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Strand Of Oaks

Miracle Focus

    Hello! Tim here. My band is called Strand of Oaks. This is my eighth record and it’s called Miracle Focus.

    I spent over three years building Miracle Focus. In the midst of writing, I became a painter and spent two seasons acting on a television show (Mayans MC). The dichotomy of painting for days in my garage and then flying out to LA to play a villainous biker on TV was one of the most thrilling experiences of my life.

    The idea of Miracle Focus was born out of one simple concept: to make people feel good. Throw in a healthy mix of Ram Dass, yoga, Freddie Mercury, Alice Coltrane, and Beastie Boys, plus over a year of writing and building the extremely dense architecture of the songs, and Miracle Focus was born. The result is FUN, wild, rhythmic music filled with synth layering and mantra-like lyrics intended to uplift and hopefully bring some light to whoever listens.

    In many ways, this record is a love letter to bliss. Through meditation, I found a way to connect with something greater, a positive force that allowed me to write music as a manual towards a more love-focused life. And the miracles I refer to aren’t asking the universe for anything; it’s just acknowledging and celebrating this complex beautiful moment that we all get to share. It will be gone, it will re-emerge as something new, that will be gone, repeat....repeat... repeat…this eternal cycle. My most sincere hope is that whoever listens might through sonic osmosis experience a similar joy.

    Sending peace and love. Thank you for your time. Tim.


    More You
    Future Temple
    Party At Monster Lake
    Switched On
    Ascend You
    Fantasy Wranglers
    Miracle Focus 

    Jonathan Rado

    For Who The Bell Tolls For

      R.I.Y.L. The Lemon Twigs, Foxygen, Richard Swift.
      Jonathan Rado was 1/2 of the Jagjaguwar duo Foxygen.

      One of the most in-demand producers in indie rock, and one half of Foxygen, Jonathan Rado’s recordings for The Killers, Father John Misty, The Lemon Twigs, Whitney, and Weyes Blood devour the canon, and return something distinctly modern. On For Who The Bell Tolls For, Rado’s first solo release in ten years, the producer unveils a refined version of his signature sound, intricately sculpted by anthemic maximalism and good old-fashioned studio magic.

      The album is an exercise in mournful maximalism, transforming the mythos of American pop music into a vibrant meditation on death. The spirit of late producer Richard Swift Rado’s friend and mentor can be found across the collection, imbuing tracks like “Easier” with a tangible sense of loss, and Swift-ian turns of phrase. On other songs, such as the addictive “Don’t Wait Too Long,” Rado paints an arena-ready production with streaks of longing and hopelessness. In many ways, For Who The Bell Tolls For is a musical ode to Swift, nodding to the late producer’s legacy with homespun epics that straddle the line between joy and grief.

      Recorded at Electric Lady Studios, New York and Sonora Recorders and Dreamstar II, Los Angeles, the album features appearances by Rado's frequent collaborators, including The Lemon Twigs, Brad Oberhofer, Andrew Sarlo, Jackie Cohen, and Kane Ritchotte. Despite this esteemed lineup and the gargantuan sound of the record, For Who The Bell Tolls For is a solo album at heart. Rado plays the studio like an instrument, his distinct voice present in every nook and cranny of the structure. This presence can be easily detected in every project that the artist touches, but it’s never sounded so honest, so shimmering, or so Rado as it does here.


      1. For Who The Bell Tolls For
      2. Don’t Wait Too Long
      3. Easier
      4. Blue Moon
      5. Farther Away
      6. Walk Away
      7. Yer Funeral


      A Flor De Piel

        R.I.Y.L. Fever Ray, Juana Molina, Oneohtrix Point Never, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, Cocteau Twins. A Flor de Piel, the new album from singer-songwriter and composer Maria Monica Gutierrez (aka Montañera), is a meditative journey of self-discovery across oceans, time, and the traditional confines of genre. Originally from Bogota, Colombia, Gutierrez began the album as a way to explore her identity after a difficult move to London left her feeling untethered in a strange new place. The result is an examination of the immigrant’s experience through a rich sonic lens of ambient pop textures, inspired by sources as disparate as Colombian traditional music, traditional Senegalese music, and whalesong from the depths of the Atlantic.

        The album begins with the title track “A Flor de Piel,” Gutierrez’s indelible vocals floating above a vast expanse before being joined by deep, silky bass and the plucks of a koto-like stringed instrument. “The song was inspired by traditional Japanese music,” Gutierrez explains, “It’s about making my heart a little lighter; I know that inside of me I can be as light as mist in heat, I can be fragile as the song of a sparrow.” That sentiment perfectly encapsulates much of what makes A Flor de Piel so special. The album comes with a message of healing for all people, without forgetting the centuries of struggle and hurt that form the bedrock of modern society. The track “Santa Mar,” for instance, is inspired by the musical traditions of afro-pacific women in Colombia, and the crucial role that they play as peacebuilders in the region. Backed by a hypnotic beat, the song features contributions from marimba player Cankita, alongside Las Cantadoras de Yerba Buena, an all-female vocal group that utilizes traditional Afro-Colombian music to preserve their history and promote peace. Standout track “Como Una Rama” is a futuristic take on bullerengue, a traditional style of music and dance originally developed by Maroon communities on Colombia’s Caribbean coast. Deeply affecting, the song combines Gutierrez’s indomitable voice with electronics that recall Steve Reich's rhythmic minimalism. “Cruzar,” the final track on the album, feels almost like a lullaby, with a meditative harmonic style and trance-like vocal melody. “The lyrics,” Gutierrez explains, “are a personal reminder of what is important to me: healing, letting go, breathing, evaporating, forgetting, changing, crystallizing.”

        Across the 40-odd minutes of A Flor de Piel, Gutierrez triumphs at recontextualizing traditional sounds and sentiments into a modern form using synth-based and electronic textures. It’s a fitting representation for the personal struggles that the artist endured during her move to London. Rather than dwelling solely on the past Guitierrez uses A Flor de Piel to summon the strength of past generations, and forge a new path forward. As she describes it, “The album has accompanied me through inner journeys of finding myself in a new territory of redefining myself, of remembering who I am in a strange place.” As we drift towards an increasingly frightening and uncertain future, perhaps Montañera’s A Flor de Piel is exactly what we need: something to give us strength, to bring us peace, and to accompany our journey into a strange new place. 


        A Flor De Piel
        Santa Mar
        Tú - El Borde De Mi Arista
        Como Una Ram
        Me Suelto Al Riesgo
        Un Día Voy A Ser Maripos

        Art Feynman

        Be Good The Crazy Boys

          Until now, Art Feynman the eccentric alter ego of accomplished producer Luke Temple has strictly been a solo act, a way for the artist to explore surprising sonic landscapes without the burdens of identity. Slightly twisted takes on Kosmische musik, worldbeat, and art pop can all be found scattered across the Art Feynman discography, but with his new album Be Good The Crazy Boys, Feynman fully immerses himself into pools of collective madness.

          Unlike his first two albums, Crazy Boys was recorded live in the studio with a full band, a first for Feynman, capturing a spirit of restless anxiety that recalls the most frenetic work by Talking Heads, or Oingo Boingo at their darkest. Despite these callbacks, the collection remains firmly rooted in modern concerns, with songs about fearing the end of the world and struggling with FOMO narratives that would be relatable if they didn’t sound so completely unhinged.

          With Be Good The Crazy Boys, Art Feynman proves to be more than just a character. He represents the part of the modern collective consciousness that’s struggling to maintain balance in a toxic, chaotic world. In less skilled hands, that concept could result in a very somber listen. Fortunately, when Art Feynman gets his hands on the chaos of the modern age, it simply makes you want to dance.


          01. Early Signs Of Rhythm
          02. In CD
          03. Therapy At 3pm
          04. All I Can Do
          05. He Dances Light
          06. Passed Over
          07. Chasing My Life
          08. Desperately Free
          09. I Do

          Christopher Tignor

          The Art Of Surrender

            The Art of Surrender marks a return to life, sown from primal impulses and hard-won emotional truths. Unrestrained melodic rapture soars above a relentless kick drum, speaking a need to move, to dance, to love. The music is as ambitious as its origins are personal. Tignor plays with scale, crafting multi-movement epics alongside one-minute miniatures. The smallest, most fragile violin gestures, where the finger barely touches the string to extract natural harmonics exist side by side with angular, exotic melodies, asymmetric rhythms, and rapid-fire string crossings.

            On this LP, Tignor digs even more deeply into the violin and its technicolor reimaginings under his electroacoustic treatments. Christopher Tignor is a composer, violinist, lecturer, and software engineer. His emotionally charged scores and unique focus on live, performance-based electroacoustic practice has won acclaim within both the classical and experimental communities across 10 LPs on the Western Vinyl and New Albion record labels. He creates the live performance software he uses, shared freely.

            As a composer he has written and recorded work for ensembles including The Knights, A Far Cry string orchestra, and Brooklyn Rider string quartet, performing alongside them at premiere venues including Carnegie's Zankel Hall. As a string arranger he has worked with Helios, Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, John Congleton, This Will Destroy You, Meshell Ndegeocello, and several other artists at the boundaries of popular music. This music breathes, swoons and swoops elegiacally, in the same way a crack symphony might on a good night.

            TRACK LISTING

            01 Any Way To Reach You
            02 Ritual Of A Thousand Limbs
            03 O­-Centered Hearts
            04 Forms In A Flame
            05 She Comes In Waves
            06 Would That I Could 

            Stephen Steinbrink

            Disappearing Coin

              For Fans Of: Elliott Smith, Fleet Foxes, Grizzly Bear, Sufjan Stevens.

              In 2019, Stephen Steinbrink discovered a short YouTube video of a street magician who approaches a highschooler walking home in Barstow, California. “Here, let me show you my idea,” he says, as he places a quarter on the kid’s hand. The magician performs some relaxed flourishes, and the coin vanishes. In silence, the kid stares at his hand at the nothing where there once, indisputably, was something, until his wonder finds a single word: “Cool.” The title of Disappearing Coin, the new album from Oakland songwriter Stephen Steinbrink, comes from this short clip. “When I look at it now,” he says, “I relate to the kid, who’s obviously uneasy in his body, and going through the experience of being a teenager in the early 2000s growing up in a bleak desert town like I did. I also relate to the coin, an inanimate disc of possibility. And I relate to the magician, an absurd facilitator of sending what is tactile and concrete into the wispy conceptual realm.” “I’ve watched it probably a hundred times,” he says. “It cracked me up but also blew my mind open the feeling of wonder I experienced watching this video became a guide as I navigated new ways of staying in the realm of what’s both real and magical.”

              Following the 2018 release of Utopia Teased, Steinbrink completed an apprenticeship in the nearly-lost art of Stained Glass, becoming a glazier at a studio that over three years, fully restored the enormous 90-year-old windows in San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral. He committed to his Buddhist study, beginning lay monastic training before the process was thwarted by the pandemic. He dove deeper into music production for other artists, engineering two albums by Boy Scouts released on Anti- Records in 2018 and 2021. Steinbrink delighted in the way these pursuits pulled at the thread of ego’s tapestry and decentralized him from his craft, allow ing him to embody a new role as a creative caretaker engaging in practices that felt communal and restorative.

              “As I slowly began writing for myself again, I tried to imbue my new songs with this sense of playfulness and wonder I felt while exploring these other interests.” He says. Feeling unlocked from the pressures of perfection that he often felt in his earlier work, creating Disappearing Coin felt buoyant and healing. “The album feels like an integration of all of my past musical selves zeroing in on the present,” Steinbrink explains, “I felt free to explore new ways of writing, through different perspectives, experimenting with fictional songwriting, visual archetypal language, and total collaboration.” This “total collaboration” was a joyous new venture after years of solo performing and recording.

              The album can be seen as a 42 minute session of show and tell, the manifestation of Steinbrink repeating the mantra of “Here, let me show you my idea” to himself over and over. Disappearing Coin is at once a welcome return for the veteran Steinbrink and the debut of a totally new artist, one who has found a new path to himself with new goals of openness, curiosity, and self-acceptance.

              “Recalls the magic pop purity of Arthur Russell...its minimalism manages to feel enlightened and transformative.” PITCHFORK.

              “Melodic and self-assured. Steinbrink delivers his knotted lyricism with a smooth lilt. STEREOGUM.

              TRACK LISTING

              01 Opalescent Ribbon
              02 If There's Love In Your Heart
              03 Cruiser
              04 Nowhere Real
              05 Pony
              06 Glitch Eternity
              07 Step's Disappearing Coin
              08 Cruiser (Reprise)
              09 Cool And Collected
              10 Comedy
              11 Who Cares
              12 Poured Back In The Stream
              13 Addicted To A Dream
              14 Nowhere Real (Reprise)


              Spirit In The Room

                On their sophomore album Spirit in the Room, Activity is haunted by technology, the loss of loved ones, capitalism, and humanity's relentless death march towards environmental destruction. Produced by Psychic TV's Jeff Berner, the album is an emotional seance held through an unearthly haze of menacing trip hop, ambient electronica, and synth-based noise rock.

                A sense of longing and hopelessness in the face of monumental loss comes through almost instantly on opening track "Department of Blood," in which lead vocalist Travis Johnson sardonically indicts both neoliberalism and "whatever the lord is," beneath a grim collage of processed electronics and a sinister drum machine beat. The David Berman-inspired "Heaven Chords, was written shortly after the iconic songwriter's death, and atmospheric track "Where the Art is Hung," is a haunting lament over the omnipresence of technology and surveillance in the modern world.

                Spirit in the Room is no lighthearted journey, but the band's playfulness and obvious natural chemistry keeps the collection from being burdened by its own solemnity. "Unlike the first album, where we'd barely played live before we recorded, we got to take some of the less electronic songs out on the road in the fall of 2021," Johnson explains. "Some tracks had been incubating for over a year in our rehearsals. We could feel them change and open up in a live setting, so when we got back home, we went back to the drawing board on a lot of them. Some got scrapped altogether and we haven't played them since. You get an idea in your head of what it is, but it's something else when you're trying to hold other people's attention. Every part needed to feel earned or necessary." On the one hand, Spirit in the Room is a harrowing journey through a Bosch-like landscape of illness, global capital, and human-caused destruction. On the other hand, it's a room full of friends who are simply trying to make it through the day and process this world we've created. When asked why this album needed to be made, Johnson put it best: "None of us can stand to not make music is all, really." 

