Welcome back to winter! Not a ton in this week, but I’ve been busy buying some cool used stuff and we’re workin’ away trying to get it out as quickly as possible. Good time for a dig.
…..pick of the week…..
Husker Du: Savage Young Du (Numero) 4LP Box
Experience the punishing sonic origins of a punk icon. Collected here for the first time, and skillfully remastered from original board tapes, demos, and session masters, this collection is an authoritative chronicling of the wellspring and maturation of Grant Hart, Greg Norton and Bob Mould—three St. Paul teenagers who’d go on to become the most heralded trio of the American punk underground. Follow the Hüskers to their earliest gigs in 1979, through extensive road dog touring, and to the start of their partnership with West Coast tastemaker SST in 1983 via a 108-page hardbound book crammed full of photos, flyers, and a sprawling essay with participation from the band. Spread across four LPs, 47 of the 69 songs compiled here are previously unissued, and includes In A Free Land, Everything Falls Apart , and an alternate Land Speed Record.
File Under: Punk
Belbury Circle: Outward Journeys (Ghost Box) LP
The first full length LP for this collaborative project between Jon Brooks (The Advisory Circle) and Jim Jupp (Belbury Poly). John Foxx features on vocals and synth on two tracks, Trees and Forgotten Towns, reprising his appearance on The Belbury Circle’s debut EP, Empty Avenues in 2013. Brooks and Jupp go back to their musical roots with this release, but there’s no weird children’s TV or haunted soundtracks here. It’s a joyfully re-imagined soundworld that draws heavily on late 70s and early 80s synth pop and library music. An exciting transitional era that first saw the pair taking up synths as kids. With interlocking analogue sequencers, driving rhythms, soaring lead lines, primitive sampling, and its themes of travel and return, the album evokes the eve of the digital era, when “Tomorrow’s World” was still an exciting possibility.
File Under: Electronic, Pseudo Library
Tashi Dorji & Tyler Damon: Leave No Trace (Family Vineyard) LP
As live albums go, Tashi Dorji and Tyler Damon nail it down. No matter the crowd – head thrashers, Instagram zombies, shaken jazzniks – the shadow lines of feedback and bombastic percussive bombs are always at peak intensity. Through telepathic engagement the Bhutanese-born guitarist Dorji and Midwestern drummer Damon act with one-mind destruction as Leave No Trace: Live In St. Louis perfectly captures. It’s a pure sound for these disruptive, politically tumultuous times. Or Marc Master’s describes it as, a power lurching at you “in ways that feel dangerously uncontrolled, like someone playing with a plugged-in toaster over a filled-up bathtub.” Leave No Trace – a companion release to their hyper-acclaimed debut Both Will Escape – was recorded at Gaslight in St. Louis.
File Under: Jazz, Improv, Experimental
James Hunter Six: Whatever It Takes (Daptone) LP
A permanent fixture in the world of rhythm and soul, James Hunter follows up five critically acclaimed albums with his latest recording, Whatever It Takes, for New York City’s renowned label, Daptone Records. At the height of his famed recording career, Hunter and Daptone co-founder and producer Bosco Mann recorded an elegantly crafted collection of 10 originals that are evermore poignant and compelling than the singer’s previous works. The James Hunter Six and Mann recorded Whatever It Takes straight to tape at Daptone’s Penrose Studios in Riverside, CA. The needle drops on “I Don’t Wanna Be Without You” with saxophones grabbing your collar, pulling you close and moving you over the undulating curves of a rhumba. The mood and tempo then climb up into the swaggering backbeat of the title track. Drums then tear into the bottom of the groove with the full-throated rapture of “I Got Eyes.” Hunter is egged on by complicit background singers here and there. They ease in and out of Whatever It Takes, serving harmonies like tuxedoed waiters in an expensive restaurant, offering perfect pairings for each melodic course. “Mm-Hmm,” suddenly a tender mood hits. Verses of regret cascade in delicate shapes over dancing rhythms. A word-less chorus paints a painfully detailed picture of misfortune with an eloquently barren hum. Then, a bang. “Blisters,” an instrumental cigarette before you have to get up and turn the record over. Hunter’s guitar work is fearless like a buck knife carving initials into the knobby bark of a Freddy King shuffle. “I Should’ve Spoke Up” comes pitter-patting down a rain-soaked sidewalk, lost in sweet, soft, sentimental regret. Then come the talkings-to. “Show Her,” with ostinato bass, drums and organ scrawling “actions speak louder” dutifully on the chalkboard behind Hunter’s lessons. The frenetic tutorial of “Don’t Let Pride Take You for a Ride” practically tears itself apart in its final cautionary refrains. “How Long” is a yarn spun out on a porch with its gospel harmonies and foot stomping. And stepping out just as he stepped in, “It Was Gonna Be You,” an affectionate simplicity and sincerity that defies the quirkiness of the tim-tom clockwork over which it’s delivered.
