OOOOF. Go figure, I’m working remotely and THIS MUCH stuff comes in this week. Not the most complete news letter ever but pretty thorough. I had to skip the links to listen, but no one uses those anyway, do they? Anyway, loads of great stuff in this week. Go say hi to Bailey, Ian, Kalie & James and grab some new wax. I THINK there’s a fresh crate of used treats going out tomorrow too.
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…..picks of the week…..
Dinosaur Jr: Where You Been (Cherry Red) LP
Gatefold; Blue vinyl. “Formed in 1984, Dinosaur Jr carved a singular path through the latter half of the 1980s and early 1990s, issuing a number of highly influential albums in the process before finding a home with Sire Records. Where You Been, their fifth record, emerged in 1993, at the height of enthusiasm for grunge and the alternative American rock scene the band had long been part of. Produced by a new line-up of the group (longtime drummer Murph and new bassist Mike Johnson completing the three-piece), the album became the band’s most successful up to that point, reaching #50 in the US (where it sold over a quarter of a million copies) and #10 in the UK album charts, and spawning the hit single ‘Start Choppin’. Released to unanimously positive reviews, and containing many tracks that would become staples and fan favourites, Where You Been continued Dinosaur Jr’s global ascent, being issued simultaneously across the US, Europe, Australasia, Asia and South America. Collected together here on vinyl for the first time with related singles, B-sides and John Peel session recordings, and accompanied by in-depth sleevenotes from Mojo’s Keith Cameron (based on recent and exclusive interviews with J Mascis), this edition provides a glimpse of a band in rampant form riding a hard-earned wave of popularity and credibility.”
File Under: Indie Rock
Boris: Feedbacker (Third Man) LP
Boris was formed in 1992, culminating in the current lineup of Takeshi, Wata, and Atsuo just three years later. Even in their infancy, the members of Boris boldly explored their own vision of heavy music, where words like “explosive” and “thunderous” barely do justice. Using overpowering soundscapes embellished with copious amounts of lighting and billowing smoke, Boris has shared with audiences across the planet an experience for all five senses in their concerts, earning legions of zealous fans along the way. First-ever US issue of this key 2003 release from Japan’s shapeshifting heavy lords. The album title says it all. Immerse yourself in 43 minutes of sonic waves of slow-building fuzz, feedback and layered dimensions where lysergic solos and unintelligible vocals compete for their place deep inside your id.
File Under: Drone, Metal
Beatles: Abbey Road (Apple) LP/3LP
This 50th Anniversary Edition 180g vinyl 3LP box set of Abbey Road is, to quote a famous Beatles song, something. Featuring the original album’s 17 tracks newly mixed by producer Giles Martin and mix engineer Sam Okell in stereo plus 23 session recordings and demos, most of which are previously unreleased, it presents the group’s penultimate record and key bonus material in audiophile-quality sound. To create Abbey Road’s new mixes, Martin and Okell worked with an expert team of engineers and audio restoration specialists at Abbey Road Studios. All the new Abbey Road releases feature the new stereo album mix, sourced directly from the original eight-track session tapes. To produce the mix, Giles was guided by the album’s original stereo mix supervised by his father, George Martin. “The magic comes from the hands playing the instruments, the blend of The Beatles’ voices, the beauty of the arrangements,” Giles explains. “Our quest is simply to ensure everything sounds as fresh and hits you as hard as it would have on the day it was recorded.” Abbey Road’s 23 session and demo recordings are presented in chronological order of their first recording dates. “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” leads the charge. For an overnight session on February 22, 1969, The Beatles were joined at London’s Trident Studios by producer George Martin and engineer Glyn Johns to record “I Want You (She’s So Heavy).” Abbey Road’s new edition combines a take from that session with the concluding part of the Trident master’s eight-track reduction mix made later at the EMI studios, revealing for the first time Billy Preston’s thrilling overdubbed organ solo. With their amps turned up high, The Beatles received a noise complaint from one of the studio’s neighbors in the Soho area of the city. The take starts with Lennon exclaiming, “My boys are ready to go!,” before the band is told about the complaint. Lennon replies, “What are they doing here at this time of night?,” then lays it down: “Well, we’ll try it once more very loud. And then if we don’t get it, we’ll try it quiet, like it might do it the other way. OK. The loud one, last go. Last chance to be loud!” In the same month that the raucous Trident session took place, McCartney recorded a home demo of “Goodbye” for the Apple-signed singer Mary Hopkin and Harrison recorded a solo demo of “Something” at EMI Recording Studios. Both demos are featured on Abbey Road’s new edition. “Goodbye” makes its release debut. Although previously released on Anthology 3 in a version featuring guitar and vocal, the new anniversary mix of George’s “Something” demo features for the first time vocal, guitar and piano. The Beatles reconvened at EMI’s studios and Olympic Sound Studios for sessions spanning mid-April to early May. On April 14, Lennon and McCartney recorded the single “The Ballad Of John And Yoko” in EMI’s Studio Three, with Geoff Emerick as the balance engineer. Two days later, the single’s B-side, “Old Brown Shoe” was recorded. Session