Well! Isn’t fun when you drastically change a big part of your job and have to figure out what you are doing again!? That said, I’m pretty stoked on this new news letter design. Sounds like most people liked the face lift.
ANYWAY, the big news is JUNE 12th is the first RECORD STORE DAY DROP of the year! The exclusive releases have started showing up and I’ve been adding them to the RECORD STORE DAY PAGE on our site. Just like last year, we are doing things remote this time. So you can stay in your bathrobe and just log in to the website at 11am and start snagging all the titles you are after. We’ll pick em and you can come and get them at your leisure! Easy peasy.
…..picks of the week…..
Various: Strain, Crack & Break: Music from the Nurse With Wound List Vol. 2 (Finders Keepers) LP
In tomorrow… With his ongoing commitment to like-minded archivist label Finders Keepers Records, industrial music pioneer Steven Stapleton further entrusts us to lift the veil and expose “the right tracks” from his uber-legendary and oft misinterpreted psych/prog/punk peculiarity shopping list known as The Nurse With Wound List. Following the critically lauded first instalment and it’s exclusively French tracklisting both parties now combine their vinyl-vulturous penchants to bring you the next Strain Crack & Break edition which consists of twelve lesser-known German records that played a hugely important part in the initial foundations of the list which began to unfold when Stapleton was just thirteen-years-old. From the perspective of a schoolboy Amon Düül (ONE) victim, at the start of a journey that commenced before phrases like kosmische and the xeno-ignant Krautrock tag had become mag hack currency, this compendium is devoid of the tropes that united what many would accurately argue to be the greatest progressive pop bands in Europe (namely CAN, Neu! and Kraftwerk) and rather shatters the ingredients across a ground zero landscape for both inquisitive fans and socially rehabbing musos to begin to assemble a unique self-styled identity. If Krautrock was the music that journalist told us lurked behind schlager (German pop) in the 1970s, then this record includes the music that skulked behind Krautrock and perhaps refused to polish its backhanded name belt. Including lesser-known artists like the late Wolfgang Dauner whose career proceeded and outlived the kosmische movement while consistently informing and outsmarting ‘em whenever they got stuck in their metronomic ruts, or how about Fritz Müller, the man who was to Kraftwerk what Stuart Sutcliffe was to The Beatles but had more in common with Yoko and quite rightly couldn’t give a shit about the Fab Four’s Hamburg roots. Elsewhere we have a plethora of German bands made for German audiences as they try and shed second hand flower power Americanisms and feel the benefits of much harder drugs and the realisations of difficult second album budgets while Kommune 1 newsflashes wipe smiles from everybody’s faces and replace them with opioid chic or acid-sarcastic grins. Bonzo Cockettes show us their Big Muffs and drummers ask for extra mics while Conny Plank goes for parliamentary office and gives babies good firm hand shakes for the camera. Strain Crack & Break Volume Two is the sound of Steve Stapleton’s sponge-like mind and the dividends of anyone who was brave enough to even peek inside those brick-thick gatefold covers never mind drop the needle, with tracks by Mr. and Mrs. Fuchs (aka Anima-Sound) who played their instruments completely naked throughout their anti-career alongside previously unpressed tracks by the scene’s leading Detroit-born African American drummer Fred Braceful who’s band Exmagma officially had the coolest record sleeves and track titles of ALL TIME (Torpedo Tits? Yes Please!). From an era where it was embarrassing to go into your local record shop and hum the tune over the counter, well that young lad Steve Stapleton was braver than that, and besides, these tracks are unhummable and at times unutterable. Did somebody in the crowd shout out for Joel Vandroogenbroeck! Good luck with that one. Stapleton is sharing. Even Stevens. Over forty years since Nurse With Wound’s first album was released, Finders Keepers Records and Steve Stapleton take connoisseurs of OUR kind of music, back to the disused elevator shaft towards ground zero. Arrriving at the same checkout from different departments, Finders Keepers and Nurse With Wound continue to sing from the same hymnal with this ongoing collaborative attempt to officially, authentically and legally compile the best tracks from Steve’s list, where many overzealous nerds have faltered (or simply, got the wrong end of the stick). After Strain Crack & Break Volume One merely scratched the surface of this DIY dossier of elongated punk-prog peculiarities, our second lavish metallic gatefold double vinyl compendium drives a much deeper groove, which, in accordance with Steve’s wishes, focusses exclusively on individual tracks of German origin – the country whose music forged the prototype of the NWW inventory in the form of his secondary school vinyl want-list in the early 1970s. Comprising of disassembled free jazz, unshowered stoner psych, hypnotic prog, deranged monk funk and fuzzed out Deutschmark bin bonzo beats this second volume of the series throws us straight back in the deep end, putting the Bad in Baden and the odour in The Oder with little need for cheap Cologne. Willkommen to another forgotten plateau found beneath the psychedelic underground, as Steve Stapleton and Finders Keepers dig new tunnels through the fabric of your vinyl wish-list, these German records are heavy, so find Solid Ground or watch you floorboards Strain Crack & Break before your bloody ears.
