…..news letter #691 – gut…..

Well finally the weekend I’ve been waiting for! The next six weeks are probably going to be rather grueling, but should be worth it. Not that it has anything to do with any of you, or records. But I’m sure I’ll have plenty of great reno stories for you as things progress. Anyway, some really swell stuff in this week so without any further adieu…

…..pick of the week…..

simple

Jim O’Rourke: Simple Songs (Drag City) LP/CD
“Yes, Simple Songs is an album of songs sung by Jim O’Rourke all the way through! It has been ten years since Jim’s voice rang out from a new album. Ah, when James Michael was just a wee lad, he sang all the time, with a lovely little lilt to his voice, like all the children do. But the songs he sang gave his parents no end of consternation: ‘Great Decei-verrr! Cigarettes, ice cream, figurines… of the Vir-gin Mar-eeee!’ Aye, if only we’d-a been there — little Jimmy’s career would have started much sooner. Child labor laws be damned! It’s hard to believe it has been nearly fourteen years sinceInsignificance. When that album hit in late 2001, we heard once or twice how it was too bad that it wasn’tEureka Part 2. Sissies! Then in 2009, when The Visitorreturned Jim to the orchestrated instrumental feel ofBad Timing, people wondered when we’d have another album like Insignificance! Grrrr…. now, has the world caught up with Jim? Maybe — but only because he let us. What Simple Songs sounds like…. At this point, the range of sounds and songs that have turned Jim’s head are numerous enough to have crushed together into something that is unmistakably his — the vast, glossy and glittering O’Rourkian (yes, like Kervorkian) wall of sound. The music’s got OCD quality, played so immaculately by so many instruments, and most of them by the creator’s hand. This time’s really the widest screen yet for Jim’s popular song-style, truly breathtaking! As for the songs themselves, one may have to resist the urge to skim the lyrics to try and guess who the target of each ditty might be — but this ain’t ‘You’re So Vain,’ okay kids? And you’re definitely NOT Warren Beatty. Simple Songs was worked over, from source material to finished mix, for five years or more now. Jim’s writing is kinda rooted in the approach of Insignificance — frosted pop tarts that leave a darkly bitter aftertaste. So bilious not even Jim can listen to it all the way through! Fine, it’s not for him to listen to anymore — WE can’t stop from listening. It’s like a beautiful car wreck we can’t look away from or stop feeling AMAZING about. Super fun stuff.”

File Under: Pop, Indie
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…..new arrivals…..

acid-king-middle-of-nowhere-center-of-everywhere-2lp-

Acid King: Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere (Svarte) LP
Roll out the red carpet – Acid King are breaking their ten year studio silence with a new, deliriously heavy album, “Middle Of Nowhere, Center Of Everywhere”. On their fourth outing, the three-piece maintains the corrosive concoction at the heart of their identity, while simultaneously progressing. In order to achieve that goal, the musicians riffed away in their Bay Area practice space, and the good old fashioning jamming yielded eight artfully architected tracks bookended by an Intro and an Outro, fusing together a cohesive journey. “Middle Of Nowhere, Center Of Everywhere” was recorded at both Sharkbite and Tiny Telephone Studios in San Francisco, mixed at Different Fur Studios and produced by Acid King and Billy Anderson. Striking artwork from famed tattoo artist Tim Lehi (who has designed cover art for High On Fire, Earthless and Witch) provides a preliminary indication of the cosmic scope of the musical innards. Certain pillars uphold the underground. Their influence pervades throughout future generations, shaping the sound, style, and spirit of artists for years to come. Such can be said of Acid King, bubbling up from San Francisco in 1993 through a fog of revved up riffs, thunderous drums, and hypnotic vocal howl. This unholy triumvirate of visionary, vocalist, and guitarist Lori S, drummer Joey Osbourne, and bassist Mark Lamb existed before terms like “stoner rock” and “doom metal” entered the musical lexicon. Their seismic chemistry transfixed audiences everywhere from high-profile festivals such as Hellfest and Roadburn to now iconic shows alongside peers such as Sleep and Mystick Krewe of Clearlight. Acid King returns to its throne with 2015’s full-length “Middle Of Nowhere Center Of Everywhere”.

File Under: Metal, Doom, Stoner
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bitchwax

Atomic Bitchwax: Gravitron (Tee Pee) LP
New Jersey’s legendary, riff-centric power trio The Atomic Bitchwax (aka TAB) returns with gargantuan riffs and jaw-dropping psych sonics on its sixth full length LP,Gravitron. Now featuring TWO members of Monster Magnet – bassist/vocalist Chris Kosnik and drummer Bob Pantella – alongside shred-tastic gunslinger Finn Ryan, the band has perfected its unique style of NYC hard rock that High Times appropriately tabbed, “thunder-boogie.” On Gravitron, The Atomic Bitchwax’s Rush-like riff mazes and carpal-tunnel-inducing riffs are on full display; every note bleeds with urgency. There’s far too much exuberant energy on the record to lazily tag this as “Stoner Rock”; this is high-octane, ’70s-based hard rock infused with stabs of psychedelia and landslides of Tommy Bolin-inspired guitar heroics ! Gravitron is an A-level masterclass in bad ass Rock’N’ Roll and cements the The Atomic Bitchwax as an undeniable force in today’s heavy music landscape.

File Under: Stoner, Psych, Hard Rock
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blanck

Blanck Mass: Dumb Flesh (Sacred Bones) LP
Blanck Mass is Fuck Buttons’ Benjamin John Power. His initial ambient creations were to be studio only, and were a collection of beat-less shimmering soundscapes, released on Mogwai’s Rock Action label. Interest steadily grew and soon his crafted worlds were to reach the ears of billions as his track, “Sundowner,” was used extensively in the 2012 London Olympics Opening Ceremony. Ben then followed up his self titled debut with a successful EP release on Software into a more beat driven territory, and has since taken Blanck Mass out of the studio and into the live sphere, touring as main support to the likes of Sigur Ros and Jon Hopkins. Blanck Mass’ newest album Dumb Flesh will be released on Sacred Bones Records in May 2015. Power explains, “There must have been at least three occasions where I re-produced the whole thing, replacing instrumentation and experimenting with new machines until I was happy with where the evolution of the project had arrived. That’s the difference between the subject matter of Dumb Flesh and the process of creating it; an end point can be reached. Saying that, I don’t like to stick around in one place too long so we’ll see where this leads to next.”

