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SECRETLY CANADIAN

A band willing to keep their pallet open to almost any influence – Hi-Life guitars, countered with New Wave wash, from U2 to The Feelies. It could be Phil Spector's mid-70s lost recordings inspired by the depth of second-line drum bands from New Orleans; an album filled with anthems.

Stella Donnelly

Beware Of The Dogs

    Stella Donnelly is a proud, self-proclaimed shit-stirrer. On lead single “Old Man,” the biting opener of her electrifying debut album, ‘Beware of the Dogs,’ she targets the song’s titular creep, “Oh are you scared of me old man or are you scared of what I’ll do? You grabbed me with an open hand. The world is grabbing back at you.” When something needs to be said, whether it’s to an abusive man, a terrible boss, or a clueless significant other, the 26-year old Fremantle, Western Australia-based musician is fearless in telling it like it is. Delivered entirely with a sarcastic wink and a full heart, ‘Beware of the Dogs’ proves across 13 lifeaffirming songs the power in sticking up for yourself, your friends, and what’s right.

    The album showcases an artist totally in command of her voice, able to wield her inviting charm and razor-sharp wit into authentically raw songs. It’s a resounding statement of purpose in recent memory and most importantly, it’s a portrait of Donnelly taking charge. She says, “this album made me feel like I was back in the driver’s seat. It was really liberating and grounding to realize that no one can fuck with this except me.”

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    Coloured LP Info: Opaque olive vinyl.

    Cherry Glazerr

    Stuffed & Ready

      After releasing 2016’s critically acclaimed Apocalipstick, Cherry Glazerr spent the next 18 months touring the world on their own steam. Between DIY All Ages venues, rock clubs, large festival stages, and massive theaters with some of the world’s best and most beloved bands (The Pixies, Flaming Lips, Slowdive, and The Breeders, among others), the band has really only stopped to work on their follow up, Stuffed & Ready. While furiously building the band’s sound and ideas, front person Clem Creevy enlisted Carlos de La Garza to be the band’s studio co-collaborator as they evolved the songs and refined the recordings.

      FORMAT INFORMATION

      Coloured LP Info: Limited edition red vinyl.

      Richard Swift believed in and sought real beauty. And so, even at its most caustic and sardonic, his masterpiece swan song The Hex is beautiful. Conceived in pieces over the last several years and completed just the month before his passing, The Hex is the grand statement Swift acolytes have been a-wishin-and-a-hopin’ for all these years. After a career of sticking some of his finest songs on EPs and 45s, here are all his powers coalescing into a single, long-player statement. At its core, The Hex is an aching call out into the void for Swift’s mother (“Wendy”) and his sister (“Sister Song”) whom he lost in back-to-back years. You hear a man at his lowest and spiritually on his heels.

      The pain fueling Swift’s cries of “She’s never comin’ back” on the absolutely gutting standout “Nancy” is some sort of dark catharsis for anyone who’s ever lost a loved one to the cold abstraction of Death. Over a slow, Wall of Sound kick and a warbling synth, Swift’s cries climb higher-n-higher-n-higher into what may be his most devastating vocal performance on record. A cry of pain so real and so raw Swift had to treat the performance with just a little studio effect, without which the recorded grieving might be too much to bear. The Hex is presented here as “The Hex For Family and Friends.” An obsessive fan of Wall of Sound doo-wop, early Funkadelic, Bo Diddley, Beefheart and Link Wray, Swift gives them all a moment with the flashlight around The Hex campfire, one moment to make a strange shadow-cast face for us, his family and friends.

      STAFF COMMENTS

      Barry says: A visceral but fascinating look into the mind of one of the greatest songwriters of the 20th century, 'The Hex' is disarming at points, but dynamically absorbing and brilliantly written. A superb legacy, and a superb listen throughout.

      FORMAT INFORMATION

      LP includes MP3 Download Code.

      Richard Swift

      The Novelist / Walking Without Effort

      "The Novelist" - Swift's highly acclaimed, succinct, eight song, nineteen minute and 38 second-long, audiophile archivist experiment - immediately ushers the listener deep into the recesses of Swift's creative core for a kaleidoscopic trip aboard an intergalactic vaudevillian steamship with a speakeasy code-word. Yet, "The Novelist" is only one small manifestation of Swift's entire musical manifesto and only one-half of this double-disc set. "Walking Without Effort" - the second disc in the two-disc set - is the first, and perhaps most deceptively complex, yet decisively understated, Swift release to date. A slight step eastward from the eclectic musings of "The Novelist", "Walking Without Effort" intentionally paints another image, and baptizes believers born-again into Swift's unique brand of sonic schizophrenia. Gramophones are replaced by 8-tracks and Persian rugs are covered with shag, as Swift nods to the early 70s solo efforts of McCartney and Harrison, while waving to Burt Bacharach and Van Dyke Parks.

      FORMAT INFORMATION

      2xLP includes MP3 Download Code.

      Songs: Ohia

      Love & Work: The Lioness Sessions

        The Lioness is the first Jason Molina project to fully turn away from the battlefield folk and deconstructed Americana of earlier Songs: Ohia recordings. At the dawn of the 21st century, the album felt modern. It aligned Molina with a new set of peers — Low, Gastr del Sol, Red House Painters and, most importantly, the influential Scottish band Arab Strap, whose producer and members were crucial in the creation of The Lioness. The avantgarde tones and arrangements of Arab Strap are absorbed here into Molina’s songwriting to create what would become, for many acolytes, the archetypal Songs: Ohia sound. Love & Work: The Lioness Sessions, the box set reissue, will serve as the seminal log of the era, complete with lost songs, photos, drawings, and essays from those who knew Molina best.

        We know Molina was diligent in both love and work. He treated songcraft like a job at the mill, and his approach to romance was not so different. We know that when he fell in love with his wife, he was dutiful in his adoration. There were strings of love letters and poetic gesture. Included in this edition are replicated examples of this relentless love — an envelope with a letter from Molina, a photograph of Molina and his to-be wife, a postcard, a Two of Hearts playing card, and a personal check for one million kisses. Some of these items were gifts he would send to his new love from the road; others, like the 2 of Hearts, were totems he’d carry with him around this time as a symbol for his burgeoning love.

        And so, the head-over-heels album that is The Lioness has its workman counterpart. Nearly another album’s worth of material was recorded in Scotland during the album sessions. While similar in tone and structure, the songs seem to deal in the grit and dirt of being. These are songs for aching muscles getting soothed in the third-shift pub. But they’re also examples of Molina’s diligence as he constructs what would be the essential elements of The Lioness. In addition to these outtakes, we also have a 4-track session made weeks earlier in London with friend James Tugwell. Comprised of primarily guitar, hand drums and voice, these songs are raw experiments that mostly serve to illustrate Molina’s well of words and ideas. But then, there is the devastating Sacred Harp hymn “Wondrous Love.” While he may have had his new love in mind, one can’t help but think of Molina’s legacy as he softly warbles “Into eternity I will sing/Into eternity I will sing.” You don’t have to try too hard to mythologize Molina. He did all the work for you.

        FORMAT INFORMATION

        2xDeluxe LP Info: Translucent purple vinyl, limited to 3000 copies worldwide.

        Goshen Electric Co.

        The Gray Tower / Ring The Bell

          Goshen Electric Co. happened both all at once and gradually: an electrifying culmination of Tim Showalter’s nearly two decades long love affair with Jason Molina’s craft and just one half-day in the recording studio with the members of Magnolia Electric Co. Ring The Bell, recorded in one take, roars in with a twinge of psychedelia, thrumming with vibe; Showalter’s wail recalls Molina’s sombre, choir-boy croon but roughened with sandpaper. The prophetic, dystopian darkness of ‘The Gray Tower’ captures the original soaring chorus and delicate melody with the power of a full band. Decades later, the intense, unflinching urgency of Molina’s songwriting endures. “There was such an intimate relationship with his music - it felt a lot deeper than just liking a song,” says Showalter. “You live in these songs.”

