"EZTV's debut album is a little jewel of decades-soaked power pop, turning the key on Byrdsian jangle and harmonies, filling up the tank at Mitch Easter's Drive-In Studio circa 1985 and rolling on until they land in 2015's lack of guitar pop with effectively facile production warmth. It's full of fine, fresh jangly tunes to pop on while driving around town looking for the best root beer float for that date mate in the passenger seat who might not appreciate the effort." - CMJ
"It certainly looks as though Texan newcomer Leon Bridges was incubated in some major-label laboratory. Retro soul is some of the most profitable material currently being exported, and the 25-year-old seems precision-engineered, having emerged suddenly in just-so trousers, with a voice that echoes Sam Cooke's. The 10 songs on his debut are unabashedly old-school: romantic, easygoing, some fast, some slow, pitched at a market that seems insatiable when it comes to the comfort of music that harks back to a simpler age.
The truth is stranger. Bridges was pushed into a studio by two members of White Denim, a Texan psych-punk band who had begun hoarding vintage analogue gear. Coming Home was recorded virtually live in a studio thrown together for the purpose.
Bridges's voice comes from his own old soul. 'Better Man' finds him striving to be a better man to his baby. (He loves her better than all those 'Jezebels' lurking 'under perfumed sheets.') Perky with brass and syncopated shimmy, 'Smooth Sailin'' makes the case that Bridges might make a worthy mate. 'Shine,' meanwhile, finds him asking for his transgressions to be forgiven (those Jezebels, at a guess). Every one of these three-minute time capsules is operated with joy and ease, Bridges's nimble way with a vocal melody matched by his band's light touch, a little lag on the beat here, a surprise organ melody there." - The Guardian
"From award-winning veteran music journalist and DJ Denise Benson comes Then & Now: Toronto Nightlife History, a fascinating, intimate look at four decades of social spaces, dance clubs, and live music venues. Through interviews, research, and enthusiastic feedback from the party people who were there, Benson delves deep behind the scenes to reveal the histories of 48 influential nightlife spaces, and the story of a city that has grown alongside its sounds." - Then And Now Toronto
"It's rare, in these days of glutted media oversaturation, that you encounter a band or a record that instantly distinguishes itself upon first listen as something singularly voiced, truly clarion. But such is the reaction we in Paradise had when, on a serendipitous tip from The Weather Station, we first listened to Nap Eyes, whom we're proud to announce as our most recent signing (in happy collaboration with You've Changed Records in Canada.)
Hailing from Nova Scotia, Nap Eyes is the greatest band you've never heard, and Whine Of The Mystic is their first full-length album, a brilliant small-batch brew of crooked, literate guitar pop refracted through the gray Halifax rain. Recorded live to tape with no overdubs, it's equal parts shambling and sophisticated, with one eye on the dirt and one trained on the starry firmament, inhabiting a skewed world where odes to NASA and the Earth's magnetic field coexist easily with songs about insomnia and drinking too much.
You need this band in your life. Highly recommended if you like The Only Ones/England's Glory, The Modern Lovers, The Clean, The Verlaines, Nikki Sudden/Jacobites, The Go-Betweens, Bedhead, and all things Lou Reed." - Paradise Of Bachelors
"Short of discovering one of his old 45s in a trade store, few were the pathways into the lost legacy of Carl Hall, a four-octave gospel-inspired singer who made a string of glowing turn-of-the-'70s R&B side that simply vanished. Though Hall built a third career in film and on stage—notably appearing in The Wiz and the movie version of Hair—his soul-lifting recordings never hit, and thus remained unissued.
That makes You Don't Know Nothing About Love: The Loma/Atlantic Recordings 1967-72 both a badly needed primer and a well-packaged framing moment for Carl Hall's lost vocal genius.
A winning eye for material from Grammy-winning industry legend Jerry Ragovoy (composer of the Irma Thomas/Rolling Stones gem 'Time Is On My Side' and Janis Joplin's 'Piece of My Heart,' and a producer for Bonnie Raitt, Dionne Warwick and Lorraine Ellison) completed the package. Ragovoy was, in fact, the perfect foil, having contributed to countless classic sessions that blended an overt gospel feel with touches of R&B, opera and Broadway. Yet, each time, their collaborations sunk like a rock.
Eventually, of course, Loma Records—the R&B subsidiary of Warner Bros.—would have simply lost interest if it hadn't already gone under entirely. Carl Hall ended up briefly on Atlantic, and though he broadly diversified his songbook (taking on the Beatles' 'The Long And Winding Road,' 'Change With the Seasons' by Elliot Lurie of Looking Glass fame, and The Jefferson Airplane's 'Need Somebody To Love,' all included here), it was again for naught. Atlantic issued a debut single, but none of the rest.
Listening today to You Don't Know Nothing About Love, we find a singer who is at one with the song. Carl Hall gave each performance a charge, unleashing a voice that simply must be heard to be believed." - Something Else Reviews
"The work of Karin Krog may be unfamiliar to much of the world, but in her native Norway and Scandinavia at large, she's practically a household name. This says much about the local enthusiasm for post-bop jazz but also about the tyranny of distribution: until 1994, Krog's albums weren't available in the USA or UK, meaning three decades of recordings were waiting to be discovered. In theory, until now, she hasn't had any regularly distributed albums in the US or the UK—this is certainly the first one even marketed/promoted in here and in England. With this anthology of her best recordings from 1963 to 1999—curated with Krog’s own input—we hope to set the record straight." - Light In The Attic
"It is probably impossible to discuss Kamasi Washington's new record—all three impressive hours of it—without copping to at least some awareness of two extra-musical truths. The first of these holds that, as a member of the studio wrecking crew that brought Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp A Butterfly into being, this saxophonist-composer is unusually well-poised to secure the attention of listeners who have previously been uninterested in jazz. (This past spring's celebration of all things TPAB was sufficiently strong that Billboard even published a well-reported piece that detailed exactly how Lamar's album came to feature so many jazz figures, including Washington.)
The second truth is that jazz could use a few more people with Washington's cachet in the wider world—touring with Snoop Dogg, or putting out albums on Flying Lotus' Brainfeeder imprint. Admitting this is not tantamount to saying that jazz is in some unhealthy creative state (it isn't), but rather that the music currently faces an uphill struggle in the marketplace (as it often has).
Given all this, it's something of a gobsmacking paradox to discover what a hip-hop-free zone The Epic is, and how enamored of jazz's past it turns out to be. This triple-album set is an extravagant love letter to (among other things): soul jazz, John Coltrane (various periods), and 1970s fusion leaders like Miles Davis and Weather Report." - Pitchfork
"Had these songs been released in late 1971, when they were originally scheduled, these dozen tracks would have been Dusty Springfield's third Atlantic album. Coming on the heels of 1969's successful Dusty In Memphis and 1970's A Brand New Me, the songwriter/producer Jeff Barry-helmed tracks would have made for a pretty great trilogy. But that never happened.
Springfield decamped for ABC Dunhill leaving these songs in the vaults where they were thought to have vanished or even burned in a fire. Rhino released four on their expanded edition of Dusty In Memphis, but the rest stayed hidden away…until now. Reissue label Real Gone found the missing tunes and sequenced them along with an extra single to recreate the missing album, named after the key word in its opening tune 'I'll Be Faithful.'" - American Songwriter
"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