File Under: Electronic, Ambient, Techno
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henry

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds: Henry’s Dream (Mute) LP
1992’s Henry’s Dream, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds’ seventh studio album, contains songs critics and fans alike have come to regard as indisputable classics from the band’s oeuvre: “Papa Won’t Leave You, Henry,” “Christina the Astonishing” and “Jack the Ripper,” to name just a few. Yet, for the band, Henry’s Dream undeniably epitomizes – much more so than any of their other albums – the loss of control that ensues when one has exerted but a slippery grip on some very vertiginous circumstances. “Henry’s Dream,” explains Cave, “was one of the first records that I came to with an absolute sound in my head as to how this record should be. What I wanted to make with Henry’s Dream was a very violent acoustic record, basically using storytelling and acoustic instruments to create a really fucked up and violent sound, but which was in no way heavy. This, sadly, didn’t happen.” The Good Son had evidenced a decided shift to a more “classic” form of songwriting; combined with less jarring arrangements and overall smoother production than earlier albums, it seemed to betoken a broader potential appeal. In Mick’s evaluation, Nick’s songwriting had become “a lot more coherent and focused.” Compared to his earlier work, a tune like “The Ship Song” could “maybe seem a bit like a straight pop-rock song, if you want to look at it that way.” Apparently their record label did look it at that way: “Mute suggested that we get a ‘real’ producer to produce our next record. I think they heard The Good Son, heard a whole lot of ballads there, and possibly thought that they weren’t exploited or recorded in the right way,” conjectures Cave. Mick confirms, “Daniel [Miller, head of Mute] just suggested, ‘Maybe it’d be good to actually get a producer this time and see what happens.’ So we did.” Nick knew exactly what he was looking for in a producer: “I remember sitting and going through records and I was actively trying to find a record that sounded the least produced. That’s why we came up with David Briggs; it felt like he just let those Neil Young records just happen organically and had little involvement in them. It felt like he recorded Neil Young and his band as he found them.” Band personnel had changed substantially since recording The Good Son. The core of Nick, Blixa, Thomas and Mick remained unchanged. Kid Congo Powers had returned to The Gun Club (leaving Mick to handle rhythm guitar duties) and two new members were welcomed into the fold, both of them Australians: Conway Savage on piano and ex-Triffid Martyn Casey on bass. This unit proved to be rough and ready and fully capable of tackling Cave’s material head on, especially when it came to throwing down live studio performances. Blixa Bargeld enthuses, “What was really great about this record is the majority of that material was recorded together as a band – one take, classical way, all of them playing together – which is something that I cherish a lot.” It appeared all systems go for a hell of a record, but the band’s warm glow of anticipation quickly dissipated. Briggs didn’t want to fly out to NY to record, so the band came to California, ending up out in Van Nuys, at Sound City studio in the San Fernando Valley. Unfortunately, Mick found Briggs’ choice of studio (like the one they had to use in Brazil for The Good Son) lacking. Normally when deciding on a studio, Mick notes that he “would choose quite ambient rooms so that we could get the room sound going. I thought there had been a mistake made with the studio when we went to LA. We let all that stuff go, but in the back of my mind was the feeling that it was the wrong decision.” Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds took in many hard-learned lessons from their exposure to Briggs’ modus operandi. One of the more positive drills ingrained by their tormenter was the value of multiple basic takes. Mick acknowledges: “We’d always just get lazy and go ‘Ah, that’ll do.’ Briggs actually just kept us playing on, like two or three takes beyond where we’d normally have stopped. So we learned from that, a lot actually: we learned to push that a bit harder and it was worth it. Even if it felt like a bit of a drag, it was worth it and that stayed with us I think.” Thomas on the other hand, is skeptical that Briggs actually had a clue what to look for in those takes: “He didn’t say anything. He just stood there in the control room next to us, playing the air guitar.” Nick found it impossible to deal with Briggs. “It sounds ridiculous, but you had to be there,” says Nick. “No matter how angry or pissed off we got, he was just on the controls and did what he wanted. At some point, we all gave up.” Cave’s worst fears had been realized: “We watched our record be taken away from us. It just sounded to me really different from the record that I wanted to make.” Evidently Briggs understood it as his designated duty to assume command of a bunch of guys who didn’t really know how to make a record and deliver what he thought was the best possible product; but having this extraneous person in the equation in an unassailable position of authority had impaired Nick and the band‘s ability to communicate freely and effectively between them. Blixa’s succinct summary of the whole mess: “I think too many people worked on this record.” Ironically, Henry’s Dream became one of the Bad Seeds most loved records.

File Under: Rock
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ceremony

Ceremony: The L-Shaped Man (Matador) LP
Ceremony’s fifth studio album, The L-Shaped Man, uses singer Ross Farrar’s recent breakup as a platform to explore loneliness and emotional weariness, but it is by no means a purely sad album. Rather than look inward, Farrar uses his experience to write about what it means to go through something heavy and come out the other side a different person. In order to tell Farrar’s story, Ceremony have almost completely stripped back the propulsive hardcore of their previous records, turning every angry outburst into simmering despair. “We’ve always tried to be minimalists in writing, even if it’s loud or fast or abrasive,” says lead guitarist Anthony Anzaldo. “It’s really intense when I hear it. Not in a way where you turn everything up to ten. Things are so bare, you’re holding this one note for so long and you don’t now where it’s going – to me, that’s intensity.” That intensity is apparent on “Exit Fears,” the first full song on the record. It meticulously pairs Justin Davis’ loping bassline, which pulls the track along, with Anzaldo’s icy, minimal guitar work. It brings to mind some alternate version of Joy Division that hasn’t quite lost all hope. It gets close to exploding, but instead plays the shadows, never quite rising above a nervous simmer. The sound is abetted by producer John Reis, who honed his skills in seminal bands like Rocket from the Crypt, Drive Like Jehu, and Hot Snakes. Much of the gravelly aggression he experimented with in those bands is present on The L-Shaped Man. “Recalling the post-punk of Joy Division, the Fall and Wire – if those bands had spent more time in weight rooms than art galleries.” – Rolling Stone

