But you are not really like John Darnielle, unless the action movies you found comfort in included French thrillers like 2008’s Mesrine, vintage Italian poliziotteschi, or the 1974 Donald Pleasence mad-scientist vehicle The Freakmaker. Or unless watching them brought you back to your formative days as an artist, when watching films fueled and soundtracked your songwriting jags and bare-bones home recordings and in turn inspired your 20th album to be a song cycle about the allure and futility of vengeance. But there’s no shame in not being like John Darnielle; few people are.

                                                                “On earlier tapes you’ll find these sound samples,” Darnielle says. “‘Oh, where’s this sample from?’ It’s from whatever movie I was watching while I was sitting around on the couch with a guitar. I watch a movie, somebody’d say something that I like the sound of and I’ll write that phrase down. And then I would pause the VHS, write the song, record the song on a boombox, and go back to watching my movie. I got into doing that again; I just kept watching action movies and taking notes on what they’re about and on what the governing plots and tropes and styles are. It was very much like an immersion method acting technique.”

                                                                The resulting performance is Bleed Out, a cinematic experience unto itself. One song about preparing to exact bloody revenge begat another song about the act of exacting bloody revenge and then more songs about and the causes and the aftermath of being driven to exact bloody revenge, each delivered with the urgency and desperation deserving of their narrators and circumstances. “We often make a record and then bring in some guests who flesh out the textures,” Darnielle says. “And for this one, it was very much like a pack mentality. That sort of seemed to proceed from the songs.” One new face was that of Bully’s Alicia Bognanno, recommended to Darnielle by his manager as a producer who could help nurture the rougher edged sound these songs requested. “We met up and hit it off. She’s a great guitarist. It was kind of just a lark, to see what would happen, and it was totally great.”

                                                                Running narrative themes are not new to Mountain Goats projects, especially in recent years, be it the pro wrestlers of 2015’s Beat the Champ or the goths of 2017’s Goths. Darnielle was drawn to the antiheroes of the hard-boiled action flicks he was bingeing, particularly the ways in which their quests for justice were almost all inevitably doomed.

                                                                Bleed Out could be all one movie, from the opening training montage to the demise in the elegiac closing title track. Songs like “Make You Suffer,” “First Blood,” “Hostages,” and “Need More Bandages” do what they say on the tin, telling typically vivid, deliberately recognizable vignettes of desperate characters in no-win situations who plan on taking as many people down with them as they have to. But Darnielle sees these as unconnected stories that feel universal in their desire for justice, if not in their wanton bloodshed. Anthems don’t get more straightforward or anthem-y than “Wage Wars Get Rich Die Handsome,” tapping into an anger that’s easy to reach in 2022, even if the solutions aren’t.

                                                                Few people think as much, or as well, about violence and its portrayal as John Darnielle. His recent bestselling novel Devil House (his third) is all about the relationship between tragedy and entertainment, though he is careful to downplay any parallels to Bleed Out beyond a natural attraction to terrible things as a coping mechanism. “That’s what catharsis is,” he says. “When you are able to experience something that is frightening to you but you don’t have to be harmed by it that experience is really valuable. I think we’re reflecting on the nature of what we consume and of what it says about us.”

                                                                TRACK LISTING

                                                                SIDE A
                                                                1. Training Montage
                                                                2. Mark On You
                                                                3. Wage Wars Get Rich Die Handsome
                                                                4. Extraction Point
                                                                SIDE B
                                                                5. Bones Don’t Rust
                                                                6. First Blood
                                                                7. Make You Suffer
                                                                8. Guys On Every Corner
                                                                SIDE C
                                                                9. Hostages
                                                                10. Need More Bandages
                                                                SIDE D
                                                                11. Incandescent Ruins
                                                                12. Bleed Out

                                                                Tall Dwarfs

                                                                Unravelled: 1981 - 2002

                                                                  Unravelled: 1981–2002 shines a loving light on lo-fi pioneers Tall Dwarfs, the prized New Zealand duo of Chris Knox and Alec Bathgate. The collection, available as a 4-LP or 2-CD box set, compiles songs from Tall Dwarfs' two decades of recordings. The vinyl edition includes a 20-page collector's booklet of photos, comics, posters, and other ephemera. The songs on Unravelled: 1981–2002 were curated by Alec Bathgate, who also designed the box set packaging; Chris Knox suffered a debilitating stroke in 2009 just as they had started work on a new album. The collection captures the different sides of the Tall Dwarfs in 55 songs. Though the band was an excuse for two good friends who lived in different cities to get together, drink beer, watch shitty old movies, and do some recording and drawing, Tall Dwarfs created music unlike anyone else.

                                                                  Capturing the initial excitement of creation and taking pride in what they did, Knox and Bathgate showed a whole generation of musicians what could be done at home on a 4-track and what magic could be made if you mixed pop melodies and hooks galore with homemade sounds. After a failed flirtation with success in their previous band Toy Love, Knox and Bathgate formed Tall Dwarfs in 1981, opting to record themselves on a 4-track reel-to-reel. New Zealand’s AudioCulture wrote of the duo’s project: “Early live performances were a ramshackle work in progress. Knox described them in an interview with American magazine Forced Exposure as ‘two minutes of song followed by five minutes of fucking around,’ and they dismayed many Toy Love fans—but the pair had no interest in a career spent in pubs cranking out ‘Pull Down the Shades.’”

