…..news letter #986 – goodness…..

Well, contrary to the usual short week, there’s actually a bunch of new stuff this week! And I’m not even that behind on dealing with it! Amazing. Loads to see and hear, so read on….

Also! Like the Other Music Documentary, we are again teaming up with Oscilloscope Labs for the distribution/viewing of the new documentary TRUTH TO POWER, about System of a Down’s frontman Serj Tankian. Click the link to rent the film and we’ll get a cut of the proceeds. Rent it HERE

As always, big thanks to everyone who’s been hitting up our webstore and placing orders! It’s getting competitive around 5pm when we post up fresh used stock. If you haven’t hit up the WEBSTORE, MAYBE YOU SHOULD! If you can’t figure out the site, or don’t like to use computers, you can always call the store and we can do an order over the phone. We’ll be at the shop 11-6 Monday – Friday & Saturday 11-4. Stay safe!

Oh ya… if you don’t follow us on Instagram, WHY NOT?! And now you know.


…..picks of the week…..

Brahja: s/t (RR Gems) LP
BRAHJA is a new album of a band by the same name. We’ve been playing, in one form or another, since 2008. In this current incarnation, BRAHJA is made up of 10 musicians coming out of Montreal, New York City, Washington D.C. and Chicago, respectively. Core members — Damon Shadrach Hankoff, Isis Giraldo, Martin Heslop, Daniel Gelinas & I — toured throughout the US and Canada in 2015 & 16, oftentimes picking up a special guest in whichever city: a concept we called “Everybody’s In The Band Tour.” Luke Stewart, Anais Maviel, Margaret Morris, Sam Shalabi & Daniel Carter — all featured on this album — is an all star sample of the extended family which came from this process. I spent a year and some change composing the music for the album; and in the spring of 2017 we began recording in a former church in rural Quebec that Daniel Gelinas had converted into a studio. Back in NYC, where I live, additional layers were added to the recordings. Being my first trial with mixing, I realized a year into it that I had layered more sounds than I could even hear. So as I peeled away at the layers, eliminating some sounds and carving out a space for the rest, I learned to hear it all. These songs mostly deal with the purging of uninvited darkness. Some kind of cure for some kind of poison. Some kind of death for some kind of renewal. I hope you can derive meaning and joy from this music. With sincere gratitude, Devin Brahja Waldman

File Under: Jazz
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Various: Colemine Presents: Brighter Days Ahead (Colemine) LP
Sadly, we were shorted on this coloured version… and they apparently forgot to ship us our black copies, hopefully more next week! From label owner Terry Cole, “It was on March 16, 2020 that we closed up our storefront as the reality of a worldwide pandemic began to spread across the Midwest. We had no idea how it was going to impact our shop, our label, or the artists we represent. We were all fortunate to have our family members stay safe and healthy; however, the livelihood of many of our friends and artists were drastically and immediately impacted. No tours, no live performances, record shops closed, pressing plants shut down, etc. And while the level of uncertainty was unnerving, from that uncertainty came the idea for Brighter Days Ahead. We knew we wanted to continue to release new music, but proceeding with our heavy 2020 release schedule as planned seemed ill advised. So the idea was to release individual tracks from many of our artists on a weekly basis and as a musical family, we could all help shine light on each individual artist weekly. Strength in numbers! So throughout the summer and into the fall, that’s what we did. We released several dozen tracks and the weekly announcements certainly garnered a strong sense of community for our artists and fans alike. We’re very proud to present Brighter Days Ahead: a compilation from our talented stable of artists on both our Colemine and Karma Chief imprints.”

File Under: Funk, Soul
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Menahan Street Band: The Exciting Sounds of… (Daptone) LP
Exclusive Daptone Dealer Edition! Menahan Street Band, a veritable supergroup of some of today’s most prolific songwriters, arrangers, and producers return with this beat-forward, cinematic masterpiece. If you have spent any time hanging out in bars, cafes, or casually tuning into NPR in the last 10 years you should be well versed in MSB’s catalog. Their unique brand of instrumental soul has not only been the foundation for some of modern hip-hop’s most successful beats, it has also become the perennial soundtrack and veritable vibe-generator for countless parties, art shows, and restaurants throughout NYC and abroad. While this album carries the aesthetic torch that MSB has skillfully woven into the tapestry of their DNA, it also delves deeper into the experimental, exotic sounds that fill many of the coveted Sound Library and Soundtrack LPs of the late sixties and early seventies – an amalgamation of moog synths, electric pianos, drum machines, and a bevy of analog instrumentation, that ebb and flow in lush swells of Morriconian grandeur.

File Under: Funk, Soul
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…..new arrivals…..

Julien Baker: Little Oblivions (Matador) LP
Little Oblivions is the third studio album by Julien Baker. Recorded in Memphis, TN, the record weaves together unflinching autobiography with assimilated experience and hard-won observations from the past few years, taking Baker’s capacity for storytelling to new heights. It also marks a sonic shift, with the songwriter’s intimate piano and guitar arrangements newly enriched by bass, drums, keyboards, banjo, and mandolin with nearly all of the instruments performed by Baker.

