Well, it looks like the summer drought is over! Loads of hot new releases to tempt your ears. And with all that smoke out there you’ll need new tunes to keep you sane while you stay indoors all weekend. You can chill to the mellow sounds of Hosono, and when you get really frustrated with being stuck inside, you can smash things while listening to This Heat and wish you could have seen them back in 1980. Then bring yourself back down with the blissful vibes of Alice Coltrane. All in all, you’ll have a pretty awesome weekend.
…..picks of the week…..
This Heat: Made Available
This Heat: Live 80-81
This Heat: Repeat/Metal
(Modern Classics) LP
Limited coloured vinyl versions! Formed in 1976 in Brixton, a multicultural, and – at the time – down-at-heel part of south London, This Heat were born into a music scene in rapid flux, first thanks to the punk explosion and then via new wave and its myriad offshoots into pop, rock and art-rock. But while many sought to apply punk attitude to chart-friendly sounds, This Heat were concocting some of the most experimental ideas ever committed to tape, taking influence from musique concrète, krautrock, the burgeoning industrial scene and even the dub reggae blasting out in their home borough. Given the difficult, abrasive, and involved nature of their furiously forward-thinking sound, This Heat never found anything approaching mainstream success, but patronage by the influential Radio 1 DJ John Peel meant they reached a national audience – whether that audience was ready for them or not. Made Available collects This Heat’s two Peel Sessions, recorded for BBC Radio 1 in April and October of 1977 and features essential songs that would later appear on their debut album, This Heat (1979) and the follow-up, Deceit (1981), as well as electro-acoustic works unique to these sessions. These are the earliest public recordings of the band, showing even in their infancy, masterful use of live tape loops and radical song structure. Following Modern Classics Recordings’ 2016 reissue campaign to mark the band’s 40th anniversary, these new releases Made Available, Repeat / Metal and Live 80 – 81 round out the story. Each release is sanctioned by surviving members Charles Bullen and Charles Hayward and features newly remastered audio sourced from original tapes.
File Under: Post Punk, Essential Grooves
Haruomi Hosono: Paraiso
Haruomi Hosono: Philharmony
Haruomi Hosono: Omni Sight Seeing
(Light in the Attic) LP
In tomorrow! The first 3 in this amazing The unbelievably prolific Haruomi Hosono is one of the major architects of modern Japanese pop music. With his encyclopedic knowledge of music and boundless curiosity for new sounds, Hosono is the auteur of his own idiosyncratic musical world, putting his unmistakable stamp on hundreds of recordings as an artist, session player, songwriter and producer. Born and raised in central Tokyo, his adolescent obsession with American pop culture informed his early forays into country music, which he would revisit later in his career. Hosono made his professional debut in 1969 as a member of Apryl Fool, whose heavy psychedelia was somewhat at odds with his influences, which leaned towards the rootsy sounds of Moby Grape and Buffalo Springfield. The latter was one of the main inspirations for his next group, Happy End, whose unique blend of West Coast sounds with Japanese lyrics proved to be highly influential over the course of three albums. After the band’s amicable break up in 1973, Hosono began his solo career with Hosono House, an intimate slice of Japanese Americana recorded inside a rented house with recording gear squeezed into its tiny bedroom. Following Tropical Dandy (1975) and Bon Voyage Co. (1976), Paraiso is the concluding saga in his “Tropical Trilogy.” The album can be seen as a turning point in Haruomi Hosono’s career, having been newly signed to Alfa Records by label head Kunihiko Murai. Hosono expands on the Van Dyke Parks-inspired tropical funk styles explored in the previous albums, and arrives at a captivating fusion sound that’s at times equally earthy and exotic. Hinting at the breakthrough sounds he would perfect with Yellow Magic Orchestra, Hosono uses synthesizers to provide otherworldly textures and a spiritual undertone to songs like “Femme Fatale” and the title track. On his Caribbean-style take on the Okinawan folk song “Asatoya Yunta” and the synth/gamelan workout of “Shambhala Signal,” Hosono takes traditional melodies and mixes them into his own inimitable stew. Featuring a host of well-known musicians like Taeko Ohnuki, Hiroshi Sato and his future bandmates Yukihiro Takahashi and Ryuichi Sakamoto, Paraiso perfectly encapsulates Hosono’s eccentric worldview that has shaped his solo career, right before his techno-pop project would blast him into the stratosphere. Hosono’s solo career would take many twists and turns from this point forward, with forays into exotica, electronic, ambient, and techno. Admired by artists ranging from Devendra Banhart to Mac DeMarco, Hosono continues to forge ahead as he heads into his fifth decade as a musician. With the re-release of his key albums for the first time outside of Japan, his genius