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Last Month's Top Sellers

1. ALVVAYS - S/T
2. SHARON VAN ETTEN - Are We There
3. THE WAR ON DRUGS - Lost In The Dream
4. OWEN PALLETT - In Conflict
5. VA - Country Funk II: 1967-1974

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FEATURED RELEASES

Monday
Mar172014

METRONOMY - Love Letters

A carefully casual-sounding recording, with off-kilter retro signifiers (analog synths, plenty of old drum machines, the odd horn arrangement) bolstering their setup and often sending things slightly out of whack (but never cloyingly so), and Joe Mount's knack for strong falsetto hooks kept fully intact, Love Letters never sacrifices a catchy pop tune for experimentation's sake, letting these two tendencies unshowingly inform each other and resulting in a formidable follow-up to The English Riviera.

"With each album, Metronomy have steadily announced themselves as master craftsmen of the three-minute electro-pop stomper...It's refreshing then, though with an admitted dollop of apprehension, to hear the band shed their floor-filling roots in favour of a more stately sound, as Love Letters is their most restrained album to date.

Despite the record’s introspection, it never steers too far from the fanciful. Joe Mount is a deft Midas of sorts, lacing each lyric with subtlety, each cadence with playful restraint...Of course, on the occasion that the album does let loose, it really lets loose. The title track is a swirling psychedelic romp that the Mamas and Papas would be proud of...Some fans will be disappointed with the comparative lack of bona fide readymade chest-lighting bangers, but they’ve been spoiled enough on previous records. Instead, Metronomy have stepped up from the mantle of electro-pop, and matured into the sort of band that endures. Excitingly still, they leave us with no idea where they’ll go next." - The Line Of Best Fit

Monday
Mar172014

LET'S TALK ABOUT LOVE: Why Other People Have Such Bad Taste (New and Expanded Edition)

Even if you've already pored over Carl Wilson's breakthrough ode to pop-cultural relativism, you may nevertheless need this new edition, with thirteen additional guest essays from the likes of Nick Hornby, Ann Powers, Drew Daniel, Owen Pallett, Sheila Heti, and, oh, right, James Franco.

"In 2007, Continuum published the fifty-second volume in the 33 1/3 series. Its title, Let’s Talk About Love: A Journey to the End of Taste, seemed to suggest that it would be a book about Céline Dion. But it turned out to be so much more than that. Let’s Talk About Love is a book that invites the reader to second-guess the way they think about the things they love and the things they hate. Given the great response, Bloomsbury and Carl Wilson decided to create an expanded, stand-alone edition. Part I is the original text of Let's Talk About Love from the 33 1/3 series, and Part II is a set of essays on the book's themes contributed by a wide range of prominent writers, musicians and scholars.(Don't worry, the original 33 1/3 version will remain in print.)" - Bloomsbury

Monday
Mar172014

EACH OTHER - Being Elastic

For the past two-and-a-half years, Haligonians-turned-Montrealers Each Other have been steadily touring and recording, having already released two EPs and a 7" leading up to this debut full-length on Lefse, one that any fans of Women or Play Guitar (the latter having been drummer Christian Simmons' previous project) should find an immediate affinity for.

"Something is amiss with Each Other's power pop nuggets, even though to the group they appear perfectly normal. The 12 restless songs on the Montreal-based trio's full-length debut, Being Elastic, rarely seem to abide by standard verse-chorus-verse structure. The group's guitar, bass and drum arrangements provide a familiar entry point, but at any given moment, a song might veer off in a random direction. The catchy hooks and riffs are there—they’re just not presented in the way one might expect." - Montreal Gazette

Friday
Mar142014

VA - Studio One Rocksteady: Rocksteady, Soul and Early Reggae at Studio One

Another solidly uplifting set from Soul Jazz—with conditions refusing to fully thaw and springtime continuing to tease us, yet more great early reggae such as that featured here certainly helps keep us out of the winter dumps whenever we throw it on here in the shop!