File Under: Experimental, Prog, Psych, Nurse With Wound
Tolerance: s/t (Vinyl On Demand) BOX
A new box set collecting the work of Osaka-based duo Tolerance. Combining minimalist electronics with post-punk rhythms and ambient noise, Tolerance released two albums – 1979’s Anonym and 1981’s Divin – and one single for the pioneering experimental label Vanity before disbanding. This set collects those releases along with a recently unearthed album-length piece entitled “Dose” and a full LP of demos.
File Under: Experimental, Japan, Electronic, Minimal
Lorez Alexandria: For Swingers Only (Honey Pie) LP
Honey Pie Records present a reissue of American jazz/blues vocalist Lorez Alexandria’s For Swingers Only, originally released by the Argo label in 1963. The opener “Baltimore Oriole” is still considered a rare-groove forerunner. Personnel on this session include: Lorez Alexandria (vocals), Ronald Wilson (tenor saxophone, flute), John Young (piano, arranger), George Eskridge (guitar), Jimmy Garrison (bass) and Phil Thomas (drums).
File Under: Jazz
Dorothy Ashby: The Jazz Harpist (Sowing) LP
Clear vinyl! Sowing Records present a reissue of Dorothy Ashby’s debut album, The Jazz Harpist, originally released in 1957 by the Regent label. Recognized as the woman who gave the harp a jazz voice, here, Ashby is at the head of a highly distinctive combo featuring Frank Wess on flute, Eddie Jones or Wendell Marshall on bass and master Ed Thigpen on drums. The Jazz Harpist is an unprecedented mix of evocative classic sounds and jazz soul, awarded by AllMusic as her first and best album, period! Clear vinyl; edition of 300.
File Under: Jazz
Arab Strap: As Days Get Darker (Rock Action) LP
Clear & black vinyl! “It’s about hopelessness and darkness,” says Aidan Moffat. “But in a fun way.” The Arab Strap frontman is speaking about the band’s 7th studio album and their first since 2005’s The Last Romance . The band who bought you the classic and legendary “The First Big Weekend” return with new music for the first time in 15 years. “It’s definitely Arab Strap, but an older and wiser one, and quite probably a better one.” The first track lifted from the new album ‘The Turning of Our Bones’ saw a much welcome return to form and proved very much that Arab Strap are back from the grave and ready to rave! As the bands Malcolm Middleton told the Guardian newspaper when they profiled the band upon news of their return, “There’s no point getting back together to release mediocrity.”
