Not a PILE of new stuff this week, but some sweet stuff nonetheless. That rogue shipment finally showed up too, so lots of things from last week’s list is on the shelves now too.
As you probably know, Record Store Day is quickly approaching, honestly, I don’t see how it can possibly happen a month from now. However, until that decision is made, we have to operate as if things are happening, which right now means orders are still due… If you’ve seen something on the lists that you hope to try pick up that day, let us know ASAP as ordering cut offs are coming up in the next few days or so. That doesn’t mean we’ll get everything we order, but it helps. We will keep you posted on any other developments regarding RSD.
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…..pick of the week…..
Espers: s/t (Drag City) LP
Espers’ self-titled first release appeared in 2004, heralding an era in which there was a perception of back-to-the-roots in the underground; kids making new music that spoke strongly of folk traditions and psychedelia, in the process setting themselves apart from latter-day sounds and approaches. Espers didn’t shy away from this image, projecting a collective air, almost like a rural outpost, out of time and place in the urban environs of Philadelphia. The staid harmonies of Meg Baird and Greg Weeks, the 6- and 12-string guitars and percussion of Brooke Sietinsons, the full-bodied arrangements rife with traditional and classical details and the regular intervention of acid-toned guitar leads formed, along with the mystic and melancholy cast to their songwriting, a galvanizing identity for them among other like-minded music players of the day. Espers’ idealism was rooted in an ongoing flow of ideas that continue to this day, and their debut album retains their mystic air, nearly two decades later.
File Under: Folk, Psych
Sylvain Chauveau: Simple (Fat Cat) LP
Active since the late ‘90s, Brussels-based Frenchman Sylvain Chauveau is an unsung pioneer of a now burgeoning scene. Sylvain was making elegant post-classical compositions years ahead of the pack, getting there before much heralded current peers like Max Richter, Nils Frahm, Olafur Arnalds, Dustin O’Halloran, or Goldmund. His third album, the gorgeously minimal Un Autre Décembre (recorded in 2001) was the second release on FatCat’s 130701 imprint and, arriving a year ahead of Max Richter’s Blue Notebooks, and played a huge role in helping define the label’s identity. Ten years later (2012), they released Simple, a CD selection of Chauveau’s works for cinema, composed between 1998-2010 – a diverse, yet fully cohesive collection of out-of-print, rare, and unreleased tracks. Now reissued in a remastered, first-ever vinyl edition, Chauveau’s work here sounds as fresh and relevant today as it did back then and its author is long overdue for some recognition and a reappraisal of his role in helping prepare the ground for today’s scene. The album spans stark / minimal electronic drones, processed guitar explorations, variously-sized Chamber pieces, spare solo piano, and two 40-piece string orchestra recordings. Recorded for various projects, with different ensembles in various studios, what unifies the collection is an overarching sensibility of slightly melancholic, simple elegance and Sylvain’s signature sense of restraint. A measured use of space and silence augments the focused simplicity of these brief yet beautiful, lyrical works. With the majority of tracks clocking in at under or around the 2-minute mark, they coalesce into a series of vignettes – condensed, self-contained explorations of atmosphere / emotion. “It also shows the two sides of my music during all this time,” expands Sylvain. “The obsession with sweetness and melody, but also the experimental electronic side. The melodic and experimental duality has always been there for me. My decision from the beginning was not to choose between the two but to keep both.”
File Under: Electronic, Ambient
Espers: Weed Tree (Drag City) LP
Espers’ self-titled first release appeared in 2004, heralding an era in which there was a perception of back-to-the-roots in the underground; kids making new music that spoke strongly of folk traditions and psychedelia, in the process setting themselves apart from latter-day sounds and approaches. Espers didn’t shy away from this image, projecting a collective air, almost like a rural outpost, out of time and place in the urban environs of Philadelphia. The staid harmonies of Meg Baird and Greg Weeks, the 6- and 12-string guitars and percussion of Brooke Sietinsons, the full-bodied arrangements rife with traditional and classical details and the regular intervention of acid-toned guitar leads formed, along with the mystic and melancholy cast to their songwriting, a galvanizing identity for them among other like-minded music players of the day.
