Another week of big releases and botched shipping schedules… A bunch of things below are still en route and supposed to show up tomorrow, but we’ll see how that works out. Other things are here and ready for your weekend listening pleasure. Fortunately, it’s back to school and those student loans cheques are clearing and now you’ve got loads of money to spend on important learning tools, like records.
…..pick of the week…..
Chad VanGaalen: Light Information (Flemish Eye) LP
In tomorrow? For an album that’s about “not feeling comfortable with really anything,” as Chad VanGaalen says, Light Information (his sixth for Sup Pop) is nonetheless a vivid, welcoming journey through future worlds and relentless memories. The rich soundscapes and sometimes jarring imagery could only come from the mind of a creative polymath – an accomplished visual artist, animator, director, and producer, VanGaalen has scored television shows, designed puppet characters for Adult Swim, directed videos for Shabazz Palaces, Strand of Oaks, METZ, Dan Deacon, and The Head and the Heart, and produced records for Women, Alvvays, and others. While alienation has always been a theme of VanGaalen’s music, Light Information draws on a new kind of wisdom – and anxiety – gained as he watches his kids growing up. “Being a parent has given me a sort of alternate perspective, worrying about exposure to a new type of consciousness that’s happening through the internet,” he says. “I didn’t have that growing up, and I’m maybe trying to preserve a little bit of that selfishly for my kids.” As always, VanGaalen wrote, played, and produced all of the music on Light Information (save Ryan Bourne’s bass part on “Mystery Elementals” and vocals on “Static Shape” from his young daughters Ezzy and Pip), and designed the cover art. The product of six years’ work, going back even before 2014’s Shrink Dust, Light Information emerged from the experimental instruments that fill VanGaalen’s Calgary garage studio. Among them is a beloved Korg 770 monosynth, which VanGaalen coveted for years before fixing one up and devoting a lot of recent energy to recording “duets” with it. One of these, “Prep Piano and 770,” is the lone instrumental on Light Information, more atmosphere and chord bursts than the rest of the album’s hooky rock narrative. Throughout the dark-wave reverb of Light Information are stories of paranoia, disembodiment, and isolation – but there’s also playfulness, empathy, and intimacy here too.
File Under: Indie Rock
Alex Cameron: Forced Witness (Secretly Canadian) LP
In tomorrow… “Up until 2014 I was an investigator’s assistant in a public law office. I can’t tell you exactly what my job was on account of I signed a shut your mouth agreement around the time I quit for stress related reasons. But what I can say is that I dealt with corruption and badness perpetrated at the highest levels of authority, daily. I clocked all these leads and I made a file. Because these aren’t things you keep in the dark. You shine a light on the badness and you strive to understand it. From a dossier on all things delicate and beautiful and sadly human. crimes of passion and victims of love. All contained in 10 hot songs. Who’s the culprit? I’ve got my inklings and you can get your own. But first you need to listen to the thing, take it all in, stick photos to your walls and connect them with string, measure footprints in the yard, wear a suit made of reeds, track the migration patterns of birds, intercept whispered transmissions, learn to eat spiders with a hunting knife, sleep in air ducts, make the case. Here it is, my album: Forced Witness.” – Alex Cameron
File Under: Indie Rock
Loren Connors: Angels That Fall (Family Vineyard) LP
In tomorrow… A haunting and volcanic suite of electric guitar and piano from the modern master of the avant blues and the abstract — Loren Connors. Angels That Fall slips deeper into Loren’s headspace where vocalists in glissando and the swelling romanticism of chamber strings echo from beyond this mortal plane. Transcribed through Connors effect-laden six strings, he carries the listener from bluesy violence to sadness, hope and a piano coda. Angels That Fall was recorded May 2016 at First Unitarian Congregational Society in Brooklyn, NY. This 500 edition 1-sided LP features cover art by Connors and a full-color inner sleeve with portraits of Connors by photographer Peter Gannushkin. Includes download coupon.
