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Last Month's Top Sellers

 


1. CARIBOU - Our Love
2. FLYING LOTUS - You're Dead!
3. JENNIFER CASTLE - Pink City
4. LUCINDA WILLIAMS - Down Where The Spirit Meets The Bone
5. LEONARD COHEN - Popular Problems

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FEATURED RELEASES

Wednesday
Sep112013

HACKAMORE BRICK - One Kiss Leads To Another

From the streets of Brooklyn came this strongly Velvet Underground-influenced group whose only album unfortunately sank without a trace upon its release in 1970. While recalling the Velvets in their more mellow moments, Hackamore Brick's sound and sensibility also forecast punk pioneers like Jonathan Richman and Television.

"Though Hackamore Brick hailed from the mean streets of New York (as depicted on that striking and hip cover), there’s a beguiling, youthful innocence behind the often-oblique lyrics (that alone differentiates the group from the Velvet Underground!). Darkness lurks around the edges of otherwise-mellow tracks like the album-opening "Reachin'."  [Chick] Newman’s elegiac melody and the ragged harmony vocals contribute to an atmosphere of paranoia...Haunting, spare and atmospheric arrangements color [Tommy] Moonlight’s "Got a Gal Named Wilma," Moonlight and Bob Roman's "Peace Has Come," and Newman's "And I Wonder."  The latter builds to an extended keyboard jam-freakout, and makes it one of the few tracks on One Kiss that seems of its time; others, like "Zip Gun Woman," sound straight out of the CBGB's scene of a few years later." - The Second Disc

Tuesday
Sep102013

HONEY LTD. - The Complete LHI Recordings 

Light In The Attic continues to reissue stellar rarities from Lee Hazlewood's LHI label, this time the sole album by late-'60s Detroit girl group Honey Ltd. With angelic vocal harmonies sure to satisfy sunshine pop lovers, their version of "Louie Louie," arranged by the legendary Jack Nitzsche, must be heard to be believed.

"The band came together in Detroit in the mid-'60s when friends Laura Polkinghorne and Marsha Jo Temmer met sisters Alex and Joan Sliwin at Wayne State University. The four started singing together–mainly covers of the Motown hits being churned out of their hometown–and by 1967 had formed a group that producer Punch Andrews named the Mama Cats. That summer, as riots were sweeping the States, they spent two weeks in LA and loved it so much that in January of 1968, they pooled resources and moved there to try their luck as a band. They slept on Temmer's grandmother's floor and hitchhiked, stoned, to their audition with Hazlewood at 9,000 Sunset Blvd.

He was taken with them immediately and gave them a manager, a name and a recording contract on the spot. For a year or so, they were on the edge of superstardom." - The Guardian

Monday
Sep092013

BRAIDS - Flourish // Perish

Now a trio following the departure of keyboardist/secondary singer Katie Lee, Braids' production and songwriting on sophomore effort Flourish // Perish sounds to these ears like a leap in the right direction past their Native Speaker debut, harkening back to such turn-of-the-millenium leftfield electronic pop touchstones as Kid A and Homogenic while sounding completely of this era (especially when they lay on the sidechaining, the occasional coats of which still somehow seem subtly applied).

"A lot of music is spoken about as being 'dreamlike,' but that tag can be used erroneously. Not all dreams are woozy, out-of-body experiences. Some are precise, and vital and unnerving at the same time as being otherworldly. Flourish // Perish is dreamlike, but in the sense that it reflects the true, bizarre and beautiful depths of the human brain, and dredges up sounds and lyrics that resonate with deeply felt emotional states.

This might sound like a stretch, but it's important to realise how brilliant Braids are at getting inside your head. The Canadian art-rock band specialise in twisting traditional song formats with electronic touches and out-there, often sexually charged lyrics. Raphaelle Standell-Preston sings with birdlike delicacy over skittering percussion, expressive bursts of electronic fuzz, and cascading keyboard melodies. She connects with the listener with the directness of Björk at her best, over backings that recall Radiohead's more successful electronic experiments." - Time Out London

Sunday
Sep082013

SARAH SISKIND - Covered

Justin Vernon's Chigliak imprint chugs along at an appreciably leisurely release pace with only its second reissue title to date, one that clearly made quite an impression on Vernon when he first heard it, and with good reason, as Sarah Siskind's debut is one of the most intruiging roots-tinged pop/singer-songwriter records we've heard in some time.

