Well, look at that… records in.. on time, for release. Amazing. Some killer slabs in this week, and as always, new used stuff going in the used bins on the regular. Come on down for a dig.
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…..pick of the week…..
Tropical Fuck Storm: Braindrops (Joyful Noise) LP
Tropical Fuck Storm formed around 2017 in the city of Melbourne, Victoria along Australia’s south-eastern coast. The band released their debut long-player A Laughing Death in Meatspace on Joyful Noise Recordings in 2018. Each of the band’s four members bring considerable experience to the group. Gareth Liddiard and Fiona Kitschin were part of the long-running and critically-acclaimed act The Drones, while Erica Dunn and Lauren Hammel have performed in a variety of well-received projects. Perhaps it’s that wealth of rock and roll experience that allows Tropical Fuck Storm to so expertly deconstruct and distort the genre’s norms. “Everything we do, we try to do it in a weird way. The whole album is full of weird beats, and just weird shit everywhere,” Liddiard explains. He cites Doc at the Radar Station-era Captain Beefheart as a key sonic touchstone, and Braindrops certainly shares the Captain’s penchant for pounding abstract grooves. Tropical Fuck Storm have achieved a uniquely off-kilter sound on Braindrops. Liddiard partly credits this to the group’s use of unconventional equipment, “We use lots of techno gear to make rock and roll because rock and roll gear is boring, and all sounds like Led Zeppelin.” Liddiard’s own description of Tropical Fuck Storm’s sound is nearly as interesting and evocative as the music itself. He describes the LP’s title track as “Fela Kuti in a car crash,” and talks of creating a sonic atmosphere that “sounds like chloroform smells” for “Maria 62.” Liddiard can be a bit more taciturn when asked to get specific on the group’s lyrical themes. “It’s not always a good idea to be too straightforward.” Instead Liddiard favors a “more nebulous and mysterious” approach. A recurring theme on Braindrops concerns the various ways the human brain can be manipulated and controlled for exploitative gain. The bracing “The Planet of Straw Men” is a study of human behavior inside the social media comments section, a place where otherwise reasonable people are seen gleefully engaging in psychotic chest-thumping rhetoric. “It’s about everyone having a screaming match,” Liddiard says. “You see two people yelling at each other on Twitter, but they’re not really yelling at each other, they’re yelling at each other’s idea of the other. Meanwhile countries like Russia are taking advantage of this to push their ideologies and get ahead.” Erica Dunn’s “Who’s My Eugene?” contemplates a more personal example of predatory mind control. “It’s about Eugene Landy, the doctor that drugged the shit out of Brian Wilson and emptied his bank account,” Liddiard explains. Listening to Braindrops is a jarring and exhilarating experience, full of pulsating grooves, black humor, dissonant experimentation, and unsettling dystopian plot-lines. Braindrops is an unrelenting work, from an unrelenting musical ensemble. “Tropical Fuck Storm is a full on thing,” Liddiard offers. “Everything we do, we do it to the death.”
File Under: Rock
Beirut: Gulag Orkestrar (Pompeii) LP
Back in print! While it may sound like an entire Balkan gypsy orchestra playing modern songs as mournful ballads and upbeat marches, Beirut’s first album, 2006’s Gulag Orkestar, is actually the work of 19-year-old Albuquerque native Zach Condon, with an assist from Jeremy Barnes (Neutral Milk Hotel, A Hawk and a Hacksaw). There are no guitars on this album; instead, horns, violins, cellos, ukuleles, mandolins, glockenspiel, drums, tambourines, congas, organs, pianos, clarinets and accordions all build and break around Condon’s deep-voiced crooner vocals, swaying to the Eastern European beats like a drunken 12-member carnival band. In the winter of 2005, Condon headed to Sea Side Studios in Brooklyn’s Park Slope where, along with Barnes and A Hawk and a Hacksaw’s Heather Trost, he added percussion and violin overdubs to his original compositions. The resulting record sounds like a Neutral Milk Hotel from behind the iron curtain. Gulag Orkestar is a glorious sweep of music, striking in its emotional content and stunning in its scope.
