As promised last week, this week is a killer! While not the longest list I’ve put together recently, it packs massive bang for your buck! It was really hard to just limit myself to only two picks this week. I even left out a shipment that’s arriving tomorrow and held off on one other shipment so there’d be some killer stuff next week instead of so much this week. Anywho, so much for you to peruse. See you soon!
Coil: Musick to Play in the Dark 1 & 2 (Alkah Hellna) 3LP
The best and most desirable Coil albums of all time, also two of the most expensive on vinyl, now packaged together as a triple LP set! Volume 1… “The fourth ‘official’ Coil album. Vol 1 replaced Backwards (scheduled for Trent Reznor’s Nothing label) as the follow up to 1991’s Love’s Secret Domain. The speed and spontaneity of the recordings might have resulted in a leaner, more sparing production, but Musick is still hallmarked by the special care Coil take in minting new, idiosyncratic sounds. Working through sleep-deprived states, in which body and mind simultaneously register every slight, shuddering change caused by the mixing desk’s variations in timbre, tone colour and tempo, Coil have come up with a particularly unstable molecule as the base unit of Musick. The way these are strung together in loose silvery ribbons gives the album its special, weirdly ectoplasmic feel.” -Biba Kopf/The Wire Volume 2… “Jon Balance, Peter Christopherson and Thighpaulsandra release the follow up to the classic Musick To Play In The Dark Volume 1. This release sees Rose McDowall from Sorrow adding her pixie vocals to some of the proceedings. “Coil return with their second record that seems to be devoted to all things lunar, hot on the heels of their excellent Astral Disaster. Like the last volume, the songs, seeming structured more by some startlingly good intuition more than anything else, sonically unfold like a great story; the surprises genuine, subtle instead of affected. The attention to detail is exquisite, and I imagine the care put into the way their records sound would make most of their contemporaries question their ear or work ethic or both. Especially fine: the opener ‘Something,’ which seems to mutate its mood so completely by the end that I was wondering where it started, and the second to last track ‘Where Are You?’ (the first time on the record Jon Balance’s vocals are untreated; listen closely and he’s inside your head). Though one could sort through the landscapes here and come up with a short speculative list of what they’ve been listening to (AE, perhaps INA-GRM stuff), ultimately Coil sound like nothing but themselves.” – Billy Kiely
File Under: Electronic, Experimental, Industrial, Classics
Ruth White: 7 Trumps From The Tarot Cards (Black Mass Rising) LP
Originally issued in 1969 on Limelight and now available in an edition of 500 copies once again thanks to the good people at French label Black Mass Rising. If you were fortunate enough to score a copy of ‘Flowers of Evil’, then make some space on the shelf for its evil twin. This is proper holy grail stuff for historic electronic music connoisseurs. Its importance highlighted by a CD edition on Creel Pone a few years ago. In the current climate of darker strains of electronic music and fetish for horror soundtracks, this really illustrated how it should be done – Some 45 years ago. One notable difference between ‘7 Trumps’ and ‘Flowers of Evil’ is the absence of vocals; her electronically treated readings of Charles Baudelaire’s poetry. In this sense I think ‘Flowers of Evil’ probably has the edge as being my personal favourite LP of the two. However this leaves plenty of space for all kinds of wild and discordant magick modular synthesizer work and truly discomforting atonal clavinet stabs that send chills. This isn’t just some trendy new wannabe darkside psychedelic effort. This is pure authentic late 60’s stuff that genuinely feels like it could be a gateway to the other side. As powerful and Mystical as H.P Lovecraft’s ‘Necronomicon’ or the sound of some occult/ magick ritual/ ceremony all drenched in lovely warm analogue tape echo. A totally essential and classic record than no serious electronic music collection should be without.
File Under: Early Electronic, Experimental, Raers
David Ackles: s/t (1972) LP
David Ackles’s eponymous 1968 debut is a rich emotional experience rife with poignant balladry and evocative lyricism. The era’s market was unprepared for such a singular songwriter, but the cult of Ackles is a potent force and this reissue obliges its demands. Elton John, Bernie Taupin and Elvis Costello are Ackles acolytes—the latter even championed him as “perhaps the greatest unheralded songwriter of the late ’60s.” As a staff songwriter for Elektra and avid composer for theatre and film, Ackles developed a maverick style. Indeed, David Ackles materialized when Elektra couldn’t imagine a singer more suitable for the material than its composer. David Ackles boasts wonderfully restrained arrangements that only enhance its power. The widely covered opening track “The Road to Cairo” features Ackles at the pinnacle of his emotive ability. With marvelous dramatic grace, he evokes the weary traveler’s wisdom and turmoil as it devolves to a devastating breaking point. It’s a gut-wrenching moment, though one quickly tempered by the melancholy “When Love Is Gone” and beatific “What a Happy Day.” Perhaps akin to Randy Newman, Scott Walker or the darkest Van Dyke Parks (at least for their inimitability), Ackles’s debut sounds peerless today. As critic and archivist Richie Unterberger writes in the liner notes, “About 45 years later, the record is more durable than many a high-charting singer-songwriter statement of the time, precisely for the idiosyncratic qualities that kept it shrouded in obscurity at the time of its release.” This record is an extraordinary achievement—it belongs to a universe bordering on Tim Buckley and Leonard Cohen, not to mention Scott Walker and Randy Newman, but with a starkness all its own.