          Steven A Clark

          Where Neon Goes To Die

          ‘Where Neon Goes To Die’ explores a complex relationship full of highs and lows. From sultry pop to heart aching ballads, the album retells Clark’s travels through the city’s nocturnal fantasyland through hooky, R&B-infused synth pop - file alongside Prince and Frank Ocean - that (maybe ironically) could fill the floors at the same clubs he’s singing about. Of course, when Clark writes about his city he’s really writing about himself.

          ‘Where Neon Goes To Die’ retells Clark’s travels through the Miami’s nocturnal fantasyland. At its core, it is the story of a musician casting aside the distractions of his youth and discovering not only a new level of maturity but a new level to his talents.

          After a string of mixtapes and EPs and his 2015 debut album ‘The Lonely Roller’, Clark is making music more confidently than he ever has before, sliding effortlessly between effervescent future disco on ‘Feel This Way’ to purple-tinged slow-burn soul on ‘Easy Fall’, a duet with Gavin Turek.

          Stella Donnelly

          Thrush Metal

            Stella Donnelly quickly became one of Australia’s buzziest young singer-songwriters earlier this year with the release of her debut EP, Thrush Metal. Now release in the UK, it opens with the defiant, "Mechanical Bull" which is reminiscent of "Dry" era PJ Harvey. Next up is the stunning "Boys Will Be Boys". Atop delicate, singsongy acoustic fingerpicking, Donnelly confronts a man who raped her friend and takes to task the accompanying victim-blaming. “Why was she all alone? Wearing her shirt that low And they said boys will be boys Deaf to the word no,” she coos in the chorus, a slight vibrato flaring up at the corners of her lovely voice.
            The stripped back melancholy of the following three tracks: "Mean To Me", "Grey" and "A Poem" show off her vocals in a slightly different light, and closing track "Talking", which is a new addition to the EP for this vinyl release, returns to the weightier content of the EPs start. 




            Serpentwithfeet is an experimental R&B / gospel vocalist and performance artist whose growing body of work is rooted in dueling obsessions with the ephemeral and the everlasting – key components of his artistic journey from a childhood stint as a choirboy in Baltimore through his time at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, where he studied vocal performance before relocating to New York City. "Soil" is a return to the sensibilities and wide-eyed curiosity of his musical youth before symmetry and sterile soundscapes ruled the roost. With the release of "Soil" the chameleonic Serpentwithfeet (born Josiah Wise) rediscovers and ultimately returns to the unhinged version of himself he was sure he had outgrown.

            On "Soil", Serpentwithfeet trades glossolalia and peacocking showmanship for intricately layered harmonies, a sumptuous bottom register that appears for the first time to challenge his fluttering tenor, and ballsy sonic experimentation encouraged by Gately, whose talent he describes as 'making voices sound like elephants and elephants sound like car engines.' Together they develop an unctuous sound that suggests billowing clouds and the dense, plodding stomp of 12-bar blues. Once concerned with perfect execution of gospel runs and dishing up a gossamer falsetto, Serpentwithfeet is out of balance and reveling in the concept of mess on "Soil". Particularly, what it means to part ways with sterility and the urge to uncoil himself in order to occupy more space. "Soil" is the moment at which he unfolds himself with zero intention of closing back up.

            STAFF COMMENTS

            Barry says: Tender synthy ballads, simmering jazzy influence and reticent gothic turns all form together on Serpentwithfeet's newest outing, at once soulful and bracing, before launching into reticent and delicate urban beats. Stunning stuff.

            FORMAT INFORMATION

            Coloured LP Info: Limited edition opaque yellow vinyl.

            Coloured LP includes MP3 Download Code.

            Like previous albums, The Horizon Just Laughed started with a dream – though that’s where things change, as they often do. It is Damien Jurado’s first self-produced album in a 20+ year career, more personal and more rooted than even his Maraqopa trilogy, as though after so much time on the road he’s stumbled upon his home.

            The album feels like a beautiful collage — its narrative pieced together through letters and postcards, with each part contributing to its greater whole, and providing snapshots of ones journey to find a sense of place and connection to a changing world.

            STAFF COMMENTS

            Barry says: Jurado just goes from strength to strength, and this continues that trajectory. Beautiful production mixed with his singular songwriting ability make for a spellbinding and nuanced ride.

            Makeness drops his debut album, "Loud Patterns" on the Secretely Canadian labe. Crafting tracks which make a virtue of disparate influences, Kyle Molleson manages to pull off something difficult: songs which have been tirelessly worked on, although sound loose-limbed and to-the-point.

            "Loud Patterns" is noticeably indebted to house and techno; there are 4/4 rhythms, and a no-nonsense directness that harks back to the Detroit pioneers. Channeling avant-garde experimentalism and an outsider’s interest in pop, Kyle embraces the distance between those two poles.

            Cosmic Slop, an underground institution in Leeds, was another touchstone. As Kyle recalls,'That place was definitely an awakening in terms of dance music.' It boasts a hand-built, peerless soundsystem, a near-pitch black dancefloor and a music policy that ranges from Dilla instrumentals to Detroit house. It takes dance music away from regimented structure, fashion and trends and into a freeform world of creative, one which Kyle thoroughly embraces.

            "Loud Patterns" arrives after a series of releases that have established his particular, in-between approach to dance-minded music. He put out two EPs on Manchester-based imprint Handsome Dad, a one-off single with Adult Jazz and self-released Temple Works EP; Whities also released a limited-edition white label of a Minor Science dub of one of his tracks.

            Containing single, “Stepping Out Of Sync" - 'for me is about losing a little bit of a grip on reality,' says Kyle. 'There’s a big nod to the world of pop music in the track and I wanted to reflect that in the video too. Josha and Felix, who directed the video, came up with this great time splicing technique using a custom 3-camera rig. The idea was to use the technique as a character in the video to add a sense of detachment from reality and subtly invert the upbeat aspect of the music. I had also been talking to my friend Maddie who is a brilliant dancer about working on some choreography for the video. These aspects seemed to come together perfectly when Josha and Felix started sending ideas across. I think the video really captures the range of emotions that exist in the track, it’s upbeat and positive aspect alongside a layer of dissonance and confusion that lies under the surface.'. 


            Suuns are pleased to announced their new album, Felt, coming out March 2nd on Secretly Canadian. Singer/guitarist Ben Shemie says, “This record is definitely looser than our last one [2016’s Hold/Still]. It’s not as clinical. There’s more swagger.” You can hear this freedom flowing through the 11 tracks on Felt. It’s both a continuation and rebirth, the Montreal quartet returning to beloved local facility Breakglass Studios (where they cut their first two albums [Zeroes QC and Images Du Futur] with Jace Lasek of The Besnard Lakes) but this time recording themselves at their own pace, over five fertile sessions spanning several months. A simultaneous stretching out and honing in, mixed to audiophile perfection by St Vincent producer John Congleton (helmer of Hold/Still), who flew up especially from Dallas to deploy his award-winning skills in situ.

            Complementing O’Neill are the ecstatic, Harmonia-meets-Game Boy patterns unleashed by electronics mastermind Max Henry. Eschewing presets, Henry devised fresh sounds for each song on Felt while also becoming a default musical director, orchestrating patches and oscillations. Quietly enthusing about “freaky post-techno” and Frank Ocean’s use of space, he’s among your more modest studio desk jockeys: “Yeah, I sat in the control room while the others played – hitting ‘record’ and ‘stop’. It also gave me the flexibility to move parts around and play with effects. I do have a sweet tooth for pop music.”



            STAFF COMMENTS

            Darryl says: Hypnotic synth throbs, dusty percussion workouts and flickering kosmische bass meet with ambient downtempo before thrashing forwards into dark dystopian minimal wave. Superb.

            Joey Dosik

            Game Winner

              Joey Dosik didn’t set out to make a conceptual mini album about basketball. It was his first love before music and some of his earliest memories are of attending Lakers games but he’d never thought to look to the sport for inspiration. However, when Joey blew out his knee during his regular pick-up game and had to undergo reconstructive ACL surgery, he found himself confined to the couch, watching a lot of television and waiting to resume his normal life. He gravitated toward basketball and when he started recording again he found it seeping into his writing. The result is ‘Game Winner’, a brisk, emotive collection of songs loosely inspired by the language and lore of the game.