File Under: Indie Rock
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Black Sabbath: Vol. 4 Super Deluxe (Rhino) BOX
Black Sabbath unleashed the group’s fourth album in two years in 1972 with Vol 4. Stacked with classic tracks like “Supernaut,” “Changes,” and “Snowblind,” the record harnessed the group’s surging popularity to reach the Top 10 on the Albums Chart in the U.K. and the Top 20 on the Billboard 200 in the U.S., on its path to being certified platinum by the RIAA. The innovators of heavy metal revisit Vol 4 on a new collection that includes a newly remastered version of the original album along with a trove of 20 unreleased studio and live recordings and comes with extensive booklets featuring liner notes with quotes from the era from all four band members, rare photos, and a poster with previously unpublished early artwork of the album using the working title Snowblind. Bolstered by a fresh remastering, Vol 4’s ambitious arrangements and complex grooves have never sounded more inspired and menacing. Originally released in September 1972, the album marked two major changes for the members of Sabbath: Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, and Bill Ward. While their previous albums – Black Sabbath, Paranoid, and Master of Reality – were produced by Rodger Bain and recorded in England, they instead chose to produce Vol 4 themselves and record it at the Record Plant in Los Angeles. The generous addition of bonus material on Vol. 4: Super Deluxe Edition begins with six previously unreleased studio outtakes from the original sessions for the album. Each one has been newly mixed by Steven Wilson using the analog multi-tracks. Highlights include outtakes for “Supernaut” and “Changes,” as well an instrumental version of “Under The Sun.” The set also features 11 additional studio recordings (also newly mixed by Wilson from the analog multi-tracks) that spotlight alternative takes, false starts and snippets of studio dialogue. These tracks transport listeners into the studio with the band and offer some insight into the making of the album. Along with several alternative takes for “Wheels Of Confusion,” these recordings also include outtakes for “The Straightener” and “Snowblind.” The collection concludes with a searing collection of live performances that re-create a typical setlist from Black Sabbath’s tour for Vol 4. Recorded in March 1973 at various stops along the band’s U.K. tour. The recordings were originally slated for a live album that was ultimately shelved. Although some of these performances have been previously available in various states, the release marks the first time that a full 1973 live Sabbath show has been recreated. The live audio has been newly mixed by Richard Digby Smith using the original 16-track analog tapes to achieve a level of fidelity not heard on any previous incarnations.

File Under: Metal
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Blanck Mass: In Ferneaux (Sacred Bones) LP
Magenta vinyl! What is the utility of pain? Can it do anything but fester? In Ferneaux explores pain in motion, building audio-spatial chambers of experience and memory. Using an archive of field recordings from a decade of global travels, isolation gave Blanck Mass an opportunity to make connections in a moment when being together is impossible. The record is divided into two long-form journeys that gather the memories of being with now-distant others through the composition of a nostalgic travelogue. The journeys are haunted with the vestiges of voices, places, and sensations. These scenes alternate with the building up and releasing of great aural tension, intensities that emerge from the trauma of a personal grieving process which has perhaps embraced its rage moment. An encounter with a prophetic figure on the streets of San Francisco presented the question of “how to handle the misery on the way to the blessing.” This is the quandary of the impasse we now all find ourselves in, trapped in our little caves, grappling with the unease of the self at rest – without movement, without the consumerist agenda of “new experiences.” The possibility of growth, always defined by our connections with others, held in limbo. Sartre said that “Hell is other people,” but perhaps this is the Inferno of the present: the space of sitting with the self. A blessing is often thought of as a future reward, above and beyond the material plane. With In Ferneaux, Blanck Mass wrangles the immanent materials of the here-and-now to build a sense of transcendence. Here, the uncanny angelic hymn sits comfortably beside the dirge. The misery and blessing are one.

File Under: Electronic
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Burzum: Thulean Mysteries (Back on Black) LP
“Thulean Mysteries was made passively, in the sense that I never intended to make a new album; I just made music every now and then and at one point realized that I actually had enough to release it all on an album. When asked to do so I figured: why not? It was a good idea. The music is a little bit of this and a little bit of that, transcending any genre, and perhaps belonging to many different genres. The intention with it was always to create a certain atmosphere, often related to an idea or a situation. Since my true passion has never been music, but actually tabletop role-playing games, I figured I should make this an album intended for that use; as background music for my own MYFAROG (Mythic Fantasy Role-playing Game). Hopefully you will get a sense of Thule when you listen to this, like always with Burzum, ideally when on your own. I hope you will enjoy this soundtrack to Thulê, to Mother Nature and life itself.” – Varg Vikernes