File Under: Punk, Post-Punk
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circuit

Circuit Des Yeux: In Plain Speech (Thrill Jockey) LP
Haley Fohr’s music strikes a unique balance between the personal and universal. As Circuit des Yeux she creates music that embodies the complexity of human emotions, juxtaposing tenderness and grief, ecstasy and horror, using sounds as representations of the emotional spectrum that we all experience. Fohr’s striking voice, an impassioned baritone, is the music’s centerpiece and guiding force. On In Plain Speech, Fohr is joined by some of the most progressive musicians in the Chicago music community; Cooper Crain (Cave, Bitchin Bajas), Whitney Johnson (Verma), Rob Frye (Bitchin Bajas), Adam Luksetich (Little Scream), and Kathleen Baird (Spires That In The Sunset Rise). Fohr cements her reputation as a fearless songwriter and inventive arranger with this stirring collection of songs that are both gorgeous and emotionally potent. In Plain Speech represents the start of a new, more collaborative chapter for Circuit des Yeux. While previous works were solo affairs, not only in performance, but emotionally tied to a sense of confinement and place, these new songs were composed after a move to a collective living space, giving Fohr an opportunity to break free of the isolation that informed her previous albums. Fohr brought her community, literally, to the recording. In Plain Speech continues her collaboration with Crain, but it is her first recording with a full band, who are all leaders in Chicago’s new wave of creative musicians. Her songs, while always potent when delivered solo, shine in this new band context. Companionship and solidarity are themes woven throughout the album. “Do The Dishes” is a meditation on sisterhood, and a message to other women to take risks, follow their passions deeply and to love themselves. “Fantasize the Scene” explores the idea of eternal friendship. Extensive touring after Circuit des Yeux’s acclaimed 2013 album Overdue influenced the making of the album in several ways. On that tour, which stretched for months throughout Europe and the US, Fohr toured solo, no band, no tour manager, no driver, and in that solitude learned to commune with the audience in a way that she hadn’t ever before. That connection sparked in her mind a conversation with the audience, and many of the lyrics on In Plain Speech are directed at “you,” the listener. She also became acutely aware of disquiet, a pervasive anxiety, which permeated society in almost every city she visited. “I felt an uneasiness that superseded phonetic communication,” she writes. “Something dim is in the air, and it is looming large.” This anxiety creeped into songs like “A Story Of This World,” which is a call for change of priorities and values among the world’s leadership.

File Under: Rock, Experimental
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dreyblatt

Arnold Dreyblatt: Nodal Excitation (Drag City) LP
“By the late ’80s most of the burgeoning minimal underground had been forgotten, especially one amazing character, Arnold Dreyblatt. Dreyblatt only had one record, Nodal Excitation (on the mostly post-AACM jazz label India Navigation), before he packed and moved to Berlin, where he concentrated on his other activities, making only two more records over the next 10 years. But for those who caught the action, Arnold was the man. He was more rock that any of the others combined, and he was also the only one to really tap into that massive proto-minimal sound that Conrad had squelched out of his tin-contact mic violin in the early ’60s. Indeed, in the early ’70s after being in school in Buffalo, where Conrad taught, Dreyblatt moved into Manhattan to work for Young, where he witnessed first-hand, and listened first-ear to those legendary recordings of the Theatre of Eternal Music. He got interested in long string sounds, and bought a bass that he wired with piano wire. By hitting the strings instead of bowing them, Dreyblatt was able to get those ringing overtones, but he also had added something new: pure rhythm. Dreyblatt couldn’t get the rock singles he’d grown up with out of him, and couldn’t become the full-on new-music man that seemed to be a requirement in the ’70s, and it wasn’t until the ’80s that the fence could be straddled, if not knocked over. It was time to start a band. In 1998, dexter’s cigar were on the scene, excavating the valuable stuff from that semi-recent past for Nodal Excitation’s first-ever appearance on CD. It brought it into a lot of new ears — but times have changed and so have the ears. So what you have here is the first ever LP reissue of Arnold Dreyblatt’s freshman record, a slice of minimal history that is STILL as potent now, if not more, as it was in ’98 and ’81 before it. It was a lighthouse that was aiming the wrong way when the tugboat came by, but now it’s shining right in your face.”

File Under: Experimental, Minimalism
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fantasma-free-loveFantasma: Free Love (Soundways) LP
Fantasma, the latest project of South African innovator and creative pioneer Spoek Mathambo, is a five-man collective which weaves together electronica, hip-hop, traditional Zulu maskandi music, shangaan electro, South African house, psych-rock and punk to form a unique, original and fresh hybrid. The godfather of ‘Bacardi House’, producer DJ Spoko joins with former Machineri guitarist André Geldenhuys, drummer Michael Buchanan and maskandi multi-instrumentist Bhekisenzo Cele to complete the line up. Fused by Spoek Mathambo’s futurist vision, Fantasma pulls inspiration from all corners of South Africa: the sounds and spirits of townships and cities as well as the rural countryside. It is diverse not only in its membership but also in its forward-looking music.

