Well, not a LOT in this week, but all things that required a LOT of copies! And next week doesn’t let up. In fact, the next month or so is going to be gang busters! Loads of killer releases coming up, time to switch to Lucky for a few weeks.
Shellac: Dude Incredible (Touch & Go) LP/CD
As always, a new Shellac album drops upon us with virtually no warning. I’m told it can’t be found on the interwebs to hear. But let me tell you, the title says it all…. “Dude Incredible is Shellac’s – Steve Albini (guitar), Bob Weston (bass) and Todd Trainer (drums) – fifth LP. Recording took place sporadically over the past few years at Albini’s Electrical Audio studios in Chicago, Illinois. The 9-track record was then mastered by Steve Rooke at Abbey Road. Audio quality is paramount, as always, with Shellac. The LP was mastered entirely in the analog domain, using the DMM (Direct Metal Mastering) process. The LPs are being manufactured at RTI in Camarillo, CA, using their HQ-180 system. The pressings are 180 gram audiophile quality. The LP version of Dude Incredible come packaged in a chipboard album jacket with two high gloss, full color monkeys on the front cover. The LP also includes a CD of the full album. Other than the information found here, Shellac’s Dude Incredible will have no formal promotion. There will be no advertisements, no press or radio promotion, no e-promotion, no promotional or review copies, no promotional gimmick items, and otherwise no free lunch.”
File Under: Rock, Punk, Power Trios, Big Black
Beatles: MONO LPs!
They saved the best for last. Cut from the original 1/4-inch analog master tapes and pressed at Optimal in Germany on dead-quiet 180g LPs, The Beatles In Mono LPs are made by and for audiophiles. More collectable than its stereo and digital processors, and featuring utterly transparent-to-the-source sound, it is completely different than its stereo analog counterpart by way of the all-analog cutting process and audiophile-focused manufacturing. Purists rejoice: NO DIGITAL is involved in any part of the chain. The Beatles as they were meant to be heard, in spectacular mono sound. Mastered from quarter-inch master tapes at Abbey Road Studios by Grammy-winning engineer Sean Magee and Grammy-winning mastering supervisor Steve Berkowitz, The Beatles In Mono LPs exemplifie sonic transparency and analog purity. While The Beatles In Mono CD box set released in 2009 was created from digital remasters, Magee and Berkowitz cut the records for The Beatles In Mono LP box by employing the same procedures used in the 1960s, guided by the original albums and detailed transfer notes made by the original cutting engineers. Working in the same room at Abbey Road where most of the Beatles’ albums were initially cut, the pair first dedicated weeks to concentrated listening, fastidiously comparing the master tapes with first pressings of the mono records made in the 1960s. Using a rigorously tested Studer A80 machine to play back the precious tapes, the new vinyl was cut on a 1980s-era VMS80 lathe. An exclusive 12×12 hardbound book featuring new essays, rare studio photos, archival documents, and an engrossingly detailed history of the mastering process by author Kevin Howlett rounds out this world-beating analog reissue, certain to be one of the decade most celebrated releases of the decade. Available individually, or as a glorious 14LP boxset.
File Under: Beatles, Classics, Mono
Listen to 100 copies of the White album at once
Blonde Redhead: Barragan (Blonde Redhead) LP/CD
Forming in 1994, Blonde Redhead were thrown together following a chance meeting in New York between Japanese siren Kazu Makino and Milanese twin brothers, Amedeo and Simone Pace. Taking their name from a song by fellow New York no wave artists DNA, location was to prove key to the band’s initial experimentations. Forging a sound reflective of New York’s rich musical legacy, the early years of Blonde Redhead were very much haunted by the squalling underground scene that has forever pulsed throughout the city. While indebted to their geography, the release of their self-titled debut in 1994, swiftly followed by the self-produced La Mia Vita Violenta a year later on Steve Shelley’s Smells Like label, showed signs that Blonde Redhead were soon to escape the shadow of New York. Indeed, a move west to esteemed Chicago imprint Touch And Go provided the band the opportunity to stretch their wings. The release of Fake Can Be Just As Good with Fugazi’s Guy Picciotto in 1997 and it’s sequel, In An Expression Of The Inexpressible, offered gradual refinements of their artful chaos, but it wasn’t until the band’s swansong for Touch And Go, 2000’s Melody Of Certain Damaged Lemons, that a turning point was reached. The tumult and discord of their earlier records was pared back, emphasis instead placed on the windswept, minor-key melodies that have since come to be the defining trait of the band. Not long after signing to 4AD on a worldwide deal in 2004, Kazu suffered a near-fatal horse riding accident, which understandably was to colour, both visually and lyrically, their debut for the label, Misery Is A Butterfly. Four years later, they returned with their most commercially successful album to date, 23. Testament to the band’s ability to reinvent who they are without losing any of their emotional resonance, the record was a lucid reflection of Blonde Redhead’s will to connect with its audience in striking and affecting ways. 2010 then saw the release of eighth studio album Penny Sparkle, another sonic twist in their adventurous canon. Barragan is the enigmatic trio’s ninth studio album – produced, engineered and mixed by Drew Brown (Beck, Radiohead, The Books) – and recorded at Key Club Recording in Benton Harbor, Michigan and the Magic Shop in New York City. The new 10-song set is preceded by the sleek lead single “No More Honey.”