File Under: Metal
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Paul Chambers: Bass on Top (Tone Poet) (Blue Note) LP
When jazz bass virtuoso Paul Chambers recorded Bass On Top, his third and final album as a leader for Blue Note, he was only 22 years old but already well established as one of the top bassists in jazz. This brilliantly seductive album features stalwarts Hank Jones on piano, Kenny Burrell on guitar, and Art Taylor on drums. Highlights include the chamber-jazz interpretation of Jerome Kern’s “Yesterdays” and a lightly swinging version of “Dear Old Stockholm,” a tune often associated with Miles Davis who was Chambers’ employer at the time. Blue Note Records’ acclaimed Tone Poet Audiophile Vinyl Reissue Series continues in 2021. Launched in 2019 in honor of the label’s 80th Anniversary, the Tone Poet series is produced by Joe Harley (from Music Matters) and features all-analog, 180g audiophile vinyl reissues that are mastered from the original master tapes by Kevin Gray of Cohearent Audio. Tone Poet vinyl is manufactured at RTI in Camarillo, CA, and packaged in deluxe Stoughton Printing “Old Style” gatefold Tip-On jackets. The titles were once again handpicked by Harley and cover the crème de la crème of the Blue Note catalog along with underrated classics, modern era standouts, and albums from other labels under the Blue Note umbrella including Pacific Jazz and United Artists Records. Every aspect of these Blue Note/Tone Poet releases is done to the highest-possible standard. It means that you will never find a superior version. “The LPs are mastered directly from the original analog master tapes by Kevin at his incredible facility called Cohearent Mastering. We go about it in the exact same way that we did for so many years for the Music Matters Blue Note reissues. We do not roll off the low end, boost the top or do any limiting of any kind. We allow the full glory of the original Blue Note masters to come though unimpeded! Short of having an actual time machine, this is as close as you can get to going back and being a fly on the wall for an original Blue Note recording session.” – Joe Harley

File Under: Jazz
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Coil: Musick to Play in the Dark (Dais) LP
Big restock! Don’t sleep! Clear/yellow splatter! Few groups in recent history forged as confounding and alchemical a body of work as Coil, the partnership of Peter ‘Sleazy’ Christopherson and John Balance. From album to album and phase to phase their recordings spelunk perplexing depths of esoteric industrial, occult electronics, and drugged poetry, both embodying and alienating parallel currents of their peers. The late 1990’s in particular were a fertile era for the duo, embracing chance, chaos, and collaboration, enhanced by recent advancements in synthesis and sampling. Fittingly, at the summit of the decade’s long, intoxicated arc, their divergent strains of interstitial ritual congealed into one of Coil’s most celebrated and hallucinatory creations: Musick To Play In The Dark. Convening at Balance and Christopherson’s vast Victorian house/studio in the coastal town of Weston-super-Mare, they began a series of ambitious sessions aided by inner circle associates Thighpaulsandra and Drew McDowall. Although the creative process was admittedly “iterative” and “a bit of a drug blur,” the results are astoundingly inventive and well realized, winding through shades of divination dirge, wormhole kosmische, noir lounge, ominous humor, and black mass downtempo, guided by Balance’s cryptic lunar muse, which he announces on the opening track: “This is moon musick / in the light of the moon.” What’s most remarkable about the album 20 years after its release is how brazen, insular, and unpredictable it still feels. The songs follow an allusive, altered state logic all their own, warping from microscopic ripples of glitch and breath to widescreen warlock psychedelia and back again, as much hyper-sensory as inter-dimensional. Even within a catalog as eclectic as Coil’s, Musick To Play In The Dark is a mystifying collection, oneiric evocations of desire, decadence, dinner jazz, and dietary advice, far beyond the pale of whatever gothic industrial ambiguity birthed such a journey. The record closes with a slow, starlit shuffle, bathed in seething sweeps of spectral texture and high cathedral keys, like approaching the altar of some arcane temple. As the trance thickens Balance’s voice rises, processed into an increasingly eerie, gaseous haze, but he resists these unseen forces, intent on delivering a final sermon: “Through hissy mists of history / the dreamer is still dreaming / the dreamer is still dreaming.” Reissued for the first time in over 20 years, now on double vinyl LP with the complete, unedited versions of each song and an exclusive “D-side” vinyl art etching. Packaged in a sturdy matte jacket with embossed lettering and spot-gloss design elements. Remastered by engineer Josh Bonati with restored artwork and layout by Nathaniel Young – all under the project supervision of Drew McDowall and Thighpaulsandra.

File Under: Ambient, Electronic, Industrial
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Creedence Clearwater Revival: Pendulum (Craft) LP
Craft Recordings continues their salute to the enduring musical legacy of Creedence Clearwater Revival with the release of half-speed mastered editions of the band’s two final albums: Pendulum, which was released 50 years ago in December 1970, and their closing studio album, 1972’s Mardi Gras. Pressed on 180-gram vinyl, both records were mastered by the award-winning engineer Miles Showell at Abbey Road Studios. These audiophile-quality LPs come housed in beautifully crafted jackets (tip-on gatefold for Pendulum and embossed for Mardi Gras), replicating the albums’ original packaging. Pendulum, which marked CCR’s second release of 1970 – following Cosmo’s Factory – was a unique title in the band’s catalog for several reasons. First, the album was the group’s sole LP to feature all original material. Typically, CCR sprinkled covers of blues songs, traditional material, and rock ‘n’ roll standards into each of their albums, putting their own spin on classic favorites. Pendulum also found the guitar-heavy group expanding their sonic palate – experimenting with new sounds (including the use of saxophones, vocal choirs, and keyboards) and even venturing into psychedelia. The quartet’s musical explorations paid off. Not only was Pendulum a critical success, but it also spawned two global Top Ten hits: the reflective “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” and the upbeat “Hey Tonight.” The singles, released as a double A-side in 1971, peaked at No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100. Other highlights included the stomper “Molina,” the bluesy “Pagan’s Groove” and the twangy “Sailor’s Lament.” Roughly half a century later, CCR fans can enjoy a new vibrancy when they revisit Pendulum and Mardi Gras, thanks to the exacting process of half-speed mastering. Using high-res transfers from the original analog tapes, the process involves playing back the audio at half its recorded speed while the cutting lathe is also turned to half the desired playback speed. The technique allows more time to cut a micro-precise groove, resulting in more accuracy with frequency extremes and dynamic contrasts. The result on the turntables is an exceptional level of sonic clarity and punch. Both of these special pressings were previously released only as part of Creedence’s collectible, seven-LP Studio Albums Collection box set, and follow standalone, audiophile-quality reissues of the band’s first five albums.