"If you want to get a sense of why rocksteady is spectacular, there's an easy way to experience it. Each Sunday, some time after midnight on Rae Street, between the aptly named Paradise Street and less perfectly named Walter Street, heaps of people of all ages will congregate in front of Brother Bunny and Sister Norma's Capricorn Inn for an oldies session, one that's been happening in Kingston since 1982...Sure, it may not be possible to jump on an airplane and get yourself to Rae Town in time for this Sunday’s dance, but you could do much worse than Soul Jazz’s excellent collection of Rocksteady, Soul and Early Reggae from Studio One. This is music from the mid-'60s—an in-between era for Jamaican music that is often characterized by Duke Reid's Treasure Isle label. But where Reid’s rocksteady really took its cue from US soul and R&B, Studio One was, as reggae historian and liner note writer Lloyd Bradley suggests, more experimental. And, perhaps, as can be heard from the often love-laden tunes showcased on Rocksteady, from Alton Ellis's 'Hurting Me' to 'Me and You' by Carlton and the Shoes, more soulful." - Pitchfork

Wednesday
Mar122014

VA - You Talk Too Much: The Ric & Ron Story Volume 1

While Mississippi's Ace Records (the label from which the UK reissue label in turn takes its name, anthologized on its multi-volume The Ace Story series) was first to record and market New Orleans rock'n'roll and R&B, Joe Ruffino's Ric and Ron imprints soon followed suit, recording early cuts by Professor Longhair, Eddie Bo and Irma Thomas, among many more featured here in this first volume, covering 1958 to 1960.

"From 1958 to 1963 the Ric and Ron labels brought the sound of New Orleans rhythm and blues to the world and paved the way for the great Crescent City independents that followed. They were not the city’s first R&B indies, but they forged a template to which their successors adhered and built upon for many years afterwards. Ric and Ron were founded by Joe Ruffino, who named the labels after his two sons. Ruffino had learned how the R&B business worked through his association with Record Sales, the New Orleans record distribution outlet, and with Johnny Vincent, who based his Ace and Vin labels in Jackson, Mississippi but recorded almost exclusively in New Orleans. For a while Ruffino was Vincent’s eyes and ears, bringing several acts to Ace, including the Supremes and Lenny Capello. However, in 1958 Vincent cut him loose to do his own thing." - Ace Records

Wednesday
Mar122014

SHIRLEY NANETTE - Never Coming Back

Discovered by Friends Of Sound record store owner/music licensor David Haffner while record-shopping in Fort Worth, TX and passed on to Truth & Soul for reissue, Never Coming Back is a private-press soul find well worth the second life it's now been given, as gritty backbeat-laden, horn-section-accented numbers are balanced with smoky smooth slower, guitar-accompanied tracks, and Nanette's lightly fiery vocal approach is impressively subtle and versatile throughout. 

"The life of any musician is filled with moments that could have sent her career down a completely different path. For Shirley Nanette, it was the recording of Never Coming Back in 1973...Attempts to get the sessions released by one of the major labels of the day came to naught, and the 500 privately pressed albums that Nanette and her husband Al made left her with boxes of vinyl in her basement. While she isn't hurting for work or recognition these days, Nanette is reclaiming at least a small part of her previous musical life with the help of Truth & Soul Records. The Brooklyn-based label reissued Never Coming Back last month, with lovers of rare groove and historians of '70s soul singing its praises at long last." - The Portland Mercury

Tuesday
Mar112014

20 FEET FROM STARDOM / MUSCLE SHOALS (DVD/Blu-ray)

Two of 2013's most critically-acclaimed music documentaries, now finally available on DVD and Blu-ray!

"Directed by Morgan Neville in fan-boy mode (that's high praise), Twenty Feet From Stardom is an exquisitely rendered look at the dialectics of celebrity and artistry, luck and hard work, its conversation laced with smart observations about race and gender...At heart, it's a praise-song for the many black women whose backing oohs and aahs have done the heavy lifting of turning good songs into classics and rock stars into icons." - Village Voice

"The Muscle Shoals sound was built out of conviction, rejection and raw vision. These muscular characteristics are what connected filmmaker Greg 'Freddy' Camalier with Fame Studio founder Rick Hall in the elegant documentary Muscle Shoals. Hall put Muscle Shoals, Ala. (pop. 11,924) on the map in 1961 when he produced the Arthur Alexander hit 'You Better Move On,' which was popularized by the Rolling Stones. He created from a dark and maverick energy that becomes the linchpin of the film. Similarly, Camalier never attended film school; Muscle Shoals is his directorial debut." - Chicago Sun-Times

Monday
Mar102014

REAL ESTATE - Atlas

Fans of Real Estate’s previous efforts will find nothing to complain about with Atlas. Their trademark breezy sound is instantly recognizable, full of beautiful, jangly guitar melodies. The band's records always evoke seasonal descriptives from critics (much to the confusion of the band), but it is hard to hear this record without thinking longingly of warm weather just around the corner.