File Under: Folk, Psych
Bill Evans: Smile with Your Heart – Best of on Resonance
Resonance Records, the leading archival jazz specialists, continues their recently inaugurated series of samplers, the Takao Fujioka Collection, with a pair of packages devoted to material from their bestselling, award-winning and previously unreleased recordings by pianist Bill Evans and guitarist Wes Montgomery. Smile With Your Heart: The Best of Bill Evans on Resonance brings together standout tracks from the company’s four sets of hitherto unheard material by the lyrical keyboard master: Live at Art D’Lugoff’s Top of the Gate (2012); Some Other Time: The Lost Session from the Black Forest (2016); Another Time: The Hilversum Concert (2017); and Evans in England (2019). Three tracks from the recently released Evans In England appear on Smile With Your Heart. The Los Angeles label’s collections of rare, unheard music by Evans and Montgomery have garnered international acclaim. Evans’ Some Other Time, a stunning Dutch radio date featuring a short-lived trio with bassist Eddie Gomez and drummer Jack DeJohnette, was named one of the year’s top historical releases by DownBeat, JazzTimes, the U.K.’s Jazzwise, and the NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll and topped Billboard’s Jazz Albums chart. All of Resonance’s albums devoted to Evans and Montgomery have been released with the full cooperation of the musicians’ estates. Zev Feldman, Resonance co-president and producer, says, “It’s been an honor to work so closely with Evan and Robert of the Evans and Montgomery estates over the course of the last 9 years to bring these incredible, unearthed treasures to light. These artists are really in the bedrock of our label, and it’s been remarkable to see the kind of excitement our releases generate in the press and with our fans.” In his liner notes to Smile With Your Heart, Bill’s son Evan Evans writes, “The lovely work that Zev Feldman, George Klabin and everyone at Resonance Records have done in finding these treasure troves of beauty from my father’s legacy is beyond words…Resonance has accomplished something very admirable with this release; they’ve created a compilation album with its own soul and authenticity. It’s as tender and divine as it is brilliant and swinging.” Like Resonance’s first two compilations in the Takao Fujioka Collection – Sing a Song of Jazz: The Best of Vocal Jazz on Resonance and Jazz Piano Panorama: The Best of Piano Jazz on Resonance – the newly released Evans and Montgomery samplers features the eye-catching artwork and design of Fujioka, editor of the Japanese jazz journal Way Out West; he supplied the cover art for Resonance’s 2016 Stan Getz release Moments in Time.
File Under: Jazz
Grimes: Miss Anthropocene (Crystal Math) LP
INDIE ONLY COLOURED VINYL NOW IN! Canadian artist Claire Boucher aka Grimes follows-up 2015’s Art Angels with her highly-anticipated fifth studio album, Miss Anthropocene. An amalgamation of three albums Grimes recorded over the past three years, Miss Anthropocene is based on a neologism commonly used in scientific circles. Misanthropocene refers to both the misanthrope’s loathing of humanity and the Anthropocene era in which our planet is dominated by human activity. The 10-track collection is introduced by the breathy and beat driven “Violence” and atmospheric “So Heavy I Fell Through The Earth” and features guest appearances by 潘PAN and i_o.
File Under: Electronic, Pop, Indie Rock
James Hunter Six: Nick of Time (Daptone) LP
In tomorrow… The James Hunter Six are back with another sublime offering of no nonsense rhythm and blues. Recorded and produced by Bosco Mann, Nick of Time is a shining example of how a master song-smith can continually draw fresh water from a bottomless well. In addition to the uptempo, swinging R&B that has put JH6 on the map, Nick of Time explores so much more! The opening track and lead single, “I Can Change Your Mind”, is a beautiful, mid-tempo rumba that tips the hat to the sound of many early King/Federal releases, but executed with a vibrancy that propels the tune into the 21st Century. The lush arrangements on “Till I Hear it from You” and ” He’s Your Could Have Been” sound like lost tracks from an early ’60s Burt Bacharach session. The straight forward soul of “Brother or Other” (whose timely message is only tantamount to its groove), and the sparse “Paradise for One” (that finds James channeling his innermost Nat King Cole), enrich the album with sounds one may not readily associate with James and Co. – culminating in James’ most exciting full-length release to date.