File Under: Rock
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Decemberists: Live Home Library Vol. 1 – 8-11-09 Royal Oak, MI (Youth and Beauty Brigade) LP
Extremely limited exclusive Decemberist live 2LP. Limited edition one time only pressing. Recorded at Royal Oak Music Theatre in Michigan during the Hazards Of Love tour (2009). The first volume in the Decemberists’ Live Home Library series, from the band’s own label — Youth and Beauty Brigade. Vinyl exclusive, not available on streaming services. Mixed by Hazards of Love co-producer/mixer Tucker Martine. Packaging details: 140-gram Double LP on limited edition black vinyl, custom wide-spine jacket / Etched Vinyl D-Side / 24” fold-out insert with oral history and photos of the tour from the band.

File Under: Indie Rock
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Dio: Holy Diver Live (BMG) LP
Dio offers up newly remastered vinyl reissues of their live albums, Evil or Divine: Live in New York City and Holy Diver Live, as a standard 180g 3LP-set and as a Lenticular 180g 3LP Version (featuring a 3D album sized art piece) with newly created triple gatefold cover art. Recorded live at the London Astoria, the long out of print 2008 release Holy Diver Live features the legendary Holy Diver album performed live in its entirety plus Dio classics from across his career including Black Sabbath and Rainbow! The line-up here consists of Ronnie James Dio (vocals), Doug Aldrich (guitar), Rudy Sarzo (bass), Simon Wright (drums) and Scott Warren (keyboards).

File Under: Metal
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Flying Burrito Brothers: Gilded Palace of Sin (A&M) LP
Gram Parsons and Chris Hillman formed The Flying Burrito Bros after both leaving The Byrds. They brought in bassist Chris Ethridge and pedal steel guitarist “Sneaky” Pete Kleinow to complete the line-up, appropriating the band’s name from a group of Los Angeles musicians who gathered for jam sessions. The Burrito Bros’s landmark 1969 debut The Gilded Palace Of Sin stands as one of the defining albums of country-rock and Americana music, helping draw the blueprint for both the 70s country-rock and the alt-country boom of the late 80s. Bob Dylan said the record “knocked me out” and Elvis Costello named it as one of the 500 essential albums all music lovers should own. “We’re a rock ‘n’ roll band that sounds like a country band,” said Parsons who was 22 when the album was made. As well as being full of modern Americana classics – including the achingly beautiful two-part harmonies on songs such as “Juanita” and “Wheels” – there were also innovative cover songs. Hillman said that Parsons opened him up to new musical experiences by setting the challenge of taking great soul songs – such as “The Dark End Of The Street” – and reinventing them. “My Uncle” (the only track to feature Hillman on mandolin) and “Hippie Boy” are counterculture songs of the time about the Vietnam draft and the 1968 Democratic National Convention riots in Chicago. The album’s artwork is also special. It was overseen by Tom Wilkes, who had joined A&M after being the art director of the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival. Parsons had arranged for custom-made Nudie suits to be created by the acclaimed designer Nudie Cohn. Parson’s one, which featured red poppies and marijuana leaves, hangs in the Country Music Hall Of Fame. Wilkes said: “We decided to take them out to the desert and do something kind of surreal with the Nudie suits, shot by Barry Feinstein. And they looked great anyway. They looked funky and kind of country western and kind of rock.”

File Under: Country, Rock
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Jimmy Giuffre: Western Suite (Music on Vinyl) LP
James Giuffre was an American jazz clarinetist, saxophonist, composer, and arranger, notable for his development of forms of jazz which allowed for free interplay between the musicians. His 1960 album Western Suite features an unusual trio of clarinet, guitar and valve trombone. The first half of the album is devoted to Giuffre’s country music/folk-inspired suite, while the second half features a lengthy and abstract version of the big band standard “Topsy” and a Thelonious Monk song.