will be discovered by a whole new generation of fans around the world. Hosono’s solo career would take many twists and turns from this point forward, with forays into exotica, electronic, ambient, and techno, culminating in the massive success of techno pop group Yellow Magic Orchestra (YMO), who made their debut in 1978. Following YMO’s first wave of success, Hosono took a break from the group and, with help from Alfa Records head Kunihiko Murai, established Yen Records in 1982. The label’s inaugural release was Philharmony, a masterwork recorded almost entirely by Hosono himself at his brand new LDK Studio. With unlimited studio time and freedom to explore, Hosono let himself loose with an array of synthesizers and the latest gadgets, from the Prophet 5 to the E-mu Emulator – all listed as “guest performers” in the album credits. Inspired by the possibilities opened up by these music-making tools, Hosono found new ways to approach his songwriting, resulting in a set of songs that showcase his ability to constantly and consistently innovate and create new standards. With ambient synthscapes like “Luminescent/Hotaru” and the abstract sample-based expressionism of “Birthday Party” sitting perfectly in tune alongside pop favorites like “Sports Men” and “L.D.K.”, Philharmony is one of the most well-loved of Hosono’s albums, and a favorite of the artist himself. Admired by artists ranging from Van Dyke Parks to Mac DeMarco, Hosono continues to forge ahead as he heads into his fifth decade as a musician. With the re-release of his key albums for the first time outside of Japan, his genius will be discovered by a whole new generation of fans around the world. Omni Sight Seeing, originally released in 1989 during YMO’s initial hiatus, is an exhilarating musical journey around the world as filtered through Hosono’s kaleidoscopic lens. This work stands as a manifestation of his concept of “Sight Seeing Music,” putting his own tasteful spin on the “world” music encountered during his explorations of global cultures. From Japanese minyo and Algerian rai, to American swing jazz and the self-described, extraterrestrial “Ether music,” his eclectic influences coalesce into a sound that is unmistakably Hosono’s, and many consider this album to be the perfect summation of his mastery of pop music forms. Partly recorded in Paris with assistance from producer Martin Meissonnier (Don Cherry, Fela Kuti) and contributions from French-Tunisian singer Amina, omni Sight Seeing includes the mysterious “Orgone Box” (inspired by Wilhelm Reich and Steve Reich), the acid house “Laugh-Gas” (inspired by Rococo and the French Revolution) and the serene fan favorite “Pleocene” (conveying an “oceanic feeling”). Admired by artists ranging from Van Dyke Parks to Mac DeMarco, Hosono continues to forge ahead as he heads into his fifth decade as a musician. With the re-release of his key albums for the first time outside of Japan, his genius will be discovered by a whole new generation of fans around the world.
File Under: Japan, Pop, Electronic, Synth Pop, Ambient
7FO: Ryu No Nukegara (EM) LP
In tomorrow! 7FO: pronounced “nano f o” in English, “nana” being seven. Ryu no Nukegara: “dragon’s husk”. These are the only difficulties you’ll encounter here. This is warm, friendly, very relaxed music, very “understandable” and yet intriguing, sure to appeal to fans of electronic ambient, dub and chill-out music, as well as artists like Haruomi Hosono, Captain Ganja, La Monte Young, Equiknoxx and Tapes. The Osaka-based 7FO combines groovily sparse electronic percussion with similarly sparse dub-feel synth bass, as well as pentatonic synth and steel pan melodies, the latter with an intriguing Okinawa/Sunda/Malay feel. Sparkling dub-influenced processing and thoughtful mixing gives us a music which is trans-oceanic, warm, and enveloping. Following releases on RVNG, Bokeh Versions and Metron, Ryu no Nukegara is available on digital, CD and 12” LP, featuring a suite of four tracks and the 20-minute title track, whose titular dragon is Asian: a potent symbol of water, strength and good luck.
File Under: Electronic, Ambient, Dub
Animal Collective: Tangerine Reef (Domino) LP
Tangerine Reef is a full-length audiovisual album by Animal Collective (Avey Tare, Deakin and Geologist), in collaboration with Coral Morphologic, to commemorate the 2018 International Year of the Reef. Tangerine Reef is a visual tone poem consisting of time-lapse and slow pans across surreal aquascapes of naturally fluorescent coral and cameos by alien-like reef creatures (note: no CGI or artificial enhancement was used in this film). Tangerine Reef is the sight and sound of a literal underwater collective of animals. In 2017, the Borscht Film Festival commissioned Coral Orgy, a collaborative site-specific performance by Animal Collective and Coral Morphologic ‘celebrating the cosmic synchronicity of sex on the reef’ in the Frank Gehry-designed New World Center on Miami Beach. The success of this performance ultimately led to this studio recording of Tangerine Reef and a subsequent performance at David Lynch’s Festival of Disruption earlier this spring at Brooklyn Steel in Brooklyn, NY.