File Under: SSW
Actress: Ghettoville (Ninja Tune) LP
Finally available as a standard triple-LP release. Ghettoville follows 2012’s R.I.P., but is really the sequel to Actress’ 2008 debut, Hazyville, “sharing a similar rugged style.” Ghettoville is the bleached out and black tinted conclusion of the Actress image. Where the demands of writing caught the artist slumped and reclined, devoid of any soul, acutely aware of the simulated prism that required breakout. Four albums in and the notes and compositions no longer contain decipherable language. The scripts now carry tears, the world has returned to a flattened state, and out through that window, the birds look back into the cage they once inhabited. Spitting flames behind a white wall of silence. The machines have turned to stone, data reads like an obituary to its user. A fix is no longer a release, it’s a brittle curse. Zero satisfaction, no teeth, pseudo artists running rampant, but the path continues.
File Under: Electronic
Afghan Whigs: Black Love (Music on Vinyl) LP
Where some artists write from the head and others from the heart, Whigs’ songwriter/front man Greg Dulli writes from the groin. His lyrics are filled with dark images of romantic obsession. Perhaps no other band can play with such restraint, letting musical tension build until it can do nothing other than explode. Dulli in his finest voice can move from desperate screams to a quiet sinister crooning at the turn of a chord. Black Love was released in 1996 and further built on their trademark mix of Grunge, Indie Rock, Soul and Blues. The band lay out dark, raw Grungy grooves for Dulli to sing his twisted lyrics to; a perfect match. Now available on vinyl for the first time since 1996!
File Under: Indie Rock
Axemen: Derry Legend (Luxury) LP
A long overdue reissue of the AXEMEN’s cracked pop classic and Flying Nun rarity. “An album simmering with background chaos worthy of prime-era Buttholes or Royal Trux. The real surprise is how Derry Legend clears room for pop chops, making it possible to see the Axemen’s relation to bands like the Clean and the Gordons. A wonderful testament to the power and limits of form-bloat. Ahoy!”–Byron Coley. Remastered from the original tapes. Packaged with two newprint poster inserts.
File Under: Punk, Flying Nun, Noise Pop
Mark Banning: Journey to the Light (Students of Decay) LP
Recorded in Northern California in 1984 and released in a micro edition by the Creative Sound imprint in January of the following year, Mark Banning’s Journey to the Light is a true lost gem of private issue New Age music, an album that is more spoken about than heard and deserves to be recognized alongside established classics of the genre. For too long it has languished out of print and nearly impossible to come by, occasionally popping up in private auctions only to be snatched up by savvy collectors. Incorporating processed electric guitar, zither, voice and field recordings, it is unabashedly beautiful music—two side-long pieces that feel as though they may have always existed, hanging in the air like a morning fog over the Pacific. As archetypal to the genre as Banning’s compositions might appear to be, it would be remiss not to comment on their singular nature. Indeed, Banning’s music has a seriousness and intensity that was absent from much of the New Age scene as it existed in the early ’80s. The album’s first piece, “Everlasting Moments,” charts a course somewhere between the weblike guitar cycles of Manuel Gottsching and the buoyant minimalism of Terry Riley. “A Sea of Glass” constructs itself similarly but navigates even calmer waters, providing the listener with a sensuous tapestry of ever-evolving guitar drones and radiant zither filigree. These heady, oddly prescient recordings were uncovered by New Age historian / figurehead Douglas Mcgowan (Yoga Records) and will appeal as much to fans of drone and ambient music as to those enamored with labyrinthine annals of American private press records, New Age as such, or with the recent renaissance of synthesizer-based experimental music. Remastered for presence and clarity by James Plotkin, this special reissue is the definitive edition of Banning’s transportive masterwork.
File Under: New Age, Ambient, Minimalism
Baroness: Blue Record (Relapse) LP
Blue Record announces the re-awakening of Savannah’s rock giants Baroness. Blue Record is an instant classic, with all the peaks and valleys, textures, and nuances that timeless records yield over repeated listens. Deep and dark; Blue Record overflows with gossamer melodies and striking, earnest riffs that have become the band’s signature. Blue Record is the most poignant moment in the Barones canon to date.”
