It doesn’t seem to be letting up! Another stacked week of killer new arrivals! I’ve got a lot of pricing to do so I’ll leave you to it….
…..picks of the week…..
Coil Presents Black Light District: A Thousand Lights in a Darkened Room (Dais) LP
In tomorrow…. During the transitional period in which Coil’s primary leadership (Peter “Sleazy” Christopherson and John Balance) reorganized their creative direction by taking on new membership in the group through their inclusion of Drew McDowall, Coil took a drastic turn towards the metaphysical unknown. Employing the subtle handiwork of Coil’s “real life” members, as well as the cleverly guised aliases and spiritual collaborators, the band chose to filter their identity through a the nome de guerre, Black Light District, setting the precedent of Coil’s future exploration of otherworldly influence. Recorded during the Winter of 1995/96, Black Light District reflects more on their formal avant-garde pursuits and academic interests rather than their industrial pedigree resume. Starting off with an obvious nod to John Cage with their introductory “Unprepared Piano”, the tone is prepared in exactly the same way… unpredictable. Conceptually abstract, Black Light District shows Coil’s old guard disregarding the pop rhythms found on previous albums, such as Love’s Secret Domain, and fully embracing their experimental electronic trajectory. Subtle patterns of looping melancholy and malaise are placed delicately underneath ghostly electronic timbre. Approaching their creative method as something from the beyond, another realm in which sounds blur and performers seemingly appear from the ether.
Shooting Guns: Nosferatu (Cardinal Fuzz) LP
The Shooting Guns Live Nosferatu Score. Captured live at the Roxy Theatre (Saskatoon) where psych renegades The Shooting Guns create the perfect doomy apocalyptic soundtrack for F.W. Murnau’s cinematic classic. Over 70 minutes The Shooting Guns ramp up the dread and tension that is perfect for Nosferatu’s gothic aesthetic. Haunting melodies chill the hairs on your neck until Count Orlok appears and they let loose the best Wagnerian bummer riffs these ears have heard. Give yourself 70 minutes a darkened room and a spare pair of pants to absorb this masterpeice.
Ar-Kaics: In This Time (Wick) LP
Wick Records presents the sophomore long player from Virginia’s Troglodytic Troubadours, the group with the antediluvian je ne sais quoi: The Ar-Kaics! Recorded in three days at Adrian Olsen’s Montrose Studio and produced by Wayne Gordon (Black Lips, King Gizzard, John Spencer Blues Explosion, Michael Rault,) In This Time is a low brow journey through the teen-beat sounds of the 1960’s and beyond. From the opening crude thud of “Don’t Go with Him,” the Velvet Underground-tinged swagger of “She’s Obsessed with Herself,” the breezy, late-period psych of “Long Way Down,” to the unpretentious, sap-free balladry of “It’s Her Eyes,” The Ar-Kaics flex their deft understanding of the subtle intricacies that define bonafide garage rock. A must for fans of the Back from the Grave compilations!
File Under: Garage, Punk
Bad Sports: Constant Stimulation (Dirtnap) LP
In tomorrow…. Texas trio Bad Sports release their fourth full-length to Dirtnap and with it, push their sound into a more modern sphere of punk. Orville Neeley (guitars / vocals), Daniel Fried (bass / vocals) and Gregory Rutherford (drums) have spent over ten years together and this progression is justified. This time, the production quality is more lean and tense, giving an air that is decidedly frustrated, and more world-weary, but is still the great stripped-down classic-leaning punk band with deep power-pop vs. proto-punk undercurrents. They are not a “retro” band, however—Constant Stimulation is simply a timeless-yet-modern masterpiece. The band’s history with their Texas peers (OBN IIIs, Radioactivity, Wax Museums, VIDEO, etc) has served them well—they’ve honed themselves into being a complicated and calculating rock machine with finesse and more care taken to let Neeley’s words and voice ring out—it’s as close to “sing-singing” the band has ever come. The record broils and stews over a response to the modern world and its eroding and addling effects, kicking its lyrics out to be heard clearly. No track exemplifies this better than the title track on which Neeley sings, “I need constant stimulation in my ears and in my eyes or I don’t sleep at night…deprivation chambers only worsen my dreams.” Maybe this more spaciously spare sound is their response to that veritable constant stimulation. Welcome to the modern age.
File Under: Punk
Bosse-De-Nage: Further Still (Flenser) LP
In tomorrow…. San Francisco-based post-black metal act Bosse-de-Nage have returned to The Flenser for their fifth studio album titled Further Still. This latest album sees the band eschew the sprawling arrangements and hypnotic repetition of their previous efforts in favor of tight, propulsive song structures. It is deliberately succinct in approach while maintaining the band’s unique lyrical style set to unpredictable melodies. Bosse-de-Nage takes their name from a character in the book The Exploits and Opinions of Dr. Faustroll, Pataphysician by the French symbolist author Alfred Jarry. They recorded their first demo in 2006, which was subsequently released on cassette by Aesop Dekker’s The Funeral Agency label. Their first album was recorded the following year, but the band became inactive for awhile, and their debut sat on the shelves until The Flenser released it in 2010. This sparked new life into the project and they recorded and released two more self-titled albums over the next two years. In 2012 BDN released a split EP with fellow Bay Area “blackgaze” upstarts Deafheaven. They subsequently released their monstrous and surreal masterpiece, All Fours (Profound Lore), in 2015 to critical applause. Further Still sees the band refine their multitude of ideas, distilling them to their most basic forms yet retaining their idiosyncratic footprint.
