….news letter #727 – sleep year…..

A few more new gems this week, and as usual, loads hitting the used bins up front. Come down for a dig!

…..pick of week…..


Roly Porter: Third Law (Tri Angle) LP
As one half of pioneering duo Vex’d (alongside Jamie Teasdale, aka, Kuedo), Roly Porter was intrinsic in the development of what would come to be known as dubstep. When Vex’d decided to go their separate ways in the mid-2000s Roly pursued a solo career in an attempt to escape the genre constraints he felt had become a restriction. With two solo albums behind him (Aftertime and Life Cycle of a Massive Star), his output has primarily been fueled by a desire to write beat-less music, something Roly is keen to specify he doesn’t view as being the same as ambient music. Roly’s music isn’t about ‘day to day’ life. Instead it’s an opportunity for him to think about ‘larger’ things outside his personal experience, which in turn has had a profound impact on how Roly is able to see his own life and that of others around him. Third Law is about combining everything Roly has loved and missed about producing sound-system music, with the more compositional ideas he began to explore on his solo work. While Third Law is related to his past, for Roly this album represents finally coming to terms with his goal of leaving dance music as it is, free to explore ideas of rhythm, bass, sound design within his own world without having to shape any of these elements to fit any preconceived ideas or rules.

File Under: Electronic, Ambient, Industrial
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…..new arrivals…..

all them

All Them Witches: Dying Surfer Meets His Maker (New West) LP
In tomorrow… “Inspired” and “heavy” are words that come to mind when taking in Dying Surfer Meets His Maker, the third long-player from Nashville’s All Them Witches. In recent years, All Them Witches’ live rep has become nearly mythical as they combine mercurial yet sensitive singer/songwriter lyricism, tripped-out post-psych hard blues, and stoner rock metallic thud. The album was recorded in an isolated cabin on a Pigeon Forge, Tennessee hilltop overlooking Dollywood far below. It was cut mostly live from the floor by Mikey Allred, with overdubs added later. One song opens onto another as it unfolds into a labyrinthine, head-expanding ride. On “Call Me Star,” gently fingerpicked acoustic guitars are adorned by a weeping slide; snares and tom-toms frame bassist Charles Michael Parks, Jr.’s lonesome, from-the-void vocal, which recalls prime Robert Plant. The restraint gives way to a spacy rockist vibe, but never loses its rootsy feel. A basic one-chord electric guitar vamp introduces the massive “El Centro.” It quickly gives way to a massive blown-out bassline from Parks. Ben McLeod’s wiry fuzz guitars and Robby Staebler’s rolling drums add punch and urgency. (Few bands know how to make use of a really good drummer; All Them Witches have that down cold.) Squalling guitars rife with feedback and tense rhythms à la Loop mesh with the heavy, hard, and head-nodding plod of Sleep. Eight minutes feels like half an hour as time and space slip the ropes. By contrast, the cut-time “Dirt Preachers” is a brief wonky 12-bar punk blues with metal guitar vamps. The great Mickey Raphael guests on “This Is Where It Falls Apart,” a snail-paced psychedelic blues delivered with tense restraint and colored with dubwise effects. On “Open Passageways,” Staebler’s declamatory drumming (which recalls the earthiness of Otha Turner’s Rising Star Fife & Drum Band with the dark authority of Led Zeppelin’s “When the Levee Breaks”) gradually extends to Allan Van Cleave’s melodic old-world violin break before the entire band erects a doomy climatic architecture. “Talisman” commences as Americana fare, but at over six minutes dissolves into a trance inducer of roiling drums and snaky, overdriven guitars and bass. Everything is on stun. Van Cleave’s Fender Rhodes is the only thing binding it to the earth. At first, “Blood & Sand/Milk & Endless Waters” sounds like a cyclic return to “This Is Where It Falls Apart,” but its fuzzed-out rolling thunder brings in the heaviness of “El Centro” too. The jam comes into its own when layers of fiddle and silvery blues guitar ripple forth before Staebler’s fat, grooving drums help rock it to a close. Dying Surfer Meets His Maker showcases All Them Witches in complete control of their songwriting, arranging, producing, and performing. Slow-burning albums that provide this much weight, creativity, surprise, and enduring pleasure are rare.