                TRACK LISTING

                01 Department Of Blood
                02 Heaven Chords
                03 Careful Lets Sleepwalk
                04 Where The Art Is Hung
                05 Cloud Come Here
                06 Ect Frag
                07 Icing
                08 I Like What You Like
                09 Sophia
                10 I Saw His Eyes
                11 Susan Medical City

                Lightning Dust

                Nostalgia Killer

                  In 2019, Lightning Dust broke up. Not the band, but Amber Webber and Joshua Wells the couple at the core of it ended their longtime relationship. In the wake of the split, the two musicians realized that Lightning Dust was still important to them and decided to stay together as an artistic partnership. The experience made them think about nostalgia as a concept and how this sort of longing for the past can be destructive, cancerous, useless. Webber and Wells reconvened virtually in mid-2020 to work together again as creative comrades, sharing some new ideas by correspondence, stitching together their song fragments into the dramatic arrangements now heard across Lightning Dust’s forthcoming new album, Nostalgia Killer.

                  The album title couldn’t set a more perfect expectation for what the album holds.

                  Hearing those words together, one might anticipate something harder, more chilly and severe. But what happens is quite the opposite: listeners find themselves wandering into someplace warm, guided by familiar sounds and voices.

                  Little do they know they’ll soon be flung into a climate unknown. Throw away the old coat–these songs signal a new season. This is a winding and moving album. Sensual, confessional, and free of fences. Each song builds with inexorable force, often pulling back to a whisper before washing over the listener completely. With their wealth of new imagery and the most incandescent flights, Lightning Dust sweeps you away from wherever you happen to be.

                  Across Nostalgia Killer, Lighting Dust introduces a sound that feels vaguely familiar while forming a mythology all of their own. Although this exact work may not have been created if it wasn’t for the duo’s separation, it would be wrong to simply call it a break-up album. The songs here don’t merely travel that well-trod landscape, they reinvent the scene altogether; after all, sometimes love needs reinventing. Nostalgia Killer is about something that affects us all, which is how we make sense of the world and each other over time and across borders. And far out as always, Lightning Dust is reinvented here magnificently.

                  Heather Woods Broderick


                    Heather was Sharon Van Etten’s longtime collaborator and former band member.On Labyrinth, Heather Woods Broderick serves as our reflective host, subverting expectations of conventional songcraft with impressionistic language and quietly relentless explorations of the human experience that’s at once light and dark, more circular and less linear. “Many of us yearn for stillness and peace, as an escape from the movement all around us,” she explains when asked about the themes of the album. “Yet movement is perpetual, happening all the time on some level. It’s as wild as the wind, yet eternally predictable in its inevitability. It is linear in part, but infinite in its circuitry. Our lives just punctuate it.”

                    Broderick began crafting Labyrinth in March 2020, when most forms of movement were brought to a creeching halt. The Maine-born, Los Angeles-based songwriter who, in addition to her work as a solo musician, built a life playing and touring with acts such as Sharon Van Etten, Beth Orton, Damien Jurado, and Efterklang was suddenly forced off the road for the first time in her career. She used this disruption as an opportunity to pare down her creation process and construct the scaffolding for Labyrinth in her apartment. Employing only the most crucial tools at her disposal, Broderick found herself opening different artistic doors as she focused on sharpening her recording skills, capturing the majority of the album on her own before finishing the remainder with co-producer D. James Goodwin.

                    For all of Broderick’s sage lyricism and vocal authority, Labyrinth never provides the listener with any easy answers. If the image of the labyrinth represents the enormity of modern life and the difficulty of navigating it, Heather Woods Broder[1]ick provides a guide to its endless kinetic wonders of being present, aware, and

                    connected despite its disconnects. She describes the texture of its walls, its indifferent rhythms, and the inherent poeticism of feeling lost amid the dead-ends and unexpected turns. At this point in our history, perhaps that’s all we need to keep moving.

                    RIYL: Sharon Van Etten, Julien Baker, Julia Jacklin, Weyes Blood.

                    TRACK LISTING

                    01 As I Left
                    02 I Want To Go
                    03 Admiration
                    04 Crashing Against The Sun
                    05 Wandering
                    06 Wherever I Go
                    07 Tiny Receptors
                    08 Blood Run Through Me
                    09 Seemed A River
                    10 What Does Love Care

                    Erik Hall

                    Canto Ostinato

                      In the fall of 2021, Simeon ten Holt's "Canto Ostinato" was reborn in a 'solo version for seven keyboards'. During the weeks leading up to the birth of his son Lark, Erik Hall moved methodically among the instruments in his recording studio, conducting a multi-track conversation with himself and the piece's score. Ten Holt composed "Canto Ostinato" between 1976 and 1979. The rhythmic motif (ostinato) repeated over its entire length has a limited number of printed notes. It is up to the performers how to play them, for how long, where to place accents, etc. In the score, the composer calls on musicians to interact and evaluate, to fuse sounds and colors into one cohesive musical universe. Then a cosmos is created. You can get lost in that. You want to get lost in that, like in the original live recording with four pianos. "That performance is deeply compelling, almost otherworldly," says Hall. He has always been drawn to music that is based on repetition, harmonically rich, and tonal. He previously added a groundbreaking dimension to Steve Reich's 1976 minimal masterpiece "Music for 18 Musicians", and– as again now with 'Canto'– his motivation is the love of the music itself. "When I first heard the piece, I was captivated." Then the plan emerged to undergo the same focused practice as before. He stacked seven total layers of his 1962 Hammond M-101 organ, a 1910 Steinway grand piano, and a 1978 Rhodes electric piano, each performance informed by those that preceded it. Erik Hall's "Canto Ostinato" lasts for one hour, and from the sheer joy of playing this wondrous composition emerges an elegantly meandering journey. In it, music rises above itself, higher and higher, like a lark jubilating freedom in the sky. 

                      TRACK LISTING

                      01 Sections 1-16
                      02 Sections 17-30
                      03 Sections 31-40
                      04 Sections 41-55
                      05 Sections 56-73
                      06 Sections 74-87
                      07 Sections 88-90
                      08 Sections 91-94
                      09 Sections 95-106 



                        For fans of: Tycho, Rival Consoles, Ólafur Arnalds, Jon Hopkins, Corre, Baths, Jónsi, Bon Iver. On Origins Chris Bartels takes on the role of singer-songwriter for the first time under his Elskavon moniker, unveiling a voice that wouldn’t sound out of place next to vocal-forward artists like Justin Vernon, Jónsi, or Baths, who master the balance between conventional songcraft and bold, idiosyncratic experimentation.

                        Origins is vast yet intimate, fluttering yet cohesive, tattered yet clean, a little like rainfall during sunlight. Shedding the ambient-classical confines of his previous output, the album’s opener and title track, offers a swirling mosaic of acoustic textures that recall the beloved duo The Books, laced with warped vocal utterances flitting in and out of a club-friendly beat. “Origins” is followed by the equally danceable “Coastline,” which drives home the smiling melodies and intricate sound-design that form the spine of Origins, keeping Bartels’ voice in a largely decorative and impressionistic role up to this point. “Blossom and the Void” dissolves the introductory tension as Bartels comes out lyrically swinging, his digitized voice chanting widely over the mutated New Wave-esque anthem. Here, Bartels shows his instinct for dynamics by rising to bombast and quickly dispelling it, making steep yet graceful descents into skilfully delicate sound-design.

                        Throughout Origins, the patient glacial aesthetic of his previous work is still discernible there are wordless, expansive panoramas that stretch out patiently for minutes at a time and smartly resist the impulse to pack each moment with a persona made even more impactful when Bartels chooses to wield it. At other times, his spokesmanship is woven discreetly into a larger tapestry, like on “See Out Loud” (and its ambient reprise) where Bartels’ voice shimmers from a distance, covering the scene in diffuse splendour. “There is so much warping, mangling, re-sampling, reversing and pitching,” Bartels says of his intricate vocal manipulations. “I printed a lot of the vocal recordings onto a tape machine from the ‘60s, first at one speed, and then I’d halve, or double the speed going back into my computer,” he elaborates, illustrating how this kind of analog processing freed him from his habits. “Sometimes I’d do this multiple times on one recording or layer it gave me such a unique and unexpected sound. At this point, I threw away any inhibition on what type of vocals to have, or not have, on the album.” This newfound freedom is palpable in the peaks of soaring grandeur that dot the emotional landscape of Origins. “All These Years” cathartically reaches one such summit in its second half after laying a path of gently plodding indie-IDM in its first. The cinematic vignette “Dreymur Aftur” provides pause for reflection amid its brisk procession of string plucks and rhythmic synthesizer while marching wordlessly into album closer “This Won’t Last Forever.” Here at the end, Bartels’ guitar playing is laid bare in the mix, skeletally framing a single ribbon of his voice as it unfurls into the atmosphere. Though the track isn’t expressly lyrical, its starkness still exemplifies the new leaf of vulnerability Bartels has turned over on Origins, an album that documents his hard-won evolution from musician, to producer, to composer and finally his confident arrival in the role of songwriter.

                        TRACK LISTING

                        Blossom And The Void
                        North Sole
                        See Out Loud
                        See Out Loud (reprise)
                        All These Years
                        Dreymir Aftur
                        This Won't Last Forever

                        Old Fire


                          For Fans of: Bill Callahan, Adam Torres, Cross Record, Julia Holter, Low, Damien Jurado.

                          The album’s Texas-based producer John Mark Lapham was a member of Secretly Canadian band The Earlies. Voids employs the vocal talents of Bill Callahan, Emily Cross, Adam Torres, and Julia Holter across twelve genre-fluid, yet impressively cohesive tracks that span baroque dream-pop, filmic ambient, raga-like drones, avant-country, and even spiritual jazz, all imbued with poetic heft and seared by the West Texas sun. It was beneath this same sun that Lapham lost both of his parents, mourned a withering relationship, and shouldered the fallout of the pandemic, turning his life into the rusted-out scraps he then used to build Voids from the ground up.

                          There is no better narrator for Lapham’s story than fellow Texas resident Bill Callahan, whose iconic delivery perfectly personifies the core themes of Voids. By the time Callahan appears, he does so over a saw-blade drone that sounds like machinery echoing off the corrugated steel walls of a nearby workshop, which then breaks open into a loose yet pained confluence of violin and upright bass that recalls Joe Henderson’s 1974 spiritual jazz album The Elements. On “Dreamless” the album crystallizes into its most straight-ahead moment as Lapham trains his compositional lens on a brilliant piece of pop songwriting. Featured vocalist Adam Torres soars over John Mark’s punctual arrangement of stomping drums and rapturous string-work to anthemic, and gently psychedelic consequence.

                          Voids concludes with the pleasant clatter of “Circles” wherein Lapham throws all his ingredients into a pot of celebratory catharsis. Drum sets collide with one another gleefully, and harmonized textures scatter and roll about the floor like a dropped bucket of ornate marbles. Lapham’s collage-work, which up to this point has been smartly restrained, comes unglued as he transmutes grief into relief within a moment-of-death montage of aural imagery. Across Voids, that same awareness of tragedy and loneliness is made palatable by the album’s exciting and varied topography, which stands insubordinately against Lapham’s real-life surroundings. The settlers who established West Texas towns like the one he calls home must have done so with a sense of hope despite the hostility of their surroundings, however inevitable the withering. Similar spirits speak through John Mark Lapham’s work, and he welcomes them as fascinating old friends. “That more than anything inspired a lot of what I try to express through Old Fire, faded memories, former glories, places lost in time,” he discloses. “Whatever I was trying to express with Old Fire wasn't finished with the first album, like a story that was only half-read. It seemed like that was only the beginning, and there was a lot more ground to cover.” If there is ground still uncovered for Old Fire after Voids, it's sure to be lush in spite of or perhaps because of the dusty soil beneath it.

                          TRACK LISTING

                          01. All Gone [2:11]
                          02. Blue Star (ft. Emily Cross) [4:07]
                          03. When I Was In My Prime (ft. Bill Callahan) [5:05]
                          04. Corpus (ft. Bill Callahan) [4:15]
                          05. Love Is Only Dreaming [2:45]
                          06. Dreamless (ft. Adam Torres) [3:08]
                          07. Don't You Go (ft. Bill Callahan) [4:38]
                          08. Window (ft. Julia Holter) [4:24]
                          09. Uninvited [8:22]
                          10. Memory [5:51]
                          11. Father As A Child [4:24]
                          12. Circles [6:57]

                          Logan Farmer

                          A Mold For The Bell

                            For Fans Of: J. Tillman, Phosphorescent, Low, Damien Jurado, Bill Callhan.

                            “It’s going to be hard to talk about this when it’s done.” So begins A Mold For The Bell, the new album from Colorado singer-songwriter and producer Logan Farmer. What follows that enigmatic lyric is a collection of stark and ambient folk songs, tethered solely by Farmer’s unadorned vocals, acoustic guitar, and moving embellishments from contributors, including saxophonist Joseph Shabason (who also mixed the album) and renowned harpist Mary Lattimore. With the help of Grammy-nominated producer Andrew Berlin (Gregory Alan Isakov), Farmer tracked all of the vocal and guitar parts over two days in the early months of 2021. The tracks were recorded quickly, live in the studio to capture the raw intimacy and immediacy of Farmer’s live performances. The rest of the album’s creation occurred remotely, over texts, phone calls, and emails with Shabason and a handful of other musicians, as wildfires, insurrections and the pandemic raged around them.

                            “I was working at a bookstore that winter,” Farmer explains, “and I’d walk to my shift every day, obsessing over lyrics and early mixes in a cheap pair of earbuds.” These daily walks would take him past a church, where he’d often stop on the sidewalk and listen to the bells at the top of the hour. “I’ve always loved the sound of church bells, but as the situation worsened, what began as a comfort began to feel ominous, almost threatening.” This experience, along[1]side influences as disparate as Tarkovsky’s film Andrei Rublev and the novels of Olga Tokarczuk, led to a collection of songs that are similarly foreboding, expanding upon the stark and spacious universe of Farmer’s last album (2020’s Still No Mother) to reveal an atmosphere that’s even more oppressively still, like an abandoned Victorian home.

                            TRACK LISTING

                            01 Silence Or Swell
                            02 Cue Sunday Bells
                            03 Horsehair (feat. Mary Lattimore)
                            04 Crooked Lines
                            05 William
                            06 The Moment
                            07 Renegade
                            08 South Vienna

                            Lean Year


                              Alverson has released five records as Spokane, and four as Drunk on the label Jagjaguwar. There is a moment on Sides, the new album from Richmond, Virginia-based duo Lean Year, in which a hospital room floor is filled with white chrysanthemums. This imagery, based on an opiate-induced hallucination experienced by vocalist Emilie Rex’s mother as she recovered from surgery, is a perfect encapsulation of the band’s second album: dreamlike and beautiful, yet burdened with cold, stark reality. Sides is a harrowing journey through realms of grief and memory, a meditation woven into a tapestry of synth pads, woodwinds, and Rex’s instantly recognizable voice.