File Under: Funk, Soul, RnB
Laraaji: Vision Songs (Numero) LP
Vision Songs Vol. 1 is the Laraaji album like no other, located at the intersection of new age and gospel, his outlier and magnum opus, the feel-good DIY tape of the century. Casio synth jams recorded at spiritual retreat guest rooms and a tiny bedroom on the Upper West Side in 1984, lysergically-spectacular anthems for a continually arriving new moment. “Channeled from the sky,” humbly offered on vinyl for the first time, this is where this is going on, this is where this is taking place, this is how this is going on. Is this very clear?
File Under: New Age, Ambient
Efrim Manuel Menuck: Pissing Stars (Constellation) LP
Efrim Manuel Menuck returns with his second album Pissing Stars, the brilliantly intense follow-up to his 2011 solo debut Plays High Gospel and the first new material with Menuck as central songwriter and vocalist since 2014’s acclaimed Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light On Everything from his chamber-punk-rock band Thee Silver Mt. Zion. The legendary Montréal-based musician has much-deserved cult status among fans of political punk, post-rock and avant-noise songcraft alike. Menuck celebrates 25 years of unflinching and uncompromising sonic output with Pissing Stars, wherein he launches acerbic darts, impassioned salvos and fragile flowers into gusts of noise-battered song built around pulsing maximalist electronics and drone, shot through with alternately plaintive, chilling, often processed vocals. Pissing Stars is Menuck at his most vulnerable and his most adventurous – with a timely narrative framework that only he could conjure. Pissing Stars comes in a deluxe 180-gram vinyl edition with artworked inner dust sleeve and a killer 12″ x 18″ art poster designed by Menuck, all printed on uncoated papers and boards.
File Under: Indie Rock
Rhye: Blood (Last Gang) LP
Blood is the much anticipated sophomore album from romantic soul-pop group Rhye following 2013’s acclaimed Woman. Themed around the aftermath of love, Blood alluringly pairs the band’s sultry, subtle, funky brand of soul music with the warm, powerful, and totally unique vocals and lyrics of frontman Mike Milosh. “We’ve spent the last few years on the road translating the ‘Woman’ album from a bedroom project into a full live experience. With ‘Blood’, it’s been the opposite process; the music and sounds were really born out of the live environment and are built for performance,” commented Milosh. “It takes a lot of courage to be vulnerable in front of an audience night after night. I use the same courage on every song on this record.”
