Well, after 12 years, I’ve finally gotten bored with the old text only version of this weekly news letter, so I’ve decided to try and spiff things up. This will likely be a bit of a work in progress for the next few weeks as we fine tune the look and what not, since I still want to get this list out on Thursdays. Please let us know what you think and if you have any problems with this new format.
…..picks of the week…..
*The Invisible Hands: s/t (Abduction) 2LP
Limited edition 2LP. The Invisible Hands is the English translation of the band’s original Egyptian Arabic name: El Ayadi El Khafeyya. Taking almost two years to create amidst an unusual and challenging backdrop, this is the new project of Alvarius B. (Alan Bishop of Sun City Girls). Eleven highly-crafted songs projected through his typically dark lens of songwriting and a band of brilliant musicians from Egypt; this special edition limited 2LP includes the English and Arabic language vocal versions of the album together in one set. Sides A and B are the English album delivered in AB’s patented sinister style, drenched in lovely psychedelic folk arrangements and vocal choruses with a nod to what could have potentially been an album that surfaced decades ago but instead found its way into the future, superimposed over historic and tumultuous times in the center of the Arab world. Sides C and D are the Arabic version — the exact same 11 songs but the lead vocals are sung in Arabic by Cherif El Masri and Aya Hemeda. The mixes are almost identical but there are various subtle differences in instrumentation, vocal choruses, and effects. The group was established during the summer of 2011 and the album was recorded in Cairo in May of 2012. Band members include Cherif El Masri and Aya Hemeda (both former members of popular Egyptian group Eskenderella) with drummer Magued Nagati. On a handful of songs, several other players from the Cairo scene are featured including Sam Shalabi (Shalabi Effect/Land Of Kush) on oud and Mohamed Medhaton violin and viola. This limited edition one-time 2LP vinyl pressing comes in a beautiful heavy-duty gatefold jacket with full-color artwork and all lyrics and credits printed in English and Arabic.
*Vangelis: Blade Runner OST (Audio Fidelity) LP
“The Blade Runner soundtrack was composed by Vangelis for Ridley Scott’s 1982 film, considered one of the finest sci-fi movies ever made. It is mostly a dark, melodic combination of classical compositions and synthesizers which mirrors the futuristic film noir envisioned by Scott. The soundtrack holds legendary status and at the time was well-received by fans and critics including Best Original Score nominations for a BAFTA and Golden Globe yet, except for a few cuts, it was not released until 1994. The movie remains a classic film with a long list of popular movie stars including Harrison Ford, Daryl Hannah, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, and Edward James Olmos, most of whom appear on this record in movie dialog samples mixed into the 12 tracks of nearly one hour of music. Vangelis makes each track flow into one another. The soundtrack features vocal contributions from Demis Roussos and the sax solo by Dick Morrissey on “Love Theme.” The gatefold jacket includes many colorful stills from the film. Blade Runner is a timeless classic on film and now on 180 gram transparent red vinyl.”
Heart of Oak is the stunning Season of Mist debut full-length from Ancients, one of 2013’s most anticipated albums for good reason. The acutely modern, progressive quartet craft songs as nuanced and expressive as the range of human emotion, without eschewing their hard rock/heavy metal roots. With Heart of Oak as their calling card, Ancients exude class and confidence of a band beyond their years! Produced by the band and engineered by Jesse Gander (Japandroids, Bison B.C.) at The Hive Creative Labs (Black Mountain, Nomeansno) in Vancouver in the winter 2011/2012. “The foursome’s brand of metal is thunderous yet always focused on melody, striking a strong balance between commanding and catchy. Unlike much of today’s mainstream metal acts, these guys know how to write honest-to-goodness songs, showing tremendous discipline amidst all the instrumental flamboyance, and are primed to put their young peers to shame.” – Popmatters, The Best Hopes to Break Out in 2013. Sample it
Originally released in 1976 in an edition of 300 copies, the sole album by Indianapolis’ Anonymous stands today as a high water-mark in psych-rock. The album combines the adventure of west coast ballroom groups, the 12-string majesty of Byrds, and breathtaking multi-part harmonies to forge something inimitable and one-of-a-kind, with powerful songs that pushed the limit and raised the bar at the same time. A true classic recommended for everyone into amazing rock records of all varieties. Sample it here!
Mikal Cronin’s self-titled debut from 2011 was all about endings: the end of college, the end of a serious relationship, and the end of his time in Los Angeles, where he grew up. So it’s no surprise that his sophomore release MCII – and first album for Merge Records – is all about new beginnings. “Since the first record came out, my life has changed quite a bit,” Cronin says, referencing his move to San Francisco and tours with Ty Segall as well as with his own band. “I was presented with a whole new slew of problems and situations that I was trying to work through.” Recorded in late 2012 by Eric Bauer at Bauer Mansion in San Francisco, MCII includes guest appearances by K. Dylan Edrich, Charles Moonhart, Ty Segall, and Petey Dammit. Sample it here!
