As you may or may not know, we are losing Nora soon, which means, WE ARE HIRING! This doesn’t happen very often so if you’v ever wanted to work here, this is your best chance! Please drop off a resume in person and include your top 10 albums of 2015 as well as of all time. Good luck!
…..pick of the week…..
Ryuichi Sakamoto & Alva Noto: The Revenant OST (Milan) LP
A film of this magnitude deserves a composer who understands creative artistry and unbridled passion. Japanese master and Oscar winner Ryuichi Sakamoto fits the bill perfectly. Along with fellow Yellow Magic Orchestra member and frequent collaborator Alva Noto, Sakamoto has created a gripping soundtrack that is sure to be a treat for the winter crowds. Bryce Dessner also supplies additional music.
File Under: Classical, OST
African Head Charge: My life in a Hole in the Ground (On-U Sound) LP
After a resurgent 2015, On-U Sound will kick off the new year with vinyl re-presses of the first four African Head Charge albums. All have been re-cut at Dubplates & Mastering in Berlin for maximum bass pressure. They also include printed inners with sleeve notes by Steve Barker (On The Wire), and digital download cards for the full album. The groundbreaking debut album My Life In A Hole In The Ground from 1981 plays on both the title and concept of David Byrne and Brian Eno’s My Life in the Bush of Ghosts. Built upon sparse backing tracks constructed by Adrian Sherwood, the producer invited Bonjo Iyabinghi Noah (who had studied under Count Ossie in the rasta drumming camp at Wareika Hill in Jamaica) to lay down hand percussion patterns and breaks on top, augmented by stereo-strafed effects and the occasional burst of Sun Ra-style horns. The result is a unique mixture of traditional African rhythms, dub and free jazz. Features DJ favorite “Stebeni’s Theme” and “Far Away Chant,” used to famously gruesome effect by David Lynch in the film Wild At Heart.
File Under: Electronic, Reggae
Albert Ayler: In Greenwich Village (Impulse) LP
“The first two Ayler interactions in this album, For Coltrane and Change Has Come, were recorded during a concert at the Village Theatre on New York’s Lower East Side on February 26, 1967…I can’t imagine ‘For Coltrane’ presenting any problems of comprehension for any listener. Ayler is a strong, intense melodist – an element in his work that usually is in clear evidence primarily at the beginning of an improvisation, before the deeply secure, affirming melody courses through Ayler’s own playing and that of Joel Friedman on cello. Adding dimensions of textures and emotions are the two bassists, with Alan Silva particularly brilliant in his explorations of the upper range of the instrument… “Change Has Come’ implies, says Ayler, that “in my mysic, I’m trying to look far ahead. Like Coltrane, I’m playing about the beauty that is to come after all the tensions and anxieties. This is about post-war cries; I mean the cries of love that are already in the young and that will emerge as people seeking freedom come to spiritual freedom.” “Truth Is Marching In and Our Prayer were recorded at the Village Vanguard on December 18, 1966, with John Coltrane in attendance…Echoes of New Orleans marching bands set the rejoicing mood at the start of Truth Is Marching In as Albert Ayler again demonstrates his penchant for boldly dramatic opening lines…Ayler explains that [Our Prayer] is, “a prayer to the Creator, a song about the spiritual principles of the universe.” “…I would only add that Albert Ayler’s music projects such overwhelming vitality – or spiritual energy, as he would all it – that it cannot help but triumph. It may not change all its listeners in the way Ayler intendes, but it will surely open up more and more people to new ways of listening and, therefore, to new ways of feeling.” – original liner notes, Nat Hentoff
File Under: Jazz
John Cale: M:Fans (Domino) LP
M:FANS is a radical new reworking of one of John Cale’s most unique and lauded solo records, the 1982 masterpiece Music For A New Society. M:FANS explores the relationship between old and new, in terms of the sound and vision, and Cale’s memories of the experience, in terms of his life and the recording. Back and forth M:FANS goes, sampling the original, while creating brand new soundscapes, giving Cale the opportunity for closure on one of the most testing eras of his life, and a way to keep moving forward. “Making any form of art is always personal to my mind. During the making of M:FANS, I found myself loathing each and every character written about in those original recording sessions of Music For… ,” says Cale of the reworking. “Unearthing those tapes reopened those wounds. It was time to decimate the despair from 1981 and breathe new energy, re-write the story. Then, the unthinkable happened. What had informed so much over lost and twisted relationships in 1981 had now come full circle. Losing Lou [too painful to understand] forced me to upend the entire recording process and begin again…a different perspective – a new sense of urgency to tell a story from a completely opposite point of view – what was once sorrow, was now a form of rage. A fertile ground for exorcism of things gone wrong and the realization they are unchangeable. From sadness came the strength of fire!!!” In 1982, Music For A New Society sounded exactly like its title: something futuristic, a new kind of songwriting exercise. In 2015, M:FANS is exactly that too, full of electrical crackle and disturbed frequencies, a different kind of dystopian future awaits. John Cale forages on; it’s the only way he knows how.