File Under: Psych, Indie Rock
Bênní: The Return (Goner) LP
In tomorrow! Benny Divine’s impressive musical CV includes quantities such as The Gary Wrong Group, Wizzard Sleeve and Nashville’s prolific purveyor’s of Foghat-pop, Natural Child, but it was just a short year ago that Goner gave wide release to the Bênní debut album, I & II, which launched the new sub-genre we now know as “Hi-NRG New Age” and had its creator casually glancing over his shoulder for the rumored mobs of outraged Skyfax, Mannheim Steamroller and Windham Hill Records loyalists that could never quite catch up to his live performances, as they were not listed in back issues of TV Guide and Reader’s Digest: Large Print Editions. Whereas I & II was, as its title explicitly implicates, the combination of two previously-released cassettes, The Return is a nine-track song-cycle composed for the full-length format. Imagine this album as an alternative historical narrative: not as a source of soundtrack afterthought, but rather the initial spark of inspiration for an entire ’70s sub-genre of gritty crime and science fiction films. Additionally, the fuzzy electro-pop chops are just as impressive as the spacey burps and gurgles that made his debut so gripping.
File Under: Electronic, Synthwave
Alice Coltrane: Lord of Lords (Superior Viaduct) LP
In tomorrow! Originally released in 1972, Lord Of Lords was Alice Coltrane’s final album for Impulse! and the last installment in her awe-inspiring trilogy that also included Universal Consciousness and World Galaxy. While all three records featured strings alongside a jazz ensemble, Lords Of Lords stood apart from its predecessors due to the sheer size of the orchestra (12 violins, 6 violas and 7 cellos, arranged and conducted by Coltrane herself) and its refined, blissful performances—shining a vital light on the devotional path that she would follow for the rest of her career. On the first two pieces, “Andromeda’s Suffering” and “Sri Rama Ohnedaruth” (titled after the spiritual name for her late husband), Alice’s dazzling piano and harp blend perfectly with the blanket of strings, while the haunting rhythm section of Charlie Haden and Ben Riley and a magnificent, droning electric organ emerge immaculately on the title track and closer “Going Home.” Coltrane’s musical vision is bold in its imagination and cosmic in scope, yet remains intensely personal and immediate. Lord Of Lords points inward as much as to the beyond, recalling her classical roots and recasting Eastern modes to radically invert the American avant-garde and spiritual jazz traditions. This first-time vinyl reissue has been carefully remastered from the original master tapes.
File Under: Jazz, Spiritual Jazz
Julee Cruise: The Voice of Love (Sacred Bones) LP
Twenty-five years after its initial release, Julee Cruise’s sophomore album The Voice of Love is being issued for the first time on vinyl. It would mark the final full-length collaboration between Cruise, David Lynch, and Angelo Badalamenti. In 1994, after the release of Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, Lynch, Badalamenti, and Cruise returned to the studio with new compositions as well as the intent to craft previously instrumental score-based material from Fire Walk With Me and Wild at Heart into Julee Cruise songs. The result was 1993’s final studio album The Voice of Love. “In the studio, David would always say ‘[sing] like an angel…” Cruise remembers. In many ways, this quest for “angelic” was the seed that grew an entire genre out of the inability to utilize This Mortal Coil’s “Song to the Siren” for Blue Velvet. It’s eerie to ponder what might not have been had the song actually been within reach for that film. Fitting that all these years later, Twin Peaks concluded on a similar question followed by Cruise’s performance of “The World Spins”: What happens if Laura Palmer was never murdered?
File Under: Electronic, Jazz, Pop
Death Cab For Cutie: Thank You For Today (Atlantic) LP
Thank You for Today is the sound of Death Cab for Cutie both expanding and refining; a band 20 years into its evolution, still uncovering new curves in its signatures, new sonic corners to explore. The Seattle band’s ninth studio album, recorded in L.A. with producer Rich Costey in late 2017 and early 2018, stands alongside classic albums like their 1998 debut Something About Airplanes and 2003’s masterful Transatlanticism as a definitive collection – 10 tracks that are by turns beautiful and dynamic and darkly anthemic and bittersweet. On songs such as the kinetic “Gold Rush,” “Northern Lights” and “You Moved Away,” Ben Gibbard ruminates on the flux going on in his hometown, and weaves a thread throughout the album about how interconnected geography is with memory, and how hard it can be to hold onto places, and to people, too. Thank You for Today marks the first Death Cab for Cutie release to see long time bandmates Gibbard, Nick Harmer, and Jason McGerr joined in the studio by new members Dave Depper (Menomena, Fruit Bats, Corin Tucker, Ray Lamontagne) and Zac Rae (My Brightest Diamond, Fiona Apple, Lana Del Rey, Gnarls Barkley). Depper and Rae have both been part of Death Cab’s touring band since 2015.