                                                                  Tall Dwarfs was meant to be a one-off, but after the founding of their New Zealand label Flying Nun, they continued to record music for the next 21 years, releasing seven EPs and six albums. Their process was spontaneous, with songs being recorded as they were written. Typically, Bathgate would work up something on guitar while Knox provided vocals, lyrics, and tape loops. Then they added any sounds that seemed necessary to finish a song, using whatever was lying around: pans, chairs, baby rattles. Though Tall Dwarfs could be weird, they were never too experimental; Knox and Bathgate both loved melody too much

                                                                  TRACK LISTING

                                                                  CD 1:

                                                                  1 Nothing’s Going To Happen
                                                                  2 Luck Or Loveliness
                                                                  3 All My Hollowness To You
                                                                  4 Maybe
                                                                  5 Pictures On The Floor
                                                                  6 Clover
                                                                  7 Paul’s Place
                                                                  8 The Brain That Wouldn’t Die
                                                                  9 Walking Home
                                                                  10 Beauty
                                                                  11 Turning Brown And Torn In Two
                                                                  12 Crush
                                                                  13 Shade For Today
                                                                  14 Pretty Poison
                                                                  15 Carpetgrabber
                                                                  16 Sleet
                                                                  17 Burning Blue
                                                                  18 Woman (Live)
                                                                  19 Road And Hedgehog
                                                                  20 Attack Of The Munchies
                                                                  21 The Slide
                                                                  22 Waltz Of The Good Husband
                                                                  23 Cant
                                                                  24 Dog
                                                                  25 The Winner
                                                                  26 Bodies
                                                                  27 Sign The Dotted Line
                                                                  28 Rorschach
                                                                  29 Pirouette

                                                                  CD 2

                                                                  1 Wings
                                                                  2 Lowlands
                                                                  3 Oatmeal
                                                                  4 Think Small
                                                                  5 Life Is Strange
                                                                  6 We Bleed Love
                                                                  7 More 54
                                                                  8 Entropy
                                                                  9 Bee To Honey
                                                                  10 Self-Deluded Dreamboy (In A Mess)
                                                                  11 The Green, Green Grass Of Someone Else’s Home
                                                                  12 The Severed Head Of Julio
                                                                  13 Two Minds
                                                                  14 Jesus The Beast
                                                                  15 Albumen
                                                                  16 Cruising With Cochran
                                                                  17 Fatty Fowl In Gravy Stew
                                                                  18 The Ugly Mire Of Deep Held Feelings
                                                                  19 Gluey, Gluey
                                                                  20 Round These Walls
                                                                  21 Room To Breathe
                                                                  22 Time To Wait
                                                                  23 Baby It’s Over
                                                                  24 We Are The Chosen Few
                                                                  25 The Fatal Flaw Of The New
                                                                  26 Over The Hill


                                                                  Love The Stranger

                                                                    Friendship’s Merge debut, Love the Stranger, moves like a country record skipping in just the right spot, leaving its fellow travelers longing for a place they’ve only visited in their dreams. Guitarist Peter Gill, drummer Michael Cormier-O’Leary, bassist Jon Samuels, and hawkeyed balladeer Dan Wriggins map out the group’s particular, breathtaking landscape and invite the listener to share in its glory.

                                                                    Love the Stranger’s invitation is all the more wondrous because its characters have clearly been hurt before. “I need solitude and I also need you,” Wriggins reckons in “Ugly Little Victory.”

                                                                    Wide awake, vulnerable, and gimmickless, Friendship won’t hesitate to confide in us, or even ask for help when the moment calls, like on the lyrical centerpiece of “Alive Twice”: Under your eyeball spell, I was losing myself/ Not in the good way you used to talk about / I remember a day, Cedar Park Cafe/ I was in a bad place and you set me straight/ With your on-the-nose advice.

                                                                    Between instrumental pit stops at “Kum & Go” and “Quickchek,” local references in Love the Stranger create a catalog of human perception, presented as roadside attractions. From grape jelly residue (“Ramekin”) to the site of a demolished cathedral (“St. Bonaventure”) to King of the Hill quotations (“Smooth Pursuit”), the record’s images craft a symbolic language of high and low Americana, both evocative and consistently accessible. Spending time with Love the Stranger creates a community one in which the window between the listener and the music[1]maker shatters in full, until all that remains are the fragments you decide to pick up together.

                                                                    Like its sprawling lyrical references, Love the Stranger’s production is both familiar and capacious enough for pedal steel, synth strings, airy folk guitar field recordings, and MIDI pad exploration to work in vital harmony. Influenced by Friendship’s punk and indie peers as much as road-star forebears like Lucinda Williams and Lambchop, Wriggins says of the recording sessions: “We all got to stretch out, chase our personal musical fixations, and build on each others’ work.

                                                                    Bradford Krieger, our engineer at Big Nice Studio, has a mind-blowing creative energy and hundreds (thousands?) of instruments.” He recalls further: “I wanted the album to sound like Emmylou Harris and the Hot Band in the ’70s. Pete wanted it to sound like a semi full of spent fuel rods, barreling towards a runaway truck ramp. Jon kept reminding us that the studio is an instrument, and Michael wanted it to sound like the breakdown two-and-a-half minutes into Shuggie Otis’ ‘Strawberry Letter 23.’”