File Under: Indie Rock
Autechre/Hafler Trio: ae³o & h³ae (Vinyl on Demand) BOX
Drone: as with anything else that rarely changes, it’s necessary to latch onto subtleties. What minimal suggestion put forth by a drone is so easily applied to pretty much any impression you might have that, predictably, describing one often leads to vague subjectivities bordering on bad poetry. And as much as I’d love to go around proclaiming my love for “deeply resonant, holy abysses” (not), I wish there were an easier way to communicate the real power of the things. England’s Hafler Trio are no strangers to an elusive clarity; rather, Andrew Mackenzie isn’t. Mackenzie is the only current member of the self-dubbed h\xB3o, a group that at no point was actually comprised of three people– unless you count their “collaborators”, like imaginary scientists Robert Spridgeon or Dr. Edward Moolenbeek, both of whom were fabricated by Mackenzie and founding member Chris Watson (ex-Cabaret Voltaire) for their fairly astounding 1984 debut, Bang! An Open Letter. On that album, and on many early Hafler Trio recordings, tape edits and loops, found sound and Residents-style Dadaism ruled the day. Since Watson’s departure in the late 80s, Mackenzie has gravitated more towards experimental ambient and drone music. Autechre, on the other hand, seem to have been moving in the opposite direction. 2003’s Draft 7.30 might have been slightly more straightforward than 2001’s extraordinary Confield, but could hardly have been further from ambient if it tried. Even the moments that might conceivably have been called “drone” (parts of “Surripere”, for example) seemed skittish and nervous. Certainly a far cry from anything on the Autechre/Hafler Trio split aptly titled, ae\xB3o & h\xB3ae, a daunting exercise in ominous hum, icy space and digital resonance. In fact, I had a hard time locating anything obviously Autech’d, whereas the album has much in common with recent Hafler releases such as the Moment When We Blow Flour from Our Tongues EP. – Pitchfork
File Under: Electronic, Drone
Barrett, Pastor T.L. & The Youth For Christ Choir: Do Not Pass Me By Vol. I (Numero) LP
The final album in Pastor T.L. Barrett’s 1970s four-part suite of gospel funk LPs, Do Not Pass Me By finds the fiery preacher getting spaced out on God’s love. Accompanied by his Youth For Christ Choir, the eight-song record is buoyed by the seven-minute opus “Father Stretch My Hands,” later sampled by Kanye West on 2016’s The Life of Pablo.
File Under: Soul, Gospel
Binker & Moses: Escape the Flames (Gearbox) LP
Binker and Moses are tenor saxophonist Binker Golding and drummer Moses Boyd – two of the most exciting young jazz musicians on the thriving London jazz scene. Originally meeting through double bassist/educator Gary Crosby’s Tomorrow’s Warriors jazz development program, they have played together in various large and small format groups including recording and touring extensively as members of Zara McFarlane’s band. As a label that specializes in archive releases, Gearbox Records gets a special buzz out of unearthing musical gems and putting them out in their resplendent vinyl glory. And this is no exception! They’re over the moon to present a previously-unreleased live performance of Binker and Moses on double LP, titled Escape The Flames. Those who know the duo will appreciate that every Binker and Moses performance is distinct in itself, characterized by mutual spontaneity and the tireless interrogation of the infinite. This 6-track recording, taken from their Journey to the Mountain of Forever album launch at Total Refreshment Centre back in 2017, is a whole new interpretation of the studio album. Engineered and mixed by Gareth Finnegan. Mastered and cut by Darrel Sheinman at Gearbox Records. Cover illustration by Binker Golding.
File Under: Jazz
Burial: Chemz/Dolphinz (Hyperdub) LP
“Chemz” is hooky, rushy and loved-up – both an unhinged premonition of unleashed post-pandemic joy, and a demonic flashback to past ecstasies in a hardcore style perfected in the UK. “Chemz” is a 12 minute rave monster that has ingested several tracks and incorporated them into its distended body. At the other end of the Burial bi-polar spectrum, “Dolphinz” is a desolate oceanic love letter to our underwater friends.
File Under: Electronic
Coil: Time Machines (Dais) LP
Black & green splatter vinyl! Finally available again! Essential COIL! Starting as a rough demo tape recorded solely by Coil member Drew McDowall, Time Machines started to take full form when McDowall enthusiastically delivered these demo recordings to Balance and Christopherson as sketches for a new Coil project with the primary goal of shifting Coil’s sound further into a more conceptually abstract direction. Largely recorded in 1997 using single takes with minimal post production, these four drones contain every intended fluctuation and tone, along with every glitch of the original – “Artifacts generated by your listening environment are an intrinsic part of the experience.” “4 Tones to facilitate travel through time.” So begins the listeners’ journey into what has become one of the most treasured and revered pieces of Coil history ever released. Each of the four pieces on Time Machines is named after the chemical compound of the hallucinogenic drug that they were composed for, and the album was meticulously crafted to enable what John Balance referred to as “temporal slips” in time and space, allowing both the artist and audience to figuratively “dissolve time”. Inspired by long form ceremonial music of Tibet and other religions, where the intent is to lose oneself in the music – to meditate or achieve a trance state – Time Machines became Drew McDowall, John Balance, and Peter Christopherson’s “electronic punk-primitive” answer to this tribal concept. Remastered by Josh Bonati and supervised by McDowall, Time Machines is reissued here on colored double vinyl LP.
