…..news letter #901 – amber haze!!!…..

Well… if you haven’t looked out a window today, maybe don’t? Annnnnnyway…. not a whole lot in this week, but after last week, we need a little reprieve, and time to save for next week……..

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…..pick of the week…..

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Earth: Full Upon Her Burning Lips (Sargent House) LP
With their latest album ‘Full Upon Her Burning Lips’, Earth have stripped away the layers and auxiliary instrumentation that embellished some of their previous records and have deconstructed their dynamic to the core duo of Dylan Carlson on guitar and bass and Adrienne Davies on drums and percussion. The ten tracks on ‘Full Upon Her Burning Lips’ came together in bits and pieces. Some songs stemmed from a handful of musical phrases and repeating patterns concocted in moments of downtime during their 2017 tour schedule, while others came from rehearsals in the months leading up to recording or in moments of divine inspiration in the studio. The record was engineered, mixed, and mastered by longtime associate Mell Dettmer at Studio Soli. Knowing their process and their sound, Dettmer helped harness, shape, and document the songs in a manner that highlights the depth of Earth’s sparse components, capturing a hidden dimension to the patterns and creating a kaleidoscope of auditory activity.

File Under: Ambient, Electronic
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…..new arrivals…..

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Comet is Coming: Prophecy (Leaf) LP
“In the sky will be seen a fire, dragging a tail of sparks…” Just as Nostradamus prophesised in his quatrains, The Comet Is Coming: “The great star for seven days will burn, the cloud will cause two suns to appear and the big mastiff all night will howl. End times are upon us people, but Danalogue The Conqueror, Betamax Killer and King Shabaka are here to spread light and joy and fire, for they are The Comet Is Coming. Five tracks of freewheeling psychedelia and honking jazz punk mayhem is your soundtrack. Strap in and lift-off to the dizzying “Neon Baby”. Slip down the helter skelter wormhole of “Star Exploding In Slow Motion” and wake up dazed on a verdant astral plane in time to”Do The Milky Way”. Moon-bathe in a sonic Sea of Tranquility that is “Cosmic Serpent” and comedown to the dark ambient state-of-the-universe address that is “Final Days Of The Apocalypse”. But most importantly: hit the floor and shake it like there”s no tomorrow Here is the universe in a microcosm; the life-force distilled down to its raw essence: sex and dancing. Sub-bass, slamming analogue, unhinged sax breaks. The rhythm of life. Armageddon is coming: what better way to spend it than letting our brave young voyagers take you on a topographical journey of a different bent?

File Under: Jazz, Psych
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Justin Townes Earle: Saint of Lost Causes (New West) LP
The Saint Of Lost Causes is the 8th album from American roots troubadour, Justin Townes Earle. Earle’s latest album finds a songwriter and artist who is unflinching and unequivocal in his truth. When writing this album, Earle focused on a different America—the disenfranchised and the downtrodden, the oppressed and the oppressors, the hopeful and the hopeless. There’s the drugstore-cowboy-turned-cop-killer praying for forgiveness (“Appalachian Nightmare”) and the common Michiganders persevering through economic and industrial devastation (“Flint City Shake It”); the stuck mother dreaming of a better life on the right side of the California tracks (“Over Alameda”) and the Cuban man in New York City weighed down by a world of regret (“Ahi Esta Mi Nina”); the “used up” soul desperate to get to New Orleans (“Ain’t Got No Money”) and the “sons of bitches” in West Virginia poisoning the land and sea (“Don’t Drink the Water”). These are individuals and communities in every corner of the country, struggling through the ordinary—and sometimes extraordinary—circumstances of everyday life.

