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Joan Shelley

Like The River Loves The Sea

    Much of this album was recorded in Iceland. Breath warm from singing rises into frozen air. Atomized. A million bright blue crystals — the fractal branching of the lungs — drift back to earth. Radiant, refracting. Clear notes melt like perfect soft snow. Straight lines curve and curve again.

    Much of this album was recorded in Iceland, but Joan Shelley wrote these songs in Kentucky. That’s the dirt clinging to their roots. The wind blowing through Osage orange and pine trees is the joy and ache and urgency of these songs. It’s the silence and the music. It’s the space between time and words and the stillness in Joan’s voice. The world spins more slowly. Moss overtakes a fallen tree.

    Kentucky is where we plant seeds of regret and stay to watch them flower.

    Maybe Mark Twain said that Kentucky (always five years behind the times) was the perfect place to ride out the apocalypse. Maybe it’s twenty years. Maybe it’s apocryphal. That doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

    “And oh, Kentucky
    Stays in my mind it’s sweet to be five years behind
    That’s where I’ll be
    When the seas rise
    Holding my dear friends and drinking wine...”

    Maybe the world outside has already vaporized. Maybe we’re already living on borrowed time. Nathan Salsburg’s guitar pours out clean as water through his fingers, turning over every smooth stone. Bonnie “Prince” Billy’s harmonies stretch time tight enough to break without breaking. Joan’s voice calls us back. Birds are singing outside. Insistent. Don’t miss what’s right in front of you.

    STAFF COMMENTS

    says: We've had a few great country albums in in the past few weeks (either that or my country appreciation is inexplicably growing), with Lillie Mae's 'Other Girls' on Third Man last week, and now this tender beauty possibly trumping it, all shimmering guitars and soaring vocals over the balmy shimmering Americana-isms working their way underneath.

    It was never intended to get this far. Endless Boogie had been a band for six years when they were invited by Slint to play the All Tomorrow's Parties festival in the UK. Up to that point, they had been perfectly content existing only at their weekly Lower East Side rehearsals (and the occasional New York City show). At the time, Jesper Eklow and Mark Ohe worked at Matador Records, and word had begun to spread about the Art Departments band. They figured if they were leaving the country to play a show, they should have something to sell, so they pulled some recordings from their rehearsal tape archive, ran two small pressings, hand stamped some sleeves, and the Endless Boogie story officially began. The records (often referred to as "black" and "white") have long fetched high prices on the secondary market. They're back in print here and packaged together as a double CD / double LP set. Vinyl comes in an debossed gatefold jacket. CDs come packaged in a gatefold wallet. 

    Chris Forsyth

    All Time Present

      The annals of music history are overflowing with gifted guitar players whose egos prevented them from reaching their full potential: rather than being content to be exceptional members of a band, they instead create unexceptional records as leaders in vain attempts to prove their worth as solo artists. Guitarist-songwriter-bandleader Chris Forsyth is the rare exception that proves the rule. Rightfully but somewhat reductively known as a guitar player par excellence, one listen to Forsyth's latest double album, All Time Present, reveals that while his dazzling musicianship can always be taken for granted, it's hardly the whole story.

      Forsyth's albums-presented with his Solar Motel Band or nominally solo, as here-have always been evidence of a musical mind brimming with ideas. Forsyth is joined on All Time Present by bassist Peter Kerlin and multi-instrumentalist Shawn Edward Hansen, both longtime foils; new to the group is Ryan Jewell, a sublimely talented drummer whose musicality is seemingly bottomless. With this group, Forsyth is at the peak of his powers. All Time Present is the rare double album that goes by in a flash. Indeed, one of Forsyth's greatest strengths as a composer and bandleader is his consistent ability to sustain interest even when at his most brazenly improvisational: he drifts, but he never meanders. On All Time Present, Forsyth's particular drift is like that of a proverbial wallflower with a sudden surge of unselfconscious courage toward the dance floor. 

      Third is the stunning third album by Nathan Salsburg, one of his generation’s most gifted and idiosyncratic acoustic guitarists. It’s been five years since his last solo record (Hard for to Win and Can’t Be Won, 2013) — but not because he hasn’t been playing guitar. In the intervening years he’s backed up Joan Shelley on three releases and several hundred live dates; put out a collection of guitar duets with multi-instrumentalist James Elkington; teamed up with fellow Louisvillian and neighbor Bonnie “Prince” Billy on an EP; and contributed playing to records by The Weather Station, Wooden Wand, Watter (what’s with the Ws?), Jake Fussell, and Red River Dialect. Meantime he’s also managed to keep his head above water at his day job as curator of the Alan Lomax Archive.

