Oh boy, now we’re cooking! What a killer week, I could have 10 picks this week, but that would be cheating. So many great things to stick in your ear. We’re open all weekend so bring your out of town family and pals down for a dig!
Also…. in case you missed it… WE ARE HIRING! If you’ve dreamed of slinging records and have a great grasp on alphabetizing things please drop off or email your resume along with your top 10 albums of 2018 and of all time by October 14th! But sooner is better!
…..picks of the week…..
Beak>: >>> (Temporary Residence) LP
Acclaimed UK out-rock trio, Beak>, return with their first album in six years, the aptly-titled >>>. Written over the last year and, for the most part, written and recorded live at Invada Studios, the band continue to forge their own path through their own genre of oddness. “>>> definitely sounds like a step forward. The production and feel of the first two albums were like listening through frosted glass; a band playing behind a curtain. Now we are hearing Beak> in sharp focus, but without forfeiting what the band see as its ‘wrongness’. This could be the result of having played bigger stages and festivals – something that was never part of the plan – or perhaps it is just a reaction to the infinite cut & paste fuzz pedal kraut bands on the planet.” – Redg Weeks, Invada Label Manager
Tim Hecker: Konoyo (Kranky) LP
Experiential composer Tim Hecker’s ninth official full-length, Konoyo (“the world over here”) was largely recorded during several trips to Japan where he collaborated with members of the gagaku ensemble Tokyo Gakuso, in a temple on the outskirts of Tokyo. Inspired by conversations with a recently deceased friend about negative space and a sense of music’s increasingly banal density, Hecker found himself drawn towards restraint and elegance, while making music both collectively and alone. As with the Icelandic choir he arranged on 2016’s Love Streams, the heights of Hecker’s talent emerge in his manipulation of source material, bending and burnishing it into fantastical new forms. Keening strings are stretched into surreal, pixelated mirages; woodwinds warble and dissipate as fractal whispers of spatial haze; sparse gestures of percussion are chopped, isolated, and eroded, like disembodied signals from the afterlife. Both in texture and intent, Konoyo conjures a somber, ceremonial mood, suffused with ritual and regret. Visions flutter and fade; dreams gleam and decay. Hecker will stage a series of special performances in tandem with the album’s release, featuring members of the gagaku ensemble on shō, ryuteki and hichiriki, accompanied by Kara-Lis Coverdale.
Blood Orange: Negro Swan (Domino) LP
Producer, multi-instrumentalist, composer, songwriter and vocalist Devonte Hynes returns with his fourth album as Blood Orange entitled Negro Swan. Raised in England, Hynes started out as a teenage punk in the UK band Test Icicles before releasing two orchestral acoustic pop records as Lightspeed Champion. In 2011, he released Coastal Grooves, the first of three solo albums under the moniker Blood Orange. His last album, Freetown Sound, was released to critical acclaim in 2016, and saw Hynes defined as one of the foremost musical voices of his time, receiving comparisons to the likes of Kendrick Lamar and D’Angelo for his own searing and soothing personal document of life as a black man in America. He has collaborated with Solange Knowles, FKA Twigs, and many other artists, and was recently one of four artists invited to the Kennedy Center to perform alongside Philip Glass. In addition to his production work, he scored the film Palo Alto, directed by Gia Coppola and starring James Franco. Hynes’ newest album, Negro Swan, was written and produced by Hynes. Says Hynes: “My newest album is an exploration into my own and many types of black depression, an honest look at the corners of black existence, and the ongoing anxieties of queer/people of color. A reach back into childhood and modern traumas, and the things we do to get through it all. The underlying thread through each piece on the album is the idea of hope, and the lights we can try to turn on within ourselves with a hopefully positive outcome of helping others out of their darkness.”