                                                                    Some breakdowns, however, are irreparable. Wriggins, a manual laborer and poet, calls “Hank” “a song about when you go to fix something that’s broken and realize the tools you’re supposed to fix it with are also broken.” Form follows function on the mesmerizing outro of the single, which buzzes with the sound of a shoddy Craigslist guitar from Woonsocket, RI (incidentally, the home of the Museum of Work & Culture) getting chainsawed in two. Friendship is probably already your favorite band’s favorite band, a long-revered IYKYK of DIY with a devoted cult following from Wawa to In-N-Out. With Love the Stranger, the Friendship universe only continues to expand and grow more open-hearted, more inviting, with every passing note. It’s a record that locates the listener exactly where the listener is, and wherever that may be, makes a friend out of them, too. All said and done, the age-old maxim of “Mr. Chill” holds true: “You be real with me and I’ll be real with you”

                                                                    TRACK LISTING

                                                                    SIDE A
                                                                    1 St. Bonaventure
                                                                    2 What’s The Move
                                                                    3 Blue Canoe
                                                                    4 Hank
                                                                    5 Chomp Chomp
                                                                    6 Love’s
                                                                    7 No Way
                                                                    8 Alive Twice
                                                                    SIDE B
                                                                    9 Quickchek
                                                                    10 Ramekin
                                                                    11 Mr. Chill
                                                                    12 UDF
                                                                    13 Ryde
                                                                    14 Season
                                                                    15 Kum & Go
                                                                    16 Ugly Little Victory
                                                                    17 Smooth Pursuit

                                                                    Fucked Up

                                                                    Year Of The Ox - 2022 Reissue

                                                                      Recorded over 6 months by Jon Drew at Giant Studios in Toronto, Year of the Ox is the band's fourth record in the continuing 12-year cycle and adds to its evolving retinue of guest musicians. The patient and building Year of the Ox features Nika Rosa Danilova of Zola Jesus for a guest vocal passage and Toronto's string quartet, New Strings Old Puppets. B-side "Solomon's Song," a gothic vampire love tribute to Twilight, features a 5-minute saxophone solo from Aerin Fogel of the Bitters and heavy synthing from Trust.

                                                                      TRACK LISTING

                                                                      A Year Of The Ox (13:00)
                                                                      B Solomon's Song (11:50). 

                                                                      Hollie Cook

                                                                      Happy Hour

                                                                        With Happy Hour, her ravishing new LP, Hollie Cook matures into the queen of modern day “lovers rock”—the lush girly harmony reggae style beloved in Britain since the 1970s. Evolution rings from the bittersweet opening title track; tender yet assertive, Hollie’s voice caresses evocative lyrics through the arrangement’s tumbling changes.

                                                                        Hollie dares to invite listeners into her true personality through these alluring songs, which she co-produced with her General Roots band members Ben Mckone and Luke Allwood, and executive producer Youth.

                                                                        “Particularly with the songwriting, I was trying to really push myself and be open, to not be restricted in any way. I have always been a fan of theatrical pop music and wanted to experiment more with the song form.” Indeed, the dizzying arrangement of “Gold Girl” shows Hollie as boldly orchestrated, cinematic. “Now I don’t shy away from it when I want to be dramatic,” she declares.

                                                                        The record itself is a product of great drama: the pandemic. After eight years of touring together, General Roots—keyboards man Luke Allwood, drummer Ben Mckone, guitarist Joe Price, and bassist James Mckone—have truly become Hollie’s band. They all spent quarantine together, honing songs they had started writing pre-COVID. “I used to definitely lean on my producers (Prince Fatty and Youth), but my vision was always to write and produce with my band,” she explains. “We are a circle of trust.”

                                                                        Full of emotion, leaning into healing and understanding, Hollie’s lyrics on Happy Hour speak directly to our pain and confusion and steer us towards resolution on tracks like “Moving On,” “Unkind Love,” and “Love in the Dark.” The album’s closer, “Praying,” is inspired by a trauma in her close friendship circle. “I was feeling raw and had to figure out how to find strength and express myself in a time of crisis, where to turn if you are not of a particular faith,” she says. Though spiritual, Hollie is no saint, inviting us to rave on “Move My Way,” which she describes as “a party song inspired by the Notting Hill Carnival.” Hollie is also a wise woman—literally the “Full Moon Baby” she summons so seductively. And like any good witch, Hollie understands the power of medicinal herbs on “Kush Kween,” her collaboration with Jamaican singer Jah9. These are love incantations that would be wrong to resist. “It’s about finding a space where you can reach for moments of light, love, and self-care,” she explains.

                                                                        Touring as a teenager with punk legends The Slits encouraged the fierceness within her sweetness. Hollie’s mentor was Ari Up, the band’s lead singer and a lifelong friend of Cook’s parents (Sex Pistols drummer Paul and her singer mother Jeni). “My father always said I would be a singer. But I discovered lovers rock on my own. I heard it on pirate radio and at friends’, and I was bewildered, enchanted,” she recalls. “The Slits are the reason I have pursued this career. I was surrounded by powerful women at a young age, and when my time came, I was never fazed by male dominance. They were my wall of courage.”

                                                                        From those feisty roots, Hollie has only grown. Her soulful directness on Happy Hour is relatable and authentic. “I can’t get away from it,” she says. “Making this music that I love, I do turn deep inside myself. It makes me explore a lot of human truths and feelings that we should not shy away from, and it feels like a release to turn them into songs.” — Vivien Goldman.

                                                                        STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                        Barry says: Hollie Cook's new LP has all the swooning beauty of her previous outing, Vessel Of Love but this time leans even more heavily into traditional pop structures, leaving the sound both wilfully pristine and undeniably catchy. The perfect summer album.