File Under: Indie Rock
Forma: Semblance (Kranky) LP
In tomorrow! Brooklyn trio Forma’s latest album continues their mission to “broaden the idea of what an electronic music ensemble can sound like.” Semblance emerged from exploratory sessions at The Schoolhouse, the Bushwick loft where members Mark Dwinell and John Also Bennett live, then was tracked at Gary’s Electric studios, where their previous album Physicalist was also recorded. Inspired by polyrhythmic composition, the human voice, and conceptual improvisation strategies, the songs are striking in their textural detail and emotional nuance, alternately synthetic and sentient, futuristic and intuitive. Incorporating flute, piano, guitar, saxophone, acoustic drums and cymbals alongside an array of synthesizers, the record persuasively demonstrates the group’s unique playing abilities and fluid chemistry—attributes they credit to “techniques we’ve developed to trick our electronic machines into mimicking the spontaneous character of live instruments.” Members George Bennett and John Also Bennett also cite as an influence their recent stint in minimalist composer Jon Gibson’s ensemble, performing his 1973 proto-ambient masterwork Visitations. The long-form modal piece requires restraint and deep listening to execute, qualities especially apparent in the more muted moments of this album, such as “Rebreather” and “New City.” The group states the intent of the new album as “to be more direct and exacting”, which it is. Over half a decade spent writing and recording together has distilled the band’s hybrid electro-acoustic interplay into an attuned and astounding language, capable of articulating impossible symmetries and reflective states. The stunning visuals of the artwork are by frequent collaborator Peter Burr.
File Under: Electronic, Ambient
Helios: Veriditas (Ghostly) LP
Veriditas, the sixth Helios full-length, shares its name with 12th-century philosopher Hildegard von Bingen’s notion of “the greening power of the divine,” the term derived from the union of two Latin words: green and truth. Bingen saw the abundance of the earth as vitality to be cultivated, interconnected with the body and spirit. Take the concept in concert with Veriditas’ vistas of sound, gazing beyond the tree-lined wonder on its artwork, and we undoubtedly recognize the album’s rooting. Keith Kenni elaborates, “While I’m not a very spiritual person as it relates to a religious belief, I do feel an overwhelming connection between the aesthetics I find pleasing in my experience of nature and my experience of writing music.” Veriditas introduces unusual shapes and landscapes to the Helios catalog. Whereas past songs have followed traditional structures – discernible bell curves with beginnings, arcs, and ends – the focus here is texture and harmony. “I wanted to explore emotionality within something more static.” Synth-tones radiate and hum as vignettes, often crisp and cloudless, other times smeared to a queasy Boards of Canada-like unease. The latter burbles below the last moments of “Eventually” and looms over the opener “Seeming” like darkness inching across a forest. Tracks cease at will. “Seeming” fades just after a sliver of light cuts through the mossy pillars. “Latest Lost” mists for just one minute. “Row The Tide” for two, hovering like a helium balloon lost to the horizon. “Even Today” hangs above the snowcaps, suspended in an upper arboreal sequence, as shimmering surges of static trace the treetops below. Moments on Veriditas pass quickly, but as a series of moments, they are fluid, almost regenerative. Disassembling the album by instruments is difficult. Unlike past Helios work, there is no percussion. The one straightforward use of guitar appears on the ambling “Upward Beside The Gale,” strummed solemnly as if over end credits, watching the greenery lapse to grey in the twilight. In the second half of “Dreams,” crystalline piano chords converse with washes of orchestral notes and deep drone, advancing towards temporal clarity, a lookout point, that once presented evaporates. In a way, Veriditas parallels the path of the Helios project to date: patient, immense, and wondrous without ostentation. Kenni continues to find a soothing and centering quality in his craft. Aligned with Hildegard von Bingen’s philosophy, Kenni looks towards sound, like many do to nature, for momentary vigor, for elemental and nourishing prolificacy. Here, in pursuit of viriditas, with precise textures and harmonies, he humbly extends that verdant expression outward, wide and pliable.
File Under: Electronic, Ambient
Mark Kozelek: s/t (Caldo Verde) LP
This eponymous new album from singer-songwriter Mark Kozelek was recorded at Mark Hopkins Hotel, Seal Rock Inn and Hyde Street Studios in San Francisco, California from May 2017 through January 2018. All of the instrumentation on the record was overseen by Kozelek himself except drums on “Sublime” by Steve Shelley. “The album was recorded at hotels to take a break from the dark, windowless atmosphere of studios, and to see how atypical recording environments would affect my music,” Kozelek explained. Lead single and album opener “This Is My Town” is an ode to San Francisco and references local heroes the Grateful Dead.
