The British group Temples join bands like Tame Impala and Toy with their contemporary twist on classic psychedelia. They throw such influences as The Beatles, Byrds, Love and T-Rex into a sonic blender, and what comes out is one hook-filled trip-fest.
Practice your binder-scrawl penmanship, work on that twelve-sided dice roll, and grab a seat at the roundtable, because Numero Group has reanimated sixteen tracks of '70s occult American hard rock one-hitters for heathen ears only.
"The sixteen bands featured on Warfaring Strangers are a varied lot, the only thing really tying them together being their penchant for Satanism and the fantastical mysticism found in a Frank Frazetta poster. Some of these bands probably deserve to remain in the shadowed obscurity of Hades, but it's still a lot of fun to listen to. North Carolina's Arrogance offer up a slab of heavy blues with 'Black Death,' but the title is the only thing to fear here...Perhaps one of the more interesting tracks comes from Canton, Ohio's Wrath, although it's less for the music as it is the directness of the lyrics and the fact that guitarist Ralph Minocchi’s wife had to deliver them due to drummer-vocalist Rick Page suffering from laryngitis. It's the stories behind the songs—which are illustrated in the album's liner notes—that make this batch of misfits all the more likable. Most of the bands on Warfaring Strangers lasted barely a year. Hell, the noteworthy black hard-rock band Hellstorm lasted only one show. At the core of it all is the youthful unrest of small-town life and the liberating power—even if it's fleeting—of rock and roll. That's as timeless as it gets." - Paste
Plenty of classic tunes by legends like Sam Cooke and Carole King on this collection of music produced by Lou Adler, but the real gems are the tracks from lesser-knowns like Dante & The Evergreens, The City and Peggy Lipton. Fans of 20 Feet From Stardom should check out the wonderful covers by The Blossoms/Darlene Love ("Stoney End") and Merry Clayton ("Oh No, Not My Baby"). However, most exciting of all is The Brothers & Sisters' version of "Blowin' In The Wind," a preview of the much-anticipated Light In The Attic reissue of Dylan's Gospel, due to be released April 1st.
"The latest release in our Producers series contains key tracks from the career of Grammy-winning record producer, songwriter, publisher, record company owner, film director and all-round music biz mogul Lou Adler, an architect of the California sound...Adler, whose story is told in more detail in the picture-packed booklet, much of it in his own words, was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as a recipient of the Ahmet Ertegun Award in 2013. 'If you asked me how to succeed as a record producer,' he said on being presented with his accolade by Cheech & Chong, 'I’d say it helps to work with three of the best singers and songwriters: John Phillips, Carole King and Sam Cooke.'" - Ace Records
A rollicking rock revue, Lane and his post-Faces outfit recorded two albums for Island, Ronnie Lane's Slim Chance and One For The Road, both collected on this double-disc set along with alternate takes as well as a BBC concert from 1974.
"If Lane still doesn't get full credit for his role in two groups dominated by their turbo-charged vocalists, his post-Faces career is even more badly undervalued. A new anthology confirms that he did some of his greatest work in the mid-'70s with Slim Chance, a loose rustic-rock band he built in his own image, the good-time exterior masking genuine soulfulness...After leaving the Faces he'd retreated to Fishpool farm, near the village of Hyssington on the Welsh-English border. The music he made there was dug from the soil and baked in the sun. Mixing eclectic covers with originals and drew from rock'n'roll, country, folk, blues, early jazz, vaudeville and blue beat, Fishpool sounds a bit like a Welsh Big Pink, only with sheep farmers living down the lane rather than Bob Dylan." - The Guardian
Playing two nights here in Toronto next month to support this new album (the first night of which having already sold out), Adam Granduciel's War On Drugs are a band whose fanbase is growing noticeably with every record, and it seems to be a near-certainty that Lost In The Dream will deservedly gain them that many more new listeners.
"Lost In the Dream is a beautiful, warm and comforting thing, for all the unhappiness that went into it. Picking up where Slave Ambient left off, it sounds as if Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band had made a lost album with Mark Knopfler, sometime between Born in The USA and Tunnel Of Love, but all concerned had been listening to very little apart from space-rock and krautrock. When Granduciel talks about his musical background, you realise it's not that surprising a combination. He grew up in Dover, Massachusetts, listening to classic-rock radio, then had what he calls his 'a-ha moment,' hearing The Perfect Prescription by Spacemen 3." - The Guardian
"Adam Granduciel, the man behind The War On Drugs, has been recording trance-inducing Americana since 2005, and along with his longtime friend and former bandmate Kurt Vile created a whole new style of folk-based rock reverie doused in an ocean of synthesizers. Lost In The Dream is the band’s third full-length, and continues to develop the Tom Petty-meets-Sonic Youth sound they pioneered. On all of the band's previous releases, Granduciel would build the core of the songs himself, playing most of the instruments and endlessly tinkering with the mixes until they'd reached an adequate level of perfection. He's had various musicians play on previous albums but with Lost In The Dream, Granduciel decided to change things up. He recorded the core of these songs with two collaborators, longtime bass player Dave Hartley and pianist Robbie Bennett." - PopMatters
A starkly arranged, mostly solo set of country blues and folk interpretations (opening with a bold rendition of Fred Neil's "I've Got A Secret [Didn't We Shake Sugaree]" which coolly and confidently holds its own against Neil's version), this reissue of The Cold Of The Morning is yet another labour of love from the folks at Omnivore Recordings, one to file aside such earlier essential archival Americana from the label as Gene Clark's White Light demos and Townes Van Zandt's Sunshine Boy studio outtakes and demos.
"The Cold Of The Morning is a mid-'70s Memphis classic that almost never saw the light of day. Selvidge and producer Jim Dickinson created this 12-track song cycle live in the studio in 1975, with Selvidge on vocals and guitar, plus Dickinson on piano with Memphis' iconic Mudboy and the Neutrons on two tracks. The cover photo was by William Eggleston. The record seemed destined for greatness.
But when Peabody Records’ benefactor decided not to put it out at the last minute, he gave the rights to the recently pressed LP to Selvidge, who drove down to the plant, loaded up his car and distributed the discs himself. The album eventually found its way into regional stores and the national press, even reaching the Cashbox charts; this was enough to take Selvidge to New York. But life intervened, and bigger record deals were not in the cards.
Co-produced by Sid’s son, Steve (of The Hold Steady), The Cold Of The Morning has been expanded to include six previously unissued tracks from the original sessions. Consisting of originals, blues standards, and Broadway classics, the record is not only a snapshot of a time and place, but of Selvidge himself." - Guitar World
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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