…..new letters #813 – landing…..

Another light week, partly cuz stuff is getting pushed back still, partly cuz, shipping is apparently difficult. That’s alright, that gives you a chance to catch up on all the things that have come out over the last few weeks. Plus there’s a few things that should have been in weeks ago finally here. Rejoice!

…..pick of the week…..

uncle acidUncle Acid & The Deadbeats: Volume 1 (Rise Above) LP
Originally released in 2010, Vol 1 was the first efforts of unknown songwriter, Kevin Starrs. Pressed in small numbers for a non existing fan base, the album took several months to shift all 30 CD-R copies and provided a small platform to fund its follow up, Blood Lust (2011). Recorded on a tight budget of stashed dole money and with little knowledge or regard for conventional recording techniques, the chaotic results speak for themselves. Distorted vocals, out of tune harmonies, ragged musicianship and everything pushed to the red. The clatter of mic stands falling over mid performance, the rustling of lyric papers, the missed key changes and flubbed lines. Everything you would want to avoid is here. Self-funded, self-recorded and self released to a fanfare of silence, Vol 1 was a true D.I.Y. effort from start to finish. No great ambition, no target audience, no press support. Just a collection of songs for anyone who would listen. With it’s mix of budget horror lyrics, Everly Brothers obsessed harmonies, downer rock riffs, overly long guitar solos and bizarre high pitched vocals, Vol 1 had very limited appeal outside a small group of underground fanatics. In the years following, the album became something of a cult curiosity. Despite the shoddy work of bootleggers and impatient collectors, Starrs refused to re-release the album until he could work on its remix and oversee the mastering. “It was a D.I.Y project from the beginning so I wasn’t going to give it up and let someone else mess with it. I also wasn’t going to cash in on something for the sake of it. I wanted it to sound the best that it possibly could. The record deserves my full attention, so with no new album to distract anyone in 2017, it was the perfect time to work on it and release it on vinyl. It can stand on its own… flaws included.” So here it is, Vol 1 in all its ragged glory… finally mastered and mixed for this release.

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


Beck: Mutations (Interscope) LP+7″
In tomorrow… Since introducing himself to the world in 1994 with his genre-defying, multi-platinum debut, Beck has blazed a path into the future while simultaneously foraging through the past. Throughout his singular career he has utilized all manners and eras of music, blurring boundaries and shattering expectations with each album. 1998’s Nigel Godrich-produced Mutations and its world-tripping atmospherics won Beck the Grammy for Best Alternative Album in 2000. After some traumatic personal times, including the death of his grandfather during the making of Odelay, Beck returned in a chipper mood for “Tropicalia” but didn’t hide a darker, introverted disposition on “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” (later covered by Marianne Faithfull with Beck producing) and “Cold Brains,” a wondrous power pop work out with Roger Manning, Jr, Joey Waronker and Justin Meldal-Johnsen underpinning the riffs like some new Hollywood royalty.

File Under: Alternative
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Beck: Modern Guilt (Universal) LP
In tomorrow… Since introducing himself to the world in 1994 with his genre-defying, multi-platinum debut, Beck has blazed a path into the future while simultaneously foraging through the past. Throughout his singular career he has utilized all manners and eras of music, blurring boundaries and shattering expectations with each album. Beck’s Grammy-nominated 2008 release Modern Guilt marked both a spiritual crisis and a creative rebirth for the cosmic chameleon. Co-produced by the always-in-demand Danger Mouse, it’s chock full of off-kilter rhythms and left-field breakdowns, with an overall 1960s British vibe and vocals that float over the music as if the idiosyncratic singer/songwriter is singing in the next room. Beck’s shortest studio effort to date is anchored by the epic, “Chemtrails,” a genre-bending tour de force that showcases Beck and Danger Mouse’s shared affection for late-60s psych-pop and also features a guest appearance by Cat Power on “Walls.” As is always the case with any Beck record, he keeps things musically interesting and fresh while constantly challenging any and all categorization along the way.

File Under: Alternative
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Brand New: Science Fiction (Procrastinate) LP
Science Fiction serves as the long-awaited fifth full-length (and potentially final) album from cult Long Island band Brand New and their first since 2009’s Daisy. Produced by frequent collaborator Mike Sapone, the mythical and moody 12-track collection is a distinct chapter in the band’s shape-shifting career complete with compelling interludes, gripping lyrics, textured guitars and rollercoaster loud-soft dynamics. “It’s tough to put Science Fiction in immediate comparison with Brand New’s older LPs, though fans are undoubtedly already trying,” Billboard writes. “It’s better than Daisy, impossible to compare to the pop-punk simplicity of 2001’s Your Favorite Weapon, and once it’s fully sunk in (which could take another eight years), could be argued as 2003’s Deja Entendu and 2006’s The Devil and God Are Ragning Inside Me’s superior.”