Baroness: Red Album (Relapse) LP
Savannah, Georgia’s Baroness blow the lid off their cauldron of hall of fame riffs on their first record for Relapse and debut full-length titled Red Album. With a sound built upon a resolute sense of purpose and shaped by hundreds of explosive live shows, Baroness position themselves at the forefront of heavy music with an epic album that is at once powerful, expressive, confident, and commanding. Red Album sees the band expand its sonic vision; colossal riffs and haunting vocals roll like thunder across epic songs spanning both the intense and the sublime. As the Red Album proves, Baroness’ formidable reputation proceeds them for a reason.”
File Under: Metal
Bl’ast: The Expression of Power (Southern Lord) 3LP
Santa Cruz, CA hardcore legend: Bl’ast! recorded their debut several times before finally emerging from the studio with their cult classic masterpiece: ‘The Power of Expression’. . For the first time ever an alternate version (the Track sessions) of this album is officially available. Also included is a 28 page booklet with amazing Bl’ast! photos from the mid-80s. All tracks (re)mastered by Brad Boatright. Lp version contains a exclusive unreleased demo. TRIPLE LP SET!
File Under: Punk, Hardcore
Glenn Branca: Lesson No. 1 (Superior Viaduct) LP
After cutting his teeth in the late ’70s no wave scene with bands Theoretical Girls and The Static, Glenn Branca made his first solo statement, Lesson No. 1, in 1980. The inaugural release on legendary post-punk / dance label 99 Records, Lesson No. 1 unveiled Branca’s visionary guitar concepts with two monstrous, side-long compositions that helped forge NYC’s downtown art-punk sound and acted as a massive influence on countless young groups, including Sonic Youth and Swans. The title track is easily Branca’s most accessible moment; its driving beat and interlocking patterns resemble German pioneers Neu! playing Phillip Glass. Never before (or since) has minimalism sounded so euphoric. “Dissonance” is the A-side’s polar opposite. Dark, skittish and unhinged, Branca leads his band (guitar, keyboard, bass, drums and sledgehammer) through block after block of industrial terror, leaving listeners drained in the process. Soon after the release of Lesson No. 1, Branca began to work on ambitious, long-form symphonies. “Bad Smells,” included here as a single-sided bonus 12-inch, was commissioned in 1982 as a dance piece for choreographer Twyla Tharp and originally released on a split LP with John Giorno. Featuring Sonic Youth guitarists Lee Ranaldo and Thurston Moore, “Bad Smells” is a thrilling multi-section guitar assault that foretells much of Branca, Ranaldo and Moore’s work for the next decade.
File Under: Experimental, Minimalism, No Wave
Burnt Ones: Gift (Castle Face) LP
Burnt Ones have been Castle Face favorites for years, and last year’s You’ll Never Walk Alone on Burger was the one for which they kicked themelves repeatedly for not getting to first. The label is very honored to present their third record, Gift. Far more psychedelic than their previous work, the album may be a bit of a surprise to fans on first listen. A potent blend of wide-eyed strummers on shifting sands is punctuated by blinking oscillators, left turns into wispy sound collage and tape manipulations, drug-rug-wrapped lushness and telephone whispers from a supremely stoned sounding Mark Tester, the guide through this cultish and vaguely sinister headphone-scape. It’s a woozy and a woolly one. Packaged with original artwork by William Keihn.
File Under: Garage, Glam, Psych
Current 93: I am the Last of All the Field That Fell (The Spheres) LP/CD
I Am the Last of All the Field That Fell: A Channel is the hallucinatory new album from PickNickMagick Skipsters CURRENT 93. Clocking in at 68 minutes in length, the disc is packaged in a full-color digipack designed by David Tibet with a 24-page booklet containing all lyrics, credits and photographs of the band. Channelling C93 for this River are: Jack Barnett (These New Puritans), James Blackshaw, Ossian Brown (Cyclobe), Nick Cave, Antony Hegarty, Reiner Van Houdt, Norbert Kox, Andrew Liles, Tony (TS) McPhee (The Groundhogs), Jon Seagroatt (Comus), Carl Stokes (The Groundhogs), David Tibet, Bobbie Watson (Comus) and John Zorn.