              Joey is an inveterate collaborator who has worked extensively with the likes of Vulfpeck, Nikka Costa and Miguel Atwood Ferguson and who is a vital part of an LA scene that updates vintage sounds into a more contemporary context. ‘Game Winner’ was a different project with a different process; the lion’s share of the release was recorded solo in Joey’s home studio.

              The common thread in the six songs - as well as the four bonus tracks - is musicality and song craft: the two pillars of Joey’s sound. “The most important thing is the song,” explains Joey. “Songwriting won’t go out of style.” It’s that approach, one that thinks beyond style, that gives the title track its magic. Minimal and almost languid, ‘Game Winner’ has a confidence that’s hard to place in time, an ease that meets a buzzer-beater just as well as it meets a Sunday morning. Basketball may have been Joey’s first love but the sport is also the perfect metaphor for where he’s ended up musically, always striving to stay timely and timeless, to bring deep, foundational elements in sync with innovation and imagination.

              ‘Game Winner’ was originally released in 2016; this re-release features bonus tracks.

              Jason Molina

              The Black Sabbath Covers

                When Jason Molina took on another artist’s song, he willed his own universe into it, his own personal and artistic mythology. Be it Conway Twitty or Townes Van Zandt, their blues were infused with Molina’s own entrancing blues. This pair of newly discovered, home-recorded Black Sabbath covers is no different. Molina, a through-and-through fan of metal (seek out his high school metal band The Spineriders’ album if you haven’t yet) peels back the sinister and stoned elements of Sabbath, zeroing in on the loneliness and brooding.

                He takes ‘Solitude’, from 1971’s ‘Master Of Reality’ - and one of Sabbath’s more mystical, near proggy songs - and doubles down on the title. Molina extracts Ozzy Osbourne’s gorgeously cooed vocal performance and transforms it into a high and lonesome sound, a desert campfire howler.

                On his cover of ‘Snowblind’, from 1972’s ‘Vol. 4’, it becomes obvious what a guitar hero Sabbath’s Tony Iommi was for Molina. Molina seemed to pull from Iommi’s odd, simple fingerings and tunings throughout his catalogue: from his first album (known informally as ‘the black album’) to Magnolia Electric Co.’s ‘Josephine’. Molina’s brief acoustic cover dials back the bombast but you can surely connect ‘Snowblind’’s chord progressions with Molina’s own on the black album and ‘Axxess & Ace’.

                Whitney

                Light Upon The Lake: Demo Recordings

                  ‘Light Upon The Lake’, the debut from Whitney, was born from early-morning songwriting sessions during one of the most brutal winters in Chicago’s history. Vocalist / drummer Julien Ehrlich and guitarist Max Kakacek began writing unflinching, honest songs about everything from breakups to the passing of Ehrlich’s grandfather. The pair leaned on one another for both honest critique and a sounding board for working through their newly-discovered truths.

                  The brief, intense period of creativity for the band yielded ‘Light Upon The Lake’s exceptional, unfussy combination of soul, breezy Sixties / Seventies rock and sombre heartbreak woven together by hopeful, golden threads. After critical acclaim and nearly nonstop touring since the album’s 2016 release, Ehrlich and Kakacek are going back to their roots - for the first time, the full demos from ‘Light Upon The Lake’ will be made available. After a whirlwind year following the debut, the demos offer a way for listeners to get a glimpse into the very beginning of Whitney’s sound.

                  “After almost two years of non-stop touring, we decided we wanted to close the chapter on ‘Light Upon The Lake’ by releasing the songs in their earliest incarnations alongside a cover of a band favorite by Alan Toussaint, and an unreleased track called ‘You and Me’. We’re looking towards LP2 as we finish out the year on the road.” - Love, Max and Julien

                  STAFF COMMENTS

                  Barry says: Whitney show how their truly astounding 'Light Upon The Lake' came to be with an insight into their starting points, and it's a testament to their capabilities that these are no more drafts, but a living, breathing entity of their own. Essential.

                  Alex Cameron

                  Forced Witness

                    “Up until 2014 I was an investigator’s assistant in a public law office. I can’t tell you exactly what my job was on account of I signed a shut your mouth agreement around the time I quit for stress related reasons. But what I can say is that I dealt with corruption and badness perpetrated at the highest levels of authority, daily. I clocked all these leads and I made a file. Because these aren’t things you keep in the dark. You shine a light on the badness and you strive to understand it.

                    “From a dossier on all things delicate and beautiful and sadly human. Crimes of passion and victims of love. All contained in 10 hot songs. Who’s the culprit? I’ve got my inklings and you can get your own. But first you need to listen to the thing, take it all in, stick photos to your walls and connect them with string, measure footprints in the yard, wear a suit made of reeds, track the migration patterns of birds, intercept whispered transmissions, learn to eat spiders with a hunting knife, sleep in air ducts, make the case.

                    “Here it is, my album: ‘Forced Witness’.” - Alex Cameron

                    Album features guest appearances by Brandon Flowers (The Killers), Angel Olsen and Weyes Blood.

                    FORMAT INFORMATION

                    Coloured LP Info: Available to independent retailers on white vinyl.

                    Coloured LP includes MP3 Download Code.

                    Yoko Ono

                    Approximately Infinite Universe

                      There’s a fury at the core of Yoko Ono’s 1973 rock opus ‘Approximately Infinite Universe’ that was not apparent on previously recorded efforts. Ono has always been a master of turning pain and sadness into art but here there’s a clenched-fist intensity that sets it apart in her deep, unparalleled catalogue.

                      Ono is angry. She proved that one can carry a boundless love for humanity and still be furious - furious at male/female relationships, at war, at your partner. Meanwhile, on a sonic level, Ono ups the ante on the more centred rock & roll sounds she approached with 1971’s ‘Fly’.

                      The album is one of the most traditional-sounding rock chapters in Ono’s sprawling catalogue. There are moments here that absolutely rival Jersey legends the E Street Band, though of course Ono’s vision leads her band down darker, more mystical paths than the E Street Band ever dared tread.

                      ‘Approximately Infinite Universe’ is an essential and progressive piece of Ono’s output, both in the advancements she made as a songwriter/conceptualist and as a solidified statement of her staunch feminist role within the very male-dominated mainstream rock ghetto of the mid-1970s.

                      STAFF COMMENTS

                      Patrick says: Taking a detour from the experimental preoccupations of her earlier avant garde work, Yoko utilised a more mainstream rock sound to express anger and frustration at the state of the world and the place of a woman within it.

                      FORMAT INFORMATION

                      2xColoured LP Info: Limited white vinyl includes a digital download card featuring bonus material.

                      Through primitive electronic gear, hypnotist vocals and an “amusement park of sounds,” duo She- Devils’ album constructs a fun-house world of beautiful chaos.

                      The music is built from original sonics inspired by everything from Iggy Pop to Madonna to T-Rex to Can, as well as the romantic longing of 60s yé-yé.

                      FORMAT INFORMATION

                      LP includes MP3 Download Code.

                      Suuns

                      Hold / Still (Remixes)

                        THIS IS A RECORD STORE DAY 2017 EXCLUSIVE, LIMITED TO ONE PER PERSON.

                        Almost a year to the day from the release of ‘Hold/Still’, Suuns’s most-far reaching and creative record to date, comes an album of remixes.

                        Spanning an incredibly diverse range of artists and sounds, each one of these remixes takes the original track and twists and turns it into something very unique.

                        The source material leant itself perfectly to a remix project - these are songs that are complex, layered, experimental.

                        The remixes vary from the dancefloor fillers from the likes of Redshape or Marvin & Guy through to the ambience of Lee Gamble and Beatrice Dillon and the techno of VRIL, and shows Suuns as one of the most forward thinking and fertile bands around. Time to go and get lost.

                        Comes as a double, red coloured, limited edition vinyl for Record Store Day 2017.

                        Includes download card.

                        Limited to 500 copies for the UK and Eire.

                        Across three studio albums, the Swedish singer/songwriter and musician has proven not only his flair for telling very personal stories with a sharp self-awareness, but also his skill for balancing depth of emotional expression with droll and often self-deprecating detail. It’s a winning pop combination.

                        His fourth, Life Will See You Now is a typical Lekman album in several ways: sly humor is key to its heartfelt nature; it inverts pop’s writing norm by making songs with sad concerns sound happy and songs with a happy subject sound sad; and it plays with notions of identity and the self.

