Destroyer is structured around that first time behind the wheel of a hot rod. The fat, charging “Living After Midnight” riffs of opener “Future Shade” is, according to McBean, “Straight outta the gates. FM radio cranked.” He ain’t kidding. The song, and all of Destroyer for that matter, seems to exist at that crucial nexus of the early-to-mid 80s Los Angeles when a war between punk and hair metal was waged. Black Flag’s My War tried and failed to keep the peace. But in the trenches, some hybrid ghoul was beginning to form in bands like Jane’s Addiction and White Zombie. The heavy extended player “Horns Arising,” with its Night Rider vocals and golden, climbing Blade Runner synths, is a fill-up at a desert gas station just in time to see a UFO hovering near a mesa. Other songs, like the serpentine “Boogie Lover,” are a cruise down the Sunset Strip. You pull into The Rainbow Bar & Grill to take the edge off - doesn’t matter what year it is, Lemmy’s there in flesh or spirit. To continue the teenage theme, there’s also a sense of youthful discovery to these cuts — “High Rise” is a foray into Japanese psych, rounding the bend to a careening, while “Closer to the Edge” feels like falling in love with Yes (Remember how good they were for a minute there in your youth?). “Licensed to Drive” would easily be the most exhilaratingand dangerous ripper on a titular film’s soundtrack, a dose of heavy right before the muscle car’s wheels fly off going 100 mph on the freeway.
Shacked up in his rehearsal space, McBean found an old chair in an alley, spray painted Producer on the back and pressed record. Friends from the endless rock’n’roll highway were invited over and 22 songs were brought to life. While some were laid back into shallow graves to dig up once again at a later date, the remaining skeletons were left above ground — given organs, skin, eyes, and the opportunity to grow their hair real long and greasy. Some of these zombie hesher jams were sent on a journey to Canada where longtime band member Jeremy Schmidt, slipping on the Official Collaborator satin jacket, had at them with his legendary synth arsenal. As he added long flowing robes, sunglasses, driving gloves and medallions, the undead songs began to transform into the new breathing creatures that make up Destroyer. Schmidt’s work with these songs turned out to be the transformative glue for this new era of Black Mountain.
A few years have passed since their last album for DAIS, but Los Angeles-based Cold Showers steadily returns to the label’s roster with their third album, Motionless, wielding a more developed pop sound that is familiar to followers, yet more sophisticated and evolved than their previous works. Having traversed the realm of synth-laced post punk expertly for close to a decade, their return with the new album Motionless is a process-based album that reaches into the band's collective quiver, melding their familiar anthem infused post-punk and lush, grand pop influences.
On his DFA debut, German experimental techno producer Edward largely departs from the 4/4 grid he frequents and blurs the focus towards a more slippery, improvisational vibe. Fans of his Desert Sky alias, as well as his work reshaping classic tracks by Harmonia & Eno and Rolf Trostel of Tangerine Dream, will be quite pleased with Underwater Jams. These two new songs unfold at their leisure, going off on whizzing, kosmiche-influenced tangents, all the while guided by the hand drums of percussionist Geronimo Dehler. On A-side "The Lagoon," the freedom of the long-form composition allows Edward to go deeper and more mesmeric, while the restrained stomp of B-side "Mental Dive" allows for an introspective dance floor moment.Though he's been releasing music for the past decade, Edward has always been a bit enigmatic, with a majority of his discography only available on vinyl. He remains as prolific as ever - in the last year alone, Edward has toured all over the world, playing esteemed clubs from Berghain to Fabric, and splitting bills with artists like Ricardo Villalobos and Oskar Offermann. His numerous releases on Giegling, Die Orakel, and White demonstrate his penchant for combining the psychedelic and the locked-in groove, but it’s the sprawling sense of adventure that makes this release one of the more idiosyncratic in Edward's catalog.
Emily A. Sprague's Water Memory and Mount Vision albums are presented in new and complete detail. Emily's work concerns the connectedness of all things, giving living, core form to the mysterious forces that guide earthly activity and human contact with them. Memory and vision, ocean and mountains, question and answer, emotions and infinity. Sunshine, lizard, sea salt.
A collection of reflections are visible in the mirrored structures of Water Memory and Mount Vision, two chapters - two halves - each complemented by a written verse. As much about the presence in youthful experimentation as the permanence of transition and maturation, Water Memory is the first long-form instrumental music Emily ever channeled, generated over a year of self and sonic exploration between Massachusetts and New York.
By contrast, Mount Vision was conceived in a smaller window of time than its predecessor, the pure residue of intense emotional build up during a period of self-healing and unguarded reflection. Composed and captured in Northern California, the body of Mount Vision is a trio of synthesizer pieces; deeply grounded compositions of extended tones trilling into the ether.