                              The duo of Rex and Rick Alverson who also works as a film director (The Mountain, Entertainment, The Comedy) originally set out to write an album about conflict, but during the writing and recording process, they were confronted with a number of personal tragedies. Alverson lost both of his parents in rapid succession, Rex’s mother received a cancer diagnosis, and the couple’s beloved family dog, Orca, died. These events transformed the album into an exploration of loss an attempt at processing the painful, complex, and private emotions that bubble to the surface when confronted with death. “We thought we’d do a concept album called Sides where we could reflect on all of the division in the world, and some in our own families, but then COVID transformed everything / everyone, and we suffered our own specific losses. The record became about loss and grief,” Rex explains. “In this way, the title Sides was still appropriate: our individual grief and collective grief, the margins of before and after, the act and feeling of during and enduring. It felt like straddling a threshold between two opposing sides the moment before conflict and the moment after it passes, life and death, the act of living and the memory of the act. Grief feels like a contention between what you knew and what you now know, and often both feel real and unreal at once.”

                              Sides produced by Alverson alongside Erik Hall (In Tall Buildings) and featuring contributions from Elliot Bergman (Nomo, Wild Belle) and Joseph Shabason (Destroyer, The War on Drugs) has a distinctly cinematic quality, perhaps due in part to Alverson’s other career.Moments of jazz, slowcore, and dirgelike R&B find their way into the sorrowful, ambient suite, lulling the listener into a state of calm while the lyrics speak of ghosts, childhood, and mortality. Despite the gravity of the subject matter, Sides succeeds in mastering a balancing act between pathos and pop. Each song is indelible and haunting, with melodies that have the kind of broad appeal reminiscent of Karen Dalton, Aldous Harding, and FKA twigs.

                              TRACK LISTING

                              01 Legs
                              02 Nitetime
                              03 End
                              04 Trouble With Being Warm
                              05 Panes
                              06 Bend
                              07 Bad Woman
                              08 Marriage Of Heaven And Hell
                              09 Home

                              Wilder Maker

                              Male Models

                                Ask singer-songwriter Gabriel Birnbaum what inspired Male Models – the diverse new album from New York band Wilder Maker – and he'll mention everything from American novelist James Salter and the NBA playoffs to Thin Lizzy and the delicate tightrope of positive masculinity. These reference points might sound arbitrary to the uninitiated listener, but together they provide some insight into the creation of an album that somehow succeeds at being both an apocalyptic novel of ideas and the most cohesive party playlist that you've ever heard. The music of Male Models was recorded live over several days with a core band that consisted of Birnbaum and longtime collaborators Nick Jost and Sean Mullins. Despite his status as the frontman and principal songwriter of Wilder Maker, Birnbaum's voice can only be heard singing lead on five of the twelve songs. The remaining tracks have guest vocalists taking the mic, unveiling an impressive lineup that includes (but isn't limited to) Counting Crows' Adam Duritz, Katie Von Schleicher, and Jordan Lee (aka Mutual Benefit).

                                Like guests at a strange afterparty, when you hear these accomplished vocalists recount Birnbaum's tales of unrequited love, drunkenness, and desperation, it feels almost voyeuristic, as if you were sitting in a crowded cocktail bar, sneaking glances at nearby tables. "We all listen to playlists a lot, even us album diehards" Birnbaum admits, "I've been keeping an ever-expanding playlist of songs that I never want to skip, with all of these different voices back to back. I wanted to make a record that sounded like a playlist in this way; it became a kind of songwriting challenge for me." Male Models succeeds in capturing the energy of a crowded party and its accompanying playlist without losing the philosophical underpinnings of its concept. Musically, it also changes shape constantly.

                                Across the 12 songs of the album, listeners will hear electrified soul, heartfelt folk songs, indie rock, and searing barn burners, all of which are expertly tethered by Birnbaum's sardonic and doom-laden storytelling. The band's unique blend of control and playfulness is established in tracks like the pop-oriented 'A Professional' (beautifully sung by Felicia Douglass of Dirty Projectors and Ava Luna) and 'New Anxiety', which Birnbaum wrote as his answer to Springsteen's classic 'Atlantic City'. One of the most energetic songs on the album, 'All Power Must Remain Hidden' is a propulsive jam that, complete with grin-inducing cowbell, wouldn't feel out of place in a rowdy sports stadium.

                                Perhaps destined to be the most talked-about track on the album, 'O Anna' features Counting Crows' Adam Duritz on the mic. Duritz instantly makes the song feel nostalgic and warm, while Birnbaum's lyrics explore male isolation and social constructs through the metaphor of Michael Jordan's athleticism. The album finishes with the heartbreaking track 'Jason'. Compared to the bombastic affair that preceded it, the song sounds almost oppressively stark and skeletal. Featuring little more than piano and Birnbaum's voice, 'Jason' tells the story of two brothers and their tense reunion after a long time apart.

                                TRACK LISTING

                                01 Letter Of Apology
                                02 A Professional Ft. Felicia Douglass
                                03 New Anxiety Ft. Mutual Benefit
                                04 Static Ft. V.V. Lightbody
                                05 Surfers Trace Ft. Yellow Ostrich
                                06 All Power Must Remain Hidden
                                07 Scam Likely
                                08 Silver Car Ft. Katie Von Schleicher
                                09 5 Train
                                10 O Anna Ft. Adam Duritz
                                11 Against The Numbers
                                12 Jason 



                                  Nightlands is the solo project of The War on Drugs’ bassist and multi-instrumentalist Dave Hartley.

                                  Amid massive global paradigm shifts Dave Hartley (aka Nightlands) became a father twice over and left his native Philadelphia for Asheville, where the pace of daily life is slower and it's easier to maintain a zoomed-out perspective on modern life. From the newfound refuge of a studio he built using the bones of a barn attached to his hundred-something-year-old house in the mountains, Hartley has tailored a collection of well-crafted pop rock, pointedly titled Moonshine. Guided by some of the harmonic sensibilities that have helped make The War on Drugs a force in modern music, Moonshine combines immaculate-yet-dense vocal stacks and billowy clouds of effected keyboards with classic songcraft, revealing previously unseen acreage in the unfurling dreamscape that is Nightlands. The surrealistic album art by Austin-based illustrator Jaime Zuverza depicts an archway opening to the stars over the surface of an idyllic sea flanked by both moon and sun. Similarly, Moonshine reveals portals within portals leading to ever deeper places in Hartley's vocal-centered labyrinth.

                                  Throughout the album, there are plenty of buoyant high moods where the pitter-patter of drum machine and humming digital organ hints at Hartley's low-key tropicalia streak, but the lyrics anchor the dreaminess in real-world sorrow and resignation. Nowhere are these sentiments more apparent than on the title track, a nearly acapella recitation of "America the Beautiful" that poignantly hovers over a mirage of soft keyboards before dovetailing into Hartley's own words about the hypocrisy of the American dream. "This was never intended to be an overtly political record" he admits. "I have so many friends who are able to process the frustration of current events gracefully or with wisdom or in a nuanced way, but I often find myself just consumed with anger about it all. I decided to just let that come out, and it manifested itself lyrically." Moonshine's wide-eyed, utopian instrumental backdrops provide sharp contrast to Hartley's lyrics, which sting even harder within the sweetness.

                                  Even in light of the album's vocal emphasis, Hartley's history as a bassist brilliantly beams through Moonshine, giving effortless and sprightly movement to songs like "Down Here," which also features an extended section of saxophone lent by his Western Vinyl labelmate, Joseph Shabason. In addition to Shabason, the album hosts a short list of remote collaborators including four of Hartley's bandmates from The War on Drugs, Robbie Bennet, Anthony Lamarca, Eliza Hardy Jones, and Charlie Hall, as well as exotica virtuoso Frank Locrasto (Cass McCombs, Fruit Bats), and producer Adam McDaniel (Avey Tare, Angel Olsen). Hartley was forced to keep the guest list small out of the necessity of pandemic isolation, coupled with his move to a smaller city, all of which challenged him to do most of the album's heavy lifting right down to the mixing duties, resulting in the most independent effort of his career. By that measure, Moonshine is also the clearest image yet of Dave Hartley as a person and creator.

                                  TRACK LISTING

                                  01 Looking Up
                                  02 Down Here
                                  03 Stare Into The Sun
                                  04 Greenway
                                  05 Moonshine
                                  06 With You
                                  07 Blue Wave
                                  08 No Kiss For The Lonely
                                  09 Break My Bones
                                  10 Song For Brad

                                  Cool Maritime

                                  Big Earth Energy

                                    Having crested the west coast modular-ambient wave in just a few releases including 2018’s Sharing Waves on the influential LA experimental imprint Leaving Records-- Sean Hellfritsch has swapped the mossy analog synth improvisations of his prior output for refined melodic arrangements dressed in sprightly dawn-of-digital textures. Big Earth Energy plumbs the depths of Hellfritsch’s multimedia mind and naturalist heart, spinning an impressionistic narrative world off of cultural touchstones like the PC game MYST, and the work of Studio Ghibli composer Joe Hisaishi.

                                    Inspired by the aforementioned, and guided by Hellfritsch’s experience as an animator and filmmaker, Big Earth Energy is the soundtrack to a hypothetical video game with a pointedly ecological premise, and a twist of psychedelic charm. In Hellfritsch’s imagined virtual journey, the player assumes the perspective of a treefrog sixty-five-million years ago, hopping epochs with each new level, forming a comprehensive picture of the massive changes the planet has gone through over the eons. The ultimate goal of the game is not to amass resources, defeat enemies, or gain power, but to fully witness the unfolding of one of the biggest systems of energy imaginable-- or as the album’s creator puts it-- “to explore the incomprehensibly vast energetic expression and mystery that is Earth.”

                                    Big Earth Energy is steeped in exploratory RPG intrigue, possibility, and contemplation, lovingly overlaid with Miyazaki-an sentiments and aesthetics. The through-composed, organic, meandering synthesis heard on previous Cool Maritime albums has been fully replaced by meticulous polygonal arrangements that recall the computerized sheen of late 80s work by composers like Hiroshi Yoshimura, and Yoichiro Yoshikawa using true-to-period gear no less.

                                    Even given its referentiality, Big Earth Energy comes off as forward-facing where so much reminiscent music remains fixed to a bygone moment in pop culture. Hellfritsch has created a musical world where the endless verdancy of the biosphere finds its parallel in the golden age of early 1990s video games, and late 80s Japanese environmental music, all while pointing to a hopeful planetary and artistic future that vindicates the motives of all of these muses.

                                    TRACK LISTING

                                    01 Big Earth Energy 6:18
                                    02 Amphibia 6:24
                                    03 Temporal Dryft 6:46
                                    04 Soft Fascination 5:08
                                    05 Avian Glide 4:23
                                    06 Secret Of The Megafauna 5:47
                                    07 Apex 4:32


                                    The Consistent Brutal Bullshit Gong

                                      FOR FANS OF: Big Thief, Parquet Courts, Cate Le Bon, Elliott Smith, LVL UP. On their debut for Western Vinyl, recording engineer and multi-instrumentalist Nate Mendelsohn and his band use lyrical maximalism for the powers of good. Where Market’s previous home recorded releases shifted genre restlessly, on The Consistent Brutal Bullshit Gong Mendelsohn took a core band of longtime collaborators to a house in rural Massachusetts where they carved out space for his words to speak through with humor and intensity. Though he comes from a background in experimental music, Mendelsohn’s ear for pop has prevailed. Certain moments on Bullshit Gong reveal his stranger side, as on the thundering bridge of “Scar,” which sounds like a more unhinged Parquet Courts, or the angular “I Would Do That,” which takes cues from Cate Le Bon.

                                      On the whole, though, this band of close friends insists on directness, their arrangements clear despite the intricacies. Guitars and synthesizers tangle fluidly atop the rhythm section’s tight bedrock, evoking the tenderness and backbeat-centric qualities of Elliott Smith or Big Thief. After college, where he met most of the members of Market, Mendelsohn became an engineer and producer at the Brooklyn studio Figure 8 Recording. Through that community he’s recorded artists like Frankie Cosmos and Wendy Eisenberg, and played with Yaeji, Vagabon, Katie Von Schleicher (who co-produced Bullshit Gong with him), and Sam Evian, who mixed the album. Creating intimacy out of manic self-reflection requires a delicate balancing act, one Mendelsohn tackles with abandon.

                                      His words never skew too poetic or grandiose, and when he invokes the ugly it’s met with a sonic tonality that sets him right again. In tender moments, his voice is often flanked by bandmates Natasha Thweatt or Von Schleicher, who help skew his words toward the universal. Still, Bullshit Gong is an obsessive look inward, one in which Mendelsohn simply asks himself if he is good to those he loves. It’s an act of trust between the artist and the imagined listener he takes with him. 

                                      TRACK LISTING

                                      01 Bag Of Jeans
                                      02 Scar
                                      03 Looking Back
                                      04 Watergate
                                      05 I Would Do That
                                      06 Old
                                      07 Control
                                      08 NBA
                                      09 Therapy
                                      10 Little Wants

                                      Tom Rogerson

                                      Retreat To Bliss

                                        Since the release of his last album – 2017’s Finding Shore, a collaboration with Brian Eno – pianist and singer-songwriter Tom Rogerson’s life has undergone a number of dramatic transformations. While writing his new album Retreat to Bliss, Rogerson had a child, lost a parent, and received his own diagno[1]sis of a rare form of blood cancer. The new decade brought him from Berlin to the Suffolk of his childhood, composing profound pieces of minimal songwriting in the church next to his parents’ home.

                                        Rogerson studied composition at the Royal Academy of Music under mentors like Harrison Birtwistle, and he made his live debut as an improvising pianist in 2002, before releasing an improvised record with Reid Anderson (Bad Plus) and Mike Lewis (Happy Apple, Bon Iver) in 2004. He formed the band Three Trapped Tigers in 2007, expertly blending elements of electronic, jazz and noise rock into a cohesive whole. The band earned a reputation for innovative live shows and went on to perform and collaborate with artists like Brian Eno, Deftones, and the Dillinger Escape Plan. It was working with Eno, another Suffolk native, that eventually led Rogerson back to his roots and back to a place where he could write Retreat to Bliss, his solo debut album.

                                        “All my life, the piano has been my constant companion, my confessor, my best friend, and my worst enemy,” Rogerson explains. “I’ve always written music on and for the piano, but it felt too personal, too private to release.”

                                        Indeed, listening to Retreat to Bliss feels almost like eavesdropping, as though you’re crouched in the belfry of a Suffolk church, bearing witness to a form of musical bloodletting. For the first time in his noteworthy career, Rogerson has combined masterful piano playing and subtle electronics with the texture of his own voice, an attempt to express deeply private emotions that were difficult to articulate using instrumental music alone.

                                        “The last few years have brought some struggle, some joy, and a lot of change. My response has been to retreat to what I trust the most: the piano, my voice, and the landscape I grew up in. That’s how the album got its title, and how I came to be ready finally to release a solo record.”