File Under: African, Punk, Hip Hop, Electronic, Shangaan
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froth

Froth: Bleak (Burger) LP
Hailing from the sleepy beach town of El Segundo, CA, Froth was founded in 2012 by a couple of high school friends with a shared love of music and lack of musical ability. However, while their ambitions may have been modest, the band quickly progressed from South Bay slackers to focused psych-rock songsmiths after a self-released demo and a string of solid local shows put their name on the shortlist of L.A. bands to watch. Froth’s debut LP, Patterns, was released in fall 2013 on Burger Records and Lolipop Records, and bared witness to the young group’s rapid musical growth and developing ear for composition. A shimmering mix of jangly 12-string guitars and swirling omnichord sounds, the album offers plenty of moments of pure psych-pop bliss; however, the band also flirts with a darker, driving element that they have continued to explore on subsequent releases. For their sophomore album, Bleak, Froth has largely traded in the sun-soaked 60s pop of their first long-player in favor of a maximalist shoegaze sound that combines screaming guitars with muscular drumming and throbbing, nervy bass lines. The result is a mature, confident record built upon tight songwriting and carefully honed tones. Lead singer and guitarist Joo-Joo Ashworth displays an equal knack for noisy, fuzz-driven leads and economic pop hooks, while drummer Cameron Allen holds down the beat with machine-like precision and bassist Jeremy Katz infuses the album with a unique groove that has become a necessary ingredient in Froth’s signature sound. With the arrival of a new record, Froth has also introduced a second guitarist, Cole Devine. The former Cosmonauts drummer and current Black Sea front man adds to the band’s already rich textural palette, bringing his distinctive dream pop sensibility into the fold. After tirelessly touring the U.S. and sharing the stage with scene standouts like The Growlers, The Dream Syndicate, La Luz, Mr. Elevator & the Brain Hotel, Mystic Braves and many more, Froth continues to attract new fans with their infectious music and high-energy live show. Recent stints across Europe and work with fashion legend Hedi Slimane have further cemented the band’s reputation with an international audience. As always, though, Froth remains dedicated to pushing their own boundaries and exploring new sonic avenues, both on the road and in the studio.

File Under: Fuzz, Pop, Psych, Shoegaze
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gibson

Jon Gibson: Visitations (Superior Viaduct) LP
“Since the mid-1960s, Jon Gibson has played a key role in the development of American avant-garde music. No other artist has performed in the world premieres of Terry Riley’s ‘In C,’ Steve Reich’s ‘Drumming,’ and Philip Glass’s ‘Einstein on the Beach,’ three major works that changed the course of musical history. While his expertise on woodwind instruments made Gibson a go-to collaborator in Reich’s, Glass’s, and La Monte Young’s ensembles, less known are his remarkable contributions as a composer and visual artist. Visitations, Gibson’s first release under his own name, originally appeared on the Chatham Square imprint in 1973. Inspired by the books of Carlos Castaneda, Gibson departs from the structured repetition of his minimalist peers and takes the listener on an aural journey — spanning organic field recordings, ambient flutes and synthesizers, and free-flowing textures. Visitations’ two side-long tracks are at once solemn and unsettling, making this an astonishing debut that firmly establishes Gibson as a pioneer in his own right. This first-time vinyl reissue is recommended for fans of Cluster, Harold Budd, and Phill Niblock.”

File Under: Ambient, Minimalism
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holy serpent

Holy Serpent: s/t (Ridin’ Easy) LP
Music often instigates a connection. Melbourne, Australia’s HOLY SERPENT, instantly bonded over a healthy diet of Black Sabbath, Pentagram, Witchcraft, The Melvins, and Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats in 2014. Their shared passion for riffs, reefer, and righteous half-pipes then blossomed into writing songs together. The quartet’s magnetism billows out from under a THC-spiked haze of doom riffs and psychedelic rock bombast, it’s hypnotic.

File Under: Metal, Doom, Stoner
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hotchip

Hot Chip: Why Make Sense? (Domino) LP/DLX LP
Hot Chip’s new album, Why Make Sense?, restates the band’s intentions and redefines the very things that made them relevant in the first place. Its ten tracks shun modernist dancefloor tropes in order to flick through the dusty corners of the band’s teenage record collections, back when they were experimenting with music on primitive computer programs. This, their sixth album, comes on the back of the highly successful In Our Heads and a touring period that saw them headline venues such as the iconic Hollywood Bowl and close out major festivals the world over. Why Make Sense? represents the first time the Hot Chip live band has recorded together residentially. The result is a revelation. Alternately jarring and chaotic, pared back, thundering, then pulsating and gloriously mellifluous, Why Make Sense? confidently displays its influences. You get clattering analogue post-punk (“Why Make Sense?”), Philly disco (“Dark Night”), and even outer-space acid dub (“Easy To Get”) while the crisp, snapping ’90s R&B of “Love Is The Future” calls in guest spots from De La Soul’s Posdnuos and Scritti Politti’s Green Gartside on vocals and arrangements respectively. The record also eschews Alexis Taylor’s vocals in favour of a carefully chosen sample that adds huge clout to the emotionally charged core of the album, “Need You Now.”

File Under: Electronic, Pop
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nosaj thing

Nosaj Thing: Fated (Innovative Leisure) LP
We seek the new because of the numbness. If you listen to enough music, you’re familiar with the feeling. Sounds get recycled so often that they can seem like geometric configurations organized via Wav files. Trends get time-stamped faster than a triplicate trap hi-hat. The most rare records emerge outside of any clearly delineated orbit. They’re solitary visions that supply their own rhythm and arsenal. Music that reverberates through heart, brain, and spine. This is Nosaj Thing’s third album, Fated. “I just tried to escape really, and escape even what’s going on in the music world,” says Nosaj Thing, the LA producer born Jason Chung. “It just felt so suffocating in a way. I just wanted to do my own thing.” It’s been six years since Nosaj Thing emerged among the vanguard of Low End Theory-affiliated producers. His debut Drift created 31st century tones and chromatic textures so sleek that they inspired innumerable Soundcloud imitators. None could match its moody iridescence, faded sadness and funky swing. Bach collided with Boards of Canada. Spaceships came equipped with rear view mirrors and a booming system bumping G-Funk and warped soul. Pitchfork called it “gorgeously haunted.” Resident Advisor said it “exists in its own dimension and feeds off its own exhaust: full of alien choirs, conquered computers, and refracting stained-glass light.” Fated exists in this same alternate dimension, but further out. If comparisons previously existed with other artists within the LA beat scene, Nosaj has rendered them baseless. His second album on Innovative Leisure (after 2013’s Home) seeks celestial escape through streamlining. “The last record took out so much of me. I just wanted to go back to simplifying and overthinking so much. It was a battle,” Nosaj says. “The soul of a song, the essence of a song – whatever you want to call it – should be simple.” By stripping away all but what’s really necessary, the sounds harness an unusual directness. Guest appearances are rare, save for vocals from Whoarei on “Don’t Mind Me,” and Chicago rap phenomenon, Chance the Rapper. The latter gravely spits on “Cold Stares,” invoking terminal fevers, empty beds, devil’s whispers, and insomniac fears. If comparisons crop up, Fated has most in common with records like Burial’s Untrue or Dilla’s Donuts. Requiems that canvass the shadowy hinterlands between life and death, darkness and light, loneliness and love. Eternal themes re-imagined in ingenious fashion. “The album name came from all these coincidences that just kept on happening to me,” Nosaj says. “Specific interaction with specific people in unexpected places. A perpetual feeling of déjà vu.” It’s foundation rests on that intangible thing that some call fate or primordial feeling. Numbness receding, old emotions flooding back, un-tampered visions. Fated is what you can’t explain, so it’s best to just listen.