Emily's mission on this planet may be facilitating - or illuminating - the correspondence between innermost knowledge and intelligent nature, and Water Memory / Mount Vision are most certainly monumental documents along this sharing path.
Atlanta Millionaires Club is in Faye Webster's feelings, and that’s the way she likes it. "Everything is way personal," Webster says. "I have to write about very personal things for me to even want to write." On the 21-year-old Atlanta native’s new album, the omnipresence of pedal steel eschews bluegrass trappings, exible under Webster's genre-bending direction. Webster didn’t set out to make it sound like any artist in particular, but she cites Aaliyah as her main musical inspiration for how she uses sound. "That's where I first heard, 'Oh, there's this weird guitar that's bendy and it could totally be in a country song,' but the way she's using it is what makes her music so special to me," Webster explains. "I try to do that. I try to change the way pedal steel is supposed to sound, or keys, to make it more R&B." Pulling from a familial lineage of folk storytelling and time spent in Atlanta's hip-hop scene, Webster's work is a study of duality, weaving through her own introversion and heartbreak; it's an idiosyncratic sadness punctuated by fleeting observations and an unexpected, sly sense of humor. And like the way Webster takes the traditional instrumentation of Americana and ips it into something else, she uses her own calm, laid-back demeanor to say you can be boldly and unapologetically yourself in a quiet way, too.
Luka Productions presents Falaw, an innovative take on West African Hip Hop and sample-based folktronica. A follow up from the acclaimed Malian "new age" inspired Fasokan (2017), Luka Guindo turns his focus to the rich cultural heritage of Manding music. Eschewing wholly PC-based sequencing, Falaw invites a number of traditional performers to join him in the studio. Griots recount sage stories over Luka's sweeping synth pads while ngonis shred pentatonic solos to the crash of sequenced drum samples. Paying homage to the storyteller, combined with regional styles of lyrical Hip Hop, Falaw offers advice on modern living, with heartfelt songs about loss, love, and life. The effect is both otherworldly while seemingly organic. In a genre where all too often the "modern" is synonymous with outsider collaborators, Falaw is a groundbreaking entry into homemade fourth world and a sign of future Malian music to come.
Marlon Williams returns with a live album recorded at the historic Auckland Town Hall in May of 2018. The show marked his largest performance to date, providing a fitting end to an international tour in support of Make Way for Love. 2018 was a monumental year for Williams, with the release of his 2nd album, sold out shows around the world, and a role in the acclaimed film A Star Is Born. He now turns to the studio with new music due for 2019, as well as a major tour with Florence & The Machine.
The second issue of our semi-annual publication Periodical Numerical continues the mission of diving deeper into the vast Numero Group universes. Edited by Numero's west coast A&R head/new age guru Douglas Mcgowan, The New Age Issue is not a collection your usual muddle-headed, what’s-the-point circa 2019 music writing, but a deeply informed look at all of the new age artists and records in the fabled Numero catalog. The full color, perfect bound issue begins with a rarely-seen 1983 essay on the genre by the legendary Iasos, followed with choice nugs like "Growing Up Syntonic" by Environments creator Irv Teibel's daughter Jennifer Ballow, profiles on Alex Johnson, Don Slepian and David Casper, and never before seen writings by such luminaries as Jordan de la Sierra and Joanna Brouk. Interview with Laraaji? Sure, we’ve got it. First ever interview with the illusive and mysterious Wilburn Burchette? We’ve got that too. 72 copiously illustrated pages of real content. All killer, no filler.
Over the last decade Steve Marino has recorded multiple solo albums (as Moor Hound), been in countless bands, and toured the country consistently, but his newest full-length, 'Fluff', is the first collection of songs he's released in his own name. In that sense it's his "debut" album.
One might expect such a transition, from the artifice of a band name to the intimacy of one's given name, to be born of some newfound, inward focus. It makes sense; it's a story of an artist going back to basics, getting real. It's also not what happened.
'Fluff' is an album about home, and one's place in it, love, and intimacy, and it's the result of Steve marrying his direct, honest songwriting with a deeply collaborative process. He developed the record with fellow Bloomington, Indiana resident, and standout producer/engineer Ben Lumsdaine (Kevin Krauter, Major Murphy, Spissy) and together they open up the songs, giving them tangible depth.
The title track, "Fluff", with its precise drums, layered guitars, and visceral, emotive vocals, captures the power of this collaboration. It's a song that is delicate, yet driving, lyrically opaque, yet emotionally direct. It is, like the rest of the album, in perfect balance.
