…..news letter #707 – torch!…..

Well, it would seem that for back to school the music gods have lightened the load a little bit on us. However! We did receive word this week that one of the most essential slabs of underground rock is being officially reissued hopefully in October! In a matter of weeks, we should have the brilliant, and oh so sought after Sun City Girls’ magnum opus, “Torch of the Mystics” on our shelves! Please let us know if you’ll need a copy of this bad boy so we can order accordingly. We will get lots, but I also expect to get shorted on this one, so don’t snooze!

…..pick of the week…..


Shooting Guns/Hawkeyes: Brothers of the Nod (Prerock) LP
Hailing from Saskatoon, SK, in the heart of the Canadian prairies, JUNO and Polaris Prize award nominees Shooting Guns are hard at work fortifying the heavy end of the psychedelic spectrum, haunting the foggy moor between Sabbath-styled doom riffery and heavy pulse-riding kraut-rock. Shooting Guns scored the soundtrack to Canadian horror-comedy Wolf Cop and released the Official Soundtrack in 2014 in partnership with One Way Static, RidingEasy Records, and Cinecoup. Their sophomore LP, Brotherhood of the Ram, released in 2013 through RidingEasy Records, was nominated for the 2015 JUNO Metal/Hard Album of the Year as well as the Polaris Music Prize. Their debut LP, Born To Deal in Magic: 1952-1976, was also nominated for the Polaris Music Prize in 2012. Awakening from a shared stoned-apocalyptic prophetic hallucination, Hawkeyes formed around a shared philosophy of “Tune Down, Turn Up”. By eschewing traditional song-structure in favour of volume and time-travel, Hawkeyes have created a uniquely monolithic sound, one they self-describe as a “chaotic, psychedelic brand of space-doom” that is greatly indebted to their passion for sound-bending, fuzzpriest-built effects pedals, custom built guitars and basses and hugely over-sized drums and cymbals. With these tools, Hawkeyes are able to simultaneously abuse the ears and massage the psyches of anyone foolish enough to bear witness.

File Under: Stoner, Metal, Psych
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…..new arrivals…..


The Arcs: Yours, Dreamily (Nonesuch) LP
The Arcs are Dan Auerbach, Richard Swift, Leon Michels, Homer Steinweiss, and Nick Movshon. Their debut album, Yours, Dreamily, will be issued on Nonesuch Records in September 2015. Also appearing on the record are Kenny Vaughan and Mariachi Flor de Toloache. The Arcs collaboratively wrote and recorded 13 tracks for Yours, Dreamily, with the musicians playing a large array of roles both vocally and instrumentally. Co-produced by Auerbach and Michels, the album was recorded in roughly two weeks through spontaneous, informal sessions across the country at the Sound Factory in Los Angeles, the Diamond Mine in Queens, Auerbach’s Easy Eye Sound in Nashville, and in a lounge room at Electric Lady in Manhattan. Tchad Blake mixed the album on his horse farm in Wales. In advance of Yours, Dreamily, The Arcs will release the two 7-inch singles, “Stay in My Corner” b/w “Tomato Can” and “Outta My Mind” b/w “My Mind.” NPR Music’s Stephen Thompson noted that “Stay in My Corner” has “got a slinky, timeless feel, propelled with alluring ease by Auerbach’s falsetto and a lush instrumental backdrop.”