File Under: Experimental, Goth
Damaged Bug: Hubba Bubba (Castle Face) LP
Recorded at home in the fall of 2013 with a variety of synthesizers, drum machines and assorted handmade electronics, Damaged Bug is Thee Oh Sees mastermind John Dwyer’s latest bit of cracked pop alchemy. The project is the cure to the ailment of too much guitar for too long. Fizzing and sputtering like a glowing, temperamental cockpit control panel, Dwyer bunkered deep in a blinking laboratory, penning songs about the long arc of our travels across space and time. Propulsive beats and synthetic veneers coat laser-guided melodies reflecting off shiny metal surfaces while instrumental interludes pop in and out like breaks in the asteroid belt. A far-out side of our main man–nocturnal, hard-wired, and chrome-plated. Hubba Bubba features original artwork by Deirdre White.
File Under: Electronic, Pop, Thee Oh Sees
Dead Rider: Chills on Glass (Drag City) LP
Chills On Glass, Dead Rider’s third ride, is as distinct from the second time around as The Raw Dents was from their debut, Mother of Curses. There’s no point in venturing out unless you intend to see something new–and so Dead Rider do, making new known again. Meanwhile, the search for the perfect teenage love-affair continues, the guessing game that will tell them (and by proxy, us) who the new favorite bedroom wall poster-idol might be. This way ecstasy lies…. The goal for Dead Rider, always: super-heavy, super-driving, more “up” moments than ever before. An album experience; listening, you’re put through some changes. Illusions radiating out from the real. You’re rocked into submission, but asked to participate on the listening level. Rebuilt, regrooved, with favorable upgrades. Chills On Glass moves forward in this tradition, juxtaposing high and low values–serious playing, danceablity, controlled-outcomes experimentation, don’t-give-a-fuck rad-itude. Seeking the rock, Dead Rider leave no stylistic stone unturned in their restless path and no knob on the board untwisted in their search for the mixe parfait. Synths that tickle the top of one’s spine, and the brain-pan balanced atop it. Guitars piercing like a neural system. The fullness of real drums. Passion and soul that echo shoutingly from within the (very aLIVE) rhythm machine. Vocal layers and masks of all kinds, space, with digital code threaded around the edges. This is composition that uses improvisation as an element within a larger structure–the ultimate streamlining of production, where songs are processed on several levels, mirroring and flashing their meanings through tactics and layers, backgrounded by a panaroma of yawning, silent, benevolent and black velvet.
File Under: Rock-ish, Horror Soul, US Maple
Simon Finn: Pass the Distance (Little Big Chief) LP Honorary Pick of the Week (if there wasn’t already two others). Recorded in Chalk Farm Studios in London by Vic Keary for his Mushroom imprint (also home to Chillum and Second Hand), Pass the Distance sees landless folkie Simon Finn chase, tumble down and ultimately ravage his beasties and neuroses in a myriad of gripping and frequently terrifying ways. Callin’ it acid folk or psych folk or freaked out Xtian primal scream just ain’t gonna do the business. Finn ain’t finna get buttoned in. Though you can hear the stoned lilt of contempo bonnet-wearers like Donovan on “The Courtyard,” the lyrics come off more like Jerry Moore on a Leonard Cohen bender. Things do get pastoral, too, but Finn’s spokes are so clotted with mud and hay, he winds up collapsin’ and gaspin’ down a dry well (“What A Day”). But just when ya think ya boy is outta breath, on comes the tottering monolith that is “Jerusalem,” in which Finn croaks til hoarse and foamin’ about the state of contemporary believers. A swollen organ drone keens like an Irish wake in the background. Finn sounds like he’s playin’ guitar with those gauntlets people use to handle razor wire. The percussion struggles to escape in one piece. Of course, all the religious horse hockey is really just a red herring for the paralyzing anger and alienation consuming dude, but if’n you’s a sturdy enough chap to have hung thru the first side, you musta figgered that out. Side B calms it down a touch but the wonders still abound. Leads smother themselves, beauty is lost, folks get betrayed, menacing jokes are cracked. I spose I oughta emphasize the word “cracked” huh? Ya get the notion Finn is on a tough journey, but it’s almost better just to wonder what great personal wilderness landed him on the road in the first place. First time and long-overdue Stateside pressing. File awkwardly between Leonard Cohen’s Songs from A Room and Kenneth Higney. Seems like Finn could use some company. -Sebastian Morris-White, Buffet of Loathsome
File Under: Folk, Psych, Acid Folk
Nils Frahm: Spaces (Erased Tapes) LP
Finally available on vinyl!!! Berlin-based contemporary composer Nils Frahm has built a steady reputation for his intimate, poignant piano recordings, yet they only reveal a fragment of what to expect from a Frahm concert. The artist’s heart lies in improvisation, in the magic of a moment where, inspired by the space and the audience, his fingers create new compositions loosely based around his familiar melodies. Spaces is an ode to the joy of live performance. It expresses Frahm’s love for experimentation and answers the call from his fans for a record that truly reflects what they witness during his concerts. Breaking the convention of a traditional live release, the album was recorded over the course of two years in different locations and on various media, including old portable reel-to-reel recorders and cassette decks. These moments were later pieced together in his Durton Studio for what Frahm refers to as a collage of field recordings rather than a live album. Spaces includes surprises such as the sound of a toilet brush banging on piano strings to create a dub-sounding track. The decision to select takes that include the sounds of people coughing and cell phones ringing make clear that his audience is an integral part of every performance. In his own words: “What I love most about playing in front of people has something to do with a certain kind of energy exchange. The attention and appreciation of my audience feeds back into my playing. It really seems as if there is a true and equal give and take between performer and listener, making me aware of how much I depend on my audience. And since the audience is different every night, the music being played will differ, too. Every space I performed in has its own magic and spirit.” Packaged in die-cut jackets. US edition features exclusive song for download.