From Atlanta, Georgia, the origins of Deerhunter can be traced back to when frontman Bradford Cox first met guitarist Lockett Pundt at high school. Years later Bradford and Moses Archuleta began making music together, and the seeds of what would become Deerhunter were sown. After a brief hiatus, during which time Bradford Cox and Lockett Pundt released their own albums as Atlas Sound and Lotus Plaza respectively, a new Deerhunter line-up (with additions of bassist Josh Mckay and guitarist Frankie Broyles) reconvened in January of 2013 at Rare Book Studio in Brooklyn, New York. Produced by Nicholas Vernhes and Cox and recorded in the dead of night, Deerhunter’s new longplayer Monomania is now available. Monomania finds the group recalling its scrappy punk aesthetic; a perfect nocturnal garage rock album full of the layered and hazy vintage guitar sounds that define them.
Following the huge success of Pink Moon on deluxe vinyl – comes his second album Bryter Layter in a similar deluxe vinyl offering. The album is an exact replica of the original 1970 release and is pressed on heavyweight audiophile vinyl, and remastered from near-original master tapes by the album’s original engineer/ producer John Wood. Although the original tapes were unusable, Wood had made a safety copy of the album in 1970 and it is from this that the new album has been made. After crafting a debut album full of beauteous, somber chamber-folk, Nick Drake pulled something of an about-face in 1970 with the follow-up, Bryter Layter. With a bright, sparkling production and orchestrations that occasionally border on Easy Listening, the framework is light and airy where Five Leaves Left was dark and foreboding. Sample it here!
With percussionist extraordinaire Steven Hess now a full fledged member, Mark Nelson and Pan-American deliver their first new album since White Bird Release from 2009. This collection of new sounds began with the duo rehearsing for a series of shows in southern europe in late 2011 and early 2012, the songs written together as a group to be played live. Bobby Donne (Labradford, Cristal) plays bass on multiple tracks, further emphasizing the live band feel. Mark Nelson’s deft production touches abound, subtly mixing disparate elements into a fully integrated whole, while Hess prominently displays a myriad of percussion techniques showing a mastery of understated rhythms. Sample it here!
In 1970s Tehran, the classically-trained Ramesh played the serious, quiet marquess against Googoosh’s langorous pop princess. Both singers made the papers every time they changed their haircuts & appeared on tv frequently. However, while Googoosh now runs a cosmetics company in Los Angeles, they say Ramesh was killed in the political turmoil of the late 70s because she was a lesbian. Nobody knows for sure. What we do know is that she was a funky queen whose rich voice sits like a fat mink coat, twirling it’s melancholy way around long-necked lutes, backed by flurries of frame & goblet drums. And the sleazy, Western brass, strings & synths are here too, slathered across rare singles for your shameless dancing pleasure. Welcome to the unpredictable world of pre-revolutionary Iranian pop music. Sample it here!
The highly anticipated debut from London’s Savages, an all-female four-piece who play music with scything energy and brutal power. Recorded with Rodaidh McDonald (The xx) in Northwest London’s Fish Factory during December of 2012 and produced with Johnny Hostile. Silence Yourself opens with an excerpt from the John Cassavetes film Opening Night. The band has cited a huge range of influences, including J.G. Ballard, the Gun Club, Silver Apples, Siouxsie, Wire, Black Sabbath, Mary Shelley and Kurt Vonnegut. Sample it here!
With fourteen songs ’11 Deschanel originals and three covers’ Volume 3 is an effortlessly effervescent, bleached-out-in-the-sun pop record. The album features some of the most dynamic, complex songs Deschanel has ever written, allowing for tempo shifts, disco grooves, string arrangements on multiple tracks, and horn flourishes that perfectly suit the She & Him sound. Volume 3 features guest contributions from NRBQ’s Joey Spampinato, Mike Watt, Tilly and the Wall, Pierre de Reeder from Rilo Kiley, and Tom Hagerman from Devotchka. LP includes download. Sample it here!
Ultramarine is the name and colour of Young Galaxy’s fourth LP, the first album they have made away from Montreal, across the sea, all together. Like 2011’s Shapeshifting, Ultramarine was made with electronic producer Dan Lissvik (Studio); but this time it was made in Gothenburg, Sweden, at Lissvik’s studio; this time five musicians stood in a room with Lissvik, playing their instruments; this time every song was sung by co-founder Catherine McCandless, with eyes on a blue horizon. These are ten tracks of shining, glimmering electronic pop songs that scatter across the dancefloor, swim through headphones, ringing out like a cold new summer. A modern record, beautifully now, and in a way more direct than anything Young Galaxy have ever made. Sample it here!