 File Under: Pop Punk, Rock
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Lana Del Rey: Lust For Life (Universal) LP
In tomorrow… Lust For Life finds neo-crooner Lana Del Rey shedding the ennui-laced themes of her last two releases and facing the future. While not mired in nostalgia, the album continues the balancing act of viewing retro-references through the prism of modern day tribulations. Her signature languid delivery remains the same, but the album also has Del Rey trying out plenty of new ideas, from studio production to lyrical themes and collaborations. Lust for Life is certainly her most sonically diverse collection yet, implementing hip-hop based percussion and tapping into her folk and jazz roots, with tender piano ballads and some acoustic guitar numbers. The retro references and doo-wop melodies are still there, but the whole album is underpinned by a persistent mid-tempo beat and melancholic streak. Created with her long-time producer and collaborator Rick Nowels, Lust For Life also marks the first time she’s invited others to be featured prominently on her own tracks and includes collaborations with A$AP Rocky, Playboi Carti, Sean Ono Lennon, The Weeknd and Stevie Nicks.

File Under: Pop
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Lydia Loveless: Boy Crazy & Single(s) (Bloodshot) LP
A new collection of Lydia Loveless’ summery 5-song EP Boy Crazy, on vinyl LP for the first time, plus six non-album singles and B-sides, including original songs in addition to inventive and bare-bones covers of Prince, Elvis Costello, and Kesha. The recordings span from 2012 to 2015; many of which are on LP for the first time. The first pressing is on colored wax. Lydia and her band “rehearsed for about a week and then went into the studio with a couple thirty packs” when they recorded Boy Crazy, after all. Boy Crazy is Loveless’ “rock and roll tribute to baseball pants and youth.” Featuring sun-washed, rebel-powered pop songs presenting a conversation about judgment and loss of innocence, as one transitions from good old American naivete to you-should-knowbetter “wisdom.” These songs see Lydia and her band roping in their signature twangy, pedal steel-laden rock beat-em-ups and tying them tightly with the crisp Southern air of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ Damn the Torpedoes and the snarling-but-sweet delivery of Juliana Hatfield’s heyday.

File Under: Folk, Rock
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John Maus: Screen Memories (Ribbon) LP
The inimitable John Maus returns with his fourth full-length album, Screen Memories. It has been six years since We Must Become The Pitiless Censors Of Ourselves appeared like a thunderbolt of maniacal energy and turned everyone’s heads around. Maus’ music is a highly mutable affair. Whilst often described as retro-futurist on behalf of the 80’s drum machines and synth sounds employed, John’s music is more personal than the nostalgic re-tread implied. He’s more interested in seeking cadence, through his love of Renaissance polyphony and the experimentation behind post punk. It’s an amalgamation of musical ideas as radical as its intent. Screen Memories was written, recorded, and engineered by Maus over the last few years in his home in Minnesota, known genially as the Funny Farm. It’s a solitary place situated in the corn plains of the rural American Midwest. The landscape is as majestic as it is austere and inevitably some of the sub-zero winter temperatures creep into the songs, as do the buzzing wasps of summer. Through the whole album Maus has an undeniable talent in grasping the mettle of each song, reaching within and building up a sincere core, before teasing out the edges in acknowledgement to the very ridiculousness of its existence. Rather than creating these songs through an enjoyment of the process Maus considers himself more in the role of someone discovering them buried just beneath the surface. Perhaps the songs presented here are the ones that mask his real intentions, Freud pressing record and turning the TV channel to snow. All we can be certain of now though is that John Maus is back and he sounds gloriously alive. The triumph of the human is upon us and all the false gods and bad jokes will be the first to fall.

File Under: Electronic, Synth Pop
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OST: Contagion (Cliff Martinez) (Real Gone) LP
Former Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Cliff Martinez’s long-standing collaboration with director Steven Soderbergh ranks right up there with some of the other great composer-director teams in film history, like Bernard Herrmann-Alfred Hitchcock and Ennio Morricone-Sergio Leone, and his 2011 score for the disaster blockbuster Contagion is among his best work. Oddly, it owes some of its uniqueness to the fact that Soderbergh radically recut the film three different times, causing Martinez to adjust the score on the fly. First starting with a more conventional score indebted to thrillers like Marathon Man and The French Connection, then moving in a more dream-like, Tangerine Dream direction, before settling on a sound that incorporated orchestral and electronic timbres into highly propulsive and rhythmic framework. It’s like the most chilling “chill-out” electronica you’ve ever heard, simultaneously hypnotic and horrifying…and for its first-ever vinyl release, Real Gone Music has fashioned a gatefold album cover featuring film production stills housing a colored vinyl edition. Between the look of the package and the disquieting music, this one’s guaranteed to get you to sign up for a flu shot!