File Under: Indie Rock, Pop, Electronic
Death From Above 1979: Physical World (Last Gang) LP/CD
The wait is finally over. Ten long years after Death From Above 1979’s highly successful debut album, 2004’s You’re A Woman, I’m A Machine, the band will drop its not so patiently awaited follow up, The Physical World, produced by D. Sardy (Red Hot Chili Peppers, LCD Soundsystem, Wolfmother, Oasis). The 11-song set comes a decade after that universally acclaimed debut, which made Jesse F. Keeler (bass, synths, backing vocals) and Sebastien Grainger (vocals and drums), an underground sensation who quickly transitioned to mainstream. DFA 1979 broke up in 2006 while the first album and subsequent remix album continued to sell inexplicably. The guys decided to reunite in 2011 and began to perform live, picking up where they left off without missing a beat. Their rabid cult has only continued to amass just as inexplicably. “No matter what Jesse and I do, on whatever scale of success it’s sat on, there’s always some kind of reference to Death From Above,” Sebastien Grainger said. “It’s only frustrating because it’s so lazy. So we’re putting out a Death From Above record and if the press is like, ‘It’s not what we expected,’ or however they react to it, it’s like, ‘Well, you’ve been fucking asking for it.’”
File Under: Rock, CanCon
Earth: Primitive & Deadly (Southern Lord) LP
Earth’s career, like its music, has always been a slow, deliberate progression. Each record slightly removed from the last, a constant refinement of a singular vision. Dylan Carlson has remained focused throughout on coaxing moments of strange beauty and reflection from “the riff”. This elemental foundation of rock is refracted, in their earliest recordings, through the prism of sheer volume and feedbacking drone or via a sparse unraveling take on folk. With Primitive And Deadly, Earth’s tenth studio collection, Carlson and long term cohort, drummer Adrienne Davies, manage to come full circle twenty-five years in the making, whilst exploring new directions in their music. For the first time in their diverse career, they allow themselves to be a rock band, freed of adornment and embellishment. As much as Carlson’s guitar has always been the focal point of Earth’s music, it’s been surrounded by consistently diverse instrumentation. Here the dialog between Carlson and Davies drumming remains pivotal, underpinned by the sympathetic bass of Bill Herzog (Sunn O))), Joel RL Phelps, Jesse Sykes and the Sweet Hereafter) and thickened by additional layers of guitar from Brett Netson (Built To Spill, Caustic Resin) and Jodie Cox (Narrows). Perhaps the largest left turn on Primitive And Deadly, though, is the prominence of guest vocalists Mark Lanegan and Rabia Shaheen Qazi (Rose Windows) who transform the traditionally free ranging meditations of Earth into something approaching traditional pop structures. On “Rooks Across the Gates” Carlson stretches out into some of his most lyrical playing to date, creating an almost symbiotic relationship between his performance and the vocals of old friend Mark Lanegan. “From the Zodiacal Light,” meanwhile, takes a late 60s San Franciscan/freaked-out jazz-rock transcendence and quickly re-appropriates that sound into a musky torch song for the witching hour. This contradictive tension between a band pushing itself ever-forward whilst surveying their history is reflected in the albums twin recording locales. The foundation of the record was laid in the mystic desert high lands of Joshua Tree, California where Earth recorded hour after hour of meditations on each tracks central theme at Rancho de la Luna. Upon returning to Seattle these were edited, arranged and expanded upon at Avast with the help of long-term collaborator Randall Dunn (who was previously at the helm for the Hex, The Bees Made Honey In The Lions Skull and Hibernaculum sessions). Thick, dense and overdriven, melodically rich and enveloping, Primitive And Deadly is Earth reaffirming their position as a singular point in the history of rock. (And yes, Earth will be touring extensively in support of this album)
File Under: Metal, Doom, Southern Lord
Electric Wurms: Musik, Die Schwer Zu Twerk (Warner) LP