                                        The eleven tracks that make up Retreat to Bliss were recorded by Leo Abrahams (Brian Eno, David Byrne, Grace Jones) over the course of just a few days, a process that emphasized spontaneity and the artist’s own commitment to improvisation.

                                        Secular yet devotional, intensely personal yet profound, the experience of listening to Retreat to Bliss seems to evade characterization. It’s physical and emotional, a glimpse into the mind of an artist who has chosen exposure over withdrawal, who uses his command of the piano to chart an unflinching path forward, never looking back.

                                        TRACK LISTING

                                        01. Descent [5:22]
                                        02. Oath [4:36]
                                        03. Buried Deep [3:31]
                                        04. Toumani [4:04]
                                        05. Drone Finder Part 2 [2:25]
                                        06. Chant [4:32]
                                        07. Rapture 1 [4:08]
                                        08. Open Out Span Wide View [3:47]
                                        09. A Clearing [4:01]
                                        10. Retreat To [6:10]
                                        11. Coda [1:37]


                                        How The Garden Grows

                                          YVETTE conjures atmospheres that are both disturbing and familiar at once, pushing synthesizers, effects pedals, vocal processors, acoustic-electric drums, and midi guitar controllers to their extremes. Singer/multi-instrumentalist Noah Kardos-Fein and drummer/multi-instrumentalist Dale Eisinger think of their music not so much in terms of sound as in terms of feeling. The New York duo uses music both as therapy and a weapon, as an outlet for the stress of the daily grind and a release of the pent up tension that metastasizes only after living in a busy, unrelenting metropolis. How The Garden Grows, the sophomore record from YVETTE, reconfigures the anxiety of the moment into deeply spiritual, wildly aggressive, and frequently beautiful noise music, in the tradition of early post-punk and industrial artists like Throbbing Gristle, Cabaret Voltaire, and This Heat.

                                          The album was written and recorded over three years, as Kardos-Fein and Eisinger watched developers raze many of their favourite NYC venues. Rather than disappearing into the rubble of the city they love, How The Garden Grows grew out of that chaos. “It’s nearly impossible to compare them to any other band,” wrote Meredith Graves for the Village Voice in 2016. Having gained lasting acclaim for their debut LP Process, the follow-up EP Time Management (both released on GODMODE), and their bewildering, inspirational live show, YVETTE’s near-decade as a band coalesces with this LP. They’ve performed alongside The Rapture, Sleigh Bells, Lydia Lunch, Liars, HEALTH, Liturgy, Factory Floor, Xiu Xiu, A Place To Bury Strangers, Oneida, Metz, DIIV, The Soft Moon, Priests, Dan Deacon, Pissed Jeans, and Thurston Moore. This is YVETTE’s sophomore full-length. Their debut album Process (released on Godmode/Tough Love in 2013) received an 8.1 on Pitchfork, in addition to plenty of other strong coverage. Photographer Tim Saccenti (Lana Del Rey, Run the Jewels, Eminem, Flying Lotus) took some amazing press photos of Noah. Noah co-wrote some songs with Moses Sumney for his 2020 album græ. Press Quotes - "...Yvette managed to recast a music rooted in nihilism and agitation into something approachable and transfixing." Pitchfork // “Yvette channel all the moody intensity and musical discipline of Wire and This Heat, which pushes all the right buttons” Jonathan Galkin of DFA Records for NME // "a noise band with a bit of pop sensibility" Shamir // "Yvette are a noise-rock duo from Brooklyn who manage to turn drilling sounds and drones, the hum and clatter of machinery, into riveting entertainment." The Guardian

                                          TRACK LISTING

                                          01 B61 5:19
                                          02 Contact High 2:07
                                          03 Warm UP 2:44
                                          04 Besides 2:53
                                          05 For A Moment 2:56
                                          06 Close Quarters 6:14
                                          07 Smoke In Your Eyes 2:31
                                          08 Best Intentions 3:20
                                          09 Translucent 2:24
                                          10 Intermission 7:40 


                                          Half Mirror

                                            On his debut album Half Mirror, Matthew O’Connell superimposes warm analog synths onto self-described “confessional folk” with a simultaneously cosmic and earthly outcome. Tracked at home in the mountains of North Carolina using a vintage tape delay, electric guitar, and a self-designed synthesizer named ‘Balsam,’ Half Mirror is at once a lonesome push-pull of electronics humanized by folk elements, and folk music made alien by electronic adornments. O’Connell’s own story is just as captivatingly segmented. While growing up on a farm in Palmyra, Indiana, he became obsessed with metal drumming and spent most of his free time practicing in the garage, occasionally recording on four-track tape machines with his brother Joe (Elephant Micah).

                                            Reflecting on those formative years, O’Connell says, “I think that period instilled two things in me: a long attention span, and the ability to work obsessively on something in solitude.” It’s these monastic inclinations that helped form the spirit of Half Mirror. While in college, his interest in math led him to participate in a six-month intensive study program in Budapest, Hungary. There, he continued writing song fragments on a borrowed guitar and fiddling with musical electronics at the Kitchen Budapest a collective of artists, theorists, and coders. In 2011, his interest in electronics and engineering led him to Asheville, North Carolina, where he worked for Moog Music calibrating and building synthesizers, and testing vintage analog delay chips by day. At night he would spend his time building homemade synths and writing songs. It was here in Asheville that he began the bulk of the work on Half Mirror, imbuing his music with the qualities of his environment almost by necessity. O’Connell made a deliberate effort to keep the album's production sparse.

                                            His interest in restraint stems in part from his love of albums like Nearly God by Tricky and Ghost Tropic by Songs: Ohia, both of which feature uncomfortably bare vocals and uncanny production that commands the listener’s attention. Additional inspiration came from Mark Hollis' striking minimalism, and the freeform songwriting of Arthur Russell and John Martyn. Filtering the poetry of fractured, imperfect memories through a lush, yet sparse palette of sounds, Half Mirror evokes a profoundly moody sense of place: the fog heavy in the mountain peaks, the dew present on early morning walks, and the musky smell of rhododendrons in the air.

                                            TRACK LISTING

                                            01 Cold
                                            02 Whitewaterside
                                            03 Watching The Beams
                                            04 Blue Ridge
                                            05 Midday Sun
                                            06 Billowing
                                            07 Ohio
                                            08 Mirror 

                                            Hollie Kenniff

                                            The Quiet Drift

                                              Hollie makes up one half of the duo Mint Julep also on Western Vinyl, and the album features performances from Keith Kenniff (aka Goldmund).

                                              Director David Lynch once said “I long for a kind of quiet where I can just drift and dream. I always say getting inspiration is like fishing. If you’re quiet and sitting there and you have the right bait, you’re going to catch a fish eventually. Ideas are sort of like that. You never know when they’re going to hit you.” Inspired by this quote in both name and spirit, Hollie Kenniff’s The Quiet Drift is an ambient gallery of cloudlike synths, seraphic strings, echoing guitars, and other celestial textures guided to cohesion by Hollie’s own wordless singing. Though the album certainly creates (and originates from) the kind of space where Lynch’s proverbial “fish” can be caught, The Quiet Drift is a fitting title for Hollie’s own history, both recent and distant. During the course of the album’s creation, Hollie and her family moved cross-country from an island in Washington state, to an island in Maine before ultimately relocating to Canada. “As a child I visited Ontario year-round,” she explains in her own words. She continues “More than any other landscape, I think the lake, rivers, and woods there left the most enduring impression on me. The landscape and pace of life of these places will always stay with me.” But the reverberant spaces Hollie crafts need no physical headquarters. Instead of conjuring views of nature at the ground level, her sound more readily evokes a top-down perspective, with the distinct features of the land shrinking underfoot as the listener becomes untethered from geography altogether.

                                              The Quiet Drift belongs more to the liminal spaces between life and afterlife, memory and fantasy, landscape and dreamscape, than any mappable locale. Describing her formative years, Hollie says “As a dual US/Canadian citizen who spent my childhood in a rural town one that I haven’t returned to in many years I have a sense of not entirely belonging anywhere. When I was a teenager my close friends were male musicians, so I was also an outsider to the degree that they were wild and anarchic in a way that I wasn’t. I was a quiet book reader and avid music listener who enjoyed being around a creative group. I was also a radio DJ for alternative and punk music throughout high school.” In this light, The Quiet Drift attests that creativity is placeless, and calls into question the stereotype of artists as scene-centric city dwellers. Having come of age in the absence of metropolitan sensory overload, Hollie learned to spot the muse in nature, and within herself, instead of the echo chamber of a frenzied peer group. On The Quiet Drift Hollie Kenniff wholly escapes from such pop-culture feedback loops into transcendent, shimmering realms, and she brings the listener along with her. In this age in which we have all been called to reevaluate our relationship to indoor spaces, and seek refuge in the great outdoors, The Quiet Drift provides an apt soundtrack for such rebalancing.

                                              TRACK LISTING

                                              01 Flourish 4:00
                                              02 Quell 4:45
                                              03 Some Day If Some Day Comes 3:52
                                              04 Four Sides Of The Forest 5:19
                                              05 Under The Loquat Tree (feat. Goldmund) 4:00
                                              06 Sunset Chant 3:19
                                              07 Still Falling Snow 3:54
                                              08 Unfolding (feat. Goldmund) 2:57
                                              09 A Feathered Fog 4:14
                                              10 This Part Of You 3:53

                                              Joseph Shabason

                                              The Fellowship

                                                Across eight tracks that mesh spacious, jazz-laced composition with fourth-world and adult-contemporary tonality, Toronto saxophonist Joseph Shabason sketches an auditory map of the transcendence, unity, conditioning, and eventual renunciation of his upbringing in an Islamic and Jewish dual-faith household. The resulting album The Fellowship bears the name of the insular Islamic community Shabason’s traditionally

                                                Jewish parents belonged to from a time before he was even born; a mental and spiritual push-pull which continued shaping, even controlling, his outlook well into his adulthood. As a listening experience The Fellowship follows a chronological arc that spans three generations covering his parents’ early lives, his own spiritual and physical adolescence, and his subsequent struggle to eschew the problematic habituations of such a conflicted past.

                                                On The Fellowship, as on prior albums that bear his name, Joseph Shabason does what only the best instrumental music makers can: tell a story with emotional clarity that conveys even the subtlest of feelings, all without singing a single word. As wordless as ever-- with as complex a theme as ever-- this album may be his most emotionally articulate yet. Most importantly, those lost in the woods of repression and self-doubt that organized religion can be at its worst now have The Fellowship to help guide them into a softer light.

                                                TRACK LISTING

                                                01. Life With My Grandparents 4:51
                                                02. Escape From North York 3:38
                                                03. The Fellowship 5:14
                                                04. 0-13 2:37
                                                05. 13-15 5:10
                                                06. 15-19 7:01
                                                07. Comparative World Religions 3:00
                                                08. So Long 7:07

                                                Elephant Micah

                                                Vague Tidings

                                                  RIYL: Jason Molina, Bonnie Prince Billy, Bill Callahan, Damien Jurado.

                                                  The raw inspiration for Vague Tidings came from a 2006 DIY tour of the 49th state. It was a trip that went off the beaten path sometimes a bit too far for comfort. Now, over a decade later, listeners find Joe O’Connell aka Elephant Micah stationed at a creaky spinet piano, singing about the Alaskan sky. Throughout, his lyrics take a new angle on a pet theme: human encounters with the natural world.

                                                  Vague Tidings places these encounters in the American West and, at times, in its sci-fi corollary, outer space. Its imagery draws from the allure of Alaska, the idea of Western prosperity, and the human relationship to wilderness more broadly. Often, O’Connell sings about the goal of capturing and commodifying nature. In poetic sketches of resource extraction industries and dark sky tourism, frontier lust runs amok. Pipelines catch fire and stars disappear, all to the tune of a stark, uncanny Americana. Vague Tidings is a sustained, hallucinatory rendering of this theme. In style, its eight songs follow a switchback path between foggy incantations and mountain anthems. Made with a small cohort of acoustic instrumentalists, the record is rough hewn, but easy on the ears. To put Vague Tidings down on tape, O’Connell assembled some of his favorite musicians in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina area, where he’s lived since 2015: Libby Rodenbough (Mipso) bows and plucks a detuned fiddle, Matt Douglas (Mountain Goats) breathes life into various woodwinds, and Matt O’Connell (Lean Year) sets the pace on a two-piece drum set. Their loose, imaginative playing pushes Vague Tidings beyond the singer-songwriter genre into something richer in texture. Ultimately, this is foreboding but spacious music, with plenty of room for reconsidering life on earth.

                                                  Mint Julep

                                                  In A Deep & Dreamless Sleep

                                                    Created slowly over a years-long span that encompassed the recording of 2019’s Stray Fantasies, wife and husband duo Hollie and Keith Kenniff deliver In a Deep and Dreamless Sleep, a distinctly hazier chapter of their technicolor pop venture Mint Julep. Where the former album bore a crystalline latticework of defined pop structure, the latter blunts the sharpness and softens the glare, striking a balance between songcraft, and Hollie’s solo material, as well as Keith’s output as Goldmund.

                                                    In a Deep and Dreamless Sleep assumes a more aerated form, exuding a heavy fog of shoegaze sensibility, though the infectious pop know-how of its precursor remains firmly intact. “Our previous material tended to be structured largely in a verse/chorus setting,” Keith explains, “but these songs are more free flowing and through-composed with a focus on mood and texture. He continues “A lot of the songs are more stream-of-consciousness than premeditated; we went with first ideas and let them guide the composition rather than planning a definitive road map-- which hopefully lends itself to creating a specific and unique emotional connection.”

                                                    Somewhat counter to its title, In a Deep and Dreamless Sleep is rife with dreamworld inclinations in which waking and sleeping, loving and leaving, living and dying, are all interchangeable. The album is imbued with the soft opiation of oncoming love-- or perhaps that’s the mournfulness of a love in its twilight. Or, further still, that feeling is the spousal duo nurturing their love against the backdrop of their busy lives. “Time is a valued commodity, but we make it a point to do this together.” Says Keith. “Mint Julep is a good bonding experience, it's akin to a date night. Our routine is not structured, but we chip away at it, sometimes in long bursts, sometimes in short windows of opportunity.” In a Deep and Dreamless Sleep is a window into an intoxicatingly romantic parallel world the Kenniffs have constructed out of analog synths, masterful sound design, nectar-drenched hooks, and airy vocals that wade way out into a sea of texture. They have managed to hone years worth of date-nights into a 46 minute collection of phosphoric ambient pop which bears a sense of skillful consistency that belies the album’s casual creation. 

                                                    STAFF COMMENTS

                                                    Barry says: Having long been a fan of both Helios and Goldmund, i'm very familiar with Keniff's work, but as Mint Julep, with wife Holly, the Keniff's tread a much more dynamic path. It's an intoxicating mix of dream-pop and IDM that is bolstered with a strong melodic focus. Beautiful.

