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2016-11-11
David Bazan: Dark Sacred Night

"There is something that is underrepresented in Christmas music, and that's just how uncomfortable the holidays can be for a lot of folks," David Bazan says about his collection of holiday songs Dark Sacred Night. Back in 2002, David Dickenson of Suicide Squeeze Records approached Bazan and asked if he would be interested in doing a 7" of Christmas carols. The result was the "I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day" b/w "Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuel" single released under Bazan's Pedro the Lion moniker. He followed it up with "The First Noel" 7" in 2003 and "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" in 2005. Even after retiring the Pedro the Lion project, Bazan continued his run of Yuletide singles for Suicide Squeeze under his own name. These limited edition 7"s are all long out of print, but David Bazan and Suicide Squeeze have chosen ten of the fourteen tracks, remixed and remastered the material, and collected them on Dark Sacred Night.

John Lennon/Yoko Ono: Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins

Turns out the very sound of falling in love is just as abstract, subjective and loopy as the concept itself. Yoko Ono and John Lennon are two of history's greatest lovers, and Two Virgins is the document of the pair falling in love in real time. The album is a curious and amazing suite recorded over one weekend in Spring 1968 at Lennon's Kenwood home: Distant conversations; comedic role playing and footsteps; laughter, birdcalls and plunking piano lines; silly songs and space; tape delay stretching shrieks, bass rumbles and moans to the moon and back again.

The now-iconic cover (featuring Ono and Lennon standing nude together) notwithstanding, nothing about Two Virgins is safe. It would be a risky move today for artists in the larger, pop-culture conversation just as it was a risky move in 1969. But this is an uncomfortably private, two-person dialogue about - and celebration of - experimentation, inspiration and play. And these two souls bravely let us look through the keyhole.

John Lennon/Yoko Ono: Unfinished Music No. 2: Life With The Lions

Life with the Lions is the sound of Ono and Lennon validating their love as something impenetrable and timeless. It's when we, the listener, begin to fully understand that the scope of their recording efforts was much more than a recording collaboration, and something closer to a performative documentary, a declaration of "Our life and our love is our art - every nitty, gritty part of it."

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2016-11-11
Kllo: Well Worn

Things happen fast these days. So fast in the case of Kllo that the Melbourne duo barely had a Facebook page or a proper song before a wave of interest began to build around their breakthrough EP Cusp. What a telling record title; in the year since its release, cousins Simon Lam and Chloe Kaul have played sold-out shows and festival slots throughout Australia, racked up millions of plays on Spotify, and landed on several Artists to Watch lists. Now they're about to chase steely pop singles like "False Calls" and "Make Me Wonder" with the next logical step: Well Worn, an EP that enhances Kllo's high-gloss hooks even further.

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2016-11-11
Recondite: Corvus

After spending the past three years cutting acclaimed records for such esteemed imprints as Innervisions, Hotflush, and Acid Test, Recondite has rejoined the Ghostly International fold with an EP that builds on the robust field recordings and pale, moonlit melodies of the Berlin producer's breakthrough LP Hinterland. Named after the foreboding family of birds that includes ravens and crows, Corvus is a chilling listen inspired by everything from The Revenant's Ryuichi Sakamoto soundtrack to Max Frisch's heady novel Homo Faber. After all - the Rottal-Inn native insists there's a light at the end of this particular tunnel. Or as he puts it, "Melancholic doesn't necessarily mean dark. Music can be happy and moody."

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2016-11-11
Sleigh Bells: Jessica Rabbit

Sleigh Bells wasted no time after getting off the ground in 2009, releasing three blistering records in four years. Ready for a break from the road, they took their time on their fourth LP, Jessica Rabbit, writing and finishing the record several times only to realize that they wanted to push themselves and the music further. As the three years elapsed, Derek went looking for the abyss, found it, and crawled out in one peace. Alexis, for her part, found something like heaven in nature and healthy living. The result of their combined experiences is an intense and vulnerable record that's highly evolved and completely uncategorizable, a major statement from a band wholly committed to advancing their dynamic, uncompromising vision. Jessica Rabbit is the first release on the band's own record label, Torn Clean.

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2016-11-11
The Men: Devil Music

The Men are Rich Samis, Kevin Faulkner, Nick Chiericozzi and Mark Perro. We created Devil Music in our practice space over a weekend in January.

