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Last Month's Top Sellers

1. JACKIE SHANE - Any Other Way
2. ST. VINCENT - Masseduction
3. WEATHER STATION - Weather Station
4. COURTNEY BARNETT & KURT VILE - Lotta Sea Lice
5. BECK - Colors

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FEATURED RELEASES

Wednesday
Jul042007

AMIINA - Kurr

amiina-kurr.jpgThis Icelandic quartet gained quiet fame as the string players on albums by fellow countrymen Sigur Ros. Despite a long history with that group, Amiina had up until now only released a pair of EPs. Their debut full-length, Kurr, proves to be worth the wait. This album draws from a palette wider than that of your typical string quartet. In fact, the strings rarely assert themselves; the most obvious voices here are that of bells, water-drop keys, flute, horns, singing saw and classical guitar. The result is an ambient instrumental record which sits bewitchingly between eras: both modern and ancient.
Wednesday
Jul042007

LOS CAMPESINOS! - Sticking Fingers Into Sockets EP

campensinos-sticking.jpgWales. Consistently in the shadows of Ireland, Scotland, and ol' mother England, this small country has still managed to produce some high-quality pop acts over the years. Now enter Welsh septet Los Campesinos!, a new signing to Toronto's well-loved Arts and Crafts label. These kids fling themselves into college pop abandon, complete with a gleeful cover of the Pavement classic "Frontwards." The EP is all enthusiasm and breathless youth and while it's a little early to tell whether they'll add to their country's distinguished history, their debut is fun like a carnival and contagious like a cold.

Sunday
Jul012007

BARR - Summary

barr_summary.jpgIntense, casually over-articulate confessional monologues mainly spoken and occasionally sung by one Brendan Fowler (apparently he used to rap). Imagine Miranda July or Khaela from The Blow performing motivational speeches trapped in Phil Elvrum's body backed by drums, piano and bass playing in 5/4 time and you're almost there... 

Saturday
Jun302007

KAREN DALTON - In My Own Time

karen.jpgKaren Dalton is a folk singer, and banjo player  from the 60s who shared the stage with the likes of Bob Dylan and Fred Neil. Dalton did not write her own songs, but was  unique because of her haunting voice, which was often said to be folk music's answer to Billie  Holiday.  Her bluesy voice has a rare beauty that is both delicate and intense. Her cover of gothic folk classic "Katie Cruel" is haunting,  and "Take Me" has the power to break anyone's heart. If you don't know her already, check her out!

Friday
Jun292007

YAALA YAALA RECORDS - Various Releases

pekos%20yoro%20diallo-st.jpg          va-bougouni%20yaalali.jpg          daouda%20dembele-st.jpg

Founded by Jack Carneal, an American who moved to the Mali town of Bougouni in 1999, the new Yaala Yaala label is dedicated to unearthing a very different side to the music of this African nation than the Western world is used to seeing. It makes sense that this label's albums are being released in partnership with U.S. indie stalwart Drag City, because its three introductory releases are to the World Circuit/Nonesuch catalogue (home to Mali's best known international artists) what Drag City, et al are to pop music's major labels. These three albums have no track listings, minimal artwork, and have been recorded on boomboxes simply for the sake of archiving a moment. There are two self-titled albums by Pekos/Yoro Diallo and Daouda Dembele, and a compilation entitled Bougouni Yaalali. Each of these albums is raw and pure, devoid of the sterile touches of a Western producer or studio. Microphones squeal with feedback and distort as the vocalists get excited and the results are field recordings of great impact and excitement. In this light, a debate has been made as to the validity of the work of people like World Circuit producer Nick Gold or Ry Cooder and whether their presence was something of a disservice to the integrity of Malian music, polishing it for Western consumption. That seems a touch elitist and reactionary, as though you can't enjoy both (which of course you can!). One thing is for sure, if the work of Rokia Troare, Oumou Sangare, Salif Keita and their peers has ever felt a little too safe for your liking, these recordings will blow your mind. Even if you are a fan of those artists, these albums provide a superb counterpoint. After a history of Steely Dans, the West may finally be getting its peek at some of Mali's Velvet Undergrounds. Excellent news!

Wednesday
Jun272007

UNWOUND - Leaves Turn Inside You

unwound-leaves%20turn.gifOne of my faves from 2001. A 14-track double album, this was the seventh album by Olympia Wash. art-punk trio Unwound and it represented a dramatic shift away from start-stop, screaming aggression toward an ever-evolving patchwork of many styles. While all of the songs fit loosely under a melancholic umbrella, the songs vary from single-note drones, post-rock crescendos, pounding rockers, and psychedelic pop explorations. Sadly, Leaves also proved to be the group's swansong, but like Refused's The Shape Of Punk To Come, it's kinda difficult to dispute going out on such a high.

