"Legendary collector Joe Bussard is putting records out once again! After running the last 78rpm label in the US (RIP Fonotone Records 1956-1974), Joe had relegated his efforts to promoting old-time music by making cassette tapes for people hungry to hear his rare treasures and producing his radio show Country Classics for stations in Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia. But last year, Joe and his daughter Susannah Anderson had the idea to produce a compilation of Civil War tunes and they rang the office of Dust-to-Digital to gauge interest in distributing such a compilation. It was an easy decision for DTD, mainly because Joe’s always been there for us so it was time to partner together once again." - Dust-to-Digital
"The most immediately disarming thing about Dilly Dally isn't the hellfire guitar tone or the booming drum work. It’s Katie Monks' voice, a scuffed-up howl descended most directly from Courtney Love but also from Layne Staley, Frank Black, Kurt Cobain—all those singers who heard the harshest grain of their voice not as a flaw but as a weapon. Monks has one hell of a snarl, and hearing her rattle it like so many rusty chains draws Dilly Dally’s debut out of the endless background noise of '90s revivalists and into a space where it can thrash around and feel alive.
The Toronto band's '90s roots are deep, though—Hole's DNA shines through in gutter-pop stunner 'Desire,' and 'Purple Rage' shows an affinity with Helium with its white-hot lead guitars and sunken snare pattern. Pixies show up for their due diligence in Dilly Dally's bibliography, especially in the wobbling bass line of 'Ballin Chain,' but Monks doesn’t seem interested in sharing too much of their wordy snark. If the hallmark of most '90s alt-rock was its tossed-off boredom, its slacker cool, Dilly Dally splits from its forebears in ethos if not sound. This isn't a band out to prove how little they care while still making a lot of noise; those partitions come down, and all the hurt and want and anger behind them come gushing to the forefront." - Consequence of Sound
"[Deerhunter's] next move retreats from Monomania's confrontational sound, but not back to the middle. Fading Frontier skips past the group's signature alien dreampop into a pleasingly paradoxical new aesthetic, simultaneously containing the band's most complex grooves and the most placid music of their career. Halcyon Digest producer Ben H. Allen, the man who helped Merriweather Post Pavilion achieve stadium status, is back in the fold, but he and the band scale down their scope this time around, often favoring mood and texture over visceral impact. Our earliest information about the album was Cox's claim that it sounds like INXS, a reference that surfaced again in the 'Concept Map' Cox created to unpack his current influences. And though he might have been joking, there's a cleanness and clarity to the production that resembles the less bombastic side of '80s pop—cue the Tom Petty/R.E.M./Tears For Fears namedrops on the Concept Map. Plus it contains some of Deerhunter's most fascinating rhythmic work; lead single 'Snakeskin' is every bit as funky as 'Need You Tonight,' and doubly demented." - Stereogum
"The world is filled with empty information. Without the process of discovery, facts are just facts. If you ask the guys in Here We Go Magic, a trip to the library is far more important than the book you check out. For life, learning, and creating, the enriching period is the process, not the outcome. The nine-month period it took to write and record the band’s forthcoming record, Be Small, was unpredictable and reactionary.
This experience wove a tapestry, an album layered with nuances of twiddly guitar and soft vocals, bluesy grooves fit for both dancing and relaxing, depending on the mood. These songs absorb and reinterpret life in a much broader context than the confines in which they were written—between the four walls of their respective New York apartments. In hindsight, the record is an observance of greed and complacency; a look at our nation’s unsettling lack of collective will, particularly in relation to our increasing dependence on technology.
The new record was written by the band’s latest, streamlined incarnation of Luke Temple and Michael Bloch, but the group will include Brian Betancourt (bass) and Austin Vaughn (drums) on the road." - Noisey
"Doug Hream Blunt is now in his 60s. In the past few years he has recovered from a stroke and, judging by the promo materials made available by Luaka Bop, which has compiled his slim works for re-release, seems pleased to be appreciated. In the late '80s he self-released (and self-distributed to local San Francisco record stores) one album and a subsequent EP of nagging, synthetic jams, inflected with '60s rhythms, wheezing vibes, a little funk and the kind of frazzled, insalubrious charm that now plays very well. [...] Genre was never a concern of the idiosyncratic funkateer. On this earwormy compilation you can hear that he has a voice naturally suited to soul, but his rhythms are insistent and regular, while his solos are free and wild. He's a Fly Guy; he wants to 'fall into a groove/And then move,' an accurate description of the modus operandi of these catchy, bleary tunes." - The Guardian
"[Meg Remy's songs] take us into the spaces that are supposed to provide us with solace—home, family, relationships—and make them feel awkward and uncomfortable. (As the dejected narrator of 'Sororal Feelings' declares through a deceptively sunny harmony: 'Now I'm going to hang myself/Hang myself from my family tree.')
