"It took us one year to finally come back with Volume 2 of Too Slow To Disco. This time we dug even deeper into the sundrenched, relaxed and funky, smooth and megalomaniacal west-coast sound of the late '70s/early '80s: from singer/songwriter funk, yacht pop, blue-eyed soul to AOR disco, tracks somewhere between delusions of grandeur and a mountain of soul. Again, there are hall-of-fame-honored acts like Hall & Oates and Michael Nesmith (from the Monkees) placed next to a completely lost troubled genius and recent rediscovery such as Jimmy Gray Hall, who only released three promo 7 inches in his short life." - How Do You Are?
"Twenty-eight homespun stunners from the Alamo City's scrappiest souleros. The Royal Jesters were the kings of San Antonio's cross-cultural teen scene in the 1960s, soundtracking lovelorn slow dances with their heart-sick harmonies. For the first time, English Oldies gathers the best early doo-wop, R&B, and blazing Latin rock and soul from these Tex-Mex masterminds—a simmering melting pot of diverse regional flavors, best served hot." - Numero Group
"It's been seven years since Audika Records (the label created for the sole purpose of releasing Russell's work) last issued an album of his material. In that time, Russell's partner, Tom Lee, teamed up with the label's Steve Knutson to compile this nine-track record. Each song is pulled from Russell's original quarter-inch tape masters that were compiled on three separate test pressings in 1985: El Dinosaur, Indian Ocean, and Untitled. The collection is, unsurprisingly, both experimental and pop, noisy and disco, classical and modern.
Corn spends most of its time catering to quasi-classical electronics, the underground New York niche that earned Russell his first fans back in the '70s. Between his 1982 album 24 ->24 Music and his 1983 disco single 'Tell You Today,' he set aside several solo dance numbers not yet rounded by his perfectionism, many of which are alternate versions of Russell staples. 'See My Brother, He's Jumping Out (Let's Go Swimming #2)' speeds into double-time with celebratory horns, while 'This Is How We Walk On The Moon' expands into a twisted version where thin cello plays like a fiddle. Russell's first posthumous release, 2004's staple Calling Out of Context, contained four songs from these sessions, but unlike those, this new collection boasts sharper, rougher tracks. 'Hiding Your Present From You' is riddled with distorted cello, but angelic keyboard and Mustafa Ahmed's buoyant congas keep the pulse thriving, even with three faux fade endings thrown in. It's the type of work that current innovators like Hot Chip and James Murphy routinely cite as an influence." - Consequence of Sound
"Hopper's name should be familiar to anyone who makes a point of following contemporary music criticism—she's a longtime editor at Pitchfork and the editor-in-chief of its hard-copy spinoff, The Pitchfork Review. She's written about Kendrick Lamar for SPIN and music licensing for Buzzfeed. In a previous life, she worked on the other side of the shadowy divide between listeners and artists, as a PR rep for acts like Pedro the Lion. She's been deftly reflecting on music—and having those thoughts published—since she was a teenager. (She's 38 now.) And now she's released The First Collection Of Criticism By A Living Female Rock Critic.
The book, which spans the past 15 years of Hopper's career, is deliberately uneven. Rather than present a chronological arc, she's organized her work by broad subject areas, ranging from straightforward ('Chicago,' her home base) to entertaining ('Bad Reviews,' which favours thoughtful eviscerations over cheap shots) to political ('Females,' the final part, holds the crux of Hopper's feminist critical philosophy). In each section, relative juvenilia sits alongside recent, 'mature' writing. 'Emo: Where The Girls Aren't,' Hopper's tossed-gauntlet of an essay on misogyny in the Chicago scene for a 2003 issue of Punk Planet, is pages away from her unflinching 2013 interview with reporter Jim DeRogatis about R. Kelly's abhorrent record as a sex offender. A laser-focused 2011 profile of the artist St. Vincent buts up against a poetic, impressionistic review of a record by the Swedish singer-songwriter Frida Hyvonen from 2006." - Sarah Liss, National Post
"Novella's formation was the result of an instant spark—guitarist Hollie Warren, guitarist Sophy Hollington, and bassist Suki Sou met through mutual friends in Brighton in 2010, where they quickly realized that they shared a common love for '60s counterculture and bands like Black Sabbath, the Brian Jonestown Massacre, and Pale Saints. The addition of drummer Iain Laws in 2011 and keyboardist Isabel Spurgeon in 2014 solidified the group into a propulsive engine, capable of welding woozy, cosmic psychedelia to sustained squalls of flanged-out, far-out dream pop. Novella's debut album Land is a controlled blast of mainlined electricity, a tempest of relentless groove and crystalline vocals that is at once the vicious edge and the calm eye of the storm." - Captured Tracks
"Thee Oh Sees have released a new album, and it's called Mutilator Defeated At Last. It is their ninth album (and fourteenth overall, if you count the albums they recorded under different variations of their name), a number that's high enough to project its own self-assuredness, conviction, and the deep stench of some folks who know what they're doing. The opening song is 'Web.' It is very, very good. Breaking it open spills out the language of Thee Oh Sees.