File Under: Electronic, Ambient, Hip Hop
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palma

Palma Violets: Danger in the Club (Rough Trade) LP/CD
While Danger In The Club, the follow-up to Palma Violets’ barnstorming 2013 debut 180, certainly trades on the primal and joyous hook-laden rock of their debut, their sophomore LP also finds the band with a new sonic looseness, revealing far more expansive influences than the still-quite-young quartet had on their first outing. This is the sound of a preternaturally talented group of musicians and songwriters continuing to develop, while keeping their focus squarely on the type of well-crafted, singalong anthems that have earned them the adoration of fans and critics. Produced by the legendary John Leckie and recorded at Rockfield Studio in Wales, Danger In The Club is a brilliant step forward. “Girl, You Couldn’t Do Much Better On The Beach” and “Hollywood (I Got It)” build on 180’s exhilarating, primal rock and roll, whilst the hook-heavy choruses and imaginative lyrics of “English Tongue” and “Coming Over To My Place” demonstrate how much Palma Violets – still all in their early twenties – have matured as first class songwriters and honed their own unique sound.

File Under: Indie Rock
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prefuse

Prefuse 73: Rivington Nao Rio (Temporary Residence) LP
Rivington Não Rio revels in the kind of compassionate complexity that marks Prefuse 73’s greatest works, with a profound new element added to the mix: Patience. Guillermo S. Herren’s ability to marry the manic to the melodic has always been uncanny, but here it feels downright magical as the songs inhale with his trademark sense of urgency…then exhale in longer, more revealing breaths. The prismatic textures that have long been a staple of Prefuse 73 are bound to beats and melodies with the spirit of hip-hop and the subtlety of modern minimalism. The album’s guests treat the material with a hushed respect: Roc Nation songwriter and Jessie Ware collaborator Sam Dew turns “Infrared” into a sublimely soulful, dimly-lit portrait of inverted R&B; Milo & Busdriver’s vicious, rapid-fire verses contrast a pastoral downbeat to brilliant effect; and elsewhere, Pinback’s Rob Crow and Latin electronic-folk crooner Helado Negro navigate splintered tropics with passive grace. As a stand-alone album, Rivington Não Rio ranks extraordinarily high in the Prefuse 73 canon. As a centerpiece to an epic triptych that includes the Forsyth Gardens and Every Color of Darkness EPs, it’s a new peak from a pioneer who appears to only just now be hitting his prime. For an artist who has played an undeniably integral role in the careers of so many influential artists, it’s not just refreshing to hear him return to top form…it’s revelatory.

File Under: Electronic, Hip hop
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richter

Max Richter: Blue Notebooks (Deutsche Grammophon) LP
Max Richter is a British-based, German-born pianist and composer. Following 2002’s highly-acclaimed Memoryhouse – performed by the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra and released on the BBC’s classical label, Late Junction – 2004’s The Blue Notebooks is his second solo album, a distinctive and adventurous work that is beautifully recorded and cinematic in scope. Opening with a text from Franz Kafka over a sparse piano melody, the album moves through gorgeous, heart-wrenching string swells of “On The Nature Of Daylight” (which quotes a tune from Memoryhouse); through to sparse but lyrical piano pieces; hazy, swirling atmospherics, avalanche pulse-beats and partially occluded melodies that recall Aphex twin’s ‘Ambient Works’ albums; and to reverberant organ / choir recordings. Utilizing piano, cello, violin and viola, alongside electronic beats (made using a variety of antique electronics and Reaktor), spoken word passages and the occasional field recording, other sounds were generated via old guitar pedals and vocoders. The organ music was made for a chapel near Tourtres in South-West France, whilst the environmental sounds are mainly recorded around London. The tone of the album is generally downbeat – a series of bittersweet articulations that seem suspended somewhere between a certain dreamy sense of wonder / awe and a heavy melancholia. Peppered across Richter’s music like diary entries (and backed with attendant typewriter clatter) are a number of literary texts or ‘shadow journals’ (lifted from Kafka’s ‘the Blue Octavo notebooks’, and from Polish author Czseslaw Milosz’s ‘Hymn Of The Pearl’ and ‘Unattainable Earth’). Apparently chosen by Richter on instinct, they were recorded by acclaimed British actress, Tilda Swinton. These brief passages muse over time, memory, and the impermanent nature of things. With Richter playing piano, the other featured players here are his regular collaborators, Louisa Fuller (violin), Natalia Bonner (violin), John Metcalfe (viola), Philip Sheppard (cello), and Chris Worsey (cello).