File Under: Electronic, Classical, Piano
Bob Frank: s/t (Light in the Attic) LP
Now available on vinyl!!! Light In The Attic and legendary folk/blues/roots label Vanguard Records are proud to begin a series of collaborations under the umbrella Vanguard Vault. The series will explore the vaults of Vanguard and see the reissuing of obscure nuggets, psychedelic weirdness and just some good old-fashioned seminal music. Originally released in 1972 on Vanguard Records, Bob Frank’s self titled debut album took elements of Dylan, Johnny Cash, and Ian Tyson and filtered it through a pot-smoked haze infused with Frank’s long-time friend, Memphis guru Jim Dickinson. Dickinson and Frank shared a mutual admiration that ran so deep that on Dickinson’s own 1972 debut album Dixie Fried he recorded one of Bob’s songs, “Wild Bill Jones.” Despite the Dickinson/Memphis connection, Frank’s only LP for Vanguard has remained a forgotten, hard to find vinyl relic. Until now. As Dickinson once deadpanned, “Bob went to Vietnam and Nashville. I don’t know which was worse.” It was also an itinerant period, when Frank spent many a stoned evening staggering alone through the mid-south urban gothic landscape of church steps and sleaze bars, with his guitar glued to his arm, if not an actual extension of it. Songs would emerge from dreams or drunken visions. But this was not artless acid folk, but a series of picaresque, well-sketched vignettes delivered in a clearly-enunciated vernacular, and all very much in Frank’s own style.
File Under: Folk
Talib Kweli: Gravitas (Javotti Media) LP
Talib Kweli’s 6th solo album independently released on his imprint Javotti Media. The new songs reflect a continued determination and drive in Talib Kweli, impressive because of the fact that “Prisoner of Conscious” was released less than six months ago. Considered one of the top tier lyricist of all time and name dropped in songs by everyone from Jay-Z to 2 Chainz, Talib Kweli has defied the odds and remained relevant while never compromising his art, quite a feat in today’s music business. The respect he is given is evident when Raekwon from the Wu Tang Clan drops by to spit on “Violations”. Talib Kweli has also showcased new artists throughout his storied career, giving breaks to people like Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole long before they were embraced by the mainstream. This streak continues with Brooklyn’s own UnderAchievers, who pop up on the Statik Selektah produced New Leaders. The OhNo produced Art Imitates Life features classic lyricism from Kweli, Rah Digga and Black Thought from the legendary Roots, and Austin’s guitar prodigy Gary Clark Jr. shows up for “Demonology”. All of this leads up to Gravitas’ final track, “Colors of You”, featuring Mike Posner and produced by the late, great J Dilla of Slum Village fame.
File Under: Hip Hop
Missing Monuments: s/t (Dirtnap) LP
If you still think of Missing Monuments as a King Louie project, you’re a few years behind the times! The band began in New Orleans in 2009 when Louie (Royal Pendletons, Pursuaders, Kajun SS, etc.) and his guitar slinging pal Julien Friend recruited drummer Aaron Hill and bassist Bennett Bartley. A 7″ on Douchemaster Records and tours of the Midwest, the West Coast, and Europe followed soon after. Benny Divine (Wizzard Sleeve) replaced Bartley on bass shortly after the release of the band’s debut album Painted White in June 2011. With its lineup solidified and a rougher sound cultivated, the band was just starting to hit its stride. Last year’s superb “(I’m Gonna) Love You Back To Life” EP on HoZac was a brief taste of what Missing Monuments were capable of, and now the band truly delivers the goods on its sizzling second LP. The words “power pop” always seem to come up whenever Louie Bankston is involved, and not without good reason. But that’s just one element of many in what proves to be a righteous mix of sounds. Missing Monuments play gritty rock n’ roll with a distinctly Southern flavor–blending in hints of pop, garage, soul, oldies, and even hard rock. Missing Monuments have the chops and the songs that cannot be beat. And lyrically and vocally, this is some of the most passionate and personal material Louie has turned out in years. If “I Don’t Share” and “Heart and Soul” fail to leave you stunned, you might want to check yourself for a pulse. LP has 11 songs, CD and download come with the entire first album on Douchemaster and 7″ on Hozac as bonus tracks, for a total of 23 songs!