File Under: Indie Rock
Beirut: The Flying Club Cup (Pompeii) LP
Back in print! Beirut’s second album The Flying Club Cup (2007), is an homage to France’s culture, fashion, history, and music. Zach Condon immersed himself in Balkan folk, absorbed sounds, scales, styles, and the sonic joys of a skeletally structured, cacophonic ensemble – and moved west. Condon also soaked up the likes of François Hardy, Charles Aznavour, and, most notably, Jacques Brel (a huge influence on both Scott Walker and Mark E. Smith). Most of the album was created at a nondescript Albuquerque office space, aka A Hawk and a Hacksaw’s practice room; Heather Trost plays violin and viola on three songs. Engineering and production assistance came from Griffin Rodriguez (A Hawk and a Hacksaw, Man Man). He helped separate the many instrumentalists involved in recording, as opposed to Gulag Orkestar’s largely solo flight. Additional recording was done with Owen Pallet (Final Fantasy) at the Masonic church studio owned by The Arcade Fire. Within the spectacle and intimacy of The Flying Club Cup, you can hear a love letter to the joie de vivre that defines our existence. Listen closer, and you also hear the emergence of a singular musical talent and his experience living in Paris – unbounded by cultural borders and by where his heart travels.
File Under: Indie Rock
Beirut: The Rip Tide (Pompeii) LP
Back in print! Zach Condon’s music often parallels the exotic mysteries of world travel. Beirut’s previous album, 2007’s The Flying Club Cup, sang a love-letter to France (with a 2009 stop-off in Mexico for the March of the Zapotec EP), many asked where his songs would voyage next, but few predicted the inward journey Condon takes on 2011’s The Rip Tide, an album with the most introspective and memorable songs of his young career. Recorded in Upstate New York, Brooklyn and, of course, Condon’s hometowns of Albuquerque and Santa Fe, The Rip Tide marks a distinct leaping-off point for Beirut. Beginning life as small melodies conceived on piano or ukulele, the songs were built upon by the entire band in the studio before Condon’s paring down and retrofitting. The results sound like they were recorded in a single session, with exciting rhythms matching the upbeat horns and contrasting the mournful strings. No direct geographical affiliation was exhumed; rather, the style that emerges belongs uniquely and distinctly to Beirut, one that has been hinted at all along. Lyrically, Condon’s deep honesty outstrips the simplified nomadic troubadour image of his past. The tracks speak of love, friendship, isolation and community, touching on universal human themes that are less fabricated stories than impressions of life at a quarter-century of age. This dramatic shift expands Beirut’s palate without weighing down the music. “Santa Fe,” a jumpy ode to the town of his youth, is the best pop song he has written yet. Of particular note is “Goshen,” a torch song that wraps itself in Condon’s delicate piano phrases at a level of intimacy never heard before on a Beirut song. The performances of the band, Perrin Cloutier on accordion, Paul Collins on bass, Ben Lanz on trombone, Nick Petree on drums and Kelly Pratt on horns, are spot-on. With contributions by such esteemed colleagues as violinist Heather Trost (A Hawk and a Hacksaw) and Sharon Van Etten, The Rip Tide reveals greater levels the more the listener explores. And one need not even travel very far.
File Under: Indie Rock
Bon Iver: i,i (Jagjaguwar) LP
i,i is Bon Iver’s most expansive, joyful and generous album to date. If For Emma, Forever Ago was the crisp, heart-strung isolation of a northern Winter; Bon Iver the rise and whirr of burgeoning Spring; and 22, A Million, a blistering, “crazy energy” Summer record, i,i completes the cycle: a fall record; Autumn-colored, ruminative, steeped. The autumn of Bon Iver is a celebration of self acceptance and gratitude, bolstered by community and delivering the bounty of an infinite American music. The sales and accolades are well-known – multiple Gold albums, multiple Grammys, chart-topping collaborations and festival headlines. But even more significantly, with each release Bon Iver quietly shifts the state of modern music. From the boundaries of folk, to the rules of autotune, to production work for others, Bon Iver’s fingerprint finds its way across the mainstream every time. Justin Vernon has always been a master collaborator, and on i,i that desire becomes maximal, with guests ranging from Moses Sumney and Bruce Hornsby to Wye Oak’s Jenn Wasner and the Brooklyn Youth Chorus. Here, the music – and band, and themes, and creative space – are bigger than ever!