If this first song is your first song to hear from Thee Oh Sees, the 'WOO!' lets you know that you’re invited.
If the 'WOO!' doesn’t say all that needs to be said in the language of invitation, I don't know what will. And you might have to settle for just the 'WOO!'—because the delay on the vocals is mixed pretty high, and it's hard to understand the lyrics. I think something about Saturday. Who cares, we're already in it. We're already on board." - The Talkhouse
"There are plenty of albums about heartbreak, but not so many about polyamorous relationships in which a third party leaves both you and your wife confused and heartbroken. Ruban Nielson might have tangled his emotions beyond repair during the making of his band's third album, but you can't deny the subject matter is compelling. 'Multi-love has got me on my knee/We were one, then become three,' he sings on the title track, adding: 'It's not that this song's about her/All songs are about her.' The Auckland/Portland band’s multi-love is multi-coloured, too, taking soul music as its template but splashing the canvas with futurist synths and trippy vocal effects." - The Guardian
"There's a very singular combination of world-weariness and hope running throughout Crossroads, a still timely grappling with the realities of getting by in this country. You can hear it most clearly in 'America,' which is at turns a paean to this nation, as well a plea to it: 'don't lock me out.' This juggling of sophisticated dualities extends even to his love songs, as on 'One Down' (possibly the album's finest track, and one which could sit comfortably next to American Beauty's best), where he asks, 'how much can one heart take?' while still acknowledging that he'll 'stay in love forever more.'
As so often is the case, life got in the way of Kenny's music, and even after crafting such a perfect LP, his hopes and dreams would remain unrealized, with family obligations and service to his country ultimately having to take precedence." - Paradise Of Bachelors
"How many albums full of songs sung by Karen Dalton exist? Not many, technically, yet relics and stories from the folk singer's short life keep emerging. For instance, they say Dalton hated being recorded and the existence of her 1969 album It's So Hard To Tell Who's Going To Love You The Best was the result of trickery. That and 1971's In My Own Time are the only two albums she ever officially released.
For years it seemed no other Dalton recordings existed, until Nashville-based label Delmore released the double-disc Cotton Eyed Joe, a collection of her live recordings at the Attic, a tiny venue in Boulder, Colorado. Then, Green Rocky Road appeared in 2008, a collection of songs that Dalton had recorded herself, somewhat dismissing the idea that she feared or disliked the process of recording. Finally, Delmore released another collection of unearthed recordings by Dalton and her husband Richard Tucker entitled 1966 in 2012, and that was where her story rested until now. Even when the album tally made its way up to five, none of these records included original material from Dalton. It’s also been claimed that she never wrote her own songs, but like many things about her, we don’t really know that. We don’t really know anything about the enigmatic, rebellious singer except what comes to us in trickles through friends and lost remnants of her meager estate.
There has to be someone who picks up those threads and stitches them together, and in this case it was Josh Rosenthal of Tompkins Square. Rosenthal struck up a working relationship and a friendship with guitarist Peter Walker, a fellow folk musician and close friend of Dalton during her life. One day, Walker showed Rosenthal a file of Dalton’s personal papers he had kept: it contained everything from handwritten lyrics and poems, to notes about appointments and transcribed folk songs. Some of the lyrics she had written even had chords set to them. Walker ended up collecting these papers and self-publishing a book, spurring Rosenthal to eventually enlist some of his favorite female artists to cover and rework these lyrics into song." - Stereogum
"Tamara Lindeman recorded Loyalty with Afie Jurvanen (a.k.a. Bahamas) and Robbie Lackritz last February at La Frette-sur-Seine in France—the same ivy-walled, iron-gated mansion/studio where Lackritz engineered Feist's The Reminder. Lindeman and Jurvanen played nearly all of the instruments on the record, and Lindeman sang all the layered vocals, adding woodwinds and strings later, back in Canada.