                        But, as the title suggests, it also represents a significant move forward, as if across a threshold. I Know What Love Isn’t (2012) was informed by a painful relationship breakdown that pitched its author into something of a crisis and so necessarily put him at its center, using a muted sound palette.

                        But Life Will See You Now is the more expansive, upbeat sound of a revitalized Lekman, who is just one of many characters in his new stories about the magic and messiness of different kinds of relationships. It’s also the result of deliberate steps he took to create this fresh sound.

                        Lekman experiments with different kinds of rhythms – disco, calypso, samba and bossa nova all get a bespoke twirl in the spotlight – and so he called on producer Ewan Pearson (M83, The Chemical Brothers, Goldfrapp) to help realize his new songs.

                        STAFF COMMENTS

                        Barry says: Twee outsider-pop pieces, silken strings and shimmering guitars, topped by Lekman's brilliantly emotive vocals. Groovy, with meaningful melodies, constantly evolving chord progressions and a unique pop sensibility makes this stand out as one of the great voices of our time.

                        Over the weekend of August 21-22, 2010, not long after Damien Jurado and Richard Swift first collaborated to produce Damien’s 2010 record, ‘Saint Bartlett’, the pair hunkered down with a 4- track recorder and one Coles 4038 ribbon microphone to record a collection of cover songs that run the gamut from John Denver to Chubby Checker to Kraftwerk.

                        The timing was perfect. On ‘Other People’s Songs Volume One’ one can see the scaffolding of what would become a creative turning point for the pair - later seen with the release of Damien Jurado’s ‘Maraqopa’, the first record in his Maraqopa trilogy - less than two years later. The opening drum hits of ‘Be Not So Fearful’, the falsetto vocals of ‘Sweetness’ and the Spaghetti-Western swing of ‘Radioactivity’ are, by now, hallmarks of the Jurado / Swift sound but ‘Other People’s Songs Volume One’ is a transitional fossil, a marking of the pair’s collaborative evolution.

                        This is the first time ‘Other People’s Songs Volume One’ is available on CD and LP.

                        John Lennon & Yoko Ono

                        Unfinished Music, No. 2: Life With The Lions

                        The sound of Ono and Lennon validating their love as something impenetrable and timeless. It’s when we, the listener, begin to fully understand that the scope of their recording efforts was much more than a recording collaboration and something closer to a performative documentary, a declaration of “Our life and our love is our art - every nitty, gritty part of it.”

                        FORMAT INFORMATION

                        Coloured LP Info: Exclusive coloured vinyl edition available to independent retailers. Vinyl format includes a digital download card featuring the full album plus bonus tracks.

                        Alex Cameron

                        Jumping The Shark

                          'My name is Alex Cameron and I won't waste your time. When you're talking about me and my business partner, Roy Molloy, you're talking about the online cowboys in the wild-west days of the World Wide Web. And if you want to know what we're really about just look at all the things you wish you'd done differently. All the things you stopped yourself from doing on account of the fear of failure, or rejection. Weigh that up against your ambitions. Think about your work ethic. We're reclaiming failure as an act of progress. An act of learning. Something to celebrate.

                          A word's meaning can change depending on who utters the thing; and so we present characters - shapes are morphed and stories are delivered. This is a collection of 4-minute tales written to provide you with insight into the inner workings of failed ambitions and self-destruction. Unedited, uncensored, and without inhibition. I've learned to reveal what I want to unlearn. I cast a light on the darkness and in doing so understand love and compassion. Fear is to be confronted, and to learn strictly requires failure - over and over. Celebrate failure with Jumping The Shark.'

                          FORMAT INFORMATION

                          LP includes MP3 Download Code.

                          Whitney make casually melancholic music that combines the wounded drawl of Townes Van Zandt, the rambunctious energy of Jim Ford, the stoned affability of Bobby Charles, the American otherworldliness of The Band, and the slack groove of early Pavement. Their debut, Light Upon the Lake, is due in June on Secretly Canadian, and it marks the culmination of a short, but incredibly intense, creative period for the band. Formed from the core of guitarist Max Kakacek and singing drummer Julien Ehrlich, to say that Whitney is more than the sum of its parts would be a criminal understatement. The band itself is something bigger, something visionary, something neither of them could have accomplished alone.

                          Ehrlich had been a member of Unknown Mortal Orchestra, but left to play drums for the Smith Westerns, where he met guitarist Kakacek. That group burned brightly but briefly, disbanding in 2014 and leaving its members adrift. Brief solo careers and side-projects abounded, but nothing clicked. Making everything seem all the more fraught: both of them were going through especially painful breakups almost simultaneously, the kind that inspire a million songs, and they emerged emotionally bruised and lonelier than ever.

                          Whitney was born from a series of laidback early-morning songwriting sessions during one of the harshest winters in Chicago history, after Ehrlich and Kakacek reconnected - first as roommates splitting rent in a small Chicago apartment and later as musical collaborators passing the guitar and the lyrics sheet back and forth. “We approached it as just a fun thing to do. We never wanted to force ourselves to write a song. It just happened very organically. And we were smiling the whole time, even though some of the songs are pretty sad.” The duo wrote frankly about the break-ups they were enduring and the breakdowns they were trying to avoid. Each served as the other’s most brutal critic and most sympathetic confessor, a sounding board for the hard truths that were finding their way into new songs like “No Woman” and “Follow,” a eulogy for Ehrlich’s grandfather.

                          In exorcising their demons they conjured something else, something much more benign—a third presence, another personality in the music, which they gave the name Whitney. They left it singular to emphasize its isolation and loneliness. Whitney is named after Whitney, a muse they created as a songwriting conduit—a phantom third member of the band. Says Kakacek, “We were both writing as this one character, and whenever we were stuck, we’d ask, ‘What would Whitney do in this situation?’ We personified the band name into this person, and that helped a lot. We wrote the record as though one person were playing everything. We purposefully didn’t add a lot of parts and didn’t bother making everything perfect, because the character we had in mind wouldn’t do that.”

                          In those imperfections lies the music’s humanity. Whilst they demoed and toured the new songs, they became more aware of the perfect imperfections of the songs, and needing to strike the right balance, eventually making the trek out to California, where they recorded with Foxygen frontman and longtime friend, Jonathan Rado. They slept in tents in Rado’s backyard, ate the same breakfast every morning at the same diner in the remote, desolate and completely un-rock n roll San Fernando Valley, whilst they dreamt of Laurel Canyon, or maybe The Band’s hideout in Malibu, or Neil Young’s ranch in Topanga Canyon.

                          The analog recording methods, the same as used by their forebearers, allowed them to concentrate on the songs themselves and create moments that would be powerful and unrepeatable. “Tape forces you to get a take down,” says Kakacek. “We didn’t have enough tracks to record ten takes of a guitar part and choose the best one later. Whatever we put down is all we had. That really makes you as a musician focus on the performance.” The sessions were loose, with room for improvisation and new ideas, as the band expanded from that central duo into a dynamic sextet (septet if you count their trusty soundman). And that’s what you hear – Whitney is the sound of that songwriting duo expanding their group and delivering the sound of a band at their freest, their loosest, their giddiest.

                          Classic and modern at the same time, they revel in concrete details, evocative turns of phrase, and thorny emotions that don’t have exact names. These ten songs on Light Upon the Lake sound like they could have been written at any time in the last fifty years. Ehrlich and Kakacek emerge as imaginative and insightful songwriting partners, impressive in their scope and restraint as they mold classic rock lyricism into new and personal shapes without sound revivalist or retro. Whitney arrive as a fully formed gang of outsiders, their album rich in the musical history of the classic bands of the 60s and 70s who, like Whitney, were greater than the sum of their parts. “I’m searching for those golden days.” sings Ehrlich, with a subtle ripple of something that sounds like hope, on the track “Golden Days”. It’s a song that defines Whitney as a band. “There’s a lot of true feeling behind these songs,” says Ehrlich. “We wanted them to have a part of our personalities in them. We wanted the songs to have soul.”

                          STAFF COMMENTS

                          Matt says: Teenage Neil Young!