Wednesday
Jun272007

YESTERDAY'S NEW QUINTET - Yesterday's Universe

yesterday's%20new%20quintet-universe.jpgUnderground hip-hop producer Madlib has proven one thing beyond second guessing; his record collection is much better than yours. What makes him so compelling is that he is able to parlay this encyclopedic knowledge into recorded works that are more than just genre studies or carbon copies. Simply put, the man makes endlessly playable albums. Yesterday's New Quintet's latest offering, Yesterday's Universe, is by turns crisp, driving, mellow, spacious and all while fitting into the parameters of top-notch funk and jazz grooves that hip-hop artists have been sampling for decades.
Wednesday
Jun272007

JENNIFER GENTLE - The Midnight Room

jennifer%20gentle-midnight.jpgNeither a solo artist nor female, this duo comes from one of the more unlikely places for indie rock: Italy. Listening to The Midnight Room, however, the benefits of their Italian music heritage are clear. Like the soundtrack work of Morricone, the music of Jennifer Gentle is simultaneously accessible and deeply weird. As such, it brings to mind other fractured psych-pop writers like Captain Beefheart and Syd Barrett. The Midnight Room requires patience and an open ear for the unexpected, but its wheezy, sighing, whimsical, morphing qualities make for a fascinating listen.

Monday
Jun252007

ANDRE ETHIER - On Blue Fog

andre%20ethier%20-%20blue%20fog.jpgThe third solo album from ex-Deadly Snakes frontman Andre Ethier is a watershed moment. While still in the realms of classic Dylan, Van Morrison and Woody Guthrie, On Blue Fog has a swagger that makes his past releases seem like the work of a boy. His voice, as a singer and a songwriter, is fully formed: rich, touching, and generous in tone. His lean folk style is now well balanced by vibes, stabs of manic saxophone, and Highway 61-esque electric workouts. As the closing stomp of "Pride of Egypt" fades from view, you know that this half-hour gem is nothing short of a treasure. 

Wednesday
Jun202007

LEE MOSES - Time & Place

moseslee.jpgCombine the raw, deep soul of Eddie & Ernie with a dash of the psych-funk of Baby Huey and you get the unique power of Lee Moses. I was first exposed to Lee upon hearing "How Much Longer Must I Wait" on the first volume of Dave Godin's Deep Soul Treasures (Kent), the best collection of overlooked soul ever released.  Now we are blessed to hear all the sides released by this talented artist, impassioned ballads like "My Adorable One" next to a funky cover of "California Dreaming".  Only on import from the UK so it's expensive but worth every cent!  

Saturday
Jun162007

THIS HEAT - Deceit

thisheat-deceit.jpgFinally available separately (the Out of Cold Storage box set having been released over a year ago), we can pay This Heat's second (and final) full-length its proper respects. More melodic than its self-titled predecessor (opener "Sleep" features keening vocals akin to fellow Cold Storage sessioner Robert Wyatt) while retaining, if not surpassing, the first record's ferociousness ("Makeshift Swahili"'s sandpaper-hoarse barking, the finely-honed aggression of "A New Kind of Water"), Deceit is a defining moment for British post-punk. A truly original, influential group way ahead of their time.

Thursday
Jun142007

MIRACLE FORTRESS - Five Roses

miracle%20fortress-five%20roses.jpgThe new project of Montreal multi-instrumentalist Graham Van Pelt, Miracle Fortress is primed to be a true sleeper hit. At face value, Five Roses is a spot-on combination of the usual indie-pop influences: Beach Boys, My Bloody Valentine, Phil Spector, etc. Nothing new right? Well, in the grand scheme of things maybe not, but a great pop song remains a great pop song and Five Roses has twelve of them. Boasting a sound that is both full and fragile, there is much intelligence in the arrangements and writing on this record. A lot more people will know about this album as the year grows.