File Under: Soul, RnB, Hip Hop
Nathan Bowles: Plainly Mistaken (Paradise of Bachelor) LP
On his playfully subversive fourth solo album, Nathan Bowles (Steve Gunn, Pelt, Black Twig Pickers) extends his acclaimed banjo and percussion practice into the full-band realm for the first time, showcasing both delicate solo meditations and smoldering, swinging ensemble explorations featuring Casey Toll (Jake Xerxes Fussell, Mt. Moriah) on double bass and Rex McMurry (CAVE) on drums. As he considers the cycles of deceit and self-deception that shape both our personal and political lives, a mixed mood of melancholy and merriment permeates Bowles’s own compositions as well as the interpretive material, which draws from traditional Appalachian repertoires and the diverse songbooks of Julie Tippetts, Cousin Emmy, and Silver Apples. Deluxe virgin vinyl LP featuring heavy-duty board jacket, color LP labels, and high-res download code.
File Under: Folk, Roots
Cat Power: Wanderer (Domino) LP
In tomorrow… There are few voices more deeply embedded in the iconography and mythology of American indie rock than that of Chan Marshall. Under the musical nom de plume of Cat Power, Marshall has released music for nearly twenty-five years now and her prowess as a songwriter, a producer, and most notably – as a voice – has only grown more influential with time. Wanderer, Cat Power’s stunning tenth studio album, marks a pivotal moment in both Marshall’s life and her career. In the six years since the release of 2012’s Sun, she has traveled the world, given birth to a child, and parted ways with her previous record label. Even though it was, in many ways, a period of profound upheaval and radical change, those experiences resulted in a record that is arguably the most assured artistic statement of her career. Produced by Marshall and mixed by Rob Schnapf (Elliott Smith, Beck), the album includes appearances by longtime friends and compatriots, as well as guest vocals courtesy of recent tourmate Lana Del Rey. Wanderer is, in many ways, a quintessential Cat Power record, with Marshall’s clarion voice front and center in a set of songs that remarkably stark and straightforward. But, if old Cat Power records might easily have been viewed as repositories for pain, Wanderer is, at its heart, a testament to the transformative nature of songs, an album-length imagining of alternate paths, redemptions, connections, and open-ended possibility. Wanderer’s 11 tracks encompass “my journey so far,” says Marshall. “The course my life has taken in this journey – going from town to town, with my guitar, telling my tale; with reverence to the people who did this generations before me. Folk singers, blues singers, and everything in between.They were all wanderers, and I am lucky to be among them.”
File Under: Folk, Indie Rock
Death Grips: Year of the Snitch (Harvest) LP
Experimental Sacramento, CA hip-hop trio and force to be reckoned with, Death Grips – MC Ride, drummer/producer Zach Hill and recording engineer Andy Morin – follow-up 2016’s Bottomless Pit with their sixth studio effort Year of the Snitch. The tight-lipped release includes the previously revealed singles “Streaky,” “Flies,” “Black Paint,” “Hahaha,” “Dilemma” and “Shitshow” plus collaborations with Academy Award-winning film director/producer Andrew Adamson (Shrek, Shrek II) and Tool bassist Justin Chancellor.
File Under: Hip Hop
Jlin: Autobiography (Planet Mu) LP
In tomorrow…. Autobiography is Jlin’s score for her collaboration with renowned British choreographer Wayne McGregor (a collaboration arranged by Krakow’s Unsound). Autobiography is a highlight in an evolving and growing career. This isn’t technically her third album (that’s due to arrive in 2019 or 2020), but the soundtrack stands up on its own with all the emotional peaks and troughs of a well-sequenced LP. For Jlin, making music for dance is the fulfillment of one of her lifelong dreams – and remarkably, Company Wayne McGregor’s performance was the first show she’d ever seen. She describes the process of working with Wayne: “We first met face to face in October 2016 in a downtown Chicago hotel, talking for about a solid two hours. Immediately, I saw Wayne was very friendly and energetic. He’s brilliant, witty, and knows exactly what he wants; an absolute gem to work with. Before I even started composing for Autobiography, Wayne told me so gently that he trusts me completely with my direction of creating the score. That was the best feeling in the world. I would wake up at two in the morning and work until six in the evening until I completed all the pieces. We were both very happy with the outcome. Creating the score for an impeccable piece of work such as Autobiography changed my life as an artist.”