                                                    TRACK LISTING

                                                    01 A Rising Sun
                                                    02 Black Maps
                                                    03 Mirage
                                                    04 Lure
                                                    05 Longshore Drift
                                                    06 Pulse
                                                    07 Lost
                                                    08 In Your Sleep
                                                    09 Shores
                                                    10 In The Ocean
                                                    11 Westerly

                                                    Selah Broderick


                                                      Anam is the first collection of recordings by Selah Broderick (b. 1959, Washington, D.C.). Having grown up in a strict Catholic setting, the alternative movements of the late 60's and 70's could not come soon enough for Selah, who's love for art and music eventually sent her traveling around the country, running from a rather chaotic upbringing, in search of quieter ground. She eventually wound up in the Pacific Northwest, where she picked up a gig playing her guitar and singing at a local bar a few nights a week, and it was there in the audience that she met the man who would soon become the father of her children. First pregnant at the tender age of 19, Selah would have to put her musical dreams on hold while she attended to the demands of motherhood. It's no wonder she was so supportive when her three kids all gravitated towards music. While her devoted husband supported the family as a woodworker, Selah carved out her own path as a yoga instructor, in a time when non-western spiritual practices were not so welcomed in the western world. Her devotion to spiritual development would be the guiding force in her life, leading to a formative trip to Tibet alongside Roshi Joan Halifax in the early 2000's.

                                                      Her passion for music entwined itself with her work when she created the soundtrack to her own instructional yoga CD, featuring synthesizers, gentle field recordings, wind chimes, and most notably, her enchanted flute playing. Her interest in more meditative sounds infused itself with her background in folk music, and it is somewhere between these two worlds that Anam exists. Consisting of recordings as old as 1979 and as new as 2018, the wide range in fidelity has been embraced for this collection. The recordings were collected by her son Peter Broderick, who carefully wove them together over the years with occasional contributions from himself and sister Heather Woods Broderick. When asked about a potential title for her first album, Selah referenced the book Anam Cara by John O'Donohue, the modern-day Celtic mystic whose work helped her to reconcile her Catholic upbringing with her love for Eastern spiritual disciplines. The title "Anam Cara", meaning "Soul Friend" in Irish Gaelic, was given to a track originally created for meditation, while the album is simply called Anam, or "Soul." You are invited to explore the soul of this beautiful woman.

                                                      RG Lowe

                                                      Life Of The Body

                                                        After years of success in the world of neo-classical music with his band Balmorhea, RG Lowe took an artistic sharp turn leading to his soulful 2017 debut, Slow Time, which Stereogum called "impossibly smooth." Three years later, Lowe returns with Life of the Body, produced by David Boyle - known for his work with Glen Hansard, Patty Griffin, and Okkervil River. This wide-angle collection of songs invites us to reconnect with ourselves and our world through the senses by illuminating our intrinsic connection with the physical world, and the freedom found therein. Echoing the ardor of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass, and channeling Talk Talk's Mark Hollis, Lowe asks us each to "feel the wind blow on your face, camerado." At once intimate and epic, opening track "Sorrow" sets a tone of longing and malaise, from which Lowe expands and breaks out of, over the next 8 songs. As the album progresses, he explores myth, desire, love and the mystery of art, concluding with the ethereal, acoustic guitar-driven "Beauty Finds Forever," on which it's clear he's transformed. He's found the deepest nourishment; an enrichment of the soul found through a saturation of his physical senses, an antidote to our anguished age.

                                                        TRACK LISTING

                                                        01 Sorrow 6:06
                                                        02 He Done Her Wrong 4:46
                                                        03 Sendai, Unknown 4:26
                                                        04 My Body 4:38
                                                        05 Soap 2:01
                                                        06 Tulip Ave 4:28
                                                        07 Salpetriere 3:54
                                                        08 Life-World 5:18
                                                        09 Beauty Finds Forever 4:28


                                                        Unmask Whoever

                                                          Supergroup featuring members of Grooms, Field Mouse, and Russian Baths Produced by Jeff Berner of Psychic TV. Mastered by Heba Kadry, known for her work with Bjork, Slowdive, Deerhunter, Japanese Breakfast, Cass McCombs, et al. Activity are an avant four-piece featuring Travis Johnson, and drummer Steve Levine, both from the band Grooms, bassist Zoë Browne from Field Mouse, and guitarist Jess Rees from Russian Baths. Produced by engineer Jeff Berner of Psychic TV, their debut forms a casually menacing framework for lyrical themes of paranoia, exposed character flaws, and the broader human capacity for growth when an ugly truth is laid bare.

                                                          Lead single “Calls Your Name,” establishes the record’s spectral aura with nauseated electronic bells, and a relentless Geoff Barrow-esque drum beat beneath a half-sung, half-spoken lyrics inspired by C.S. Lewis’s 1945 novel The Great Divorce. In the novel, characters stuck in a grey, joyless conception of hell repeatedly deny opportunities to be taken into heaven, instead making excuses as to why they should remain in their embittered purgatory states.

                                                          Allegorically, this speaks to the kind of opportunity for metamorphosis and positive change that’s possible when the depths of disillusionment are reached, an idea which permeates much of the album. Despite recurrent aches of discontentment, each track glows with radiant waves of catharsis while elegantly evoking jubilation and anguish within the same breadth, showing that the two are always around the corner from one another. 

                                                          TRACK LISTING

                                                          01 In Motion 1:34
                                                          02 Calls Your Name 3:58
                                                          03 Spring Low Life 5:33
                                                          04 Nude Prince 4:20
                                                          05 Looming 3:40
                                                          06 Earth Angel 4:18
                                                          07 The Heartbeats 5:50
                                                          08 I Like The Boys 2:32
                                                          09 Violent And Vivisect 4:21
                                                          10 Auto Sad 3:17

                                                          Mint Julep

                                                          Stray Fantasies

                                                            Stray Fantasies marks a deepening of the discography of wife-and-husband duo Hollie and Keith Kenniff under their collaborative moniker Mint Julep, an expertly manicured electric-pop venture that stands in stark contrast to the nebulous and experimental Helios and Goldmund outputs for which the latter member is known (though both members have ambient projects under their own names). Where those projects seek to defy conventional songform through textural, amorphous exploration, Mint Julep gels all the elements with a surprising and impressive songwriting expertise that speaks to the skill and well-roundedness of its creators. Stray Fantasies further proves this by delivering twelve fully crystallized, iridescent pop pearls glimmering with the interplay of synthesizers, pulsing basslines, and punching drums that ballast Hollie's oneiric singing as she unfurls themes of vulnerability, insecurity, and other aching minutiae of love and relationships.

                                                            The album quickly establishes its impetus with its opener, Blinded, whose one-two drumbeat, brisk synth arpeggios, and spot-on vocal melodies earnestly tempt descriptions like "iconic" and "anthemic" without a single put-on. The title track follows punctually delivering on the promise of the first, solidifying the energy and ensuring that the duo's passion and urgency isn't about to give way to the lull of a front-loaded suite. When the tempo eases, it does so only slightly on the seductive "White Noise" which palpitates with something subtler than hurt or longing-- something perhaps only communicable by the singular mood Mint Julep have carved out for themselves. The central territory of Stray Fantasies exudes the latent dancefloor sensibilities of Keith Kenniff as a producer exemplified in the club-ready synth-leads of "Just for Today" and the low end kick drum patterns of "Escape" and "Vakaras" both of which strike with harder physicality than anything the duo has done to date (due in part to the engineering of The Shins' Yuuki Matthews). Mint Julep encapsulates a feeling often misattributed to youthfulness, a kind of dark and sensual liberation that most people regardless of age partake in after hours when the sun is down, the mood is thick, and the "adulting" is over for the day. But as the night fades and the sun reapproaches, the mood gets woozy, and the scene is set aglow in the four A.M. half-light embodied by the shoegaze strumming of "Translations". The haze intensifies on "Still Waters" a song whose opening bass throbs tease malevolence before giving way to the shadowy sweetness of a buzzed late-night drive with a new love. Album closer "Iteration" with its gleaming guitars, smiling melodies, and dewey fields of synthesizer emerges like a sunrise, unwelcome only in the sense that you'd hoped the night wouldn't end, still you are thankful for a conclusive moment of reflection. 

                                                            RIYL: Alvvays, School of Seven Bells, Tamaryn, Chairlift, Cocteau Twins. 

                                                            TRACK LISTING

                                                            01 Blinded
                                                            02 Stray Fantasies
                                                            03 Unite
                                                            04 White Noise
                                                            05 Just For Today
                                                            06 Escape
                                                            07 Vakaras
                                                            08 As Far As I Can Get
                                                            09 Translations
                                                            10 No Regret
                                                            11 Still Waters
                                                            12 Iteration

                                                            Lightning Dust


                                                              On Spectre, their 4th album as Lightning Dust, Amber Webber and Josh Wells embrace as their sole-focus what was once a side-project, thus crafting their most refined and powerful album to date. After co-founding and touring with Black Mountain for over a decade, the duo departed from the band to further their own longterm creative partnership. Lightning Dust has evolved noticeably with each release, from the spare, dark folk of their self-titled debut, to the synth and drum machine-heavy 2013 album Fantasy. However, the through-line of their discography has been Wells' deft production tailored perfectly around Webber's modestly iconic voice which stirred Pitchfork write of their 2009 LP Infinite Light that Webber's was "one of the fiercest, most stirring vocal performances of any release this year." In this sense the tracks on Spectre echo the spirits of quintessential rock vocalists like Grace Slick and Beth Gibbons, throughout a collection of songs that range from expertly sculpted folk-rock ear candy, to sparse Judee Sill-esque ballads consisting of little more than piano and voice.

                                                              Written during the devastating forest fires that filled her hometown of Vancouver with smoke and a sense of apocalyptic doom, album opener "Devoted To" captures Webber's resilience and determination to reestablish her creative independence as she sings "I will find my way back in even if I never sleep...Gotta find my way back in, it's all that I believe." Propulsive rocker "Run Away" is an observation of the human need for change. Amber explains, "It was written in response to friends leaving their soul crushing jobs. I wanted to write a song that flip-flopped between the glorious freedom they felt upon leaving, and moments of despair that came afterward." Shining an optimistic light on her departure from Black Mountain on the anthemic "When It Rains" Webber sings "Let's celebrate what we've done so far instead of what comes next always ripping at our hearts - it ruins." Wells' impeccable drumming and tastefully restrained synths on the soaring and cinematic "Joanna" offer the perfect backdrop for Webber, as she sings about the demons of her past "I prefer not to see - You shook me inside my memory."

                                                              The assuring shuffle of "Pretty Picture", on which Stephen Malkmus shreds, is followed by the booming slacker anthem "Competitive Depression" which features vocals by Destroyer's Dan Bejar. Spectre's dramatic two-part closer "3AM/100 Degrees" brings the album full-circle with a final statement about delusions that manifest in strife, exemplified by the song's final lines "replaying what's behind, made us all scared when nothing was there." 2018 was a whirlwind of new beginning for Webber - going back to school and even trying out a new career. In the end these detours gave her the chance to step back and explore what parts of music were important to protect. "It made me realize that art and music are still my light." She goes on to explain, "Spectre is my journey. It's for all the women warriors that have been battling throughout life looking for a place to express themselves that feels inclusive and inspiring. It's about finding yourself when no one is paying attention and inventing a new way of creating that feels honest and sincere. I truly feel that women, especially as we get older are underrepresented. That was truly the driving force to creating this album." 

                                                              STAFF COMMENTS

                                                              Barry says: Even from opener 'Devoted To', there are a huge amount of influences seeping through the fabric of Lightning Dust's rhythmic psychedelic synth sounds. Dancefloor arpeggios, haunting gothic vocals and synth-pop throbs burst into a soaring jazzy breakdown. The album continues in much the same way, always astounding but rarely disjointed, this is the sound of a band on their finest form.

                                                              TRACK LISTING

                                                              01 Devoted To
                                                              02 Run Away
                                                              03 Led Astray
                                                              04 Inglorius Flu
                                                              05 When It Rains
                                                              06 Joanna
                                                              07 More
                                                              08 A Pretty Picture
                                                              09 Competitive Depresison
                                                              10 3AM/100 Degrees

                                                              Abram Shook

                                                              The Neon Machine

                                                                The Neon Machine, the 4th album from Austin musician Abram Shook, is a dystopian dance party, and everyone’s invited. Juxtaposed against 2017’s sepia-tinged, quietly reflective Love at Low Speed, the new record’s mix of irresistible beats and slyly humorous lyrics might seem like a 180 at first glance: a giddy, knowing soundtrack to the end of the world. The varied influences of world music and jazz that are present in all his records can still be heard (as in the High-Life inspired guitar work on “My Money”), though here Shook tucks them into the corners and uses them in more subtle ways, giving center stage to a vintage Sequential Circuits Prophet 600, a drum sequencer, and his signature rubbery bass lines.

                                                                In Shook’s adept hands, The Neon Machine is full of day-glo danceability even though something slightly sinister lurks beneath the surface; it’s a kind of tour de force synesthesia for the fevered mind. With this record, Shook has traded in his usual gimlet-eyed observations for a playfully cynical sense of humor. Using highly confessional lyrics and deeply personal insight to convey his anger, with the current political climate, he writes candidly about his anxieties, and frustrations toward a country and culture that he’s grown up with, but hasn’t always felt at home in. Full of Prince-esque riffs, Blood Orange-style beats, and David Bowie allusions, The Neon Machine is accessible and adventurous at once. It has as its backdrop a party that’s lasted too long, and the foreground of a narrator full of anxiety and skepticism whose hangover has already begun. The beauty of it lies in its malleability. What appears on the surface to be an effervescent album of pop anthems, with its familiar themes of sex, love and drugs, soon reveals its true heart: the intimate insights of a man, long accustomed to being an outside observer, who has decided to join the fray. “In a lot of ways it feels like the record I’ve always wanted to make.” 