"Although it was initially intended as a national release, then 22-year-old Sarah Siskind's 2003 debut album, Covered, produced by Tucker Martine and featuring contributions from guitarist Bill Frisell and the Story's Jennifer Kimball, was eventually released independently that same year when Siskind became suddenly ill and was unable to tour widely and support the album. Several surgeries later, Siskind got her career back on track, but, Covered, although it was a strikingly unique album, has never quite gotten the attention it should have. Sparse, unhurried, and atmospheric, helped immeasurably by Frisell's exact and appropriate guitar playing and centered around Siskind's subtle, literate, and often haunting songs, the album doesn't seem to belong to any era, which gives it a kind of patient power now ten years later...Ten years on, Covered is still an impressive and coherent debut, with songs that fit together like patches in a patchwork quilt, each gathering strength from the others." - Allmusic

Friday
Sep062013

VA - Theo Parrish's Black Jazz Signature: Black Jazz Records 1971-1975

Check out Sound Signature label head, unofficial ambassador of Detroit's long-fertile electronic music culture, and endearingly outspoken re-editor, DJ and producer Theo Parrish's mix commission for Snow Dog's ongoing CD reissues of the entire Black Jazz catalog, now featured in our listening post (and specially priced for a limited time)!

"Parrish, as would be expected, takes a low-key, backseat approach to mixing the tracks he loves; no Flying Lotus pastiches or potentially disrespectful attempts at taming grooves into linear house form. Instead, simple, quick transitions and deft choices keep the recordings entirely at the fore. The selections are astounding and the energy insistent from beginning to end. The majority of the pieces chosen by Parrish are hugely amorphous, the by-then elastic forms of the most adventurous modern jazz electrified into further flexibility. Black Jazz Signature captures a sheer flood of music, parts crashing and reforming around each other as they break away, jut out, drop back, or lace themselves around others." - FACT

"To get Parrish to do the mix, Snow Dog Records—a Japanese label that does licensed reissues and mixes of the BJR catalogue—sent a package of hard-to-find LPs to a PO box in Detroit. Some time later, Parrish sent back a few different versions of his mix, all of which sounded quite different—some more challenging, others more serene. The one that made the cut is somewhere in the middle: the whole thing is bright and upbeat, but a frantic, dissonant energy occasionally creeps in." - Resident Advisor

Saturday
Aug242013

THE CLEAN - Vehicle

If you've been following the shop through the years, you'll no doubt know we're huge fans of The Clean, so it's great to see a reissue of their debut album from 1990. True, much of this material has been available on the excellent career overview Anthology, but it's still worth hearing it in its original context. As a bonus, there are five live versions of classic singles from the early '80s.

"The songs on Vehicle hold their own. Instead of the rough and ready four-track recordings that marked their early singles and EPs, Vehicle sounds very much like a studio creation, though the fuller sound didn’t harm the performances. Part of the pleasure lies in hearing how each of the band members is so distinct, creating the type of collaboration where the individual parts’ strength meshes rather than trying to outstrip another. The singing from all three is a core part of The Clean's appeal, the back-and-forth between Scott’s affable but never cloying voice and the Kilgours' slightly gentler but no less engaging approach. Leads are almost always matched by harmonies, and the feeling throughout Vehicle is one of continuity." - Pitchfork

Saturday
Aug242013

VA - The South Side Of Soul Street: The Minaret Soul Singles 1967-1976

This excellent soul compilation could very well have been titled The Story of Big John Hamilton, as his tunes make up exactly half of the forty tracks here, including his deep soul classics "I Have No One" and "How Much Can A Man Take." We were playing this in the shop the other night, and Big John was mistaken for Otis Redding: he's that good! In addition to Big John, there are twenty more tracks of top-notch southern soul, including the classic "A Shell Of A Woman" by Doris Allen.

"Having explored the West Coast with the three-volume Music City Sessions, Omnivore Recordings has set its sights on Southern R&B with The South Side Of Soul Street: The Minaret Soul Singles 1967-1976. This 2CD 40-track collection gathers all of the As and Bs of Minaret's soulful sides for the very first time. Many of these tracks have been out of print for decades, commanding top dollar on the collector’s market.