File Under: Guitar, Experimental
Death From Above: Outrage! Is Now (Last Gang) LP
The merry merchants of muscular death dance discord – Sebastien Grainger (vocals, drums) and Jesse F. Keeler (bass, keys, synths) – made a collective decision to embrace their own penchant for perpetual motion while gleefully maintaining the car-wreck intensity of their punkified disco rock on their third album and first since 2014. Ultimately, Outrage! Is Now confidently kicks off a new chapter for Death From Above. “We are committed to evolution. This record is the sound of the two us pushing at the walls. We want there to be space, surprises and action!,” says Sebastien. “We both wanted to see how far we could take our sound as Death From Above. In a way, that has always been our objective,” adds Jesse. As they retreated to Jesse’s farm two hours east of Toronto to write in 2016, the musicians re-examined the way they’ve written in the past. They found new ways to start ideas, and tried to exorcise their old demons. With a host of demos, Death From Above headed back to Los Angeles to work with producer and engineer Eric Valentine (Queens of the Stone Age). Making for what Jesse describes as the “fastest recording process,” the vision quickly took shape. “The myth of what we should be didn’t exist anymore,” Sebastien agrees. “There was never a moment where we took a conventional path-either writing or recording. Eric has been making records for decades and we managed to make him say: ‘Well, that’s a first’ during every song! There was always some strange element thrown in. In a way it’s a very serious record, but dressed in a really fun outfit.” “The title is an observation of this hyper-sensitivity, which we’re all a part of,” Jesse leaves off. “This record is very much the result of the environment and experiences of the last five years…” “Outrage! Is Now is meant to be felt on both a visceral and emotional level,” concludes Sebastien. “We tried to make something that excites and surprises. Our journey is that of enlightenment and seeking truth. There’s enough fiction and meaningless distractions in the world to make you totally shut off. We hope this record turns you on.” Spin called lead single, “Freeze Me,” “…a typical, serrated piece of Death From Above-branded dance-rock, with a fierce noise breakdown toward the end” while Noisey adds that, “It’s a mixture of DFA’s familiar clatter – Sebastien Grainger’s battering ram drums, Jesse F Keeler’s frantic, distorted bass guitar – mixed in with some 1990s house pianos.”
File Under: Indie Rock
Deerhoof: Mountain Moves (Joyful Noise) LP
Deerhoof recognizes that we are simultaneously living in two worlds, one a maniacal, mainstream monoculture hell-bent on driving humankind into extinction, the other a churning underground teeming with ideas and dogged optimism and the will to thrive and survive. Mountain Moves refutes the former by ecstatically celebrating the latter. Though Deerhoof have often made albums from start to finish with virtually no input from the outside world, now is not the time for artists to operate in isolation. Mountain Moves throws the doors wide open. Working quickly, the band invited myriad guests to participate, some of them dear friends, others practically strangers. They are of different ages, different nationalities, different disciplines. The only common thread was that each and every artist on Mountain Moves doesn’t fit into a single, neatly-defined category – and doesn’t wish to. The results, as expected, were unexpected. Guide vocals and simple melodies were dispatched via email, only to be answered with an outpouring of alternate harmonies, suggestions for arrangements, additional instrumentation. Every file received triggered a new rush of jumbled emotions. Some guests crafted their contributions in the small hours of the dawn, toiling in hotel rooms before driving eight hours to the next tour date; others hopped on the subway and recorded with the band in-person. Collisions and collusions abound on Mountain Moves. In addition to its bounty of originals, the program includes three covers that epitomize the album’s assemblage of disparate ideas and personalities. Reducing Bob Marley’s “Small Axe” to a beat-less fragment of hymn-like simplicity magnifies the song’s rebellious spirit and undercurrent of violence. Vocalist Satomi Matsuzaki, a Japanese immigrant, lifts the Staple Singers’ “Freedom Highway” out of its original place and time, imbuing it with a new sense of alienation from one’s own country. Snippets of the bass recitative “For behold, darkness shall cover the earth” from Handel’s Messiah provide the foundation for a fresh take on Chilean folk hero Violeta Parra’s bittersweet masterpiece “Gracias a la Vida.” If Mountain Moves were a movie, it would be a double feature, Journey to the Center of the Deerhoof and Escape from Planet Deerhoof, shown side-by-side simultaneously. The record epitomizes the band at its very best, exploring new realms between the poles of independence and invention. It also serves as a welcoming point of entry for new listeners outside Deerhoof’s traditional orbit, an opportunity to bring even more voices into the communal conversation.