File Under: Electronic, Ambient, Drone
Czarface & MF Doom: Super What? (Silver Age) LP
Superhero? Supervillain? Super What? Czarface & MF Doom’s newest team-up record Super What? is, much like the Avengers’ arch-enemy Thanos…inevitable (and all-powerful!). The icon MF Doom unleashes his wizardry and wordplay throughout the record, while Czarface (bolstered by the legendary Wu-Tang Clan’s Inspectah Deck and 7L & Esoteric) slash through each of the Czar-Keys’ produced tracks as the team raises the bar on their previous LP, Czarface meets Metalface (2018). Featuring golden-age superhero DMC (of RUN-DMC) and Hieroglyphics’ leader Del The Funky Homosapien, with art by longtime Czarface co-creator Lamour Supreme, this album will bring all the thrills of a cosmic summer blockbuster. Recorded and slated for an early 2020 release, and paused while COVID raged, this collaboration of masked men is finally finding its way to you on vinyl LP in 2021!
File Under: Hip Hop
Electric Jalaba: El Hal – The Feeling (Strut) LP
Electric Jalaba comprises six accomplished musicians with an empathy that feels telepathic and a groove that immerses. In Arabic, the mother tongue of Moroccan-born singer and guimbri player Simo Lagnawi, a leading practitioner of Gnawa music in Britain, they call this indefinable quality, “El Hal” – “The feeling”.
File Under: Morocco, Gnawa
Gabbard Brothers: Sell Your Gun Buy A Guitar (teal) (Karma Chief) 7″
From the ashes of the acclaimed Ohio rock band Buffalo Killers, singers/ songwriters/ siblings Zachary and Andy Gabbard have re-emerged as The Gabbard Brothers. And while there are still similarities to their previous band, with nods to greats like Neil Young, James Gang and Buffalo Springfield, there’s a hazier, organic, earthy-psych vibe running through the brothers’ new music. Fresh from their Black Keys tour (Zachary and Andy are current bassist and guitarist, respectively, in the Keys’ expanded tour group), The Gabbard Bros. are releasing their debut single “Sell Your Gun Buy A Guitar” via Colemine Records’ imprint Karma Chief, which CityBeat music editor Mike Breen called a “great ’60s-flavored pop nugget.” The B-side, ‘Too Much To Feel’ – a musical middle finger to the bigots, racists and folks holding on to an old, outdated way of thinking. This single will be included in their forthcoming debut studio album.
File Under: Rock, Soul, Psych
Lee, Rita: Build Up (Future Shock) LP
Yellow vinyl! Reissue of Rita Lee’s (Os Mutantes) debut solo album, originally issued in Brazil in 1970. Orchestral arrangements by Rogerio Duprat and production by Arnaldo Baptista, with a cover of The Beatles’ “And I Love Her.”
File Under: Brazil, Tropicalia
Okuté: s/t (Chulo/Daptone) LP
Spend enough time in Havana and you will bear witness to Rumba, Son, the cadences of Orisha, Palo, and Abakua traditions — Cuban music whose meanings, melodies and rhythms are informed by ancient African undercurrents whispering through the culture’s collective unconscious. Okuté, an ensemble of Havana’s finest rumberos, brings these constellations of sound to the surface, weaving them into something intuitively its own. Their self-titled album is as raw and unfiltered as Havana, where lines blur between the sacred and profane, between centuries and even millennia of melodies, rhythms and incantations. These elements straddle the old and new, incorporating unbreakable rhythms with lyrics and melodies strong enough to endure not only the middle passage but backbreaking centuries of slavery followed by struggles for independence. Okute is a true musical triumph – original and authentic, and like the essence of rumba, rich with spiritual medicine and musical delight for anyone who dares to listen.