For decades, Memphis and Muscle Shoals have been praised to the skies as premier Southern soul recording capitals, and rightly so. But any comprehensive list of important R&B studio destinations should also include Valparaiso, located on Florida's Panhandle, not far from the Alabama state line. That's where Finley Duncan established Playground Recording Studio in 1969, producing a series of stunning singles for his Minaret Records label that inexplicably avoided the charts but stand treetop-tall with a legion of R&B aficionados.” - Omnivore Recordings

Wednesday
Aug212013

DAWN OF MIDI - Dysnomia

The most recent album in Thirsty Ear's Blue Series that's seemingly come out of nowhere to surprise and impress us (the last such instance perhaps being last year's Shipp/Spaceman/Noble/Coxon Black Music Disaster session), Dysnomia is a continuous suite of clicking, pulsing, well-honed electronic minimalist jazz, but minus the actual electronics, and in so reducing basically throwing down the gauntlet at likeminded, longer-standing acts from the rock side of the spectrum such as Battles (to give a listen, stream the entire album via the band's SoundCloud page).

"There's been plenty of jazz groups that tried to reach out to the rock kids in recent yearsThe Bad Plus and Brad Mehldau (both trios, incidentally) have shown up on the radar with covers of indie-rock songs, though the covers feel more like like a bait-and-switch operation to get a wayward rockist into their more straight-ahead jazz charts. Unlike those groups, Dawn of MIDI aren’t interested in coddling the uninitiated into the world of trading fours and Dmaj11 chords. On Dysnomia, they more interested in, or rather wholly focused on, rhythm. It's a new bridge out of traditional jazz to the rest of the world, and it's built with obsessive precision...It sounds close to an acoustic Beak> session playing a Steve Reich composition, though even closer to something totally unprecedented." - Pitchfork

Wednesday
Aug212013

JULIANNA BARWICK - Nepenthe

Evoking the wordless ethereality of the Cocteau Twins and Sigur Ros, Julianna Barwick's new album is stunningly beautiful. It's not surprising to see she collaborated with Alex Somers, whose 2009 album Riceboy Sleeps similarly captures ambient sounds from the heavens.

"Over the course of her recordings leading up to this third album, Brooklyn-based solo musician Julianna Barwick's vaporous compositions were largely the product of infinite layers of her own voice, looped and processed into misty, near-cosmic realms.

Spreading out across a wide range of octaves, her mostly wordless vocalizations found a specific state of emotional transparency that could instinctively communicate by turns feelings of harrowing darkness, contemplation, fear, and confusionor even an understated humor. No small feat, being able to say so much without any conventional language, and Barwick pushed her atmospheric songs to new places, adding subtle layers of guitar and piano to her walls of voices on 2011's The Magic Place. With Nepenthe, the depth of her sound expands even further, including more collaboration and experimentation than ever before, without ever losing the direct approach that guided her earlier work." - Allmusic

Wednesday
Aug142013

THE HEAVY BLINKERS - Health

Taking inspiration from Frank Sinatra and Bob Gaudio's mournful concept album Watertown and from all things stringed and lush, The Heavy Blinkers' Health is a gorgeous baroque pop album that sits in the same ornate cinematic netherworld as Watertown and Van Dyke Parks' Song Cycle.

"For 15 years, the Heavy Blinkers have been delightfully out of step with Halifax’s lively fiddle acts and lo-fi guitar rock bands, a fact never more evident than on Health, a seven-years-in-the-making masterwork of heavily orchestrated pop stacked with symphonic dynamism, lilting, complex vocals and jaw-dropping sweep. Only one founding member remains: the incomparable Jason Michael MacIsaac, who draws influence from soft-focus '60s-'70s singer/songwriters like Harry Nilsson, Burt Bacharach and the Carpenters. But the Blinkers are not MacIsaac alone. David Christensen is behind the dynamic orchestration, and lead vocalists Melanie Stone, Stewart Legere and Jenn Grant handle wistfully optimistic melodies and lyrics about love and war with aplomb. Sondre Lerche and the High Llamas’ Sean O’Hagan also sing lead on a tune each, a testament to the Blinkers’ international cult status." - NOW Magazine

Friday
Aug022013

MICHAEL FENNELLY - Love Can Change Everything: Demos 1967-1972

As also recently occurred in the case of Drag City's Chris Darrow reissue at the beginning of this year, here's another instance of overdue solo exposure for an underappreciated late-'60s/early-'70s Californian singer-songwriter.