                                                                        TRACK LISTING

                                                                        SIDE A
                                                                        1. Happy Hour
                                                                        2. Moving On
                                                                        3. Full Moon Baby
                                                                        4. Kush Kween (featuring Jah9)
                                                                        5. Unkind Love
                                                                        SIDE B
                                                                        6. Gold Girl
                                                                        7. Love In The Dark
                                                                        8. Move My Way
                                                                        9. Praying

                                                                        Wye Oak

                                                                        If Children

                                                                          The duo of Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack present an exuberant and assured debut seamlessly combining elements of noise, folk, and shoegaze to create a style all their own. Originally self-released in 2007 under the moniker Monarch, Wye Oak’s debut If Children was given a proper introduction to the world the following spring on Merge Records. Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack take their minimalist setup to maximalist ends, pairing gentle campfire folk with bombastic hazy shoegaze, sometimes within the same song. 

                                                                          TRACK LISTING

                                                                          1. Please Concrete
                                                                          2. Warning
                                                                          3. Regret
                                                                          4. Archaic Smile
                                                                          5. Family Glue
                                                                          6. Orchard Fair
                                                                          7. I Don’t Feel Young
                                                                          8. Keeping Company
                                                                          9. A Lawn To Mow
                                                                          10. If Children Were Wishes
                                                                          11. Obituary

                                                                          Even in trying times, “there is no love without electricity.” Electricity is the fourth and most progressive album from Ibibio Sound Machine, and like all good Afrofuturist stories, it begins with an existential crisis. “It’s darker than anything we’ve done previously,” says Eno Williams, the group’s singer. “That’s because it grew out of the turbulence of the past year. It inhabits an edgier world.”

                                                                          Electricity was produced by the Grammy Award and Mercury Prize nominated British synthpop group Hot Chip, a collaboration born out of mutual admiration watching each other on festival stages, as well as a shared love of Francis Bebey and Giorgio Moroder. The fruits of their labor reveal a gleaming, supercharged, Afrofuturist blinder. Electricity is the first album Ibibio Sound Machine have made with external producers since the group’s formation in London in 2013 by Williams and saxophonist Max Grunhard. True, 2017’s Uyai featured mixdown guests including Dan Leavers, aka Danalogue, the keyboard jedi in future-jazz trio The Comet Is Coming, but Hot Chip and Ibibio Sound Machine worked together more deeply throughout the process, collaborating fully. Along the way, the team conjured a kaleidoscope of delights that include resonances of Jonzun Crew, Grace Jones, William Onyeabor, Tom Tom Club, Kae Tempest, Keith LeBlanc, The J.B.’s, Jon Hassell’s “Fourth World,” and Bootsy Collins.

                                                                          The hook of opener “Protection From Evil” has Williams wielding a massive synth line from Hot Chip’s Al Doyle like a spiritual shield against unspecified, malign forces unspecified because Williams is speaking in tongues. Her lyrics are onomatopoeic: their meaning is defined in her energetic delivery. As Electricity takes off, so do Williams’ words towards a brighter future, alternating between English and Ibibio, sometimes within verses, and propelled by Joseph Amoako’s unabating afrobeat. She digs into this sentiment further on single “All That You Want,” coolly assuring her romantic interest while also requesting reciprocity. Meanwhile, Scott Baylis’ playful Juno synth guides the listener’s feet along the dancefloor.

                                                                          Electricity is a deep and seamless realization of Williams’ and Grunhard’s ambitious founding manifesto to combine the singularly rhythmic character of the Ibibio language which Williams spoke growing up in Nigeria with a range of traditional West African music and more modern electronic sounds. While the band enjoys veering further into electronic territory with the help of mutuals like Hot Chip, Grunhard emphasizes, “For us, it’s not just a matter of embracing new technology. What’s key is to keep the music grounded in African roots.” Ibibio Sound Machine best exemplify this on Electricity’s “Freedom.” That track was inspired by the water-drumming rhythms of Cameroon’s Baka women, which in turn fueled its lyrics, which in turn prompted Hot Chip and Ibibio Sound Machine to layer joyfully kinetic electronic counterparts on top in the studio. As the track culminates with the mantra of “rage, hope, cope, soul,” it’s clear that Ibibio Sound Machine have channelled, harnessed, and distilled these words as guiding principles, both for the album and for the turbulent world that awaits it.

                                                                          STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                          Barry says: I remember buying ISM's self titled album from this very shop around 2014 because it was recommended highly, and it couldn't have been more of a welcome punt. It turns out that they've only gone from strength to strength, and 'Electricity' absolutely shines with the raw groove and scattered influences of the earlier LP's, but with a much more honed sense of rhythm and melody. Absolutely, unsurprisingly brilliant.

                                                                          TRACK LISTING

                                                                          SIDE A
                                                                          1. Protection From Evil
                                                                          2 .Electricity
                                                                          3 .Casio (Yak Nda Nda)
                                                                          4. Afo Ken Doko Mien
                                                                          SIDE B
                                                                          5. All That You Want
                                                                          6. Wanna See Your Face Again
                                                                          7. 17 18 19
                                                                          8. Truth No Lie
                                                                          9. Oyoyo

                                                                          CD & LP3 Download Bonus:
                                                                          10. Something We’ll Remember
                                                                          11. Almost Flying
                                                                          12. Freedom


                                                                          Endless Summer

                                                                            The first single from Wild Loneliness, “Endless Summer,” features the harmonies of Teenage Fanclub’s Norman Blake and Raymond McGinley. Participating independent record shops will carry an exclusive translucent lime green edition. Both versions of the 7” contain a cover of The Glands’ “When I Laugh” as the B-side, originally released as part of Merge’s Going to Georgia benefit compilation.