File Under: Black Metal
Carbonas: Your Moral Superiors (Goner) LP
In tomorrow…. Fast, tight, and irresistibly tuneful, Atlanta’s Carbonas took America by storm in the mid-2000s with a slew of catchy singles and hit-laden albums. The group dragged into its orbit some of the best and brightest of Atlanta’s burgeoning punk scene, launching careers and developing a rabid fan following (and inspiring at least five tattoos). At the height of their popularity, they disbanded, leaving the masses clamoring for more material. As songwriters, the band were incredibly prolific, gradually developing from a lo-fi treble blast (à la Rip-Off Records) into a finely tuned Euro-punk steamroller, and drummer / producer Dave Rahn was there to record all of it. For the past decade, however, many of these tracks languished on four-track cassettes, hard drives, and out-of-print singles and compilations. Finally, as they enter their twilight years and reflect on their legacy in the face of impending death, the Carbonas have decided to give these tracks to the world. Ryan Bell (Scavenger Of Death Records) was tasked with raiding the archives and tracking down tapes and files, as well as sequencing and mixing audio, wrangling posters, flyers and liner notes and cover layout. Goner Records is proud to present this collection of all the hits and misses from Atlanta’s finest.
File Under: Punk
Cloud Nothings: Last Building Burning (Carpark) LP
Last Building Burning is the product of eight days with producer Randall Dunn (Sunn O))), Wolves in the Throne Room, Boris) in Texas studio Sonic Ranch. Clocking in at just over half an hour, the eight-song album sees Cloud Nothings capture their onstage appeal with help from Dunn, who Dylan Baldi describes as “technically minded without relying on technology to perfect the live sound.” In that, Last Building Burning is a return to Cloud Nothing’s sharpest form – the unhinged, feverish, guitar-heavy sound that they explode with onstage – without their early angst. “It’s not an angry record,” says Baldi. “It’s a very joyous thing for me. And it feels so nice to scream again, especially when you know people in the crowd will be screaming along back at you.”
File Under: Indie Rock
Ian William Craig: Thresholder (130701) LP
Eighteen months on from his last new release, Vancouver-based singer/composer Ian William Craig returns to FatCat with an (album-length) EP of eleven brand new tracks. Entitled Thresholder, the record sees Craig return towards the smudged and scoured beauty of his 2016 opus, Centres, a record which was universally acclaimed, making many end-of-year lists. For Craig the focus of the album was a great boundlessness of space, the sound of the big bang, the spookiness of the quantum world, and vacillations of different kinds of conflicting time. Besides as the often-quoted William Basinski reference point, the music here recalls the visceral media-decay of early ‘00s operators like Fennesz, Belong, Desormais, Philip Jeck or Pimmon. “Idea for Contradiction 2” is like a massively over-driven or sandpaper-scoured version of Brian Eno’s “An Ending” or some shredded Colin Stetson stem. The ending of”And Therefore the Moonlight” – is reminiscent of Sigur Rós while “Sfumato” exists in the same dimension as The Caretaker’s haunted ballroom with its reverb-drenched and occluded distant vocals.
Alvin Curran: Canti e Vedute del Giardino Magnetico (Superior Viaduct) LP
In tomorrow…. American composer and multi-instrumentalist Alvin Curran has remained one of the great emblems of experimental music for the last half-century. In 1966, along with Frederic Rzewski and Richard Teitelbaum, Curran co-founded Musica Elettronica Viva, a seminal gesture in collective free improvisation. In the early ’70s, his solo work would become a crucial bridge between minimalist traditions on both sides of the Atlantic. Canti E Vedute Del Giardino Magnetico, Curran’s solo debut, was recorded by the artist himself and issued on Ananda, the small Italian imprint started by Curran and fellow composers Giacinto Scelsi and Roberto Laneri. The piece itself was put together in the winter of 1973 and presented for the first time at Teatro Beat 72 (Rome’s The Kitchen). Encouraged by the work of Terry Riley, La Monte Young, Charlemagne Palestine and Simone Forti, Curran binds the listener to aberrant notions of place and time: blending field recordings (wind, high-tension wires, beach waves, etc.) with simple and often primitive instruments. Across two sidelong tracks, Giardino Magnetico forms a lyrical collage of synthesizer, glass and metal chimes, plastic tubes, brass and the composer’s alluring voice—converging in an immersive realm of Curran’s inner / outer experiences. This first-time vinyl reissue is recommended for fans of Harry Bertoia, Michel Redolfi and Lino Capra Vaccina.