File Under: Country
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Operators: Radiant Dawn (Last Gang) LP
Operators is a Montreal based project created by Daniel Boeckner, (Wolf Parade, Handsome Furs, Divine Fits), Devojka, and Sam Brown (Divine Fits, New Bomb Turks). The band released an EP (EP1) in 2014, and released their first LP (Blue Wave) in 2016. Follow-up full-length, Radiant Dawn features 9-tracks which meld raw analog hardware with Boeckner’s distinct voice to create an immersive cinematic sound. Interspersed between the tracks are instrumental intertitles that amplify the album’s 1970s sci-fi dystopian feel. For fans of Boeckner’s catalog, Radiant Dawn feels like the next logical step in the artist’s two decade career, while maintaining a completely fresh energy Radiant Dawn was written and recorded throughout 2018 and early 2019 in Montreal and Vancouver Island. Arcade Fire’s Tim Kingsbury played bass and arranged the song “Low Life,” the album’s closing track. The LP was mixed by Wolf Parade’s Arlen Thompson, as well as up and coming Montreal engineer Napster Vertigo (who also produced the album). The album was mastered by the Lodge’s Emily Lazar (on the heels of her 2019 Grammy award win).

File Under: Indie Rock, Wolf Parade
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Carlton Jumel Smith: 1634 Lexington Avenue (Timmion) LP
After hitting hard in the soul circles with his deep Timmion debut single “I Can’t Love You No More” and following it with “This Is What Love Looks Like”, Carlton Jumel Smith is back at it with an album full of contemporary soul gold. The material mined here is none other than the vintage groove troves of classic 1970’s r&b, something the Cold Diamond & Mink crew brews up effortlessly. The songwriting and expression by Carlton carry strong echoes of Curtom productions, Memphis soul and naturally Motown. We’re talking about musical traditions he’s incorporated into his expression since witnessing James Brown at the Apollo as an 8-year old. Opening up with the dance floor ready testimony “Woman You Made Me”, Carlton sets the mood up good, whereas “Remember Me” delivers a devastating Chi-Town-styled group harmony groover. Fans of Menahan Street Band will get a kick out of the moody “Help Me (Save Me From Myself)”, which is followed by the beautiful deep “Ain’t That Love”, carried by an intimate folk guitar lick. The album’s b-side sequences the otherworldly shuffler “You Gonna Need Me” with Carlton’s rehash of his mid-Millennium release “I’d Better”, swapping its programmed modern soul for a more organic form. On his album Carlton Jumel Smith explores different shades of the golden era of soul music, and it would be hard to find anyone doing it as fresh in 2019. You know those front to back soul album classics you treasure in your collection? This will stand up with the best of them.

File Under: Funk, Soul
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…..Restocks…. 

The Cure: Disintegration (Warner) LP
The Cure: Three Imaginary Boys (Rhino) LP
Nils Frahm: Encores 1 (Erased Tapes) LP
Michael Garrick Sextet: Prelude to Heart is a Lotus (Gearbox) LP
Gorillaz: Demon Days (Parlophone) LP
Karen O & Danger Mouse: Lux Prima (BMG) LP
Jenny Lewis: On The Line (Warner) LP
War on Drugs: A Deeper Understanding (Epic) LP
Yesterday’s New Quintet: Angles Without Edges (Stones Throw) LP
Yesterday’s New Quintet: Yesterday’s Universe (Stones Throw) LP
Young Jazz Rebels: Slave Riot (Stones Throw) LP

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…..news letter #900 – Nine Hundred!!!…..

900! I’ve put together 900 of these news letters! That’s just ridiculous! I can’t think of anything else I’ve done 900 times in a row. I hope you’ve found these weekly dispatches informative, helpful, inspiring, life altering, and entertaining.

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…..picks of the week…..

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R. Beny: Echo’s Verse (Dauw) LP
1st pressing on clear vinyl…. Dauw welcomes back the California based r beny to the label for his new album “echo’s verse”. It forms the follow-up of his acclaimed “saudade” album (selected as one of the best ambient albums of 2018 by Fact Magazine). “Echo’s verse” forms no exception on that regard and continues along the same melancholic lines of his previous work. However, whereas the initial albums were much more centred around feelings of loneliness, isolation and solitude, the new album clearly moves away from a sole focus on sad and distressing emotions. “echo’s verse” touches the other side of the spectrum as it is about emotional connections, bonds and not feeling alone in the universe.