It was important to Lindeman that despite overdubs the album have a live feel: she and Jurvanen laid down drums and guitars or both their guitar parts simultaneously in much the same way that Lindeman recorded her 2011 sophomore album, All of It Was Mine, with Daniel Romano—with the two sitting and facing each other.
"It's the best way for me to feel a song," says Lindeman. "And then you've got a full take, you have to perform it in full and you can't mess around. I have a problem I need to get over. I hate click tracks and refuse to use them, which is very obvious on this record. So that's why it's not perfect."
If the record is not perfect, it is near-perfect in its imperfections: the music travels and breathes while conveying a new, deeper feeling of groundedness; Lindeman's vocals sound husky and assured over Jurvanen's textures and rhythms as she lyrically explores and describes complicated, nuanced relationships with friends, family, love interests, and art/work." - Exclaim
"Sherwood At The Controls, Vol. 1 captures the producer very early in his career, applying dub techniques to an eclectic variety of rhythms, including a surprising amount of punk-funk grooves.
Sherwood takes an aggressively experimental approach to remixing, even when working with more traditional reggae artists. When you apply that attitude to songs by post-punk bands like The Fall, the results sometimes walk the line between mind-blowing and irritating, but at least they're always interesting. He was far from the first to combine dub reggae and punk, but he took the results farther into outer space than anyone else." - NOW
"Simple Songs is one of those albums that tests and rewards your faith in an artist's aesthetic vision, even as they're taking you to some rather queasy places. The title is a joke, of course (and not the album's most sophisticated): these are ornate and tricksy constructions, that align post-rock and prog's constant gear-shifts and rigorous compositional fussiness with an at least more superficially saccharine tradition.
When he gives a sly nod to Queen on 'End Of The Road,' or ends the album with a finale that matches the throbbing grandiosity of '10538 Overture,' it would be easy to read Simple Songs, at least in part, as a prank, a provocateur's pastiche. O'Rourke, though, is a more complex operator than that. His references and subversions, his games and digs, are oblique and nuanced; his purposes sometimes obtuse; his music more or less infallibly, if not always comprehensibly, excellent." - Uncut
"Fat Possum's 2015 release is a reissue of the 1977 Hi album of the same name, which itself is a reissue of a 1967 LP called . An alternate title for the album could've been Charlie Rich Sings Hank Williams because this is a 12-track collection of covers, about half of which are well-known and the other half relatively obscure. A handful of the songs are as loose and groove-oriented as the Hi imprint would suggest—there's a nice swagger to 'Half as Much' and 'Nobody's Lonesome for Me,' while 'Cold, Cold Heart' finds an oddly appealing rhythm halfway between Memphis and Nashville—but there's also a heavy dose of ballads, some of which are austere, some of which are lush. The backing vocals can be a little bit much at times, but 's casually virtuosic touch remains the focal point and is always alluring." - Allmusic
"Heavy funk from Sound Stage 7, a legendary label that's often known for its deep soul work of the late '70s, but an imprint who are equally skilled in the funk department as well! The label's Nashville placement gave them a unique opportunity to draw from sources like Memphis, Muscle Shoals, and even Ohio, and create a tight blend of grooves that was one of the hippest on the underground scene of the time, one of the few southern soul labels you could trust for funky cuts as much as any of the New York or east coast indies.
Jewel and Paula were more than able to come up with the goods again and again over the years, with roots in the south, and artists in styles that included blues, gospel, and jazz, making for a fresh and unique criss-crossing of modes in a set of singles that dug way deeper than the usual hits from the label." - Dusty Groove
"When the wave of early rock and roll ebbed, Dion reinvented himself as a singer-songwriter and interpreter of others' songs, and there was nobody hipper. It was at this point, in 1971, that this recording was made live at the famous Bitter End in New York City.