File Under: Classical
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shamir

Shamir: Ratchet (XL) LP
Shamir Bailey is a 20-year-old Las Vegas native who grew up not on the strip but in the desert. His verve for life makes him almost impossible to categorize. As a young musician, he moves in and out of soul, R&B, house, disco, rap, and pop – in the tradition of artists like Prince, Grace Jones, David Bowie, and Madonna. Genre is a tool for Shamir, not a boundary. Or as Shamir would put it, “It doesn’t matter what you sound like – you just have to be you.” With an androgyne croon that recalls Nina Simone, Shamir rose from the suburbs of Vegas after sending demos to Nick Sylvester, who runs the GODMODE label out of New York. Together they made Northtown, Shamir’s debut EP (2014), and continued their working relationship for Ratchet, his first LP for XL Recordings. It’s an ecstatic dance-pop record that also has some dust and age to it, sparkling with the grit of a desert geode. The songs are about growing up in Vegas, though not the Vegas you think you know. The music is fun even when it’s mostly introspective, introspective even when it’s mostly fun. There’s an obvious fluidity to Shamir. He transcends boundaries – genre, gender, age, geography. If he feels solitary, it’s because there’s literally no one else like him.

File Under: Electronic, Soul, Pop
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tanlines

Tanlines: Highlights (True Panther) LP
Highlights, Tanlines’ first collection of new material since their critically-lauded debut, Mixed Emotions, in 2012, began in a basement in Pittsburgh and ended in a church in Brooklyn. It trades world music sounds for a more alive, realized approach, the result of Emm and Cohen knowing they wanted to break from their ‘two guys, one screen’ writing style. Influenced by their time spent on the road touring Mixed Emotions, primarily in the States, they reached for the sounds of 90’s New York hip-hop drums, Detroit techno synths, and lots and lots of guitars. The result could almost be called an homage to the sonics of America or “the album where things started making more sense.” Between working in Los Angeles with producer Patrick Ford, and their hometown of New York City with Chris Taylor (Grizzly Bear) in his 100 year-old church studio, they eventually settled on the ten songs that make up the record. Highlights is like a renaissance for a band that began in 2008 as a one-off remix project. The upbeat dancefloor-ready tracks are imbued with colors and emotional range that go much deeper than ever before, with Emm’s vocals and lyrics, at once personal and observational, taking center stage.

File Under: Electronic, Indie Rock
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torres

Torres: Sprinter (Arts & Crafts) LP
Torres knows the darkness. The Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter otherwise known as Mackenzie Scott waits until anything – an idea, an emotion, a memory – gnaws at her, tearing at her fingers and throat until she releases it in song. Her husky voice strains against its human biological constraints like a wildeyed horse, whispering desperately “Don’t give up on me just yet” on one end and yowling about jealousy with unnerving intensity on the other. Following her self-titled debut in 2013, Torres pushes herself to even noisier extremes on Sprinter, a punishing self-examination of epic spiritual and musical proportions. A keen awareness of Scott’s place in her family and in the world suffuses Sprinter, contributing to themes of alienation throughout. “You’re just a firstborn feeling left behind,” she sings on the ominously brewing “Son, You Are No Island,” which references one of Scott’s influences on this record: English poet John Donne’s 1624 poem Devotions upon Emergent Occasions. Scott’s tortured wailing circles spirals downward around itself, reflecting in a dark mirror the feelings of an adopted child. “Whether it be abandonment, or fear of rejection, or perhaps inability to connect with people, comes down to that fear of isolation, of not being good enough,” says Scott. “Those are themes that have cropped up in my personal life, in my writing.” But Scott escaped the confines of her churning mind in order to find herself by recording Sprinter in the market town of Bridport in Dorset, England; and then at the Bristol studio of Portishead’s Adrian Utley. With his guitar riffs and synthesizers lingering in the background like a lowland mist and PJ Harvey’s Robert Ellis and Ian Olliver on rhythm – the two fortuitously reuniting 23 years after the release of Dry, and in Scott’s 23rd year of living – she crafted a “space cowboy” record. “That’s as simply as I can say it,” says Scott, who cites inspirations as diverse as Funkadelic and Nirvana, Ray Bradbury and Joan Didion. “I wanted something that very clearly stemmed from my Southern conservative roots but that sounded futuristic and space-y at the same time.” It seems like an odd thing to look for in the picturesque seaside green, rolling hills in the south of England, but Scott had never been there before, and as a stranger in a strange land she found what she was looking for: a lost childhood. Sprinter was recorded in a room that had formerly been used as a children’s nursery, which combined with the alien landscape fuels the self-searching that roils Torres’ music. “Cowboy Guilt” perfectly encapsulates the contrast of Deep South conservatism with future sounds, juxtaposing George W. Bush parodies with wearing one’s Sunday best, bouncing on a mechanically whimsical melody.

File Under: Indie Rock
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vincent

Sonny Vincent & Rocket From the Crypt: Vintage Piss (Swami) LP
Vintage Piss is the baby whose seed was planted on the 2003 Rocket From The Crypt US tour, which also paired some members of the band with legendary 1970s New York outta control rock ’n’ roller Sonny Vincent. After the Swami release of Vincent’s previous band Testors’ Complete Discography, Speedo (John Reis), Ruby Mars (Mario Rubalcaba) and The Notorious ND (Andy Stamets) served as the man’s backing band and slashed through his Testors repertoire resulting in a primo barrage of 1970s neo-proto-punk. After one particularly meaty performance in Chicago amidst high fives and ass slaps signifying a job well done, the inspiration to write and record new songs struck. Back in San Diego, late 2003, the group incubated in Drag Racist Studio (where Rocket From The Crypt recorded Live From Camp X-Ray and Hot Snakes Suicide Invoice). They employed a steam-of-consciousness approach to making noise by recording songs and ideas live in the studio without rehearsal. With Vincent’s voice and blazing, James Williamson-esque Les Paul attack leading the way, the band followed him into the punk abyss, emerging with a record that is both Sonny Vincent and Rocket From The Crypt. Unfortunately, the studio and Swami Records became buried by transition. It was to be the last thing recorded at Drag Racist before the studio shut its doors. The recording lay dormant, unmixed and unfinished. With the 2013 reformation of Rocket From the Crypt and the continued rerelease of Sonny Vincent and Testors material, a rekindled interest in the lost artifact of rock ’n’ roll led Swami to revisit these masters eleven years later. Tapes in various state of degradation were baked and restored to playability, resulting in the unearthing of a true forgotten gem. Produced and recorded by John Reis, mixed by Ben Moore, mastered by Dave Gardner at Magneto Mastering and featuring artwork by savage visionary Chris WeThreeClub, Vintage Piss is essential for fans of Rocket From The Crypt, Sonny Vincent, Testors and those attracted to the maverick, Cro-Magnon spirit of punk rock’s beginnings.