File Under: Rock, Super Groups
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Beirut: No No No (4AD) LP
In  tomorrow??? Zach Condon and his band Beirut will release their fourth album No No No in September 2015 via 4AD. Coming four years after The Rip Tide, and recorded over a two week period during one of the coldest New York winters – with blizzard after blizzard raging outside – No No No is Condon’s most vibrant and spirited record to date. This time around, the songs were constructed live, in the moment, by the band, and are more concert-ready than ever as a result. The band was significantly stripped down: guitar, piano, bass, and drums formed the bulk of the arrangements as opposed to the more obscure instruments for which he was initially known. No No No opens with a sort of tribal drum beat, quickly giving way to a more western/modern snare sound and drum machine – a subtle wink at Beirut’s own musical transformation. There’s a caffeinated exuberance throughout the entirety of the record. The songs are particularly upbeat and awake, reflective of Condon’s newfound clarity, so much so in fact, that the fifth song, the instrumental breather “As Needed” is exactly that – a necessary intermission. The second half picks up where it left off, with effervescent percussion across pop songs, often led by bubbly piano lines that showcase Condon’s development as a pianist. If the darkest hour is right before the dawn, Condon’s dawn is the brightest point in his still young career. He’s found his true artistic identity as a songwriter – one that greatly abandons many of the formulas for which he was first known. The songwriter within Condon has always been there, albeit sonically veiled on past records. It’s never been presented so prominently, and finds Beirut on its most stable and convincing footing yet.

File Under: Indie Rock
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Danava: Unonou (Riding Easy) LP
Speedy and sinuous, Danava out rocks, out progs, out psychs and out retro-proto-metals all comers. Led by singer/guitarist/songwriter Greg Meleney, the quartet creates utterly unique astro-rock that is a thing of spectral beauty. Described as “a journey into a parallel sonic universe,” Danava’s sidelong songs are sprinkled with spacey synth-y FX that push the band’s sound into outer space. This is progressive riff rock; barn-burning scorchers full of unison and tongue-twisting melodic runs that melt listener’s brains. Danava’s relentless fret-board wizardry – cast in the spirit of Iommi and Schenker – produces extended elliptical structures that live in a proto-magic era somewhere between Lemmy in Hawkwind and Lemmy in Motörhead, leaving sufficient room for wailing, noodling solos and a vocal croon that is halfway between Ian Gillan or Geddy Lee’s high-pitched, semi-operatic prowess and Ozzy Osbourne’s insidious howl. The band’s songs list from side to side like a vessel cast adrift on an ocean of battering soundwaves. Originally released on Kemado in 2008, Danava’s sophomore album Unonou is now being lovingly reissued on double vinyl courtesy of Riding Easy Records. The album’s title is not only perfectly suited to this uniquely enigmatic, often downright perplexing band, but Unonou probably means something important in the language of their native planet. After all, Danava’s eponymous first album already suggested that they might be visitors from a distant galaxy, located somewhere between Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon and Rush’s favorite black hole, “Cignus X-1.” As if to corroborate this alien origin conspiracy theory, Unonou’s striking artwork is reminiscent of the golden era of sci-fi novels. “…the majority of Unonou’s seven songs speak to an awakening brought on by the experiences the band has endured thus far, on and off the stage. These songs are about self-discovery,” guitarist/vocalist Dusty Sparkles illustrates. “Stop lying to yourself. Quit being afraid of change. Accept yourself. Stop believing everything you read or see on TV, and ask yourself how you really feel.”

File Under: Rock, Stoner, Prog
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Drinks: Hermits on Holiday (Birth) LP
“Tim, do I like that dog?” A strange question, a queer query, an odd ask. The answer surely already known unless one mind knows the other. Which would appear to be the case with Cate and Tim. With Tim and Cate. Cate Le Bon, born in West Wales, raised under the shadow of a woolen mill, dressed by the field and by the rain. Tim Presley (a.k.a. White Fence), from San Francisco, grew under and over the bridges and streets, combed by corners and by concrete. A more different musical upbringing you couldn’t dream up. He a black thread strung through the eye of American hardcore, she a shard of glass tapped through a solid wall. Loop the thread around the shard and you have pendular device for predicting the sex. Will it be a boy or a girl? They both like to drink, coffee mostly and sometimes each other. And once the drinks are drunk, out it comes. The mud slicks and the plates click. Drinks is a solo project, not a collaboration. It has one mouth, one set of lungs, one mind and four legs. Drinks are the sound of hermits on holiday, having the time of each others lives.