File Under: Indie Rock
Bonnie Prince Billy/Bryce Denssner/Eighth Blackbird: When We Are Inhuman (37D03D) LP
Julius Eastman and Will Oldham are kindred spirits. Self-styled provocateurs, they have positioned themselves on the outskirts of distinct traditions, pulling all manners of musical influence towards their outré stance. Eastman, who passed away in 1990 and whose work is experiencing a necessary revival, harnessed the vocabulary of minimalism for joyfully insurgent ends; Oldham’s songwriting regularly conjures a pantheon that Greil Marcus called “the old, weird America.” These two visionaries collided at Cincinnati’s MusicNOW Festival, and any distance between them was mediated by curator Bryce Dessner and ensemble Eighth Blackbird. On this album, woven between new arrangements of Oldham’s cryptic songs and Eastman’s iconic “Stay On It” are several of Dessner’s “Murder Ballades,” works that tease out the homicidal strain of old folk tunes. In “Down in the Willow Garden,” a classic Appalachian tune, Oldham sings bleary-eyed atop harshly twanging timbres; “Underneath the Floorboards” takes inspiration from a recent murderous classic by Sufjan Stevens. These explorations of violence are natural fits for Oldham, who has always examined the interstices between intimacy and cruelty. Four of his songs appear here in new, sumptuous arrangements by pianist Lisa Kaplan. In Cincinnati, Oldham compared working with Eighth Blackbird to becoming acquainted with a “haunted house,” continually returning to the same spot and observing how his fear was interlaced with a charged energy. The arrangements push Oldham’s voice to new heights, as in the ecstatic refrain of “New Partner” or the lithe polyrhythms of “Beast for Thee.” On “One with the Birds” and “When Thy Song,” shimmering introductions deploy avant-garde effects as a window into Oldham’s bleak, poignant sound world. Musicologist Matthew Mendez has identified the web of influences on Eastman’s “Stay On It”: a post-Stonewall queer subjectivity, which the composer-performer flaunted; disco hits by Diana Ross, to which Eastman regularly danced at a Buffalo gay bar; and 1970s minimalism, via Eastman’s emphasis on what he called not “the pulse” but “the beat.” “Stay On It” was worked out in performance in the ’70s, and no complete score exists. This live rendition, based on archival recordings, sharpens the edges of Eastman’s music while still capturing its anarchic ideal. Oldham’s repetitions of “Stay On It” are subversively subdued, and Dessner’s guitar inserts a punch of the urbane. The riff mutates, changes, fades away, returns triumphantly. It overpowers and is overpowered. Boundaries between musicians and audience dissolve – in concert, percussionist Matthew Duvall ran off the stage to make a surround-sound ruckus – addressing the broader political hierarchies that Eastman sought to triumphantly topple. The party is political.
File Under: Indie Rock, Minimalism, Experimental
Cherubs: Immaculada High (Relapse) LP
Rightfully hailed as “the noisiest pop music on the planet” by Pitchfork, Austin, TX’s cult noise rock trio Cherubs have been purveyors of sonic bedlam since their inception in 1991. After an unforeseen return to the scene from a two-decade hiatus in 2014, the Cherubs have now joined forces with the equally revered Relapse Records for the release of their fifth long-player Immaculada High. Recorded and engineered by Erik Wofford (Explosions in the Sky, The Black Angels, My Morning Jacket) at Cacophony Studio in Austin, Immaculada High is 11 songs of signature Cherubs clamor with an added twist of Texas-sized, psychedelic racket. Smooth, rumbling low-end rhythms interplay with feedback drenched, chuggin’ guitars, relentless tone and vocalist Kevin Whitley’s shrill, life-of-the-LSD-party vocals. On Immaculada High, Cherubs loudly proclaim their title as bonafide noise rock legends who continue to forge transgressive yet remarkably accessible punk for a jaded world.