File Under: Punk

weed

Weed: Running Back (Lefse) LP
In September 2013 WEED released an LP of sentimental dream-grunge called Deserve on Seattle’s Couple Skate Records and started doing laps around the continent, silencing the critics (literally, in some cases) and stirring up a loyal fanbase lovingly referred to as the Field Trippers. With a 7” out this past February, tours booked in both the US and Europe, 2015 proves to be a busy year for Weed as they put all of their efforts behind this new full-length.

File Under: Ambient, New Age, Organs
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white hills

White Hills: Walks for Motorists (Thrill Jockey) LP
White Hills are proponents of psychedelia as transformation. The music made by Dave W. and Ego Sensation is risky and cutting edge, rooted in dystopian futurism and hyper-conscious of society’s constant desire for a new and better drug. That progressive aesthetic is at the heart of White Hills’ newest album Walks For Motorists, a radically stripped-down record that emphasizes rhythm and groove. The album bursts forth with a new kind of intensity, one born out of laser-focused precision and detail-oriented songwriting. Possibly surprising to fans familiar with the Hawkwindian guitar squall of earlier albums, the songs on Walks For Motorists began as a keyboard melody or bass line, and several songs on the album don’t even feature guitar at all. This is propulsive, open music, surreal to its core but made to inspire people to get out of their seats and move. Walks For Motorists was recorded with David Wrench (Caribou, Bear in Heaven, FKA Twigs, Owen Pallet) at Bryn Derwen Recording Studio in Bethesda, Wales which borders the Snowdonia National Forest. The band had 24-hour access to the studio, which allowed them to work whenever inspiration struck. Wrench’s expertise producing and mixing electronic music was an essential asset when perfecting the crisp tones heard throughout the record. This is the first album the band has recorded outside of New York City, and the vast, rolling Welsh landscape that surrounded the studio influenced its uncluttered sound. Walks For Motorists is also White Hills’ most diverse album to date. Fuzzed-out rockers sit comfortably next to kraut-infused grooves, and there are more vocal contributions from Ego than ever before.

File Under: Psych, Fuzz, Kraut
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roots

Various: Best of Trojan Dub 1 (Sanctuary) LP
First wave in a series of LPs celebrating the re-launch of Trojan Records in the US. First popularized in in the early seventies, dub developed through the work of a small number of talented Jamaican studio engineers and producers. The essential collection, The Best Of Trojan Dub Vol. 1, showcases 10 of the deepest and heaviest dub tracks of all time, including classic material from the likes of The Upsetters, Joe Gibbs & The Professionals, The Observers & King Tubbys and more! Launched in the summer of 1968, Trojan dominated the UK reggae scene throughout the late sixties and early seventies, issuing the best new sounds that both Jamaican and British music makers had to offer. Between 1969 and 1975, the company released well over two thousand 7” singles, of which no less than 28 breached the UK Top 50 chart. During the same period, it issued some 300 albums, highlighting the latest Reggae chart toppers, such as Desmond Dekker, John Holt, Toots & the Maytals and Ken Boothe, along with music from lesser-known artists, whose number included future legends, Bob Marley & the Wailers, Dennis Brown and Gregory Isaacs. Trojan’s astounding success during this period was instrumental in introducing reggae to a global audience and in so doing provided the foundations upon which Jamaican music has since been able to develop and prosper. Today, more than four decades after its launch, Trojan remains one of the most iconic music labels in the world, continually attracting new fans with its vast catalog of music that encompasses a wide range of styles from sixties ska and rock steady to the more recent sounds of roots, dub, lovers rock and dancehall.

File Under: Reggae, Dub

reggae

Various: Best of Trojan Reggae 1 (Sanctuary) LP
First wave in a series of LPs celebrating the re-launch of Trojan Records in the US. Towards the close of 1968, the Jamaican music scene experienced the latest of a series of major musical revolutions, as the cool sound of rock steady was usurped by a jumpier, less sedate style that quickly became widely known as reggae. The Best Of Trojan Reggae Vol. 1 features 12 tracks including classics from Desmond Dekker & The Aces, Dave & Ansel Collins, John Holt and more! Launched in the summer of 1968, Trojan dominated the UK reggae scene throughout the late sixties and early seventies, issuing the best new sounds that both Jamaican and British music makers had to offer. Between 1969 and 1975, the company released well over two thousand 7” singles, of which no less than 28 breached the UK Top 50 chart. During the same period, it issued some 300 albums, highlighting the latest Reggae chart toppers, such as Desmond Dekker, John Holt, Toots & the Maytals and Ken Boothe, along with music from lesser-known artists, whose number included future legends, Bob Marley & the Wailers, Dennis Brown and Gregory Isaacs. Trojan’s astounding success during this period was instrumental in introducing reggae to a global audience and in so doing provided the foundations upon which Jamaican music has since been able to develop and prosper. Today, more than four decades after its launch, Trojan remains one of the most iconic music labels in the world, continually attracting new fans with its vast catalog of music that encompasses a wide range of styles from sixties ska and rock steady to the more recent sounds of roots, dub, lovers rock and dancehall.