File Under: Jazz
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Hold Steady: Open Door Policy (Positive Jams) LP
“We recorded Open Door Policy in two different sessions in the back half of 2019. Once again we teamed with producer Josh Kaufman and engineer Dan Goodwin, this time at the Clubhouse studio in upstate NY. Our intention was to create an album that worked as a grand piece, rather than a collection of songs. 2019 was an active year for The Hold Steady – our writing was consistent, and new songs were coming in pretty regularly. The recording process was creative, open and fun. “We were pretty much done with the record by the time we played a few of the new songs in London the first week of March 2020, as the unease of the pandemic was setting in. Not long after we got back from London, NYC shut down and we began to see our 2020 shows postponed. Over the next months, it became obvious that timing this album’s release to specific weekend celebrations wouldn’t be a possibility in the near future. But we were still excited to share it. “The songs on Open Door Policy are about power, wealth, and mental health. They’re about technology, occupation, consumerism, freedom, fandom and escape. And although the album was written and recorded in 2019, the themes of this record seem to be underscored and highlighted by this year of virus and quarantine.” – Craig Finn

File Under: Indie Rock
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Jackson 5: Ultimate Collection (Motown) LP
Available on Vinyl for the First Time in Celebration of 25th Anniversary! The quintessential family group, the Jackson 5 are that rare thing, signifiers of cultural importance. They also made wonderful soul and pop music from start to finish. Their charismatic pull is down to exquisite singing, professional stagecraft that defines show business and groundbreaking productions that always kept them at the forefront of the pop-soul movement. Their combined total sales place them in the Elvis Presley and Beatles category and with frontman Michael’s subsequent career and waiting-in-the-wings Janet Jackson to come they would eclipse all rivals with ease. Their debut Motown single, “I Want You Back,” released in October 1969 kicked things off as number one hits followed in rapid succession leaving records tumbling. “ABC,” “The Love You Save” and “I’ll Be There” were also modernist in approach, the latter becoming Motown’s biggest record, selling seven million copies and replacing Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” as the label’s supreme moment. The Ultimate Collection gathers the J5’s biggest group and solo hits, first issued in 1995 and now, for its 25th anniversary, on vinyl for the first time!

File Under: Pop, Soul
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Cody Jinks: Adobe Sessions (Cody Jinks) LP
Cody Jinks’ credible grit and meaningful tattoos are no fad. They define exactly who he really is: someone who was raised on the sounds of country music and metal. Ultimately, Jinks found himself back to where it all began. His father loved the outlaw country icons: Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and The Hag. That never ending consistency of incredible music growing up laid some very deep seeds and those early influences shine through his music. Jinks’ beloved 2015 album Adobe Sessions, his fourth overall, is back on vinyl. “In 2015 a great crop of fresh faces in country and Americana arose on many people’s radars,” writes Country Perspective. “Hands down one of the best artists to emerge amongst this group was Cody Jinks…[His] 2015 album Adobe Sessions felt like the awaited breaking out of the next big star in the independent country scene. The album is full of traditional country, plenty of steel guitar and ballads on life and love.”

File Under: Country
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Paul Leary: Born Stupid (Shimmy Disc) LP
Paul Leary issued his debut solo album The History Of Dogs in 1991. And now, thirty years later he’s releasing the follow up Born Stupid. Thirty years may seem like an oddly excessive length of time between albums, but that’s apropos, as nearly all the highlights of Leary’s legendary career have been odd and excessive. Leary is best known as guitarist/vocalist for the infamous psychedelic noise rock band Butthole Surfers. Much of the subversive creative spirit that fueled the Butthole Surfers’ best work can be found inside the grooves of Leary’s charmingly twisted new album. Musically, Born Stupid largely steps away from the atomic punk energy and fuzzed-out metal riffing that defined the Butthole Surfers’ sound. Instead, Leary has crafted an equally compelling soundscape filled with carnival sideshow calliopes, spaghetti western guitar motifs, and off-kilter German beer hall waltzes. But where the Butthole Surfers’ work was often squarely focused on the manipulation of sounds and textures, Born Stupid is heavily rooted in the craft of song, and the record’s finely structured musical landscapes work to support the stories being sung. The connection between Born Stupid and vintage Butthole Surfers’ music is not just stylistic. Longtime fans of Leary’s work will be pleased by the presence of a couple radically reworked interpretations of Butthole Surfers-era material, including a giddily demented singalong version of the “The Shah Sleeps in Lee Harvey’s Grave.” According to Leary, there was no grand vision behind the conception of Born Stupid. “I wasn’t planning on making another album, but over the years songs kept popping into my head. So I figured I might as well record them.” Leary has seized a ripe cultural moment to send this music out to the world, as Born Stupid speaks effectively to the damaged state of contemporary U.S. culture. There’s no better example than the album’s title track, a perfect anthem for the modern American age. “With so much strife and peril in this world I’d like to help make things better. But, instead, I had to be born stupid,” Leary croons in a warped country drawl, evoking the voice of Lee Hazlewood as sung through a cancer kazoo. Throughout the album Leary is joined by drummer Josh Freese, known for his work with a range of artists, including The Vandals, Guns N’ Roses, and Devo.

File Under: Rock, Butthole Surfers
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Lucero: When You Found Me (Thirty Tigers) LP
Building on the themes of their critically acclaimed album Among The Ghosts, “family” is at the center of Lucero’s new album When You Found Me. The album reimagines family stories as modern fables, with young heroines and storybook lyrics inspired by the fairy tales lead singer Ben Nichols’ reads with his four year old daughter at bedtime. Throughout When You Found Me, true stories are turned into fantasy and folktales are reimagined into pummeling rock songs. For the second time, the band teamed up with Grammy Award-winning producer Matt Ross-Spang. The album was recorded in two weeks during COVID, in their hometown of Memphis, TN at the beautiful and historic Sam Phillips Recording Service. The nostalgic feeling is carried through sonically as the band recalls the classic rock of their youth, taking advantage of keyboardist Rick Steff’s extensive collection of vintage synthesizers while still retaining their contemporary Lucero sound. “After 22 years on the road with a rock & roll band, family has become more and more important to me over the years,” says Nichols. “I always appreciated where I came from but more and more I’m appreciating where I am right now.”

