Well, I feel like I should take this opportunity to welcome a bunch of new readers. It would seem our webshop and email list weren’t syncing up so some of you might be getting this email for the first time. How exciting for you! If you’ve placed an order this week, you also might have noticed the payment options have changed a little. We got rid of that pesky yellow Paypal button which caused many issues, especially if you wanted your order shipped, and more importantly, we are now using a new payment processor for credit card payments. It is the same company that provides the back end for our site. They are very secure, and more cost effective for us. I’m told the process is easier and faster than using Paypal, so don’t be afraid, and give it a try!
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…..pick of the week…..
J. Peter Schwalm & Arve Henriksen: Neuzeit (Rarenoiserecords) LP
How we define the age we live in depends entirely on the frame we choose to view it through. On one timescale we’re just getting settled into the 21st century; zoom out and we’re deeply entrenched in the Anthropocene. We might be waking to the dawn of an enlightened, interconnected new era or teetering on the brink of a sixth mass extinction. Neuzeit, which German electro-acoustic composer J. Peter Schwalm views through his new duo outing with the Norwegian trumpeter Arve Henriksen, is generally taken to refer to the modern era that began in the 16th century and witnessed the rise of Western Civilization. Schwalm chooses to take the term on it’s face, however; the fusion of “new” and “time” he defines as a period marked by sudden and drastic change. To borrow another word from the German, it ably yet dauntingly captures the zeitgeist of our tumultuous moment, one in which political upheaval, global pandemic and catastrophic climate change seem poised to usher in an uncertain new existence.
File Under: Jazz, Ambient, Experimental
Aaron Frazer: Introducing… (Colemine/Dead Oceans) LP
Aaron Frazer (of Durand Jones & The Indications) releases his debut album, Introducing… via Dead Oceans and Easy Eye Sound. A testament to his wide-ranging influence and deep gratitude for his musical community, Introducing… is both loving and gracious, critical without losing hope, and a showcase of a young artist on a seriously soulful ascent. Working with producer Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys, Frazer expertly calibrates consciousness-raising, as previewed by early single “Bad News,” and the desire to be enveloped by love. Where previous songs were written in a partial state of turmoil, Frazer’s debut LP shows maturation and range. The 12 songs on Introducing… combine ‘70s soul with Auerbach’s particular sensibilities, and include songs with a message in the key of Gil Scott-Heron, as well as uplifting tales of love told through a blend of disco, gospel, and doo-wop. The album was recorded in a week at Auerbach’s antique and ephemera-laden studio in Nashville following a rapid and prolific songwriting session. Fellow single “Over You” is telling of the collaboration between Frazer and Auerbach. “‘Over You’ is inspired by the legendary northern soul 45s that electrified dance floors across the UK in the 1960s,” says Aaron. “Breakneck speeds and breakbeat drums challenged even the best dancers to pull out all the stops. Lyrically, ‘Over You’ captures a moment of despair in the darkest hour of a breakup. But sometimes to feel better, you just gotta shake your ass.” For Introducing…, Auerbach called on a crew of heavy session players – including members of the Memphis Boys (who played on Dusty Springfield’s “Son of A Preacher Man” and Aretha Franklin’s “You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman”), symphony percussionist Sam Bacco, and several members of the Daptone-Big Crown Records universe. “I really didn’t want to make a retro record with Aaron; I wanted it to be its own thing, have its own sound. The crew had not made records together before, so it was a very fresh feeling that I think will strike a chord with people. There’s this amazing cross-section of musicians, young and old, with Aaron leading the way.” With a collaborative vision, Introducing… manages to hit the sweet spot between intuition, intentionality, and craft – a love song that’s both personal and universal.
File Under: Soul, Funk, Durand Jones
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 GodCity Studio, Weeping Choir sees Full Of Hell fully unleashed. Abrasive, confrontational, none equal!
File Under: Metal
Gun Club: Miami (Blixa) LP
They recorded their debut album, 1981’s Fire of Love, for the local Slash/Ruby label. But when it came time to record a follow-up, the group decamped to New York to work with producer Chris Stein of Blondie and his new label, Animal. The results were 1982’s stunning Miami, an album that didn’t get its proper due back in the day. Blixa Sounds will right that wrong with a deluxe reissue. The double-vinyl edition will contain a digitally remastered version of the original 12-track album, as well as demos of every track. The double-vinyl will be released as a two-LP set packaged in a gatefold cover with extensive liner notes by drummer Terry James Graham and journalist Craig Rosen, as well as rare photos and ephemera. The CD version is a two-disc set, also with liner notes, photos and ephemera.