"Hollywood’s Sunset Strip was fertile breeding ground for folk-rock songwriters on the make during the mid-'60s. One of these kids with an acoustic guitar jumped right into a historically important album project within weeks of his arrival. Michael Fennelly quickly became one-seventh of The Millennium, who produced Begin, a lush audio carpetorium of an album that found a cult audience upon its reissue thirty years later. After the Millennium shattered, Fennelly jumped directly into his next effort, the power-pop legends Crabby Appleton. Love Can Change Everything: Demos 1967-1972 charts the development of Fennelly as a songwriter. Starting with his earliest demos produced during the Millennium era and closing with stripped-down renditions of his Crabby Appleton songs, Love Can Change Everything makes the argument for Fennelly as a power-pop legend." - Sundazed

Friday
Aug022013

WHITE FENCE - Cyclops Reap

While we've championed Tim Presley quite a bit over his short but prolific solo career thus far, last year's Family Perfume Vols. 1 & 2 might have proven to be too much of a good thing, as we didn't pay as much attention to that double-set as his previous pair, which is why we're especially glad that Cyclops Reap has now reared its ugly eye, reminding us of what's so singular about Presley's one-man psych-pop productions.

"The ever prolific psychedelic wizard behind White Fence, Tim Presley, meant his first album of 2013 to be a collection of older tracks that had yet to see the light of day. Somewhere during the process of picking songs that had fallen in the cracks between albums, he decided to switch it up and Cyclops Reap became a batch of his most recently recorded tracks (barring one that was done way back in 2009) and stands as one of his most cohesive and enjoyable albums." - Allmusic

Thursday
Aug012013

DARK - Dark Round The Edges

Proto-metal, psych-prog, private-press: if any of these plosive descriptors lead your pleasure center to light up in anticipation, then pay attention to upstart label Machu Piccu's second reissue, an English group whose lone album was originally issued in 1972 in a run of only 50-odd copies (but could have just as easily come out via the esteemed likes of Vertigo)!

"Axeman Martin Weaver from Wicked Lady joined up with the Dark right before this was recorded, so that’s his fuzz you’re hearing, which should give you some indication of what this sounds like. A more sophisticated, proggier Wicked Lady perhaps, a Wicked Lady with more in the way of 'songs' rather than freakout jams, though this gets bluesy/jammy at times too." - Roadburn

"To be sure, other groups may have taken the formulas further or assembled a heavier, freer slab of psychedelic boogie, but concision and melody count for a lot in the lysergic world that Dark inhabited. Although Dark disbanded soon after the LP was published, cultish interest inspired a brief and well-received reunion in 1996. More than four decades after their lone LP was waxed, Dark Round the Edges deserves to be visited anew." - Tiny Mix Tapes

Sunday
Jul282013

JAMES GOVAN - Wanted: The Fame Recordings

The FAME vaults keep producing riches, this time in the form of a compilation from the previously little-known James Govan. The title track "Wanted" appeared on the excellent 3-disc boxset FAME Studios Story 1961-1967, but it's quite a revelation to hear his soulful versions of The Beatles' "Something" and The Band's "I Shall Be Released". Last Saturday night, we put this on in the shop and by the end, four copies had flown out the door (our very own High Fidelity moment).

"The Mississippi-born, Memphis-raised singer has long been something of a mystery. Sometimes known as Little Otis due to his vocal similarity to the great Mr Redding, he has for over 20 years played at the Rumboogie Café in Memphis, but before that his career was low key and extremely sporadic...His 1969 sessions for the company produced 11 songs, among them the George Jackson compositions ‘I Bit Off More Than I Can Chew’ and ‘Your Love Lifted Me’ and wonderful versions of Fame standards ‘You Left The Water Running’ and ‘Take Me Just As I Am’. This is fine southern soul from the label’s greatest period. If James’ career had taken off, the tracks would have made a classic album. Instead they got left in the can." - Ace Records