File Under: Rock, Country
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Loretta Lynn: Coal Miner’s Daughter (MCA) LP
In December 1970, already 10 years into her chart career, self-taught singer, songwriter and guitarist Loretta Lynn took a song about her own life to No.1, when “Coal Miner’s Daughter” hit the country summit. The great country music figurehead wrote the song about her own upbringing as the second of seven children, “in a cabin on a hill in Butcher Holler,” the coal mining community where she was born in 1932 in Johnson County, KY. It was a truly vivid depiction of her tough, working class beginnings in life, produced by the prolific Owen Bradley. In just its eighth week on the countdown, the song replaced Sonny James’ “Endlessly” at the top to become the fourth in Lynn’s proud total of 16 country No.1s. Lynn never underestimated the importance of the “Coal Miner’s Daughter” single in her career. As she said: “It told everybody that I could write about something else besides marriage problems.” In 1976, the song lent its title to Lynn’s autobiography, and another four years on it inspired the Oscar-winning big screen biopic about her life. The “Coal Miner’s Daughter” single – Lynn’s first recording inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame – anchored the Gold-certified 1971 album of the same name which celebrates its 50th anniversary here! It was the only single from the ten-track album, but the set also included such notables as the Conway Twitty composition “Hello Darlin'”, Larry Brinkley and Lee McAlphin’s “The Man of the House” and another Lynn composition, “What Makes Me Tick.” She also co-wrote “Any One, Any Worse, Any Where” with Lorene Allen.

File Under: Country
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Curtis Mayfield: There’s No Place Like America Today (Rhino) LP
Curtis Mayfield’s 1975 testament to the State Of The Union, There’s No Place Like America Today features a hip political tone that’s right up there with the best of his early ’70s material and it finds the Gentle Genius in his absolute prime as a composer. Highlights include the haunting opener “Billy Jack,” Mayfield’s take on urban life “When Seasons Change” and the album’s biggest hit, the exquisite “So In Love.”

File Under: Funk, Soul
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Curtis Mayfield: Roots (Rhino) LP
Orange vinyl! Released in 1971, Roots is Curtis Mayfield’s second solo album after enjoying considerable success with The Impressions. Lavishly produced, its epic funk-driven orchestral sound made it one of the most progressive soul albums of its era. Consolidating the success of his debut Curtis – itself a benchmark album at the time – Roots marked a further stage in Curtis’ mastery of studio techniques and meaningful songwriting, particularly in his sophisticated political statements. Opening with the hit single “Get Down” – a hard-hitting slab of driving funk-rock – the album includes three of Curtis’ finest inspirational songs in “We Got To Have Peace,” “Beautiful Brother Of Mine” (both hit singles) and “Keep On Keeping On,” as well as the impassioned blues of “Now You’re Gone.”

File Under: Indie Rock
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Mogwai: As the Love Continues (Temporary Residence) LP
Yellow vinyl! Mogwai have advanced without a plan since they were teenagers, there have been no secretive meetings to work out the master plan. It is rare to hear a band that has been going for this long, and have this many albums behind them – ten records in and still no disappointments or mistaken creative left turns. You may know what to expect, but you will never get the same. Both transcendent and surprising, As The Love Continues shows that Mogwai are still offering solace from the mundane, supplying the soundtrack to whatever movie you are making in your head. As The Love Continues was originally planned to be recorded in America, but the pandemic led to a relocation to Worcestershire, with producer Dave Fridmann separated by an ocean but appearing like an Orwellian oppressor over the sessions. This pandemic necessity was quickly routine, and it also bought them a little more time. The album features contributions from Atticus Ross (“Midnight Flit”) and Colin Stetson (“Pat Stains”), and arrives almost exactly 25 years after the release of the Mogwai’s debut single, “Tuner”/”Lower.”

File Under: Indie Rock, Post Rock
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Lee Morgan: The Rajah (Tone Poet) (Blue Note) LP
This sleek and beautifully paced Lee Morgan album was recorded in 1966 but shelved until 1984 for unknown reasons. In addition to the trumpeter, the quintet here features a superb line-up with Hank Mobley on tenor saxophone, Cedar Walton on piano, Paul Chambers on bass, and Billy Higgins on drums, all playing at the top of their game. Highlights include the Duke Pearson gem “Is That So” and the enticing title track penned by Morgan. Blue Note Records’ acclaimed Tone Poet Audiophile Vinyl Reissue Series continues in 2021. Launched in 2019 in honor of the label’s 80th Anniversary, the Tone Poet series is produced by Joe Harley (from Music Matters) and features all-analog, 180g audiophile vinyl reissues that are mastered from the original master tapes by Kevin Gray of Cohearent Audio. Tone Poet vinyl is manufactured at RTI in Camarillo, CA, and packaged in deluxe Stoughton Printing “Old Style” gatefold Tip-On jackets. The titles were once again handpicked by Harley and cover the crème de la crème of the Blue Note catalog along with underrated classics, modern era standouts, and albums from other labels under the Blue Note umbrella including Pacific Jazz and United Artists Records. Every aspect of these Blue Note/Tone Poet releases is done to the highest-possible standard. It means that you will never find a superior version. “The LPs are mastered directly from the original analog master tapes by Kevin at his incredible facility called Cohearent Mastering. We go about it in the exact same way that we did for so many years for the Music Matters Blue Note reissues. We do not roll off the low end, boost the top or do any limiting of any kind. We allow the full glory of the original Blue Note masters to come though unimpeded! Short of having an actual time machine, this is as close as you can get to going back and being a fly on the wall for an original Blue Note recording session.” – Joe Harley

