"It was the arrival of a Studer A80 master recorder at the front door of Sam Shepherd (otherwise known as Floating Points) that caused him to begin building the studio that led to the creation of his debut album, Elaenia. After a slight miscalculation meant that he could not physically get the thing inside his home, what happened next can only be described as a beautiful example of the butterfly effect. Breaking away from making electronic music on his laptop, the DJ, producer and composer spent the next five years engineering Elaenia, all the while deejaying in cities across the globe and working towards his PhD in neuroscience. An incredibly special album that draws inspiration from classical, jazz, electronic music, soul and even Brazilian popular music, Elaenia (named after the bird of the same name) is the epitome of Floating Points' forward-thinking vision in 2015." - Luaka Bop
"Ace's popular Heard Them Here First series continues to grow with each new volume eagerly anticipated by those with an interest in the inspirations of their musical heroes.
In their pomp, Georgie Fame and his group the Blue Flames regularly played four or five sets a night at London's Flamingo and Roaring 20s clubs, so were always on the lookout for new songs to play. Material came to Georgie from all directions: the GIs and West Indians who frequented the clubs and brought him new soul imports, friends such as clued-up Mick O'Neill (Nero of early-'60s instrumental specialists Nero and the Gladiators), the record collections of members of the Blue Flames, specialist soul/jazz/R&B record shop Transat Imports, and the copious record box of sound system operator Count Suckle. Musical sponge that he was, Georgie absorbed it all in order for the group to put their own spin on things.
This is an altogether terrific 25-track cross-section of material Georgie covered or revived across his early singles, his four Columbia albums and first CBS EP. Many of these originals will be familiar to lovers of vintage soul and jazz but we have included several major obscurities, a few of which, including Shorty Billups' original of Georgie’s rare single ‘Bend A Little,' are receiving their first ever reissue here." - Ace Records
"Following up on last year's collection In The Orbit Of Ra, we're diving headfirst back into the vast universe of Sun Ra with a a newly curated set from Ra's immense 125 LP back catalogue, compiled by Gilles Peterson. The BBC 6Music/Worldwide DJ is a long-time champion of Ra's music and the UK's leading tastemaker for jazz-based sounds. It serves as perhaps the best introduction yet to the music of Sun Ra for a whole new generation of converts.
For the CD version, Peterson picks personal favourites, classics and unreleased tracks and weaves them into a flowing piece across 2CDs, showcasing the incredible variety of Ra's work. The 2LP version features full-length versions of selected tracks from the mix (and also includes the full CD mixed version)." - Strut Records
"Steven Lambke has always been the calm, introspective presence within the uninhibited Constantines. On his first solo release not under the Baby Eagle moniker, he forges deeper down that pensive path into places at once strange and comforting. Past Baby Eagle records employed heavy doses of twang, but Lambke now sounds more comfortable alone and quiet. On the harrowing 'Sunflower Mind,' he explores romantic, Latin-influenced acoustic guitar. Even more harrowing is the Dylanesque 'A Good Light And Tired Feeling.' Lambke slowly extracts every inch of love and other grit-laced emotions out of his short songs, just two and three minutes long." - NOW
"Last year's Native North America compilation of First Nations folk and rock stood as one of 2014's best reissues. Put together by veteran crate-digger Kevin 'Sipreano' Howes, NNA brought many singers and bands from the '60s and '70s to a new audience—native and non—and left many of us wanting more. That's exactly what we get with Spirit Child, a Light in the Attic reissue of Willie Thrasher's 1981 LP.
Thrasher, born in the Northwest Territories in 1948, still makes a living busking in Nanaimo, BC, and plays regularly in Vancouver (including at last summer's Levitation festival), so it's a real bonus to be able to hear what he was doing over 30 years ago.
Recorded at a commercial studio in Ottawa (and reissued with the original CBC album design), Spirit Child bridges country-folk styles—slack string and steel guitar, vocals reminiscent of Neil Young, outlaw country tinges that recall the likes of Waylon and Willie—and traditional Inuvialuit concerns. So, we have songs about whaling ('Shingle Point Whale Camp'), Inuit arts and crafts ('Old Man Carver') and a couple of tunes in Inuvialuktun and English ('Old Man Inuit' and 'Silent Inuit').
These last two—a sort of talking blues call-and-response—are, like many of Thrasher's songs, no doubt a response to his years in residential schools in the 1950s, where native children were forbidden to speak their own language and, in Thrasher's case, had their long hair cut." - Exclaim!