File Under: Indie Rock, White Fence, Cate Le Bon
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Low: Ones & Sixes (Sub Pop) LP
In tomorrow??? Ones and Sixes is the new (and, so far, the best) album from the Duluth-based trio Low comprised of Alan Sparhawk, Mimi Parker and Steve Garrington. The 12-track effort, featuring the standouts “No Comprende,”  “What Part of Me,” “Gentle,” and “No End,” was co-produced by the band and engineer BJ Burton at Justin Vernon’s April Base Studios in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Low’s Alan Sparhawk on the record: “In our 20+ years of writing songs, I’ve learned that no matter how escapist, divergent, or even transcendent the creative process feels, the result is more beholden to what is going on at the moment. It’s hard to admit that one is so influenced by what is in front of us. Doesn’t it come from something magical and far away? No, it comes from here. It comes from now. I’m not going to tell you what this record is about because I have too much respect for that moment when you come to know it for yourself. “I will, however, tell you about how we made it. BJ contacted us a few years ago and invited us out to the studio where he works with Justin, Lizzo, and other artists. The studio is close to our home in Duluth, so it seemed tempting. Months later, I worked with BJ, producing the recent record by Trampled by Turtles. We got along and seemed to have similar curiosity about the possibilities for Low, so time was booked and songs finished. We tracked under the soft glow of laser discs playing lost classics like Point Break and Speed. “Glenn Kotche from Wilco was there one day working on another record, so we had him in to play hand-percussion on a couple songs. Working 2 or 3 days at a time, leaving it with BJ, then back again for more, we don’t have the time or money to second-guess or pick from a pool of possibilities. This is the whole thought – the untamed truth. This is now. This is everything.” “Ones and Sixes takes everything Low excels at and dips it in a heavy gold plating of industrial-leaning electronics. This somehow catapults to new and extreme heights the innate beauty their music has always had. It’s a series of contrasts: stunning and menacing, gorgeous and frightening, giving and desperate, and ultimately, unbearably heavy and unbearably light. From one to six and back again.” – Dee Dee (Dum Dum Girls)

File Under: Indie Rock
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Red House Painters: Songs for a Blue Guitar (Island) LP
Though Songs For A Blue Guitar is listed as a Red House Painters album, this is, for all intents and purposes, the debut solo record from Mark Kozelek. After a four record run for 4AD, this album was originally released on the Island subsidiary Supreme. Recorded with a new backing band, Songs For A Blue Guitar is the first Red House Painters record on which Kozelek really lets his rock chops loose, a forerunner to his more recent, critically acclaimed, work with Sun Kil Moon. Alongside brilliant originals are three overs, highlighting Kozelek’s interpretive skills including Yes’ “Long Distance Runaround,” the Cars’ “All Mixed Up” and Wings’ “Silly Love Songs.”