                          Patrick says: Former staffer Michael and bearded promotion kingpin Wesley (Now Wave) had been singing Whitney's praises for months before the album dropped, and anticipation was high. On first listen, I loved 'No Woman', but couldn't quite get into the rest of the LP. Three months later, I find myself in Gullivers swooning away to lone star ballads and expansive country while Wes offers a knowing nod from the side of the room. I've loved it ever since.

                          Andy says: Whitney are a seven piece, Chicago based band, formed around the duo of Max Kakacek ( of the Smith Westerns) on guitar, and singing drummer Julien Ehrlich (from Unknown Mortal Orchestra.) "No Woman" was a stunning introduction. What followed was this perfect LP of impeccably crafted tunes, interlocking guitars, honeyed horns and swinging bass. Whitney invoke the pastoral, easy vibes of the West Coast, singer/songwriter, Laurel Canyon era. Neil Young, but also Creedence and even The Band spring to mind. This is married to the sweetest, Southern soul grooves; strings and brass to the fore: pure feel, pure melody. There's a meandering, jam-band, live in a room ethos, somehow expertly edited into 10 perfectly formed, pop song nuggets. If I neglected to mention that Light Upon The Lake is a break-up record, that's because whilst it is lyrically soul-baring it is never navel-gazing, the sadness over-ridden by the celebration. Brilliant.

                          FORMAT INFORMATION

                          Coloured LP includes MP3 Download Code.

                          LP includes MP3 Download Code.

                          Hold/Still, the third studio album from Suuns, is an enigmatic thing: an eerily beautiful, meticulously played suite of music that embraces opposites and makes a virtue of cognitive dissonance. It is a record that does not give up its secrets easily. The 11 songs within are simultaneously psychedelic, but austere; sensual, but cold; organic, but electronic; tense sometimes to the brink of mania, but always retaining perfect poise and control. "There's an element of this album that resists you as a listener, and I think that's because of these constantly opposing forces," says drummer Liam O'Neill. "Listen to the song 'Brainwash', for instance, "It's a very soft, lyrical guitar song, existing alongside extremely aggressive and sparse drum textures. It inhabits these two worlds at the same time."

                          From the beginning, Suuns (you pronounce it "soons", and it translates as "zeroes" in Thai) have sought to do things differently. They formed in Montreal 2007, when singer/guitarist Ben Shemie and guitarist Joe Yarmush got together to work on some demos, soon to be joined by Liam, Ben's old schoolfriend, on drums and Max Henry on synth. Their group's first two records, 2010's Zeroes QC and 2012's Polaris Prize-nominated Images Du Futur – both released on Secretly Canadian – were immediate critical hits, and Suuns soon found themselves part of a late '00s musical renaissance in the city, alongside fellow groups like The Besnard Lakes, Islands and Land Of Talk. Still, at the same time, Suuns feel remote from the big, baroque ensembles and apocalyptic orchestras that typify the Montreal scene. "We write quite minimal music," thinks Ben. "They're not traditional song forms, sometimes they don't really go anywhere – but they have their own kind of logic." Or as Joe puts it: "It's pop music, but sitting in this evil space."

                          After two records produced by their friend Jace Lasek of The Besnard Lakes at his Montreal studio Breakglass, Suuns decided Hold/Still demanded a different approach. In May 2015, they decamped to Dallas, Texas to work with Grammy- winning producer John Congleton (St Vincent, The War On Drugs, Sleater- Kinney). For three intense weeks, the four recorded in Congleton's studio by day, the producer driving them to capture perfect live takes with virtually no overdubbing. At night, they returned to their cramped apartment and stewed. "Recording in Montreal, it's more of a party atmosphere," says Joe. "Here it felt like we were on a mission. We were looking for something to take us out of our element, or that might seep into our music." Luckily, the effect was galvanizing. Under Congleton's instruction, 'Translate' and 'Infinity', songs the group had been reworking for years, suddenly found their form.

                          The result is undoubtedly Suuns' most focused album to date, the sound of a band working in mental lockstep, crafting a guitar music that feels unbeholden to clear traditions or genre brackets. From the haunted electronic blues of 'Nobody Can Save Me Now' to throbbing seven-minute centrepiece 'Careful', Hold/Still foregrounds the work of Max, a synthesizer obsessive who builds hisown patches and confesses to using cranky or budget equipment as well as top-of-the-range kit because "[good gear] does all the work for you, and that's not always fun". Certainly, this is a band as inspired by the dark groove textures of Andy Stott, the flourishing arpeggios of James Holden or the serrated productions of Death Grips as anything familiarly rock. "Things don't feel right until they've been touched or cast over in an electronic light," elaborates Liam. "It's rare that acoustic drum kit, guitar, and bass comprise a finished product for us. For a song to be Suuns, it has to be coloured by electronics".

                          Certainly this remains a band in love with the aesthetic of obscurity. The album cover is an image of Ben's former workmate Nahka, who was captured by photographer Caroline Desilets using a pinhole camera with a four-minute exposure time – Hold/Still, indeed.

                          In another contradiction, this record finds Ben's vocals far more enunciated and upfront than before. If there are themes that tie Hold/Still together, says Ben, they might be investigations "about sex... perhaps not the act specifically, just [themes] of a sexual nature. But there's also a spiritual undertone that points to another kind of searching." The sexual is illustrated in the dark romance of 'Careful', while longing becomes both sexual and spiritual in the thirsty pleas of 'Instrument': "I wanna believe/I wanna receive..." The spiritual takes over on the back half of the record. 'Nobody Can Save Me Now' evokes artist Tracey Emin's ghostly invocation For You at the Liverpool Cathedral: "I felt you / and I knew that you loved me", while side B opener 'Brainwash' wonders: "Do you see, all seeing? / Do you know, all knowing?"

                          In a cultural centre like Montreal, bands can get too comfortable playing to their peers. Suuns, though, feel like a band always looking to the nearest border. They found early audiences in France and in Belgium, where they curated the Sonic City Festival in 2012, booking acts as diverse as Swans, Tim Hecker and Demdike Stare. Meanwhile, the last couple of years have seen them tour as far afield as Mexico, Morocco, Beirut, Taiwan and Istanbul – sometimes with friend Radwan Moumneh of the multimedia project Jerusalem In My Heart, with whom they released a brilliant collaborative record, Suuns And Jerusalem In My Heart last year.

                          "We tour a lot as a band and we've been all over the map at this point," says Ben. "There is a concerted effort on our part, when the opportunity arises, to do that. It's like, this time, let's try to go further east, let's try to go further south. You find yourself playing in front of people who don't get bands playing in front of them often, and that can be really fun." In short, good things happen when you venture outside of your comfort zone – a truth that you could equally apply to Hold/Still itself: an album which derives its eerie power from simmering tensions and strange, stark juxtapositions, and in doing so, directs rock music down a new, unventured path.

                          STAFF COMMENTS

                          Barry says: Hold/Still is a chaotic and jagged foray into the recesses of thought. Distorted synth pulses underpinning cracked drums and glitched pads. Hypnotic repeated guitar loops bringing things back to earth before exploding into a rain of percussion and psych-drone chanting. Exhilarating and deep, the appeal of this grows with every listen and it is more than worth the time.

                          Damien Jurado

                          Visions Of Us On The Land

                          Providing the ideal entry point for neophytes and an intoxicating aural high for the faithful, Damien Jurado’s new opus extends the hot streak ignited by 2012s Maraqopa and its 2014 follow-up Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son. Cut once again with label mate and super producer Richard Swift at the latters National Freedom recording facility in rural Oregon, Visions of Us On The Land, out 3/18 on Secretly Canadian, completes the tale of an individual who has had to disappear from society in order to discover some universal truths. Today, we’re excited to share the song “Exit 353,” premiered by NPR Music.

                          There was no grand scheme to make a trilogy at the outset. Exuberantly prolific, its creator simply wanted the first record to be “a quick snapshot,” says Jurado. “Maraqopa is this peaceful place I can go to in my mind. A little bit psychedelic, but youre not using substances. The brain is such a powerful thing. In that uncharted territory I was able to tap in and find this place. Which was called Maraqopa. Similar to the fictional towns in television or books.”