File Under: Punk
Syl Johnson: Dresses Too Short (Numero) LP
Green vinyl edition! Syl Johnson’s first LP hit stores in the summer of 1969. True to its era, it wasn’t so much an album as a collection of singles. The four non-single tracks (“Soul Drippin’,” “Fox Hunting On The Weekend,” “Same Kind Of Thing,” and “I’ve Got The Real Thing”—none of them a throwaway) were outtakes tacked on to capitalize on the expanding long-player market. Prolific designer and photographer Jerry Griffith shot the cover on a South Michigan Avenue building’s balcony. Despite blaring its title in Christmas-y, green-and-red cover lettering, Dresses Too Short never found its season creatively or commercially, selling just a few thousand copies before being discontinued in the mid ’70s.
File Under: Funk, Soul
Kinks: s/t (Sanctuary) LP
Red vinyl! One of the most important and influential artists in rock history, The Kinks have been credited by many as the crucial ’60s genesis for everything from heavy metal to garage punk to Britpop. The centerpiece of the 1964 debut album from lead singer/rhythm guitarist Ray Davies, lead guitarist and brother Dave Davies, bassist Pete Quaife, and drummer Mick Avory is certainly “You Really Got Me,” with its riff to end all riffs. “The first album was done as quick as possible,” Mick remembers. “Ray hadn’t written many songs, so most of it was just what we did on stage.” Kinks was a raw splatter of an album, with a few selections that show Ray Davies discovering himself as a songwriter (“Stop Your Sobbing,” “Just Can’t Go To Sleep”) along with rapid-fire recordings of the R&B covers that had first got them noticed. “I’m A Lover Not A Fighter, “Beautiful Delilah,” “Long Tall Shorty,” and “Cadillac” had all been in their live set for a while, but most unique was Ray’s angle on “Got Love If You Want It.” Kinks was a huge commercial success, reaching No.3 on the UK album charts, and it stands as an excellent polaroid of the early, pre-fame Kinks, a London R&B group scrabbling for their distinctive sound.
File Under: Rock, Pop
Bob Marley & The Wailers: Burnin’ (Half Speed Master) (Island) LP
In November 2020, twelve Bob Marley albums will be available on premium half-speed mastered vinyl. This specialist artisan process results in a more detailed representation of the original sound source cuts, with a far superior high-frequency (treble) response, and richer and fuller low to middle frequencies. All tracks were mastered by Miles Showell at Abbey Road Studios in London. Abbey Road’s world-renowned engineers have been cutting grooves into discs since the studios first opened their doors in 1931. This record was pressed from a master cut using a precision technique known as half-speed mastering. The procedure requires the source master and the cutting lathe to run at half speed on a specially adapted Neumann VMS-80 lathe. This rare and specialized technique transforms difficult to cut highend frequencies into relatively easy to cut mid-range frequencies. The result is a cut with excellent high frequency response and very solid and stable stereo images. In short, half-speed mastering produces a master of the highest quality that enables the pressing plant to produce a superlative record. The album Burnin’ was released the same year as Bob Marley And The Wailers’ Island debut Catch A Fire and launched the reggae anthems “I Shot The Sheriff” and “Get Up, Stand Up.” Eric Clapton’s No. 1 pop version of “I Shot The Sheriff” gave a major boost to reggae’s acceptance with the general public and to recognition for Marley, who some have called the first Third World superstar. But the album would be the last Wailers effort with Tosh and Livingston. By 1974, the original trio of Marley, Tosh and Livingston broke up, going their separate ways.
File Under: Reggae
Bob Marley & The Wailers: Catch A Fire (Half Speed Master) (Island) LP
In November 2020, twelve Bob Marley albums will be available on premium half-speed mastered vinyl. This specialist artisan process results in a more detailed representation of the original sound source cuts, with a far superior high-frequency (treble) response, and richer and fuller low to middle frequencies. All tracks were mastered by Miles Showell at Abbey Road Studios in London. Abbey Road’s world-renowned engineers have been cutting grooves into discs since the studios first opened their doors in 1931. This record was pressed from a master cut using a precision technique known as half-speed mastering. The procedure requires the source master and the cutting lathe to run at half speed on a specially adapted Neumann VMS-80 lathe. This rare and specialized technique transforms difficult to cut highend frequencies into relatively easy to cut mid-range frequencies. The result is a cut with excellent high frequency response and very solid and stable stereo images. In short, half-speed mastering produces a master of the highest quality that enables the pressing plant to produce a superlative record. In 1971, Marley founded his own Tuff Gong label and was signed to Island Records by its leader Chris Blackwell, who had licensed some of his band’s previous releases and offered Marley a deal to record their debut album. Catch A Fire was their first album released outside Jamaica, signaled the emergence of reggae’s patron saint and immediately earned global acclaim, even garnering the group its first tour of the U.S. Reggae’s first true album, rather than a collection of singles, Catch A Fire includes such well-known tracks as “Stir It Up,” “Concrete Jungle” and “Slave Driver” – all of them fiery, politically charged, and uncompromising.