Electric Citizen: Helltown (Riding Easy) LP
In tomorrow…. Helltown, the forthcoming third album by Electric Citizen is, in many ways, a homecoming. While the title may seem fittingly metal (if not exceedingly so), it actually has real relevanc: Helltown, while also multidimensional, is named after the Cincinnati, OH, neighborhood in which the band lives, practices, and where the album was written, recorded and mixed. Now known more prosaically as Northside, Helltown earned its name in the 1800s due to its reputation for rowdy taverns frequented by the neighborhood of factory workers and immigrants. Inasmuch as this album is an ode to the band’s home and its buried past, it also represents a return to the grittier sound of their 2014 debut, Sateen. Furthermore, it marks the return of original bassist Nick Vogelpohl, who rejoins vocalist Laura Dolan, guitarist Ross Dolan and drummer Nate Wagner. It’s a fun, tough, dirty rock ‘n’ roll album. The band’s 2016 album Higher Time was an expansive and somewhat cleaner effort mixed by Black Keys engineer Collin Dupuis. It was a landmark moment for the band earning considerable press praise—Consequence Of Sound named it in the 20 Most Anticipated Albums of 2016 with “the most breakout potential of all the young bands on this list.” And, the band’s endless touring since the first album earned them stints opening for acts like Pentagram, The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, Fu Manchu, Budos Band, and Wolfmother. What sets Electric Citizen apart from contemporary heavy counterparts is their songwriting. The band writes concise, three-minute, heavy rock songs. While others might now be following suit, when they started, most bands of their ilk were content writing drawn-out slow doom dirges. Regardless, none can deliver quite like Electric Citizen: Laura Dolan’s captivating star-power, Ross Dolan’s perfect tone and riffs, Wagner’s pugilistic and swinging beats, glued together by Vogelpohl’s gliding bass lines.
File Under: Metal
Exek: A Casual Assembly (W.23th) LP
In tomorrow…. Right on the heels of their Ahead Of Two Thoughts LP released earlier this year, A Casual Assembly is the latest offering from Melbourne’s EXEK. The EP coalesces around a stirring theme for synthesizer, trumpet and bass, bringing together reference points to Laurie Spiegel, Jah Wobble and The Velvet Underground’s “The Gift.” Frontman Albert Wolski’s disembodied narration – at times reminiscent of Samuel Beckett or Robert Ashley – unfolds over a series of dark vignettes set in a dystopian near-future. Autotune has been banned, secret police patrol the redoubts of the wealthy, and world beaches have been cleared of their sand for the construction of enormous ur- ban prisons. As these events turn more fraught and absurd, Wolski reveals just how much is gained through EXEK’s stripped-down arrangements and dreamlike tones. A Casual Assembly echoes like the lost soundtrack to a Kubrick or Jarman film. Recommended for fans of Normil Hawaiians, Jenny Hval and Harmonia.
File Under: Electronic, Post Punk
The Fall: The Rough Trade Singles (Superior Viaduct) LP
In tomorrow…. The Rough Trade Singles collects The Fall’s four singles recorded for this influential label in 1980 and 1983 – How I Wrote ‘Elastic Man’ / City Hobgoblins, Totally Wired / Putta Block, The Man Whose Head Expanded / Ludd Gang and Kicker Conspiracy – none of which appeared on any of the band’s studio LPs. With 7-inches being the era’s vehicle for buzzing communiqués, The Fall would use the format for short-form, standalone works rather than as mere promotional devices for forthcoming albums. “Totally Wired” is often cited (and rightfully so) as The Fall’s most infectious tune – an amphetamine-fueled anthem with stuttering nods to forebears, yet too incisive to have been made by anyone else. “How I Wrote ‘Elastic Man’” is another mad hoedown, one reimagined for the post-punk age. While the playful rhythm machine on “The Man Whose Head Expanded” almost suggests danceability, Mark E. Smith’s idiosyncratic shriek on “Kicker Conspiracy” pierces through the twin drumming of Paul Hanley and Karl Burns and the group’s unpredictable / unmistakable racket. Together these songs remain some of the absolute best material The Fall would ever release. Superior Viaduct’s edition is the first time that The Rough Trade Singles has been available on vinyl domestically. Liner notes by Brian Turner.