We wanted to give ourselves something enjoyable to listen to with this record... Something that had our personality in it, not just another record to get reviewed, to get into festivals, to get on tv, to participate in some sort of endless, winless game. This isn't a campaign.

Jordan Lovelace (mem. of Pampers) engineered and recorded Devil Music. Jonathan Schenke (mem. of Eaters and engineer of 100's of records) mastered the sessions on a Neve console in New York. These fine gentlemen knew we were after a raw four track sound. They used our strokes on the tape to get us where we wanted to go. Every record sounds a bit different than you think it will.

Some newer things came along for the ride like cassette cut ups, damaged vocal cords from years of yelling, a saxophone and of course the ten new songs. Some old ideas are still in the mix: the tracks were all done live, including the vocals, the packaging/artwork was designed and produced by us.

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2016-11-11
Various Artists: Shanghai’d Soul: Episode 4

Everybody's still talking about the good ol' days! A rough and rugged collection of Numero Group classics that have inspired swarms of killer beats. A head nod to the sounds of Shaolin, the thirteen chambers of Shanghai'd Soul have led a generation of lyrical chefs and production geniuses to compose some of their most ominous hip-hop. Bound by heavy drums, moody chords, and haunting melodies, Gods and Earths alike will appreciate the raw funk and smoother-than-a-Lexus soul that come together like Voltron on this special compilation.

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2016-11-11
Various Artists: Killed By Deathrock Vol. 2

After the initial blast of punk rock bands made their impression on the youth of the late 1970s, subgenres quickly emerged. Some preferred the faster, louder aggression of hardcore, others the angular danceability of post-punk, some the raw and more personal home-made sound of DIY, and so on. Looking back among and between these genres we now recognize various blends of punk, post-punk, goth rock, industrial, and DIY as "deathrock." In 2014, Sacred Bones Records launched the series Killed By Deathrock to document an entire scene of bands that haven't yet received proper recognition. This is the second volume of that series.

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2016-11-11
Wolf People: Ruins

Ruins is Wolf People's new album, and its over-riding theme is that of nature reclaiming the land. The transcendence of life over politics, plants over people. It asks: where are we going and what comes next? If culture is history's narration, then Wolf People are custodians and conduits; electrified sages, if you will. Through them runs a time-line of a nation rising from bloody glory to existentialist confusion. Yet within Ruins, their album proper, lies a spirit of hope too, it is a reminder that society is no match for the mighty power of music and nature working in perfect symbiosis. Wolf People are time travellers, their tools mythology, history, hauntology, big riffs, bigger beats, electricity. Recorded in Devon, Isle Of Wight and London, Ruins is their most direct and instinctive work yet, simultaneously reaching back into a fecund past to tell us who we are today, while harnessing the power of modern technology and ideas to ponder unknown futures. Lyrically Ruins imagines how the planet might appear when society has finally fallen to dust and ash, and the creeping vines and nettles have reclaimed the land. It is the product of letting go of conceit, contrivance and, indeed, a career plan. Influences upon Ruins come in all shapes, size, contours and hues: the discovery of proto Sabbath/Zeppelin Scottish band Iron Claw, the lesser known landscapes of rural Bedfordshire, backstage Taekwondo stretches, Scandinavian psychedelia, fleeting rural epiphanies, Dungen, Trees, Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac, a group holiday on a remote Finnish island, and Jagjaguwar flipping out after seeing them play in Bloomington, Indiana and insisting it was time they made their Back In Black...

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2016-11-11
Yoko Ono: Plastic Ono Band

This long-overdue vinyl reissue of Yoko Ono's seminal, but massively under-appreciated Plastic Ono Band has all the makings of a classic rock nostalgia trip: Ono, John Lennon, Ringo Starr, Klaus Voorman and free-jazz legend Ornette Coleman. All the pieces are here to stir up a dangerous amount of nostalgia. But once the needle drops, the record achieves something exactly perpendicular to nostalgia.

Released in 1971, the album not only influenced the approach of other musicians for decades, it also sounds absolutely modern 44 years out, eternally fresh despite the forward march of time. Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band not only predicted the intersection of the avant-garde and rock that would take place in the second half of that decade, the album would sound right at home at where that intersection is happening today.