File Under: Reggae
Metz: Atlas Vending (Royal Mountain) LP
“Change is inevitable if you’re lucky,” says guitarist/vocalist Alex Edkins about Atlas Vending, the fourth full-length album by Toronto’s Metz. “Our goal is to remain in flux, to grow in a natural and gradual way. We’ve always been wary to not overthink or intellectualize the music we love but also not satisfied until we’ve accomplished something that pushes us forward.” The music made by Edkins and his compatriots has always been a little difficult to pin down. Their earliest recordings contained nods to the teeming energy of early ‘90s DIY hardcore, the aggravated angularities of This Heat, and the noisy riffing of AmRep’s quintessential guitar manglers, but there was never a moment where Metz sounded like they were paying tribute to the heroes of their youth. If anything, the sonic trajectory of their albums captured the journey of a band shedding influences and digging deeper into their fundamental core – steady propulsive drums, chest-thumping bass lines, bloody-fingered guitar riffs, the howling angst of our fading innocence. With Atlas Vending, Metz not only continues to push their music into new territories of dynamics, crooked melodies, and sweat-drenched rhythms, they explore the theme of growing up and maturing within a format typically suspended in youth. Covering seemingly disparate themes such as paternity, crushing social anxiety, addiction, isolation, media-induced paranoia, and the restless urge to leave everything behind, each of Atlas Vending’s ten songs offers a snapshot of today’s modern condition and together form a musical and narrative whole. Album opener “Pulse” is a completely unnerving exercise in reductionist tension, with verses providing little more than a lone discordant chord, a hammering kick drum, and the occasional punctuation of a diving bass note. From there Metz launches into “Blind Youth Industrial Park,” an absolute scorcher of paranoid dissonance and malicious force centered on a chromatic descending riff and a merciless four-to-the-floor drum battery. The album hits its stride with “No Ceiling” – a minute-and-a-half rager that comes about as close to containing a pop hook as anything Metz has ever written. Though it’s still saturated with in-the-red distortion, this truncated anthem about discovering love and purpose provides the rare counterpoint to the band’s grievous compositions. But there’s no yielding to complacency on Atlas Vending, and the mercurial nature of love and romance is expertly captured in the alternately brutal verses and beguiling choruses of “Hail Taxi.” If Metz’s current mission is to mirror the inevitable struggles of adulthood, they’ve successfully managed to tap into the conflicted relationship between rebellion and revelry with the song’s tactics of offsetting their signature bombast with anthemic melodic resolutions. The song sequencing follows a cradle-to-grave trajectory, spanning from primitive origins through increasingly nuanced and turbulent peaks and valleys all the way to the climactic closer, “A Boat to Drown In.” While past Metz albums thrived on an abrasive relentlessness, the trio embarked on Atlas Vending with the goal to make a more patient and honest record – something that invited repeated listens rather than a few exhilarating bludgeonings. It’s as if the band realized they were in it for the long haul, and their music could serve as a constant as they navigated life’s trials and tribulations. The result is a record that sounds massive, articulate, and earnest. Bolstered by the co-production of Ben Greenberg (Uniform) and the engineering and mixing skills of Seth Manchester (Daughters, Lingua Ignota, The Body) at Machines with Magnets in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, Metz deliver the most dynamic, dimensional, and compelling work of their career.
File Under: Punk
Sleaford Mods: Spare Ribs (Rough Trade) LP
Recorded in lockdown in a furious three-week studio blitz at JT Soar in July, the polemical Jason Williamson and dexterous producer Andrew Fearn kick against the pricks with unrivalled bite, railing against hypocrisy, inequality and apathy with their inimitable, scabrous sense of humor. And Spare Ribs, featuring Amy Taylor of Melbourne punks Amyl and the Sniffers and the British newcomer Billy Nomates, finds the duo charged with ire at the UK Government’s sense of entitlement, epitomized by its devil-may-care approach to the coronavirus crisis. Commenting on the new album Jason says, “‘Our lives are expendable under most governments, secondary under a system of monetary rule. We are stock if you like, parts on a shelf for the purposes of profit, discarded at any moment if fabricated or non-fabricated crisis threatens productivity. This is constant, obviously and notably in the current pandemic. The masses cannot be present in the minds of ill-fitting leaders, surely? Or else the realisation of their catastrophic management would cripple their minds. Much like the human body can still survive without a full set of ribs we are all ‘spare ribs’, preservation for capitalism, through ignorance and remote rule, available for parts.”