File Under: Rock, Psych
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Cows: Cunning Stunts (Amphetamine Reptile) LP
“Cunning Stunts is recognized as one of the scummy high water marks the Cows left in the bathtub of punk rock noise. Originally released back in 1992; the lurching, queasy rhythms, barked vocals, tuneless trumpet playing and viciously funny lyrics slapped the underground on the ass.”

File Under: Punk
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Diiv: Is The Is Are (Captured Tracks) LP
Is the Is Are, the highly-anticipated sophomore release from Brooklyn-based DIIV, is an album years and many personal struggles in the making for it’s architect, Zachary Cole Smith. Recorded and mixed in various locations in Brooklyn, it showcases everything you know and love about DIIV, and many things you did not, all with an added nuance and depth. It is a 17-song, double-album statement intended to resonate with its audience in much the same way that Bad Moon Rising or Tago Mago has for Smith himself. An extension and deepening of the musical ideas first expressed on 2012’s critically-lauded Oshin, Is the Is Are yields a multiplicity of textures, lyrical themes, and moods. It is a more diverse world than Oshin, with different parameters and ideals. Dark and honest to a fault, the new songs are dynamic, loud, quiet, sad; they are songs that hiss and snarl; songs that, as Smith wrote recently, represent “the real me.” Smith’s vocals, too, are much closer to the foreground, layered legibly on top of tidal waves of shimmering guitar and melodic bass weaving in and out, leaving a distinct and indelible imprint.

File Under:
Indie Rock
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Grimes: Geidi Primes (Arbutus) LP
Geidi Primes is Grimes’ debut LP. Originally available as a free download and a limited release of cassettes in 2010, it’s now being issued worldwide on vinyl for the first time. It has a strange air of being created unconsciously while the artist herself was asleep. It is a vastly intriguing set of pop tunes highlighted by its amazing fifth and sixth songs: “Avi” and “Feyd Rautha Dark Heart,” which are each frighteningly reminiscent of an unaccountable psychic experience you may have never had. It seems like an album made for very tall people about what it’s like to be very small. It calls to mind the glowering of a child king amidst the many vestments and decorations of his coronation. Listening to Geidi Primes is what its like to suddenly realize you are being watched while taking a cold shower…on the moon.

File Under: Electronic, Pop
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junior boys

Junior Boys: Big Black Coat (City Slang) LP
In tomorrow??? Junior Boys return with Big Black Coat, their first album in almost five years and first for City Slang. A strikingly energized and intuitively dynamic set of songs, Big Black Coat is shaped by what Jeremy Greenspan and Matt Didemus have been doing in the five years since their last release. The Hamilton, Ontario duo have racked up four albums since they formed in 1999, including their 2004 debut Last Exit and 2006’s So This Is Goodbye, two rapturous – and rapturously received – records that were as poignant as they were impeccably produced, and prefigured the digital R&B so beloved of many an artist in the last few years. Two albums followed, the last being It’s All True in 2011. A renewed vigor surges through Big Black Coat. It’s what carries its overall sharp mix of sounds. It’s what encouraged the pair to strip their original “complicated” version of “Love Is A Fire” down to its compellingly looped bare bones and made Greenspan experiment with vocal treatments, as he does on the idiosyncratically Auto-Tuned “Over It.” But it’s the title track that sets the album’s scene. “Big Black Coat” gradually warms and spreads light as it builds over seven minutes, nodding to Yellow Magic Orchestra and Plastikman as it goes. It also features a conceptually crucial percussion sound, made with a modular synth. The previously released “What You Won’t Do For Love” sees Junior Boys revising Bobby Caldwell’s over-easy soul track from 1978, adding a subtle undercurrent of UK bass to what is only their second ever cover. Elsewhere, there’s an acknowledgement of ESP’s 1986 proto-house tune “It’s You,” which uses an ultra-rare Synton Fénix synth (“M + P”) and a ballad that reignites Greenspan’s love affair with the hushed, soulful pop of Prefab Sprout, 10cc and Scritti Politti, via contemporary R&B (“Baby Don’t Hurt Me”). Detroit is a strong undercurrent flowing through the record too, with nods to heavyweights Robert Hood, Dan Bell and Richie Hawtin throughout. Fusing disco and soul with the industrial pop and techno of Greenspan’s formative teens is what makes Big Black Coat so distinctive and compelling. It’s the sound of Junior Boys both cutting loose and reconnecting. As Greenspan sees it: “The fact that we haven’t put out an album in a long time has been liberating, in that we haven’t been so phenomenally successful that everyone knows who we are. With this album, a lot of people will be hearing us for the first time. There’s a freedom that comes from that.”