recordings for these tracks, as well as three more songs started during this period, “Oh! Darling,” “Octopus’s Garden,” and “You Never Give Me Your Money,” are featured in Abbey Road’s anniversary edition. The remainder of Abbey Road’s sessions took place in July and in August with George Martin producing, and with principal engineers Geoff Emerick and Phil McDonald taking turns at EMI’s groundbreaking new mixing console, the TG12345. On July 2, 3, and 4, McCartney, Harrison, and Starr recorded “Golden Slumbers”/“Carry That Weight” as a medley (Lennon was hospitalized in Scotland, recuperating after a car accident). A sequence of Takes 1-3 from the first day’s session is featured in the anniversary edition. Take 9 from McCartney, Harrison, and Starr’s backing track session for “Here Comes The Sun” on Starr’s July 7 birthday is also included. On July 21, 22, and 23, The Beatles were in-studio to record “Come Together,” followed by additional sessions on July 25, 29, and 30. The anniversary edition features Take 5. On July 23, The Beatles began recording “The End,” which, along with McCartney’s timeless couplet – “And in the end, the love you take / Is equal to the love you make” – features Starr’s only drum solo on a Beatles recording. Take 3 is included in Abbey Road’s new edition. The next day, just before the band’s 34-take session for “Sun King” and “Mean Mr Mustard,” McCartney cut a quick studio demo for “Come And Get It” – later a hit for the Apple-signed band Badfinger. The demo’s original 1969 stereo mix, made with McCartney and Lennon present in the control room, is released for the first time in the new edition, as is Take 20 from The Beatles’ “Sun King” and “Mean Mr Mustard” session. On July 25, two more songs, “Polythene Pam” and “She Came In Through The Bathroom Window,” were recorded as one for inclusion in the album’s epic medley. Take 27 from that session is featured on the new edition. After Harrison had transported his rare and cumbersome Moog synthesizer to the studios, four songs received Beatle-played synthesizer parts: “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” (Lennon), “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” (McCartney), and “Here Comes The Sun” and “Because” (Harrison). This was a very early use of the newly-invented instrument on a pop record. George Martin wrote arrangements for several tracks that were recorded in Studio One toward the end of the sessions in August 1969. The original overdubbed recordings of Martin’s scores for “Something” and “Golden Slumbers”/“Carry That Weight” are included in Abbey Road’s anniversary edition. August 20, 1969 was the last time The Beatles were together as a band at the EMI studios, for an evening session to compile Abbey Road’s master tapes. The album’s sides were sequenced, with “Come Together” opening Side 1, and with the medley of “You Never Give Me Your Money,” “Sun King,” “Mean Mr Mustard,” “Polythene Pam,” “She Came In Through The Bathroom Window,” “Golden Slumbers,” “Carry That Weight,” and “The End” placed on Side 2. “The Long One,” a different trial edit and mix of the medley, including “Her Majesty” (ultimately placed 14 seconds after “The End” as an unlisted, hidden track) is included in Abbey Road’s new edition. A few weeks before Abbey Road’s release on September 26, 1969, Apple’s press officer Derek Taylor revealed that the album was “recorded at nice, workmanlike sessions which usually began at 2pm and continued until the end of the evening.” Millions of Abbey Road LPs were pressed at manufacturing plants around the world. The album was another blockbuster release for The Beatles, holding the No. 1 spot on the U.K. albums chart for a total of 17 weeks and topping Billboard’s U.S. albums chart for 11 weeks. For their work on Abbey Road, Geoff Emerick and Phil McDonald won the year’s GRAMMY Award for Best Engineered Recording, Non-Classical. In 1995, Abbey Road was inducted into the Recording Academy’s GRAMMY Hall of Fame, recognizing “recordings of lasting qualitative or historical significance.” The Beatles’ best-selling studio album, Abbey Road’s universal popularity and influence have continued to grow since its debut. Fifty years ago, the world’s most famous band stepped out from London’s EMI Recording Studios to stride, single-file, across the black and white stripes of Abbey Road’s nearby zebra crossing. With photographer Iain Macmillan balanced on a stepladder and one policeman stopping the street’s light traffic, The Beatles crossed back and forth three times, led by John Lennon, followed by Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney, and George Harrison. Just six photos were taken, with the fifth selected as the cover shot for Abbey Road, named after the tree-lined street in which the studios are located. Released September 26, 1969, Abbey Road was not The Beatles’ final album, as Let It Be followed in 1970, but it was the last one John, Paul, George, and Ringo recorded together as a band. Abbey Road was another blockbuster release for The Beatles, holding the No. 1 spot on the U.K. albums chart for a total of 17 weeks and topping Billboard’s U.S. albums chart for 11 weeks. For their work on Abbey Road, Geoff Emerick and Phil McDonald won the year’s Grammy Award for Best Engineered Recording, Non-Classical. In 1995, Abbey Road was inducted into the Recording Academy’s Grammy Hall of Fame, recognizing “recordings of lasting qualitative or historical significance.” The Beatles’ best-selling studio album, Abbey Road’s universal popularity and influence have continued to grow since its debut. The album’s new stereo mix LP is packaged in a faithfully replicated sleeve, with the two Sessions LPs paired in their own jacket, presented with a four-page insert in a lift-top box.