Static filled signals emanating deep from inside the walls of Laurel Canyon, bouncing off clusters of incipient late century technology, are pulled through the twisted rabbit ears of a Chevy Astro Van. Planisphere. The equivocal sound of hippies fresh from their back-to-land sojourns shuttling drum machines through heartworn aspirations, as if the music section of the Whole Earth Catalog came to life. Let out from astronomy class with an arm full of Brain and Sky label releases, these 9 nomads scribble plein air narrations over a landscape turning its back on the sun. Bask in the reverberations of our celestial home sweet home.
Our Planisphere, for those within the 30-40 degree zone, will provide you with a fairly discernible chart for discovering both deep-sky objects and telluric emotional pulses.
On her sophomore LP, The Best of Luck Club, 26-year-old Melbourne, Australia native Alex Lahey navigates the pangs of generational ennui with the pint half-full and a spot cleared on the bar stool next to her. Self-doubt, burn out, break-ups, mental health, moving in with her girlfriend, vibrators: The Best of Luck Club showcases the universal language of Lahey's sharp songwriting, her propensity for taking the minute details of the personal and ipping it public through anthemic pop-punk. Lahey's 2017 debut I Love You Like a Brother encases Lahey's knack for writing a killer hook and her acute sense of humor delivered via a slacker-rock package and, in a way, The Best of Luck Club picks up where that record left off. Lahey co-produced the album alongside acclaimed engineer and producer Catherine Marks (Local Natives, Wolf Alice, Manchester Orchestra), and dives head first into a broader spectrum of both emotion and sound through polished, arena pop-punk in the vein of Paramore with the introspective sheen of Alvvays or Tegan & Sara. Here, Lahey documents the highest highs and the lowest lows of her life to date. After a whirlwind of global touring in support of breakout debut I Love You Like a Brother, Lahey wrote the bulk of her follow-up in Nashville during 12-hour days of songwriting. There, she found the inspiration for The Best of Luck Club iÌs concept: the dive bar scene and its genuine energy." Whether you’ve had the best day of your life or the worst day of your life, you can just sit up at the bar and turn to the person next to you - who has no idea who you are - and have a chat. And the response that you generally get at the end of the conversation is, 'Best of luck, so The Best of Luck Club is that place.
For nearly a decade the story of Com Truise has relied on science fiction and abstract fact. Seth Haley's singular style of melodic beat music subsists as hazy machinist nostalgia, a mainframe downloaded cosmology. Yet with each release, alongside sonic refinement, comes an increasingly visible vapor trail to Haley's own ontology. His long-awaited 2017 LP Iteration brought to completion a conceptual space saga while also reflectingseismic life changes for the producer and designer. With mini-LP Persuasion System, Haley leaves the past narrative behind, settling into a new period marked by change - on this planet, in the present - putting forth his most grounded and visceral work to date.
It was never intended to get this far. Endless Boogie had been a band for six years when they were invited by Slint to play the All Tomorrow's Parties festival in the UK. Up to that point, they had been perfectly content existing only at their weekly Lower East Side rehearsals (and the occasional New York City show). At the time, Jesper Eklow and Mark Ohe worked at Matador Records, and word had begun to spread about the Art Departments band. They figured if they were leaving the country to play a show, they should have something to sell, so they pulled some recordings from their rehearsal tape archive, ran two small pressings, hand stamped some sleeves, and the Endless Boogie story officially began. The records (often referred to as "black" and "white") have long fetched high prices on the secondary market. They're back in print here and packaged together as a double CD / double LP set.
Readjusting the Locks is the first Institute album written across the country, with half the band relocating from Texas to NYC. The band has seamlessly incorporated more '77 rock n' roll into their sound, some songs feeling like they could've been a Stiff Records single. This sound is emphasized by Ben Greenberg's (Uniform) expert production - crisp but still blown out and dirty. Lyrically, Readjusting the Locks moves away from the traditionally personal words of frontman Moses Brown. Rather than attacking the internal workings of his brain or its socialization, as on previous records, this album attempts to address the societal atmosphere in which his agita exists.
Blaming Neoliberalism and the irresponsible notions of utopia fostered under it, Brown argues that in recent decades the Western world's assumption that humanity would continue to prosper into the future has, on the contrary, created a disastrous political vacuum. Without a true plan for a sustainable future those in power will continue to offer humanity new policies, technologies, and politicians that promise change but are only capable of "readjusting the locks" on our incomprehensible existential predicament.
NZ trio Mermaidens' special 7" split single vinyl, You Maintain the Stain / Cut It Open on Flying Nun Records. Recorded before going into the studio to track their second album (out later this year) and released to coincide with their May UK and Europe tour.