It was only Dion and his acoustic guitar on stage that night as he charmed his way through laid-back versions of his own songs and covers of some of the best songwriters around, like Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, and even, surprisingly, Chuck Berry and Lightnin' Hopkins. He included, of course, his last big hit, 'Abraham, Martin and John,' which captured the emotion of many who lived through the lives and deaths of the American icons the song is about." - Blogcritics
"To call Jacco Gardner a daydreamer may not be as farfetched as he’d have you believe. Its meaning may refer to a fear of sleep, but with Hypnophobia, the brand new album from 'baroque pop' prince and Dutch producer/multi-instrumentalist Gardner, he's all set to cast a majestic and vibrant psychedelic spell that will hypnotise listeners at the point dreams and reality meet.
'I came up with the title 'Hypnophobia' while falling asleep and part of my brain just didn’t turn off,' explains Gardner. 'I often have trouble letting go of reality, even though I prefer the world in my dreams... Hypnophobia comes from a place where fears, darkness and creativity collide, like a slightly scary lucid dream. Fearing a loss of control definitely plays a big part of it.'" - Polyvinyl
"Frontman Alex Edkins has said that this record was made with a 'mistakes-left-in kind of approach,' but if anything this only makes II‘s noise-rock more pointed and direct. 'Spit You Out' starts out feeling like a familiar METZ track, all tightly wound distorted bass and sneered vocals, but it casually morphs into something a little more woolly and wild. Edkins' guitar lines and Hayden Menzies' drums rattle and sputter around like malfunctioning machinery before revving back into the pummeling high gear they’re known for. That’s the rule for most of what works best on II: the trio take the forms that worked the first time around, turn them on their head, and then jump right back into the fray with reckless abandon." - SPIN
"There is no one else like Cummings in Toronto (Tonetta, with his dirty, aggressive lo-fi scuzz-pop, might in fact be his antithesis). Perhaps there is nothing like him in the world, and foreign listeners are catching on: Marker Starling's new album Rosy Maze on Tin Angel is already receiving high accolades internationally.
Carefully produced and 13 tracks long including delicate interludes, Rosy Maze doesn't sound like an album made in haste—and it wasn't. The album has been in the works since 2010, with some songs, such as 'I Guarantee You a Good Time'and 'Uphill Battle,' started as long as 15 years ago." - Chart Attack
"After the wild success of Alabama Shakes' debut, it took a lot of courage to veer into the territory they explore in Sound & Color, a deeply layered collage of tempos and textures—and a seemingly hard left-turn from their previous work. Patient listeners will hear evidence of the R&B-tinged retro-rock they crafted on Boys & Girls, but here, it’s just an element of a greater groove—actually, grooves, pursuing myriad versions in these 12 songs. Sometimes the rhythms skitter and stutter; sometimes they throb, or soothe. More often than anything, they surprise and intrigue." - American Songwriter
"Having examined spiritual jazz as it was expressed in the US, and then followed its messengers and influences in Europe and beyond, the sixth instalment of our Spiritual Jazz series showcases jazz vocals: a collection of jazz messages united in voice.
The majority of tracks here are as political as they are theological, but it's the inner sanctity of the music that is the defining factor. These are songs that concern themselves with the universal condition of this world, as well as the next. In fact, as the distinction between the theological and the humanistic is blurred, so is the definition of a song—many of the tracks are atypical in that they do not possess lyrics with a beginning, middle and end.
Likewise, the voices that convey them often can't be said to be 'singing' in the usual sense of the word; we hear solemn chanting, intense wailing, earnest poetry and ardent recitation in between bouts of singing, the quality of which is often nothing short of exquisite.The styles of performance encompass modern jazz, the avant-garde and jazz fusion, and include elements of styles from the long and winding path of the African diaspora, including Cuban, Brazilian, Caribbean and other Pan-American rhythms. Spiritual Jazz 6: Vocals examines some of the rarest and most extraordinary vocal jazz recordings.
We have included some well-known songs, as well as some of the most obscure. There are tracks recorded made for major labels, and some that were issued privately. But all of them speak or sing of a better place or a better world, and the world can only be a better place when they are played." - Jazzman Records