File Under: Rock, Pop
Boris: Akuma No Uta (Third Man) LP
Boris was formed in 1992, culminating in the current lineup of Takeshi, Wata, and Atsuo just three years later. Even in their infancy, the members of Boris boldly explored their own vision of heavy music, where words like “explosive” and “thunderous” barely do justice. Using overpowering soundscapes embellished with copious amounts of lighting and billowing smoke, Boris has shared with audiences across the planet an experience for all five senses in their concerts, earning legions of zealous fans along the way. Official vinyl LP reissue of Boris’ flawless 2003 release Akuma No Uta. Drone waves meet heavy guitar heroics in a satanic pinky violence gang fight at the schoolyard. This ones for the Heads.
File Under: Metal, Drone
Boris: Love & Evol (Third Man) LP
The next chapter in Japanese rock legends Boris’ story has arrived; their new double LP LφVE & EVφL is set for release in October 2019 via Third Man Records. This double vinyl LP exists as two independent works, encapsulating conflicting connotations that interweave and become intricately entangled with one another, gradually eroding before becoming utterly singular. Continuing to tinker and toil with their sound since the 2017 release of Dear, Boris have pivoted onward a more organic, non-grid literary style that LφVE & EVφL showcases. The album’s first single, “Love,” is one of the most musically diverse in their career and showcases a snippet of what is to come on LφVE & EVφL.
File Under: Metal, Drone
John Coltrane: Blue World (Impulse) LP
In 1964, John Coltrane and his Classic Quartet went into Van Gelder Studios and, in an unprecedented move for the saxophone giant/composer, recorded new versions of some of his most famous works. Those never-before-heard recordings are presented here as Blue World pressed on 180g vinyl LP mastered from the original analog tape by Kevin Reeves at Universal Music Mastering in New York with lacquers cut by Ron McMaster at Capitol Studios. Early in 1964, the year he recorded A Love Supreme, Coltrane was approached by a Quebecois filmmaker, Gilles Groulx. Groulx was planning his film Le chat dans le sac, a love story set in Montreal with political undertones. A die-hard Coltrane fan, Groulx was fixated on having Coltrane record a soundtrack for his film. Groulx approached Coltrane via a personal connection with bassist Jimmy Garrison, and amazingly, Coltrane agreed. So right between the recording sessions for Crescent and A Love Supreme in June of ’64, Coltrane brought Garrison, Elvin Jones and McCoy Tyner into Van Gelder Studios to do something virtually unprecedented in Coltrane world: revisit and record earlier works. Groulx was at Van Gelder, watching the session, listening. It’s unclear how much creative input the filmmaker had, and how much conversation happened between him and Coltrane, that yielded this rare kind of session. Recorded on 1/4″ analog mono tape, the session was mixed by Rudy Van Gelder at Van Gelder Studios on June 24, 1964. Groulx took the master to Canada to use in his film, although he only included ten minutes of the 37-minute recording. Blue World reveals Coltrane’s personal progress, as well as the interactive consistency and sonic details the Classic Quartet had firmly established as their collective signature by 1964. This signature was so assured and dramatic, so buoyant and different from the sound Coltrane had delivered before. And it is significant that this recording session – whatever the ultimate driving force was – happened in between two of Coltrane’s most expansive, spiritually transcendent records that would set the tone for the rest of his musical career. Blue World follows on the heels of the global success of 2018’s Both Directions At Once: The Lost Album, a studio album recorded in 1963 that revealed new compositions from Coltrane and the Classic Quartet at their peak.
File Under: Jazz
Cosmic Dead: Scottish Space Race (Riot Season) LP
Heavy psych experimentalists The Cosmic Dead’s eighth album – Scottish Space Race – is set to be released in September via Riot Season Records on Gatefold 2xLP / CD and has been mastered by John McBain (Monster Magnet, Wellwater Conspiracy). The album was recorded in their Glasgow HQ with cosmic sound guru Luigi Pasquini, four sprawling chunks of music recorded live amongst a run of momentous late night festival appearances in the summer of 2018. Scottish Space Race is the first Cosmic Dead release to feature the drumming of Tommy Duffin (Headless Kross) and the lap-steel synthesizer yowls of Russell Andrew Gray (Girl Sweat) alongside long-time cosmicians Omar Aborida and James T Mckay.