File Under: Rock
John Cale: Music For A New Society (Domino) LP
33 years since its original arrival, 2016 will see the release of the remastered version of one of John Cale’s most unique and lauded solo records, Music For A New Society. In 1982, Music For A New Society sounded exactly like its title: something futuristic, a new kind of songwriting exercise. Overseen by Cale himself, the long out of print Music For A New Society has been completely re-mastered from the original files, while its download card includes three exclusive tracks: two outtakes from the original sessions, and one previously unheard gem – “Library of Force.”
File Under: Rock
Cindy Lee: Act of Tenderness (CCQSK) LP
Cindy Lee is the experimental no wave / blues / trans-pop project from former Women (and more recently, Androgynous Mind) guitarist/singer Patrick Flegel. “Power and Possession” is taken from the group’s intensely dark and cathartic new album Act of Tenderness, an eerie fever dream of fleeting, utterly heartbreaking classic girl-group melodies, sometimes obscured by abrasive noise and buried under a heavy layer of murk, casting a palpable, unshakeable gloom over the whole thing. One of the most haunting and frankly depressing things we’ve heard all year, and also one of the best.
File Under: LoFi, Women
Alice Coltrane: World Galaxy (Impulse) LP
Born Alice McLeod into a musical Detroit family, Alice Coltrane began playing piano at age seven and later studied with Bud Powell in Paris. Upon returning to the States, she joined vibraphonist Terry Gibbs’ group and eventually shared a bill with the John Coltrane Quartet. Alice and John wed in Juárez, Mexico in 1965 and played alongside one another until his last performance in May 1967. After John’s death, Alice became a band leader in her own right, fusing spiritual free jazz and new age with classical, Eastern, post-bop and gospel. Her meditative 1971 album World Galaxy served as her sixth solo effort overall and stands as one of the finest sets of her career. Coltrane plays piano, harp, and organ here and is accompanied by Reggie Workman (bass), Ben Riley (drums), Leroy Jenkins (violin), Frank Lowe (saxophone), and Elayne Jones (timpani) plus a 16 person strong string orchestra. Anchored by daring reworkings of her late husband’s signature cuts “My Favorite Things” and “A Love Supreme,” Alice fully embrace’s John’s inspiration on her work yet still manages to elevate the proceedings with her own idiosyncrasies.