File Under: Soul, RnB
Joyfultalk: A Separation of Being (Constellation) LP
Free-thinking Nova Scotia composer, musician and visual artist Jay Crocker (aka Joyfultalk) channels minimalism, Japanese environmental music, Maghrebian rhythmic modes and other numinous folkways to create his most focused, vibrant work to date. Based on a monumental, kaleidoscopic graphic score, A Separation Of Being is translated from two-dimensional page to trans-dimensional aural life using an array of homemade instruments, crowned with a majestic string arrangement written by Crocker and performed by Polaris and Juno winner Jesse Zubot (Tanya Tagaq, Destroyer). Visual scores often provoke ideas of openness, interpretation, improv and fluidity. Joyfultalk’s third album, and second for Constellation, is an altogether different beast. This three-part suite is airtight; interlocking arcs of polyrhythmic deep groove and new minimalism roll out in spellbinding propulsion, the music gathering it’s warmth from the strings and it’s peculiarities from Crocker’s bespoke instrumentation and analog clockworks. The separation of being here is not division or rupture, but buoyant freedom through conduction of circulatory energies, marked by flowing melodic rondos of gyrating strings and sonic pointillism. A Separation Of Being is a systems music feast for the heart and mind. And lest we forget the eyes: Crocker began developing ‘The Planetary Music System’, his particular methodology for visualized composition, in 2012. The score for A Separation Of Being is the pinnacle of his system to date. Impressive in scale and scope, this stunning 5’x10′ mural (acquired by Nova Scotia’s provincial Art Bank in 2019) features geometric multi-directional cycles of brightly-colored, finely-detailed sound notation. Album packaging features details on the outer jacket cover art, and a reproduction of the full score on the inside gatefold, and as an exquisite 12″ x 24″ pull-out art print, respectively. Both the intricate graphic score and the superterrestrial music distinguish and elevate Crocker as a composer/producer/performer who’s been integrating sonic, artistic and sculptural practices into unique installation, environmental and recorded works for the past 15 years. A Separation Of Being is the sound of one of Canada’s most compelling and iconoclastic contemporary musical minds sublimated into a career-defining record of mesmeric coherence and clarity.
File Under: Electronic, Experimental
Leonard Simpson Duo: LSD (Jakarta) LP
Legendary Detroit MC Guilty Simpson and New Zealand producer Leonard Charles team up as The Leonard Simpson Duo to provide the one of a kind 70’s inspired, psychedelic and acid influenced album, LSD. The psychedelic sound of the album is heavily drawn from rare acid influenced records from New Zealand’s 60’s and 70’s, carefully selected, picked and sampled by musical multi-talent Charles himself and accompanied by very well placed instrumentals and interludes taking direction from late 60’s jazz/rock fusion, fuzzed out African records and compulsory David Axelrod leanings. All of that combined with the lyrics and the beloved attitude of Motor City’s finest makes this collection a beautiful, inspirational and surpassing trip.
File Under: Hip Hop
Monophonics: It’s Only Us (Colemine) LP
With a timeless sound that blends heavy soul and psych-rock, Monophonics have built a reputation over the past decade as one of the best live bands in the country. Led by singer Kelly Finnigan, the band of has drawn on their colorful history – both their experiences as veteran touring performers and as individuals growing up in the Bay Area – to create It’s Only Us, their fourth release since 2012. A reflection of what they see as the current state of the world, the record touches on difficult subjects such as broken relationships, mental health issues, gun violence and power struggles, all with an underlying message of unity, resilience and acceptance. The band’s signature style of arrangement has been expanded with top-notch production and creative instrumentation to round out the Monophonics’ trademark soul sound, while Finnigan’s vocals are more powerful than ever. At times these tracks can feel classic, as familiar as an old song you grew up with, while simultaneously raising questions about the state of music in 2020 and what the future might hold. It’s Only Us is the sound of a group continuing to grow as songwriters, musicians, performers and people – reflecting on where they’ve been, and pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in the years to come.