File Under: Psych
Dinosaur Jr: Green Mind (Cherry Red) LP
Gatefold; green vinyl. “Formed in 1984, Dinosaur Jr carved a singular path through the latter half of the 1980s, issuing three highly influential albums in the process before finding a home with Sire Records, who issued Green Mind in 1991 as the alternative American rock scene the band had long been part of exploded globally. Produced by a stripped down line-up of the group (in fact, J Mascis himself plays almost everything), the album and Sire’s international reach took Dinosaur Jr’s reputation to a new level, aided by the singles ‘The Wagon’ and ‘Whatever’s Cool With Me’, a non-album EP of new material and live recordings, all of which are included here. Critically lauded on release, Green Mind remains one of the band’s strongest collections, and a firm fan favorite. Collected together here for the first time with related singles, B-sides and live recordings, and accompanied by in-depth sleevenotes from Mojo’s Keith Cameron (based on recent and exclusive interviews with J Mascis), this edition provides a thorough snapshot of the band at a period when all eyes were on American guitar groups, many of whom owed their existence to Dinosaur Jr.”.
File Under: Indie Rock
Dinosaur Jr: Without a Sound (Cherry Red) LP
Gatefold; Yellow vinyl. “Formed in 1984, Dinosaur Jr carved a singular path through the latter half of the 1980s and early 1990s, issuing a number of highly influential albums in the process before finding a home with Sire Records. Without A Sound, their sixth record, emerged in the summer of 1994, in the wake of personal bereavement and the departure of longtime drummer and founder member Murph. Performed primarily by J Mascis, Without A Sound continued the band’s growth in popularity and commercial achievement, reaching #44 in the US (their highest ever album placing there) and featuring the hit singles ‘Feel The Pain’ and ‘I Don’t Think So’. Released to positive reviews, Without A Sound also took Dinosaur Jr around the world, including dates in Australia, New Zealand and Japan, and into the mainstream as the group contributed Blah to the hit US TV show Melrose Place. Collected together here on vinyl for the first time with related singles and B-sides, and accompanied by in-depth sleevenotes from Mojo’s Keith Cameron (based on recent and exclusive interviews with J Mascis), this edition provides a glimpse of a band at the height of their international appeal and accessibility.”
File Under: Indie Rock
Dinosaur Jr: Hand it Over (Cherry Red) LP
Gatefold; Purple vinyl. “Formed in 1984, Dinosaur Jr carved a singular path through the latter half of the 1980s and first half of the 1990s, issuing a number of highly influential albums in the process. Hand It Over, their seventh record, appeared in the spring of 1997 following a lengthy absence, and would prove to be the band’s final album-length offering for a decade. Performed primarily by J Mascis, Hand It Over appeared at a time of declining international interest in American alternative rock, but nevertheless received widespread approval and appreciation amongst critics and reviewers. The album was accompanied, unusually, by an EP of non-album songs recorded for the Matt Dillon movie Grace Of My Heart and, later, a vinyl only I’m Insane 7″ single, all of which are collected here alongside previously unreleased recordings made on stage in Stockholm and on TV in Australia. Presented here on purple vinyl, and accompanied by in-depth sleevenotes from Mojo’s Keith Cameron (based on recent and exclusive interviews with J Mascis), this edition provides a final view of a band about to disappear from the limelight but still as engaging and powerful as ever.”
File Under: Indie Rock
DIIV: Deceiver (Captured Tracks) LP
Rebirth takes place when everything falls apart. On DIIV’s third full-length album, Deceiver, they craft the soundtrack to personal resurrection under the heavy weight of metallic catharsis, upheld by robust guitars and vocal tension that almost snaps, but never quite. Lead single “Skin Game,” gallops forth on a clean guitar riff before unfolding into a hypnotic hook offset by an off-kilter rhythm and hummable solo. “It’s an imaginary dialogue between two characters, which could either be myself or people I know,” says Cole of “Skin Game.” “I spent six months in several different rehab facilities at the beginning of 2017. I was living with other addicts. Being a recovering addict myself, there are a lot of questions like, ‘Who are we? What is this disease?’ Our last record was about recovery in general, but I truthfully didn’t buy in. I decided to live in my disease instead. ‘Skin Game’ looks at where the pain comes from. I’m looking at the personal, physical, emotional, and broader political experiences feeding into the cycle of addiction for millions of us.” Deceiver was recorded in March, 2019 in Los Angeles. For the first time, the band enlisted an outside producer in the form of Sonny Diperri (Nine Inch Nails, Protomartyr) whose presence dramatically expanded the sonic palette, making it richer and fuller than ever before. Marking a major step forward for DIIV, the new album is preceded by 2012’s Oshin and 2016’s critical and fan favorite Is the Is Are.