File Under: Garage, Rock n Roll
Pow!: Hi-Tech Boom (Castleface) LP
Deep in the graveyard of San Francisco, a young hand with black and cracked nails is pushing up through a broken pile of e-slag. Bitter teeth tear through server cables and motherboards, desperate to be free from the ever-deepening sludge of tech waste… the iPhone is the new styrofoam cup. Stepping over them—eyes glazed, feet dragging, blank face aglow in the eerie luminescence of smart phones—is the inspiration for these songs. San Francisco has long attracted newcomers… but now the city faces the most dangerous, the most egregious and blandest of them all—people with lots of money. In the vacuum that is now expanding, there is a ragged, determined sound vibrating out of the dirty underground. This is POW! Deep ’80s synth bass percolates under the circuit-swamp-fried-egg guitar. The drums, a teenage tiger’s heartbeat, underpin vocals delivered like a deadpan face-slap from a kid half your age. The recording is simple and dense, and it has a natural Doppler effect on headphones. It’s perfectly poppy and rough at the same time, and it has a message, so dig in, ear-wise. Heed the warning bells echoing down the streets of San Francisco clogged with the cholesterol of normals. Next they could be knocking at your door…
File Under: Electronic, Garage Rock
The Spits: Kill the Kool (In The Red) LP
The space-age mutant punk rockers known as The Spits have been at it for more than a decade now and are showing no signs of slowing down. Their demented, out-of-control stage act has inspired many a mosh pit and near-riot. The band’s five albums (all self-titled) and countless singles are brief blasts of hyperactive aggression with a weirdo, mongoloid electro twist that makes them completely unique. The Spits and In The Red are happy to announce the proper release of Kill the Kool. Previously pressed in an edition of 500 and sold on tour only, this collection has been re-mastered, expanded to a double LP (which spins at 45 RPM) with extra material, and housed in a beautiful gatefold sleeve featuring artwork by comic book artist Keenan Keller. The 22 tracks are pulled from singles sides, outtakes and demos, yet Kill the Kool plays like one of the most cohesive Spits releases rather than an odds ‘n’ sods patchwork. To anyone who has yet to investigate The Spits, Kill the Kool is a perfect introduction. It encapsulates everything the band does best–from creepy, weirdo synth tracks to full-on Killed By Death punk rockers.
File Under: Punk, Garage Rock
Trust: Joyland (Arts & Crafts) LP
Trust is the alter ego of Toronto artist Robert Alfons. Formed in 2009 along with collaborator Maya Postepski, Trust released its first singles, “Candy Walls” and “Bulbform,” on Brooklyn-based Sacred Bones Records in 2011 before signing with Arts & Crafts for the 2012 release of the Juno Award-nominated debut full length, TRST. Its follow-up Joyland will be issued on the label in March 2014. Joyland’s 11-tracks are an eruption of guts, eels, and joy. “Trust, is another one of those breaking Canadian acts that seems to have appeared fully-formed with a heap of brilliant, deviant, eletronically infused tracks.” – Noisey
File Under: CanCon, Indie Pop
Peter Walker: Second Poem to Karmela (Light in the Attic) LP
Originally released in 1968 on Vanguard Records, Peter Walker’s album Second Poem To Karmela Or Gypsies Are Important was a ground breaking blend of folk, raga, psychedelia, Eastern and Modal sounds that has remained unsung for decades. While his debut album for Vanguard, Rainy Day Raga, has been reissued several times on LP and CD, this album (his sophomore effort), remains an obscure and hard to find vinyl relic. Until now. Carefully remastered from the original tapes, guitar scholar Glenn Jones recently interviewed Peter Walker for hours and has written a book-deep essay for the CD and LP liner notes that detail Walker’s association with an incredible cross-section of 1960s counter-culture icons including LSD guru Timothy Leary (Walker personally provided ‘the soundtrack’ to many a trip), he studied raga music with Ali Akbar Khan, and like his close friend Sandy Bull, Walker worked on a fusion of Western and Eastern sounds. Jim Pepper plays flute on Second Poem (he also recorded with The Fugs and Don Cherry), other accompaniment to Walker’s guitar, Sarod and Sitar playing includes violin, organ, tablas, and tamboura. This is true “acid folk” as interesting, progressive, and memorable as fellow 1960s world travelers Robbie Basho, Davy Graham, and the Incredible String Band.