Hiro Kone: Pure Expenditure (Dais) LP
In tomorrow…. Since assuming the recording moniker HIRO KONE in 2011, New York City-based electronic artist NICKY MAO has personalized a space predicated on dark layers interacting with rhythm. With her early EPs on Group Tightener and Bitterroots, leading up to the EP Fallen Angels and the acclaimed debut full length album, Love Is the Capital (both on Geographic North), Mao’s meticulously crafted textures attracted collaborators like Drew McDowall (Coil), Little Annie, and Roxy Farman (Wetware) while driving against the grain of experimental techno. Mao’s explorations often cast themselves against danceable structures, creating a duality of crisis and escapism. For Pure Expenditure—her debut on DAIS Records—Mao continues to weave a labyrinth of electronic pattern, with an often economical usage of repeating sequences and ethereal stasis to drive the narrative. The title refers to the sovereign release of a surplus energy, divorced from all imperatives of utility, which otherwise threatens to become morbid. As a journey, Pure Expenditure plunges into meditation and throbs in and out of a lucid consciousness orchestrated by Mao, but never veering into vanity. Pure Expenditure is as much rumination as it is ritual, querying the corners of Capitalism by hypnotically circling its tenets in measured cadence. Since assuming the recording moniker HIRO KONE in 2011, New York City-based electronic artist NICKY MAO has personalized a space predicated on dark layers interacting with rhythm. With her early EPs on Group Tightener and Bitterroots, leading up to the EP Fallen Angels and the acclaimed debut full length album, Love Is the Capital (both on Geographic North), Mao’s meticulously crafted textures attracted collaborators like Drew McDowall (Coil), Little Annie, and Roxy Farman (Wetware) while driving against the grain of experimental techno. Mao’s explorations often cast themselves against danceable structures, creating a duality of crisis and escapism. For Pure Expenditure—her debut on DAIS Records—Mao continues to weave a labyrinth of electronic pattern, with an often economical usage of repeating sequences and ethereal stasis to drive the narrative. The title refers to the sovereign release of a surplus energy, divorced from all imperatives of utility, which otherwise threatens to become morbid. As a journey, Pure Expenditure plunges into meditation and throbs in and out of a lucid consciousness orchestrated by Mao, but never veering into vanity. Pure Expenditure is as much rumination as it is ritual, querying the corners of Capitalism by hypnotically circling its tenets in measured cadence.
Jason Isbell: Live from the Ryman (Thirty Tigers) LP
Live From The Ryman was primarily recorded during Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit’s six sold out nights at Nashville’s legendary Ryman Auditorium in 2017. The double album features 13 live versions of songs from Isbell’s last three critically acclaimed, award-winning studio albums – Southeastern (2013), Something More Than Free (2015) and The Nashville Sound (2017) – including the Grammy winning tracks “24 Frames” and “If We Were Vampires” plus fellow standouts “Cover Me Up,” “Something More Than Free” and “Elephant,” fully documenting Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit’s emergence as one of the finest live bands on the road today.
File Under: Country
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard: 12 Bar Bruise (ATO) LP
In tomorrow…. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard are the most exciting head-spinning, third-eye opening, double-drumming goddamn rock ‘n’ roll band on the planet. The unexpected is just about the only thing we have come to expect from the Melbourne band. Via a series of carefully considered yet wildly divergent concepts The Gizz’s collective body of work offers visceral thrills a-plenty without ever once resorting to indulgence. Their music works on so many levels, providing a transcendental, hair-swinging soundtrack for some, a transportive journey to the center of one’s id for others, while in their more reflective moments also tenderly offering succour and guidance for the lost and spiritually malnourished. ATO is partnering with Flightoless Records to bring you five King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard reissues in November 2018! The first five titles from the band’s incredible back catalogue – 12 Bar Bruise, Eyes Like The Sky, Float Along – Fill Your Lungs, Oddments, and the Willoughby’s Beach EP – will be reissued on 12″ vinyl for the first time with re-imagined artwork, packaging, liner notes and fresh colors. 12 Bar Bruise is the debut full-length by King Gizzard, originally released in 2012 and limited to 500 hand numbered copies. To the wider world it appeared as if the stars had aligned to beam this band in from another dimension, fully-formed and ready to melt faces. The reissue includes new artwork re-imagined by Jason Galea and comes on colored vinyl.
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard: Eyes Like the Sky (ATO) LP
In tomorrow…. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard are the most exciting head-spinning, third-eye opening, double-drumming goddamn rock ‘n’ roll band on the planet. The unexpected is just about the only thing we have come to expect from the Melbourne band. Via a series of carefully considered yet wildly divergent concepts The Gizz’s collective body of work offers visceral thrills a-plenty without ever once resorting to indulgence. Their music works on so many levels, providing a transcendental, hair-swinging soundtrack for some, a transportive journey to the center of one’s id for others, while in their more reflective moments also tenderly offering succour and guidance for the lost and spiritually malnourished. ATO is partnering with Flightless Records to bring you five King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard reissues in November 2018! The first five titles from the band’s incredible back catalogue – 12 Bar Bruise, Eyes Like The Sky, Float Along – Fill Your Lungs, Oddments, and the Willoughby’s Beach EP – will be reissued on 12″ vinyl for the first time with re-imagined artwork, packaging, liner notes and fresh colors. Eyes Like The Sky is King Gizzard’s second full-length album, released in 2013 and originally limited to 500 copies. A cult western audio book, the album tells a story of the American Frontier. The reissue features new artwork re-imagined by Jason Galea and comes on colored vinyl.