File Under: Funk, Soul
Wes Montgomery: Wes’s Best – Best of on Resonance
Resonance Records, the leading archival jazz specialists, continues their recently inaugurated series of samplers, the Takao Fujioka Collection, with a pair of packages devoted to material from their bestselling, award-winning and previously unreleased recordings by pianist Bill Evans and guitarist Wes Montgomery. Wes’s Best: The Best of Wes Montgomery on Resonance draws from Echoes of Indiana Avenue (2012); In the Beginning (2015); One Night in Indy (2016); Smokin’ in Seattle (2017); and Back on Indiana Avenue (2019). Back on Indiana Avenue was issued for the first time as 2LP-set in 2019, and three tracks from the album appear on Wes’s Best. Montgomery’s Smokin’ in Seattle, culled from 1966 broadcast dates with pianist Wynton Kelly’s trio, was recorded less than a year after 1965’s classic Smokin’ at the Half Note and received similar kudos from DownBeat, JazzTimes, and NPR. All of Resonance’s albums devoted to Evans and Montgomery have been released with the full cooperation of the musicians’ estates. Zev Feldman, Resonance co-president and producer, says, “It’s been an honor to work so closely with Evan and Robert of the Evans and Montgomery estates over the course of the last 9 years to bring these incredible, unearthed treasures to light. These artists are really in the bedrock of our label, and it’s been remarkable to see the kind of excitement our releases generate in the press and with our fans.” Montgomery’s son Robert writes in Wes’s Best, “It’s been a thrill to participate with Resonance Records these last nine years in getting my father’s music out to the world…I appreciate the care Resonance always takes to honor my father’s memory with each release – including interviews and essays about the music and finding rare pictures.” Like Resonance’s first two compilations in the Takao Fujioka Collection – Sing a Song of Jazz: The Best of Vocal Jazz on Resonance and Jazz Piano Panorama: The Best of Piano Jazz on Resonance – the newly released Evans and Montgomery samplers features the eye-catching artwork and design of Fujioka, editor of the Japanese jazz journal Way Out West; he supplied the cover art for Resonance’s 2016 Stan Getz release Moments in Time.
File Under: Jazz
Mystery Kindaischi Band: Adventures of Kindaichi Kosuke
Wewantsounds present the first official release outside of Japan for The Mystery Kindaichi Band’s The Adventures of Kindaichi Kosuke, originally released in 1977. The “imaginary” soundtrack to the cult detective book series by writer Seishi Yokomizo is on many DJ want-lists. Arranged by soundtrack master Kentaro Haneda and featuring a mysterious group of the best ’70s Japanese Funk musicians, the album is pure undiluted disco funk. Writer Seishi Yokomizo is an institution in Japan. He could be compared to Agatha Christie with his series of novels based on the adventures of detective Kosuke Kindaichi. The fictional character was born in 1946 with Yokomizo’s first novel in the series and solved mysteries until the late ’70s under Yokomizo’s pen before the death of the writer in 1981. Yokomizo’s novels have been a prime source for film and TV scenarios, so when, in 1977, Japanese label King Records decided to record a concept album based on the Kindaichi novels, it made complete sense. The writer was slightly surprised though. The concept album was arranged by pianist Kentaro Haneda, a key TV and film composer who has worked on many anime films and is also famous outside of Japan for composing the music for the video game Wizardry. For the album, he assembled a supergroup of some of the best Tokyo funk and city pop musicians. The long list includes jazz pianist Hideo Ichikawa who played on the 1971 Joe Henderson In Japan album, drummer Jun Moriya, who is on Joe Hisaichi’s cult Wonder City Orchestra album (1982), percussionist Tadaomi Anai who played with disco singer Eri Ohno, trumpeter Koji Hadori who’s featured on Haruomi Hosono’s Pacific album (1978). Also present on the album are saxophonist Takeru Muraoka who plays on many Tatsuro Yamashita cult albums including For You (1982) and Spacy (1977), Kimiko Yamauchi (koto) who’s on Akiko Yano’s landmark 1976 album Japanese Girl, and last but not least, French hornist Koji Yamaguchi who plays on Yazuaki Shimizu’s Kakashi (1982). Together they lay the funk on ten instrumentals filled with pure disco and funk breakbeats, making the album one of the highly-coveted Japanese LPs on international cratedigger scene. Remastered from the original tapes. Faithfully reproduced original artwork; Artwork by renowned illustrator Ichibun Sugimoto. New introduction by Anton Spice.
