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.
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 All Music Guidehave 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 ; the band's first album since 2008's is some of their most accessible and attention-getting music yet. The 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." -
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
We definitely missed Warm Soda's Someone For You when it was released last March, but we've been quickly charmed by its guileless mix of all things '-pop': glam, punk & power! Luckily for us latecomers, they are a prolific bunch and will have a new album out, Young Reckless Hearts, this March 11th.
"Matthew Melton, previously of the spontaneously combusted Bare Wires, has created a lean, mean gang of masterful power pop tunes with just the right blend of studio sweetness, teenage angst, and gritty bubblegum. All killer, no filler." - Castle Face Records
"If you like your music fast and catchy, with a little garage-rock power behind it, then Warm Soda is a band you are going to want to check out. Someone For You, their debut LP, is loaded with sugary power pop jams that will rot your teeth and plant worms in your skull that will be tough to get rid of. Matthew Melton, formerly of Bare Wires, definitely knows his way around a catchy song, and his playing and arrangements put what bands like The Strokes are currently doing to shame." The Fire Note
This dub treatment of last year's Dream River makes perfect, unexpected sense straight from first listen, emphasizing the cyclical riffs and percussive accompaniment that were on the tapes all along, while leaving enough of Callahan's vocals unmuted to manage to tease out flashes of narrative and ensure that the originally-sung stories aren't entirely left by the wayside. Take the next stool down at the bar, No Protection—you've got company.
"[This] experiment serves to draw attention to the enduring spaciousness of Callahan’s music, to the sense that the most significant details in his songs are unspoken, hidden in the interstices between his lines. This last point is hammered home very hard when you hear the project in its entirety. Brian Beattie, who mixed Dream River and handled the remixes for Have Fun With God, hasn’t wandered too far from the original: the eight songs run in the same order, and are recast not as reggae, exactly, but as reverb-heavy and mostly instrumental pieces that point up the rich musical subtleties that initially underpinned Callahan's vocals." - Uncut
We were very excited to source a limited amount of CD/LP copies of this self-released, self-titled effort straight from the Royal Stable—like its eponymous predecessor, what it lacks in running time it more than makes up for in tenderly oblique acoustic balladry, and some of the strongest, strangest Will Oldham songs we've heard in years.
"Will Oldham hasn’t run out of tricks in his 20-plus years of sharing his music with Louisville and beyond. Having played with identity and consistently challenged the music industry's rigid rules throughout that time, Oldham's latest twist is a self-produced, self-released album that originally had only been available at local shop Astro Black Records. The collection is his first full-length since 1994 to consist entirely of his voice and guitar, otherwise unaccompanied, and it's telling to hear how much older and more confident he sounds now compared to then." - LEO Weekly
The dead of winter is not only the perfect time of year for Piano Nights' release, but also for one to acquaint themselves with Bohren's gloomy, haunting take on jazz in general, a catalogue that now runs (trudges?) a daunting eight albums deep.
"There's something about the brooding pace, the somber saxophone and the wistful keys of Bohren & Der Club Of Gore's music that evokes the imagery of midnight city streets more vividly than it seems music should be capable of capturing. Of course, when your music is often referred to as 'noir jazz' because it exists as a distant, moody offspring of noir film soundtracks, it benefits from the previously existing association that the noir era created between low-key jazz and dark cities. But there’s a reason this type of music was specific to that style. These instruments, when played at this brooding, lustful pace, simply ooze the shadowy, melancholy feelings that are naturally associated with rain highlighted by streetlights, fog illuminated by headlights, and jazz bar stage lights filtered through cigarette smoke." - Sputnik Music
VA - Haiti Direct: Big Band, Mini Jazz & Twoubadou Sounds, ,1960-1978 / VA - Peru Maravilloso: Vintage Latin, Tropical and Cumbia
Enlisting the respective ears of Sofrito's Hugo Mendez and Martin Morales of the Ceviche restaurant and its new Tiger's Milk imprint offshoot, Strut yet again does a fantastic job of looking out from its present-day London vantage point to the heyday of tropical hybrid musics made for the dancefloor, whether then or now.