File Under: Ambient, Electronic
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LDS82604_Emily Sprague: Water Memory/Mount Vision (RVNG Intl.) LP
In tomorrow… Emily A. Sprague’s Water Memory and Mount Vision albums are presented in new and complete detail. Emily’s work concerns the connectedness of all things, giving living, core form to the mysterious forces that guide earthly activity and human contact with them. Memory and vision, ocean and mountains, question and answer, emotions and infinity. Sunshine, lizard, sea salt. Through sound and poetry, Emily focuses on fleeting moments of crystalline clarity and meditates on expanded lifetimes of intricate meaning-making. This vision is unfaltering beautiful, gently profound. But, as Ursula K. Le Guin intuits in her translation of the Tao Te Ching, “In poetry, beauty is no ornament; it is the meaning. It is the truth.” A collection of reflections are visible in the mirrored structures of Water Memory and Mount Vision, two chapters – two halves – each complemented by a written verse. As much about the presence in youthful experimentation as the permanence of transition and maturation, Water Memory is the first long-form instrumental music Emily ever channeled, generated over a year of self and sonic exploration. Water Memory unfolds like a collection of ancient affirmations; at times playful, even illusive, but always glittering and real. The meaning, like the sight, is aqueous – never too solid, nonetheless substantial. Each verse is intentionally titled: “A Lake” is perhaps an exclamation (‘look – a lake!’), an invitation to break its cool glass surface into ripples with your body, float on its skin, observe the inhabitants of its province – birds circling, insects chirping, its own patch of sky just being blue, endlessly. It is nameless, unpossessed, and contained. “Water Memory 1” is woven from cyclical, melodic phrases riding on wistful tides. “Water Memory 2” is its expanded twin, combining coastal sound with a free-flowing, synthesized drone and simple, improvisatory held notes seemingly resonating from behind a falling water facade. “Dock” is a liminal space between water and earth, human structure decaying into nature, singing with an alto, organelle voice. And “Your Pond,” is childlike minutiae looped sweetly, a gift now belonging. By contrast, Mount Vision was conceived in a smaller window of time than its predecessor, the pure residue of intense emotional build up during a period of self-healing and unguarded reflection. Composed and captured in Northern California, the body of Mount Vision is a trio of synthesizer pieces; deeply grounded compositions of extended tones trilling into the ether. Between them is a “Piano” pair, two pieces which loop portions of a lilted phrase augmented by, in “Piano 1,” almost invisible, synthesized strands, and in “Piano 2,” field recordings of birds. “Huckleberry” is the most textured of entry in this compendium, embodying flickering activity of miniscule worlds, a vivid description of environment. Though undeniably the product of potent emotional experience, Mount Vision is a vision of newness, of soul convalescence. It leaves off where its poetic complement ends, “next time.” Not so much an utterance of regret, but the invocation of a new phase, always with respect to the last, a pattern that eternally visits. Emily’s mission on this planet may be facilitating – or illuminating – the correspondence between innermost knowledge and intelligent nature, and Water Memory / Mount Vision are most certainly monumental documents along this sharing path. Newly sequenced and Taylor Deupree mastered double LP edition.

File Under: Ambient, Electronic
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…..new arrivals…..

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Altin Gun: Gece (ATO) LP
In tomorrow… Following their 2018 debut album On, Amsterdam-based six-member band Altin Gün returns with their sophomore album Gece. The new record firmly establishes the band as masterful interpreters of the Anatolian rock and folk legacy, and as a leading voice in the emergent global psych scene. Altin Gün was inspired by founder and bass player Jasper Verhulst’s deep passion for Turkish folk and psychedelia. “The songs come out of a long tradition. This is music that tries to be a voice for a lot of other people,” he explains. While most of the material they present has been a familiar part of Turkish life for many years – some of it associated with the late national icon Neşet Ertaş – it’s never been interpreted like this before. This music is electric Turkish history, shot through with a heady buzz of 21st century intensity, filled with funk-like grooves and explosive psychedelic textures. “We do have a weak spot for the music of the late ‘60s and ‘70s,” Verhulst admits. “With all the instruments and effects that arrived then, it was an exciting time. Everything was new, and it still feels fresh. We’re not trying to copy it, but these are the sounds we like and we’re trying to make them our own.” And what they create really is their own. Altin Gün radically reimagine an entire tradition. The electric saz (a three-string Turkish lute) and voice of Erdinç Ecevit is urgent and immediately distinctive, while keyboards, guitar, bass, drums, and percussion power the surging rhythms and Merve Daşdemir sings with the mesmerizing power of a young Grace Slick. On Gece, Altin Gün bring together music from many different Anatolian sources (the only original is the improvised piece “Şoför Bey”); echoing new textures and radiating a spectrum of vibrant color (ironic, as Gece means “night” in Turkish). It’s the sound of a band both committed to its sources and excitedly transforming them. It’s the sound of Altın Gün. Incandescent and sweltering.