Likewise, Remy's music has always thrived on the conflict between the familiar and foreign. On previous U.S. Girls releases, her pop and experimental sensibilities—part Shangri-Las, part Sun Ra—were often at war with one another. [...] But, by building upon the grotto-bound R&B introduced on 2013's Free Advice Column EP (whose hip-hop-schooled producer, Onakabazien, returns here), Half Free further fortifies the common ground between Remy's diamond-cut melodies and avant-garde urges. The album sounds like your favourite golden-oldies station beamed through a pirate-radio frequency, seamlessly fusing '60s-vintage girl-group serenades and smooth '70s disco into dubby panoramas and horror-movie atmospherics." - Stuart Berman, Pitchfork
"Born Ruffians' members leach electricity from a long line of wily, wiry art-rock weirdoes, from historical markers like Talking Heads and Violent Femmes to present paragons Animal Collective and Vampire Weekend. So many seeming allusions fly by in a typical Born Ruffians song that a sense of orientation can be hard to come by—until frontman Luke LaLonde swoops down and makes sure the spotlight is set in his own unswerving direction.
That takes all of one second in 'Don't Live Up,' when he gets going on vocals in a burst and starts panting through a series of blurted words ('dry eyes, blue skies—overrated') that steer through spare guitar, drums and horns like a skier on a slalom course. Everything is staccato and tightly wound, with a sense of David Bowie-like élan lending LaLonde an air of voguish preening while he seethes. 'You're living a dream,' he sings, 'but it don't live up, don't live up!'
Falling apart with style is a big part of the Born Ruffians manner, which on the Canadian band's fourth album Ruff cruises through spells of twitchiness and hyperventilation with total composure and control." - NPR
"This time last year, Alex Giannascoli was on the cusp of something big. The singer-songwriter, who records as Alex G, had recently finished his junior year at Philadelphia's Temple University and released his breakthrough album, a fire-bright indie-pop gem called DSU, on the tiny Brooklyn label Orchid Tapes. His house shows were getting more crowded, and journalists from national publications were making the trip to Philly to meet the artist at the center of a growing cult of diehard fans. This fall, Giannascoli is making good on that promise: Beach Music, due out October 9th, is his first album for the indie powerhouse Domino Records, where his new labelmates include bands like Animal Collective and Arctic Monkeys.
Some of the best songs on Beach Music, like the warm, flowing 'Bug' and the urgent 'Kicker,' refine the sound heard on DSU and earlier fan-favorite LPs Trick and Rules. Others bring in newer twists. The spacey synth-pop dreamer 'Salt' began life as a fairly straightforward guitar song, says Giannascoli, 'but I knew that a real drum kit would seal the deal too much, and I didn't want it to be a neatly wrapped thing like that.' So he tinkered with his girlfriend's vintage Yamaha keyboard until he found a drum-machine patch with the right feel—soft as a pillow, and ever so slightly disorienting. 'The riff just came from me sitting in my room, fucking around for a while until I came up with something,' he says. Another standout, 'Brite Boy,' evolved from a pop-punk demo to a lilting lullaby with one of the most immediately appealing melodies Giannascoli's ever written." - Rolling Stone
"One of Britain's leading contemporary composers has written what is thought to be one of the longest single pieces of classical music ever to be recorded. SLEEP is eight hours long, and is actually and genuinely intended to send the listener to sleep.
'It's an eight-hour lullaby,' says its composer, Max Richter.
The landmark work is scored for piano, strings, electronics and vocals, but no words. 'It's my personal lullaby for a frenetic world,' he says. 'A manifesto for a slower pace of existence.'
SLEEP will receive its world premiere this September in Berlin, in a concert performance lasting from 12 midnight to 8am at which the audience will be given beds instead of seats and programmes. The eight-hour version will be available as a digital album, and for those who prefer it, a one-hour adaptation of the work, from SLEEP, will be released on CD, vinyl, download, and streaming formats, all through Deutsche Grammophon on September 4.
'You could say that the short one is meant to be listened to and the long one is meant to be heard while sleeping,' says Richter, who describes the one-hour version as “a series of windows opening into the big piece.'" - Deutsche Grammophon
"La Di Da Di, Battles' first album in four years, follows an extended period of silence after the end of their two-year Gloss Drop tour. Battles can't write on the road, so guitarist/keyboardist Ian Williams and guitarist/bassist Dave Konopka holed up in a New York City rehearsal space to jot down sketches while drummer John Stanier, who had relocated to Berlin, tapped out beats virtually. Once they reunited at Pawtucket, RI studio Machines with Magnets in late 2013 and early 2014, the sounds began to flow.