      The original pieces on Third, his first strictly solo guitar record—no singing, no guests—were composed in fragments of down-time, with little expectation that they would ever come to comprise a collection: Impossible Air, was written in a converted cow-shed outside of Eeklo, Belgium; Sketch from Life, while watching college basketball on TV. Exilic Excursions resisted completion for nearly four years. The songs, as others have before them, distill a love of old-time dance music and rural ragtime; the melody-centric compositions of American guitarists Peter Lang and William Ackerman; and the work of Scottish and English folk-revivalists like Dick Gaughan, Dolly Collins, and especially Nic Jones, whose monumental arrangement of the pipe tune Planxty Davis has been adapted here in turn. And they all display a notable increase in confidence and ease, as Salsburg has quietly, persistently established a style marked by a depth and a complexity that are utterly his own. 

      STAFF COMMENTS

      says: Beautiful, rhythmic guitar plucking forms a solid basis to Salsburg's sense of progression and pace, with lively hammer-on / pull-off trills lending a momentum to the traditional beauty and stripped-back simplicity of the acoustic guitar. Thoroughly beautiful.

      FORMAT INFORMATION

      LP includes MP3 Download Code.

      Vibe Killer is the bands first single LP, a concise 6 track effort recorded at Gary’s Electric in Brooklyn, NY. As on the 2013 album Long Island, Matt Sweeney again joins the Boogie’s core of Marc Razo (bass), Harry Druzd (drums), Jesper Eklow (guitar) and Paul “Top Dollar” Major (guitar).

      Sweeney tells Aquarium Drunkard: Endless Boogie is the band you always wanted to hear. The first time I saw them play all these thoughts shot through my head at the same time: "OK that guitar player looks wilder than anyone I've ever seen/That is the rudest riff I've ever heard/Why didn't I think of that riff/I would never dare think of that riff/ I could watch that guy play that lead forever/Chuck Berry and John Coltrane/That beat is perfect NEU!/ Am I really hearing and seeing this??/Are they really doing this??" - for like an hour, and it was one song.

      STAFF COMMENTS

      says: Though there is a little factual inaccuracy in their name, Endless Boogie can be forgiven this little misdemeanour by virtue of being bloody brilliant. Sleazy rocking vibes, screaming guitars and pummelling rhythmic chorus's. Never heard of these guys before but if this is anything to go by, it won't be the last time they crop up. Superb.

      Doug Paisley

      Growing Souls / Lies To Lies

        THIS IS A RECORD STORE DAY 2014 EXCLUSIVE, LIMITED TO ONE PER PERSON.

        ‘Growing Souls’ is from the critically acclaimed album ‘Strong Feelings’.

        Backed by an exclusive B-side left over from the sessions for that record.

        Available exclusively for Record Store Day.

        Limited to 100 copies for the UK and Ireland.

        Cian Nugent & The Cosmos

        Born With The Caul

        Cian Nugent is a guitar player from Dublin, Ireland whose music combines personal passions, such as suburban / coastal blues, traditional music, 1960s and 70s singer-songwriters, psychedelic rock, jazz ambitions and 20th century composition.

        ‘Born With The Caul’ is his first full length with four piece band The Cosmos, and follows his critically acclaimed 2011 solo effort ‘Doubles’. Like that album, ‘Born With The Caul’ is comprised of a few expansive, developed pieces (three, to be exact). Led by Nugent’s guitar playing - always inviting, subdued and unpredictable - the band takes these songs into darker, richer territories opening a whole new galaxy for this young guitar player to explore.

        Nathan Salsburg

        Hard For To Win And Can't Be Won

          Nathan Salsburg’s 2011 debut was a beautiful ode to racehorses (a point of pride for any resident of Kentucky). Comprised of seven acoustic guitar instrumentals and one vocal track, ‘Affirmed’ caused Popmatters to declare the record “one that others like it will soon be measured against.”

          His second album, ‘Hard For To Win And Can’t Be Won’, is a grander effort. Although still primarily composed of acoustic guitar, the songs sound bigger. They bounce along, weaving through unexpected twists and turns, with the occasional piano melody or fiddle line.

          Family Band is a collaboration between visual artist turned singer Kim Krans and heavy-metal guitarist Jonny Ollsin. The couple met in the Catskill Mountains in 2005 and still write many of their songs there in a two room, hand-built cabin.

          ‘Grace & Lies’ is the group's second album, and as the title suggests, it is equal parts light and shadow, evoking the mystery and terror of early Cat Power, the ghostly aura of Warpaint (with whom Family Band toured in 2011), and the hushed longing of prime-era Cowboy Junkies.

          Though they explored similar territory - both sonically and lyrically - on their self-released debut, ‘Miller Path’, on ‘Grace & Lies’ their canvas is wider; the greys lusher; the blacks deeper.

          The Psychic Paramount

          II

            As rock bands go, The Psychic Paramount are a rigorously all-in proposition. They make impact a state of being rather than a discrete event.

            As single-minded as the music may seem at first strike, it exists at higher elevations - of decibel, intensity, motion, colour, temperature - and spills freely over the walls of genre; magma into new land. It is punk in its fury, noise in its rash extremity, and progressive in form.

            "II" is their second studio album.


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