"Fuzz, the aptly named 'side project' Segall formed in 2011 with high school friends Charlie Moothart and Chad Ubovich, is not the product of a short attention span. The band's self-titled 2013 debut found them playing the role of music historians as much as musicians, calling forth the ghosts of metal past and trying their flowing robes on for size. Sabbath is the most glaring reference point, but the boys also did their homework on Hendrix, King Crimson, and deeper cuts like The Groundhogs. Basically, if it was British and heavy as hell, it found its way into Fuzz's collective conscious.
The fact that Segall plays drums instead of a beat-up Fender is already enough to distinguish Fuzz from his other work, but zeroing in on proto-metal has led to some of the most thoughtful (though still undeniably visceral) music of his prolific career. The second album from the California-bred group is meatier than its predecessor in every conceivable way, starting with the guitars, which have been pushed forward to the front of the mix in such a way that nearly relegates Segall's shrieking vocals to the role of wallpaper. Riffs are ultimately the fuel that powers the record's engine, a six-cylinder relic from the 1960s, and guitarist Moothart reigns as the MVP in spite of his drummer's more considerable star power." - Consequence of Sound
"Sleater-Kinney's intensity—derived from both its own talents and in part from the airing of repressed anger that was one of the triumphs of the Riot Grrrl scene—took its listeners to certain uncomfortable places, then asked them to stay there. Though Corin Tucker's voice has a purity of sound to it, ringing like a bell at midnight over the sound of raucous guitars, listening to the music can be complicated business. Not everyone is looking for that in a song.
Carrie Brownstein's new book has a similarly fierce approach, though her methods are complicated. While there are certainly places where an editor could and should have chiseled her prose down to make her points sharper and more affecting, this book is the clear product of a very intelligent person, and filled with flashes of insight and wit. Describing her younger self watching Tucker's previous band, Heavens to Betsy, for example, Brownstein writes,
Heavens to Betsy came across as the most serious of their peers. You stood up, you listened, and you were quiet. They were like really loud librarians.
But this is one of the few tiny moments of humour in the book. Instead, it delivers its goods in what I can only describe as a compellingly depressive register, which sounds like an insult but isn't. By keeping her affect flat, Brownstein is able to avoid melodrama, a good thing because there are elements of her life story she could have frothed up into soap." - The Guardian
"One of every October's delights for me is the arrival of Blues Images' annual 12×24-inch wall calendar for the next year. As ever, each month's illustration is a reproduction of the original ad for a vintage blues 78 RPM platter. An accompanying 20-track CD presents these songs plus eight bonus tracks – some the flip sides of songs on the calendar, while others are back-to-back sides of a rare vintage disc that isn't on the calendar.
Since the obscurities generally come from collectors' 78s, the audio can be scratchy. This year's good news is that Blues Images has teamed up with the creators of American Epic, a three-part documentary on 1920s-'30s music that will air early next year on PBS and the BBC. The American Epic's crew's work cleaning up some (not all) of the 2016 CD's songs is superb.
The 2016 calendar and CD extend from 1927 to 1933. We hear the famous (Blind Willie Johnson, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Ma Rainey, Barbecue Bob) as well as lesser-known artists such as Hattie Hyde (recording with Memphis Jug Band) and Charlie Kyle. The two sides from a 1930 Jaydee Short 78 come from the only copy of the disc known to exist." - Goldmine
"The unreleased second album by an original lady from the canyon. Recorded and recanted in 1969, Greasepaint Smile is more assured than its self-titled, Tetragrammaton-issued predecessor. Weinberg's finger-picked acoustic is layered over distant drumming, while her gravel-pit voice evokes life, love, and mortality. Fellow Torontonian Neil Young sears 'Houses' with his signature fuzz-tone, casting chaos over the beautiful ballad, while J.D. Souther, Kenny Edwards, and Nils Lofgren, pick up the slack." - Numero Group
"Legendary collector Joe Bussard is putting records out once again! After running the last 78rpm label in the US (RIP Fonotone Records 1956-1974), Joe had relegated his efforts to promoting old-time music by making cassette tapes for people hungry to hear his rare treasures and producing his radio show Country Classics for stations in Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia. But last year, Joe and his daughter Susannah Anderson had the idea to produce a compilation of Civil War tunes and they rang the office of Dust-to-Digital to gauge interest in distributing such a compilation. It was an easy decision for DTD, mainly because Joe’s always been there for us so it was time to partner together once again." - Dust-to-Digital
"The most immediately disarming thing about Dilly Dally isn't the hellfire guitar tone or the booming drum work. It’s Katie Monks' voice, a scuffed-up howl descended most directly from Courtney Love but also from Layne Staley, Frank Black, Kurt Cobain—all those singers who heard the harshest grain of their voice not as a flaw but as a weapon. Monks has one hell of a snarl, and hearing her rattle it like so many rusty chains draws Dilly Dally’s debut out of the endless background noise of '90s revivalists and into a space where it can thrash around and feel alive.
