This is probably getting close to being the last news letter that will have any new releases for the year. From here on out it’s gonna be mostly Christmas music and reissues and boxsets. But everybody loves a good boxset so hip hip hooray!
And as I’m sure you know, next Friday is Black Friday in the US, which really is nothing here, but they have created a little Black Friday Record Store Day, which means, exclusive releases… discounts, aaaaaand.. we’re PROBABLY gonna give away a turntable again, cuz, you know, that’s how we roll. You could always check out the Facebook page for the event here…
…..pick of the week…..
Steven Roach: Structurs from Silence (Telephone Explosion) LP
“Steve Roach is one of the defining American artists of new age music, perpetually on a quest for silence and the suspension of time in his music. Structures From Silence is his third album originally released in 1984, and is his first purely textural album, with a smooth, dark, gentle atmospheres unlike any of his other albums. ‘Full of purring drones and high notes that shimmer and fade. Like a desert mirage, these structures hover forever at the horizon, an oasis from the din surrounding it’ –From Pitchfork’s ‘Best Ambient Albums Of All Time’. ‘Steve Roach’s Structures From Silence remains one of the most important ambient albums ever crafted. It isn’t as high profile as similarly poised records from Brian Eno, but its enduring influence has been unmistakably visible in the three decades since its release.’ –FACT Magazine. Remastered from the original tapes, this is the first vinyl reissue of the album since its initial release in 1984.”
File Under: Ambient, Electronic
Ed Askew: Art & Life (Tin Angel) LP
Ed Askew is a painter and singer-songwriter who resides in New York City. Born in Stamford, Connecticut the Yale-educated hippie painter has hitchhiked, taught at art school and been working on new music in New York City for the past three decades. Following a re-discovery in the early Aughts, releases of classic recordings by De Stijl and Drag City, and tours with Bill Callahan and the Black Swans, Askew is fully on the scene. He released For The World, his first ever non-solo album, in the summer of 2013 to critical acclaim. Pitchfork and many other high-profile music media have praised his work, labeling him as a NY legend. He returns in 2017 on Tin Angel Records with his newest body of work, Art and Life, featuring Josephine Foster and Mary Lattimore.
File Under: Folk
Bark Psychosis: Hex (Fire) LP
“The Best Post-Rock Album Of All Time” Fact Mag // “Their influence is perva-sive” The Quietus // “Mysterious, haunting, and breathtakingly visionary” Allmusic // Bark Psychosis were one of the most innovative bands of their time and as legend has it, saw the first use of the term ‘post-rock’ by music critic Simon Reynolds. Following several singles and EPs, the avant-garde soundscapes built around drones and samples of 21-minute stand-out track ‘Scum’ arrived just two years before their seminal debut ‘Hex’ (1994). Their sound was born out of their improvisations at makeshift studio within St John’s Church in Stratford. Taking a year to complete ‘Hex’ left the band on the brink of collapse and by the time of its release they had dissolved. Breaking down their songs and rebuilding them in the studio brought distinguishing ambient soundscapes and an atmospheric experimental sound. Last year Fact Magazine deservedly gave the album further recognition with it claiming top spot in their ’30 Best Post-Rock Albums Of All Time’. Newly remastered in 2017 from the original analogue tapes at Metropolis Studios by Graham Sutton and Stuart Hawkes, and reissued officially for the first time.
File Under: Post Rock
Andrew Bird: Echolocations: River (Wegawan) LP
Recorded under the Hyperion bridge in Los Angeles, California’s Atwater Village, Echolocations: River is the second piece in a series of short films and recordings documenting site specific compositions. Performed by Andrew Bird and filmed by Tyler Manson in remote and acoustically interesting natural and urban environments, the first installment, Echolocations: Canyon, was originally released in 2015.