File Under: Indie Rock
Faith Healer: Try 😉 (Mint) LP
In tomorrow… When Edmonton’s Jessica Jalbert first began performing solo under the name Faith Healer, the alias was her way of avoiding being pigeonholed as a singer-songwriter. Now, however, times have changed: Faith Healer has blossomed into a band, with singer-guitarist Jalbert joined by drummer / multi-instrumentalist Renny Wilson and their first album as a duo is Try. The follow-up to 2015’s Cosmic Troubles was largely recorded during an intensive month-long session in September 2016 at Wilson’s personal studio in Montreal. During the process, Jalbert rented a room in Wilson’s house and the pair spent hours jamming and listening to bargain bin rock records in the basement. The resultant pop-rock arrangements are overflowing with beautiful sonic details – from the Twin Peaks synths that enshroud “Sterling Silver” to the funky clavinet nestled within the paisley-patterned pop of “& Waiting.” Jalbert and Wilson were also inspired by the garage-punk snarl of Wipers, the deadpan drama of Leonard Cohen’s Death Of A Ladies’ Man, and the classic songwriting chops of Scott Walker and Elvis Costello. The intensive creative process of making this album inspired the title and serves as a reminder that sometimes you need to grab life by the horns rather than waiting for inspiration to strike. Balancing melancholy lyrics with playful moods, lush melodies with straightforward arrangements, this album is the sound of an introspective loner leaving her bedroom to make a rock record with her best bud.
File Under: Indie Rock
Jr. Gone Wild: Brave New Wave Sessons (Artoffact) LP
In tomorrow… Jr. Gone Wild is an Edmonton, Alberta-based country and rock band formed in the early 80s by Mike McDonald, who over the years has been the band’s only constant member. Notable for their high-energy live performances, and a genre style that would end up getting dubbed ‘cow-punk,’ JGW recorded their debut album for cult punk label BYO Records in 1986, and since then have released five studio albums. The band recorded their Brave New Waves sessions during a tour in 1988, and at the time, many of the songs were brand new (1989’s Folk You was not released yet). When McDonald heard the session 25 years later he exclaimed, “Some of those songs are so different now! … We were also playing too fast, and my flat vocals is evidence we had a lot of beer there.” But the session is excellent, particularly “Sight For Sore Eyes,” “I Don’t Know About All That,” and “Annie Get Your Gun.” The Jr. Gone Wild Brave New Waves session was recorded on May 10th, 1988. The session was produced by Kevin Komoda and engineered by Denis LeClerc. The recording is taken from the original CBC Archives tape and remastered at Grey Market Mastering in Montreal, by Harris Newman.
File Under: Indie Rock
The National: Sleep Well Beast (4AD) LP
The National’s elegant seventh full-length album Sleep Well Beast follows-up 2013’s Trouble Will Find Me and their 2015 Ragnar Kjartansson collaboration A Lot Of Sorrow. Produced by band member Aaron Dessner with co-production by Bryce Dessner and Matt Berninger, the 12-track collection was mixed by Peter Katis and recorded at Aaron’s Hudson Valley, New York studio, Long Pond, with additional sessions having taken place in Berlin, Paris and Los Angeles. The album comes preceded by the urgent lead single “The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness” complete with a freewheeling Aaron Dessner guitar solo which sounds heavily influenced by his recent Grateful Dead tribute project Day of the Dead. Pressed on 2 x 12″ standard weight colored vinyl LPs with accompanying folded poster and 2 inner sleeves. Available in your choice of blue or white vinyl!