Thursday
Jun142007

JOAN AS POLICEWOMAN - Real Life

joan%20police-real%20life.jpgJoan As Policewoman is the nom de plume of journeywoman Joan Wasser. After spending the 1990s in The Dambuilders and Those Bastard Souls, she played with such revered singers as Rufus Wainwright and Antony Hegarty (of the Johnsons). Oh, and she was Jeff Buckley's girlfriend. It was inevitable that this talented singer, violinist, guitarist put together a great album of her own. Fans of the Buckley/Wainwright/Antony triad will appreciate Real Life's sense of drama, but Wasser is her own artist. After much 2006 buzz in the UK, it gets the domestic release it deserves.
Tuesday
Jun122007

QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE - Era Vulgaris

queens%20stone%20age-era%20vulgaris.jpgAfter a solid album whose only true flaw was a lack of editing (2005's Lullabies to Paralyze), QOTSA return fully trimmed of fat. Era Vulgaris is lean, taut, and surprisingly low on guitar solo freakouts. In fact, it's one of the closest things to a pop album that mainman Josh Homme has done. Even the trademark list of guests has been kept to a minimum. The hooks are more subtle this time, especially for a band with as much jackhammer riff power as the Queens. Drummer Joey Castillo's smartly driven groove is the MVP, providing the disc's no-nonsense, danceable backbone.

Tuesday
Jun122007

THE TRAVELING WILBURYS - Collection

traveling%20wilburys-collection.jpgHard to believe this has been out-of-print for over a decade. The casual coming together of George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne to record a 1988 B-side led to a debut of such easy beauty that it still moves the hardest of hearts. Volume 1 remains impossible to deny, full of great singles ("End of the Line", "Handle With Care") and Bob Dylan at his off-the-cuff best ("Tweeter and the Monkey Man"). While follow-up Volume 3 is a shadow of its predecessor, having both packaged together here alongside a documentary DVD is a solid package.

Monday
Jun112007

ORIGINAL SILENCE -The First Original Silence

original%20silence.jpgThis is loud, skronky, jazzy, out there, feedbacky, loud, noisy, loud, etc. Original Silence includes Jim O'Rourke (producer of many great things and member of many great bands), Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth), Terrie Ex (the Ex), Mats Gustafsson and Paal Nilssen-Love (of free jazz group the Thing) and Massimo Pupillo (of Italy's Zu). This cd has two tracks, both of which are a heavy fusion of experimental rock, free-jazz, noise. I like the first track more as it is more fierce.

Monday
Jun112007

BORIS with MICHIO KURIHARA - Rainbow

boris-rainbow.jpgBoris' willingness to collaborate and play with expectation make them one of the most exciting and prolific bands around. Last year alone, the Japanese trio created Altar, an album of deep-drone bliss with Sunn O))), and the furious riffage of Pink. Rainbow continues the spirit of joining forces with their peers; with guitarist Kurihara in tow, the results do not disappoint. Neither as frenetic as Pink nor as ambient as Altar, Rainbow is, as the title suggests, a sun-kissed trip that has its feet planted in both the kaleidoscopic past and the bone-crushing present. Heavy and beautiful.

Friday
Jun082007

SHELLAC - Excellent Italian Greyhound

shellac-greyhound.jpgA new Shellac album was one of the last things we expected from 2007, but given how packed the year has been thus far, it's not surprising the seven-year wait ends here. Although far better known and prolific as engineer/producers, Steve Albini and Bob Weston prove they haven't forgotten how to kick the dissonant, math jams like it's 1994 all over again. Stop-start metallic guitar, drums that are both precise and wandering, and speak-scream vocals remain the keys to Shellac's sound. A welcome confirmation of their status as a singular, influential sound in indie rock.

Friday
Jun082007

MATTHEW DEAR - Asa Breed

dear.matthew-asa%20breed.jpgMatthew Dear had a breakthrough release in 2003, Leave Luck To Heaven, that saw him make electronic music that flirted with the world of pop. Asa Breed is the full-blooded step into that field. Though his low-key tenor won't have anyone mistaking this for the Beach Boys, there is a directness and hooky feel that premeates the album. A nice companion to the Junior Boys or even a digital take on the recent pop-noir of The National, Asa Breed is a sleeper in every way: unassuming, seemingly innocuous, but capable of touching the rear nook in your brain with ease.

Friday
Jun082007

THE CINEMATIC ORCHESTRA - Ma Fleur

cinematic%20orchestra-ma%20fleur.jpgAfter a lengthy hiatus, Cinematic Orchestra return with another stunning combination of jazz, electronics and slow-burning torch song flair. These guys are one of the few acts to survive the "chill-out" craze, mainly because their music was always evolving and challenging regardless of whether or not it sounded good in a restaurant. Complete with vocal turns from Montreal's Patrick Watson, Lamb vocalist Lou Rhodes and the ensemble's mainstay, the exceptional Fontella Bass, Ma Fleur is ideal for those who like their music smooth and accomplished, but never bloodless.