File Under: Indie Rock
Brittany Howard: Jaime (ATO) LP
As the frontwoman and guitarist for Alabama Shakes, Brittany Howard has become one of music’s most celebrated figures. The band has won four Grammy Awards and topped the Billboard 200 with the Gold-certified Sound & Color, the follow-up to their Platinum debut album, Boys & Girls. In between albums and tours with Alabama Shakes, however, Howard grows restless. “To me, there is no time off – I’m a creative person and I need to create, or I just feel weird, not fully human,” she says. She’s channeled that relentless creativity into her solo debut Jaime, her most revelatory work yet. Howard recorded Jaime after a cross country drive that took her from Nashville to a small house in Topanga, CA – a rustic Los Angeles county town wedged between the mountains and the beach. She titled the album after her sister, who taught her to play the piano and write poetry, and who died of cancer when they were still teenagers. “The title is in memoriam, and she definitely did shape me as a human being,” explains Howard. “But, the record is not about her. It’s about me. I’m pretty candid about myself and who I am and what I believe. Which is why I needed to do it on my own.” While Howard admits it was daunting, stepping out alone from her work with Alabama Shakes and revealing so much of herself, it was a necessary step. “I turned 30 and I was like, ‘What do I want the rest of my life to look like?'” she recalls. “Do I want to play the same songs until I’m 50 and then retire, or do I do something that’s scarier for me? Do I want people to understand me and know me, do I want to tell them my story? I’m very private, but my favorite work is when people are being honest and really doing themselves.” Lead track “‘History Repeats’ is as much a personal song as it is a song about us as a human species. Our times of success may propel us forward, but our repeating failures hold us back from evolving into harmony,” notes Howard.
File Under: Rock, Pop
Johann Johannsson: Vidulegu forsetar (Deutsche Grammophon) LP
2004’s Virðulegu Forsetar is late Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson’s second album for Touch, after the highly acclaimed Englabörn. Virðulegu Forsetar contains one hour-long piece for 11 brass players, percussion, electronics, organs and piano. The piece had its live debut in Hallgrimskirkja, a large church in Reykjavik and the city’s towering edifice, and was named the most memorable musical event of 2003 in Iceland’s leading newspaper. The piece has Englabörn’s quiet, elegiac beauty, but abandons the brevity of the first album’s exquisite miniatures in favor of an extended form that reveals a long, slow process. A simple theme played by the brass section is repeated throughout the entire piece using different voicings and instrumentation. As the piece goes on, the tempo slows down, until it is extremely slow. Around the middle of the piece, the tempo starts to speed up again, until it reaches the original tempo. Space and the sense of place were very important in the performance and recording of the piece. Players were positioned both in front and at the back of the church and two organs were used, again, one in front and one at the back. This created a sense of immersion and a sound that is powerful without ever being loud. As the piece is written for a specific location, it made sense to record it live in this same space and attempt to re-create it for the listener. This was like creating an audio mold or cast of the inner sonic architecture of the building. In this way, the music engages in a dialogue with the space it’s performed in and the recording process becomes as much a documentation of a place as a documentation of music. Virðulegu Forsetar is performed by the Caput Ensemble, conducted by Gudni Franzson, with Skuli Sverrison on bass and electronics, Matthias M.D. Hemstock on bells, glockenspiel and electronics, Hordur Bragason and Gudmundur Sigurdsson on organs and Johann Johannsson on piano and electronics.
File Under: Ambient, Classical
Kacy & Clayton: Carrying On (New West) LP
The music Kacy and Clayton make is inextricable from where they grew up. They sing about the kind of people you’d find in Wood Mountain, Saskatchewan (population very few.) The hills, barns and remoteness of the area are in these songs, with a bittersweet acknowledgement that this music has taken them far from home. Carrying On follows the international acclaim for their previous records Strange Country (which Q magazine called, “A beautiful album that nudges a classic past into a brave future.”) and 2017’s The Siren’s Song (described by Uncut as “Ageless and beguiling. A classic record for this or any other time.”) Their sound is equal parts homespun, coming from a family and community where playing music is an ever present part of social gatherings, and the rare country, blues and English folk rock these second cousins obsess over and collect. For Carrying On, Clayton cites as influences: Bobbie Gentry’s Delta Sweete, Hoyt Axton’s My Griffin Is Gone, Cajun fiddle music, and the steel guitar of Ralph Mooney who played on many of the records that defined the Bakersfield country music scene of the 1950s. Sixties psych has also woven its way into these new songs. Having toured almost nonstop for the last two years, Carrying On was conceived and honed on the road and recorded immediately after a jaunt across Western Canada – the songs having been tried and tested before audiences each night. The album was produced once again by Jeff Tweedy of Wilco and Uncle Tupelo fame, at his Loft studio in Chicago.