File Under: Indie Rock
Nosaj Thing: Parallels (Innovative Leisure) LP
Parallels is the fourth full-length released under Jason Chung’s distinctive moniker, Nosaj Thing. Masterfully dimensional, Parallels represents the acclaimed Los Angeles-based electronic producer/ composer/ performer’s most diverse, vital work yet. As such, Chung sees Parallels as representing a kind of redemptive rebirth. The album’s compellingly elusive, uncategorizable sonics developed out of what he terms a personal and musical “identity crisis.” According to Chung, working with a group of collaborators on Parallels that combined both longtime friends and new creative partners added “new energy which pushed me not to limit myself. Everything felt fresh and alive.” The title Parallels in fact evokes the intense, intimate duality Nosaj Thing and his collaborators share.
File Under: Electronic
Sisters of Mercy: Some Girls Wander By Mistake (Elektra) 4LP
The Sisters of Mercy continue to spotlight different eras of its acclaimed discography with the new 180g 4LP vinyl boxed set Some Girls Wander By Mistake which focuses on the band’s early years. Originally released in 1992, Some Girls Wander By Mistake retraces the Sisters of Mercy’s formative years and its rise to cult acclaim. It includes three songs the group originally issued in 1980: “The Damage Done,” “Watch” and “Home Of The Hit-Men.” Also included in this set is the band’s 1982 follow-up single: “Body Electric” and “Adrenochrome.” Arranged in non-chronological order, Some Girls Wander By Mistake begins with all four songs from The Sisters of Mercy’s first EP Alice, which was originally released in 1983. The music – produced by Psychedelic Furs’ guitarist John Ashton – includes the EP’s title track, a cover of the Stooges “1969” and more. The first LP’s flipside collects music that originally appeared on the Sisters of Mercy’s second EP, The Reptile House (1983). Among the EP’s six tracks are “Kiss The Carpet,” “Burn,” and the haunting “Lights.” Later that year the band released the single “Temple of Love” backed with “Heartland” and a cover the Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter,” all of which are included here. Some Girls Wander By Mistake also includes music from two 12″ singles. The first is a re-recorded version of “Temple of Love” from 1992 that features Israeli vocalist Ofra Haza, and remains the Sisters’ biggest international hit, peaking at #3 on the UK charts. The second is “Under The Gun,” which includes an updated version of “Alice.” This collection’s title comes from a lyric in the Leonard Cohen song “Teachers,” a track the Sisters cover frequently in concert. In fact, “Teachers” appears on the same album as the song “Sisters of Mercy,” which inspired the band’s name.
File Under: Goth Rock
Washed Out: Mister Mellow (Stones Throw) LP
In tomorrow… Boredom. Laziness. Complete apathy. Is it a quarter-life crisis or just an excuse to never grow up? This is the world of Washed Out’s (Ernest Greene) new album Mister Mellow. A fully immersive multimedia experience, the album guides the listener through the highs and lows of this often ridiculous struggle. In classic Millennial fashion, most young adults’ perception of their own lives are overblown and over-dramatized to the point of absurdity – as are the many ways they distract themselves from the insecurities faced on a daily basis (see social media, fantasy, drugs, music). Mister Mellow shines a light on the humor found in this paradox – how we can be so bored and unhappy in what is often a very privileged, contented life? Further moving away from the synthesizer-driven sounds of his early work and the more band-driven sound of his work on iconic indie label Sub Pop, it’s fitting that Greene has partnered with the rebellious beat-driven label Stones Throw as he continues to carve out a unique sonic identity that stands in direct opposition to most current trends. Instead, Mister Mellow was influenced by classic plunderphonics records of the past as well as the experimental collage techniques of musique concrete. Styles as diverse as free jazz, house, hip-hop and psych are combined together with interludial voiceover samples (often pulled from anonymous Youtube vlogs) to create a busy, chaotic, and caricaturish mix; one that quickly starts to feel like a mirror of the claustrophobic, hyper-stimulated psyche of most young adults. The rich, detailed patchwork that makes up Mister Mellow is unique in this day of quick-fix, throwaway music-culture. Conceived over the course of two years, it’s intensely personal (Greene’s only collaborator was mix engineer Cole MGN) – but the ideas and observations found within the album speak to a much larger shared experience that is affecting an entire generation of young adults. An experience that we come to see as both funny and sad.