'You Maintain the Stain' and 'Cut It Open' set a strong tone for what is to come. Mermaidens are in new terrain; exploring power and control in a confronting lens. They're looking at the gatekeepers and dominators of the world, dissecting their power one song at a time.
The musical duo of Shane Butler & Caity Shaffer released their debut album as Olden Yolk last year, an alluring concoction of hypnagogic folk & kosmiche rhythms, expanding & refining Butler's work in his former band Quilt toward a more focused direction. The songs on "Living Theatre" were written & recorded during a heavy time of transition & upheaval for the duo, with personal tragedies and a big move from their NYC home to a warmer climate in Los Angeles coloring the album's inception. Musically, the duo's songwriting has gelled into a unified front, relying more on the subtle shifts of melody & rhythm than a barrage of chord changes; Living Theatre's hooks lap at your feet like a babbling brook, rather than bowl you over like violent waves. The refinement in tunes like "Castor & Pollux", "Grand Palais" & first single "Cotton & Cain" points to a new frontier for the group; soaring skyward toward the emotionally textural plateaus of trailblazers like The Go-Betweens or Yo La Tengo. There's a discernible romantic feel to tunes like "Violent Days" or Distant Episode's lush arrangements - Living Theatre showcases a band breaking free from it's chrysalis, and embracing its next phase of evolution.
"Soft Features" is the debut LP from Pregnant Women, the solo project of So Stressed frontman Morgan Fox. Trading in spastic, violent noise-rock for electronic-driven pop music, Fox has carved out a gorgeous collection of love songs. Drawing inspiration from Aphex Twin, Passion Pit, and a new relationship, Pregnant Women enters a hazy dream-world of love and longing.
Siskiyou returns from a four-year hiatus with Not Somewhere, which finds band leader Colin Huebert (ex-Great Lake Swimmers) essentially in solo mode, writing and self-recording this new collection on his own, playing just about everything himself. Not Somewhere harkens back to Siskiyou's magical, understated 2010 debut in this and other ways: the album’s production rekindles a homespun intimacy, where plain-spoken lyrics grapple with portraits of quiet quotidian despair, fragile existential horizon lines separating perseverance and defeatism, honest and unremarkable lives trapped in cultures of false consciousness, impossible desire, self-analysis and self-medication. Huebert was commissioned by NYC artist/designer Stefan Sagmeister to write the theme song for The Happy Film, a movie accompaniment to "The Happy Show" installation art project - ruminations on happiness that strongly echo Huebert's own tone and sensibility. Sagmeister wanted the unadorned aesthetic of early, leading Huebert to often write and record songs in the same day. The result is a beautifully restrained and direct song cycle of tunes anchored by acoustic guitar and brushed drumming, detailed with delicate textures, spartan melodic overdubs, and Huebert's distinctively forthright, whisperingly confidential vocal delivery. Not Somewhere is delicate, discreet, and wonderfully assured - a humble, wistfully observational and meditatively personal return for Siskiyou.
The Juan Maclean returns to DFA with a new 12" - last June's electro-disco "What Do You Feel Free About?" backed with "Zone Non Linear," which evokes early Pet Shop Boys. As usual, Juan's sunny productions and Nancy's layered vocals come together to lend a maximalist warmth to the dancefloor. Man Power (ESP Institute, Correspondant) gives the A-side a club rework with a dubbed out vocal arrangement that adds a touch more drama to the track, while Massimiliano Pagliara (Ostgut Ton, Robert Johnson) revitalizes tropes of old-school piano house.
Tiny Holes is the avant-new wave-dance super group you never heard of. These future legends of independent music skirted the fine line between obscurity and nothingness, producing a small, effective body of cheeky noise. Seattle uber-producer Jack Endino, who mixed and mastered the album, says "The whole thing is impossibly brilliant".
Electronic music pioneer Steve Fisk and burgeoning sound artist Steve Peters started a quirky electro-pop project called Customer Service. After moderate exposure in Olympia and Seattle (their first gig was opening for Gang of Four), this duo morphed into a trio with future fanzine publisher, cassette-zine visionary, and Sub/Pop record mogul Bruce Pavitt, called Professional Ethics. The rhythm section of drummer Phillip Hertz and bass monster Paul Tison came on board, and Tiny Holes was born. For a year they annoyed the neighbors and laid waste to dance floors in Olympia, Seattle and Portland. This album is from their last show, recorded on a mobile 8-track. Producer Jack Endino agreed to handle the mix, comix artist Peter Bagge was drafted to create cover art, and here we are.