Last Month's Top Sellers


1. THE OXFORD AMERICAN - Southern Music Issue 2014 (magazine + CD)
3. CARIBOU - Our Love
4. BOB DYLAN - The Basement Tapes Complete/Raw: The Bootleg Series Vol. 11
5. THE WAR ON DRUGS - Lost In The Dream

Click here for full list.




VA - Youths Boogie: Jamaican R&B and the Birth of Ska

Stepping sideways and sailing south from the rock'n'roll/Americana zone of focus we're by now accustomed to from them, the typically multi-disc compilers at Fantastic Voyage set their sights on late-'50s/early'60s Jamaica with this single-CD look at the initial impact of stateside boogie-woogie, doo-wop, jump blues and R&B on the island's then-burgeoning record industry.

"Compiled by specialist black music writer Mike Atherton (Record Collector, Echoes), Youths Boogie portrays the popular music of Jamaica in the period 1959 to 1962, before it became formally known as ska, but by which time most of the characteristics of ska were present and correct, alongside the influences of American R&B. Disc One showcases the productions of Chris Blackwell, a white Jamaican who ran the local R&B and Island labels, before moving his operation to Britain, and Duke Reid, who ran the Trojan sound system, and issued many of his productions on the Duke Reid’s label, before founding the famous Treasure Isle label in the sixties. Disc Two looks at the productions of other individuals like Simeon Smith, Charlie Moo, Dada Tewari, Byron Lee, Roy Robinson, Vincent Chin and the London-based Sonny Roberts, who were all vying to make names for themselves." - Fantastic Voyage



Coventry, England's Tin Angel Records has spent the past few years pooling the talents of a particular pocket of players within Toronto's leftfield folk/pop-rock/jazz-improv underground, and Colours (a follow-up to Sproule's 2011 effort I Love You Go Easy, likewise produced by Sandro Perri and recorded at T.O.'s 6 Nassau studio) and Keresley (named after the village near Coventry where Tielli temporarily resided, shaping this second solo album after missing a flight back home) are the newest results of this cross-Atlantic cultural exchange.

"Colours features an all-star Toronto band including guitar and synth wiz Thom Gill, a rhythm section borrowed from the R&B project Bernice (Robin Dann on vocals, Philip Melanson on drums and Dan Fortin on bass) and Sandro Perri at the production helm. Considering how long these two Ontarians have been away from home, Colours is decidedly a product of Toronto. The city, the songs and the ensemble have knocked these two established artists off balance and right into their element.

Hints of African high life, British folk, free improvisation, Brazilian spirituals and blue-eyed soul gracefully come together in Doug Tielli's second release, Keresley. The record is a wide spray of textures, dynamics and styles and feels unified by Doug’s fluid voice and musicianship. Voice, guitar, percussion and brass don't just outline a melody; they resonate as one with grace and simplicity. Doug Tielli uses his songs to translate the natural and the un-natural world around him." - Tin Angel Records



Those listeners most partial to the ornately orchestrated aspects of Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory's work are in luck this year, as Tales Of Us sees the pair once again ditching the disco glam (with "Thea"'s trudging stomp being the closest they get to a dance number here) and returning to the folk-inflected feel of Seventh Tree and the sombre, soundtracks-influenced side of their debut Felt Mountain.

"While The Singles showed how diverse Goldfrapp have been over the course of their career, each of their albums has its own aesthetic. Tales Of Us' aesthetic is striking; noticeably starker than anything they've made before, its orchestral string arrangements nudge up alongside atmospheric, gently played acoustic guitars. Alison Goldfrapp's voice is given plenty of space in which to seduce. An immediate standout is 'Drew,' which sees those light, airy vocals complementing cinematic orchestral swells to create a romantic, sultry, and atmospheric song that sells Goldfrapp—not for the first time—as ideal candidates to make the next Bond theme song." - MusicOMH

"The delicate guitar and piano figures and the sombre languor of strings behind Alison Goldfrapp's breathy vocals create something akin to a cross between the dreamlike mythopoeism of old folk tales and the lush cinematic arrangements of Michel Legrand. Painted in subtle poetic strokes, the tales deal even-handedly with tragedy, desire and betrayal; the characters trapped in Gordian quandaries rooted in their own natures. Especially beautiful is 'Clay,' whose true story of a tragic wartime gay romance is blessed with a heart-stoppingly euphoric melody." - The Independent



Landing somewhere between the chopped-up samples of 2011's Replica and MIDI-synth simulacra of the sort that James Ferraro mischievously dropped with that same year's Far Side Virtual, Daniel Lopatin's first album for Warp alternately scrambles and soothes, with most of its ten tracks flitting from glossy hyperactivity to meditative, minimal nu-new age.