File Under: Jazz, Funk, Disco, OST
Lee Ranaldo & Raul Refree: Names of North End Women (Mute) LP
Names of North End Women is a collaborative record from Lee Ranaldo and Raül Refree. “If you live long enough, you see a lot of people drift in and out of your life,” says Ranaldo, explaining one of the loose themes linking the adventurous pieces that compose his and collaborator Raül Refree’s electrifying new album: that of the ineffable course of time, and the lives that pass in and out of one’s own. In a remarkable career that has seen him flourish as a songwriter, a singer, a guitarist, a noisemaker, a poet, a visual artist, a producer, and more, Ranaldo has seen many fellow quixotics – from his bandmates in Sonic Youth to this most recent collaboration with Refree, whose restless career had taken him from hard-core bands in his youth, to the vanguard of a new movement redefining flamenco. One of the most renowned producers in southern Europe, his collaboration with Rosalía on her debut album has shaped both the modern sound of flamenco and her new found stardom. Following their collaborative work on 2017’s Electric Trim which saw Refree in the guise of producer and the subsequent tours supporting that album, they went back into the studio but the duo quickly realized they weren’t recording a new Ranaldo solo album, but rather their first as Lee Ranaldo and Raul Refree – “the beginning of a new partnership, a new configuration,” Ranaldo says. “We’re a two-headed machine,” adds Refree. “We’re both talking about everything. We don’t always agree on everything, but every song, every piece, every sound you hear comes from two people talking about it.” Recorded in Los Angeles and Barcelona through late 2018 and early 2019. Artwork features the photography of Jessi Reaves.
File Under: Indie Rock
Leo Takami: Felis Catus and Silence (Unseen Worlds ) LP
Felis Catus and Silence is a breakthrough release for Tokyo composer-guitarist Leo Takami, following the milestone albums Children’s Song (2012) and Tree of Life (2017). Takami counterpoints the soothing aesthetics of prime-era Windham Hill New Age guitar-heroism with meditative, intellectual compositions comprised of ambitious, process-oriented arrangements. While Takami largely wears his genre influences on his sleeve – jazz, classical, Japanese gagaku – the influence of ambient music is a tacit foundation of his work. Working diligently outside of any established communities for fringe musics, Takami conjures this association through a patient focus on generous musical intervals. Steady, kaleidoscopic unfolding of his compositions reflect Takami’s creative intent to “become aware of precisely the time and place I am living.” The unabashedly sweet, tuneful virtues of his music in concert with this reflective form provide an artistic relief of Takami’s thematic harmony. “Each song is based on birth and death, and moving onto the next stage.”
