BONNIE PRINCE BILLY’s first album of new original songs since 2011’s Wolfroy Goes To Town. “This whole record is intensely inspired by the 50th state. In fact, for a while there the working title of the record was 49th State of Mind, after the mid-20th century Hawaiian music record label optimistically and ultimately erroneously called 49th State Records. The songs likewise are influenced by certain Hawaiian musics, mainly the recordings of Johnny Lum Ho and Edith Kanaka’ole; also by the recordings of Jake Xerxes Fussell; by the songwriting of John Prine, Susanna Wallumrod and Tom T. Hall; by the neo-Zydeco cassette compilation Trail Riderz Vol. 1; and by the desire to have some songs that might be learned on the fly at get-togethers at my friend David ‘Fergie’ Ferguson’s house. As these songs were worked on, in the night, my wife would wrap her pregnant body around mine while I sang the songs over and over and over. They’re the first music that our daughter heard. The arrangement and production of the record come dominantly from the players themselves and the very circumstances in which the recording of this record was undertaken. DANNY KIELY played bass on this, as he had done on Wolfroy and Best Troubador and the Babblers tour as well as Funtown Comedown and many other musical adventures. The mighty mighty MIKE HYMAN plays drums, NATHAN SALSBURG plays the lead guitars, JOAN SHELLEY sings along, and JACOB DUNCAN brought the power with his sax, his flute, his clarinet, my harmonium and the studio’s piano and hammond organ.”
REISSUED ON VINYL!!! It’s now 20 years since U.S. MAPLE and Talker were sent to the Drag City office. Their third album took the egretions and abrasions of their early music to a new height of quiet horror, their contribution to the summer of ’99—a hot, trying season, one that won’t soon be forgotten. Out of print on vinyl since 2008. Recorded by MARTIN BISI and produced by MICHAEL GIRA at Bisi Studios. “…one of the most obliquely beautiful releases… evasive, creepy, engrossing, and lovely… No one sounds quite like U.S. Maple, and that’s the greatest compliment you can pay a band these days.”— AV Club, 2002
It’s a year and a half since the release of Freedom’s Goblin. A winter of rain has buried the recent times of drought. Contradictions are rife. First Taste is an introspective set after the extroversions of Freedom’s Goblin—yet just as steeped in party beats somehow, even as TY SEGALL trails through his back pages, reflecting on family, re-encountering pasts, anticipating futures. First Taste is arch, full of high-energy jams, with a thing in each mix always insistently different. Ty’s song design’s all over the place—not even a surprise anymore—but unlike the freewheeling feast style of Freedom’s Goblin, these twelve numbers form a tightly revolving cycle of song and sound that focuses thoughts.
PURPLE MOUNTAINS is the new nom-de-rock of DAVID BERMAN (SILVER JEWS). Purple Mountains is also the name of what will be known as one of his greatest albums—full of double-jointed wit and wisdom, up to the neck in his special recipe of handcrafted country-rock joys and sorrows that sing legendary in cracked and broken hearts. The songs are produced impeccably by Woods’ JARVIS TAVENIERE and JEREMY EARL, buffed up like a hardwood floor ready to be well-trod upon for an evening of romance and dance. The songs of Purple Mountains are a potent brew, stitched together from lifetimes, knitting the drift of the years with the tightest lyric construction Berman’s ever attempted. Honesty is archly in the air, but lines of incredible bleakness somehow give way to playful distraction and the hiding of surprises for close listeners.
As you listen to Shepherd In a Sheepskin Vest, a feeling of totality, of completeness, steals over you, like a thief in broad daylight. Of course it does – you’re listening to a new Bill Callahan record! The first one in almost six years! What more do you need to complete you? Or perhaps, after all the time, the obvious needs to be made just a little more explicit?
First, it’s a different kind of record. Bill’s now writing from somewhere beyond his Eagle-Apocalypse-River headspace, and Shepherd In a Sheepskin Vest is very much its own beast. The songs are, by and large, shorter, and there are more of them. It took almost all of the previous three albums to add up to that many. Plus, twenty’s a lot of songs! But again, it goes a lot deeper than that.
