…..news letter #904 – another…..

One heavy week is usually followed by a lighter week, which is usually followed by another big week…….. this is the light week. That said, I couldn’t help but notice that many of you OBVIOUSLY MISSED the new Shellac Peel Sessions record last week, so I decided to bring that to your attention this week.

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…..pick of the week…..

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Shellac: The End of Radio (Touch & Go) LP
Shellac record number 16, The End of Radio, is comprised of two previously unreleased BBC Radio Peel Sessions. The 1994 session was recorded at BBC Maida Vale Studio 3 and originally aired on John Peel’s BBC Radio One show in July of 1994. The four songs were recorded to 24-track and then mixed to stereo on the same day. While a studio version of “Crow” was released in October of 1994 on the band’s debut album At Action Park, studio versions of “Canada,” “Disgrace” and “Spoke” would not appear on any Shellac albums until much later (1998’s Terraform and 2007’s Excellent Italian Greyhound) – making the 1994 Peel Session recordings the only official recordings of these songs for several years thereafter. The 2004 Peel session is a “Live From Maida Vale” session recorded live to stereo in front of a small audience at BBC Maida Vale Studio 4. It originally aired in December of that same year. As with the 1994 session, this recording includes songs that were previously unreleased and would not appear as album versions until years later. (Album versions of “The End of Radio,” “Steady As She Goes” and “Paco” were released in 2007 on Excellent Italian Greyhound). 2LP-set packaged in a top-load single pocket wide spine jacket with two printed inner sleeves. Also includes a single CD of the full album. Mastered at Chicago Mastering Service and manufactured at RTI in Camarillo, California, on 180 gram audiophile quality vinyl.

File Under: Punk
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…..new arrivals…..

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Full of Hell: Weeping Choir (Relapse) LP
Full Of Hell make their Relapse debut with their most explosive album to date, Weeping Choir. Dynamic, pissed, and wholly urgent, the highly anticipated Weeping Choir is a definitive statement of intent by one of the underground’s most dynamic and virulent entities. Full Of Hell have once again culled the extreme elements from hardcore, metal, and power electronics to redefine darkness and sheer brutality. Distorted guitars, and ominous, disparate electronics grind and gnash against rapid-fire drumming, as Full Of Hell take themes of religion, loss, hatred, and set them ablaze. Recorded by the critically acclaimed Kurt Ballou at God City Studio, Weeping Choir sees Full Of Hell fully unleashed. Abrasive, confrontational, none equal!

File Under: Metal
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Hot Chip: Bath Full of Ecstasy (Domino) LP
Hot Chip’s electrifying seventh album, A Bath Full of Ecstasy, is the group’s definitive release, crystallizing the sound they’ve become celebrated for – bridging euphoria and melancholy with colorful melodies, idiosyncratic vocalizations and pounding electronic pop rhythms. Recorded in Paris and London, the 9-track collection sees the group (Owen Clarke, Al Doyle, Joe Goddard, Felix Martin and Alexis Taylor) open up to a more adventurous and collaborative song-writing process, choosing to work with outside producers for the first time: Philippe Zdar, the French maestro who’s shaped the magic of Cassius and Phoenix, and Rodaidh McDonald, the Scot who’s collaborated with The XX, David Byrne and Sampha, among others. A Bath Full of Ecstasy is a fresh, invigorating and essential new chapter in the band’s career. The record is a celebration of joy but recognizes the struggle it can take to get to that point of happiness. It is time to get lost in A Bath Full of Ecstasy!