File Under: Indie Rock, Sun Kil Moon, Red House Painters
Mitski: Be the Cowboy (Dead Oceans) LP
The breakout success of 2016’s Puberty 2 saw Mitski hailed as the new vanguard of indie rock, the one to save the genre from the white dudes who’ve historically dominated it. But the often overlooked aspect of being a rising star is the sheer amount of work that goes into it. “I had been on the road for a long time, which is so isolating, and had to run my own business at the same time,” Mitski explains, “a lot of this record was me not having any feelings, being completely spent, but then trying to rally myself and wake up and get back to Mitski. I was feeling really nihilistic and trying to make pop songs.” We want our artists to be strong but we also expect them to be vulnerable. Rather than avoiding this dilemma, she addresses directly the power that comes from appearing impenetrable and loneliness that follows. “With a lot of the romantic infatuations I’ve had,” she says, “when I look back, I wonder, Did I want them or did I want to be them? Did I love them or did I want to absorb whatever power they had? I decided I could just be my own cowboy figure that I so desire.” In Be The Cowboy, Mitski delves into the loneliness of being a symbol and the loneliness of being someone, and how it can feel so much like being no one.
File Under: Indie Rock
Oh Sees: Smote Reverser (Castle Face) LP
In tomorrow! Crack the coffers, Oh Sees have spawned another frothy album of head-destroying psych-epics to grok and rock out to. Notice the fresh dollop of organ and keyboard prowess courtesy of Memory Of A Cut Off Head-alum and noted key-stabber Tom Dolas, while the Paul Quattrone / Dan Rincon drum-corps polyrhythmic pulse continues to astound and pound in equal measure, buttressed by the nimble fingered bottom end of Sir Tim Hellman the Brave and the shred-heaven fret frying of John Dwyer, whilst Lady Brigid Dawson again graces the wax with her harmonic gifts. Aside from the familiar psych-scorch familiar to soggy pit denizens the world over, there’s a fresh heavy-prog vibe that fits like a worn-in jean jacket comfortably among hairpin metal turns and the familiar but no less horns-worthy guitar fireworks Dwyer’s made his calling card. Perhaps the most notable thing about Smote Destroyer is the artistic restlessness underpinning its flights of fancy. Dwyer refuses to repeat himself and for someone with such a hectic release schedule, that stretching of aesthetic borders and omnivorous appetite seems all the more superhuman!
File Under: Garage, Psych, Punk
OST: Logan’s Run (Waxwork) LP
In tomorrow! Waxwork Records proudly presents the the definitive Logan’s Run Original Motion Picture Soundtrack. Available for the very first time on vinyl, the complete and expanded Logan’s Run soundtrack by legendary composer Jerry Goldsmith receives the deluxe treatment from the soundtrack specialists at Waxwork Records, in close partnership with former Mondo CEO, Justin Ishmael. Logan’s Run is a 1976 Dystopian Science Fiction film starring Michael York, Jenny Agutter, and Farrah Fawcett that depicts a 23rd Century utopian society that beneath the surface kills everyone when they reach the age of 30. The story follows Logan 5, a “Sandman” who has been tasked with terminating those who have attempted to escape death (runners), and is now faced with termination himself as he approaches his 30th birthday. The score by legendary composer Jerry Goldsmith (Alien, The Omen, Planet Of The Apes, The ‘Burbs) mixes electronic music and sound design by usage of early modular synthesizers with classic orchestral compositions to create a futuristic landscape. This new release marks the very first time the complete score by Goldsmith will be released on vinyl. Features include all new artwork by Martin Ansin, double 180 Gram “Palm Flower” colored vinyl (Crystal Green and Red), and deluxe packaging.
File Under: OST
OST: Shadow of the Colossus (iam8bit) LP
In tomorrow! The view from atop a colossus is nothing short of majestic. A visual feast, sure – but its composer Kow Otani’s score that fully embodies the emotion felt whilst ascending each epic creature. Sweeping, transcendent and awe-inspiring, the music of Shadow of the Colossus makes it clear that our dear hero, Wander, isn’t slaying these mega-beasts as though they are villains, but instead is unlocking ancient magic for the greater good of our world. At long last, the legendary soundtrack to one of the most adored games in PlayStation history – enhanced with additional orchestral accompaniment AND remastered – is available on vinyl for the FIRST. TIME. EVER!
File Under: OST
OST: Tenebrae (Waxwork) LP
Waxwork Records is thrilled to present the complete soundtrack vinyl release of Dario Argento’s Tenebrae. Scored by three former members of Goblin in 1982 (Claudio Simonetti, Fabio Pignatelli, and Massimo Morante), the synth driven score makes it’s definitive and expanded vinyl debut. Waxwork is excited to offer the most comprehensive version of the soundtrack album on vinyl to one of the most important Giallo films ever made. Unlike the soundtracks that Goblin had previously contributed to the films by Dario Argento, the music of Tenebrae incorporates heavy electronica and dance music blended with rock and disco elements for a unique hybrid of genre and composition style. Extensive usage of early analog Roland, Oberheim, and Moog synthesizers and drum machines paired with electric bass, acoustic drums and piano were utilized by the wildly talented progressive rock trio to form a sonic template unlike anything offered before it. The soundtrack has gone on to garner a wave of popularity by being re-released and remixed many times over. Waxwork Records is proud to present the re-mastered, complete soundtrack pressed to 180 gram colored vinyl and housed in deluxe packaging featuring die-cut old style gatefold jackets, art by Nikita Kaun, printed inner sleeves, and more.