Moving gradually from reflections upon the old days in Ballad of The Hulk and Young Icarus to the immediacy of the present moment in Watching Me Get Married and Son of the Sea, Bill traces the different life lines, casually unwinding knotty contradictions and ambiguities with an arresting stillness. The sense of a life thunderstruck by change infuses Shepherd In a Sheepskin Vest – the songs wander from expressions of newfound joy and great contentment to other snapshots, considerations of the not-joy that we all know. Unsettling dream-images and mythic recollections are patiently received; the undertow of the past is resisted, pulling against it instead into the present, accepting revolutions of time and the unconscious as a natural flow.
Shepherd In a Sheepskin Vest glows incandescent – an entirely acoustic arrangement, sounds and stories shifting seamlessly, almost like one big song made of a bunch of new stories – the kind that only Bill Callahan thinks to sing.
From sunshiney, smog-filled streets to an avian-strewn state of ur-nature, MIKE DONOVAN’s seen his share of the world, making records and playing shows all over the past 20 years with, chronologically, THE ROPERS, YIKES, THE HOSPITALS, SIC ALPS, TY SEGALL, THE PEACERS and most recently, himself. Time goes by and just seems to get faster as it goes. In June of 2017, MIKE led THE PEACERS sophomore effort, Introducing the Crimsmen, into the world. On 4/20 of ’18, his own sophomore solo release How to Get Your Record Played In Shops hit down. And now, a hot 23 months after the inauguration of the Crimsmendom, a third long-player in the time-frame arrives, as MIKE D whisks us away to his remote Exurbian Quonset. Exurbian Quonset sticks up like a fork in the road—it was drawn together as Mike prepared to be the last man from the old gang to leave SF, where he broke so many rules and new ground, working as a driver, a trimmer and a craftsman, cementing bricks into the foundation of the new centurion west coast rock and roll movement from his place alongside Thee Oh Sees over the past decade. It’s dedicated to the woman who married him and taught him both words in the title of the album—exurbian and quonset—and who he’ll whisk away with to somewhere just like the title. Mike’s ouvre all the way down the line has been wedding silvery falsetto shiver-rock with sirens of noise, stand-up tin-pan pop singer performance peered at through a defocused lens.
They say every journey begins with a single step, or in this case its but a single song. More specifically, we speak of a lone warped 45 record, with one playable side. A few years back Galactic Zoo Dossier/Galactic Zoo Disk Svengali Plastic Crimewave stumbled on a colorfully-labeled 1975 Aurora, Illinois, private press single by STUMPWATER, featuring the tunes “White Washed Afternoons” b/w “Watcher’s Brawl.” Though only “White Washed…” played through fully, there was a VIBE here—rural folk rock that’d make David Crosby’s ’stache bristle; late-night, unwashed laments that quirky/heady troubadours like Tom Rapp, Gary Higgins or even poor, jaded Phil Ochs could groove on. . . . A search surprisingly yielded immediate results, as StumpWater was still active and gigging!? Peppering their concerts with CSN covers, StumpWater was still performing live, doing acoustic and electric sets, AND still playing their ’70s originals. Crimewave interviewed the band members JOE GLOOR and DAN BERG (DAN HALIGAS sadly passed shortly beforehand), and got their story for his Secret History of Chicago Music column in the Chicago Reader. And then some earth shattering info was gleaned—StumpWater had an unreleased 1973 LP. Yep—and not only that, it’s a friggin’ concept LP about the characters populating a small town hotel (think Lee Hazlewood’s Trouble is a Lonesome Town, but not really) called Motel in Saginaw (a place ol’ Mike Nesmith seemed to know too). To say the homespun album was a revelation is putting it lightly—gorgeous tunes about death that’d have Simon and G crying in their cappucinos, creepy Dylan-esque tales that David Blue woulda liked to have written, maudlin hearts of gold in every groove—basically a hazy, sepia-stained song cycle for all the Judy Blue Eyes in the world to get lost in while rollin’ a dirtweed joint. Features the unreleased album, 7-inch and an innersleeve with photos and notes.