                          Maraqopa the album introduced a character deliberately unnamed, intended to represent anyone feeling that way who stumbles upon the titular locale then gets into a car crash… which only frees him further. Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son. It picked up the narrative after the accident, in a commune inhabited by Silver Timothy, Silver Donna, and Silver Malcolm. Visions of Us On The Land journeys further into the subconscious mind, a symbolic road trip spotlighting the people and towns that our central figure and his travelling companion, Silver Katherine, encounter upon leaving the commune. Hence the capitalized track titles, alluding to real American locations refracted through ones third eye in the rear view mirror. Like all great art, its about life and death and love and freedom. A sonic map with no set destination, revealing more with each ride.

                          STAFF COMMENTS

                          Andy says: I was a massive johnny-come-lately with this guy, whilst my shop customer-friends had been extolling his virtues for years. Well, they were right! This is proper, deep, cavernously produced Americana with a subtle psych twist, and again, just huge, huge songs throughout. There's a lot on here and it is all good. Now for his OTHER ten records!!

                          FORMAT INFORMATION

                          2xLP includes MP3 Download Code.

                          In contrast to its ethereal title, Ben Abraham’s ‘Sirens’ is deeply human. Its songs were written over the artist’s developing years as a writer and the album has become a kind of musical documentary of the loss, longing and growth that carried Abraham from his very first lyric to this, his first album.

                          Abraham first found his voice writing songs whilst working in a hospital. Eight years on, he’s made an album, toured with Emmylou Harris, co-written with Grammy-nominated singer Sarah Barreilles and made ‘Sirens’, his debut album.

                          Originally self-released in Australia, ‘Sirens’ is now receiving a worldwide release via Secretly Canadian.

                          Ben recorded ‘Sirens’ with two local friends, Jono Steer (who was his live mixer) and percussionist Leigh Fisher. A number of other Melbourne musicians joined in on sessions, including Gossling, whose angelic voice can be heard in the opening track. Gotye helped produce the haunting vocals on ‘Speak’, while ‘experimental electronic producer’ Tim Shiel assisted on ‘This Is On Me’.

                          ‘This Is On Me’, co-written / sung with platinum-selling artist Sara Bareilles, has its own story. After Abraham posted a song (‘To Sara, From Ben’) on YouTube, Bareilles’ fans began to tweet the video and it grabbed her attention. When she played Melbourne in 2011, she invited Abraham up on stage to co-sing a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s ‘I’m On Fire’ and an original co-write was subsequently born.

                          Miami by way of Fayetteville and Little Rock, Steven A Clark’s raw, confessional singing and personal stories pair with pulsing synthesizers and rhythms that hang in the air like a glowing grid of roadside neon. It’s a means for the soft-spoken artist to process all the drama in his head. 

                          On songs such as ‘Not You’, he flips a brutally honest breakup tale and draws emotions and empathy from being on the ‘right’ side of the conversation. 

                          The title track uses a slinky, sensual beat to create a perfect backdrop to tell the story of a weekend-long tryst in Vegas. For a man of few words, his unadorned and uncomplicated lyrics hit home. 

                          “… a heroic underdog of the specific, delivering diarylike lyrics detailed enough to provide a loaded portrait of a young man in transition.” - SPIN

                          FORMAT INFORMATION

                          Indies Exclusive LP Info: Indies exclusive blue vinyl edition.

                          Indies Exclusive LP includes MP3 Download Code.

                          Tomas Barfod’s first album, ‘Salton Sea’, was one of the most lauded electronic debuts, with Pitchfork, Dazed and GvsB giving it accolades. Now he releases his second album, ‘Love Me’, his debut for Secretly Canadian.

                          Featuring guest vocals from Luke Temple, Sleep Party People, Night Beds and a stunning collaboration on a number of songs with Swedish singer Nina K, the album is gaining plaudits internationally.

                          ‘Love Me’ straddles the divide between songwriting, electronic dance and out and out pop music perfectly. The soundtrack to your Summer.

                          Tomas Barfod Feat. Gruff Rhys

                          True To You / Happy

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

                            A brand new exclusive track - ‘True To You’, featuring Gruff Rhys, recorded during the sessions for Tomas Barfod’s upcoming album on Secretly Canadian.

                            This track is exclusive to this 7” and will not be available for download.

                            The B-side features the track ‘Happy’, featuring Eddie Chacon of Charles & Eddie fame and is the only version available physically.

                            Limited to 200 copies for the UK and Ireland.

                            Lost In The Dream is the third album by Philadelphia band The War On Drugs, but in many ways, it feels like the first. Around the release of the 2011 breakthrough Slave Ambient, Adam Granduciel spent the bulk of two years on the road, touring through progressively larger rock clubs, festival stages and late-night television slots. As these dozen songs shifted and grew beyond what they'd been in the studio, The War on Drugs became a bona fide rock 'n' roll band.

                            That essence drives Lost In The Dream, a 10-song set produced by Granduciel and longtime engineer Jeff Zeigler. In the past, Granduciel built the core of songs largely by himself. But these tunes were played and recorded by the group that had solidified so much on the road: Dave Hartley, (his favorite bassist in the world), who had played a bit on The War on Drugs' 2008 debut Wagonwheel Blues, and pianist Robbie Bennett, a multi-instrumentalist who contributed to Slave Ambient. This unit spent eight months bouncing between a half-dozen different studios that stretched from the mountains of North Carolina to the boroughs of New York City. Only then did Granduciel--the proudly self-professed gearhead, and unrepentant perfectionist--add and subtract, invite guests and retrofit pieces. He sculpted these songs into a musical rescue mission, through and then beyond personal despair and anxiety. Lost In The Dream represents the trials of the trip and the triumphs of its destination.

                            "I wanted there to be a singular voice, but I wanted it to be a project of great friends. Everyone in the band cares about it so much," he says. "That is the crux of it--growing up, dealing with life, having close friends, helping each other get by. That is what the record's all about."

                            As such, these tunes reveal a careful and thrilling reinvention of the sound that's become The War on Drugs' trademark. The signature meld of long tones and scattershot layers still stands, with phantom drum machines and organ lines dotting the musical middle distance all across Lost In The Dream. Note the way the keys whisper against the guitar's growl as the tempestuous "An Ocean in Between the Waves" approaches pentecostal heat. Hear how, when a sharp and hard riff cuts into the inescapable chorus of "Red Eyes," synthetic strings and baritone saxophone shape a soft, infinite bed beneath it.

                            But there's a newfound directness to these tunes, too. Granduciel's voice steps out from behind its typical web of effects--louder now, with more experiences to share and more steel from having survived them. He sounds less like a prismatic reflection of a rock bandleader, more like the emboldened actualization of that idea. With its crisp, unencumbered delivery, "Eyes to the Wind" becomes the album's centerpiece and the group's new anthem. This is Granduciel's to-date triumph and the exact moment where Lost In The Dream moves from a tale of confusion to one of resolve. Throughout most of the record, grips loosen and senses fail, memories are mourned and expectations are abandoned. But after the Rolling Thunder lift of "Eyes to the Wind," Granduciel finds new contentment and direction. Anguish sublimates into deliverance. Backed by his bros, Granduciel becomes a preacher in a new pulpit.

                            STAFF COMMENTS

                            Sil says: This one polarised the shop a bit. Hesitant in the beginning, it ended up growing on me and I consider it now an outstanding album and one that I keep coming back to. Easy to like with its references to Bruce Springteen, Tom Petty or Bob Dylan, it is an album that is not risky. It is not groundbreaking but it is pleasant and gentle. As Andy wrote long ago now... 'There is a mellow weightlessness to the sound which contrasts beautifully with the driving heart of the songs. They're sad songs, but never sorry for themselves. This is cathartic, redemptive, expansive music, still in love with life and in awe of the possibilities.' So there it is, if you do not have it, get it.

                            The singer / songwriter of Here We Go Magic releases his new solo album. In 2008, Luke Temple made what would become the first Here We Go Magic album, forming the band and releasing the self-titled debut in 2009. Since Here We Go Magic’s 2012 release, ‘A Different Ship’, Luke has returned to his original solo ideas.