File Under: Electronic, Pop
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Calexico & Iron & Wine: Years to Burn (Sub Pop) LP
Calexico and Iron & Wine first made an artistic connection with In the Reins, the 2005 EP that brought Sam Beam, Joey Burns and John Convertino together. The acclaimed collaboration introduced both acts to wider audiences and broadened Beam’s artistic horizons, but it was the shared experience of touring together in the tradition of Bob Dylan’s “Rolling Thunder Revue” that cemented the bond. Their metaphorical roads diverged in the years that followed, but they kept in touch and cross-pollinated where they could. Although they often talked about rekindling their collaboration in the studio and on stage, it wasn’t until 2018 that their schedules finally aligned. Years to Burn can’t help but be different from In the Reins. Back then, Calexico entered the studio with a long list of previous collaborations and the knowledge that they loved Sam’s voice and his songs, but wondered if his material was so complete and self-contained that it lacked a way in, so hushed and delicate that it might be overwhelmed. For his part, Beam had been intimidated by their virtuosic playing and their deep comfort in an encyclopedic array of styles, but those fears were dispelled quickly. Calexico was bowled over by Beam’s many talents: “The arranging, the writing, his sense of rhythm, the quality of his vocals – and then there’s the experimental side of Sam,” Joey says. “They were the perfect band at the perfect time for me,” Sam adds. “I loved all their different sounds. They’re musical anthropologists, not regurgitating but absorbing what they discover.” Nearly 15 years on, “coming back to the project has to do with acknowledging how much impact the first record had for me in my life.” Years to Burn was recorded in Nashville with noted producer Matt Ross-Spang over the course of five days at the fabled Sound Emporium. It features contributions from veteran Calexico trumpet player Jacob Valenzuela and Paul Niehaus on pedal steel, along with frequent Beam cohorts Rob Burger (Tin Hat Trio) on piano and Sebastian Steinberg (Soul Coughing, Fiona Apple) on bass. Years to Burn features 10 new original compositions. While Beam wrote all the songs for In the Reins, this recording features contributions from both Beam and Burns as well as from Convertino and those featured on the record. While the two may have taken differing approaches to songwriting, the spirit of collaboration was alive and well in the studio; Sam shared demos ahead of time and was ready for the others to contribute with arrangement ideas and instrumental parts, while Joey spontaneous as ever, came in with concepts and an eagerness to improvise. “Life is hard. Awesome. And scary as shit. But it can lift you up if you let it,” Sam offers. “These are the things Joey and I write about now. And the title can encapsulate a lot of things. ‘Years to Burn’ could mean you’re cocky, you’ve got it made. Or, our life is ours to burn, to be inspired. Or you’re burned by life, brutalized. It’s an ambiguous title, because life is complicated. Let’s not talk like teenagers about love, desire, pain, ‘cause we’re not teenagers. And that’s not a bad thing.” “This project had to find the right time,” Joey concludes. “We’re all different people than we were in 2004, and music helps to bridge some of the gaps. For all the things going on in our world and in each of our lives, this connection, this friendship, this love that we have – this album is a vehicle for that bond. It’s a chance to see where we’re at, take stock and be there for our friends.”

File Under: Indie Rock, Folk
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Micro Edge: ’83 Demo (Ugly Pop) LP
In the works for a couple decades now, this holy grail of early Toronto hardcore finally sees wax. Culling the best takes from three ‘83 studio sessions, this is pure ‘80s HC in the vein of Negative Approach, SS Decontrol and the Abused. An essential piece of punk history, 17 tracks cut loud at 45 with extensive liners. One-time pressing of 500 only.

File Under: Punk

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Raconteurs: Help Us Stranger (Third Man) LP
The Raconteurs – Jack White, Brendan Benson, Jack Lawrence, and Patrick Keeler – are back with their long-awaited new album, Help Us Stranger, which serves as the Grammy-winning rock band’s third studio LP and first new release in more than a decade. The 12-track collection sees the mighty combo reassembled, stronger and perhaps even more vital than ever before as they continue to push rock ‘n’ roll forward into its future, bonding prodigious riffs, blues power, sinewy psychedelia, Detroit funk, and Nashville soul via Benson and White’s uncompromising songcraft and the band’s steadfast musical muscle. The pair wrote all of the songs on the record except the lone Donovan cover, “Hey Gyp (Dig The Slowness).” Recorded at Third Man Studio in Nashville, TN, the album was produced by The Raconteurs and engineered by Joshua V. Smith. Keyboardist/multi-instrumentalist Dean Fertita (The Dead Weather, Queens of the Stone Age) and Lillie Mae Rische and her sister Scarlett Rische also appear here. The album was mixed by Vance Powell and The Raconteurs at Blackbird Studios in Nashville.

File Under: Rock
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Raw Power: ’83 Demo (Ugly Pop) LP
One of the fiercest, most violent punk sessions ever recorded, the legendary Italian hardcore outfit’s 1983 ‘Brown Studio’ demo has unbelievably never appeared on vinyl in its original form (although you’ll recognize ‘Fuck Authority’, culled from here to appear on MRR’s ‘Welcome to 1984’ comp). Nineteen songs of feral thrash in 23 minutes, kicked out with unreal fury, chainsaw guitars and savage vocals. Remastered by Raw Power freak James Cavalluzzo (Malhavoc) from an original copy of the demo, this has been beefed up without sacrificing the essential rawness. Ugly Pop is proud to present this killer 12”, released in a limited pressing with the band’s cooperation, spring 2019.