Almost two years on from 2017’s Plum, Californian scrap polymorphs WAND are prepared to launch their fifth, and newest long-playing record, Laughing Matter. By now, Wand is the shifting but unmistakable collaboration between SOFIA ARREGUIN (keys, vocals), CORY HANSON (guitar, vocals), ROBERT CODY (guitar), LEE LANDEY (bass) and EVAN BURROWS (drums). Laughing Matter is marked by the confidence and exuberance of a band that has lived, feuded, thrived and grown together through years of dedicated jamming, touring and recording, across western and eastern states, continents and mind-sets. In this world that insists we must increasingly rely upon ourselves, Wand listen to each other, and this is the sound. Swerving between out-of-focus parable, travel diary, pep talk, polemic, love song, and lullabye, Laughing Matter is a tough and tender album, its eyes on a lot of prizes. Where Plum held the tension of its five band members getting on their feet, the songs on Laughing Matter are concentrated and relaxed, even as they search for the right accusations to hurl at cynics and megalomaniacs.
We come from nowhere and fade back there again, leaving the foggy dreams and obscure anxieties of this life behind when we go. Life is enigma, and with great respect for the vagaries of this truth, MASAKI BATHOH’s Nowhere reaches out of the darkness, with strings of steel and voices echoing out of time. In the summer of 2018, Masaki Batoh held sessions at GOK Sound in Tokyo, with the goal of making his fourth solo album. With a pure folk singer approach, he started the recordings as a basic live performance of guitar with vocal, using only two mics. If more elements were needed, they would be added—but most important to him was to capture the performance as immediately as possible. GOK Sound is an all-analog recording facility, and once Batoh had added a few elements such as bass, percussion, harmony vocals, electric guitar, harp and a bit of mellotron (all played by himself in response to his basic performances) and added the necessary reverb, the world of Nowhere was rendered as deep and sparkling as he had hoped, consecrating the spiritual intentions of his songs.
A new morning is shining through the gauze outside the window—an eternal morning, a next-day-of-life moment that’s always occurring, if you take the time to notice. TIM PRESLEY’s WHITE FENCE, informed by the extreme polarities of punk rock and psych, brings forth songs like no others. Two years on from his solo missive, the sense that something has cratered and someone has walked away, somehow alive, is heavy in the air. With I Have to Feed Larry’s Hawk, Tim Presley meets White Fence, and together, they move on.
Released in late 1968, the second PEARLS BEFORE SWINE record continued to deliver music with a preternatural sense of what the youth of America wanted to hear. One Nation Underground had been a surprise hit when released in 1967 by the hipster free-jazz indie label ESP, receiving an incredible organic response, with continuous underground radio play and sales. Coming from obscurity in Florida into a position of speaking to people everywhere, TOM RAPP and his bandmates felt emboldened to embark upon an evolved piece of record making. The music of Balaklava strips away the manic, post-garage band diversity of the first album, instead grounding the production around Tom Rapp’s guitar and singing, with the touches of instrumental color all the more dramatic and striking. Producer RICHARD ALDERSON utilized breathy sweeps of reverb, sound effects, tape manipulation and spoken word recordings along with an array of instrumental overdubs including banjo, marimba, organ, clavinet, flute, English horn and strings (played by the band along with New York jazz session players BILL SALTER and AL SHACKAMAN, plus THE FUGS’ LEE CRABTREE and legendary saxophonist JOE FARRELL, with SELWART CLARKE and WARREN SMITH contributing string arrangements) to reach for the universal space sought in Tom Rapp’s meditative, existential songs.
Fall of 2018 sees the release of a celebrated lyrics archive that has been growing for over 25 years—the words to the songs sung by BONNIE PRINCE BILLY and PALACE MUSIC. The author of the songs is WILL OLDHAM, and the book, to be released by W.W. Norton, is titled Songs of Love and Horror, the same as this album. The songs of Will Oldham have been written most often for the aliases of Palace or Bonny. Their identities, kept necessarily separate from Will’s, has allowed them to bring to the stage the reach needed to project to everyone in the room, to everyone outside the room, to whomever chose to make the audience. The songs were written to create a singular encounter, to be shared among those who choose to listen. Songs of Love and Horror is a rare entry in this oeuvre: a Will Oldham album, with the writer taking a turn as singer. As befits the nature of this project, the songs are sung and played by Will alone, in a setting enjoyed by fans of his music—that of one voice and one guitar, the better to savor the spare changes and starkly-cut lyrics, operating in quiet tension and ultimate collaboration. Will brings to the songs all that he has learned from his stagecrafting fellows over the years, singing new versions that quiver like fresh young things in the air of today. Starting with such classics as “Ohio River Boat Song,” “I See A Darkness,” and “The Way,” the sequence wanders into deeper cuts, and before it is over, Will is singing other kinds of “greatest hits”—Richard and Linda Thompson’s “Strange Affair,” a Bonny contribution to the Refugee benefit album, “Most People,” and a previously unheard writer’s demo from years ago. This microcosmic revisitation touches on the breadth of Oldham’s musical conception—the songs that came before him, the songs that came out of him, but didn’t make it on to the album, the songs that never came out at all. Will Oldham sings some favorites on Songs of Love and Horror — some of yours, some of his, and some other songs too.