File Under: Cuba, Rumba
Pierre, Alain: O Sidarta (FInders Keepers) LP
In tomorrow! Converging at a cultural terminus that bridges Belgian electronic music, French comic book culture and the cream of the cinéma fantastique film genre, this rescued and previously unreleased multi-discipline art film soundtrack entwines unlikely links between the likes of Daniel Schell’s Cos, French vampire film director Jean Rollin, Tintin, dark ambient pioneer Igor Wakhévitch, Heavy Metal magazine, Moebius, Alejandro Jodorowsky, choreographer Maurice Béjart, musique concrète legends François Bayle and Luc Ferrari, and some of the most notorious examples of pre-certificate Video Nasties and Mondo cinema. Needless to say the empty branch on the Finders Keepers family tree reserved for synthesist, sound designer and ethnological instrument enthusiast Alain Pierre is ready to bare some very strange fruit. The recent rediscovery of this 1974 short film documenting revered cosmic comic artist Philippe Druillet and the creation of one of his finest works has given fans and enthusiasts of counter culture comic design, sci-fi pop art, and French Futurism a rare glimpse and insight into a master at work during his creative halcyon. Directed by Swiss-born Michel Jakar, the film Ô Sidarta, (named after a seminal design created for French/Belgian bandes dessinée monthly Pilote) not only explored the mind-set and applied techniques of the artist, it also witnessed the master painter in his natural habitat, at home amongst gothic decor, while seizing the opportunity to animate some of the artist’s best work via quick-fire edits and cross-fades accompanied by the all-important back drop of Alain Pierre’s unique, multi-layered and potentially ground breaking space raga soundtrack.
File Under: OST, Electronic, Belgium
Red Fang: Arrows (Relapse) LP
Their first album in five years, everyone’s favorite beer-crushing, zombie-killing, air-guitar-contest-judging metal heroes Red Fang are back in action, doing what they do best! “This record feels more like Murder The Mountains to me than any record we’ve done before or since,” bassist/vocalist Aaron Beam ventures. “It doesn’t sound like that record, but Murder the Mountains was us doing whatever the fuck we wanted, and that’s what this is, too.” Arrows was recorded at Halfling Studios in the band’s hometown of Portland, OR, with longtime collaborator Chris Funk, producer of Murder The Mountains and 2013’s Whales and Leeches. “Chris is a major influencer as far as the weird ambient stuff in between the songs and the creepy incidental noises within the songs,” guitarist Bryan Giles points out. “I think he definitely creates an added layer of atmosphere that we wouldn’t have otherwise.” “Arrows” is also a proper title track, which is new territory for the band. “This is the first time we’ve named an album after a song that’s actually on the album,” Beam explains. “We have other albums that are named after songs of ours that are not on those albums. So this time we’re really fucking with you because we didn’t fuck with you.” Similarly, fans might not believe what the song “Arrows” is partially about. “If you’re confused by some of the lyrics to the song, that makes sense,” Beam explains. “But it makes reference to meditation. I started meditating six years ago, but I can only do it when I’m not feeling too anxious. So, when I don’t need it, that’s when I can do it.” Elsewhere, “Fonzi Scheme” was named after legendary Happy Days cool guy Arthur Fonzarelli – if only because it’s in the key of his famous catchphrase, “Aaay.” Funk came up with the idea of bringing in string players from the Portland Cello Project to class up the track. Meanwhile, the opening riff of closer “Funeral Coach” was written 11 years ago. But it took until recently for the song to blossom into its full double-entendre glory. “I was driving around and I saw a hearse that said ‘funeral coach services’ on the back,” Beam notes. “So the first thing that popped into my head was a dude with a headset and a clipboard going, ‘Alright, dudes – more tears! Five minutes in is when the tears are critical, or no one’s gonna believe that anyone cares that this person died.”
File Under: Metal
Reigning Sound: A Little More Time With Reigning Sound Merge) LP
Coloured copies next week! The old saying “you can’t go home again” is most often true. Life moves on and nothing stays the same, but that’s certainly not the case for songwriter Greg Cartwright, who returned to his home city of Memphis to record the new Reigning Sound album, A Little More Time with Reigning Sound. And it’s not only the terrain that’s familiar: For this new LP, Cartwright also reunited with Reigning Sound’s original “Memphis lineup” of Jeremy Scott (bass), Greg Roberson (drums), and Alex Greene (keyboards), all of whom played on the band’s earliest recordings. The new songs explore fresh lyrical and musical territories but at times also tastefully echo back to Reigning Sound’s Break Up, Break Down and Time Bomb High School. That’s not by chance – it’s just what happens when these musicians get in the same room. Their sonic chemistry hasn’t faded a bit.