                                                                            Wild Loneliness

                                                                              Like every record Superchunk has made over the last thirty-some years, Wild Loneliness is unskippably excellent and infectious. It’s a blend of stripped-down and lush, electric and acoustic, highs and lows, and I love it all. On Wild Loneliness I hear echoes of Come Pick Me Up, Here’s to Shutting Up, and Majesty Shredding. After the (ahem, completely justifiable) anger of What a Time to Be Alive, this new record is less about what we’ve lost in these harrowing times and more about what we have to be thankful for. (I know something about gratitude.

                                                                              I’ve been a huge Superchunk fan since the 1990s, around the same time I first found my way to poetry, so the fact that I’m writing these words feels like a minor miracle.) On Wild Loneliness, it feels like the band is refocusing on possibility, and possibility is built into the songs themselves, in the sweet surprises tucked inside them. I say all the time that what makes a good poem the “secret ingredient” is surprise. Perhaps the same is true of songs. Like when the sax comes in on the title track, played by Wye Oak’s Andy Stack, adding a completely new texture to the song. Or when Owen Pallett’s strings come in on “This Night.” But my favorite surprise on Wild Loneliness is when the harmonies of Norman Blake and Raymond McGinley of Teenage Fanclub kick in on “Endless Summer.”

                                                                              It’s as perfect a pop song as you’ll ever hear sweet, bright, flat-out gorgeous and yet it grapples with the depressing reality of climate change: “Is this the year the leaves don’t lose their color / and hummingbirds, they don’t come back to hover / I don’t mean to be a giant bummer but / I’m not ready / for an endless summer, no / I’m not ready for an endless summer.” I love how the music acts as a kind of counterweight to the lyrics.

                                                                              Because of COVID, Mac, Laura, Jim, and Jon each recorded separately, but a silver lining is that this method made other long-distance contributions possible, from R.E.M.’s Mike Mills, Sharon Van Etten, Franklin Bruno, and Tracyanne Campbell of Camera Obscura, among others. Some of the songs for the record were written before the pandemic hit, but others, like “Wild Loneliness,” were written from and about isolation.

                                                                              I’ve been thinking of songs as memory machines. Every time we play a record, we remember when we heard it before, and where we were, and who we were. Music crystallizes memories so well: listening to “Detroit Has a Skyline,” suddenly I’m shout[1]singing along with it at a show in Detroit twenty years ago; listening to Overflows,” I’m transported back to whisper-singing a slowed-down version of it to my young son, that year it was his most-requested lullaby.

                                                                              Wild Loneliness is becoming part of my life, part of my memories, too. And it will be part of yours. I can picture people in 20, 50, or 100 years listening to this record and marveling at what these artists created together beauty, possibility, surprise during this alarming (and alarmingly isolated) time. But why wait? Let’s marvel now. - Maggie Smith

                                                                              TRACK LISTING

                                                                              SIDE A
                                                                              City Of The Dead
                                                                              Endless Summer
                                                                              On The Floor
                                                                              Highly Suspect
                                                                              Set It Aside
                                                                              SIDE B
                                                                              This Night
                                                                              Wild Loneliness
                                                                              If You’re Not Dark

                                                                              The Magnetic Fields

                                                                              The House Of Tomorrow

                                                                                The House of Tomorrow EP celebrates 30 years in 2022. The House of Tomorrow EP marks the first release introducing vocals by Stephin Merritt.

                                                                                Cast your mind back to notable landmarks of 1992. Outside the Twin Cities, Mall of America opened to the public. Frank Gehry’s enormous golden fish sculpture, El Peix, welcomed Barcelona Olympians. And The House of Tomorrow, a four-song 7” on a small indie label, ushered in a new era for The Magnetic Fields. When Susan Anway, who sang on early albums Distant Plastic Trees and The Wayward Bus, left the group, Stephin Merritt stepped up to the microphone. “This was my first time singing on record,” he recalls. He sought to sound simple, subtle, and unobtrusive, à la the Japanese concept of shibusa. “But now, listening back, I hear a little too much vocal influence from the Jesus and Mary Chain. (I really should move to Scotland. I belong there.)”

                                                                                Likewise, the arrangements and production of The House of Tomorrow felt less polished overall than on its predecessors, even as the band’s sound was evolving. “I wanted to have rock instrumentation, plus cello (so ELO without keyboards), but everyone was tracked separately so there was no question of sounding like we were playing together,” explains Stephin. Instead, he chose to highlight the artifice. Voilà! “The drums are like Tusk only more so, the cello sounds like a synth, and the guitars might as well be programmed.” The House of Tomorrow rose in stature upon re-release on compact disc in 1996, with a new addition, “Alien Being” (previously relegated to the flip of the “Long Vermont Roads” single), boosting its modest track list from four songs to five. The limits of technology had stymied plans the first time: “You can’t fit five two-and-a-half–minute songs on a 7” record, even at 33rpm.”

                                                                                From World’s Fairs and Disneyland to Tex Avery and Hanna-Barbera cartoons, visions of the home of the future have long been popular. Although this new vinyl edition of The House of Tomorrow includes an etching of Buckminster Fuller’s visionary D.I.Y. Dymaxion House, Stephin laments the sluggish pace of architectural innovation. What is his dream home? “I want to live in Barbarella’s spaceship, with my neighbors being the Jetsons, floating defiantly over Edinburgh Castle.”