File Under: Electronic, Pop
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nebular wave

Nebular Wave: s/t (Oak Apple Records) LP
Nebular Wave is the refined result of late night jams, early morning freak outs, and mid day improvisations. Time has no meaning in the Nebular Wave, therefore you never grow up and you never grow old. It’s far out, and far in. Under the swirling Canadian Northern Lights lies Edmonton, Alberta, home of space groove rockers Nebular Wave. Repetitive, yet groovy and infectious, the instrumental music on Nebular Wave’s debut album will take you to another Solar System in the blink of an eye. Drums and bass escort you through the space out, as shimmering and vibrating synths move past in the non dimensional space. Meanwhile, in the meantime, soaring e-bow Stratocaster pierces through the nether. Recorded at Zounds of Sounds studio, and released on Oak Apple Records, Nebular Wave will appeal to fans of post rock, ambient, and soundtrack. If Pink Floyd is the supernova, Nebular Wave is stardust. Only 100 pressed! Includes download!

File Under: Space Rock, Ambient, Kosmiche
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let it be

Replacements: Let It Be (Rhino) LP
Let It Be is the third studio album by American rock band The Replacements, released on October 2, 1984 by Twin/Tone Records. It is a post-punk album with coming-of-age themes. The band had grown tired of playing loud and fast exclusively by the time of their 1983 album Hootenanny and decided to write songs that were, according to vocalist Paul Westerberg, “a little more sincere.” Let It Be was well-received by music critics and later ranked among the greatest albums of the 1980s by All Music and Rolling Stone magazine. Now considered a classic, Let It Be is frequently included on professional lists of the all-time best rock albums, being ranked number 241 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

File Under: Rock, Punk
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sorry ma

Replacements: Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out The Trash (Rhino) LP
Part of the Replacements’ appeal always was that they didn’t quite fit into any tidy category and nowhere was that truer than on their 1981 debut, Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash. Falling over themselves to fit into the Minneapolis hardcore scene, the ‘Mats played fast and loose, which was part of the problem — they were too loose, lacking the discipline to fit within hardcore, which even in ’81 was adhering to the loud-fast rules that would later morph into straight-edge. Then again, that was a common problem in the Twin Cities, as Hüsker Dü also were too big and blustery to be a standard hardcore band, but where the Huskers traded in violence and fury at this early stage, the Replacements wallowed in cheap thrills. Danger still pulsated in their music, but the group didn’t inflict emotional damage: they were a party spinning out of control, getting sloppier with every beer swilled. The messiness on Sorry Ma is hardly confined to the cheap, thin recording or the band’s playing — they sound as if they’re stumbling upon each other as they fumble for the next chord — but how the songs pile up one after another, most not managing to get close to the two-minute mark. Such brevity could be dubbed as hardcore, but apart from the volume and speed, this doesn’t feel like hardcore: there’s too much beer and boogie for that. Then, there’s also the fact that the Replacements reveled in mid-American junk culture, with Paul Westerberg boasting that he’d bought himself a headache the very year that Black Flag sneered that they had nothing better to do then having a bottle of brew as they watched the TV. Neither did the Replacements, but they sang about this with no disdain, as they enjoyed being “Shiftless When Idle,” as one of the best songs here called it. This could be called defiant if it seemed like the ‘Mats were raging against anything besides garden-variety suburban troubles, as there’s nothing that attacks other punkers (quite the opposite; there are love letters to Johnny Thunders and Hüsker Dü), and even when Westerberg is chronicling Midwestern ennui, there’s a sense of affection to his laments, as if he loves the place and loves acting like an angry young crank. This strain of premature curmudgeonly humor is undercut by the boundless energy of the band, so happy to make noise they don’t care if they’re recycling old-time rock & roll riffs that are closer to amped-up Rockpile than the Ramones, as there’s more swing to the rhythms than that — swing that careens wildly and madly, but swings all the same. And that’s what made the Replacements seem so different with their debut — they didn’t fit anywhere within American punk, but there’s no defiance here; there’s a celebration of who and what they are that’s genuinely, infectiously guileless. It may not quite sound like any other American punk record but Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash is one of the best LPs the entire scene produced in the early ’80s.