File Under: OST, Prog
Ross from Friends: Family Portrait (Brainfeeder) LP
Having made his inaugural outing on Brainfeeder with the Aphelion EP, British producer Ross From Friends aka Felix Clary Weatherall returns with his debut album on Flying Lotus’ label. Family Portrait is characterized by a perpetual desire to experiment and Felix’s obsessive attention to detail, somehow marrying an intricately layered production style with warm, heavily saturated sonics that elevate, rather than stifle, his melodious funk. Family Portrait showcases his ability to shift and evolve, moving from the world of lo-fi to the world of FlyLo, he demonstrates a versatility exemplified by the ease in which he can switch between playing shows with Little Dragon, holding down a peak-time slot in Berghain’s Panorama Bar and performing live at Maida Vale for BBC Radio 1. The culmination of almost two years of intense studio time, working 20 hour days, and often spending months perfecting just one aspect of a track. “I tried to be careful with every single sound” he explains, “Trying new things, making a bit more of an explosive sound”. The album also finds Felix recording his own voice for the first time, with the resulting tracks acting as snapshots of his personal life while recording. “Every time I went to make music the things which would really grab me are the emotional things, and while I’m in that place I felt I could really focus on the track. That was a massive part of this album, tapping into my emotions…into my emotional instability”. The album title – Family Portrait – also nods to a very specific personal aspect of the record: the influence of his parents. Dance music has always been a feature in Felix’s life, with early memories of his dad producing music on his analogue set-up, or pumping out hi-NRG tracks on the turntable, he grew up discussing, sharing and learning about music from his dad. “My dad has been hugely influential to the whole thing,” he adds.
File Under: House, Deep House
Sonoio: Fine (Dais) LP
In tomorrow! Prior to releasing a string of influential and widely acclaimed solo records under his own name on labels such as Important and Hospital Productions, Alessandroni Cortini (Nine Inch Nails) self-released two albums under the name SONOIO in 2010 and 2011 in limited runs. Praised for their complex and rich pop sound, strong vocal delivery and thoughtful compositions with impeccable production values, SONOIO’s Red and Blue (and the accompanying remix albums Non Red and Non Blue) made heavy use of Cortini’s expert manipulation of the Buchla synthesizer, releasing the single “Enough,” and remixing Ladytron’s “Houdini” before setting off on tour in direct support. As activity with Nine Inch Nails, the demands of touring, and his other solo endeavors began to pick up, production on the third and final SONOIO installment was delayed. In 2014 however, after years of silence, SONOIO posted the single and video for the song “Thanks For Calling” exclusively on sonoio.org and quickly reignited rumors and hope for the release of the third album. Four years have passed since then, and finally the exclusive release of SONOIO’s third and final effort: Fine has arrived. Fine is the first SONOIO full length to be released on vinyl, with gorgeous photography by Matt Sundin and packaging designed by Caspar Newbolt of Version Industries. Personal, layered and complex, Fine achieves greatness as both a singular example of deep and inspiring pop music, and as the final album—the closing chapter in the story of SONOIO.
File Under: Electronic, Synth Pop
Thou: Peasant (Robotic Empire) LP
In tomorrow! Before Thou released their 2014 album Summit (Gambit Big Easy award-winner), they spent the spring of 2008 rushing to complete their second full-length, Peasant, in time for a month-and-a-half trek across the United States. This record would be their last true album to abandon melody for the self-indulgent, Southern-style sludge-riffing that had most of their early fans saying, “I thought you’d be bigger with more tattoos and beards.” Originally released on vinyl by Level Plane Records, this edition—remastered by Adam Tucker (Signature Tone Recording)—is housed in a tip-on style gatefold jacket with 180-gram black vinyl, a twenty-page booklet, and poster. This double-LP also offers the complete version, including the CD-only tracks from the To Carry a Stone EP (released in 2008 by Noxious Noize) as well as bonus tracks from the Malfeasance / Retribution EP (released in 2008 on Feast of Tentacles and Rimbaud) and an unreleased cover of Nirvana’s “Aneurysm.”