File Under: Ambient, Guitar, New Age
Horace Tapscott Quintet: The Giant is Awakened (Real Gone) LP
In tomorrow…. The title of Horace Tapscott’s debut release is apt, if not self-referential, for indeed a giant of West Coast jazz had awakened with this, the pianist/composer/bandleader’s 1969 album for the Flying Dutchman label. Tapscott went on to form two groups crucial to the flowering of modern jazz in the Los Angeles area, the Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra (or P.A.P.A.; the name is an homage to Tapscott’s predecessor and peer, Sun Ra), which eventually became part of a larger umbrella organization, Union of God’s Musicians and Artists Ascension (UGMAA). Out of UGMAA came a host of LA-bred musicians, singers, and poets, including Arthur Blythe (who goes by Black Arthur Blythe on this recording), Stanley Crouch (who wrote the original liner notes), David Murray, Butch Morris, Wilber Morris, Jimmy Woods, Nate Morgan, and Sinclair Greenwell, Jr. (a.k.a. Guido Sinclair). And anchoring it all was Tapscott himself; as Kamasi Washington, whose vision of a large, Los Angeles community-based ensemble echoes that of P.A.P.A. and UGMAA, said in 2015: “Horace is one of the most important figures in the foundation of music in L.A., from both a purely musically and socially conscious perspective.” Now, Real Gone Music is proud to present the first-ever LP reissue of The Giant Is Awakened (original copies go for hundreds of dollars), taken from high-resolution audio sources and complete with original gatefold artwork. Neon green vinyl pressing limited to 1000 copies…a foundational document of West Coast modern jazz!
File Under: Jazz
U.S. Girls: Heavy Light (Royal Mountain) LP
Heavy Light is the highly anticipated seventh album by U.S. Girls, the protean musical enterprise of multi-disciplinary artist Meg Remy. While Remy has been widely acclaimed for a panoply of closely observed character studies, on Heavy Light she turns inward, recounting personal narratives to create a deeply introspective about-face. The songs are an inquest into the melancholy flavor of hindsight, both personal and cultural. Remy makes this notion formally explicit with the inclusion of three re-worked, previously released songs: “Statehouse (It’s A Man’s World),” “Red Ford Radio,” and “Overtime,” the latter of which is released as Heavy Light’s lead single. Heavy Light is produced by Remy and was recorded live with 20 session musicians – including E Street Band saxophonist Jake Clemons – in Montreal’s acclaimed Hotel 2 Tango studio. Remy worked with co-writers Basia Bulat and Rich Morel to develop the core of Heavy Light, a set of songs conceived as a balance between orchestral percussion (as richly arranged by percussionist Ed Squires) and the human voice (conducted by Kritty Uranowski). The resulting album finds Remy casting herself as lead voice among a harmonious multitude, the singers of which lend not only their voices, but also share reflections on childhood experiences that are collaged into moving spoken word interludes throughout the album. The album is mixed by long-time collaborators Maximilian ‘Twig’ Turnbull, Steve Chahley and Tony Price.
File Under: Indie Rock
Carla Bley, Steve Swallow & Andy Sheppard: Life Goes On (ECM) LP
Caribou: Suddenly (Merge) LP
Chick Corea: Now He Sings, Now He Sobs (Tone Poet) (Blue Note) LP
FKA Twigs: Magdaline (XL) LP
Mort Garson: Mother Earth’s Plantasia (Sacred Bones) LP
Beverly Glenn-Copeland: s/t (Return to Analog) LP
Robert Haigh: Black Sarabande (Unseen Worlds) LP
Idles: Brutalism (Partisan) LP
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard: Flying Microtonal Banana (ATO) LP
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard: Gumboot Soup (ATO) LP
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard: Polygondwanaland (ATO) LP
Michael Kiwanuka: Kiwanuka (Universal) LP
Oliver Nelson: The Blues and the Abstract Truth (Impulse) LP
Picchio Dal Pozzo: Abbiamo Tutti I Suoi Problemi (RER) LP
Pop Group: Y (Mute) LP
Rodriguez: Cold Fact (Universal) LP
Rodriguez: Coming From Reality (Universal) LP
Andy Shauf: The Neon Skyline (Art & Crafts) LP
Six Organs of Admittance: Companion Rises (Drag City) LP
Throbbing Gristle: 20 Jazz Funk Greats (Mute) LP
Throbbing Gristle: Heathen Earth (Mute) LP
Throbbing Gristle: Journey Through a Body (Mute) LP