File Under: Punk, Garage
Sa, Sandra: Vale Tudo (Mr. Bongo) LP
Released in 1983, Sandra Sá’s ‘Vale Tudo’ is one of the essential Brazilian-boogie-funk records of the era. Pure class throughout, with a dream team of incredible musicians and producers behind the scenes. For some, this album is regarded as Sandra’s magnum opus. It is drenched in the essence of the Brazilian 80s boogie and funk sound. A driving force behind this is the writing, arrangement, and musicianship of Lincoln Olivetti, who was instrumental in forging this unique sound within Brazilian production at the time. It is heightened even further by the astonishing team that feature on the record. Brazilian icon and heavyweight Tim Maia, Robson Jorge, Serginho Trombone, Oberdan Magalhães, Claudio Stevenson and Jamil Joanes (of Banda Black Rio fame), Junior Mendes, the list goes on. This crew of musicians synergised perfectly with Sandra’s vocal style, all complementing each other to create a classic. One of our favourites from the album is the opening track ‘Trem Da Central’, an infectious groove that when paired with Sandra’s cool and relaxed swaggering vocal resulted in an essential dancefloor jam! Equally delightful and dancefloor summoners are the catchy boogie funk of ‘Candura’, and the Earth, Wind & Fire sounding ‘Pela Cidade’. Tim Maia features on the fast-paced duet ‘Vale Tudo’, which was written especially for Sandra to sing with Tim, who at the time was one of the biggest stars in Brazilian music. These boogie and funk compositions are balanced by fine slow jams giving the album a satisfyingly well-rounded feel. Sandra had been working in music since the 70s and continues to do so to this day, but this period of the early 80s was a rich and prolific time for her. If you are a fan of Robson Jorge & Lincoln Olivetti’s self-titled album from 1982 or Marcos Valle’s 1983 album featuring the song ‘Estrelar’, then this one is definitely for you. ‘Vale Tudo’ is a must-have record from a talented artist at the top of her game and Sandra makes it all sound so effortless.
File Under: Brazil, Boogie, Funk
Torche: Admission (Relapse) LP
Coloured vinyl! Fifteen years into their career, Torche have established themselves as a cornerstone of American heavy rock. Their highly anticipated new album, Admission, sees the band expanding on the themes and songwriting prowess that have always reverberated with music fans throughout their critically acclaimed discography. Everything about Admission feels like an elevation. Torche’s guitar work is loaded with powerful, refreshing riffing and an array of profound textures, proving to be more versatile and crushing than ever before. The band’s unforgettable vocal harmonies are met with hook-driven, pop sensibilities that propel the music to new heights. Track such as “Slide,” “Times Missing” and the monumental title track see Torche hone in on these very elements to create one of 2019’s most captivating albums. Admission is a triumph, as it launches Torche forward into the next chapter of their already inimitable career.
File Under: Metal
Tusques, Francois: La Chasse Au Snark (Cacophonic) LP
In tomorrow! In 1967, 1968 and 1969 most of my works were happenings loosely based on Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting Of The Snark, a not-so-cryptic poem that, to my mind, gave clues to free the theatre in the same way the “new music” had freed jazz. It never made it to record and I gave up on the idea when I met Sunny Murray and Alan Silva when they arrived in Paris in the summer of ‘69. Few concert venues would have anything to do with us but we didn’t want that kind of connection with the public – famous or not (Jacques Higelin joined on occasion!) – which more often than not would join us on stage to bang percussion, sing, dance, freak out. Our favorite part was when we shut down the lights near the end, silently left the stage, and when the light went on for the curtain… The public had formally taken our place. Galleries, museums and art/theatre/dance festivals, on the other hand, were open to this early multimedia event – complete with films, masks and early electronic devices (Bernard Vitet, the trumpet player, brought an early portable reverb system to the proceedings). The reels and cassettes we rescued from my basement are rather evasively labelled and the following data is far from precise. The core group was me on piano, Bernard Vitet on trumpet and electronic treatments, Beb Guérin on double bass, Daniel Laloux (who later had tremendous success in film, theatre and voice acting) as MC, Jean Frenay and Jean Vern (who did the artwork for le nouveau jazz) on saxophones, Michel Kurylo, Annick Astier, Lambert Terbrack and my then wife Françoise Tusques “singing” and “acting”, so to say. Jacques Thollot, Aldo Romano and later Noel Mcghie were on drums. I know for sure side A is a studio recording carried out in august 1968 by the comité action musique, an activist