File Under: Blues, Folk, Guitar, Psych, Ragas
War On Drugs: Lost in the Dream (Secretly Canadian) LP/CD
Lost In The Dream is the third album by Philadelphia, PA band The War on Drugs, but in many ways, it feels like the first. Around the release of their 2011 breakthrough Slave Ambient, Adam Granduciel spent the bulk of two years on the road, touring through progressively larger rock clubs, festival stages and late-night television slots. As these dozen songs shifted and grew beyond what they’d been in the studio, The War on Drugs became a bona fide rock ‘n’ roll band. That essence drives Lost In The Dream, a 10-song set produced by Granduciel and longtime engineer Jeff Zeigler. In the past, Granduciel built the core of songs largely by himself. But these tunes were played and recorded by the group that had solidified so much on the road: Dave Hartley, (his favorite bassist in the world), who had played a bit on The War on Drugs’ 2008 debut Wagonwheel Blues, and pianist Robbie Bennett, a multi-instrumentalist who contributed to Slave Ambient. This unit spent eight months bouncing between a half-dozen different studios that stretched from the mountains of North Carolina to the boroughs of New York City. Only then did Granduciel – the proudly self-professed gearhead, and unrepentant perfectionist – add and subtract, invite guests and retrofit pieces. He sculpted these songs into a musical rescue mission, through and then beyond personal despair and anxiety. Lost In The Dream represents the trials of the trip and the triumphs of its destination. “I wanted there to be a singular voice, but I wanted it to be a project of great friends. Everyone in the band cares about it so much,” he says. “That is the crux of it – growing up, dealing with life, having close friends, helping each other get by. That is what the record’s all about.” As such, these tunes reveal a careful and thrilling reinvention of the sound that’s become The War on Drugs’ trademark. The signature meld of long tones and scattershot layers still stands, with phantom drum machines and organ lines dotting the musical middle distance all across Lost In The Dream. Note the way the keys whisper against the guitar’s growl as the tempestuous “An Ocean in Between the Waves” approaches pentecostal heat. Hear how, when a sharp and hard riff cuts into the inescapable chorus of “Red Eyes,” synthetic strings and baritone saxophone shape a soft, infinite bed beneath it. But there’s a newfound directness to these tunes, too. Granduciel’s voice steps out from behind its typical web of effects – louder now, with more experiences to share and more steel from having survived them. He sounds less like a prismatic reflection of a rock bandleader, more like the emboldened actualization of that idea. With its crisp, unencumbered delivery, “Eyes to the Wind” becomes the album’s centerpiece and the group’s new anthem. This is Granduciel’s to-date triumph and the exact moment where Lost In The Dream moves from a tale of confusion to one of resolve. Throughout most of the record, grips loosen and senses fail, memories are mourned and expectations are abandoned. But after the Rolling Thunder lift of “Eyes to the Wind,” Granduciel finds new contentment and direction. Anguish sublimates into deliverance. Backed by his bros, Granduciel becomes a preacher in a new pulpit.
File Under: Indie Rock
Woo: When the Past Arrives (Drag City) LP
Woo is brothers Mark and Clive Ives. Emboldened by the success of the recent reissue of It’s Cosy Inside, Mark and Clive had a listen to hundreds of previously unreleased tracks recorded in the ’70s and ’80s to assemble their first new record in two decades, When The Past Arrives, out in March from Drag City / Yoga Records. With comparisons to Penguin Cafe Orchestra, Animal Collective, Cluster, and Brian Eno, Woo’s profile in the world of atemporal music has been growing for years. For the lucky few who know, like Fela, or Neu!, Woo has their own instantly recognizable vibrantly pulsing sound, a quiet sound of comfort and contentment. When The Past Arrives is a collection of deceptively airy jams, addictive, crystalline. Uncut called It’s Cosy Inside “the epitome of domestic bliss,” and Pitchfork observed the album “stakes itself on the premise that the most cosmic and revelatory experiences you’ll ever have will all happen between your house and the backyard.”