File Under: Jazz
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The National: Cherry Tree (4AD) LP
Twenty years on from the release of their 2001 self-titled debut album, The National are reissuing it along with 2003’s follow-up Sad Songs For Dirty Lovers and 2004’s Cherry Tree EP. With all three records having been remastered at Abbey Road Studios, the 2021 represses stay faithful to their original artwork while their stunning new masters help make these much-loved records sound as vital as ever, further emphasizing the early signs of the sound that would go on to make them one of the finest and most beloved alternative bands of their generation. Released a year before The National broke through with their third album Alligator, the Cherry Tree EP is a thrilling record which – thanks to its collection of delicate ballads and anthemic crowd-pleasers – sums up what they do best in under 30 minutes. Now a firm fan-favorite, among Cherry Tree’s seven tracks are now National classics “About Today” and “All The Wine,” plus a thrilling live version of “Murder Me Rachael” that reminds of the band’s fearsome early live performances. Cherry Tree can be seen as the record that marks the moment when The National had truly found themselves, a bridge from what went before to a band ready to conquer the world. And with this new master, it’s never sounded better!

File Under: Indie Rock
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The National: Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers (4AD) LP
Twenty years on from the release of their 2001 self-titled debut album, The National are reissuing it along with 2003’s follow-up Sad Songs For Dirty Lovers and 2004’s Cherry Tree EP. With all three records having been remastered at Abbey Road Studios, the 2021 represses stay faithful to their original artwork while their stunning new masters help make these much-loved records sound as vital as ever, further emphasizing the early signs of the sound that would go on to make them one of the finest and most beloved alternative bands of their generation. The National’s second album, Sad Songs For Dirty Lovers proved a leap forward from 2001’s eponymous debut, showing a band adept at delivering warm embraces and gut punches in equal measure. With word of mouth now spreading on the band, critics proved equally enthusiastic. Pitchfork in their glowing review called it a “Gorgeous train wreck” that “Lives up to its blunt title (with) Matt Berninger’s self-effacing barbs matched by the band’s equally potent hooks,” while Uncut also became early champions saying the album was “A genuine treasure… Livid as a bruise, this is brave, desperate, beautiful music.” No longer a secret among those that know, Sad Songs For Dirty Lovers is an important record in The National’s discography with this new remaster showing that it’s more than standing the test of time.

File Under: Indie Rock
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The National: s/t (4AD) LP
Twenty years on from the release of their 2001 self-titled debut album, The National are reissuing it along with 2003’s follow-up Sad Songs For Dirty Lovers and 2004’s Cherry Tree EP. With all three records having been remastered at Abbey Road Studios, the 2021 represses stay faithful to their original artwork while their stunning new masters help make these much-loved records sound as vital as ever, further emphasizing the early signs of the sound that would go on to make them one of the finest and most beloved alternative bands of their generation. Celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2021, The National’s self-titled debut album of sozzled Americana is a thing of beauty, laden with heavy hints that this was a special band in the making. Their first release, The National arrived two years after The National formed, a time when they were juggling bandlife with needing to hold down full-time jobs. And while nods to the alt-rock artists that inspired them (Pavement, Silver Jews) can be heard, so too are the beginnings of something all their own – Matt Berninger’s stunning and unexpected lyrics being pinned to melodies that stop you in your tracks. The National marks the starting point for one of the best bands of their generation with its new master helping elevate it to new levels. A great primer to a great band!

File Under: Indie Rock
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Sarin: You Can’t Go Back (Prosthetic) LP
The epitome of post-hardcore/post-metal, Ontario-based quintet Sarin have been releasing EPs since 2012 while continually evolving. You Can’t Go Back showcases Oceanic-era ISIS as a primary inspiration, but finds the band branching out with eclectic clean vocals and more technicality and increased keyboard usage.

File Under: Metal
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Ty Segall & Cory Hanson: She’s A Beam/Milk Bird Flyer (Drag City) 10″
Broken nation time! Dark skies over our days, an increased reliance on black-market products. Wanna buy some 5-year old sunshine? With 2020 hindsight, it’s looking pretty good… Smash-cut to 2015. Two boys with guitars on their chests, stretching songwriting muscles and finding, to their delight, new possibilities at every run up the neck—a new normal every second. This means trading vocal parts mid-song, then trading back again, modulating madly through rhythm changes, looking for a note in the harmony they’d never played or sung before. All in the service of locating the feelgood pop alchemy in a song in which no parts are repeated. Laying it all down with a sweet solid state vibe. Almost like a form of instant nostalgia for the world that that would soon be ‘used to be…’ “Milk Bird Flyer” is a perfect other A to pair with “She’s a Beam,” hovering on a fade-in fanfare of gleaming guitar godness before shifting into a countryish tripper with cheerful Psilo-sci-fi-bin lyrics to bend and stretch the ecstatic shuffle of the beat. As with “She’s a Beam,” Ty and Cory are floating so tight in the harmony that we’re like, “Who’s who?” But it doesn’t matter. These lost songs are found again, and we feel the same! The pure sounds of yesterday (you know, actually five years ago, but it feels like it, doesn’t it?) are bright like a moment in time just waiting for its chance to exist, a nugget of potency landing right between the eyes in any era. Turn it up and smile, smile, smile! One-sided 10-inch EP with etched B-side.