File Under: Funk, Soul
Akira Sakata/Chikamorachi: Proton Pump (Family Vineyard) LP
Proton Pump is a milestone achievement in the winding career of alto saxophonist, gibberish shrieker and jazz legend Akira Sakata. It’s a lightning-fast, real-time cut-up of melody and bare-knuckle action that swings between the avant garde and hardcore be-bop. Sakata is backed by his famed rhythm crew Chikamorachi — drummer Chris Corsano and acoustic bassist Darin Gray — and joined by composer and pianist Masahiko Satoh. Sakata and Satoh emerged out of the late-1960s Tokyo jazz scene — Satoh already releasing albums and Sakata soon joining the famed The Yamashita Trio — and while they’ve since become uncompromising pillars of free music and vision this marks their first proper album together. On Proton Pump’s four pieces, Sakata is absolutely on top form on alto saxophone and clarinet — blowing bold melodies with unstoppable momentum and also injecting deep textural fields with his startling vocalizations. Satoh’s piano is hyperbolic throughout as he splatters counterpoints and brilliant tones at dizzying speed. Recorded before a jaw-dropped audience at Pit Inn, Tokyo in October 2015. LP limited to 500 copies worldwide, includes a full-color inner sleeve and download coupon.
File Under: Jazz
Ty Segall: Freedom’s Goblin (Drag City) LP
Freedom’s Goblin is the new Ty Segall album: 19 tracks strong, filling four sides of vinyl nonstop, with an unrestricted sense of coming together to make an album. It wants you to get your head straight—but first, the process will make your head spin! Back in the Twins days, we talked about the schizophrenia of Ty’s outlook; today, it’s super-dual, with loads of realities all folding back on each other. On any given side, we’re tracking five or six full-blown personalities, unconcerned with convention or continuity. So drop the needle—who can say what it’ll sound like where it lands? This is Freedom’s Goblin—one track engendering, the next one oppressing, violence up in the mix—a look at everything around that Ty used to make the songs. The songs came in the flow of the year: days of vomit and days of ecstasy and escape too, and days between. The rulebook may have been tossed, but Freedom’s Goblin is thick with deep songwriting resources, be it stomper, weeper, ballad, screamer, banger or funker-upper, all diverted into new Tydentities—each one marking a different impasse, like a flag whirling into a knot, exploding and burning on contact, in the name of love and loathing. Freedom’s Goblin wears a twisted production coat: tracks were cut all around, from L.A. to Chicago to Memphis, whether chilling at home or touring with the Freedom Band. Five studios were required to get all the sounds down, engineered by Steve Albini, F. Bermudez, Lawrence “Boo” Mitchell and of course, Ty himself. The goal was getting free, embracing any approach necessary to communicate new heights and depths, new places for the fuzz to land among octaving harmonies, dancefloor grooves, synths, saxes and horns, jams, post-Nicky-Hopkins r’n’b electric piano vibes, children-of-the-corn psycho-rebellions, old country waltzes and down-by-the-river shuffles. Basically, the free-est pop songs Ty’s ever put on tape. And one about his dog, too!
File Under: Rock, Punk, Garage, Psych
Sheepdogs: Changing Colours (Warner) LP
Two years on from delivering Future Nostalgia LP, the Sheepdogs have lifted the curtain on a follow-up full-length. Titled Changing Colours, the band’s sixth studio effort will arrive February 2 through Warner. The record runs 17 tracks in length, with the band sharing first single “I’ve Got a Hole Where My Heart Should Be” alongside the announcement. It also marks the first album to feature guitarist Jim Bowskill, who joined the group in 2015. “This album has a much wider range of sounds on it: trombone, clarinet, Latin percussion, pedal steel, fiddle and banjo all make an appearance,” the band said in a statement. “The title Changing Colours really lends itself to these different sounds on the record… We were also lucky to work with newcomer Jim Bowskill whose guitar wizardry is almost outshone by his fine mandolin playing and singing.”