sissippi-born, Memphis-raised singer has long been something of a mystery. Sometimes known as Little Otis due to his vocal similarity to the great Mr Redding, he has for over 20 years played at the Rumboogie Café in Memphis, but before that his career was low key and extremely sporadic. - See more at: http://acerecords.co.uk/wanted-the-fame-recordings#sthash.OJUUfDi2.dpuf
The Mississippi-born, Memphis-raised singer has long been something of a mystery. Sometimes known as Little Otis due to his vocal similarity to the great Mr Redding, he has for over 20 years played at the Rumboogie Café in Memphis, but before that his career was low key and extremely sporadic. - See more at: http://acerecords.co.uk/wanted-the-fame-recordings#sthash.OJUUfDi2.dpuf
Thursday
Jul252013

HOLDEN - The Inheritors

Effectively splitting the difference between an approach seemingly (perhaps moreso earlier in his career?) influenced by the likes of Four Tet and Caribou, and one a bit more grey-scale and rough-around-the-edges (comparisons could be made to both Geoff Barrow/Portishead/Beak>'s recent work, as well as The Knife's last album's instrumental offcuts), James Holden's second record sounds as strangely substantial as the ancient/otherworldly runestone on its cover.

"If Holden was already starting to push the boundaries on his debut, The Inheritors is techno music not so much fragmented as smashed into tiny pieces; rocks ground into sand and cast into the ether. The Inheritors draws as much on ancient Pagan rituals, the repetitions of Steve Reich, Elgar's pastoral majesty, prog-rock, krautrock and Aphex Twin at his wilful best, as it does from the output of Detroit's techno pioneers." - The Quietus

"Calling James Holden a producer might not be correct. He’s more of a playground engineer. Since putting out his first single at age 19, the English DJ has fallen in love with the work, play, and joy of making music. A serial remixer, he created the label Border Community as an arena for artists like Nathan Fake and Misstress Barbara to stab at the edges of what gets grouped under the 'electronica' umbrella. True to form, The Inheritors, Holden’s first LP since 2006′s The Idiots Are Winning, spills over with math, color, and life." - Consequence of Sound

Friday
Jul192013

RÖYKSOPP - Late Night Tales

One of the most consistent cross-genre artist-curated mix series keeps its batting average mighty high with this installment from Norway's Röyksopp; we'd especially recommend this bespoke blend of mainly '70s/'80s soft rock, electronic ambience and subtly strange slow jams to anyone who picked up earlier volumes by Air and Lindstrøm, as well as Groove Armada's recent Music For Pleasure entry.

"Röyksopp's selections generally live somewhere in a late-1970s/early-'80s setting. The most compelling include Tuxedomoon's 'In a Manner of Speaking,' a showcase for part-time member Winston Tong's portrayal of romantic miscommunication over a stark arrangement of nervous guitar and distant swirls; Vangelis' "Blade Runner Blues," a pure synthesizer realization of the late-night and disconnected melancholy of Blade Runner that steers clear of the pounding doom of its end theme, and F. R. David's remarkable synth ballad 'Music,' which sounds like a Eurovision winner with all heart and inspiraiton and no irony, even 30 years after it was originally written.

There are also choices that merrily trash received ideas of coolness, like 'Stranger on the Shore,' Acker Bilk’s clarinet-lined Easy Listening smash from the early 60s, which is a kind of outlier from the midcentury that nails both big-band jazz and romantic film music. Ready to be reclaimed by the cassette/chillwave generation, Andreas Vollenweider's 1981 track 'Hands and Clouds' is a brief bit of swirling delicacy that sounds like a lost track from the high point of West Coast radio stations like The Wave. Meanwhile, the neo-classical impulses of acts like Johann Johannsson, whose composition of strings and deep electronic bass plus voice of “Odi Et Amo” features here, showcase a further connection at work." - Pitchfork

Friday
Jul192013

THUNDERCAT - Apocalypse

Two years ago, Thundercat's debut album The Golden Age Of Apocalypse slowly but surely won over enough of us here to reach #11 on our Staff Best Of 2011 chart, and the pared-down title variation for this follow-up seems fully fitting, as Stephen Bruner's funky fusoid tendencies and falsetto vocal melodies continue to set him apart from any of his 'beat scene' peers, but with a slightly darker, barer tinge to it all this time around, due in part to the passing of keyboardist collaborator and friend Austin Peralta, to whom last track "A Message For Austin" is dedicated.