File Under: Psych, Anatolian
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Black Mountain: Destroyer (Dine Alone) LP
In tomorrow… Black Mountain’s Stephen McBean turned 16 after Woodstock but before Varg started burning down Norwegian churches. And yet, until just two short years ago, McBean had lived his entire adolescence and adult life without a proper driver’s license, that first and most coveted ticket to personal independence. The space rock psych warrior’s new album, Destroyer, is imbued with all that wild-ass freedom and newfound agency (and anxiety and fear) that comes with one’s first time behind the wheel. Destroyer, named after the discontinued single-run 1985 Dodge Destroyer muscle car, is structured around the feeling of driving a hot rod. The album exists in the middle of the early-to-mid 80s Los Angeles war between punk and hair metal – it’s exhilarating, spirited, and dangerous. Throughout, youthful themes run rampant: “Boogie Lover” cruises down the Sunset Strip, “Horns Arising” is a fill-up at a desert gas station just in time to see a UFO hovering near a mesa, and “High Rise” rounds out a sense of teenage discovery. To create Destroyer, McBean shacked himself up in his rehearsal space and invited over friends from the endless rock ‘n’ roll highway, bringing to life 22 songs. While some were laid back into shallow graves to dig up once again at a later date, the others were left above ground and polished and given life, some transformed by longtime band member Jeremy Schmidt. This generation of Black Mountain also sees new members Rachel Fannan (Sleepy Sun) and Adam Bulgasem (Dommengang & Soft Kill) as well as familiar collaborators Kliph Scurlock (Flaming Lips), Kid Millions (Oneida) and John Congleton (St. Vincent, Swans). Collectively, there’s a renewed vitality to Black Mountain on Destroyer – a seasoned, veteran of heady hard rock that’s found new, young muscles to flex and roads to explore.

File Under: Rock, Psych
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John Cameron: Jazzrock (Be With) LP
Be With Records have raided the KPM archives to reissue another favorites from the KPM 1000 series, John Cameron’s Jazzrock, originally released in 1972. A dramatic suite of themes, montage, sequences, and generics — an enormously influential and heavy KPM set of timeless, killer funk breaks from 1972 by the mighty John Cameron. Jazzrock is an aggressive, percussion-heavy album with an energy that leaves jaws on the floor. Breaks and beats for days with electric piano, bass loops, and pounding percussion. Funky jazz with a deep, tough, soundtrack feel. As with all of Be With Records’ KPM reissues, the audio for Jazzrock comes from the original analog tapes and has been remastered for vinyl by Be With regular Simon Francis. Be With have taken the same care with the sleeves, handing the reproduction duties over to Richard Robinson, the current custodian of KPM’s brand identity. And don’t worry: those KPM stickers aren’t stuck directly on the sleeves! 180 gram vinyl.

File Under: Jazz, Library, KPM
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Flying Lotus: Flamagra (Warp) LP/DLX LP
In tomorrow… Enter Flamagra – a work that sweeps up every quantum advance and creative leap of the last dozen years of Flying Lotus’ career and takes them even further; the Warp release encompasses hip-hop, funk, soul, jazz, global dance music, tribal poly-rhythms, IDM, the L.A. Beat scene, but it soars above a specific vortex whose coordinates can’t be accurately charted. Other than to say that it is a Flying Lotus record, perhaps the definitive one. An astral afro-futurist masterpiece of deep soul, cosmic dust, and startling originality. He’s aided by a dream cast of collaborators: Anderson .Paak, George Clinton, Yukimi Nagano of Little Dragon, Tierra Whack, Denzel Curry, Ishmael Butler of Shabazz Palaces, Toro y Moi, and his telepathic kinsman, Thundercat. David Lynch even pops up for an eerie narration wherein he somberly warns that, “Fire is coming.” But they all naturally bend to the magnetic warp of Lotus’ spells – a transfixing hex unto themselves.