                            ‘Good Mood Fool’ is an extension of the first self titled Here We Go Magic record. It was recorded with the same sense of freedom and joy. The meat of the record finds Luke taking a sharp turn in order to keep himself interested.

                            First single ‘Katie’ is a prime slice of mid 80s intelligent pop, almost ‘So’-era Peter Gabriel in its rhythms and sound. Meanwhile, ‘Florida’ is a blue eyed soul hit, a lazy sunny evening of summer beauty.

                            ‘Good Mood Fool’ draws from myriad influences, from the hushed soulful wail of Curtis Mayfield to the dense harmonies of Gill Evans and the Bulgarian Women’s Choir. It is meant to be clear in production and in content, hiding nothing.

                            Dungeonesse, the pop project of Jenn Wasner (Wye Oak, Flock Of Dimes) and Jon Ehrens (White Life), release their self-titled debut album on Secretly Canadian.

                            Born of a mutual admiration for Top 40 and R&B and the mechanics of what makes a hit song, the Baltimore natives and longtime friends Wasner and Ehrens began putting jams together remotely. Ehrens would send tracks from LA to Wasner on tour, and they’d bounce ideas back and forth.

                            The charming strength of the resulting Dungeonesse rests in the dichotomy formed by of a bold re-introduction of the beautiful imperfections of the human voice into a landscape of what is an increasingly mechanized process of music making. The fun resides in the listen.

                            Jens Lekman

                            I Know What Love Isn't / That's The Way Love Is

                            Special edition 7” from Jens Lekman, featuring the title track of his new album, ‘I Know What Love Isn’t’, plus an exclusive B-side cover of Ten City’s ‘That’s TheWay Love Is’.

                            “Alongside IKEA, ABBA, and those special meatballs, Jens Lekman may be one of Sweden's finest exports” - Entertainment Weekly

                            “His swoon may echo the drama of Stephin Merritt and Morrissey, but it’s his so-twee- it-hurts delivery that’ll make you feel like you’re at a roadside bingo hall in rural Scandinavia, waiting for someone to holler “B8!”” - SPIN

                            “The latest release from the Swedish singersongwriter is an often-gorgeous album of wellcrafted indie-pop, combining lovelorn lyrics, sophisticated arrangements and a few well-chosen samples with swoon-worthy melodies” - KEXP

                            Montreal’s Suuns spent the winter and spring of 2012 writing and recording ‘Images Du Futur’. Their sessions were concurrent with the Quebec student protests that started in February of 2012 and continued through September of this year. Set against a backdrop lead singer Ben Shemie calls “a climate of excitement, hope and frustration,” Suuns aimed for an expansion of the musical ideas on their critically acclaimed first record, ‘Zeroes, QC’.

                            ‘Images Du Futur’ builds upon the intensity of their debut, but often does so through new textures and subtler dynamic manoeuvring. Album standout ‘Edie’s Dream’ begins with a single bassline repeated from which layers build and rise - first drums, then a wash of white noise; echoes of guitar, then chanted vocals. The song’s clever shifts are jazz-touched and delicate, almost subliminal. It all makes for a stark, skeletal boogie - more an astral projection than a song. ‘Edie’s Dream’ exemplifies the restraint of which Suuns is capable and works to make the unhinged moments all the more devastating.

                            Lauded by Pitchfork and NME - the former saying “few bands this young are operating on quite this scale, and fewer still have the brass - and the patience - to pull off a big, glitzy, complex record like ‘Zeroes, QC’”, and the latter declaring them 2011’s Best New Band - Suuns have deepened their approach, using minimalist techniques to create maximalist works.

                            Produced once again by Jace Lasek from Besnard Lakes. Shemie says of the process, “As a band we were trying to look at our music from further and further away, seeing more details in the picture as we expanded the landscape.”

                            STAFF COMMENTS

                            Darryl says: The sophomore release from Suuns builds on their excellent debut with a restrained and minimal intensity that threatens to boil over with washes of unhinged noise, but rarely does. A brooding classic!

                            Nightlands is the solo project of The War On Drugs’ bassist and multi-instrumentalist Dave Hartley, and ‘Oak Island’ is the follow-up to his 2010 Secretly Canadian debut ‘Forget The Mantra’.

                            Each distorted, silver-voiced melody is wrapped in the sounds of 70s AM gold - plucked acoustic guitars, trumpets, dulcimers and hand percussion. In using these pop touchstones, the songs become something close to memories, the faded feelings that tide in and out of you when conjuring the past.

                            Harley is a major player and sideman in Philadelphia’s Fishtown scene that has produced The War On Drugs, Kurt Vile, Purling Hiss.

                            This single (single no. 4) features two new songs from the Gothenburg duo.

                            “Even when smoked out or slowed down, [the band] still teems with energy and both Kastlander and Benon, chameleons that they are, blend into snippets of song just as well as they shift gears between genres” - Pitchfork

                            In 2009 Suuns entered Breakglass Studios with Jace Lasek of The Besnard Lakes co-producing. They wanted to create something that couldn't be pigeonholed as simply indie rock. The resulting ‘Zeroes QC’ is a propulsive collusion between pop, post-punk and experimental rock - one that allows the group to musically shapeshift without losing any of the sense of tension and unease that runs throughout the record.

                            Suuns possess a rare trait in rock music: restraint. It’s apparent in album opener "Armed For Peace", which starts like a robot breaking down in a desert. The song's mechanic beat plods like ironshoed footsteps as the melody of a wheezing synth mirrors the crackling sound of old transistors and circuitry being cooked in the sun.

                            '...difficult to dislodge from the stereo […] Metronomy gone Radio 4 via dark Franz' - NME.

                            'Few bands this young are operating on quite this scale, and fewer still have the brass – and the patience – to pull off a big, glitzy, complex record like "Zeroes QC" - Pitchfork.

                            In Summer of 2009, Gothenburg, Sweden’s jj quietly released one of the year's most critically acclaimed albums. This album, "JJ Nº 2", was the group’s debut full-length ("JJ Nº 1" was their first single).

                            jj create pop, R&B and Balearic dub from the ghosts of lost lovers. Their music is both carefree without carelessness, and self-aware without being self-conscious. With it, they build an ice bridge arching from Gothenburg into the heart of the UK music world, and everywhere in between.

                            'A gorgeous ode to chemically-assisted euphoria, or an effective, shimmering simulation for those who keep their intoxications on the legal side' - Pitchfork.

                            "Saint Bartlett" opens up with a grandiosity yet unheard on a Damien Jurado album. It strips away the many layers of paint from the house down the street where we know Jurado has occupied for the last decade. The new coat is exhilarating. It makes the whole neighbourhood shine. It's a modest grandiosity; still homegrown. The mellotron swells, heavenly handclaps ring in stereo and big drums create a sky for the songs to fly in. And the words. Words spring forth from within the volcano of Jurado, full of hope. There's so much hope, in fact, that album opener "Cloudy Shoes" turns into a call-and-response with himself, as though it were a dialogue between two halves of himself.

                            'I wish that I could float up from the ground / I will never know what that's like'

                            Heavy stuff. Richard Swift's Spector-esque production is spot-on. He ferries Jurado across the river, where the metamorphosis occurs. He then ferries him back, and it is through Swift's lens that we see Jurado not as a folk singer, but as a mystic - somewhere between Van Morrison, Scott Walker and Wayne Coyne. "Saint Bartlett" was made entirely at Swift's National Freedom studio in Oregon, in just under a week with only Jurado and Swift as the performers.

                            The Early Day Miners new album, "The Treatment", speaks to the powers of reinvention in more than one way. After years of building gorgeous and sprawling guitar rock epics, Early Day Miners have trimmed their sound into shorter, tighter songs with a decidedly pop edge to them. They have also slimmed their line up down from as many as eight members to the lean four-piece outfit of Dan Burton (guitar, vocals, keys), John Dawson (guitar), Marty Sprowles (drums) and Johnny 'Yuma' Richardson (bass). Even in the album's lyrics, the yearning allure of reinvention is ever present.