"The chord this record strikes hardest is an emotional and highly personal one; it’s a record that conveys with exceptional delicacy the transition from relative naivete to a more reflective and worldly view. For most of us, this happens in our twenties: much has been written on the subject of the 'lost years' when we establish, or fail to establish, relative stability, and peace with ourselves. For Bruner, this transition seems to have been provoked by a tragic event, but for most of us, it’ll be something experienced painfully and gradually for the better part of a decade.

Apocalypse is very literally a rewarding and difficult second album, with its roots in tragedy and loss and its furthermost fronds in hope and moving forward, an album that challenges listeners with an incredible level of subtlety, hidden depths and wash of openly expressed emotion. It might even just be the album that best sums up what the Low End Theory beat scene in LA has always been about: the perfect blend of virtuous technicality and cosmic self discovery with a message delivered wrapped in genuine human warmth." - Drowned In Sound

Monday
Jul152013

VA - Sophisticated Boom Boom! The Shadow Morton Story

Best known for his role as the Shangri-Las' svengali, Sophisticated Boom Boom! serves to shine a light on the rest of the reclusive producer's behind-the-scenes career.

"George 'Shadow' Morton was an instinctive musical genius who, despite never really playing an instrument, somehow wrote and produced several milestone works, most notably the great sequence of Shangri-Las pop-operettas which established him as the 'East Coast Spector.' But he was no one-trick pony: he would go on to produce 16-year-old Janis Ian's controversial breakthrough hit about interracial love, 'Society's Child,' discover The Young Rascals, and help invent heavy metal." - The Independent

"This collection covers Shadow’s career from his debut as lead vocalist with the Markeys and the Lonely Ones through to the New York Dolls' Too Much Too Soon album. Also included are tracks by the Beattle-ettes, Shangri-Las, Goodies, Ellie Greenwich, Shaggy Boys, Nu-Luvs, Janis Ian, Blues Project, Vanilla Fudge, Vagrants, Iron Butterfly and Mott The Hoopleeverything from 1950s doo wop to 1970s glam-punk via girl group melodramas and Long Island psychedelia. In other words, a very varied listening experience." - Ace Records

Monday
Jul152013

HAILU MERGIA - Hailu Mergia & His Classical Instrument: Shemonmuanaye

Gently spaced-out and thoroughly out of time, this CD remaster of a cassette recorded in 1985 and now reissued by Brian Shimkovitz's Awesome Tapes From Africa label (once a blog, ATFA now selectively officially licenses their finds for release) is quite a find indeed, unfurling at a leisurely pace while its pattering drum machine, insistent accordion runs and digital handclaps entrance and invigorate.

"In Ethiopia, Mergia found fame as an organist and keyboardist in the soul and jazz ensemble Walias Band. Four years later, while playing in the ex-Walias Band ensemble Zula Band, he released Hailu Mergia & His Classical Instrument, an instrumental record dominated by a sound that hadn’t been heard in much popular Ethiopian music for decades: the accordion. Amplified instruments had come along and usurped the squeezebox, which had been de rigueur in the 1950s. But it wasn’t a total throwback: Mergia recorded it with a Moog synthesizer, a Rhodes electric piano, and a drum machine, piecing together a drifting, meditative, and thoroughly psychedelic interpretation of traditional acoustic Ethiopian music." - Washington City Paper

Monday
Jul152013

VA - Très Chic: More French Girl Singers Of The 1960s

Just months after the release of a vinyl issue of 2010's C'est Chic! CD compilation (one of Ace's bestselling titles in our shop these past few years) hit our shelves, the follow-up comp is upon us, and as expected, it's a fun, frug-friendly mix of name artists (such as France Gall, Françoise Hardy, Brigitte Bardot and Anna Karina) and equally strong cuts from a cast of lesser-known yé-yé singers.

yé-yé
yé-yé

"Pretty much completely free of filler, Très Chic is a thoughtfully researched and curated cache of French pop, digging deeper below the surface than most collections by looking beyond just the biggest names to reveal some deeper cuts."- Allmusic

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