                                                                TRACK LISTING

                                                                01 Neon Love 4:16
                                                                02 Your Time 3:25
                                                                03 Cocaine Blonde 3:45
                                                                04 Future Hustler 3:38
                                                                05 My Money 3:39 
                                                                06 Visionary Fiction 4:29
                                                                07 Can't Get Away 3:10
                                                                08 Sugar Teeth 3:52
                                                                09 The Latest Trend 3:34
                                                                10 Hot Mess 3:49 
                                                                11 Fake It 3:41

                                                                Outer Spaces

                                                                Gazing Globe

                                                                  Born in a rural upstate NY town of 500 people, Cara Beth Satalino aka Outer Spaces, studied studio composition at Purchase College, where she also met her bandmate and life partner Chester Gwazda (producer of the first three Future Islands albums, and Dan Deacon's Bromst and America, among others). The Baltimore-based artist's new album Gazing Globe documents Satalino's effort to find herself through the creation of her own esoteric world of pop songs. While writing Gazing Globe, Satalino felt lost and listless, after she and Gwazda decided to take a break from their long-term relationship. To deal with her anxiety and self-doubt, and ultimately evolve emotionally and spiritually, she began a daily meditation practice, and writing songs. "I think I was trying to get back to myself and my identity, separate from my relationship," says Satalino. The result of her efforts is a collection of Murmur-era REM-esque power-pop songs, full of catchy guitar riffs, sonical ly juxtaposing her despondent perspective. Press Quotes - “Satalino wears her heart on her sleeve... crafting soft melodies that waver between slightly confessional and deeply personal” Consequence of Sound // “hyper-articulate indie pop” KEXP // “...brimming with delicate, elegantly crafted songs punctuated by incisive lyrics and unexpectedly vivid choruses” Under the Radar // “the record explores life’s transitions through a blend of mellow folk rock and catchy indie ballads” 

                                                                  TRACK LISTING

                                                                  01 See Her Face
                                                                  02 Truck Song
                                                                  03 Gazing Globe
                                                                  04 YWLGOML
                                                                  05 Album For Ghosts
                                                                  06 TV Screen
                                                                  07 Telling You Things
                                                                  08 I Slowly Close My Eyes
                                                                  09 Paper Flowers
                                                                  10 Teapot #2

                                                                  Rob Burger

                                                                  The Grid

                                                                    R.I.Y.L. Harmonia, Roedelius, Cluster, Dustin O’Halloran, Goldmund, Popol Vuh, Brian Eno.. Rob Burger’s talents as an arranger, composer, and keyboardist have been nurtured by morethan two decades of contributions to a diverse roster of recognizable names, at the very least including John Zorn, Laurie Anderson, and Iron & Wine with whom Burger presently records and tours.

                                                                    His new album The Grid combines neo-classical soundscapes, ‘70s kosmische, and jaunts of 20th-century exotica into a completely unique genre-quilt that synopsizes his long musical trek through multiple cities, scenes, and sounds. A lifelong musician, Rob began learning piano at age four and would go on to study under jazz luminaries Max Roach, Archie Shepp, and Yusef Lateef at the University of Massachusetts. As if his formal education weren’t impressive on its own, his informal one consisted of frequent visits to New York City creative hubs The Knitting Factory, and The Kitchen, where Burger became a fly on the wall to the likes of Arthur Russell, David Byrne, and Laurie Anderson (Burger would go on to contribute to Anderson’s 2010 album Homeland). Anderson appears on The Grid’s ninth track “Souls of Winter”).

                                                                    With the avant-garde door having long been kicked open, Burger relocated to the Bay and made a lasting impression upon the area’s music scene with his group Tin Hat Trio, while furthering his session and film-score work adjacently. When that group disbanded in the early ‘00s Burger found himself back in NYC where playing a Neil Young tribute show would entwine his path with that of Sam Beam (Iron & Wine). From then on, Burger has been an inextricable component of Beam’s live band and discography. Somewhere in the interim the growth of Burger’s family and his yearning for quieter climes led him to Portland, Oregon, where he built a studio, amassed an enviable collection of vintage keyboards, and began sowing the seeds of The Grid. Burger’s mysteriously upturning chord-changes express depth and melancholy without ever fully straying from a sense of curiosity and charm making the somber moments believable and palatable, as indicated in the album’s first moments. The Grid rolls in on a cloud bank of old-world sorrow with its piano and accordion prologue “Alternate Star,” but by the initial note of the second-track “Harmonious Gathering” all the sonic elements, dusty drum machines, choral keyboard patches, and rubberized synth bass seem to be smiling in glorious unison. This song, as well as the title track that shortly follows it, hint at what it might sound like if Harmonia had stayed intact and were scoring A24 films. 

                                                                    Heather Woods Broderick


                                                                      Invitation was conceived on the Oregon coast, an outlier among American landscapes, where vast stretches of empty beach are decorated with silver driftwood and towering pines. It is here among the dunes, tide pools and colossal rock formations that Heather spent her childhood summer day-trips. And it is here that she returned as an adult to construct her newest LP, an album of dreamy baroque-pop that swells and whispers with grand string arrangements, intimately descriptive lyrics, and impassioned songcraft built around earnest piano melodies, painting a lifelike picture of the locale in which it was written.

                                                                      In the years between her early youth and the creation of Invitation, Heather has played in Efterklang, Horse Feathers, the live bands of Laura Gibson, Lisa Hannigan, and Damien Jurado, and has also been a longtime collaborator and bandmate to Sharon Van Etten. But while this list may seem enviable for an aspiring young musician, any experienced player will know that the life of a touring musician comes with its own sacrifices. Lasting relationships and financial certainty can be tenuous, as can mental stability itself. Feeling this first hand, Heather traded her usual launchpad of Brooklyn for the sleepy town of Pacific City where she would quietly take a job cleaning houses for a cast of local eccentrics, sitting down at the piano in the off-hours to unpack the personal tragedies and triumphs of the intervening decades since her first trips there. Throughout Invitation, floral tendrils of sound design and dynamic strings decorate the edges of each track, propelling the album beyond mere singer-songwriter fare into something altogether more grand and immersive in scope. 

                                                                      RIYL: Sharon Van Etten, Weyes Blood, Marissa Nadler, Julianna Barwick, Julia Holter. 

                                                                      TRACK LISTING

                                                                      01 A Stilling Wind 5:08
                                                                      02 I Try 4:26
                                                                      03 Nightcrawler 4:54
                                                                      04 Where I Lay 3:59
                                                                      05 Slow Dazzle 4:13
                                                                      06 A Daydream 1:30
                                                                      07 White Tail 3:24
                                                                      08 Quicksand 5:32
                                                                      09 My Sunny One 3:28
                                                                      10 These Green Valleys 4:30
                                                                      11 Invitation 2:30

                                                                      Joseph Shabason


                                                                        Delicately and compassionately woven with interviews of Shabason’s mother from whom the album takes its name, Anne finds its creator navigating a labyrinth of subtle and tragic emotions arising from his mother's struggle with Parkinson’s disease. Across the nine vivid postcards of jazz-laden ambience that comprise the album, Shabason unwraps these difficult themes with great care and focus revealing the unseen aspects of degenerative diseases that force us to re-examine common notions of self, identity, and mortality. Shabason’s uncanny ability to manoeuvre through such microscopic feelings is mirrored by his capacity to execute a similar tightrope-walk through musical genres. His music occupies a specific space that is as palpable as it is difficult to pin labels to.

                                                                        On Anne’s second track “Deep Dark Divide” rays of effected saxophone shine behind clouds of digital synthesizer that echoes the sound of jazz in the late 80s, but with a Jon Hassell-esque depth of sensibility that consciously subverts the stylistic inoffensiveness of that era. There is detail and idiosyncrasy beneath Shabason’s dawn-of-the-CD-era sheen that elevates the album far beyond a mere aesthetic exercise. Still, the sounds on Anne are not so experimentally opaque as to stand in the way of the album’s through-line of sincerity and emotionality. When dissonance is employed it is punctual and meaningful, like on album-middler “Fred and Lil” where a six-minute cascade of breathy textures builds suddenly to an agitated growl, only to abruptly give way to Anne Shabason speaking intimately about her relationship to her own parents. Snippets of such conversations see her taking on something like a narrator role across Anne while the sound of her voice itself is sometimes effected to become a musical texture entwined into the fabric of the songs without always being present or audible. On “November” Shabason lays muted brass textures atop a wavepool of electric chords provided by none other than the ambient cult-hero Gigi Masin, one of Anne’s many integral collaborators.

                                                                        The serene tragedy of the album distils itself gracefully into the ironically titled album closer “Treat it Like a Wine Bar” wherein flutters of piano and mournfully whispered woodwinds seem to evaporate particle by delicate particle, leaving the listener with a faint emotional afterglow like a dream upon waking. There is a corollary to be drawn here with what it must be like to feel one’s own mind and body drift away slowly until nothing remains, while the collection of memories and abilities that we use to denote the “self” softens into eternity. On Anne, it is precisely this fragile exchange of tranquillity and anguish that Joseph Shabason has proven his singular ability to articulate. 

                                                                        TRACK LISTING

                                                                        01 I Thought That I Could Get Away With It 4:45
                                                                        02 Deep Dark Divide 7:00
                                                                        03 Dangerous Chemicals 6:32
                                                                        04 Donna Lee 4:51
                                                                        05 Forest Run 4:30
                                                                        06 Fred And Lil 6:51
                                                                        07 Toh Koh 3:09
                                                                        08 November 5:10
                                                                        09 Treat It Like A Win Bar 6:12

                                                                        Aisha Burns


                                                                          Born and raised in San Antonio, Texas, and currently residing in Beverly, Massachusetts, violinist, vocalist and songwriter Aisha Burns began playing violin when she was 10 years old, and has been touring and recording since 2006.

                                                                          Soon after moving to Austin in 2005, she gained her start with folk-rock outfit Alex Dupree and the Trapdoor Band, and joined the instrumental ensemble Balmorhea on violin in 2007. After years of secret singing, she released her solo debut Life in the Midwater in 2013. Called "twisting, ethereal...arresting" by Dazed Magazine, and praised for its "delicate intimacy" by NPR, Life in the Midwater explored mortality and relationships with candor and wisdom. Her new album Argonauta, is a collection of songs about her struggle with the grief of losing her mother, while also navigating a new relationship, and ultimately trying to figure out what the new normal is for her life.

                                                                          Burns explains, “Argonauta is the child of a strange chasm in my life, the space where both unfathomable, debilitating loss and new love and hope reside. In an attempt to process this romantic love, the loss of my mother who lived her life as my confidant and dearest friend, and the hope of someday gaining acceptance of life’s ever-shifting cycles, these songs emerged. I had to write this record to give voice to the depression, anxiety and uncertainty I endured while grieving. 

                                                                          TRACK LISTING

                                                                          01. We Were Worn
                                                                          02. I Thought I Knew You Well
                                                                          03. Must Be A Way
                                                                          04. If I
                                                                          05. Would You Come To Me
                                                                          06. New Winter
                                                                          07. Leavin
                                                                          08. Where Do I Begin

                                                                          Caroline Says

                                                                          There's No Fool Like An Old Fool

                                                                            Moving beyond the surf-folk foundations of her debut, on No Fool... Sallee loosens her earthly tether, allowing her songs to float to ever higher altitudes on clouds of loops, immaculate melodies, and hypnotic harmonies, as she sings about aging, the daily grind, and hometown stymie. Moving to Austin in 2013 gave her a new perspective on her hometown of Huntsville, Alabama, which informed the overall vibe of the album. "I think leaving my fairly small hometown and then going back to visit it inspired the feeling I went for on this album. I observed that so many people I knew were content doing basically nothing.

                                                                            Or that they were scared to try to do anything or leave town, like they felt stuck there." The ¬first few notes of the Daniel Rossen-esque opener “First Song” dutifully establish the surreal and slightly tragic tone of longing maintained throughout the album. The curiously upturning melodies ride out on a rich ambient texture before “Sweet Home Alabama” cuts the fog with a crackling 60's soul loop that's charming and catchy enough to induce a cathartic laugh from the listener. The brightness fades with the frosty and propulsive “A Good Thief Steals Clean,” which features lyrics inspired by the 1971 ¬lm Panic in Needle Park, and the idea of being in love with a heroin addict. “I tend to write from the perspectives of characters in dark situations, even though my songs may sound bright,” Sallee notes of her alluring juxtaposition of sunny production and grim lyrics.

                                                                            She employs this dynamic again on “Rip O ,” a frenetically percussive song with lyrics inspired by an NPR story about a young Iraqi man who was killed in an ISIS bombing just before moving to NYC to become a professional dancer. Inspired by Terrence Malick's Badlands and Bruce Springsteen's "Nebraska," the song “Black Hole" features multi-voice harmonies sung from the perspective of 50's spree killer Charles Starkweather. The hurdles she navigated to record naturally led to ad hoc recording techniques, and endless sonic experimentation, often leading to her use of the computer as an instrument. A tireless worker, and a wellspring of creativity, whatever Caroline Says, we will be listening.

                                                                            TRACK LISTING

                                                                            01 First Song 3:55
                                                                            02 Sweet Home Alabama 3:22
                                                                            03 Mea Culpa 2:54
                                                                            04 A Good Thief Steals Clean 2:35
                                                                            05 Rip O 3:40
                                                                            06 Black Hole 2:31
                                                                            07 Cool Jerk 3:03
                                                                            08 I Tried 3:39
                                                                            09 Lone Star Tall Boy 3:36

                                                                            The Skull Eclipses

                                                                            The Skull Eclipses

                                                                              Known respectively for their independent work as Botany and Lushlife, Spencer Stephenson and Raj Haldar selected their collaborative mantle, The Skull Eclipses, when the album became more than just a one-plus-one combination of their individual sounds. The odd title was originally given to a demo beat that Stephenson sent Haldar back in 2014, but it quickly became apt for the subject matter and emotional tone that the album and group took on during creation. “The Skull Eclipses” refers to the philosophy of Solipsism, that nothing veri¬ably exists outside of the human mind, and dually to the idea that knowledge of one’s own mortality makes inner peace unachievable.

                                                                              Happiness is “eclipsed” by the image of death, classically represented as a “skull”. Accordingly, Haldar’s lyrics are a free-associative discourse on the value of life amid a growing population, Islamophobia misdirected at non-muslims via racist assumption, poverty, pharmaceutical abuse, mortality, mental illness, international conflict, political unrest, police shootings, and the continual failure of the drug-war that began when the album’s creators were just children. Stephenson’s trademark fractalline production, noticeably more grim and aggressive than the tie-dyed psychedelia of his Botany project, provides ample space for Haldar’s shadow-self to break through. Aside from displaying a wider tempo variation than any of Stephenson’s work to date The Skull Eclipses is spun from sonic threads dark enough to border on horror. Songs are glued together with interstitial bad-trip creep-ups: melting choirs, doomsday evangelists, and the Judica-Cordiglia recordings that are purported to have captured the sounds of Russian kosmonauts burning up on reentry.

                                                                              Broadly, The Skull Eclipses is a post-hip hop album that harmonizes tropes of mid 90's electronic genres-- ambient, downtempo, jungle, & trip-hop-- under a hauntological umbrella. It is the first offering from a project that's as much indebted to Broadcast & The Focus Group as it is to Pete Rock & CL Smooth, but obligated to neither. Up close however, the album is a peer into the shadows by two figures uncontent with blending into the tapestry of modern music, wholly committed to creating experiences over mere content, which is pouring in from all corners of a frustrated and distracted world. 

                                                                              STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                              Barry says: A brilliantly effervescent mix of underground hip-hop, electronic beats, ambient interludes and thumping weirdo drone. It's a beautiful and varied beast, and one that demands your attention.