That chill in your spine makes total sense. PAPA M is back in the room, and like the animal you are, you sense it before you actually know he’s there. As the light from the broke moon floods in, you feel that you’ll survive—even if you’ll never be the same…. Late 2016’s Highway Songs brought Papa M back to us, after many years of silence and several harrowing dances with death for his Id-ego/host body, DAVID PAJO. Now, two years on down the road, we’re all here again to witness A Broke Moon Rises. Highway Songs was a necessarily cathartic experience in all phases. Afterwards, with no tour dates forthcoming (partially due to lousy clubs and their lack of wheelchair-accessible stage doors!), it felt good just to play for fun again, like being in the practice space instead of the psych ward—a much healthier change of pace than some might guess! David blew it out; all the different styles he’s played in over the years, from folk-blues to metal, electronic, pop, Bollywood—all of it. But when the spasms subsided, a back-to-roots sediment remained in the bottom of the bowl, which he read as a motive for a new Papa M album done with all acoustic instruments. That’s how there’s nothing electric about A Broke Moon Rises. The five songs of A Broke Moon Rises find David focusing his technique in unknown directions, to find out what he can do with them. When that happens, he finds himself on the very spot where Papa M music becomes alive! As the quietly funereal march of the opening track resonates with a spare drum beat, we are completely transfixed into the open spaces around the guitars.
Blonde and brunette. Dog and cat. Lemon and onion. Friend and foam. The change has been made! You can scratch your seven-year itch freely now: TY SEGALL and WHITE FENCE are become one again, regrooving what we once called Hair into what is now Joy. Hair grew out of a simpler time, man! If, as the dyphrenic duo indeed affirm on Joy, rock in 2018 is dead, don’t come around here looking for no burial. Instead, find Joy caught up in the commencement of on-beyond rock; music made with the old tools, but emitted from a fresh new, single-celled organism. This time, the old “one and one make one” line does not apply. Hair had the quality of emulsion—drops of Segall suspended in Fence; a compound of White dispersed over sheets of Ty. With Joy, Tim and Ty arrive without traveling from the same place, occupy one single headspace, finishing the other’s phrases, pulling licks from each other’s places. Singing and thinking and laughing as one. Calling themselves from inside the house. C-c-c-creepy! Both these fellows have been known to trifle with tropic pasts and reactivate vintage visions within their new music. Not now. Now is the only time this time—Joy is their own sound of today, a shared individuality, prisming all possible stances into an unseamly metastasis that FLOWS for 15 ebbcentric tracks. Plus, since it ends at the beginning, it never has to stop. LOOP that shit!
There is life after DEATH after all—and just like you’ve heard, it hinges on accepting You-Know-Who as your lord and savior. 1980: it was the dawn of a new age. Built on the broken backs and bodies of those who had hoped and dreamed for a better world, the ’80s made it clear: that world wasn’t coming. A generation and more plunged into the abyss. But what of Death? The HACKNEY brothers were no different from anybody else—in the heat and tumult of the 1970s, they’d seen that new world coming. They’d raised their voices righteously, transforming with outrage and hunger their all-in-the-family power-trio ROCK FUNK FIRE EXPRESS into the legends called Death. The combination of BOBBY and DENNIS’ pile-driving rhythm, older brother DAVID’s hard-rock guitar leads and an effervescent combination of lyrical angst, missionary zeal and vision-spirit were an unknown hybrid on the African-American side of Detroit in the mid-’70s. These were the sounds the world knows today as For the Whole World to See—but at the time, the brothers managed only to self-release two songs on a basically undistributed 7˝ record, which caused no label anywhere to express any interest in a record deal for the band called Death. Time for THE 4TH MOVEMENT. Death had plenty of existential/spiritual elements to them; a desire to know where they stood in the big picture was always key to the Hackneys’ musical ambitions. As The 4th Movement, they would direct all those inquiries to Christ. But the raw spirit of Death was still the driving force behind the music; the sound of The 4th Movement captured the trio with rough-hewn intensity as they reached new heights of composition, creating an album-length set of songs that verged on Punk/Christian opera. It would be years before it would occur to any other musical act to try such an outrageous thing. Recorded in their new home base of Burlington, Vermont and released by the group on their own Tryangle Records imprint, The 4th Movement was destined for private-press notoriety in the world that was coming.