File Under: Electronic
Kikagaku Moyo: Masana Temples (Guruguru Brain) LP
Kikagaku Moyo started in the summer of 2012 busking on the streets of Tokyo. Though the band started as a free music collective, it quickly evolved into a tight group of multi-instrumentalists. Kikagaku Moyo call their sound psychedelic because it encompasses a broad spectrum of influence. Their music incorporates elements of classical Indian music, Krautrock, Traditional Folk, and 70s Rock. Most importantly their music is about freedom of the mind and body and building a bridge between the supernatural and the present. Improvisation is a key element to their sound. The shifting dimensions of Masana Temples, fourth album from psychedelic explorers Kikagaku Moyo,are informed by various experiences the band had with traveling through life together, ranging from the months spent on tour to making a pilgrimage to Lisbon to record the album with jazz musician Bruno Pernadas. The band sought out Pernadas both out of admiration for his music and in an intentional move to work with a producer who came from a wildly different background. With Masana Temples, the band wanted to challenge their own concepts of what psychedelic music could be. Elements of both the attentive folk and wild-eyed rocking sides of the band are still intact throughout, but they’re sharper and more defined. More than the literal interpretation of being on a journey, the album’s always changing sonic panorama reflects the spiritual connection of the band moving through this all together. Life for a traveling band is a series of constant metamorphoses, with languages, cultures, climates and vibes changing with each new town. The only constant for Kikagaku Moyo throughout their travels were the five band members always together moving through it all, but each of them taking everything in from very different perspectives. Inspecting the harmonies and disparities between these perspectives, the group reflects the emotional impact of their nomadic paths. The music is the product of time spent in motion and all of the bending mindsets that come with it.
Lala Lala: The Lamb (Hardly Art) LP
Lillie West initially started Lala Lala as a way to communicate things that she felt she could never say out loud. But on The Lamb, her sophomore LP and debut for Hardly Art, she has found strength in vulnerability. Through bracing hooks and sharp lyrics, the 24-year-old songwriter and guitarist illustrates a nuanced look on her own adulthood – her fraught insecurity, struggles with addiction, and the loss of several people close to her.
File Under: Indie Rock
Mount Eerie: After (P.W. Elverum) LP
While making the songs that would be released as “A Crow Looked At Me”, I wasn’t thinking at all about sharing them with other people, family or strangers. Nobody. I was only thinking of squeezing the constant flow of words that was crashing around in my head into a familiar form, a song, since that was my habitual method of processing that had accidentally developed since adolescence. I made my inner monologue into songs for no other reason than to release it from my skull. At some point during the writing I recognized a feeling in the vicinity of “pride” about the work. It was a strange realization. These songs, and my the facts of my life that the songs were made from, seemed like nothing to be proud of. They seemed like something purely brutal and new and apart from my usual conception of creative work, and the notion of having excitement stemming from these new songs was accompanied by so many apprehensions and uncertainties. What does it mean to write things like this down? What would it mean to record it? What would it mean to share it with strangers? Where is the line of propriety? What is anyone supposed to do? At every step I was uncertain if it was OK to be doing what I was doing. My hunch was almost always that it was wrong. Don’t write it, don’t record it, don’t sing it in front of people, don’t repeat it. But also I was surprised to discover that my internal response to this hesitation was almost always to double down and go deeper in; to write more nakedly, to go on another tour, etc. In the year that came after releasing “A Crow Looked At Me” I toured a lot. The United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Japan. It wasn’t easy. The shows were emotionally difficult and the atmosphere was so delicate and strange, like reenacting a violent act on stage