File Under: Metal
Uniform: The Long Walk (Sacred Bones) LP
Following the release of the critically acclaimed LP Wake in Fright, which had two songs featured in the new season of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks, it was high time for Uniform vocalist Michael Berdan and instrumentalist Ben Greenberg to return to the studio. The duo decided to up the ante and add a third member to help perfect their vicious post-industrial dystopian cyber-punk. After some deliberation, Greenberg called upon drummer Greg Fox (Liturgy, Zs) to help round out the sound they were looking for. Using a mix of triggered samples and real drums along with layered synths and good old electric guitar, the trio arrived at what would become The Long Walk after only a few short days in the studio. From the opening whirr of the title track, it’s clear that the band is onto something special. Recorded at Strange Weather studios in the first part of 2018, The Long Walk is eight new tracks by the duo of Greenberg and Berdan, incorporating Fox’s skills behind the drum kit to add an entirely new dimension to the signature Uniform sound. Ditching sequenced tracks, Greenberg opted for single takes to highlight the Frankenstein-like guitar-bass-synth hybrid that oozes throughout the recording. Meanwhile, crushing guitar thunder is punched up by Fox’s masterful drumming while Berdan’s cries from the nether feel more desperate and morose than ever. This is Uniform at its most bleak, emotional, and powerful. Lyrically, The Long Walk deals with paradoxes in spirituality and organized religion. Berdan went to Catholic school for most of his primary education. Fear of Biblical hell and damnation felt tangible. As Berdan grew and matured emotionally, he began to reject Catholicism bit by bit. In the recent past, Berdan found himself slowly reconnecting with his background, observing how the faith that he found so repressive served as a great source of comfort and strength for so many. Yet therein lay the contradiction that drove him from religion in the first place – many of the human traditions of the church also dealt in repression, intolerance, and bigotry. Could one observe the rituals and practice of a faith while acknowledging and rejecting its ugliest elements? The title The Long Walk comes from a Stephen King (writing as Richard Bachman) dystopian novel about an oppressive government that forces some of its children to endure a grueling game where there is only one survivor. In this case, it’s an allegory for an extended march away from comfort, family, and faith, and eventually into an amorphous sense of spirituality that can be understood on a personal level.
File Under: Industrial, Punk, Noise Rock
Why?: Alopecia (Joyful Noise) LP/DLX LP
“I’ll go unknown by torpedo or Crohn’s / Only those evil live to see their own likeness in stone.” It’s the kind of couplet you’d carve into a wall whilst savoring the irony at hand, but when Yoni Wolf spit the line 10 years ago he was blissfully, broodily unaware that he and his band WHY? were creating a career-defining album – one so fan-adored that it would go out of print, and so influential that the art-pop heroine Lorde herself would lovingly steal the very lyric quoted above. When it dropped in 2008, Alopecia not only marked WHY?’s evolution from a sonically collaged mostly solo project to a live-recorded powerhouse band of badass multi-instrumentalists. It also minted a genre of one: wryly written, poignantly posed, simultaneously swaggering and heart-rending song-rap that jangles like folk, bursts like psych-rock, and sways like chamber pop. To this day, there is no other group in the known universe that sounds or feels like WHY? does on Alopecia. The album’s 2018 reissue cheekily etches that aural likeness into our musical history. Revisiting these songs is like catching up with an old, very strange friend – one who obsesses over his mortality, wonders if his ex is some sort of God, identifies as a “lifelong local foreigner,” and does his emotional unpacking in public restrooms. When Yoni sings that he’s been “faking suicide for applause in the food courts of malls” on album opener “The Vowels Pt. 2,” you aren’t sure if it’s a metaphor about fame or a real thing he did. Our narrator’s odd charm is Alopecia’s most enduring gift. Inspired by Bob Dylan and Joanna Newsom, Yoni packs confessional candor and vivid detail into honeyed melodies. Energized by Lil Wayne and MF DOOM, he seeds self-effacing boasts and mesmeric wordplay within complex rhyme schemes. The result is a swirl of humor, desperation, and beauty that both pulls us into his world and draws out our own proud, wounded inner weirdo. As Yoni coos on “The Hollows,” “This goes out to dirty-dancing, cursing, backmasking, back-slidden pastors’ kids / and all us Earth growths; some planted, some pulled.” Alopecia is as adventurous as it is accessible, and remarkably fluid. To wit, “These Few Presidents” slides between modes, from upbeat and forced-smile bubbly to seething and slowly roiling. “Song of the Sad Assassin” is a tempo-blind rollercoaster of piano, vibes, vocal percussion, guitar, drum, and bass. And “Twenty Eight” spins a feedback-drenched rap beat, something like the Bomb Squad on acid, on a carousel.
File Under: Hip Hop
Various: Birth/Work/Death (Iron Mountain) LP
In tomorrow! 18 timeless tales of clanging Hammers and pounding Shovels – from wry, dry working-stiff diatribes to bare-chested exclamations – Birth / Work / Death maps the human work experience from anger to joy, poverty to riches. From the muck-crusted mines to late-night jukeboxes – backwoods outsiders and Nashville icons alike waxed odes to the entwined necessities of Work and Money, Status and Competition, Survival and Servitude. Harrowing laments of dank deaths underground, fevered hymns to Mammon, snide ripostes to debt-bondage and exuberant celebrations of family and sustenance. Most originally waxed on private press labels and distributed in tiny amounts, these town criers and tavern-bound troubadours sing of golden highways, slothful byways, factory-floor drudgery and fallow, heartbreaking fields. Years in the making – ‘Birth / Work / Death‘ presents calloused anthems and bloody ballads from dusty LPs and long forgotten 45s. All for your lunch hour listening pleasure.