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard: Float Along – Fill Your Lungs (ATO) LP
In tomorrow…. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard are the most exciting head-spinning, third-eye opening, double-drumming goddamn rock ‘n’ roll band on the planet. The unexpected is just about the only thing we have come to expect from the Melbourne band. Via a series of carefully considered yet wildly divergent concepts The Gizz’s collective body of work offers visceral thrills a-plenty without ever once resorting to indulgence. Their music works on so many levels, providing a transcendental, hair-swinging soundtrack for some, a transportive journey to the center of one’s id for others, while in their more reflective moments also tenderly offering succour and guidance for the lost and spiritually malnourished. ATO is partnering with Flightless Records to bring you five King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard reissues in November 2018! The first five titles from the band’s incredible back catalogue – 12 Bar Bruise, Eyes Like The Sky, Float Along – Fill Your Lungs, Oddments, and the Willoughby’s Beach EP – will be reissued on 12″ vinyl for the first time with re-imagined artwork, packaging, liner notes and fresh colors. Float Along – Fill Your Lungs is King Gizzard’s third full-length LP, released in 2013 and home to the fan favorite “Head/On-Pill.” The band cranks up the fuzzbox and sets the delay on infinity, assembling a cosmic force field that draws their sonic creations of the recent past into one unified, throbbing whole. The 2018 reissue features a 24″ x 24″ double-sided fold out poster and comes on colored vinyl.
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard: Oddments (ATO) LP
In tomorrow…. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard are the most exciting head-spinning, third-eye opening, double-drumming goddamn rock ‘n’ roll band on the planet. The unexpected is just about the only thing we have come to expect from the Melbourne band. Via a series of carefully considered yet wildly divergent concepts The Gizz’s collective body of work offers visceral thrills a-plenty without ever once resorting to indulgence. Their music works on so many levels, providing a transcendental, hair-swinging soundtrack for some, a transportive journey to the center of one’s id for others, while in their more reflective moments also tenderly offering succour and guidance for the lost and spiritually malnourished. ATO is partnering with Flightless Records to bring you five King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard reissues in November 2018! The first five titles from the band’s incredible back catalogue – 12 Bar Bruise, Eyes Like The Sky, Float Along – Fill Your Lungs, Oddments, and the Willoughby’s Beach EP – will be reissued on 12″ vinyl for the first time with re-imagined artwork, packaging, liner notes and fresh colors. Oddments is King Gizzard’s fourth studio album. Released in 2014, it features a collection of “odd” songs recorded between 2007-2014 and was originally limited to 500 copies. The 2018 reissue features a re-designed gatefold of original artwork by Jason Galea, and comes on colored vinyl.
Curtis Mayfield: Curtis/Live! (Antarctica Stars Here) LP
In tomorrow…. Recorded in early 1971, Curtis/Live! finds Curtis Mayfield in top form at the intimate Greenwich Village club The Bitter End. With veterans from Chicago’s soul and jazz scene, Mayfield runs through a superb setlist of Impressions classics (“Gypsy Woman,” “People Get Ready”), gems from his first solo LP (“We The People Who Are Darker Than Blue,” “The Makings of You”) and fierce originals that would make their recording debut here (“I Plan To Stay A Believer,” “Stare And Stare,” and “Stone Junkie”). As author Lloyd Sachs writes in the liner notes for this vinyl reissue, “All of the songs are lovingly reworked – in some cases stretched out and in others, brightened with humor. The band redefines groove via the West African polyrhythms of conga and bongo great Henry Gibson and the intertwined guitars of Mayfield – whose dulcet, vocal-like tone was a revolution in and of itself – and Craig McMullen. The group creates excitement through tension and release, through building up and letting go.” Curtis/Live! was originally issued on Mayfield’s own Curtom label just before his second studio album, 1971’s Roots, and his influential Super Fly soundtrack. While the singer would continue to establish himself as one of the key voices of his generation, the powerful anthems and in-the-pocket perfection on this double-LP live set demonstrate how brilliant Curtis truly was – a master class in restraint and fearless expression.
Moonface: This One’s For the Dancer… (Jagjaguwar) LP
Seven years in the making, placed repeatedly on hold while other releases came and went, This One’s for the Dancer & This One’s for the Dancer’s Bouquet is the final album Spencer Krug will release as Moonface. Like the title itself, the album is made up of two distinct yet connected ideas. The music is culled from two separate projects, each with different collaborators, recorded in different studios, in different towns, in different years. The songs are sung from two completely different standpoints. But rather than split the songs into separate releases, or group them respectively onto the two discs of vinyl they inhabit, Krug has blended them together into one sequence; a long weave of enjoyable variation. Half the songs are sung from the perspective of the Minotaur. A whimsical, empathetic look at a monster’s demise from the monster’s POV, in them we hear the Minotaur examining the horrible nature of a lifetime trapped unjustly within a labyrinth, while simultaneously forgiving those responsible for putting him there. Here Krug collaborates with fellow percussionist Michael Bigelow, and together on marimbas, vibraphone, steel drum, keys, and drums pads the two create dense walls of rhythm with quick turns of melody; dreamy halls from within which the Minotaur’s vocoder-voice can cry out. The remaining songs are results of Krug exploring keyboard treated with delay. These too are set in a percussive world, also lush and trance-inducing in their use of fast repetition over slow progression, but with Ches Smith joining on drums and Matana Roberts on saxophone, they lean into a more improvised and acoustic space. Here Krug sings more as himself, sifting through and trying to exorcise modern-day feelings of anxiety, loneliness, regret, and alienation. The two sessions compliment each other, like sun and moon to the same musical planet. Each song is in some way unmerciful, saturated with notes that act as single raindrops within a downpour. And whether it’s Krug and Bigelow wailing on percussion as though in a race for most hits, or Smith and Roberts pouring out wild first takes onto Krug’s OCD compositions; whether it’s the Minotaur lamenting the twisted familial circumstances that landed him in the labyrinth, or Krug scraping at the earth and wincing at the stars, cursed with a human heart, the album contains a self-betraying darkness that creeps in unexpectedly, exposing real weight to what seemed at first something lighter. Though this is the last Moonface album, this does not mark the end of Spencer Krug writing, recording, and performing outside of Wolf Parade. He’s simply putting the old moniker aside in order to move forward under his own name, to release and tour new music in a more natural, real-time rhythm, and be less tied to album cycles, project names, and the past. For now, as a sort of parting gift before Moonface sails into oblivion, the alter-ego offers up this last album, a swan song, with sincere gratitude for anyone willing to receive it.
