"'Take what you want from me,' Courtney Barnett repeats near the end of 'Kim's Caravan,' a highlight from her new album, Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit. That bit of exasperation is surrounded by some clever observational lines and a fiery guitar solo, but it sits at the song’s core, a reminder that Barnett is more than a Seinfeld-ian joker pointing out life’s little quirks. Like Stephen Malkmus or Kurt Vonnegut, Barnett looks at the mundane with a skewed perspective, turning it over in her mind and transmogrifying it into something extraordinary." - Consequence Of Sound
"Modernists is the soul version of Mod Jazz, comprising records we feel could have been massive in mod clubs in the 1960s and could fill dancefloors today. We hope you will be impressed by the high quality throughout, from Jeb Stuart's boogaloo opener to Paul & Rick's perfect ender. Timmy Wilson's 'Long Ways To Go' would surely have been an R&B club smash had his record label not gone bust, while Mel Williams' 'Jet Set' fulfils all the musical and lyrical requisites of a mod classic. It's difficult to choose highlights, but as we've been championing it in clubs for a couple of years, we're going to mention Little Eva's 'Dynamite,' an amazing answer to James Brown's ‘Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag.'" - Ace Records
"For 23 straight Saturday nights of 1982, The Chicago Party dance show assaulted Chicagoland UHF eyeballs with Spandex, Southside fly guys, tender tenderonies, magicians, contortionists, prismatic video gimmickry, and lip-synched singles by a rising regime of local post-disco casualties. Unfettered nightlife and outlandish humor poured out of oddball outpost The CopHerBox II and onto TV screens, presented here as a 100-minute video mixtape on DVD. Its companion compilation features five previously unreleased tracks, joined by music culled from a trove of self-released 45s and small-time 12”s. Die-cut cathode-ray jacket and six in-package stills put the Party at your fingertips." - Numero Group
"The Bihari brothers, owners of Los Angeles' Kent and Modern labels, knew their black music, signing artists of the calibre of Etta James, Jesse Belvin and Jimmy Witherspoon in the '50s. Their travels to New Orleans, Memphis and elsewhere saw them expand their horizons, recording acts in those locales or licensing in material for release. In the soul era, The Other Brothers from Texas, Jeanette Jones and Wally Cox from the Bay Area, and the Memphis-recorded Earl Wright fit that pattern." - Ace Records
"This bumper collection of numbers penned by Gerry Goffin and his wife Carole King includes familiar hits (The Shirelles' 'What A Sweet Thing That Was,' Bobby Vee's 'Sharing You,' The Cookies' 'Will Power,' The Drifters' 'When My Little Girls Is Smiling,' et cetera), overlooked gems (The Hondells' 'Show Me Girl,' The Hearts & Flowers' 'Road To Nowhere,' Walter Jackson's 'Anything Can Happen') and some new-to-CD rarities ('You Turn Me On Boy' by The Honey Bees, The Orlons' 'Keep Your Hands Off My Baby,' The Clovers' 'The Sheik' and Theola Kilgore's 'It's Gonna Be Alright')." - Ace Records
"This release on our occasional Ace International imprint comprises an hour of pure pop highlights from the career of Annie Philippe, one of France's leading yé-yé girls. The collection is available as a 24-track CD and 12-track 180g red vinyl album, both featuring notes by Jean-Emmanuel Deluxe, author of the recent book Yé-Yé Girls Of 60s French Pop, who interviewed the lovely Annie specifically for this project.
Annie was launched into a yé-yé world dominated by Sheila, Sylvie Vartan, Françoise Hardy and France Gall. Her debut, a Lulu cover, didn't fly for the 17-year-old Parisienne, but sales were excellent for her follow-up, a version of the Supremes' 'Baby Love.' A year passed before Annie achieved fame at a parallel level to those others girls; her smash hit 'Ticket De Quai' paved the way for many others and remains her biggest seller.
Annie's final chart record came at the end of 1967, following which superstar Claude François signed her to his newly formed label, where she saw out the decade. There were sporadic releases in the ensuing decades but, after a protracted silence, she re-emerged looking as glamorous as ever." - Ace Records
"It was a lucky day for music lovers when Johnny Adams' songwriter neighbour Dorothy La Bostrie knocked on the young gospel singer's door and asked if he would consider singing the demos for two R&B songs she was hoping to pitch to record man Joe Ruffino of Ric and Ron Records. One of the songs was 'I Won't Cry,' which started the Tan Canary on a career that spanned five decades, gave so much pleasure to fans of New Orleans soul and R&B, and which now features as the title track of a must-have Ace CD.
It was only a local hit, but 'I Won't Cry' set standards for the great music collected in this first-ever compilation to include the A- and B-sides of all 11 of Adams' Ric and Ron singles, along with two otherwise unrecorded demos that made their first appearance on a vinyl single in a boxed set of Ric and Ron 45s issued for Record Store Day a couple of years back. It beggars belief that of these 11, only 'A Losing Battle' became a national R&B hit, so high is their overall quality." - Ace Records
"In the mid 1960s, before launching a solo career that profoundly influenced and altered the course of popular music, Jimi Hendrix was a little known sideman, working for short periods with a variety of artists including the Isley Brothers, Don Covay, Little Richard, and the Harlem-based R&B combo Curtis Knight & The Squires.