File Under: Indie Rock
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Shannon & The Clams: Gone By The Dawn (Hardly Art) LP
In tomorrow??? The American West. America’s America. It was here in three very different worlds that Shannon and the Clams were spawned. From the dark redwood forests of Oregon emerged Cody Blanchard: singer and guitarist. The dusty walnut orchards and vineyards of northern California gave us Shannon Shaw: singer and bassist. Out of the lonely dunes of California’s central coast shambled Nate Mayhem: drummer and keys. These three talented visual artists were drawn separately to Oakland, California and it was there that the Clams began playing house parties and grimy clubs. The band was forged in the anachronistic remote communities of the west, in some strange mixture of computer show and country fair; their music is some odd alloy of The Last Picture Show and The Decline of Western Civilization. The pioneer spirit of western life is all over this band: pushing into the unknown, blazing their own trail, creating their own destiny, with the accompanying canyon-esque loneliness and untamed joy only truly known by those with the courage to pull up stakes and head off into the big empty sunset. Gone by the Dawn, the newest Shannon and the Clams album, is their best work to date. The music is complex, the lyrical content is emotionally raw and honest, and the production is the strangest it’s ever been. The album was written as one member was recovering from a serious breakup and another was deep in one. The lyrics reflect it, and the entire album is dripping with sadness, pain, and introspection. Shannon and Cody have not written generic songs about love or the lack of it. Instead they have written about their very own specific heartbreak, mistreatment, and mental trials. The emotion is palpable. On Gone by the Dawn the Clams have dared to be real. They’ve exposed their true emotions, which is what’s most moving about the album. People are scared to be so real. Society does not encourage it. Folks remain guarded to protect themselves from being mocked, punished, and becoming outcast . The Clams have opted to forgo the potential tongue-clucking finger-waggers, and have instead had the artistic courage and audacity to splay their pain and struggles out for all to hear. We are lucky to hear them get so damn real. For Gone by the Dawn, the Oakland trio hooked up with studio wizard and renaissance man Sonny Smith to record the album at Tiny Telephone Recording in San Francisco. Best known as the driving force behind San Francisco’s beloved Sonny and the Sunsets, Smith uses his refreshing production techniques to create an engaging sonic landscape without compromising the Clams’ signature Lou Christie-meets-The Circle Jerks sound. The Clams have evolved: their skills are sharper, their chops are tighter and weirder and they’ve added new instruments to to the mix. A whole new dimension of the Clams has emerged. In the West everything is big. The mountains are towering, the rivers broad, the deserts vast, the canyons deep, and the emotions huge. The Clams have painted themselves into a massive landscape of sound and desolation. Gone by the Dawn is monumental; immense, magnificent, and unforgettable. Shannon and the Clams have pioneered their way into a lonesome land where the past still lives in the long shadows of a hot afternoon, where whispering spirits follow high along canyon walls, and if you sink your fingers into the dusty hard-packed earth you pull out hands smeared with blood.

File Under: Punk, Surf
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Slayer: Repentless (Nuclear Blast) LP
In tomorrow??? Slayer, the long-reigning titans of thrash, return with Repentless the band’s eleventh studio album and its first album for Nuclear Blast. Produced by Terry Date, Repentless was written and recorded by guitarist Kerry King and singer/bassist Tom Araya at Henson Studios in Los Angeles, along with returning drummer Paul Bostaph and guitarist Gary Holt. Repentless is crushing and brutal, steadfastly refusing to cater to the mainstream. Thirty-four years into its career, Slayer remains the preeminent punk-thrash band that helped establish the genre and that up-and-coming metal heads continue to revere and emulate. Slayer is a five-time nominated, two-time Grammy Award-winning metal juggernaut that writes songs which mirror the turmoil and aberrations of our society. The band’s first new album in six years continues the Slaytanic offensive with a twelve-song, blood-shaking sonic attack. Repentless is dark, fast, aggressive and without mercy. It was also the most challenging record Slayer has ever had to make. In 2013, the world mourned the loss of guitarist Jeff Hanneman who died from complications following a two-year illness. A co-founder of Slayer, losing Jeff was very difficult for the band. During Jeff’s illness, friend of the band, guitarist Holt stepped in to help out on tour with Jeff’s blessing and stayed on. Around that time, drummer Dave Lombardo exited the band for the third time and Paul Bostaph, (who played with the band from 1992 – 2001), returned to take over the throne. Slayer never skipped a beat and since Holt and Bostaph both played in Exodus, it was “all-in-the-thrash-family.” Repentless marks a number of transitions for the band but with their undisputed attitude, Slayer emerges triumphant. Loaded with sensational songs, from the hyper-aggressive metallic blasts of the title track, “Take Control,” “Implode” and “Atrocity Vendor” to the ferocious thrash pounding of “Vices,” “When The Stillness Comes,” and “Pride In Prejudice,” Repentless is Slayer through and through.