File Under: Folk, Country
Lightning Dust: Spectre (Western Vinyl) LP
On Spectre – their fourth album as Lightning Dust – Amber Webber and Josh Wells embrace as their sole-focus what was once a side-project, in turn crafting their most refined and powerful album to date. After co-founding and then touring with Black Mountain for over a decade, the duo departed the band in 2017 to further their own long-term creative partnership. Lightning Dust has evolved noticeably with each release, from the spare, dark folk of their 2007 self-titled debut, to the synth and drum machine-heavy 2013 album, Fantasy. The through-line of their discography, however, has been how Wells’ deft production is tailored perfectly around Webber’s modestly iconic voice, of which The Believer wrote in 2013, “[her] voice…hovers somewhere between life and death. It’s not limbo, it’s a country to explore.” In this sense the tracks on Spectre echo the spirits of quintessential rock vocalists like Grace Slick and Beth Gibbons, throughout a collection of songs that range from expertly sculpted folk-rock ear candy, to sparse Judee Sill-esque ballads that consist of little more than piano and voice.
File Under: Indie Rock
Monolord: No Comfort (Relapse) LP
Monolord make their Relapse Records debut with the new album, No Comfort. The Swedish power trio channel the most exciting elements of driving rock and crushing stoner sludge to produce one of 2019’s most gripping and heavy albums. Tracks like “The Bastard Son” and “The Last Leaf” showcase undeniable riffs piling over each other, continually evolving alongside heart-pounding drums with a bass attack that will make even the most conditioned ears bleed. No Comfort elevates Monolord from one of the underground’s best bands to true leaders of the genre. Rarely does a band so seamlessly fuse absolutely heavy riffs with undeniable groove.
File Under: Metal
New Pornographers: In the Morse Code of Brake Lights (Concord) LP
Critically acclaimed Canadian supergroup The New Pornographers’ eighth studio album, In The Morse Code Of Brake Lights follows-up 2017’s Whiteout Conditions and is issued via the band’s own Collected Work Records imprint in partnership with Concord Records. “There are so many songs like ‘the something of love’ – you know, there’s ‘The Book of Love,’ ‘The Freeway of Love’…Then I thought of ‘falling down the stairs of your love,’ and I thought, that kind of works,” explains frontman and songwriter A.C. Newman, who also produced the new album. “I think it has that element of how do you deal with the ideas of love and happiness in this world right now? When current events are stressful, that makes a stress on people’s relationships, and you’re trying to figure out how to be happy in this loving relationship in this world that seems ugly at every turn, which is not as easy as it seems. So I like the metaphor of love as something that you fall down.” “I was about two-thirds of the way through the record when I began to notice that lyrically so much of it was pointing toward car songs,” Newman adds. “The opening track is ‘You’ll Need a Backseat Driver,’ and that was a metaphor that seemed to be running through other songs, too. Next to the love song, I feel like the car song is one of the most iconic kinds of songs in pop music, from Chuck Berry to the present. There was so much of that throughout it that I started thinking: ‘Oh, no, there’s too many references to cars on this record!’ And then I thought, ‘No, that’s good – people might think it’s a concept album.'”
File Under: Indie Rock, Power Pop
Angel Olsen: All Mirrors (Jagjaguwar) LP
The descent into darkness is a trope we find time again across history, literature and film. But there’s also an abyss above. There’s a winding white staircase that goes ever upward into the great unknown – each step, each turn, requiring a greater boldness and confidence than the one before. This is the journey on which we find Angel Olsen. The singer/songwriter’s artistic beginnings as a collaborator shifted seamlessly to her magnificent, cryptic-to-cosmic solo work, and then she formed bands to play her songs, and her stages and audiences grew exponentially. But all along, Olsen was more concerned with a different kind of path, and on her vulnerable, new album, All Mirrors, we can see her taking an introspective deep dive towards internal destinations and revelations. In the process of making this album, she found a new sound and voice, a blast of fury mixed with hard won self-acceptance.
File Under: Indie Rock
Raphael Saadiq: Jimmy Lee (Columbia) LP
Raphael Saadiq – the Grammy Award-winning musician, songwriter, and go-to collaborator/producer for some of the biggest names in R&B – returns with Jimmy Lee, his first album in eight years. Jimmy Lee is a deeply personal, musically ambitious work inspired by his brother’s struggles with addiction that explores the razor’s edge people walk as they pursue pleasure that leads to pain – an incisive and empathetic work from a master at the peak of his art. The follow-up to 2011’s Stone Rollin’, Jimmy Lee is a deeply personal journey of discovery and a rumination on contemporary life. Saadiq takes us on a walk through his elements, from Oakland to Rikers Island, with some of the most captivating music he has ever recorded. Inspired in part by his brother’s addiction, Saadiq explores universal themes of craving that which feels good but is also destructive. Some resist, some relent. There’s pain, there’s pleasure, and of course consequences – all of which inform the songs and stories this brilliant work so richly reveals. Jimmy Lee was self-produced by Raphael Saadiq and recorded at Blakeslee Recording Co. in North Hollywood. All vinyl versions of the album will include a secret track unavailable elsewhere.