File Under: Noise Rock
Donald Byrd: Ethiopian Knights (Blue Note) LP
In honor of Blue Note Records’ 80th Anniversary, the legendary jazz label is launching the Blue Note 80 Vinyl Reissue Series. Distinct from the Tone Poet Audiophile Vinyl Reissue Series, this second series curated by Don Was and Cem Kurosman features 180g vinyl LP releases in standard packaging with albums spanning the many eras of the label’s history presented by themes: Blue Note Debuts, Blue Grooves, Great Reid Miles Covers, Blue Note Live, and Blue Note Drummer Leaders. The series resumes in August 2019 with Part 2 of the Blue Grooves theme – Lou Donaldson Alligator Bogaloo (1967), Donald Byrd Ethiopian Knights (1972) and John Scofield Hand Jive (1994) – and will continue with three albums released each month for the coming year. Trumpet titan Donald Byrd gained his greatest fame in the 1970s when he recorded a series of commercially successful funk/R&B albums for Blue Note. 1972’s Ethiopian Knights is the culmination of the innovative sound that Byrd put forth on Fancy Free, Electric Byrd and Kofi. Combining L.A. studio musicians with Bobby Hutcherson and Harold Land and the Jazz Crusaders’ Joe Sample and Wilton Felder, Byrd paints sonic pictures that draw from the textures of Miles Davis’s In a Silent Way and African music as well as jazz, funk and fusion. These colorful performance sound as lively, lyrical and hip today as they did nearly half century ago.
File Under: Jazz
Lou Donaldson: Alligator Boogaloo (Blue Note) LP
In honor of Blue Note Records’ 80th Anniversary, the legendary jazz label is launching the Blue Note 80 Vinyl Reissue Series. Distinct from the Tone Poet Audiophile Vinyl Reissue Series, this second series curated by Don Was and Cem Kurosman features 180g vinyl LP releases in standard packaging with albums spanning the many eras of the label’s history presented by themes: Blue Note Debuts, Blue Grooves, Great Reid Miles Covers, Blue Note Live, and Blue Note Drummer Leaders. The series resumes in August 2019 with Part 2 of the Blue Grooves theme – Lou Donaldson Alligator Bogaloo (1967), Donald Byrd Ethiopian Knights (1972) and John Scofield Hand Jive (1994) – and will continue with three albums released each month for the coming year. A hard-bop-meets-soul-jazz classic, Alligator Bogaloo features three ‘Sweet Lou’ Donaldson tunes, including the hit title track, the swinging, R&B styled “The Thang,” with organ shouts and exuberant utterances, and the upbeat “Rev. Moses” where all the band members romp with Lou and a fiery Lonnie Smith leading the way. Lonnie contributes the slow, steady “Aw Shucks!” where the band opens up for instrumental expressions in the relaxed zone. Lou also covers vibraphonist Freddie McCoy’s oozing soul-jazz gem, “One Cylinder” (George Benson’s guitar ebullience is at its best on this track), and closes the long player with a ’30s-era ballad, “I Want a Little Girl.” With Melvin sitting out, this is Lou’s luminous lyrical showcase.
File Under: Jazz
Jonsi & Alex: Riceboy Sleeps (Krunk) LP
Known primarily for his haunting falsetto and other-worldly presence as the singer in Sigur Rós, Jon Thor Birgisson aka Jónsi has, together with his partner Alex Somers, been exhibiting artwork and staging exhibitions under the name Riceboy Sleeps for years now, including the release of a limited edition picture book. The early fruits of the musical side of this collaboration surfaced in physical form for the first time, with the track “Happiness,” on the exemplary Dark Was The Night Red Hot compilation. Riceboy Sleeps is human in a profound and verging-on spiritual way. It says nothing, literally, and yet living through its 68-minutes you emerge feeling much has been revealed. Its slowly evolving abstract landscapes are both edifying and life-affirming. The record works as a whole, and exists in a contemplative dream-state, unconstrained and mesmeric, seemingly outside time. The record, however, is more active than its apparent antecedents in the ambient output of Brian Eno, and other deliberately low-impact works. Riceboy Sleeps is awash with both tension and stimuli, as well as being frequently, and stunningly, beautiful. Played solely on acoustic instruments in Iceland and featuring long-time string collaborators Amiina, as well as the Kopavogsdaetur choir, Riceboy Sleeps has a suitably organic feel. The full-length Riceboy Sleeps album (the name having migrated from artist moniker to album title) subtly redefined expectations of slow and elegiac instrumental music in 2009.