File Under: Metal
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Slim Twig: Thanks for Stickin’ With Twig (DFA) LP
Thank You For Stickin’ With Twig is the latest long-playing album from the artist known to the world (or at least to his mother) as Slim Twig. Coming out on DFA, you may be surprised to know that it represents the fifth album by the Toronto based songwriter/producer. Twig has released these previous records among a swath of EP’s, singles and one-offs, displaying in the process a complete disregard for genre or consistency. The evolution from Contempt!, his sample-stained 2009 debut, through to A Hound At The Hem, his symphonic tribute album to Nabokov’s Lolita (reissued by DFA in 2014), is not entirely linear, although intriguing all the same. Like so many surf smoothed stones lining the beach shore, briefly unburied only to be discarded once deemed un-skippable, so Twig has gone about seeking the proper rock to cast at just the right angle. One can see why he extends a gratuity to those listeners who’ve stuck around. Thank You For Stickin’ With Twig is to date the most sonically immersive album in Twig’s discography. Where some records have focused explicitly on sample-based songwriting, while others have been completely live recorded, the new album arrives at a perfectly produced fusion of fidelities. It hovers, glamorously caught between a cloud of obscurant, half-speed tape hiss, and the most stoned Jeff Lynne production you’ve ever heard. Twig flirts here with a variety of vibes, most often opting for a three dimensional approach whereby a warped tape aura is overlaid with colorful, laser-cut keyboard and guitar melodies. A fetishization of analogue texture is married to a digital approach. All the while, we find Twig irreverently raiding classic rock of its symbolism, sexuality, and social ambition for ulterior subversions. In this respect, TYFSWT’s closest cousin may be Royal Trux’s Accelerator.

File Under: Electronic, CanCon
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Yo La Tengo: Stuff Like That There (Matador) LP
Stuff Like That There, is a new 14 song collection of covers (The Cure, Hank Williams, The Lovin’ Spoonful), originals (“Rickety,” “Awhileaway”) and past catalog reworkings (“All Your Secrets,” “The Ballad of Red Buckets,” “Deeper Into Movies”) that happens to coincide with the 25th anniversary of Yo La Tengo’s landmark 1990 album, Fakebook. With Fakebook as template, Stuff Like That There is a record with ties to the past which contribute to the sound they make furthered by an affinity for the sounds they love. Somehow they compose the already composed by return. It’s clear-eyed. It’s clever and concealed. Recorded with Gene Holder (The Feelies), Stuff Like That There has the trio of Ira Kaplan, Georgia Hubley and James McNew augmented by the guitarist and former Yo La Tengo member Dave Schramm, with James negotiating the wonders of the upright bass for the first time. This album has be dreamed about by Yo La Tengo fans for decades and the wait is nearly over. This unprecedented live set-up – Ira on acoustic guitar, Georgia up-front on a small kit, and James on upright bass – marks the first occasion of this particular Yo La Tengo incarnation touring together (and since it took them 31 years to get around to doing so, could very well also be the last).

File Under: Indie Rock, Covers
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Atlas Sound: Parallax (4AD) LP
Cocteau Twins: Heaven or Las Vegas (4AD) LP
Death Grips: No Love Deep Web (Harvest) LP
Deerhunter: Halcyon Digest (4AD) LP
Deerhunter: Monomania (4AD) LP
Destroyer: Rubies (Merge) LP
Destroyer: This Night (Merge) LP
Dzyan: Electric Silence (Long Hair) LP
Jay-Z: Magna Carta… Holy Grail (Thirdman) LP
Queens of the Stone Age: Era Vulgaris (Ipecac) 3×10″
Spiritualized: Ladies & Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space (Plain) LP
Swans: The Seer (Young God) LP
Swans: My Father Will Guide Me (Young God) LP
Big Mama Thornton: In Europe (Arhoolie) LP
Tool: Lateralus (Zoo) LP
Tool: Opiate (Zoo) LP
White Stripes: Elephant (Thirdman) LP

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