in front of a paying audience every night. On top of that, I had to tour with my daughter (and a nanny) so my mind was stretched between 2 big difficulties. But fortunately, with the help of so many understanding and helpful agents, bookers, organizers, I was lucky to get to perform these songs in very well suited and beautiful rooms, nice theaters and churches, to kind and supportive listeners. The concerts ended up being something beyond strange, macabre, gawk-shows. I don’t know what they were exactly. Just strangers gathered in beautiful rooms to pay close attention to one person’s difficult details, and to open up together, quietly. They have been the most powerful shows of my life, no question. Even so, every time it was clear that the audiences shared the same apprehensions that I had. After the first song, every time, there was a palpable hanging question in the air: “should we clap?”. It’s a good question. What is this? Is it entertainment? What is applause for? What kind of ritual is this? Many close friends have still not listened to the records or come to a concert. What, beyond pain, is embodied here? I don’t know exactly what my job is, traveling around and delivering these feelings. The concerts in 2017 and 2018 have been unusual, unexplainable, and great. The best one was at Le Guess Who? festival in Utrecht, Netherlands on November 10th, 2017. Nobody was supposed to be recording these shows but fortunately someone didn’t get that message and this beautiful recording of that show has surfaced. So now I’m plunged back into the apprehensions, now pushed into new territory. What would it mean to release a live album of these songs that maybe shouldn’t have been written in the first place, let alone recorded or performed? Is it OK? Does it bring anything new to the songs to hear them in this way? My hope is: yes. You can hear the breath in the room. You can feel the simultaneous intimacy and immensity. Foregrounded by the hyper-bare instrumentation (minimal acoustic guitar), the words burn brighter even than on the albums, more legible. This is a recording of these ultra-intimate songs living in the real world among people, and of peoples’ wide eyed accepting silence, and clapping.
File Under: Indie Rock
Mudhoney: Digital Garbage (Sub Pop) LP
Since the late ’80s, Mudhoney – the Seattle-based foursome whose muck-crusted version of rock, shot through with caustic wit and battened down by a ferocious low end – has been a high-pH tonic against the ludicrous and the insipid. Thirty years later, the world is experiencing a particularly high-water moment for both those ideals. But just in time, vocalist Mark Arm, guitarist Steve Turner, bassist Guy Maddison, and drummer Dan Peters are back with Digital Garbage, a barbed-wire-trimmed collection of sonic brickbats. Arm’s raw yawp and his bandmates’ long-honed chemistry make Digital Garbage an ideal release valve for the 2018 pressure cooker. “My sense of humor is dark, and these are dark times,” says Arm. “I suppose it’s only getting darker.” Digital Garbage opens with the swaggering “Nerve Attack,” which can be heard as a nod both to modern-life anxiety and the ever-increasing threat of warfare. The album’s title comes from the outro of “Kill Yourself Live,” which segues from a revved-up Arm organ solo into a bleak look at the way notoriety goes viral. Appropriately enough, bits of recent news events float through the record: “Please Mr. Gunman,” on which Arm bellows “We’d rather die in church!” over his bandmates’ careening charge, was inspired by a TV-news bubblehead’s response to a 2017 church shooting, while the ominous refrain that opens the submerged-blues of “Next Mass Extinction” calls back to the clashes in Charlottesville. Mudhoney’s core sound – steadily pounding drums, swamp-thing bass, squalling guitar wobble, Arm’s hazardous-chemical voice – remains on Digital Garbage, which the band recorded with longtime collaborator (and contributing pianist) Johnny Sangster at the Seattle studio Litho. The anti-religiosity shimmy “21st Century Pharisees” builds its case with Maddison’s woozy synths, which Arm says “add a really nice touch to the proceedings.” Digital Garbage closes with “Oh Yeah,” a brief celebration of skateboarding, surfing, biking, and the joy provided by these escape valves. In the end, the riffs and fury of Digital Garbage will stand the test of time, even if some of the particulars [hopefully] fade away.