Khosh Amadid, friends, to this 4th volume in a series of compilations highlighting fiercely rare 45s from Tehran’s pre-revolutionary golden age. Vivacious ladies with sassy Dorothy Hamill haircuts and skin-bearing pantsuits were once plastered across Tehran’s newsstands. Those gorgeous sirens and their hunky male counterparts made all the teens sway to hand drums that boinked in 6/8 time. Plush brass & string arrangements took their cues from Latin grooves, psychedelic guitars, ritzy soundtracks, and sugary pop from the West. Within months of the 1979 Islamic revolution, pop music was labeled a symbol of the previous regime and became illegal overnight. In those same months, it also became illegal for women to be in public without conforming to the hijab dress code. By hook and crook, these little round records survived, and they attest to a time when Tehran’s homegrown and exiled populations would have been united in an easygoing love for funk bass & buzzing synthesizers.
Sample it here!
alabama shakes: boys & girls (ato) LP
arcade fire: funeral (merge) LP
arcade fure: suburbs (merge) LP
beach boys: pet sounds (capitol) LP
beatles: abbey road (emi) LP
beatles: magical mystery tour (emi) LP
beatles: white album (emi) LP
beatles: revolver (emi) LP
black flag: damaged (sst) LP
john coltrane: a love supreme (impulse) LP
daft punk: discovery (emi) LP
daft punk: homework (emi) LP
daphni: jiaolong (merge) LP
marvin gaye: what’s goin’ on (motown) LP
*tim hecker: ravedeath, 1972 (kranky) LP
kendrick lamar: good kid… (aftermath) LP
curtis mayfield: superfly (curtom) LP
ministry: land of rape & honey (music on vinyl) LP
nirvana: incesticide (geffen) LP
nirvana: nevermind (geffen) LP
ost: sound city: reel to real (LP)
*rodriguez: coming from reality (light in the attic) LP
rolling stones: exile on main street (universal) LP
*sleep: dopesmoker (southern lord) LP
*suicide: s/t (red star) LP
*velvet underground; the verge/mgm albums (sundazed) 5LP
*velvet underground & nico: s/t (4 men with beards) LP
white stripes – under great northern lights (third man) LP
!!!: thiiiler (warp) LP/CD
*william basinski: nocturnes (temporary residence)
bibio: silver wilkinson (warp) LP
boards of canada: tomorrow’s harvest (warp) LP/CD
camera obscura: desire lines (4ad) LP/CD
*circle: six day run OST (svart) LP
*circle: panic (svart) LP
city & colour: the hurry & the harm (dine alone) LP
daft punk: random access memory (columbia) LP/CD
*dalhous: an ambassador for laing (blackest ever black) LP
*derdiyoklar ikilisi: coban mamos (pharaway sounds) LP/CD
*drive OST (mondo) LP
*the focus group: elektrik karousel (ghost box) LP/CD
gold panda: half of where you live (ghostly) LP
jim guthrie: takes time (static clang) LP
iggy pop & the stooges: ready to die (fat possum) LP
king tuff: was dead (burger) LP
*kink gong: voices (descrepant) LP
mark lanegan & duke garwood: black pudding (ipecac) LP
major lazer: free the universe (secretly canadian) LP
laura marling: i once was an eagle (ribbon) LP
*tucker martine: brokenhearted dragonflies: insect electronica from southeast asia (sublime frequencies) LP
*the national: trouble will find me (4ad) LP/CD
*oblivion OST (mondo) LP
*mike patton: the place beyond the pines (milan) LP
*public image ltd: first edition (light in the attic) LP/CD
queens of the stone age: …like clockwork (matador) LP/DLX LP/CD
*saltland: i thought it was us (constellation) LP
nicholas sean savage: other life (arbutus) LP
sigur ros: agaetis byrjun (fat cat) LP
sigur ros: hvarf/heim (xl) 2LP
sigur ros: kveikur (xl) LP/DLX LP/CD
*joakim skogsberg: jola rota (subliminal sounds) LP
*source family OST (drag city) LP
*irma thomas: in between tears (alive) LP
vampire weekend: modern vampires in the city (xl) LP/CD
wild nothing: empty estate (captured tracks) LP
yeah yeah yeahs: mosquito (interscope) LP
v/a: arts & crafts x (arts & crafts) LP
*v/a: ecstasy of gold: 23 killer bullets from the spaghetti west 1 (semi-automatic) LP
*v/a: ecstasy of gold: 22 killer bullets from the spaghetti west 2 (semi-automatic) LP
*v/a: molam: thai country groove from isan vol. 2 (sublime frequencies) LP