File Under: Post Punk
Swans: Children of God (Young God) LP
Swans present a remastered reissue of Children of God via Mute / Young God Records. The album, originally issued on Product Inc. (a subsidiary of Mute) in 1987 will be available on vinyl in its original packaging for the first time since that release. “By 1986/7 Swans had run its course with the physical assault of sound that we had employed previously for the most part. I wanted to move on to other things and didn’t want to get stuck in some style, which in our case had the potential of becoming cartoonish if we’d continued in that direction. So, I pushed the music into unfamiliar territory. We spent 6 weeks in an old isolated medieval sawmill in Cornwall, England “experimenting” and hashing things out. Even though there was the inevitable tension between myself and the musicians at that time, I remember that episode fondly and miss everyone involved…sigh. Everyone did a great job musically, as well as imbibing with enthusiasm the local brews and eating huge amounts of free food. Jarboe came more to the fore as a presence too. “The lineup of Gira / Kizys / Westberg / Jarboe / Parsons was a really good version of the band – one of the best live versions of Swans ever – actually much more intense and visceral in performance than in the nuanced takes of the songs on these recordings. Lyrically, I’d always seized on abstract subjects like money/power/sex/work, etc., and I was watching a lot of Jimmy Swaggart on TV (the televangelist), and I thought he was a great rock performer, so I stole his thunder as best I could. I didn’t want to mock the religious impulse, which would have been a typical thing to do at the time, but instead to get inside it. Everyone wants to lose themselves in something bigger than they are. I don’t know if this is a bad thing or a good thing. Anyway, Children of God was a major turning point for Swans and the musical tendencies that are first engendered here were fertile ground for the remaining future records.” – Michael Gira/Swans 2008 “Children of God, one of the band’s strongest releases, established Gira as an Old Testament tyrant obsessed with the nature of love, human frailty, and the midnight beauty of black orchids. Much of Swans’ earliest work on Filth and Young God found the band fixating on single beats in a brutally sweeping, industrial cacophony, in many ways the realization of the theories of the Futurists. Later, with the addition of Jarboe, Gira brought more varied sounds into the mix, melding hooks and spatial variation to the unwavering rhythms. Children of God stands as a solid example of this transition: the maniacally heavy drone of the album’s opener, “New Mind” gives way to the fragility of Jarboe’s “In My Garden”. This is one of a dozen wonderful juxtapositions here; in its expansiveness, Children of God brings to mind disparate touchstones: Joy Division’s factory-worker melancholy, more elaborately atmospheric Black Metal bands like Emperor who deal in swirling beauty and intensity, Big Black for pure aggression, and old-time softness of traditional folk.” – Brandon Stosuy, Pitchfork 2003
File Under: Rock, Experimental, Industrial
Mary Timony: Mountains (Matador) LP
Mary Timony’s debut solo album, “Mountains”, is the latest entry in Matador Records’ Revisionist History series. The album comes back to us as a gold foil-embossed gatefold double album and includes the previously unreleased original takes of “Return to Pirates,” “Poison Moon,” and “Killed by the Telephone,” which were delivered along with the original master tapes 20 years ago, but were omitted from the final album. The record, remastered by Bob Weston, is completed by a newly recorded orchestral version of “Valley of One Thousand Perfumes” produced by composer Joe Wong (Russian Doll, Midnight Gospel) and mixed by Dave Fridmann. At the turn of the century, Timony (Ex Hex, Wild Flag, Hammered Hulls) was already a celebrated presence in American underground music – a fixture of D.C. and Boston rock ‘n’ roll via her work in Autoclave and Helium respectively. “Mountains” found Timony dialing into territory that was barer and more confessional than her work in Helium. Stark arrangements were augmented with newly ornate instrumentation – piano, vibraphone, and viola – and the lyrics were tinted with slyly occult imagery.
File Under: Indie Rock
Trampled By Turtles: Blue Sky and the Devil (Thirty Tigers) LP
Available on vinyl for the first time, 2005’s Blue Sky and the Devil is the sophomore full-length effort from Duluth, MN progressive bluegrass group Trampled By Turtles. The band’s sound showcases their northern roots through bluegrass and folk-rock rifts. They utilize the future and past by using both modern electric instruments and tools, as well as more traditional acoustic instruments. With five chart-topping albums, the band has evolved their sound while always staying true to their roots of bluegrass.