File Under: Indie Rock
OST: Annihilation (Lakeshore) LP
In tomorrow… From visionary writer/director Alex Garland and based on the acclaimed best-selling Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer, Annihilation stars Natalie Portman as a biologist and former soldier, that joins a mission to uncover what happened to her husband inside Area X – a sinister and mysterious phenomenon that is expanding across the American coastline. Once inside, the expedition discovers a world of mutated landscape and creatures, as dangerous as it is beautiful, that threatens both their lives and their sanity. The film features a score by Ben Salisbury and Geoff Barrow. Garland remarks that Salisbury and Barrow’s partnership, “Sets an incredibly high bar of creative skill and integrity, with music that is brilliant, unique and truly cinematic.” Salisbury and Barrow note: “After our experience on Ex Machina, we obviously jumped at the chance to work on a new Alex Garland film, and it was very exciting, as right from the outset we could see that we were going to have to use a wider musical pallet than we did on Ex Machina, and operate on a bigger and broader scale.”
File Under: OST
Phosphorescent: C’est La Vie (Dead Oceans) LP
Matthew Houck’s first new Phosphorescent release in five years chronicles a life-altering period which saw him fall in love, start a family, leave New York for Nashville, and build a studio from the ground up. With a focus on translating these profound experiences to music as intuitively as he could, Houck pushes the boundaries of what a Phosphorescent record can sound like, balancing the earthy and the incandescent, the troubled and the serene, creating his own musical cosmos in the process. Nowhere is this more evident than on “New Birth In New England,” a deceptively breezy snapshot survey of some of those life-altering events, condensed to five genre-defying minutes. C’est La Vie was produced by Houck and recorded at his Spirit Sounds Studio in Nashville, newly built specifically with these sessions in mind. The album was mixed by Matthew and Vance Powell (Jack White, Chris Stapleton, Arctic Monkeys). C’est La Vie follows the 2013 Phosphorescent album Muchacho, Houck’s best-reviewed and best-selling album to date featuring the undeniable standout track “Song For Zula.” Hailed by Pitchfork for its “beauty and profundity” and Consequence of Sound for “striking gold at every turn,” Muchacho saw Houck top multiple year-end lists. C’est La Vie reveals a crystallization of what made Muchacho such a breakout – a little sweetness and a little menace, sometimes boot-stomping and sometimes meditative. The magic of Houck’s music has always been the way he weaves shimmering, almost golden-sounding threads through elemental, salt-of-the-earth sounds. It’s not experimental, exactly, but it’s singular and it’s definitely not traditional. That knack, the through-line across the Phosphorescent catalog, is front and center here.
File Under: Indie Rock
Sumac: Love in Shadow (Thrill Jockey) LP
Listeners who followed the Northwest trio SUMAC down the tangled briar of mathematical riffs and hypnotic battery on The Deal or through the unfettered eruptions and methodical dissonance of What One Becomes are aware that SUMAC eschews the conventional balladry typically associated with odes to our spiritual connectedness. Saccharine sweetness or fatalistic tales of unrequited affection are nowhere to be found on third full-length album, Love In Shadow. Over the album’s hour-plus length, the band employs minimal tools to achieve a maximum overview of visceral passions. Yet while popular music puts an emphasis on conveying moods through well-tread tropes, cultural signifiers, and deeply ingrained associations between tempo, texture, melody and their respective emotional resonance, SUMAC approach their music with the tactile immediacy of abstract expressionists. The beauty is not in the content, but in the form. Across 4 protracted songs, guitarist and vocalist Aaron Turner (Old Man Gloom, Mamiffer, ISIS) and his cohorts – Nick Yacyshyn (Baptists, Erosion) on drums and Brian Cook (Russian Circles) on bass – interlace and mangle sounds from their instruments in a sonic homage to both the innate warmth of human magnetism and the cold realities of corrupted love – jealousy, obsession, perversion, addiction. Kurt Ballou recorded the album live with the goal of minimal overdubs or fixes over 5 days at Robert Lang Studios in Shoreline, WA. The result is an album that sounds more alive and human than the common computer grid-built mechanically perfect metal record.