La Di Da Di is less fragmented than Battles' last album, suggesting the type of natural undercurrent that's only achievable after you've spent more than a decade pushing your bandmates' creative limits." - Consequence Of Sound
"Composer Arvo Pärt and producer Manfred Eicher have maintained their creative partnership for more than thirty years. Eicher launched the ECM New Series in 1984 as a platform for Pärt's music, bringing the Estonian composer to the world's attention with Tabula Rasa.
Since that epochal release, all first recordings of Pärt's major works have been made for ECM, with the composer's committed participation. In this special double album, issued on Pärt's birthday, Eicher revisits episodes from their shared musical quest, evoking fresh associations from juxtapositions of pieces in his dramaturgical sequence, as we are invited to hear the music anew." - ECM
"Shelley is from Louisville, but there’s only a slight hint of regional accent in her voice. Her form of folk music doesn’t take much from country or rock or indie. It’s simple and spare and elegant. She sings about big emotions, sometimes, but she never lets her voice raise above a murmur. She keeps composed, with a sort of quiet reserve that I associate more with New England than with Kentucky. She’s been making music for a while, but she only found wide distribution with her last album, Electric Ursa, which is less than a year old. She recorded Over And Even in a cold Kentucky barn, with fellow Kentucky roots-music singer-songwriter Daniel Martin Moore producing. Other musicians flit through the album, and some of them are fairly famous: former Rachel’s leader Rachel Grimes adds light dustings of piano to a few songs; Will Oldham sings backing harmonies on a few more. But the music never feels fleshed-out or orchestrated, even when there’s a harmonium or a Wurlitzer humming in the mix. Shelley’s only full-time bandmate is the acoustic guitarist Nathan Salsburg. Shelley and Salsburg play these soft, unobtrusive, deceptively complex interlocking acoustic guitar melodies, and those two guitars, as well as whatever other instruments might be present on the song, are just there as supporting players. Shelley’s voice is the star. Everything else fades into the background." - Stereogum
"Montreal quartet Ought had one of 2014's underground sleeper successes with their strikingly idiosyncratic debut album More Than Any Other Day. While the music was frenetic, wired post-punk indie rock there was always a spark of accessible melody present to suggest that they could prosper in the lineage of other dynamic North American indie rock bands like R.E.M. and Sonic Youth. Their second album Sun Coming Down succeeds in developing their intriguing sound and approach while allowing a welcome splash of light and colour to creep in.
Ought are a band who have a perfect grasp on who they are and where they're going. Everything they do is thoughtful and impactful. Consider the striking cover image of dollops of bright colour, a stark contrast to the monochrome grey of the debut record. Also, a sign of their supreme confidence is their steadfast adherence to only having eight songs on their record, an old indie rock trick from the '70s and '80s that signifies there is not an inch of fat, wasted breath or thrown-away guitar line on the record. Everything happens for a reason." - musicOMH
"Sometimes listening to Julia Holter is like watching a film of a dream: gauzy, beautiful, the set immaculately dressed and the light in the golden hour haloing the characters’ emotional highs and lows. At other times, her music is like dreaming of a film, something half-remembered or only eerily discernible, as if you're falling asleep in front of the TV as snatches of a classic romance flit around amid your own concerns and passions. Her style is rooted in her classical training, composition degree, and highbrow references, but has always been generous with its visceral delights.
While still dreamlike, Have You in My Wilderness, Holter's fourth album, is something clearly felt—ocean spray on a warm breeze, sun baking exposed limbs, a hand glancing across your skin before drifting away. [...] Her previous work didn’t necessarily require any outside reading to unlock its pleasures, but Have You in My Wilderness cuts extraordinarily quickly to the core." - Consquence of Sound
"Muscle Shoals keyboard stalwart Spooner Oldham (who has possibly the greatest name of all time) has had his fingers on myriad classic tracks. Co-writing hits like the Box Tops' 'Cry Like A Baby,' Percy Sledge's 'Out Of Left Field,' and James and Bobby Purify's 'I'm Your Puppet' with collaborator Dan Penn might be enough to secure a spot in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (which he was inducted into in 2009), but he also lent his keyboards to music from Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan, the Stones, and the Flying Burrito Brothers. He's frequently toured with Neil Young and in 2007, toured with the Drive-By Truckers. His pedigree is incredible.
It's curious, then, that his solo album appeared and vanished without a trace. Until now, of course. Light In The Attic Records have reissued Oldham's 1972 collection, Pot Luck, on vinyl and for the first time on CD, complete with extensive liner notes. The songs chosen present an interesting mix: side A is compositions that Oldham wrote (both by himself and with Dan Penn and/or Freddy Weller), and the B-side is an opus of songs that Oldham played on for other artists, each track blending into the next, ending with a gorgeous 'Will The Circle Be Unbroken,' soulful and a bit funky, with some incredible backing vocals." - Popshifter
"We all know the Carole King who wrote some of the biggest hits of the '60s, from 'Will You Love Me Tomorrow' to 'Pleasant Valley Sunday,' via 'The Locomotion' and '(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.' We also know the singer-songwriter behind Tapestry, the album that launched King as a solo singer in her own right. But in between–and not nearly as well known–is King’s band, The City, and their album, Now That Everything’s Been Said.