File Under: Punk

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Julie Shapiro: Perfect Vision (Hardly Art) LP
When Julia Shapiro flew home from a cancelled Chastity Belt tour in April 2018, everything in her life felt out of control. Dealing with health issues, freshly out of a relationship, and in the middle of an existential crisis, she realized halfway through a tour supporting her band’s third album I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone that she was going through too much to continue. “I was really struggling; I was really depressed. I felt like I couldn’t sing or be a person,” Shapiro recalls. “At that point I couldn’t even imagine playing a show again, I was so over it.” Returning home to a newly empty Seattle one-bedroom apartment, Shapiro had wanted for a long time to learn how to record and mix her own music, and out of the uncertainty of the future of her music career and her health, she began to record the songs that would become Perfect Version, her solo debut for Hardly Art. What she created in the space of ten songs is an intimate and beautifully self-aware examination of feeling lost in the life you’ve created for yourself. It’s an album of shimmering guitars and layered vocals that feels vast in the emotional depth it conveys and masterful in the way each song is intentionally crafted and recorded. Throughout the record Shapiro tries on different ways of living, all thematically centered around the idea of what it would be like to be a perfect version of yourself. “How can someone be so blindly confident/I wanna know that trick,” she wonders on “Natural,” the opening track that begins using another person as a mirror and then pans back to a bigger picture: what would it take to really love yourself? The album is peppered with ideas of what self-improvement could look like – whether it’s learning a skill and living out in the woods, going to bed at a reasonable hour, or even more playful, deeply relatable lines like “I should really delete my Instagram.” Shapiro has a knack for turning simple images into something profound, drawing influence from songwriters like Elliott Smith to capture complicated moods. The everyday act of circling the block trying to find a parking spot becomes a metaphor for trying and feeling like you can’t quite get anything done. “All my problems feel like paper/I can finally rip them up,” she sings on the title track, describing a moment of lightness in hanging out with friends who can find humor in your failure “at least I have my friends to laugh at what I’ve done.” Over the course of a tumultuous year of trying to find stability amidst depression and surgery, Shapiro ultimately rediscovered the parts of music that she loved through the process. Her perfectionist qualities create an album that shines in tiny lyrical moments and meticulous guitar parts. “When the rest of my life felt out of control, I felt like this was my chance to be in control of everything,” says Shapiro. She plays all the instruments (save for a mouth trumpet solo by Darren Hanlon and guest violin by Annie Truscott) and after recording and mixing the first batch of four songs at the Vault studio with Ian LeSage decided to record the final six tracks alone in her apartment, adding drums in the studio later and learning to mix them with the help of her friend David Hrivnak. Perfect Version is a fully realized vision from a gifted songwriter finding a more intimate voice. “So what comes next?” she questions on the album closer “Empty Cup” which explores the quiet satisfaction of being alone with yourself and creating a blank slate. “A lasting sense of self,” she concludes.

File Under: Indie Rock
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Titus Andronicus: An Obelisk (Merge) LP
An Obelisk is the sixth album from Titus Andronicus, which finds the noted rock band under the stewardship of producer and legendary rocker Bob Mould (Hüsker Dü, Sugar). This trans-generational meeting of the minds has yielded the most immediate, intense, and unadorned Titus Andronicus record to date. Clocking in at a brisk 38 minutes and change, it is also the shortest. Recorded over six breathless days at Steve Albini’s world-renowned Electrical Audio studio in Chicago, An Obelisk presents the sound of Titus Andronicus, rock band, at its most irreducible, as monolithic as the album’s titular monument. Housed in a heavyweight inner sleeve with full lyrics.

File Under: Indie Rock
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Elisa Waut: s/t (Numero) LP
Originally issued as a hand-dubbed demo tape in 1982, Elisa Waut’s icy debut gets its first vinyl issue courtesy of Numero. The Flemish trio of Chery Derycke and siblings Elsje and Hans Helewaut took new wave to its natural conclusion; trading Europe’s organic post-punk approach for the new cold war order of synth and rhythm box. Soviet paranoia, isolation, suicidal musings, and other miscellaneous bouts of young adult depression are covered in both French and English. A 28-minute minimal wave masterpiece.

File Under: Minimal Wave

…..Restocks…. 

Aggrolites: Reggae Now (Pirates Press) LP
Black Mountain: Destroyer (Dine Alone) LP
Bill Callahan: Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest (Drag City) LP
Childish Gambino: Awake My Love (Glassnote) LP
Bill Evans Trio: Sunday at the Village Vanguard (OJC) LP
Herbie Hancock: Takin’ Off (Blue Note) LP
Idles: Joy as an Act of Resistance (Partisan) LP
Lumineers: Cleopatra (Dine Alone) LP
Efrim Manuel Menuck & Kevin Doria: are SING SINCK, SING (Constellation) LP
Meters: Struttin’ (Josie) LP
Pink Floyd: Meddle (Pink Floyd) LP
Max Richter: From Sleep (Deutche Grammophone) LP
Judee Sill: Heart Food (Music on Vinyl) LP
Sleep: Dopesmoker (Southern Lord) LP
Sufjan Stevens: Illinois (Asthmatic Kitty) LP
Sufjan Stevens: Michigan (Asthmatic Kitty) LP
Talk Talk: Laughing Stock (EMI) LP
Throbbing Gristle: 20 Jazz Funk Greats (Mute) LP
Tragically Hip: Fully Completely (Universal) LP
Tragically Hip: Phantom Power (Universal) LP

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