File Under: Hip Hop, Electronic, Funk, Jazz
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Alan Hawkshaw/Keith Mansfield: Beat Incidental (Be With) LP
Be With Records have raided the KPM archives to reissue another favorite from the KPM 1000 series, Alan Hawkshaw and Keith Mansfield’s Beat Incidental, originally released in 1969. Underscore moods and links, contemporary beat music idiom — Includes some of the most sublime, sub-ten second, tracks you’re ever likely to hear, alongside more adequately sized library funk heat. The dream team of Alan Hawkshaw and Keith Mansfield are here at the helm of one of the most legendary of the legendary KPM albums, originally released in 1969. Beat Incidental is psychedelic pop-soul that hits hard thanks to fuzz guitars, growling flutes, deep Hammond grooves, and drum breaks galore: it’s basically “drama jazz”. As with all of Be With Records’ KPM reissues, the audio for Jazzrock comes from the original analog tapes and has been remastered for vinyl by Be With regular Simon Francis. Be With have taken the same care with the sleeves, handing the reproduction duties over to Richard Robinson, the current custodian of KPM’s brand identity. And don’t worry: those KPM stickers aren’t stuck directly on the sleeves! 180 gram vinyl.

File Under: Library, Jazz, Funk, KPM
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Cate Le Bon: Reward (Mexican Summer) LP
In tomorrow… It was on a mountainside in Cumbria that the first whispers of Cate Le Bon’s fifth studio album poked their buds above the earth. “There’s a strange romanticism to going a little bit crazy and playing the piano to yourself and singing into the night,” she says, recounting the year living solitarily in the Lake District which gave way to Reward. By day, ever the polymath, Le Bon painstakingly learnt to make solid wood tables, stools and chairs from scratch; by night she looked to a second-hand Meers – the first piano she had ever owned – for company, “windows closed to absolutely everyone,” and accidentally poured her heart out. The result is an album every bit as stylistically varied, surrealistically-inclined and tactile as those in the enduring outsider’s back catalog, but one that is also intensely introspective and profound; her most personal to date. This sense of privacy maintained throughout is helped by the various landscapes within which Reward took shape: Stinson Beach, LA, and Brooklyn via Cardiff and The Lakes. Recording at Panoramic House [Stinson Beach, CA], a residential studio on a mountain overlooking the ocean, afforded Le Bon the ability to preserve the remoteness she had captured during the writing of Reward in Staveley, Lake District. Over this extended period a cast of trusted and loved musicians joined Le Bon, Khouja and fellow co-producer Josiah Steinbrick – Stella Mozgawa (of Warpaint) on drums and percussion; Stephen Black (aka Sweet Baboo) on bass and saxophone and longtime collaborators Huw Evans (aka H.Hawkline) and Josh Klinghoffer on guitars – and were added to the album, “one by one, one on one.” The fact that these collaborators have appeared variously on Le Bon’s previous outputs no doubt goes some way to aid the preservation of a signature sound despite a relatively drastic change in approach. Be it on her more minimalist, acoustic-leaning 2009 debut album Me Oh My or critically acclaimed, liquid-riffed 2013 LP Mug Museum as well as 2016’s Crab Day, Cate Le Bon’s solo work – and indeed also her production work, such as that carried out on recent Deerhunter album Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared? (2019) – has always resisted pigeonholing, walking the tightrope between krautrock aloofness and heartbreaking tenderness; deadpan served with a twinkle in the eye, a flick of the fringe and a lick of the Telecaster. The multifaceted nature of Le Bon’s art – its ability to take on multiple meanings and hold motivations which are not immediately obvious – is evident right down to the album’s very name. “People hear the word ‘reward’ and they think that it’s a positive word” says Le Bon, “and to me it’s quite a sinister word in that it depends on the relationship between the giver and the receiver. I feel like it’s really indicative of the times we’re living in where words are used as slogans, and everything is slowly losing its meaning.” The record, then, signals a scrambling to hold onto meaning; it is a warning against lazy comparisons and face values. It is a sentiment nicely summed up by the furniture-making musician as she advises: “Always keep your hand behind the chisel.”