group of artists and engineers aiming to reclaim the means of production from the “record industry”. The line-up is me, Vitet, Guérin, Laloux, Frenay, Vern, Astier, Françoise Tusques, no drums (everyone doubling on percussion), and Michel Portal on bass clarinet and saxophone as guest. Side C is a montage of the surviving bits of the happenings that took place at La Vieille Grille between August 1967 – March 1968 (sometimes on a daily basis in ‘68!), the museum of modern art during the May ‘68 demonstrations, and the Biennale Of Paris in February 1969. Sides B and D are less theatre oriented and may have been recorded either at the American center in October 1968, the international students center in November 1968 (Barre Phillips on bass and Barney Wilen on sax guested on these dates but I’m not able to confirm they are on the tapes), or in the winter and spring of 1969. However, the cassette for side B only read “Snark 1969”… The name of the group (it changed every time it ventured out), the title of the concerts and accordingly the cuts on these LPs were all lifted randomly from Lewis Carroll’s poems and novels. Back then, I described what we did in this way: “Composers, directors, writers, band leaders, those people are vampires sucking the blood of musicians and actors. They are byproducts of the current state of our society. Yet, someone who has something to convey needs performers… Unless a cultural revolution happens soon, I think it’s impossible to overcome those contradictions. Therefore, I wish that this rendition of the hunting of the Snark would be the last ever rendition of any work of art, and that the next stage of evolution is that any individual craving for expression will have the physical and intellectual means to create without constraints, to freely associate with others, without bearing the weight of so-called geniuses and nobodies. We want to bring to the stage the same revolution that happened in jazz with the new music. François Tusques
File Under: Jazz, Experimental
War On Drugs: Wagonwheel Blues (Secretly Canadian) LP
Blue vinyl! The War On Drugs push the boundaries of a quintessentially American music. Guitars soar and colorful clouds roll past whatever sun or moon you are cruising under, through whatever old bar you are reveling within. The War On Drugs point toward a tireless horizon in the distance that you will never reach but are compelled to chase. It’s a tail you’ve chased your whole life and will continue chasing because your life is more poetic when you are moving toward it – your cinematography is more rich. 2008 debut Wagonwheel Blues is one of those albums that each of us holds onto tightly. They get moved from apartment to apartment through the years; they are songs on the radio that follow us from town to town. They evoke waves of nostalgia and grow more poignant with each new bump along the road. In The War On Drugs we have a fresh face that already sounds like an old friend. Bringing a dose of the West Coast to the hard streets of Philadelphia, their songs recall the ’80s guitar army of Sonic Youth with the captivating lyrics and vocal stylings of Tom Petty or Bruce Springsteen. Songwriter Adam Granduciel (vocals/guitar) leads the attack with his lyrical paintings of his own American landscape. Walls of guitar – acoustic, electric, and twelve-string – douse each track of this debut album, threatening to cast the band into space rock territory, but the melodies and immediately identifiable lyrics soldier on to keep these songs from blasting into the esoteric beyond. With Wagonwheel Blues, Granduciel joins a distinct set of songwriters in a new golden era of polished-yet-subcultural underground music. The War On Drugs have that unmistakable singularity that comes along only so often, with the spirit of invention and playfulness lying earnestly at the forefront of their creative process.
File Under: Indie Rock
Younge, Adrian: The American Negro (Jazz is Dead) LP
The American Negro is an unapologetic critique, detailing the systemic and malevolent psychology that afflicts people of color. This project dissects the chemistry behind blind racism, using music as the medium to restore dignity and self-worth to my people. It should be evident that any examination of black music is an examination of the relationship between black and white America. This relationship has shaped the cultural evolution of the world and its negative roots run deep into our psyche. Featuring various special guests performing over a deeply soulful, elaborate orchestration, The American Negro reinvents the black native tongue through this album and it’s attendant short film (TAN) and 4-part podcast (invisible Blackness). The American Negro – both as a collective experience and as individual expressions – is insightful, provocative and inspiring and should land at the center of our ongoing reckoning with race, racism and the writing of the next chapter of American history.