File Under: Jazz, Spiritual Jazz
John Coltrane: A Love Supreme: The Complete Masters (Verve) 3LP
On December 9th, 1964, John Coltrane and his classic quartet (Elvin Jones, Jimmy Garrison and McCoy Tyner) went into the legendary Van Gelder Studio in New Jersey and recorded A Love Supreme – the four-part suite that has influenced musicians and reached generations of fans far beyond the jazz world. Far less known is the fact that Coltrane, his classic quartet and two additional musicians – the legendary saxophonist Archie Shepp and second bassist, Dr. Art Davis – returned to the studio the next day to cut the opening part of the suite again. Until now, the complete picture of what happened on those two days, including all takes, overdubs, and even studio chatter, has been unavailable. That will change when Verve Music Group proudly releases A Love Supreme: The Complete Masters, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the release of this seminal recording. It will include this alternate version, taken from reels from the personal collection of John Coltrane and originally recorded in incredible sonic detail by Rudy Van Gelder, along with revised notes and detailed information on these amazing lost sessions. With the availability of long-lost session reels, A Love Supreme: The Complete Masters brings together all existing recordings and written outlines for the first time to paint the most comprehensive and accurate picture of the A Love Supreme story. It reveals how Coltrane’s masterpiece came together, from its initial conception as a nine-piece performance – it turns out the original plan was for a nine-piece band, including three Latin percussionists – to how it changed and developed in the studio. While the 2002 edition of A Love Supreme did include some of the music recorded at the second session, The Complete Masters is the first to feature all six takes of “Acknowledgement,” the opening section of the suite, in their entirety, providing a deeper understanding and appreciation of how Coltrane would allow music to mature in the studio. A Love Supreme was Coltrane’s most pre-conceived, meticulously planned musical recording: “This is the first time I have everything ready,” he famously told his wife Alice after composing the suite in their Long Island home. It was also his most successful, a high-water mark in Coltrane’s career and popularity in 1965-generating two Grammy Award-nominations, and earning him top position in various polls that year. That A Love Supreme remains a permanent fixture in lists of Greatest and Most Important musical recordings of the modern era – Rolling Stone magazine places it at No. 47 in its “500 Greatest Albums Of All Time” – speaks to the enduring significance of Coltrane’s music and his message of spirituality. As Kahn writes in the essay to A Love Supreme: The Complete Masters: “Fifty years after its release, voices that speak of divine light and supreme love have trouble being heard. Lines that divide people run deep. At odds with itself, the world lacks the spirit to ascend and is needful once again of a spiritual recharger like A Love Supreme. The sound and message of John Coltrane remain more relevant than ever.”
File Under: Jazz, Classics
John Coltrane: Ascension (Impusle) LP
Trane is joined by Pharoah Sanders, Freddie Hubbard and four additional horn players for an explosion of fiery solos and free improvisation on this famous 1965 session. Recorded with three tenors (Coltrane, Sanders, Archie Shepp), two altos (Marion Brown, John Tchicai), two trumpet players (Freddie Hubbard, Dewey Johnson), two bassists (Art Davis, Jimmy Garrison), the lone McCoy Tyner on piano, and Elvin Jones on the drums, this large group is both relentless and soulful simultaneously.
File Under: Jazz
Harmonia: Musik von Harmonia (Gronland) LP
Few bands match the pastoral beauty and majesty of Harmonia, the short-lived German band that existed from 1973 to 1976. The krautrock supergroup, brought together Dieter Moebius and Hans-Joachim Roedelius of Cluster, and Michael Rother of NEU!, who were later joined by Brian Eno. Although Harmonia produced only two studio albums – 1974’s Musik von Harmonia and 1975’s Deluxe – they were very influential and perfectly embodied the krautrock ideal. While leaning slightly towards Cluster’s ambient sound, they were also entirely their own entity – a jet engine running clean and precise but also spouting asphyxiating aural exhaust.
File Under: Krautrock, Kosmische
Rangda: The Heretic’s Bargain (Drag City) LP
The Heretic’s Bargain takes territories that Rangda explored on their first two albums – the abraded fury and free forms off False Flag and the serpentine Rang-dang-doodle songatechture from Formerly Extinct – and evolves them further into a grand unified I-know-I-don’t-know-what-it-is- (but-I-like-it) development in music. The Heretic’s Bargain is the sound of Rangda – and, without getting all rock-opera on you (but a little AOR, to be sure), The Heretic’s Bargain is best taken as a whole. Lots of ground is covered, but it’s all part of the same earth. Until you fall off the edge in the end.