File Under: Metal
Throbbing Gristle: Heathen Earth (Mute) LP
Heathen Earth is a crucial 1980 live document of industrial pioneers Throbbing Gristle. In member Chris Carter’sown words: “You had to have been there. Which is what we always say about TG. TG on record and TG live are two completely different things.” This album is probably the closest approximation of the two you’ll ever get: made in front of a small audience, the event was filmed by Monte Cazzaza with the intention of releasing it on video. The majority of the set is instrumental, fluctuating between the raw electronics of Throbbing Gristle’s early work and the band’s more melodic material. It’s the best of both harrowing worlds, and the most coherent album Throbbing Gristle ever made. Gatefold colored vinyl with 8-page 12″ booklet, unseen photographic print from the performance and digital copy of 11 bonus tracks, including live recordings from 1980 and 7″ versions of “Subhuman” and “Adrenalin.”
Throbbing Gristle: Journey Through a Body (Mute) LP
Widely referred to as Throbbing Gristle’s most haunting work, Journey Through a Body (1982) was recorded as a piece of radio art for Italian National Radio RAI, Rome in March 1981. Following Robert Wyatt’s recommendation, RAI originally commissioned Cosey Fanni Tutti to create a sound work based on the theme of A Journey Through the Body. This went on to become a Throbbing Gristle project – first broadcast by the RAI, Journey Through a Body was the band’s final studio recording prior to 2004’s reactivation of the band. Recorded in five days, a day per body section, the tracks were not pre-planned and nothing was re-recorded or added to after the track’s initial recording, instead each track was mixed immediately. “What’s most noticeable about the album, as a sonic experience is the openness to acoustic instrumentation on display” (The Vinyl Factory) and Journey Through a Body stands as a perfect testament to Throbbing Gristle’s artistic ethos. Unavailable on vinyl since 1983, this colored vinyl pressing includes a foil-blocked cover featuring photos from the session.
Throbbing Gristle: Mission of Dead Souls (Mute) LP
Mission Of Dead Souls documents Throbbing Gristle’s last live performance in San Francisco in 1981. It’s a given that the band’s studio work was noisy and abstract, but more was left to chance during gigs like this, with primitive synthesizers and other electronics pitted against a group trying to keep some semblance of control. By this period, their early group solidity had crumbled into the two elements they were soon to finally divide into: Chris Carter and Cosey Fanni Tutti (soon to be known as Chris & Cosey), with their emphasis on synth manipulation and electro-rhythms, and early Psychic TV, with their focus on Genesis P-Orridge and Peter “Sleazy” Christopherson’s occult interests and ghostly atmospherics. On stage in San Fransisco, Genesis’ presence leans the set’s seance-like atmosphere in the latter direction, but recurring jackhammer blasts of rhythm and spindly noise make sure that Chris’s presence and importance to Throbbing Gristle doesn’t go unnoticed. Taped voices introduce “Spirits Flying,” before a shrieking swoop of the synthesizer swirls above a Can-like groove that proves that Throbbing Gristle’s assault never lacked talent or skill. “Vision and Voice,” like many of the tracks, builds and builds the noise, striking one blow after another against rhythm and melody. “Persuasion U.S.A.” presents the song with more of a creeping beat than usual, and “Discipline (Reprise)” gives listeners a rapid version of the song before the band leaves the stage to a Martin Denny tape. Unavailable on vinyl since the early 1990s, this colored pressing recreates the original packaging with the addition of silver ink and a new inner sleeve featuring photographs and a passage by Jon Savage.