                            BLK JKS (pronounced Black Jacks) pretty much defy categorisation. With a wrecking crew rhythm section and debonair vocals, BLK JKS bring a spirit of no-holds-barred freeform expression and mix'n'match eclecticism to their extraordinary music. Hailing from Johannesburg, they were discovered and brought to New York by super-producer Diplo and have already appeared on the cover of America's prestigious Fader magazine. They have been described variously as the city's 'first trendy rock'n'roll export', 'the sound of a new South Africa' and 'an example of the post-apartheid nation's new cultural momentum and boundary-breaking sensibility'. BLK JKS shoot an African music sensibility through the tenets of rock. On the one hand it is easy to politicize BLK JKS; here is a band that is instantly young, black and fly even as they reclaim styles that have been stolen, watered down, and regurgitated for generations. And yet to get caught up in anything but their sound is to sell this phenomenon short, because as musicians - as artists - BLK JKS simply cook. The band's fresh, forward rhythm, layered harmony and elliptical guitar vernacular reveal the urban Zulu blues of mbaqanga that is the center of BLK JKS songwriting.

                            Originally the one-man project of multifaceted musician and songwriter Scott Reitherman, Throw Me The Statue (TMTS) has since expanded to a quartet with drummer Jarred Grimes, and multi-instrumentalists Aaron Goldman and Charlie Smith. This album is produced by TMTS and Phil Ek (The Shins, Built To Spill, Band Of Horses), and while the band retains much of the lo-fi bliss found on their critically acclaimed debut "Moonbeams", Phil Ek's mixing of "Creaturesque" brings the band's maximalist pop sensibilities to new heights. Perhaps more sonically upbeat than its predecessor, its details are at times painted in both optimistic and sobering tones. Reitherman's scattershot poetics touch on an array of ideas, it's oppressive American machisimo and suburbanite sexuality. It's soft drugs and convertible cars. It's the struggle for higher expectations within the mess of modern life, and when wrapped up in the structures of TMTS' sure-handed tunes it's an all too delicious combination.

                            About halfway through Magnolia Electric Co.'s latest long player, "Josephine", there is a noticeable shift in weight. It's a release of some sort - the kind that comes when you give up holding back the tears. It's a heavy kind of freedom coming to the forefront, an empowering sadness. And when chief Electrician Jason Molina delivers the line 'an hour glass... filled with tears and twilight from a friend's dying day', the mood becomes clear. The band is back on its heels, yes, but they are going to fight back in the only way they know how. Molina's concept album is an honest-to-God effort on the part of Magnolia Electric Co. to pay tribute to the life and spirit of fallen bassist Evan Farrell (R.I.P. December 2007), as the ideas for "Josephine" were being pieced together. Molina said each tune is a good faith attempt to make real Evan's hopes for the record. And in doing so, Evan's spirit becomes part of the concept. The loss of "Josephine" becomes the loss of Evan. Molina's familiar lyrical allegories are still in tact. But here, in what is no doubt the strongest set of songs Molina has written since the inception of Magnolia Electric Co., those classic themes take on new meanings. Molina has approached the universal loneliness before, but never in such a focused, directed manner as found on "Josephine". Molina, Magnolia Electric Co. and legendary recording engineer Steve Albini have put it all to heart. Evan Farrell, Jason Molina and the band are on different journeys now - but maybe somehow, somewhere parallel. This is heartbreak at ten paces, to be sure.

                            Throw Me The Statue

                            Purpleface

                            "Purpleface" is the new EP from Seattle band Throw Me The Statue (TMTS). The four piece, led by founder / frontman Scott Reitherman, has spent the majority of 2008 touring the US and Europe supporting its critically acclaimed debut, "Moonbeams". While on the road, TMTS has explored the depths of its sound, recreating its playful mystique, and emerging as a proficient and an even more engaging live act. "Purpleface" is the direct result of this time, albeit showing a bit of a softer side than its predecessor. It features three brand new songs – "Ship", "Honey Bee", "That's How You Win" - and a reworking of the Moonbeams cut, "Written In Heart Signs, Faintly". The EP's standout track, "Ship", is an understated yet inventive gem that offers the listener yet another glimpse of Reitherman's prowess and range as a songwriter.

                            Richard Swift is one of the most critically acclaimed artists of the last few years. On this new double album he turns his hand to a completely different genre and mood: a 20 song exploration into Richard Swift's alter ego; delivering acid garage rock classics. This was recorded on down time between tours – a chance for Richard to delve into his hugely varied musical collection. Drawing on Link Wray, Howlin' Wolf, Little Richard and others, this is an album drenched in classic reverb and knee-high boogie blues.

                            Bodies Of Water

                            Ears Will Pop & Eyes Will Blink

                            Brace yourself for ebullient group singing, melodic invention, thundering polyrhythms and sublime dramatic tension. Bodies Of Water draw from mixtures of traditions - the transcendent intensity of gospel, the brutish gusto of punk, earnest idiosyncrasy of American folk, sonic inclusiveness of tropicalia, planned jamming of prog, and the sincere bombast of musical theatre.

                            I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness

                            I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness

                            Produced by Britt Daniel of Spoon in summer 2003, I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness' eponymous debut perfectly captures the band's strong pop-sensibility also found on their debut longplayer "Fear Is On Our Side" from earlier this year. Included among the EP's five tracks is the live favourite and venerable set closer "Your Worst Is The Best" which features duelling vocals over a chiming Rhodes and epic guitar lines.

                            The Impossible Shapes from Indiana have electrically projected what stands as a direct and feverish summoning on the late 60s sugar-sandoz-lick of the pop-folk format. Formed in 1998 The Impossible Shapes have kept a profoundly articulate sense of classic song / dream structure whether they are billowing in drenched multi-tacked gauze like Indianapolis forefathers Zerfas or snarled in amp-buzz annihilation of power-quartet stage performances. On the flip, Barth can pixie dance from guitar play / vocal slay in a quaint yet sexually sly role of piper against Deer's counterpoint-heavy arrangements of tape-spliced antics. Like meat-pulp quicksand, they pull you deep in. "Tum" is buoyed by these three streams from the opening Bram Martin-like invocation through the scratch orchestral vision of "Twisted Sol Epoch" toward the shimmering gallop heavy "Florida Silver Springs".

                            An intentional homage to the world of horror literature and film, "Night Mute" is Ativin's ten song exploration into the themes of death, hopelessness, and fear. On it, the band has created a concise and harrowing sonic vision rooted in their trademark foundation of dirge and repetition of the guitar/guitar/drums, relishing in the deconstruction of their own music. Echoes of Durutti Column, Unsane, Tones On Tail, Keiji Haino, and Organum can be heard throughout.

                            The Impossible Shapes

                            We Like It Wild

                            For "We Like It Wild", their fourth proper full-length, the band ventured to the wooded Indiana hills of Monroe County. With alternating lead guitars, the band recalls the urban paranoia of Television and the forlorn southern gothic of Derek & The Dominoes with Barth's fey Donovan-esque voice sounding as though it's coming from across the Atlantic. All the while they maintain the urgent bounce of early REM.

                            Early Day Miners

                            Jefferson At Rest

                            A collection of succinctly structured songs, recorded at frontman Dan Burton's Grotto Home Studios. Hushed vocals over beautiful soundscapes, reminiscent of classic 4AD releases.

                            Danielson Famile

                            Tri-Danielson !!! (Omega)

                            Deeply rooted in American folk and gospel music, the Famile offers a twisted hybrid of early Talking Heads, Carter Family, Half Japanese and the Shaggs.

                            Danielson Famile

                            A Prayer For Every Hour

                            Reissue of the debut album from these New Jersey oddballs. Deeply rooted in American folk and gospel music, the Famile offers a twisted hybrid of early Talking Heads, Carter Family, Half Japanese and the Shaggs.

                            Racebannon

                            Satan's Kickin Yr Dick In

                            Racebannon craft a sordid tale of woe, depression, excitement, accolade, fear, rise, fall, alpha and omega through a five part aural aria of the pleasures and pain of the rock'n'roll lifestyle. Tracks often go from a funeral dirge to defiant and pompous to a spaced out overdose. One for fans of The Melvins, Icarus Line and Jesus Lizard.

                            Swearing At Motorists

                            Along The Inclined Plane

                            Fantastic mellow mini album from this band who've been compared with Buffalo Springfield through to Richard Hell, Alex Chilton and The Replacements.


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