"Haiti Direct's intent is to shine a spotlight on the sounds that go beyond the regular Voodoo stereotypes of the country. While Cuba was refining salsa and Jamaica was staking its claim on reggae back in the 1960s, Haiti was instead twisting meringue into fresh sound compas direct. Big band rivals Nemours Jean-Baptiste and Webert Sicot were the genre's initial pioneers, but towards the end of the 1960s, the genre made room for a handful of smaller, more urgent outfits that blended electric guitars and paved the way for the 70s. As the 70s took hold, the Haitian sounds spread rapidly through South America and France, and had a resounding influence on zouk in the 1980s." - FACT
"The 1960s were a pivotal era not only for young Americans in the U.S. but also for their counterparts in Peru. The country’s music scene also underwent a pivotal shift from classic, traditional sounds to the new sounds of tropical and psychedelic music. Peru Maravilloso collects a number of these songs from a variety of influential artists of that era in one neat compilation, chosen by Duncan Ballantyne, Martin Morales and Andres Tapia (of Resychled Records). The trio had one mission in mind when choosing the songs for the record: 'rooting and unearthing tracks that take the listener by surprise whilst avoiding the more mainstream sounds of cumbia and chicha prevalent at the time.'" - Huffington Post
Although the group name might not yet register, The New Mendicants consist of a trio of Toronto transplants (of varying degrees) whose names you'll likely recognize: Joe Pernice, Norman Blake and Mike Belitsky, banding together to play a brand of sprightly-strummed pop which blends the singing and songwriting voices of Blake and Pernice to breezily catchy effect.
"Into The Lime does much to dispel the received wisdom that side projects are little more than exercises in vanity wherein the cast-off songs from the individual players' day jobs are given a new lease of life in order to satisfy egos while nursing the bruises of rejection. No, this a welcome shot of vitamin D in the cruellest month of the year where summer seems to be an eternity away while the filling of tax return forms only adds to the harshness of January." - The Quietus
With longstanding co-producer Stew Crookes capturing a live-off-the-floor feel from such players as Garth Hudson, Bazil Donovan and Emmett Kelly and guest vocal turns by Mary Margaret O'Hara, Afie Jurvanen of Bahamas and Tamara Lindeman of The Weather Station, Strong Feelings serves both as a great intro for those new to Paisley's work as well as another solid batch of songs sure to satisfy his already-substantial fan base.
"Doug Paisley is a singer-songwriter out of place and time. His songs are steeped in the steely resolve, forlorn soul-searching, and regrettable heartbreak of classic country tunes. His guitar parts can be as spare and searching as a Nick Drake ballad, or as ornate and filigreed as the stitching on a Nudie suit; his vocals are equal parts Merle Haggard and Jackson Browne, a wistful tenor with a slight quiver. Like its predecessor, 2010's Constant Companion, Strong Feelings is an exquisitely warm, intimate recording—you can hear Paisley's fingers shift on the strings of his guitar, and the faintest creak each time Garth Hudson presses down on his keyboard." - The Grid
"Paisley gave himself a little extra time while making his new album. After recording his previous two LPs in something of a hurry, the Canadian singer and songwriter allowed himself to stretch out more in the studio while recording these ten songs. The result is an album of tasteful subtleties: warm guitars unspooling over the gentle hum of an organ enveloping Paisley's AM-gold voice with just a hint of a twang, on songs that glide by like beautiful scenery." - Wall Street Journal
VA - Punk 45 Vol. 2: There Is No Such Thing As Society. Get A Job, Get A Car, Get A Bed, Get Drunk! Underground Punk and Post-Punk in the UK 1977-81
Boasting liners that, as with most Soul Jazz comps, thoroughly put the era under scrutiny into context (in this case including interviews with the indie distributors and label-runners on the front lines when Year Zero hit, along with quality shots of each featured 45's original album art), this CD/2LP fills out the UK side of the punk picture provided by the series' related coffee-table book.
"While the first album in this series, Punk 45: Kill The Hippies! Kill Yourself!, focused on underground punk in America, this album charts the rise of punk and post-punk in Britain in the years 1977-81.
This new Punk 45 album features a collection of seminal, classic, obscure and rare punk and post-punk singles from the likes of The Art Attacks, The Mekons, TV Personalities, Swell Maps, and many more, charting the rise of independent music and Do It Yourself culture that exploded in Britain in the wake of punk." - Sounds Of The Universe/Soul Jazz Records