File Under: Rock, Sun City Girls, 6OOA
Pharoah Sanders: Karma (Impusle) LP
Pharoah Sanders possesses one of the most distinctive tenor saxophone sounds in jazz. Harmonically rich and heavy with overtones, Sanders’ sound can be as raw and abrasive as it is possible for a saxophonist to produce. Yet, Sanders is highly regarded to the point of reverence by a great many jazz fans. Although he made his name with expressionistic, nearly anarchic free jazz in John Coltrane’s late ensembles of the mid-’60s, Sanders’ later music is guided by more graceful concerns. The hallmarks of Sanders’ playing at that time were naked aggression and unrestrained passion. In the years after Coltrane’s death, however, Sanders explored other, somewhat gentler and perhaps more cerebral avenues – without, it should be added, sacrificing any of the intensity that defined his work as an apprentice to Coltrane. Sanders made his first record as a leader in 1964. After Coltrane’s death in 1967, Sanders worked briefly with his widow, Alice Coltrane. From the late ’60s, he worked primarily as a leader of his own ensembles. In the decades after his first recordings with Coltrane, Sanders developed into a more well-rounded artist, capable of playing convincingly in a variety of contexts, from free to mainstream. 1969’s spiritually-themed Karma served as his third album as a leader and finds the tenor saxophonist leading a top flight group comprised of Leon Thomas (vocals), Lonnie Liston Smith (piano), Reggie Workman (bass), Billy Hart (drums) and Julius Watkins (French horn). The two accessible free-jazz tracks – 32-minute “The Creator Has A Master Plan” and 5-minute “Colors” – are diverse and dynamic excursions which leave the listener wanting more.
File Under: Jazz
Sonic Youth: Diamond Sea (Geffen) 12″
The first single from Sonic Youth’s intrepid 1995 album Washing Machine featured the radio edit of the band’s sprawling epic “The Diamond Sea,” the previously unreleased outtake “My Arena” and the alternate ending version of “The Diamond Sea” which clocks in at over 25 mind bending minutes.
File Under: Indie Rock
Sonic Youth: Dirty (Geffen) LP
Sonic Youth’s second major-label album, produced and mixed by Butch Vig and Andy Wallace (a team that had helped turn Nirvana’s Nevermind multi-platinum) was not the barefaced bid for mainstream acceptance that surly underground souls grumbled about in the pages of fanzines. While Vig and Wallace give guitarists Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo, bassist Kim Gordon, and phenomenal drummer Steve Shelley a wide-screen panorama for their bizarrely-tuned assaults, 1992’s Dirty is probably Sonic Youth’s most uncompromising album since 1985’s Bad Moon Rising-particularly in the lyrical department. Dropping the deliberate obscurantism, Philip K. Dick references, and smart-alecky snottiness, Sonic Youth brackets a slew of pointed political attacks (“Youth Against Fascism,” “Swimsuit Issue,” and the Jesse Helms-bashing “Chapel Hill”) with two passionate tributes to the band members’ murdered friend, Joe Cole (“100%” and “JC”). That Dirty is Sonic Youth’s most commercial-sounding album makes it that much more subversive.
File Under: Indie Rock
Gabor Szabo: Sorcerer (Impulse) LP
The Sorcerer is an excellent live album by iconoclastic Hungarian jazz guitarist Gábor Szabó recorded at Boston’s Jazz Workshop on April 14-15, 1967. Produced by Bob Thiele, the release finds Szabo showcasing his distinct self-taught sound and leading an innovative quintet rounded out by Jimmy Stewart (guitar), Louis Kabok (bass), Marty Morrell (drums) and Hal Gordon (percussion). The group displays their proclivity for fusing jazz with rock throughout no better than on standouts like “The Beat Goes On,” “Little Boat” “Space,” and “Mizrab.”
File Under: Jazz, Guitar
Ward: More Rain (Merge) LP
Ward has released a string of acclaimed solo albums over the past several years, along with five LPs with Zooey Deschanel as She & Him and a 2009 collaborative album with My Morning Jacket’s Jim James and Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis under the moniker Monsters of Folk. In addition to his celebrated work as a musician, Ward is an accomplished producer, handling those duties for such luminaries as Mavis Staples, Jenny Lewis, and Carlos Forster as well as his own musical projects. More Rain, Ward’s eighth solo affair, finds the artist picking up the tempo and volume a bit from his previous release, 2012’s A Wasteland Companion. Where that record introspectively looked in from the outside, More Rain finds Ward on the inside, gazing out. Begun four years ago and imagined initially as a DIY doo-wop album that would feature Ward experimenting with layering his own voice, it soon branched out in different directions, a move that he credits largely to his collaborators here who include R.E.M.’s Peter Buck, Neko Case, k.d. lang, The Secret Sisters, and Joey Spampinato of NRBQ. The result is a collection of upbeat, sonically ambitious yet canonically familiar songs that both propel Ward’s reach and satisfy longtime fans. “I think one of the biggest mysteries of America right now is this: How are we able to process unending bad news on Page One and then go about our lives the way the style section portrays us?” says Ward. “There must be a place in our brains that allows us to take a bird’s-eye view of humanity, and I think music is good at helping people – myself included – go to that place.”