File Under: Jazz, Hip Hop
Various: Best of Philadelphia International (Legacy) LP
Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of one of music’s most historic record labels, Philadelphia International Records, with this essential 12- track compilation! The groundbreaking label, founded in 1971 by innovative and prolific songwriters/producers Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff, became the birthplace, incubator and launching pad for the sophisticated Philly Soul sound also known as “The Sound of Philadelphia.” This compilation contains some of the most beloved and iconic songs from the label, from artists like The O’Jays, Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes, Teddy Pendergrass, Patti Labelle, MFSB, The Three Degrees and more!
File Under: Soul, Funk
Various: Demos (Vinyl on Demand) LP
This 2xLP set collects a series of recordings recently discovered in Agi Yuzuru’s archives and never released before on vinyl. It offers further insights about legendary Japanese cult DIY label Vanity Records and some of their groups. The 2xLP set includes the following contents: LP-1 Den Sei Kwan – P’ (unpublished) An unpublished album from the cassette tapes owned by Aki Joe. The Den Sei Kwan’s crashing style of Pocket Planetaria recurs in a more intense form with increased compositional power. An album that can’t be thought of as a work made nearly 40 years ago. LP-2 Various – Demos (unpublished)
File Under: Japan, Experimental, DIY, Electronic
Various: Strum & Thrum: The American Jangle Underground 1983-1987 (Captured Tracks) LP
Strum & Thrum: The American Jangle Underground 1983-1987 is the first volume of Captured Tracks’ new venture into compilations – Excavations. Inspired by Pebbles, Killed By Death, Soul Jazz and Numero Group compilations, Excavations is a series dedicated to compiling forgotten music from the 1970s – 1990s that has a connection to Captured Tracks’ sound and aesthetic. Much like the Cleaners from Venus, the Wake, and Saäda Bonaire reissues we’ve put out, Excavations releases will bridge the past to our current roster and showcase the kinds of sounds that inspire us. It makes sense that the first volume of Excavations is Strum & Thrum. As an American label, we’ve often wondered why British, Aussie, and Kiwi indie rock from the ‘80s has had the most influence on modern acts and the collector’s market. Granted, the music released on Creation, Sarah, Cherry Red, Postcard, Flying Nun, et al. during that era was fantastic, but a parallel to this sound existed in the US and Canada as well. Outside of bands like R.E.M., the Rain Parade, the Dream Syndicate, and a few others, most of these bands received little attention from national or international press outlets and markets – unless they opted for a “big ‘80s” sound and signed to a major. The acts on this compilation are the antithesis of that, with a true DiY spirit that lead many of these bands to self-record and self-release within tiny local scenes in small cities and college towns across America. Though hardcore dominated the American underground at the time, the indie scene was no less vital and operated utilizing many of the distribution channels hardcore set up. The two genres may have sounded nothing alike, but the DiY ethos and dedication to community was the same… But this isn’t the story we’re used to hearing. While noted underground archivist and compilation producer Johan Kugelberg has called the ‘80s the “Dark Ages” of indie rock, Strum & Thrum aims to shed light on this forgotten era of jangly, melodic rock music that emerged from the ashes of post punk and helped kick start the indie rock boom of the early ‘90s that continues to this day. Indeed, many artists featured on Strum & Thrum went on to be part of this boom – Archer Prewitt from the Sea & Cake, Jon Ginoli from Pansy Division, Ric Menck from Velvet Crush, Brent Rademaker from Beachwood Sparks, Barbara Manning, and more went on to be in well known bands in the ‘90s. We’re very proud of this compilation and guarantee it’s an essential listen for any fan of classic ‘80s indie bands like the Go-Betweens, Felt, the Church, the Bats, Shop Assistants, and the like. And if you’re a fan of the early records Captured Tracks released by Beach Fossils, DIIV and Wild Nothing, you’ll find a lot to love here as well. Spread across two LPs, Strum & Thrum includes an 80+ page booklet with an extensive oral history of the ‘80s indie scene, an introduction by Captured Tracks label head Mike Sniper, and tons of archival images and ephemera. Long live the jangle underground!
File Under: Indie Rock, Pop, DIY
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