File Under: Indie Rock, Sigur Ros
Lightning Bolt: Wonderful Rainbow (Thrill Jockey) LP
Legendary band Lightning Bolt’s Wonderful Rainbow is one of the most quintessential albums to come from the underground in the last 20 years. Included in lists like Pitchfork’s “200 top albums of the 2000s” and the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, Lightning Bolt’s seminal record solidified their place as pillars of the underground community. Wonderful Rainbow saw the duo of Brian Chippendale (drums/vocals) and Brian Gibson (bass) being compared to the likes of Slayer, Ornette Coleman, and early Boredoms, and captured the bristling, immeasurable energy of their mythical live shows, which continue to astonish audiences today. The album’s now iconic artwork (drawn by Chippendale) mirrors the music’s curious and exhilarating blend of chaos, noise, intense beauty, and childlike wonderment. Lightning Bolt paved the way for countless artists who followed them, cracking the noise-rock and underground scenes wide open with an album as frenetic and violent as it is overflowing with joyful abandon. Wonderful Rainbow is released for the first time ever with the full artwork as initially conceived by Lightning Bolt in 2003. Front and back artwork familiar to fans is still there but now in a full wrap. This wrap has full-color artwork on the inside, originally only available as a small insert. The LP jacket itself is never before released artwork created at the time of the album. All artwork has been created by Chippendale.
File Under: Noise Rock
Lillie Mae: Other Girls (Third Man) LP
Lillie Mae’s new Third Man Records album Other Girls features eleven new, original songs produced by Grammy-winner Dave Cobb at Nashville’s famed RCA Studio A. The Nashville singer, songwriter, downtown scene slayer, and most-wanted fiddler signals a reclaimed confidence and bold evolution here, telling women’s stories – including her own – that build on the strength of her 2017 Jack White-produced debut. Lillie Mae led a sequestered childhood touring in a motorhome with her musician parents, constricted by religious boundaries. In her adolescence she busked from RV parks to the Rio Grande, swept through Nashville clubs, and achieved Top 40 country status in her sibling group Jypsi, but on Other Girls, a new side of herself emerges with more to say than ever before. She embraces personal triumphs on “I Came For The Band (For Show),” breathes new perspective into “Terlingual Girl,” a song she wrote as a 19-year-old in the South-Texan desert, and professes brave truths as heard in “You’ve Got Other Girls for That.” After a vagabond past, crossing paths with hundreds of musicians, she limits the cast of Other Girls to just her brother, sister, and a few trusted collaborators.
File Under: Folk, Country
Charles Mingus: Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus (Impulse) LP
Verve and Impulse! Records launch the new Vital Vinyl series with UMe, celebrating essential jazz LPs from the enduring catalogues of the two iconic labels. Throughout 2019, Verve and Impulse! will be making no fewer than 40 key albums from the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s available again on 180-gram vinyl. Each will feature their original cover artwork, track listings and liner notes. Some of these albums will become available for the first time in years, while others that are already in print will now be perennially available. This 1963 recording is a major showcase for the multi-talented Charles Mingus as a bassist, pianist, and writer. From the blues-painted bass moaning that opens “II BS,” to the blazing fire of “Hora Decubitis,” these tunes come furiously barreling out one after another. Speed and density aside, however, there are also multi-color, lovely tunes like Duke Ellington’s “Mood Indigo” and Mingus’ paean to Lester Young. More than anything, though, Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus is a major document due to the presence of two alternating big ensembles, anchored by Jaki Byard on piano and fronted by a herd of horn players, Eric Dolphy and Booker Ervin chief among them.