Tashi & Yoshi Wada and Friends: FRKWYS 14: Nue (RVNG Intl.) LP
Composer Tashi Wada has performed for years with his father Yoshi Wada – artist, composer, and early member of the Fluxus movement. However, they have rarely appeared together in studio settings. Nue, the fourteenth entry in RVNG Intl.’s intergenerational FRKWYS series, finally brings Tashi and Yoshi, along with an eclectic group of close friends and extended family, together on tape. Nue draws on aspects of Tashi’s background for his widest vision to date – among them the minimalist bagpipe music of Yoshi, who co-composed three of the tracks, the psychoacoustic and perceptual explorations of his mentor, composer James Tenney, and reimagined forms of ancient and devotional music. The album, however, is not a tribute to the past or a recapitulation of familiar sounds. Instead, Nue is an intertwining of people and ideas as a means of growing, of looking inward to move outward, and of looking back to move forward. To achieve this growth, Tashi assembled a core group of fellow travelers, including Yoshi, composer Julia Holter, producer Cole MGN, and percussionist Corey Fogel to give life to this multifaceted suite. As an experience, Nue subtly navigates the interactions, intimacy and spaciousness of this group. From the doubling of tones – and the world of harmonic nuances such an action produces – to the rich interplay between individual musicians, all baring their own personalities and experiences through shared performance, Tashi’s compositions allow space for these elements to join and grow. The multipartite creature that is an ensemble melds in the simplicity and purity of the music itself. As Tashi states in his liner notes: “My desire was to create something both old and new sounding – ancient and futuristic – and ultimately something of its own world and other. Nue is a vision, an endless night of dreams, and a personal history of sorts, full of joys and demons.”
File Under: Drone, Experimental
Various: Basement Beehive: The Girl Group Underground (Numero) LP
Who do we become when we live our dreams? It’s all here—the high hairdos, the dreams and schemes, the tender camp, the wedding bell fantasias and chaste tragedies. Sister acts, studio receptionists, classmates, angelic voices of the 1960s; some legendary, many hidden in the basement of expired rainbows. Gathered on this deluxe double LP are 28 foiled escape attempts, now free to soar in girl group heaven.
Various: Studio One Freedom Sounds (Soul Jazz) LP
Studio One Freedom Sounds is the new collection from Soul Jazz/Studio One focusing on the intense period in the second half of the 1960s when Studio One’s vast and unbeatable output of ska, soul, rock steady and reggae made it literally one of the hottest musical empires in the world. During this highly successful period, Clement ‘Sir Coxsone’ Dodd released hundreds and hundreds of superlative singles seemingly on an almost daily basis, in the process making huge stars out of Jamaican singers such as Alton Ellis, Delroy Wilson, the Wailers, Slim Smith, Jackie Opel and many more. Powered by the finest in-house musicians working in Jamaica, whether it was the Skatalites, Jackie Mittoo’s soul brothers, the Sounds Dimension or the Soul Vendors, Studio One functioned as hit factory on the scale of Motown in the U.S., shaping and defining reggae music for decades to come. Single handedly Studio One’s founder Clement Dodd was able to create the most successful vertically-integrated record company that Jamaica had ever known with pressing plant, printers, studio, shops, and sound systems all running at once, with over 50 employees and hundreds of artists working with studio one during this time. Studio One Freedom Sounds tells the story of Studio One in the 1960s with a stunning set of ska, soul, rock steady and reggae killer tunes as well as informative sleeve notes and track-by-track info by Noel Hawks.
File Under: Reggae
Various: Switched On: Eugene (Numero) LP
Switched-On Eugene documents the Eugene Electronic Music Collective and some of the many synthed-out figures in and around Oregon’s iconic hippie stronghold during the 1980s. Whether connected by membership, geography, or the tape trading scene, the artists in and around the EEMC shared compelling visions of the future we now inhabit, vividly captured on home-recorded tapes and distributed via zines, classifieds, and local radio. Switched-On Eugene is a deep dive into a heretofore forgotten sonic microcosm unlike any other.