                                                                                Never before released as a 12”, this 30th anniversary remastered edition of The House of Tomorrow is available on opaque spring green vinyl (as well as basic black). But don’t press Stephin to discuss the color’s charms, please. “I had a sickly pea green bathroom in my East Village tenement, and I never got over it,” he reveals. “It’s okay on plants, but everywhere else, the browner it is, the less I hate it. My favorite shade of green is brown.”

                                                                                TRACK LISTING

                                                                                Side A
                                                                                1 Young And Insane
                                                                                2 Technical (You’re So)
                                                                                3 Alien Being
                                                                                4 Love Goes Home To Paris In The Spring
                                                                                5 Either You Don’t Love Me Or I Don’t Love You
                                                                                Side B

                                                                                Hiss Golden Messenger

                                                                                O Come All Ye Faithful

                                                                                  Conceptualized and written during the chaotic fall months of 2020, Hiss Golden Messenger’s O Come All Ye Faithful recorded shortly after the widely hailed Quietly Blowing It is a meditation on grace, loss, hope, and community. Explains songwriter M.C. Taylor, “Big, brash holiday music the type that we hear in big box stores in the middle of December has never resonated with me, and this past year it felt absolutely dissonant. I wanted to make a seasonal record that felt more in step with the way that I, and so many others, experience this time of year: quiet, contemplative, searching, and bittersweet.”

                                                                                  Contributors to O Come All Ye Faithful include many members of Hiss Golden Messenger’s extended family, as well as special guests like GRAMMY Award winner Aoife O’Donovan, Nathaniel Rateliff, Erin Rae, and Buddy Miller. The tracklist includes new tunes written by Taylor, classic hymns, and renditions of songs by Spiritualized, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Woody Guthrie, all arranged in the inimitable Hiss Golden Messenger style. Adorned with a beautifully spare design created by celebrated artist Cody Hudson. The deluxe vinyl version of O Come All Ye Faithful includes an additional collection of remixes by Revelators, Taylor’s spiritual jazz and dub-influenced project with Cameron Ralston.

                                                                                  TRACK LISTING

                                                                                  SIDE A

                                                                                  1 Hung Fire
                                                                                  2 O Come All Ye Faithful
                                                                                  3 Grace
                                                                                  4 By The Lights Of St. Stephen
                                                                                  5 Shine A Light

                                                                                  SIDE B

                                                                                  6 Joy To The World
                                                                                  7 Silent Night
                                                                                  8 Hanukkah Dance
                                                                                  9 As Long As I Can See The Light 

                                                                                  Peak Vinyl Bonus LP :

                                                                                  The Sounding Joy: Hiss Golden Messenger Meets Revelators On South Robinson Street: LP

                                                                                  SIDE C

                                                                                  1 Shine
                                                                                  2 Light
                                                                                  3 Sounding Joy Dub

                                                                                  SIDE D

                                                                                  4 Grace Version
                                                                                  5 King Of Angels Dub
                                                                                  6 Silent

                                                                                  She & Him

                                                                                  A Very She & Him Christmas - 10th Anniversary Edition

                                                                                    This holiday season, Merge will celebrate ten years of A Very She & Him Christmas, the wonderful collection of tunes from two of music’s most beloved artists, Zooey Deschanel (She) & M. Ward (Him)! Recorded and originally released in 2011, Deschanel and Ward let the songs speak for themselves, oftentimes recording them with only acoustic guitar and vocals.

                                                                                    The result is an intimate holiday recording that deserves a place in your collection next to seminal Christmas albums by the likes of The Carpenters, Vince Guaraldi, The Beach Boys, and Elvis Presley.

                                                                                    To mark this joyous occasion, the limited-edition deluxe 10th anniversary reissue is pressed on tinsel silver vinyl and includes a brand-new 7”, also on silver vinyl, that features renditions of Madonna’s “Holiday” and Wham!’s “Last Christmas,” as well as a bonus download of “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas.” The 7” can also be purchased separately on evergreen vinyl.

                                                                                    A portion of all proceeds from A Very She & Him Christmas are donated to 826 National, a non-profit for young people to ignite and channel their creativity, explore identity, advocate for themselves and their community, and achieve academic and professional success.

                                                                                    TRACK LISTING

                                                                                    SIDE A
                                                                                    1. The Christmas Waltz
                                                                                    2. Christmas Day
                                                                                    3. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
                                                                                    4. I’ll Be Home For Christmas
                                                                                    5. Christmas Wish
                                                                                    6. Sleigh Ride
                                                                                    SIDE B
                                                                                    7. Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree
                                                                                    8. Silver Bells
                                                                                    9. Baby, It’s Cold Outside
                                                                                    10. Blue Christmas
                                                                                    11. Little Saint Nick
                                                                                    12. The Christmas Song

                                                                                    7” SIDE A
                                                                                    1. Holiday
                                                                                    7” SIDE B
                                                                                    2. Last Christmas
                                                                                    NOTE: 7” Includes The Digital-only Bonus Track “It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas.