File Under: Indie Rock
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Roisin Murphy: Overpowered (Be With) LP
A singular presence in 21st Century pop, Róisín Murphy is a genuine maverick. Her seminal 2007 album Overpowered received widespread acclaim from music critics yet, arriving at a time of waning major label interest in vinyl, it was released only as a hyper-limited double LP. Accordingly, in the decade since, it has been obscenely difficult to find. It is a true honour to finally reissue this thoroughly modern dance-pop classic on Be With. Whilst remaining true to the loud pink and orange wax of the original release, this remastered edition enjoys the bonus inclusion of fan-favourite “Parallel Lives”, finally making an appearance on vinyl.

File Under: Pop
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Alan Parker/John Cameron: Afro Rock (Be With) LP
Be With Records have raided the KPM archives to reissue another favorite from the KPM 1000 series, Alan Parker and John Cameron’s Afro Rock, originally released in 1973. Hard Afro pop featuring large percussive rhythm section and front line. One of the best-loved of all the KPM LPs. Afro Rock was recorded at Morgan Studios by John Cameron and Alan Parker in London in 1973 as a collection of stripped-down African rhythms, virtuoso jazz instrumentation, fuzzed-up wah wah guitars, and spaced-out library breaks. The percussion is effortlessly funky, and those flutes so melodic, it’s as if the LP was crafted with the beat lovers of the future firmly in mind. As Cameron himself described it in Unusual Sounds, this is “heavy duty drum-and-bass salsa music”. As with all of Be With Records’ KPM reissues, the audio for Afro Rock comes from the original analog tapes and has been remastered for vinyl by Be With regular Simon Francis. Be With have taken the same care with the sleeves, handing the reproduction duties over to Richard Robinson, the current custodian of KPM’s brand identity. And don’t worry: those KPM stickers aren’t stuck directly on the sleeves! 180 gram vinyl.

File Under: Library, Funk, Jazz
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Stereolab: Mars Audiac Quintet (Duphonic) LP
In tomorrow… May 2019 sees the start of Stereolab’s seven album reissue campaign when 1993’s Transient Random Noise-Bursts With Announcements and 1994’s Mars Audiac Quintet are reissued, via Warp Records and Duophonic UHF Disks, as expanded and re-mastered editions on vinyl. Each album has been re-mastered from the original 1/2″ tapes by Bo Kondren at Calyx Mastering and overseen by Tim Gane. Bonus material will include alternate takes, 4 track demos and unreleased mixes. Mars Audiac Quintet saw Stereolab beginning to shed their experimental tendencies in favor of a post-modern space-age pop. The album exudes a sophisticated cool and catchiness that helped them gain new fans while straddling the line between their experimental-rock brethren and the ascending class of pre-millennial British pop. It’s also the album that put them on the A-list of underground rock bands. Arguably the band’s most accessible record, it not only features gentler textures than any of its predecessors, but also more upbeat and hooky songs.

 File Under: Indie Rock, Electronic, Pop
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Stereolab: Transient Random-Noise Bursts with Announcements (Duophonic) LP
In tomorrow… May 2019 sees the start of Stereolab’s seven album reissue campaign when 1993’s Transient Random Noise-Bursts With Announcements and 1994’s Mars Audiac Quintet are reissued, via Warp Records and Duophonic UHF Disks, as expanded and re-mastered editions on vinyl. Each album has been re-mastered from the original 1/2″ tapes by Bo Kondren at Calyx Mastering and overseen by Tim Gane. Bonus material will include alternate takes, 4 track demos and unreleased mixes. Transient Random-Noise Bursts With Announcements was Stereolab’s breakthrough album, their major label debut, and one of the most innovative releases of the ’90s, a musical decade signified by breaking down artistic barriers. It built on the promise of the band’s early releases Switched On and Peng! by expanding the scope of their highly distinctive mix of one-chord Krautrock grooves, distorted vintage keyboard noise and Euro-pop. Transient Random-Noise Bursts With Announcements remains Stereolab’s most eclectic and experimental early release and also hints at the evolution that lead them to indie-rock stardom.