File Under: Country, Folk, Bluegrass
Trampled By Turtles: Songs from a Ghost Town (Thirty Tigers) LP
Available on vinyl for the first time, 2004’s Songs from a Ghost Town is the debut album by Duluth, MN progressive bluegrass group Trampled By Turtles. The band’s sound showcases their northern roots through bluegrass and folk-rock rifts. They utilize the future and past by using both modern electric instruments and tools, as well as more traditional acoustic instruments. With five chart-topping albums, the band has evolved their sound while always staying true to their roots of bluegrass.
File Under: Country, Folk, Bluegrass
Kurt Vile: Speed, Sound, Lonely KV (ep) (Matador) LP
A handful of coloured copies for the first few to order… Kurt Vile’s Speed, Sound, Lonely KV (EP) was recorded and mixed in sporadic sessions that spanned four years at The Butcher Shoppe studio in Nashville, TN. It includes five songs – covers of John Prine and “Cowboy” Jack Clement as well as two originals – and was recorded alongside a cast of local heavies like Bobby Wood, Dave Roe, Kenny Malone and Matt Sweeney (Chavez, Superwolf). Most importantly, it features what Vile calls “Probably the single most special musical moment in my life” – a duet with the late John Prine on the songwriter’s well-loved tune, “How Lucky.”
File Under: Indie Rock
Women: Rarities 2007-2010 (Flemish Eye) LP
Ten years ago, Flemish Eye released ‘Public Strain’, the second album by Women. Just over a month after the album’s release, the short-lived band was finished; however, the reverberations of ‘Public Strain’ were widespread. It became regarded as a modern-day masterpiece, and a clear touchstone for countless albums since its release. Now, a decade later, Flemish Eye announces a special limited-edition 12″ of rarities in celebration of the band and the album. Fans around the world have waited years to hear snippets of rare material, and five of these long-rare tracks are now available in one collection. ‘Rarities 2007-2010’ features material that was either hard-to-find or never released, all mastered properly for the first time.
File Under: Indie Rock
Avalanches: We Will Always Love You (Astralwerks) LP
Beastie Boys: Licensed to Ill (EMI) LP
Beastie Boys: Paul’s Boutique (EMI) LP
Beastie Boys: To The 5 Burroughs (EMI) LP
Matt Berninger: Serpentine Prison (Concord) LP
Leonard Cohen: Greatest Hits (Columbia) LP
D.O.A.: Something Better Change (Sudden Death) LP
Miles Davis: Complete Birth of the Cool (Blue Note) LP
Bill Evans: Some Other Time (Resonance) LP
Kelly Finnigan: A Joyful Sound (Colemine) LP
Four Tet: There is Love in You (Text) LP
Fugees: The Score (Legacy) LP
Stan Getz & Joao Gilberto: Getz/Gilberto (Acoustic Sounds Series) (Verve) LP
Herbie Hancock: Takin’ Off (Blue Note) LP
P.J. Harvey & John Parish: Dance Hall at Louse Point (Island) LP
P.J. Harvey: Rid of Me (Island) LP
Jason Isbell: Something More Than Free (Southeastern) LP
Durand Jones & The Indications: American Love Call (Dead Oceans) LP
Khruangbin: Con Todo El Mundo (Dead Oceans) LP
Adrianne Lenker: Songs and Instrumentals (4AD) LP
Jackie McLean: A Fickle Sonance (Blue Note) LP
Jackie McLean: It’s Time (Tone Poet) (Blue Note) LP
Molchat Doma: etazhi (Sacred Bones) LP
Nirvana: Nevermind (Geffen) LP
Pharaoh Overlord: 6 (Rocket) LP
Pink Floyd: Dark Side of the Moon (Pink Floyd) LP
Primitive Man: Scorn (Relapse) LP
Radiohead: A Moon Shaped Pool (XL) LP
Radiohead: Amnesiac (XL) LP
Radiohead: In Rainbows (XL) LP
Nina Simone: I Put a Spell on You (Acoustic Sound Series) (Verve) LP
Sturgill Simpson: Metamodern Sounds in Country Music (Thiry Tigers) LP
Silvia Tarozzi: Mi Specchio e Reiletto (Unseen Worlds) LP
Stanley Turrentine: Hustlin’ (Tone Poet) (Blue Note) LP
Townes Van Zandt: Flyin’ Shoes (Fat Possum) LP
War on Drugs: Live Drugs (Super High Quality) LP
Various: Let’s Do the Boogaloo (BGP) LP
Various: Mighty Super Funk (BGP) LP
Various: Return of the Funk Soul Sisters (BGP) LP
Various: Stax of Funk (BGP) LP
Various: Super Funk Vol 5 (BGP) LP