These recordings made for PPX and RSVP are part of Jimi Hendrix's extraordinary legacy. They neatly align with those other sessions Hendrix participated in during this same era as a sideman for other acts. 'I was a backing musician playing guitar,' Hendrix explained in a 1967 interview. 'I was always kept in the background, but I was thinking all the time about what I wanted to do.' Enjoyed in this context, these Curtis Knight sessions showcase his evolving technique and emerging brilliance." - Experience Hendrix
"From the dawn of doo-wop to the death of disco, the Notations saw—and sang—it all. Persisting through changing trends and technologies, on major labels and minor ones, produced by both Syl Johnson and Curtis Mayfield, nothing could stop the Notations from representing Chicago's Southside for decades. The first overview of their indie label golden age, Still Here 1967–1973 finds the Notations at a musical crossroads, turning from simmering R&B ballads to socially-conscious soul." - Numero Group
"By April 9, 1965, as the Staple Singers set up at the New Nazareth Church in Chicago to record the album that would become Freedom Highway, the group had moved far afield of its original gospel roots. Galvanized by the emerging Civil Rights movement, Roebuck 'Pops' Staples and family had offered a series of stirring protest songs like 'March Up Freedom's Highway,' 'Why? (Am I Treated So Bad),' and 'Washington Is A Long Walk To D.C.'—moments that helped frame the era.
But, as Sony Legacy's Freedom Highway Complete makes viscerally clear, the Staple Singers could still rattle the back pews.
Formerly constrained by the physical limitations of a 12-inch vinyl LP, the Staple Singers' performance—recorded in glorious mono by Billy Sherrill—is now available in its entirety. A highlight of this reissue's never-before-heard material is 'Jesus Is All,' which begins like a field holler before gaining steady, hand-clapping momentum, finally emerging as a jubilant paean to the sturdy faith needed to persevere through the toughest of times." - Something Else Reviews
"On 'Rock & Roll Is Cold,' the second track on Matthew E. White's second album, the 32-year-old Virginian takes a rare break from essaying love in its many various forms to get a little meta, singing about music itself. Off-mic, some cynical cur boasts that he's figured out how to fake it in gospel, soul and R&B. White rolls his eyes, pitying the fool. 'Everybody sees that R&B is free,' he whispers, incredulously. 'Gospel licks,' he adds, 'ain't got no tricks.'
White, by contrast, is no faker, and has got no tricks, evading the valley of slavish copyists by locating his own idiosyncratic dialect within the larger lexicon of soul. The house band at his Spacebomb studio robes his songs with strings, horns, Fender Rhodes, the sort of rich instrumentation that evokes soul at its plushest, but White’s vocals–dry, understated, deadpan–are something else, and the friction between those styles lends Fresh Blood a frisson. His lyrics, meanwhile, are more Bill Callahan than Bill Withers: dark, blackly humorous, mischievous and erotic." - MOJO
"For 30 years, the band Sonic Youth had, as its core, two main vocalists: Thurston Moore on guitar, and Kim Gordon on bass. They were indie rock's power couple—a shining example of love and loyalty in maybe the environment least conducive to marital bliss. Sonic Youth ended in 2011, with their divorce. Now, Gordon has written a new memoir, Girl In A Band, about her marriage, her music and the origins—and the end—of Sonic Youth." - NPR
"It is in its uncrated reports of what she’s always seen but never said, where Gordon allows herself the grace of believing her own intuition, that Girl In A Band becomes a triumph and a manual for owning one’s pain, sensitivity, cruelness, self-consciousness and instinct. Gordon’s heartbreak and insecurities (about her singing voice, for example) are as prevalent as her notable confidence and ferocity." - National Post
"It's taken two years for Canadian singer-songwriter Andy Shauf's The Bearer of Bad News to reach the States, but now we can finally hear why this Saskatchewan crooner is being hailed. Without a doubt, Shauf's folk is the kind of lush, contemplative songwriting that makes you pause." - West Virginia Public Broadcasting
"Recorded in his basement in Regina, Saskatchewan over the course of two years and written over four, The Bearer Of Bad News has the deep, refined feeling of being worked on, but not overworked. The 11 tracks here are decidedly rustic at heart, with a hushed, spartan feeling akin to early Elliott Smith albums, an acknowledged influence. The vision is singular, with Shauf supplying all the vocals and instrumentation save for drums on one track. Shauf's brand of Canadiana is rooted in folk music, but the sophistication of his arrangements reveals a keen pop sensibility that saves it from wallowing too deeply in the sepia-toned doldrums." - All Music
"Here you will find the roots of Studio One's unique sound, from the first jump-up, boogie-woogie and shuffle recordings made in Jamaica in the late 1950s, as the artists emulated their American rhythm and blues idols—Louis Jordan, Roscoe Gordon, Fats Domino—through to the early Rastafari rhythms of Count Ossie, the righteous Baptist beat of Toots and the Maytals up to the joyous excitement of Ska with tracks by Studio One's young protégés Bob Marley and The Wailers and the all-mighty Skatalites." - Soul Jazz Records
"Ata Kak Yaw Atta-Owusu was born in 1960 in Kumasi. He moved to Toronto in 1989, where he played in a band called Marijata (not to be confused with the '70s band of the same name). They released three albums, which allowed Yaw the opportunity to refine his skills in music, and eventually encouraged him to strike out on his own. By 1991, he began to record his own songs using the software Notator Atari, a synthesizer, and a secondhand 12-track recorder. In 1994, he released fifty copies of his work on tape (manufactured in Ghana to reduce costs). He sold three.