File Under: Indie Rock
Morphine: Yes (Run Out Groove) LP
Consisting of the late Mark Sandman on two-string slide bass and vocals, Dana Colley on baritone saxophone, and drummer Billy Conway, Morphine turn any alleged restrictions of their instrumentation to their advantage on 1985’s Yes. Opening with the monstrous riffs of “Honey White,” the album takes Morphine’s trademark low-rock sound to new, exciting, challenging heights. Colley swoops and soars, and on “Radar” and “Super Sex,” he plays tenor and baritone sax simultaneously. While certifiable pop hooks abound, the combo stretch the boundaries of rock on “Sharks” and “The Jury,” two forays into near-spoken-word territory. Throughout the album, Sandman continues to baffle traditionalists with his provocative two-string slide bass, while Conway’s soulful backbeat locks in the groove. Indeed, Morphine’s third release offers some of Sandman’s sleekest, most consistent songwriting efforts, and the band never again sounded so inviting. Out of print on vinyl for nine years and extremely scarce, this limited deluxe edition of Morphine’s third studio album has been expanded to include a bonus LP of 10 live and studio rarities hand-picked by Dana Colley with audio mastered directly from the original source tapes.
File Under: Indie Rock
Phil Niblock: Niblock for Celli/ Celli Plays Niblock (Superior Viaduct) LP
In tomorrow…. Composer, filmmaker and photographer Phill Niblock is a true pillar of the New York avant-garde. In the past 50 years, he has curated over 1,000 performances at his Centre Street loft and steadfastly built a massive, multidisciplinary body of work. While his earliest musical compositions date back to 1968, Niblock waited until the early ’80s to release any recordings. Nothin To Look At Just A Record, a powerful debut with densely layered trombones, would be the first to unfurl his unique approach to sound. The second album and perhaps the most rare in Niblock’s vast catalogue, 1984’s Niblock For Celli / Celli Plays Niblock is a meeting of two great minds. Working with reed player Joseph Celli (a composer in his own right, who has collaborated with John Cage, Pauline Oliveros and Ornette Coleman), Niblock nimbly removes the breathing pauses from Celli’s oboe and English horn to create seamless, enchanting drones. Niblock insists that his music be played loud: only in this way can one experience the visceral ringing of these long instrumental tones through the speakers and their natural overtones generated by the room. Niblock For Celli remains deeply absorbing. This first-time reissue is recommended for fans of Alvin Lucier, Yoshi Wada and Dome.
Will Oldham: Songs of Love and Horror (Drag City) LP
Fall of 2018 sees the release of a celebrated lyrics archive that has been growing for over 25 years—the words to the songs sung by BONNIE PRINCE BILLY and PALACE MUSIC. The author of the songs is WILL OLDHAM, and the book, to be released by W.W. Norton, is titled Songs of Love and Horror, the same as this album. The songs of Will Oldham have been written most often for the aliases of Palace or Bonny. Their identities, kept necessarily separate from Will’s, has allowed them to bring to the stage the reach needed to project to everyone in the room, to everyone outside the room, to whomever chose to make the audience. The songs were written to create a singular encounter, to be shared among those who choose to listen. Songs of Love and Horror is a rare entry in this oeuvre: a Will Oldham album, with the writer taking a turn as singer. As befits the nature of this project, the songs are sung and played by Will alone, in a setting enjoyed by fans of his music—that of one voice and one guitar, the better to savor the spare changes and starkly-cut lyrics, operating in quiet tension and ultimate collaboration. Will brings to the songs all that he has learned from his stagecrafting fellows over the years, singing new versions that quiver like fresh young things in the air of today. Starting with such classics as “Ohio River Boat Song,” “I See A Darkness,” and “The Way,” the sequence wanders into deeper cuts, and before it is over, Will is singing other kinds of “greatest hits”—Richard and Linda Thompson’s “Strange Affair,” a Bonny contribution to the Refugee benefit album, “Most People,” and a previously unheard writer’s demo from years ago. This microcosmic revisitation touches on the breadth of Oldham’s musical conception—the songs that came before him, the songs that came out of him, but didn’t make it on to the album, the songs that never came out at all. Will Oldham sings some favorites on Songs of Love and Horror — some of yours, some of his, and some other songs too. The world keeps on turning, and as it does, it ruthlessly turns away from ages of creation, heaving toward new creations as they come along. In this sense, nothing on the planet is getting any younger, but as it revolves, it becomes continuously newer. Songs of Love and Horror celebrates not one legacy, but rather a confluence of them, flowing in the stream towards an unknown and often unknowing future, with the hope that these notes in a bottle ever pass on through.