File Under: Ambient
Various: Punk 45 (Soul Jazz) LP
Soul Jazz Records’ new Punk 45 album charts the rise of underground punk across the United States of America in the years 1973-1980. The album coincides with the release of Soul Jazz Records’ massive new deluxe 400-page Punk 45s cover art book edited and compiled by Jon Savage (author of the seminal book on punk, England’s Dreaming) and Stuart Baker (founder of Soul Jazz Records). The Punk 45 album features a collection of seminal, classic, obscure and rare punk and proto-punk 45 singles from the likes of Pere Ubu, The Zeros, The Randoms, Electric Eels, The Pagans, The Deadbeats, The Lewd and many more – a lightning rod journey across the states of America – Cleveland, Detroit, Los Angeles, Akron, New Orleans, Philadelphia – tracing the rise of punk music in these various towns and cities. The album comes complete with extensive text, biographies on each of the bands, exclusive photos and original record artwork. The album is released on CD with outsize large booklet and thick slipcase and is also available as a limited-edition super-loud, super-heavy double gatefold-sleeve vinyl editions with full sleevenotes. This is also the first release that Soul Jazz Records are making available as a worldwide digital release. Punk 45: Kill The Hippies! Kill Yourself! The American Nation Destroys Its Young – Underground Punk in the United States 1973-80 is the first in Soul Jazz Records’ Punk 45 series of album releases coinciding with the new book and will be followed at the start of next year by Punk 45 Vol. 2 Underground Punk in the UK.
File Under: Punk
Acid Mothers Temple: La Novia (Prophase) LP
Alabama Shakes: Boy & Girls (ATO) LP
Avengers: s/t (4 Men With Beards) LP
Bad Sports: Bras (Dirtnap) LP
Robbie Basho: Seal of the Blue Lotus (4 Men With Beards) LP
Bent Wind: Sussex (Ugly Pop) LP
Dean Blunt: Redeemer (Hippos in Tanks) LP
Broken Bells: After the Disco (Columbia) LP
Captain Beefheart: Trout Mask Replica (Reprise) LP
Nick Cave: Henry’s Dream (Mute) LP
Nick Cave: Murder Ballads (Mute) LP
Nick Cave: The Boatman’s Call (Mute) LP
Ornette Coleman: Art of the Improvisers (Atlantic) LP
Ornette Coleman: Free Jazz (Atlantic) LP
Ornette Coleman: This is Our Music (Atlantic) LP
Robert Crumb & Jerry Zolten: Chimpin’ The Blues (East River) LP
Daft Punk: Random Access Memories (Columbia) LP
Einsturzende Neubauten: Grundstueck (Fan Club) LP
Einsturzende Neubauten: Haus der Leuge (Fan Club) LP
Factrix: Scheintot (Superior Viaduct) LP
Flaming Lips: Soft Bulletin (Warner) LP
Flaming Lips: Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robot (Warner) LP
Fugazi: Steady Diet of Nothing (Dischord) LP
Full Moon Ensemble: Crowded with Loneliness (Superfly) LP
Funkadelic: s/t (4 Men With Beards) LP
Peter Gutteridge: Pure (540) LP
Tim Hecker: Virgins (Kranky) LP
Lightning Hopkins: Texas Blues Man (Arhoolie) LP
Joy Division: Still (Factory) 2LP
Kinks: We Are the Village Green (Pye) LP
Kendrick Lamar: Good Kid… (Aftermath) LP
LCD Soundsystem: London Sessions (DFA) LP
Charles Mingus: Black Saint and the Sinner Lady (Speakers Corner) LP
Charles Mingus: Mingus Ah Um (Music On Vinyl) LP
My Bloody Valentine: Isn’t Anything (Creation) LP
My Bloody Valentine: Loveless (Creation) LP
Nine Inch Nails: Broken/Fixed (Fanclub) LP
Thee Oh Sees: Castlemania (In The Red) LP
Thee Oh Sees: Dog Poison (Castle Face) LP
Thee Oh Sees: Floating Coffin (Castle Face) LP
Pack AD: Do Not Engage (Nettwerk) LP
Pink Floyd: Wish You Were Here (EMI) LP
Iggy Pop: The Idiot (4 Men With Beards) LP
Iggy Pop: Lust for Life (4 Men With Beards) LP
Portishead: s/t (Polydor) LP
Radioactivity: s/t (Dirtnap) LP
Slits: Cut (4 Men With Beards) LP
Space Lady: Space Lady’s Greatest Hits (Night School) LP
St. Vincent: s/t (Loma Vista) LP
Survival: Simmer Down (Strawberry Rain) LP
Tame Impala: Innerspeaker (Modular) LP
Tame Impala: Lonerism (Modular) LP
Throbbing Gristle: DOA: Third & Final (Industrial) LP
Throbbing Gristle: 2nd Annual Report (Industrial) LP
Throbbing Gristle: 20 Jazz Funk Greats (Industrial) LP
Thor’s Hammer: 1965-1967: If You Knew (Ugly Pop) LP
Frank Zappa: Roxy & Elsewhere (Zappa) LP
Frank Zappa: Uncle Meat (Zappa) LP