"Now, with their collective early 20s internalized and in the rearview, Real Estate shift focus to a matter with far less capacity for composed handling: looking forward. Their third LP, Atlas, trades in 20/20 hindsight for the courage of trying to grasp an endlessly unclear future. Look no further than the alarmingly forward lyric that opens Side B opener 'Crime,' one that wouldn’t have been allowed within a mile of Days: “Toss and turn all night/ Don’t know how to make it right/ Crippling anxiety.” In stark contrast to Days, Courtney is struggling with the impossibility of appreciating what he doesn’t know or understand; just like Days, the laid-back tone in his voice couldn’t be more misleading." - TIME

Thursday
Mar062014

BOB FRANK - S/T / PETER WALKER - "Second Poem to Karmela" or Gypsies Are Important

Light In The Attic follows up a recent first-time vinyl reissue of stone-cold country-soul classic (and staff favourite since it was reissued on CD a few years back) Bobby Charles with two titles (apparently the first in a new 'Vanguard Vault' series dedicated to the label!) that are even more obscure but both just as compelling in their own ways: Bob Frank is a charmingly bawdy set of songs mainly telling tales of ne'er-do-wells and the down and out from 1972, while "Second Poem to Karmela" is Peter Walker's long unavailable 1968 follow-up to Rainy Day Raga, with flute and violin added to tamboura, sarod and guitar, making for an Indian-infused instrumental jam session very similar in sound and spirit to Sandy Bull's "Blend" series and Bruce Palmer's sidelong excursions on The Cycle Is Complete.

Tuesday
Feb252014

THE NOTWIST - Close To The Glass

Right from their initial announcement about this record, Sub Pop's excitement regarding releasing the next Notwist record was made clear, and we feel they had every right to be pleased, since Close To The Glass is an affably adventurous electronic pop outing by a group that's long been a standout in an increasingly crowded field.

"The Notwist have been around for long enough and have such a solid discography that it's easy to take them for granted. It's almost as if their consistency works against them getting the credit due for helping to create the electronics-meets-indie rock template followed by so many later bands. However, that shouldn't be a problem with Close To The Glass; the band's first album since 2008's The Devil, You + Me is some of their most accessible and attention-getting music yet. The Notwist blend the experimental side of their music and their undeniable pop skills into songs that are equally dynamic and haunting: songs such as 'Signals' are abrasive and hooky at the same time, marrying noisy percussion with a poignant melody and strings. The band's maturity shows in how easy they make this seem, and aside from the nine-minute instrumental workout 'Lineri,' their experimental expertise is in service of some of their strongest songs." - All Music Guide

Saturday
Feb222014

VA - Kent's Cellar Of Soul Volume 3 / VA - Hall Of Fame Volume 3

With the Cellar Of Soul and Hall Of Fame series on the Kent label both reaching Volume 3, you may be asking yourself: do I need another soul compilation from Kent? The answer: of course you do! As usual, there's an embarassment of riches to be found within, from Fred Hughes' yearning "Ooh Wee Baby, I Love You" on Cellar Of Soul to the sweet soul duos by Billy & Clyde and Ben & Spence on Hall Of Fame.