File Under: Indie Rock, Folk
You Say Party: s/t (Paper Bag) LP
In 2004, You Say Party played their first punk show in a church basement outside Vancouver, BC. Four years later, they were touring China and Japan on the strength of two acclaimed albums, 2005’s Hit the Floor! and 2007’s Lose All Time. They shifted from new wave-punk into indie pop rock and were poised for breakout, mainstream success with 2009’s award-winning XXXX when tragedy struck. Drummer Devon Clifford collapsed on stage and died suddenly. You Say Party (Becky Ninkovic, Stephen O’Shea, Krista Loewen, and Derek Adam) reunited in 2012 and have spent the last four years slow dancing towards this moment: their first full-length release in six years. The record is, appropriately enough, self-titled – a reaffirmation of their willful determination and identity after devastating lows. It’s a space-like record that swallows the listener inside eight shimmering constellations about friendship, loss, reconciliation and uncertainty. You Say Party’s new sound is more expansive and experimental, and while it offers a nod to their past, their legion of fans, and their journey to this moment, it’s also a map pointing the way forward. You Say Party is the band’s most contemplative, experimental and wildly ambitious offering to date.
File Under: Indie Rock
AC/DC: Powerage (Epic) LP
Arca: Mutant (Mute) LP
Bent Wind: Sussex (Ugly Pop) LP
Boards of Canada: Music Has The Right To Children (Warp) LP
Broadcast: Haha Sound (Warp) LP
Broadcast: Tender Buttons (Warp) LP
Built to Spill: There’s Nothing Wrong With Love (Up) LP
Butthole Surfers: Electric Larryland (Plain) LP
Circle: Miljard (Hydra Head) LP
Cure: Disintegration (Elektra) LP
Daft Punk: Random Access Memories (Columbia) LP
Dinosaur Jr: You’re Living All Over Me (Jagjaguwar) LP
Danger Doom: Mouse & The Mask (Lex) LP
Funkadelic: Free Your Mind… (4 Men With Beards) LP
Tim Hecker: Harmony in Ultraviolet (Kranky) LP
Tim Hecker: An Imaginary Country (Kranky) LP
Kraftwerk: Radio Activity (EMI) LP
Kraftwerk: Trans Europa Express (EMI) LP
Kendrick Lamar: To Pimp A Butterfly (Aftermath) LP
Mayhem: Deathcrush (Back on Black) LP
Nap Eyes: Though Rock Fish Scale (You’ve Changed) LP
Neu!: 75 (Gronland) LP
Joanna Newsom: Have One On Me (Drag City) LP
Night Beats: Who Sold My Generation (Heavenly) LP
Jessica Pratt: On your Own Love Again (Drag City) LP
Radiohead: King of Limbs (TBD) LP
Radiohead: Hail to the Thief (Capitol) LP
Rage Against the Machine: s/t (Epic) LP
Sex Pistols: Never Mind the Bollocks (Rhino) LP
Nina Simone: Pastel Blues (Music on Vinyl) LP
Sleater Kinney: All Hands on the Bad One (Sub Pop) LP
Sleater Kinney: Call the Doctor (Sub Pop) LP
Sleater Kinney: Dig Me Out (Sub Pop) LP
Sleater Kinney: One Beat (Sub Pop) LP
Sleater Kinney: s/t (Sub Pop) LP
Sleater Kinney: The Hot Rocks (Sub Pop) LP
Sleater Kinney: The Woods (Sub Pop) LP
Slow Season: s/t (Riding Easy) LP
Smiths: Meat is Murder (Rhino) LP
Smiths: Queen is Dead (Rhino) LP
Smiths: Strangeways… (Rhino) LP
Tortoise: TNT (Thrill Jockey) LP
War on Drugs: Lost in the Dream (Secretly Canadian) LP
Wild Nothing: Life of Pause (Captured Tracks) LP
John Zorn: Naked City (Nonesuch) LP
Various: Warfaring Strangers: Darkscorch Canticals (Numero) LP