                                                                              TRACK LISTING

                                                                              1. Yearn In¬nite I 1:31,
                                                                              2. All Fall (ft. Def Rain) 4:34,
                                                                              3. Angels Don't Mind 2:41,
                                                                              4. Pillars (ft. Baba Maraire & Felicia Douglass) 4:58,
                                                                              5. Take My 2:44,
                                                                              6. Encyclopedia 4:38,
                                                                              7. Gone (ft. Open Mike Eagle) 4:10,
                                                                              8. Gun Glitters (ft. Lojii) 4:00,
                                                                              9. Pushing Up The Hills 3:37,
                                                                              10. Yearn In¬nite II (ft. Laraaji) 1:31,
                                                                              11. Spacecrafts In Rajasthan 4:22

                                                                              In Tall Buildings


                                                                                Akinetic, the new album from Chicago songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Erik Hall's one-man polymathic project In Tall Buildings sees its creator plunge headlong into allegories of communication, loss, impulse, vice, and mass-denialism. With the addition of producer and engineer Brian Deck (Modest Mouse, Iron & Wine) Hall crashes through the aforementioned subject matter with brightness and lucidity, yielding his most intelligent and focused songwriting yet. Working out of his house with Deck in Pilsen, Chicago, Hall's efforts yield ten tracks of spacious and textured handmade pop, comprising one of the most sharply written and deftly recorded home-studio albums in memory. Where his previous titles were natural documents of his musicianship and songcraft, Akinetic arose from deliberate intent to write in concrete pop forms, lyrically informed by what he observed of modern culture, namely its fixation on technology-driven pseudo-progress at the cost of direct communication.

                                                                                "Rather than merely dwell in an inviting musical bed," Hall states, "I wanted to write songs with intentionality that would more directly declare themselves to a listener instead of just passively inviting them in." The epilogue “Wake Up” takes classic In Tall Buildings form with fluttering guitar, softly thumping drums, and Hall’s trademark production flourishes. Tape-crushed voices chirp behind the instruments (all played by Hall, as per the rest of the album) as our host poetically urges us to do what the song’s title suggests. The lights slowly fade up on Akinetic showing it for exactly what it is: a crystal clear, well-crafted montage of honest emotion, with pointed social commentary crouching just beneath the topsoil. That this was all achieved by one person playing every instrument, gently guided by a kindred and veteran co-producer, denotes Akinetic as the greatest height yet reached for In Tall Buildings. 

                                                                                TRACK LISTING

                                                                                01 Beginning To Fade 3:33
                                                                                02 Akinetic 4:11
                                                                                03 Long Way Down 3:28
                                                                                04 Overconscious 3:47
                                                                                05 Cascadia 3:39
                                                                                06 Siren Song 4:24
                                                                                07 Curtain 3:44
                                                                                08 New Moon 1:34
                                                                                09 Days In Clover 3:47
                                                                                10 Wake Up 4:49

                                                                                In 2017, the musical term “electronic” is nearly obsolete given the ubiquity of computerized processes in producing music. Even so, the prevailing assumption is that musicians working under this broad umbrella must be inspired by concepts equally as electrified as their equipment. Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith has demonstrated in her still-blooming discography that this notion couldn’t be further from the truth, and that more often than not, rich worlds of synthesized sound are born from deep reverence of the natural world.

                                                                                Smith (who by no coincidence, cites naturalist David Attenborough as a contemporary muse) has embodied such an appreciation on The Kid in as direct and sincere a way as possible by sonically charting the phases of life itself. The album, which punctually follows up her 2016 breakthrough EARS, chronicles four defining cognitive and emotional stages of the human lifespan across four sides of a double LP. The first side takes us through the confused astonishment of a newborn, unaware of itself, existing in an unwitting nirvana. Smith’s music has always woven a youthful thread befitting of the aforementioned subject.

                                                                                Here she articulates it in signature fashion on the track “An Intention,” which serves not only as a soaring spire on The Kid, but on her entire output. There is playfulness here, but it's elevated by an undertone of gravity into something compelling and majestic that is fast becoming Smith’s watermark. The emotional focus of side two is the vital but underreported moment in early youth when we cross the threshold into self awareness. The subject is profound enough to fill an entire album, but rarely makes its way into a single track, indicating Smith’s ambition to broach subtler and deeper subjects than the average composer. This side offers up another highlight in the form of “In The World But Not Of The World” which serves its subject well with epiphanic, climbing strings and decidedly noisy textures over a near-Bollywood low end pulse.

                                                                                Side three emphasizes a feeling of being confirmed enough in one’s own identity to begin giving back to the formative forces of one’s upbringing, which is arguably the duty that all great artists aim to fulfill. This side ends with the exploratory album cut “Who I Am & Why I Am Where I Am” recorded in a single take without overdubs on the rare EMS Synthi 100 synthesizer. This humble piece of sound design serves as a contrast to side four’s verdant orchestral moments, all written and arranged for the EU-based Stargaze quartet by Smith herself.

                                                                                This final side represents a return to pure being, the kind of wisdom and peace that eludes most of us until the autumn of life. On “To Feel Your Best” this concept is voiced in the bittersweet refrain “one day I’ll wake up and you won’t be there” which Smith intended to be a grateful acknowledgement of life rather than a melancholy resentment of loss. The song has both effects depending on the mood of the listener, and both interpretations are equally moving. Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith belongs to an ilk of modern musicians who are defined by their commitment to creating experiential albums despite the singles-oriented habits of modern listeners, and here she represents her kind proudly. 

                                                                                TRACK LISTING

                                                                                01 I Am A Thought 1:54
                                                                                02 An Intention 4:01
                                                                                03 A Kid 5:04
                                                                                04 In The World 3:00
                                                                                05 I Am Consumed 0:54,
                                                                                06 In The World But Not Of The World 3:57
                                                                                07 I Am Learning 3:16
                                                                                08 To Follow And Lead 4:48
                                                                                09 Until I Remember 4:23,
                                                                                10 Who I Am Why I Am Where I Am 5:21
                                                                                11 I Am Curious I Care 3:45
                                                                                12 I Will Make Room For You 4:59
                                                                                13 To Feel Your Best 6:20….

                                                                                Caroline Says

                                                                                50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can't Be Wrong

                                                                                The album title seems to refer to the contrast between what our elders tell us and the perspectives we form out of our own experiences. There's a vacillation between idealism and realism, and it expresses itself musically in the hairpin turns from gentle folk into brazen experimental flourishes, like on “Funeral Potatoes.” The track opens with lilting, somber, Satie-esque piano, but at the halfway point, typical choices of song structure and transition are discarded in favor of a screeching, static-washed loop of violin and feedback that transcends the formality of songcraft, becoming something altogether more daring and collage-like.

                                                                                The more band-driven songs on 50 Million recall an early-1990’s style of production in the way chorus-twinged electric guitars and tight, papery drumbeats point our mind’s eye to the West Coast sunset, like on the mid-album standout “Gravy Days.” Sallee decorates the background of most songs with hushed humming that could stand alone as a minimalist-ambient choral album, and when employed on her songs, elevates the ¬final product to an astral level. Sallee’s gift lies in pitting the familiar against the unexpected with a delicate assuredness, never compromising the one for the other. These kinds of debuts can sometimes feel like an over-promise of what is to come, but in the case of Caroline Says there's clearly plenty more thread to be unraveled. It'll be a pleasure to see where the next bus ride takes us. 

                                                                                TRACK LISTING

                                                                                1 Winter Is Cold
                                                                                2 I Think I'm Alone Now
                                                                                3 Funeral Potatoes
                                                                                4 Streetlights
                                                                                5 My Fiance's Pets
                                                                                6 Gravy Dayz
                                                                                7 Ghost Pokes
                                                                                8 God Knows
                                                                                9 Lost Feeling 


                                                                                I Can Feel The Night Around Me

                                                                                  The third album from Philadelphia's Nightlands (War On Drugs’ Bassist Dave Hartley), is an exercise in synthetic nostalgia. Each of the nine songs use meticulous choral arrangements and bittersweet pop melodies to evoke a unique type of longing, not for the past, but for a future that once lay ahead but has drifted out of reach. For Dave Hartley, the artistic force behind Nightlands, the answer is found on an inward retreat, away from the cold static of modern life and into the warmth of love and protection. I Can Feel the Night Around Me showcases Hartley's finely tuned ability to layer his voice and conjure some of the most beautiful and elaborate virtual choirs in modern music. If his first two records were vocal layering experiments, his third stands as Hartley's thesis statement: "I was determined to use vocal stacking to enable my songwriting, not shroud or obscure it."

                                                                                  He recorded most of the album alone in a cold warehouse basement, which he affectionately calls The Space -- it's where The War on Drugs formerly rehearsed and stored their equipment. "The dissonance between the sound of the album and the atmosphere in which it was recorded is pretty striking," Hartley says. Indeed the music seems more geographically inspired by the microclimates of the Lost Coast and the moonrises of Big Sur than the post-industrial cityscape of North Philadelphia. Perhaps his periodic westward sojourns and healthy obsessions with mid-career Beach Boys albums and Denis Johnson's Already Dead: A California Gothic were influencing him more than he was aware.

                                                                                  Despite the warm astral vibes of opener “Lost Moon," the song was born in that unheated warehouse basement during a record-setting blizzard. "I wanted to write a song like Jimmy Webb's ‘Wichita Lineman’," he recalls. "But it didn't come out like that at all. I ended up in a lonely and unexpected place, which was a really nice surprise." The massive "Only You Know”, a cover from Dion's Phil Spectorproduced masterpiece Born to Be With You, blends perfectly with the rest of the album's shades of psyched-out doo wop revivalism If there is an outlier on I Can Feel the Night Around Me, it's the exotica-tinged “Fear of Flying,” which Hartley composed with minimalist synth virtuoso Frank LoCrasto before the two had ever even met. Soft tangles of voice wash up on the shore of the song's warbling synth backbone, pushing the album briefly into the sunlight without sacri¬cing its melancholy, late-night vibe. It's the sound of the earth turning, night falling. Soon it will be dark, but there's still light seeping over the horizon. And that's a beautiful thing. 

                                                                                  TRACK LISTING

                                                                                  1. Lost Moon 5:56
                                                                                  2. Depending On You 3:55
                                                                                  3. Easy Does It 4:19
                                                                                  4. Only You Know 4:23
                                                                                  5. Love's In Love 4:09
                                                                                  6. Fingers In My Ears 4:57
                                                                                  7. You're Silver 3:54
                                                                                  8. Moonbathin 5:34
                                                                                  9. Human Hearts 4:03

                                                                                  Two songs on the album feature vocals by Jana Hunter of Lower Dens. The album features members of Woods, Crystal Stilts, Ava Luna, and Hospitality.

                                                                                  In 2010 Nicole Schneit aka Air Waves released Dungeon Dots, an album Aquarius Records called "...pretty much perfect pop music." For her new album Parting Glances, Schneit enlisted friends from Brooklyn's music community to contribute to the record, including members of Woods, Crystal Stilts, Ava Luna, and Hospitality. Additionally, Jana Hunter of Lower Dens contributes vocals to two songs. The album's title comes from the 1986 film Parting Glances in which Steve Buscemi portrays a gay man navigating the difficulties of being in a relationship in Reagan-era New York. More than just identifying with the story, Schneit is interested in the in the lasting effect of the parting glances we share with strangers in our everyday encounters. She explains "You see all sorts of physical and emotional traits on the train. From people puking, making out, screaming, crying, laughing, dancing, grooming, etc. We encounter each other in the thick of our complex lives by simply looking at each other all the time. These glances are mundane and fleeting but also powerfully intimate." The lingering impact of those brief moments seeps into the details and imagery she delivers with energizing hooks and a disarming lack of pretense on Parting Glances. 

                                                                                  TRACK LISTING

                                                                                  01. Horse Race
                                                                                  02. Calm
                                                                                  03. Lines
                                                                                  04. Fantasy
                                                                                  05. Frank
                                                                                  06. Milky Way
                                                                                  07. Touch Of Light
                                                                                  08. Thunder
                                                                                  09. Sweet Talk
                                                                                  10. Older
                                                                                  11. 1000 Degrees
                                                                                  12. Tik Tok 

                                                                                  Erik Hall worked patiently and solitarily for four years to craft Driver, his sophomore album as In Tall Buildings. The album comes twenty years after Hall originally fell in love with home recording at age 13 - the year he got his hands on his first multi-track recorder. As a multi-instrumentalist and producer Hall eventually went on to record and tour with several groups, including old friends His Name is Alive and, more recently, dream-pop duo Wild Belle, performing the rhythm section tracks and lending an engineering hand to their Columbia Records debut.

                                                                                  In 2010 Hall’s home recording efforts yielded the first In Tall Buildings album, which The Huffington Post called "gorgeous indie-pop", and the Chicago Tribune found "hypnotic". In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, he summed up much of his philosophy about composition with a pair of conflicting quotes he attributes to Allen Ginsberg and Kurt Vonnegut, respectively: "First thought, best thought" and "Edit yourself, mercilessly."

                                                                                  Loosely guided by these principles, Hall set out once again to assemble a new batch of songs, when he wasn't recording and touring with other bands. In stark contrast to the dense polyrhythms echoed by NOMO's albums, Driver uses a relatively simple palette to create spacious pop songs, leaving plenty of room for Hall's often Peter Gabriel-esque vocals to shine. The music, though culled from every guitar, keyboard, and drum he managed to fit into his home studio, is powerful in it's restrained simplicity, and it's a compelling foil to the haunting gravity of his vocal performance. Never rushed, his melodies deliver elliptical lyrics that manage to feel intimate, while retaining a sense of mystery. Ultimately, the album's melancholic vibe is relatable, rather than moping or histrionic, and in the end these songs are incredibly comforting and inviting.

                                                                                  TRACK LISTING

                                                                                  01 Bawl C Ry Wail
                                                                                  02 All You Pine
                                                                                  03 Exiled
                                                                                  04 Unmistakable
                                                                                  05 Al Oft
                                                                                  06 Flare Gun
                                                                                  07 I’ll Be Up Soon
                                                                                  08 Cedarspeak
                                                                                  09 When You See Me Fall
                                                                                  10 Pouring Out

                                                                                  After spending two years living on opposite coasts and pursuing their own creative projects, Ivan Howard and Kelly Crisp returned last spring to set to work on the sixth full-length album from the Rosebuds. Joining up with Bon Iver frontman Justin Vernon (a friend and former bandmate who, in a 2011 interview, noted that the Rosebuds make “some of the most important music in the world”), the North Carolina-bred duo spent a week in Vernon’s studio teasing out a batch of songs that effortlessly weave the hooky songcraft of classic jangle-pop, the cagey romanticism of new wave, and a refined yet full-hearted sensibility all their own. Featuring Vernon on guitar and synths - as well as Bon Iver drummer Matt McCaughan and Sylvan Esso's Nick Sanborn on bass, both longtime pals and cohorts of the Rosebuds - the resulting Sand + Silence radiates both a graceful intensity and the loose, joyful energy that comes from making music with friends.