In 2002, during a trip to Cape Coast, [Awesome Tapes From Africa's] Brian Shimkovitz came upon one of those very cassettes in a city market. Fascinated by this condensed chunk of African hip-house, the discovery led him to dig this rich, hitherto unexplored scene unexplored, which led to the blog and then his label. And it was that tape, one of the only existing copies of the album, which is the basis for the new remastered edition of Obaa Sima." - Noisey/VICE
"Every artist has a piece of work that niggles them—something that they wish they could redo, given the chance. It’s why Paul McCartney once reproduced Let It Be and why Kate Bush re-recorded Wuthering Heights for her best-of album. For the prolific Michael Chapman, that album is Window, the missing link in the series of Chapman’s early albums being reissued by Light In The Attic. Window sits just after the previously released Fully Qualified Survivor and Rainmaker, and right before Wrecked Again.
The singer-songwriter and prodigious guitarist was in transition from his folkier origins to his heavier future and heading for a whole mess of trouble with the same year's Wrecked Again. Given the touring bust-ups and tortured recording sessions to come, Michael's wife Andru Chapman remembers the recording of Window was noted for a 'lack of hiccups. No one threw their toys out of the pram, unlike Wrecked Again.' Recorded with U.S. guitar player Phil Greenberg, violin player Johnny Van Derek, and pianist Alex Atterson, the album has a blend of electric and acoustic instruments, both traditional and experimental at once, synthetic sounds melding with finger-picked guitars." - Light In The Attic
VA - Punk 45: Burn Rubber City Burn! Akron, Ohio: Punk and the Decline of the Mid-West 1975-80 / Extermination Nights In The Sixth City - Cleveland, Ohio: Punk and the Decline of the Mid-West 1975-82
"Burn, Rubber City Burn! charts the rise of the music scene in Akron, Ohio at a time when the city and the rubber industry it was associated with was in deep decline, featuring a fantastic collection of Akron groups including Devo, The Bizarros, Rubber City Rebels, Jane Aire, Chi-Pig, The Waitresses and more.
Extermination Nights In The Sixth City charts the rise of underground punk in Cleveland, Ohio, which for many people is the true birthplace of punk music in the mid-1970s, featuring a fantastic collection of punk 45 singles from Cleveland groups including Pere Ubu, electric eels, The Pagans, Rockets From The Tomb, Mirrors, X–X and more." - Soul Jazz Records
'Putting this album together was a unique opportunity for me to present music that I have been listening to for years, free from the constraints of a club setting or from trying to stick to one genre. I chose tracks not just because they have been important to me but because of how they sit together, putting as much thought into the transitions and overall narrative as I did into the track choices. I mixed by key and by texture more than anything else, using original sound design, pivot notes, and often recording new synth or piano parts to link things together in a way that flows as naturally as possible. I hope you enjoy it.' -J. H." - LateNightTales
"Between 1979 and 1982, The Universal Togetherness Band tracked unearthly portions of their sprawling songbook for bewildered students in Columbia College’s audio engineering program. Storming the gates of Chicago’s premier recording studios, the erudite party band explored permutations of soul, jazz-fusion, new wave, and disco with little regard for studio rates or the availability of magnetic tape.
Universal Togetherness Band captures the brightest, never-before-heard moments from this visionary group’s 5-semester recording bender." - Numero Group
"Like so many before him, Travis Bretzer has honed his pop skills writing jingles for his local radio station. This fact will surprise no one who has the opportunity to soak in Bretzer's effortless, melodic guitar-pop. With this experience in commercial music and the success of fellow Edmonton, Alberta native Mac DeMarco informing the sonic shape of his tunes, Bretzer has crafted a smooth, lush collection of pop songs for his debut LP, Waxing Romantic.
Recorded in the spacious environment of Gary's Electric Studio in Brooklyn, Bretzer assembled a crack-team of musical cronies to help him realize his vision. With production from Jorge Elbrecht of Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti and contributions from James Richardson of MGMT and Regal Degal's Josh da Costa, Waxing Romantic is certainly not lacking in seasoned, acclaimed talent." - The 405