File Under: Folk
Orb: The Space Between (ATO) LP
Australia’s ORB return with their third album (following their Birth and Naturality albums on Castle Face). The Space Between is a progressive heavy metal album dripping in paranoia and escapism, but let’s not over intellectualize, it’s just riffs and drum rolls and the occasional synth. And it couldn’t be better. The Space Between was produced by STU MACKENZIE and ORB.
File Under: Psych, Garage, King Gizzard
OSC: Live in San Francisco (Rock is Hell) LP
In tomorrow…. A mesmerizing live set by OCS—JOHN DWYER and BRIGID DAWSON with a 7-piece backing band featuring PAUL QUATTRONE, TIM HELLMAN, TOM DOLAS, HEIDI MAUREEN ALEXANDER, and a string section comprised of HEATHER LOCKIE, EMILY ELKIN and ERIC CLARK. Recorded by ERIC BAUER at the Chapel in SF, December 17, 2017.
File Under: Garage, Psych
Jon Porris: Voices of the Air (Ba Da Bing) LP
In tomorrow…. One of the most incisive comments on how best to appreciate art came from the Indian musician Gita Sarabhai. In a recorded conversation with John Cage, Sarabhai described art’s effect as serving “to sober and quiet the mind, thus rendering it susceptible to divine influences.” Some of the best exploratory music incorporates this approach, and Jon Porras adopted it as a conceptual foundation for his new album, Voices Of The Air. The sounds Porras creates intend to provoke contemplativeness beyond expressing a concrete idea. As half of the duo Barn Owl, Porras composed intricate dual guitar improvisations that would shift and shimmer through multiple mutations within any singular piece. At the same time, his voyages into minimalism were served by Elm, his solo act. His focus has now shifted from guitar to synthesizer, narrowing in on the intersections between sound and neurology. Taking the Yamaha DX7 as his main instrument for this solo work, Porras read and incorporated John Chowning’s frequency modulation synthesis, the result being a nuanced and multidimensional sound with endless possibilties. Porras stacked, arranged and adjusted these sounds through digital synthesis and effects. “The process felt like mixing paint to get the right color and texture, then laying down a brushstroke, each day returning to the canvas to build on something I left there from the day before,” says Porras. Voices Of The Air broadcasts these intricate balances of sounds that slowly set together, creating an album of delicacy and power.
Ty Segall: Fudge Sandwich (In The Red) LP
In tomorrow…. Take a tour through Ty Segall’s musical psyche with his new solo album, Fudge Sandwich, a collection of Segall’s take on eleven songs that were originally done by other people. These aren’t just cover versions. Cover versions happen at weddings and high school band battles. The songs here are what happens when someone loves a song so much, they need to get inside it and let it propagate and transform into what it would have been if they had actually written it. Equal parts reverence and reimagination, this album shows Segall inhabiting the world of a song’s intent, filtering it through the muse that drove this year’s exceptional Freedom’s Goblin. Cluttered, passionate and inspired, the songs are barely recognizable, irresistible and by album’s end, present a cohesive collection that stands proudly alongside the best of Segall’s considerable output.
Silver Jews: American Water (Drag City) LP
In tomorrow…. A 20th anniversary reissue of SILVER JEWS’ Amerian Water. Even as an unapologetic anti-metallite, I still can’t escape the call of this band’s silvery gleam. Still pleasant, still clever, still all the good-great pop action DAVID BERMAN and STEPHEN MALKMUS can dream up o’er the course of an album’s time. Twelve chuckle-along songs hitting red on your geekest hip-o-meter. Vinyl version half-speed remastered at Abbey Road. Received a 9.4 rating from Pitchfork.
File Under: Folk
Jon Spencer: Spencer Sings the Hits (In The Red) LP
In tomorrow…. Jon Spencer, the Blues Explosion man who put the “Bellbottoms” on Baby Driver! The top cat who spread the secret sauce in Boss Hog! The rockabilly right-hook from heavyweight outlaws Heavy Trash! The swank-fucking master of Pussy Galore! Jon Spencer is back! Often imitated, never duplicated, the original NYC underground-rock legend returns from the wilderness with twelve red-hot hits, each more powerful than the last! This is Garage Punk for Now People! A wizard’s brew of rhythm and blues and subversive dance grooves, weaponized with sci-fi skronk and industrial attitude, calibrated for the Revolution, a Molotov cocktail of sound guaranteed to destroy any post-modern hangover. Pulsing with energy, clanging with excitement, and dripping with radioactive soul and raw emotion, Spencer opens up his heart like never before, exploring man’s modern condition with caustic guitars and outerworld crooning, asking and answering the musical question, “Is it possible to torch the cut-throat world of fake news and pre-fab, plastic-coated teen rebellion with the power of rock ’n’ roll?” The answer is yes—on Spencer Sings The Hits! This is the truth serum America has been craving, the beginning of a rock ’n’ roll rebellion that takes no prisoners and puts the squares on ice!