                                                                                    The Clean

                                                                                    Tally Ho! / Platypus (Reissue)

                                                                                      On November 12, Merge will reissue two crucial releases from The Clean's distinguished discography. The "Tally Ho!" b/w "Platypus" 7-inch and the Boodle Boodle Boodle 12-inch EP, the Dunedin trio's first official recordings as a band, both celebrate their 40th anniversary this year. These reissues have been remastered by Tex Houston with assistance from the Alexander Turnbull Library New Zealand, and The Clean's David Kilgour and Robert Scott oversaw the careful re-creation of the original packaging. Merge is thrilled to make these records globally available for the first time since their original release in 1981. Pitchfork described "Tally Ho!" as "a classic of immense proportions, from its Velcro melody, absurdly mixed garage organ and motorik beat, to the crusty, hiss-laden home eight-track recording that embodies it." Recorded in the middle of a New Zealand tour for a humble NZ$60, the song broke into the country's Top 20 singles chart at #19, surprising everyone including the band. Its B-side "Platypus" was recorded live at a show just days prior, capturing the band's buoyant and elastic sound on stage. The 7” reissue will be available on limited-edition silver Peak Vinyl and standard black vinyl, as well as limited clear vinyl exclusively in New Zealand.


                                                                                      Here's To Shutting Up (Reissue)

                                                                                        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”).

                                                                                        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. 

                                                                                        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)

                                                                                        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’ 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
                                                                                            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
                                                                                              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]

                                                                                                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
                                                                                                  I’ll Be Your Man
                                                                                                  Oh Christine
                                                                                                  Moving & Shaking

                                                                                                  SIDE B

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

                                                                                                  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

                                                                                                      The Mountain Goats

                                                                                                      Getting Into Knives

                                                                                                        On the first of March, 2020, John Darnielle, Peter Hughes, Matt Douglas, and Jon Wurster, aka the Mountain Goats band, visited legendary studio Sam Phillips Recording in Memphis, TN. Darnielle armed his band with new songs and reunited with producer Matt Ross-Spang who engineered last year’s In League with Dragons. In the same room where the Cramps tracked their 1980 debut album, the Mountain Goats spent a week capturing the magic of a band at the top of its game. The result is Getting Into Knives, the perfect album for the millions of us who have spent many idle hours contemplating whether we ought to be honest with ourselves and just get massively into knives.

                                                                                                        "Getting Into Knives" album announcing 11 August, with an “As Many Candles as Possible” track premiere “Get Famous” track premiering 16 September, with video by director David Hollander

                                                                                                        "Getting Into Knives" includes guest performance on Hammond B-3 organ by Charles Hodges (of numerous Al Green records) & guest performance on guitar by Chris Boerner (of the Hiss Golden Messenger band).

                                                                                                        In addition to Mountain Goats, John Darnielle is an American author whose debut novel, 'Wolf in White Van', was New York Times Best-Seller and National Book award nominee.

                                                                                                        TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                        SIDE A
                                                                                                        1 Corsican Mastiff Stride
                                                                                                        2 Get Famous
                                                                                                        3 Picture Of My Dress
                                                                                                        4 As Many Candles As Possible

                                                                                                        SIDE B
                                                                                                        5. Tidal Wave
                                                                                                        6. Pez Dorado
                                                                                                        7. The Last Place I Saw You Alive

                                                                                                        SIDE C
                                                                                                        8. Bell Swamp Connection
                                                                                                        9. The Great Gold Sheep
                                                                                                        10. Rat Queen

                                                                                                        SIDE D
                                                                                                        11. Wolf Count
                                                                                                        12. Harbor Me
                                                                                                        13. Getting Into Knives

                                                                                                        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


                                                                                                          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

                                                                                                          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.

                                                                                                            Hiss Golden Messenger

                                                                                                            Let The Light Of The World Open Your Eyes (Alive At Spacebomb)

                                                                                                              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.North Carolina folk rockers Hiss Golden Messenger re-record two of their original songs, "Cat's Eye Blue" (from their critically acclaimed 2019 album Terms of Surrender) & B-side "Standing in the Doorway" at Spacebomb Studios with contributions from their in-house orchestra.It's the latest in the Alive at Spacebomb Studios series.

                                                                                                              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. 


                                                                                                                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
                                                                                                                  Can’t Do Much
                                                                                                                  The Eye

                                                                                                                  SIDE B
                                                                                                                  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

                                                                                                                  Magnetic Fields

                                                                                                                  69 Love Songs

                                                                                                                    Originally released in 1999. 6xLP is black ten-inch vinyl in box with ten-inch book insert and full album download. 3CD is jewel case box set and book insert. 