“Sonata Mix Dwarf Cosmos by Susanna is a record that I’ve spent a lot of time with, and so this has been a long-imagined project, an attempt to understand or, better yet, experience the mysteries of that record. the lyrics are repetitive, almost like nursery rhymes for undead teenagers. Why is it so scary, why is it so sweet, why is it so comforting and disruptive at the same time. After EMMETT and CHEYENNE and I made Chijimi, I thought we were really onto something, and it felt like we’d made an ideal laboratory/process for reproducing the cosmos record. It’s taken a many years to get back into this lab, though. and I thought to expand the lab personnel by one, CHRIS RODHAFFER, would be a good way to fuck with the control.”
The latest from CATE LE BON and TIM PRESELEY as DRINKS. “A month spent in an old mill in the under belly of France. River swimming thrice a day. Hot nights soundtracked by the rattle of randy frogs. Scorpion fear. In the sheets, on the face. Hours of bird watching—no phone service. No wifi. 3 DVDs. Jurassic Park 1, 2 & 3. Violin practice. Bread scoffing. Early morning coffee drinking before the sun was too hot to do anything but snooze in the thick walled house. Music in the afternoon after a dip in the river and a cold beer on the square. With all the ease and air needed, in this mysterious place, we made an album made for each other by one another with no hands, eyes or ears piercing the bubble other than our dear friend Steve who slid in under the door and took note of it all.”—Cate Le Bon
Received an 8.0 rating from Pitchfork. With the world around us bruised and bloodied with teeth already dug into the concrete curb, we find ourselves with the shadow of a large boot looming overhead. What better time for NO AGE? Remember, they are the ones who first brought you the hospital-bed-feel-good-anthem, “Get Hurt” (2007). They know how to ecstatically rage and power on thru pain, because what else are you gonna do? The future belongs to the cockroaches, and this record is made for the disparate band of misfits who 2017 couldn’t kill. Snares Like a Haircut sounds like the good shit, and smells like the buzzy burning off of an aura, the marine layer suddenly vanished, leaving a thin layer of smog over the songs, simmering sock gazing tunes, revved and displacing enormous amounts of sound soil. This is pure driving music, for the bus racer and the car driver, with too many signs, bells and little lites flashing, ticking away. This is a record for the Foothill and the Valley, with a chemical sunset flowering at the end of every day. It’s a feeling made by driving music for driving music. Recorded in a few days and mixed forever, Snares Like a Haircut finds No Age in full on mode, because there was nothing else to do but go full on. In the songs inside the songs, the thumpy/thwappy drums, the desperately voiced paens to determination, the churning and the stinging-but-shiny fuck-it built into the structure, a promise from the 1980s echoes once again across today, for the undetermined in-between generation reality seekers.
Freedom’s Goblin is the new TY SEGALL album: 19 tracks strong, filling four sides of vinyl nonstop, with an unrestricted sense of coming together to make an album. It wants you to get your head straight—but first, the process will make your head spin! Freedom’s Goblin wears a twisted production coat: tracks were cut all around, from L.A. to Chicago to Memphis, whether chilling at home or touring with the FREEDOM BAND. Five studios were required to get all the sounds down, engineered by STEVE ALBINI, F. BERMUDEZ, LAWRENCE “BOO” MITCHELL and of course, Ty himself. The goal was getting free, embracing any approach necessary to communicate new heights and depths, new places for the fuzz to land among octaving harmonies, dancefloor grooves, synths, saxes and horns, jams, post-Nicky-Hopkins r’n’b electric piano vibes, children-of-the-corn psycho-rebellions, old country waltzes and down-by-the-river shuffles. Basically, the free-est pop songs Ty’s ever put on tape.