File Under: Jazz
Jonas Munk & NicklasSorensen: Always Already Here (El Paraiso) LP
Jonas Munk and Nicklas Sørensen team up for a genre-defying record that explores American minimalism, psychedelia, and electronic music — both vintage and contemporary. On a foundation of interlocking guitar and synthesizer patterns, the duo constructs lengthy pieces that are experimental yet welcoming in nature, precisely executed yet with room for soaring improvisation. Always Already Here pays homage to the masters of classical minimalism (Steve Reich, Terry Riley) and the pioneers of electronic music and kosmische (Brian Eno, Manuel Göttsching), still it doesn’t sound derivative or retrospective. The type of hypnotic bliss Munk and Sørensen strive for is distinctly timeless. Always Already Here came to life during a handful of intense sessions in Munk’s studio in Odense, Denmark. However, from a larger perspective the record seems to be a culmination of several years of collaborating. From 2010-2014, Munk recorded and produced three full-length albums for Sørensen’s band Papir, and in the period 2015-2017 the two collaborated on Sørensen’s two solo efforts Solo and “Solo 2”. During the same period they have occasionally performed live as a duo, playing semi-improvised shows based around guitars and synthesizers. These live shows have assuredly influenced their collaborative work with an explorative, animated quality ? which is especially apparent on the album’s free flowing, zen-orientated B-side. Always Already Here ties together several musical threads: academic pattern-music, psychedelia, avant-garde sound exploration as well as a highly melodic sensibility. It’s a multi-layered, colorful album that demands full sonic immersion.
File Under: Kosmische, Minimalism, Ambient
Pharmakon: Devour (Sacred Bones) LP
Devour marks the fourth full-length record from Margaret Chardiet’s project Pharmakon and her most intense output to date. Like her previous albums, Devour comes with a strong concept that is exorcised throughout the five demolishing tracks on the album, using imagery and language of self-cannibalism as allegory for the self-destructive nature of humans. Each of the five songs echoes a stage of grief associated with this cyclical chamber of self-destruction and the chaos surrounding us that leads us to devour ourselves in an attempt to balance the agony. The album was recorded by Ben Greenberg (Uniform) and is the first Pharmakon album recorded live in studio. The A and B sides were each recorded as a continuous take with vocals from start to finish, marking a totally new process for the artist that allows the ferocity and immediacy of her live performance to resonate throughout. Devour also explores new sonic territory, with denser electronics, groovier hooks, and moments of her most unhinged vocal deliveries to date. As one of the premiere vanguards of modern industrial and power electronics, Chardiet continuously pushes the genres and everyone involved in them, and with the release of Devour, she has once again changed the game.
File Under: Electronic, Industrial
Steve Roach: The Magnificent Void (Hearts of Space) LP
For the first time ever on vinyl, Steve Roach’s Hearts of Space Records solo debut “The Magnificent Void”. A Magnum Opus of pure oceanic sound and Roach’s most sophisticated atmospheric work to date. The final track “Altus”, Latin for both “”high”” and “”deep””, says much about this work. The most demanding and textural of Roach’s work, it has more in common with 20th century avant-garde than other genres. A chilling and beautiful continuous flow of harmonic sound-worlds. Melody and harmony are present throughout in a surreal play of light and dark colors.
File Under: Ambient, Electronic
Sonny Rollins: On Impulse! (Impulse) LP
Verve and Impulse! Records launch the new Vital Vinyl series with UMe, celebrating essential jazz LPs from the enduring catalogues of the two iconic labels. Throughout 2019, Verve and Impulse! will be making no fewer than 40 key albums from the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s available again on 180-gram vinyl. Each will feature their original cover artwork, track listings and liner notes. Some of these albums will become available for the first time in years, while others that are already in print will now be perennially available. Sonny Rollins made some excellent recordings for Impulse! in the mid-1960s, a time when his unassailable skills and acrobatic approach made him a leading saxophonist, and one of the few to rival John Coltrane. Each of the five tracks collected here tell the complex, glorious story of Rollins’s talent, especially in the stretched-out solos where his knack for inventively de- and re-constructing melodies is evident. Highlights include “On Green Dolphin Street,” “Everything Happens to Me” and “Three Little Words.”