                                                                                                                    TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                                    1. Absolutely Cuckoo
                                                                                                                    2. I Don't Believe In The Sun
                                                                                                                    3. All My Little Words
                                                                                                                    4. A Chicken With Its Head Cut Off
                                                                                                                    5. Reno Dakota
                                                                                                                    6. I Don't Want To Get Over You
                                                                                                                    7. Come Back From San Francisco
                                                                                                                    8. The Luckiest Guy On The Lower East Side
                                                                                                                    9. Let's Pretend We're Bunny Rabbits
                                                                                                                    10. The Cactus Where Your Heart Should Be
                                                                                                                    11. I Think I Need A New Heart
                                                                                                                    12. The Book Of Love
                                                                                                                    13. Fido, Your Leash Is Too Long
                                                                                                                    14. How Fucking Romantic
                                                                                                                    15. The One You Really Love
                                                                                                                    16. Punk Love
                                                                                                                    17. Parades Go By
                                                                                                                    18. Boa Constrictor
                                                                                                                    19. A Pretty Girl Is Like
                                                                                                                    20. My Sentimental Melody
                                                                                                                    21. Nothing Matters When We're Dancing
                                                                                                                    22. Sweet-Lovin' Man
                                                                                                                    23. The Things We Did And Didn't Do
                                                                                                                    24. Roses
                                                                                                                    25. Love Is Like Jazz
                                                                                                                    26. When My Boy Walks Down The Street
                                                                                                                    27. Time Enough For Rocking When We're Old
                                                                                                                    28. Very Funny
                                                                                                                    29. Grand Canyon
                                                                                                                    30. No One Will Ever Love You
                                                                                                                    31. If You Don't Cry
                                                                                                                    32. You're My Only Home
                                                                                                                    33. (Crazy For You But) Not That Crazy
                                                                                                                    34. My Only Friend
                                                                                                                    35. Promises Of Eternity
                                                                                                                    36. World Love
                                                                                                                    37. Washington, D.C.
                                                                                                                    38. Long-Forgotten Fairytale
                                                                                                                    39. Kiss Me Like You Mean It
                                                                                                                    40. Papa Was A Rodeo
                                                                                                                    41. Epitaph For My Heart
                                                                                                                    42. Asleep And Dreaming
                                                                                                                    43. The Sun Goes Down And The World Goes Dancing
                                                                                                                    44. The Way You Say Good-Night
                                                                                                                    45. Abigail, Belle Of Kilronan
                                                                                                                    46. I Shatter
                                                                                                                    47. Underwear
                                                                                                                    48. It's A Crime
                                                                                                                    49. Busby Berkeley Dreams
                                                                                                                    50. I'm Sorry I Love You
                                                                                                                    51. Acoustic Guitar
                                                                                                                    52. The Death Of Ferdinand De Saussure
                                                                                                                    53. Love In The Shadows
                                                                                                                    54. Bitter Tears
                                                                                                                    55. Wi' Nae Wee Bairn Ye'll Me Beget
                                                                                                                    56. Yeah! Oh, Yeah!
                                                                                                                    57. Experimental Music Love
                                                                                                                    58. Meaningless
                                                                                                                    59. Love Is Like A Bottle Of Gin
                                                                                                                    60. Queen Of The Savages 61 Blue You
                                                                                                                    62. I Can't Touch You Anymore
                                                                                                                    63. Two Kinds Of People
                                                                                                                    64. How To Say Goodbye
                                                                                                                    65. The Night You Can't Remember
                                                                                                                    66. For We Are The King Of The Boudoir
                                                                                                                    67. Strange Eyes
                                                                                                                    68. Xylophone Track
                                                                                                                    69. Zebra 

                                                                                                                    Archers Of Loaf

                                                                                                                    Icky Mettle

                                                                                                                      Originally released in 1993; refreshed here with liner notes by Robert Christgau (of Village Voice).

                                                                                                                      “No single trend in 1990s indie rock can be traced back to Archers of Loaf. They weren't quite "lo-fi," they weren't quite "slackers," their guitars weren't quite "noisy" and their drums weren't quite "mathy." Eric Bachmann's vocals were gritty and visceral, but his lyrics were oblique and cerebral. Archers of Loaf thrived on subtle contradictions, on purposeful vagaries, on tentative gestures delivered with utmost conviction.

                                                                                                                      They released increasingly adventurous records for five years, and broke up with minimal drama or fanfare. This perfectly captures the energy of the band's early days, from their slapdash first singles to the scrappy brilliance of Icky Mettle itself to the more honed recordings that followed. Released on the heels of some well-received singles and a buzzed-about performance at the CMJ Music Marathon in New York, Icky Mettle was a hotly anticipated debut. To say it starts on a strong note would be an understatement; opener "Web in Front" is quite simply among the finest indie rock songs ever written. That a song whose lyrics are all but impossible to parse literally comes off as so immediate and relatable speaks both to Bachmann's skill with words-as-sounds, and to his bandmates' ability to put force and nuance behind his voice. Much of the credit here belongs to guitarist Eric Johnson, whose melodic and fluttery guitar parts seem to hammer the very emotional notes that Bachmann's words intentionally skirt. The second disc compiles the excellent Vs. the Greatest of All Time EP and the early singles that were previously included on the Speed of Cattle compilation. The five songs from Vs. the Greatest of All Time hint at the more spacious and muscular sound that the band would cultivate on their sophomore LP, Vee Vee, while early 7" versions of "Wrong" and "Web in Front" are disjointed and flaccid previews of their album counterparts. Uncertainty has never sounded so much like a rallying cry” 

                                                                                                                      TRACK LISTING

                                                                                                                      LP :

                                                                                                                      1. Web In Front
                                                                                                                      2. Last Word 
                                                                                                                      3. Wrong
                                                                                                                      4. You And Me
                                                                                                                      5. Might 
                                                                                                                      6. Hate Paste
                                                                                                                      7. Fat 
                                                                                                                      8. Plumb Line
                                                                                                                      9. Learo, You're A Hole 
                                                                                                                      10. Sick File 
                                                                                                                      11. Toast
                                                                                                                      12. Backwash
                                                                                                                      13. Slow Worm

                                                                                                                      Mikal Cronin


                                                                                                                        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


                                                                                                                              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


                                                                                                                                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”). 


                                                                                                                                  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

                                                                                                                                      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
                                                                                                                                        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

                                                                                                                                        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

                                                                                                                                        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
                                                                                                                                        Talk To Me

                                                                                                                                        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

                                                                                                                                          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. 

                                                                                                                                            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,
                                                                                                                                            With A Cherry On Top,

                                                                                                                                            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

                                                                                                                                            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)

                                                                                                                                            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.

                                                                                                                                            Ex Hex


                                                                                                                                              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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