Plum is WAND’s fourth LP since the band formed in late 2013 but their first new album in two years. After a whirlwind initial phase of writing, recording, and touring at a frenetic clip, their newest document marks a period of relative patience; a refocusing and a push toward a new democratization of both process and musical surface. In late winter of 2016, the band expanded their core membership of EVAN BURROWS, CORY HANSON and LEE LANDEY to include two new members—ROBBIE CODY on guitar and SOFIA ARREGUIN on keys and vocals. From the outset, the new ensemble moved naturally toward a changed working method, as they learned how to listen to each other and trust in this new format. The songwriting process was consciously relocated to the practice space, where for several months, the band spent hours a day freely improvising, while recording as much of the activity as they could manage. This new process demanded more honest communication, more vulnerability, better boundaries, more mercy and persistence during a year that meanwhile delivered a heaping serving of romantic, familial and political heartbreak for everyone involved. They learned more about their instruments and their perceived limitations.
Attention! The Peacers now present: Introducing the Crimsmen! Escalating from a disembodied voice to slowly mounting full-band hypnosis, this is a trip into the goldenrod days of fandom, a dimension where a t-shirt could change your life. Since their first LP in the summer 2015, The Peacers have been gigging in SF and around, collecting tunes for this divinely awaited moment: Introducing the Crimsmen. Lurching back into life, with buzz and hum alight and colors flashing, is the name, but the instigators of the sound are almost a whole other bunch (Mike Donovan, Shayde Sartin, Mike Shoun and Bo Moore)! Which is good – who do you trust with a treat to jam in your ears more than new/old friends capable of tapping good old sounds?
The actual experience and qualities of the performance, the rawness that could be felt and heard LIVE in 2016, now in album form, conjuring the early feral spirit of the band devouring the sophisticated later years and coughing an INSANE hairball of sound.
New waves are breaking, upon which it is our choice, chance and challenge, to ride. The new collaboration Source Ensemble brings fresh percolations, energy and air to Laetitia’s humanized community-politic. Geometric composition made with a belief that permeates and intimately binds all things — requesting free love and markets NOW! Our future selves depend on it.
Beguiling Welsh musician Cate Le Bon released her new album, Crab Day, earlier this year, and she’s following it up with a 4-song EP in January made up of leftover songs from that writing period. “Rock Pool is the killed darlings from the Crab Day sessions brought back to life on a classic 2-2 formation,” she says. “Written under the same banner of the impossibly absurd and emerging to unimaginable bedlam.” Produced by Noah Georgeson and Josiah Steinbrick, and featuring musicians H. Hawkline, Stephen Black and Stella Mozgawa, Rock Pool spins and swirls the waters with carnival pop, synth, drone and dance, all beamed along the pan-electric ray of Cates immutable blank stare. Short-and-sweet-play fun of a highly ambiguous nature.
Beloved Slint-guitarist David Pajo has dusted off one of his best projects, Papa M, for a new album.
Highway Songs follows 2001’s Whatever Mortal and is due November 11 via Drag City, who described the release as “classic Pajolian magma simmering to a crispy boil in a series of 21st century blues, broke folk, ur-metal and verite diary sketches made somewhere between the mental ward and the intensive care unit.”
The statement hints at difficult times for Pajo over the last year. In spring of 2015, Pajo survived a suicide attempt and then a year later, nearly lost his foot in a severe motorcycle accident.
Yet, on first single ‘Walking On Coronado’ Pajo sounds completely revitalized. The instrumental mixes delicate acoustic strums and a sparkling electric guitar riff in an arrangement that Pajo makes sound effortless even when it’s clearly not. It’s a good to have him back.
Purling Hiss, a Philadelphia-based three-piece consisting of Mike Polizze (guitar/vocals/etc.), Ben Leaphart (drums) and Dan Provenzano (bass), has quietly amassed a six-album discography of nostalgic yet prescient, forward-thinking rock ’n’ roll. This will be the band’s third release for Chicago’s Drag City Records, which has released records from like-minded (sounded?) yet diverse acts such as Royal Trux, Pavement, Monotonix, Ty Segall and The Fucking Champs. The pace on High Bias is set with the anthemic, scorcher, side one/track one opener, aptly titled “Fever,” and the cacophony of discordant, swirling guitars continues on “3000 AD.” There is little let-up, as the record culminates in the 11-plus-minute closer “Everybody In The USA.”