File Under: OST
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Propagandhi: Victory Lap (Epitaph) LP
The first thing to know, if you want to know about Propagandhi, is that they came here to rock. Right from the snarling opening riff of their seventh album, Victory Lap, that much is clear. For everything else that swirls around the band now, and for the last 31 years – the politics, the people and, lately, a gnawing sense of despair – the sheer volume of it all hasn’t changed. Frontman Chris Hannah and bassist Todd Kowalski experienced a sea change in the band when after nine years with Propagandhi, guitarist David “The Beaver” Guillas left the fold for a teaching position and they added a new member, Sulynn Hago, a seasoned guitar-slinger from Tampa, Florida. That said, Guillas is still all over Victory Lap, contributing licks to four songs. So what do you do, when you’re an unapologetically political band in a time when political speech seems more fractured than it has been in years? When the darkness looms and the rapacious maws of power seem to devour more by the day? You can’t stop the violence; you can’t save the world. But neither can you stand to sit back, and just watch it all burn. So here’s what you do: you strap up a guitar and get ready to rock.

File Under: Punk
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Jordan Rakei: Wallflower (Ninja Tune) LP
At only 25, multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and producer Jordan Rakei – born in New Zealand to a Kiwi mother and father from the Cook Islands – is a rare talent whose distinct take on soul captures a sonic and emotional awareness many artists spend their entire careers chasing. He writes with a maturity and flair that belies his years and Wallflower sees Jordan edging beyond the peripheries of the genial, often sun-flecked sound his fans have come to know him for. The easy swing that has been the backbone of his sound from the outset is ever present, harking back to teenage days spent in his bedroom with his beloved MPC trying to emulate 9th Wonder and Pete Rock. On Wallflower the tools and the process have evolved – the focus is on live instrumentation – but the groove and the cadence are unmistakable, framing soul and jazz in a truly vibrant oeuvre that simultaneously recalls his predecessors The Roots and peers The Internet, Nick Hakim and Hiatus Kaiyote. Jordan considers Wallflower his most personal work yet – it’s an emotive opus inspired by his own struggles with introversion and anxiety. Sonically lush and complex, yet lyrically relatable and unguarded, listeners are offered a glimpse into the mind and artistry of a musician who grapples with his own self- image and fears every day. On “Sorceress” the ego is personified as a sinister and controlling spirit figure led by equal parts understated ethereal guitar and Jordan’s superb multi-layered vocals. Single “Nerve,” featuring Dave Okumu of The Invisible on guitar, is upbeat and incites a sense of renewal as its lyrics call out the fallacies within self-constructed paradigms. Elsewhere, the ska-tinged “Clues Blues” is laced with trombone and saxophone by Ahmad Dayes and Wayne Francis II from South London pillars United Vibrations. Jordan’s decision to leave his home in Brisbane for London in 2015 has had a life changing effect on his music, his career and his outlook. In many ways Wallflower is a direct emotional response to his new surroundings and is undoubtedly testament to Jordan’s personal strength, drive and overriding passion for his art as well as a reflection of his openness and eagerness to reach out and explore London’s fertile music underground. It cements not only his importance as a contemporary, and truly exhilarating, soul voice on the international stage, but his stature as a producer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist in total command of his sonic vision.

File Under: Electronic, Neo-Soul
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soul scratch

Soul Scratch: Pushing Fire (Colemine) LP
Soul Scratch is founded on, and rooted in the principle that through the healing power of music, the world may be made into a joyous loving place where all of humanity can come together under the umbrella of love and togetherness. It was founded by Johnny Chou, Joel Givertz and Adam Greenberg originally coming together in various musical projects throughout their young lives and with the addition of Matt Reale’s horn lines started to make its way into the hearts of all who heard their signature sound. At the same time this musical exploration was beginning, another journey was underway on the East coast in the form of Dale Spollett developing the vocal skills and feel that would one day add his distinct interpretation to the west coast soul scene. After moving to Los Angeles, he saw a Soul Scratch show and was duly impressed with the band’s sound, passion, and interpretation of soul music. As fate would have it, the band was looking for a new lead singer at the time and Spollett answered the call. Five years and three albums later Soul Scratch has blossomed into one of the mainstay powerhouses in the SoCal Soul scene. Proud to be releasing their latest work Pushing Fire on Colemine Records, Soul Scratch continues to grow and impress new audiences with their musicianship, drive, and passion for the music they make. From the first few notes, this record grabs you. It’s raw soul and funk music crafted to perfection. Wailing vocals, soaring horns, and a super tight rhythm section. With a dirty production style, Soul Scratch serves up something that’s familiar, fresh, and never more relevant.