File Under: Funk, Soul, Gospel
Sturgill Simpson: Sound & Fury (Elektra) LP
Country singer-songwriter Sturgill Simpson follows-up his Grammy award-winning 2016 album, A Sailor’s Guide to Earth and 2019 theme song for Jim Jarmusch’s zombie comedy, The Dead Don’t Die with Sound & Fury which accompanies the new anime film of the same name based on a story by Simpson himself and made with writer/director Jumpei Mizusaki and character designer Takashi Okazaki. The 10-track effort was produced by Simpson alongside John Hill and bandmates Bobby Emmett, Chuck Bartels and Miles Miller. “We went in without any preconceived notions and came out with a really sleazy, steamy rock n roll record,” Simpson says. “It’s definitely my most psychedelic. And also my heaviest. I had this idea that it’d be really cool to animate some of these songs, and we ended up with a futuristic, dystopian, post-apocalyptic, samurai film.” The first taste of Sound & Fury comes in the form of the distorted and driving lead single “Sing Along.” As for his inspirations for the album Simpson told Zane Lowe he “….was listening to a lot of hip-hop, and Black Sabbath, and the Cars, and old funk records and things.”
File Under: Country
Souljazz Orchestra: Chaos Theories (Strut) LP
The Souljazz Orchestra return with a brand new studio album for our troubled times, Chaos Theories. Always known for their uncompromising social and political messages, the Canadian collective hit harder than ever on nine new tracks, outing the hypocrisy of modern day politics, police brutality and the everyday struggle of the working man. Led by chief songwriter and arranger Pierre Chrètien, the band continue to evolve their sound, drawing on a broad palette from their trademark Latin, Afro and Caribbean styles to some of the UK’s political sounds of the early ‘80s, the era of The Clash, The Police, 2-Tone and frontline reggae. “We were basically messing around with the idea of creating our own brand of Afro-punk,” remembers Chrétien, “something with the aggressive, in-your-face energy of punk rock or free jazz, but still backed by the hypnotic, pulsating grooves of tropical music.” The album takes the listener from carefully targeted sonic missiles to more reflective thought-provoking moments. “Police The Police'” starts the offensive: “I wrote this after my neighbour was beaten to death by Ottawa police during an arrest,” explains Chrétien. “The authorities downplayed the incident and the officers were working the next day like nothing had happened.” “House Of Cards” takes a thinly veiled swipe at the current US administration on an infectious disco groove: “lies within lies within lies… like so many Russian dolls”; “Boat Rockers” challenges us all to look beyond accepted norms and “General Strike” documents the frustrations of the working class as the pay gap gets increasingly wider; “Slumlord” shines the spotlight on dodgy landlords while the brilliant closer “Well Runs Dry” laments modern day living, with its confused pace and mundane obsessions, remembering simpler days gone by. Leading their field for 17 years, The Souljazz Orchestra have constantly moved forward and remain an in-demand live band worldwide. Chaos Theories is their ninth album and is mastered by The Carvery.
File Under: Funk, Afrobeat
Squrl: The Dead Don’t Die (Sacred Bones) LP
The Dead Don’t Die is writer/director Jim Jarmusch’s unique, semi-comic take on the zombie apocalypse genre. As with his recent efforts Only Lovers Left Alive and Paterson, the film’s score was composed and performed by SQÜRL, the band Jarmusch and producer Carter Logan founded in 2009. The score to the The Dead Don’t Die is a true expression of where SQÜRL stand at the center of a decade of sonic exploration. It is the culmination of their passion for analog synths, with guitar violence reverberating from the darker corners of Americana. It is at once a tribute to the classic sounds of horror and sci-fi, as well as a decapitation of traditional film scores. It is naturally supernatural.
File Under: OST
Third Ear Band: Alchemy (Esoteric) LP
“One of the first releases on EMI’s progressive rock label, Harvest in July 1969, Alchemy was the debut album by Third Ear Band. One of the earliest signings to Harvest, the band was formed in 1968 around a nucleus of Glen Sweeney (percussion), Paul Minns (oboe), Richard Coff (violin, viola) and Mel Davis (cello). Third Ear Band were unique in their exploration of exotic baroque music fused with experimental rock. Signing to Blackhill Enterprises in 1969, the quartet opened for many of the legendary Hyde Park free concerts by Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones and Blind Faith. Recorded at Abbey Road studios in the early months of 1969, Alchemy is regarded as one of the most striking and original works of the era with its unique gothic improvisational music and this new Esoteric Recordings 180 gram vinyl edition is a faithful reproduction of the original 1969 gatefold LP release. It has been re-mastered from the original Harvest master tapes and has been cut at Abbey Road studios for this definitive edition vinyl reissue.”