File Under: Indie Rock, Electronic, Pop
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Marlon Williams: Live at Auckland Town Hall (Dead Oceans) LP
In tomorrow… Live at Auckland Town Hall marks Marlon Williams’ first official live album and the follow-up to his critically acclaimed 2018 sophomore LP, Make Way for Love. Williams spent the bulk of 2018 touring across the world in support of Make Way for Love, sharing the stage with his second family, The Yarra Benders. Last year also saw Williams’ silver screen debut with a small role and performance in Bradley Cooper’s Oscar-nominated A Star is Born. Finally, after the whirlwind, Williams returned home to New Zealand, performing two sold-out nights at the Auckland Town Hall as a fitting cap to the world tour. Across the past several years on the road, the Marlon Williams live show has taken on an almost mystical status – not just for Williams’ extraordinary voice, but also for the hypnotic command he has over an audience, his seamless blending of genres, and the effortless, instinctive relationship he shares with his band. Live at Auckland Town Hall captures an artist both early enough in his career to be humbled by the occasion, and developed enough to present a stunning catalog of music and quality of performance. Live at Auckland Town Hall feels sure to enter the canon of great live albums in the years to come, a dazzling snapshot of Marlon Williams’ musical singularity.

File Under: Folk, Country
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BEWITH053LP_CULarry Jon Wilson: Let Me Sing My Song to You (Be With) LP
Larry Jon Wilson came to the party late. When he arrived in Nashville, he had already spent ten years in corporate America. He did not start playing guitar until the age of 30, but five years later he released his debut, New Beginnings and followed it a year later with Let Me Sing My Song To You. A revelation among the hipsters and critics of Nashville, they ensured Larry Jon was immediately embraced as part of the mid-’70s “outlaw country movement” that eschewed slick production in favor of a raw, gritty approach. When a film crew came to document this burgeoning sound, they made straight for Larry Jon’s door. He was a singer and writer of intensely private, painfully moving tales of southern life. With his deep, papa-bear voice, funky southern groove, and richly evocative narratives of rural Georgia, Larry Jon was a unique stylist but his gutsy, greasy sound did not translate into sales. Too funky for the country crowd, too heartfelt for pop radio, he fell between the cracks. New Beginnings and Let Me Sing My Song to You play like two halves of a double album, showcasing his unique mix of country, folk, soul and swampy blues. New Beginnings had failed to propel Larry Jon to even the modest cult acclaim enjoyed by his contemporaries; the frustration this conjured can be heard on Let Me Sing My Song To You. Both the title track and the self-deprecating “Drowning In The Mainstream” speak of Wilson’s hope to inch a few steps towards the big time without making too many compromises. Any album containing the likes of the heartfelt, deeply beautiful tribute of “Ballad of Handy Mackey” and the superlative country-gothic funk opus “Sheldon Churchyard” — the lead track from the lauded Country Got Soul (2003) compilation — must rank as essential listening. The audio comes from the original analog tape transfers and has been remastered for vinyl by Be With regular Simon Francis. The same care has been taken with the striking cover art and Larry’s close friend Jeb Loy Nichols contributed wonderfully unique liner notes, presented beautifully on the printed inner sleeve opposite a gorgeous black and white shot of Larry, mid-performance. Edition of 500. Carefully reproduced original art. Remastered from original tape transfers.