File Under: Funk, Soul
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Chad VanGaalen: Diaper Island (Flemish Eye) LP
Every so often, Chad VanGaalen emerges from his bunker in Calgary with a batch of songs, giving us a window into the private world of this reclusive and enigmatic songwriter. With Diaper Island, VanGaalen distills his approach, producing his most sonically cohesive album to date, and the closest thing he has done to a rock album.

File Under: Indie Rock
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Various: Paul Major: Feel the Music (Anthology) LP
Paul Major—pioneering record dealer and frontman of the band Endless Boogie—has spent over a half-century immersed in the weirdest albums cast aside by the music industry, honing a world-renowned knowledge of the most unique, rare, and uncannily strange tunes of the rock and roll era. Feel the Music Vol. 1 compiles the fruits of his hard-won expertise, presenting cuts chosen by Paul from the far reaches of psychedelia, lounge, and loner folk: twelve utterly singular takes on musical expression, yielding a somehow cohesive and sublime whole. Paul is a longtime champion of “Real People” musicians, one-of-a-kind artists operating wholly outside the industry, and this compilation gives us ample evidence of these distinct forms of genius. Though it moves through genres as diverse as the broken-down blues rock of Ray Harlowe & Gyp Fox, the ethereal psych-folk of Justyn Rees, the earnest schmaltz of balladeers Sebastian, and Darius, and the unclassifiable eeriness of Jerry Solomon, Feel the Music is permeated by a genuine feeling of no-holds-barred creativity and an unbridled love of musical expression. Listeners attuning themselves to these twelve parallel universe radio hits will undoubtedly come away feeling the same. Includes 12-track LP and download code, plus a folded obi-style insert featuring Paul Major’s handwritten track descriptions and eye-popping art from his legendary record catalogs. (Deluxe Book+7″ by Paul Major also available CAT# ARC030)

File Under: Psych
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Alvvays: s/t (Royal Mountain Music) LP
Alvvays: Antisocialites (Royal Mountain) LP
Ariel Pink: Dedicated to Bobby Jameson (Mexican Summer) LP
James Brown: Live At The Apollo (Dol) LP
Caravan: If I Could Do It All Over (4 Men With Beards) LP
Car Seat Headrest: Teens of Denial (Matador) LP
Car Seat Headrest: Teens of Style (Matador) LP
Johnny Cash: I Walk the Line (Legacy) LP
EMA: Exile in the Outer Ring (City Slang) LP
Faith Healer: Try 😉 (Mint) LP
Tim Hecker: An Imaginary Country (Kranky) LP
Tim Hecker: Mirages (Kranky) LP
Tim Hecker: Virgins (Kranky) LP
Lauren Hill: Miseducation Of (Sony) LP
Jason Isbell: Something More Than Free (Thirty Tigers) LP
Jason Isbell: Nashville Sound (Thirty Tigers) LP
Jason Isbell: Southeastern (Thiry Tigers) LP
Etta James: At Last! (Dol) LP
Zola Jesus: Okovi (Sacred Bones) LP
Jets To Brazil: Orange Rhyming Dictionary (Jade Tree) LP
Daniel Johnston: Hi How Are You (Eternal Yip) LP
King Krule: The Ooz (True Panther) LP
LCD Soundsystem: American Dream (Columbia) LP
Mazzy Star: So Tonight That I Might See (Plain) LP
The National: Alligator (Beggars) LP
The National: Boxer (Beggars) LP
Pink Floyd: A Momentary Lapse (Pink Floyd) LP
Django Reinhardt: The Legendary Django (Dol) LP
Skinny Puppy: Bites (Nettwerk) LP
Skinny Puppy: Remission (Nettwerk) LP
St. Vincent: Masseduction (Loma Vista) LP
Sufjan Stevens: Carrie & Lowell (Asthmatic Kitty) LP
Weather Station: s/t (Outside) LP
Neil Young: Hitchhiker (Reprise) LP
Various: Doing It In Lagos (Soundways) LP
Various: Ghana Sounds (Soundways) LP

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