File Under: Garage, Punk
Tropical Fuck Storm: A Laughing Death in Meatspace (Joyful Noise) LP
The phantasmagorical debut album by Tropical Fuck Storm, A Laughing Death in Meatspace, delivers a fraught vision of algorhythmic apocalypse. Featuring Gareth Liddiard and Fiona Kitchin from Australian heroes The Drones, Tropical Fuck Storm is an end-of-days consciousness-stream across nine seething tracks. The debut dive-bombs into the realms of mortality and immortality, moralizing and amorality; the passing of time, and how little we have left. These are lurid songs, urgently told through Liddiard’s barbed and byzantine lyricism, abrasive guitar slashes, drum adrenaline, raunchy bass and electronic undercurrents. They’re raging, rapscallion, and funny, lyrically delving into everything from internet shaming to the kuru “laughing death” disease of the PNG highlands to Russian chess great Gary Kasparov’s portentous loss to an IBM computer. A Laughing Death in Meatspace howls along with us as we peer into the maelstrom ahead.
Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats: Wasteland (Rise Above) LP
A disorientating journey through Kevin Starrs’ (aka Uncle Acid) wonkiest dreams, Wasteland glides majestically from punchy and direct psych-rock anthems like “I See Through You” and “Shockwave City” to the viscous, somnambulant ooze of the eight-minute “No Return” and the twinkly-eyed bad trip of the album’s mesmerizing title track. Recorded at the legendary Sunset Sound studio in Los Angeles, Wasteland boasts the kind of irresistibly raw and exuberant sound that only the greatest bands can generate. Yet more confirmation that Uncle Acid exist in their own musical universe, Wasteland is also a powerful cautionary tale: one rooted in the alien landscapes of Starrs’ imagination, but with a very clear connection to the deranged chaos of today’s political world. As humanity cheerfully circles the plughole, Dystopian visions and present-day horrors have become more-or-less interchangeable, making Wasteland’s ghoulish surrealism a lot more pertinent and disturbing in the process. While most musicians seem content to chase their own (or other people’s tails), Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats remain proud and resolute individualists and Wasteland is simply their most powerful and memorable spurge of creativity to date. Masterfully echoing the magical atmospheres of heavy music’s turbulent past while sounding entirely unlike anything else available to human ears, this is what happens when the shadows come to life and suffocating darkness, Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats style, is the only show in town.
File Under: Metal, Psych
Arctic Monkeys: Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino (Domino) LP
Big Thief: Capacity (Saddle Creek) LP
BigThief: Masterpiece (Saddle Creek) LP
Bing & Ruth: Tomorrow Was the Golden Age (RVNG Intl) LP
Alice Coltrane: A Monastic Trio (Superior Viaduct) LP
Dead Kennedys: Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables (Manifesto) LP
Death From Above 1979: Heads Up (Ancient Fashion) LP
Mac Demarco: 2 (Captured Tracks) LP
Mac Demarco: Salad Days (Captured Tracks) LP
Ned Doheny: Hard Candy (Be With) LP
Elder: Dead Roots Stirring (Armageddon) LP
Elder: Lore (Armageddon) LP
Elder: Reflections of a Floating World (Armageddon) LP
Fuzz: s/t (In The Red) LP
G0ggs: Pre Strike Sweep (In The Red) LP
Eddie Hazel: Games Dames & Guitar Thangs (Be With) LP
Hide: Castration Anxiety (Dias) LP
Hot Snakes: Suicide Invoice (Sub Pop) LP
Hot Snakes: Jericho Sirens (Sub Pop) LP
JPEGMafia: Veteran (Deathbomb Arc) LP
Kid Koala: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (Ninja Tune) LP
Kikagaku Moyo: Forest of Children (Beyond Beyond is Beyond) LP
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard: Quarters (Castleface) LP
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard: Nonagon Infinity (ATO) LP
Drew McDowall: Unnatural Channel (Dais) LP
Charles Mingus: Plays Piano (Superior Viaduct) LP
Charles Mingus: Black Saint and the Sinner Lady (Superior Viaduct) LP
Mudhoney: Digital Garbage (Sub Pop) LP
Jim O’Rourke: Insignificance (Drag City) LP
Oh Sees: Smote Reverser (Castle Face) LP
A. Savage: Thawing Dawn (Dull Tools) LP
Sha La Das: Love in the Wind (Daptone) LP
Tom Waits: Brawlers (Anti) LP
Tom Waits: Heartattack & Vine (Anti) LP
Tom Waits: Small Change (Anti) LP