File Under: Electronic, Synth Pop
Hype Williams: Rainbow Edition (Big Dada) LP
The last Hype Williams recordings were for One Nation (Hippos in Tanks, 2011). After this, Dean Blunt and Inga Copeland carried on recording through 2012 under their own names (while continuing to use the Hype Williams name to fulfill existing live commitments). They are both no longer involved, and any Hype Williams releases you’ve since heard are fake. Rainbow Edition’s 20 new joints serve as a suitably smoked out final missive from the duo behind some of the most beguiling records, downloads and mixtapes of the last decade. Heavyweight 180g black vinyl LP in a matt UV single sleeve.
File Under: Electronic, Experimental
Neil Young: Hitchhiker (Reprise) LP
Neil Young opens up his unrivaled archives to issue Hitchhiker, an unreleased new studio album. The 10-track acoustic solo collection was recorded in Malibu, CA at Indigo Studio in 1976 and produced by Young’s long-time studio collaborator David Briggs. Recorded between Zuma and American Stars ‘n Bars in a single session, the resultant performances are truly breathtaking and passionate. The simplicity of a single voice and guitar captured here is as pure and powerful as it gets, with only Young, Briggs and actor Dean Stockwell in the room at the time of recording. A few of the songs would not appear on vinyl until years later. Some have never been heard, included in the original sessions for Neil Young and Crazy Horse’s Dume, another unreleased record of original sessions that yielded the classic album, Zuma. When Hitchhiker was recorded, none of the songs had ever been released and many of the performances were the first ever. This is truly an album of original performances!
File Under: Rock, Folk Rock
Zola Jesus: Okovi (Sacred Bones) LP
For over a decade, Nika Roza Danilova has been recording music as Zola Jesus. She’s been on Sacred Bones Records for most of that time, and Okovi marks her reunion with the label. Fittingly, the 11 electronics-driven songs on Okovi share musical DNA with her early work on Sacred Bones. The music was written in pure catharsis, and as a result, the sonics are heavy, dark, and exploratory. In addition to the contributions of Danilova’s longtime live bandmate Alex DeGroot, producer/musician WIFE, cellist/noise-maker Shannon Kennedy from Pedestrian Deposit, and percussionist Ted Byrnes all helped build Okovi’s textural universe. With Okovi, Zola Jesus has crafted a profound meditation on loss and reconciliation that stands tall alongside the major works of its genre. The album speaks of tragedy with great wisdom and clarity. Its songs plumb dark depths, but they reflect light as well.
File Under: Experimental, Pop
Amps: Pacer (Plain) LP
Animal Collective: Sung Tongs (My Animal House) LP
Arcade Fire: Suburbs (Merge) LP
Breeders: Last Splash (Plain) LP
CCR: Green River (Fantasy) LP
CCR: Willy & The Poor Boys (Fantasy) LP
Daphni: Jiaolong (Merge) LP
El Michels Affair: Enter the 37th Chamber (Fat Beats) LP
Fever Ray: s/t (Mute) LP
Lee Fields: Problems (Truth & Soul) LP
Lee Fields: Let’s Talk It Over (Truth & Soul) LP
Lee Fields: Emma Jean (Truth & Soul) LP
Kacy & Clayton: Sirens Song (New West) LP
La’s: s/t (Universal) LP
Lee Morgan: Search for the New Land (Blue Note) LP
Mos Def/Talib Kweli: Black Star (Universal) LP
New Pornographers: Whiteout Conditions (Dine Alone) LP
Tragically Hip: Fully Completely (Universal) LP
Tragically Hip: Phantom Power (Universal) LP
Ween: Chocolate & Cheese (Plain) LP
Ween: 12 Golden Country Greats (Plain) LP
Various: Minimal Wave Tapes 1 (Stones Throw) LP
Various: Panama! Vol 3 (Soundways) LP