File Under: Punk, Rock
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slow season

Slow Season: s/t (Riding Easy) LP
Visalia (central California) quartet Slow Season have a revamped version of their 2012 self-titled debut album to be released on RidingEasy Records. The band’s sound effortlessly nods to greats of the 60s-70s like Led Zeppelin, The Who, Black Sabbath, et al, without sounding like a caricature. Rather, as one can immediately hear, this is hypnotic, heavy, and howling rock ‘n’ roll that defies both musical and temporal categorization. Having recorded both of their albums live on reel-to-reel at Tarbell’s home studio, the band eschews the digital trappings of music today to give their analog sound its crackling, kinetic energy.

File Under: Stoner Rock, Blues Rock
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Sunn o))): Domkirke (Southern Lord) LP
Available on vinyl again! In tomorrow… For 16 years, Sunn O))) have been challenging the way we think about music. From 1999’s The Grimmrobe Demos to 2009’s Monoliths And Dimensions, core members Stephen O’Malley and Greg Anderson have forged connections between the worlds of metal, drone, contemporary composition, jazz and minimalism with startling results while remaining true to the eternal principles of volume, density and weight. Dømkirke is a live album by Sunn O))) that was recorded at Bergen Cathedral in Bergen, Norway, during the Borealis Festival in 2007, and originally issued on Southern Lord in 2008. The album was pressed only on vinyl, never to be released on compact disc. It is a double album that features one track on each side of the limited edition 180g 2LP-set. The packaging of Dømkirke features artwork by the Norwegian visual artist Tania Stene. Stoughton old style tip-on gatefold jacket.

File Under: Drone, Metal, Doom
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talk talkTalk Talk: Laughing Stock (Polydor) LP
In tomorrow…. one of our all time favorites is available again! Talk Talk began as a quartet consisting of Mark Hollis (vocals), Simon Brenner (keyboards), Lee Harris (drums) and Paul Webb (bass guitar). They were generally associated with the New Romantic movement; more specifically, in their early years, they were often compared with Duran Duran, as both bands not only featured a double-barrelled name and a Roxy Music-inspired musical direction, but also shared the same record label (EMI) and producer (Colin Thurston). Active from 1981 to 1991, the group had a string of international hit singles including “Today,” “Talk Talk,” “It’s My Life,” “Such a Shame,” “Dum Dum Girl” and “Life’s What You Make It.” In their later years the band’s commercial appeal receded, and their critical reputation increased as they moved from synth-pop to a more experimental form. Their last two albums, Spirit of Eden and Laughing Stock, were highly acclaimed and remain influential to experimental alternative rock genres. Laughing Stock, the group’s 1991 final album, took a year to make, and yet it has required decades to fully appreciate. Following up on the abstract and composerly Spirit of Eden, which sufficiently alienating pop fans of the band’s earlier material, Laughing Stock took spaces in recorded music to new extremes, with layers of silence breathing through strings, woodwinds, percussion and Mark Hollis’ delicate vocals. The record exists as one complete thought, albeit with jagged diversions and tangents. Ultimately Laughing Stock has made an indelible imprint in the evolution of human musical expression, becoming evermore intriguing with each spin. HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION!!! 