File Under: Indie Rock
Bitchin’ Bajas: Bajas Fresh (Drag City) LP
Bajas Fresh is on the beach here in 2017, existing and thriving in the same wrecked world as you and me. It’s been over three years since the last proper Bitchin Bajas album – a natural paradise of woodwinds, droning organs, analog synths, field recordings, and an ever-expanding sense of more (and less). In between then and now came a series of collaborative LPs, and each time these varied external stimuli came into contact with the Bitchin Bajas’ achromatic process, it left the group with expanded perimeters to traverse. So 2017 – what’s new? Everything and nothing, probably! The pursuit is still the same: a perfect continuous flow. The means to attain it are in full, fluid transition, woven into the strands that unspool so peacefully. The use of percussion and even drumkit is evident for the first time ever. Plus a horn section, a cover song…but before you start thinking that this Bajas Fresh is some kind of whole-cloth change, recall to your mind that the nature of equilibrium around Bitchin Bajas is such that new properties tend to melt into the surrounding texture, providing vivid sonics without uprooting the mindset. And they do. On Bajas Fresh, the cellular system of Bitchin Bajas continues to synthesize amid an external ecosystem also of the Bajas’ making, both growing naturally together into a state maybe not that far removed from its former incarnation, while still essaying refreshing new tones for new zones. Succulent half-speed mastering done at Abbey Road gives the LP pressing greater depth, extension and resonance than all previous Bajas incarnations.
File Under: Electronic
Body & Full of Hell: Ascending a Mountain (Thrill Jockey) LP
The Body & Full of Hell are both unique and influential forces in heavy music. Both artists welcome challenges and eschew self-promotion. Each artist seems driven to take risks and push boundaries of what is considered heavy. A clear example being that on recent tours The Body have performed without any live guitar or drums. Both artists enjoy the creative growth and music and good times that come out of collaborations. Each has collaborated often with other unique but like-minded musicians such as Thou, The Haxan Cloak, Krieg, Merzbow, The Bug and the list goes on. Despite their obvious differences in songwriting, The Body & Full of Hell are unified by their shared aesthetic, catharsis through the manipulation of emotions transformed by visceral noise and fueled by an inescapable sense of dread. They have returned to collaborate again not because of their commonalities but because of their differences and what those differences yield in performance. With Ascending a Mountain of Heavy Light, The Body & Full of Hell have integrated a love for electronic noisescapes with abrasive, precise sonic assaults into a sound unlike anything either has produced before. Written and recorded in one week at Machines with Magnets in Providence, the music of Ascending… draws from unexpected sources such as reggaetón and jungle (“Master’s Story”). There are some familiar guests to The Body fans, namely vocalist Chrissy Wolpert (Assembly of Light Choir) and Ben Eberle (Sandworm), as well as first-time collaborator drummer Brian Chippendale (Lightning Bolt, Black Pus), whom both bands share a strong aesthetic of individualism. Samples, synth, saxophone, and a drum orchestra all throb, and sputter, coagulating under the weight of the two bands. Programmed drum patterns and loops taking cues from hip hop are bent and twisted throughout, flawlessly emboldening the distortion drenched guitars and howling vocals. Each element, though meticulously crafted, is visceral, as the exhilaration of improvisation has not been curtailed by editing. Ascending a Mountain of Heavy Light casts aside the dogmas of heavy music. Extremity in The Body & Full of Hell’s music is not based on macho musings or competitive trendiness, but rather is an integral tool to exploring the anxieties of modern life and the bridges between personal and political strife. As leading voices in DIY and underground music communities, The Body & Full of Hell, along with peers such as Thou, are expanding the possibilities of extreme music by shaping worlds of sound with a palette of diverse influences seldom seen in “heavy music” today.
File Under: Metal
Escape-ism: Introduction to Escape-ism (Merge) LP
Introduction to Escape-ism is the first “solo” record by Ian Svenonius – of groups The Make-Up, Chain & the Gang, The Nation of Ulysses, XYZ, Weird War, etc. and author of underground bestsellers such as The Psychic Soviet, Supernatural Strategies for Making a Rock ‘n’ Roll Group, and Censorship Now!! – and as such, it’s profound, prophetic, perverse, and poetic. It’s introverted glitter, violence against the state, obsessive desire; it stomps on convention, shreds constitutions, clobbers pre-conceived notions of what a record can be. Yes, that’s right: a single-person performance by I.F. Svenonius – recognized by Performer Magazine as the “greatest performer on the planet” – Introduction to Escape-ism is a bite into a one-banana bunch. A drum box, a guitar, a cassette player, and a single slobbering, sinful voice singing out…for a way out. Live, it’s a new paradigm of performance: raw, gestural, idiotic, sublime, revolutionary, poetic, faux naïf, unknowing, a drainage pipe that leads to who knows where.