Electric Wurms is the new side-project from Flaming Lips members Wayne Coyne and Steven Drozd, whose debut abum Musik, Die Schwer Zu Twerk will be released in August 2014. It all began in the ’70s when someone invented the right kind of acid that could make you fly. It seemed that everything was, at last, possible. And the overly optimistic freaks of the day began flying into outer space. They flew in spaceships that were, at first, made of futuristic super metal but before too long they didn’t even need ships. They became the ships and they called themselves Electric Würms. I think because they became just bolts of electrified electricity that could penetrate wormholes in the far reaches of the unknown heaven. And before they died they sent back to earth beings a sonic bible of discoveries and failures. It was, until now, a strange unsolvable mystery of frequencies and rhythms. Two groups of determined musicians and weirdo thinkers set forth to decipher its message. Two members of The Flaming Lips (Steven and Wayne) and four members of Linear Downfall (Charlee, Chance, Doom and Will) were the chosen ones. What you have is the first of what could be endless communicated sound stories. It is titled Musik, Die Schwer Zu Twerk, which predicted this modern day dance move by almost forty years ago. Some of it is indeed hard to twerk to but some of it, is not. There is a particular track called “Transform!!!” that closely resembles a drug fueled boogie freak rock track by Miles Davis. Another verse “Heart Of The Sunrise” sounds vaguely like a song by the prog folk group Yes. Of course Yes also turned themselves into space ships so it’s no wonder these songs share a similar vibe. The ensemble leans toward a hypnotic mood for most of the space bible readings. It is a scary truth that we are hearing and then forced to ponder. The pulsating poem “Living” states… “live as if you were living already for the second time. And that you had acted wrong the first time.” So they call themselves Electric Würms after the greatest of the super freaks. But they are not a super-group. They are like Sherpas climbing with you. To help you. To love you. All the secrets that they know they tell you. That’s what love is.
File Under: Flaming Lips, Krautrock
Interpol: El Pintor (Matador) LP/CD
El Pintor is Interpol’s fifth and most exhilarating studio album. It’s a driving, relentless record, taut and epic in equal measure. The album, recorded as a three-piece with frontman and guitarist Paul Banks picking up the bass, kicks off with “All The Rage Back Home,” signaling a return to what Interpol does best, layering pulsing bass, bursts of guitar, and driving drums beneath Banks’ instantly recognizable voice. Meanwhile, “My Desire” features a throbbing beat and insistent guitar riffs that shoot off like flares into the night, while on “Same Town, New Story” Banks crafted up an unexpected melodic context for Daniel Kessler’s laser-sharp guitar lines. In contrast with previous records, Interpol took a step back on El Pintor and let the songs happen. What emerged is something urgent and compelling, something revitalized and reenergized. The result is as accomplished and thrilling a collection as the band has ever released. El Pintor also features Brandon Curtis (The Secret Machines) playing keyboard on nine songs, Roger Joseph Manning, Jr. (Beck) playing keyboard on “Tidal Wave,” and Rob Moose (Bon Iver) playing violin and viola on “Twice as Hard.” The 10-song set was mixed by Alan Moulder, and mastered by Greg Calbi.
File Under: Indie Rock
Soft Walls: No Time (Trouble In Mind) LP
Brighton, UK’s Dan Reeves is a busy guy. In addition to running his own label, Faux Discx Records & playing in the band Cold Pumas, he also records under the moniker ‘Soft Walls’. These 10 songs are meditations on the passing of time itself & the pre-concieved notions (both external and internal) of what you can & should be doing with it. Filled with avant-leaning psych drones, dreamy guitar ragas, motorik head-boppers, & pop tunes that shimmer enticingly, these are songs to get lost in; to discover & re-discover. Don’t worry – there’s plenty of time.
File Under: Psych, Drone, Krautrock, Pop
Birthday Party: Live 81-82 (4AD) LP
Dead Weather: Horehound (Thirdman) LP
Dead Weather: Sea of Cowards (Thirdman) LP
DJ Shadow: Endtroducing (Mo Wax) LP
Drive Like Jehu: Yank Crime (Hedhunter) LP
Earthless: Sonic Prayer (Gravity) LP
Earthless: Rhythms From a Cosmic Sky (Tee Pee) LP
Kiki Gyan: 24 Hours in a Disco (Soundways) LP
The Haunted: s/t (Hungry for Vinyl) LP
King Crimson: In the Court of the Crimson King (Discipline) LP
Modest Mouse: Good News for People… (Epic) LP
Modest Mouse: The Moon & Antarctica (Epic) LP
Neutral Milk Hotel: In An Aeroplane Over the Sea (Merge) LP
Pallbearer: Foundations of Burden (Profound Lore) LP
Sigur Ros: Hvarf/Heim (XL) LP
Sigur Ros: Meo Suo I Eyrum.. (XL) LP
Stereolab: Emperor Tomato Ketchup (1972) LP
Stereolab: Mars Audiac Quintet (1972) LP
Stereolab: Dots & Loops (1972) LP
Stereolab: Sound-Dust (1972) LP
Kurt Vile: Wakin’ On A Pretty Daze (Matador) LP
White Stripes: s/t (Thirdman) LP