"We present for your delectation 26 mid-to-late '60s classic soul tracks, only six of which are currently on Ace CDs. Inevitably, many are uptempo, but this CD is designed to capture the spirit of '60s soul rather than its later UK dance-centric revision. Several were R&B hits, and a few made the Pop Hot 100, too. Most were released in the UK, some on groovy little labels such as Action, Spark, Soul City, Direction, B&C and Pama. They were the type of records the pirate radio stations would plug from their off-shore floating studios. It was mod music in the sense of new, hip and in the groove, rather than of any elite, exclusive in-crowd." - Ace Records

"Our Fame vault excavation continues to be the gift that keeps on giving for southern soul fans. And what better way could there be to start another soul-filled year than with a new volume of Hall Of Fame. The previous two volumes of the series presented a cross-section of exceptional, and mostly unissued, material from the vaults of Fame studios from the prime years of Rick Hall's funky building on Avalon Avenue in Muscle Shoals. The previous volumes mixed male and female vocalists and added a smattering of groups, but this one concentrates on the recordings by the great male singers who passed through Fame’s doors in the mid-to-late '60s." - Ace Records

Friday
Feb212014

LAMBCHOP - Nixon (Expanded Edition) / LUCINDA WILLIAMS - S/T (25th Anniversary Reissue) / UNCLE TUPELO - No Depression (Legacy Edition)  

Three modern Americana classics receive the deluxe treatment they deserve, as each act's major players are still active, and their original approaches continue to exert an influence on peers and devotees in the current roots music landscape.

"Starting with the swell of horns in the middle of album opener 'The Old Gold Shoe,' Nixon glides easily from one unexpected grace note to the next, peppering in funk, R&B, gospel, country, vintage folk—and integrating them all, not presenting them discretely. Lambchop has always taken its Nashville origins seriously, making use of the wide variety of talented musicians who live and work in Music City. The double-CD includes the original album plus a bonus disc containing White Sessions 1998: How I Met Cat Power, a remastered live solo session Kurt recorded in 1998." - Merge Records

"Her first two albums, Ramblin' and Happy Woman Blues, were released in relatively quick succession in 1979 and 1980. Then, for certainly not the last time in her career, she went dark. But when this self-titled album emerged those eight years later, it was, in a lot of ways, the true coming out party for Lucinda Williams the artist. Over the next fifteen years, she would put out five albums that would prove her as a truly remarkable songwriter, but it's 1988's Lucinda Williams that gives us the first fleshed-out vision of the artist to come. It’s appropriate the album is self-titled, as if Williams herself knew what she had on her hands." - Aquarian Drunkard

"Pitched as 'Hüsker Dü meets Woody Guthrie,' Uncle Tupelo's 1990 debut made the countrypunk notions of the Mekons, the Meat Puppets and others into a raison d'être, furthering a major movement. This expanded reissue adds Not Forever, Just for Now, the 1989 demo tape that got them signed. Its 10 songs, recorded in an attic in Champaign, Illinois, were beefed up on No Depression (and its sister single, the Midwest indie-rock boozer anthem 'I Got Drunk'), but Not Forever shows a vision startlingly complete, and its scrappiness occasionally serves the songs better–see 'Whiskey Bottle,' with harmonica instead of pedal steel." - Rolling Stone

Thursday
Feb202014

SUN KIL MOON - Benji

Mark Kozelek's been on a roll as of late, having already participated in three releases on his Caldo Verde imprint last year. This newest under the Sun Kil Moon mantle is his most universally-acclaimed since perhaps this project name first appeared back in 2003, and deservedly so (at least in our opinion), as Kozelek expands on the stream-of-consciousness style he started on 2012's Among The Leaves, moving his locus of attention from the realities of the road to his family and memories of his native Ohio.

"[Benji] is one of the least abstract, least ironic, most straightforward albums I have ever heard. The album's 11 vignettes—at a certain point I hesitate to even call them 'songs'—come across as short stories ripped from the pages of Kozelek's diary. They are rendered in the simplest of terms, often so blatantly and artlessly that you can't help but cringe. There isn't a shred of subtext on the whole album; almost every track can be summed up in its title...The whole production would be grotesquely comical if it didn't feel so unflinchingly, unapologetically sincere. And here's the thing: Benji doesn't resonate in spite of its awkwardness, but wholly because of it. Where so many artists would coat their lyrics in a thick buffer of nonchalance and ennui, Kozelek makes absolutely no pretension of playing it cool." - Tiny Mix Tapes

Wednesday
Feb192014

ANGEL OLSEN - Burn Your Fire For No Witness

With more subdued, slow-burning tracks such as "White Fire" occasionally countered by the full-on riff-rock of songs like "Forgiven/Forgotten," Burn Your Fire arguably hews closer to how Angel Olsen and band have sounded on the road since supporting her haunting debut Half Way Home.