File Under: Folk, Rock, Experimental
Tyler, The Creator: Igor (Columbia) LP
Tyler, the Creator’s fifth full-length is about Tyler, the producer, Tyler, the singer, and Tyler, the rapper, in that order. A meticulously produced project, his ever-experimental approach births a beautiful, messy mix of R&B, funk, jazz, and rap. The attention to detail is on a different level: “the version you hear is the ninth one, kept going back until it was perfect,” Tyler notes. The arching feel of the LP jumps right out from the opening seconds of “Igor’s Theme.” On the surface, Tyler narrates his vision of love over warm synths, understated-but-pristinely-arranged drums, and pitched-up falsetto. Perfect summer listening. On a deeper level, a complex array of samples, ideas, and textures looms about. Still a provocateur, but Tyler’s approach to his craft has shapeshifted tremendously, and Igor is a proper follow-up to 2017’s Grammy-nominated Flower Boy. Kanye West, Palyboi Carti, Solange, Jerrod Carmichael, Frank Ocean and Lil Uzi Vert make guest appearances. Check out “Earfquake,” “New Magic Wand,” “Running Out of Time” and “A Boy Is A Gun,” but Igor is better consumed as a whole!
File Under: Hip Hop
Wilco: Ode to Joy (DBPM) LP
Jeff Tweedy and Co. follow-up 2016’s Schmilco and the singer/songwriter’s pair of solo albums, Warm and Warmer, with Wilco’s eleventh studio effort, Ode to Joy. Featuring eleven new songs written and produced by Tweedy and recorded by Wilco at The Loft (Chicago, IL) in January 2019, Tweedy and Glenn Kotche were the launching pad from which most of the songs on Ode to Joy materialized – Kotche’s percussion propels the music forward while Tweedy’s measured words flesh out the cleared paths. As a result, the album is comprised of “really big, big folk songs, these monolithic, brutal structures that these delicate feelings are hung on,” notes Tweedy. Across the entire album, drums pound and plod with a steady one – two pulse, meant to mimic the movement of marching – a powerful act utilized on both sides of the authoritarian wall. There’s also a sense of comfort that comes with the rhythmic marching sound. Whether our joy is measured by sparks felt when clutching old sweaters to our chests, by the number of tiny digital hearts earned from a shared photograph, by a guitar solo or a drumbeat or a piece of cotton on a stick in your ear, or by something even greater, Wilco wants to sincerely remind us to wear that feeling loud and proud. This is Ode to Joy: pick it up, hold it tight. Tweedy describes the extrospective lead single “Love is Everywhere (Beware)”: There must be more love than hate. Right?! I’m not always positive we can be so sure. In any case, I’m starting to feel like being confident in that equation isn’t always the best motivation for me to be my best self – it can kind of let me off the hook a little bit when I think I should be striving to contribute more love outside of my comfortable sphere of family and friends. So…I guess the song is sort of a warning to myself that yes, love is everywhere, but also beware! I can’t let that feeling absolve me of my duty to create more.” Engineered and mixed by Tom Schick at The Loft. Mastered by Bob Ludwig at Gateway Mastering (Portland, ME).
File Under: Folk, Alt Country, Rock
Beak>: Life Goes On (Temporary Residence) LP
Boards of Canada: Campfire Headphase (Warp) LP
Boards of Canada: Tomorrow’s Harvest (Warp) LP
Comet is Coming: Trust the Lifeforce (Impulse) LP
El Michels Affair: Return to the 37th Chamber (Big Crown) LP
Brian Eno: Apollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks (Astralwerks) LP
Fly Pan Am: C’est ca (Constellation) LP
Funkadelic: Maggot Brain (Westbound) LP
Godspeed You Black Emperor: Asunder (Constellation) LP
Godspeed You Black Emperor: Lift Your Skinny Fists (Constellation) LP
Herbie Hancock: Takin’ Off (Blue Note) LP
Carly Rae Jepsen: Dedicated (Universal) LP
Khruangbin: Con Todo el Mundo (Dead Oceans) LP
Khruangbin: Hasta El Cielo (Dead Oceans) LP
King Gizzard & the Wizard Lizard: Nonagon Infinity (ATO) LP
King Gizzard & the Wizard Lizard: Gumboot Soup (ATO) LP
King Gizzard & the Wizard Lizard: Flying Microtonal Banana (ATO) LP
Kendrick Lamar: Good Kid (Aftermath) LP
Kendrick Lamar: To Pimp a Butterfly (Aftermath) LP
Madlib & Freddie Gibbs: Pinata (MMS) LP
Sandro Perri: Soft Landing (Constellation) LP
Raincoats: s/t (We) LP
Sam Gopal: Escalator (Morgan Blue) LP
Jackie Shane: Any Other Way (Numero) LP
Sons of Kemet: Your Queen is a Reptile (Universal) LP
Stereolab: Dots & Loops (Duophonic) LP
Sure Fire Soul Ensemble: Building Bridges (Colemine) LP
Timber Timbre: Creep On Creepin’ On (Arts & Crafts) LP
Kanye West: 808s & Heartbreak (Universal) LP
Kanye West: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (Universal) LP