Various: Two Niles to Sing a Melody (Ostinato) 3LP
In Sudan, the political and cultural are inseparable. In 1989, a coup brought a hardline religious government to power. Music was violently condemned. Many musicians and artists were persecuted, tortured, forced to flee into exile – and even murdered, ending one of the most beloved music eras in all of Africa and largely denying Sudan’s gifted instrumentalists, singers, and poets, from strutting their creative heritage on the global stage. What came before in a special era that protected and promoted the arts was one of the richest music scenes anywhere in the world. Although Sudanese styles are endlessly diverse, this compilation celebrates the golden sound of the capital, Khartoum. Each chapter of the cosmopolitan city’s tumultuous musical story is covered through 16 tracks: from the hypnotic violin and accordion-driven orchestral music of the ’70s that captured the ears and hearts of Africa and the Arabic-speaking world, to the synthesizer and drum machine music of the ’80s, and the music produced in exile in the ’90s. The deep kicks of tum tum and Nubian rhythms keep the sound infectious. Sudan of old had music everywhere: roving sound systems and ubiquitous bands and orchestras kept Khartoum’s sharply dressed youth on their feet. Live music was integral to cultural life, producing a catalog of concert recordings. In small arenas and large outdoor venues, musical royalty of the day built Khartoum’s reputation as ground zero for innovation and technique that inspired a continent. Musicians in Ethiopia and Somalia frequently point to Sudan’s biggest golden era stars as idols. Mention Mohammed Wardi – a legendary Sudanese singer and activist akin to Fela Kuti in stature and impact in his music and politics – and they often look to the heavens. Such is the reputation of Sudanese music, particularly in the “Sudanic Belt,” a cultural zone that stretches from Djibouti all the way west to Mauritania, covering much of the Sahara and the Sahel, lands where Sudanese artists are household names and Sudanese poems are regularly used as lyrics until today to produce the latest hits. Sudanese cassettes often sold more in Cameroon and Nigeria than at home. But years of anti-music sentiment have made recordings in Sudan difficult to source. Ostinato’s team traveled to Ethiopia, Somalia, Djibouti, and Egypt in search of the timeless cultural artifacts that hold the story of Africa’s most mesmerizing cultures. That these cassette tape and vinyl recordings were mainly found in Sudan’s neighbors is a testament to Sudanese music’s widespread appeal. With their Sudanese partner and co-compiler Tamador Sheikh Eldin Gibreel, a once famous poet and actress in ’70s Khartoum, Ostinato’s fifth album, following the Grammy-nominated Sweet As Broken Dates, revives the enchanting harmonies, haunting melodies, and relentless rhythms of Sudan’s brightest years, fully restored, remastered and packaged luxuriously in a triple LP gatefold to match the regal repute of Sudanese music. A 20,000-word liner note booklet gives voice to the singers silenced by an oppressive regime. Take a sail down the Blue and White Nile as they pass through Khartoum, carrying with them an ancient history and a never-ending stream of poems and songs. It takes two Niles to sing a melody.
Mulatu Astatke: Afro Latin Soul 1 (Strut) LP
Mulatu Astatke: Afro Latin Soul 2 (Strut) LP
Courtney Barnett: Tell Me How You Really Feel (Mom + Pop) LP
Kenny Burrell: Midnight Blue (Blue Note) LP
Nick Cave: Skeleton Tree (Bad Seeds) LP
Childish Gambino: Camp (Glassnote) LP
Mac Demarco: Salad Days (Captured Tracks) LP
Ned Doheny: Separate Oceans (Numero) LP
Earthless: Sonic Prayer (Gravity) LP
Iron & Wine: Weed Garden (Sub Pop) LP
Kendrick Lamar: Damn (Aftermath) LP
Kendrick Lamar: Damn: Collector’s Edition (Aftermath) LP
Kendrick Lamar: Good Kid M.A.A.D. City (Aftermath) LP
Kendrick Lamar: To Pimp A Butterfly (Aftermath) LP
Liturgy: Aesthethica (Thrill Jockey) LP
Low: Double Negative (Sub Pop) LP
Slowdive: s/t (Dead Oceans) LP
Social Distortion: Independent Years (Bicycle) Box
Sufjan Stevens: Illinois (Asthmatic Kitty) LP
Carl Stone: Electronic Music From the 80s (Unseen Worlds) LP
Tom Waits: Closing Time (Anti) LP
Various: Warfaring Strangers: Acid Nightmares (Numero) LP