File Under: Indie Rock, Experimental
Charlie Feathers: Best of the Sun Records (ORG) LP
This newly compiled collection of recordings from rockabilly pioneer Charlie Feathers showcases the influential Memphis performer’s work at Sun Records (and related labels). Feathers started his musical career as a session musician at Sun Studios under Sam Phillips. His theatrical, hiccupping vocal style inspired a later generation of rock vocalists, including Lux Interior of The Cramps and Tav Falco, who contributed extensive liner notes and photos for the insert of this release. Pressed at Pallas Group in Germany.
File Under: Rockabilly
Four Tet: New Energy (Text) LP
Four Tet expands on the new age meditations of his recent singles with a freshly focused New Energy. Fully formed within the endlessly possible creative confines of Ableton Live, New Energy follows on from 2015’s Morning / Evening and features contributions from Tom Baker and Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith. Mixing his usual classic trip-hop leanings with a digitized melodic and at times melancholic edge, New Energy neatly pulls together the lighter ends of Beautiful Rewind’s house moves and Morning / Evening’s lush atmospherics. Half-speed mastered and pressed onto 100% virgin audiophile-quality vinyl.
File Under: Electronic
Frightnrs: More to Say Versions (Daptone) LP
It’s rare for a debut album, especially one in such a polarizing genre like reggae, to garner the kind of universal fanfare The Frightnrs’ 2016 long player Nothing More To Say received. Mainly because it’s a record that transcends genre specific qualifiers and rhetoric that pigeonhole many albums. It is in the truest sense of the phrase, a great record. Shortly after its release a single for “Dispute” (a featured track) was pressed, and like many classic reggae singles, it included a Dub (version) on the B-Side courtesy of famed reggae producer Victor “Ticklah” Axelrod. The single was a smash success which in return inspired Axelrod to produce Dub versions for all the songs on Nothing More To Say. The result is More To Say Versions.
File Under: Dub, Reggae
Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings: Soul of a Woman (Daptone) LP
Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings’ final studio album, Soul of a Woman is a lush, orchestral masterpiece. A true testament to the life and career of Daptone’s fearless leader and one of the world’s greatest performers. In the year prior to her death from pancreatic cancer in 2016, Sharon Jones toured and performed tirelessly, and was also the subject of Miss Sharon Jones!, an acclaimed documentary by Oscar-Winning director Barbara Kopple. Yet somehow, the beloved and heroic soul singer found time to complete a studio album. Soul of a Woman features eleven songs which reveal that the emotion, dynamics, and drama of Jones’ voice remained at full power until her final days. The songs on Soul of a Woman exemplify two distinct sides of the band’s sound. Side One showcases the grittier, bluesier material like “Matter Of Time” and “Sail On” giving Sharon the room to flex her vocal prowess, creating a “liveness” that few studio albums posses. Side Two takes on a more sophisticated orchestral mood. Tracks like “When I Saw Your Face” and “These Tears (No Longer For You),” capture a soft vulnerability in Sharon’s vocals that draws you deep inside, and yet they remain nuanced with the signature toughness that never allow you to forget she’s steering the ship. The finished product is an album that captures a band and a singer at their peak.
File Under: Soul
Nine Inch Nails: Add Violence (Nothing) LP
In tomorrow… Nine Inch Nails’ new five-song EP, Add Violence, is the second in a series of three related EPs. The first, Not The Actual Events, was released in December of 2016. Add Violence finds the band (Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross) becoming more accessible and impenetrable at the same time. The sonic palette expands significantly from Not The Actual Events, incorporating elements of beauty into the dark dissonance. The narrative arc linking the three records begins to emerge through the disassociated lyrics and the provocative and clue-filled cover artwork.
File Under: Electronic, Rock
Tom Waits: Bad As Me (Anti) LP
2011’s Bad As Me served as Tom Waits’ first studio album of all new music in seven years. This pivotal work refines the music that has come before and signals a new direction. Waits, in possibly the finest voice of his career, worked with a veteran team of gifted musicians and longtime co-writer/producer Kathleen Brennan. From the opening horn-fueled chug of “Chicago,” to the closing barroom chorale of “New Year’s Eve,” Bad As Me displays the full career range of Waits’ songwriting, from beautiful ballads like “Last Leaf,” to the avant cinematic soundscape of “Hell Broke Luce,” a battlefront dispatch. On tracks like “Talking at the Same Time,” Waits shows off a supple falsetto, while on blues burners like “Raised Right Men” and the gospel tinged “Satisfied” he spits, stutters and howls. Like a good boxer, these songs are lean and mean, with strong hooks and tight running times. A pervasive sense of players delighting in each other’s musical company brings a feeling of loose joy even to the album’s saddest songs.