                                                                                  TRACK LISTING

                                                                                  01 In My Teeth 4:27
                                                                                  02 Sand + Silence 5:13
                                                                                  03 Give Me A Reason 4:03
                                                                                  04 Blue Eyes 2:48
                                                                                  05 Mine Mine 3:27
                                                                                  06 Wait A Minute 3:48
                                                                                  07 Esse Quam Videri 3;44
                                                                                  08 Death Of An Old Bike 3:31
                                                                                  09 Looking For 3:08
                                                                                  10 Walking 1:56
                                                                                  11 Tiny Bones 4:12

                                                                                  Flying Fantasy was recorded and mixed by Scott Solter, known for his work with St. Vincent, Superchunk, The Mountain Goats, and many others. As an accomplished 12-string guitarist/composer, Alexander Turnquist was naturally alarmed when the ulnar nerve in his left hand seized up in 2013, but after a surgical procedure he gratefully started the process of learning to play guitar again. His recovery was cut short when not long after the surgery he was hospitalized with meningitis. Though his recovery is ongoing, and he continues to struggle with a weakened immune system and memory loss, he was inspired to soldier on, rather than being deterred by his physical struggles.

                                                                                  Turnquist's latest full-length Flying Fantasy confirms the idea that out of great hardship can come great art. As he wrote the material for the new album it became clear that his sensitivity had sharpened, his empathy magnified, and his sense of purpose blossomed. The unfortunate circumstances he endured ostensibly forced his metamorphosis from a remarkable guitar player to a truly great composer. Much like the butterflies that adorn the album cover, he seems to have changed form and taken flight.

                                                                                  The album opens with the sparse harmonics of "House of Insomniacs", which are soon joined by lush swells of vibes, cello, and even wordless vocals. On the tracks that follow, Turnquist continues to make use of this dynamic sonic pallet, even adding organ, piano, marimba, steel drums, violin, and french horn to the mix. From "Red Carousel", which was inspired by Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes, to the somber lilt of the love song "Wildflower", to the truly arresting title track "Flying Fantasy" which uses only 4 open strummed guitars and loops of damaged tape and wire recorders, every note vibrates with life as Turnquist ushers us though his intoxicatingly colorful worlds of sound.

                                                                                  "By embedding both new age and noise-oriented electronic themes into his pastoral pieces, Turnquist unites disparate traditions and ideals, essentially employing sonic counterweights to construct 57 minutes that are as surprisingly dynamic as they are perfectly beautiful." PITCHFORK (8.2) .

                                                                                  TRACK LISTING

                                                                                  1. House Of Insomniacs 7:30
                                                                                  2. Finding The Butterfly 5:46
                                                                                  3. Wild Flower 6:17
                                                                                  4. Red Carousel 8:45
                                                                                  5. Flying Fantasy 6:41
                                                                                  6. Cloud Slicing 2:19

                                                                                  In the wake of their 2011 album "Strange Hearts", the three members of Secret Cities branched off in different directions. Charlie Gokey delved into Roy Orbison's ballads about losers in love while becoming a civil liberties attorney in Washington, D.C. Alex Abnos locked in to New Orleans soul masters like King Floyd & Dr. John as he became a journalist in New York City. And Marie Parker became a teacher in the band's spiritual home of Fargo, North Dakota.

                                                                                  Having met at band camp and on an internet message board, the trio had made music together for nine years without ever living together in the same city. After recording two albums and a handful of singles via email, they decided it was finally time to enter a real studio where they could play and record together in real time. They chose San Francisco's Tiny Telephone studio, where Jay Pellicci manned the controls for a week-and-a-half of the most spontaneous, democratic, and visceral recording of their lives. They emerged with Walk Me Home, an album that finally reflects their live chemistry and their diverging lives and musical tastes.

                                                                                  "The bass is dewey. The harmonies are starlit. The theremin is ripe…The racket they're able to muster together in the process is enough to set them apart from the pack." PITCHFORK.

                                                                                  TRACK LISTING

                                                                                  01. Purgatory; 2:17
                                                                                  02. Bad Trip; 2:24
                                                                                  03. Paradise; 4:24
                                                                                  04. The Rooftop; 2:26
                                                                                  05. Interlude; 1:49
                                                                                  06. Thumbs ; 3:28
                                                                                  07. Playing With Fire; 3:50
                                                                                  08. Walk Me Home; 3:46
                                                                                  09. The Cellar; 4:04
                                                                                  10. Interlude 2; 1:36
                                                                                  11. It ’s Always Summer; 2:45
                                                                                  12. It ’s Always Winter; 3:42
                                                                                  13. Sun Enclosure; 3:30

                                                                                  After years of writing and performing, Ava Luna has refined their doo-wop soul meets punk-as-fuck aesthetic into something bold and glaringly defiant in today's indie music landscape. Following the release of their critically lauded first proper full-length Ice Level, the band spent an intense 2-week period writing and recording in upstate New York. Unlike previous efforts that were meticulously mapped out, the songs that would become Electric Balloon were "…a family effort." according to frontman Carlos Hernandez. For the new album, former Columbia composition student Hernandez relinquished the reins a bit, opting for a more organic approach to writing the material for what would become Electric Balloon. In the wake of Ice Level, Ava Luna's sharp edges have melted away just enough, making it easier to connect with their no-wave grooves and soaring harmonies. Distilling everything from James Chance and ESG to contemporaries like Dirty Projectors and Of Montreal, Ava Luna have landed on an aggressively unique sound that still manages to be accessible.

                                                                                  “…a beaming mix o f ice-cool vintage '80s no wave grooves and extra-lush three-part girl group harmonies …Ava Luna has in fectious, minimalist, ESG-style beats for days.” SPIN

                                                                                  TRACK LISTING

                                                                                  1. Daydream (2:34)
                                                                                  2. Sear Roebuck M&Ms (3:03)
                                                                                  3. Crown (4:50)
                                                                                  4. Aquarium (2:16)
                                                                                  5. Plain Speech (4:32)
                                                                                  6. Electric Balloon (3:00)
                                                                                  7. PRPL (3:49)
                                                                                  8. Hold U (4:13)
                                                                                  9. Judy (4:18)
                                                                                  10. Genesee (3:40)
                                                                                  11. Ab Ovo (4:17)

                                                                                  Debut solo record by Shaun Flemming of the Jagjaguwar band Foxygen.

                                                                                  Joseph Campbell describes a shaman as "person, male or female, who…has an overwhelming psychological experience that turns him totally inward. It's a kind of schizophrenic crack-up. The whole unconscious opens up, and the shaman falls into it." We'll never know the whole truth about what happened when (Foxyen drummer and former Disney child actor) Shaun Fleming moved from the West Coast suburbs to New York, but whatever it was fractured his psyche, opened it up, and gave birth to Diane Coffee.

                                                                                  In 2013, after joining the band Foxygen, Shaun Fleming left the green and golden fields of his hometown of Agoura Hills, CA to become the third roommate in a 700 square-foot, pre-war, closet-free Manhattan apartment. He was welcomed to The Big Apple by a nasty flu virus that drained the last bit of California sunshine out of the skinny, Macaulay Culken-looking 26-year-old's body. As he recovered, cabin fever supplanted the flu, and his relentless creative drive took over. Low on funds and bored out of his gourd, he spent the next two weeks alone in his bedroom writing and recording what would become the debut Diane Coffee LP My Friend Fish. Despite his limited means (using a pseudo drum kit consisting of a snare, one broken cymbal, and a metal pot, recording parts with an iPhone's voice memo app, playing a detuned guitar rather than a real bass, etc)

                                                                                  My Friend Fish sounds fully realized and remarkably polished. From a Donovan-esque song about Sriracha, to experiments with distortion and garage-rock, to songs like "All The Young Girls" in which he gleefully channels Tom Jones with sex-bomb confidence, on My Friend Fish Fleming's spell-casting powers are in full effect, inspiring panty-tossing glee. After you finish listening, you'll wonder as you stretch out in bed and enjoy a cigarette, "Who is Fish?"

                                                                                  TRACK LISTING

                                                                                  1. Hymn (3:23)
                                                                                  2. Never Lonely (3:25)
                                                                                  3. Tale Of A Dead Dog (4:19)
                                                                                  4. WWWoman Is A Sin (3:02)
                                                                                  5. New Years (3:42)
                                                                                  6. All The Young Girls (3:22)
                                                                                  7. When It's Known (3:37)
                                                                                  8. That Stupid Girl Who Runs A Lot (1:57)
                                                                                  9. Eat Your Love (With Sriracha) (2:41)
                                                                                  10. Green (3:37)

                                                                                  Often when you're in your mid-20's heavy realities start to settle in. Relationships that seemed like they'd last forever lose their spark, your aspirations and self-perception shift, you marvel at friends your age getting married and having babies, and you feel powerless and small, realizing that people you've known and loved for a lifetime can suddenly die. It's a serious psychological shakeup, made even more difficult if your frontal cortex hasn't fully matured yet. It's a beast, a mountain, a wall, or as in Kubrick's 2001 A Space Odyssey, a mysterious obelisk that pushes you to evolve…like it or not. For better or worse, parts of us die, new parts come to life, and if we're lucky we emerge smarter, stronger, and more resilient. It's no surprise that for ages we've felt a deep sense of connection with music, art, and films inspired by this metamorphosis.

                                                                                  Aisha Burns' Life in the Midwater provides a snapshot of the rough stuff, but with a delicate sensitivity and wisdom beyond her years. Burns' contributions as the violinist and occasional vocalist for the Austin band Balmorhea belie a nuanced songwriting prowess, and a dynamic and powerful voice. The album's title references a deep dark layer of the ocean that flows far below the surface, and just above what we call the deeps sea. Bioluminescent jellyfish often inhabit this layer of the ocean, emitting mysterious flashes of light despite the risk of exposing themselves to potential predators. Similarly Aisha's songs are dreamlike beacons in the inky abyss…

                                                                                  TRACK LISTING

                                                                                  1. Sold
                                                                                  2. Midwater
                                                                                  3. Shelly
                                                                                  4. Gatekeeper
                                                                                  5. Discerpo
                                                                                  6. Requiem
                                                                                  7. Mine To Bear
                                                                                  8. Destroyer
                                                                                  9. Nothing

                                                                                  After releasing two albums on the indie label Kanine Records, Grooms still hadn't gained enough traction to support themselves with their music and they were understandably ready to call it quits. However, in 2011, impressed with their albums and live shows, author Michael Azerrad invited Grooms to perform at his Our Band Could Be Your Life show alongside St. Vincent, Ted Leo, Wye Oak, Dan Deacon, and WV alumni Dirty Projectors. It was a huge opportunity for the band, and the catalyst for what would become their new album Infinity Caller. Azerrad's enthusiasm and encouragement gave the band’s primary songwriter Travis Johnson the confidence to soldier on, keep making music, and ultimately find peace of mind.

                                                                                  "…a revelation -- dynamic, hooky, energetic!" PITCHFORK

                                                                                  "The ’90s indie rock lashings of Grooms, add a reminder to dust off your Polvo/SY LPs" STEREOGUM 

                                                                                  "...some of the most exciting new sounds the Kings County has to offer.” POP MATTERS

                                                                                  TRACK LISTING

                                                                                  1. Lion Name
                                                                                  2. I Think We're Alone Now
                                                                                  3. Sleep Detective
                                                                                  4. Iskra Goodbye
                                                                                  5. Play
                                                                                  6. Susie Jo
                                                                                  7. Completely
                                                                                  8. Very Very Librarian
                                                                                  9. Sometimes Sometimes
                                                                                  10. Something I Learned Today
                                                                                  11. Infinity Caller

                                                                                  David Wingo is a busy man. In the years since the release of his last record as Ola Podrida, he's written and recorded soundtracks for several movies including Take Shelter (winner of the Grand Prix at Cannes in 2011), MUD (starring Matthew McConaughey and Reese Witherspoon), and Prince Avalanche (starring Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch and co-composed with Explosions In The Sky), both of which are seeing wide release this coming spring/summer. When he had time in between films, Wingo assembled a live band featuring Colin Swietek on guitars, Matt Clark on bass, and David Hobizal on drums and began to bring his new songs in to the band. A first for Ola Podrida, the new album Ghosts Go Blind was recorded to tape in a proper studio, mostly live, with the full band. The resulting songs are energetic and accessible, while Wingo's abstract narratives are more personal and intimate than ever. Throughout the album bittersweet memories of youth are filtered through the nostalgic eyes of a man starting to accept his adult life for the first time. The album opens with last guy at the party pleading for someone to stay with him, and keep the revelry going a little longer. It's an almost cringeworthy desperation, and yet Wingo makes it feel relatable. The final refrain "It's no fun, being alone at the end" takes on a bigger meaning, giving you the feeling his friends have grown up and moved on, leaving him to decide how he'll proceed with his life. By the middle of the album, the character has evolved, now pleading with his partner again, but this time the goal is to stay home and shut out the world.

                                                                                  TRACK LISTING

                                                                                  1. Not Ready To Stop, 5:40
                                                                                  2. Fumbling For The Light, 4:03
                                                                                  3. Washing Away, 4:40
                                                                                  4. Blind To The Blues, 4:32
                                                                                  5. Staying In, 4:06
                                                                                  6. Ghosts Go Blind, 5:12
                                                                                  7. Speed Of Light, 4:07
                                                                                  8. Some Sweet Relief, 4:07
                                                                                  9. Notes Remain, 5:14

                                                                                  On Stranger Balmorhea continues the cosmic dialog they began with their eponymous debut in 2007. Though the spirit of Texas' early inhabitants and the weight of the night sky inspired previous albums All is Wild, All is Silent (2009) and Constellations (2010), Stranger shifts the focus from the celestial to the terrestrial, or more accurately, it begins to explore the celestial resonance in all things terrestrial. Balmorhea's music has always been guided by the experience of living in Texas, but with Stranger the band moves beyond contemplative reverence for the land and the history of their home state.

                                                                                  The most forward-leaning of their catalog, Stranger presents worlds of tenderness, aggression, estrangement, and freedom using an expanded sonic palette including guitar loops, vibes, synthesizers, ukulele, and steel pan drums. In addition to these new sounds, electric guitars and percussion take the stage once occupied by piano and acoustic guitars. Opening with the electric guitar loops, synths, and steel drums of "Days", the band invites us to move forward with them as they explore without pretense or expectation. "Pilgrim" provides the perfect ending, blurring alpha and omega...a concluding gesture taking us back to our beginnings.

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