For fans of hard-charging rock ’n’ roll made by the likes of The Stooges, Dinosaur Jr., Japandroids, METZ or Pissed Jeans.
“On the list of undeservedly overlooked music of the last two decades, the recordings issued under the Flying Saucer Attack moniker should be near the top. While in hindsight one might conclude that these sounds were never destined to be ingested by a wide swath of music consumers, it certainly doesn’t mean that that should have been the case. Just make a list of all of the “legendary” artists of yore contained within your ipod or droid and know that most if not all never sold shit during their artistic lifetimes. But are poor sales a positive reflection of the quality of any particular sounds? The answer is ‘yes’ in a surprising number of cases, reinforcing the idea that true genius is rarely appreciated in its own time, and so it is with FSA. They were certainly informed by the scriptures of Pink Floyd, Nick Drake, the early Creation label releases and Popol Vuh (they even named a two part instrumental after the last on their debut album). But FSA took the holy writs of these forebears as suggestions of possible paths to be further explored and not merely templates to be imitated, and thus created a wholly unique take on head music that they referenced as “rural psychedelia” on the jacket of the first album.
So take a flyer on their second proper album Further, as good as any place to start in their canon, and maybe the height of their “commercial” success, as limited as it may have been. Or you could just wait until Williamsburg collectively rediscovers the works of FSA and starts regurgitating them under new names and under new haircuts, and the kids can all, yet again, pretend the now breed are producing something original. I would suggest you buy this album instead.”
— Joel Leoschke, Kranky
Imagine a hollowed-out coconut with a paper umbrella, full of a powerful psychedelic. One sip and you’re along for the ride with Cate Le Bon on her fourth album, Crab Day. The Welsh singer-songwriter moved to Los Angeles in 2013, and it’s clear Le Bon’s latest was inspired by a Pacific sensibility that translates musically to a vibe reminiscent of a tiki bar in Wonderland.
The tracklist carefully maps out a journey from start to finish. The opening chords of the title song signal to buckle in, with an insistent, rhythmic guitar followed by funky, beachy keys. These parts move with a frantic energy that the album’s first lines challenge, as Le Bon’s eerie vocals slice through: “It doesn’t pay to sing your songs.” Still, she’s singing hers, and the intonation isn’t bitter; instead, what she’s saying is that where we’re going, money doesn’t matter. With a haunting voice, she beckons to follow her down the rabbit hole, where there will be a celebration of a holiday no one’s ever heard of. Toward the end of the song, her ghostly falsetto returns: “Put your love in me on Crab Day … who am I to love you on Crab Day?” She evokes a Los Angeles cult leader of the 1960s, but the effect isn’t as seductive or tantalizing as the real thing; instead, its more like witnessing that hypnotic power through the remove of a documentary. Rather than achieving that undeniable emotional pull, Crab Day ends up taxing, rather than delighting, the listener.
The strongest tracks on the album are those on which Le Bon fully executes the surreal ocean-holiday theme. Jangly guitars and layers of spectral generate a sense of unreality on “Wonderful”. The coda breaks down into cacophony over a repeated lyric, which deepens the “we’re all mad here” feel. Then, at the album’s halfway point, Le Bon unleashes “I’m a Dirty Attic” and lets her vocals take center stage. Her vocal range shines, straining to plumb her alto depths all the way up through a soaring falsetto. In that ability to channel sunny highs and ominous lows, the cult leader aesthetic comes through. The strange, associative lyrics (“Paint me in a picture with a new face / I’m a body of dreams for you”) and intense guitar come together for an immersive, eerie song engaging enough to convince anyone to follow Le Bon wherever she’s going next.
The similarly effective “We Might Revolve” jumps wildly from ethereal falsetto to a quiet spoken word and then right back into the stratosphere. At the song’s close, the unravelling of a guitar solo takes the listener along with it. Unfortunately, Le Bon’s doesn’t always commit so fully to that imaginative playfulness. Tracks like the melancholy and forgettable “How Do You Know?” and “Love Is Not Love” undermine the songs around them and erode the album as a whole by drawing attention to the artifice of the concept. Though it spans just ten pop songs, the album drags considerably.