File Under: Reggae

rocksteady

Various: Best of Trojan Rock Steady 1 (Sanctuary) LP
First wave in a series of LPs celebrating the re-launch of Trojan Records in the US. During the long, hot summer of 1966, Jamaica’s national sound underwent a dramatic transformation, culminating in the rapid tempo of ska ultimately supplanted by the slower, more soulful sound of rock steady. The Best Of Trojan Rock Steady Vol. 1 collects 12 of the most influential records from the original rock steady era, performed by Desmond Dekker & The Aces, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, The Upsetters and more! Launched in the summer of 1968, Trojan dominated the UK reggae scene throughout the late sixties and early seventies, issuing the best new sounds that both Jamaican and British music makers had to offer. Between 1969 and 1975, the company released well over two thousand 7” singles, of which no less than 28 breached the UK Top 50 chart. During the same period, it issued some 300 albums, highlighting the latest Reggae chart toppers, such as Desmond Dekker, John Holt, Toots & the Maytals and Ken Boothe, along with music from lesser-known artists, whose number included future legends, Bob Marley & the Wailers, Dennis Brown and Gregory Isaacs. Trojan’s astounding success during this period was instrumental in introducing reggae to a global audience and in so doing provided the foundations upon which Jamaican music has since been able to develop and prosper. Today, more than four decades after its launch, Trojan remains one of the most iconic music labels in the world, continually attracting new fans with its vast catalog of music that encompasses a wide range of styles from sixties ska and rock steady to the more recent sounds of roots, dub, lovers rock and dancehall.

File Under: Reggae, Rock Steady

roots

Various: Best of Trojan Roots 1 (Sanctuary) LP
First wave in a series of LPs celebrating the re-launch of Trojan Records in the US. The early seventies witnessed the development of roots – an inward-looking reggae style that drew inspiration from the Rastafarian faith, political wrongdoings and cultural heritage. The Best Of Trojan Roots Vol. 1 features 10 of the greatest Jamaican recordings from the genre including tracks form Dennis Brown, Gregory Isaacs, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry and more! Launched in the summer of 1968, Trojan dominated the UK reggae scene throughout the late sixties and early seventies, issuing the best new sounds that both Jamaican and British music makers had to offer. Between 1969 and 1975, the company released well over two thousand 7” singles, of which no less than 28 breached the UK Top 50 chart. During the same period, it issued some 300 albums, highlighting the latest Reggae chart toppers, such as Desmond Dekker, John Holt, Toots & the Maytals and Ken Boothe, along with music from lesser-known artists, whose number included future legends, Bob Marley & the Wailers, Dennis Brown and Gregory Isaacs. Trojan’s astounding success during this period was instrumental in introducing reggae to a global audience and in so doing provided the foundations upon which Jamaican music has since been able to develop and prosper. Today, more than four decades after its launch, Trojan remains one of the most iconic music labels in the world, continually attracting new fans with its vast catalog of music that encompasses a wide range of styles from sixties ska and rock steady to the more recent sounds of roots, dub, lovers rock and dancehall.

File Under: Reggae, Roots

ska

Various: Best of Trojan Ska 1 (Sanctuary) LP

First wave in a series of LPs celebrating the re-launch of Trojan Records in the US. The early seventies witnessed the development of roots – an inward-looking reggae style that drew inspiration from the Rastafarian faith, political wrongdoings and cultural heritage. The Best Of Trojan Roots Vol. 1 features 10 of the greatest Jamaican recordings from the genre including tracks form Dennis Brown, Gregory Isaacs, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry and more! Launched in the summer of 1968, Trojan dominated the UK reggae scene throughout the late sixties and early seventies, issuing the best new sounds that both Jamaican and British music makers had to offer. Between 1969 and 1975, the company released well over two thousand 7” singles, of which no less than 28 breached the UK Top 50 chart. During the same period, it issued some 300 albums, highlighting the latest Reggae chart toppers, such as Desmond Dekker, John Holt, Toots & the Maytals and Ken Boothe, along with music from lesser-known artists, whose number included future legends, Bob Marley & the Wailers, Dennis Brown and Gregory Isaacs. Trojan’s astounding success during this period was instrumental in introducing reggae to a global audience and in so doing provided the foundations upon which Jamaican music has since been able to develop and prosper. Today, more than four decades after its launch, Trojan remains one of the most iconic music labels in the world, continually attracting new fans with its vast catalog of music that encompasses a wide range of styles from sixties ska and rock steady to the more recent sounds of roots, dub, lovers rock and dancehall.

File Under: Reggae, Ska

…..Restocks…..

A Winged Victory for the Sullen: s/t (Kranky) LP
Agalloch: The Serpent & The Sphere (Eisenwald) LP
Angels of Light: Sings Other People (Young God) LP
Angels of Light: We Are Him (Young God) LP
Captain Beefheart: Ice Cream for Crow (4 Men With Beards) LP
Miles Davis: On The Corner (Music on Vinyl) LP
Flipper: Generic Album (4 Men With Beards) LP
Growlers: Chinese Fountain (Everloving) LP
Jesus Lizard: Down (Touch & Go) LP
Jesus Lizard: Goat (Touch & Go) LP
Jesus Lizard: Head (Touch & Go) LP
Jesus Lizard: Liar (Touch & Go) LP
Jesus Lizard: Pure (Touch & Go) LP
Master Musicians of Bukkake: Totem 3 (Important) LP
Modernettes: Teen City (Sudden Death) LP
Mother Love Bone: s/t (Music on Vinyl) LP
OST: Interstellar (Music on Vinyl) LP
OST: Under The Skin (Milan) LP
Protomartyr: Under Color of Official Right (Hardly Art) LP
Nina Simone: Here Comes The Sun (4 Men With Beards) LP
Sleater-Kinney: All Hands on the Bad One (Sub Pop) LP
Sleater-Kinney: Dig Me Out (Sub Pop) LP
Sleater-Kinney: No Cities to Love (Sub Pop) LP
Sleater-Kinney: s/t (Sub Pop) LP
Sleater-Kinney: The Woods (Sub Pop) LP
Sleep: Dopesmoker (Southern Lord) LP
Spoon: Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (Merge) LP
Spoon: Gimme Fiction (Merge) LP
Spoon: Girls Can Tell (Merge) LP
Tool: Lateralus (Zoo) LP
Waxahatchee: Ivy Tripp (Merge) LP
White Lung: Deep Fantasy (Domino) LP
Chelsea Wolfe: Pain is Beautiful (Sargent House) LP
Various: Master Mix: Red Hot + Arthur Russell (Yep Rock) LP
Various: New Orleans Funk (Soul Jazz) LP

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