The Toronto band's '90s roots are deep, though—Hole's DNA shines through in gutter-pop stunner 'Desire,' and 'Purple Rage' shows an affinity with Helium with its white-hot lead guitars and sunken snare pattern. Pixies show up for their due diligence in Dilly Dally's bibliography, especially in the wobbling bass line of 'Ballin Chain,' but Monks doesn’t seem interested in sharing too much of their wordy snark. If the hallmark of most '90s alt-rock was its tossed-off boredom, its slacker cool, Dilly Dally splits from its forebears in ethos if not sound. This isn't a band out to prove how little they care while still making a lot of noise; those partitions come down, and all the hurt and want and anger behind them come gushing to the forefront." - Consequence of Sound
"[Deerhunter's] next move retreats from Monomania's confrontational sound, but not back to the middle. Fading Frontier skips past the group's signature alien dreampop into a pleasingly paradoxical new aesthetic, simultaneously containing the band's most complex grooves and the most placid music of their career. Halcyon Digest producer Ben H. Allen, the man who helped Merriweather Post Pavilion achieve stadium status, is back in the fold, but he and the band scale down their scope this time around, often favoring mood and texture over visceral impact. Our earliest information about the album was Cox's claim that it sounds like INXS, a reference that surfaced again in the 'Concept Map' Cox created to unpack his current influences. And though he might have been joking, there's a cleanness and clarity to the production that resembles the less bombastic side of '80s pop—cue the Tom Petty/R.E.M./Tears For Fears namedrops on the Concept Map. Plus it contains some of Deerhunter's most fascinating rhythmic work; lead single 'Snakeskin' is every bit as funky as 'Need You Tonight,' and doubly demented." - Stereogum
"The world is filled with empty information. Without the process of discovery, facts are just facts. If you ask the guys in Here We Go Magic, a trip to the library is far more important than the book you check out. For life, learning, and creating, the enriching period is the process, not the outcome. The nine-month period it took to write and record the band’s forthcoming record, Be Small, was unpredictable and reactionary.
This experience wove a tapestry, an album layered with nuances of twiddly guitar and soft vocals, bluesy grooves fit for both dancing and relaxing, depending on the mood. These songs absorb and reinterpret life in a much broader context than the confines in which they were written—between the four walls of their respective New York apartments. In hindsight, the record is an observance of greed and complacency; a look at our nation’s unsettling lack of collective will, particularly in relation to our increasing dependence on technology.
The new record was written by the band’s latest, streamlined incarnation of Luke Temple and Michael Bloch, but the group will include Brian Betancourt (bass) and Austin Vaughn (drums) on the road." - Noisey
"Doug Hream Blunt is now in his 60s. In the past few years he has recovered from a stroke and, judging by the promo materials made available by Luaka Bop, which has compiled his slim works for re-release, seems pleased to be appreciated. In the late '80s he self-released (and self-distributed to local San Francisco record stores) one album and a subsequent EP of nagging, synthetic jams, inflected with '60s rhythms, wheezing vibes, a little funk and the kind of frazzled, insalubrious charm that now plays very well. [...] Genre was never a concern of the idiosyncratic funkateer. On this earwormy compilation you can hear that he has a voice naturally suited to soul, but his rhythms are insistent and regular, while his solos are free and wild. He's a Fly Guy; he wants to 'fall into a groove/And then move,' an accurate description of the modus operandi of these catchy, bleary tunes." - The Guardian
"[Meg Remy's songs] take us into the spaces that are supposed to provide us with solace—home, family, relationships—and make them feel awkward and uncomfortable. (As the dejected narrator of 'Sororal Feelings' declares through a deceptively sunny harmony: 'Now I'm going to hang myself/Hang myself from my family tree.')
Likewise, Remy's music has always thrived on the conflict between the familiar and foreign. On previous U.S. Girls releases, her pop and experimental sensibilities—part Shangri-Las, part Sun Ra—were often at war with one another. [...] But, by building upon the grotto-bound R&B introduced on 2013's Free Advice Column EP (whose hip-hop-schooled producer, Onakabazien, returns here), Half Free further fortifies the common ground between Remy's diamond-cut melodies and avant-garde urges. The album sounds like your favourite golden-oldies station beamed through a pirate-radio frequency, seamlessly fusing '60s-vintage girl-group serenades and smooth '70s disco into dubby panoramas and horror-movie atmospherics." - Stuart Berman, Pitchfork
"Born Ruffians' members leach electricity from a long line of wily, wiry art-rock weirdoes, from historical markers like Talking Heads and Violent Femmes to present paragons Animal Collective and Vampire Weekend. So many seeming allusions fly by in a typical Born Ruffians song that a sense of orientation can be hard to come by—until frontman Luke LaLonde swoops down and makes sure the spotlight is set in his own unswerving direction.