File Under: Punk, Psych
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Pauline Anna Strom: Angel Tears in Sunlight (RVNG Intl) LP
Angel Tears in Sunlight is Pauline Anna Strom’s first album in over thirty years; an assemblage of music that refracts the expansiveness, and minutiae, of imagined realms while embracing the kaleidoscopic echoes of our distant epochs. Recorded in the same San Francisco home where her early work emerged, Angel Tears in Sunlight elevates Strom’s mysterious, masterful synthesis of music and machine and opens another portal to the transportive power and healing potential of her work.

File Under: Ambient, Electronic
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Viagra Boys: Welfare Jazz (Year0001) LP
Since their founding in 2015, Swedish post-punk band Viagra Boys have made a name for themselves burning up stages around the world. There’s a little Iggy Pop spit and seethe, a David Yow drunken stumble, and a bite of Nick Cave’s haunted bark. Add a dash of motorik groove, a pinch of post-punk grime, and a dose of no wave howl. Welfare Jazz doesn’t bargain with the anxiety in that defeated feeling, but rather a boiling certainty that nothing and no one is absolute. There’s plenty of blame to go around, and things are just a lot more interesting when you admit that you’re not always going to be nice, you’re not always going to pick the right words in a fist-fight. So why not keep moving forward, swaying and strutting into the night.

File Under: Punk
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Whit Boyd Combo: Dracula (The Dirty Old Man) (Modern Harmonic) LP
Glorious audio swagger discovered buried deep in this mess of a film! Thanks to the discovery of the original audio reels, we found fantastic music hidden under all that horrible dialog! This 1969 occult odyssey is crudely crafted, probably improvised, and constantly dumbfounding–yet there’s a different kind of magic at work with the soundtrack. Sounding like it was recorded during the witching hour in Dracula’s basement through the prism of a weed-soaked haze, the music is stoner exotica of the highest caliber; the organ sounds like it could blow a fuse at any moment, the sax and guitar battle in a war of licks, and the drums and bass provide a driving foundation for the chaos. Crawling out of a time rotted tomb for the first time, pressed on blood red vinyl, and including a DVD of the entire awful film!

File Under: OST
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Syd Barrett: The Madcap Laughs (Harvest) LP
Beastie Boys: Hello Nasty (EMI) LP
Besnard Lakes: Are the Last of the Great… (Flemish Eye) LP
Black Pumas: s/t (ATO) LP
Phoebe Bridgers: Punisher (Dead Oceans) LP
Budos Band: Long in the Tooth (Daptone) LP
Coil: Musick to Play in the Dark (Dais) LP
Sarah Davachi: Cantus, Descant (Late) LP
Drab Majesty: Careless (Dais) LP
Drab Majesty: Modern Mirror (Dais) LP
Drab Majesty: The Demonstration (Dais) LP
Fall: Bend Sinister/The Domesdaypay-off Triad-Plus (Beggars) LP
Fall: The Wonderful and Frightening World of the Fall (Beggars) LP
Fall: This Nation’s Saving Grace (Beggars) LP
Fontaines DC: Dogrel (Partisan) LP
Holy Hive: Float Back To You (Big Crown) LP
Indian Summer: Giving Birth to Summer (Numero) LP
Khruangbin: Mordechai (Dead Oceans) LP
Kendrick Lamar: To Pimp A Butterfly (Aftermath) LP
Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio: I Told You So (Colemine) LP
LCD Soundsystem: s/t (DFA) LP
Peggy Lee: Black Coffee (Acoustic Sounds Series) (Verve) LP
Menahan Street Band: Make the Road by Walking (Daptone) LP
Minor Threat: s/t (Dischord) LP
Molchat Doma: Etazhi (Sacred Bones) LP
Thelonious Monk: Solo Monk (Music on Vinyl) LP
Nurse With Wound: To The Quiet Men From a Tiny Girl (Dirter) LP
Pink Floyd: Piper at the Gates of Dawn (Pink Floyd) LP
Portishead: Dummy (Mercury) LP
Otis Redding: Live at the Whiskey a Go Go (Universal) LP
Otis Redding: The Best of (Atlantic) LP
Otis Redding: Dock of the Bay (Mono) (Rhino) LP
Otis Redding: Soul Album (Rhino) LP
J. Peter Schwalm & Arve Henriksen: Neuzeit (Rarenoise) LP
TV Priest: Uppers (Sub Pop) LP
Wilco: Sky Blue Sky (Nonesuch) LP
Various: Crown Jewels Vol 1 (Big Crown) LP

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