File Under: Rock
Soft Moon: Criminal (Sacred Bones) LP
Criminal, The Soft Moon’s fourth studio album, is a confessional work. Through the stark lens of shame and guilt that has followed Luis Vasquez since a violent childhood growing up within the humming ambient sprawl of ’80s Mojave Desert, here he documents the gut-wrenching sound of going to war with himself. Battling with his own sanity, self-hatred, insecurity, self-entitlement and grappling with the risk of these things transforming him into a person he despises, Vasquez has laid his feelings bare with this: his confession and most self-reflective work to date. “Guilt is my biggest demon and has been following me since childhood. Everything I do strengthens the narrative that I am guilty,” Vasquez reflects. “The concept of Criminal is a desperate attempt to find relief by both confessing to my wrongdoings and by blaming others for their wrongdoings that have affected me.” Criminal marks a striking and important chapter in his self-exploration, both artistically and emotionally. As a young musician living in Oakland, Vasquez began to try and process the narrative of his difficult upbringing veiled through musical exploration. Working with producer Maurizio Baggio at La Distilleria in Bassano Del Grappa, Italy, Criminal sees Vasquez putting his lyrics at the forefront and letting his raw emotions flow. The album begins with a confrontation with his true self through the torrid bass lines and searing vocals of “Burn,” a song evoking a loss of control akin to demonic possession, stating: “Eyes, reflecting the person that I am, and it burns”. In this track, Vasquez’s guilt bores deeper and deeper into a condemnation that ultimately is: “Fire, hell is where I’ll go to live, so I burn. The album is Vasquez’s way of holding himself accountable and seeking redemption for the abuse he inflicts on himself, and acknowledges roots in the abuse which, inflicted upon him as a child, broke him.
File Under: Post-Punk, Industrial
Mika Vainio/Ryoji Ikeda/Alva Noto: Live 2002 (Noton) LP
LIVE 2002 captures an inspired performance at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art in Newcastle by three revered, influential and like-minded pioneers; Ryoji Ikeda, Alva Noto, and the late, great Mika Vainio. This recording marks the only ever concert by the trio and its release serves as a tribute to the much-loved Vainio. “Mika was not only a friend and collaborator, but also an inspiration for my work as an artist. This is a celebration of his contribution to our work”, says Carsten Nicolai, AKA Alva Noto. Minimal but highly effective, the performance builds throughout with deep sub bass, sleek, spacious sound design and high voltage, inorganic ambience. The inherent noise floor in studio equipment is pushed-up to take center stage. This is sound of electricity, the hum of the engine room and of technology operating almost independently, only gently coerced with artistic finesse by expert human hands. At points static is used decoratively with an ornate, delicate intricacy. At points it becomes rhythmic, like the innate repetition found in machinery. The sonic spectrum later opens up, evoking a rush with laser-like beams of audio light and a barrage of colossal, synthesized waves.
File Under: Electronic
Jorge Ben: Samba Esquema Novo (Dol) LP
Big Black: Atomizer (Touch & Go) LP
Cluster: Zuckerzeit (Lilith) LP
El Michels Affair: Enter the 37th Chamber (Fatbeats) LP
Fever Ray: s/t (Mute) LP
Robert Fripp/Brian Eno: No Pussyfooting (Pangyric) LP
Funkadelic: Cosmic Slop (Westbound) LP
Laurel Halo: Dust (Hyperdub) LP
Henry Cow: In Praise of Learning (Recommended) LP
Hot Snakes: Audit in Progress (Sub Pop) LP/CS
Hot Snakes: Automatic Midnight (Sub Pop) LP/CS
Hot Snakes: Suicide Invoice (Sub Pop) LP/CS
Johan Johannsson: Arrival OST (Deutsche Grammofon) LP
The Knife: Silent Shout (Mute) LP
Medusa: First Step Beyond (Numero) LP
Os Mutantes: s/t (Lilith) LP
Porches: The House (Domino) LP
Protomartyr: Agent Intellect (Hardly Art) LP
Tom Rogerson/Brian Eno: Finding Shore (Dead Oceans) LP
Sufjan Stevens: Carrie & Lowell (Asthmatic Kitty) LP
Syrinx: Tumblers from the Vault (ReRVNG) LP
Unwound: New Plastic Ideas (Numero) LP
Various: Buttons: Starter Kit (Numero) LP
Various: Buttons: From Champaign to Chicago (Numero) LP
Various: Dancehall – The Rise of Jamaican Dancehall Culture (Soul Jazz) LP
Various: WTNG 89.9FM – Solid Bronze (Numero) LP