"Aesthetically, Lopatin's palette for R Plus Seven consists of familiar tropes: its 10 tracks are full of brash and staccato timbres, constructed upon repetitive, nonsensical, and dislocated samples, as if fast-forwarded through. He appears curiously preoccupied by reinventing only the most piercing of preset instruments. There are liberal helpings of dyspeptic cheesiness, and his MIDI-patch choirs put the 'phony' back in polyphony. But unlike Lopatin's preceding releases, a complex compositional strategy is afoot here. There is almost no formless wandering, and the album feels far more like a carefully constructed and well-paced narrative than a slapdash assembly of half-baked ideas." - The Quietus

"Lopatin is a composer who is primarily interested in the possibilities of splicing together synthetic instruments, subliminal frequencies, and the inherent uncanniness of everyday sounds. He's less interested in guiding his alien orchestras to a finessed crescendo than he is prone to hard cutting each melodic phrase, scrambling and twisting each rhythmic pattern, and running every chance of emotional catharsis into a strategically placed oblivion...The most commonly used sound across R Plus Seven is the human voice. It rampantly appears—singing, hiccuping, speaking, gasping, groaning, etc.—in all 10 of the tracks, but not a single syllable or vocal tone is 'real,' so to speak. Whether sampled or synthesized, every voice—which, it should be noted, is the most organic musical instrument there is—was altered or constructed in some digital fashion, never once performed or recorded 'live' for these compositions. There's something subtly dissociative about listening to appropriated voices for nearly an hour, and Oneohtrix Point Never knows it." - XLR8R


GIORGIO MORODER - Schlagermoroder Volume 1: 1966-1975

Giorgio Moroder has really jumped into public consciousness this year with his participation in Daft Punk's "Giorgio by Moroder," coinciding with a string of reissues. The most surprising one (for some members of our staff) has been Schlagermoroder Volume 1: 1966-1975, as it chronicles Moroder's early career as a bubblegum glam pop performer-songwriter. Moroder's early material has much in common with the Kasenatz-Katz stable of bubblegum bands, and he even netted a UK #1 hit when British glam group Chicory Tip recorded a version of his "Son of My Father" (his original version of the hit is featured in two parts on this compilation).

"Italian disco producer and recent Daft Punk collaborator Giorgio Moroder must have multiple vaults of material just screeching to be heard. Because not only is he uploading hours of rarities on SoundCloud, but he's now releasing a 51-track (!) compilation, cleverly titled  Schlagermoroder Volume 1: 1966-1975.

As the title insists, the release collects Moroder's earlier non-disco and film work, specifically tracks like 'How Much Longer Will I Have to Wait,' 'Doo-Bee-Doo-Bee-Doo,' and 'Son of My Father.' If these go over your head, it's probably because most of it was released under the pseudonyms Giorgio, George, and Snoopy—and were released in various languages over several territories." - Consequence of Sound


VA - Eccentric Soul: The Forte Label

Unrelentingly uptempo, this newest volume in Numero's neverending Eccentric Soul stash focuses on Kansas City's soul scene, offering up enough occasional oddness to truly fit the series name (as on Lee Harris' "Lookin' Good," replete with randomly-dropped censor-style beeps not actually censoring anything, or The Rayons' "Baby Be Good," a girl-group number interrupted by the piped-in, poorly recorded spoken sweet-nothings of a male suitor) and some particularly funky half-chorded basslines, as on Tear Drop's "I'm Gonna Get You" and Gene Williams' "Whatever You Do (Do It Good)."

"In 1969, after three years as Soul Sister #1 to James Brown's touring entourage, Marva Whitney came home to Kansas City, putting Ellis Taylor's Forte label back at full fighting strength. She'd calmed aching crowds the day after MLK's death, and she'd lived the life, despite its rigors—to pour out her pain and exuberance on Forte sides including 'I’ve Lived The Life' and 'Daddy Don’t Know About Sugar Bear,' which made national rounds in 1972. By then, Forte had already done more than deliver Marvelous Marva to market.

The Forte Label charts Kansas City yeoman's work, The Carpets and The Derbys, dapper clothiers mysteriously murdered, and marriages made and broken. There's a trove of promo headshots and label scans of every hue detailing all iterations of Forte's logo in print. This is an Eccentric Soul sojourn past vivid floor shakers and lost dance craze records alike—though what moves 'The Hen' required remains anyone’s guess." - Numero Group



Soul Jazz continues its recent run of tip-on, hardshell-case CD reissues of rare mid-to-late '60s Brazilian titles (serving as companion pieces to their 2011 series of compilations Brazil Bossa Beat!, Bossa Jazz, and Bossa Nova and the Rise of Brazilian Music in the 1960s) with Louvação, an undeniably compelling MPB debut from a man whose music a few of us here were first introduced to via this same label's bestselling 2006 set Tropicalia: A Brazilian Revolution In Sound.

"This debut 1967 album showed how confident Gil was in his musical inventiveness. As well as the title track, the album includes seminal tracks that have become classics of Brazilian contemporary music. 'Viramundo,' later covered by Sergio Mendes, effortlessly blended the northeastern baiao and xaxado accordion rhythms of Luiz Gonzaga. 'Procissao,' in contrast, took its starting point from the religious processions found in the Afro-Brazilian centre of Salvador. Songs such as 'Roda' instantly became classics of Brazilian popular music. Add to this the lyricism of poets and artists Chico Buarque, Torquato Neto, Capinam, Caetano Veloso, Tom Ze and Gil himself and we are presented with one of the most significant debut albums of Brazilian music from one of the most important artists in Brazil to this day." - Soul Jazz Records


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


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


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



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


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


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


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


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



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



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


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


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


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

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