File Under: Post Rock, Ambient
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Tortoise: Millions Now Living Will Never Die (Thrill Jockey) LP
Available again! Millions Now Living Will Never Die is the second full-length offering from Tortoise, originally issued in 1996. The majority of the material was first conceived during an idyllic 10-day retreat in Northern Vermont, where the group were able to explore their ideas in a setting that fostered introspection and inspiration: the results are clearly evident in the washes of Klangfärben (tone color) and rhythm that permeate the album. The sounds and ideas contained therein can be viewed as a logical extension of those found their first (eponymous) LP on Thrill Jockey where the group outlined an agenda exploring texture, space, and mood. MNLWND, however, offers not only an expansion of those ideas but also the introduction of several new elements into the musical equation. New instrumental textures (marimbas and other mallet percussion on “Djed” (pronounced “jed”); conventional electric guitar on “Glass Museum”; analog synthesis/sequencing and found sound on “Dear Grandma and Grandpa”) and structural ideas (the extended formal procedures of “Djed”; the non-narrative song “Along the Banks of Rivers”) represent clear developments and redefinition’s of the group’s sound. Recording commenced immediately upon returning to Chicago, though due to a variety of reasons, the entire recording and mixing process became elongated. This less hurried approach to album making allowed the group to explore more of the possibilities inherent in the material; the 21-minute “Djed” is ample proof of this. The final version of the track went through approximately 15 different stages of mixing and editing. Like their debut, MNLWND was recorded and mixed by John McEntire (who has also recently produced material by Stereolab, Run On, The Sea and Cake, Trans Am, and Come). The majority of the album was recorded and mixed at Idful Music Corporation in Chicago, with the remainder being realized at the newly established SOMA Electronic Music Studios. MNLWND is the first studio recording to feature the talents of David Pajo, who joined to fill the position vacated by Bundy K. Brown in late 1994.

File Under: Post Rock
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Tortoise: Standards (Thrill Jockey) LP
Following the massive success of their 1998 album TNT, Tortoise delivered Standards in 2001. The tunes are direct and immediate, yet they maintain the exploratory edge that has always characterized the group’s output. The fusion of instrumental sounds (electric, acoustic and synthesized) is subtle and subversive while the group’s fluency within the studio environment gives the finished work a quality that alternates between artifice and reality. Whilst TNT was constructed in the studio using segments recorded, improvised or altered electronically, the Standards sessions began after a period of rehearsal and composition. The contrast, simply stated, is that the studio was used extensively as a compositional tool for TNT, whereas with Standards it was used predominantly as tool to realize and enhance the existing new compositions. The results then are in many ways reminiscent of Tortoise’s unadorned self-titled debut.

File Under: Post Rock
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Ulver: ATGCLVLSSCAP (House of Mythology) LP
House of Mythology proudly presents the new Ulver gatefold double album vinyl, with over 80 minutes worth of material. This album consists of multi-tracked and studio-enhanced live, mostly improvisational, rock and electronic soundscapes, 2/3 of which has never been heard before. The basis for Atgclvlsscap – which the band has been working with under the moniker 12 – arrives from recordings made at twelve different live shows that Ulver performed in February 2014, in which band the band vaulted into the deep end of an improvisatory approach to their performance. Once the tour was over, it was down to Daniel O’Sullivan to take charge of these multi-track recordings, sculpting and editing hours of material in his North London enclave. Anders Møller, Kristoffer Rygg and Tore Ylwizaker got involved a bit later, honing things from their end in Subsonic Society and Oak Hill Studios, Oslo, before the vinyl cutting process took place at THD Vinyl Mastering, also in Oslo, in which the band was fully involved in the crucial initial cut of the 14″ lacquer. What resulted is the widescreen sweep and atmospheric splendor of Atgclvlsscap, ultimately a piece of work that exists above and beyond any conventional live recording, rather a hallucinatory travelogue as potent an experience to bear witness to as it was to construct. As always in the world of Ulver, influences are disparate and diverse, yet as Rygg notes, “It’s quite tributary in a way, there are clear nods to sounds from the past.” Many of these dwell in progressive, electronic and krautrock realms, heralding a lifelong love within the band for the music of the 70s. Even when the band revisits an earlier gem from 2000’s Perdition City album, as on “Nowhere (Sweet Sixteen),” its reinvigorated by their expansive and emotionally charged approach. “We always feel like, independently of what kind of instrumentation we use, we’re still playing the same nocturnal stuff,” adds Rygg. “There are a few motifs that keep recurring all the time in what we do, and if it’s in a rock form or an electronic form, it’s always there.” Yet as true as this may be, by shaking up their creative process, the band have summoned up a unique testimony to the creative power of a mighty force who remain blissfully free of genre or convention, Atgclvlsscap is progressive in the truest sense of the word, a record that may be this capricious band’s pièce-de-resistance.