That takes all of one second in 'Don't Live Up,' when he gets going on vocals in a burst and starts panting through a series of blurted words ('dry eyes, blue skies—overrated') that steer through spare guitar, drums and horns like a skier on a slalom course. Everything is staccato and tightly wound, with a sense of David Bowie-like élan lending LaLonde an air of voguish preening while he seethes. 'You're living a dream,' he sings, 'but it don't live up, don't live up!'
Falling apart with style is a big part of the Born Ruffians manner, which on the Canadian band's fourth album Ruff cruises through spells of twitchiness and hyperventilation with total composure and control." - NPR
"This time last year, Alex Giannascoli was on the cusp of something big. The singer-songwriter, who records as Alex G, had recently finished his junior year at Philadelphia's Temple University and released his breakthrough album, a fire-bright indie-pop gem called DSU, on the tiny Brooklyn label Orchid Tapes. His house shows were getting more crowded, and journalists from national publications were making the trip to Philly to meet the artist at the center of a growing cult of diehard fans. This fall, Giannascoli is making good on that promise: Beach Music, due out October 9th, is his first album for the indie powerhouse Domino Records, where his new labelmates include bands like Animal Collective and Arctic Monkeys.
Some of the best songs on Beach Music, like the warm, flowing 'Bug' and the urgent 'Kicker,' refine the sound heard on DSU and earlier fan-favorite LPs Trick and Rules. Others bring in newer twists. The spacey synth-pop dreamer 'Salt' began life as a fairly straightforward guitar song, says Giannascoli, 'but I knew that a real drum kit would seal the deal too much, and I didn't want it to be a neatly wrapped thing like that.' So he tinkered with his girlfriend's vintage Yamaha keyboard until he found a drum-machine patch with the right feel—soft as a pillow, and ever so slightly disorienting. 'The riff just came from me sitting in my room, fucking around for a while until I came up with something,' he says. Another standout, 'Brite Boy,' evolved from a pop-punk demo to a lilting lullaby with one of the most immediately appealing melodies Giannascoli's ever written." - Rolling Stone
"One of Britain's leading contemporary composers has written what is thought to be one of the longest single pieces of classical music ever to be recorded. SLEEP is eight hours long, and is actually and genuinely intended to send the listener to sleep.
'It's an eight-hour lullaby,' says its composer, Max Richter.
The landmark work is scored for piano, strings, electronics and vocals, but no words. 'It's my personal lullaby for a frenetic world,' he says. 'A manifesto for a slower pace of existence.'
SLEEP will receive its world premiere this September in Berlin, in a concert performance lasting from 12 midnight to 8am at which the audience will be given beds instead of seats and programmes. The eight-hour version will be available as a digital album, and for those who prefer it, a one-hour adaptation of the work, from SLEEP, will be released on CD, vinyl, download, and streaming formats, all through Deutsche Grammophon on September 4.
'You could say that the short one is meant to be listened to and the long one is meant to be heard while sleeping,' says Richter, who describes the one-hour version as “a series of windows opening into the big piece.'" - Deutsche Grammophon
"La Di Da Di, Battles' first album in four years, follows an extended period of silence after the end of their two-year Gloss Drop tour. Battles can't write on the road, so guitarist/keyboardist Ian Williams and guitarist/bassist Dave Konopka holed up in a New York City rehearsal space to jot down sketches while drummer John Stanier, who had relocated to Berlin, tapped out beats virtually. Once they reunited at Pawtucket, RI studio Machines with Magnets in late 2013 and early 2014, the sounds began to flow.
La Di Da Di is less fragmented than Battles' last album, suggesting the type of natural undercurrent that's only achievable after you've spent more than a decade pushing your bandmates' creative limits." - Consequence Of Sound
"Composer Arvo Pärt and producer Manfred Eicher have maintained their creative partnership for more than thirty years. Eicher launched the ECM New Series in 1984 as a platform for Pärt's music, bringing the Estonian composer to the world's attention with Tabula Rasa.
Since that epochal release, all first recordings of Pärt's major works have been made for ECM, with the composer's committed participation. In this special double album, issued on Pärt's birthday, Eicher revisits episodes from their shared musical quest, evoking fresh associations from juxtapositions of pieces in his dramaturgical sequence, as we are invited to hear the music anew." - ECM