File Under: Country
Various: Hillbillies in Hell Volume 777 (Iron Mountain) LP
This smokey catalog of Nashville icons and hayseed misfits births ‘Hillbillies In Hell: Volume 777’ – a subterranean collection of deathly Nephilim, swampy graves, teenaged suicidal ideation, tormented Gospel tales, grisly mountain murders, craven lustmords, Apocalyptic visions and problematic parenting. Often originally waxed on microscopic labels and distributed in minuscule amounts, these troubled and sometimes forgotten troubadours sing of lustful homicides, masonic assassinations and Satan’s perpetual slaves. Years in the making – ‘Hillbillies In Hell’ (Volume 777) presents 16 testaments of timeless tribulations – sinful succubi, axe-wielding cuckolds, vengeful Hill-folk and the eternal quest for blistered redemption. A Mephistophelean cache of primordial 45s – some of these sides are impossibly rare and are reissued here for the very first time. All for your prurient listening pleasure.
File Under: Country
Beak>: s/t (Temporary Residence) LP
Beak>: >> (Temporary Residence) LP
Butthole Surfers: Locust Abortion Technician (Latino Buggerville) LP
Butthole Surfers: Psychic, Powerless (Latino Buggerville) LP
Butthole Surfers: Rembrandt Pussyhorse (Latino Buggerville) LP
Bill Callahan: Apocalypse (Drag City) LP
Bill Callahan: Sometimes I Wish We Were an Eagle (Drag City) LP
Cindy Lee: Act Of Tenderness (W25.St) LP
City & Colour: Little Hell (Dine Alone) LP
Alice Coltrane: Universal Consciousness (Superior Viaduct) LP
Alice Coltrane: The Ecstatic Music of (Luaka Bop) LP
Cramps: Smell Of Female (Big Beat) LP
Eric’s Trip: Purple Blue (Sub Pop) LP
Karen Dalton: In My Own Time (Light in the Attic) LP
Ella Fitzgerald: Ella at Zardi’s (Verve) LP
Brigitte Fontaine: Brigitte Fontaine Est… Folle (Superior Viaduct) LP
Fuzz: s/t (In The Red) LP
Goat: Commune (Sub Pop) LP
Goat: Requiem (Sub Pop) LP
Guided By Voices: Bee Thousand (Scat) LP
Il Balletto Di Bronzo: Sirio (Lion) LP
Jawbreaker: 24 Hour Revenge Therapy (Blackball) LP
Jawbreaker: Unfun (Blackball) LP
Joy Division: Closer (Rhino) LP
Joy Division: Unknown Pleasures (Rhino)
Melvins: Bullhead (Boner) LP
Merzbow + Hexa: Achromatic (Dais) LP
Oh Sees: Carrion Crawler (In The Red) LP
Oh Sees: Orc (Castle Face) LP
OM: Advaitic Songs (Drag City) LP
OM: God Is Good (Drag City) LP
OM: Variations On A Theme (Holy Mountain) LP
Pallbearer: Foundations Of Burden (Profound Lore) LP
Pallbearer: Heartless (Profound Lore) LP
Pallbearer: Sorrow And Extinction (Profound Lore) LP
Max Richter: Blue Notebooks (Deutsch Grammophone) LP
Arthur Russell: Calling Out Of Context (Audika) LP
Ty Segall Band: Slaughterhouse (In the Red) LP
Sensations Fix: Music is Painting in the air (ReRVNG) LP
Silver Apples: Contact (Jackpot) LP
Silver Apples: Silver Apples (Jackpot) LP
Siouxsie & The Banshees: Join Hands (Polydor) LP
Siouxsie & The Banshees: Juju (Polydor)
Siouxsie & The Banshees: Tinderbox (Polydor)
Siouxsie & The Banshees: Through the Looking Glass (Polydor) LP
Sonic Youth: Bad Moon Rising (Goofin) LP
Spiritualized: Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space (Plain) LP
Stars of the Lid: And Their Refinement Of the Decline (Kranky) LP
Stereolab: Mars Audiac Quintet (1972) LP
Stereolab: Transient Random-noise (1972) LP
Suicide: S/t (Superior Viaduct) LP
Chrissy Zebby Tembo: My Ancestors (Mississippi) LP
Thou: Peasant (Robotic Empire) LP
Tomb Mold: Manor Of Infinite Forms (20 Buck Spin) LP
Ween: Chocolate & Cheese (Plain) LP
Ween: Mollusk (Plain) LP
Various: Brown Acid – The Second Trip (Riding Easy) LP