The Crab Day journey wraps up with “What’s Not Mine”, in which Le Bon brings the listener along with her back up to the surface. It’s not a coincidence that the vocals on this track are the least intelligible and accessible of the whole album — at least at first. It’s a little melancholy, just like the end of any trip, highlighting the unreality and boundary-invasion ideal in an immersive artistic experience: “I was lounging in your disguise/ I was reading through your dead eyes/ I don’t even know what’s not mine.” It’s sad, and weird, and through the very long guitar solo, the listener is reborn and spit back out into whatever reality they had inhabited prior to pressing play.
Crab Day marks a considerable step forward, appealing to existing fans while also announcing a huge period of growth. At times she reaches new, fantastic heights, all while staying true to what’s made Le Bon so bewitching in the past: her haunting vocals and spooky sensibility. As Le Bon grows in confidence and vision, her work will grow even more immersive — perhaps even transformative.
“The plan, it turns. Some many revolutions in a year, in a life. WAND launch their third album in what can only be called the relative blink of an eye, and it is 1000 Days. This year’s last year: August of 2014 was Ganglion Reef, Wand’s debut album release, on GOD?, reveling in their dark circuits and three-ring modulations. Following that, they ranged from their south-Cali base, towing their sound around this maze of interstates and state routes. Shows of all kinds were playing, plenty of people to meet up with on the way. Hands across the water: Europe got booked. And suddenly, just look over your shoulder—it was March of 2015, with a second album entitled Golem (this time on In the Red) trailing Wand’s sound farther down the road, past the sky, into storm and casino food. No time to spare; more dates to be played across the landmass. And another set of European dates later, 1000 Days. One year in the life of Wand so far: the world—some beyond.”
“After issuing two solid critical successes that went nowhere commercially, Mickey Newbury was more determined than ever to get the idea of his music across to the American public. He was also hellbent on challenging Nashville’s stolid, conservative way of recording, producing, marketing and selling music. He failed on both counts but left another stunner of an album along the way. Heaven Help the Child opens with the title track, a wondrously arranged and gorgeously sung three-generational American Odyssey that offers, despite its tragedy, the clearly visible line of hope on a distant yet attainable horizon. Also included here are three definitive interpretations of songs from his very first album, Harlequin Melodies: “Sunshine” “Sweet Memories,” and “Good Morning Dear.”
“In 1974, four teenage kids from the Chicago area formed the rock band Midnight. The boys, Dave Hill (organ, vocals), Frank Anastos (guitar), Scott Marquart (drums), and John Falstrom (bass), met while taking lessons at an area music store. Inspired by the rock titans of the day (including Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, and Deep Purple), the group developed a raw, heavy sound. By 1975, they were performing at high schools and parties. Fast-forward a year, and they were gigging at colleges and clubs in and around Chicago, even though they were still in high school at the time. Mixed in with covers of tunes by their heroes, Midnight had started working original compositions into their live sets. In the fall of 1977, mere months after they graduated high school, they went in the studio to record the songs that would make up their lone LP.”
“Flying Saucer Attack present Instrumentals 2015, their first album in 15 years on Friday the 17th of July 2015. Comprised of 15 fresh David Pearce solo performances recorded in characteristically lo-fi manner at home, using guitars only on tape and CD-R, Instrumentals 2015 is an album that will appeal both to FSA diehards and those wholly unfamiliar with the outfit’s recorded output.”
“In 1998, dexter’s cigar were on the scene, excavating the valuable stuff from that semi-recent past for Nodal Excitation’s ﬁrst-ever appearance on CD. It brought it into a lot of new ears – but times have changed and so have the ears. So what you have here is the ﬁrst-ever LP reissue of Arnold Dreyblatt’s freshman record, a slice of minimal history that is STILL as potent now, if not more, as it was in ’98 and ’81 before it. It was a lighthouse that was aiming the wrong way when the tugboat came by, but now it’s shining right in your face”
The second collection of singles from the one-and-only TY SEGALL. Features non-album singles and B-sides from the Goodbye Bread, Twins and Sleeper era (2011-2013), including covers of GG Allin, Velvet Underground and The Groundhogs. Includes the songs: “Spiders,” “Hand Glams,” “Cherry Red,” “Falling Hair,” “Children of Paul,” “It’s A Problem,” “Mother Lemonade,” “For Those Who Weep,” “Fucked Up Motherfucker,” “Femme Fatale,” “Music For A Film,” and “Pettin’ The Dog.”