File Under: Rock
Various: Dancehall (Soul Jazz) LP
Soul Jazz Records issue a new 2017 edition of their classic compilation album Dancehall: The Rise of Jamaican Dancehall Culture. The long-out-of-print collection is now available on triple-vinyl and offers up a lightning-flash selection of definitive dancehall fare as well as a stellar assortment of more obscure tracks. Featuring Yellowman, Tenor Saw, Sister Nancy, Ini Kamoze, Chaka Demus & Pliers, Michigan & Smiley, Super Cat, Cutty Ranks, Eek-A-Mouse, Gregory Isaacs and more, Dancehall: The Rise of Jamaican Dancehall Culture boasts a treasure trove of non-stop floor-filling party tune rockers!
File Under: Reggae, Dancehall
Various: Mirwood Northern Soul (Kent) LP
Mirwood Records’ second release was Jackie Lee’s ‘The Duck’, an uptempo soul swinger that became a big hit and established the Mirwood sound. The house team of producer Fred Smith, arranger James Carmichael, songwriter and backing voices arranger Sherlie Matthews, along with contributions from veteran singer/songwriters Bobby Relf and Earl Nelson (Bob & Earl), made for uptempo soul perfection and they played that beat throughout 1965 and 1966. Here’s 14 vital mid-60s dance records from acts like Jackie Lee, The Bob & Earl Band, The Olympics, Richard Temple, Bobby Garrett, Jimmy Thomas, The Mirettes and more, which exemplify why Mirwood is a byword for the best of Northern Soul.
File Under: Soul, Northern Soul
Various: Studio One: Black Man’s Pride (Soul Jazz) LP
Black Man’s Pride is the striking new Studio One collection of deep righteous reggae, featuring Horace Andy, Alton Ellis, The Gladiators, Sugar Minott, The Heptones, Freddie McGregor, Cedric Brooks and more. While the righteousness of blackness is at the heart of the Rastafarian faith, this collection illustrates how black pride remained a central theme, if not the defining essence, at the very core of all the music created at Studio One Records under the direction of Clement ‘Sir Coxsone’ Dodd. In order to understand the centrality of black identity in the music created at Studio One, you need look no further than Clement Dodd who created the first black-owned record company in Jamaica. In similar fashion Alton Ellis’s defining “Black Man’s Pride” brings up emotions that are at the heart of many of these uplifting songs. Ellis’ birthplace was the Trench Town ghetto of Kingston, also the birthplace of The Wailers, Ken Boothe and many other Studio One luminaries. Clement Dodd established a musical empire firmly rooted by the core musicians working at Studio One, many of whom came out of the Alpha School for Wayward Boys, essentially an orphanage run by Roman Catholic nuns, whose luminaries include Don Drummond, Johnny Moore, Leroy ‘Horsemouth’ Wallace, Cedric Brooks, Vin Gordon, Tommy McCook and more. Many of the songs featured here come from the transitory phase in reggae at the start of the 1970s, after the exhilaration of ska and following the cooling down of rocksteady. While reggae awaited the arrival of roots, Studio One’s vocalists were already producing some of the moodiest music imaginable. Here are 18 heavyweight tunes, both classic cuts and super-rare.
File Under: Reggae
Badbadnotgood: IV (Arts & Crafts) LP
Can: Singles (Mute) LP
Captain Beefheart: Clear Spot (Reprise) LP
Miles Davis: Kind of Blue (Legacy) LP
Destroyer: Ken (Merge) LP
Destroyer: Streethawk (Merge) LP
Funkadelic: Maggot Brain (Westbound) LP
Loscil: Monument Builders (Kranky) LP
Porcupine Tree: Fear of a Blank Planet (Kscope) LP
Lou Reed: Transformer (Legacy) LP
Joseph Shabason: Aytche (Western Vinyl) LP
Jackie Shane: Any Other Way (Numero) LP
Shooting Guns: Flavor Country (Riding Easy)
Sigur Ros: Takk (KrunK) LP
Weakerthans: Reconstruction Site (Epitaph) LP
Various: World Psychedelic Classics 3: Love’s a Real Thing (Luaka Bop) LP