By the mid-'60s, King's marriage to Gerry Goffin, with whom she'd written many of those wonderful hits, had hit the rocks. A divorce loomed, and King all but retired to raise their two daughters. She headed west to Laurel Canyon in '67, taking the children with her, and made the previously unlikely move of joining a progressive folk-rock band. King formed The City with future husband Charles Larkey on bass and Danny Kortchmar on guitar and vocals. With King on piano and vocals, they created a folk rock sound that pre-empted the singer-songwriter boom of the '70s.
Produced by Lou Adler and featuring Jimmy Gordon on drums, The City's sound is deep and soulful, imperfect but passionate. And the songs, with King writing or co-writing all but one, are as exceptional as you’d expect and as widely covered as her factory work." - Light In The Attic
"Despite his band's ever-revolving lineup, Jonas Bonnetta has pinned down some familiar faces for his latest project. James Bunton returns to fill the engineer role and also plays on the album. Rounding out his backing band are The Wooden Sky's Gavin Gardiner and Andrew Kekewich, Jon Hynes and Sylvie Smith. The 'extended cast of players' also includes string arrangements courtesy of Mika Posen, who has played with Timber Timbre.
The songs were primarily written by Bonnetta as an intended solo project, immediately after the release of 2012's Spectral Dusk, but after shelving them for a couple of years, he decided to revisit them with the band. The majority of the tracks were recorded live off the floor.
Quiet Energies was recorded over the span of a couple weeks at Bonnetta's new home studio in Mountain Grove, about an hour outside of Kingston, ON. It's a move that profoundly affected Bonnetta—and his sound. While Spectral Dusk was an incredibly personal record inspired by the death of Bonnetta's father, the new set of songs hears him moving forward." - Exclaim!
"Over the course of her nearly decade-long career as Grouper, Liz Harris has become a master of all things overcast. Her ambient compositions and waterlogged ballads are like fogged-up windows—bleary enough to indicate the bleakness inside, but only its vaguest outlines. There's suggestion of something heartbreaking, but its true shape remains occluded, unobtainable, and all the more moving for such an approach. With Helen, her occasional 'pop' band, she's occasionally parted those clouds, peeled back the layers of reverb to reveal the bruised heart at the center of those songs." - SPIN
"Too Many Continents finds Fraser leading a trio with two heavyweight improvisers who need no introduction: pianist Kris Davis and saxophonist Tony Malaby. On second thought, labeling anyone 'leader' of this date might be inaccurate. The three have been friends for twenty years and seem to communicate their ideas telepathically.
On my second pass through this album, the cover image of The Art Ensemble of Chicago's Nice Guys (ECM, 1979) flickers through my mind. You know, that wonderful black and white shot of the group seated around a gingham-clothed table drinking coffee? Too Many Continents sounds like that photograph. Natural. Comfortable. This is not to suggest that it doesn't take chances or stray from familiar territory. Were the Art Ensemble ever tame or predictable? Neither are Fraser and company. Malaby is in top form, sputtering and bubbling above the others in 'I Needed It Yesterday,' tethered by Davis as Fraser navigates. Davis employs a sustained single note pattern in 'Nostalgia For The Recent Past,' fueling a restless Malaby to launch into a manic discourse. Fraser really seems to bloom at this point in the album, absorbing the energy of his companions, but never overshadowing them. There’s plenty of fire and fury here, bookended between the controlled burn of sensitive ballads." - The Free Jazz Collective
"Nils Frahm's musical curation of the latest edition of LateNightTales leans on the side of the slow burning, the meditative and the hypnotic; it's a listening experience for those who appreciate subtle complexity. Frahm mixes and layers various genres, especially jazz and electronic, with organic natural sounds and gently humming drones, and a number of the featured compositions have been slowed, to great effect.
Most notably he not only slowed Boards of Canada's 2000 track 'In a Beautiful Place Out in the Country,' but appears to have emphasized both the beats and the keyboards, transforming it into a narcotic, molasses-slow drip. Perhaps the crowning achievement on this collection is Frahm's ability to seamlessly unite the compositions of a diverse array of artists—Miles Davis, Four Tet, Nina Simone and the glitchy stylings of System, to name but a few—into a cohesive whole. There is never a moment when any of the songs clash or seem otherwise out of place." - Exclaim!