"Half Way Home, the 2012 album with which Angel Olsen built her name, was a great album, but its greatness was the sort that you can only really admire from a distance. Whether purposefully or as a byproduct of the way it was recorded, Half Way Home sounded like the sort of record you might dig up at a deep-south flea market. Olsen’s voice was a spectral operatic trill, and it danced above her skeletal acoustic folk and old-timey country songs like a flame flickering over a match’s head. It sounded like some ancient relic, albeit one in miraculously mint vinyl condition, and its mysterious distance made for much of its appeal. Burn Your Fire For No Witness, Olsen’s new album, isn’t an experimental piece of work by anyone’s standards, but it represents a vast step forward for Olsen. Musically, she’s changed everything, combining her ghostly folk with some beautifully executed ’90s-style indie fuzz. But the real great thing about the new album is this: Olsen suddenly sounds like a real person, not like some long-dead ancestor whispering to you in a dream." - Stereogum

Tuesday
Feb182014

BLANK REALM - Grassed Inn

We missed the boat on Australia's Blank Realm until this new release for Fire Records, all energetic, droning, synth-enhanced guitar pop delivered with a sneer and a smile that comes off like the sensibilities of Royal Trux or The War On Drugs filtered through a rough 'n' tumble take on the Flying Nun sound (and with previous album Go Easy having just been reissued by Fire, listeners can double their fun if that description at all appeals).

"It's barely a year since this enormously appealing Brisbane psych outfit gave us their last record, the terrific Go Easy, and now they're back with another treasure of an album that goes even further in resolving their hazy, noisy art-rock beginnings into a wonderfully weird and wobbly party-pop sound. Opener 'Back To The Flood' spurts into life like a shaken bottle, or indeed a bursting dam, its whirling little guitar figure eddying around and around atop a glorious swell of chords and synths. This great initial deluge gushes on through the rabidly catchy, organ-led 'Falling Down The Stairs,' then subsides a little for a run of calmer, floatier songs, every one rippling with hooks." - The Guardian

Monday
Feb172014

HOSPITALITY - Trouble

As the below review suggests, this sophomore effort adds a bit of grit and maturity to what was already an impressively well-rounded, sophisticated pop outfit; as on their first album, the second half here holds a couple of slower-tempo but equally catchy tracks to reward those who make the flip over to the B-side, namely "Sullivan" and "Sunship."

"No one will be calling Trouble twee. If Hospitality’s debut was a cardigan, Trouble is a leather jacket. The songs are grittier: the single “I Miss Your Bones” stomps, Papini’s herky-jerk chord progression propelled by the stout rhythm section of bassist Brian Betancourt and drummer Nathan Michel, who ends the song with a Keith Moon-ish outburst. 'Going Out' deploys a confident, sexy strut, a dusky downtown vibe that’s far from Hospitality’s prior Ivy League awkwardness. 'Nightingale' shows off its hardiness with a crunchy, Neil Young-ish intro before taking a left turn into a bluesy vamp and then another into a dark, spare waltz." - C-Ville

Friday
Feb142014

VA - Vamps Et Vampire: The Songs Of Serge Gainsbourg

Much of Gainsbourg's best work was done in the service of the many muses he courted and collaborated with over the years, and Vamps Et Vampire spans the decades to offer up twenty-five of his sassiest, savviest productions, as sung by both better-known chanteuses (Birkin, Hardy, Gall, Greco, Bardot, etc.) as well as such lesser-known ladies as Vickey Autier, Zizi Jeanmaire, and Micheles Torr et Arnauld.