File Under: Rock, Krautrock
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Various: Studio One Showcase (Soul Jazz) LP
Studio One Showcase brings together a fine selection of classic tracks from Horace Andy, Freddy McGregor, Johnny Osbourne, Lone Ranger, Sugar Minott, The Heptones, Wailing Souls and other seminal reggae artists all recorded at Studio One in the 1970s. By the start of the 1970s, Clement Dodd’s Studio One record label was at a crossroads. The previous two decades had given the producer and record label more success than most aspired to in a lifetime. From the mid-1950s on, the Downbeat Soundsystem had conquered all opponents – from Duke Reid to Prince Buster – and shaped and led the musical landscape of the dancehall. In the 1960s the establishment of Studio One Records at 13 Brentford Road in Kingston, Jamaica, had led to a Ford Motors-esque production line of hits that similarly defined reggae music. The 1970s were to be Clement ‘Sir Coxsone’ Dodd’s most challenging and yet ultimately most creative decade of all. Like the most zealous and resourceful of pioneers, Studio One was about to embark on a stunning era of reinvention, adaptation, stripping down and versioning, each step of which marked new musical developments in reggae music – roots reggae, deejay, dancehall, rub a dub and more. This album presents an overview of this exciting and ground-breaking decade of the 1970s at Studio One, during an era where, despite challenges from new producers, political turmoil and almost constant musical and technological innovations in reggae, Clement ‘Sir Coxsone’ Dodd was able to maintain his position as the pioneering leader in reggae music and to maintain Studio One as the number one sound in reggae music.

File Under: Reggae


13th Floor Elevators: Psychedelic Sounds of (Snapper) 2LP
Alabama Shakes: Sound & Color (ATO) LP
Baroness: Purple (Abraxan Hymns) LP
Beatles: Red (Apple) LP
Beatles: Love (Apple) LP
Beatles: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Apple) LP
Beatles: White Album (Apple) LP
Boards of Canada: Music Has The Right to Children (Warp) LP
Can: Tago Mago (Mute) LP
City & Colour: If I Should Go… (Dine Alone) LP
City & Colour: Sometimes (Dine Alone) LP
Eric Dolphy: Out To Lunch (Blue Note) LP
Doom: Born Like This (Lex) LP
Flying Lotus: Until the Quiet Comes (Warp) LP
Funkadelic: Let’s Take It To The Stage (4 Men With Beards) LP
Serge Gainsbourg: La Chanson de Prevert (Doxy)
Serge Gainsbourg: Initials BB (4 Men With Beards) LP
Gorillaz: s/t (EMI) LP
Grimes: Art Angels (Crystal Math) LP
Herbie Hancock: Empyrean Isles (Blue Note) LP
Herbie Hancock: Maiden Voyage (Blue Note) LP
Jimi Hendrix: Electric Ladyland (Reprise) LP
Billie Holiday: Lady in Satin (Sony) LP
Jawbreaker: Dear You (Blackball) LP
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard: I’m In Your Mind Fuzz (Castle Face) LP
Mission of Burma: VS (Fire) LP
Mogwai: Hawk is Howling (Rock Action) LP
Ennio Morricone: The Hateful Eight (Third Man) LP
Oneohtrix Point Never: Garden of Delete (Warp) LP
OST: Jackie Brown (Rhino) LP
OST: Sicario (Varese) LP
Matana Roberts: Coin Coin Chapter 3 (Constellation) LP
Nina Simone: Silk & Soul (RCA) LP
Sufjan Stevens: Carrie & Lowell (Asthmatic Kitty) LP
Joe Strummer: Global A Go Go (Anti) LP
Joe Strummer: Streetcore (Anti) LP
Sword: Age of Winters (Kemado) LP
Sword: Warp Riders (Kemado) LP
Waxahatchee: Ivy Tripp (Merge) LP
Wo Fat: The Conjuring (Small Stone) LP

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