File Under: Jazz
Archie Shepp: Fire Music (Impulse) LP
Verve and Impulse! Records launch the new Vital Vinyl series with UMe, celebrating essential jazz LPs from the enduring catalogues of the two iconic labels. Throughout 2019, Verve and Impulse! will be making no fewer than 40 key albums from the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s available again on 180-gram vinyl. Each will feature their original cover artwork, track listings and liner notes. Some of these albums will become available for the first time in years, while others that are already in print will now be perennially available. Among the more radical musicians signed to Impulse! was Archie Shepp. The saxophonist initially spent six years with the label, from 1964-1969, during which time he released eleven very varied albums including the free music classics Four For Trane, Fire Music and Mama Too Tight. Popular yet non-commercial, 1965’s Fire Music finds Shepp working in a sextet with the likes of alto saxophonist Marion Brown and drummer Joe Chambers and showcasing both his compositional and improvisational prowess with the multi-part “Hambone” serving as the undeniable standout. His music grew more politicized as the decade wore on, blending avant-garde flavors with soul, funk and African influences (Shepp would return for a second stint at Impulse! in the early 70s).
File Under: Jazz
Whitney: Forever Turned Around (Secretly Canadian) LP
Forever Turned Around came together over several sessions across the country. Though Julien Ehrlich is Whitney’s lead singing drummer while Max Kakacek is the lead guitarist, when writing, both transcend their roles to piece together each offering lyrically and compositionally. After a session with producers Bradley Cook (Hand Habits, Hiss Golden Messenger) and Jonathan Rado (Weyes Blood, Father John Misty) helped color in the arrangements, the album revealed itself when they reunited with original rhythm guitarist Ziyad Asrar in his basement Chicago studio – the same place where they hashed out debut Light Upon The Lake. Restlessness is at the heart of Whitney’s resonant sophomore album – priorities shift, relationships evolve, home can become far away, and even when luck momentarily works out, there’s still that underlying search for something better. Happiness can be fleeting but this album proves that even when it feels like time is turning on its head and there’s either a moment of clarity or crippling doubt, there’s still beauty in figuring it all out.
File Under: Indie Rock
Why?: AOKOHIO (Joyful Noise) LP
Yoni Wolf has spent the last two decades traveling the remote sonic terrain where underground hip hop, avant-pop, and psych-rock meet. Some of Yoni’s most compelling and critically-praised musical experiments have been issued under the moniker WHY? and his latest entry is no exception. On AOKOHIO Yoni condenses the essential elements of WHY? into a stunningly potent musical vision. Co-produced by Yoni and his brother Josiah, AOKOHIO presents a rich palette of musical voices that emerge and disappear into a constantly shifting kaleidoscope of sound. While the album features many notable guest contributors, from Lala Lala’s Lillie West, to Nick Sanborn and Amelia Meath of Sylvan Esso, the listener’s attention remains squarely directed on Yoni’s voice and vision. AOKOHIO finds Yoni rethinking fundamental aspects of his approach to creating and delivering his music. The album is presented as six movements comprised of two to four songs each, with some segments appearing as brief fragments that dissolve within seconds. Ultimately AOKOHIO sees Yoni pushing to find meaning and peace of mind in the moment, even if it’s not exactly where he wants to be. “The title is sarcastic I guess,” Yoni offers. “But it’s also wishful. A lot of my album titles have been names of maladies, like Alopecia and Mumps, Etc. I don’t want to project that into the world. You know, ‘A-OK Ohio, I’m here and it’s fine.’ It’s like a mantra, ‘A-OK Ohio, I’m here and it’s OK.’ Even though in reality, everyday I’m like, ‘I’ve got to get the hell out of Ohio.'”
File Under: Hip Hop
Belle & Sebastian: If You’re Feeling Sinister (Matador) LP
Black Midi: Schlagenheim (Rough Trade) LP
Calexico and Iron & Wine: Years to Burn (Sub Pop) LP
Clash: London Calling (Epic) LP
Miles Davis: Kind of Blue (Columbia) LP
Father John Misty: Pure Comedy (Sub Pop) LP
Johnny Griffin: Introducing (Blue Note) LP
Hot Snakes: Jericho Sirens (Sub Pop) LP
Ikebe Shakedown: The Way Home (Colemine) LP
Jamie XX: In Colour (XL) LP
Khruangbin: Universe Smiles Upon (Night Time Stories) LP
Kids See Ghosts: s/t (Universal) LP
Mdou Moctar: Ilana: The Creator (Sahel) LP
National: Boxer (Beggars) LP
Radiohead: Kid A (XL) LP
Sleep: Holy Mountain (Earache) LP