"This latest edition in our Songwriter series spotlights Serge Gainsbourg, one of the greatest icons of Gallic pop culture. 'The image of beauty and the beast, the Rive Gauche provocateur arm-in-arm with the ravishing icon, was a recurring feature of Gainsbourg’s career,' once observed Malcolm McLaren, a man not unfamiliar with the power of provocation. Spanning the entire Gainsbourg canon, our collection ranges from existential chanson to yé-yé and beyond – performed, appropriately, by a stellar all-female cast." - Ace Records

This latest edition in our Songwriter series spotlights Serge Gainsbourg, one of the greatest icons of Gallic pop culture. “The image of beauty and the beast, the Rive Gauche provocateur arm-in-arm with the ravishing icon, was a recurring feature of Gainsbourg’s career,” once observed Malcolm McLaren, a man not unfamiliar with the power of provocation. Spanning the entire Gainsbourg canon, our collection ranges from existential chanson to yé-yé and beyond – performed, appropriately, by a stellar all-female cast.  - See more at: http://acerecords.co.uk/vamps-et-vampire-the-songs-of-serge-gainsbourg#sthash.PjIL2YRY.dpuf
Monday
Feb102014

MARK McGUIRE - Along The Way

Combining his needly, shimmering, Gottsching-like leads with a slew of other instrumentation that's more layered, nuanced and detailed than previous efforts, Along The Way's continuous suite, while more of an expansion of his palette than an outright departure, somehow simultaneously sounds both more mature and more lighthearted than anything we were expecting to hear on this first for Dead Oceans by the former Emeralds guitarist.

"The first sounds we hear on Along The Way are strummed acoustic guitars, and we hear more of them throughout, but this isn’t a guitar record. Instead, McGuire piles on the layers: Guitars, synths, mandolins, drum machines, sighed vocals, sounds that could be any of those things but could also be bird noises or whatever. It’s a mellow, contemplative, staring-longingly-through-your-window-on-a-sunny-day kind of record, and it’s way too aggressively pleasant for anyone to seriously call it “drone.” When the drum programming clicks in, you could almost be listening to pastoral ambient techno, except that the focus is never really on the beat, or on anything else for that matter. The parts with vocals (processed, flat, multi-tracked, conversational, often wordless) can sound a bit like solo Panda Bear. Other times, it’s like the score to Friday Night Lights if Peter Berg had been into Fennesz instead of Explosions In The Sky. And because it sounds like all these things while simultaneously sounding like none of them, Along The Way practically feels like its own genre of music, a new hybrid that calls out for a name like Balearic Blues or Astral Noodle or Ambient Sunburst Glop, or maybe even something that isn’t terrible." - Stereogum

Monday
Feb102014

ACTRESS - Ghettoville

Darren Cunningham's fourth (and possibly last, at least under this alias) finds him returning to his own Werkdiscs imprint (now P&D'd by Ninja Tune), and on more than one occasion here coming back to the sluggish slow-jam edit approach of his initially-incognito Thriller project with Lukid from going on five years ago now.

"Although it kicks off with the merciless industrial grind and pulverizing bass hits of seven-minute monstrosity 'Forgiven,' Ghettoville concludes much less predictably with 'Rule,' a beguiling fragment of sampled rap put on loop. In some ways, this is a representative moment: consider the repetitiveness that's less like a techno track and more like a hardware malfunction, or the cruelty of cutting the final loop off mid-word. But it’s still a shocking shift in tone from the aggressively soulless machine sounds of 'Forgiven,' a tonal shift that Actress has been subtly working toward for most of Ghettoville's second half via the (relatively, tentatively) warm, human feel of the record's three best tracks, 'Gaze,' 'Rap,' and 'Don't.'" - Pretty Much Amazing

Monday
Feb102014

ORANGE JUICE - You Can't Hide Your Love Forever / Rip It Up / Texas Fever / The Orange Juice

After an initial limited vinyl run for last year's Record Store Day, we're glad that Domino have now repressed reissues of all four Orange Juice albums, as well as issuing remastered CD editions. We're particularly partial to their 1982 debut You Can't Hide Your Love Forever, currently a featured title in one of our in-store listening posts!

"Orange Juice were (and are) too funky and jazzy to sit comfortably next to The Smiths, too poppy and sprightly to be filed alongside The Cure, and too hooky and toe-tappingly infectious to share the duvet with Talking Heads. Add in the obvious influences of classic soul, R&B, rock & roll and, of course, punk and you'll be getting pretty close to defining where to stash these discs on your bookshelf. Lyrically, Orange Juice flits wildly (and delightfully) from snappy cynicism to incisive self-deprecation to melancholic romanticism to gutsy angst with eye-watering virtuosity." - Muso's Guide