File Under: Folk, Country, Funk, Soul
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BEWITH052LP_CULarry Jon Wilson: New Beginnings (Be With) LP
Larry Jon Wilson came to the party late. When he arrived in Nashville, he had already spent ten years in corporate America. He did not start playing guitar until the age of 30, but five years later he released his debut, New Beginnings, following it with Let Me Sing My Song To You. A revelation among the hipsters and critics of Nashville, Larry Jon was immediately embraced as part of the mid-’70s “outlaw country movement” that eschewed slick production in favor of a raw, gritty approach. When a film crew came to document this burgeoning sound, they made straight for Larry Jon’s door. He was a singer and writer of intensely private, painfully moving tales of southern life. With his deep, papa-bear voice, funky southern groove, and richly evocative narratives of rural Georgia, Larry Jon was a unique stylist but his gutsy, greasy sound did not translate into sales. Too funky for the country crowd, too heartfelt for pop radio, he fell between the cracks. New Beginnings and Let Me Sing My Song To You are so similar they play like two halves of a double album, showcasing his unique mix of country, folk, soul and swampy blues. Driven by a crack rhythm section that included Elvis guitarist Reggie Young, New Beginnings is a rich, literate record. Anyone with even a passing interest in the union between soul and country music will be able to tell they’ve located solid gold as soon as Larry Jon’s deep baritone utters the first appreciative “mm-hmm” a few bars into the opening “Ohoopee River Bottomland”, a fat-bottomed swamp-funk account of hard times in the city and country alike. Funny, nostalgic, sad, wistful, righteously pissed-off: New Beginnings is country-influenced American songwriting at its finest, from the feverish country-got-soul groove pulsating behind the weary sigh of “Through The Eyes of Children” to the elemental lament “Things Ain’t What It Used to Be (and Probably Never Was)”, a country standard that somehow got away. The audio comes from the original analog tape transfers and has been remastered for vinyl by Be With regular Simon Francis. The same care has been taken with the striking cover art; Larry’s close friend Jeb Loy Nichols contributed liner notes. Edition of 500. Carefully reproduced original art. Remastered from original tape transfers.

File Under: Folk, Country, Soul
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LDZ82538_

Zeal & Ardor: Devil is Fine (MVKA) LP
In tomorrow… Imagine this: Tarantino’s Django sacrifices a goat on stage while intimidating slave chants roar and screeching guitar riffs burn in the background. Then the rhythmic chain rattling evoking a satanic summoning makes way for the eerily familiar melodies of Norwegian black metal. This genre mix that has been garnering attention online since April 2016 belongs to Zeal & Ardor. New album Devil Is Fine thematically revolves around more typical black metal fare – rituals, human sacrifice, fire, and blood. Zeal & Ardor take the blaspheme up a notch by delivering the lyrics in the fashion of slave spirituals sung by chain gangs. Black metal from the cotton fields. Zeal & Ardor is the one-man brainchild of Swiss-American musician Manuel Gagneux. His approach draws on an alternate history and stems from two thoughts: Christianity was imposed upon American slaves (just as it was imposed in Norway) and black metal in the ‘90s grew as a rebellion to monotheism. What would have happened if American slaves had rebelled in the same way? Or put bluntly: what would satanic spirituals sound like? Gagneux comments, “Devil Is Fine was not created thinking that this many would ever hear it. There is no stylistic compromise or pandering on it. Only things I personally like.”

File Under: Metal
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…..Restocks…. 

Beach House: 7 (Sub Pop) LP
James Brown: Sex Machine (Polydor) LP
CCR: Bayou Country (Fantasy) LP
Miles Davis: Miles in the Sky (Legacy) LP
Brian Eno: Ambient 1: Music for Airports (Astralwerks) 2LP
Kelly Finnigan: The Tales People Tell (Colemine) LP
Goat: Commune (Sub Pop) LP
Godspeed You Black Emperor: Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress (Constellation) LP
Durand Jones & The Indications: s/t (Dead Oceans) LP
Kendrick Lamar: DAMN (Aftermath) LP
Kendrick Lamar: Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City (Aftermath) LP
Delvin Lamarr Organ Trio: Close But No Cigar (Colemine) LP
Delvin Lamarr Organ Trio: Live at KEXP (Colemine) LP
Mogwai: Mr. Beast (PIAS) LP
Mogwai: Rock Action (PIAS) LP
The National: I Am Hard to Find (4AD) LP/DLX LP
Nirvana: In Utero (Geffen) LP
Parquet Courts: Sunbathing Animal (What’s Your Rupture) LP
Pavement: Slanted & Enchanted (Matador) LP
Pink Floyd: Meddle (Pink Floyd) LP
Sleep: Dopesmoker (Southern Lord) LP
Snarky Puppy: Immigrance (Ground Up) LP
Sunn o))): Life Metal (Southern Lord) LP
Midori Takada: Through the Looking Glass (WRWTFWW) LP
Unkle: Psyence Fiction (Island) LP
Kurt Vile: Wakin’ on a Pretty Daze (Matador) LP
White Stripes: Elephant (Third Man) LP

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